In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 20, 2014

autumn road

In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

Ever feel that tickly feeling in the back of your throat? The kind where you feel something sort of uncomfortable back there, but you can’t do much about it? That’s how I’ve been feeling for the past few days. October is here. Brightly colored leaves, cooler weather, the grass and greenery turning faded and brown. With all of that change in the growing things out of doors comes mold. The October gusts of wind spread that mold everywhere. Lucky me, I happen to be allergic to much of that mold. Thus—the tickly feeling in the back of my throat—post nasal drip. Also, itchy eyes and full sinuses. Those are things that I need to deal with, every October.

Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn. I really do! I love to walk in the woods or the Forest Preserves, and take a look at the beautiful panorama of nature. But—the mold count does impinge on my full enjoyment of this season of the year. Because of my allergies, I was moving slowly this morning. Sure, I went to work today, and I did get some things done. However, for the most part, I took it easy.

My youngest daughter is home for several days. It happens to be her fall break. She was kind enough to do several loads of laundry while I was at work. (Thanks, Rachel!) On Saturday, she and I talked about her college band. She happens to play the bass clarinet. (Very well, I might add. And, no, it’s not just pride in my daughter. I do know something about music.) She needs several new reeds for the bass clarinet mouthpiece. I said I would pick them up. It’s not like I was going miles out of the way or anything. However, the music store was an additional thing to do. Place to stop. And, I was not feeling that well, on top of things.

But once I got in the car, I found the wheels almost steered themselves to the Band and Instrument store. I asked for some mid-grade reeds of the appropriate hardness, and spent a few enjoyable minutes conversing with one of the workers at the shop. I was kind and friendly to him, too.

Moral of the story? well, not really. It’s just that I have the ability to be kind, friendly, and helpful. I can be of service, even when I don’t feel well. Even when I am rushed, frazzled, frustrated, or downright angry. That means I still have the chance, the opportunity to be kind, courteous, and helpful. Please, God, help me remember these kind, encouraging words and actions. I might be able to pass them along—even when I am not feeling bouncy, friendly and energetic. God willing.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Church Service, Serving Our Congregation

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 19, 2014

baptism_collage

Church Service, Serving Our Congregation

It’s another Sunday. It’s another day to gather together for worship. And, it’s a day to celebrate the sacrament of baptism. First baptism in several years at St. Luke’s Church!

Pastor Gordon and I led the worship service today, and it was an affirming, prayerful time. Excellent sermon, too. (Thanks, Gordon, for everything!) The baptismal font is situated in the back of the church, and after the sermon, Gordon and I stood next to it. I called the parents and baby forward, and the extended family and just about everyone in the congregation came and encircled the font. Such a warm and wonderful feeling! Such a special moment for everyone in the sanctuary, too.

I made the opening statement about baptism, being a sign and sacrament of God’s grace and mercy extended towards us. Gordon then addressed the parents, and told them of baptism signifying God’s promise not only to us, but also to the dear baby, baptized today. I had the privilege of praying over the water, thanking God for the repeated demonstrations of God’s grace and mercy throughout the Bible, using water. I also asked God to transform this water we used from a common use to a sacred, sacramental use. Then—Gordon baptized this dear little one in the name of the Triune God. Amen! He introduced her around to the whole congregation as a new member of God’s forever family.

I know there are differences in beliefs. Some people believe strongly—personally—in infant baptism, or in believer’s baptism, or in full immersion, or in sprinkling, or in something else I haven’t mentioned yet. I realize there are differences, and I try to honor those when I can. This way, the way I just described, is the way that is traditional at St. Luke’s Church. As pastor there, I strive to follow their practices as best as I am able. Even though I went to a bible college for my undergraduate degree which leaned heavily on the practice of believer’s baptism by immersion, I have since embraced the Reformed tradition as my personal understanding. (I’m trying not to get all theological on everyone, I really am.) Suffice it to say that I am open to different understandings and views of baptism.

I thought this service not only lifted up God and displayed God’s Word through Gordon’s sermon and the sacrament of baptism, I appreciated this extended family gathered here to celebrate their youngest member becoming part of God’s forever family. I take the vows of the baptismal service quite seriously. I will strive to do my part to raise this dear little one in the knowledge and nurture of God, and God’s grace and mercy. True, this kind of service is more official than what I usually seek out for these blog posts. That makes this pastoral service all the more special. God bless this little one, the baby’s family, and everyone in attendance today. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 18, 2014

BK-Be-Kind-To-One-Another - Eph 4-32

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

It being Saturday morning today, my husband and I did Saturday morning-type things. Including sorting through clothing, deciding which to take to the dry cleaners today. He took his five work shirts, and I added my raincoat. I ought to add a parenthetical comment. I received this black raincoat from my sister Sue. She is a high-level salesperson in the New York City area, and she has to look sharp and dress professionally at all times for her job. She wore this coat for a number of months, but then she bought another one. Was I glad to get this gently-used item! Lovely, durable, classy-looking raincoat. Just the thing for a ministry professional.

My husband Kevin dropped me off at the YMCA (yoga class today!). He went on to the cleaners. He has started going to a different cleaners lately. It’s located in a newer building in a small strip mall, and the husband and wife who own the business keep the premises very clean. Kevin parked, gathered up the clothes, and went for the door with arms full. Another man reached the door at the same time, but his arms were empty. He kindly held the door open for my husband. Kevin reached the long counter several seconds before the other man, and Kevin laid the clothes down near the cash register.

The Korean woman behind the counter seemed to be a bit flustered. She looked from one customer to the other. My husband noticed, and asked her about it. She gestured to the other man, and seemed very apologetic. “He’s just coming to pick up.” The other man nodded. “Go right ahead,” Kevin said. The woman ran and grabbed some clothes on hangers for the customer, and the man left.

Now it was Kevin’s turn. The proprietor of the cleaners checked in the clothes my husband brought. He paid for them with two ten dollar bills. That really pleased the woman. “We need ten dollar bills. Thank you, thank you.” My husband had two more in his wallet, and asked whether she could use them. She was so excited! “Yes, thank you so much!” She gave him a twenty in exchange, and then looked at him with a serious face. “You are a very kind man. You were patient, and let the other customer go first. Then, you gave me extra ten dollars. You are very kind!”

This embarrassed my husband. He’s a journalist, and a senior editor. A no-nonsense sort of a guy, he doesn’t particularly see himself as “a very kind man.” (He freely admits that’s more his wife’s department.) However, he thanked the proprietor with sincerity. And then, related this account to me.

After hearing what had happened, I told Kevin that he had been very kind. This made him wonder. He does not particularly go out of his way to be kind and helpful. However—he reflected whether he might be able to act his way into kind, helpful thinking. I told him that a number of months of doing kind, helpful acts of service every day was certainly affecting my habitual way of thinking. He nodded, seriously considering what I had said.

God willing, we might all act our way into kind, helpful thinking.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 17, 2014

bread for myself, for my neighbor

Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

Yesterday was World Food Day, Thursday, October 16, 2014, instituted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This organization heightens public awareness of widespread hunger and world food problems. World Food Day also helps to build and strengthen solidarity and unity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Each day, millions around the world—from countless regions—go hungry. World Food Day strives to lessen that hunger.

I followed the links for #WorldFoodDay on Twitter. I came to http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/what-is-wfd : Amid many heart-rending statistics at this website, I found several that particularly hit home to me, as a woman and a mom. Here they are: “In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

  • “60% of the hungry in the world are women.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
  • 4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished, damaging their bodies and brains.”

These statistics are mind boggling to me. I cannot even take them in. However, I can try to do a little bit. I can strive to make a difference, when and where I can. For example, helping, and raising awareness about the excellent work Stop Hunger Now! is currently doing.

In both July and August, I wrote about the mission Stop Hunger Now! I told of one of their meal-packaging efforts at a mission conference I attended. This ministry opportunity was the 2014 service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), informing and promoting active service and witness for God. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix is packed by volunteer teams for Stop Hunger Now!, and sent all over the world. For a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too! What a caring, effective way to feed the hungry, where hunger is currently devastating lives. Through this ministry, the volunteers also strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Stop Hunger Now! has the same goal as so many other organizations—UNICEF, World Vision, Tearfund, Lutheran World Relief, the Presbyterian Hunger Programme, Compassion International, and so many more—to work towards eliminating hunger in our world today. May God be with these many people and these many groups doing the work of God. Feeding the hungry. Giving food and drink—just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 26:35-36.

On her blog Godspace, Christine Sine has a beautiful prayer for World Food Day. It’s found at: http://godspace-msa.com/2014/10/15/its-world-food-day-prayers-and-resources/ (thanks, Christine!).

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 16, 2014

Holy Spirit, descending dove

Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

Spiritual gifts. All believers in God are supposed to have at least one. I have several. At least, several have been identified in me, by spiritual elders and people of faith I respect a great deal. Spiritual gifts shown in my actions, speech, and thought-life, anyway.

I know I’ve mentioned before how I have the gifts of encouragement and helping. Upon reflection at the end of the day, I realized I used encouragement several times during the day. Without even giving it a second thought. I gave compliments to several people. Sincere compliments, not just slathering it on. I really try my hardest to be real, sincere, and genuine, as much as possible. And, I appreciate it when people are the same way with me.

The small children who attend the preschool at my church are so refreshing. They could not be dishonest or disingenuous for the world. Small children have such sincerity and honesty, and say exactly what they think and mean. As I read to them this past Tuesday, I spoke in an encouraging manner. I read two books with superb illustrations to them, and several of the children got quite involved in the stories. They started to interact with me as I read, and I dealt with each comment (actually, interruption) in a kind, encouraging way. I didn’t want to halt the reading, since there were a group of children listening to the stories. But that didn’t stop me from being kind and sincere—briefly.

Sadly, with adults, it doesn’t work quite the same way. A few others may be insincere or wear false faces around me. They may even try to pull the wool over my eyes. True, I try to think the best of most people; that is one of my blind spots. Just because I strive to be rigorously honest doesn’t mean that everyone else acts (or thinks) in the same way. But, I still attempt to act as if that were the case. Just so, I often try to treat others as if they are acting and speaking (and thinking) in good faith. Sometimes I get burned. But, usually not. That won’t stop me from acting in this way, and treating others as if they all behave in a similar, genuine manner.

So, yeah. I gave several individuals sincere, honest compliments today. I know that I did the helpful, loving thing. Another day being kind, in A Year of Being Kind. I know that God was pleased, too.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Of Service Through Anxiety and Sadness

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 15, 2014

THANKFUL for day to live, love, be grateful

Of Service Through Anxiety and Sadness

A wet, rainy October day. Sad. Anxious. Depressing. Especially when I needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist. (At least that turned out all right.) Afterwards, I spent the morning taking it slowly, easily. Letting my mouth recuperate from the dental work.

But what about other people who spent today in less than comfortable places? Like individuals who have lost a job and can’t find another one? What about them? What about their families? How are they making ends meet, financially? What about the desperate, long-term anxiety that comes with unemployment—especially being without a job for a long, long time?

What about people who are caregivers? Who faithfully stay by their loved ones, feeding, cleaning, doing heavy lifting. Sometimes these dear ones have the most thankless jobs, but still show up every day. Still continue to care for their loved family member, spouse or significant other. I know, I have seen the care, love, and comfort displayed by faithful people stepping up and loving, caring and being an encouragement.

And individuals who are terribly sick, in the hospital or an extended care center? It doesn’t where these dear ones are located. Serious sickness happens. Sadness and anxiety afflict countless numbers of people, every single day, affecting patients as well as the loved ones. (I have some familiarity with this, from my time as a chaplain.)

When I visited one of these dear ones today in an extended care center, I tried to be as encouraging and supportive as possible. I prayed; this dear senior prayed for me, too. I cried because I was so emotionally shaken.

God be with the dear one I visited today. Thanks to you for any prayers you can offer for this dear person. And, thanks for prayer for me, too. I need it, since I am regularly dealing with emotions, feelings, relationships. All difficult, challenging, filled with anxiety and sadness. I know God is with me, in this rainy, sad October day. Thanks for good thoughts too, and may God’s blessings surround all of us–even through sadness, depression and anxiety.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

 

Be of Service, Like a Good Shepherd (Fund)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BK heart to care, be there

Be of Service, Like a Good Shepherd (Fund)

Most churches have benevolence or charity funds. They give away many, diverse things. Some give food, others give clothes, a few give shelter. I have heard of larger churches that have free classes—computer classes, ESL classes or sewing classes. I even know of one local church that hosts a diaper pantry! I even did a blog post about them—First United Methodist Church of Evanston. Their wonderful diaper ministry, Bundled Blessings, was featured at the end of March. I wrote them up in Feature Friday.

Even though my church, St. Luke’s Church, is a small congregation, they still try to do what they can for their community. I’ve written about their benevolence fund, too. The Good Shepherd Fund is set aside for individuals and families in need. Various kinds of needs, too. Except—not recently.

Let me elaborate. St. Luke’s Church is located between two busy thoroughfares. It is placed in a highly-visible spot. For the first several months I was at the church, there would sometimes be a knock on the church door, or an occasional ring at the church doorbell. Every two weeks or so, someone would be coming to the church with a request for benevolence. Either food, or money, or in some cases whatever we had available. However, it has been two months since anyone has come to the church for some kind of assistance.

I am not certain, but perhaps because of the recent opening of several large businesses and a grocery store in the area, there are not quite as many individuals and families in need. I am not convinced of this, but we can hope so.

Although, our church did not and still does not have any money for gasoline. Sorry about that. I wonder whether the reception and information I gave to several people earlier in the summer was communicated to others. I mean, passed around via the grapevine. I am, sadly, realistic and cynical enough to know that there is a sort of a loose ‘network’ that certain people have access to. I live several suburbs away from Morton Grove, where the church is located. However, I know several acquaintances and friends who work with the homeless and needy in my suburb. I have been told about such loose, unofficial ‘networks’ that organically grow within certain communities of people.

Truly, I want to be kind to those in need. (I’ve been in need myself, some years ago.) I say in the verse for October – Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” And, I mean it. I enjoy being able to provide for those in need, and it encourages and warms my heart, too. Except—I need knocks on the church door, and rings on the doorbell. Perhaps someone will come to the church later this week. God willing, I’ll be ready. God willing, the Good Shepherd Fund will be able to serve, to give them a helping hand.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.