Category Archives: Self-help

Unified

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Tim Scott is a US senator from South Carolina. Trey Gowdy is a US congressman from South Carolina. Tim Scott is black. Trey Gowdy is white. They were both elected to Congress in 2010 (Tim Scott subsequently became the first African American elected to both the US House and US Senate since reconstruction). Their grandmothers would not have been able to be friends, in the racially divided south where they lived. When Tim Scott got news of the fatal shooting of nine blacks at a prayer meeting at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the first person he called was his white friend, Trey Gowdy.

It is sad that a friendship between a white man and a black man is rare enough that it seems unlikely, but there is still a marked racial divide in the United States. I believe it has widened, rather than narrowed, since the election of our first African American President, Barak Obama.

Sen. Scott and Rep. Gowdy assert that when meeting someone who has obvious racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, political, or religious differences, looking for something we have in common is the first step. There are certain commonalities that cross many barriers: love for family, hope for a better tomorrow, desire for our communities to be safe, etc. In the aftermath of a disaster (9-11, hurricanes, wildfires, and the like) people tend to forget their differences and go into a mode that allows our better selves to come out. We pray together, we mourn together, we rally. On 9-12-2001 there were no “us and them” — we were all Americans. Our fear, outrage, pain, and grief united us. Trey Gowdy asks, “Why must we face a calamity before we will join hands, pray, and seek healing?”

I’ve not lived life as a person of color. I haven’t experienced the prejudices that come from having brown or black skin. I’ve never been viewed suspiciously for “driving while black” (getting pulled over because you’re a black person in a predominately white area). I don’t experience fear when I’m glanced at by a person in law enforcement. Still, prejudices are widespread and they aren’t exclusively against people of color.  Prejudice can be about whites from people of color. It can be about religion, sexual orientation, perceived education (or lack thereof), or socioeconomic status. Tim Scott says, “Our perception of people is too often colored by preconceived notions and expectations, whether those are based on past experience or shaped by cultural norms and attitudes.” Trey is quoted as saying, “…the only two divisions there ought to be in the nation are “people of good conscience and people who are not of good conscience — not racial, not gender, not ideological.””

Tim and Trey have forged a solid, valuable friendship by capitalizing on their similarities, rather than their differences. Trey says, “We can build real trust with others by stepping into their story, by committing our time and attention to what matters to them…As you seek to build rapport and trust with someone, you must be willing to see the world from a perspective that is not your own…The 24/7 news cycle we have today so often seems to focus on differences and divisions within our nation…But as I talk to people one-on-one, I find a universal hope and desire for unity.” (emphasis mine).

Trey states, “People look to Washington for solutions to our nation’s problems, but Congress is often where anger and frustration come home to roost. Although Tim and I are both currently in politics — or perhaps because we’re in politics — we see the limitations and shortcomings of legislative remedies. We believe the firmest foundation for positive change is found with individuals in relationship with one another. Laws are external. Relationships are internal. Policies make you have to. Relationships make you want to. Relationships contain the power necessary to change the course of history, and the delicate, personal touch needed to change the trajectory of a single life.” Isn’t that beautiful, and oh, so true?!

One of the most powerful stories in Unified is a story of a blog post that slammed Senator Tim Scott. Trey read it first and rushed to Tim’s office to see if he had seen it. Indignant, Trey says, “I’m sick of this…something must be done.” Tim’s answer was a simple “You’re right. Please close the door and have a seat.” Trey thinks they’re finally getting somewhere…he’s finally gotten his friend fired up enough to respond (Tim was evidently notoriously calm). Instead, Senator Scott says, “We’re going to pray for [the author].” Tim Scott proceeds to pray for someone who was intentionally hurtful to him. Trey says, “Tim simply modeled what Jesus teaches: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.’…I was not the victim, but I was angry. Tim was the victim, but he forgave and prayed for the person who wronged him.”

I was simply amazed by the wisdom and truth in this book! If you want a different world, one where people love and respect one another in spite of their differences, this book is a great source of advice on how to start down that road. Christians, especially, need the words written here. Some of the most judgemental and hateful people I’ve ever encountered were Christians who, mistakenly, thought that by pointing out the speck in their brother’s eye they were doing him/her a big favor, all the while ignoring the beam in their own (Matthew 7:1-5).

Read this book, then go find someone “different” than you and try to make a friend. We can change the world, one heart at a time.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

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Filed under Christian, Non-Fiction, politics, Self-help

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast

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Looking for a way to ‘reset’ your body…get off sugar and processed food…eat ‘clean’? Then The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola might be for you! Here are some quotes from the Ultimate Daniel Fast website:

“The Daniel Fast is a 21-day partial fast based upon the prophet Daniel’s experiences in the Bible. The purpose of the fast is to restrict commonly enjoyed foods as an act of worship and consecration to God. Someone who chooses to undergo a Daniel Fast demonstrates a physical commitment to pursue a closer relationship with the Lord.

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast  is an inspiring resource for Christians who want to pursue a more intimate relationship with God through the 21-day commitment to prayer and fasting known as the Daniel Fast. As you deny yourself certain foods—such as sugars, processed ingredients, and solid fats—you will not only embrace healthier eating habits, you’ll also discover a greater awareness of God’s presence.”

I haven’t tried the fast yet, but based on what I’ve seen in the book, it looks doable. The book includes sections on fasting (“The Fast”), spiritual devotions to do each day during the fast (“The Focus”) and, of course a section called “The Food.” The food section includes all the tools you’ll need to implement the fast. Of course, there are lists of foods to eat and avoid, but there’s also a step-by-step guide to creating a meal plan along with suggested meal plans for all three weeks. The recipes included are fairly simple and don’t include many unusual (I don’t have them in my pantry or fridge already) ingredients.

I would have some difficulty doing this plan with my whole family…my son isn’t into vegetables at all (he’s autistic) and his diet is restrictive as a result…but I think it is definitely something I could do. I like the idea of a cleaner diet, and The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast looks like a really good way to kick off a better way of eating.

*I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

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Filed under Cookbooks, healthy living, Non-Fiction, Self-help

How High Will You Climb

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“Attitude is everything” or so they say.  John C. Maxwell probably agrees. His book, How High Will You Climb, is subtitled “Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right Attitude.”  In aviation, your attitude determines your altitude. The attitude of the aircraft can be nose-up or nose-down and where the nose is pointed, the plane will follow. Correspondingly, if your personal attitude is nose-down, you’re probably not going to go anywhere but down.

How High Will You Climb is all about “looking up” for guidance and direction. What is attitude and why is it important? How was your present attitude formed? What are obstacles to a positive attitude, both within and without? How can I change my attitude? These are all questions answered in Maxwell’s book. He uses Biblical principles along with illustrative stories to guide the reader to the start of a journey towards having a better attitude. There are self-evaluation questions included in each chapter, and a study guide at the end of the book.

If you are serious about getting rid of your bad attitude or know someone who just needs to have some direction in how to begin changing theirs, this book is a good one. It isn’t too long and there are plenty of practical steps to begin that journey.

*I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, in exchange for an honest review*

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Filed under Christian, Non-Fiction, Self-help