Member of AWSA

  Info about AWSA

 

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

     PARTNERS:

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 Parenting (35)

Thursday
Nov152018

3 Steps to Joy for Young Mothers

Kate Hagen's desire to help mothers is an outgrowth of her counseling ministry; but more than that, she loves young moms and feels compassion for their struggles. In this Personal Care UPGRADE, she suggests three ways young mothers can include more joy in their lives.

Kate says, "I wish I could go back and tell myself these three things." 

Oh, Kate got me (Dawn) there! So many things I'd tell my younger self, now that I'm seeing life from a more seasoned point of view!

Kate continues . . . 

Yesterday I was reading a journal from my early years of motherhood. As I read my old entries, I was heavy hearted as I remembered all the guilt and desperation I felt—always wishing I was doing better.  

I want to go back to that Kate and give her a hug.

I want to tell her:

  1. Enjoy your kids more!
  2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.
  3. You're doing the best you can right now! And it's enough.

If Kate from 10 years ago could spare 15 minutes, I would expound by telling her about these three steps to joy. 

But I would make it quick, because there would be a child to run after at any minute!

1. Enjoy your kids!

How? 

Look for God's image in them. When you see them in the morning, and you're a Zombie monster due to a terrible night's sleep, look into their big eyes and think, "You are made in the image of God."

I promise, it will help! God’s loving image is there, even when they won't let you go to the bathroom by yourself.

One of the best mom verses is I Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Yes, my kid's sins (shortcomings) are covered as I love them, and SEE God's love in them.

Be your kid’s biggest cheerleader.

I remember deciding I wanted to be seen by my kids as a cheerleader more than a police. It was a life-changing decision that positively affected my relationship with my kids immensely.

As much as possible, be slow to anger and slow to speak, and instead be quick to listen and quick to forgive.

 These contrasting ideas will really help you enjoy your kids more. It’s a guarantee.

Have these be your rules: less talk; more listening. Don't worry if you break them. You will. But, have them be your standard. (God does.)

2. Release guilt about not feeling connected to God.  

I spent so much time and ink feeling bad about not being close to God.

It's good to cry out to God. It's very Psalmist!

But I think I often missed the joy God was trying to give me by longing for it to come the way it used to. Before kids. 

I wanted the old, deep, spiritual connection I had when I was 20 and had all the time in the world to spend in meditation. This was NOT possible during this season. 

Letting this expectation go, and enjoying the ways God WAS showing up, might have brought me a lot more joy. Looking for things to be grateful for, writing them down and speaking them aloud could have changed my joy-level greatly!  

Some of the ways God was showing up for me when my three kids were constantly needing me—and I had no time to meditate: 

  • In my baby's laughter
  • In chunky thighs (If God's not there, I don't know where God is!)
  • In sweaty hands grabbing for mine
  • In baby arms gripping the back of my neck

3. You’re doing the best you can right now. And it’s enough. 

"I'm not being the best mom/wife/friend I want to be."

That's true! Let that be true. And let that be okay.

It's really just an ego-centered thought. It's focused on you, not the other person. Feeling guilty that you're not enough isn't helping anyone! It's not a Jesus thought.

Let it come—it's ok that it's there—and then let it go.  

You're not being the best mom in the world. True! But, treat yourself the way God does. Be gracious with yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.  

I'd like to go back to that old Kate, give her a hug and tell her what a good job she's doing. Remind her to constantly be looking for ways to enjoy her kids. Encourage her to treat herself the way God treats her... full of compassion, mercy and love.  

What would you go back and tell yourself?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of svklimkin at Morguefile.

Thursday
Aug022018

Setting Up a Successful College Transition

An accomplished speaker and writer, Ellie Kay is best known for her financial wisdom and work with Heroes at Home, but in this Financial UPGRADE, she branches out to a topic that’s especially important this time of year for many: high schoolers’ transition to college.

Ellie says, “I believe that every student can be successful in college by following the Do’s and Don’ts of a smooth college transition.”

My (Dawn’s) first granddaughter is entering college this fall, so that’s on my mind a lot these days.

Ellie hits on some points I’ve never considered, both for parents and their college-bound students.

Ellie continues . . .

How can you prepare for a smooth move to college that sets you up for success?

When my daughter was four years old, she came home from a friend’s house sobbing uncontrollably. While comforting her, she blurted out, “I don’t want to go to college!”

Apparently, her friend had an older sister going to college and my daughter couldn’t imagine leaving us. I reassured her that college was a long way away and by the time she left, she was ready.

When parents are preparing their kids for college, I think they may have flashbacks of them as four year olds. It can be hard to send them away.

As a mom of seven, I’ve found there’s some “homework” you can do in the summer to make college transitions more successful.

1. PRIORITIZE key relationships.

DON’T fill up free time with friends at the expense of family. 

  • Friends come and go but family is forever.
  • Only a small percentage of your friends from high school will still be your BFFs throughout college.
  • Less than 2% of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships will last until college graduation.

DO tell your mama (and papa) that you love them.

  • Mend fences and build bridges with family members.
  • Expect there to be some pre-separation anxiety on both sides—parents and kids—so give each other lots of grace.
  • Students, please understand that this is hard on your parents, especially if you are moving away to go to college.
  • Parents, understand that this is hard on your child because they are about to do something they’ve never done before.
  • Students, take the time now to thank your parents, grandparents, friends, educators and coaches for their help in high school.

2. PLAN Your Finances.

DON’T think that you are too young to budget the money you have.

Luke 14:28 says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” This verse reminds us that it’s important to plan when it comes to our finances. “

  • You can set up a spreadsheet to track your money. We like to use mint because multiple people can track finances on the app.
  • If your parents give you money for tuition, books, rent or food, then this gives them a right to see how the money is spent, so be prepared to share your budget with your financial sponsors. Their love is unconditional, but their money is an investment in your education and it has conditions.
  • Be prepared to work hard and add income to your monthly budget through work-study programs, a part-time job or even an entrepreneurial source of income.

DO be prepared to develop good financial habits that will set you up for success before, during and after college.

  • Do listen to fun, upbeat podcasts like The Money Millhouse to learn more about managing your money.
  • Parents, you may want to get an additional card on your credit card to help your student build credit. These cards usually allow you to modify the spending limit.
  • We added additional cards on American Express and put these under our kids’ social security numbers. They charged preapproved items and then we paid the bill in full (and on time) each month.
  • By the time each of our children graduated from college, they had a 750 or higher FICO score which helped with everything from getting a lower rental down payment to paying less on car insurance.

3. PREPARE for Positive Changes.

DON’T make this all about you.

  • Parents, don’t create drama before they go or after they’ve gone.
  • Moms, don’t sob and cry and tell them you don’t’ know how you’re going to survive without them. Shedding a few tears is OK, but doing what Oprah calls “the ugly cry” isn’t.
  • Don’t post a bunch of “poor me-isms” on social media because it distracts your student from focusing on a successful transition to college.

DO keep it positive and focus on faith.

  • Do send happy texts, emails, cards, and care packages to your college student, these mean a lot. 
  • Do tell your student funny stories about a younger sibling or the dog, it will make them feel more connected to home and send pictures of the dog or pet.
  • Students, do clean up your social media channels because you never know what can come back to haunt you in college and you don’t want to embarrass yourself or become a target of unwanted attention.  
  • Do subscribe to Our Daily Bread and consider joining CRU to connect with others in a safe, faith based community.
  • Parents can join Moms in Touch or a Bible Study with parents in a similar situation.

Moving away from home can be hard but I believe that every student can find success by preparing your relationships, finances and faith as you make this journey into adulting.

What can you do today to prepare for success in college tomorrow?

Ellie Kay is the best-selling author of fifteen books including Lean Body, Fat Wallet, and Heroes at Home. She is a Toastmaster Accredited Speaker as well as a popular international speaker and media veteran who has given over 2,000 media interviews including appearances on ABC, CNBC, CNN and Fox News. She writes for six national magazines and has been a Subject Matter Expert for the Wall Street JournalNew York Times and Washington Post. She is the cohost of The Money Millhouse podcast. Currently, Ellie provides financial education to military members through her “Heroes at Home Financial Event” sponsored for USAA. Ellie is married to LTC Bob Kay and they have seven children. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of YannaZazu at Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr052018

Cherish Each Day

In this Life UPGRADE, Dawn invites us to look at all the areas of our life to consider what we cherish, and how we can treasure these people and things more every day.

As I write this, I'm listening to a broadcast about a bridge collapse in Miami near Florida International University (on March 15). I wept to think about families whose loved ones died under the bridge, and the thought came to mind:

We never know our last day. We need to cherish our loved ones before it's too late.

It's not a new thought. Many have expressed the same sentiments, especially after a great tragedy like America's 9-11 or the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Hish School in Parkland, Florida.

As our minds and hearts try to wrap around these horrible circumstances, thoughts of REGRET may arise.

"I wish I had ...."

"I wish I hadn't ...."

"Why didn't I ....?"

"If only I had another opportunity to ...."

I've learned to deal with regrets.

  • I look for the LESSONS God might want to teach me.
  • I seek and receive God's FORGIVENESS for my failings, if that is a factor.
  • I try to think of positive, biblical ACTION steps to move forward.

One of the steps to my moving forward is this:  

I'm learning to cherish what I once took for granted.

To "cherish" is to hold dear, prize, value highly and treasure something or someone. When we cherish someone we protect and lovingly care for them.

I have a little plaque on the back of my bathroom toilet that I see every day. It simply says, "Cherish EACH DAY."

We often hear "seize the day," and that's good counsel too. But to cherish each day is to see value in each day.

It starts in the heart and then flows out through wise responses and actions.

Still, "cherish each day" seems generic.

To know how to cherish each day, we need to think about what we love and treasure within those days.

As I think about what I often take for granted, I've identified some things and people I need to learn to cherish more.

1. I Need to Cherish My LORD.

The scriptures admonish us: "... seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).  

When we cherish the Lord, we will seek Him and we will seek to please him with right choices.

We will have no other gods before Him—no idols that displace our love for Him. 

"... love the Lord your God will all your heat and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..." (Luke 10:27.

And if we cherish the Lord, we will love and obey Him and His Word.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

 2. I Need to Cherish My LIFE.

This one is a little complicated. On the one hand, we are to cherish our life because we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). On the other hand, our life is a "vapor," a whisp of wind. We are creatures made by a mighty creator, and He knows we are but dust (Psalm 103:14).

The Lord may call on us to make the ultimate sacrifice of our life because we cherish some things even more—our decision to follow and obey Jesus, His calling on our life and our desire to please the Father.

Certainly, taking all of this into account, I need to cherish my life because Jesus died to rescue and redeem me! (Titus 2:14) He is the one who has established my worth.

3. I Need to Cherish My SPOUSE.

In the great scripture passage about husbands and wives, Paul says,

"no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it...." (Ephesians 5:29).

This is often seen as a man's sacrificial love and care for his wife, but it also could be an outflowing of verse 21: "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Certainly, a wife's submission to her husband's leadership (v. 24) and respect for her husband (v. 33) are manifestations of her desire to cherish her husband as God's provision.

When a spouse is difficult and stubborn, it is hard to find ways to cherish. Indeed, for all marriages there are difficult times when a spouse annoys and disappoints us. Cherishing in those cases comes from Christlike character and grace, living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:32; Galatians 5:22-23).

4. I Need to Cherish My CHILDREN... and GRANDCHILDREN!

5. I Need to Cherish My MINISTRY.

All Christians, in one sense, are called to ministry (Matthew 28:18-20).

But also, God calls us to specific tasks whether in the secular world or church-related; and we need to cherish that calling and not consider it a burden.

The Lord gives us gifts (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-5; 8-10; Ephesians 4:4-14) to enable our ministries and vocations, serve the Body of Christ and bring Him glory. We want to be the "fragrance of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15) no matter where He calls us to serve.

Where God calls, He establishes, equips and empowers (Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 30:21; Hebrews 13:20-21; Ephesians 3:20-21).

6. I Need to Cherish My BODY.

It's too easy to take our bodies for granted. When we lose our health, we suffer greatly. God wants us to cherish our body—not in a self-focused, obsessive way, but rather to bring Him glory and preserve our ability to serve Him and others.

The Bible gives us keys to good physical health (along with other kinds of health). It surprised me to see how obedience to God's Word can promote health (Proverbs 3:1-2, 8; 3 John 1:2).

There are many scriptures about health—too many to put here. The simple truth is, our Creator knows how our bodies work and what is best. We need to follow wisdom as we respect and honor Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He doesn't want us to suffer the diseases brought about through ignoring wisdom about health (Exodus 15:26).

One thing I know for sure . . .

The boundaries God gives us are for our good, to protect us!

7. I Need to Cherish My FRIENDSHIPS.

God gives us friends in the body of Christ to challenge, teach and encourage us.

I cherish friends who:

Maybe you have some friends like that. Cherish them!

Or maybe you will think of other RELATIONSHIPS you treasure—extended family, co-workers, etc.

You may think there's one thing I've left out—THINGS!

Many have "things" they cherish—things they have or collect.

In the world's eyes, these things might be worth lots of money. But let me ask  you: How TRULY valuable are your things? Yes, we can enjoy things now, but we need to keep them in proper perspective. And we must never let our "stuff" become idols, replacing God's place in our hearts.

The Lord has challenged me on that, and helped me focus on eternal values.

"for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:7).

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19).

In recent years, I've observed the attitudes of a number of people and couples who either lost homes to fires or floods, or had to drastically downsize.

In all of these cases, the people testified that "things" were important, but not what they cherished most.

It's all a matter of perspective.

What or who do you value most? How can you express your appreciation today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Heartsand a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe

 

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Tuesday
Feb072017

Love Notes

In this Valentine's Day and Parenting UPGRADE, Morgan Farr—a mom with young children who transitioned from feminism to biblical womanhood—encourages parents to share the true Source of love with their children through "love notes."

"Each day I strive to instill a good work ethic, teach self discipline, and most importantly, demonstrate godly character to my sons," Morgan says, "but it isn't always easy."

Like Morgan, I (Dawn) have two sons. I remember those challenging days when I wondered whether anything I taught and modeled was "getting through" to them. But I'm sure of one thing: they knew they were loved.

Morgan continues . . .

This Valentine's Day, I want my sons to learn more than just paper hearts and candy.

This year, I will write three love notes for my sons to read when they are older. These notes will help them to see what real love truly is as they deepen their understand the perfect love of God.

Today I want to share these notes with you.

First and most importantly, I want my boys to know that the Creator of the universe made them by hand.

"For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Long before I knew my boys where there, God knew. He formed each and every part of them, to His exact specifications.

Second, I want my boys to know that it is alright for them to stand strong.

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Many things in this world will try to pull them away from the work of God. Many things from this world will try to undercut and downplay their role as men of God.

I want them to know that they can stand firm in His unwavering love.

Third, I want my boys to know that once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are reborn with a commission—a great one, in fact.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fatger, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Christ has a calling for each of my son's lives. They may not have a garage gym ministry like my husband and I do. They may be mechanics, professors, senators or translators.

Whatever it is that they do on this earth, I want them to remember the real work to be done for the kingdom of God.

Charles Swindoll wrote:

"Each day of our lives, we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

These love notes are the deposits I am focusing on this month.

What love notes will you focus on with your family?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.