When I’m Reminded to Give It Away (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another day of service, another opportunity to be kind. I can be kind in all sorts of situations, including the library. Take a read, and find out how.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, May 19, 2014

dancing dancing

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away

Giving it away—doing things joyfully, for others. Being kind, caring and helpful, to others—that’s what I am trying to do!

However, I have a problem. It’s ME. I carry myself around each day, between my ears. I concentrate on myself, I am self-centered, and even selfish, from time to time. (Well, maybe even more often than that.) Some days—nights, too—it gets a bit old. Or unbearable. I feel badly, as I realize it yet again.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this my Year of Being Kind? Whatever happened to 365 Days of Service?

Oh, I almost forgot. My negative, self-centered state of mind is part and parcel of the human condition. Looking out for number one! That’s me. I freely admit it. (Don’t we all think—and sometimes act—like this, from time to time?) That kind of negative, selfish state of mind is part of the reason why I wanted to try to look for intentional acts of service to do each day. If I think about doing things for another person, I have the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel of self-importance. Serving others gets me out of my own head. Not that this is a sure-fire way to get off the merry-go-round of endless quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. But being kind certainly goes a long way towards eradicating that kind of negativity.

I heard an acquaintance of mine talking about this very thing, earlier today. Being kind, with no strings attached. Why is that so difficult? Oh, yeah. The negative, self-centered thing. (Some might even call it ‘sin.’) Whatever it’s called, if I practice getting out of myself, being kind becomes easier. And easier.

This afternoon, I went to the library and asked the children’s librarian for help in choosing some recent picture books. I’m getting ready to read to the preschoolers tomorrow. (Tuesday is reading day!) So, I was gearing up to be kind. To be of service. She was so helpful, knowing which books were recently released. And, I really enjoyed going through some possible books and deciding which ones would be good to read. (I love children’s books with innovative illustrations and engaging stories!)

So—an enjoyable afternoon? Talking with a librarian-lady who obviously loved her subject material? And, choosing books that I hope will be amusing and engaging for the children? All wonderful things. And the best part is that I didn’t get caught up inside my own head and my mental hamster wheel once. Not one single time! All in all, I think this was a good day for being kind.

Thanks for the good ideas, 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!)

 


 

Have Bible Study? Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Helping? Being of service? Why not with a bible study? This way is a natural for me. I love teaching, and I’ve been told I’m fairly good at leading groups. As I read over this post from last May, I thought, “How encouraging!” See if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, 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!)

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I love going to the gym at the YMCA. I really do. In this post, I saw how a chance encounter can be so touching and meaningful. For me, as well as for my friend.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 9, 2014

prayer is powerful

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my . . . oh, wait. No, that wasn’t me.

Well, I did wake up. I did get out of bed. And, I did bustle over to the YMCA for a quick work out. A couple of tiny twinges of arthritis this morning, but that’s okay. After all, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I managed to cross the threshold of the lobby in good time, ready and raring to go.

With so much else going on in my life, I haven’t been focusing as much on my gym time at the Y. However, I have been continuing to go to the gym! I want to keep consistent.

I am afraid I missed a whole week, several weeks back, what with the bathroom facelift and the carpeting change-over in our condominium. Oh, and the middle of a busy Lenten schedule, and with several other personal things going on. However, I am now back on track. And among other things, like my weekly yoga class, I have returned to the running track at the Y.

I just love the track! Something about being up there, working hard, concentrating on my pace (first, power-walk, then alternating with jogging). I often meet people I know on my way to, or coming down from the track. Or—in the case of today, when I arrived I happened to meet a good friend up there, power-walking already. It was great to see my friend. After I stretched, the two of us power-walked around the track. And talked! We sure do like to talk. Both of us do. (*grin*)

My friend asked me what was new since we hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. After giving a brief description of my new job, my friend suddenly said “Ow!” and stopped as the two of us were just rounding the far turn on the track. “What’s the matter?” I asked. I was concerned, and immediately felt for my friend. Then the story came out. A continuing medical concern, for several years. A new flare-up, and a trip to the doctor was indicated. I heard some concern and anxiety, too.

When my friend mentioned that this was the last lap around the track, I immediately asked whether I could pray—either right now, or later. “Now would be great!” said my friend, with a big smile. So we prayed, right there by the edge of the track, near the door.

I prayed for comfort, encouragement, for pain to go away, for the medical staff looking at what was the matter, for my friend to discover any good exercises to do in the meanwhile, and finally—for a good outcome, short term and long term, too. Talk about encouragement! We hugged afterwards.

Thanks, God, for the opportunities You give me for prayer. And thanks for my dear friend, 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!)

(#BestOf) Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading through this Feature Friday post from a year ago, I am reminded again of how important this is—helping one woman at a time. Providing a refuge, a support, a place of encouragement for women in need, discouraged and hopeless. Sarah’s Circle is one of those wonderful places of encouragement and assistance. Read more, please!

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

heart balloons

Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

Imagine being afraid. Downright terrified. Needing a safe place to stay. On top of that, being homeless. No place to go. Nowhere to sleep. Nothing to eat. On top of everything, you’re a woman. Got that? All of those things, rolled up into a tight ball of frantic fear and anxiety.

What to do? How to cope?

There is a place to go. There is a solution.

In the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Sarah’s Circle provides a refuge for women. They may be homeless, or in need of a safe place to go, or both. Sarah’s Circle provides assistance in terms of housing, case management, referrals, and other necessities of life. In other words, this organization provides hope for women who have just about run out of hope.

A friend of mine, James, is the business manager for Sarah’s Circle. I talked with him recently. He told me this organization “is a place where any woman can come and find support no matter what their situation is.” James is quite enthusiastic about the services and other resources these caring folks provide. Their day program is open to anyone. That means—anyone. Regardless of the reasons for homelessness and loss of family, employment, living space, dignity—women can come to Sarah’s Circle and find help and hope for themselves.

In addition, this non-profit organization also supports twenty-two units of permanent housing. (This is in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.) Sarah’s Circle is an oasis in the challenging, sometimes fearsome desert that is the city of Chicago. This group helps vulnerable women through difficult times, as they rebuild their dignity, stability—their very lives.

Women have gender-specific reasons for difficulties in their lives, which include many types of trauma.

Not only can homelessness be a result of poverty and domestic violence, but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently occurs. As a result, trauma can contribute to mental illness and substance abuse.

Sarah’s Circle reports: “Approximately 56% of women who are homeless have been sexually assaulted; this is more than three times the rate for homeless men and for women in the general population. Research shows a strong correlation between frequency and seriousness of past victimization and diagnosis of mental illness as well as reported drug and alcohol problems. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. “

Sarah’s Circle is not a religious organization, but many people of various faith expressions work or volunteer at this organization. As I reflect upon service to the poor and homeless, giving a cup of cold water to those in need, I can’t help but be reminded of the verse I’ve chosen for the month of April. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

May I be given the willingness to go and do likewise. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

For more information about Sarah’s Circle in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, check out their website: http://www.sarahs-circle.org/

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!)

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!)