Member of AWSA

  Info about AWSA


[See their Bios on the Partners Page by clicking on the Blogger box, above]


Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Jeanne Cesena

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Melissa Edgington

Debbi Eggleston

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Sally Ferguson

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Kate Hagen

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

Debbie Harris

Nali Hilderman

Cathy Horning

Kathy Howard

Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

Sylvia Lange

Debby Lennick

Peggy Leslie

Kathi Lipp

Kolleen Lucariello

Kathi Macias

Paula Marsteller

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Elaine W. Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Yvonne Ortega

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Judy Scharfenberg

Deedra Scherm

Laurel Shaler

Joanie Shawhan

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Susan K. Stewart

Stacie Stoelting

Letitia "Tish" Suk

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Elizabeth Van Tassel

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Shonda Savage Whitworth

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Marriage (33)


10 Things I Would Tell the President in a Sit-down Chat

This is a bit of a departure from my normal UPGRADE posts. It is a Leadership UPGRADE that took shape when I had an image in my mind of sitting down with our President to share from my heart.

At first, this seemed a bit presumptuous. But then again, I love our President and pray for him and his wife and family, so my words would come from a heart filled with love.

The more I thought about what I would say, the more I realized I could speak this truth into any leader's life, because it is all based on scriptural truth.

We all need to grow spiritually. There is no room to think we've "arrived." But I believe we are to challenge each other to make better choices so we can grow, help others, and bring glory to God.

That said, here are my "10 Things I Would Tell the President in a Sit-down Chat"

1. Seek God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

This is more than a casual, superficial relationship. Be sure you know Him, not simply know about Him.

Get this relationship wrong and nothing else matters.

(Psalm 14:2; Matt. 6:33; Psalm 63:1; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:23; 5:8; Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 6:23; 10:9-10; John 3:16)

2. Love your wife*—your prime relationship after God.

Be faithful to her, listen with your heart, be sensitive to her needs, and appreciate her sacrifices for your career.  

(Prov. 18:22; Eph. 5:25-33) 

* Obviously, this would be a little different if the president were a woman.

3. Be a good example to your children.  

Model good character and service, and teach them what truly matters.

In parenting, observed actions matter even more than words.

(Prov. 3:21; 22:6; Deut. 11:18-19; Psalm 78:4; Prov. 13:22; 18:9; Eph. 6:4) 

4. Protect other key relationships—grandchildren, valued friends and co-workers.

People will always be more important than programs, possessions and profits.

Love and serve people well. 

(Psalm 78:4; Deut. 6:5-7; Psalm 112:1-3—Prov. 17:17; 27:17—Matt. 20:26-28; Prov. 16:11; Eph. 4:28; Col. 4:1; Deut. 24:14-15)

5. Surround yourself with wise advisors.

Wise is far better than smart.

Cherish those who dare to tell you the truth, even if it hurts. 

(Prov. 11:14; 13:20; 15:22; Col. 2:8)

6. Refrain from belittling those who disagree with you.

Personal attacks and name-calling are unnecessary. 

It’s OK to point out where and why a person is wrong, but do so with respect.

(Phil. 2:3; Rom. 12;10, 19; Luke 6:31; Eph. 4:24; 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:17)

7. Look for the positive in people.

Listen and consider how you might learn from them. Be willing to learn and change. 

Never neglect giving honor where honor is due. 

(James 1:19; Phil. 4:8—Prov. 3:27; Rom. 13:7b)

8. Always be quick to forgive and to ask forgiveness—even when it’s hard.

Pride can destroy a leader.

Humility comes before honor.

(Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; Luke 6:37b—Matt. 18:21-22—Prov. 15:33; 18:12)

9. Practice self-control.

Every day you will encounter opportunities to:

  • show patience,
  • temper anger,
  • resist bragging,
  • overcome lust,
  • and avoid temptation.

Be brave and choose well.

(Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 12:2—Eph. 4:2; Prov. 15:18; James 1:19-20; Prov. 22:24; Psalm 37:8; Prov. 29:11; James 4:16; Phil. 2:3; Jer. 9:23; Prov. 27:1-2; 2 Cor. 11:30; Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 5:16)

10. Leave a legacy that blesses those in your charge; but ultimately, seek to please God.

In the end, only what God says about you will matter—not what it says in life’s history books or on your tombstone.

(Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 11:6; Psalm 147:10-11; Prov. 16:7)

Are you a leader? Are any of these truths lacking in your own life? What does God say you should do? Obey Him for greater blessing, and to bring Him praise.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.
Graphic adapted from Jessica Gale at Morguefile.

Four Ways to Fire Up Your Marriage

Morgan Farr is a woman of purpose, a woman with a godly vision for her ministry, marriage and home. In this Valentine's Day UPGRADE, she suggests four ways we can fire up our marriages.

Morgan says, "Would it shock you to learn that Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday?"   

Yes, I (Dawn) was surprised by that question, but knowing Morgan, I was sure she had a good and godly reason. She loves to look at life from God's perspective in His Word, and marriage and sex are no exception!

Morgan continues . . .   

From movies, commercials, and even in the grocery store, we are bombarded with the idea that TODAY is the one day of the year that we should spend time showing that special person in your life how much they mean to you.

To be completely honest the whole thing to me is pretty sad. 

Let me explain. 

I don’t have anything against expressions of love. In fact, I think they are awesome! But, tomorrow all the reminders to “show your someone special how much you love them” will disappear.

For the secular world, Valentine’s Day is the one day a year that you show the one you love how much they mean to you.

The day after?

It is back to life as normal. Sadly for many marriages this means putting romantic love on the backburner. But it could (and should!) be so much more. 

I believe that for a follower of Christ, we should have the corner on absolutely amazing marriage relationships.

In the Bible, we are taught that there are four different kinds of love: Storge, Philia, Agape and Eros;  and we have the ability to use them all!

In this Upgrade, I am going to share Four Ways to Fire Up Your Marriage based on God’s descriptions of love in the Bible.

1. Agape

This word is used in the Bible to define God's perfect, sacrificial, unconditional, gift for mankind (Romans 5:10). This love is best exemplified by Jesus himself. This love is a pure, selfless love.  

With Agape I like to think of: EMPATHY.

How can you show this love to your spouse?

When your spouse has had an awful day at work, you could draw him a bath, make his favorite meal, or take the kids out of the house so he could have some quiet time alone. If he is a verbal processor, listen while he talks through the events of the day.

2. Storge

The word Storge is defined as family love (Romans 12:10). This is the amazing bond that grows between members of the same family: parents and children, and brothers and sisters.

With Storge I like to think of: TRIBE.

How can you show this love to your spouse?

This is where having family traditions and rituals can help to create a lasting bond between family members.

Our family likes to read out loud at the dinner table from William J. Bennet’s The Book of Virtues and discuss what happened in these moralistic stories.

You could also do a weekly game night, or take up a sport or activity as a family. (I would stay away from movie night though as it does deter conversation.)

3. Philia

This love is a close and powerful friendship (Hebrews 13:1). It is described in Greek as a very powerful bond between comrades. This is the kind of friendship forged through standing beside one another in battle, guarding one another’s backs from the attacks of the enemy.

With Philia I like to think of: BATTLE BUDDIES.

How can you show this love to your spouse?

This is the love where you share the trials you are facing.

Is your spouse struggling with moral purity? Intercede on his behalf to your heavenly Father. Go through your movies, books, magazines, and catalogues and remove anything that could be a stumbling block.

Is your husband struggling to get fit? Do some research and help him learn to eat better. Offer to workout with him or go on a walk together.

Does your husband struggle with feeling like he isn’t enough? Build him up with words of affirmation and praise.

4. Eros

I saved Eros for last because it is often the love that people think about most often in relationship to marriage.

Eros is defined as sensual or romantic love (Read the entire book of Song of Solomon).

In my opinion, it is impossible to have true Eros without the other three loves in place.

The secular world will tell you that you can, but in all honesty the “passion” or “sexual attraction” that is felt outside of a relationship with Christ is really just lust. However, when in a Christ-centered, romantic relationship… sparks should fly.

With Eros I like to think of: EROTIC

How can you show this love to your spouse?

  • Initiate sex frequently and in a variety of ways.
  • Jump into the shower with him and ask him to wash your hair.
  • Give him a massage.
  • Make his favorite dinner and show up wearing his favorite shirt and nothing else.
  • Learn one another’s bodies well.
  • Take time to really understand what works for each of you.

A note here: I totally understand if you have a little one at home. I have a four year old, a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old, I totally get it. There are a couple of things that you can do to make intimacy more of a priority when you have little ones at your skirt.

One of the best ways you can show love to your spouse is to schedule sex during busy life seasons. Pick a day and make certain that you make sex a priority on that day. Then, if you can also surprise him during the week. If you can’t manage a spontaneous time during the week, he can always count on that time that you specifically set aside to meet a need for him that only you can meet.  

Voltaire said,

“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination”.

For believers we know that it wasn’t nature, but rather God that has given us our spouses to love. It is up to us to keep the fire burning in our marriages. We have the backing of the creator of the Grand Canyon, tiny babies, and the majestic eagle.  

Such a creative God encourages us to use our own creativity to love our spouses well so that the fire of the marriage doesn’t just simmer, it roars!

Which type of love can you work on in your marriage this week?     

Morgan Farr is a Texas-loving, succulent-cultivating, book nerd. Currently stationed in San Diego, California, this Army wife is working to better love her husband, develop her three small children, and learning more about homseschooling. Morgan is a homemaker who dedicates her time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring, and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog, The Forgiven Former Feminist. You can find her training programs, nutritional information and meal plans on her blog, Farr Functional Fitness.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Prawny at Pixabay.



After Almost 50 Years of Marriage ...

Kathy Collard Miller's honesty about her own personal weaknesses and how God has transformed them and enabled her to build a marriage in strength. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she gets honest about what almost destroyed her marriage, and three concepts that have made a huge difference.

"When we were married on June 20, 1970, I thought trusting that God had chosen Larry and I for each other was enough," Kathy says. "As a result, we went through some very difficult times."

I (Dawn) know every marriage has rough patches. Sometimes turbulent ones. But I know what Kathy shares here is true. We can make choices to strengthen our own marriage to the glory of God.

It's almost Valentine's Day—the perfect time to examine our marriages and consider where they still need to grow.

Kathy continues . . .

For our long-lasting wonderful relationship, I depend upon three basic concepts. They may seem too simple, but they make a world of difference.

1. We’re different.

Seems too basic? It’s not. Every child grows up thinking that the way they view people, life, and God is the right way.

But we don’t recognize how our different experiences influence our current belief system and can negatively affect our marriage. I still fall into it at times—to the peril of our marriage.

God wants to use those differences to help us believe God’s perspective, not our own.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

After we married, I told Larry, “I’m going to the bank to open our Christmas fund.” He looked horrified and said, “No, you’re not!”

I was offended.

My mother paid for our many gifts by saving all year. Larry only received one gift from his parents and no gifts from relatives. What a shock!

Not only did we have different past experiences, we had gender differences. The world wants us to think there are no differences, but God created male and female different.

When Larry is telling me something sweet, I find it hard to believe because he can’t seem to look me in the eye. But men have a hard time doing that when saying something positive. When they are saying something confrontational, they have no trouble at all.

Like all gender differences, this difference is a generalization, but very true over all. Now that I know, I can believe his words without him looking directly at me.

2. Everyone can grow and change.

When I’m disgruntled with Larry, what’s bothering me convinces me he won’t ever change. I can rehearse every wrong thing he’s done to support my bitterness.

I’m convinced that if I hadn’t finally believed everyone can change, I could have walked out the door—or at the least continued in my hopelessness about my horrible marriage.

But BOTH of us have changed and for the better. It hasn’t always been as fast as I want but we have learned to be more patient, supportive and understanding.

If we believe any person can’t change, we are saying God doesn’t love that person.

Hebrews 12:6 assures us, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Even when nothing seems to be happening in our mate’s heart, God is on the move.

We can most support His work by receiving God’s correction ourselves.

Remember: no one is beyond God’s ability to influence and change. He may be using resources we don’t know about.

3. God is FOR your marriage.

He wants your marriage to persevere and prosper, because it represents Him to the world.

Ephesians 5:31-32 tells us, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

During many of the times I focused on the negatives of Larry’s behavior or attitudes, I was convinced God didn’t care about our marriage.

But I’m now convinced He not only cares; God is passionate about representing His perfections through helping us learn to love each other more.

No, not become perfect.

But our increasing joy and contentment point to Him.

Do you want a long-lasting marriage? At this point, it might be hard to envision celebrating 50 years married to your spouse. I sure never thought it would be around the corner for us.

But you’ll get there as you live day by day reminding yourself that

  • your spouse is different than you by God’s design,
  • everyone can change and God is working on it,
  • and God is for your marriage.

Which of those three points is most important to you right now, and how can you remind yourself of its truth?

Kathy Collard Miller and Larry, a retired police lieutenant, have had many adventures together, including writing, speaking, being lay-counselors, and traveling the world. They live in Southern California and have two children and two grandchildren. One of Kathy’s recent books is No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, which tells the story of how God healed their marriage and delivered Kathy from her abusive anger. Visit her website for more information.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Wife of Excellence at Pixabay.


S-E-T Your Marriage Up for Success!

Deb DeArmond loves to help people build sound, godly relationships. In this Marriage UPGRADE she challenges married people to boost their relationship with three important steps.

"Marriage may be easy one day, tough the next," Deb says, "But you can set yourself up to live happily ever after!"

I (Dawn) have experienced this in my nearly 45 years of marriage. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but we don't have to leave our relationships to chance. We can make choices for growth and stability.

Deb continues . . .

I’ve jokingly said I could never divorce my hubby, even on really rough days. But I could explain his sudden disappearance.

Face it, we all have our moments when it’s an uphill journey. So, let’s look at some tips to smooth out the path.

February is 2019 National Marriage Month—a good time to be sure you are S-E-T up to create, enhance or restore the health your marriage deserves.

After 43 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart—he’s still my favorite human—we continue to discover ways to be better together.

Take some time this month to S-E-T yourselves up with a few tools, tips, and tactics to make that easier each day.

S – Speak Up!

I’m grateful for the 400+ married couples who shared their stories with me during my research on the marriage books I’ve written. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews revealed info that stuns me.

The hardest to understand is the hurt, anger, or disappointment spouses experienced, but never shared with one another. Some major, some less so, but consistently damaging. They disclosed info to me they’ve never shared with one another!

When I ask, “Why didn’t you speak up?” the answers are universal:

  • It won’t make any difference.
  • He (she) should have already noticed.
  • I don’t want to hurt or anger my spouse.

Our spouses know us well, but they aren’t mind-readers.

One friend shared he was stunned when his wife filed for divorce. She handed him an exhaustive list of offenses with dates and times going back 18 years. The problem was, it was the first time he’d known about any of it.

So, find your voice and speak up. 

E – Engage Your Spouse

One way to keep communication healthy is to engage your spouse often in conversation. Draw out any issues that he/she may not have disclosed and share your own, too. The reasons are varied, but the bullets under "S" are the top three.

Ask open-ended questions designed to create understanding:

  • “The new job has been overwhelming. I need your help. How would you feel about temporarily taking on more responsibility at home?”
  • “How are you doing with the demand of the new promotion? How can I help?”
  • “You seemed upset I cancelled our plans and we’ve not discussed it. How do you feel about it?”

T – Truth Must Partner with Love

Ephesians 4:15 exhorts us:But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ” (CSB).

Truth spoken without love doesn’t land well and seldom creates the intended outcome.

Truth expressed in anger, frustration, or hurt is still truth—but comes across as an attack and rarely changes hearts or minds. It often creates or escalates isolation.

Truth is most effective when we’ve managed our negative feelings and communicated with love.

Connect to create shared understanding is the goal.

It may require we delay the conversation, but we don’t defer it indefinitely. Once communicated, we can find our way to a Godly solution together.

Don’t delay! S-E-T yourself up for success today!

Which of the "S-E-T yourself up" tips could help your marriage most right now? Why? What would be different if you implemented these steps? How might your choices contribute to positive change in your marriage?

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 1 adapted, courtesy of D. Williams at Pixabay. Graphic 2 adapted, courtesty of Yolanda Sun at Unsplash.


Can Differences in Marriages Form Bridges—Not Chasms?

Cynthia Ruchti writes both novels and nonfiction, but she always focuses on weaving truth and humor together to challenge people to more biblical living. In this Marriage UPGRADE, she tackles differences in marriage and how they can become a blessing.

"The differences between how some marriage partners think must mean they’re not suited for each other," Cynthia says. "Must have missed God’s leading somehow. Marriage is doomed unless the two can start thinking alike, right?"

Oh, I (Dawn) hope not! Seriously, Cynthia understands how so many of our marriages work, and how they can work better!

Cynthia continues . . .

I’ve been that woman—the one wondering how married life can possibly survive much less grow if the husband and wife approach everything—EVERYTHING—from opposing perspectives.

While writing the novel Miles from Where We Started, I didn’t have to look far for research about the widening gap a young couple can feel when they wake up soon after the honeymoon to discover this person they thought their soulmate speaks a different language, cares about different concerns, and is… different.

Not on the same page? He or she isn’t in the same library!

After spending more than four decades married to my opposite, I can predict what my beloved will say before he says it.

Me: Look at that beautiful fireplace.

Him: I wonder how much that thing cost them.

Me: Did you have a good time golfing with Ken?

Him: Yeah.

Me: How’s he handling the news about the lesion near his optic nerve?

Him: We didn’t talk about it.

Me: You didn’t talk about the biggest threat he’s ever faced to his life and his vision? About his pending surgery?

Him: It didn’t come up.

Me: (after a day full of conquering small mountains in my various job assignments) How was work today?

Him: Meh. You know.

I deal in emotional currency.

He deals in checking account balances.

I view life’s experiences through their impact on people.

He views them through their impact on the price of gas.

On every personality test we take—I provide his answers for him, because he doesn’t take personality tests—we score as polar opposites on the charts, graphs, and animal names.

It’s no surprise that God’s artistry didn’t include creating automatons who all function, feel, speak, and process alike. What a wide variety of personality types He made!

When we look at the gifts His Holy Spirit gives so that the body of the church functions well (Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, among other references), it’s obvious He intended us to approach life from different angles.

We’re not all administrators or helpers or gifted teachers or prophets. But together, we can form a complete picture of the Church.

Why would we assume that wouldn’t be the case in marriage?

What if our differences are bridge-building material rather than distance-making?

How can differences signal pending strength rather than pending doom for a marriage relationship?

Consider these marital points to ponder:

  • SOMEBODY has to consider the costs. (If not me, it had better be him.)
  • Emotion without stability equals tears and laughter with no place to land. Stability without emotion equals a highway in North Dakota (no interesting or growth-producing hills or curves).
  • One angle—even if shared by two people—eliminates the advantage of perspective. It removes dimension. The best brainstorming and problem-solving happens when we take a look at the issue from a variety of angles.

God’s Word says it this way:

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be" (1 Corinthians 12:17-18, NIV).

Same verses—with a few added—but different… uh… perspective:

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

"If Foot said, 'I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,' would that make it so?

"If Ear said, 'I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,' would you want to remove it from the body?

"If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell?

"As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body [or the marriage] right where he wanted it (1 Corinthians 12:14-18, MSG—bracketed part, my addition).

Differences in marriage build DIMENSION bridges across the gaps.

Is it time to stop fussing about differences of opinion and use them as planks to build a dimension bridge?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-Hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and speaking events for women and writers. She’s the author of more than 25 books, including the recently-released novel—Miles from Where We Started

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Eusodroff at Pixabay.