Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

@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 PEACE 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!)

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 1, 2017

Today’s weather was rainy in both the afternoon and evening, which followed a very rainy, gray and chilly weekend. I found I needed some serenity today. It’s difficult for me to be cheery and bright when the weather outside has been so gray and dismal for a number of days in a row. (*sigh!*) I wanted to pass this along. Perhaps someone out there needs some peace and serenity, too.

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

Posted on May 1, 2014 by chaplaineliza

serenity prayer coin

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

I did a number of various kinds of things today. Practiced the keyboard for Sunday service. Handled some administrative matters in the office. Led an adult bible study. Wrote some of the encyclopedia article I’ve been working on. Went to two meetings later in the day. Bought my daughter a dress (she’s going to a special symposium as an invited guest tomorrow). Met with a good friend after dinner.

Not to mention all the other stuff that’s going on in my life. Any one of these things is a worthy topic for being of service. But I’d like to focus on the topic of serenity. And how much I need some in my life.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the original Serenity Prayer. It was more than twice as long as the prayer commonly known by so many today. The short version is also repeated in recovery groups all over the country—even all over the world, today. But the shorter prayer is one that I have memorized. And one I say to myself, from time to time. Even more often than that, on occasion.

The thing about this Serenity Prayer is that it urges me to accept people, places and things, as they are. If I have a degree of acceptance in my life, I am more likely to be open and willing to help others. To serve and to be kind. I also find I that much more likely to have joy and gratitude in my heart.

Since there is so much going on in and around my life, currently, I honestly feel the need for serenity. Peace. I would prefer a little quiet, which is more than I usually get around my house. (Thanks to my two teenagers!) I know what many people will say—in just a few years, there will be more than enough quiet, when my two younger children follow my two older ones. When I have an empty nest.

But I am not there, yet. I still need the Serenity Prayer. I am familiar with the idea of acceptance. Accepting the fact that there are many things (even most things?) in my life which I cannot change. Have absolutely no control over. And, I need to be okay with that. Today, despite feeling as if I did not control much in my personal and work life, I was still able to help others. I still made several people smile, even laugh. I still led a bible study. (the Road to Emmaus! Great material!) And, I especially had a wonderful time with my friend—we talked about all kinds of things. Just like we always do.

I’ll close with the Serenity Prayer, because any time is a good time for serenity. God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

@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 PEACE 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!)

Are You Being Served? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, April 9, 2017

As I read through a 2014 blog post list from A Year of Being Kind, this blog post jumped out at me. Yes, I still go into Curt’s Café from time to time (even though it is a little out of my usual traffic pattern). And, I am so glad they expanded—to a second location, on the south side of Evanston, on Dempster near Evanston Township High School. What a great opportunity for young people, looking for a leg up! And what a wonderful chance for restorative justice to be lived out. Thank you, Susan. Thank you to all the supporters of Curt’s Café, too!

coffee shop drawing

Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, March 14, 2014

Are You Being Served? (Feature Friday!)

Imagine a place where young people are valued. Mentored. Taught not only what to do on the job, but how to manage life skills, as well. Imagine no longer—this place is for real, and it’s Curt’s Café, in Evanston, Illinois. This café and coffee shop in north Evanston has a mission to “equip at-risk youth (15 to 22 years old) with job and life skills through training, career coaching and mentoring.”

Worthy goals, you say? That’s not all. The training and support these young people receive help them to succeed in life, find worthwhile employment, and become active participants in their local community. These young men and women are not always the first choice for general employment, because of a brush with the legal system. Or, they haven’t had the opportunities that other youth often take for granted. Those are things that usually are a red flag to employers. However, the staff and director at Curt’s Café go out of their way to provide these young people (“at risk”) with fine opportunities. Careful training by food service professionals. Mentoring in positive, helpful life skills. Gainful employment.

I had the opportunity to talk today with Susan Trieschmann, Curt’s Café’s executive director. She said one of the most transformative things about working at the Café is watching the transformations happen in the lives of the young people. And, she not only watches the youth working and training at the Café, but also watches the interactions of the patrons with the staff.  Susan marvels at the patience of the patrons, and talks about observing them “dig deep down and grab the patience from somewhere inside.”

She gave a recent example. A good-hearted recent hire at the Café was serving breakfast to a father and daughter. The young man messed the order up. He not only messed up, but he has issues with shyness. Messing up the order made his shyness even more apparent. Susan observed the daughter encouraging the staff member and letting him know that it was all right. People mess up. And that just happens sometimes.

Penny Doyle, fundraising manager for the Café, is touched by transformation, too. She watches the young women and men become more confident as they continue to grow in learning at the Café. Learning not only about the restaurant and food service business, but about life in general. She especially has gratitude for the incredible community support. Penny encourages anyone who would like to contact the Café to check out their Facebook page or contact them at www.curtscafe.org. And donations are a wonderful thing, as well!

The patrons, by and large, realize and fully support the mission of Curt’s Café; they have a great capacity for willing understanding. Even active encouragement!  Susan, who attends classes on a part-time basis at Catholic Theological Union, is fully committed to the mission of the Café. This ministry is a visible, tangible way for restorative justice to be lived out. Lived out locally, in our community, praise 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 PEACE journey through Lent, into Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)


Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As I looked at this post from three years ago, I was reminded that I have helped out many relatives and acquaintances over the years. My siblings and I quite willingly were there for our elderly relatives. Moreover, I have also been trained in chaplaincy, so I have specific skills in dealing with people in hospitals and care centers. This is so important, especially for those patients and residents who do not have family or friends who are able to come and see them regularly, and give them a hand. Please, consider this opportunity to encourage someone, to brighten their day, and give them a cheery word.

 BK no act of kindness is wasted

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

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 blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

 

Caring for Myself—And for Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading this post, three years later, my opinion has not changed. Yoga is marvelous for me, inside and out. (Especially with that exceptional yoga teacher! Who, sadly, does not teach on Monday nights any longer.) I have now gone beyond gentle yoga to regular yoga classes—hatha and vinyasa yoga. Yes, yoga is a wonderful way to care for myself. And, by caring for myself, I can’t help but care for others.

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

Posted on March 11, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 10, 2014

yoga guy zacara spot

yoga drawing – Zakar art by Chris Carter

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

I needed to dive right into the week, right off the bat this morning. Work today, running and fetching, some computer work, some necessary telephone calls that needed to be made. Then, I made dinner. At least, I started dinner and asked my daughter to finish turning the chicken in the covered skillet while it simmered. Why the hurry at the end of the day? Simple! I have a one word answer: yoga.

Earlier today I went out of my way to do things for other people. Yes, I did acts of service, intentionally. But I want to focus on what happened at the YMCA. In yoga class. The Y has a number of different classes and exercise opportunities each day. In the pool, in the exercise studios, in the big gym. There are several yoga classes each week, too. I am no expert at yoga, believe me! But the gentle yoga class on Monday afternoons is perfect for me. Yes, there are yoga poses and stretching that challenge me! But nothing is too hard. Nothing that the older instructor has the class do is beyond most people’s abilities.

I’ve been attending the gentle yoga class for about three months, and it helps me! The yoga teacher helps me, too. She has a kind and easy-going way about her. One of the biggest reasons I appreciate this teacher is the open, generous manner she has with each person in the room. She also invites people to leave their worries, troubles, and stresses outside the room. Inside the room is calmness and peace. We can take our time and stretch, and restore balance and harmony to our bodies and our inner selves.

Yes, I realize that there is a component to certain yoga instruction that is rooted in eastern thought and religious practices. Yes, true. But not this teacher, and not this kind of gentle yoga and stretching. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. But—I saved the best for the last. I find this regular yoga class is a superb way to care for myself. I run around most of the week like a chicken with its head cut off. (My father-in-law saw quite a number of these, and he said they were pretty funny!)

Sometimes I am running, or in a hurry, or worrying. Other times I am caring for others—my children, my family, my good friends, those at my work, patients or residents. It seems as if I seldom take the time or the opportunity to carve out an hour to rest, to release the worry and upset of the day or the week. That is just what my kind yoga teacher invites us to do. It’s no wonder I am dashing off to her class each Monday! I need to take the time on a regular basis to allow myself to unwind. And more importantly, to allow myself to become refreshed and recharged—as in this class. I am so grateful to the YMCA for employing such a wonderful teacher. Thanks, YMCA! And 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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

Being Kind with Singing Valentines (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from three years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a few years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

 

souper-bowl-logo

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 2, 2017

Earlier today, I was reminded of the Super Bowl coming up in a few days. I passed the big screens of televisions at the gym this afternoon, and saw the promos for the big game. I like football, but for some reason, my thoughts came right to this blog post. The reasons behind this blog post are so worthwhile. I hope and pray that all houses of worship that are participating in this Souper Bowl of Caring receive a great deal of donations. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 31, 2014

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.un

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)