Team

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.

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]

May God bless your work and play partnerships!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TOOLS

Hospitality

Isten Hozott
Isten Hozott is a Hungarian phrase that is understood to mean “Welcome” but the literal translation is “God brought you”. Isn’t that a lovely way to think about the concept of hospitality?

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. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 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!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: LAYERS

If the Shoe Fits…

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Check out these boots!!!

I remember my mom taking us to the specialty shoe story because we all had wide feet and she believed in good shoes for growing feet. I am sure she had sticker shock every time she dragged us in there. The shoes had to fit us now but also be ready for us as we grew. Of course, it was anybody’s guess when the next growth spurt would happen and the hope was to be able to get several months out of the new footwear.

I always like to have a few different kinds of shoes, depending on my activity for the day. So I have my summer sandals, my zories, water shoes, walking shoes, dress up shoes, casual shoes for jeans, and rain boots. And I confess that I bought a pair of shoes because I thought they would be fun to wear in the summer with capris. Now I am embarrassed that I have listed off all those shoes; eight seems a little over the top!

Relationships can be similar to shoes. You likely have a number of them. Each relationship might have a different emphasis – one might be your walking buddy and one might be a work friend and one might be your “play” mate. Some fit in certain settings but not in every setting. And you might meet someone and hit it off immediately but after spending all day together you realize it isn’t a good fit after all. Or you find there isn’t any room to grow. Or they only like to party and you can’t do that all the time.

Chose your shoes and your relationships carefully. It is OK to be cautious on the front end and it is definitely OK to think it over if the relationship doesn’t seem to be a good fit. Others may try to warn you if it is obvious. And if that is what you hear, take heed. Every relationship takes time and energy. And not every relationship we find ourselves in is a good fit. That’s ok. In life there are many opportunities for healthy friendships but sometimes it takes time – trial and error, like trying on shoes at the shoe store.

The righteous choose their friends carefully,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray. [Proverbs 12:26 NIV]

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity. [Proverbs 17:17 NIV]

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [Proverbs 18:24 NIV]

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses. [Proverbs 27:6 NIV]

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice. [Proverbs 27:9 NIV]

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. [John 15:12-14 NIV]

I pray the relationships you’re in help you grow and remind you that you are His treasure!

On the way,

Liz

Sabotage

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Jesus in Tarcal, HungarDonDon’t be your own worst enemy!

Don’t be your own worst enemy!

If you have a lot of things in your life that you pull the plug on before anyone else does, you might want to dig a little deeper into the why. The time spent on soul searching is valuable. You might be chipping at it daily with devotions and study but sometimes it takes a bit more to uncover what is going on.

Participate in a Christ-centered weekend retreat: you will find you are not alone in your struggles and you might gain some useful tools and insights. God has a lot to say through others.

Schedule your own Christ-centered private retreat: if you get distracted by others and are at the point where you know you need to dig in on your own, do it! God has a lot to say all by Himself! Scouring Scripture can help you see where the “who I want to be” and “who I am” struggle is and you might better understand the “why” behind it.

Talk with a Christ-centered and trustedworthy friend and ask them what they see: but be prepared to hear some observations that surprise you. Their insights might be useful. You don’t have to agree with everything they have said and you don’t have to change everything the point out. But if you are ready for a little soul searching, a true friend is golden: they can see our intentions, our failures, and help us see how we are missing the mark.

We all struggle.

Ignoring it never works. If you are in a space where you don’t want to be and there seems to be a looming path ahead of you, it is likely time to set aside the time to work it out.

God forgives, renews, and restores but there is still consequences that we have to deal with. But knowing His forgiveness, restoration, mercy, grace, and renewal is there can give us the courage to face things we have been avoiding.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

Baby steps with friends!

Twow
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

Ironw

Tealeaves

tea2ew
Chinese Tealeaves!

I had some tea at my friend’s house the other day. I like tea but I had no idea how real tea really worked. I mostly just figured tea was tea. I never wondered about it, actually.

When my friend asked if I would like tea, she listed all the typical options. But then asked if I wanted real Chinese tea. She had been a missionary in Taiwan for over three years so she knew quite a bit more about how real tea worked. I was intrigued so that is what I chose.

tea1ew
These little guys are just a little bigger than a whole clove.

First she tossed a few of these little things in a special teacup with a filter. I like strong tea so it didn’t really look like enough but she assured me it was. Then we added some hot water. We dumped out the water after a couple of minutes and then added more boiling water. This was all new to me! But it was a necessary part of the process.

We were waiting for the tealeaves to open. It takes several minutes.

It turns out she had dumped in a few too many because as the tealeaves kept relaxing from their dried state they nearly filled the filter. But the tea was delicious. I kept adding more water to the leaves and they continued to provide me with tea.

I am surprised how dried and compact tealeaves are. They look so small and unassuming but then open up to be five times their size. It takes time for them to move from the dried state to being able to steep and provide flavor but once they are ready, they can provide multiple pots of tea. I know there is much more to learn about tea but I am glad to have added to my knowledge. I am sure my friend thought I was crazy because it was so interesting to me. I am glad she took the time to teach me some of what she knew about tea.

Dried tealeaves don’t look like much. The process of getting tea from them seems a bit like some events in life. Sometimes what you have to work with doesn’t seem like much but God transforms that “little bit” to be sufficient or even abundant!

Do you recall a time in your life where God’s provision was more than you imagined?

On the Road,
Liz

tea3ew
Steeping the leaves!

Why Don’t You GOOGLE It?

 

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Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Connecting

I’ll admit it: when I get curious about something, I often have lots of questions and I have a tendency to ask real people for their insight or about their experience. Since we moved to New York I don’t see a lot of different people in a day and I don’t get an opportunity for a variety of face-to-face conversations. I am very thankful for technology as it has made it easier for me to keep connected with my friends and family.

Have you ever wondered what book to read next and wondered who to ask and in a moment of impulse asked your friends on Facebook-land? If you have a variety of friends, you will likely get some wonderful and diverse answers to that question.

Go ahead, try it. You might discover some great books to tackle this year!

I am a part of a few different groups on Facebook and they are, for the most part, interesting and helpful. And there are times when I see the same question show up time and time again in my newsfeed and I think, “Why don’t you Google it?” But I don’t. Why? Because I think that is an “I am too busy to talk with you” answer. Sometimes, a question is a way to connect with another human being. Maybe you have a friend in a far away place and, yes, they can Google all they want with their Internet connection. But, really now, they can’t Google a friend.

Sometimes, group members will ask if someone is willing to share a tried and true family recipe for Stuffed Peppers. Invariably, someone will answer: “Just Google it.” or “Check the files.” Really? There are a ton of recipes out there. And, yes, just because one family likes it doesn’t mean another one will, but do you know how easy it is to get distracted by the depth and breadth of searching online for a recipe? Oi! The distractions are incredible!

Maybe I am wondering about essential oils or Trim Healthy Mama or I need to engage in conversation about something. I really don’t want to just see what Google has to say. Sometimes it is important to engage in dialogue. Tell me what you think about the subject matter.

Let’s have a conversation.

Let’s exchange ideas.

It isn’t always about simply accessing information. Sometimes it is about connection.

And, for the record, I think Google is a great tool. It just isn’t a substitute for conversations between people.