God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

- See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 18, 2014

books image

In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

I really enjoy teaching! And, talking with students. Advising, informal counseling, I am not exactly sure what you would call it. But I know I have a good deal of expertise in a number of areas. I would like to share my knowledge with others.

I don’t believe I ever mentioned this before, but a few years ago I worked at the graduate school of a university in town. For almost four years, I was coordinator and instructor for a small program in one of the departments. Part of my responsibilities involved not only teaching, marking weekly assignments, and interacting with students, but also advising, and working with students to explore the course material.

(Yeah, it was twenty hours a week. Yeah, I was only a part-time employee with absolutely no benefits. Yeah, I was dependent on a grant to the department, and when the grant ended, so did my job. And, yeah, I am still a bit disgruntled, because despite everything I truly enjoyed my job! However—consider my rant over. On with my current way of being of service!)

So, I am familiar with advising and counseling, and especially providing new ways of thinking about the course material. I enjoyed it, as I say. All of it! In my present work situation at St. Luke’s Church, I have the opportunity to again advise and encourage a young man. Tim is acting as our youth worker, teaching Sunday school and working with the five to seven children we have most Sundays. (He’s also doing this Christian education work as field education for his college degree.) Tim is going to graduate this December. He has a youth pastor job waiting for him out of state. Except—I see a few gaps in his college learning.

That’s why Tim and I are going to meet together every other week, and I’ll advise and mentor him during this fall semester. I am so pleased we can have this time together! As I said, I do enjoy communicating knowledge. I am so appreciative for those teachers and mentors in my life, and I always strive to be as nurturing and helpful as I can to those who come to me for advice or mentoring. I know many of the graduate students I assisted told me explicitly how much they appreciated me and my words. And encouragement. And counsel.

God willing, Tim will find what we talk about helpful.

@chaplaineliza

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Compliments—How Kind! (Thank You!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GRATEFUL always something to be grateful for

Compliments—How Kind! (Thank You!)

Today was Wednesday, as usual. I mean, usual midweek bible study. I enjoy teaching! I love the bible study group that gathers each week in the choir room at church. And, I am so glad I found the bible study on the names and titles of Jesus (an older study, published by NavPress).

I missed meeting for regular bible studies midweek, in July and August. Of course I understood why the group did not continue meeting over the really hot months of the summer. Certainly! But, there was something missing from my week. Some connection, some personal interaction. Sure, I continued to call people, and do hospital and home visitation, but it wasn’t the same. Not like getting together and sharing like we do on Wednesdays. (And Sundays, too! I don’t want to forget about the wonderful sermon discussion bible study after church service. Such great insights there, as well!)

But this post is specifically about what happened today.

As we went around the table to check in with people and see what was happening, we came to the next person. This lovely senior began to sincerely compliment me. I had served her family at a critical time recently, and she wanted to thank me and tell me how much she appreciated me. Publicly. I was so grateful—and surprised and pleased, too. I told her of my gratitude and expressed my thanks to her.

Several more people had their turns, then. We heard several more prayer requests, had a few more laughs, and—came to another earnest senior. This lady also praised me—for my teaching and group facilitation, this time. (I know I enjoy teaching, but—wow!) She sincerely complimented me, thanked me, and expressed her appreciation for my clarity in communication. (Again—wow!)

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Of course, I thanked her and accepted the compliment, too. I was—and still am—so moved by both of their grateful expressions. So wonderful! I am still hugging these very kind words to my heart, believe me. Such good words of approval encourage me and build me up, you can count on that.

Long ago, I remember reading in an article (I believe it was in Psychology Today) that compliments create positive energy. I am used to giving compliments. In fact, I love to see the good aspects of people, and mention that to them. I am less used to receiving compliments.

I sincerely hope I was gracious in receiving the kind, generous compliments today! Sure, they created positive, loving energy, all around the table. Such a wonderful gift for the whole bible study today, too. God willing, I hope this good feeling and positive energy lasts for a good long time. (Thank You again, God!)

@chaplaineliza

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Helping Through Spade Work

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 16, 2014

LOVE tell someone you love them

Helping Through Spade Work

When I used to help my mom with her garden in the backyard, I’d do all kinds of things. Mow and rake the grass, weed the garden, dig dandelions from the grass. Oh, and I’d do spade work. First thing, before anything else at the beginning of May, I’d dig up the two areas where she’d customarily plant her vegetables. On one side, usually she would plant beans and peppers. Next to the small sidewalk that went out to the back gate. On the far side of the yard by the neighbor’s garage (in a nice, sunny south exposure!), she would plant a number of tomato plants, usually two different varieties.

I remember doing the spade work, preparing the ground before I even thought of getting the plants. Mom would come out to watch what I was doing, and usually we would end up talking about the plants she was planning on putting in the garden, and which stores she would get them from. She wasn’t able to physically do heavy work any more. (I came alongside of her to do something she enjoyed so much. I was being kind!) She would always remind me about carefully digging up the soil and then breaking apart the larger clumps of dirt with a rake. I needed to make sure the soil was well-prepared before we planted.

That’s very much what I’ve been doing, last week and this week. Preparing the ground for a special Sunday coming up. World Communion Sunday. I want to make certain that everything is ready. I want this communion celebration to be special. Memorable. I know this is God’s house, and what we do here is worship of God. Our celebration each Sunday is for an audience of one—God! Naturally, I want it to be the best it can be. But I also want it to be meaningful and special to the congregation.

Thus, the extra spade work in preparing for the first Sunday in October. Making sure things are set, and special music is ready to go. (I still have to do more on that end.) At least the theme for the service and my sermon are already coming together. My good friend Bob, a retired minister, will be coming to assist me with the service. (It will be great to see Bob and his wife Gayle again!)

I hope I am doing good work in faithfully caring for this garden. The garden called St. Luke’s Church. I strive to be faithful, to preach, visit parishioners at the hospital and at home, teach bible studies, and provide pastoral care as best I can. I try my best to love the congregation, too. An older minister friend of mine said that was the most important thing—let the congregation know I love them.

Sprinkling a garden with love and caring? That always helps. God will provide the increase, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Speedy Delivery? No, Helpful Delivery!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 15, 2014

colorful flower bouquet

Speedy Delivery? No, Helpful Delivery!

Flowers can be so lovely and bright. Yesterday, in church, we had an especially pretty arrangement on the altar. Our church doesn’t have a huge floral piece each Sunday; it’s more on the modest size. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in beauty and cheerfulness!

The general practice at my church is that the person who purchases the flowers each week gets to bring them home after church. Well, the senior who bought yesterday’s flowers in honor and memory of one of their loved ones did not have the opportunity to attend worship service yesterday. This morning, I called over to the senior’s apartment. Yes, I was able to dash over there before lunch and deliver the flowers. Speedy quick!

We sat down after I dropped by, and had a pleasant time talking for a good long time. How helpful is that? To bring over a pretty bouquet? You bet!

Yes, this is all in a day’s work for me. Sure, I can pay a visit, ask intelligent questions, and say a prayer before I leave. But people really appreciate my visit. How do I know, you ask? Well, they engage in close, intimate conversation with me, and they tell me they enjoy having me there. And, I use my friendly smile often. For example, today. I had my smile-ly face all set and ready. (Both my inward, courteous smile as well as the outward, friendly smile.) And, why not?

I’ve found you don’t have to be a senior citizen to enjoy flowers. Especially the flowers from our church. In the same vein, you don’t have to be a shut-in or homebound, either. A number of businesses and St. Luke’s Church. Thank God for gorgeous things in this world. Even routine things like the weekly altar flowers at the church.

@chaplaineliza

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Forgetting to Be Kind?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 14, 2014

God is with you

Forgetting to Be Kind?

I like to talk to my friends, or members of my family, on the telephone. I really do! In fact, I have a sneaking feeling I am a bit old fashioned in this regard. Since—I see people all around me texting on their smart phones. I am very pleased and proud to say that I have never yet texted. I have a dumb phone. An older flip phone that I’ve had for years. (My husband and I have not had a cell phone contract for some years, either.)

However, I am bound by convention. The rules of common courtesy, the rules that say I will not call after a certain hour at night, or the rules that say I cannot call before a certain hour in the morning. True, these rules have a little wiggle room, but generally, I can’t call before 9:00 in the morning—8:30, if I push it. And in the afternoon? Or evening? That time is a bit more fluid. But—even still. I run into problems.

I want to highlight a really BIG problem. I keep forgetting to call my friends and family members—at a time fitting to common courtesy. I remember I want to make the calls at awkward times. In the very early morning or in the very late evening, for example.

Isn’t this so similar to my on-again, off-again relationship with God? Thank goodness, I have increased my personal prayer time, and increased my time in other spiritual direction exercises. However, I still fall short. I still keep forgetting to actually enjoy the relationship. (It’s a darned good thing that I do not have restrictions or barriers between God and me. Additional barriers would be quite difficult. Or problematic.)

Thank God I can depend on God—the almighty, omnipotent God. Instead of myself, instead of me and the forgetful nature of my brain, instead of the on-again, off-again relationship I have with human beings. And, thank God for the timely reminder to call people at a decent, sensible time. (As I’ve said many times before, God certainly has a wonderful sense of humor.)

@chaplaineliza

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Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 13, 2014

BFM produce for blog book

Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Markets are wonderful things, whether in the middle of the city or in the suburbs. Not only are they places where local produce, goods and products are readily available, they are also great places for communication; for local non-profit organizations, churches, synagogues and other places of worship to get their messages out. Last—but certainly not least—farmers’ markets are wonderful places to meet and greet. For friends and acquaintances to say hello, touch base, and even make new friends.

It was a gorgeous, sunny September morning. For something different and out of the ordinary, my husband and I went to the market downtown today. We haven’t gone there regularly for a few years (not since the children were smaller). It’s a happening, bustling sort of place! Lots of shoppers, lots of stalls selling all manner of goods and produce, and lots going on. We strolled up and down the large aisles amidst all of the people coming and going. Took in the sights, as it were.

As we strolled, my husband put his head close to mine and said, “I wonder how long it will take before we meet someone we know?” This is a humorous sort of game we play when we go to a local restaurant, or take a walk downtown on a weekend. Sure enough, it’s rare that we don’t run into someone we know. And sometimes, know well!

Almost before the words were out of my husband’s mouth, the next thing we know I bump into a good friend. Literally! I had just picked some corn on the cob from a bushel basket and straightened up when our friend bumped into me with his backpack! (It didn’t hurt at all.) We both immediately stopped, turned, and started to apologize—when— “Hello! Good morning!”

After smiles, shaking of hands, and hugs, we started right in, talking. Our friend Gregg asked me about the church (which is going well, thank God!), and inquired what I had been doing lately. I knew our friend was interested in social justice, peace and reconciliation. So, I told him about the Potluck for Peace I had attended on Thursday. I mentioned the Children of Abraham Coalition, and he was indeed interested. I particularly mentioned the different groups and synagogues associated with the Coalition. Our friend thanked me, and I said I would get more information to him. (I will, Gregg! The link to my Friday Feature: http://wp.me/p4cOf8-fP)

I know it may seem like a little thing, but friendly meetings mean so much, sometimes. Keeping up connections, friendships. Exchanging smiles and hugs. And welcome information, too! Thanks for the opportunity to do all of these things today, God!

@chaplaineliza

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