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Paula Marsteller

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Cindi McMenamin

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Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

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Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

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Janice Thompson

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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson

 

Entries in Upgrade with Dawn (465)

Tuesday
Mar122019

God in Three Persons Speaks to Us

Gail Goolsby always challenges my thinking, and in this article, she doesn't disappoint. Her Biblical Thinking UPGRADE encourages us to consider how the three persons of God are speaking, so we can find guidance in the tough questions of life.

“The concept of the Trinity is confusing and denied by many religions,” Gail said. While living among Muslims in Afghanistan, I avoided this theological topic altogether.”

At first, I (Dawn) was taken back by Gail's words. Why would anyone avoid the topic of the Trinity, one of the basic foundation truths in scripture? But then Gail clarified—we can teach the concept without saying the word, "Trinity."

Gail continues . . .

While the Bible doesn’t use the word Trinity specifically, we find many references to God as Father, Jesus as His son, and the Holy Spirit—separate persons.

The occasion of Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17) identified all three as the Father spoke from the heavens and a dove symbolizing the Spirit descended on Jesus.

Needing to Hear from God

My husband and I sat at a picnic table on the lovely grounds of CBN University (now Regent University) in Virginia Beach in the early 1980’s. We were with a group of prospective graduate students.

The outdoor BBQ supper allowed guests to meet casually with faculty to ask questions and see if this was God’s plan for their further education.

The dean of the newly acquired law school at CBNU was Herbert Titus, a former ACLU lawyer now radically transformed as a Christian.

He sat before us in his tailored suit, French-cuffed white shirt, and yellow silk tie. With an inviting smile, he patiently listened to our life stories and present wonderings about a major life change.

“I first considered seminary about three years ago,” my husband related, “but it wasn’t the right time for us in many ways.”

With two young children and another on the way, I was still wondering if the time was right.

“How do you know when God is directing, and not our own wills?” my husband eventually asked Dean Titus.

I have never forgotten his reply.

"The Trinity Speaks in Unison."

Dean Titus shared with us how he and his wife of three decades made their decisions since embracing Christ as Savior:

“We look for answers from each person in the Trinity, and wait until the three parts line up in harmony.”

1. God, the Father of All Circumstances

He started by pointing to creation, God’s divine plans for the children of Israel and the sending of His Son, Jesus. 

“I don’t subscribe totally to the open door-closed door method of decision-making, because situations change. It can be dangerous to depend on circumstances alone,” he explained.

“But we absolutely look wisely and thoroughly at what is happening around us, the needs of our family and finances.

"God speaks through our environment which He determined for us.”

2. God, the Son—the Living Word

Dean Titus went on to remind us that Jesus is Truth and represents God’s will and word for us in the flesh.

“Having the written Word for us to study, memorize, and refer to at any time is a gift to knowing God and His will for our lives," he said. "My wife and I read it together and separately, sharing what God shows us. These pages offer powerful and trustworthy help in black and white.

“Be specific in asking for such guidance and let the Word speak to your heart and mind.”

He encouraged us: “Write down the verses that come to the surface and investigate them in prayer.”

3. God, the Holy Spirit

Here our mentor told us a bit more of his faith journey and newfound understanding of the role of the supernatural.

“God is clearly a spirit beyond our human understanding and our ties to the physical world," he said. "The power and importance of the Holy Spirit is embraced around the globe more so than the science-based, senses-determined culture of the West.

"My wife and I are late-comers to this knowledge but appreciate the confidence that comes when the Holy Spirit speaks to us.”

Our mentor invited us to not only look for affirmation from the other two leadings—from circumstances and scripture—but also to look for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

And sometimes that comes in unusual ways.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Following our visit, my husband and I did as Dean Titus prescribed and came to believe we were indeed directed by God to pursue seminary training. Those years were extremely difficult and caused us to depend on God in new, sometimes painful ways.

Having the strong, unified message from all three persons of God helped us stay the course until the end.

After working and going to classes full time for four-and-a-half years, my husband earned his MDiv. We left our time in Virginia Beach without debt, with a storehouse of life lessons and more trust in God than ever before.

God is always speaking and offering us guidance. What questions would you like to ask the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit today?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, ACC is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan, and credentialed life coach with the International Coach Federation. Gail and her pastor husband of 40 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Find out more about Gail on her website, gailgoolsby.com.

Thursday
Mar072019

When Life Throws a Curveball

Dianne Barker speaks clearly and wisely about many of the issues women face. In this Perspective UPGRADE, she writes about the inevitable curveballs in life.

Dianne prayed: "I didn’t see that coming! Lord, is this from you?"

I (Dawn) understand curveballs—believe me. A recent unexpected medical diagnosis sent me reeling!

Dianne's wisdom about life's curveballs is excellent.

Dianne continues . . .

I thought we’d agreed on plans. Still celebrating a national bestseller, Twice Pardoned, I asked the Lord. Where do we go from here?

Without giving Him a chance to answer, I responded to my own question.

I’ll just continue writing bestsellers, of course.

Then I got this curveball.

Being a fan of baseball, I researched the meaning of curveball and learned it’s a slow pitch causing hitters to be off-balance and swing too early. An experienced pitcher using a curveball can impact the game.

You’ve seen a hitter, anticipating a fast ball, scrunch his face and sling his bat after being tricked by a curveball he didn’t expect.

The ink was barely dry on Twice Pardoned when God began leading me from a very public life as successful journalist, speaker, and bestselling author to what I now call a shrunken life.

Caring for my parents and my husband’s parents as they declined in health kept me out of the publishing loop for fifteen years. No bestsellers.

I believe in the sovereignty of God, and He used that time to draw me to himself.

Looking back, that hard place was a sweet period of my life.

During that time, I discovered a simple explanation of the word sovereignty while having a conversation with my son who was home from college for the weekend.

I don’t remember the discussion, but I must have been bombarding him with concerns and fears. He made a comment that changed my life.

“If God isn’t in control, who is?”

What I know about sovereignty:

  • God IS in absolute control.
  • Everything that comes to me is filtered through His loving hands.
  • Whatever touches my life, He will use it for my good and His glory. 

That’s what I know. And that’s truth to trust in when life throws a curveball.

When that happens, I say to self:

God must have a lot of confidence in me to trust me with this challenge.

And after sufficient grieving, I manage to praise Him in spite of my questions and fears. I don’t know the outcome, but I know the One who controls the outcome.

And He loves me.

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3).

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand...” (Psalm 31:14-15).

Life is unpredictable, but my response to curveballs can impact the game.

I choose to live by this decision:

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High” (Psalm 7:17).

I don’t welcome curveballs. But I’m certain the Lord will lavish me with love and use my experience for good while gaining glory for Himself.

Knowing that replaces my fear with expectation.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5).

Let me ask:

How do you respond when life throws a curveball?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

Wednesday
Feb272019

Taking a Social Media Sabbatical

What I like about Cathy Horning is 1) her ability to take simple Gospel truths and make them immensely practical in our lives; and 2) her authenticity. She lives what she shares with others. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Cathy asks us to hone in on a potential pitfall in our lives: social media.

"Twenty years ago, social media was born," Cathy says. "Its wondrous platforms have expanded our ability to connect and stay connected—instantly and regularly—with family, friends and others from around the world."

I (Dawn) love social media. I use it for family connections, but also for ministry. But lately, I've seen ways I've let it control me, rather than me controlling it!

Cathy continues . . .

Social media allows us to exchange wisdom, inspiration, recommendations and photos.

Plus, it is an amazing ministry tool to share prayer requests and answered prayer, Bible verses and spiritual encouragement, and, my personal favorite, God stories to build up each other’s faith.

For ten years now, social media has been a significant part of my daily life. And, I love it!

Most of the time.

So this past December, while reading Luke 1 and 2 in preparation of Christmas, I was surprised to find myself struck by a passage I had never before paid attention to.

I read in Luke 1:24, “Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months remained in seclusion.”

Why had she done that?

I pondered this mystery, as a deep knowing welled up within me. God was asking me into a seclusion of my own.

Instantaneously, I understood my seclusion was to be from Facebook and Instagram. This was a severe request for an active participant and social media lover. Yet, I recognized God’s voice calling me to do this hard thing.

On January 1, I shared a post to explain my absence. I deleted my Facebook and Instagram apps. Then, I began a sabbatical from the community I had grown so fond of.

And, as I stepped away from social media, the Lord immediately brought two scriptures to mind:

"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. Rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you" (Romans 12:3).

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself" (Philippians 2:3).

From the start, I knew God was going to do heart surgery.

Now, two months in, there are observations I am making and lessons I am learning which I pray might benefit you as well:  

  • Social media can DECEIVE us to believe others cannot live without our “wonderful posts.”
  • Social media can DISTRACT us and keep us continually checking our devices for likes, comments and new posts.
  • Social media can DIVIDE our hearts, pulling our time and attention toward a life-sucking medium and away from the life-giving Word of God, worship and prayer.

On the other hand:

  • Time away from social media has FREED me up from perpetually checking my phone, as well as it’s propensity to spread me thin and exhaust me with its volumes of information and interaction.
  • Time away from social media has helped me to RE-FOCUS. My attention span and capacity to concentrate have rebounded. My mind feels refreshed and restored.
  • Time away from social media has given me FRESH FAVOR. When I open God’s Word, I see new truths and insights like I’ve never experienced before. Plus, I find myself more sensitive to and available for prayer and divine appointments during my day.

Finally, I have observed:

1. I have more TIME!

One area I have neglected in my social media busyness is my filing and paperwork. Today, I am caught up. Every paper has been tended to, filed or tossed.

2. I must have more TRUST!

  • Without social media as my platform, I must trust the Lord with the promotion of my new book.
  • I must trust Him to be there for and speak to those who tell me they look forward to and depend upon my posts about marriage, parenting and our faith walk.
  • And, I must trust Him to take care of my family and friends, as I realize how much I have come to depend on Facebook and Instagram to alert me to what they are up to and what their needs may be.  

3. Gratefully, I have also rediscovered TRUE TREASURE!

My precious daughter told me, “Mom, you seem more present!”

I see this too. Especially, when I am with my grandchildren, my children, my husband, and other family and friends.

Do I miss social media? YES! Some days, terribly.

Am I tempted to check in? Oh, yes!

Yet, I am certain God has called me to this sabbatical. Daily, I seek what He wants to teach me and what He needs to do in my heart, during this season.

When, and if, the Lord releases me to return to social media, I will possess a deeper knowledge of it’s hazards. And, I will set up boundaries to guard against it robbing me of right priorities or shortening my attention span or distracting me from my true treasures.

Can you relate to any of these social media pitfalls? Have you ever taken a break from it? If not, I pray you might see the benefit of taking time away?

Cathy Horning loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than encouraging women how to walk in His ways. Cathy is a popular speaker, blogger, and writer, as well as a beloved wife, mom, grammy, mentor, encourager, and friend. She is the author of Letters From A Mother’s Heart, Timeless Truths From One Mom’s Journey.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of FirmBee at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Feb192019

How to Be a Woman of Purpose

Practical and biblical, Sally Ferguson invites women to grow in faith as they study God's Word learn how to apply scripture. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she focuses on a woman in the Bible who became a true Woman of Purpose.

"We can learn some lessons from an orphan gal," Sally said. 

I (Dawn) think we can learn lessons from the most unlikely people, if we are alert to how God is using them; and Sally highlights practical lessons from Jewish girl who became an influential queen.

Sally continues . . .

Mordecai and Esther were a part of the contingent living in exile, and as such, they were subject to the decrees of the king of Persia.

One day, the town crier announced a beauty pageant at the king’s palace. The girls were rounded up and transported to the king’s harem.

Did Esther wonder about her purpose during those twelve long months of being sequestered in her quarters? Did she feel forgotten and lost in the crowd of beauties all vying for the king’s heart?

Wonder of all wonders, King Xerxes chose Esther to be his queen and threw a banquet in her honor.

Esther had reached the pinnacle of success in her day, but the red carpet was about to be ripped out from under her sandaled feet.

A man named Haman was cooking up a plot to annihilate the Jews; her people.

What made Esther a woman of purpose?

I believe there are five gems we can see in her life.

1. She was winsome.

Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (2:15). Verse 17 says she won the king’s favor and approval.

Webster’s Dictionary defines winsome as “generally pleasing and engaging, often because of a childlike charm and innocence.”

Maybe that’s what Paul was referring to when he said in Romans 12:18, “If at all possible… live at peace with everyone.”

He also said in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 that we are the aroma of Christ to everyone we meet. If our words and our actions are winsome, then we represent the King of Kings!

2. She showed respect.

Esther honored her uncle, even after she was removed from his care. She didn’t abandon her upbringing in her palatial environment (2:20). And when an assassination plot against her husband came to light, she gave the credit back to her uncle for the foiled plans.

That’s a refreshing twist to the story when we live in an era where everyone looks out for #1.  

The act of giving deference to another is unselfish and unspoiled. It’s winsome!

3. She cared about the plight of others.

Have you ever cared so much about something that you wept over it? Esther did (8:3).

Isaiah 53:4 says Jesus carried our sorrows and Revelation 7:17 says God will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Who determines the worth of an individual?

Haman and Hitler thought the Jews were expendable.

Today, we have a pandemic of abortions because someone deemed a fetus expendable. Yet, God says every human was made in His image. Isaiah 43:1 says He created us, formed us, redeemed us, summoned us, and we belong to Him.

Esther was a woman of purpose because she cared about others.

4. She sought God.

Esther called for a fast (4:15-16). She had come to the end of herself and realized how much she needed the Lord’s intervention.

It was time to let down the mask of perfection.

It was time to be real about her need.

  • Maybe she had gotten by her whole life by her winsomeness and beauty.
  • Maybe she had lived a sheltered life and never understood what it meant, to not live in captivity.

But now, the stark reality of her own mortality stares back in the mirror and she tastes fear.

What happens when we crucify our own agenda to seek God’s?

2 Chronicles 7:14 says we connect with forgiveness and healing.

Galatians 2:20 says that’s when we really let Christ reign in our hearts.

Esther became a woman of purpose when she sought God with her whole heart.

5. She sought out answers.

In Esther 5:1, we see Esther breaking the rules for the first time in her life. She went against the law of the land of Persia and approached the king’s throne.

Maybe Esther’s request was the beginning of her thinking for herself?

Previously, we see her following instructions:

  • from her uncle,
  • from the eunuch in charge of the king’s harem,
  • and from the king.

Now, however, Esther seems to have come to a new understanding of what it meant to wear her thinking cap along with her crown, as queen of Persia.

Could it be that her time of seeking God gave a newfound courage to step into who He created her to be? Esther 7:3, 9:13 and 9:29-32 all show Esther using her authority to make a difference.

Where has God placed you? How might He want to use you as His agent of change in that place?

Could you, like Esther, be placed in your sphere of influence for such a time as this?

Sally Ferguson is celebrating 15 years of planning women’s retreats! Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon.  Visit her latest retreat release and her website.

Graphic—Esther by John Everett Millais, 1865—resourced at Wikipedia.

Thursday
Feb142019

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.

 

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