Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, September 4, 2015

I am giving my readers a two-for-one deal today. I will put a bit of my post from Wed., Sept. 3 last year in this space. And then, I will repost the post from Thurs., Sept. 4, 2014 in its entirety. I hope this is an encouragement to those of you who know someone who now has or has had mental challenges, or has been diagnosed with mental illness. Maybe even some of us.

(Excerpt from my post “Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!” Originally posted Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

I don’t often willingly think or talk about this, but I had a bout of severe postpartum depression after the birth of my second daughter, 28 years ago. Talk about a Slough of Despond . . .

I can dimly remember feeling barely able to get out of bed. Crawling around the apartment like a snail or slug, barely able to go from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen. It’s a good thing that my daughter was breastfeeding, since I can hardly remember feeding myself and my older daughter, much less her. (My mother-in-law was living in the upstairs apartment at the time. She would often bring her older granddaughter, who was the light of her life, upstairs to visit.)

The depression lasted for about six months. I had absolutely no idea I was in depression until it lifted. I have no idea how or why it ended, either. I just thank God that it did.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 4, 2014

heart - heart held in pink gloves

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

Surprised. Humbled. Gratified. And then, I guess, yes. Okay. Wow!

Those were some of the emotions I felt today as I went to my blog statistics, and checked the retweets and shares. The blog post I wrote yesterday apparently touched a chord with many people. At least, it sure looks like it from the response I received on the stats page, Twitter and Facebook.

I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I wrote that post. I was truly moved by another post (Joani Peacock’s recent blog post at Unorthodox & Unhinged, at wordpress dot com), and I sat down and wrote from my heart. I figured I had kept the information about my postpartum depression inside long enough. I feel stable and whole, now. I’ve decided to share more of this intensely personal, private story, now.

There is dysfunction in just about any family: it just depends on how much (too much!), how often (way too often), and what gives? (No answer, usually.) If those responses fit your family of origin and your growing-up experiences, you’ve got a lot of company!

Being the youngest of six by a number of years, my parents were pretty much done with child-raising by the time I hit the middle grades. A lonely, awkward, chubby kid, I turned into a lonely, awkward chunky adolescent. Sure, there was the on-and-off, general depression (more on than off), extreme loneliness, complicated by some other, medical-related difficulties in my high school years. Yeah, it could be written off to teenage angst. Yeah, it was partly that. But it was more. It was complicated.

Somehow, I find I can sometimes relate when I hear about other teens having difficulties right now—in the present. I find I can relate when people talk about depression—chronic, clinical, or whatever other kind they call it.

The awesome people at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) can help. They really, truly can. Or, they can steer you (or someone you love and are concerned about) to people who can help. There are people at NAMI who understand. I can walk with you a little way. God can help. Having a whole team of people helps so much more! We all can journey together on the road to better mental, emotional, spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it, please!)

Today is September 4, 2014, the day that NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC is marching on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com  

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 27, 2015

It was almost a year ago today that a journalist contacted my husband Kevin about debt consolidation companies. And, my husband had a story to tell! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning. You can read about it, below.

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

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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

Being Kind to a Centenarian (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 14, 2015

Looking back, a year ago today, I wanted to remember a dear friend. The centenarian I mentioned, in this post. He died last fall, one hundred years young. I know for sure he is very much missed. There is a Jewish traditional service where the worshipers ask Ha Shem (G-d) to remember those for whom we mourn and grant them rest. Many remember their beloved ones who have died. In this way, I remember my dear friend. (Personally, I think he’s helping people, being kind to those in heaven, right now. Just like he did while here on earth.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

only kindness matters

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook.

Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 6, 2015

I wanted especially to repost this blog post. Yes, I still read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. However, this particular post means a great deal to me. Last August, I read a book to the preschool about two immigrant children coming to the United States on a steamship from Europe. Just like my grandfather did, when he was a boy. I count this as a proud part of my heritage. I thank God that my grandfather had so many opportunities in this new country. He always strove to impart the importance of education to his children and grandchildren. He is still remembered with great love. God bless the memory of Joseph Recht!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 7, 2014

statue-of-liberty-27

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind

I chose some books today at the library. Picture books.

I read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. This is my joy as well as my opportunity of being kind. So, I now make a habit of periodically going to the library and choosing some good books to share. Tonight was one of those times. I happened to find a book that I read to my children, some years ago. (They are now ages late teens to thirty.) And—I simply had to take this book out again, to share with the preschoolers.

The book is called “Watch the Stars Come Out” by Riki Levinson, illustrated by Diane Goode. It features a girl and her brother coming from Europe on a steamship, to America. The date, I believe, is the late 1800’s. The touching story, paired with the poignant illustrations, shows some of the trials as well as the excitement of the immigrant journey. And then, they are greeted by and reunited with family once they arrive in New York City.

I love when the two children finally see the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steamship. Such a beacon of hope and welcome to so many, over the years. Just as everyone in that book was so grateful to see Lady Liberty, so was my grandfather. I know, because he told me so, more than thirty years ago.

My grandfather was the oldest child in his family. They came here from Europe, too. From the far eastern part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, at that time. Just after 1900. The small town—village or shtetl, really—is now in eastern Poland. After the map of Europe has gone through some major revision.

I specifically asked him about coming over on the steamship. He was in his late eighties, and his glance got really wistful. Far away, and long ago. Yes, he could remember seeing the Statue of Liberty as they approached Manhattan. (They stopped at Ellis Island, first.) He told me everyone on the ship pressed up against the rail, or as close as they could get. And looked at Lady Liberty.

I think it’s wonderful, how children’s books feature such important things as going on a long journey, traveling to a brand-new place, discovering a whole new world. This book is a great representation of all those things, and a marvelous beginning for talking about people of different cultures, who speak different languages, eat different foods, and sometimes wear different clothes. Yet, they are all welcomed here to America. Under Lady Liberty’s lamp.

What a wonderful thing it is to let the preschoolers know about the opportunity and freedom so many people have today, in this new country. Where they can worship God as they please, too. I am so glad I can share this important story with the children.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, July 31, 2015

I attended New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania again this year, just a week ago. My friends Kathleen and Roger were there, too, with their sons! I wanted to feature Kathleen and Roger’s ranch, Jeremiah’s Crossing, again. A #BestOf, for sure! Yes, the mission conference featured missionaries and mission agencies from far flung places! From all over the world! Yet, the outreach that Kathleen and Roger are involved in is right in Wisconsin. Their ranch specializes in equine therapy—where horses help kids! This kind of special needs outreach is moving, heart-warming, and super-special, as are Kathleen and Roger. So, it is with great affection and appreciation that I reprise this post from July 2014.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 25, 2014

mama horse and foal

Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!)

Ever see horses up close? Ever want to help kids? How about combining the two, at a welcoming place where horses help kids?

My friends, Kathleen and Roger Harris, are executive directors for Jeremiah’s Crossing, a nonprofit therapeutic horseback-riding ranch. This ranch is located in Babcock, in central Wisconsin. The nonprofit’s purpose is to help horses help children—and adults—who have diagnosed physical, mental, cognitive, and academic special needs. The best part? There is no cost for the therapy to the children or the adults.

The overall cost of caring for children and adults with special needs can be significant. The staff and those associated with Jeremiah’s Crossing do not wish to add to the financial burden of those families with members and loved ones who have special needs or disabilities. That is why “God’s ranch” provides Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) and lessons, for both children and adults, at no cost to the participants.

Kathleen and Roger Harris were married in 1995, and their children made a blended family from the beginning. They started the ranch in 2006. But even before that, they were gradually being led in the direction of helping kids, through a variety of activities. New Wilmington Mission Conference played a leading role in the Harris’s discernment and progress towards opening Jeremiah’s Crossing. The equine therapy part became more clear as God led them, too. Now, the ranch is a warm, welcoming place to everyone in families with disabled or differently-abled members.

The equine therapy is beneficial (to the persons with a diagnosed disability) in so many ways. First, the therapy gives people a positive nurturing activity that urges them to get into a regularly-scheduled routine. (to work on a regular basis with the trainer in their own therapy sessions, and in the training.) Second, horseback-riding allows for regular exercise and strengthening of their muscles. A bonus here is the assistance the riding provides for the balance center in the inner ear. And, God uses the horses in their riders’ lives in a variety of ways, including creating a friendship between the disabled person and the horse. This helps model relationship-building for the disabled people (especially the children).

The lessons are led by a PATH International Certified Instructor. The number of volunteer team members who accompany the individual riders depends on the needs and abilities of the various riders. The lesson content varies! The instructor plans each lesson on an individual basis, and volunteer side walkers come alongside of the rider and encourage appropriate posture as best suits the individual. Proper grooming, outfitting and care for the horses is modeled, as well. Everyone joins together in facilitating a positive, therapeutic experience for every individual who rides and cares for the horses.

As Kathleen Harris says, God has provided a beautiful place in Jeremiah’s Crossing as part of God’s plan to heal children and their families. Healing happens in a variety of ways—“God’s ranch” is one place where horses truly help to heal—physically, emotionally, mentally, as well as spiritually. Thank God!

(For more information, check out their website at http://www.jeremiahscrossing.org )

@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

Being Kind, Sharing Stories (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Different year, same week in July. Back again in western Pennsylvania. Yes, I’ve joined the delegates at the New Wilmington Mission Conference for another year. What an amazing experience. I’ve been wondering what will happen this week. How God will nudge me, or give a word to me. This year, too, there have been some amazing stories shared. Again. For example, tonight at evening meeting the conference honored everyone who had served in long-term (for two years or more) mission service. The stage was full, and the total of years was over 1000. Such service. Such devotion. Amazing.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 21, 2014

(109th) NWMC theme verse from July 2014

(109th) NWMC theme verse from July 2014

Being Kind, Sharing Stories

Such a plethora of stories today! Bits and pieces from all over. All kinds of fantastic ideas, and new thoughts, and different methods. My mind is running on overdrive, just from all of the excellent input. New Wilmington Mission Conference is truly a unique gathering.

Some people I know, others are new. Some of these stories are continuations from last summer or several summers before. Other parts are stunning. Or heart-breaking. Or chilling. I shake my head in amazement, or dread, or sheer joy.

And, I have been sharing some of my story, as well. The good parts as well as the not-so-good parts. I want to be honest and open with many of these dear people. That’s the kind of place this conference is. That’s the nature of the continuing relationship I have built up over more than fifteen years of being here in this place, at this conference.

It’s good to be here and to see friends again. Friends I have deep relationships with, but friends I only see once a year, for just a handful of days (if that).

I pray for this gathering. I ask God to richly bless the marvelous works that come out of this conference. (And, have come out of this place, for over one hundred years.) Some of these young, old, and middle-aged people are first-timers, and others have come back again and again for thirty, forty, even fifty years.

Just amazing. God, bless the people who come to this place. Bless those who were unable to be here, for whatever reason. And God—bless Your work in the world, wherever Your people gather.

@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 Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, July 16, 2015

An exciting enterprise! A meaningful ministry! Those are two ways to describe the Magdalene community. Similar way to describe Thistle Farms! As I said in my blog post, an innovative women’s enterprise. Also a haven. Safe space. Place for healing and growth and nurture. Thank you, Rev. Becca Stevens, for having the vision to begin a place like the Magdalene community, and its companion ministry Thistle Farms! (You can read more about this wonderful place for women, below!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 18, 2014

God making a way

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!)

The computer has made my world expand. And at the same time, get small. Almost like a small town. I’m thinking of several new-ish friends of mine, blogging friends and email friends. Friends I have never met, nor are very likely to. But, friends indeed, drawn together by similar interests and orientations, not to mention similar senses of humor.

One of my blogging friends is Matt Marino, an Episcopal priest in Arizona. (His always-excellent, and sometimes-snarky, blog is http://thegospelside.com/ ) He and I exchanged several comments recently, and he gave me information on an innovative women’s enterprise in the Nashville area. Oh, and it’s a mission, too! Started in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt University’s campus.

Thistle Farms now incorporates a thriving business enterprise. I quote from the website: “By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.” But that is just one of the end outcomes of Thistle Farms. The supportive women’s community is much, much more than just a bath and body product production facility.

This supportive community is also known as the Magdalene program, a residential program for women who have known abuse, prostitution and trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, and life on the streets. Some come to the program from prison or from the streets, but all have in common the fact that they are survivors. Overcomers. One of the distinctive things about this two-year program is that they give the women housing, food, medical and dental treatment, counseling and therapy, further education, and job training. All this, without charge to the residents. (And without receiving government funding.)

Operating on 24 principles that were developed from St. Benedict’s Rule, the Magdalene community strives to live ”gracefully in community with each other.” This simple, practical guide to living aids everyone in the community—residents, staff and volunteers alike—to live cooperatively, building up each other and sharing in work to help the community grow. Be nurtured. Become so much more.

After new residents become acclimated to the Magdalene community for several months, they then start to look for work, return to school, and have the option of entering their home-grown job training program at the bath and body product facility, Thistle Farms. There they have the opportunity to learn worthwhile job skills in every facet of production, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The women learn responsibility and cooperation, which are the foundation for everything else. All worthwhile skills for life management, as well as opportunities to gain healing experiences. These experiences build up and nurture themselves and each other.

Magdalene staff, volunteers, residents and graduates “stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from abuse, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that continues to buy and sell women,” as the website says. God’s richest blessings on this innovative, caring, nurturing community that seeks to give value to each woman they assist. (For further information, see http://www.thistlefarms.org/ )

@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!)