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Entries in Cindi McMenamin (13)

Thursday
Dec132018

Three Ways to Make This Christmas More Meaningful

Cindi McMenamin, who writes to strengthen women in their daily walk with God, opens up about how she has changed in her attitudes about the holidays, and in this Christmas UPGRADE, she offers suggestions for a more meaningful season.

Cindi asks, "Are you a woman whose goal is to survive the holidays? You go into get-it-done mode and plow through your to-do list and give a big sigh of relief on January 2nd when it’s all over?"

That was my (Dawn's) attitude for many years before God rescued me from undue stress. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Cindi continues . . .

I was that way, too. For years. Then I realized I was missing something very important.

  • Special memories passed without my embracing them.
  • Loved ones came and went and I barely noticed.

Soon the Christmas Season was over and I was tired, but unfulfilled. I knew something had to be done differently.

Today, I’d like to think of myself as a woman who doesn’t just survive the holidays, but, rather, a woman who actually thrives during the most hectic time of the year.

And I’d like to encourage you to be one, too.

Yes, there are extra expenses, extra responsibilities and extra amounts of stress this time of year. There can also be extra expectations—on your part or the part of others—that can cause drama and leave you feeling like a woman on the edge.

Last year, I decided I wanted to be one who truly ENJOYS this time of year, so I started focusing on the few things that matter—and those few things helped me experience a drama-free Christmas that was memorable and fulfilling.

1. Put God First.

You’ll be a woman who is able to accomplish more if you know where your priorities are.

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, He replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Since Christmas is when we celebrate His birth, what better gift to give Him than obedience? And what better way to show Him we are obeying His command to love Him first by giving Him the first of our day, through our time?

I can honestly say that if I don’t spend quiet time with God every day—preferably in the morning—I’m a mess. My family will attest to that, too!

Preferably, for me, that quiet time consists of at least 20 minutes in prayer and in God’s Word, letting His perspective and principles guide my life. But there are days when that quiet time consists of only a few minutes of quieting my heart before God and asking for His strength to get me through the day.

As we put God first in our day, we are reminded that His approval, His love and His expectations are more important than anyone else’s.

And at this time of year when we can become run down and therefore ultra sensitive, hormonal or just plain cranky, we can tend to have unrealistic expectations on others and be hurt if they’re not appreciating us, supporting us or showing love toward us.

When you are secure in your relationship with God and convinced that He loves you and that’s enough, you can face whatever comes your way.

2. Prioritize Your Loved Ones.

You’ve heard the saying “You can’t please all the people all the time,” right? We have to remember this one at this time of year because there are so many demands on our time.

Often those we live with and love the most get the least of us when we are trying to please everyone.

By asking yourself “What does my family need most from me today?” and then accomplishing that first on your to-do list, you won’t make the mistake of being a people pleaser and a friends and family failure.

Yes, you may be expected to bring cookies to your child’s classroom, but if it happens on the day your child is sick or your husband has a last-minute need that he forgot to communicate to you, or your grandmother is rushed to the hospital, you will have to make a choice to keep yourself sane.

You just may have to let some people down at this time of year in order to keep first things first.

No one likes to do that, but in reality, when you have priorities, it means something else (or someone else) may have to go without. Make sure you prioritize those who love you and need you the most.

Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). The ones you live with, eat meals with, and sleep next to are your "neighbors" more than anyone else.

You can prioritize them—while still reaching out to others at this time of year—by making sure their needs are met first and then inviting them along with you to help meet the needs of others. That will keep you balanced, but not at risk of neglecting those closest to you. 

3. Pursue Moments that Lead to Memories.

There’s nothing worse than a Christmas that is self-absorbed.

If it’s all about what we want—or what our children want, or what someone else wants—we can lose focus of what it truly means to give as God gave of His Son, and Christ gave of Himself. As you look around, it’s not difficult to notice so many in need—physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.

What are the moments that lead to stories you will tell at the dinner table at night?

  • Stopping to talk to a homeless person and handing them a bag of groceries?
  • Taking your children—or your girlfriends—to a convalescent home and singing carols, or just going door to door to visit the elderly and handing them each a candy cane?
  • Taking a meal to a family at church? 
  • Going caroling and wishing well those that open the door and smile at you?

The holidays that have meant the most to me and my family are the ones in which we got outside of ourselves and touched another life, not necessarily because it made us feel good, but because it touched someone else’s life.

It showed our God that we understood a glimpse of what He sacrificed when He sent His Son to earth—and then to a cross—for us.

What will you do to make Christmas more meaningful this year—for yourself, for your family, for your neighbors, for those with desperate needs?

Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, mother, and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their walk with God and have drama-free relationships. She is the author of 16 books, including the best-selling  When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), Women on the Edge, Ten Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, and Drama Free.  For more on her speaking ministry, books, or free articles to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Jill-111 at Pixabay.

Thursday
Jun142018

The ABCs to Curing Marital Complacency

I have grown to greatly respect Cindi McMenamin for her biblical foundation and practical expressions of help for women in the body of Christ. Though this article runs in June—when so many are focused on new love and weddings—in this Marriage UPGRADE, Cindi encourages women who have been married for a while and might need some encouragement.

Cindi asks, "Would you describe your marriage as fresh, passionate, and continuing to grow? Or could it be described as stale, stunted, and maybe even a bit moldy?"

I (Dawn) don't think I've ever heard a marriage described as "moldy" before, but it sure got my attention! Who wants a moldy marriage?

Cindi continues . . .

You don’t have to be newly married to experience a healthy, vibrant marriage. In fact, yours can improve with a few adjustments to curb the complacency and keep the home fires burning. 

I know what you might be thinking:

But, so much has changed since we first married.

Or maybe you’re thinking:

I don’t feel attractive around him anymore. In fact, I feel that he barely even notices me.

Those thoughts you have not only have been mine at one time, but they’ve belonged to hundreds of other wives who have written to me over the past 15 years about their frustrations and complaints. And as I sorted through them, I related to many of them, as well.

There were nights I would lie awake next to my husband, who was sleeping in sweet oblivion, and wonder how to turn back the clock and make him see me the way he once did – as the captivating woman he fell in love with.

So many times I wished I could have back that man I married—have him treat me the same way he used to.

And then I realized there was only one way to have that back.

BE the woman I was, and do the things I did when I first captured his heart.

In Revelation 2, The Apostle John records a vision of Christ saying to a First Century church:

You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (verses 4-5).

While that was written in the context of early Christians and their complacency toward Christ, it can be applied to our marriages today.

God is not the only One who recognizes when our enthusiasm for Him has waned.

Our husbands recognize it, too.

They once received our admiration, our smiles from across the room, and our unwavering attention. Then life happened.

Children came.
Work called.
We gained a few pounds.
And a million distractions.

And before we knew it, complacency set in.

In my book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I show wives how to BE and REMAIN the woman their husbands fell in love with so they can experience more in their marriage.

  • More trust.
  • More passion.
  • More communication.
  • More understanding.
  • More forgiveness.

And more of what you didn’t realize your marriage was capable of.

Every relationship needs do-overs or fresh starts.

Here’s yours.

Go back to the basics by following these ABCs.

They will help you curb the complacency in your marriage and start down the road toward removing the baggage and rebuilding love with your husband.

A – ACCEPT the fact that your husband cannot meet all your emotional needs.

Your husband was not meant to fulfill you in every way. 

You must find your acceptance, security, sense of worth, and identity in who God says you are.

As you begin to take that tremendous expectation off of your husband and see who you are in the eyes of your Creator and heavenly Father, you will gain the kind of confidence that exudes beauty and elicits pursuit.

[But if your man doesn’t follow suit, you have done what you need to do to be more able and stable to deal with whatever comes (or doesn’t come) your way—*see note below.]

B – BE the helper he needs you to be.

In Genesis 2:18, we see that God designed woman to be man’s “helper.”

When our focus shifts to “how can my husband help ME?”—and we insist on being needed, appreciated, encouraged and affirmed—we are no longer helping. We are clinging to—and in some ways crippling—our husbands.

Personally, I have found that I am far more fulfilled when I am focusing on being my husband’s helper and companion, than when I’m accidentally being his complainer and crippler.

C – CULTIVATE a “new bride” attitude.

Remember when you were a brand new bride?

  • You couldn’t wait until you and your new husband got off work so the two of you could be together again.
  • You constantly checked your voice mail messages to see if he had called during the day.
  • You had a special sparkle in your eyes when you talked of him and a spring in your step when you walked alongside him.

There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t want her husband to continue to treat her like he did when they first married.

But what if we returned to the “new wife” syndrome and starting treating and responding to our husbands the way we once did?

Remember what it was about him that made you fall in love with him, and then ask God to give you back that loving feeling for him.

If you’re waiting for your husband to do something different to win back your heart, I guarantee he will when YOU start responding to him like you once did when you were a brand new bride. 

Which of these ABCs will you focus on this week so you can curb the complacency in your marriage?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, certified Writing Coach, and author of 16 books including When Couples Walk Together (which she co-authored with Hugh, her husband of 30 years), Drama Free, and  12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, upon which this article is based. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

* For more on how to draw closer to God and see Him as your spiritual Husband who can meet all your needs—thereby freeing up your spouse from your emotional expectations—see Cindi's book, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs.

 

Tuesday
Feb132018

3 Ways to Recapture Your Husband's Heart

Pastor's wife and author Cindi McMenamin encourages women in their walk with God and relationships, and in this Marriage UPGRADE she offers wives a good challenge for Valentine'sDay—and every day.

Cindi asks, “Do you ever wish you could turn back the clock, erase the baggage, and have your husband see you the way he once did?”

That question struck home hard with me (Dawn) when I read it. Physically, I've been working on my health, weight and appearance, and it makes me smile that my husband has taken notice! But I've also wondered during my Quiet Times with the Lord, "Is there something in my spirit that has changed (for the worse) since our marriage?" Cindi has good insight for me... and all of us.

Cindi continues . . .

I’ll never forget the day I was cleaning through my top dresser drawer and found a treasure.

I almost threw out the stack of aged, yellowed papers, weathered by time and slightly torn on the edges. When I unfolded the papers and read through them, I instantly realized why I’d kept them all those years.

They were love letters from my husband—written nearly 30 years ago—that included phrases like these:

  • “I love you beyond expression.”
  • “You complete me like no other.”
  • “I love you desperately.”

As I read through them, my eyes teared up.

And then my heart dropped.

I haven’t had a letter like this from him in years.

All of the letters dated back to the first few years that we were married. And they all described the captivating woman he saw me as—the woman I had hoped in my heart of hearts that I still was.

How I would have loved to believe that I hadn’t changed a bit through the years. How easy it would have been to believe that he was the one who had become distant, more critical, less interested and less passionate than he was the day we married.

It was a little tougher to put that magnifying glass up to myself and ask if I was the one who let resentments build up or baggage get in the way.

I realized if I was to be the cherished wife who receives another letter like that one day, I would have to BECOME that woman my husband wrote to so many years ago.

Here are a few of the steps I took to remove the baggage, rebuild love, and recapture my husband’s heart. And I am confident they can work for you, too.

1. RESPOND to Him Like a New Wife.

When I asked myself what it was I was doing to make my husband write letters to me like he once did, the answer was simple: I was responding to him like a new bride. 

Remember when you were a brand new bride?

  • You couldn’t wait until the two of you got off work so you could be together again.
  • You constantly checked your voicemail messages to see if he had called during the day.
  • You had a special sparkle in your eyes when you talked of him and a spring in your step when you walked alongside him.

What would it take to get back that loving feeling for him?

If you’re waiting for him to do something different, I guarantee he will when YOU start responding to him like you once did when you were a brand new bride.  

2. REFRAME What You Say to Him.

Most of the baggage in marriage comes from words the two of you have said to one another.

Careless words. Accusing words. Hurtful words.

Many times we didn’t even intend for those words to sound the way they did. That’s why we must learn to reframe what we say to our husbands.

Ephesians 4:29 instructs us toLet no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

So, instead of saying, “Are you going to wear THAT to dinner?”—say instead, “I’d love it if you’d wear that new shirt you look great in.”

And instead of saying, “Why don’t we go out on dates anymore?”—try instead, “I miss spending time alone with you.”

Ask yourself, before the words exit your mouth, “Am I saying this in a way that will encourage him?”

3. REFUSE to Dwell on the Negatives!

Every married couple has experienced wounds that are best left in the past.

Negative thoughts and memories of old wounds may assault you at times, but don’t let them run rampant in your mind.

Instead, practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, which instructs us to take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Capture that thought and kill it.

And then remember why you fell in love with your husband in the first place.

  • Was it his tenderness?
  • The way he made you laugh?
  • His dependability and faithfulness no matter what the circumstance?

Focus on his positive qualities—even ones that you believe are no longer there—and you just might start noticing them again.

Which of these three steps can you begin taking today to recapture the heart of your husband?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 16 books who has been married 30 years to a  pastor and introvert. Her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, released Feb. 1 from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Alexas Fotos at Pixabay.

Monday
Oct302017

Upgrade Your Fear Factor

Cindi McMenamin's specialty is strengthening women in their various roles. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she addresses something that holds many women back—the wrong kind of fear.

"Can fear ever be a good thing? It can," Cindi says, "but only when you are fearing the Right Thing."

I (Dawn) am a naturally fearful person, but I add my testimony to Cindi's here. Perspective is everything!

Cindi continues . . .

It occurred to me, as I was writing my book, Drama Free, that most of the drama we experience in life is a result of fear.

We tend to fear people—or circumstances—more than we fear God.

For instance, I was recently stressed out because I feared not being able to complete a deadline. But my fear was really rooted in failing to meet the expectations of others and then fearing what they would believe about me as a result.  

It bothered me to realize I was fearing what people thought of me more than I feared the God who had my back and could clear my name.

And couldn’t God equip me with what I needed to meet my deadline as I surrendered it to Him?

Throughout Scripture we are instructed to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

A friend once told me:

To fear God is to have a wholesome dread of ever displeasing the Lord.

That implies a love relationship with God in which we fear disappointing Him. That results in obedience, respect of His authority, and a careful intention to not break His heart.

The Bible also tells us, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” (Psalm 111:10, NASB).

I’ve come to realize the opposite of wisdom is drama.

When we exercise wisdom, we use discretion and we don’t make a scene.

When we demonstrate wisdom, we don’t bring distress to others.

When we display wisdom, we are not putting ourselves on display. 

If fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, which negates drama, then fearing anything other than God is likely to trigger drama.

Instead of fearing God, you and I can tend to fear:    

  • being misunderstood
  • being treated unfairly
  • being embarrassed (by appearing weak or incapable)
  • being rejected
  • being in a situation where I am not in control (My daughter has a fear of flying because she fears not being in control. And let me tell you, she can be drama on the airplane because of it!)

Sometimes we simply fear the worst. That is still a fear of something other than God. It is giving more power to what we fear than to God, who can handle those fears.

In Exodus 14:14 we are told: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV).

That is ONE CAPABLE GOD—able to do far more than our fears, worries or drama can accomplish.

The more you and I get to know who God is and what He is capable of, the more our worries, fears, and freak-outs can be stilled.

We can be full of drama, or full of trust in an all-capable God.

I know which one I want to be.

What do you tend to fear more than God? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of sixteen books, including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, upon which this post is based.  For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.                        

Graphic adapted, courtesy of John Hain at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Avoid Drama by Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Cindi McMenamin would love to see women display more and more strength as they embrace life-changing truth. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she explains how we can have less drama and more soul-strength by choosing friends carefully.

She asks, "Do you find there’s much drama in your life? If so, it may have to do with your choice of friends."  

I (Dawn) know this is true. Today I have different "levels" of friendships—intimate, ministry-based, casual, and sad to say, "guarded." Friends are truly a blessing, but we still need to pray carefully about the people we invite into our hearts.

Cindi continues . . .

Christian women often get the idea that they must be friends with everyone. Yet the Bible tells us,

“The righteous choose their friends carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).

Sometimes you and I don’t actually choose our friends—they just find us and before we know it, we’re hanging out with someone who is either helpful or a hindrance. But if you and I want to dial down the drama in our lives, it would be wise to take inventory of our friendships.

As I was writing my book, Drama Free, I included a list of the five types of friends you and I need in our lives. As you read through this list (which is not in any particular order), you might want to take mental note of the kinds of friends you currently HAVE to get an idea of how balanced you are.

You might also use this list as a guide to praying about the friendships you might STILL need.

1. The Fun Friend

Let’s admit it. We all need someone who is fun to be with, who makes us laugh, who encourages us to set the work aside, have some fun, live a little.

You and I can’t spend every waking moment with this friend because if we did, we’d never get anything done. But if you have a friend who can balance the fun with responsibility and maturity, and encourage you to let go of work now and then and not take yourself so seriously, you have found a treasure.

Who encourages you to not take yourself so seriously?

2. The Firm Friend

I’m not talking about the woman who is constantly working out and has considerably less body fat than the rest of us. Although you and I need her too (we’ll get to her later), we need a friend who will firmly tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear.

While your fun friend may encourage you to laugh it off or live for the moment, your firm friend will often remind you of what’s best for you, even if it isn’t fun or even comfortable. She does this because of her love for you and her ability to see beyond the moment to what really matters.

And if she’s able to be firm with a generous dose of grace and love, hold onto her. She is a rare gift.

Who tells you what you need to hear instead of just what you want to hear?

3. The forward-moving friend

You’ve seen her. You probably even admire her (or maybe you can’t stand her because she has it all together!).

She gets excited about New Year’s resolutions and seeks out people to join her in them each January. She talks about what she’s reading, what she’s learning in her Bible study, or the latest class she’s taking to explore something new.

Do you have someone to challenge you to be more healthy, read more books, think more deeply, hone your skills?

We all need to keep moving forward personally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Who challenges you to move beyond where you are right now? 

4. The Faithful Friend

Every woman needs a friend who will be there through thick and thin. Through the dark days, through the sick days, through the days you are having difficulty and just need someone to understand.

Not only is the faithful friend always there, but she’s loyal—meaning she would never talk behind your back or re-evaluate the friendship if she thinks she’s giving more than you are.

A faithful friend doesn’t keep track of how many times she has called you vs. how many times you take the initiative to call her.

She will pick up with you wherever the two of you left off.

The opposite of the faithful friend is the gossip or critic. Proverbs 16:28 says “a whisperer separates close friends.” Your faithful friend is the one who will never be whispering to others about you.

Who can you always depend on, regardless of season or schedule?

5. The “Faith-filled” Friend

Do you tend to be a worrier? Do you stress out when a situation seems out of control? If you hang around others who do the same, you will fuel each other’s fire of fear and doubt.

That’s why every woman needs a faith-filled friend who doesn’t worry or talk about the “what ifs,” but trusts in the Lord and helps fill up others with her faith.

When your concerns cross the line into worry, doubt, and fear, that’s when you need your faith-filled friend to remind you Who is ultimately in control. 

If you have at least one friend in each category above (or all the categories are covered by the few friends you have), you are rich beyond measure.

And if there’s a friend on that list that you don’t yet have, you know what to look for—and the kind of friend to be as well.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of fifteen books, including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, upon which this post is based.  For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.                        

All Graphics adapted, courtesy of Pixabay, except for the Faith-filled friend graphic, courtesy of Lightstock.