“…no man is useless while he has a friend.” Robert Louis Stevenson
When was the last time you helped celebrate a friend’s success?
As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. (Prov. 27:17; NLT)
Sharon and I received a present in the mail one day last week. It was a book from a friend. “What’s so special about that?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you asked!
The book is titled Raw Reflections: Authentic Stories of Relationship Challenges, Victories, and Lessons from Everyday Life. The author happens to be a great friend of ours, Jeff Williams. Jeff and his lovely wife, Jill, currently live in Germantown, MD and are co-founders of Grace and Truth Relationship Education. You old-timers may remember that their ministry was our very first link of the day way back in the 9/17/07 inaugural issue of Daily Grams. (Grace & Truth Relationship Education)
I first met Jeff when I was fortunate enough to be selected to be his coach trainer back in February of 2003. He and his peer, Tim Schofield, both went on to become great coaches–making me feel kinda like a “proud papa.” Actually, Jeff is now even doing coach training himself. He frequently conducts a series of weekly teleclasses providing people with a great introduction to coaching. About the same time we started our Daily Grams, Jeff launched a daily, web-based devotional which he calls “Daily Grace & Truth.” Out of those devotionals has come this fantastic new book. Talk about being a proud papa!
I had the privilege of writing one of the endorsements which Jeff has chosen to use to promote his book. Pretty neat. Needless to say, the book we received as a gift was autographed by the author…and not by just signing his name, but with an incredibly touching sentiment as well. Gee, autographed, first editions are collectors’ items aren’t they?
Today’s link will take you to the web site that Jeff has set up to promote Raw Reflections. We encourage you to take a look. We believe you’ll be glad you did.
Have a great weekend!
Lord, what a blessing friends are. How exciting it is to see a good friend reach out and attain new heights. Continue to pour out Your blessings on all of our readers, aka our friends.
Link of the Day
Blessings on you as you take some time this weekend to do a little reflecting on some of your own life experiences.
“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
If nobody was listening, how do you really feel about giving?
If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving–large or small–it will be used to measure what is given back to you. (Luke 6:38; NLT)
Sharon and I just finished reading together an incredible book that we heartily encourage you to read. The book is The Go-Giver: A Little Story About A Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann. When I say we read “together,” Sharon actually read a chapter or two out loud before we went to sleep each night until the book was done. It’s a very short book…only 14 chapters over 127 pages of fairly large print. A person could probably read it in a couple of hours max. But don’t let the size deceive you — it is one of the most significant books we’ve ever read.
We’re not alone in thinking that way. Here’s just a couple of the endorsements about the book:
“The Go-Giver hits a bull’s-eye on the subject of success in business and life. Burg and Mann clearly understand how helping others succeed will help you succeed. I highly recommend this book.” Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of Business Networking International and bestselling author
“The greatest leader is a servant leader. The Go-Giver tells a great story about how to serve your way to success.” John Addison, co-CEO, Primerica Financial Services
“This terrific book wonderfully illuminates [the] principles of contribution, abundance, service, and success.” Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author
“The Go-Giver is the best business parable since The Greatest Salesman in the World and The One Minute Manager.” Pat Williams, senior vice president, Orlando Magic
As you can undoubtedly tell by the title and some of the endorsements, the book is about the value of giving. It is told in the form of a parable which makes it a very compelling read, and through the course of the story unfolds five amazing “Laws of Stratospheric Success” as follows:
The Law of Value — Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
The Law of Compensation — Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
The Law of Influence — Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first.
The Law of Authenticity — The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
The Law of Receptivity — The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
This book has just been published, and is already creating quite a “buzz.” If you haven’t already heard of it, I can promise you that you will over the next couple of months. I encourage you to get ahead of the game and read it so you can be an eager and knowledgeable participant in those conversations. As Cameron Johnson, author of You Call the Shots predicts, “It will flip your thoughts on business and life upside down and provide massive value for you throughout your career.”
Lord, grant us the grace to better understand and live by the law of giving that you so clearly weave throughout the Scriptures. In this “go-getter” culture that we live in, may this book be used to reach many who may never have been exposed to the clarity of Your teaching on this fundamental issue.
Link of the Day
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
Blessings on you as you give an unexpected gift to someone today.
“Sweet potatoes are a Native American plant that was the main source of nourishment for early homesteaders and for soldiers during the Revolutionary War.” foodreference.com
When was the last time you choose a sweet potato over a white potato?
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. (Daniel 1:15; NIV)
Last month I featured soups for the weekly recipe. Vegetables and side dishes will be on the menu for the month of February. Since we all know that eating vegetables is one of the healthiest things we can do, let’s purpose to include them in our menu plans every day.
You’ve heard me tout the wonderful properties of the sweet potato. I wrote about some of its many benefits in November just before Thanksgiving. It seems many people only think about sweet potatoes at holiday time. Although sweet potatoes are harvested in August through October, they are available in supermarkets throughout the year.
The sweet potato is a nutritious and economical food. One baked sweet potato (3 1/2 ounce serving) provides over 8,800 IU of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) or about twice the recommended daily allowance, yet it contains only 141 calories. It is low in sodium and is a good source of fiber and other important vitamins and minerals. The beta-carotene and vitamin C content in the sweet potato are powerful antioxidants that work in the body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that damage cells and cell membranes and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer.
For the most food value, choose sweet potatoes of a deep orange color. Organically grown sweet potatoes have such a wonderfully sweet taste. Store them in a dry, unrefrigerated bin or basket. Don’t refrigerate sweet potatoes, since temperatures below 55 degrees F. will chill them giving them a hard core and an undesirable taste when cooked.
A very easy way to cook sweet potatoes is to wash them and place them in a crock pot. Nothing else is needed. Allow them to cook until soft. They can be peeled and used in recipes or eaten warm with butter.
Today’s recipe comes from our many years of eating a vegetarian diet and looking for ways to add variety and color to what we were eating. Be creative with the recipe. You don’t have to follow exact proportions.
Lord, You are such a wonderful, loving and giving Heavenly Father. We offer You praise and thanksgiving for Your goodness to us. May we tune our ear to hear Your voice.
Link of the Day
Layered Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Blessings on you as you continue to enjoy eating “your vegetables.”
“Plastics!” Mr. McGuire’s one-word tip to Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.
When was the last time you spent time wrestling with a brain teaser…or a crossword puzzle?
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (Psa. 139:14; NKJ)
Did you know that your brain has characteristics like plastic, i.e., pliable, capable of being molded? Now, while I don’t think this is what Mr. McGuire had in mind when he uttered that now famous one-word tip, it was indeed a prophetic word even though spoken in ignorance. (Prophetic, but certainly not divinely inspired as with Caiaphas in John 11:49-52.) In the context of the brain, plasticity is otherwise known as neuroplasticity, defined as the ability of brain cells to make new connections. Right now, as you read this Daily Gram, your brain cells are making an average of one million new connections per second.
My purpose in bringing this up is to share some of the exciting new discoveries that have been made in the last decade regarding our brains. And frankly, I’m more focused on the brains of those of us who are approaching our senior years rather than on the brains of the very young…although there have been some pretty incredible new insights in that arena that I may share in the coming weeks. Sharon and I are dealing first-hand with the challenges presented by aging parents, and if you are not, you probably will in the years to come. It’s an exploding issue as the Baby Boom generation matures.
In our case, we are not dealing with cognitive decline and dysfunction (praise God), but as you know, Alzheimer’s has become a very common malady. Up until recently, medical science has largely blamed such cognitive issues on aging–what you can, or even should, expect as you grow old. (Talk about a word-curse! By the way, one of my pet peeves is to blame everything on the effects of aging when the real answer is simply, we don’t know what we don’t know yet.)
As quoted in today’s link, “Some of the myths about the brain–that it was not changeable, that there was nothing you could do about cognitive decline–have really been dispelled in the past 10 years.” Folks, that’s pretty exciting news! While we’re not endorsing everything the article says and promotes, the basic premise is really exciting…there are things you can do to keep your brain fit and head-off (pun intended) that terrible decline once thought to be inevitable. And guess what, just as is true with keeping fit physically, vegging in front of the “boob tube” won’t keep your brain fit either.
Your brain’s plasticity makes it possible for you to learn new patterns of thought and behavior. You are not a victim, hardwired, as so many have been taught. “That’s just the way I am!” doesn’t work anymore. God made your brain capable of making changes and learning new skills. You can indeed “teach an old dog new tricks.” As we grow older, it is more and more important to choose to engage in activities that maintain or increase our neuroactivity, because doing so increases our intelligence and our ability to find new answers to old problems.
So, choose to stay active, read books, do puzzles, play games that require you to think, write blogs, etc. You (and your children) will be glad you did. The brain you save could be your own. Hallelujah!!!
Lord, You designed out bodies to serve us well up until the day we don’t need it anymore…not to become a liability as we grow older. We rejoice at the new research that just continues to verify that we are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Link of the Day
Keeping Your Brain Fit
Blessings on you as you purpose to regularly visit the “brain gym” beginning today.
“One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is….death.” Sarah Ledoux
How many nights in a typical week do you sleep well and awake feeling refreshed and ready to go?
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” (John 11:12; NIV)
Have you ever wondered if all this “hype” about sleep has any merit? Does a person really need eight hours of sleep? Or is this “much ado about nothing?”
Research now proves that without adequate sleep, optimal health will continually elude you. In fact, one of the fastest routes to obesity, depression, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses is through chronic sleep deprivation. One study published by the medical journal, Lancet, revealed that even in young, healthy individuals, a sleep deficit of three to four hours a night over the course of a week affected the body’s ability to process carbohydrates, leading people to pre-diabetic states.
Dr. Don Colbert says that when you sleep, human growth hormone is secreted, causing children to grow. In adults that hormone helps in regulating muscle mass and controlling fat. Through working with many clients, I have learned that it is nearly impossible for anyone to lose weight (and fat) if they are going to bed too late or getting inadequate sleep. A lack of sleep will also accelerate the aging process…something no one is standing in line to receive!
So what does sleep do for me, you might be asking? Sleep boosts the immune system giving the body better natural killer cell activity, which in turn, helps to destroy viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. Sleep also improves brain function. Getting enough sleep will help you to learn new physical skills as well. Sleep regulates the release of several important hormones, thus helping us manage the stresses of life.
So you’re probably wondering, how much sleep do I need? Researchers mostly agree that we need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Now, you might be saying, “Well, I only need five.” But “just getting by” in sleep will never provide optimal health. You will “pay the piper,” sooner or later. Either you begin giving your body adequate sleep now, or pay with your health down the road.
Getting to bed at a consistent time each evening will also reap great dividends. Ideally, (and I can already hear the moans) going to bed between 10:00 and 10:30 will give the body the most benefit. Dr. Elmer Josephson said that one hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to four hours afterward!
Well, enough of this…I’m getting sleepy! Next week, we’ll explore ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. In the meantime, “sweet dreams!”
Lord, thank You for the refreshment of sleep and rest. May we hear Your voice as You speak to us about getting to bed at a more consistent hour.
Link of the Day
Sleep Deprivation: Links and Information
Blessings on you as you get your beauty sleep.
“I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. It’s all how you look at it.” J. Kenfield Morley
How do the physical challenges you deal with on a daily basis make you feel?
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (Psa. 139:14; NKJ)
Yes, I know…I used that Bible verse just two days ago. Read on. I believe you will see why I felt compelled to use it again.
From time to time, I receive a video that stops me dead in my tracks. The link today is one of those videos.
You may have seen this young man on TV or in some other venue. We saw him several months ago on Crystal Cathedral’s “Hour of Power.” As you will see when you watch this, Nick Vujicic is a 23 year-old motivational speaker who is truly making the most of his challenges. You see, Nick was born without arms or legs. Can you even imagine such a thing?
Catch some of the things Nick says in the video:
“See your challenge as a gift!”
“The only thing that can stop you is your mind.”
“Don’t ask what you don’t have, ask what you do have.”
“The only limits I have on my life are the limits I put on myself.”
I believe you will find today’s link to be one of the most inspiring videos you have ever seen
Note that the link will take you to the first of three videos, about 5 minutes long. On the same site there is a part two, about 10 minutes, and a part 3, about 7 minutes. I chose to send it on a Friday, hoping that you might have a little more time than usual to spend with this. I can promise you that you won’t be sorry you did.
Lord, no matter how hard we view our situation, there always seems to be somebody whom You have given the grace to overcome unimaginable obstacles. I pray that You would use this video to inspire and encourage at least one of our readers today.
Link of the Day
Nick Vujicic, No Arms, No Legs, No Worries
Blessings on you as you enjoy the upcoming weekend.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Aristotle
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how happy would you say you usually are?
And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness. (Jeremiah 31:24, NLT)
I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that I’m coming back to the happiness theme. No, I’m not going to expound more on the “30 Happiness Tips” (DG 1/4/08) that I referred to so often last month…I actually have a new resource that I’ll be drawing from for the next several Daily Grams. I just started reading Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out by Marci Shimoff (Free Press, 2008) and have been fascinated by some of what she’s written. You’ve perhaps heard of Marci as she wrote Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul as well as five more Chicken Soup for the Soul books that have sold over 13 million copies. I’ve not read enough of her latest book to fully recommend it yet, but as I said, I’ve found some of it to be fascinating.
The book highlights a lot of recent research that has shown that “happiness isn’t an abstract emotion; [rather] it’s a physiological state that can be measured…characterized by distinct brain activity, heart rhythms, and body chemistry.” What Aristotle called the goal of all goals has been validated to show that “happy people live longer, are healthier, and have better relationships…[and have] more success in every area of…life.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that everyone is entitled to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But I learned from Marci’s book that when Jefferson penned that famous statement, the word “pursuit” meant “to practice” rather than “to chase after.” Dispelling the common notion that happiness is something to pursue emerges as one of the major themes of the book. Rather than pursue that which we can never quite catch, Marci makes the point that we can learn new habits in our daily living that will produce happiness, allowing us to practice it as originally advocated by our good friend, Tom.
Another fascinating gem from the book is the discovery that “scientists have found that we each have a ‘happiness set-point,’ the genetic and learned tendency to remain at a certain level of happiness, similar to a thermostat setting on a furnace.” The good news emerging from this finding is that due to the recently discovered neuroplasticity of the brain (DG 2/6/08), we now understand that we can change that happiness set-point. (Hallelujah!!! Some of us sure need to act on that little tip!) You see, while half of our set-point is genetic and half is learned, “it appears that only 10 percent of our [learned] happiness set-point is determined by circumstances such as our level of wealth, marital status, and job. The other 40 percent is determined by our habitual thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.” Hmmmm…where have I heard those ideas before. Kinda reminds me of Philippians 4:8. Don’t you agree?
Today’s link is the Amazon link for Marci’s book. Again, it’s premature for me to make a wholehearted endorsement for the book yet, but if what I have written about it so far peaks your curiosity, have at it. But as with all books, be prepared to “eat the meat and spit out the bones.”
Lord, I keep coming back to the thought of being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” And now to see the all too often unbelieving science community verifying that truth with their latest “revolutionary” discoveries is great fun to watch. I pray that discoveries like these will open the door for more and more to become believers.
Link of the Day
Happy for No Reason
Blessings on you as you “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
“Let my words, like vegetables, be tender and sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.” Author Unknown
How many servings of vegetables did you eat yesterday? And French fries DON’T count!
So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. (Daniel 1:16; NIV)
We all know that we should be eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, right? We hear it all the time, from many different sources. That’s a main focus I have when working with nutritional clients. What can we do so that you get more vegetables into your diet? There are so many wonderful vegetables available to us – many that folks have never bought or prepared. May I challenge you to be “adventurous?” Purpose to buy a new vegetable this week that you’ve not prepared before. It may be an avocado, purple cabbage, or spaghetti squash. Find a recipe and make it.
This week’s recipe uses fresh, colorful peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and red onion. It also contains tamari and balsamic vinegar. In case you’re not familiar with tamari, it can be found in the condiment section of the health food store or most regular grocery stores.Tamari is a dark brown liquid, sold in a glass bottle, and usually slightly thicker than regular soy sauce. The salty fermented paste derived from soybeans, called miso, actually served as the basis for development of tamari. This development occurred during the Edo period (1603-1867) in Asia, when extra water was added to the miso paste to create a thick, dark sauce. The flavor of this sauce was called tamari. Later, changes in the process added wheat to the paste’s ingredients, and today, tamari can be purchased as either wheat-containing or wheat-free.
Most of the regular soy sauce products in the grocery store aisles contain many artificial colorings, preservatives, and MSG. I don’t recommend using any of the “common” brands of soy sauce.Even though tamari is high in sodium, it has a flavor that goes beyond its saltiness. This means that you can use less tamari than you would salt to get the same level of enjoyment from your foods. Tamari blends well with many spices such as garlic, ginger, and onions. There are also low sodium brands available. The most common brands that I’m aware of are Eden and San-J. Tamari can easily be used in marinades for vegetables and meats. It can also be used in salad dressings and sauces. Store tamari in the refrigerator once it’s opened.Enjoy your vegetables!
Lord, we thank You for Your bounty of vegetables available to us in this country all year long. May we never take for granted Your goodness and mercy to us.
Link of the Day
Marinated Roasted Vegetables
Blessings on you as you purpose to eat more vegetables.
“When your energy expands, you experience greater happiness; when your energy contracts, you experience less happiness.” Marci Shimoff
How much attention do you pay to how you feel?
The godly can look forward to happiness, while the wicked can expect only wrath. (Proverbs 11:23; NLT)
Sharon blessed me with a GPS for Christmas. Now I consider myself a fairly technical savvy guy, but I’ll have to admit that the GPS blows my mind. I just can’t imagine the programming and technology behind that little beauty. Anyway, what does a GPS have to do with happiness? Well, if you’re ever lost and someone hands you a GPS, I believe you will instantly see the connection. Seriously though, that is not what this is about.
As a follow-up to Monday’s DG on Marci Shimoff’s newest book, Happy for No Reason, she talks of the group of “100 truly happy people” which she interviewed for her book. Through the interviews she observed three guiding principles that played a significant role in all of them to help them “become, or remain, Happy for No Reason.” The first principle is “what expands you makes you happier.”
She writes, “Science has shown that everything in the universe, including you, is composed of energy. Everything you say, think, or do, everything you’re around, either expands your energy or contracts it. When your energy expands you experience greater happiness; when your energy contracts, you experience less happiness.”
Since we were designed to have control over our thoughts (see 2 Cor. 10:5) we can choose to think the thoughts, which create the feelings, which create the behaviors that expands our energy rather than contracts it. “Raising your happiness set-point is a matter of developing those habits that expand your energy….Expansion is your highway to happiness. You can use this guiding principle to see if you are moving toward happiness by being aware of how contracted or expanded you feel throughout the day.”
Voila! There’s your happiness GPS! If you’re feeling happy, love, optimism, acceptance, well-being, et al., then the little GPS voice tells you to continue on in the same direction. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling unhappy, fear, pessimism, resistance, low energy, et al., then the little GPS voice is telling you to turn around! You’re going in the wrong direction!
The question of the day is, “Are you listening to that ‘still, small’ voice?”
Lord, we so often don’t listen to that still, small voice that you designed to be our guidance system. Please turn up the volume so we can clearly hear it over the hectic lifestyles most of us tend to live.
Link of the Day
Happy for No Reason
Blessings on you as you begin to use your happiness GPS.
“Sleep plays a major role in preparing the body and brain for an alert, productive, psychologically, and physiologically healthy tomorrow.” Dr. James B. Maas
How many hours of sleep are you getting each night? What would your life look like if you were getting more, high quality sleep each night?
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. (Jonah 1:5b; NIV)
Sleep and drinking water are two of the best anti-aging secrets within our control! Last week we looked at the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and the effects of not getting enough sleep. A good night’s sleep revitalizes our tired bodies, gives us more energy and helps us think more clearly during the day.
So, what are some things that we can do to insure a better night’s sleep? As I mentioned last week, getting to bed between 10:00 and 10:30 is one of the best things we can do. Our bodies will get better rest and sleep the earlier we “hit the hay”.
Consistent, daily exercise helps the body to sleep better, enabling the body to fall asleep faster and spend more time in the restorative and repairing stages of sleep. However, exercise should be done at least three hours before going to bed. Otherwise you run the risk of raising certain hormone levels that could keep you awake. If possible, most bodies do better getting exercise in the morning. I can personally attest to the fact that I always sleep better on the days that I’ve worked up a “good sweat” in the morning.
Create your bedroom for sleep. When you walk into your bedroom it should exude sleep and rest, not work, clutter, or confusion. The bedroom should not be a storage shed for all the unfinished projects, piles of papers to wade through, or loads of laundry to be folded. The bedroom should say, relax, rest, and sleep. Computers should not be in the bedroom. Nor should the TV. Watching TV before bed can stimulate the brain making it difficult for you to fall asleep.
The bedroom should also be as dark as possible. Even the smallest amount of light in the room can disrupt your circadian rhythm and the pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin and serotonin which help to make you sleep better. I bought heavy draperies for our windows since so much light comes in from the outside streetlights. Even that wasn’t enough. So, we invested in some nice, heavy blinders for our eyes. I used to see pictures of those and laugh and wonder why anyone would use them. Now, I know! They work great!
If you’re a reader before going to bed, choose your “words” wisely. Suspense novels and mysteries will only stimulate the brain more making it difficult to fall asleep. Instead choose a devotional, read scripture, or something light and heart warming.
Lord, You are so loving and wonderful. We thank You for Your design for us to have time to rest and replenish our bodies and our spirits.
Link of the Day
33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep
Blessings on you as you enjoy your rest and sleep.