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Entries in Janet Thompson (6)

Tuesday
Sep102019

Seeking Spiritual Discernment Is Brave

Janet Thompson writes solid, biblical books on a number of tough topics—cancer, prodigal children, infertility, mentoring, etc.—and in this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she challenges us to look at the topic of discernment, which is more than just knowing what to do.

"Imagine a scenario where you observe a situation and your instinct tells you something isn’t right, but you look around and no one else seems alarmed," Janet said. "Everyone is carrying on as if nothing abnormal is happening.

"Do you intervene or do you walk away?"

Good question! I (Dawn) have often prayed for discernment about a tough situaiton, and then when I got that answer from the Lord, sometimes it was truly hard to follow through. I'm glad Janet is taking the topic of discernment one step further, because sometimes we need courage to obey God's direction!

Janet continues . . .

As women of faith, praying for the spirit of discernment can prove to be a brave and bold request in itself.

When we humbly ask God to reveal His will to us for specific situations, even when others may not see what we perceive, God may ask us to perform courageous acts that could be life-saving or forever life-changing.

We can become the brave spiritual warriors that our world needs so desperately.

We tend to categorize “brave women” as those who go into the mission field or into the military. Police officers, firefighters, first responders. Any woman who goes into a dangerous career, willing to lay down her life for a job, cause or belief is superhero—brave in our eyes.

Or we may only attribute bravery to men.

Typically, we don’t consider that “ordinary” women like you and me display real bravery and courage every single day, often in the routines of life.

We may not realize that a courageous heart makes us “superheroes” to those who know us and especially to God.

How Do We Know When God Wants Us to Bravely Intervene?

James 1:5–6 reminds us:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

1. Pray.

Prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit’s wise direction and guidance gleaned from reading the Bible and prayer.

Spiritual discernment and godly wisdom lets God guide.

2. Be patient.

Discernment takes time and effort to develop as we grow and mature in our faith and develop an ability to sense God’s plan and purpose in a given situation.

3. Obey.

Expectantly ask God for the willingness, strength, and desire to take whatever action our discernment dictates and let God handle the consequences.

Some Christians are more sensitive than others to the still small voice of God; but with patience, studying—not just reading—God’s Word, and a desire to know God’s will, we all have the ability to seek and obtain discernment to be braver than we ever thought possible.

Maybe you’ve sensed the pain behind a word or facial movement or body stance. You know there’s a sadness hidden behind, “No, everything is fine.”

Discernment is seeing what others may not see or say.

It’s more than just a hunch, or burying our hunch in denial, even when faced with observable evidence of a problem. When we discern a situation, we have a choiceignore or ask God what He wants us to do about it.

Sometimes, we can wait to take action, but other times we can’t dodge, deny, or dismiss the signs that our discernment is revealing—we’re the ones who must act immediately.

In Everyday Brave, I tell the biblical story of Huldah, an Old Testament prophetess who King Josiah asked to decipher the meaning of the lost “book of the law” found during restoration of the temple. Huldah felt dismay, but not panic, as she resolutely read the words in “the book.” She knew she must bravely tell the king the dreadful consequences of the Israelites’ sin and rebellion.

God wanted her to proclaim the truth, no matter how distressing, from His written Word.

Fortunately, because of King Josiah’s grief over hearing from Huldah about his people’s unfaithfulness to follow God’s laws and His covenant with them, God gave a reprieve of punishment during Josiah’s reign.

Josiah took advantage of God’s grace to initiate a spiritual revival.

Lives saved, spiritually and physically, all because Huldah bravely resolved to interpret God’s Word truthfully, even though it was painful for all to hear.

In moments that require the spirit of discernment, we need to pray for God’s protection and then respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. If we ignore the Holy Spirit, we may regret it or even feel responsible for a preventable crisis.

It takes great courage to step out in faith on a revealed truth.

If it’s God’s will, He will be there, giving us the help and reassurance we need when it’s difficult or others shy away from getting involved.

When you act on Holy Spirit–inspired discernment, you’re braver than you know.

So what would you do now when facing a situation you know isn’t right? 

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author. She mentors women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet's latest book, Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith, releases today, September 10, 2019! Among the 20 books she's authored: Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. She founded Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Sign up for Janet's blog/free newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.

Graphic adapted, Photo courtesy of Bethany Laird on Unsplash.

Tuesday
Oct032017

When You Don't Like Your Life Season

Janet Thompson is a mentoring expert who deeply cares about women's spiritual growth. In this Mentoring UPGRADE, she encourages us to consider how God might use each of us in our current life seasons.

"We’ve all heard, 'You’re just in a season, it will pass,'” Janet says. "But what do you do until then . . . or worse . . . if it never passes?"

I (Dawn) felt "stuck" in a season a few years ago, and I heartily agree with Janet's prescription for how to move forward!

Janet continues . . .

Good and pleasant life seasons are wonderful and it’s easy to think God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. Right?

Yet, Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace.

But when the not-so-good times roll, we need to remember that God hasn’t left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons.

God never abandons His children—a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during today’s challenging times.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like a life season because:

  • It’s painful or uncomfortable.
  • We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.
  • We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.
  • We’re discontent or discouraged.
  • We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we just want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season we never want to end.

Most seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers set us up to fail by assuring if we just drink, eat, use, own, the right products, or meet the right people, every season will be heavenly.

The aging clock will stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season everyone will experience.

What to Do

1. The first thing to do when we don’t like our life season is ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit answers.

It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often, He’s talking but we’re not listening.

Someone asked a Christian friend how he knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does!

Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

2. Next, seek out a Christian woman who has experienced this season in her life and can mentor you in how she made it through like only someone can who has been-there-done-that.

Incredible comfort comes from spending time with a mentor who understands your painful season!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone; but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom.

That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture for the mentor and menteeor for any two womento study together that applies to the various issues they might experience in any season.

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have all the answers or the Bible memorized. It simply means you’re willing to share your experiences, search God’s Word, and pray together with another woman.

Then one day, she can reach out and help lift up someone else going through a similar season.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you?

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of nineteen books, the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Visit Janet at www.womantowomanmentoring.com where she writes a weekly blog and monthly newsletter. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of geralt at Pixabay.

Thursday
Feb112016

Ways to Remember God's Goodness

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Janet Thompson says our forgetfulness of God needs to stop with this generation!

“If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what he is capable of doing in the future.” Janet says. “Memory builds faith.”

I (Dawn) am excited with Janet’s new book on this topicForsaken God?—not only because I shared a story in the book*, but also because each story encourages us to remember our good and faithful Father God.  

Janet continues . . .  

Today’s culture is quickly forgetting the goodness and power of our Great God.

The Bible describes the potential destruction through all generations to people who forget God. The dangers are paramount. We read the Old Testament and lament at how forgetful the Israelites were of God’s goodness.

Every time He did something good for them, they started grumbling that they needed something else. They repeatedly rejected God, even though He:

  • freed them from bondage and slavery by miraculously parting the Red Sea for them to pass through on dry ground,
  • provided manna from heaven,
  • guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night,
  • never let their shoes wear out even after walking for 40 years,
  • and he offered them a land flowing with milk and honey.

God was only as good as the next miracle or provision. A forsaken God.

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT).

We wonder at how the Israelites could be so blind and ungrateful. Why couldn’t they trust that a God who provided and protected them in the past, would do the same in the present and future?

But their memories were short. As often as Moses and God tried to help them remember, still they forgot. And at great sacrifice. The original generation freed from Egypt never got to see the Promised Land because they doubted God’s goodness. Even Moses wasn’t able to enjoy its beauty because at a crucial moment, he took matters into his own hands and forgot that God was in control.

We shake our heads at how dense and blind they were. But wait . . . can’t we be guilty of the same forgetfulness?

God has done amazing things in our lives too, but when the next crisis arises, we panic that He might not show up for us this time. Or when prayers are answered, we take credit ourselves or offer praise to someone else instead of giving God the glory and recognition He deserves.

But forgetfulness needs to stop with our generation. We live in a world that is quickly trying to eliminate God from the public square and even in the private domain.

Christians need to help a lost world remember God, and that starts with remembering Him ourselves.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, there are suggestions for ways to remember all that God has done in your life and then experience the power of sharing those memories in your sphere of influence and with the next generation.

One effective way is to share our testimony. As a Christian speaker, I give parts of my testimony every time I speak. “Feed my sheep” is my testimony of God clearly speaking those words to me. When I said an obedient “OK,” he revealed the "sheep" were women and "feeding" was mentoring.

That was 20 years ago, and today God has taken Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world as women enjoy the blessings of being in Titus 2 mentoring relationships. I still stand in awe as I write that story and every time I tell it from the stage. I will never forget how God used me to start a worldwide ministry and I give him the glory for the blessing it has been to so many.

But you don’t have to be a speaker to share your story.

Someone today needs to hear how Jesus changed your life. Our hurting world needs to hear from the Christian world the source of our joy and peace. Mentoring is a great way to share our testimony to encourage other women to know the Jesus of the Bible that we know.

In Forsaken God? there are over 50 ways to help us remember God.

Here are just a few:

  • Taking pictures
  • Journaling
  • Reading our Bibles
  • Receiving Communion
  • Making a thankful list
  • Joining a small group

What are some ways that help you remember God’s goodness?

Note: This article includes excerpts of Forsaken God: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, shared with permission. Dawn’s story appears on pages 121-122.

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and an award-winning author of 18 books including Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Each chapter in her new book, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, includes questions and conversation starters for discussion in small groups, Bible study groups, book clubs, mentors and mentees or with family and friends. It is available at Christian bookstores, Amazon, Christianbook.com, and signed at author’s website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of pixabay.com.

Saturday
Aug082015

Help, Lord ... She Has Breast Cancer!

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, but that’s not her complete identity. She is a godly woman with incredible wisdom for the body of Christ, and in this extended Ministry UPGRADE, she helps us with a sometimes-scary topic.

“It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer,” Janet said. “Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat.”

I (Dawn) don’t know about you, but sometimes my heart moves me to share with people who are hurting—people I dearly love—but fearful thoughts hold me back. Janet’s practical wisdom will help us minister with strength and compassion.

(Keep reading to see why the little lamb in that picture is so meaningful!)

Janet continues . . .

Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us,

“Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? Here are some ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

Helping with the Bad Days

1. Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible.

When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well?

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. 

  • Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  • Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  • Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  • Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  • Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  • Do her laundry.
  • Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  • Answer her email.
  • Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  • If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  • Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  • Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  • Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  • Pick up prescriptions.
  • Run errands.

 2. Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It.

A promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping Her Enjoy the Good Days

1. Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy.

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. Capitalize on the moments when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

Avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don't fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

2. Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her.

The nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed.

I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. They acted like it was normal.

3. Shower Her with Love.

Love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us.

God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs. He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us?

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17,“A friend loves at all times.” As a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and bad times—faith, hope and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Did Janet's "bad days ... good days" counsel help? Or are you still struggling with what to say to someone with breast cancer? If so ...

Check out Janet’s helpful suggestions in The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer.”

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, speaker, and author of the “Dear God” book series including, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Janet found purpose in her breast cancer journey by writing for her breast cancer sisters the book she wished she had going through her surgeries and treatment. Visit Janet on her website.

This article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Graphic: stuffed Hansa sheep is available on Amazon.

Thursday
Jan232014

Dear God, We Need Friends

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

Janet wrote:

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

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

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

Janet continues …

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

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

1. Looking For Friends Outside the Box!

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

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

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

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

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

2. Moving, an Opportunity for New Friends

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

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

3. Vacation with the Family of God

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

4. Friendships Are Our Witness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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