In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 30, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, the whole situation outside the grocery store came vividly to mind. I could see the middle-aged man, bright smile on his face, dreadlocks under his oversized stocking cap. I’ve seen him a number of times since, and he always has that same smile. He’s always happy to see me. I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference again this year, and I realized the people who attend are always encouraged to reach out to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s across the street, across the city, or across the ocean. Reach out and be a neighbor. I was blessed by this lovely man. Perhaps you will be blessed when you reach out, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@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 Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@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 Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@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 Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I think this blog post is just what I need right now. Peace. God’s peace. Jesus giving me peace. I am so grateful that Jesus provides peace for us. Peace, wellness, wholeness, shalom. God be with you, with me, with everyone.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 7, 2014

pink roses

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Peace can be a transient thing. It’s difficult to come by for some people, and even more difficult to hold on to, for others. I know in my life, I have not always been peaceful. At peace. For years, I have (more often than not) been longing for peace, even actively searching for peace . . . and not finding it.

A number of years ago, when my two older girls were toddler and preschooler, their father and I were having a particularly difficult time with finances and with unemployment. It lasted for several years. We shopped at resale stores. We counted pennies. We went without a great number of things. We had a really tough time paying for necessary stuff like doctor bills and medication. (Remember when your toddler or preschooler would have the occasional ear infection, or strep throat?)

I am so grateful for family members! Loving, kind, giving family members gave us a hand. Helped us out. I don’t know how I would have made it through without our great families! But, wait! You say, that’s great for long time ago, but . . . what gives? Sure, what you’ve said so far is all very nice. All heartwarming and everything. But it was some years ago! What about today? How am I—how are we being kind today?

I’m so glad you asked! Some time has passed, and I have been actively searching for peace ever since. More often than not, for years. And years.

I believe I have some idea of peace in my life, right now. At bible study today, we were all talking about peace. God’s peace. How Jesus wished His disciples—His followers peace. What did that mean, anyway?

To greet someone with the word “Peace” was a common way of saying hello, in the first century. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. “Peace” didn’t mean just a cessation of violence . No, the connotation of the word shalom meant much, much more. By using this greeting, the risen Christ was wishing His followers not only peace and wellness, but also wholeness, in terms of the world being made peaceful.

As we talked about this rich, multi-layered concept of peace—of shalom, what a wonderful idea it is! How awesome, to have Jesus wishing this for the disciples. And even, wishing it for each of us, too! That was my act of service today, telling people about the peace of Christ. Truly, a wonderful discovery for each of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus can deliver. For me, and for you, too. I put my trust in the risen Christ. I know the risen Christ makes Himself available to me. On a daily basis, even. And how awesome is that?

@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 Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, April 12, 2018

I’m reminded of this bathroom facelift, several years ago. I appreciate it still. I like looking at the clean, white tile, the accent mosaic tile running around the top of the white tile work. Sure, the cabinet under the bathroom sink is already showing signs of wear, but the bathroom is such a nice place now. I thank the contractor we hired to do the job on the bathroom, just as I appreciate the big remodel job my Heavenly Contractor is doing on me. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, work continues. Until, I suspect, I am done with this earthly tent I’m living in. Thanks, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 12, 2014

bathroom painting Oleg Kujala-Roy Lichtenstein

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One?

Day Six of the bathroom facelift. After driving around all day—doing errands and going places—I finally got home later in the afternoon. The contractor told me, regretfully, that the medicine cabinet I had bought did not fit the opening in the wall. The width was fine, but the new cabinet was a few inches too high. So, off I went again to the big box do-it-yourself store to replace the medicine cabinet I had just bought a few days ago. But, that’s okay! I enjoy going into those stores. All kinds of hardware supplies and building materials are on display, for sure.

The man in the plumbing materials section of the store turned out to be quite helpful. Conversational, too! I needed to buy a replacement for our ratty old shower curtain rod, and get a few other incidentals, in addition to the medicine cabinet. He made the process of buying supplies smooth and easy. I did not even ask him his name. That makes me sad. But I can pray for him, and wish him the best in his job and in the rest of his life, and wish his family good health and harmony. And, I do!

So, this kind man was kind and helpful to me! He was of great service to me and my family, too.

I wonder: what kind of remodeling job do I need in my spiritual house? I know I need some work, that’s for sure. But I don’t quite know where my General Contractor, God, is going to start work next. I think God has helped me make great strides with my regular prayer time. As I’ve mentioned here before, I could not keep up a consistent prayer time. Even though I tried and tried, I just couldn’t. Until late last fall. God helped me to stay pretty consistent with the Advent prayer calendar I was following. After years and years of prayer about praying consistently, I finally succeeded. (With my General Contractor’s help, in great part.) Praise God!

Dear Lord, thank You for people who smooth the way for me, and show me kindness and service, too. Please, help me to intentionally, consistently show kindness. Service. Encouragement and love, too. 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 meditation 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!)

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, I got a real sense of taking care of home and hearth. Not something that I am particularly skilled at, I am afraid. Sure, I can clean, and I even enjoy it. (To an extent.) However, cleaning is not one of my spiritual gifts. (Sorry about that.) I am so focused on my work right now, outside of our apartment This blog post reminds me that I ought to strive to do these things that are a stretch for me. Regularly. Dear Lord, help me to keep trying, both in and outside of my home.

 kitchen scene -Flickr

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

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, so I took the opportunity to be a homebody. Just stayed at home, did work on the computer, and caught up on some business (not urgent, but it still needed to get done eventually). I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, but it also needs to be done. I cleaned and straightened a number of things, including the counters, microwave oven, table, and especially the stove and sink. (I must be rigorously honest, though. Yes, I still need to wash the floor. It’s in the back of my mind. Nagging. Pestering me. But that’s for another day.)

Some members of my extended family are natural cleaners. Since our family grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, among some Polish immigrants, and since our family has Polish stock in our ancestry, several of my family joke that certain members inherited the Polish cleaning genes. I remember some of the middle-aged and older Polish ladies in the neighborhood, while I was growing up. Their houses would be immaculate. I remember one older lady—I think she was the older aunt or grandmother of the people who owned the house. I’d walk by their garage, a few doors down the alley, and she would be on her hands and knees washing the garage floor. Seriously. No joke cleaning. Well, some of my relatives are almost that thorough.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that my kitchen is a clean and pleasant place to cook and to eat food? And, to sit and read at the kitchen table? I must admit, things do tend to pile up around my house. Mail. Papers. Books. (It is not a large space to begin with.) This is one area that I know I need to work on. God, I get the message. I feel the nudge. Or, nudges, depending on the week. Sometimes I have legitimate reasons why I can’t get to the housework. Work is important, and I have worked some overtime recently. (My husband was pleased about that—so was I.) But sometimes . . . sometimes, I only do the minimum required.

That’s like my internal housekeeping, too. Sometimes, I only do the minimum to keep things spiritually tidy, to get thoughts and ideas internally organized, to get my brain oriented towards things that are useful, or helpful, or worthwhile. Not that I waste a lot of time (since we don’t have cable television or any of the computer-assisted television packages), but I am pleased to say I do not watch hours of reality television. And—I do not miss it! But enough with bashing current trendy culture.

God, I do want to follow You. Be of service. Act in ways that are kind and helpful. Please, help me as I work on cleaning more regularly, each day. Wow, what a way for me to be of service!

@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 Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, January 25, 2018

Looking back at my daily blog from 2014, I see a great many things that are really heartwarming. I reread blogs of instances where I was kind, where I helped, and where I was of service. As I mentioned, this is kind of natural for me. (God has gifted me with the spiritual gifts of mercy and helps, and so I almost automatically reach out when I see the need.) But…what about when I realize it’s better to keep quiet about being of service? What if a kind word or a helping hand is better shared behind closed doors? Sometimes, this way is the best way.

Home » Uncategorized » Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

Posted on January 23, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 22, 2014

keep it simple

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

I know I’ve been trying to blog each day in 2014. As I’ve said before, I’m highlighting an intentional act of service every day. A wonderful opportunity to show different ways of being kind, to find ways of being of service to others!  Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Recovery program.

But what about things done in secret? Acts of kindness or service that the doer doesn’t want anyone to know about? I personally know a couple of people who try to do kind things for others on a regular basis, and go out of their way to keep it hush-hush. Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline deals with this aspect of service. Chapter Nine talks about the service of hiddenness. Serving in this way can be a needed test of one’s devotion. As Foster says, “[it is] a rebuke to the flesh and can deal a fatal blow to pride.”

Instead of getting all puffed up and walking around with a big head (“My goodness, look at me! Look at all the acts of service I’ve piled up—I mean, I’ve done for God!”), I can readily see the benefits of service done in secret. I have done any number of acts of service that I haven’t spoken (or blogged) about. First, perhaps because I knew the person I did the service for would not appreciate me blogging about them. Second, because I did not want to openly broadcast the act of service, and otherwise shine a spotlight on what ordinarily would be a quiet act of kindness or compassion.

Foster tells his readers that acts of hidden service not only affect the person serving, but others, as well. “Hidden, anonymous ministries affect even people who know nothing or them. They sense a deeper love and compassion among people though they cannot account for the feeling.” (p. 134) I can attest to this. On numerous occasions when I’ve been involved in ministry to others, doing acts of kindness or service, I have sensed a sweetness, a freshness about the place. It’s as if the positive energy or God’s blessing (or whatever anyone decides to call it) permeates the atmosphere. I can’t explain it, I can’t quantify it. But I have experienced it. The difference being kind makes.

I do have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I know how important acts of service are to those in recovery. A common saying in recovery goes, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.” And again, on page 77 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the chapter Into Action talks about the recovering person’s attempts to be of “service to God and the people around us.” This concept is a foundation of the recovery program. Being of service to others is not only helpful, but essential to maintaining a healthy balance and spiritual walk with God and with others.

So, yes. I did do several acts of service today. And I am going to choose to keep quiet about them.

@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 Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)