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 Decisions (6)

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.

Tuesday
Sep262017

How to Kick Regret to the Curb

Counselor and Bible teacher Debbie W. Wilson encourages women to cultivate vital faith, and in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she advises us to deal with mistakes biblically and "kick regret to the curb"!

Debbie asks: "Why would Eve trade paradise for the knowledge of good and evil? Why do I swap peace for worry?"

I (Dawn) can't count the times I've allowed worry to control my life. When I make a simple mistake, I let the enemy play with my emotions until I'm a total mess. But God's Word has solutions for that problem, and Debbie shares a powerful truth.

Debbie continues . . .

Eve and I share a common problem. We've both allowed the desire for knowledge to rob us.

Choosing fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil made her miserable. My desire for the knowledge of good, better, and best has stolen my joy.

Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral-colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d thought it through better,” I moaned.

That’s when the Eve analogy struck me. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would be like God (Gen. 3:5).

  • Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge?

  • Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing?

  • Is my desire "to know" a way to replace my need for God?

Have you let decisions you’d like to do over with the knowledge you’ve gained from time and experience steal your peace?

Even though God’s Word and Spirit guide us, we still learn as we go.

Even young Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Where did I get the idea errors are catastrophes? I've felt worse over a mistake than over sin.

I knew God forgives sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes.

Here’s some grace and help to avoid or handle REGRET.

1. BEFORE a decision, ask God to lead you.

That may mean asking Him to help us want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Ours is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The store held my size to give me time to decide. A battle between why they made sense and why I was CRAZY to think about them ping-ponged through my mind. The next morning I asked God to guide me.

I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Is. 54:2 NLT).

Ginny and I laughed out loud. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.”

I hadn't, but it assured me God would lead me.

When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

2. BEFORE and AFTER a decision, exercise thanksgiving.

God causes “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank Him that He will use it for our good.

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder God’s bigger than my shortcomings.

3. LIGHTEN UP!

God created us to need Him.  

Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Jesus is “the life” (John 14:6). Let's not let a decision draw us away from Him.

Before we left Chicago a pair of ankle boots grabbed my attention. Cute, comfortable, and affordable!

What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

Debbie W. Wilson, drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of kconnors-Morguefile.

Thursday
Jun292017

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Victories

Victories don't just happen. In this Victory UPGRADE, Dawn shares five ways to set yourself up for some fresh victories!

When I met Joni Eareckson Tada, I was overwhelmed with the sense that this woman is not a victim, in spite of her quadriplegia. She is a victor! Likewise, Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs, has the mindset and makes the choices that set him apart as a victor in Christ.

I can't tell you the times I've nearly wept, realizing how petty my struggles are compared to theirs. But the same truths that have enabled these victors to rise above their trials are available to me.

As Nick says, "If you can't get a miracle, become one."

I've always loved that exciting moment when runners "set up" in their lanes at the starting block to run a race. To be a victor, we need to intentionally set ourselves up for the victories we so desire.

Here are the five ways I'm learning to set myself up for fresh victories.

1. Set Your SPIRIT

The first thing to acknowledge is our utter incapability to fix ourselves.

Without Christ, we are lost and struggling sinners. But in Christ, the possibilities for change are endless! The Father is making believers like His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit!

To pursue victory, we must first set our spirit on the Spirit.

Knowing we are "crucified with Christ" and that now Christ lives in us, we determine to "live by faith in the Son of God." And how do we do that? We learn to "walk in the Spirit"—to keep in step with Him—so we will not gratify our fleshly desires. We "sow" to the Spirit if we want to cultivate a life of victory over sin.

We lose many battles because we forget our struggle is not a simple flesh-and-blood skirmish. It's a tough, spiritual war. We struggle against powerful forces of evil, and we must go to battle with spiritual, God-supplied weapons.

2. Set Your MIND

Paul told the Colossians to set their minds on "things that are above, not on things that are on earth."

A focus on eternity can help us make better decisions and live a more victorious life.

Sitting in a revival conference many years ago, the evangelist's words stirred my heart: "There are only two things you can take with you to heaven," he said. "Only two things pass from this world into eternity: the Word of God and human souls."

Those words greatly impacted my perspective and priorities. When life is boiled down to those two things, it's remarkable how some choices are simplified and others eliminated.

Christian victors have an eternal perspective.

David Ring, who has cerebral palsy, explains it this way: "I'm still in the oven. God's still in the kitchen, and God's still cooking on me. And when God is finished cooking on me, God is going to pull me out of the oven, and God's going to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

David is an example of a believer whose perspective is being transformed by the "renewing" of his mind. Just as we are to walk in the Spirit, we're also to set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

A person's mindset colors responses to life's circumstances.

While we may legitimately be victims of others and need to learn new ways to respond to our pain, in many cases, our victimization comes from within. We may be labeling ourselves as victims as an excuse not to change, or to receive pity from others.

Our focus makes a huge difference. For instance,

  • Victims focus on losses, while victors realize the "gain" possible in tough circumstances.
  • Victims see people conspiring against them; but victors realize we are all sinners and we're likely to wound each other as we rub shoulders--so they learn to forgive and give grace.
  • Victims wear themselves out trying to achieve elusive approval and contentment. Victors have learned to live for an audience of One.

So set your mind on heaven and the things of the Spirit, and you'll escape a lot of "victimhood."

3. Set Your AFFECTIONS

It's not only the mind that needs setting. While charging his son Solomon to build the temple, King David told the leaders of Israel, "Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God" (1 Chronicles 22:19a).

David, who had a heart for God, took time in the fields as a shepherd boy to develop his heart relationship with God; and God used these experiences to develop David's character and leadership skills. Though he made foolish choices in his later life, he always deeply honored and loved the Lord.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to set their affections when He said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...." It's a choice.

4. Set Your BODY

Along with setting our mind, Paul, in Rom. 12:1, appeals to believers to "present" their bodies to the Lord as "a living sacrifice." He also speaks of yielding our bodies as tools of righteousness. That's an intentional decision—to set our bodies before the Lord and allow Him to use us.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies, and bring Him glory with our actions in the body.

5. Set Your GOALS

When we have given God our spirit, mind, affections and body, we are ready to set some goals.

The Bible gives us a balanced view of goal-setting. We're to make plans, but to plan with humility and seeking God's wisdom and will.

When making any goals, be sure your priorities are biblical. Don't worry; seek and trust the Lord

We certainly don't honor God with laziness. He expects us to use His wisdom and be diligent so we be can be successful. That doesn't mean we can be presumptuous either! James says it's better to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Set your goals, but know the Lord is sovereign and He may change your plans.

We live in a fallen world. We will not be perfect until heaven. But we can't make excuses and coast spiritually.

Intentional, biblical choices will encourage more and more victories!

So, are you all "set" for victories? Which of these "sets" needs a little tweaking today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.