Being Kind by Cracking a Joke (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 31, 2018

This post made me so happy! When I read through this, I instantly remembered the young man whose day I brightened. Imagine, I was able to do that just by giving him a bright smile and making a humorous comment. How many other people go through their everyday activities all sad and down in the dumps, with no one to make them smile? It was a simple interaction I had with the cashier, and I hope a meaningful one, too. It is a reminder for me: be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Please.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

ruddy duck, Chgo Bot Grdn, photo credit Kevin Jones

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Advertisements

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 30, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, the whole situation outside the grocery store came vividly to mind. I could see the middle-aged man, bright smile on his face, dreadlocks under his oversized stocking cap. I’ve seen him a number of times since, and he always has that same smile. He’s always happy to see me. I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference again this year, and I realized the people who attend are always encouraged to reach out to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s across the street, across the city, or across the ocean. Reach out and be a neighbor. I was blessed by this lovely man. Perhaps you will be blessed when you reach out, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I think this blog post is just what I need right now. Peace. God’s peace. Jesus giving me peace. I am so grateful that Jesus provides peace for us. Peace, wellness, wholeness, shalom. God be with you, with me, with everyone.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 7, 2014

pink roses

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Peace can be a transient thing. It’s difficult to come by for some people, and even more difficult to hold on to, for others. I know in my life, I have not always been peaceful. At peace. For years, I have (more often than not) been longing for peace, even actively searching for peace . . . and not finding it.

A number of years ago, when my two older girls were toddler and preschooler, their father and I were having a particularly difficult time with finances and with unemployment. It lasted for several years. We shopped at resale stores. We counted pennies. We went without a great number of things. We had a really tough time paying for necessary stuff like doctor bills and medication. (Remember when your toddler or preschooler would have the occasional ear infection, or strep throat?)

I am so grateful for family members! Loving, kind, giving family members gave us a hand. Helped us out. I don’t know how I would have made it through without our great families! But, wait! You say, that’s great for long time ago, but . . . what gives? Sure, what you’ve said so far is all very nice. All heartwarming and everything. But it was some years ago! What about today? How am I—how are we being kind today?

I’m so glad you asked! Some time has passed, and I have been actively searching for peace ever since. More often than not, for years. And years.

I believe I have some idea of peace in my life, right now. At bible study today, we were all talking about peace. God’s peace. How Jesus wished His disciples—His followers peace. What did that mean, anyway?

To greet someone with the word “Peace” was a common way of saying hello, in the first century. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. “Peace” didn’t mean just a cessation of violence . No, the connotation of the word shalom meant much, much more. By using this greeting, the risen Christ was wishing His followers not only peace and wellness, but also wholeness, in terms of the world being made peaceful.

As we talked about this rich, multi-layered concept of peace—of shalom, what a wonderful idea it is! How awesome, to have Jesus wishing this for the disciples. And even, wishing it for each of us, too! That was my act of service today, telling people about the peace of Christ. Truly, a wonderful discovery for each of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus can deliver. For me, and for you, too. I put my trust in the risen Christ. I know the risen Christ makes Himself available to me. On a daily basis, even. And how awesome is that?

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, April 12, 2018

I’m reminded of this bathroom facelift, several years ago. I appreciate it still. I like looking at the clean, white tile, the accent mosaic tile running around the top of the white tile work. Sure, the cabinet under the bathroom sink is already showing signs of wear, but the bathroom is such a nice place now. I thank the contractor we hired to do the job on the bathroom, just as I appreciate the big remodel job my Heavenly Contractor is doing on me. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, work continues. Until, I suspect, I am done with this earthly tent I’m living in. Thanks, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 12, 2014

bathroom painting Oleg Kujala-Roy Lichtenstein

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One?

Day Six of the bathroom facelift. After driving around all day—doing errands and going places—I finally got home later in the afternoon. The contractor told me, regretfully, that the medicine cabinet I had bought did not fit the opening in the wall. The width was fine, but the new cabinet was a few inches too high. So, off I went again to the big box do-it-yourself store to replace the medicine cabinet I had just bought a few days ago. But, that’s okay! I enjoy going into those stores. All kinds of hardware supplies and building materials are on display, for sure.

The man in the plumbing materials section of the store turned out to be quite helpful. Conversational, too! I needed to buy a replacement for our ratty old shower curtain rod, and get a few other incidentals, in addition to the medicine cabinet. He made the process of buying supplies smooth and easy. I did not even ask him his name. That makes me sad. But I can pray for him, and wish him the best in his job and in the rest of his life, and wish his family good health and harmony. And, I do!

So, this kind man was kind and helpful to me! He was of great service to me and my family, too.

I wonder: what kind of remodeling job do I need in my spiritual house? I know I need some work, that’s for sure. But I don’t quite know where my General Contractor, God, is going to start work next. I think God has helped me make great strides with my regular prayer time. As I’ve mentioned here before, I could not keep up a consistent prayer time. Even though I tried and tried, I just couldn’t. Until late last fall. God helped me to stay pretty consistent with the Advent prayer calendar I was following. After years and years of prayer about praying consistently, I finally succeeded. (With my General Contractor’s help, in great part.) Praise God!

Dear Lord, thank You for people who smooth the way for me, and show me kindness and service, too. Please, help me to intentionally, consistently show kindness. Service. Encouragement and love, too. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping My Husband? Sure! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I re-read this post, and it struck a chord within. My husband knows I am kind and helpful, ready to be of service. He is more of a person who would stand back and observe, quietly. He’d lend a hand if asked, but he would not be the first to step in. We are two different people. This post reminds me of that difference. This post also says a lot about my husband and his work. He is very good at what he does. I re-post it today, letting him know I appreciate him very much!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, March 15, 2014

selection of ties

selection of ties

Helping My Husband? Sure!

A little after 10 o’clock in the morning. And where do we find ourselves? My husband and I are in a discount clothing store, which is just about the last place he would prefer to be. Especially on a bright, sunny (but chilly) March weekend day. He claims to prefer sitting in the dentist’s chair to going to a clothing store. However, he wanted to buy himself a couple of ties. He wears a jacket and tie to work downtown every day in his work as a senior editor in the Loop. Several of his favorite ties were showing signs of obvious wear. So, out with the old. He went to the clothing store with the intention of buying several ties.

I came along for the ride. When we arrived at the store, my husband made a direct route to the tie display. This place indeed is stocked with good-looking ties. He methodically went through the different ties. (Avoiding pinks and purples, bright colors and cutesy patterns.) I took my time getting over to the rear of the store, but I tried to walk with purpose. When I got there, he already had one tie in hand. He had a task, an errand to do. By golly, he was going to do it.

My husband knows I am a naturally helpful person. I like to help, when I’m asked! He’s used to this. And every now and again, he’ll even accept my help. I unobtrusively began to look through the ties. I have a pretty good idea of what type, design, or look of tie my husband might prefer. (I am pretty good at this, if I do say so myself.) A few minutes later, he walked away from the display. Satisfied, he had four ties in hand. I helped him find three out of four of them. (After glancing between his initial choice and one I pointed out afterwards, he quietly put his choice back.)

Goodness knows, my husband can decide what he’s going to do, and stick to it. A great attitude, most times! But God, sometimes his firm attitude is a bit wearing. Except today. He welcomed my low-key suggestions about ties. Some might say that a tie is just a little thing. Except it’s not a little thing to my husband; he wants to be a well-dressed man. He looks on his neatness in dress and classic, well-made clothing as part of the pride he takes in his job. (What can I say? He’s an orderly, methodical editor.) And, I took the opportunity he offered me, to assist him.

God, I know I try to do things without help sometimes. I know I feel like saying, “I can do it myself!” (Just like my toddler- and preschooler-age children. I remember it well.) God, it felt so good to be able to pitch in, to be able to help my husband on a relatively small thing. Please God, help me to see where I have been (and am, currently) stubborn and willful. I know You want me to be independent—sometimes. But You want us all to be interconnected. So, help me to help others, daily. And help me accept help, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)