Be Kind with a Smile (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I have a friendly face. Or, so I am told. Others have more sour or sad expressions. I feel badly about that, and would like to ask them why. Why their faces are so sad, or expressions so hurting, or eyes so full of fear. As for me, I often smile, easily and readily. Here’s a blog post about exactly that.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, April 22, 2014

blooming_bike1

Be Kind with a Smile

It’s good to be with friends. I had several opportunities to visit with friends in the past few days. Some friends and I got together tonight. We talked, laughed, and generally had a great time together.

I could talk further about that get-together, but I thought another encounter more significant.

On my way home from my visit with friends, I decided to stop by the grocery store. (We needed a few things from the store. Especially milk!) So, I swung by the grocery store I used to go to, on the other side of town. A much denser side of town, with a number of larger apartment buildings and condos, as opposed to the neighborhood where I now live. More single-family homes in our present location.

On the other side of town, fascinating people, places and things. Always an interesting trip, going to that particular grocery store. The time was later in the evening. The dinner rush had long passed, and things around that store seemed to be winding down. I went into the store, and didn’t exactly hurry, but didn’t dawdle either.

As I came out of the store, who should I see getting off his bicycle but an older man I had seen for the past few years. A number of times before. I don’t see him every single time I go to that store, but about half the time? He’s there. Sitting or standing at the entrance/exit to the store, greeting all passersby. Dreadlocks and all.

He got off his bike and met my glance. I acknowledged his look with one of my own, as well as with a friendly smile.

That took him by surprise. “You’re the first person today who smiled at me. Thank you, lovely lady, for the beautiful smile.” (If you’ve seen photos of me, or me in real life, you know I have a nice, friendly and open smile.) “Why, thank you for noticing,” I responded. I also said I was sorry I didn’t have any money to give to this man. “Oh, that’s all right. I appreciate your lovely smile. That’s enough for me.”

How about that? I didn’t mean to give my smile to this dear man as a gift. No, it was unintentional. It just happened.

I rejoice in the fact that I can give away smiles to pretty much anyone who walks or drives by! Smiles don’t cost anything. They don’t take up room, they won’t rust or wither or fade. But, they brighten someone’s day, even lift them up out of sadness or depression, or even awkward or embarrassing things. God, what are You going to send me tomorrow? I can hardly wait to see!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A year ago, last weekend. What a memory. What an unusual spring break trip. Instead of going someplace like a big theme park, or some beach in the sun, we went to Iowa last spring. It’s good to revisit thoughts from the past, especially when they are so kind and neighborly. Check it out!

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 11, 2014

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa are so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude.

God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these good people!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping Out—A Pinch Hitter? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baseball season is with us again. I feel badly because I don’t watch the game like I used to. There is a Big Ten university not far from my house, and my husband and I have seriously considered watching them play baseball. Almost like watching a minor league game! But, not yet. Still, I love the game. I can relate so well to baseball analogies when discussing life. I sometimes do feel like a pinch hitter! See what you think as you read this post.

(. . . “for it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out/at the old ball game!”)

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, April 7, 2014

baseball players -  metal art from Mexico

baseball players –
metal art from Mexico

 

Helping Out—A Pinch Hitter?

It’s April again, and baseball season is again with us. I haven’t been to a major league game for several years, but I really enjoy a good game of baseball. (Of course, the team I’ve rooted for, ever since I was a girl, is the Chicago Cubs. But that’s a whole different matter. No joking comments, please.)

From time to time, I seem to be placed in a position where I need to step in at the last minute. You know, where I might need to speak, or teach, or facilitate, or drive, or – you name it. I’ve probably done it. I have training in several areas. A few years ago, I even thought of myself as a jack of all trades. (Or would that be a jill of all trades? Good question. But I digress.)

Another way to think of this kind of position is that of a pinch hitter. Sure, from time to time I have stepped up to the plate and competently taken a swing. I try to do my best, whatever I do! My conscientiousness helps a good deal here, too. I could tell you about some tricky situations, and a few times that ended up being tragic. But instead, I’m going to focus on today. I stepped up to the plate here at home, and helped out the contractor to the best of my ability. On the phone, walking all over the building, doing an errand. And then some. (Here I thought that getting a new vanity, sink and wall tile was just a simple, straightforward job. Little did I know . . . )

And later, I talked with a friend. He and I were going to meet tomorrow morning before a meeting. But not now! Not with his dripping nose and scratchy throat! So, I can certainly substitute for him and do a competent job facilitating the group.

God, I get the feeling that You’re trying to show me something with this blog post. You don’t need to worry about being a pinch hitter. You’re a superstar. You could blow everyone away with Your batting, fielding, throwing and pitching talent! But what about me? How do I fit in?

I know You love me, God. Thanks a lot! (I really mean that, very, very much. Despite my humorous, sometimes offhand way of communicating.) But what if You want me to keep on helping out? Doing what I can. Stepping up to the plate when I need to, filling the need when necessary. Maybe this is another way of You showing Your love for me—by giving me opportunities to serve You, in any one of a number of ways.

I wonder what You’ll send my way tomorrow? I bet it will be interesting, whatever it is! Thanks ahead of time for helping me handle it, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House? (#BestOf)

 (the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remodeling? Yes, this is where I was at, last year. What a mess! But now, almost a year later, it was so worth it! Looking at our modest (all right—small, it’s true) bathroom, I know the headaches were just for a little while. The facelift, the fresh tile, the new paint? All go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable in our modest condo. Lord, is that what You want me to feel like in my spiritual house, too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - Oleg Kujala (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

 

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter.

I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much.

I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul?

Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

A Diaper Pantry? What a Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, March 28, 2015

This outreach is near and dear to my heart. Even though my youngest is now a senior in high school, I still feel strongly about these dear little ones. I also feel strongly about what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” These little ones and their loved ones are definitely part of “the least of these.”

A Year of Being Kind blog –Friday, March 28, 2014

diaper babies dancing 

A Diaper Pantry? What a Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

We hear about people losing jobs, the loss of homes and apartments, lack of money for decent clothes, no shoes that fit properly, choice of utilities or necessary medications. Let’s look more closely at certain families at risk, with very little money. Like, for instance, parents with babies and toddlers. Sure, some of these people are trying very hard to make ends meet, scrimping and cutting corners everywhere they can. But ever think about where they find the extra money for a very real, daily necessity—diapers?

The congregation at First United Methodist Church in Evanston has a solution that will help in this difficult situation: a ministry called Bundled Blessings. This ministry provides diapers to people in need by giving collected diapers to partner agencies in the Evanston area. And in turn, these agencies distribute the donated diapers to those in great need.

This ministry is recent. It just started in September 2013, when it held its first diaper drive. They collected enough disposable diapers for 30 small children and brought the collected diapers to two agencies in October, just a few months ago. This spring, Bundled Blessings added a third partner agency. They plan to provide 50 diapers to several dozen babies and toddlers per month.

But, why diapers? What makes that need so urgent?

I can relate. When my husband and I had our second child, neither of us had a secure job—for several years. We had a difficult time finding money for the necessities—for many, many months. I can remember sometimes being really inventive. Like putting our daughter into the bathtub for an extended bath in the evening. That way, I could possibly save a disposable diaper that day, and only use six per day, instead of seven.

I can empathize with moms today who cut corners so closely. Their babies and toddlers wear diapers longer than usual. Parents and other caregivers sometimes scrub disposable diapers so they could even be used a second time. This sad circumstance means that so many little bottoms are more often exposed to possible irritation and diaper rash. In short, little bottoms are just plain uncomfortable!

Here in Illinois, the LINK card (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) cannot be used to buy disposable diapers. So, low-income parents and caregivers need to find another way to get this necessity. Bundled Blessings fills a much needed gap.

Thank God for this new ministry, helping these local partner agencies to make certain babies and toddlers have one of the necessities of life: diapers.

If anyone would like more information, check out First United Methodist’s website, http://www.faithatfirst.com and you can contact: bundledblessings@faithatfirst.com or bundledblessings@outlook.com .

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(the Best Of) Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reflecting on the past weeks, I discovered I have been in and out of hospitals and hospices recently. As I read over a few posts from this time last year, I was especially struck by this one. I wanted to bring this post to my readers today. This opportunity is something many of us can do. A suggestion: be kind! Be of service! Be generous with your time today.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 24, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Take the Opportunity to Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

I did some housework for an acquaintance of mine today. Some cleaning, some laundry. Took care of a few necessary things. This service was much appreciated, too!

But what about people who need some kind of help or assistance, and are unable to find anyone to come and give them a hand?

This is a sad situation, indeed. Imagine—an older person, or a person with limited mobility, who wants to do things or go somewhere, and rarely is able to. Or perhaps a person who is confined to a wheelchair or a walker and badly needs some assistance in their home—but is unable to afford anyone to come in and help on even an occasional basis.

I know that because of employment, family obligations, continuing health concerns, or any of a host of other urgent matters, sometimes relatives and friends are unable to assist their ill or shut-in loved ones.

In my work as a chaplain, I’ve seen people come to the hospital, loved ones who came a long distance to see their relative. Their relative—the patient—might not have any relations or even friends living close by. I know what a difficult thing this can be for some people (both for the patient as well as the far-away relatives). And even more complications can result when an older or infirm patient is released from a hospital or rehab facility. They come home to . . . what? Who? If they previously lived alone, it’s a real challenge to find someone for them to stay with. Or to stay with them in their house.

This reminds me of my elderly aunt, who died just about three years ago. My aunt and my mother lived together in my mom’s house for a number of years. That is, until my mom died about a dozen years ago. Then, my 80-something year old aunt moved into a senior apartment building. Nice-sized studio apartments, with an additional kitchenette, too. It’s a good thing my aunt had three nieces to check on her regularly (me, my older sister, and my cousin). Between the three of us, my aunt had visitors at least twice a week, and sometimes three, and even four days every week. But I know that some other families are not as fortunate or as close-knit.

All this talk of families and God and encouragement and illness intrigue me. A particular Hebrew word leaps to mind, too. The Hebrew word “mitzvah” means the precepts or commands of God. As a second meaning, Hebrew mitzvah, means something similar as the English “commandment.” Often, it’s a moral deed performed as a religious duty.

The term mitzvah has also come to mean an act of human kindness.

So, whether you or I consider our act of kindness altruistic or a mitzvah performed as a religious duty, these are wonderful opportunities to show others you care for them! Love them! Do you know someone who needs assistance? Someone who has limited mobility? Ask if you can give them a hand. And chances are, they might say yes!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Tell People How Special They Are! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, March 19, 2015

This is one of my favorite Psalms—Psalm 139. Plus, this blog post has one of my favorite word-pictures from Scripture. God’s blessings on my son, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, March 22, 2014

yes-you are special

Tell People How Special They Are!

God made you special. God made me special, too. King David talks about this special-ness in Psalm 139. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well.”

I informed my son of this God-given special-ness today, and hugged him. That was the way I was intentionally kind today!

How about you? God not only gives us blessings each and every day, but has also created each one unique and special. Take the opportunity to tell someone that God made them absolutely unique. Special. One of a kind. (And, thank God for it!)

Dear God, help the dear person reading this post understand how special and one-of-a-kind they are. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)