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Cherri Williamson

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Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Upgrade with Dawn (447)


A Winner at Parenting

Cathy Horning is gifted in drawing practical truths from the Word of God and showing women how God can transform their lives and homes.

"My family loves to play games! Card games, board games, verbal games—you name it, we love them,” Cathy says. “My children are grown and gone now; still, whenever we get together our time often ends with a healthy, fun, and competitive game.”

Some families play games … others play sports. I love how Cathy makes this great parallel between playing and parenting.

She continues …

So, when I was asked to speak to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group on “How To Be a Winner at the Game of Parenting,” I reminisced about all the times our family played games. I discovered three necessary ingredients to truly be a winner when playing the very serious “game of parenting.” 

1. Get to Know your Game. When my children were young and received a new game, they tore into the package, unfolded the playing board, examined all the pieces, and quickly claimed the game piece they wanted to represent them. A similar process is essential in parenting.

We must get to know our family. What do we look like? Who are the players? What distinguishes our family from all the others? I found it helpful to learn about each person’s temperament, their love language, his or her learning style, and each child’s position in birth order. It was also invaluable to discover where each child was gifted, what their strengths and weaknesses were, and how best to train, correct and discipline them.

Gaining insight and gathering information about your “game” and its “players” helps a family work and play better together.

2. Learn and Follow the Rules. Next, my children found the list of rules. Then, our rule keeper explained the instructions to his siblings.

Of course, there are many rules to follow in the "game of parenting." For me, the rule I needed to learn and follow more than all the others was, "I am the boss." My peace-loving personality wanted my children to like me. I didn't want to be too hard on them.

My college child-development classes taught me I had to reason with my children and always be ready with an explanation. This did not work, because it was not true!

I had to re-learn that it was okay to say, "Just because I said so!" Period! The End!

3. Model and Practice Good Sportsmanship. Finally, my children settled down to the business of playing the new game. There was always healthy competition, often roars of laughter, and occasionally friendly squabbles as they learned to play their new game.

However, as leaders of our family, my husband and I knew that we set the tone. We were the role models—we gave our children an example to follow. There was NO whining. NO temper tantrums. NO name calling. NO storming off. NO silent treatment. And absolutely, NO QUITTING!

Unlike the board game of Monopoly, we understood there are no short-cut versions to the invaluable and eternal “game of parenting.”

Of course, being a parent is much more serious than playing a game. But when we apply the essential ingredients of game playing to our parenting, we will always come out a winner. Like Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it" [Amplified version].

Which of these points has been a “game changer’ for you in your parenting?

Cathy Horning has been a women’s ministry leader, Bible Study teacher, speaker and writer for more than 20 years. She loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical, and powerful the promises and truths in God's Word. Married for thirty years, Cathy has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. She loves long walks by the bay, a good book or movie, Starbucks ice tea, and especially family get-togethers. Read more by Cathy at her website.


Faith Like a Taco

Rhonda Rhea is quirky and fun, but with extraordinary wisdom and depth. I love the way she makes me laugh and then think ... as I did when I read this UPGRADE Your Faith post:

“Okay, so here’s an idea,” Rhonda said. “A taco, but with a folded hamburger patty for the shell. Because nobody lives forever anyway.”

I had to create a photo to go with Rhonda’s inspiration … complete with fat in the pan.

She continues …

It makes me want to imagine there’s actually a quote that goes, “Ask not for whom the Taco Bell tolls. It probably tolls for thee.”

I’m not sure how to stop my brain from coming up with new ideas that add fat content to my diet by the thigh-load. You’d think my cholesterol numbers would scare me straight. Of course, this is precisely why I don’t regularly have my cholesterol checked. Knowing might actually be a strain on my heart.

Some people don’t know that cholesterol can produce extra adrenaline that way. I do wonder if at some point my heart and thighs will together rise up and tell me enough is enough.

When it comes to faith, though, is there ever a point we feel we have enough? And how much would that be? Even the disciples asked Jesus to grow their faith (Luke 17:5) and they were eye-witnesses to the miracles of Christ. They heard His words firsthand.

This life is full of challenges. We need a faith that’s not merely “enough.” We need faith that’s meaty. Double-meaty, even.

We beef up our faith every time we remember exactly where that faith is placed. It’s not faith in faith. That’s just a lot of extra fat.

Hebrews 12:2 refers to Jesus as “the author and perfecter of faith,” (NASB). Our “Author” creates our faith in the first place. The Greek word used there can also mean “captain.” The word for “perfecter” means “completer” or “finisher.” Jesus originates, creates, generates our faith. He captains, steers, controls our faith. We can fully trust Him to perfect, complete, sustain our faith.

Take a look at the paraphrase:  “No extra spiritual fat … Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in . . . When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message)

Each time we think of the One who originated and sustains our faith, and each time we remember the cross of Christ and all that’s been done to complete our faith, it revs up our faith up all the more. We’re talking good adrenaline here. Not a strain on the heart. As a matter of fact, nothing is heart-healthier.

All the Lord has done for our faith is oh, so enough. Our faith can rest in His “enough-ness.” The hymn says it so well:

My faith has found a resting place, Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One, His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument, I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.*

Let’s fix our eyes on Him and His “enough-ness” and let our faith pleasantly rest there. And let it flourish there.

Faith in Him. Faith in what He accomplished on the cross.

It’s faith folded into faith. And that’s beefy—in only the very best ways.

Is your faith “beefy,” resting in Jesus? What does it mean to you today that He will always be “enough” for all your needs?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? and her newest, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up. Rhonda lives near St. Louis and is a pastor’s wife and mother of five grown children. Find out more at

* Hymn, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” by Eliza E. Hewitt in Songs of Joy and Gladness, 1891.



Don't Let Worry Steal Your Joy!

Kathy Collard Miller is a women's conference speaker and author of 49 books. Her newest book encourages women to trust God more and worry less.

“Worry often isn't considered detrimental, just something that takes up time,” Kathy says, “but worry not only steals our joy in God, it can have destructive influence in our soul, spirit, and body.”

I can understand Kathy's comment. I've seen worry cause women to react negatively toward those they love and even get depressed.

Kathy continues …

In our relationships, there are three things worry can't do and three things we can do.

1. Worry can't communicate love. Some women think that if they tell a loved one they are worried about them, that will express love. But it actually communicates you think your loved one is incapable of making good decisions and that God isn't powerful enough to give help.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by clearly expressing love through words of confidence in that loved one (even if they aren't perfect) and trust in God's power to guide and help. Say, “I'm praying for you and I love you. I know the Lord will guide you.”

2. Worry can't control others. You may think, “If only he would....” or “If only she will just...” their circumstances will change. We even try to control them through our prayers, telling God how to work in their lives, believing He should work in them a certain way.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by praying for God's will in their lives. Believe it or not, what you think is the absolutely best thing for someone might not be! Only God can see the total picture and know what's best for them and will bring Him glory.

3. Worry can't change others. We think our worry will cause a change in a person's character or increase their faith in God. As a result, we are compelled to argue, cajole, quote Scripture—even manipulate—to force a change in their perspective.

Instead, we can upgrade our relationships by listening instead of worrying. Asking questions and truly hearing their heart has more influence than worry trying to force a change.

As you think of those three blocks and the three upgrades, which upgrade do you want to work on?

GIVEAWAY: Make a comment today here (or on the Upgrade Facebook page) about which "worry upgrade" you'll work on, and your name will be entered into a drawing for Kathy's new book, Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries: Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather after it is released. (Drawing: October 15.)

Kathy Collard Miller has spoken in 30 states and seven foreign countries. She has 49 published books including Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible (Thomas Nelson) and she blogs regularly. Kathy lives in Southern California with Larry, her husband of 43 years, and is a mom and grandma. Kathy and Larry often speak together at marriage events and retreats.

Photo: Red umbrella Image courtesy of stockimages


How to Get Rid of a 'Little g' God

Paula Hendricks is an amazing young woman with a heart for God. She recently wrote the book Confessions of a Boy Crazy Girl, and one chapter in particular caught my attention.

In the midst of stressing to singles how a guy can be an idol, she wrote about “little g” gods in general that become idols, versus pursuing the “big G”—God Himself.

“I’m not the only one tempted to turn back to my idols,” Paula wrote. “Over and over in the Old Testament, God’s people crushed their idols only to remake them and go right back to them.”

Paula’s insights about idol-making make me question why I sometimes allow idols to linger,  unsmashed, in my own life.

She continues …

Turns out, crushing idols and turning to God isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience but a moment-by-moment journey. That’s why, nearly every morning, I pray Psalm 90:14: Satisfy [me] in the morning with your unfailing love, that [I] may rejoice and be glad all [my] days.

Thomas Chalmers was a pastor in nineteenth-century Scotland, and his sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” captured my heart immediately.

The gist of it is that you can’t talk yourself out of loving someone or something. Your emotions simply won’t cooperate. But you can find someone or something even more lovely to delight in.

I experienced this principle firsthand the month my doctor put me on a strict diet without sugar, bread, and lots of other yummy foods. It sounded like torture, pure and simple. I honestly didn’t know how I’d survive. I was certain I’d spend the entire month dreaming about and drooling over iced sugar cookies, Nerds, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

But an astonishing thing happened. I didn’t even miss my beloved sugar. You know why? Instead of snacking on raw broccoli all month (yuck!), I went to the health-food store, researched interesting recipes, and spent hours in the kitchen preparing unique dishes.

Was it a lot of work? You’d better believe it. But was it even tastier than processed, refined sugar? Absolutely.

That, my friend, is how you get rid of an idol—by investing your time in relishing something (or Someone!) better.

It’s what Psalm 34:8 tells us to do: Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man [and girl] who takes refuge in him!

As you pursue Christ with everything in you—as you put extra effort into tasting and seeing His goodness—you’ll find that your “little g” gods don’t appeal to you like they once did.

What can you start to do today to pursue Jesus with everything in you so that your “little g” gods start to lose their appeal?

Paula Hendricks graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 2005 with a degree in Print Communication. Two weeks later, she began working at Revive Our Hearts, where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Her first book is Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. When Paula isn’t blogging, you’ll find her hanging out with people, indulging her insatiable curiosity by asking lots of questions.



Is God Still Good When ...

Kathy Howard is a Bible study writer extraordinaire—I love her studies—but in this UPGRADE post, Kathy tackles a tough topic.

“I often hear other Christians say, “God is good!” she writes. “I heard it when the life of a sick child was spared. And when a biopsy returned benign. And when a job in jeopardy was saved. And when a rebellious teen turned back to God.

“But what about when the child dies or it comes back ‘cancer’ or the job is lost or the teenager never returns? Is God good then?” 

I’m so glad Kathy is addressing this. These are questions those who don’t know Christ like to throw up to Christians. “If your God is so good,” they say, “then why did He allow ….” 

Kathy continues … 

Yes. God is good all the time. The Bible says so. God cannot be good one moment and not the next. He cannot be good in one situation and not another. 

A Facebook post I read not long ago caused me to reflect on this truth. The FB friend wrote, “God is good!” And then she detailed all the recent positive happenings in her life as the proof. 

This really troubled me. See, we flawed humans tend to declare God’s goodness only when things turn out the way we hope they will. This implies that we believe God is good because our circumstances are easy. But what if our circumstances are hard? Does that mean God is not good? Or that He is good only to those who don’t have trouble and difficulty? 

Our circumstances do not dictate or define God’s goodness. God’s character dictates His goodness. God is good all the time. No matter the circumstances.

So what does this truth mean for us today? Here are a few truths from Scripture to help us develop a correct understanding of the goodness of God:

  • God’s will for our lives is good (Romans 12:2). Sometimes – in fact, often – His will includes trials and difficulty that He uses for our refinement.
  • In all things, in all circumstances, our good God is working for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • The assurance of God’s goodness enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to declare in easy times and hard times, “God is good!”

How should these truths impact our daily lives? How should we upgrade the way we live and talk and relate to others? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that God is good all the time. Not just when things are going the way we want them to.
  2. Thank Him for His goodness in every life situation.
  3. Be sensitive to those around you who are facing difficult and painful circumstances.
  4. Declare His goodness in every circumstance, particularly in the hard times.

Upgrading our attitudes about God’s goodness can change how we approach every circumstance of life and each person we encounter. God is good, all the time!

Let’s talk. Have you ever been guilty of declaring God’s goodness only in times of ease? Forgetting His goodness in times of difficulty? What are some things we can do to remind ourselves of His goodness in every situation?

Kathy Howard helps women live an unshakeable faith for life by encouraging them to stand firm on our rock-solid God no matter the circumstances of life. The author of five books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and a certificate in women’s ministry. She has been teaching the Bible for over 25 years and speaks regularly at women’s retreats and events. Find out about her books and speaking ministry and get discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: