You were made for fulfilling relationships. Listen each week to stories of people finding hope and encouragement in their relationships so that you can too. Host and award-winning author John Certalic, together with his guests, share principles of life-giving relationships.
John’s relationship story starts with his birth to a single mother and placement in foster care for the first 16 months of his life. From this comes four different careers, 50 years of marriage to the same wife, and much he has learned about relationships. John draws from all this, along with inspiring stories from his guests, to share how you can find more fulfillment in the relationships you were made for.
Why Should I Listen to This Podcast?
Do yourself a favor and listen to this podcast to get the most out of the relationships God places in your path. You’ll be inspired to see the joy in them in new and refreshing ways.
When I started this podcast in late 2018 there were about 500,000 podcasts. Today there are over 2 million. It raises the question, with all of these podcasts available to listeners like you, why listen to THIS one? Back in 2018 I answered this question in the very first episode, number 001“Six Reasons to Listen to You Were Made for This.”
But now, 138 episodes and six seasons later, it’s time to revisit this question. What’s in it for you, the listener, to listen to THIS podcast, when you have so many other choices of how to spend your time?
Our basic premise The basic premise of this podcast hasn’t changed, but during the past three years, I’ve seen more than ever the importance of relationships in our daily lives. They can bring us great joy. Or they can bring us great heartache - and everything in-between.
Relationships are like molecules of oxygen, because relationships are everywhere, even when we’re not thinking about them. We can’t escape them if we’re living human beings. We have relationships with people, obviously. But we also have a relationship, with organizations, with our circumstances, with time and places, with God, and even a relationship with our self.
Listen to this podcast to help make these relationships the best they can be.
The very first relationship ever Relationships started with God, and the three persons of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was the very first relationship. Since we are made in the image of God, good relationships reflect His character. To experience the life-giving relationships God intends for us, this podcast draws from what God says in the Bible about all manner of relationships.
This podcast targets people of faith because what God says about relationships is foundational to living the most fulfilling life possible. If you’re not a person of faith, that’s fine. Our goal is not to turn you into one. Godly principles of relationships work for both the believer and non-believer.
When you listen to this podcast you’ll learn how to apply biblical principles to your relationships. For example, Episode 51, “More Than the Music” is about the relationship principles the Apostle Paul explains in Romans 12. It’s about how we are to relate to God, to others, and to ourselves. He explains how our relationships are a form of worship. I’ll have a link to this episode, and others I mention today, at the bottom of the show notes for you to check out later. It and the others will give you a taste of what You Were Made for This is all about.
We help you to make your relationships the best they can be You may have come across this idea several times before, “we were made for relationships.” Yet how many of us were taught how to actually do what we were made for? For many of us when it comes to relationships, we don’t know what we don’t know about them. But if you listen to this podcast you’ll learn.
For most relationship skills are learned. So we talk a bunch about developing relationship skills. Most of us already have some relational skills, we just need to get better at it. And as with any skill; it takes practice. When you listen to this podcast, we show you what to practice and how to practice.
For example, episodes 011 - 014 are about the four levels of relationship skills, with examples of how you can move from level 1 up to level 4.
And there’s one of our favorite topics and recurring themes. Listening. It comes up in many episodes because it’s such an important factor in nurturing life-giving relationships. Episode 112, “Three Ways to Listen Well in 2021,” is just one example devoted to all this important relational topic
Our podcast format The format we follow in this podcast is all about what is best for you. We respect your t
Two Relational Benefits to a Thank You Note
A thank you note benefits both the recipient and the writer. It reminds the writer of blessings received, and it motivates the recipient to bless others again. A written thank you note is a great way to deepen your relationship with someone.
Last year’s “Make it a Relational New Years Resolution” I first mentioned this a year ago in episode 087, “Make it a Relational New Years Resolution.” It was about resolving to do something kind, caring, or thoughtful for people during the course of the year to the extent you would receive a thank you note for what you did. I’ll have a link to this episode at the bottom of the show notes.
I was ready to move on today with another relational resolution for this year to talk to you about. But before doing that, I thought we should look back at the results of last year’s relational resolution. Before the future, consider the past and present.
I was surprised by what I learned when I did this for myself. I’ll share what I discovered because it can help you in considering a way to add depth to your relationships here in the New Year.
Why a written thank you note? By way of review, to receive a written “thank you” note, you had to do something pretty meaningful for someone to make the effort to show their appreciation in this way. For our purposes, it had to be in writing. Electronic communication didn’t count, nor did verbal expressions of gratitude.
In the age we live in, where electronic communication is the norm, for someone to use older technology like writing a note, requires a lot more of that person.
After I received a thank you note or card last year, I read and dated them, and then placed them in a folder.
Observations about the 2021 “thank you” cards I received From a scrap of paper to a linen parchment card, no two were the same. I’ve gotten identical birthday cards and Christmas cards, but no duplicate thank you notes. I received 5 thank you notes that mentioned appreciation for this podcast. I doubt if any of you have a podcast, but I’m sure a lot of you are doing things you enjoy that benefit other people. Several couples, and two single people we invited for dinner at our house, sent us written thank you notes. Thank you notes for birthdays and high school graduation gifts were the next most common. Two missionary couples who stayed with us a week to 10 days or so thanked us in writing. A friend of ours was sick with Covid, so Janet picked up groceries for her family and I delivered them. We received thank you notes from three teenage boys, all for high school graduation gifts. And they were most tender expressions of gratitude. Their parents raised them well! One person, a donor to our Caring for Others ministry, wrote at least 3 thank you notes over the course of last year. Here he was sending donations to us, and at the same time thanking us for our ministry in quite specific terms about what he was grateful for in what we do. A sampling of thank you notes received I feel a little uncomfortable reading these because they paint Janet and me in a good light, which you would think would happen in a thank you note. A more well-rounded picture would come from complaints people have about us.
But my only purpose in sharing them is to give you ideas of what you can do to impact the lives of people, to make a positive difference, to the point they will go to the trouble of thanking you in writing.
A secondary purpose is to give you ideas of HOW to thank people, as you listen to how people thanked Janet and me last year for one thing or another. Here’s the first one.
Just a quick note to say “Thanks” for your friendship over the years! Knowing you guys and being able to LEAN on you at times gives us confidence in His Grace!… Mostly I just wanted to make sure we get something in your 2021 pile of thank you notes.” ~ L. & J.
O.K., so this is clergy appreciation month! Although I consider you a friend you are also my clergy phon
One Simple Way to Brighten Someone’s Day
You will brighten someone’s day when you initiate with them, letting them know you’re thinking about them, and wondering how they are doing. Simple acts like this go a long way to deepening a relationship. Listen in.
Help Needed Before we get into today’s show I could use your help with something. I’ve been asked to give a Zoom presentation at the end of February to the Legacy Coalition, a Christian Grandparenting organization. It’s not finalized yet, but I think I’m going to give a talk on memories that Grandparents can create for their grandchildren.
As part of this, I would so like to share any memories you are willing to share of memories your grandparents created for you. They can be from when you were a child, or as an adult. It would be interesting and encouraging to hear any stories like this from you. It might even turn into a future podcast episode.
Please send it to me in an email to john [at]caringforothers [dot]org.
On to today’s program.
A relational word to focus on for 2022 Have you ever had one of those gray, dull days where things going on in your life match the dreary overcast weather of the middle of winter? But then suddenly out of nowhere, something happens to lift your spirits?
Today’s episode is about something simple we can do to brighten someone's day, which in turn will brighten our own.
Because of several unrelated texts and emails, I stumbled upon one simple way to brighten another person’s day. Here it is: initiate with someone. Yes, initiate.
I know some of you like coming up with a word or goal to focus on for the new year. If that’s the case with you, “initiate” would be a good choice. Initiate by taking the first step in connecting with someone.
Here’s the first example I stumbled upon Back in December of last year, there was a horrific display of evil in our community. It even made the national news here in the US. During an annual Christmas parade through the quaint downtown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a man drove his SUV right down the middle of the parade. Starting from the rear, he plowed through marching bands, other parade participants, and spectators. Six people were killed, including an 8-year old boy. Over 60 others were injured and hospitalized. It was horrible.
This happened on a Sunday. The next day the school was canceled in Waukesha. One of the donors to the sponsor of this podcast, Caring for Others, has a high school senior in that school system. I happen to know this young man through his parents and I wondered if he was affected by this trauma.
A text to initiate contact So without giving it a second thought I texted him with this:
ME: I am thinking about you today, given the Christmas parade tragedy of yesterday. I heard school is canceled today. I’m wondering how you’re doing with all that happened. Did you know anyone who was hurt?
HIM: I’m doing okay, thank you for thinking of me. I wasn’t at the parade but I know people who saw it happen and everyone’s a little stressed about it. I know one person who got hit by the SUV but no serious injuries on his part.
ME: I’m glad to hear you’re okay. It’s certainly a terrible tragedy, certainly for those injured or worse, and for those like your friends who saw it happen.
HIM: Yeah, thank you for checking on me though it means a lot.
I was a little surprised at first that my simple spur-of-the-moment text meant a lot to him. But as I re-read his reply to my text it struck me how he appreciated the fact I was thinking of him in the context of this terrible event. Thinking about what he might be dealing with prompted me to initiate with him through a simple text. Who of us wouldn’t feel good knowing someone else was thinking about us in the midst of a difficult situation.
A second example of initiating to brighten someone’s day Last Thanksgiving our daughter living in South Carolina was in a particularly grateful mood and sent me a text that read
I am thankful for you
One Gracious Blessing After Another
Real joy is seeing Jesus, from the abundance of his grace, release one gracious blessing after another to each of us. We don’t work for any of it because it’s all grace. Listen in to learn how it can happen to you.
Have you ever noticed how God is gracious with you, sometimes in an unexpected way? Today’s episode is about a recent blessing I witnessed that I think will encourage you. It’s a blessing with several layers to it. So keep listening; you’re going to like this one.
Computer problems A few months ago I realized I needed to replace my aging laptop computer, not so much because of the age itself, but because of problems with the keyboard.
The “a” key was the first to go. I couldn’t read it and many times had to press it several times before it would register on the screen. A computer technician recommended replacing the keyboard because he said the other keys will eventually do the same thing. Without boring you with the details, he said I’d be without my laptop for 10 days to 2 weeks to make the repair. I opted instead to replace just the “a” key, and there was no downtime at all.
But now the “a” key is doing it again, along with the “e, d, and c” keys which are no longer legible. Plus the cursor seems to have a mind of its own when I’m editing. Rather than paying to repair this older computer, and the downtown that comes with it, it’s time to replace it.
So I sent a letter to people on the mailing list for our missionary care ministry, Caring for Others. It’s the organization that sponsors this podcast. People on the list had donated to our ministry in the past, and I asked them to pray that funding would come in to replace my computer.
A blessing from an unlikely source Very generous people believe in what we are doing and the checks started coming in. One in particular stands out that came with a Christmas card at the end of December from a missionary by the name of Ann. Janet and I are always encouraged whenever another missionary supports the work we do out of their limited resources. Listen to what Ann wrote to us:
Dear John and Janet,
I hope this finds you well! Thank you for your recent letter! I understand needing a new computer. Mine was 10 years old and just replaced it over Thanksgiving break. God blessed with the provision for it!
So, I in turn, would like to bless you with a gift towards your replacement. Thank you so much for all you do and may our Lord bless you.
Have a blessed Christmas,
Her note and sizable check, I might add, humbled me. Her aging computer was older than mine. Yet she wanted to share out her limited missionary resources with us. She truly did bless us.
Blessings pointing back to Jesus Her note and check brought me back to what the Apostle John said about Jesus in his gospel, chapter 1, verse 16:
“From the abundance of the fullness of his grace, we have received one gracious blessing after another.”
So how did Ann bless us? Certainly, on the surface it was her generous check to help pay for a new computer that blessed us.
A deeper blessing But I see a deeper blessing in her note to us. Ann had the same need I had, maybe even a greater one, which helped her more easily understand my need. Her need made her more sensitive to mine. It’s interesting how that works.
She saw how God had blessed her with provisions of a new computer for herself, and that inspired her to be a channel of a gracious blessing to benefit Janet and me. A blessing that comes out of the abundance and fullness of God’s grace. One blessing after another.
In reading Ann’s note, I sense a lot of joy. I can’t help but smile thinking about the blessing she’s feeling. Not only does God bless her with a new computer for herself, but he also uses her to bless us. It all comes from the abundance of the fullness of his grace. One gracious blessing after another.
Like Ann, it’s inspiring to be God’s agent in blessing others. Where we reflect the
Initiate with People to Enrich Our Life - Part 1
You’ve heard this before, everyone has a story. When we take the time to initiate with people to hear their story it enriches our lives. And theirs, too. Today’s episode is an example of initiating with someone and the benefits in doing so. Listen in.
My first boss I met my wife in high school in 9th grade. We didn’t talk to each other much until our junior year when she was co-editor of our school newspaper. Things took a big leap forward when she asked me to write a humor column for the Campus Courier. So when I started writing my column, “Off the Beaten Path,” Janet became my boss. My first boss. Carol’s my boss too, but Janet’s been my boss the longest. I get them both a Boss’s Day card every October 16th.
Janet’s editorial skills and experience came into play the other day after she listened to episode 140, about thank you notes. She liked the examples I gave in that program from my own life of doing good for others to the extent people thank you for it. She said
“If you’re going to tell people what to do in their relationships you have to be doing the same thing yourself.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. I knew I had to do something related to episode 141 about the relational resolution I suggested for this year: initiate with people. Since I’m recommending this to others I need to do it myself.
Practice what I’m preaching So I decided to initiate with one of our previous podcast guests, Josephine, a missionary serving in Eastern Europe. Her real name isn’t Josephine, but for security reasons in her part of the world, I’m calling her that. And also because “Josephine” was the name of my grandmother who was born in Eastern Europe and emigrated to the US when she was 18.
As you listen in to my Zoom conversation with Josephine, see what ideas you can pick up for having a similar conversation with someone that YOU initiate with. Our conversation begins at about the 3:10:00 mark with me reminding Josephine of the last time we talked. Listen in.
[I’m sorry, there is no transcript available. Please listen to the podcast]
At about 6:32 into the interview I want to stop her for a moment. What Josephine said about where she feels most comfortable often comes as a surprise to people here in the States who have limited exposure to missionaries. Another missionary once told me he feels like a fish out of water when he comes back to the US from Southeast Asia where he serves. We often assume missionaries can’t wait to get to America because of all the creature comforts we enjoy here. It’s often not like that, as Josephine points out.
Back to our conversation at about 7:12 into the interview I’ve got to interject here for a moment. Isn’t this a great example of the benefits of initiating with people? Expressing her gratitude to 3 older adults for the positive impact they had on her life. She intentionally wanted to spread a little joy in the lives of her former teachers. What a kind and caring gesture on Josephine’s part. And notice that she said, “it was a huge gift for me, and for them, too.” That’s the way it often is when we initiate with people. It does become a huge benefit to us.
Our conversation resumes near the 11:34 mark Asking someone how they came to be whatever they are doing now is one way to initiate with people. It’s something you can start asking people you want to go deeper with in your relationship. More often than not people will have an interesting story to tell. And many times their story will have God’s fingerprints all over their story. So give it a try, ask someone what led them to do what they’re doing now. It will encourage the person you’re talking to, and you could very well be encouraged yourself.
I pick up with Josephine at about 16:34 What great answers to my questions about how she became a Christian, and then how she was led into missions serving in Eastern Europe. Don’t you just love her honesty and seeing how God di
Initiate with People to Enrich our Life - Part 2
Deeper relationships develop when we initiate with others. It can lead to great conversations that look like dancing the waltz on a ballroom floor. The other person leads and you follow. Then you lead and they follow. It’s a thing of beauty. In both cases our lives are enriched. Listen in to learn how.
Picking up where we left off in last week’s episode In Last week’s episode, no. 143, I wanted to demonstrate the relational New Year’s resolution I suggested in episode 141. Namely, initiate with people. So I contacted a previous guest on this podcast, a missionary serving in Eastern Europe by the name of Josephine. It isn’t her real name, but for security reasons in her part of the world, I’m calling her that.
I initiated with her to give you some ideas of how you could do the same thing with people in your life. I found our conversation interesting and encouraging as I learned more of her story and how God has been leading her and caring for her. But we ran out of time last week, so I want to finish sharing our conversation with you today. If you missed the start of our chat from last week I’ll have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes.
In that episode, I interjected a few observations as we went along. Today, however, I share those observations at the end.
So let’s get into today, beginning with a question I asked about Josephine about the people she lives and works with in Eastern Europe.
[I’m sorry, but there’s no transcript of our conversation. To listen to the episode go to the top of the page and click on the gold play button in the white circle next to the episode title]
The end wasn’t the end Wasn’t that interesting? [i.e., the guest interview] It sure was for me, especially near the end.
There was a period of awkwardness for me where it seemed like I had run out of questions to ask Josephine. Thinking we were about finished, I asked her, “are there any last thoughts or things you have to say?” In other situations, people will often say something along the lines of, “No, I think we’ve covered everything.”
But this is when the conversation changed and Josephine took over and said something along the lines of
“In terms of relationships, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately….”
To my way of thinking it became the richest part of our time together where she talked about her feelings of saying goodbye to people, grieving relationships that end, and the challenge that brings. And even the opportunities it creates. Josephine had a lot to say about this topic.
A listening waltz When our conversation took a turn more to the heartfelt it reminded me of an important listening principle, that good listening is like dancing a waltz. One person leads, the other person follows. In the beginning, I was leading, and Josephine followed. She followed well. But then she took over and started to lead by sharing her reflections about relationships, that were independent of anything I asked before. And I just followed her around the listening ballroom dance floor.
Watching people waltz is a thing of beauty, and being part of a really good heartfelt conversation is a thing of beauty, too. You lead for awhile, your partner follows. Then they lead and you follow. What a privilege it is to both lead, AND follow someone else’s line of thinking and feeling. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Good conversations leave you wanting more. My interaction with Josephine reminds me that when we initiate with others, a really good conversation will leave you wanting to know more. And the great thing is wanting to know more about the other person is how relationships deepen and how it enriches our lives. For example, with Josephine, I’d like to know more about
Her two friends who left in January (we recorded the episode in Mid-December) What were they like? What will she be looking for in new friends to fill in the gap of this loss? I’d like to know more about what Josephin
Necessary for growth
John your podcast is encouraging. Relationships are necessary to improve and grow into the places we can't get to personally. It is just necessary to develop a greater depth of empathy in our interactions with each other. Your voice communicates that you trulty care. Thank you for your encouragement.
It’s All About Relationships
It’s true! It’s all about relationships. And isn’t this the most important aspect of anyone’s life? John’s perspective on relationships makes me stop and reflect on how I can improve my own. He has such a clear understanding, and a winsome way of sharing and identifying with his audience, that I always feel engaged with his topics, and later find ways to incorporate these concepts into my own personal conversations with others. Thank you, John. And please keep up the good work!
Thoughtful Help on Building Better Relationships
John has such an engaging way of presenting practical tips on building relationships. Sometimes we all need quick reminders of relational "best practices" to encourage us and help us understand how even difficult relationships can be improved. John consistently delivers that and more in his weekly podcast!