Serving, at the Waning of the Year (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Serving? Being kind? Being helpful? Yes. I try to be all those things. As I reread this blog entry, I thought of the difficulty many families have—mourning over a holiday. In subsequent years, the death will oftentimes be inextricably mingled with the holiday celebration. And in this particular case, I hope and pray I was a decent minister to this small family. I did not even know them, but I responded in their time of need. God, wherever they are at this Thanksgiving time, comfort and encourage them.


A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Serving, at the Waning of the Year

autumn candles

As I sat in my office, I was surprised by a sudden telephone call. I was asked to officiate at a funeral service, with very short notice.

I was happy to be able to do it. To have the opportunity to do it. And, it also was another opportunity to be of service. To use my multifaceted training and abilities, and to come alongside of these dear people who mourn.

Just as 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I not only have received the spiritual gifts of encouragement, mercy, pastor/teacher, and helps, I also have chaplain training, and Clinical Pastoral Care. I stepped up to the plate, and I offered what I could to the loved ones who mourned. I pray for them, and hope that God is with them in this special, tender, painful time.

Yes, I cried today. Not only did I observe a family in the midst of a memorable experience, I felt with them. I saw them grieve. And, I pray that I was able to be a comfort and a support for them.

I keep coming back to this, again and again. With the waning of the year. Just as I mentioned last week. Taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” I thought of this dear person who died several days ago. Even though I didn’t mention this verse at the funeral, I thought of it, to myself. I considered both the end of the year as well as the end of a long life. Gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory, reckoning up the deeds done for God.

We are about to begin the circle of the liturgical year, again, with the beginning of Advent. Yes, I can prepare myself to say “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Yet, I am not quite ready. Yes, I acted as a chaplain today, and used my pastoral care gifts and skills. Thank God I have them! But, Advent isn’t here, yet. I’m not quite there yet.

Soon. I am still at the point of numbering my days. Soon enough, I’ll be thankful. (Tomorrow, in fact.) And then, soon enough, the time of preparation, of Advent. But not yet. Soon.


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!)

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stewardship. How can I be a steward of what I have? How can we be good stewards of what God has given to us? I’m not just thinking about money. Our treasure. I’m thinking about time and talents, too. What’s more, I’m thinking of thanks. Gratitude. God has given me a lot! I’m thinking about the time, talents and treasure God has abundantly blessed me with. God has blessed all of us, too. I am so grateful to God. Thank You, Lord.

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service

autumn road with leaves

Stewardship. Not a common word, for sure! Most people probably never even think of it. Or, at most, it might come to mind for certain folks at this time of the year. In connection with charitable giving.

Yes, that was how I used it, yesterday. In my sermon on being a good steward. Actually, I stretch the truth slightly. My sermon was not about stewardship. Instead, my focus was on taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” So, I mentioned the end of the year, gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory. And with that as my springboard, I took a leap into my first stewardship sermon. Talking about being good stewards not only of our money, but also of our time, talents, health and relationships.

I prayed for my children today, as well as my friend’s children. (I am using the book The Power of a Praying Parent.) I prayed that each child might discover that unique gift or set of gifts that God has given to each of them. And again, I was reminded vividly of the verse for November: 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

Sure, it’s one thing, to ooh and aah over a child’s budding attempts at a gift. Like, for example, a painting brought home from school. Or playing an instrument at a youthful band recital. Or being instrumental in winning the contest at a junior high sporting event. Budding gifts like that are easier to receive, and easier to display. But what about those whose gifts are more hidden? Or people who are more shy, or even more bruised, as a result of things out of their control?

This is a prayer anyone can pray. We all need to follow God more nearly, more dearly. It is my responsibility to pray for small (and not so small) children. And young people. And middle-aged and older people.

I encourage everyone reading: pray for others. And don’t forget yourself! You are a trusted, gifted child of God, too. We all need to serve with whatever God has given to each of us. May it be so, God!


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 of Service? What More Profound Way than Service to Country. (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today is Veterans Day 2015. Yes, I am reposting the Veterans Day blog post from last November. It still holds true. I still feel a great sense of gratitude to all who have served. And, I still pray for all those who stand in harm’s way, no matter where, no matter who. I am praying for you today.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Flanders Field poppies

Flanders Field poppies

Being of Service? What More Profound Way than Service to Country.

Today is Veterans Day. I have heard about, read about the many sacrifices veterans have made, over the years. But I am also thinking of how this commemoration started. Armistice Day was what it was called. The ending of World War I, the cessation of all fighting. On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour. That horrific, bloody, awful war. Ending, ninety-six years ago today.

I think, too, of that eloquent poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, so vividly portraying the poppies on the field of battle. Written almost one hundred years ago, this word picture from the point of view of the dead remains one of the most memorable snapshots in words of that terrible conflict.

War is never pretty. Sometimes for reasons of great societal conflict. Occasionally for moral reasons of profound purpose and rectitude. Again—war is never comfortable and pleasant.

I pray for all those who have served their country, or presently are serving. I pray for all of these military personnel, whichever country they are fighting for. Even if these countries are at odds with mine, currently, that still doesn’t make their soldiers and sailors and airmen any the less people. Human beings. Each one of them still has a mother, and other family members and friends. I recognize the humanity and the personhood in all of them.

Yes, in Flanders field and far beyond, we do commemorate these military personnel. My father was a veteran of World War II, and so were his three brothers. My grandfather served in the U.S. Army in World War I, in France. I honor these brave soldiers. And so many, many more. I honored them on Sunday, in the morning church service, and the whole congregation prayed for veterans and those currently in service, with a precious prayer.

I remember them today. On Remembrance Day. Veteran’s Day. We remember. God bless all those who are currently serving, and especially those who have served. Amen.


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(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!)

In Which I Am Kind through Social Media (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, November 5, 2015

As I looked back today at my posts from a year ago, I felt like I was transported back to 2014. Seeing those year-ago words, feeling those year-ago feelings. And then, I read the post where I talked about praying for my friend’s children, and for mine. Yes, every day in the month of November 2014 I prayed for all of these children. (Grown-up and not so grown-up.) I appreciate Stormie Omartian for her loving, nurturing book (The Power of a Praying Parent) that served as a help and a prayer prompt! But most of all, I thank God for a wonderful friend, and for her loving family. God, bless them all today, and every day.


A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, November 6, 2014

BK be kind be kind be kind

In Which I Am Kind through Social Media

I was kind to several people today. Most significantly, I was kind to a friend. I have decided to pray for her children and for mine. I wrote about that here in A Year of Being Kind, a few days ago. But after praying today, I was moved to tell her my impressions from God.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t puff myself up, and think I regularly get messages from God. (Messages through email, maybe? Or carrier pigeon, or even perhaps smoke signals? Nope.) But every once in a while, I realize something about someone I’m praying about. Or, get some kind of idea that a certain thing might be going on. It was that way today.

I told my friend about my strong impression. I also quoted three sentences from the chapter on prayer that I read today. Those things almost made her cry, she said! She is so grateful that I am taking this month to pray for her children. (And for my four, as well! I am not purely altruistic! A little bit, yes, but not a whole lot. God, help me.)

The chapter from Stormie Omartian’s book concerns feeling loved and accepted. Dear God, this is so important! Not only for children, but for all of us! For the least of these, and for our seniors, the handicapped, the marginalized, the outsiders.

Specifically, I prayed for these dear children that they feel love and acceptance from God. That Satan not be able to poison their thinking and their experience of people’s love toward them. And I especially pray that these dear children’s parents (I very much include myself here) not only communicate their love and acceptance to the children, but also to everyone else they can. God, please bless, encourage, and support these children. Bless me, bless my dear friend, too. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.


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!)

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 29, 2015

I love to read out loud. I read to the preschoolers at my church every week. This past Tuesday, I read several Halloween stories to them, and they enjoyed the special holiday books very much. I’ve loved reading my whole life long. So, when I re-discovered this blog post from last October on A Year of Being Kind, I knew I had to include it in the #BestOf feature.


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


Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

As some of you know, I am a mom. (My youngest is seventeen, a senior in high school.) As some of you also know, I love books. I love reading. And I especially love to read books out loud to children. (Yes, I do voices. I studied with a vocal coach for some months about fifteen years ago, thinking I might get into the voiceover business. And then, I did comedy improv. But that’s another story. Another post!)

One of my blogging friends, Marilyn— on—had an intriguing capper to her cross-cultural blog post earlier this week. She talked about a friend of hers who has started a service called Kids Books Without Borders, and added the link. Wasting no time, I contacted Gail through her blog. And—she wrote back! She said she was more than happy to be featured in my blog.

I am so happy to let people know about Gail’s service through Kids Books Without Borders. Almost everyone I know is acquainted with someone who is presently living or who has lived overseas. Gail grew up in France, with a British mom and an American dad. Gail especially loved to read. (Just like me, when I was a girl!) However, their family had a real challenge in finding children’s books in English. While in France, I mean. Gail treasured those rare packages from grandparents that included children’s books! The Little House books. The Paddington books. Any book by Roald Dahl. Charlotte’s Web. Mary Poppins. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Hobbit.

As Gail grew up, married, and had children of her own, she passed on her special love of books and of reading. However, she remembered the difficulty she—and her parents—had of finding many children’s books in English while overseas. She came up with the idea for this service to be able to “put children’s books (and some young adult and adult books as well) in the hands of children and families living overseas.”

Here is more about Gail’s service, in her own words: “I now have available over 2000 books, both picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, which are available to you at no charge, if you are living overseas. They are all books that I have read and which come highly recommended. I am mostly self-taught, but have read extensively about children’s literature. If you are overwhelmed by choices or do not know what books would be best for your child, please email me. I would love to give you recommendations if you let me know your child’s (children’s) age, gender, reading level and areas of interests.

“All the books are free and there is no limit on the number of books you can request. However, I do ask that you pay for postage if shipped to a US address and half of the postage if shipped overseas. The majority of families living overseas ask that I send the books to US-based friends or family. The recipients then deliver them when visiting the person requesting them. This is the least expensive and most reliable way of mailing them.”

The link to Gail’s blog is below. (Just a reminder—the holidays are not far away!) I am also glad to be able to pass the word along about Gail’s tremendous service! Such a wonderful opportunity to pass the gift of books along to another generation. I am so grateful for the gift of books, and awed by the innovation and inventiveness of the authors, illustrators, and all the other creative people who contributed to the production and publication of these incredible resources. The written word. So powerful. So moving. Thank you again, Gail!

For further information, see:


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(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!)

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 22, 2015

Another day, another memory. Except, this is an especially poignant one, concerning the Ebola crisis in Africa. (And, there is recent, hopeful news. The crisis has been over for a number of months!)

This post also concerns my friend Jim, in Africa. He and his family are over there, far away. He and his wife Amy are doing important, life-saving work. God bless them!

 A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 24, 2014

Heal me, O Lord

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way (Feature Friday!)

Ebola crisis. When I say that, what happens inside? Do you get anxious? Afraid? Do you know much about Ebola? Do you know anyone who is actively working with the medical personnel concerned with Ebola, in areas affected by that particular disease? I do. My friend Jim—Dr. James Mcauley, medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—is stationed in Africa, along with his wife and part of his family. (Jim and Amy’s younger son was in the same grade as my son—we all knew one another from church.)

Jim has been stationed in Africa for three years. Formerly an infectious disease physician here in Chicago, he is now doing life-saving work managing and supervising medical personnel in a large area of Africa. Here’s a snapshot of what his day-to-day work looks like, in his own words.

“Our team has been working flat out trying to stop this epidemic, and morale is always an issue. I visited four of our teams in the last 48 hours – bringing supplies and listening. [I’m thinking of] two – discussing infection control with the nurse in charge – part of our roving team and have had a particularly rough road…. Others have had to deal with the stress of having a cold or diarrhea and wonder if it might be Ebola. Although our teams avoid contact with Ebola patients, it is always a concern. I have lost a lot of sleep worrying about my team.”

One other important thing about Jim? Yes, he attended seminary part-time while holding his position as infectious disease doctor—full-time. He and I were in seminary at the same time, in the same Reformed Tradition class. We sat at the back of the room, and made joking and snarky comments to each other. (Yes, I was that kind of student.) He is now ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has that qualification, too. So, when I read that he is concerned for his team, I know he and his wife Amy (also a physician) are praying for the workers on the field.

More from Jim: “Saw first hand the Ebola Holding Units where people are isolated while diagnostic tests are done. [I] visited two quarantined villages, and participated in several calls with the US. CDC staff do not enter Ebola Treatment Centers or any home where an Ebola patient might be housed. So we kept our distance…. I think the bags of Snickers I left with my teams held the Dementors at bay for another day…. Pray, resist the urge to call for US isolation, donate (CDC Foundation has been amazing), and consider volunteering to help our neighbors in Africa.”

Jim is reporting from the field, from where the disease is affecting countless people, every day. Not only the people who were infected, but also their families. Their friends. The people who lived next door, or down the street. All because of the fear and anxiety that comes from Ebola.

This is what Jim has to say about that: “So much we don’t yet understand. I am starting to think of ways to reach out to the faith based health worker groups – who better to stand in the gap and demonstrate to the world what it means to love God and love my neighbor. Wouldn’t it be great if in a few years when the world looks back on this epidemic they say, ‘Ah, but the people of God stood fast and demonstrated real love!’”

This is my hope and prayer, too, Jim. I pray that you and Amy will demonstrate God’s love in your actions, too. God’s blessings on your work and service. And, thanks for the permission to share your story!


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!)

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A year ago. A wet, chilly, dreary October day. Unlike today, which had blue skies, high clouds, and a fresh wind. As I read last year’s post, I was transported back there, to that wet, chilly day. Gloomy feelings, uncomfortable situations, and deep sadness. Usually, I don’t want to go back to times like these. However, I especially wanted to remember this dear one, this senior, who has now died. Passed on to heaven. Blessings on all of these infirm dear ones, whether seniors or younger ones.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BK kindness touching your life

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness

A wet, rainy October day. Sad. Anxious. Depressing. Especially when I needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist. (At least that turned out all right.) Afterwards, I spent the morning taking it slowly, easily. Letting my mouth recuperate from the dental work.

But what about other people who spent today in less than comfortable places? Like individuals who have lost a job and can’t find another one? What about them? What about their families? How are they making ends meet, financially? What about the desperate, long-term anxiety that comes with unemployment—especially being without a job for a long, long time?

What about people who are caregivers? Who faithfully stay by their loved ones, feeding, cleaning, doing heavy lifting. Sometimes these dear ones have the most thankless jobs, but still show up every day. Still continue to care for their loved family member, spouse or significant other. I know, I have seen the care, love, and comfort displayed by faithful people stepping up and loving, caring and being an encouragement.

And individuals who are terribly sick, in the hospital or an extended care center? It doesn’t where these dear ones are located. Serious sickness happens. Sadness and anxiety afflict countless numbers of people, every single day, affecting patients as well as the loved ones. (I have some familiarity with this, from my time as a chaplain.)

When I visited one of these dear ones today in an extended care center, I tried to be as encouraging and supportive as possible. I prayed; this dear senior prayed for me, too. I cried because I was so emotionally shaken.

God be with the dear one I visited today. Thanks to you for any prayers you can offer for this dear person. And, thanks for prayer for me, too. I need it, since I am regularly dealing with emotions, feelings, relationships. All difficult, challenging, filled with anxiety and sadness. I know God is with me, in this rainy, sad October day. Thanks for good thoughts too, and may God’s blessings surround all of us–even through sadness, depression and anxiety.


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!)