I am thrilled to have two grandbabies added to our family since May and so I have been extra introspective about a lot of things, particularly in how one is “wired”!
The fun (and sometimes frustration) in learning about a new person in your life is understanding them. What are their needs? What makes them tick? What is their communication style?
We all have a lot of people in our daily lives and some people fit with us so easily while others take some getting used to. When I am in the midst of figuring someone out, it helps me to remember that we are all knit together, created by God — even those people that take a lot of effort for me to connect with.
If you have tiny new people in your life, enjoy the process of getting to know them. Pray for them. Love them in the way you know how but don’t be afraid to learn new ways to love!
When my brother was younger he was very industrious and energetic and it was a challenge to keep up with him. He also always had a “catchphrase” that he would use for at least a year. One of them was RESPONSIBILITY. He would say it loudly and then go on to explain to anyone around him, often my kids, what it meant to be responsible. He was a hard worker and he still is. And he always has little nuggets of wisdom for his nieces and nephews and his own children.
One of my favorite memories is when his “catchphrase” was TEAM. He would always say “Together Ernie Achieves More!” If we would just all work together, we could help him get to his goal. What a funny guy!
Teamwork is always about working together but rarely about us doing the exact same job. We each have our own specialties and roles needed to accomplish the goal – and we need to recognize and value each of the roles. The best team is where there is trust and adequate skills for the task and good communication.
But being on a team isn’t always easy. People have different styles of work as well as different paces. Working out the differences in opinion and approach are important. Valuing the different perspectives is also important. As the process moves along it is important not to trample on people just to get to the end goal. Good relationships are important when working on a team.
But, be careful with whom you partner! Sometimes an
assignment is made and we don’t have a say in the matter. But other times, we
definitely have a choice. Naturally, we can’t know everything about a person
before we team up with them but for those lifetime partnerships, it is
important to take time to observe them in a variety of situations, spend time
in conversation, and connect with them over time. Also, introducing them to
family and friends can help get a larger picture of how they interact with the
other important people in our lives.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. [Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV]
Effort doesn’t always equal accomplishment. Have you tried
something with all your might and been unsuccessful?
Sometimes the point of the task is whether we even tried — making
the effort is actually the goal.
Other times, the point is to complete the task. To be
finished. To move through the steps and then, presto! You are done.
Other times the goal is to finish the task so it is the best it can be, whether or not you have limitations.
Once my husband had a boss who tried to set the office goals 10% higher than the previous year. There were no additional resources in the way of people or budgets, just a higher goal — expecting more effort (and results) from everyone.
Sure, we can probably all work a little harder and make a stronger effort.
Unfortunately, this boss was unsatisfied with the progress that was made (indeed, progress was made) and the very next year asked for another 10% increase in effort and accomplishment from everyone. Of course, they did not offer a budget increase or additional personnel, just more effort and, technically, less resources than the previous year. Also, no increase in salaries.
People can kick it into high gear for deadlines and special projects but to be at high delivery all the time is unreasonable. And it means there is less of you in other important places, like home and family. Isn’t there more to life than work? Isn’t an employee better in the field if they have a work/life balance?
You can ask for more and more effort but it doesn’t mean the positive results will be seen.
Effort is like energy — we only have so much to give and then there is a need to refuel by gaining new skills and training or by letting the mind and body rest. You need energy to give your best effort. And while rewards along the way can help with motivation, there is still only so many hours in the day.
And there are still no guarantees of success.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. [Colossians 3:23-24, NIV]
While I agree with this verse, take caution that you aren’t involved in an unhealthy system that routinely asks more and more of its people. Unfortunately, the church can be one of the greater offenders in this arena. If your personal time is dwindling because of the routine requests of your employer, it might be time to make an exit plan!
I have been on both sides of hospitality – as the giver and as the receiver.
When I hear someone is coming by to visit for a cup of coffee, a meal, or an overnight (or two) it is an exciting addition to my life! I truly enjoy the preparation and the anticipation of the opportunity to have a chance to sit down, chat, and catch up on life. It makes my day! It is also a great excuse to clean a little deeper than normal — I love a fun excuse to tidy up the house.
When we are traveling, we often get the opportunity to meet up with or even spend the night with friends and family. This part of hospitality is also exciting for me – It is fun to explore different areas of the country but I love to have that time where it is just 2-4 people who can connect on a deeper level about how life is really going. These days it seems to be about health issues, aging parents, grandchildren, and the hectic pace of life but faith and what God is doing in our lives always seems to come to the forefront.
But, digging a little deeper in hospitality – it isn’t always about hosting those we know. Hospitality is also the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of strangers.
Can you recall a time when you were not greeted with a generous reception? When it was made clear you did not belong? I don’t want to dredge up old, yucky feelings but remembering how that felt will (hopefully) encourage you to do what you can to generously welcome others who land in your space. You may not be called to open up your home, but you might have the opportunity to engage in a friendly conversation or provide resources for connecting or a cup of water, an ear for listening or even more for someone traveling through your life.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. [Hebrews 13:1-3, NIV]
May we treat those around us to feel as though “God brought them” because He surely did bring them into our lives!
Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.
Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.
We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.
And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.
Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.
Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.
Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.
I can’t dwell there.
Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
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!
My 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.
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.
All 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!
The 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.