“Loving My Actual Neighbor,” by Alexandra Kuykendall

“To really understand and love our neighbor, we must be willing to tread into common ground.” -Alexandra Kuykendall, “Loving My Actual Neighbor.”

Many of us are familiar with God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, but actually living it out in our everyday lives is difficult. “Loving My Actual Neighbor,” is a simple and practical approach to loving the people God places in our lives. In seven simple and quick-to-read chapters, Kuykendall gives her readers real life experience to connect with. Each chapter wraps up with three sections to help us retain the over-arching message: “A Call to Saturday Living,” “Questions for Reflection,” and “Scripture to Digest.”

“Saturday Living,” as the author cleverly coined, frames the natural ebb and flow of life’s down-time, and challenges us to look around and leverage that time to honor God’s command to “love our neighbor.” “Questions for Reflection” push readers to dig into this rich command God has given us and challenge our hearts to grow into it a little more. “Scripture to Digest” offers poignant verses to pray over our lives as we learn more about what it means to love our neighbors.

This book is enlightening and encouraging. It meets readers in the midst of busy schedules and  provides practical ways to love each other better. Personally, it pushed me out of my limited understanding of how much time I think I have, and convicted me to pray for specific moments to love the people that border my life better. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about God’s love, and our place in His plan to become channels of it.

“We likely aren’t going to find many people (or any, for that matter) who agree with us on every detail of every issue, so maybe it’s time to let go of that expectation.” -Alexandra Kuykendall, “Loving My Actual Neighbor.”

Click here to purchase “Loving My Actual Neighbor.

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“Relational Reset,” by Dr. Laurel Shaler

“We all need friends who are willing and able to look at all sides of a situation prayerfully and thoughtfully instead of jumping to our defense.” Dr. Laurel Shaler, “Relational Reset”

Dr. Shaler meets her readers with answers to some poignant relationship questions, and matter-of-fact Biblical answers. Her knowledge, expertise, and experience as a counselor provides a confident stance on common relational problems. Broken up into twelve, easy to read chapters, each contains a “Working on Myself” section at the end. Through these questions, readers are able to immediately apply the knowledge they have gained to their current situations. This book is practical, on point, and incredibly relevant. 

This book not only met me in the middle of some of my own relational questions, but has allowed me to relay encouragement to my children and friends applicably. In a world where everyone has their opinion of what justice is and how it should be served, Dr. Shaler takes an educated and trained stance on the realities of these issues according to God’s truth. Her advice is timeless, and applicable to everyone. I recommend this book to everyone. There is something to be learned for all walks and stages of life. 

“It’s okay to desire justice. It’s even okay to expect and demand justice. In fact, Isaiah 1:7 tells us to seek justice. However, the reality is that justice in a fallen world will never be perfect. But God’s justice is.” Dr. Laurel Shaler, “Relational Reset”

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Click here to purchase your copy of Relational Reset.

# Powerful Ways Dads Can Forge Relationships with Daughters

Without words, my dad faithfully repaired the doorframe every time my teenage angst slammed it off its alignment. No one ever asked him to check on me after an outburst that ended in tears behind that slammed door, but he always did. My dad loved me despite the massive cloud that took over from time to time during those hard, teen years. When I was wrong. When I overreacted. When my heart was broken by some boy. My dad always checked in to make sure I was OK. He reminded me who I was and that he loved me.

I realize not everyone is blessed with the same story, but from the outpouring of mine, I share ways that fathers can forge lasting and real relationships with their daughters. It’s not rocket science. Rather, it’s simply putting the door back on the hinges, wiping the tears away, and lending hugs to let them know they are loved more than they could possibly understand.

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A Prayer for Struggling Relationships

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Relationships remain imperfect because humanity is incapable of selfless love. Due to the fall in the garden of Eden, we are continually cursed with sin, keeping us from accomplishing correct communication with each other. Only one pair of feet have ever trod the earth in perfect obedience to God. Jesus came out of compassion for us. It’s through Him, that we can find victory in life, and our relationships. Not through perfection of our behavior, but through the perfect forgiveness and hope that His love grants us.

The very definition of ‘struggle’ is “to content with an adversary or opposing force.” We often pit the people on the other side of our relationships against ourselves. In addition to the disagreement at hand, we internally mull over all of the ways that we want them to treat us, and expect to be treated. We are set to a defensive default, but created to love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Jesus taught that this was the most important command. The NIV Notes on this verse say that “Jesus’ teaching united his followers around love.” Unity is the opposite of struggling opposition. There’s nothing we can do to force our relationships to work. But we can focus on Love.

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