Looking for the Label? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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One of the first things you want to do in the kitchen is label stuff.  When you don’t, you’re in for trouble. Some things look almost the same, but are actually very different.

White vinegar, bleach and ammonia are all thin, clear liquids commonly found in the kitchen. So, if you have an unlabeled bottle filled with clear liquid, it’s hard to know exactly what it is. If you mix it with a little olive oil, you have a 33% chance of coming up with salad dressing. You also have about a 67% chance of needing to have your stomach pumped.

Actually, things wouldn’t go that far. Minus the label, you’d probably be smart enough to test the stuff to determine exactly what it is. This takes some thinking, though. Let’s see, you could dab a bit in your hair: if it doesn’t go white, then it’s probably not bleach. You could give the stuff a good sniff: if it makes your head feel like it’s about to explode, and brings torrents of tears to your eyes, then it’s probably ammonia. Other look-alikes that aren’t taste-alikes: sugar and salt; flour, cornstarch and baking soda. If they weren’t labeled we’d have to figure out what’s what.

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this article. But their expressions are priceless.

Some things look different but are quite similar. White pepper is just as peppery as regular black pepper; and a brown egg tastes the same as its paler counterpart — both make a nice omelet. But brown eggs are brown, and white pepper is usually labeled as such. Face it, in the the kitchen, we NEED our labels. When things are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to test or figure stuff out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

One of the last things you want to do is label PEOPLE.  When you do, you’re in for trouble. Some people look almost the same, but are actually very different. Some people look different but are quite similar. So we need to figure out what’s what — or rather, who’s who. Face it, in the the kitchen, we need our labels. When it comes to people, we WANT our labels. When people are labeled we don’t have to think; we don’t need to try and figure them out. We can relax and turn our brains off.

Avoid the temptation: don’t label people! We need to approach every person as a unique individual — not as someone we’ve prejudged, categorized and labeled. Some of the labels we resort to out of laziness include: black, white, Asian, male, female, Republican, Democrat, good, bad, thin, fat, smart, and blonde. (Aha, see how stupid labels sound?)

Black-eyed peas, green peas, yellow peas, crowder peas, snap peas, snow peas, split peas…. Peas NEED labels. People don’t.

Labeling people is easier than getting to know them. Labeling people gives us an excuse to either interact with them or simply dismiss them. Labeling people limits our own options and demeans the person being labeled. It’s counterproductive — and it’s destructive.

Since labels help us keep “stuff” in its proper place, we assume that labeling people will help us do the same. We mark people as stupid or wise, helpful or worthless, givers or takers, etc., etc.! More times than not, our labels are incorrect. That blonde is a brain surgeon, the guy in the raggedy jeans is a business tycoon, the little old lady in the drugstore is a champion mud wrestler, those two suspicious-looking dudes staking out your neighborhood are Mormons, and that geeky kid with the thick glasses — the one who looks like the next Apple CEO — well, he’s just extremely nearsighted.

Gender, ethnicity (we never use the term race as a distinguishing characteristic, because we all belong to the same race: the human race), political affiliations, economic status, geographic origin, educational background and religious belief should never be used to label and limit people.

Do you like being labeled and categorized? Nobody does. We sure don’t. We never like it when someone feels they have us pegged, that they know what makes us tick and what we can and cannot accomplish. But we make allowances for these label-makers, “for they know not what they do!” We also try our best not to follow their example. Labels are for peas and pepper — not people.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28  KJ 2000)

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:9 NLT)

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How to Make Friends and Be POPular (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Why do some people make friends more easily than others? For that matter, why are some people more likable than others? Tough questions. Before we discuss these issues, let’s take a break and pop the top on an ice-cold can of soda.

Did you know that Coca-Cola goes all the way back to 1886? Like a lot of sodas, Coke was initially sold in drug stores, because at the time, people strongly believed that carbonated water was beneficial to health. We doubt nutritionists would agree with this today — but carbonation does have some soothing qualities. Besides being thoroughly refreshing, a cold ginger ale can calm an upset stomach. An icy bottle of Pepsi on a hot summer’s day is sublime. Mountain Dew is a great pick-me-up and is extremely popular these days; but when we were kids, nothing could beat a Coke! “Things go better with Coke” — even if this is the “Pepsi Generation”!  Actually, we now drink Diet Rite. (When we’re not drinking water, God’s health beverage.) Every calorie counts, you know.

All these drinks have one thing in common. They’re bubbly. Effervescent. Fizzy. Most people enjoy bubbly drinks. The fizz adds pizzazz. One thing’s for sure, when the fizz is gone, the soda is far less palatable. And when cola goes flat … yuck, it’s worse than Kool-Aid. We’d rather do without than drink a flat soda. A can of pop with no pop has far less to offer. Again, those little bubbles tickle our senses. We love the effervescence!

People are like cola. When they’ve lost their effervescence — their enthusiasm, their excitement toward life — when their personality and outlook on the world go flat, they’re far less tolerable. Most of us love to hang out with bubbly people, so bubbly people make friends more easily. They have a sparkling personality that comes from a positive attitude and a contagious enthusiasm.  Such people become very POPular!  When we’re around them, we feel encouraged, uplifted, and invigorated.

On the other hand, the bad attitudes and sour dispositions of people who’ve gone “flat” can be hard to swallow. No one enjoys being around a negative or bitter person. Why would we? Do you have a “woe is me” family member with the ability to rain on your every parade? Have you ever dealt with a coworker who knew any given project was “doomed to failure” before it even got started? Have you ever visited an “all gloom and doom” friend, and afterwards felt like you were ready to commit suicide? “Flat” friends and family are no fun. Their fizz is all gone. All that’s left is the nasty Kool-Aid of their bleak outlook on life — and who wants to drink that?

What’s our point? We need to try and be tolerant of these folks. We often can help lift their spirits. Inject some fizz back into their lives. BUT we don’t want to BE these folks! We want to be POPular (in a good way), bubbly, encouraging, uplifting, crisp, cool and sparkling! Besides being friendly, THAT’S how you really attract people and make friends. But getting back your fizz requires certain steps; and keeping your effervescence requires certain precautions.

You can’t constantly fill your head with negative, pessimistic, gloomy, downer thoughts and ideas if you want to stay bubbly and be a part of the “Pop Culture.” Ever watch a depressing movie and walk out of the theater all depressed? Hey, we’re not asking you to never watch a tear-jerker, or to avoid people with nasty attitudes; but you need to make sure you pour into your life more good stuff than bad. Here’s what the Apostle Paul has to say about it: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

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