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     PARTNERS:

Lina AbuJamra

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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

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Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Kate Hagen

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

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Nali Hilderman

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Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

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Debby Lennick

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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

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

 

Tuesday
Jan282014

Raising a Modern-Day Princess

Doreen Hanna, the founder and president of Treasured Celebrations Ministries and the co-author of Raising a Modern Day Princess, cares about little girls’ hearts.

“Upgrade your teen daughter or granddaughter’s life,” Doreen says. “Raise her to be a Modern Day Princess!”   

As “Grammy” to three little girls, I want them to grow up to be strong, confident young women of God. But something like that doesn’t just happen. Moms and grandmoms need to be intentional.

Doreen continues …

I can already hear a mom of teenage daughter saying “What? Another upgrade? She already wants to upgrade her cell phone, her clothes, her i-pod … maybe even her friends or a family member, if it were possible!” 

Whether in a device or our personal life, an upgrade will always require us or our girls to make an investment of time, patience and sometimes money to manage that new upgrade.

I’m sure as a mother, mentor or grandmother, most of us seek to upgrade our girls’ lives spiritually. We want to equip them to embrace who they in Christ. Desiring that they become a true Modern-Day Princess—a Daughter of the King.

We desire for them to know the benefits of such an upgrade in their spiritual life, like embracing the wealth of wisdom that lies within God’s Word—wisdom that can guide them throughout their future.   

You as a mother, mentor, or grandmother (and I, as the founder of Modern Day Princess Headquarters) face the reality of some of the downgrades (heartbreaking statistics) when we consider the girls in our own community, church or family. Consider this:

  • Fifty percent of all teen girls are bullied due to lack of self-confidence.
  • One in every three girls, ages 11-18, has been diagnosed with clinical depression.
  • One in every 12 girls will attempt suicide before the age of 18.

Ladies!  We have been empowered by God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to give our girls a Premium Upgrade! We do this by speaking life and truth into each young mind and heart and by living a trustworthy life before them. We have these two key “apps” that have eternal impact.

So let’s take some practical steps to evaluate some upgrades for your Princess:

Upgrade #1 - If it’s an upgrade of a material object, like a new device: (1) Consider together, what will be the initial investment? (2) Who is going to pay for any additional monthly costs? (3) Will it cause loss of time with her most important relationship, her family?

Upgrade #2 – If it is an upgrade about her—her clothes, a new hairstyle, room décor, etc.: (1) Be honest. Do you have the funds to provide this right now? (2) Is she willing to use some of her own money to contribute? (3) Is it truly a need, or just a want?

Upgrade #3 – If it is an upgrade regarding friends (one of the most challenging upgrades): (1) Is her friend seeking to live like Christ? (2) How does she show it? (3) If she is not a Christian, are you willing to set the example?

Upgrade #4 – If it is an upgrade regarding family (another challenging upgrade): (1) Are we willing to forgive? (2) Willing to set the example? (3) To give the respect that others deserve?

Pray together as you consider these steps that will equip your daughter or granddaughter  for life and encourage her to become a Modern-Day Princess for the Lord. It’s truly a priceless upgrade!

What upgrade does your daughter need the most at this time? Are you willing to invest the time and resources to encourage her and help her grow as a Daughter of the King?

Doreen Hanna is the founder and president of Treasured Celebrations Ministries and the co-author, with Pam Farrel of Raising a Modern Day Princess and the companion journal, Becoming a Modern-Day Princess. Her ministry empowers women to equip girls and give them an integrity-based rite-of-passage in today’s culture. Visit Doreen’s website for more information.

 

Thursday
Jan232014

Dear God, We Need Friends

Janet Thompson, founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, shared a conversation she had about friendship. When I read it, I asked her to help us Upgrade our Friendships. She shares four ways she expanded her own friendship circles.

Janet wrote:

‘You sure do have a lot of friends!’ a friend exclaimed laughingly.

That’s what we prayed for,’ my husband, Dave, and I answered in unison.”

Have you ever prayed for friends? I prayed that same prayer about 10 years ago, and God has answered with an abundance of women I now cherish—valued companions in life and ministry.

Janet continues …

As newlyweds, we asked God to bless us with Christian “couple” friends. God answered that prayer beyond our expectations.

We knew it would be important for us to have a social life comprised of couples who shared our values and beliefs, so we intentionally prayed asking God to bring friends into our married life.

1. Looking For Friends Outside the Box!

Dave and I met in a small-group Bible study, so we had a head start on our quest for friends.

We were also willing to look outside our church home of Saddleback Church, so when I heard about a Marriage Builders class offered at another church, we decided this was perfect preparation for our upcoming marriage. We made more friends, and the pastor who taught Marriage Builders officiated at our wedding.

Then I heard a radio advertisement for a Caribbean cruise with Calvary Church. What a great way to spend our honeymoon—on a cruise with Christian couples. Again, it didn’t matter what church they attended. We were all in the family of God. We had fun being the “newlyweds” on the cruise and came home with a new group of friends.

Dave and I were also intentional about inviting other couples—people we met at the gym, at church, in the grocery store, friends of friends— to join our small-group Bible study. As the group expanded, so did our circle of friends.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

2. Moving, an Opportunity for New Friends

We bought a mountain cabin, and even though we were “weekenders,” we attended the local church, had couples over for dinner and hosted game nights. Soon people were saying I should run for mayor, because I knew so many people in town.

Then two years ago, we made the major move from Southern California to the mountains of Idaho. I wondered how we would make new friends, but I didn’t wonder for long. Again, we joined the local community church where the members embraced and welcomed us. Soon we had invitations to potlucks, football parties, game nights and social events.

3. Vacation with the Family of God

We decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary like our honeymoon, with Christian couples on the “Love Song Couples Getaway.” In one week, we made friends from all over the country who have become near and dear to us.

4. Friendships Are Our Witness

As Christians, someone is always watching us and we never know what aspect of our lives is influencing them. In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I tell the story of my daughter, Kim, who was contemplating becoming a Christian and worrying that she might not have any friends.

“Well, you and Dave have so many friends,” she said, “and you’re always having a good time. I guess I don’t need those [unbelieving] friends who won’t accept me.”

Friends enjoying wholesome activities together is a testimony that Christians have fun and fellowship.

It’s important to also befriend nonbelievers, but those we share our lives with should share our morals and our values.

There are potential friends everywhere, so go out and make a new friend!

Where have you found your most cherished friend? Did Janet give you any ideas for where you might cultivate new friendships?

Janet Thompson is an international speaker and an award-winning author of  17 books, including: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Dear God, He’s Home!-A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet at womantowomanmentoring.com and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo in text, adapted. Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday
Jan212014

Being a Happy Wife - Even When He Doesn't Make Me Feel Happy

Got 31 days? Arlene Pellicane will help you grow! In her most recent book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, she talks about husbands who don’t live up to our expectations … but she gives us hope. Upgrading our marriage has more to do with choice than circumstances. She says,

“What if want your husband to make you smile, but he isn’t giving you much to work with?”

When I read that, I thought: Every marriage has disappointments, and yes, we need to learn how to deal with them so marriages can become a blessing, not a burden.

Arlene continues …

I remember a very busy Wednesday in our home. First I woke up at 5:30 a.m. for boot camp at the gym. James will tell you it was very unusual for me to get up that early (knowing my love for sleep). Then I headed to the kids’ elementary school to watch Ethan’s class participate in a folk dancing festival followed by refreshments in the classroom.  

I rushed home and had a radio interview and then needed to update my website which was being redesigned. Plus I had speaking engagements to prepare for the next few days. And we were having company stay at our house the following day so I needed to clean.

Have you ever had one of those days? 

I was feeling the need for some serious words of affirmation from James. But, of course, I didn’t articulate that in words. I dropped hints left and right, but he was not catching on.

I’m huffing and puffing, walking quickly around the house with cleaning supplies. I’m sighing and talking about how much I had to do. I’m waiting for a comforting word or a compliment. He continues working from his office in silence. Now I’m even more stressed out because I’ve added “I have an insensitive husband” to my list of grievances.

Then it hits me. I am just doing my job. Why am I trying to get extra attention? As a mother, author and speaker, these are the kinds of activities that are part of the package.

I don’t commend James every time he brings the kids to school, completes his business calls and texts back his clients. That’s all part of his job

That evening, I wrote this in my journal:  

I realized today that I need to do my part and not wait for the kudos. Instead of thinking James will meet all my needs for affirmation; I need to lean on the Lord more for validation. I want to stop waiting for him to say the magic words. The truth is he doesn’t even know he’s supposed to say them. 

There will be many times when your husband will do or say something that will bring a big smile to your face. But don’t count on your husband to be the main source of your smile. He simply can’t live up to that. And when you need those words of affirmation, ask for them. Remember your husband is not a mind reader.

Whenever you find yourself feeling down in your marriage, pray this and ask God to restore your joy:  

“Lord, you say that a merry heart is like medicine. Smiling is good for my health. Help me to smile more often. I give you my worries and concerns. I give my burdens to you because I know You care for me. I choose to smile because I know I am loved. Thank you for loving me.”

Do you struggle with expectations you have with your husband to make you “happy”? What, from Arlene’s journal thoughts, encourages you the most?

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to a Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She lives in San Diego with her husband James and three children.  You can learn more about her at www.ArlenePellicane.com

Text Graphic: from wahmresourcessite.com

Thursday
Jan162014

A Surprising Way to Upgrade Your Sleep

I admire author Deedra Scherm for her dedication to family and the creativity she uses to teach and encourage her boys. This post about her choice not to compare herself with others is great advice for any woman, but especially moms with young children. They need encouragement … and sleep!

“This week I had a stranger make a comment to me about my kids,” Deedra said. “It’s not uncommon. I get several each week.”

I know Deedra’s mom, Dennie, and this young “apple” doesn’t fall far from Mama Tree! They both are creative and love children. But I digress. Deedra has some simple, profound wisdom that can make a difference!

She continues …

You see, we decided to start homeschooling our three young boys (ages four, six and eight) this year. So they are with me every day. All day. All. The. Time. Don’t stop reading! This won’t be a homeschool vs. private school vs. public school debate.

I was at the store picking up a few things, when the boys asked if they could look at the greeting cards. After a morning of teaching, my to-do list, and my lack of sleep the night before due to lesson planning … everything in me wanted to say, “No!  Keep on moving!” But I try to be a cool mom. 

Soooooo, I told them “Yes!” What followed were a few minutes of grabbing cards, extremely loud fall-on-the-ground laughing, and a whole bunch of, “Hey!  You’ve got to read this!” yelled back and forth. 

There was a woman who came up behind me as I was half slumped on my shopping cart. After watching for a few moments, she said, “You must really sleep well at night.”

Yes. Yes, I usually do.

But there are nights I don’t.  And the reason isn’t a lack of tiredness. 

Have you ever had those nights where you get in bed and your mind seems to go and go, replaying all the things you could have done or should have done? Visions of how much better life would be if you could just be more organized, eat a better diet, yell less at your kids, exercise more or even dress better?

Comparison is not hard to accomplish. It’s easy to look at the pictures our friends post on Facebook and feel less than good enough. 

I see homeschool families with all their kids sitting at the table together (all at once—can you imagine?) They’re doing some amazing craft project that I could never put together. I see other mothers (who have more kids than I do) tanned and toned and dressed in a size four. I see posts of women who have traveled to other countries building wells, tending to the sick, and rescuing orphans!

It’s easy to feel less than enough. But you don’t have to stay there, in a place of “I wish I could be more like that.” 

You could do what my friend Katie does.  I had to #LOL when she tweeted, “When I feel down about myself … I just watch an episode of “Hoarders” and then I don’t think I’m that bad.” 

Funny, but there is a better way. I’d like to share with you some things that have helped me kick the habit of bad comparison.

1. Rejoice!

Yes!  You should rejoice because God has created you wonderfully!  In Psalm 139:14 it says,  “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”  When you feel less-than, stop and give thanks to God for how He made you. 

Just as Esther was created for “such a time as this,” you were also created for this exact moment.  God knew what your strengths and weaknesses would be, what your personality would be and the resources you would have at this time. He gave you the children, husband, job, neighbors and the family you have. God hasn’t missed one detail of your life, and you were created wonderfully for it. Rejoice that He will work it all for good!

2. Refocus! 

God doesn’t want you to focus on the business of others. I love this little tucked-away verse in John 21 where Peter ask Jesus about circumstances with one of the other disciples, and Jesus says to him in verse 22, “… what is that to you? You follow Me!” 

When you see a Facebook post that makes you feel envious or frustrated, or when you are with someone who seems to have it all together and makes you feel less-than, it’s time to change directions. When you feel like focusing on what others are doing, stop yourself and say, “What is that to me?” and refocus on what God has called YOU to do today.

3. Release!

Take a moment to release the negative pressure you put on yourself. Reflect on the fact that God is responsible for making things “perfect”…not you. Stop worrying that you have to do more or be more in order to make everything work out. Philippians 1:6 says,  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  

Even in the midst of a struggle, you are promised that God will continue to work in you to work things out. You can trust Him! Keep recalling this verse to mind until you can release the outcome of your circumstances into the loving hands of Jesus.

Rejoice ... refocus ... and release! It might not be a lullaby, but it sure helps me sleep better at night!

Which of these three tips for upgrading sleep is the most challenging for you today? What choice can you make to change that?

Deedra Scherm lives in Dallas with her husband and three boys. Between homeschooling and writing, she's on constant watch out for "parents night out" so she and her hubby can get one of bookthose things called a date night. You can find her best selling book, The ABC Bible Verse Book,  and other books and DVDs at lemonvision.com or at  amazon.com

 

Tuesday
Jan142014

Adjusting to Change

Cherri Williamson is a missionary friend who, like most missionaries, has a life shaped by adjustments to change.

“Most of us don’t like change,” Cherri says. “I’ve had to adjust to many changes over the 37 years we served in Indonesia.”

Thirty seven years! When I went on two short-term mission trips, I got just a taste of what Cherri means by that word “adjustment,” so I know her insights are good for all of us ... anywhere!

Cherri continues …

Moving from modern conveniences to a thatched-roof house with dirt floors, a cement “squatty potty,” and no running water or electricity; and from conversing freely to speaking like a two-year-old as I studied two new languages—you’d think I’d now be a change pro! Wrong!

We recently moved to Singapore with its modern conveniences, malls, even Starbucks! But even this change hasn’t been easy.

The Lord reminds me of a few things when I go through these changes, and these reminders might help you too.

1. Don’t look back -“Forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). When looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, present circumstances seem lacking. Focusing on the past makes acceptance of new situations difficult. Keep your eyes on the Lord today! 

2. But look back! Do consider how the Lord helped you through past difficulties.  “Remember how the Lord ... led you all the way” (Deuteronomy 8:2). Faithful yesterday, He will be just as faithful today. Remembering “the wonders He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:12) gives confidence He’ll help in every new change. 

3. Accept differences as just “differences,” not inferior or “dumb.” Having just moved to Singapore, I’m adjusting to its myriad regulations. I found myself grumbling, “This is so dumb!” But God is helping me see some benefits of these myriad regulations! (An example: I don’t have to worry about stepping on chewing gum. It’s illegal here!)

4. Ask God to change your perspective. Our first two years in the Indonesian jungle (with no stores or electricity), I complained I was “sick of eating nothing but rice, canned meat and leaves.” I’ll never forget my husband Barrie’s gentle rebuke: “Honey, maybe if you if you referred to them as ‘greens’ instead of ‘leaves,’ it would help you have a better attitude.” He was right.

5. Find your contentment and joy in Christ—not things, people or circumstances.  Missing malls, Mexican food and corporate worship at home have sometimes been sources of discontentment; but being away from family still is the hardest adjustment. I’m learning the “secret of being content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

When I mutter, “If only ... THEN I would be happy,” my contentment is not in Christ. 

I CAN learn contentment “...through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and I CAN choose true joy! “You will ... grant me the joy of Your presence” (Ps. 16:11b NLT). 

6. Focus on the Unchanging: Christ’s presence, His Word, and His love and grace. He’s the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5b), His grace is always “sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He will always be faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). 

7. Ask God to make you aware of over-looked blessings. God opened my eyes to see the blessing of living in a country free of religious strife, where I can go out alone in safety, and where great medical help is available. 

8. Delight in things He wants to teach you. In the jungle, God taught me how to can foods and make bread, yogurt, and tortillas, and create jam from unfamiliar tropical fruits. I’d never have learned those things in “civilization.” 

God allows changes into our lives to grow our faith, shake us from complacency and remind us how much we need Him.  

Paul said, “We were under great pressure ... but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9). An old hymn says, “In every change, He faithful will remain.” Count on it!

Which of these eight “Adjustment Tips” would most help you in your current changing or difficult situation?

Cherri Williamson is a missionary with New Tribes Mission (NTM) and served in Indonesia with her husband Barrie in church planting and Bible translation for 37 years, now in Singapore. She is the mother of two—both missionaries in Indonesia—and the grandmother of seven "perfect" grandchildren.

Image in text adapted, graphic courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.