Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, June 23, 2017

Trust: a challenging concept, to be sure. This post talks about trust, from the point of humans and from God’s point of view, too. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I think it’s good to take a deep look at trust (and trust issues, too).

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

Posted on June 26, 2014 by chaplaineliza

TRUST

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

Today was the last Wednesday bible study for the spring. I finished the series on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ last week, so I needed an additional study for this last day. I decided to have the group take a quick look at one of my favorite passages. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verses that begin “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I broke these two verses down into four parts. We had great discussion, as a result! And the verses sparked some excellent back-and-forth conversation, too.

Our discussion of the morning caused me to think more deeply about the word “trust.” A caution: this post is not one of my usual lighthearted posts. I’m going to speak about a serious, even hurtful, idea.

It is hard to trust sometimes. This lack of trust, and at times a clear distrust, can come from any one of a number of sources. Circumstances in life might affect individuals. Problems with the family or loved ones can affect trust. Bad treatment from friends, classmates, or people in authority can also be a factor. And then there are special situations, such as severe trauma, various kinds of abuse, mental health issues, repeated extreme grief, and others.

Any one of these situations can cause lack of trust. Certainly, we can trace back difficulties with people to our trust issues.

But—what about trust issues with God?

I know people do have problems with God. Especially when they are completely puzzled with God’s seeming lack of response to prayer. Or God’s seeming helplessness in the face of evil, the lack of morality in this world, and the despicable words and actions of both individuals and groups all over.

Sure, I could go into the theological reasons why there is sin in the world. And I could go over several of the theories concerning theodicy (that is, reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, to paraphrase the name of Rabbi Kushner’s book). But, I won’t. I trust God. At least, I try to trust God, each and every day. God has never failed me yet. Sure, I have been disappointed many times in life. Sure, awful things have happened to me and to my loved ones. Yet, God will continue to be right by my side. Even when it’s dark and I can’t see. Even when I doubt whether God is even there. Because—that is the nature of God. The loving, caring, giving, encouraging, nurturing nature of God.

It is when I have trust within me, for God and for other people, that I find I can more easily be kind. If I’m suspicious of others, or anxious about employment or health issues, or worried about my extended family and their individual situations, I can’t be of service to God. Not very well, anyhow!

When I trust in God and in other people (wisely, understanding how much blind trust is too much), then I have the opportunity—the joy to be kind to others. Please, God, help me in this endeavor!

@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 meditation journey through Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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


 

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 4, 2017

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

Today was Pentecost at my church. Yes, I preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I spoke of the mighty acts of God breaking into the lives of all believers. This #BestOf post marks the day the Holy Spirit was poured out. I don’t want the Holy Spirit to remain sequestered to only one day a year. No! Our Advocate helped the followers of Jesus to turn the world inside and upside down. Read it again, and praise God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 8, 2014

Acts 2 Pentecost-El-Greco-cropped

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

So there I was—at an evening meeting several years ago in a public building. Out of nowhere, the lights flickered. Went out! And stayed out. Immediately, everyone inside the building filed out. As a safety precaution, of course.

But—what happened? Was it a brown-out? Did something happen to a transformer attached to the electrical supply in the neighborhood? Everyone wanted the power supply to get back on line!

I narrated the story of Pentecost this morning, in church. I told about Jesus ascending to heaven, and then—what? Nothing! Not a thing, for days. But at last, when the band of beleaguered believers was all gathered together in one place, Pentecost happened! The Holy Spirit came with mighty power! The disciples became courageous overnight. And the Holy Spirit turned the disciples inside out and upside down. Life—as they knew it before—was never the same again.

As I preached this morning, I honestly felt like I was serving the congregation in a deep, meaningful, wonderful manner. Opening the Word of God. I’ve felt that in the past, and it is such an awesome, stunning feeling to have. Almost like Isaiah falling on his face before God Almighty in the Temple (in Isaiah 6). However, today had a different feel to it. This morning, it was almost like I was uncovering something rich, something precious. Something of immense value! And then, turning to the friends out in the pews. Showing them the treasure of immense value! Offering them the opportunity to come along on this tremendous journey.

What about you? How has your journey through life been going? This small congregation has had its ups and downs, but I felt that this particular message from Acts 2 was just exactly what I ought to preach to this congregation. I hope and pray that any time people consider this chapter in Acts that they also consider the tremendous opportunity that God is holding out to all of outs. Just like a treasure, a rich and beautiful thing.

I want to serve. I have been praying for opportunities to help, whatever way I can. In this case, I will try my darnedest to get out the Good News. And if I can serve, be helpful, and be kind along the way? All fantastic ways to follow God. And God’s Good News!

@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!)

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!)