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Entries in Friendship (10)

Thursday
Dec202018

Enjoy Your Friendships—Especially at Christmastime!

Kathy Collard Miller is an amazing writer and speaker who focuses on women's hearts—encouraging women to live as Daughters of the King. In this Christmas UPGRADE, Kathy invites us to consider our friendships at Christmastime.

"Do friendships seem more beneficial or challenging? Most likely both," Kathy said.

I (Dawn) can't tell you how many new friendships I've developed during past Christmas seasons, but even more, I've come to appreciate the value of faithful friends who continue to encourage, challenge and motivate me.

Thank you, Kathy, for reminding us to view our friendships from God's perspective!

Kathy continues . . .

Let’s see how we can be more blessed by friendships than frustrated—especially during the holidays.

Friendships are gifts from God.

That may sound very basic, but when we remember God orchestrated every human contact, we can be grateful even when it’s a challenging connection.

When we are tempted to grumble instead, let’s remember the truth about friendships.

1. Friendships are God’s gift.

Sometimes we define “good” as “trouble-free.” We can easily assume God made a mistake or is mean-spirited when He connects us with an “unlovable” person. And certainly God might lead us to limit our availability, but every person has a purpose in our lives and we have God’s purpose in their lives.

Especially at Christmas, there might be a specific talent or perspective you offer few others can offer. Look for that kind of opportunity.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” How appropriate at the stressful time of Christmas.

2. Friendships are an invitation to draw closer to God.

For instance, if boundaries are needed, seek His plan and don’t immediately assume you should cut off the friendship.

I remember a challenging friendship which seemed her fault. I thought of requirements for her behavior which would eliminate my uncertainty.

Suddenly, I saw my plan of not needing to seeking God’s guidance at each challenge.

I released my control and learned to be more loving and kind with God’s power.

I remembered James 1:2: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

At Christmas, everyone celebrates differently. That can feel stressful and we might want to withdrawn or control.

God’s power can give us a gracious perspective of honoring others and see how we depend upon God because of it.

3. Friendships are examples to encourage us.

  • Is there someone who handles stress better than you by depending upon God? Ask her how she maintains her peace.
  • Is there someone who sets up priorities more effectively than you? Ask her about how she makes plans.
  • Is there someone who makes Christmas more worshipful? Ask her to share her ideas.

Most of us resist asking for help, but we need to humble ourselves. One humble question can open the door within another person’s heart to ask for help.

4. Friendships aren’t for comparisons.

You may have a friend who decorates amazingly for Christmas and you don’t know how to make those amazing bows. Don’t belittle your lack of designing skills.

Another friend is a fabulous gourmet cook and you can’t seem to remember to take the neck and giblets out of the cavity of the turkey. Don’t apologize every time someone takes a bite of your simple meal.

God never wants you to compare with another. I Corinthians 12:5-6 tells us, “there are varieties of service, … but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

You are uniquely suited for God’s service to others.

Be grateful for the God-given skills He’s given you, even if they seem lacking in comparison.

You have ideas others lack and are impressed by.

Use them for God’s glory.

What friendship challenge is God using to make you more holy or to give you an opportunity to help another?

Kathy Collard Miller is amazed at God’s work in and through her. She has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. As an author she has over 50 published books and her latest is At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series (Elk Lake Publishers). She is a wife, mom, grandma, and lay counselor living in Southern California. Discover more about Kathy's ministry at her website

Graphic adapted, courtesy of CelebrateWoman at Pixabay.

 

Thursday
Jul192018

Connection 101: Girl-friendship Is a Gift

Deb DeArmond cares about relationships—all kinds of relationships. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she offers insight to help us cultivate our friendships with other women.

It’s the test," Deb says, "of any friendship: the vacation without husbands, kids or other friends to cushion the shock of 24 hours together. On the ocean. In a cabin. For seven days."

That sounds heavenly to me (Dawn), but I'm sure there could be challenges. It's important we learn to grow up in our friendships.

Deb continues . . .

It was a bit on the early side of the Alaska cruise season, so Cindy and I landed an incredible upgrade with spacious digs, attentive staff, and a week of total luxury.

Fabulous meals, beautiful ports, and interesting folks on board.

And a lot of togetherness.

Girl-friendships, even for Christians, have often been challenging.

“Am I her favorite? Does she like me best?”

Remember in third grade, when the “new girl” was introduced to the class? We eyed her nervously, concerned she’d replace us in our bestie’s heart. We worked for that position and protected it fiercely. 

Step back, newbie. She’s mine.

We may be adults, but women still compete for that top spot—and the enemy will try to use these relationship needs against us if we’re not careful. 

I’m blessed to say it’s something Cindy and I have not struggled with.

Why not?

She and I are an unlikely twosome. Californians, now living in Texas. Close in age, married 40+ years. Adult kids and grandbabes. But that’s about it.

We’re wired differently, choose different hobbies, and we think differently; our needs and preferences are dissimilar. We’re an odd couple.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t compatible—we both love God and His Word fiercely.

God created us to need others.

  • Read Genesis. Even though God was with Adam from the start, He saw the need and created Eve.
  • The disciples numbered twelve, but three—Peter, James, and John—were those Jesus held close in the best and worst of times.
  • David and Jonathan.
  • Ruth and Naomi.

It’s a biblical pattern. We need relationship.

Cindy and I discussed our friendship on the cruise. That it’s risen to the level of importance it holds in our lives is surprising.

Here was our Alaskan epiphany: we don’t compete. With one another or for one another’s affection, time, and that all-important top spot in one another’s life.

We’re never fearful the other is “cheating” on us with other friends.

We have other friends. Close friends. And we’re grateful for each of them: colleagues, neighbors, quilting buddies, and writing partners.

We don’t see one another as often as we’d like. But we do life together, just not usually in the same place.

We don’t live in one another’s pockets. We can’t. She recently moved three hours away, but the distance has deepened our relationship.

We’re more intentional about staying connected.

So maybe that, too, is a gift. If we need one another—for any reason, day or night—we’re available and fully present.

We’ve confided in one another, knowing it’s “in the vault.”  Trusted. No judgment. A genuine gift from the Lord.

How do we do it? Here are three tips we discovered.

1. We have healthy expectations of one another.

She doesn’t need me to provide what only God can deliver. I’ve not made her the center of my emotional well-being—that’s His job.

Sometimes when women are lonely or need encouragement they turn to their bestie instead of God. Not in addition to God, but instead. If that one gets mixed up, it’s a quick trip to trouble.

2. We rely on one another—for companionship, truth telling when needed, mercy (always needed) and the joy of experiencing life with one who helps to make the other better.

I can count on her to sharpen me, challenge me and pray for me. She depends on me for the same.

3. We are champions for one another.

Because we don’t compete, we can genuinely celebrate the other’s success. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

God expects us to grow up, and that includes our friendships.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11 NLT).

I’d like to have the energy and youthfulness I had in third grade or the calorie burning ability of days playing hopscotch. But I’ll take grown-up God-given relationships over those schoolyard alliances any day!

Which of those three tips need improving in your own friendships?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first bookRelated by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's newest book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of RawPixel at Pixabay.

Thursday
Nov092017

Face-to-Face Friends Go Beyond Facebook

Leave it to counselor-coach Gail Goolsby to remind us to pursue real friends. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she encourages us to go beyond Facebook.

“As of January 2016, Facebook leads social network activity with approximately 1.6 billion regular monthly users,” Gail said. The average Facebook user has about 340 friends, but are they real or fake friends?”

I (Dawn) think Gail is hitting on a great truth. How we define friends has truly changed in recent years. And with that redefinition comes some difficulties.

Gail continues…

In 2010, TV talk host Jimmy Kimmel proclaimed November 17th as National UnFriend Day.

For UTube, he created humorous videos to help his viewers determine who to dismiss from their overloaded friend list on Facebook.

He playfully demonstrated that:

  • If people posted countless selfies/baby/pet/vacation photos,
  • or if they complained about their health repeatedly,
  • or sent online game invites too many times—

CLICK. They were unfriended.

Kimmel proposed social media users should reflect on what true friendship means, and how to be a better online friend with less people.

A Good Friend is Hard to Find

How do we develop real, meaningful relationships in short phrases, food and family pictures, and emoticons from a cell phone or a computer screen?

What do online friends actually contribute to our lives?

A dozen synonyms from the thesaurus for friendship include: affection, closeness, intimacy, love, understanding, alliance, attachment, company, empathy, familiarity, fondness, and regard.

Can we form a genuine attachment to people that we do not share physical presence with on a regular basis?

Can we read others’ theological debates, political rants, favorite Bible verses, daily updates and hope to become emotionally or spiritually connected?

Let’s review friendship examples and exhortations that come from Scripture and compare them to online friendship potential.

1. Job 2:11 (ESV)

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.

The three friends went to sit with Job in his troubles.

Are twenty postings of encouragement on a Facebook wall as powerful as a person in physical proximity to communicate support? I don’t think so.

2. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Loneliness can be challenging as well as sad. Friends together can accomplish much and share the burden of moving, repairing, cleaning, planting, harvesting, and building.

Typed words alone will not get the tasks done.

3. Proverbs 27:6, 17 (ESV)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Online friends can be sincere or not—who would know? Compliments and likes are easy to provide with a few clicks of computer keys or adding cute faces and heart symbols.

To speak the hard truth to a friend that could really help her life situation requires a deep knowing and foundation of trust built over time and shared experiences.

People need facial expressions and eye contact to fully comprehend risky messages and to grow from the interactions.

4. Proverbs 18:24; 17:17 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

How many friends should be gathered, or is quality more the question than quantity?

  • Needed are the companions who stick around when cancer strikes, to tenderly hold up a friend’s weak body after chemo.
  • When divorce erupts or a child dies, real friends offer more than comforting scripture memes.
  • Friends provide meals for the family when the wife/mother cannot get out of bed as well as online prayers.
  • People need to feel a hand on their shoulder or see an empathetic expression of sadness on their friend’s face sitting across the table, not just a teary emoji in a text box.

Face-to-Face Works Best!

Should we unfriend? Forget about spending time sorting your Facebook friend list this month. Close the laptop and get together with actual friends for some real-time activity.

Communicate with the people right in front of you instead of working your fingers to talk to others in cyberspace.

Be a live, human friend, present and engaged with the important people in your life.

Facebook can wait.

What friendships have been neglected or reduced to brief digital messages that need your personal attention and care?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 39 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Get to know more about Gail here.

Graphics adapted, social media courtesy of geralt and Best Friends courtsy of cherylholt—both at Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug032017

10 Ways to Make Friends with Foreigners

Though she now lives in Kansas, Gail Goolsby once lived overseas and knows first-hand how to build friendships with people in other countries. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she encourages us to open our heart and home to make friends with foreigners.

“The world is shaken and people are scattered around the globe,” Gail said. “How can we connect as caring Christians with the international immigrants entering our communities?”

I (Dawn) have often heard pastors and evangelists say, “The mission field is coming to our doorstep.” It’s true! We need to know how to connect with those the Lord is bringing to America.

Gail continues . . .

According to Homeland Security statistics, over 560,000 immigrants received permanent U.S. resident status in the first half of 2017, coming mainly from Mexico, India, China, Philippines, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Almost 40,000 fleeing refugees were admitted to our shores. The top five countries were Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burma.

Politicians and military personnel have their own view of global wars and displaced populace seeking safety and a better life. I am no expert, but I know as private citizens we have the chance to impact the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disillusioned people with a heart of love and hospitality.

For those coming from countries closed to Christians, we may well be the first believers they meet. We can have conversation about who Jesus really is and what He can mean in their lives.

I believe God is bringing those close who used to be out of reach for the Good News.

What should be our response?

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV).

Here are 10 ways to connect with foreign neighbors.  

1. Check with the local resettlement agencies in your area for the needs they have.

Clothes, coats, shoes, furniture and household items are essential to families arriving with great needs and few resources.

2. Educate yourself on a particular people group and culture living in your location.

Find out what foods they eat to make a welcoming meal, and learn greetings in their native language.

3. Develop relationships with shopkeepers, hair stylists, nail technicians, etc., by asking questions and showing interest.

Let them see you as a friendly Christ-follower who is open to spiritual as well as practical conversation in a non-threatening way.

4. Volunteer to be an English tutor or conversation partner.

Local colleges and churches sponsor English classes to help immigrants assimilate quickly. The main qualification is being a native English speaker!

5. Host an international friends group in your home or at a local community center.

Meet regularly with others who have the same interest to help immigrants make new friends while practicing English and learning cultural information.

6. Transport immigrants to work interviews, doctor appointments, shopping trips, etc.

Here is another opportunity to practice English and show care.

7. Invite new friends to your home and share your family.

This is the most influential way to make friends. Hospitality translates through every culture as a sincere connection point.

8. Sponsor an international student from your local university.

Text, call, or take him or her to lunch or coffee regularly to see how things are going and, again, invite into your home for holidays or weekend meals.

Take students on sightseeing outings and show off America.

9. Start a Discovery Bible Study with a small group and invite new international friends.

This is not an academic, pastor-led experience, but rather people reading selected Bible passages, talking together about what is learned, and making personal applications.

10. Bring your international friend to church or other formal study groups if he or she is comfortable.

This is not usually the best first step due to large cultural differences and misunderstandings, especially among Muslim-background friends.

Contemporary religious services can appear irreverent and offensive without thorough preparation and exposure to American culture and Christian ways before attending church.

Women are POWERFUL CONNECTORS!

The women of the world, particularly the Muslim world, are often seen as second-class citizens or worse. That doesn’t mean they are uneducated or even unloved, but typically they are very restricted in the expression of their personhood.

These people are almost unreachable by men.

They are covered, they are absent, and they are culturally not to be in the presence of men outside their family.

We as women have incredible power here, ladies.

We can speak to them, touch them, embrace them, have them in our homes uncovered, visit in their homes, and share as the sisters we really are.

I have special women friends in my hometown from Iran, Jordan, Congo, and Afghanistan. We eat together, share family time, practice English, cook new recipes from our home cultures, explore pumpkin patches, play games, watch movies, and talk for hours about female concerns and interests.

The riches of such relationships give back much more than the cost to me in time or resources. This is my opportunity to make friends with foreigners God has planted in my world at this important time in history.

What foreign neighbors cross your path that you could engage to develop a relationship and share the love of God?

Gail Goolsby, MA, Med is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 39 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others Learn to Live Well.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of fsHH at Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.