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Harriet Bouchillon

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Erin Davis

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Susan K. Stewart

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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 Upgrade with Dawn (421)

Saturday
Aug312013

Our Comforting God

Are you in need of comfort today? Harriet Bouchillon, who ministered alongside her husband for 40 years, discovered the precious presence of our comforting God in a great time of need. If you are hurting, I pray God will UPLIFT your spirit today.

“Since my husband Jim’s promotion to Heaven,” Harriet writes, “I have learned that unwelcomed and not always healthy thoughts often come during the grieving process.”

Anyone who has struggled through grief, even as a Christian, understands what Harriet is talking about. Confused thoughts and roller coaster emotions are normal.

Harriet continues …

During an especially melancholy day four months after Jim’s death, I was dwelling on what his unspoken thoughts might have been as he lay in his sick bed. What did he remember most about our life together? And what were his thoughts about me?

It so happened that was the day I chose to clean out Jim’s desk. In the process, I came across an unsigned “to my wife” birthday card.

My mind raced back to my birthday the previous year, when Jim was in remission from cancer. Frustration was in his voice as he gave me a lovely gift. He had also purchased a beautiful card, he said, and had put it in a safe place. But now he couldn’t find it!

Oh, my dear Jim—if he could only understand that just having him still with me was enough, with or without a card!

The timing of the card’s delivery was perfectly orchestrated by God.

Only He could know I would need it the exact moment of its discovery. Tears flowed as I read the beautiful, comforting words that I took as coming directly from Jim’s heart to mine.

“The man who finds a wife finds a good thing; she is a blessing to him from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:12, The Living Bible).

There are moments when I catch myself saying,

         Wow, that’s my wife.

They seem to come in the most ordinary times—

When you’re laughing with our family,

When we’re having dinner with friends,

When you and I are together doing nothing at all.

I’m still just amazed that out of all the men in the world,

I’m the one who gets to share life with you.

After all this time, I still don’t know all the reasons why God trusted me

With one of His most amazing gifts . . .

          But I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life that He did.

Happy Birthday. I Love You.

How true is God’s Word when He says, “I, even I, am He who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Can you remember a time when God comforted you in your hour of need? Are you in need right now of God’s comforting ministry in your life?

Harriet Bouchillon has served as a missionary with Camino Global since 1972, ministering alongside her husband, Jim, in Spain, Mexico and Hispanic USA. She blogs at "Blessed by the Grace of God" (English and Spanish versions). Harriet, recently widowed, disciples, teaches, and mentors women. This mother to three and grandmother to six makes her home in El Cajon, California. Read her story about overcoming the fear of death in the tract, "Confessions of a Mortician's Daughter" (also here in Spanish).

Tuesday
Aug202013

Becoming an Intentional Woman

Joan C. Webb believes in the power of a woman’s story. In this powerful post, she shares how you can become an intentional woman—embracing who you are and making choices to fit God’s design for your life.

“‘If I live intentionally, being true to my own personality, serving out of my God-given giftedness and calling, I’ll no longer feel the urge to envy another woman’s marriage, ministry, talents or work.’ As I jotted this ‘aha’ into my journal,” Joan said, “my shoulders relaxed.”

Joan has given me and other women many “aha” moments, but I was curious about this “aha” that changed her life and ministry.

She continues …

Believing this “aha” gradually transformed my life. Although I rarely voiced envy, secretly I felt disappointed that others had fulfilled their dreams (or so I assumed) but I hadn’t. I longed to live out the secret desires that God had planted deep within my heart.

Yet I felt trapped. My life revolved around working hard and making others happy and satisfied, especially my husband. I didn’t want anyone (including God) to call me “selfish” for taking time and energy to nurture my own interests and gifts. People-pleasing and over-doing gave way to my burnout.

I prayed, “Lord, show me who I am now, and who I can become—the person You had in mind when You created me.”

I wanted to be intentional, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to whatever happened.

I didn’t realize it initially, but God answered my prayer through a re-usable process that has helped other caring women like you. I invite you into this intentional journey:

Step One: Come As You Are Today. Ask yourself three awareness questions:

  • What is good about my life right now?
  • What concerns me about my life right now?
  • What is missing in my life right now?

Step Two: Celebrate Your Yesterdays. Realize that:

  • Every woman has a story written with the multi-colored pens of her experiences, relationships, pain, disappointments, choices, failures and successes. 
  • There is power in your story and you maximize that power when you partner with God.
  • You can courageously remember and celebrate past experiences, learning to appreciate God’s goodness in developing your unique life script.

Step Three: Commit It All to God.

  • Embrace Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)
  • Assess your God-given personality traits.
  • Surrender your present, past, temperament, and gifts to Christ.

 Step Four: Consider Your Choices. Understand that:

  • You live in an age of over-choice.
  • Without acknowledging the roles (including your Child of God and Self-Care Manager roles) that you’re attempting to manage currently, you’ll find it hard to be objective about your needs.
  • Discovering your current stressors and supports in each role will help you make intentional choices to relieve your overwhelm.

Step Five: Clarify Your Next Steps. You:

  • Pinpoint one intentional action you want to take.
  • Pray for wisdom.
  • Picture your desired outcome.
  • Plan how you’ll achieve it.
  • Act. Set a date for implementation. Share your decision with a safe person. Step out with God to make the change.

The key reason for living intentionally is to glorify God as the person He created you to be. I love that, because it is doable and reasonable.

What He has for me fits me—and what He designed for you fits you.

What intentional decision have you been avoiding—and how can you be intentional this week? What loving encouragement is God whispering to you right now?

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit www.intentionalwoman.com

Wednesday
Aug072013

See the 'Wows' of This Day

How many "Wow" moments have you seen or experienced already today?

Each of us chooses our perspective on life. We choose our overall worldview, certainly; but also, we choose how we will live based on our worldview.

Long ago, as a homeschool mom, I asked my boys to finish this statement: "Life is a _____." One son had two answers. "Life is a party," he said. "Life is an adventure!" This really didn't surprise me. Those answers reflected his fun, go-getter approach to practically everything.

My other son analyzed the question - so typical of him. He then responded, "Life is a struggle." I felt like I had a little budding philosopher on my hands. But at the time, this son was struggling with some life issues. It took some effort to get him to alter his approach and declare, "Life is a challenge." With his competitive nature, that was a more positive view.

I needed a viewpoint adjustment recently. I was growing weary with some daily concerns, bogged down in the mundane and having a hard time seeing any vision for change. Then a caring Sister-Girlfriend asked,

"Where did you see God's hand today?"

It was a simple question, but oh my, God's Spirit used her question to prick my conscience. I get so self-focused. It's hard to see God's hand when I'm only looking at my own. It's hard to understand God's heart, His thoughts, when I'm constantly turning inward.

I need more upward glances throughout my day. You likely do too.

That day, as I paused to think about the situations troubling me, I did indeed sense the presence of God; and that makes all the difference.

I saw that He was with me in a moment of temptation, giving me grace to do right. He was just as surely with me when I blew it - offering mercy and forgiveness. He was with me when physical pain made me grumpy, showing me how to suffer well (or at least, better). God was with me in moments of frustration, teaching me to believe He is in control; and in a situation I deemed hopeless, encouraging me to trust Him completely.

The more I considered my day, the more I realized I was never alone for one minute - and I saw so many "wows" of God's presence active in my life, the beauty of His provision and the constancy of His care.

We get so caught up in our stuff, don't we? Maybe this is why God calls us to daily, consistent communion with Him. I visited the chair in the photo (above) today in a time of quiet reflection. My Father God wants to "WOW" me with Himself.

How has God "wowed" you with His presence? Take a moment to thank Him.

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.

 

Thursday
Aug012013

Seeking More 'Seeking God' Upgrades

There’s seeking God, and then there’s Seeking God! Maybe you know what I mean.

If you ask the average Christian, “Are you seeking God?” you’ll likely get a “yes.” Most of us think we’re seeking God when we attend church, read our Bibles, pray and pursue spiritual disciplines. And we likely are.

But then there are times when we get more desperate, more passionate, more focused. These are like Seeking God “Upgrades” in our lives!

  • Maybe circumstances (pain, fear, confusion, a tough decision, a loss) drive us to seek Him.
  • Perhaps we arrived at a special retreat or a solitary location—a blessed place without distractions—and we have the time and opportunity to seek Him more earnestly.
  • Or maybe we suddenly, in the midst of self-seeking, feel the urgency to seek, find and know God more.

Many in this world say they are seeking God or some form of spirituality, but they are not seeking the God revealed in the Bible (Romans 3:11; John 17:3).

Once we have sought the God of the Bible to save us—and the writers at Girlfriends in God describe that seeking well—we will have many periods in our walk with God where we’re drawn back to Him in a closer, deeper way. God Himself calls us to seek Him (Psalm 27:8).

In the Old Testament, we see God calling to His people through the prophets and other godly people (see 1 Chronicles 22:19a; 28:9b; 2 Chronicles 15:2-4; Job 8:5; Isaiah 55:6-7; Amos 5:4-6a; Zephaniah 2:3). Over and over again, the Children of Israel heard these words: “Seek me and live.” … “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” … “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” … “Set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”

To seek the Lord means to seek His presence.

The Jews called it seeking God’s “face,” which makes sense—to be before God’s face would indicate being in His presence.

I used to wonder about God’s presence. Aren’t we always there?

He’s omnipresent, so yes, God is always present with us. He manifests His power and provision in our lives. He’s always near to love, guide and help us. He is faithful to His children “to the end of the age,” the Bible tells us (Matthew 28:20).

But in another sense, we’re exhorted to “seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”(Psalm 105:4)

Do you know why we get that instruction? There are times when we drift away from the Lord. We are not conscious of His faithful presence. We forget how wonderful He is, the beauty of His grace, His purpose in sending Jesus, His work in our lives.

So God’s call to us is to seek Him continually. We set our mind and heart toward Him (1 Chronicles 22:19). In the New Testament, we’re told to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Our whole focus, our attention and heart, are set on seeing and knowing God.  

Two of my favorite verses are Colossians 3:1-2: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Our thoughts center around God Himself and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not just the splendors of heaven and glories of eternity.

Seeking God is a choice.

We have to recognize when we have wandered off or coasted spiritually and  been too busy for God; and we consciously choose to return and seek Him. He may seem hidden from us, so we seek Him as the treasure He is. We pay the price, take the effort. We "come away to a quiet place" and rest with Him (Mark 6:31a). We ask God to reveal Himself in the Word and manifest His glory in His creation and through the godly lives of others in the family of God.

Seeking Him implies there are hindrances and obstacles in the way. I’ve found that media, social media and the entertainment industry are three ways the enemy tries to dull my desire to seek God; but other things—even good, necessary things—can draw me away from seeking God when He calls. Certainly my own pride gets in the way, and I am not alone (Psalm 10:4). If I’m going to boast in anything, let it be that have sought God and know Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Seeking God includes crying out to Him, even pleading for mercy (Isaiah 55:6; Job 8:5) as we draw near, recognizing His holiness.

God’s faithful promise to us is satisfaction for our seeking: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Though we may find many other things in the seeking, the greatest reward will be God Himself—His sweet presence (Hebrews 11:6).

"Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!" (Psalm 105:3)

Do you have special resources to help you seek God in a deeper way? Two resources from Revive Our Hearts  I recommend are The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and the Bible Study, Seeking Him, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom.

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com and also blogs at LOLwithGod.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and a rascally maltipoo named Roscoe.

 

Tuesday
Jul162013

Countering Five Lies about Motherhood

I met Erin Davis at a True Woman conference where she encouraged young women to live for God; but she recently wrote a book about positive, biblical motherhood.

“Why does pinpointing lies about motherhood matter?” Davis asks. “Until we know how we’ve been deceived, we can’t weed out the old lies and replace them with God’s truth.”

Davis continues (an excerpt from Beyond Bath Time) …

Lie #1: Motherhood Is a Roadblock to My Happiness.

Most moms are guilty of thinking that the responsibilities, sacrifices and demands of motherhood are a giant roadblock on the path to their daily happiness. This lie can be traced, in part, to the feministic messages that promised equality in the workplace and at home would make all women happy. Clearly, happiness does not hinge on one life choice, whether it is work, marriage or children.

God’s truth shows us we can choose contentment in all circumstances, and that the frustrations of motherhood are actually blessings if they move us to press on in the power of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Lie #2: Motherhood Is Defined by the Decision Whether or Not to Work.

Because you are God’s workmanship, He has prepared good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). The frustrations of parenting might surprise you, but they don’t surprise Him. He knows mothering is tough, and He thinks you can do it anyway.

We have the choice to see our circumstances as an opportunity to do the important work that God has for us or to dwell on the lie that He could use us more efficiently if we were living a different life. The most important question is, “Will I allow God to use the circumstances of my life and my family to accomplish great things for His kingdom?”

Lie #3: The Ultimate goal of Motherhood is Perfectionism.

The lie that perfection is the goal of mothering—or is even possible—has put many of us in bondage. A part of each of us wants to forget who we are at our core—specifically that we are prone to sin and desperately need God’s grace and help in our hearts and lives (James 3:2; Romans 7:19-20).

We can find great hope when we confront this lie with God’s truth (Philippians 3:12). You cannot mother perfectly. But that should never have been the goal. You can mother with purpose because Christ has promised that where you are weak He is strong.

Lie #4: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Remodel the Kitchen

Ultimately, this lie has led some mothers to feel justified in walking away from motherhood, choosing to leave their children to chase their dreams. You may not be dreaming of leaving your family, but do you check out in other ways? Do you spend hours online or disengaged or angry in your attempt to cope with motherhood?

God never gives us a permission slip to do whatever it takes to feel good. God’s Word says to do what is right, to rejoice always, to pray continually, to give thanks regardless, to hold on to what is good, to run away from evil, to grab the promise that God is faithful and hold on for dear life (1 Thessalonians 5:15-24).

Lie #5: Motherhood Will Make You Holy.

Being a mom, even a great mom, won’t earn you preferred parking in heaven or automatically deepen your relationship with Christ.  Only God can make you holy (Galatians 2:20-23).

Likewise, no one owes you anything because you’ve chosen to mother. A sense of entitlement can mess with your head and heart. Committing your mothering to the Lord and seeking His purposes as you mother creates a panoramic view of what you’re doing that can move you beyond your sacrifices and help you cope.

Recognize the lies you’ve believed as a mom. Then do the hard work necessary to focus on God’s vision for motherhood.

What lie do you think trips moms up the most?

Erin Davis is passionately committed to sharing God's Truth and is the author of many books, including Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood As a Sacred Role.

When she’s not writing books, you can find Erin chasing down chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.