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Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Jeanne Cesena

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

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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



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




Praise for Hubby: 'You da' Man!'

I met Kathi Lipp on the road at a women’s event. She is funny and smart. In her book, The Husband Project, she encourages women to share “great gossip” about their husbands. Others might call that “bragging on hubby” or becoming hubby’s cheerleader.

“As cliché as it may sound, our husbands want to be our heroes,” Kathi says. “More than they want to know that we love them, they want to know that we respect them. They need to know that they’re never the butt of our jokes, that they’re the go-to-guy in every story we tell.”

More from Kathi:

Make an opportunity today to spread some great gossip about your man. It doesn’t matter if it’s one of your friends or one of his; let that somebody know how blessed you are to be married to your guy.

Some key phrases you may want to put on index cards to help you remember:

  • “I feel so lucky to have a man who knows how to do his own laundry.”
  • “You know when I knew that my husband really loved me? When he could remember my order at Starbucks.”
  • “I just love the way he is with our kids.”
  • “He makes the best lasagna on the planet.”

Steering the Ship

A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it  (James 3: 3-4 The Message). That’s what great gossip is all about.

As wives, we are often the ship’s captain, while our husbands are that huge ship. Words spoken in encouragement and love can go a long way to building our men up. But the opposite is true as well.  There is nothing that can determine the direction of our husband’s day quicker than the words that are spoken to him in the morning.

Sometimes as wives, we forget the role we play in our husband’s lives. We all remember that great line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, spoken by Toula’s mom, “The man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck. She tells him which way to turn.”

OK, I don’t tell my husband which way to turn, but I do have an influence about how he navigates through his day.

I know that I need to be especially careful about my tone. Sometimes I think I am just oh-so-witty, when really it’s coming off as sarcastic and biting. It’s not enough to just say kind and encouraging words. I need to make sure that whatever words I choose only build up my husband, never tear him down.

That’s what great gossip is all about.

If you could brag on your husband to the whole wide world, what would you say?

Kathi Lipp is a speaker and prolific author, including The Husband Project and Praying God’s Word for Your Husband with Revell and Harvest House Publishers with four more books coming out in the next two years.  Kathi’s articles have appeared in dozens of magazines, and she is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family radio (named “Best of Broadcast”). She and her husband Roger are the parents of young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not doing laundry, Kathi speaks at retreats, conferences and women’s events.




How to Pray for Your Prodigal Child

Meet Janet Thompson: Janet's “Dear God” series of books are helpful and encouraging to women with many issues, but I asked her to write on the Prodigal today because I know it is dear to her heart and she can encourage others to UPGRADE their prayers.

“Are you wondering if you have a prodigal?,” Janet said. “Here’s my definition: ‘A child who is breaking the heart of his or her parents and the heart of God.’”  

Janet’s testimony and tips are positive and helpful:

I was a prodigal who raised a prodigal. I modeled worldly ways to my daughter, Kim, and she wanted to be just like me. When she was eighteen, I rededicated my life to Christ—I thought my daughter would follow after me. But she wanted nothing to do with this new “weird” mom.

When she announced she was going to live with her boyfriend when she left for college, I was heartbroken. I tried every way I could think of to dissuade her, but no amount of talking, pleading, or cajoling convinced her to change her mind.

Sobbing and sinking to my knees as I watched the taillights of my beloved only daughter’s little blue car disappear down the street as she headed off to college, I cried out to God: “Where did I go wrong?” “What can I do?” “Is it too late?”

Answers came in a devotional book which contained prayers in the form of paraphrased Scripture and a place to journal. Here are examples of verses I prayed for Kim, but you can take any verse in the Bible and personalize it because the Bible is your Guide for life. Make it personal and applicable:

Evening and morning and at noon I commit to pray and cry aloud for my daughter Kim. And You, Lord, shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17 NKJV)

I pray that my daughter Kim will know the truth and the truth will set him/her free. (John 8:32 NIV)

I started praying Scriptures for Kim:

Daily—I didn’t miss a day praying for her because I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being with me in heaven.

Biblically—Praying God’s Word back to Him kept me praying His will and not just my own will. I journaled my will.

Expectantly—with confidence that God would answer and act and in anticipation of how He would bring her back.

Persistently—I didn’t let myself become discouraged, even when I didn’t see any change in her and it seemed she moved further into the sinful lifestyle. I heard God’s still small voice that He wanted her back more than I did. So I kept on praying.

Sacrificially—I often fasted while praying.

Unceasingly—I never gave up, knowing my job as a praying parent was never finished.

Thankfully—always praising God for His answers to prayer even when they were different than I expected.

After five years of praying biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully, my daughter started the long journey back to God and to me.

This past Mother’s Day, my "former prodigal" daughter Kim and I shared our story and our testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace at the Journey Churches Mother's Day Tea. (See photo, above).

Do you have a prodigal child?

Leave a comment if you'd like Janet and I (Dawn) to pray for you and your child.

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of 17 books including “Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents” and her latest in a “Dear God series, Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Visit Janet at


The 1% Principle

Kathy Collard Miller "gets" UPGRADE. When I heard about her concept, "The 1% Principle," I just had to share it with you. I know her words will encourage you in your UPGRADE adventure.

Kathy writes:

Have you ever said things like:

  • I’ll never get angry again,
  • I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable,
  • I’ll never be discontent again,
  • I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance, or
  • I’ll have my devotions every day?

It's easy to think that such determination will bring us success—even that it's the only way we'll “upgrade” our lives. We may think that God demands such commitments. But have you noticed that when we can't follow through, we get discouraged and give up? Even thinking God has given up on us also?

The good news is that God is more patient than we think. And His patience allows us to grow in our sanctification "little by little." He's not impatient with us when it takes us time to overcome our struggles.

I Timothy 4:15 tells us that. It says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all." Vine's Dictionary says the word Greek word "progress" is the idea of a pioneer cutting his way through the brushwood.

How does the pioneer do that? Little by little. He doesn't have a mile-wide ax to cut down a swath big enough for his house in a day. Instead, he takes one step and takes one chop in the brushwood with his ax. He progresses one step and chop at a time. 

That's the kind of "progress" the Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy to have. Step by step. Chop by chop. Little by little.

One of the principles I write about and speak about to give the biblical perspective of this is what I call “The 1% Principle.” Instead of expecting or trying to make plans for 100% perfection, we make small goals—like 1% growth.

So let's apply that to the steps we wanted to make above.

  • I'll never get angry again becomes I'll concentrate on the time of day I often get angry and make changes that will support patience.
  • I'll always show love toward that person who is unlovable becomes I’ll find one thing I actually like about them.
  • I’ll never be discontent again becomes I'll find one thing to be satisfied about right now.
  • I'll always be joyful in every circumstance becomes I'll find one thing to appreciate right now.
  • I'll have my devotions every day becomes I'll have my devotions three times this week.

Such thinking in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to make more progress because we'll be persistent rather than get discouraged and give up.

Reaching a 1% goal encourages us and empowers us to continue trusting in God for the progress He desires. And we'll give Him the glory for the progress we're making rather than pour contempt on ourselves because we haven't reached perfection.

What 1% goal does God want you to make? I believe you'll make greater progress that way than forming unrealistic expectations.

Just remember that pioneer's ax when you think of upgrading your life!

What 1% goal can you work on this week?

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 49 books including Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible. She is also a popular women's conference speaker and has spoken in 30 states and 7 foreign countries. Kathy blogs at and lives in Southern California.





Eight Ways to Respond to Fear

Whether fraught with many fears or only occasionally caught in their grasp, it’s important to know how to respond when fear-causing circumstances arrive.

1. Face your fear. Financial upheavals, government turmoil, wars, natural disasters and the ravages of disease are just a few catalysts to fear; and many Christians suffer for their faith (Hebrews 11:32-38).

God means for us to face all our fears with Him. Jesus said, “… you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).   

2. Find the sting – Paul asks, “O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) The Message translates this, “Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” Because of Christ’s victory over sin and death, the believer can have victory, not fear.

No matter the “sting” of difficult circumstances, there is comfort in the midst of pain, hope in the midst of devastation and more. Define the sting, and discover the antidote in Christ.

3. Feel the pain – Sometimes emotions run deep. Read the Psalms and discover man’s gamut of emotions, including fear.

Rather than running from emotions, give yourself permission to feel them so you can deal with them. Don’t hide, shut down or reject the truth of what’s happening. Behind many fears is the reality or perception of loss. Don’t get morbid, but acknowledge what loss feels like and choose to grieve well.

4. Free your mind – In the movie After Earth, the character played by Will Smith says, “Fear … is a product of thoughts you create. … Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” It’s true. We cannot escape the feeling of fear when it comes, but we choose what we do next.

We can counter the enemy’s lies. Jesus says to his abiding disciples, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). God wants to renew and transform our thoughts (Romans 12:2). He desires to give us a spirit of power, love, and a calm, well-balanced mind of discipline and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

5. Frame your responses – My dad encouraged me to think through my fears, asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” He helped me examine my choices.

When fear comes, consider your options. Create a “how to” notebook as a resource of helpful information. Make a list of crisis steps.  Imagine acting with wisdom, courage and obedience, no matter what comes—like Daniel (6:7-22) and Esther (3:5-6; 4:1-16).

6. Feed your faith – The person who is armed with biblical resources is better prepared to face fears.

Feed your faith by memorizing and meditating on scripture and developing intimacy with God in prayer. Find mentors who have walked through trials with courage. Create a blessings journal and review God's faithfulness (Psalm 89:8; 115:1; Lamentations 3:22-23). Remembering how God’s presence got you through past trials will encourage you in today’s struggles (Psalm 91:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

7. Flourish in Friendships - Don’t go it alone. The Body of Christ is meant to come alongside with encouragement and comfort, and can do so because of the Comforter (the Helper) within (John 14:16, 26; 2 Corinthians 1:4). Reach out. Be transparent. Accept help.

8. Focus on praise – Be like Joseph (Genesis 50:20) and Job (Job 1:1; 19:25). Practice God-confidence and worship now, so it will be second-nature when tough times come.

What is your most powerful BIBLICAL response to fear?

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.