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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



Finances: Thriving or Surviving?

Janice Thompson, founder and president of Strategic Financial Solutions, Inc., says she wants women to thrive when it comes to finances, not simply to survive. In the months ahead, Janice will share some encouraging UPGRADE Your Finances insights. But for now, she simply wants to get us thinking on the right track. She asks:

“Does the topic of money trigger within you feelings of excitement, anticipation and peace of mind, or does it bring forth feelings of fear, dread or even panic?”

Janice continues:

Women often face unique challenges when planning for their financial future. Many women who have never entered the workforce or have interrupted their careers to care for children or aging parents may ultimately earn less income than men in the same age group. As a result, they find their retirement accounts, pensions and Social Security benefits are often lower.

When you add the fact that women generally live longer than men and have to stretch those resources over a longer span of time, it can become a frightening challenge to navigate through the financial maze of life.

I take great comfort in the fact that God is neither surprised nor worried by any economic uncertainties in our world.

It reminds me of when we bought our first home and decided to move our 30-gallon fish aquarium across town without draining the tank. We carefully set the fish tank on the front seat of the moving truck. As cautiously as my husband tried to drive, it did not prevent the water in the tank from sloshing violently and splashing over the sides of the tank.

What was interesting to note, however, was that while the surface of the tank was in mass upheaval, the fish in the tank had all dropped to a water level in the lower part of the tank where they appeared to be suspended in space.

They weren't in a panic; they did not appear dazed or confused. They knew what to do and calmly rode out the turbulence, unfazed by the wild ride.

Good financial principles can help you ride out highs and lows of economic growth or turmoil.

The solution to not just surviving but thriving in any economic environment is understanding and applying God’s timeless truth. As I have often heard financial author and friend Ron Blue say, “The Bible is always relevant, always, right, and will never change.”

And that is the greatest financial principle. Begin with what God says about finances. Always turn to the scriptures, because God’s wisdom principles for managing all aspects of your financial life work!

Have you ever studied what the Bible says about finances? If so, how has God helped you in the area of personal stewardship?

Janice Thompson is the founder and president of Strategic Financial Solutions, Inc., a comprehensive wealth management firm focused on biblically-based financial solutions. Janice is a Certified Financial Planner®, Certified Life Stewardship Advisor™, and serves on the Board of Directors of Kingdom Advisors.

As a pastor's wife, Jan also brings a unique professional perspective to those in vocational ministry. She and her husband, Tom, live in San Diego, California, have two grown children, and look forward to becoming grandparents this fall.


God Wins All Wrestling Matches

Gail Purath is amazing. She proves great posts can be short and powerful. I discovered her at 1-Minute Bible Love Notes and I love her heart. I asked her to share a story about her trip to Prague and a lesson God taught her there; it’s something to help us all “upgrade” our obedience.

“I disobeyed the law,” Purath wrote. “What else could I do?”

She continues…

I needed money for supper, the official banks were closed, and black-market money was available.

It was 1980 and I was touring Communist Czechoslovakia with some girlfriends. The gray sadness of Communism couldn't hide the beauty of the ancient city of Prague. Perhaps that's why I forgot to exchange money before the banks closed.

There I was with only $2 worth of Czech Korunas, not enough for supper.

I asked our tour guide what I could do, and she told me she would sell me black-market money. Must have been a sign, right? I convinced myself it was the only option and gave her $20 to exchange. I admit it was nice to get twice as much as the bank exchange.

But then the wrestling match began... the one between me and God. It went on all afternoon... me telling Him I had no choice... Him telling me that the bank law didn't violate His Law, so I needed to obey it (Romans 13:1-6).

I knew what I had to do. I returned the money to our tour guide, felt relieved, and wondered how I would pay for supper.

God doesn't promise to work things out when we forget to get to the bank on time, but he blessed me that evening. A friend who knew nothing about my situation surprised me by buying my supper, and my $2 worth of Korunas was a perfect tip for the waiter.

But I did something else illegal on that trip and God approved.

At that point in history, it was illegal to import and distribute Christian literature in Czechoslovakia, but I brought in New Testaments, prayed over them, and left them in places for Czech citizens to find.

How do I know God approved?

In 1 Peter 2:13-17, Peter commands Christians to submit to every human authority, and this command came at a time when the government was just as corrupt as Communism.  But Peter was also God's spokesman for an "exception clause." When the official authorities of the Sanhedrin commanded him to quite preaching about Christ, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:27-32).

God expects us to obey laws even when they are inconvenient and unwise, but not when they violate His higher laws. We can disagree, but we need to remember that God wins all wrestling matches.

How will you respond when God asks you to obey the law or something tough He asks of you  today?

Gail Purath has been married to her best friend for 42 years, living the life of a nomad here on earth (40 homes in 62 years), looking forward to her heavenly home. Mother of two, grammy of seven, she writes about her joys, struggles, failures and victories in her 1-Minute Bible Love Notes and shares a short Bible study each week on Bite Size Bible Study.




Patriotism Plus!

I love America! I'd rather live here than anywhere in the world. In spite of current governmental choices I may not like, I still have basic freedoms enshrined in our founding documents. Don’t ever take our freedoms in America for granted!

Here are some ways we can all “upgrade” our expression of patriotism:

  • Tell your children and grandchildren why America is so special. Make sure they understand the freedoms we share. Read or get them books that focus on true American heroes. Encourage them to create and display “patriotic” art.
  • Read about some American heroes yourself—our Founding Fathers (and Mothers). What are the character qualities that made them great?
  • Get a flag and fly it—show your American spirit! Don’t just wait for July 4th or Flag Day. Learn flag etiquette.
  • Honor those who have fought or are fighting to keep America free. Visit the graves of those who gave “the ultimate sacrifice.” Write a note of gratitude to someone in the Armed Forces.
  • Wear the “red, white and blue” occasionally. Remember: red is for courage and sacrifice, blue is for justice and freedom, and white is for purity.
  • Host neighborhood or family get-togethers on patriotic holidays. Bake some red, white and blue desserts, or create a dish of berries and cream. Decorate with flags and stars.
  • Enjoy fireworks shows together – celebrate our freedom!
  • Read the words of America’s patriotic songs (like the “Star Spangled Banner,” “America,” or “God Bless America.”) Consider how God has indeed blessed our nation.  
  • Vacation in American historical sites.
  • Volunteer – practice the spirit of American compassion and giving. Consider working at a mission, food bank, or homeless shelter.
  • Watch a classic movie to inspire you – like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Independence Day.
  • Cheer on Americans who strive for excellence, whether it’s the Olympics, World Cup or a spelling bee!
  • Pray for America’s leaders – even the ones you don’t agree with! (Run for office or another leadership role, if God calls you to do so.)
  • Pray for America—especially that God’s people will stand with courage. Remember that true freedom comes from Him. We love America, but God is more concerned about our hearts than where we live (Psalm 33:12-22). Seek Him!

What does “Patriotism” look like to you?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of and also blogs at Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and a rascally maltipoo named Roscoe.


Before Your Next Date with Hubby

Arlene Pellicane offers lots of marriage tips in her book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband; What a Man Needs Most from His Wife. I'm glad she's willing to share some of them with our Project UPGRADE readers. In this post, Arlene encourages women to think through some practical ideas for "dating" Hubby.

"You know you’re supposed to go on date nights. People say it’s good for your marriage, kind of like taking a multivitamin," Pellicane says. "Yet you’re dragging your feet (taking vitamins isn’t sexy). Your schedule’s packed and dinner and movie just don’t seem that important."

Pellicane continues... 

As a mother of three young children, let me lean in closer and whisper in your ear:

Don't forget to date!

It’s critical to stay connected emotionally, physically and spiritually to your spouse. The daily grind typically doesn’t cater to that, so you have to create space to connect and have fun together. You don’t want to slowly drift apart over the years and end up as roommates. Instead, you want to keep courting!  

Here are four tips for your next date with hubby:   

1. Be playful and fun.  Date night is not the time to whip out the calendars and hash out who’s going to pick up dinner and who’s going to visit Aunt Grace in the hospital.

I love what Dr. David Clarke says about dating:

When you go out together on a “date,” it’s not romantic. It’s not playful. It’s not a time of fun and laughter. You’re going through the motions. It’s a good idea to go out on dates, so that’s what you’re doing. 

“We had a nice time,” you say. A date is not supposed to be a “nice time.” You have a “nice time” with your mother, or your Aunt Bertha. A real date with your spouse ought to be fun, stimulating, romantic and sensual. That’s why you got married!

2. Do something different. It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going to the mall and sampling new perfumes and colognes. If it’s always dinner and a movie, try a picnic dinner at the lake instead. 

3. Look your best. Just like you’d touch up your makeup before going to a party with friends, make sure you look attractive to your spouse. Be aware of your husband’s taste. (He may prefer a natural look or bright red lipstick, your hair up or your hair down.) My friend’s husband loves to see her in red. She doesn’t like red, but she does look great in it. She bought a few red blouses so she could go out with her husband … wearing red.

4. Heap him with praise. Date night is appreciation night! Spend the time complimenting your spouse about certain things he did that week. Hold his hand and cuddle up together. Be thinking about things you appreciate about your man and tell him all about it on date night. 

Which of these Hubby-dating tips encourages you to UPGRADE your relationship?

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to a Happy Husband and 31 Days to a Younger You.  She has been featured on Family Life Today, The Better Show, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah, The Hour of Power, and TLC’s Home Made Simple. Arlene lives in Southern California with her husband James and three children, Ethan, Noelle, and Lucy.






Passing on the Dream

Author Karen O'Connor understands the power of legacyof not only passing on great biblical truths, but also the dreams and lessons of life.

In "Winter Dream," Karen wrote:

The afternoon of my tenth birthday my father came home early from work. “Surprise,” he said as he stood outside my classroom door when the school bell rang. “We’re going ice skatingjust you and meto celebrate your birthday. It’s about time you and I used these beautiful skates Mom gave us for Christmas.”

My heart pounded! Just the thought of having my father all to myself for half a day was more than I could take in. And to think we would go ice skating together! I had dreamed of such a day for as long as I could remember. My mother knew about it. That’s why she bought us matching skates.

I waved good-bye to my friends and piled into our old tan car. Off we went to the nearby pond, now frozen hard after a week of sub-freezing temperatures. I wrapped a wool scarf around my neck, pulled my stocking cap over my long brown hair, and donned my mittens. Then hand-in-hand, Dad and I skated across the pond all afternoon. Whenever I hit a bump or felt scared, he was there, stretching out his hand to hold me up and to guide me through the maze of skaters whizzing by.

Over the years I’ve often thought about that day and how my father brought my dream to life!         

I skated many times after that but none meant as much to me as that special day alone with Dad. Then came the time when, Sarah,  one of my granddaughters, invited me to her 10th birthday party. The afternoon would include lunch at a favorite restaurant and unexpectedlyice skating at a local rink.

I said, ‘yes,’ to lunch, but ‘no’ to skating! “I haven’t skated in nearly forty years,” I told Sarah.

For the rest of the week, however, I wrestled with my decision. I knew how much it would mean to her to have me on the ice, not on the sidelines! I decided to surprise herjust as my father had surprised me so long ago.

“Oh Lord,” I prayed, “help me recreate the dream. I want to pass on to Sarah the confidence, the fun, the closeness that my dad gave me.” 

When it was time to skate, I stepped out on the ice, my heart pounding and my legs wobbly. I took a deep breath, then reached for Sarah’s hand. Off we went, and before I knew it I was skating, really skating. My earthly father was no longer there to hold me up, but I was standing tall nonetheless, because I had my heavenly father right there with Sarah and me.

Fear vanished as the truth of God’s promise in Isaiah skipped across my heart.For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Is. 41:13 NRSV). 

I smiled in relief. If the Lord would uphold and honor my simple dreamsice skating with my father and years later, with my granddaughtersurely he would be there, as well, for the big dreams and major challenges ahead. I knew then I had nothing to fear.

What dreams are you passing on to the next generation?

Karen O’Connor is an award-winning author and popular Christian speaker. She lives in Watsonville, California, with her husband, Charles Flowers. This story is based on a selection from her book, Squeeze the Moment (WaterBrook Press, 1999), pp. 54-56. Visit her on the web at