Arden Recommends: Valentine’s Day

I had this thought for a Valentine’s Day book… I’d read a book from a top dating coach and give you all the thumbs up or thumbs down on it. I chose You Lost Him at Hello: From Dating to “I Do” by Jess McCann. Many years ago I read so many dating books. a) I’m a ferocious reader and b) I believe in getting all the help I can get to make myself a better.

However, it’s been a looooooooong time since I’ve read any kind of self-help in the dating world book. Not because I’ve found myself hitched up. But, simply because I gave up. I figured whatever was meant to be would be.

But, like the good blogger I am, I love to play up certain holidays to make my audience happy. I am, after all, a giver. So, I read You Lost Him at Hello and here’s what I got out of it: Incredible sales tips for my Rodan + Fields business.

Jess McMann is an expert salesperson turned dating coach. She offers amazing tips to get a man, keep a man, and get your ring. I learned how to prospect and fill my pipeline with men to date until one stuck.

I learned how to not respond to text messages or calls and that dude would eventually give me a buzz because I left him wanting more.

I learned that the fear of losing me would make a man propose.

What I didn’t learn was how I’m to actually love a man. And for me, I wonder if that’s not a greater purpose than simply hooking a man.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I’m stepping away from the mainstream and challenging you, single or hitched, to do the same. Look at love as something bigger than “catching him” and think about it as Christ does… how can you love the people in your life better and be  32f824f195078b5b1b9a2f08b72887b6more apt to bringing them closer to Christ?

I have 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 framed in the entry way of my house. I want anyone who crosses my doorstep to know what love looks like. So, for me, I’ll never lose him at hello because my love was never about me in the first place.


Arden Recommends: Volunteering

Poverty. Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings, and between higher educational scores and higher earnings.Adult Literacy Facts

img_9693-jpgI first became aware of how low literacy cripples a person in 2004 when I began volunteering for an organization called Charlotte Reads.

I later became the director of this organization. Through it, I helped bring awareness of how important literacy is to a community’s overall health for years.

Many folks reached out to me for ways to plug into the effort. One of those people was Tonia Lyon. At the time, she worked at WBTV and volunteered for an up-and-coming church called Elevation.

She and I sat down at a local bookstore, she shared her story, the story of Elevation, and asked if Charlotte Reads would be willing to accept a donation from the church.

I said, “Of course!”

I didn’t realize to what I agreed. Within months I was at table with the leader of this church, Steven Furtick, and hearing his vision for giving to the Charlotte community. A few months after that I stood on a stage and accepted a check from the church on behalf of Charlotte Reads. I remember leaving the service early (I had to rush back to my home church because I was serving on the pastor search committee at the time) and thinking… that was pretty cool. I hope they make it.

Elevation Church is now one of the fastest growing churches in the world and Pastor Steven Furtick’s vision has led to million upon millions accepting Jesus as their Savior and constantly volunteering their time to communities across our nation.

You’d think, with the vastness of this church, there would be little time for the little guy; or little school as it were. But, Tonia and her beating heart of compassion wants to impact one school to help its students increase their reading levels. To be fair, her leadership impacts millions, but for some reason it’s the seemingly simpleness of this project that has captured my heart.

And I want it to capture yours too. I’d like to invite any of you who can, to serve as a volunteer for Blakeney READS.

Blakeney READS is an Elevation Outreach initiative to help Quail Hollow Middle School students succeed. More than 400 students at the Title One school in South Charlotte are behind in reading comprehension. Without support, these students are more likely to fail in other subjects like math, history, and science. Volunteers get paired up with a student serve just one hour per week for 14-weeks.

Please consider volunteering. Please share this post. In the coming months, I hope to find additional ways for us to support Blakeney READS. In the meantime, if you cannot volunteer your time, but would like to donate to it, please click here and I’ll make sure all the money gets to the church.

Let’s make Arden’s Book Club more than a great place to get book reviews for our own reading pleasure. Let’s be people of action and ensure all who want to read, can read.

Meet the Author Event

fanning-cover-1-1My book club friends,

My old boss, friend, and author of  A Passel of Hate and A Passel of Trouble Joe Epley will be at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille in Charlotte Tuesday, Jan. 10 from 6-8ish p.m. and you’re invited to meet him!

We’ll have tables reserved for a drop-in evening of fun and fellowship.

Joe will have books for sale and is happy to sign them for you. We hope to see you there!



Arden Reviews: Nobody by Marc Lamont Hill

img_0343Twenty years ago I read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and it changed me. It opened my innocent eyes to a world where a man lived every day and never felt seen. We never learn this man’s name. We simply know he’s black and poor. To himself, and the world around him, he’s nobody.

Yet, he’s always been somebody to me. And he’s caused others to question my motives, and me. The same year I read Invisible Man, I participated in a scholarship pageant called Junior Miss. I listed Invisible Man as my favorite book. One of the judges, a middle-aged black man, drilled me about the book. I remember him asking, “Why do you love it? Do you actually have any black friends? Would you ever go to their house?”

I remember looking at him shocked at his aggressive attitude toward me through his line of questioning. Even after all of these years, I’m not shocked at his actual questions as much as I’m shocked that he, a grown man, had the audacity to attack a teenager in that manner. He didn’t seem to see the opportunity before him that someone so young could be so ready to engage with, and change, the mindset of her white counterparts.

I wonder where he is now. I know he doesn’t remember me, but I remember him. I wish he could know this white woman continues to reach outside herself to attempt to learn more, be better, and bring understanding to all around her.

It’s one of the reasons why I read Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill.

An Arden’s Book Club supporter recommended it and upon reading the description (see below) I knew this book would be as important to my development as a person as Invisible Man. 

Book: Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond

Author: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Genre: Nonfiction, Government Social Policy

Basic Description: In Nobody, scholar and journalist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill presents a powerful and thought-provoking analysis of race and class by examining a growing crisis in America: the existence of a group of citizens who are made vulnerable, exploitable and disposable through the machinery of unregulated capitalism, public policy, and social practice. These are the people considered “Nobody” in contemporary America. Through on-the-ground reporting and careful research, Hill shows how this Nobody class has emerged over time and how forces in America have worked to preserve and exploit it in ways that are both humiliating and harmful.

To make his case, Hill carefully reconsiders the details of tragic events like the deaths of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Freddie Gray, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He delves deeply into a host of alarming trends including mass incarceration, overly aggressive policing, broken court systems, shrinking job markets, and the privatization of public resources, showing time and time again the ways the current system is designed to worsen the plight of the vulnerable.

Arden’s Thoughts:  I’ll admit, not everyone will like this book. You’ll come at it from your personal viewpoint. You’ll see various things, but I’m sharing with you what I saw… As I read Nobody, I believe he’s making a case to really look at the names in this book, not as characters, but as actual people; living, breathing people.

As I read Hill’s book, I continued to watch news reports of more men, more black men, being killed, and began to see a collective world move forward with a shoulder shrug. One sentence, heck a sentence fragment, sums up what I’m seeing: “Michael Brown’s life was taken with disturbingly casual ease.”

As I watch, as I read, as I simply live, I fear for my black friends. I fear we as a nation are becoming as immune to “another black man being killed” as we are to “another solider dying in service.”

Rest assured, as I write this review, I’m not attacking our police force, or any other collective group designed to product us. In my opinion, Hill’s book does not attack any group either. He simply calls us to look at the society that’s becoming numb to these deaths; numb to these actions.

Just as Ellison asks us to look at our fellow man in Invisible Man, Hill asks us to continue to look at that man or woman next to us as a person. Look in his or her eyes. Watch him or her breath. Realize beneath the superficial differences beats the same heart, bears the same lungs, and yields the same mind as you.

In the circumstance in which you find yourself with this other person, is his or her life less important than your own?