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   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Kolleen Lucariello (10)


Trust the Blueprints

Kolleen Lucariello speaks into women's lives in engaging, practical ways. In this Relationship with God UPGRADE, she envisions God as a faithful Contractor, accomplishing His purposes in our lives.

"Sometimes full understanding remains a mystery until the contractor completes the work," Kolleen says. "When you can’t fully catch the vision—you watch, wait, and trust the one with the blueprints."

I (Dawn) have studied blueprints before. They can be so complicated! I've wished I could crawl inside a contractor's mind to figure out what he sees sometimes that I'm not seeing.

Kolleen continues . . .

Every summer our house undergoes a little upgrade. This year, a simple front step soon became a front-porch-walkway-landscaping project for my husband and I, filling our front yard with piles of dirt and sand, black tarps, pavers and lumber.

“I can’t wait to see it finished,” our daughter commented during one visit, “It’s going to look so nice.”

The next comment came from our five-year-old granddaughter: “I can’t wait to see it finished, cause then I will finally understand what you are doing.”  

What seemed obvious to us was not to her.

I can relate. Don’t tell her, but I’ve been confused by some of her art projects, too. Some projects only make sense to the one with the plan.

I agree with her. It’s not always easy to catch the vision until the project is complete. I share the same limitations and I find myself struggling to understand when seasons of difficulty hammer away.

I find myself trying to catch the vision for God’s plan every time life becomes paved with blinding unknowns and overwhelming struggles. This is when I admit  “I can’t wait to see this finished, Lord, because then perhaps, I will understand what You are doing.”

Well, I hope to understand, or it might be—"Please, Lord help me understand"

Years ago, we lost our brother-in-law in a car accident.

I became angry with God for what I perceived as unfair and unjust. I didn’t really care to have understanding about what God was doing; I thought He was just being cruel.

I recognize now how God used this tragedy to lead my husband and I to understand our need for salvation. What might have destroyed our faith, God used to cement it instead.

Several years later, we lost a very close friend in another car accident.

The loss was devastating for us, but we knew God as a Contractor was able to build something good out of the destruction.

When the pain was great I found myself repeating, “I can’t wait to see the good at the end of this, God, because right now, I don’t understand the why behind what just happened.”

I would remind myself of what I knew to be true about God:

  • You know the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
  • You are deeply concerned about us, and are able to turn this bad into something good (Romans 8:28).

Unlike the first time, I didn’t get mad at Him. I didn’t turn bitter.

I refused the invitation to believe God was cruel.

I just imagined my head on His chest while I wept—grateful that He understood my heartbreak, and that I now understood His comfort.

Life is unpredictable. Perhaps this is why the Psalmist reminds us to put our trust in, and reliance on the Lord, rather than relying on our own insight and understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

With my hazy insight and limited understanding, trusting in—while relying on—Jesus is the only option that offers me any peace when life becomes unsettled. After all, He promised that in Him we would have perfect peace; but He also forewarned us of tribulation, distress and suffering, too.

“Be courageous,” He said. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:13).  

Jesus is predictable when life is not. 

God is the Contractor who began a glorious work within you, and He’s the One who will faithfully continue the process of building you into His likeness—adding a few finishing touches here and there (Philippians 1:6).

When you lack understanding, trust the Lord as you do three things.

1. Rejoice that He sees you.  

“I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have taken note of my life’s distresses” (Psalms 31:7 AMP).

Your distress has been noted!

2. Focus your thoughts.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

3. Find rest.

Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Unload your troubles onto Him.

Sometimes you need to patiently wait, watch the process, and trust something good can come from the mess you’re staring at now.

Even when you don’t understand His vision.

Where in your life are you struggling to understand what God is doing? How can you trust God's "blueprint" for your life and find rest, peace and even joy in Him?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to five incredible grandkids—with one more on the way! For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Classically Printed at Pixabay.


When Words (Should) Fail You

Kolleen Lucariello's unique personality is a gift from God. She sees life through a different lens than most people. I love how—in this Communication UPGRADE—Kolleen challenges us to choose our words carefully, especially when facing a friend in grief. "As soon as the words began to slip through my lips, I knew," Kolleen said.  

"In my attempt to say the right thing to the father whose 37-year-old daughter had just passed away—I had failed. The tension was immense."

Sometimes I (Dawn) feel like I'm part of a not-so-special "club" of people who say the wrong things or the right things at the wrong time—even when they mean well. Kolleen apparently joined that club. But she's learning how to choose her words wisely and biblically, and she has wise counsel for all of us. 

Kolleen continues . . .

My insides began to twist—as though a crank began to turn—followed by a conversation within my head.

“Kolleen, you need to apologize. Right now. Tell him you are sorry for asking an insensitive question.”

My apology was quick. Overcoming my embarrassment, however, was not. 

Some words are just better left unsaid.

But there have been occasions when words roll off my tongue because of a nervous-need-to-fill-the-silence moment.

Sometimes, they fall out because of an insensitive-I-didn’t-think-first moment. Thankfully, I-don’t-care moments happen less often than they used to. But, in my attempt to offer the right words at that moment I missed the mark.

It’s not always easy to find the right words in the heat of someone’s hard moment.

Just ask Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They were three of Job’s friends who, in their desire to bring comfort to their friend, discovered their words had backfired.

Once known as the greatest, wealthiest, and most respected man in the east, Job had suffered through great loss (Job 1-2).

He was a changed man when his friends arrived that day. Sorrow and suffering can do that to you.

After hearing of his suffering, the three traveled to mourn with Job and comfort him (Job 2:11). When they arrived, their own grief took over when they found their friend unrecognizable (Job 2:12).

They did what good friends do.

They sat beside Job, and for seven days and seven nights no one said a word (Job 2:13). Silence. It’s a sacred, beautiful thing, but it can also be uncomfortable. Especially for someone who—like me—feels a heavy weight beneath too much silence.

When the sound of silence becomes too loud I, like Job’s friends, find myself speaking words out of uneasiness, rather than thought.  

This is when the “fixer” in me rushes in to save the day, and do away with silence. Let’s find the reason, discover the cause, and then move on to the remedy.

But the words chosen may have a lasting effect on the one with whom I sit—and on me.

When Job broke the silence, and began to speak out of his heartbreak, his friends responded out of their “anxious thoughts” (20:2).

  • Eliphaz wanted Job to understand he was being disciplined for his sin. "Consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin" (Job 5:17 NLT).
  • Bildad wanted Job to repent. His “If you…” statements cast blame on the man God described to Satan as blameless (2:3).  “God will not cast away the blameless" (8:20). In other words, “You’re not so blameless after all, are you Job?”
  • Zophar felt Job needed to be rebuked and reminded that God was punishing him far less than he deserved (11:6). Who needs to hear that when surrounded by sorrow and suffering.

     Bring an Upgrade to the Life of Someone Suffering   

1.  Job’s friends did not recognize him in his time of grief.

Job had lost everything but his wife, and he was covered in grief and boils.

You may not recognize your friend in their time of sorrow and suffering. Sit with them amid the silence without trying to fix anything.

2. Job explained his heartbreak.  

“If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. That is why I spoke impulsively” (Job 6:1, NLT).

Friends in the midst of sorrow and suffering may speak impulsively. Grief isn’t always expressed neatly, or nicely. Let them speak without patrolling their every word.

3. Don’t jump to conclusions on why this is happening.

Job said, “Stop assuming my guilt” (6:29).

Before Job entered into this test God described him as "blameless"—a man of complete integrity (Job 1:8).

At the end of the test, each friend had been rebuked by the Lord. Job was the only one God said spoke accurately of Him. In their need to fill the silence with opinion, the friends spoke inaccurate assumptions (Job 42:7).

“One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14, NLT).

When our friends feel faint because of grief and sorrow, they need our kindness and prayers. Don’t bring accusations, opinions or words to fill the silence.

Find comfort in the silence.  

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am and Co-Executive Director of Activ8Her, Inc. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to five incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Find out more about Kolleen here:

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Serena Wong at Pixabay.


"You Is Strong!"

Kolleen Lucariello always has a story and a fresh take on Christian living. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she reminds us where the source is for our strength to overcome.

“His little three-year-old arms rose for the fifth time hoping this might be the time his Mimi would surrender to his request,” Kolleen says. “With four words he was able to get what he needed because it gave her what she needed.”

I (Dawn) was so charmed by this story about Kolleen and her grandson, Nolan. She reminds us to be careful about the voice we listen to and the thoughts we think, and most of all, to respond to the One who has the power to help us.

Kolleen continues . . .

Fresh snow lay on the ground to the delight of our two Virginian grandsons who had come to spend a few days in Central New York with Papa and Mimi. 

They waited as patiently as a three- and five-year-old could, staring out the front window for their cousins to arrive. 

We’d had a fresh eight inches of snow fall the night before, adding to the already 18” on the ground; and so, feeling adventurous, I promised we’d all go outside for a walk in the woods.  

Four pair of snow pants, winter jackets, hats, gloves and boots later I sent the grands outside and then prepared myself for the cold.

Once outside, and after a few turns sledding down the stairs off the deck—it’s the best hill we have—I asked them if they were ready for our walk. With glee, the older three took off running for the woods with three-year-old Nolan trying hard to keep up in the deep snow. 

After a few steps he looked back at me and lifted his arms. “Up” he said.  

“I’m sorry buddy. Mimi isn’t strong enough to carry you with all that snow gear on.”

 A few more attempted steps and the arms went up again. “Up.”  

“I’m sorry, Buddy. Mimi isn’t strong enough to carry you. Let me grab a sled.” 

Once we had the sled, Nolan decided he’d try lying on his belly. I picked up the rope, took a step forward, and felt the weight of the sled change dramatically. 

Turning around, I discovered Nolan face down on the snow. We tried several different approaches, but his gloves were so thick it made it impossible for him to hold the handles. Every shift of the sled caused him to slide right off, either to the left, or right.

This led to numerous repetitions of his “up” and my “I’m not strong enough.”  

We hadn’t gone very far when I heard “I want to go inside.”

So did I. The adventure had been exhausting. 

I called the other grandkids and told them it was time to head back to the house. Immediately, Nolan’s arms shot up as he blurted out, “Mimi! You is strong!” 

You know what?

Instantly, Mimi became strong enough to carry the tired, frustrated little boy—snowsuit and all. 

It’s amazing how strong one can become when they collide with a voice reminding them of who they are, and believe they are able.  

I had been convinced I was not strong enough to carry him, and the belief made me unwilling to even try. Sound familiar? 

Is there a heavy load needing to be picked up, but you’re convinced it’s beyond your strength to carry?  

It’s easy to believe we are incapable when, often, the loudest voice we hear is the one shouting, “You can’t do it. You aren’t strong enough.” 

Perhaps the voice has you convinced you don’t have the strength to carry the heavy load it will take to: 

  • overcome the addiction,
  • reconcile your marriage
  • or forgive “seventy-times-seven” (Matthew 18:22).

It’s hard to restore hope to the depressed soul when the voice you listen to says you can’t.

That is not, however, the voice God intended for us to listen to. He has a different opinion of what we are able to accomplish; and while it does take effort and courage to hear, He’s the One whispering,

I believe in you because I created you with a purpose. 

We upgrade our spiritual life when we determine to apply these four “T’s.”

1) TUNE in to the right voice.

Shut off the negative I can’t voice. Become acquainted with the One that says—with Him—you can do all things (Philippians 4:13). 

2) TAKE thoughts captive.

You control your thoughts. Make them obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

3) TRUST His power within you to help carry the load.

God promised He would strengthen us, help us, and hold us up with His victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10). 

4) and TRY!

When confronted by hard circumstances remember this:

You Is Strong, and the Lord rescues! (Psalm 34:19)

What burden or struggle are you reluctant to pick up or face today? Consider these four “T’s” and move forward into victory.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Robin Higgins at Pixabay.


Living Beyond the 'But'

Kolleen Lucariello always makes me think outside the box, spiritually. In this Christmastime, Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she considers two people God used, in His own timing, to help prepare the way for Jesus' first coming.

"I’ve never been a fan of the 'but'," Kolleen says. "Well, that’s not entirely true; I can handle “but then God” moments; however, the 'but' that follows an apology? The one that says, 'I’m sorry I… but you.' No thank you.

'Equally as unappealing is the 'but' that attaches to you, becoming the heartache of your story."

When I (Dawn) think abut the situations in my own life where the word "but" stopped me in my tracks spiritually and in my writing, I know what Kolleen's saying is true. I needed more faith and hope!

Kolleen continues . . .

Luke wrote about a couple who had a "but" attached to their story—Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

It would seem as though they were the couple rocking at life. Zechariah was a Jewish priest serving in the temple, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a direct descendant of Aaron.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully” (Luke 1:5-6, TPT).

They were the couple we look at today and think, Wow. They’ve got it all! Prestige from the family name, and they were solid believers, living righteously before the Lord.

Yet, behind everything they were doing right was one word they couldn’t escape—"but."

The "but" holding them hostage?

But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old” (Luke 1:7, TPT—The Passion Translation—emphasis mine).

I’m fairly certain Elizabeth would’ve given anything to escape the pain of the "but."

In a culture where great significance was placed on motherhood, one word stole that from her.

  • "But" took away her ability to present her husband with a son, and replaced it with shame.
  • "But" also took away Zechariah’s ability to believe the angel, Gabriel, when he appeared to him and gave him the exciting news he was indeed going to be a dad.

The "but" had followed them for so long, doubt took over the prayerful heart that once held hope.

That can happen to anyone who has found but attached to his or her story. "But" has followed a good many faithful prayers of the righteous.

Perhaps you:

  • prayed faithfully for your children, and raised them in a home that honors God, but you’re still waiting for the return of the prodigal.
  • pray faithfully for your marriage to find healing and restoration, but have yet to see any hope of change.
  • fought hard for that job, but lost it anyway.

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have prayed for your womb to hold a baby, but the pregnancy test was negative one more time.

The "but" behind our hopes can be a painful word—one we’d like to escape, but can’t—even in our attempts to do everything right.

Like many we think: I’ve prayed. I’ve done everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to live righteously, BUT I don’t see, I don’t feel, and I don’t hear.

Hope can be hard to hold on to when we focus on the "but" of our story.

It’s easy to get lost in disappointment.

However, part of Gabriel’s message to Zechariah was that his son would arrive at the appointed time (Luke 1:20).

Not their time—the appointed time.

Who knows the appointed time? Only God. And until that time comes we must live in the "so it was" like Zechariah and Elizabeth did.

So it was that while he was serving ... his lot fell (to him) to burn incense" (Luke 1:8 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

Even though they dragged a "but" behind them for all these years, they remained faithful to serve the Lord. It was in this particular moment of serving that the angel showed up.

Imagine if Zechariah had missed it, because he decided to give up on God for not answering their prayer—in their time. God knew the plan for John was to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3).

It was all in the timing.   

We upgrade our lives when, regardless of the "but" attached to our story, we live with hope in the "so it was."

  1. So it was—she prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. So it waseven with the evidence of things not seen, she still had faith in what she hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
  3. So it was—she refused to lean on her own understanding, and instead trusted in the timing of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5).

What is the "but" attached to you, and how are you managing your faith in the "so it was" moment?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.


Are You Ready to BE His Fixer Upper?

Kolleen Lucariello's fresh take on the Christian's walk with God is always sure to take us off guard just long enough to help us see the truth. In this Spiritual Living UPGRADE, she encourages us to act on a powerful truth and see a ministry available to each one of us.

"What the disciples weren’t able to accomplish, Jesus did," Kolleen says. "We can spend years believing people are rundown, in disrepair, even beyond the reach of change when actually, what they need is an encounter with Jesus"

I (Dawn) don't know about you, but when I read those words, I instantly thought of two people I've assumed are "beyond the reach of change." How about you?

Kolleen continues . . .

There’s a house in our town that has been sitting abandoned and empty for years. In fact, I don’t remember the last time it was occupied, and we’ve lived here for over 30 years!

Driving by the house, I often imagine the potential within—wondering what remarkable things Chip and Joanna Gaines would do to fix’er up—wishing I had the ability to do the work myself.

One evening, while enjoying a walk through town with my hubby, we were surprised by the sight of a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of the house. It seemed odd after all these years to see the old place was for sale, and within a very short time the sign was gone.

A few weeks after the removal of the sign, new windows were installed in the old, once abandoned, place. In no time at all, every dirty and broken window had been replaced by clean, white, energy-efficient ones.

Another night, we discovered the crew hard at work adhering new siding, which was now slowly rising up from the lower half of the house to cover the oh-so-unsightly, existing layers.    

 Now our walks through town are exciting as we witness the rebirth of what once appeared dead. A lifeless house is being revived and restored.

The house once known as “the abandoned house” will have a new identity because someone saw the potential.

I imagine Jesus’ walks through town must have also been exciting as He began changing the identity of the abandoned ones.

Although, He restored people—not houses.

Jesus met plenty of “fixer uppers” during His ministry years; He saw the potential, and brought life back into every dirty, broken, and abandoned one.

The prostitutes, the lepers, any hiding in the darkest caves because tormenting demons had driven them there.

The father, whose son had been abused and silenced for years, must’ve become undone as he witnessed the restoration of his son after their encounter with Jesus. He’d watched his son suffer torment from childhood because of a demon’s desire to destroy him (Mark 9:21-22).

I envision that dad lost in thought at times as he dreamt of the potential his son had . . . if only.

Helpless, he now stood face-to-face with the One he hoped could restore his boy.

“I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit,” he said (Mark 9:17).

His words held recognition. “I brought You . . . who has . . ."; he understood who bound his son and called the spirit by name.

He was very much aware of what this mute spirit was doing to his son, and it was torture both for the father to watch and the son to endure.

They were victims of the schemer, Satan, who covertly plots as he abuses and silences, leaving people broken and abandoned in shame. He certainly doesn’t want anyone to recognize he is behind the torment or call it by name.

Especially sin. He doesn’t want us to call anything sin.

What do you suppose would happen if we began bringing loved ones to Jesus and called bondage by name?

I brought you . . . who has . . .

  • A Spirit of Offense
  • A Spirit of Lust
  • A Spirit of Hatred
  • A Lying Spirit
  • A Spirit of Jealousy
  • A Spirit of Idolatry
  • A Spirit of Gossip
  • A Spirit of Addiction
  • A Spirit of Depression

The father put his hope in the disciples, but when they couldn’t help him, he took his son straight to Jesus. I’m not sure he expected Jesus to call out their unbelief, but He did.

“Why are you such a faithless people?”

However, I bet he was thrilled when Jesus said, “Now, bring the boy to me(Mark 9:19, TPT).

“Please, if you’re able to do something. . . ” the father continued.

“What do you mean ‘if’?” Jesus asked.

Then, He turned the ‘if’ back to the father. “If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”

The father, who had recognized the spirit holding his son hostage, now recognized his own bondage. “I do believe, Lord; help my little faith!” (Mark 9:22-24 TPT)

We all struggle with “little faith” from time to time.

Many in our town had lost faith change would come to the abandoned house. We were wrong—the house is changing, little-by-little, each day.

Suppose we’ve gotten it wrong about people, too?

It’s quite possible the Lord is ready to begin work on the abandoned, but He’s waiting to hear,

I brought You . . . who has . . . .

We upgrade the lives of others when we: 

1. Recognize the bondage and call it by name.  

2. Bring them to Jesus.

3. Pray for the faith to believe all things are possible.

Do you know someone abused and silenced? Abandoned by shame? Pray for the faith to recognize the spirit holding them hostage and then bring them to Jesus.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of LechenieNarkomanii at Pixabay.