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Entries in Yvonne Ortega (11)

Tuesday
Jun252019

How to Find Your Identity and Purpose

Yvonne Ortega has experienced many struggles and tough circumstances, but the Lord has taught her many things through them. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she shares how God helped her find her identity and purpose.

“You have too many Christian friends and family on Facebook. Your posts and website are too preachy," Yvonne said the representative from a speaker’s bureau told her on the phone.

I (Dawn) know how comments like these can be devastating. I once endured a similar disheartening remark from a book agent. But I, like Yvonne, eventually turned that comment into an opportunity to focus on God's perspective.

Yvonne continues . . .

After I heard those words, I faced a challenge to my identity and purpose on earth. I realized I had to choose either what the world considers identity and purpose or what God says my identity and purpose are.

The representative talked about fortune and fame. He wanted me to focus on events that would bring in money and lots of it.

He recommended a new website, new images, and a new identity online.

The catch was that those new things would wipe out my identity as a Christian.

The weekend after that conversation, I knew I had to be true to my divine identity and purpose.

How could I do that?

1. I had to find out who God says I am.

In the Bible He says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

I prayed and meditated on the phrases.

  • God chose me, not someone else. He selected me or picked me out from the crowd.
  • God made me a royal priesthood. The word, royal, captured my attention. God didn’t make me second-rate or a commoner.
  • By his mercy and grace, He made me holy, separated from sin and reconciled to Him through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
  • All of this, and even more, a special possession. I’m not on my own in a struggle to find out who I am. The Bible tells me I’m God’s special possession.

Nothing in 1 Peter 2:9 indicates that my identity and purpose involve striving for earthly fortune and fame.   

2. I had to find out what God’s purpose is for me.

In Ephesians 2:10, the Bible says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV).

Imagine my joy in that truth. I am not just anyone’s handiwork, but God’s. He created me to do good works, not to please people.

And to make that more powerful, God prepared those good works in advance for me to do.

Before my birth, God knew His purpose for my life.

3. I had to remember that the world cannot change God’s plans.

No matter how attractive or alluring people’s plans can be, I cannot change God’s plans.

When I looked at Isaiah 46:10, I read, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure” (NASB).

God didn’t say He might try to establish his purpose, nor did he say He hoped to accomplish all his good pleasure. God didn’t show any hesitation or doubt.

I may have to wait a long time to understand God’s purpose, but He is always at work, often behind the scenes.

In the New Testament, God confirmed the truth of Isaiah 46:10. Paul tells us, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

The world’s offer of fortune and fame won’t succeed if God has another plan for me.

Years ago, God put a desire in my heart to reach “Gazillions for Jesus in my lifetime” with the message of His comfort, peace, promise and purpose. That desire has not changed.

Four car accidents in seven years, injuries, cancer, and major losses including the unexpected death of my only child seemed to interrupt or delay God’s plans. At the time, I couldn’t understand those circumstances.

As I look back, I see how God used every one of them to carry on His good work in my life. Now I can walk in confidence that God will do whatever it takes to unfold His plan.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for my identity and purpose. Thank you that you are in charge and nothing or no one can thwart your plan for me. You will carry it on to completion. Amen.

What will you do this week to find your identity and purpose?

Yvonne Ortega walks with a small footprint but leaves a giant imprint in people’s lives. This power-packed package is an international award-winning speaker and the author of the Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Series. She celebrates life at the beach, where she walks, builds sand castles, blows bubbles, and dances. Discover more about Yvonne at her website and blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Stux at Pixabay.

 

Tuesday
Jun052018

When Your Last Living Parent Passes

Have you ever noticed that broken people—healed by God's grace—share His truth in a powerful way, straight from their heart? Yvonne Ortega is the author of the Moving from Broken to Beautiful® series.

In this Grief UPGRADE, she encourages us to seek God's caring presence and peace, just as she does.

“‘Dad passed,’ my younger brother said on the phone. For a couple of minutes, I couldn’t say anything," Yvonne said. "Our last living parent passed.

"I felt broken again. Perhaps my brother felt the same way, but he didn’t say so.”

I (Dawn) still have one living parent, but I've thought about this topic many times lately.

I don't think we're ever prepared for a parent to die, but perhaps we can prepare our hearts to continue to live.

Yvonne continues . . .

Daddy wanted to live to be 100 years old. He got close to that, but his body wore out.

He had a massive heart attack on Palm Sunday, seemed to improve, but slipped away nine days later.

His mind also wore out. He had dementia.

I’ve learned three things about my heavenly Father that help me cope with the loss of my last living parent.

1. I’ve learned that God cares about orphans.

Psalm 68:5, in talking about God, says,

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (NIV).

God is a Father to me. As a caring parent, He loves me, watches over me, and guides me. He will fill in the gap.

I can go to Him in prayer, call him "Father," and feel confident that He will be a faithful parent to me.

Deuteronomy 10:18a says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.”

God will defend me. When the need arises, I don’t stand alone. I can run to Abba’s arms in confidence and feel safe.

2. I’ve learned to meditate on the names of God.

El Roi means the God who sees me. Since He sees me, God knows I experience bouts of loneliness. As God comforted Hagar in Genesis 16, He will comfort me.

God knows where I am and what I need.

Another name of God is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is our peace. In Judges 16:24, Gideon built an altar to the Lord and called it "The Lord Is Peace."

I admit, every so often I want to call Dad, but remember I can’t do that anymore. Other times, I tell myself I need to buy more greeting cards for Dad. I used to mail him two cards a week. Then I remember he’s in heaven.

I’m happy for him, but I miss him. In those moments, I call on Jehovah Shalom and claim His peace in my life.

3. I listen to praise and worship music.

One of my favorite Scriptures about the importance of praise and worship is 2 Chronicles 20:21:

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”

My battle is coping with the loss of my last living parent. God’s Word showed me the most powerful weapon—praise and worship.

I praise God continually that my father accepted the Lord last summer.

Then I fight the battle with God’s love and strength as He brings me to a more beautiful tomorrow.

What will you do when you lose your last living parent or feel lonely because of other circumstances?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a professional speaker, and a speaking and writing coach. She’s the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. Yvonne will speak at a Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Conference October 19–20, 2018 in Virginia Beach and would love to bring that conference to your area. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan162018

Live the Abundant Life in 2018!

Many write about “abundance” these days, but abundant living doesn’t mean we won’t experience struggles, as Yvonne Ortega explains in this Spiritual Life UPGRADE.

“I went through aggressive chemotherapy and thirty-three rounds of radiation seventeen years ago this month,” Yvonne says.

“That experience and the loss of my only child in 2009 convinced me that I want more out of life than a mere existence of going through the motions day after day.

When I (Dawn) think about “going through the motions,” I picture monotony and boredom. Though we may face tough “wilderness” experiences, monotony and boredom are not what the Lord has in store for His children in our times of difficulty.

Yvonne Ortega continues . . .

I celebrate the gift of life not only on my yearly anniversary of being cancer-free but every day.

Jesus said,

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, NASB).

I want to live the abundant life Jesus came to give us.

My life changed in my journey to live the abundant life. I questioned every area of my life and searched the Bible for answers.

I came up with FOUR AREAS that required change.

First, I had to make FOOD CHOICES to live the abundant life.

For the most part, I look at food from the perspective of 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

The Holy Spirit convicted me that I couldn’t eat junk food and take care of my body, His temple.

Second, I had to get SUFFICIENT SLEEP each night to live the abundant life.

For me that means eight hours of sleep each night.

Jesus saw the need for rest in Mark 6:31–32:

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them (the apostles), ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”

Third, I had to EXERCISE MORE than my fingers at the computer to live the abundant life.

I tried various types of exercise before I settled on the ones that work for me. I enjoy walking outside. As I walk, I review Bible verses and pray for the needs of my neighbors.

Since I live close to the beach, a walk at the beach delights me. The sound of the waves and the feel of the sand between my toes revive me. As I look around at the beach, I thank God for the beautiful world He created.

I also enjoy swimming laps and aqua classes. Through my time at the pool, I’ve met many wonderful people.

Fourth, I needed to DEEPEN MY RELATIONSHIP with the Lord to live the abundant life.

I committed to reading the Bible from Genesis through Revelation each year.

One year, I read the Bible in 90 Days in addition to reading the Bible in a year.

I also chose to listen to praise and worship music daily. When I listen to praise and worship music, I am transported into the very presence of God. He speaks to me, and I listen.

What will you do this year to live the abundant life Jesus came to give you?

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) and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), both 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 adapted, courtesy of Pexel 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
Oct242017

Lessons Learned During Sickness

Yvonne Ortega loves to help women move forward from the broken places in their lives, having experienced tough times herself. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she invites us to think about how we experience the brokenness of sickness.

Yvonne asks, “I hate being sick, don’t you?

"Sickness means I’ll miss events I looked forward to attending. If the doctor says the illness is contagious, I dread it even more."

Going through two years of recurring illnesses, I (Dawn) know what Yvonne means. When we are sick, it's just plain hard. But God brings wisdom in those tough times too!

Yvonne continues . . .

Days of being alone are not my preference. If a cough grips me and makes talking difficult or impossible, that adds to my torture.

One of my friends emailed me, said she’d pray for me to get better soon, and told me to talk to God.

I do that every day in my quiet time. I didn’t need a burning bush experience like Moses had or to be knocked to the ground the way Paul was. I longed for social interaction with my friends in town.

I learned three lessons—or rather had a refresher course in those lessons—during that illness. I offer them to you as tips.

1. I learned to ask for help.

I like to help others, but I don’t like to ask for help.

However, I was too sick to drive to the doctor and the pharmacy. I had to ask a friend for a ride.

I longed for a Green Passion Power Smoothie from Panera, my favorite restaurant. Once again, I had to ask a friend for it. God made me and you as social beings. He made us into the body of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 12:26, the Bible says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 

2. I asked God what He wanted me to do during my sickness.

I sensed He wanted me to listen to a set of mp3s from a conference I had attended. After listening to almost every session and several twice, I asked Him again.

That time, I felt led to take three days as a personal retreat at home. I had planned to go to the beach for a personal retreat, but sickness prevented that trip.

As I rested with my Bible, journal, and pen and listened to praise and worship music, I sensed God’s presence, power, and purpose in allowing me to be sick. I drew closer to him. 

James 4:8a says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  

That personal retreat blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

3. I grew in patience.

Patience tops the list when it comes to difficult lessons.

I had hoped to recover overnight.

Unlike instant coffee, instant oatmeal and microwave popcorn, my recovery didn’t happen fast.

James 5:7–8 says, Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

I don’t pray for patience because I don’t want the tests that will follow to help me develop it.

Since I live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, and an imperfect body, opportunities to learn patience will come my way.

I pray I learned the lesson, so I don’t have to repeat the same one.

What will you do the next time you’re sick?

Yvonne Ortega is a bilingual speaker, author, professional counselor, certified teacher, and speaking coach. She is the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. Yvonne’s passion is to help women facing life transitions or challenges move from broken to beautiful through God’s Word. Her books are available on her website, www.YvonneOrtega.com

Graphic adapted, courtesy of mopje at Pixabay.