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: Necessary Endings

Necessary Endings:  The employees, businesses, and relationships that all of us have to give up in order to move forward

 

From the subtitle you can tell that this book addresses both business and personal relationships.  Though it has many business examples and much wisdom to offer those in leadership it has many valuable principles and truth for everyone concerning relationships.

This is one of those books I wish I had read many years ago.  I had so many favorite parts it is hard to share just a few.

 

The principle of pruning is covered in the beginning of the book is such a practical way that it helps us to understand that it is a teaching we all need to implement in life.  I’m not a gardener but I understood the truth of how caring for plants applies to our lives.  I can see God’s hand doing this in my life at times as well.

Dr. Cloud defines pruning for us as “A function of cutting away to reduce the extent or reach of something by taking away unwanted of superfluous parts. “   Pruning is the intentional step of bringing something to a necessary ending.  There are 3 reasons to bring necessary endings to our lives:

  1. The first reason is if something is stealing resources that could be spent somewhere else that is more valuable.  Even healthy stuff can stop us from growing if there is too much of it.  We can only give some many things our time and attention.  Be sure that all the things you are focusing on are the most important to you.
  2. Secondly, if something is sick and is not likely to heal. Some relationships both at work and in your life need constant attention and nurturing.  It is ok to give them what is needed to help them heal and become a contributing part but if sick is what they want to be then a necessary ending is called from.
  3. The reason is if it is clear that something is already dead, there is no life left.  It is amazing how desperately we can hold onto things that are clearly dead sometimes.  Dr. Could encourages us to take the time to evaluate the health of relationships, this will make it harder not to identify those that are dead.

Necessary endings are required in order for us to stay healthy and to keep growing.  Dr. Cloud gives great examples of each of these in the book.

Another section of the book which I found very helpful was when Dr. Cloud laid out the 3 Kinds of people as well as their styles of behavior in chapter 7.  The way he approached this section seemed a bit harsh at first but the more I thought about the 3 behaviors the more examples from my life I could think of that affirmed his descriptions.

The 3 people are the wise, the foolish and the evil.  Dr. Cloud goes on to tell us how to determine the kind of person is we are dealing with and what to do with them.  If you are trying to figure out if an ending is necessary for a relationship you will definitely find this chapter helpful.

Dr. Cloud goes on to layout how to accomplish a necessary ending and how to process in order to move forward.


I am confident this will be a book I come back to time and time again.  I hope you will take the time to read it and then share your thoughts me with me below.

Review by Rayna: When God Doesn’t Fix It

Review by Rayna:  When God Doesn’t Fix It:  Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn, Truths You Can’t Live Without
when god doesnt fix it

Most of us know Laura Story from her beautiful songs.  What I love most about her songs is the vulnerability of the lyrics and her way of sharing truth, it touches us all.

I was excited to see that her book is more of the same. 

I was amazed and encouraged by her willingness to share her struggles and heartaches.  Life has been full of ups and downs for Laura and her husband, Martin.  This book is a look into some of the things Laura has learned about God during this season of her life.

Laura starts the book reminding us that all of us are just one phone call or major event away from life change we never imagined.  In that moment we think life as we know is over.  The truth is life as we are yet to know is just begun.

I appreciated the way in which Laura ended each chapter by stating a Myth she had believed and the Truth which God had revealed to her through her life.

I believe that every Christian struggles with many of the myth’s Laura shares and would benefit a lot from hearing the Truth Laura learned about each one.

One of the most meaningful parts of the book was when Laura challenges us to make a list of why questions.  When I listed all things I would love for God to tell me why they happened it was pretty long.  Laura goes on to instruct us to write down all the answers to our whys that God has given us.

I was encouraged because I was able to write a few answers but….there are a lot of my questions still waiting to be answered.  Laura admits that most of her why questions are not answered either.  She is quick to remind us that God never promises the answers our whys.

She then reveals that making the shift from the question of why to how has made all the difference in her life.  “Man asks why, Jesus asks How.  Man says, “Why did this happen?  Jesus says, “How might my Father’s Glory be displayed through this situation?” Learning that God’s Glory can be displayed in spite of our circumstances is a life changing truth.

Throughout the book Laura also shares her struggle of sharing her story when there is no pretty bow wrapping it all up.  She encourages us all to step out and share our story even in the messy middle.  God is working and hearing what he is doing in others’ lives brings great encouragement.  The number of people touch by Laura’s honest struggles and her songs about them has continued to blow her mind.  You can encourage others too.

Be brave step out and share how God’s Glory is working even in your messy middles.

These are just a couple of the nuggets of truth I found in Laura’s writings.  I know that you will be blessed and challenged by reading this book too.

Laura closes her book with these powerful statements….

Share your story.

Give God the Glory.

Live a Better Broken.


How have you found peace in God’s answer to the HOW questions in your life instead of staying stuck in the whys?

Review by Rayna: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

Sara is an eloquent wordsmith who invites you into her life and journey of faith.  She lays her heart out for us to see and helps us to be willing to look at things in our own heart to find the truth of God and His love.

I loved how she so openly shared the growth and depth of her marriage relationship Nate.  The beautiful picture of their growth through the years was both encouraging and challenging.  So many times we expect our marriage to be easy and our husbands to just get us.  Sara’s willingness to express these things was encouraging to me and I’m sure it would be for you as well.

The part of Sara’s story which spoke to me most was her barrenness.  Her willingness to share how broke she felt and how deeply she desired the blessing of children was healing oil to my heart.  Since I have lived my own journey of infertility and miscarriage it was amazingly sweet to read of her journey to motherhood.

I appreciated her vulnerability in discussing how even as she became a mom.  As her heart and arms were filled with children meant to be hers she still longed for her womb to be full of life.  The Lord is so faithful to bless us even as we are still growing in understanding of His imaginable love and mercy.

There was a part of Sara’s story which I did not relate to.  Though I have struggled with barrenness and losing 2 children to miscarriage I never struggled with it being my fault or punishment from God.  Though the loneliness and heartache was a part of my story I am thankful I did not experience the feelings of brokenness she did.  I was very saddened by her expression of this struggle.  I hope that if you have felt this way Sara’s story will bless you and help you move from this lie to healing and wholeness.

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?