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 Trust in God (7)

Thursday
Jan112018

My Hope Is Built On . . . 

Everyone talks about "dreams" these days, but Susan K. Stewart says we need to be careful when we dream and consider where we're placing our hopes. In this Spiritual Life UPLIFT, she tackles the topic with a personal story.

“I plan to go to UCLA and major in screenwriting,” the high school freshman announced.

She then laid out her plan, including what classes she would be taking in high school and community activities that will help her preparation for her goal.

Ah, plans. Yes, I (Dawn) have placed my hopes in so many personal plans, and even in people who might help me accomplish my goals. And I've learned, the hard way, exactly what Susan is about to teach us.

Susan continues . . .

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I responded. “It seems to me you just might make it.”

When this confident young lady left the room, her dad said, “I want her to major in something that will give her a real career.”

“What!?” was all I could stammer. “What’s wrong with her goal? With her determination, she has a good chance of success.”

The response was, “Look what happened to Aunt Shirley.”

Aunt Shirley is a divorced family member who was a successful writer before the divorce, and was now struggling to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

Why do we do that?

Compare someone’s (or our own) dream with another person’s failure.

Sometimes we sabotage our own hopes. We listen to our own negative talk.

  • “It can’t happen."
  • "I’m too old."
  • "I’m too young."
  • "No one else has ever done this before.”

Other times we have our hope in the wrong thing: education, another person, fortune, ourselves.

All of these sources of hope will fail us.

An archaic definition of hope is “trust, reliance.” Most often we think of our hope as the anticipation of something. We also build our dreams on what we or others are going to do for the fruition of that expectation.

If hope is in fact trust rather than dream, maybe our hopes are dashed because we have placed our trust in the wrong place or person.

We are told by Paul that Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Not our dream or expectation, although we surely look forward to the coming of Jesus. Christ Jesus is where we place our trust; who we rely on.

We are told by Peter to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

We are to TAKE ACTION BASED ON OUR HOPE (trust) on the GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When our expectations are based on hope from Jesus, we can’t sabotage them.

This requires taking those dreams to God before making all the plans on our own to-do list.

For years, I’ve had a dream of a having a specific book published. For years, my hopes have been built up only to be knocked down. This year I asked God, "Why?"

He impressed on me that I was trusting in my own plan, not the dreams He has for me.

I laid my desire aside. Even though a number of people gave me reasons not to, it was the right thing to do. I’m now trusting God’s vision for me rather than mine.

I’ve placed my hope in God’s dream.

When our hope—remember, that means trust and reliance—is in the Lord, no one can take them it away from us or talk us out of it. We will be able respond to negative self-talk with “God told me to do this and I trust him.”

What is your hope is built on?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

~ Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Daniel Reche at Pixabay.

Thursday
Dec212017

How Ready Are You to Celebrate Christmas?

Yvonne Ortega writes a lot about broken people, and to be sure, there are many broken people who struggle during the holiday season; but God desires to do beautiful things in their lives. In this Christmas UPGRADE, she asks us to examine our hearts before Christmas arrives.

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest," Yvonne says, "how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

I (Dawn) am one of those "ready early" kinds of people at Christmas, because I want Christmas week to be as peaceful as possible. But having a ready heart is not the same as a ready home.

Yvonne continues . . .

I’ve had people tell me, “I’m all set for Christmas. I bought the gifts in August, decorated the house, trimmed an artificial tree, filled the Christmas stockings with small treats, and mailed the Christmas cards.”

Others have told me, “I’m ready as can be. I did everything over the Thanksgiving weekend. Now, I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas lights, programs, and parties.”

From an earthly perspective, the person appears to be ready. However, as Christians with a heavenly perspective, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our readiness to celebrate his birth has nothing to do with Christmas decorations, a trimmed tree, gifts for family and friends, stockings filled with goodies, or Christmas cards.

These three steps will help you decide how ready you are to celebrate Christmas.

1. Have you forgiven family members, friends or co-workers who hurt you?

You don’t want anything standing between you and God.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Do you still feel unforgiven for past sins? Are you burdened with shame and guilt?

If you’ve confessed your sins, God forgave you. He didn’t make a mistake when he did that. You can do no less.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

2. How often do you read your Bible, pray, and go to church—especially during the Christmas season?

If you do these things, how do you do them?

Do you do them on the run with an eye on your watch?

Do you do them grudgingly or cheerfully?

My late mentor often said, "You make time for what’s important to you."

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (NIV). You show your love by how much time you spend with the Lord and get to know him.

Make time for the most important relationship in your life. It is one that will last for eternity.

3. How comfortable would you feel if your family, friends, and coworkers evaluated your trust in God?

Perhaps you’ve lost a job, a car, or a home. Maybe you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or have a prodigal child in the family. You may have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one. Any one of these situations can cause turmoil in your life.

It can also result in your questioning your faith and God’s character.

Rate your confidence in his promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

As I wrap up, I ask you the same question I did at the beginning:

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (paperback, Kindle), Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), and Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness, all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Find out more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic of candle, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
May122015

Changing the Way We Do Change

Julie Sanders' life is in flux right now with many changes, but in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she explains how she stays grounded.

"One thing is certain about every woman’s life; it will not stay the same," Julie says. "Instead of being tormented by transitions and shaken by shifting seasons, sojourners learn how to change the way we do change."

Having experienced many seasons of unexpected change, I (Dawn) agree with Julie. We need a biblical perspective on change.

Julie continues . . .

Regardless of our time of life, status, or circumstances, we are all positioned for change. You may be coming out of a season of upheaval, in the midst of massive change or getting ready for transition. Still, we are taken by surprise, as if we hoped to escape it.

We fear it. Dread it. Try to avoid it. Yet, it comes.

Change can shake our foundation relationally, emotionally, physically, professionally and spiritually. How can a woman survive the waves without being overturned?

Every woman faces change, because every woman is “a sojourner on the earth” (Psalm 119:19). As someone who lives temporarily in a place, we stay for a time on our earthly home. Our lives reflect that transience in regular transitions.

Revolutions often include our loved ones, bodies, homes, professions and identity. We are sojourners and sojourners face change.

We can approach seismic shifts with three actions when the ground shakes and we feel it deep in our hearts.

1. Hold to what doesn’t change.

The Psalmist leaves no doubt about what deserves our trust:  

"Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). 

God’s Word is reliable and unchanging, so we can hold to its truth when evaluating decisions and shaping plans. In God’s inspired Word we find comfort for the raw emotions of upheaval and confidence for boldness to move forward into new territory.

When all else feels foreign and uncertain, God’s Word is familiar and secure.

2. Look to the answers God provides.

Change surprises us, making feelings overflow in hot waves. Our own emotions are hard to trust. Well-meaning voices offer advice, but no one takes the place of our all-wise God who remains the sames.

His word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It helps us sort through opinions and urges.

A job change, geographical relocation, new church or empty nest begs answers from our loving Father. Instead of downcast feelings, we can hope in the God our salvation (Psalm 43:5).

3. Run to God’s plan for you.

Grief, regret and questions often accompany transition, threatening to paralyze the sojourner with an overwhelmed heart. To press on, let lesser things fall away and reach forward to God’s good plan (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Determine not to turn to the left or right (Proverbs 4:27). Instead, when facing opposition or confusion, cry out, “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:32) 

A sojourner may feel uncertain, opposed or weary on the journey of change, but at those moments, sojourners can take the next right step with a heart that says,

“Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35).

Know what will not change, look to God’s answers for your feelings, and do what God has marked out for your journey.  

We are sojourners, and sojourners face change.

What change are you experiencing in this season of your life? Are you coming out of, in the midst of, or leading up to a change? How prepared are you to sojourn through it?

Julie Sanders is a sojourner who just moved from the sweet tea South to the desert Northwest. The change collides with gaining an empty nest and leaving a professional ministry she loved. Everything will be different! She is grateful for her unchanging God and His hope-filled plans in a new season. Julie's devotional, Expectant, encourages expectant moms with truth and practical wisdom. Discover more about Julie at her blog.

Tuesday
Apr072015

Look Up!

Ava Pennington is an author and speaker with a strong focus on the practical applications of God's Word. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she encourages us to think about our perspective.

“Look where you’re going!” My mother’s words echo in my memory," Ava said. "I had my share of scraped knees as a child, often because I did not look where I was going."

Do you hear those motherly words echoing in your thoughts too? I (Dawn) can't tell you how many times I heard them, usually after I took a tumble. (One of my nicknames in high school was "Klutz-illa." But I digress.)

Ava continues . . .

“Look where you’re going” is good advice. Whether hiking through a forest or setting budget goals to manage my finances, it helps to be aware of where I am and where I want to be.

But sometimes I can be too focused on my goals.

When I’m hurting, I tend to concentrate on the pain or focus on what I think might bring relief.

I’m often like the invalid described in John’s gospel. This man sat in a crowd by a pool believed to have restorative powers. The disabled and infirm anxiously waited for the water to stir. Tradition held that when an angel moved the water, the first person in the pool would receive miraculous healing.

I can only imagine the intense focus of each person’s gaze. Watching for even the smallest ripple, waiting . . . yearning . . . desperate for relief.

But in order to watch the water, they needed to keep their gaze lowered. They were limited by their physical condition, but also limited by a perspective that always had them looking down.

Until Jesus entered the picture.

“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) A simple question with an obvious answer. But this invalid was so focused on what he thought was the solution that he failed to recognize the One who was the real solution. Instead of answering the question, he provided excuses for why he could not be healed.

“Sir, I have no one to help me . . . .” (John 5:7)

Looking up is not just a physical posture, it’s a spiritual posture as well.

How often do we focus on our problems or pursue wrong choices for relief? We compound our suffering because we do not look up. We fail to include Jesus in the equation.

Looking up may not immediately change our physical condition. It may not ever change our circumstances. But it will help us maintain an eternal perspective.

I’ve found that looking up requires me to:

1. Be intentional about what I allow to consume my thoughts.

The apostle Paul counseled: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

2. Choose to trust God regardless of my circumstances.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

3. Repeat these two steps again and again!

Practice may not make perfect, but it helps us establish God-honoring habits. Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NIV).

“Look where you’re going!” was, indeed, good advice. I just need to remember the eternal component and view my circumstances with my heavenly Father’s perspective. For that, I really do need to keep looking up!

On what do you focus during your trials? Are you concentrated on what you think are the answers to your problems? Look up! Whether or not Jesus changes your physical situation, He will uphold you through it and give you an eternal perspective.

Ava Pennington’s newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries. She has also written numerous magazine articles and is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). Ava also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker who engages audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations. Visit her at AvaWrites.com.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thursday
Apr102014

Plan B = Beautiful

My author/speaker friend Judy Scharfenberg has a quick smile and wit, but I truly grew to admire her as I observed her role as caregiver. I asked her to share this personal testimony as an Upgrade Your Attitudes post, because she exemplifies so clearly the "how to" of Christlike service.

"The ER nurse looked at me and said, 'You'd better call your family. Your husband is not going to survive!"

With those words, Judy's life turned upside down. But the Lord has a way of turning things rightside up for His glory ... when we trust Him. And that's what happened to Judy at this turning point of her life.

She continues ...

In the middle of the night my dear husband had a massive stroke. It was my worst nightmare come true. I was scared to death and could only cry silently, “Lord, I’m so afraid. Is my husband going to die?”  

Well, that nurse was wrong. Richard survived, and even though his speech returned beautifully, he came home in a wheelchair, paralyzed on one side. He needed my help dressing, bathing, getting in and out of bed, cutting up his food, help into the car and many other things.

This is the way things were going to be. I was now a caregiver.

Life changed dramatically in the Scharfenberg household. I didn’t have the freedom I once had; my life was built around Richard. We couldn’t do some of the things we used to do and everything took twice as long. I didn’t just have to get myself ready, I had to help get Richard ready too.

I wondered if I could live like this for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mad. I didn’t act ugly, but I was sad. I wanted my straight and tall husband taking care of me. I yearned for the days when he drove and I was the passenger. I wanted to take walks like we used to.  I wanted his arm around me at the movies and his help around the house.

I had to come to grips with this new life. It is not something either one of us chose, but it happened. 

A few years earlier I had memorized Romans 12. The first few verses rolled over and over in my mind: 

“I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I asked God to give me the strength, the joy, the peace that passes all understanding.

I truly wanted to serve my husband; I never wanted him to think he was a burden. 

It was a subtle change, and I can’t tell you when it happened, but one day I looked at this man and great joy rose up in my heart and I thanked God that he was alive and here with me. I thanked God that I could care for him and make his life easier. I thanked God that I could keep him clean, I could drive him places, I could read to him, I could make his favorite foods, I could literally lavish him with love and care.   

Oh, don’t get me wrong; we still had our disagreements just like everyone does. Richard came from stubborn German stock and I like control. Many times we butted heads over the way I did things. And then I would remember how confined he was.

I could encourage him or I could think about myself and make his life miserable. 

Former first lady Barbara Bush has a wonderful quote that I love.  She said, “You have two choices in life. You can either like it, or not. I chose to like it.”

I especially thanked God because I knew my feelings and my abilities are not normal. Only God could take this devastating experience and turn it around for His glory.

Our Plan B looked BEAUTIFUL.

God turned me into a giver instead of a taker. And you know, it really isn’t caregiving; it’s life-giving, for Richard and for me.

If you could see the future; if you knew your life would change overnight; what would you do differently today?

Judy Scharfenberg has a heart for women and families and has spoken at conferences, retreats and women’s events for more than 20 years. She was wife to Richard for more than 42 years—he passed on to heaven recently—and is the mom of six and proud grandma of 15. Judy will tell you she’s earned every strand of her gray hair. Her encouraging book, Secure Families in a Shaky World, was written for young wives and moms and older women who mentor younger women. Judy is currently working on a new book, Secure Marriages in a Shaky World. Visit Judy at www.judyscharfenberg.com.