In Which I Can Encourage Others

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 30, 2014

God faith and hope 1 Peter

In Which I Can Encourage Others

It sure feels good to be encouraged!

I fielded some telephone calls today—and a few were significant, for several reasons. Plus—I think I was able to help and encourage others as I responded to them.

One call, in particular, made me a little less anxious. Caused me to breathe a little more easily. And, I tried to encourage the person on the other end of the line, too. I think the call was mutually beneficial. That always makes me feel great!

There was some aftermath from the memorial service yesterday, too. Today, I strove to encourage people I met who attended the service with me yesterday afternoon. Yes, memorial services are almost always sad, and yes, I know many people who are coming to terms with their grief, their loss, their sadness and sorrow. It’s not only a gift to be able to encourage and comfort individuals who were (and are) affected, but it’s also a gift to give groups of people an opportunity to come together and support each other.

This goes for any one of a number of situations or experiences. Whether I’m speaking to a group of people, a few others in conversation, or one on one. It also makes me think of something very natural for me when I was working as a chaplain. My wonderful mentor in pastoral care told me it was so important to journey with hurting, troubled people. Claude-Marie was superb at doing exactly this, and I always felt so listened-to, so understood when I spent some time with her. Well—that’s what I strive to do for others. Now, in the past, and into the future as well.

Just as much as I honestly, earnestly tried to be an encouragement to others today, I was encouraged, too. A friend of mine sent me an email, and he said such encouraging, kind and affirming things to me in that letter, I told him that I wanted to print out that specific email and carry it around with me. That way, I would be able to pull out his email when I felt down, discouraged and blue.

God, thanks for friends who help me to feel better, feel good, or just plain feel positive about myself, my situation, and my relationships. I hope that I will continue to be able to encourage others, give them a hand, or say a kind word to them. After all, that is what A Year of Being Kind is all about: 365 Days of Service.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind? Remembering.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 30, 2014

God I fail you, but i need your comfort

Being Kind? Remembering.

In the aftermath of a memorial service today, I have two vivid memories that come to me. First, one of the hymns. Second, the remembrances and tributes to the person who has died.

The hymn “Morning Has Broken” has always been one of my favorite hymns. Except—I have always sung it in the context of a Sunday morning worship service, and usually as a gathering hymn. This was a bit different. We sang it today as an opening hymn, it’s true. But the opening hymn of a memorial service. The words touched me in a new way today. Especially poignant to me, in light of the memorial aspect of the service, were the words of the third verse:

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning.
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, Praise ev’ry morning,
God’s recreation Of the new day!

I thought of the new day of those now standing in the presence of God. The new surroundings, the new . . . everything. How comforting and encouraging these words can sound, especially to loved ones who have so recently lost someone to a devastating illness.

Now, second. The remembrances and tributes. The person remembered today was truly special. Everything everyone said at the service was intensely meaningful and heartfelt. I was so moved, I couldn’t help but tear up at times. Even though some of these memories were humorous and lighthearted, too! But, the humor was tinged by bittersweet. This dear person will be sincerely missed.

Memorial services are just that—places to gather together, to remember together, and to mourn together. And like today, places to laugh together, and to cry together. God, be with all those who mourn today. Not only this dear person we had the service for today, but for all those who have been lost, who died, and who were killed in recent times. Comfort those who mourn. Help them reframe their understanding and encourage each other in these sad times.

We can truly thank God that God is with us, every step of the way. Even when we can’t find a way ahead, even when the way is dark or stormy or uncertain. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 29, 2014

BK kindness is a lifestyle

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

I have heard horror stories of how less-than-honest companies bundle and buy out debts at only a fraction of their value. Then, they hold the debt or note for the money owed. So instead of cash-strapped people owing a credit card company money, or a bona fide medical center money, they now owe these sleazy debt consolidation companies the money. But wait, there’s more! Much more . . .

I’ve been involved with seniors for a number of years, especially recently. I mean, at their homes. These seniors, often frail and in poor health, receive all kinds of telephone solicitation calls. Many of these calls come from shady, fly-by-night companies. But the worst of them all? The worst come from these sleazy, slimy debt consolidation companies. The debt collectors call. Then, call again—and again. And if they get a trembling, anxious senior on the other end of the line, so much the better! These pond scum debt collectors bully the elderly, trying to force them to send money. And sometimes, the senior is bullied into paying off a debt they do not even owe.

Most people don’t realize how to stop this horrible harassment and misuse of the telephone, not to mention get revenge. But a debt collection company tangled with my husband Kevin one time too many. My husband—who did not even owe the debt mentioned—took action. Action against the company, and action to stop this daily harassment for a debt which was never his to begin with.

My husband is extremely methodical, and he takes excellent notes in his work life. So, he decided to do the same thing in this case. Every time the home telephone was called by this company, we noted the date, time, and whether it was a recorded call or a real, live person. Every single time there was contact with a real, live person, we recorded their name. My husband sent two “cease and desist letters” by registered mail (so a real, live person at the company was required to sign for the letter, and show proof they received it). He took extensive notes whenever he spoke with anyone, and kept all of the notes in a file. And—he employed a law firm that specialized in fighting with these slimy debt collection firms.

The lawyers at the law firm were pros! They knew exactly what they were doing. My husband worked with them, hand in glove, and actually won the case in small claims court!

So, that was several years ago. My husband Kevin and I had almost forgotten all about the case, when a journalist contacted my husband a number of days ago. Mr. Sullivan wanted to know whether he might be able to write an article about the debt collectors and how my husband beat them at their own game. My husband gladly agreed! Moreover, he sent Mr. Sullivan all of his notes. (The journalist complimented my husband on his extremely thorough note-taking, too!)

So—long story short, the story appeared in Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. And—my husband is a hero! He showed, through his excellent example, exactly how to defuse these pond scum debt collectors. And, he wants people to know their rights under the law, too. In a quote from Mr. Sullivan’s article: “I would gladly do it again, not for the money, but because these people are slime who abuse and exploit people who don’t know how to defend themselves,” he said. “While I was defending myself, I followed various forums on the subject, and I was appalled at how many elderly people are victimized. It’s sickening.”

Not only the elderly, but people of all ages might be victimized. Thank God there are people who know how to stop these abusive practices and horrid debt collectors. People like my husband Kevin. That’s a sure way to live by the tenets of Micah 6:8! Live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

(To take a look at the Yahoo Finance article by Mr. Sullivan, check out this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-man-got-even-debt-103042195.html )

@chaplaineliza

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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!

@chaplaineliza

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.

@chaplaineliza

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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!

@chaplaineliza

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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.

@chaplaineliza

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