Member of AWSA

  Info about AWSA

 

[See their Bios on the Partners Page by clicking on the Blogger box, above]

     PARTNERS:

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

 

Entries in Choices (19)

Tuesday
Nov132018

Tough Choices to Live a Life of Integrity

Becky Harling is funny, insightful, and intensely passionate that women learn how to live in emotional and spiritual freedom. In this Character UPGRADE, she writes about the choice to live in integrity.

"We’ve all experienced the crushing disappointment of Christian leaders that we’ve admired who have failed morally," Becky says. "What exactly is a life of integrity and how do we insure that we live a life of integrity and finish well?"

I (Dawn) am heartbroken to know of Christian friends in places of leadership who chose sin over a life of integrity; but Becky's words of warning and encouragement aren't just for leaders—they are for all of us.

Becky continues . . . 

Steve’s parents came and visited us this past summer. Now near 90, their lives have been marked by steadfast integrity. As a result, the generations after them have been blessed.

As I’ve was thinking about how God has used their integrity, I read Psalm 101.

In this delightful, short Psalm, David gives us very specific choices we can make to live a life of integrity.

Now I have to warn you, some of these choices are TOUGH!

Honestly, they go against the grain of our human sinful nature; and at times, they’re downright inconvenient.

But, the payoff is the legacy of integrity that’s left for those who are following behind. I know that’s what I want to leave behind. What about you?

If you want to leave a legacy of integrity to those coming up behind you here are three choices from Psalm 101 that you can make now!

1. Praise God for His love and goodness continually.

“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise” (Psalm 101:1).

The Hebrew word for praise that’s used here speaks to a celebration, praising God with song. Every day should be a celebration of God’s amazing love and goodness, but often that’s not the case, because we focus our thoughts on what we don’t have or what we wish we had.

What if you began every day by thanking God and praising Him for His love and goodness in your life? My guess is that you would live a more positive life, and you’d definitely be on your way to a life of integrity.

When we focus on God’s love rather than on all the things that go wrong in life, we’re more likely to make positive decisions. We’re not as grumpy and cranky.  

The next time you’re tempted to complain or gripe about something, shift your focus to God’s faithful love. Watch how your spirit grows more joyful almost instantly.

I’ll never forget when my friend, Jill’s, dad was admitted to assisted living. Often during that season of life, folks become cranky and resentful. But not Jill’s dad!

When Jill called Ed to ask how he was doing, he responded exuberantly, “Jill! This place is awesome! It’s like a cruise ship. I love it!”

Every time, we went to visit Ed, we left encouraged. Even during the last months of his life while he was enduring pain, Ed talked about the goodness of God and nurtured a thankful spirit.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I want to be, and that means I have to nurture a thankful heart now!

2. Be careful what you set your sights on. 

“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile” (Psalm 101:3).

Immoral choices don’t just happen. They usually start with lustful thoughts that have been nurtured.

We need to be careful and exercise a heart of discernment about what we gaze on and fill our minds with.  Sometimes even the news is so graphic and argumentative that we need to shut it off.

When you’re watching T.V. or a movie, ask yourself,

“Is this helping me follow Jesus more closely, or is it creating anxiety, worry, fear or lust in me?”

3. Walk away from gossip and dissention. 

"Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate” (Psalm 101:5).

It’s so easy—you’re having coffee with friends, and one friend starts to “share” how frustrated they are with a different acquaintance.

They need to process. So you listen, and soon you’re drawn in to something more deadly than just processing a frustration.

Here’s the thing: we’re called to not have any part in slander.

So, what do you do? You could say something positive and walk away. You could change the topic. Or you could say, “I’m not comfortable cutting that person down. I don’t have all the facts, and I don’t want to be guilty of gossip.”

Friend, these are sometimes hard choices. It may seem that they’re not very big choices, and what do they really matter?

But they DO matter.

By making choices after God’s own heart, one choice after another, you’ll be building a life of integrity. 

Which of the three tough choices do you struggle with most? What can you do to upgrade your level of integrity?

Becky Harling. Authentic. Passionate. Funny. Insightful. Becky is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats, and other venues. She is the author of Who Do You Say I Am?, Rewriting Your Emotional Script, Freedom from Performing, The 30 Day Praise Challenge and The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents. Becky is married to Steve Harling and has four adult kids and five grandkids. Visit her website and blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of qimono at Pixabay.

Thursday
Oct252018

Your Next Right Thing

Pam Farrel wrote earlier on this blog about a decision-making skill—making the obvious choice—and now, in this Choices UPGRADE, she's adding another decision-making skill: Do Your Next Right Thing.

Pam says, "Since college, more than four decades ago, I have made it my daily prayer: 'Lord, show me the next right thing. Then, as I see the next right thing, I do it!

"God has been faithful to upgrade my life as I have been faithful to do the next right thing."

I (Dawn) attest that God is faithful when we are faithful; and when His children struggle, He still is faithful! I appreciate Pam's wisdom here!

Pam continues . . . 

Elizabeth Elliot, a woman whose husband, Jim, was murdered as a martyr in the jungles, leaving her with an infant daughter, adopted the simple decision-making method ofDo the next thing”—love the next person; care for the next need; answer the next call.

She moved from a life that was unraveling to a strong vibrant ministry and personal life by simply doing the next thing.

I adapted her statement to “Do the next RIGHT thing.”

Moving from “right thing” to “right thing” moves your life forward, step by step.

Let me give you a series of simple examples/

When I was in college, my parents were going through a divorce, so I helped my mother move she and my siblings back to the safety and serenity of her parent’s family farm.

That was the next right thing.

I was already registered for college, so I moved into the dorms when my parent’s marriage dissolved and they each moved away from the city we had been living in. I worked hard to get A’s in my classes because no one: not my mother, my father or me, needed any more drama from any cause, especially from me.

That was the next right thing.

To guarantee I would have money to live on in this unstable time, I also applied and was hired for two part-time jobs.

That was the next right thing.

I was a competitive gymnast, so I enrolled in a PE class for gymnastics, and a coach noticed my skill, and invited me to try out for the diving team—which had potential for a scholarship. I made the team.

That was the next right thing.

A friend I made on that swim/dive team invited me to a Bible study. I went and during the prayer at the end of the meeting, the leader gave those attending the opportunity to commit or recommit his or her life to Jesus. I prayed and recommitted my life to Jesus.

That was the next right thing.

The leader invited me to return the next week and bring friends. So the next Sunday, I went through the dorm and invited everyone, and 20 people came with me.

That was the next right thing.

It was obvious to the leaders that I had the seeds of leadership in me, even though I was new to walking in the faith. So one of the women leaders, invited me to attend a one-on-one mentoring discipleship appointment with her. I said, “Yes!”

That was the next right thing.

I committed to coming each week to both the large meeting and the one-on-one meeting. Then she challenged me to read the Bible, every day. So I did.

That was the next right thing.

She then upped the challenge to share my faith on campus. So I did it—everyday!

That was the next right thing

This created a track record of trust, so she invited me on to the leadership team. I said, “Yes!”

That was the next right thing.

The leaders were all invited to a leadership conference for more training. I said “Yes!” .

That was the next right thing.

At that conference the speaker challenged us to consider the call to fulltime ministry. I prayed, “Not my will but Yours, God.” 

That was the next right thing.

At that same conference, after that extended quiet time with God, I walked in the lobby, and a handsome young man, asked me, “What did God teach you?” I shared all God had taught me that day.

That was the next right thing.

That young man was Bill Farrel. We began dating, and asked God to lead our relationship

That was the next right thing.

On December 14, 1979, I married Bill.

That was DEFINITELY the next right thing!

See how a series of smaller wise choices grew into a series of more important right choices?

Then those more important choices grew into a few very vital life choices—all by doing “the next right thing”. 

Do the Next Right Thing is the principle reflected in this verse:

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion (Psalm 84:7 NIV).

When you move from right thing to right thing, you progress forward from strength to strength.

Doing the next right thing propels your goals, your character and your life forward.

What is the next right thing God is calling YOU to do?

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 46 books including bestselling, Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together—which this blog post was adapted from. Find out more about Pam and Bill Farrel at Love-Wise.  

Graphic adapted, courtesy of MabelAmber at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep042018

Upgrade Your Destiny: The Obvious Choice

Pam Farrel is a woman with much life wisdom, and in this Spiritual Live UPGRADE, she reminds us to check our level of spiritual maturity and the choices we make.

The real complications in life come when our maturity does not match our challenges," Pam says. "Simplicity will come when our maturity surpasses our challenges."

I (Dawn) think we sometimes complicate our journey with God. We want more and more knowledge and opportunities, but we may be failing to obey the "first things"—the simple things God asks us to do, and the simple, unfettered way He wants us to live.

Pam continues . . .

God’s will lead us to maturity step by step, if we will simply follow His light and His leading through His Word.

My husband, Bill, and I consistently share a simple, obvious statement to gain success:

“We make our choices and our choices make us: Healthy choices gain a healthier life.”

Healthy decisions cause growth and improvement in our lives. With each passing year, we are faced with challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities that seemingly are bigger and more demanding than the year before.

Healthy decisions move us forward step by step so that each year we are better prepared for what comes our way.

In 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success at Keeping It All Together, I share a series of tests we can use to check our choices and upgrade decision-making skills. Here is one of those tests.

Decision Making Skill 1: The Obvious Test

Ask yourself, “Is this decision so obvious that I am wasting time thinking about it?”

The reason these decisions are obvious is that God has already clearly spoken to these areas of life or they are generally accepted as the best practices. 

Consider these obvious decisions based on the best practices in life:

  • Get out of bed. Get dressed. Brush your teeth.
  • If a police car pulls up behind you and turns its lights on, pull over.
  • Get a good night’s sleep regularly.
  • If someone does something nice, say, “Thank you.”

God wants to strengthen our life, beginning with the obvious.

We all want to gain God’s blessings, yet struggle to place ourselves under His “Umbrella of Blessing”—that is, choosing to live a life of integrity.

"He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity" (Proverbs 2:7).

Just as an umbrella shades us from harmful rays of the sun or protects us in the rain, even so, obedience to God’s stated will protect us—mostly from our own misguided choices.

God’s stated will is the foundation on which we all can build a stronger, more stable life.

We long to know God’s will, yet often many of us fail to obey the obvious verses where God clearly lays out the place to begin knowing His plan for our lives.

Here are a few verses that share God’s will for our lives.

Ask yourself, "Am I . . . "

. . . Saved?"

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

. . . Spirit-filled?"

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

. . . Sanctified?"

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

. . . Sexually Pure?"

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

. . . Saying Thanks?"

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

. . . Suffering for Right?"

It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:17).

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:19).

. . . Seeking God?"

Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart (Psalm 119:2).

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me (Proverbs 8:17).

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29). *

Start doing—or continue walking out—these OBVIOUS things that God says are His will for you and three things will happen:

  • Your heart will become more in tune to God’s heart,
  • Your ability to understand the Bible will increase, and
  • You will gain insights from God for your future.

Which is God asking you to upgrade by obeying?

For me, I keep Praise Pages in my Bullet Journal to help me keep an attitude of gratitude. This obvious habit helps me keep a positive mindset, and I make better, wiser decisions as a result.

By simply obeying God’s Word, you gain the ability to walk in God’s will.

Can you thank God today for all these “obvious” things? Take a moment to consider which one/s might need some fresh obedience in your journey with God today.

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of over 45 books including 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success In Keeping It All Together which looks at how to strengthen 7 core areas of a woman’s life to move it forward.(This article is adapted from the Simple Skills material)  To gain more from Pam ‘s insights, join the Living Love-Wise Community. Simply go to www.Love-Wise.com and click the subscribe tab and select the membership option that best fits your life.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Delanie at Lightstock.

* The 7 "obvious" verses are from 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make (Harvest House, 1999), pp. 142-143.

Thursday
May242018

Habits for the Rest of My Life

A prestigious writer, Dianne Barker has long asked the Lord to guide her steps, so it's no surprise she focuses on what will please Him. In this Choices UPGRADE, she shares some habits that are changing her life. Maybe they will change yours too.

"I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions in January—gave that up long ago," Dianne says. "Decisions and goals work better for me."

I (Dawn) totally agree with this. "Resolutions" are too easy for most of us to break. But making daily choices that get us closer to healthy, godly goals, and cultivating life-building habits? Now that's a good thing!

Dianne continues . . .

Scrolling through journal notes, I found a ten-year-old list of decisions and goals. I’m updating the list and calling it “Habits for the Rest of My Life.”

1. Exercise daily—body and spirit.

No excuse for missing my daily quiet time.

Why settle for my feeble wisdom to navigate this life when I have divine resources for every minute?

2. See Jesus’ face only—especially when I encounter difficult people.

I’m making this decision carefully, aware that He may provide many opportunities to test me.

3. Get a grip on my self-esteem.

Still craving approval? Get over it!

My esteem depends only on God’s acceptance—not on performance or perfection.

God has poured his life into me and chosen me for a purpose.

4. Bring every thought into captivity.

Negative thoughts are defeating. Devastating. Paralyzing. A dead-end street.

Forget trivial stuff.

How many times the Lord has said to me, “You could be praying about bigger things.”

5. Learn thankfulness.

I lost a tiny screw from my glasses. How would I ever find it in my mammoth purse?

My friend said, “Let’s thank the Lord. Now empty your purse.” Found it!

Thankfulness makes sense—since my only options are to thank the Lord or grumble.

Thankfulness pleases the Lord and makes my life better.

6. Rejoice by faith.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Rejoicing is a decision, not a feeling.

Discouragement has robbed me. I choose to rejoice by faith.

7. Stop wallowing in despair and wailing about my inability, and make the most of every day.

I’m encouraged by Rahab’s comments to the two spies Joshua sent to Jericho:

"I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Joshua 2:9-11).

The Lord my God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. He is my courage!

I ended the journal entry,

“Lord, I only desire to glorify you. Don’t let me waste my life. I’ve set my heart to praise, trust and obey. Fulfill your purpose in me!”

We’re almost midway through another year—a good time to adjust our goals.

What do you hope God will accomplish in your life in the coming months for His glory?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage TruckDown the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. For more information about Dianne or her ministry, visit her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.

Thursday
Mar292018

My Eternal Hope

Jeanne Cesena is a woman who speaks authentically of the power of hope. In this UPLIFT story, she shares a testimony of her personal struggle, and how the Lord brought women into her life to encourage her as she trusted the eternal God of hope.

"Today is part of my eternity that began the day I was saved," Jeanne says.

I (Dawn) wish more people understood that concept, and chose to live each day in view of eternity.

What a difference it would make if we understood God's hope is for today and forever.

Jeanne continues . . .

What are your life goals? What are your eternal goals? What are you going to do today for God?

The great evangelist Billy Graham said:

"For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.”

The verse that came to my mind when I heard Billy Graham had passed away and entered heaven was: “The master said, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant'" (Matthew 25:23 NLT).

Walking a daily life that is glorifying to God is no easy task. As we walk through our daily lives, we each make choices about what we are going to think, say and do.

Our daily learning steps are for us to work out our sanctification to be more like Him so others can see more of God in us, and see more of God through us. 

In our trials we have a choice to turn toward God. When we see others going through trials, we have a choice to get involved and show God's love to others. Or not!

A life trial: My story of Hope in My Despair

ALONE.

Where does a woman turn when her husband abandons her the night she come home from the hospital with her newborn baby girl?

Not knowing what is going to happen next can be very scary.

My husband brought me home from the hospital and initiated a disagreement, an argument, to get out of coming into the house to help with the baby. Things were not going well with him that night; he was doing drugs and drinking.

My life was not turning out the way I had planned it.

I carried my newborn into our house as my husband drove away. It was a very cold house.  The heating radiators had blown and it was below zero outside.

All I could do was climb into my waterbed with my beautiful baby girl. The water was heated—the only heat in the house. I held her close as she lay in my arms, and I kept reciting Romans 15:13 in my heart until I fell sleep:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

Community: Eternal Hope in Action

The next day, the women from my church and my mom came over to my house. They brought things for the nursery, for my kitchen and for my dining room, and they helped me with the radiators.

That was hope in action.

These women were listening to that still, small voice of God inspiring them to take action.

They had to listen, think about what God wanted to do, talk to each other, gather the resources, get organized and then actually DO SOMETHING!

As these women were listening to God, I was putting all my hope in Him. The women became the answer to my prayers and a great encouragement to me.

We need to be open and receptive to the conversation God wants to have with each of us—to listen, learn, change and take action!

When I meet with individuals and couples, I often discuss some common communication techniques that are helpful. Here are two:

1. 1-800-God

This concept seems to have the most impact. Just like when your phone rings, no matter what emotions you are experiencing, you can choose to say a happy "hello."

You also have a change of focus. You are now listening to that voice coming from your phone. Then you have to listen, and think about what that person is saying before you speak or do something.

We can apply this concept to our everyday life.

Stop, connect with God, listen, then speak and do.

2. Represent Unconditional Love

When people look at us, they are looking at a representation of how we lived, what we have learned and our life experiences.

So we need to:

  • know how much God loves us,
  • be continuously filled with His love, and
  • seek to share this love by application of God's words through our thoughts, words and actions.

We can start by asking ourselves:

Today, what am I supposed to learn from God through this? And what should I do?

Jeanne Cesena is a strong woman, her strength built through many trials and a growing reliance on the Lord she loves. Enduring threats, abuse, abandonment and psychological struggles, she has come to see the Lord as her hope and healing. Jeanne ministers with her husband with Blended Step Families at Rock Church San Diego and is also a wedding planner and event/conference coordinator for churches and businesses. She is married, has three children—including a "bonus baby" at age 40—and has a powerful message to women about God's redeeming power.

 Graphic adapted, courtesy of Skimpton007 at Pixabay.