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.
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
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
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
End the Year with Real Christmas Joy
Our fallen world makes it hard at times to see the real Christmas joy God gives us through his son Jesus. But if we’re open to finding it in unusual places it will show up sometimes in surprising ways.
In the Christmas story found in Luke’s gospel, we read where an angel of the Lord, along with “the glories of the Lord,” appear to shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It scares them to death. But then the angel tells them not to be afraid because “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
Why joy is sometimes hard to find Why then does joy seem so hard to find sometimes, even at Christmas and the days that follow?
In his book Christmas Joy, Mel Lawrenz writes,
Real joy never originates from within; it must come from without. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a difficult time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie and you might enjoy it. Open a shiny package and you might delight in what you find inside. But joy itself - true and pure - is so much more than enjoyment.
Joy is the startling realization that God has claimed territory in this world. He has taken back what belongs to him. Every day we can remind ourselves of this revelation - reignite this joy again and again. Joy is a thirst that doesn’t want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It’s a good thing to never get enough of God.
He concludes with this prayer, Dear God, turn my fear into great joy.
A few years ago I talked in this podcast about an example of real Christmas joy coming from outside of ourselves, as Lawrenz puts it. It’s episode 006, “The Gift of Joy - Part 2.” I’ll have a link to it in the show notes. You can access it by going to johncertalic.com/006.
Summary of episode 006, The Gift of Joy - Part 2. To summarize that episode, I talked about
Melancholy Christmas carols Joy being more like a cat than it is a dog How joy often comes as a surprise The beauty found in several types of relationships brings joy Creating a welcoming place in our heart for joy to find us For today, I want to comment further on the YouTube video I mentioned in that episode. It is of a flash mob in a food court from a shopping mall in Ontario, Canada. I’ll also have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes, so you can watch it for yourself later. It’s really an uplifting piece and is only about 4 and ½ minutes long.
There is so much Christmas joy in that video that comes from outside of ourselves. In measured sequence, a group of people begin to stand up, and one by one start singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
It’s a very moving piece and the local media outlet thought so too, as they ran filmed it and ran it on a local TV station that night. We learn later that the stunningly beautiful voices were from members of a church choir in the area.
Reactions to real Christmas joy Here are a few quotes from people who watched on TV a replay of the live event
“I’m not a religious person, but I found this video to be beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes, well done!”
“You can clearly see people crying… This is the most intense video I have ever seen on YouTube”
“I was deeply touched by this great performance.”
“Just watching the video nearly moves me to tears.”
“Every time I watch this I get the holy goosebumps and tears in my eyes. So powerful! THANK YOU!! and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!”
“I haven’t been to Mass in years, and I’m bawling my eyes out right now.”
“I watch this recording over and over again, because of its overwhelming impact. The happiness on the faces of those people performing, but also to those listening!”
“Though I am an atheist, yet I find myself coming back to this video over and over again. I love beautiful music and even more, I love seeing people enjoy it. I think this is wonderful!!”
Words of joy The sacrifice this church choir made on a Saturday to entertain
Bonus Episode - The Christmas Story
The Christmas story is all about Jesus. Mary treasured all of its details in her heart, and thought about them often. May we do the same.
Make it a Mary Christmas this Year
The best way to have a Merry Christmas this year is to make it a Mary Christmas. Do what Mary, the mother of Jesus did. Observe, reflect, and ponder the joy of God saving us from ourselves. Listen in to learn how.
In the midst of all the busyness and activity of the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about how we can all enjoy Christmas a little better this year. For me, I find it restful to think back to that very first Christmas over 2,000 years ago.
The first Christmas Most of you know the story pretty well from the Bible. Joseph and Mary are in Bethlehem to be counted for a census. Mary is about to give birth, but there’s no lodging available. The town is packed with visitors.
Tradition has it that Jesus was born in a stable because Luke’s gospel makes reference to Jesus lying in a manager. What’s more likely though, is that he was born in one of the many shallow caves all around Bethlehem. I was there in the ‘80s on a Holy Land tour and saw several. Plenty of room for the manger, but the shepherds who visited probably gathered around the entrance to the small cave.
All of this is the backdrop to the climax of the story, where in Luke 2:19, we find this most soothing and reflective description of Mary,
…But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
I’m convinced that if we viewed our Christmas as Mary viewed hers, our hearts would be as calm as hers. Instead of a M-e-r-r-y Christmas, we can have a M-a-r-y Christmas.
Mary observes To make it a Mary Christmas we start by observing, as Mary did. I can picture her taking note of the humble housing her baby, the son of God, is been born into. So in keeping with Mary’s own humble origins.
Being a first-time mother, I imagine she observed a sense of inadequacy within herself. On the one hand, “how am I going to do this? I’ve never been a mother before?” And on the other hand, “I know I can count on God to show me how to do this. After all, this story is not about me; it’s about him.”
As any mother would, Mary watches her baby, and those relating to him. There’s her husband Joseph. This good man who led her on the 95-mile journey on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Then there were the shepherds who came in from the fields excited to see what the angels told them would be lying in a manger. The word “but” in “… but Mary”, indicates a contrast between her and the shepherds. How different they are from her. She’s a city girl, while they are people of the land. They live outside, she lives inside.
A Mary Christmas includes everyone The shepherds were strangers to Mary. They left their sheep in the fields to go see what the angel described to them that they would find in the manger
The shepherds were more the extroverted types, telling people in Bethlehem what the angels told them and what they saw, both from the “great company of angels” and what they saw in the manger.
Mary gives a more measured and introverted response in her “treasuring up” and “pondering” about the birth of Jesus. How wonderful of God to use people so different from each other to further his purposes. Extroverts and introverts, and all people in-between, have a place at the table when it comes to praising God for sending his son Jesus to save us all.
I wonder about you? What are you observing concerning Christmas this year? Is there anything new that God might want you to notice? Anything external in the world around you? Anything internal within your mind and heart.
Mary reflects Having made observations around her and within her, Mary reflects. As Luke puts it, she … treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart..
What are “all these things” that she treasured and pondered?
For starters, I imagine Mary treasured the time when the angel came to tell her she was going to give birth to Jesus, and all the implications of this miracle. And now what Gabriel told her has now come to pass.
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!