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Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Jeanne Cesena

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Melissa Edgington

Debbi Eggleston

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Sally Ferguson

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Kate Hagen

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

Debbie Harris

Nali Hilderman

Cathy Horning

Kathy Howard

Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

Sylvia Lange

Debby Lennick

Peggy Leslie

Kathi Lipp

Kolleen Lucariello

Kathi Macias

Paula Marsteller

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Elaine W. Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Yvonne Ortega

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Judy Scharfenberg

Deedra Scherm

Laurel Shaler

Joanie Shawhan

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Susan K. Stewart

Stacie Stoelting

Letitia "Tish" Suk

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Elizabeth Van Tassel

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Shonda Savage Whitworth

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson



How to Inspire Your Daughter

Cindi McMenamin's books address topics for real women in the trenches of life. Her newest book will help moms of daughters.

"A mom starts out as the single most influential voice in her daughter's life," Cindi says, "Until the day her daughter might decide to look elsewhere for a role model."

As I watch my sons' wives raise their daughters, I'm glad to see how they are shaping these three young girls to love and serve God and people. Cindi has some ABC's for influencing daughters (and they work for sons too).

Cindi continues ...

Here are three ways that you can upgrade your influence in your daughter's life and be the one person she looks to, over anyone else, for advice, approval, encouragement and inspiration throughout her growing up years and beyond. 

A - Accept Her for Who She Is. You'd be surprised how many daughters believe they can never measure up to their moms' standards. Not feeling accepted by her mother was the most common wound I encountered as I interviewed young women to talk about their relationships with their moms.

Daughters need to know they are loved for who they are, not what they do.

In most cases where daughters didn't feel accepted, their moms were unaware their daughters saw them as critical and unsupportive. 

You can show acceptance to your daughter by supporting her dreams and ambitions even if they are different from yours. You can also show your love and support by understanding and accepting the ways she is different from you.

For example, you may be tidy and neat, she might not. You might have excelled academically, she might gravitate more toward the arts. Give her leeway to be herself and appreciate and affirm the ways she is unlike you, because those things make her unique.

B - Become Interested in Her World. Our girls will want to be around others who "get" them. We can better understand our daughters by asking them questions and listening to them or, better yet, listening to the music they are listening to.

Become involved in what she is interested in by being the driver (if she can't yet drive) or the greeter (who meets her at the door after she's spent a day or evening out), or the caller (who often asks how she's doing and what she's up to).

Be creative and find a way to take an interest in what she's interested in ... even if it is not something you would've liked when you were her age.

C - Cheer Her On, No Matter What. You and I, as moms, need to be doing all we can to build our daughters up, not tear them down. When I realized the power of encouraging words on my daughter, I began to use them more often when talking to her.  That caused her to listen more, rather than shrink away.

Through the years, I've found that Ephesians 4:29  is an excellent safeguard for how to talk to our daughters in a supportive way:

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Our daughters are hard-wired to want to please their mothers and make them proud. That's why it's important that we affirm their efforts, but also let them know that it's okay to not excel at everything.  Your daughter may still be struggling to figure out what it is she does well and what she wants to pursue in life.

Give her time. Allow her to fail. And be her cheerleader every step of the way. She will want you around if you praise her more than you point out what she's doing wrong.

Which of these steps will YOU focus on in order to upgrade your influence in your daughter's life?

GIVEAWAY: Make a comment today here (or on the Upgrade Facebook page) about how you influence your daughter, and your name will be entered into a drawing for Cindi's new book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter. Drawing: 9-30-13.

Cindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, upon which this article is based. For more on her books and ministry, or to download her free article "Suggestions for Mother-Daughter Memory-Making" see her website:

Photo in Text: Image courtesy of Ambro at



Getting Your Creative 'Mojo' Back

Melissa Mashburn's ministry is authentic, relevant, passionate and Kingdom-focused. In this and future posts, she will share how to do ministry from the heart and to the glory of God.

“Ministry is in a constant state of change,” Melissa says. “What worked yesterday may not work today and almost certainly will not work next year.”

That is so true. With the changes in culture, there are changes in ministry opportunities, and we need to prepare for them. More than ever, we need God-given creativity.

Melissa continues …

When change comes, and we know that it will, there are a few things you can do to stay current and fresh.

That isn’t always easy when you are neck deep in an overflowing email inbox, ministry demands, the responsibilities of your family, and—let’s face it, ministry isn’t a 9-5 job. It can be overwhelming at times, that’s for sure.

Here are few things that help me get my creative mojo back:

(1) Pray First

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33 NIV). 

If I leave it up to me and my own personal creativity, then I severely limit what God wants to do through ministry. By taking time to stop and pray before you do anything else, you allow God to take over.

(2) Change Your Location

  • Get Outside - Go to the park, sit on the back porch or go for a walk.
  • Go on One-day Getaways - Visit a coffee shop, go on a scenic drive or picnic in the park for a day.
  • Go on an Adventure for the Day - Go to a museaum or play, or be a tourist in your own city.

(3) Change Your Music

If you are like me, you always have some sort of noise going on around you, whether it is the kids, the boss, the husband or the ministry team. And let’s not forget the people in the coffee shop. I love all those people and all the noises that come along with them, but sometimes you need to do more than just changing your location. You might also need to change your music.

"Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and what, whence and whereto." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Change things up a bit by changing the music you are listening to. Some of my favorite Pandora stations are:

  • Epic Soundtracks,
  • John Coltrane,
  • Classical Music

(4) Surround Yourself with Creative People

There are creative people all around you. Ask one of them to meet with you over a cup of coffee. (Hint, if you ask them, then you should buy their coffee.) You aren’t going to copy them, because you aren’t them, but hearing their heart and what they are passionate about may help to ignite a new idea for your own ministry.

Getting your creative mojo back is a process.

Taking the time to figure out what works best for you is not always easy, but it’s worth it when you can step back and see God’s hand all over it.

What are some things you do to get your creative mojo back?  Which of the four things mentioned above might be something you are going to try?

Melissa Mashburn is a woman passionately pursing God by taking her everyday, ordinary life and placing it as her offering to Him (Romans 12:1-2). With authenticity and a ministry about “Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith,” Melissa shows women their uniqueness and special calling. An author, speaker, Pastor’s Wife, and Kids & Women's ministry leader, Melissa is mom to two incredible teenage sons. She and her best friend Matt, married for 20 years, live and enjoy ministry in sunny South Florida. Visit

Photo Image in text: Ernest Hemmingway House, Key West, Florida at 


Upgrade for Life's Second Half

Pam Farrel is a relationship specialist who, along with her husband Bill, shares wisdom for a wide variety of relationships.

“In my book 10 Secrets of Living Smart, Savvy and Strong, I share my need for a midlife upgrade!” Farrel said.

She got my attention immediately. Who doesn’t want a fresh start in life’s second half?

She continues …

When I was in my early forties, if my life were described as a hand-crocheted afghan, then one day someone grabbed one piece of thread and began to unravel my life.

My husband had been the picture of health, and all of a sudden his blood pressure went through the roof. This got our attention because his grandfather died of a stroke at age 47, and his father had a stroke that left him paralyzed and disabled at age 48. Bill was 45.

At the time, Bill and I had achieved some measure of success, one of our books had even hit the bestsellers list (Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti). Bill was also the senior pastor of the largest church in our city, and we were completing a new building project.

Then, one day, we were traveling and Bill wasn’t feeling well, so he went to the doctor. The test results showed Bill needed an upgrade too!

So to make a painful story shorter, through a series of events and meetings, Bill ended up resigning from the church he’d pastored for over 15 years. At the time of the life transition, all our sons were teens. I was trying to keep one kid in college and prepare another’s send-off for his education, all during a time period where there was a huge income shift.

One week in particular sticks out to me as a picture of our life.

  • Caleb (then 13) was hit illegally in a football game and had to be rushed to Children’s Hospital. I found myself sitting with Bill next to Caleb, praying for both their lives to be spared. When we finally brought Caleb home, I had a speaking engagement that the family needed me to keep. I left Caleb in Bill’s wonderful care.
  • The first night I was gone, our middle son was pulled from his football game with a concussion and knee injury.
  • The next night, our oldest, a college quarterback, was pulled from the game with what we thought might be a career-ending/scholarship-ending injury.

When I landed at the airport, my sister-in-law was on the phone with the news that my 40-year-old brother had experienced a heart attack.

I prayed in desperation, “This family needs an upgrade!”

People cared, so they inquired. I just didn’t know how to reply when people asked, “So, how are you doing?”

I felt God impress a question on my heart, “What kind of woman do you want to be, Pam?”

“Lord, I want to be the kind of person who can look at whatever life sends her way and find joy in it. Your Word says, ‘The joy of the Lord is our strength,’ (Nehemiah 8:10)—and do I ever need strength right now!” 

I knew joy was the upgrade I needed to gain clarity to create an upgrade plan for life’s second half. I printed out all the verses about joy and hung my heart on the truth and hope found there.

And I changed my response to the question, “So, Pam, how are you doing?”

My new answer became, “Choosin’ joy!”

In the midst of your tough circumstances, how have you discovered the strength that comes from choosing joy in the Lord?

Pam and Bill Farrel are both happy and healthy and loving life as they work their new upgrade plan. They are the Co-Directors of Love-Wise. Pam has served as director of women’s ministry, a pastor’s wife and a mentor, and she is the founder and president of Seasoned Sisters, a ministry to women ages 40-65.

Photo of midlife couple: Image courtesy of photostock at


How to Keep Criticism from Crushing You

Gail Bones is an accomplished musician, educator and author. God has taught her much about dealing with criticism, and she remains vulnerable and transparent. I love that about her.

Gail shared this UPGRADE post, part of a longer article she wrote for writers and artists, but with helpful input for all of us:

I’ve been playing guitar my whole life. When I was a full-time performer, I could play guitar for six hours a day without feeling the strain. My secret? Industrial strength calluses. You get them the way oysters get pearls—by pressing through pain.

Writers are famous for having to learn how to handle rejection. We must develop a thicker skin, we are told. Even though I usually pretend to welcome it with open arms and a grateful heart, receiving even constructive criticism usually bothers me.

I don’t recoil, however, at the thought of pressing my fingertips against the hard steel strings of my guitar. As I’ve persisted over the years in leaning into the source of pain, my fingers actually have developed thicker skin.

Unless you have the courage to develop calluses, the beauty can’t flow freely from your hands.

There’s a lesson here about life.

Six Kinds of Criticism: Six Kinds of Pain

1. When It’s Right

When I joined my first writer’s critique group and started regularly seeing “wordy” written across my submissions, I didn’t believe it at first. I had to be alerted to the fact that I had this tendency and that it worked against the clarity and readability of my prose.

My critiquer was right. I leaned in to her insights, and my word counts began to drop dramatically.

2. When It’s Wrong

Not everyone who wields a red pencil gets it right 100% of the time. Don’t get discouraged; get a second opinion before you delete a month’s worth of work.

3. When It’s Gracious

Force yourself to accept that the commendations bookending the criticism are accurate.

Don’t highlight the negative and ignore the positive comments. Give yourself some credit!

4. When It’s Mean-spirited

Who knows why people feel they must spew venom when they get on the Internet. Anyone who gets that worked up, who uses capital letters and multiple exclamation points to slam someone else’s heart-felt words has issues that go beyond the scope of what you need to concern yourself with.

Just don’t go there.

5. When It’s Personal Preference.

Cross-stitch this if you need to, and hang it on your wall: Not everyone is going to love you. Not everyone is going to get you. But somebody will, and they are worth persevering for.

6. When It’s Self-Criticism.

I find I have to repeatedly scrape off the barnacles of pride masquerading as perfectionism that keep attaching themselves to my hull.

Being a people pleaser and a perfectionist will make you crazy. Being your own worst critic can sometimes be a sign that you have the discernment and sensitivity you need to be a writer. But you have to know when to silence that carping voice and let yourself believe positive and uplifting words.

The truth is, some criticism is tough to hear, but “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).

How do you deal with various kinds of criticism? Which is the hardest for you?

 Dr. Gail Bones is a speaker, retreat leader, songwriter/worship leader,  former professor of education and the founder of CrossWise Living, an intergenerational ministry devoted to helping people navigate change. She and her husband Jeff have two married children. From the east coast but now living in San Diego, Gail says “happiness” means always having one or more of the following in her hands: a dog leash, a sailboat rudder, bicycle handlebars, a kayak paddle, an acoustic guitar, a big fat book or a hazelnut coffee. Read more about Gail at her website/blog.

Note: Guitar Photo Image courtesy of artemisphoto at


Upgrade Your Saving Power!

Holly Hanson is one of those multi-talented individuals with words of wisdom in so many areas, especially parenting and financial “smarts.”

“My plunge into motherhood almost nine years ago,” Holly said, “has taught me a lot about sacrifice.”

Anyone who’s been a mom understands that word, “sacrifice;” but I admire Holly, because she  turned financial stress into positive living with creative, productive choices. When I called her a financial expert, she said, "No, I'm not an official financial expert, just a civilian price warrior!"

She continues ...

The biggest sacrifice I made was giving up my producer job at a TV station to stay home full time. In order to make it all work and still be able to eat, I discovered a multitude of ways to be a good steward of my money each and every day.

I see this opportunity as one way to emulate the creativity and household responsibility of the Proverbs 31 Woman. In verse 27 it says, “She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  I want that to be the way others describe me, as well.

If you can turn some of these tips into rock-solid habits, you can live a two-income lifestyle on a one-income paycheck!

1. Pick Your Time to Shop. This tip works best for major purchases.

Buy a car or a mattress on a holiday when there are sales and no tax. Buy a barbecue after Labor Day when they all go on major clearance.

If you have children, shop the clearance clothing rack at the end of the season for the next year’s sizes—your kids will definitely grow, while the price of the clothing stays small! I keep all of my daughter’s too-big clothes in an under-the-bed box. I review the inventory each season to see if anything new fits. 

This works for BOGO [buy one, get one] sales too. I buy two pairs of tennis shoes, one in the current size and one in the next size up.

If you need party supplies, shop for them after every major holiday. Heart napkins on sale after Valentine’s Day will work great for your anniversary dinner. Spring napkins/plates/decor on sale after Easter can beautify a table any time of the year!

2. Know the Menu.  When you go to a restaurant, don’t always assume the “combo” is the best deal, or that the sandwich has to be ordered the way it is described. Take a minute to review your options.

If you like lettuce and tomato at Wendy’s, you can add it to the dollar cheeseburger for free. Some Mexican restaurants allow you to add “items” to an existing combo for less than the price of a regular entrée.

We sometimes order one meal and “add on” enough to feed the whole family for much less than three separate meals! Denny’s does this with their Grand Slam breakfasts. I never get the kids’ meal when I can just add on a 99-cent item or two for my daughter!

3. Use Those Coupons! I have made it my personal mission to NEVER buy something at a store that I know I have (or can get) a coupon for. It’s amazing how much you spend on impulse items, if you can’t discipline yourself to follow this rule.

In the age of smartphones, a simple Google search can yield plenty of online coupons, many of which can be redeemed by simply showing your phone to the cashier. I’ve done this at restaurants, too, like Souplantation and Fuddruckers, when I forgot to print the email that they sent me with the offer. 

Vons also has a wonderful program called Just for U, which allows you to select coupons on your phone or computer that are instantly added to your club card. (I have even added coupons in the checkout line!) Coupons are like free money!

Don’t be foolish. Don’t waste the chance to upgrade your saving power!

Which of these helpful tips are you using now? Which would be a great new choice?

Holly Hanson is a veteran Emmy Award-winning journalist who finds her calling in her family motto: “Love God, Serve Others.” Holly has written and produced internationally for Women of Faith, Turning Point Ministries, and locally with KFMB-TV, KFMB-AM and KPBS Radio. She is married and is a mom, step-mom and soon to be step-grandma. Holly is active at Shadow Mountain Community Church, serving on the Women's Ministries Council, singing in the choir, and running Moms Inc., a ministry she founded and directs.  

Photo in text: Image Courtesty of Grant Cochrane at