Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 28, 2014

be a blessing be a friend

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

I never met the man, but from what everyone said, he enjoyed his friends. He loved to visit with whomever came to the house, And with his in-laws. He was kind, nurturing, friendly. Most everything, most every character trait that was good, kind and generous. And now—this wonderful ability to be kind is gone—permanently. He is gone, too.

I wonder. I’ve been purposely trying to do loving, kind, helpful things for months. Taking opportunities for service, in fact. But—I wonder how many people hesitate to do kind things? I have a shameless confession to make. I know I hesitate, sometimes. Not as much as I used to, but the tendency is still there, clear as day. Just waiting for a fine example to inspire me? I hope not. I want to be internally motivated to be kind, be of service, and be helpful.

The bible verses I’ve chosen for each month are prompts for myself. Examples to show me different aspects of being kind. Being helpful. Micah 6:8 is one of the most significant bible verses for me, as I have been reflecting on it during the month of August. This verse from the prophet urges me to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Yes, I am encouraged to live in this way. But sometimes—I find I just don’t want to.

Forgive me, God.

If I have difficulty finding internal motivation, perhaps external impetus will help. Like, considering this man who is no longer with us. He was surely kind, generous, and warm.

As for me, today, I was intentionally kind to a friend I haven’t seen for a number of months. I asked after her family, and was genuinely interested in the answer! This older friend is very dear, and I was especially glad to hear about the moderately good health she and her family are currently enjoying. Yay! Oh, and we had coffee and conversation, which is always enjoyable with her!

The only thing is that I didn’t go out of my way to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God at any time today. Today was a paperwork sort of day, a day to catch up in the office, and a day to prepare for two services this weekend. At least my friend and I had a wonderful time this past morning!

I know I am going to continue to try to be kind every day. That’s my part. I know God’s glad when I strive to show kindness. God willing, I will, too!


Of Service to Seniors—at Two Retirement Homes!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BK be kind be kind be kind

Of Service to Seniors—at Two Retirement Homes!

Ever help out seniors? Ever be of service? This afternoon, I had the opportunity to do just that. At two retirement centers, not just one!

The first retirement home was a regularly scheduled visit. Yes, I preached again at this particular home. This retirement center was where I had some of the formative experiences of my budding ministerial identity. I not only preached and led the midweek service, but I also took several of the residents to and from the chapel. Someone joked that I not only had to preach, but I also had to transport people. I did him one better, and said I needed to go to the highways and byways and gather up a congregation.

I do enjoy working with older people. As I mentioned at least once before in this space, i was told by one of the administrative staff at one of this center’s other locations that I ought to have “Good with seniors” tattooed on my forehead. I must admit, this kind, loving behavior is one of my strong suits.

But, wait! There’s more! I sat at the table in the chaplain’s office after the service, after all the residents had gone back to their home floors Sure enough, I found my calendar/notebook, and made several calls to relatives of my parishioners. The most touching part about these telephone calls is that when I asked whether I might be able to visit this parishioner, one of the adult children of this senior assured me that the senior would be so happy if I were to visit. And this second visit was one that was on the spur of the moment.

I did need to drive a bit, in order to get to the second senior retirement home. And when I signed in, asking who I was there to see? Wow! I felt I was really of service, at both of these homes for seniors.

I wonder. God, I wonder whether I would have any visitors, if I were in a similar position? It is difficult for me to tell. I have visited at a senior residence where I’ve overheard the staff talking about one or two residents: “ . . . and imagine! Never to have anyone stop by?” (much clucking of tongues, shaking of heads) Yes, I do wonder whether anyone might come and visit me in the future senior residence, if I should live so long. The staff can tell, and they keep track. They remember.

God, I know You remember, too. Each and every one, regardless of whether anyone comes to visit them. Thanks.


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Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 26, 2014

cat drawing from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

cat drawing
from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

One of my daughters has a cat. And a roommate. What to do when both she and her roommate are out of town? Ask her mom to be of service, of course. To take care of the cat, I mean.

Toby, the domestic shorthair cat, is quite affectionate. She’s tiger-striped (in shades of brown), with a white bib and paws. She doesn’t mew very loudly, but she does make her presence known. For example, when I’m typing on my laptop—like I am right now. Yes, I’m at Toby’s apartment. She’s been fed, her water’s changed, and I’ve cleaned her litter box. She is regularly coming over to me and asking for petting. I’m happy to oblige! (At least, being careful not to touch my face with a hand full of cat dander. Allergies.) That’s how I’m being kind, today.

Toby makes me think of various pets I’ve shared my house with in my life, or have been in my sister’s life. When I was born, there was a large, friendly Airedale terrier resident in my parents’ house. My earliest memories were of her. Fond memories, indeed! Then, when I was in the middle grades, my parents got another Airedale. A bit smaller, but equally as friendly! Such good girls. So affectionate. And the adventurous, striped cat that shared our apartment when my older girls were small? They all certainly made me feel good. I don’t want to forget my sister’s dogs over the years: the Labrador mix, the German shepherd mix, and the Vizsla? All faithful companions, every one. God, thank You so much for bringing animals and people together! So helpful. So loving. So inspiring!

A recent online article I read spoke of depression, and several simple ways to lessen its effects. A proper, healthy diet and regular exercise featured highly in this article. However, the article also mentioned companionship of pets. Just petting an affectionate dog or cat helps me feel better. Amazing, I know. This is one sure-fire way for me to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. Of course, sharing a house or apartment with pets is not for everyone. But for those who are able, our animal friends are wonderful, loving companions.

Besides, I can be of service to my daughter, and help out her cat, at the same time. Sounds to me like a win-win-win situation!


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Being Kind While Getting on the El?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 25, 2014

CTA elevated trains, near Adams and Wabash. Photo credit - David Harrison

CTA elevated trains, near Adams and Wabash.
Photo credit – David Harrison

Being Kind While Getting on the El?

I had an opportunity to be kind today, and I did not take advantage of it. Yes, I purposely said “No” to a really nice young man. I believe he was from a foreign country. He could speak quite credible English! (Much better than I could do in any foreign language, even when I was marginally fluent, years ago.)

Yes, I felt very badly. Abysmal. I could just feel my heart sink when I said “No.” I knew I had to get on the El myself and go downtown for a business meeting. I was meeting with several other people, and I was on a strict time schedule. I knew I would have ordinarily, quite willingly helped him. But, not today. I quickly checked to see that a CTA employee was coming over to assist him—and the nice man was, I could tell. I was relieved, believe me!

When I got up to the platform, sure enough. The inbound El pulled up to the platform in less than two minutes. Since it was later morning, there were several seats available. I seated myself and pulled out my book.

I need to make a confession: I enjoy murder mysteries. However, lately, I have been so terribly busy (and this blog is one thing that does take time each day, time that I’d probably otherwise spend on reading). I got a twinge of guilt as I sat reading, taking some genuine pleasure in this mystery. It was (is!) a wonderful mystery, too. I have recently discovered the Phryne Fisher mystery series, but haven’t read any of them yet. Until today. I’m now one third of my way through the initial book of the series. Superb writing! Clever dialogue, and the protagonist is quite a piece of work, too.

I still thought about that young man. After I told him I couldn’t help him out with his fare card, he looked all forlorn. Yes, I enjoyed my book, once I got up the stairs and onto the train! But, I did feel guilty, all the same. Both at the time, and afterwards, too.

Which leads me to wonder: how much is concentrating on “being kind” taking me away from other things? Like, reading for pleasure? (I have several of Ms. Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries waiting for me. Patiently waiting.) Although, writing this blog is definitely a pleasure for me, too.

Oh, I was kind to several people downtown, after my meeting. Just in case anyone was keeping score at home. I wonder what God will bring my way tomorrow? I can’t wait to see.


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Help, Encourage, Mention in Prayer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, August 24, 2014

God relationship not just a Sunday event

Help, Encourage, Mention in Prayer!

Ever get mentioned by someone? In conversation, or even on the radio or television, or social media? I know how good it feels, especially when someone has good things to say about me!

That’s what I preached on, this morning. Mentioning people in prayer. The bible verses I referred to came from 1 Thessalonians 1, where the Apostle Paul gives his friends—the believers in Thessalonica—a greeting. Yes, it had all of the items in a typical greeting of a typical letter of the first century. But it also had more. An added something that made so much difference. A sincere compliment, or what some think of as a healthy dose of encouragement.

I do have the spiritual gift of encouragement. People have noticed that in me and my interactions, for a long time. It is something that just sort of happens. So when other people express encouragement, I zero in on it. And here, at the beginning of this letter to the Thessalonian church? Yup. I saw it like a flash. Paul said he always thanked God for all the believers in that city. Pretty strong language, for someone who had only been in the city for a couple of weeks! As I mentioned in my sermon, Paul and his friends developed close relationships very quickly.

That caused me to think. What about me, and my relationships with my fellow believers? Sure, I do try to be close to family, friends, to those in my congregation. But, many of my relationships just don’t have that type of immediacy, that kind of intimacy that I sometimes see in the New Testament church. I know there are many reasons for that, and only some are on my side of the street. Some are on other people’s sides of the street, and some just happen . . . those reasons are just a fact of life.

But I still feel sad and bad about many of my relationships. Sure, I could mention the fast pace of life today, and how so many people have so little time for anything else. Or, about how many people are working so hard that they have little time for anything else. Or, about how many people are unemployed, busy looking for work, and so discouraged that they have little time for anything else. (You get the picture.) And, I may say, these are all valid, legitimate reasons.

I could get discouraged, too, just contemplating this! But I have a better solution. I can just continue doing as I have intended to do, looking for a kind, helpful, encouraging thing to do each day this year. It doesn’t matter whether it’s little or big, whether it’s a private courtesy or a huge production. (Somehow, I don’t tend to do “huge productions.” But that’s just me.) Regardless, I think being on the lookout for a kind, or helpful, or encouraging thing to do each day pleases God. I pray so! And, I hope my sermon this morning was encouraging to those who listened. Please God, may it be so.


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Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 23, 2014

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle  by Andette

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle
by Andette

Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

I almost wasn’t going to blog about this, but yesterday was the day. Move-in day. My daughter went away to college. And yes, my husband and I transported her to the campus, not so many miles away from our condo. Just far enough away for her to feel on her own, but near enough to be able to easily come back for a special event. Like on Monday, when she’ll be coming back home for a special Doctor Who event, shown that evening in “selected theaters.” And if you don’t know what or who Doctor Who is? Don’t ask. My daughter will simply give one of her signature eye rolls. Suggestion? Check out the article on Wikipedia. That should provide sufficient information.

My husband, daughter and I went to her dorm, moved in her stuff (with the assistance of two helpful, burly varsity athletes from the college), and wandered around the small campus. Went to the bookstore. Had a very nice, barbequed lunch. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. I don’t know whether it was because of an extra-special effort for new students on campus, or what, but my husband and I were impressed and pleased. Especially at the care taken for transfer students—which is what my daughter is.

I am reminded a bit about my daughter’s other “first day at school” experiences. Preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school. From my observations, she (more or less) rolled with the experiences. It didn’t take her very long at all to become comfortable with her surroundings, and well accustomed to the school schedule, the campus procedures, the strange and unique ways of the particular student culture. It didn’t matter whether it was preschool, middle school, or high school. I suspect she will do something similar here, too.

God’s blessings on all the students at my daughter’s college. New students, transfer students, continuing students. Also, the faculty, administration and staff. I wish them all success and good experiences in the coming year.

We hope our daughter will be content, happy, and industrious. God, bless Rachel, too. Help her know that You love, encourage and bless her, each and every day. Thank You, Lord.


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Be of Service—Part Two! Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 22, 2014

God will ALWAYS provide

Be of Service—Part Two! Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

Last month, in the first week of July, I did a Feature Friday post on Stop Hunger Now! This ministry opportunity was the service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), just a few weeks ago. NWMC informs attendees about its Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of mission outreach worldwide, but the conference also promotes active service and witness for God—and much fun is had while promoting it, too!

I’ve attended this conference for a number of years. My younger children remember NWMC with great fondness, and every year this conference has a selected service project. Everyone who attends—no matter what the age—is encouraged to participate in the project.

As I mentioned last month, each year the service project has concentrated on world hunger. More specifically, Stop Hunger Now! (That’s the name of the mission organization.) This organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too! What a caring, effective way to feed the hungry. Through this ministry, the volunteers also strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.

We just received an update earlier this week about the meals packed at New Wilmington, in July. Stop Hunger Now sent word that 285,120 meals have been shipped to Haiti. Of these meals, 24,840 were packaged at NWMC 2014. This is 840 meals over the conference goal of 24,000 meals! The meals packaged by the folks at New Wilmington Mission Conference have been combined with those of other packaging events.

Haiti is in desperate need to receive these meals. Not only is Haiti the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, but also is extremely low in terms of daily calories taken in, per person. Haiti and their citizens need the food assistance almost more than anywhere in the world. Stop Hunger Now has a partner in Haiti called The YouthBuild Haiti Rebuilding Academy (YHRA). This group is instrumental in rebuilding the country still reeling from the significant damage done by the earthquake, so many months ago. YHRA is also taking the lead in distributing the meals sent by Stop Hunger Now!

I’m reminded again of the words of Micah 6:8, to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. I am urged to look for opportunities—not just today, not just in the month of August. But, every month of the year. Ways to be of service. Ways to love mercy. And, ways to walk humbly with the one who loved me so much. What a way to be the hands and feet of Christ.


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