Renewing my mind

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Flowers in Hungary

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  [Romans 12:1-2a NIV]

Even though Eccelsiastes 1:9 tells us “there is nothing new under the sun” I am seeing some things I didn’t imagine I would see in my lifetime. I know that makes me sound like an old person. I don’t feel old but I am saddened and shocked by some of the ugliness I see these days. There has always been ugly behavior and I can’t focus on it because I will get disoriented and discouraged. The patterns of this world are sad.

I am in control of what my mind feasts on. If I am looking for the ugliness, I will surely find it. And if I am looking for the beauty, I will surely find that too. I believe we will find what we look for. That critical person you know who is always looking for the wrong in the world? They will surely find it. The person who hunts for the good in every person? They will surely find what they are looking for.

If I am going to get caught dwelling, let me dwell in positive and encouraging worlds and stories and with positive and encouraging people.  Some of my spots for encouragement and beauty are:

  • God’s Word
  • Nature
  • Art
  • Music
  • Family
  • Good friends
  • Heartwarming stories of love, sacrifice, and perseverance

Where do you look for beauty?

On the way!

Liz

 

Baby steps with friends!

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Yesterday I got together with my cousin for a little Hungarian cooking extravaganza. Her dad and my mom were first cousins and they were great friends. But those two have passed away and it is our opportunity to be cousins and friends! Since I moved to New York in 2013, we have been intentional about getting together as often as schedules have allowed. A few months ago we decided to get together at my home in Tuckahoe so we could do a little cooking.

Our main goal was to make szilvás gombóc (plum dumplings) but it isn’t the season for those little Italian plums so we had to come up with an alternate plan. We decided to make almás rétes (apple strudel) and gesztenyepüré (chestnut purée) —neither of which we have made before! But please don’t be concerned. We didn’t just eat desserts all day! We also made rakott krumpli, túrós csusza, and paprikás csirke (with homemade nokedli). Wow! We sure ate a lot!

Retes5wMy confession is that we did not make everything from scratch. I have made spaghetti sauce before but there is also some great spaghetti sauce in a jar. I definitely do not make my spaghetti noodles from scratch although I have done it. Once. I haven’t ever made the tortillas and taco shells when we have a Mexican meal so I am not above using some prepared things for convenience or speed. Sometimes, the main goal is to put food in the mouth! Someday, though, I will get brave enough to roll out my own strudel dough, but yesterday was not that day.

Baby Steps!

I have cooked a lot of different foods and I have had some great success over the years. But staring down at the phyllo dough (mind you, already prepared) and the filling ready-to-go (we used apples, raisins, and walnuts with a few other things) but I was just so nervous to put it all together.

I have no idea why.

Retes3wAll I can say is having friend along on the adventure is a great thing! My sweet cousin read several recipes in my cookbooks but also online and was quick to say “let’s Google that” if we were still unsure about a part of the process for all the things we cooked together. (Remember, we don’t have access to the family experts any longer so we just needed to get brave and not take ourselves too seriously.) She would patiently read, then read aloud, encourage me, and we finally decided that no matter how it looked in the end, all of the elements going into it were things we liked so it was going to taste great. We took turns buttering the dough and rolling it up and decided it was crazy easy. Why hadn’t we tried this before? But, there is no time like now! There are some things you just need to step out and try!

It is so nice to have a like-minded buddy in life!

ReteswThe rétes was so ridiculously easy to make and so wonderfully fresh when it came out of the oven that it will be a long time before I buy some at a pastry shop. Now that I have done it with assistance I think I might be able to do it on my own, but it sure won’t be as fun! My cousin and I thought of all the different kinds of fillings we could use! Her dad used to love káposzta (cabbage) in his rétes so it would seem fitting we would give that a shot next time. And she adores mák (poppy seed) in general and it’s wonderful in rétes so that will be on our list too. It was delicious with coffee for our afternoon break! And then we went on to tackle the rest of our list. Not everything looked pretty but it all tasted fantastic! And we had a great time working and playing and visiting about all kinds of things!

Do you have a special project that you would like to tackle? Find a friend! Do you have a friend who needs someone by their side as they work through something? Be a friend! We all have things to do that are much more fun with a friend. And the hard stuff? It is much better with a friend too. And if they are family members, even better! We had so much fun together we are planning another Hungarian food day in early May. We are hoping those Italian plums will be available so we can tackle the szilvás gombóc!

And, someday, I will tackle the dough for the rétes. I just need a little more time to get the courage.

Thanks, Cuz, for being by my side!

On the Road,

Liz

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A work in progress…

encouragewThe other day I made a very public mistake. You may not have noticed it. I certainly didn’t notice it because if I had, I would not have done it. I am not a perfectionist by any means but when I share information I want it to be accurate, properly spelled, and all that.

Almost the entire day had gone by and finally someone pointed out that I had made a mistake. Actually, I had made several. (Oh how I hate when that happens!) Immediately, I got to work to correct it! And, sadly, it took several tries. For whatever reason, the initial person to point out the error was not able to assist in the correction. However, another person stepped in to stick with me through the process with a lot of patience, she was very pleasant and helpful.

I want to be that kind of person!

A complete stranger stepped in to work with me. How thoughtful and kind! And I wondered, “Am I the one who just points out mistakes or am I the person who will patiently stick with someone as they get it together?” Good question! Sometimes I am both!

I have noticed in myself that there are times I have a lot of compassion for others and there are other times I am so incredibly impatient. Sometimes it has to do with the kind of day I had or the amount of free time I have to help another person. And, sadly, sometimes it has to do with the person I am in conversation with or, at the very least, my perception of the person.

Sometimes I am so stingy with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness!

But when I am on the receiving end of correction, am I approachable and teachable? Am I willing to listen to what someone has to say and consider it? Naturally, I am more willing to hear from someone I know and love and I know knows and loves me. But there are times a complete stranger, or even someone I don’t particularly like, has valuable insight for me. Can I hear it?

I have to practice receiving correction with grace and humility because it is not my inclination.  My first response is usually to be a little defensive but I have been working on that. There are numerous opportunities for me to improve on my response. What can I say? I am a work in progress!

Heavenly Father, give me your discernment when someone shares advice or correction with me. Lord, grant me discernment when I am inclined to share advice or correction with others! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

On the Road,

Liz

p.s. Can you tell I am having too much fun with Canva?

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PrayerPoints~ Monday, March 14th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 103

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise is holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits.

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5

When I am struggling — and there always seems to be some sort of thing I dread that is coming up — it is really important for me to focus on praising and thanking God for what He has done and recalling those things. Reminding myself of God’s provision in my life is so important..sometimes I have a crazy short-term memory!

I also think it is helpful to encourage others when they struggle to remember. There are times when life is hard and there seems to be no good choice out there. Remembering that God goes before and behind me and hems me in is sometimes hard when  I am caught up in a moment (or days) of discouragement.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Is there someone in your life who can use some encouragement today?

Below is another great Integrity Music Song. Enjoy!

PrayerPoints ~ Saturday, February 20th

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 10

“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”    Psalm 10:17-18

It may not always seem to be true, but God does hear our desires. God hears the cry of the oppressed. There are times I get impatient with the amount of time it takes for a resolution to come for those who are suffering. It seems like they suffer a lifetime of grief. Other times I take issue with how the situation gets resolved because it isn’t quite the way I imagined it should go.

But we do live in a sinful and fallen world. And while I have a busy imagination, I cannot even fathom how God is going to work most things out. Sometimes He works in an instant but oftentimes He works through years and generations. He has a much bigger picture in mind!

I believe that God also asks us to hear the desires of the afflicted, encourage them, and defend the fatherless and the oppressed. But how often are we just too busy with things to take the time to listen?

I have had an amazing opportunity and privilege to be home with our four kids as they were growing up. Even though life was very busy, I knew it would have been very difficult to fit in a full-time job and remain sane. We didn’t take yearly vacations and we don’t drive fancy new cars, but I always try to be intentional about listening and encouraging those who are traveling through a difficult time. I may not have any answers or be able to offer much in the way of assistance, but the listening part is important. Listening always gives me things to pray for.

As you go about your weekend, practice listening. If you have a tendency to mindlessly scroll through your cell phone while in conversation with others, set the phone down and try to really connect and hear. There are so many distractions available these days that make the hard job of listening to another’s pain easier to ignore but don’t be complacent about connecting with others. God wants us to be His hands and feet and share His Good News of His saving grace but we often need to listen first to make a good connection!

 

Routine…

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Predictable…Consistent….Reliable….

It’s the New Year and as I evaluate where I have been and where I am going I feel like I could use some more routine in my life. I seem to go in spurts of focus and that takes a toll on my consistency. Of course, we just came off of a wild year so I am craving a little predictability, I suppose. I don’t do a load of laundry every day to keep up with it. I typically do a day of laundry so I can focus on it. [Really, who am I kidding? Don usually does the laundry now…] But when I was doing laundry I tried to get it all done in a day because it was easier to focus on getting it all done in one day instead of a little every day.

I don’t know how this idea of routine will work for me. And I surely won’t do this in every area of my life but I will in two areas for sure and one of them is PrayerPoints. I have weighed the pros and the cons of the 40 days of Lent posts against a weekly consistency for a couple of years. The truth is, I like focusing on it for 40 days and leaving it up to chance (and, consequently, minimal posting the rest of the year). With my mind very intentionally focused for those 40 days, I feel like I could easily write 100 PrayerPoints because there are so many things that lead my mind down that path. But I don’t like that I don’t ponder quite as much (nor commit to paper as much) during the rest of the 325 days.

This year I will embark on a new routine! On Sunday or Monday of each week I will post a PrayerPoint. In the end, I am only committing to 52 PrayerPoints vs 40 PrayerPoints. it’s hardly an increase. But switching it up will switch up my routine. And I feel like that is something I need right now. It will help me to practice being consistent.

As you think about the routines in your life you certainly will find some that should stay, some that should be eliminated, and some that should be initiated. I challenge you to think about one area you plan to be intentional about this year and whisper it to someone you trust. Let them cheer you on and help you dust off the dirt if you fall. Sharing your journey–the good and the bad–the encouragement and the disappointment–is one of the blessings on being here on this Earth at the exact same moment as the others in your life! Then set about charting your course for success by making a plan. Allow yourself for some grace and take it one step at a time!

And when you are ready to make your whisper a shout, I would love to know what you are working on this year!

PrayerPoint ~ The Mouth ~ February 29

PrayerPoint ~ The Mouth

I speak up when I shouldn’t and don’t when I should. When really frustrated or angry I have used words like weapons. I am guilty of saying things that are true, but not helpful or necessary. And if I have really blown it, I relive my verbal sin in the dark of the night and feel sick in the pit of my stomach.

Just because I think it doesn’t mean I should say it.

We have all been hurt by someone else’s words. And intentionally or not, we have all wounded others. I try to give a lot of grace to others in this department because I know just how often I make mistakes myself. I find if I just take some extra time before I respond in an unkind way, the moment often passes, I say nothing and I have retained my integrity. I sleep better on those nights.

Heavenly Father, My words can tear down and they can also build-up. Help me to think more soberly before I speak and measure my words carefully. Let the words that come out of my mouth be encouraging and edifying. May my words be praise for You and the works You have done in my life! In Jesus’ Name…

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 NIV

Contemplating the words I say,
Liz