Review by Rayna: The Kindness Challenge

The Kindness Challenge:  30 Days to Improve Any Relationship

 


I am a big fan of Shaunti Feldhahn’s books.  I love the way research helps us understand ourselves and others better.  The Kindness Challenge is no different!

One of the most interesting facts Shaunti’s researched revealed has to so a common fact people who thrive possess.  “Whether we thrive depends far more on how we choose to treat others than on how we ourselves are treated.” “The place to our happy place starts with one choice, Werther or not to be kind.  Especially when we really don’t want to.”  (p. 1)

 

 

This finding really struck me.  Much is said about the good old days and one of the things I have noticed is that common courtesy seems to be a thing of the past.  People don’t seem to do much of what they don’t feel like it.

This book challenges us to go back to this practice in very small ways.  Think about focusing on the best in those around us.  Think about how we can offer kindness each and everyday.

 

The Kindness Challenge was written after 10 years of challenging people to do 3 simple, as in not complex, items.  The 3 things they were challenged to do were 1.  Say nothing negative, either to your person or about them to someone else.  2.  Every day, find one positive thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.  3.   Every day, do a small act of kindness or generosity for your person.

 

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  The research shows that there is amazing impact on our relationships when we are more kind.

 

Shaunti found that we are more unkind than we realize.  Being unkind is much more acceptable in our world than being mean is.  Unkindness can take on many different forms.   I found the list of 7 negative habits we don’t even realize we have was very helpful.  There is no doubt that practicing these 7 things can definitely make us more focused on the negatives in our lives.  Do you do any of these 7?  1.  The knee jerk reaction that things will be hard.  2.  Exasperation, Irritation, & Pointing out mistakes 3.  Sarcasm.  4.  Grumble, Grumble.  5.  You Hurt Me, I Hurt You.  6.  Suspicion.  7.  Catastrophizing.  Some of these are habits I need to pay more attention to, others are not as hard for me.

I am joining the Kindness Challenge, will you join me?

I would love to have you join me on Take Heart Transitions Facebook page in sharing your experience on the 30 Day Kindness Challenge.  There are lots of great resources available at http://www.jointhekindnesschallenge.com/

Sign up today & then share on FB.

Review by Rayna: Looking for Lovely

Looking for Lovely:Collecting the Moments that Matter

Annie F.  Downs is another of those authors who shares the true nitty gritty of her life.

She lays it all out in this latest book.  Though a popular author she found herself in a place she calls her broken crazy.  Her honest sharing of the journey to finding herself in a place that she can love and embrace herself and her life through finding the lovely in the middle of the hard.  At the end of each chapter she challenged the reader to look for lovely in their everyday life as well.

I must admit that Annie’s style of storytelling is very compelling but I the overall story seemed disjointed to me.  I did love the way she tied it all together at the end of the book.  One of the most important statements she made was, “When I found lovely in me and in the world, it changed everything.” This book was her journey to this realization.

 

Annie classified herself as a quitter.  Realizing that everyone does not view quitting the same way she did caused her to seek people who were not quitters and learn from them.  She found nonquitters define it differently.  Nonquitters don’t quit when it gets hard, they just take a pause and then go back to it again. They keep trying until they get it.  She could not relate but she did desire to understand perseverance and develop it.

Endings was one of the areas of Annie’s life which was hard.  They made her want to quit.  Quit developing new relationships, quit the hard work of caring for others.  By learning to persevere she learned to live with both the hard and the good.  She shared that what helped her learn to finish is to see God in the people you meet and in the moments, you have to let them leave.  Believe God, He is who holds things together, including those friendships, those memories and your heart.

Grace was a lesson Annie had focused earlier in her life so adding perseverance to grace led her to an even greater understanding of both.  All grace can make you lazy but all perseverance can cause you to be judgmental.  Grace with perseverance gives you permission to not be perfect but to strive toward excellence. They can even be partners to bring growth.

In the end, Annie calls us all to be the type of woman who is “Locking eyes with the one who has choose me.  We have looked for lovely and found it.  We have resolved to be the kind of women who do not quit, who do not give up, but women who strengthen our minds and our hearts to let the work God is doing in us come to completion.”

I highly recommend this book to young adults.  Her communication style and life experiences will be one many millennials will definitely relate to.

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3 Ways to Help Your Parents as They Age

“Honor your father and mother” (1)      Aging parents are a part of life, after all we all get older.  The difficult thing about getting older is that things seem to start wearing out.  All of us will reach a point where we can’t do what we used to, even to the point where we cannot take care of ourselves as we need to.

Watching a parent age can be very difficult but nothing is more difficult than the time in which you have to make the transition of stepping in to help your parent as they age.

I am in the that phase of life right now.  My dad is 83 and he has to have 24-hour care and companionship due to Alzheimer’s Disease.  Even if we were not dealing with this divesting disease, he would be reaching a time in life where he would need more help taking care of this home or even his health.

Here are 3 ways to gracefully handle this new phase of life:

  1. Realize you are not experiencing a role reversal.

Many people refer to this time in life as a role reversal, you become the parent and your parent becomes the child.  That is not true.  You parent is still your parent and always be.  They are just aging and are not able to do all the things they used to do for themselves.

As I have watched my dad’s disease progress I have been sure to keep our roles in the forefront of my mind.  He is my dad in need of my help not a child.  This has helped me stay present in the moment.  Instead of trying to reteach something or reacting to a mistake he makes over and over again in frustration. I try to just take a deep breath and remind myself he can’t help it.

It can be divesting to your parent to find themselves in a place where they can’t do all the things they used to do so easily.

How you treat them will make all the difference in the world.   No adult wants to be treated like a child! Though you might be doing things for your parent that you do for your children please remember this is the person who changed your diaper, taught you to walk and loved you through the teenage years.  They are still your parent!

  1. Always show honor to your parent.

Exodus 20:12 tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

There is no expiration date on this command.

Though this time of transition is difficult always keep in mind you are to treat them with honor.  There are so many changes happening in their life when you keep honor and respect as a part of your relationship it will make the changes easier to deal with.

As with all people, we need to treat our parents the same way we want to be treated.

As my family has faced the many changes brought about with age and disease I have always strived to keep the golden rule in mind.  Someday I will be the one needing help.  How would I want to be treated?

How would you feel if you were no longer allowed to drive and expected to give up your favorite activities?  Look for other options.  It might be time for your parent to stop driving but finding alternative transportation will be crucial to keeping them healthy.

My dad has always been very physically fit and he loves sports so when we reached the stage in his disease that the doctor said we needed to take away the keys I looked high and low to find someone to take over the part he could no longer do, drive.

He still loved participating in playing volleyball 3 times per week and work outing at the gym the other 3 days.  He was able to continue playing volleyball for 3 more years and he still lifts weights at the gym 3 times per week.  Needing more help in life meant he had to give up the keys but not the activities he loves so much.

Losing independence is difficult, treating your parent with honor will make it easier to accept.

  1. Appreciate them for who they are right now as well as who they have been to you your whole life.

We hear it over and over again but there is a lot of truth in the statement, stay in the moment.  Pooh has some wisdom to share in around this:

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne

Staying in the moment with your parent can really help you emotionally deal with how much life has changed for you and your parent.  Make each day together a favorite day. 

We all love to have fun.  No matter our age laughter is good medicine for the soul.  Challenge yourself to find ways to have fun together.Dad ping pong 2016

As Dad became more limited in the things he could do we searched for other things he had enjoyed in the past.  I remembered playing ping pong with him when I was little so we gave it a try.  He loved it and was still really good.  Soon we replace the formal living room with a ping pong table.  It has been the source of tons of fun for us, as well as for the others caring for him.

All of us enjoy things we are good at much more than something that is a struggle.  Keep searching to find the things that still bring joy to your parent, it will create the opportunity for new good memories.

Appreciating them in the moment will help you cherish the time you spend with them now as you know they will not always be here.  Your time and support will mean more to your parent than you can imagine.

Watching our parents age is not easy no matter how you look at it.  I hope you have found my 3 tips to gracefully help your parents as they age helpful.

If you are facing challenges with this transition in your life, coaching might be just what you need to handle it better.  I would love to help.  Please contact me and we can set up a time to visit and see if coaching is a good fit for you.

If you have additional tips or ideas to deal with aging parents I would love to have you share them below.

3 Things I Learned from Abigail’s Extravagant Obedience to God

As a young woman who wanted to love the Lord our God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength I struggled with the concept of submitting to my husband.  Not because I rebelled against submission as some do but rather I struggled with checking my mind, convictions and common sense at the door so to speak in order to submit.

I married while still in college and desired more than anything to join my husband in loving and serving the Lord in our marriage.Matthew 22: 37-9

Sadly, though he did not spend the majority of our 10-year marriage submitting to the Lord.  His selfishness and rebellion made our years together difficult rather than being filled with blessing we experienced trials and struggles.

I tried to be quiet and follow but I bet if you asked him he didn’t see it that way.  I felt the need to express my opinions but always gave in to his leadership in the end.  Our marriage did not survive.

I am remarried and one of the things I spent much time in prayer about before marrying again was submission.  I was thankful the Lord helped me understand His heart for marriage and submission as I sought him.

Just recently I read about Abigail and Nabal.  It was good to have a reminder of those things which God had taught me years ago about a marriage relationship.

3 Things I learned from Abigail’s Extravagant Obedience to God in Numbers 25

  1. Abigail was a woman of great worth apart from her husband….

His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.”

It really stood out to me how valuable Abigail was to be highlighted in the Old Testament.  As a young wife I did not find myself in a relationship that valued me or my thoughts.  I ended up losing myself and forgetting my value.  I became unhealthy in the struggle of caring for my husband.  At one point of brokenness and pain I was poured out my needs to the Lord, He assured me that He loved ME and I was worth DYING for.  I had forgotten that.

  1. Abigail knew God and honored Him even when her husband did not…..

18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.”

As soon as Abigail heard that Nabal had sent David’s men away with insult she jumped into action.  Her drastic response to her husband’s foolishness was eye opening.  In that day and age, she definitely took her life in her hands by honoring David even when Nabal did not.  Her quick action brought a blessing from David instead of the revenge he was on his way to extract on Nabal and all those he was responsible for.

  1. Abigail was blessed in her obedience…..

35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

It can be confusing at times when it appears that scripture contradicts itself.  After all Ephesians 5:22 states clearly “ Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”  Obviously, Abigail did not do that.

I think that God is clear, we are to follow the first commandment always and all the others after that.  If we are being asked by our husband, father, boss or anyone to break the first commandment which Christ told us in Matthew 22:37-9 “ Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

I was blessed and encouraged by the reminder of Abigail and her actions in Numbers.  I don’t spend a lot of time looking back to find things I would change or regrets in my life rather I look to learn and do better today.

In my marriage today I am thankfully I have not had the struggles of submitting to my husband in areas that I know are not God’s will for us.  But even as I read of Abigail I am encouraged to Love my Lord and my Husband well!


What are your thoughts about Abigail’s actions?  Have you ever experienced a time when you had to follow the first commandment rather than submit to someone in authority?

5 Lessons I Learned from My Mom

      When did your mom become one of the smartest people you know?  Isn’t it funny how when we were growing up it felt as if there was so much she just didn’t understand?  When did you realize you were becoming just like her?

Transitioning into an adult can be challenging and complicated.  I think one of the sweetest parts is when we are able to step back and think about how our parents influenced who you are today. 

Steen Family

 

      Since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when I was just 16 I have often thought of what I missed.  Obviously, there are many things which we did not get to experience as mother and daughter. 

 

       Mom was never able to share dating or marriage advice.  She didn’t get to beam with pride as the grandma of my sweet niece and nephew and tell us all about how they do things just like we did. We did not have the opportunity to walk this life as friends but she did teach me many things I am very thankful for. Here are just 5 of the lessons I learned from my amazing mom.

 

1.   If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.

I know we have all heard this saying and I definitely grew up hearing it.

When my mom passed away I was so blessed to hear over and over again from people who knew her well that they never heard her say a bad thing about anyone.  Not only did she teach me an important life skill but she lived it every day.

 

2.  If you get it out, put it back when you are done.

Don’t you love it when you read something and you can hear the person who said it to you 1,000s of times saying it?

Mom taught me how to keep an orderly home and how much easier it is to find things when you put them away.  I’m sure like all kids I did not always do a good job keeping things picked up but Mom never gave up training me.

 

3.  Spend your money wisely.

Just because it seems like a good deal doesn’t mean it is.

I will never forget the summer when everyone was getting a pass to the swimming pool.  I was so upset when Mom would not let me buy a pass.  Instead she put the money in an envelope and had me take out the cost of getting into the pool each time I went.  She assured me she would pay for additional visits if I went through my money in the envelope.  Of course when the end of summer came there was money left in the envelope.  I have not always spent my money wisely but practical her teaching has helped me to avoid many mistakes.

 

4.  Always try your best, that is all anyone can expect. 

Elementary school was no walk in the park for me.  I had to work hard to get good grades.  I will never forget how much my mom did to support me and help me.  She always encouraged me to just do my best and that was good enough for her.  You only fail when you stop trying.  Thanks to mom I have faced many challenges in life with tenacity and found many successes after not giving up.

 

5.  Reading can be fun.

My mom was a reader.  I remember her enjoying books all the time.  Since reading did not come easily for me I could never imagine wanting to read for fun.  Now as an adult I’m just like my mom.  I read for fun daily.   I’m so thankful my mom enjoyed books and encouraged me to as well.  Reading is not only a great way to learn new things but it also allows me to escape into different worlds.

 

Looking back it is always easier to see how smart our parents were/are. I wish I had had more time with my mom.  She was an amazing lady who loved her family very much and taught me many valuable lessons.  I am so thankful to have had her for a mom. 

 

What lessons have you learned from your mom, now that you know how smart she really is?

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