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And UPGRADE'S Founder

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Entries in Journaling (5)


Upgrade Your Homemaking with the 7Ps

Morgan Farr is a multi-talentd woman with great influence both biblically and practically. In this Homemaking UPGRADE, she applies a military concept to home skills for greater success.

“Prior Proper Planning Prevents Painfully Poor Performance,” Morgan says. This is a saying that is often posted in military circles, often referred to as the 7Ps.”

I (Dawn) think that’s a mouthful and hard to say, but it certainly drives home an important point! 

Morgan continues . . .  

I have used my own version of the 7Ps to successfully run a military garage gym ministry, and I want to share my 7Ps of Homemaking. 

I have found that almost all of my stress in homemaking has been related to not having enough time or energy for a task. With my 7Ps for homemaking I am better able to manage my time and energy.

These are the Ps that I follow: 

  • Planning and Preparation
  • Pace and Play
  • Pen, Pew and Prayer

1. Plan and Prepare

The first thing that I would recommend to anyone looking to upgrade their homemaking would be planning and preparation. These are crucial aspects of running a home well.

From planning the meals, doctors appointments, and vacations, to planning guest visits… homemakers plan a lot.

“Let everything be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Find a way that works for you and use it to help you plan and prepare well. 

While I am aware that there are a million calendar apps out there, I am still a paper planner kind of gal. I have a large wall calendar and a small spiral bound planner that stand between me and disordered chaos.

I use a different color coded pen for each member of the family. That way I know at a glance who has something major each day. This helps me to plan out my week and see any major issues ahead of time.

My husband and I make certain that we are available on Sunday evenings for a planning meeting for the week. We discuss upcoming events, things that need to be added to the grocery list, and anything else that needs to be prepared in order to keep the family running smoothly. 

2. Pace and Play

Once you have a plan and you have prepared to follow through on it, the next thing you should do is decide on your pace and play rhythm.

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done" (Genesis 2:2-3).

The Creator of the entire universe rested on the seventh day.

Be realistic about how much work you can bear at this point and create opportunities to recharge. 

There are many ways to get ahead in this area and upgrade your homemaking. I have alarms set on my phone for 1:30 pm every single day. This helps me to pause whatever project that I am working on, and take a break.

This break could mean:

  • I read a book,
  • I walk on the treadmill,
  • I sit and drink a cup of coffee, etc.

It depends on the day and the projects I am working on. If you are someone who loves the outdoors, maybe that means stepping outside to enjoy God’s creation for 15 minutes on your lunch break.

The important part here is to realize that while hard work is good, it is equally important to set a healthy pace with opportunities to play the way that works best for you. 

3. Pen, Pew, and Prayer

My final—and probably most important—recommendation is to make sure you spend time with a pen, in a pew and in prayer.

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

I think everyone should keep a journal, no matter the season of life. This can help you avoid sin patterns, love the people around you, and understand yourself better. Even if all you can do is write in a one word entry, that can help you later to see where your heart and mind is headed over time. 

I would also strongly encourage you to get in the pew at church.

By that I mean:

  • Be a part of the fellowship and accountability.
  • Find a mentor and a mentee in your community.
  • Be a part of the body of Christ in both a physical way and in your prayers.

Sharing our burdens with other believers is one of the greatest mercies of the Christian faith. We have to be vulnerable enough to open up our hearts and share the burdens that we carry, especially as homemakers where much of the battle is unseen among mops, children, and groceries. 

God has given us the incredible ability to be keepers of our homes. It is our responsibility to ensure that we do the absolute best job of it that we can.

Taking the time to ensure that we follow the 7Ps helps us to honor God with our homemaking. 

Which of these 7Ps do you need to devote more energy to?

Morgan Farr is a Texas-loving, succulent-cultivating, book nerd. Stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this Army wife is working to better love her husband, develop her three small children, and learn more about homeschool. Morgan is a homemaker dedicating her time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring, and physical training. She writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood at The Forgiven Former Feminist

Graphic adapted, courtesy of RawPixel at Pixabay.


How to Live with Expectation

Sally Ferguson loves sharing God's Word, and she does so in many practical ways. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she invites us to view the life of Mary, Jesus' mother, as an excellent example of living with expectation.

"Mary was barely 14 when she found out she would carry the Messiah," Sally says. "Her life was neatly arranged and orderly when everything got turned upside down."

I (Dawn) think we often forget how young Mary was when God interrupted her life. But she was a young woman of faith, prepared for His assignment.

Sally continues . . .

Somehow Mary became a model of hope—for generations to come.

What helped Mary live expectantly? Let’s take a peek at four things that set her apart.

1. She Was Called.

A calling gives a sense of purpose when you realize you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself. That calling motivates and equips you to lean on your heavenly Father in ways you never thought to do so before.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says God’s grace is enough. His power is perfected in our weakness.

Mary probably didn’t understand what God was asking of her when the angel, Gabriel, delivered his message. But, do we ever fully understand the work God has begun in us? If we did, we wouldn’t need Him. And we would miss the relationship fostered with Him in the struggle.

If left up to me, I would want the beauty without the struggle. But really, the beauty comes from the struggle.

Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”

We are never alone in God’s calling.

2. She Was Blessed.

  • Gabriel told Mary she was favored.
  • Elizabeth told Mary she was blessed.
  • At the Temple, Simeon told Mary a sword would pierce her own soul.

Have you ever felt like a blessing was a double-edged sword?

But Mary broke out into a song (Luke 1:46-55). Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the Lord’s generosity that a melody just bubbled up and spilled out of you?

What happens when you acknowledge your blessings? Gratitude flows and peace envelops your frame of mind.

My mom adopted the phrase, “I’m blessed,” because she understood God’s blessing went beyond her circumstances to an underlying relationship she could count on.

Read Philippians 4:4-7. Did you hear “thanksgiving” in that passage? Did you catch that phrase about peace? It’s a reward for trusting God!

Peace shows up again in Philippians 4:8-9. I like to think of it as “a contentment that protects my thoughts from borrowing trouble.” 

3. She believed.

Read Elizabeth’s words in Luke 1:45.

What happens when we trust God to do what He says He will do? We are blessed!

I love how that thought cycles back around.

  • She was blessed and it enabled her to believe.
  • She believed and it blessed her.

The Bible is full of those kinds of circles.

  • Ephesians 2:8-10—We are saved by grace to do good works, but we don’t do the works to be saved.
  • 1 John 1:9—If we call out to the Lord, He will save us. And He will save us when we call out to Him.
  • Psalm 46:10—Be still and know; know and be stilled.
  • Romans 5:2b-5—begins and ends with hope.

Mary believed when she took God at His word and trusted Him to take care of her.

4. She Cherished What God Was doing.

Read Luke 2:19.

How do you store your God-sightings?

Do you write them down in a journal so they won’t get lost from your memory banks?

A boy named David journaled, and we know that as the Psalms. He later became a king in the land of Israel, but never outgrew his need for his journal. He recorded his misgivings, anger, pleasure, confusion, joy and fears.

Look though the Psalms at how he processed those emotions and turned them into prayers. David was able to take his weaknesses to the throne of God, the One who created and understands them. Through that release, David found acceptance and the burden lifted.

He began with hurt and ended with humility before God.

What about you? Could you turn today’s failures into a statement of faith?

Let the Lord carry those burdens for you as you turn them into a prayer for His redemptive action in your life. May you find a safe haven as you write down your story!

Luke 2:33 says Mary marveled at what Simeon and Anna said about her baby boy. Let your journal be a place where you can marvel at God’s goodness.

Beloved, know that you, too, are called by God, you are blessed by God, you can believe God when He says He is for you, and you have many things to cherish.

How do you cultivate a sense of expectancy?

Sally Ferguson loves sharing God’s Word in all different forms! Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon.  Visit her latest retreat release, a women's retreat playbook with templates.

Painting of Mary by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.


Before You Enter the New Year

Becky Harling often encourages women to forget about "performance" and take time to seek  God and find refreshment in time alone with Him. In this New Year UPGRADE, she suggests taking a day for personal reflection.

"Every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I take a day for prayer and personal reflection," Becky says. "Honestly, it’s become one of my favorite days of the year!"

In all the busyness of the holidays, I (Dawn) have found I need a quiet place of rest and reflection; so I appreciate what Becky is sharing here today.

Becky continues . . .

By creating the space to be alone with God I am able to refresh and revive. As I spend time alone with God in prayer and praise, the Holy Spirit brings my spirit into alignment with His.

  • During that day, I spend a lot of time listening to God—I want to know what His desires are for my life as I enter the New Year.
  • I also reflect back over the past year and consider my relationships and different aspects of my life.
  • I then ask the Holy Spirit to speak into that area how he wants me to grow in the coming year.

I turn off my cell phone and take a break from my computer. It can feel scary at first, but it is so freeing to unplug and simply luxuriate in God’s presence.

Rather than setting a tight schedule for my day of prayer, I include certain elements:

1. Praise music to help me settle down in God’s presence.

Worshipping God on my knees sets my focus for the day and brings my heart into alignment with God’s heart. (At the end of this guide you will find some new and wonderful praise songs that I recommend for your praise time.)

2. Scripture

God speaks through His Word, the still small voice of His Spirit and through others. 

I often read through a passage like John 15. Then I underline and circle whatever phrases seem to jump of the page at me. As I read, I look for specific patterns. I ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to what He wants me to see in Scripture. 

I then choose some key verses for the coming year and commit those to memory.

3. A Journal

As I read scripture, I record principles that I believe God is speaking. I watch for patterns or phrases that keep reappearing. I may look for one word to focus on in the New Year.

4. Silence

My world, like yours, is filled with noise: cell phone, TV, social media, etc.

In many ways, I’m addicted to noise.

I love people. I love music. I love the adrenaline rush of lots going on.

But, my soul needs quiet to re-calibrate and connect with God.

Rarely do I hear God’s voice in the chaos and cacophony of daily noise.

I have to be intentional. I have to pull away and do as Jesus invited, “Come with me, by yourself to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31). There in silence, I listen for the quiet whisper of God’s voice.

5. Beauty

I believe God created our souls to enjoy beauty. As part of my day of prayer and reflection I incorporate beauty.

Depending on where we are in the world, I might take a walk by the beach. Or, I might go for a walk in the snow, or by a river. Or, I might simply spend time gazing at the mountains.

Beauty reminds me of the majesty of my God.

6. Reflective Questions help me to understand what’s going on in my heart and what the Holy Spirit might want me to surrender or embrace.

I ask myself questions like:

  • What do I want to see God do in my life in the next year?
  • Which relationships do I need to focus on more closely?
  • How well am I listening to those I love?
  • Do I need to do a better job with self-care this up coming year?
  • Is there a specific cause that God is inviting me to join in the upcoming year? If so, what steps do I need to take to get involved?

Friend, here’s the thing. Without intentionality you won’t find the space to spend time in reflection, so I encourage you, pull out your calendar and mark the day that you’re going to spend with God. Then gather the tools I mentioned and find a quiet place where you can retreat with the Holy One.

Here are some recommended songs for your quiet retreat:

1. "Abba (Arms of a Father)" by Jonathan and Melissa Helser

2. "There is a Cloud" by Elevation Worship

3.  "I Believe" by JJ Heller

Which of these songs best helps you reflect on the Lord?

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


A Scriptural Attitude Adjustment

In this Attitude UPGRADE, Liz Cowen Furman, a speaker, author and artist who also runs a motel in Wyoming, tells how she changed her whole outlook on life by doing two simple things.

“I wantedno, I neededa serious attitude upgrade," Liz said, “But I didn’t know how to make it happen.”

Do you identify with her words, like I (Dawn) do? Have you ever needed a change of attitude but couldn’t summon the wisdom to make it happen?

Liz continues . . .

I used to read the Bible dutifully.

But our pastor suggested that, instead of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutionsas good as they might bewe consider a new approach.

He said “Get yourself a blank journal and start reading your Bible in Psalms. Read it with an eye for something that speaks to you. Then jot that verse in your journal and write a few lines about how it affects you or ask God to reveal something to you.”

Many times, I would get to the end of a chapter and realize I hadn’t heard a word of it, and would have to reread it.

Since I started this approach, I have fallen in love with the Scriptures. I started in the Psalms but have been through the whole Bible a couple of times now.

Reading the Bible, listening for something that spoke to me, made it feel like a letter written just to me.

Talk about attitude adjustment! A total game changer.

The second thing I did that fostered a new attitude happened quite by accident; except that I had been praying for help in this area, so maybe it was by design.

The members of the Bible Study I teach chose to study One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. As part of that study we were instructed to write down 1,000 things we are thankful for.

We all thought this exercise would be an easy assignment.

I purchased blank journals for us to write these “easy to identify” blessings, and we began. The first couple hundred came easily, then we really had to start looking to write them down.

We asked ourselves, “What would you miss, if everything you didn’t thank God for was taken away?”

By the time I reached 1,000, I saw a blessing in almost everything in my life.

I have continued the exercise. I write five things a day I am thankful for, and plan to continue until Jesus calls me home. Knowing that I will be logging five every morning keeps me on the lookout for things that I appreciate. And, since whatever we focus on increases, this has been an amazing exercise.

I now see the silver lining in situations I would have thought terrible. I now notice and appreciate the many blessings showered on me daily by a God who loves me (and you) so much! Plus, I have a legacy of thankfulness to leave to my family.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If your attitude needs a tweak as we start the New Year, as mine did a few years ago, may I suggest you try these two exercises, pray for help, and then watch what He will do to transform your outlook.

Start now! What are five things you are grateful for today?

Liz Cowen Furman is an author, artist, encourager, mentor, teacher and speaker. Writing is like the balm of Gilead for Liz. When she is not working on a book, she is writing articles and blogging. She has published three books, is a member of AWSA (Advanced Writer Speaker Association) and a graduate of Christian Communicator’s Conference. She has written humor for The Christian Pulse magazine and for AWSA’s Suicide Blog. Liz’s new Bible Study, Trusting God in Everything: A Bible Study for Women Who Wonder If They Can, released May 20, 2015


Hurry to Pause

I first met Debbie Harris in a revival ministry, and clearly, she still loves to see women come alive with God’s Word. She shares three ways to slow down and find strength in the Lord.

“It is true I spend more time “doing my day” than “reflecting on my day,” Harris said. "Hurrying seems to come naturally.”

She continues …

I have certain tasks to perform, deadlines to meet, phone calls to make, a job to do, a meeting to make, kids to care for, friends to respond to, food to prepare, clothes to wash, a ministry to maintain and the list goes on.

A scripture that motivates me is Isaiah 30:15b: “… In quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing.”

“Quiet” does not happen on its own in this busy loud world. Quiet only happens when I intentionally step out of the fast lane with the express purpose of pausing life.

Pause to PRAY

I have learned at square “52” on my journey that it is unwise to get out of bed without pausing to pray, and perhaps that is why I list it first!

Prayer is how I start and end my day and what I find myself doing all day! Jesus is the only One who is available to me 24/7. He never tells me He is too busy, and I don’t have to make an appointment in advance; He is always there and with the promise He will never leave! We do life together, and since learning how interested He is in my life, we are the very best of friends! 

Pause to PONDER.  

The best thing to ponder is God’s Word. I have a verse journal, as my Christmas gift to Jesus this year, with the goal of 365 verses washing over me—collecting one per day.

Dr. David Jeremiah says,

“We don’t need the Bible in our hands; we need the Bible in our hearts!”

My purpose as I ponder each verse is that it comes off the shelf, embeds itself in my heart, and comes out in my behavior for my good and God’s glory.

Pause to PEN.

I love to journal. I learn things about myself, God and life that I don’t seem to catch any other way. I often don’t know what I am going to write when I grab my journal, but it is always a reflective time. I write verses God has pointed out so I can find them again, make lists of things I am praying for, write where I have already been and where I plan to go, collect quotes and write or copy poems.

I ask God for certain things—and put a box by them so I can return later to check them off—or write things God is nudging me to do. And I praise God for all that He is and does in this life on my way to Him. My favorite part is harvesting the journal. I am always amazed as I look back and trace God’s hand in my life through the pages of my own journal!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus.” I want to know Jesus through the Word better than I know anything else. Pausing throughout my day will push me toward that goal.

God help me to “hurry to pause.”

How do you pause in your day to step out of the fast lane and seek God?

Debbie Harris is married to the Men’s Pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in southern California. She and Ben have six children and three grandchildren. She loves God, family, women and the Word.  Debbie assists her husband in various ministries, disciples women, and will begin her seventh year teaching a Precept class this fall. She prays for women to come who “don’t want to be in a Bible study” and women who “don’t know they want to be in a Bible study,” and she has found the thrill of mining diligently through the Word contagious!