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Entries in Loneliness (4)

Tuesday
Jun182019

3 Suggestions for the Next Time You Feel Lonely

Becky Harling shares transformational messages, encouraging her audience to think biblically—and she does so with both depth and humor. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she offers three things to try if you're feeling lonely.

"What if your loneliness wasn’t something to dread but a vehicle for God to use?" Becky said. "What if instead of running from loneliness or hiding from it, you embraced it and ran to God?"

I (Dawn) seldom feel lonely, but when I have, it was tough. I think Becky's suggestions here are realistic and helpful.

Becky continues . . .

In our lives, we bristle against loneliness. We avoid it at all costs.

Yet many of us are experiencing soul weariness because we run from loneliness.

I remember a few years ago, during a heavy season of travel and ministry, I collapsed on my hotel bed and had a rather bizarre thought: “I’m lonely”.

After thinking about that, I almost giggled out loud reflecting, “How on earth can I feel lonely when I’ve been with people non-stop?” That’s when it hit me!

“I’m lonely for God!”

I had been pushing hard, and I needed time to sink into God’s presence and simply be at home with Him. He is my heart’s true home, and I needed the soul refreshment that comes only from enjoying His presence.

The Psalmists who wrote Psalm 84 understood. They penned,“My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

In our fast-paced, over-caffeinated, non-stop culture, we need refreshment and renewal.

In order for that to happen, we must embrace our loneliness and recognize it as a divine signal inviting us to our heart’s true home—God. There in His presence we can relax, re-group, rest and simply be loved.

All of this may sound ethereal to you.

How do you experience God’s presence when there’s so much pressure from our society to perform and accomplish? It’s not as difficult as you think.

Here are 3 simple suggestions to get you started.

1. Read a Psalm.

The Psalms are a great place to find connection. These poetic masterpieces help you connect with God.

In addition, the authentic words and feelings of the various Psalmists will help you feel connected to their emotions.

As you hear them crying out—

you’ll find yourself whispering, “Me too!”

The Psalms offer empathy to the feelings we experience in our journey with God and help us connect with Him at a deeper level.

2. Recognize the Ache in Your Soul Is Your Call Back to God.

The ache you feel deep in the innermost parts of your soul has been placed there by God Himself. It is a hunger that only He Himself can fill. Nothing else will completely satisfy.

In our culture, we don’t like to feel pain, so we run from pain, hide from pain or numb our pain. The truth is, pain can be a fabulous signal alerting us that something is wrong.

When you feel the pangs of loneliness, rather than turning on Netflix or vegging out in front of an Amazon movie, consider whether you’ve had adequate time soaking in God’s presence.

Set aside some extra time to relax unhurried in His presence. In your time, read a few verses, listen to some worship music, journal your prayers, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a deeper awareness of God’s presence.

3. Re-connect with Heart Friends.

Not only were our souls created with a hunger for God, they were also created with a thirst for friends.

In Psalm 95, the Psalmist invites others to join him in worship, writing, “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord” (Psalm 95:1).

When my soul is bone weary, I know I need extra time alone in God’s presence; but then I also need my heart-connection friends.

  • With these friends we can have a conversation about what God’s teaching us and how we’ve experienced Him in the mundane of everyday life.
  • We can share prayer requests and encourage each other in the journey.
  • With these heart friends, I experience the presence of God in our fellowship, and I walk away refreshed and uplifted. 

Friend, the next time you feel lonely, read a Psalm out loud, recognize your soul is aching for God, and re-connect with heart friends who understand your spiritual journey.

Don’t run from loneliness or hide from it. Instead, embrace it and then celebrate that loneliness can lead you back to your heart’s true home—God.

Think about the last time you felt lonely. How could these three suggestions have helped you get back on track?

Becky Harling is authentic. Passionate. Funny. She brings a life-transformational message to every audience. Becky has a Biblical Literature degree and is a Certified Speaker, Leadership Coach and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team. She is represented by Outreach Speakers. Her experience as a pastor’s wife, women’s ministry director, breast cancer and childhood sexual abuse survival all bring depth and realism to her message. Becky wrote eight books. Her latest, Who Do You Say that I Am?—an 8-week Bible study/video series—looks at the “I Am” statements of Jesus. Listen Well, Lead Better, written with her husband Steve, releases in February 2020. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Engin Akyurt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jun052018

When Your Last Living Parent Passes

Have you ever noticed that broken people—healed by God's grace—share His truth in a powerful way, straight from their heart? Yvonne Ortega is the author of the Moving from Broken to Beautiful® series.

In this Grief UPGRADE, she encourages us to seek God's caring presence and peace, just as she does.

“‘Dad passed,’ my younger brother said on the phone. For a couple of minutes, I couldn’t say anything," Yvonne said. "Our last living parent passed.

"I felt broken again. Perhaps my brother felt the same way, but he didn’t say so.”

I (Dawn) still have one living parent, but I've thought about this topic many times lately.

I don't think we're ever prepared for a parent to die, but perhaps we can prepare our hearts to continue to live.

Yvonne continues . . .

Daddy wanted to live to be 100 years old. He got close to that, but his body wore out.

He had a massive heart attack on Palm Sunday, seemed to improve, but slipped away nine days later.

His mind also wore out. He had dementia.

I’ve learned three things about my heavenly Father that help me cope with the loss of my last living parent.

1. I’ve learned that God cares about orphans.

Psalm 68:5, in talking about God, says,

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (NIV).

God is a Father to me. As a caring parent, He loves me, watches over me, and guides me. He will fill in the gap.

I can go to Him in prayer, call him "Father," and feel confident that He will be a faithful parent to me.

Deuteronomy 10:18a says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.”

God will defend me. When the need arises, I don’t stand alone. I can run to Abba’s arms in confidence and feel safe.

2. I’ve learned to meditate on the names of God.

El Roi means the God who sees me. Since He sees me, God knows I experience bouts of loneliness. As God comforted Hagar in Genesis 16, He will comfort me.

God knows where I am and what I need.

Another name of God is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is our peace. In Judges 16:24, Gideon built an altar to the Lord and called it "The Lord Is Peace."

I admit, every so often I want to call Dad, but remember I can’t do that anymore. Other times, I tell myself I need to buy more greeting cards for Dad. I used to mail him two cards a week. Then I remember he’s in heaven.

I’m happy for him, but I miss him. In those moments, I call on Jehovah Shalom and claim His peace in my life.

3. I listen to praise and worship music.

One of my favorite Scriptures about the importance of praise and worship is 2 Chronicles 20:21:

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”

My battle is coping with the loss of my last living parent. God’s Word showed me the most powerful weapon—praise and worship.

I praise God continually that my father accepted the Lord last summer.

Then I fight the battle with God’s love and strength as He brings me to a more beautiful tomorrow.

What will you do when you lose your last living parent or feel lonely because of other circumstances?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a professional speaker, and a speaking and writing coach. She’s the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. Yvonne will speak at a Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Conference October 19–20, 2018 in Virginia Beach and would love to bring that conference to your area. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
Dec172013

Shepherds, Wise Men and Angels

Cathy Horning reminds us of a sad reality: in the midst of our holiday celebrations, some - either by choice or because of circumstances - are not celebrating. One way to Upgrade our Christmas celebration is to think of ways to incorporate others who need some comfort and joy.

"Since my childhood, a favorite Christmas tradition has been to arrange the Nativity Scene," Cathy says. "Each year, I set up the old wooden stable, placing baby Jesus in a manger filled with hay. Next, I added Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the magi. And, last of all, I carefully placed the angel to watch over them all."

We all have favorite holiday traditions, and Cathy captured one of our own family's favorites. But she also remembers some not-so-pleasant times.

Cathy continues ...

My least favorite part of Christmas was being lonely. Because our extended family lived thousands of miles away, our Christmas usually consisted only of my parents, my little brother and me. Most holidays, we opened our presents on Christmas Eve. You see, my father worked for the airlines, and airplanes did not stop flying to honor Jesus' birth.

Each Christmas morning, I waited impatiently until my mother finally gave me permission to run to the neighbor’s house. There, in a family full of children (ten to be exact), I ate yummy food, shared presents, and joined in their festivities. The noisy and fun-filled home made me long to have a large family of my own one day.

Many years later, I married into a huge extended family. Plus, God blessed me with a small tribe of my own. After my husband and I, with our four children, moved away from our loved ones, Christmas day became a lonely time once again.

Until the year, our family decided to host a Christmas Day Open House.

We invited those who were alone, or far from family, or estranged from loved ones to join us to celebrate Jesus birth. Thus began one of our families favorite Christmas traditions.

Of course, we were not the first to invite others to this holy celebration (Luke 2:6-18; Matthew 2:1-2).

Two thousand years ago, Mary gave birth to baby Jesus, in a lowly stable far from home. She and Joseph must have felt so lonely that first Christmas day. But, they were not alone!

God had already set in motion a party to celebrate the birth of His newborn Son.

An angel had invited shepherds to come and see the Holy Babe - while a star illuminated the sky to lead wise men, already seeking Jesus, to welcome and worship the Infant King. 

I believe, from the very first Christmas, God never intended Jesus birth to be celebrated alone. From poor shepherds to rich magi, God invited all to celebrate together the birth of His Son.

This Christmas, as you set out your Nativity Scene, is there someone feeling lonely who your family could invite to join you in the celebration of Jesus birth?

Here are a few people our family invited

  • A family far from their extended family
  • A single man or woman
  • Single parent families
  • Military families

Can you think of others? 

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:1-2).

When you think of the word "lonely," who in your circle of aquaintance instantly comes to mind? How can you reach out to "remember" that person this month?

Cathy Horning has been a women’s ministry leader, Bible Study teacher, speaker and writer for more than 20 years. She loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical, and powerful the promises and truths in God's Word. Married for thirty years, Cathy has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. She loves long walks by the bay, a good book or movie, Starbucks ice tea, and especially family get-togethers. Read more by Cathy at her website.

Photo of lonely woman: Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday
Jun112013

When You're Feeling Lonely

Meet Cindi McMenamin: Cindi’s books encourage women to dream, to rest and to find purpose in God. She is especially skilled in encouraging women to trust God with their emotions and attitudes. She has some powerful insights for us today:

Do you struggle with loneliness? Whether we are married or not, we can feel loneliness start to creep into our lives and change our attitude if we're not carefully guarding our heart and mind.

One morning as I was struggling with loneliness because of disappointments and unmet expectations in my life, I realized I was in my state of mind because I was believing something about my situation -- or about God - that wasn't true. So, I had to incorporate this principle, from my book, Women on the Edge, into my life to upgrade my attitude. You can upgrade your attitude (and those feelings of loneliness), too, by sorting the facts from the feelings:

In other words, when you focus on the facts (about God’s character and the promises in His Word) and not on what you are feeling, you can immediately upgrade your attitude and get through your day.

  • You may be feeling like everyone has abandoned you and you are alone. But the fact is that God has promised that He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
  • You may be feeling hopeless in your situation. But the fact is that God promises He will work all things (even this difficult time of feeling alone) for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
  • You may be feeling alone in your circumstances, like God is unaware and unconcerned with your pain at the moment. But the fact is that God is aware of what you are feeling at every moment. He has searched you and He knows you. He perceives your thoughts from afar. Before a word is on your tongue, He knows it completely (Psalm 139:1-4).
  • You may be feeling it is impossible for God to give you the kind of wisdom you need to deal with situations in your life as a woman, wife or mother, but the fact is God is able to give you the kind of wisdom you need, because James 1:5 says, “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

In other words, when you focus on the facts (about God’s character and the promises in His Word) and not on what you are feeling, you can immediately upgrade your attitude and get through your day.

Which of these promises from scripture most encourage you when you feel lonely?

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including Women on the Edge, When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and When Women Walk Alone.

For more on her books, ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.