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!)

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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.

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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!)

Saying “Can I Help?” (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, January 19, 2018

Among several other spiritual gifts, I have the spiritual “gift of helps” in abundance. That was one reason why I decided to do this project—A Year of Being Kind—in the year 2014. I really do enjoy helping people. When I think that the blog post below is right at the very beginning of the year, I get excited all over again. There is absolutely no reason why I cannot continue being kind to others right now, on a daily basis? Helping, being of service, being kind. We don’t have enough kindness in this country. Spread some kindness, if you can.

Saying “Can I Help?”

Posted on January 20, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 19, 2014

helping tree

Saying “Can I Help?”

The Chicago area had a snowfall last night. Feathery, light dusting of snow. Several inches worth of the white stuff. Enough to make older people think twice before venturing out to church. Me, I enjoyed getting outside! The church I attend has a number of senior members, so there were not as many in attendance this morning. Our church has a traditional, liturgical service, with typical elements such as vestments, hymns, and organ. Today, we celebrated the second Sunday after Epiphany. (I sang with the choir, as usual.) The sermon revolved around the followers of John becoming curious about Jesus. “Come and see!” Just as the curious followers of Jesus were invited to come and see, we are, too.

After church, pretty much every week, a couple or several people from the congregation volunteer to host coffee hour. With attendance down today, I happened by the church kitchen immediately after service. I saw the woman hosting coffee hour today just beginning to set out everything on the tables. (Most weeks, all the serving dishes and drinks are set out by that time.) Her husband was not there at the moment, to assist. I smiled at her and heard the words coming from my mouth: “Can I help?”

She was so appreciative, and enthusiastically said “Yes, thank you!” I stripped off my choir robe, shoved it onto a hanger, and hurried to the kitchen. I grabbed the water, and the plates of coffee cake and bowls of grapes, and trotted them out to the table. I saw to the eating-end of the table, and she poured coffee, tea, and water at the other. I had fun, and made myself generally helpful. I re-filled coffee carafes, fetched serving utensils, did whatever else needed doing. I helped her clear off the tables, wash the dishes and carafes, and clean the kitchen. The church grew quiet as it emptied out. She and I had a wonderful time getting to know each other better as we tidied up.

I’ve read in theological books (like chapter 9 in the modern classic by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline) that serving others is a good choice if someone wants to increase in spiritual disciplines. When I intentionally set out to make this year my year of serving, of finding ways to be kind, I knew that this would entail a good deal of fetching, carrying, listening, and helping. Even if I hadn’t prayed for God to send me specific service opportunities, I would still be helpful. Some Christian elders and people of discernment have told me that I indeed have the spiritual gift of helps. I’ve noticed for years this is something that I enjoy. I knew this propensity would aid me in the practice of being kind.

As I drove home, I realized that those words “Can I help?” came from my mouth without thinking. Just automatic. I was of service, before I even knew it.  God, thank You for putting me in the right place at the right time. Would that service could always be so fulfilling and joy-filled!

@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!)


 

A Helpful Errand (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, January 7, 2018

Looking back on the beginnings of #ayearofbeingkind in 2014, I am amazed at how simple it was for me to find ways to be kind, be helpful and to be of service on a daily basis. Of course, having the spiritual gifts of helps, mercy and encouragement help. I still need to stay on the lookout for opportunities God places in my path, each day. God, help me to keep my eyes (and heart) open, each day.

A Helpful Errand (#BestOf)

Posted on January 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

lego medical center

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Helpful Errand

When I started this blog, I had few expectations. (On purpose!) I tried—and continue to try—to have few expectations. With 365 days of service, I want God to bring along things that will sometimes take me by surprise. Get me enthused. Even make me uncomfortable. I know it’s putting myself out on a limb, but I have earnestly prayed to have that happen. The frigid, wintry weather has certainly been interesting the past few days, and I have had no problem finding ways to be of service.

I helped a younger person go to and from a medical outpatient procedure today, and hung around for a few hours after returning to their home. (Because of HIPAA and related issues, I am hesitant to say much more about specifics—even though I am not working in any official capacity for this younger person, still. Good, ingrained habits need to be maintained.) This procedure was something I had known about for several weeks. I just didn’t expect the weather to be so uncooperative. However, with the car warmed up and our destination not far away, the trip to and fro was fairly easy. Straight-forward. And the young person is now resting comfortably.

This whole process of running to and from a medical procedure (or a doctor’s or dentist’s office) put me in mind of previous times I did much the same thing. I have the spiritual gift of helping (you can read more about helps at this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_gift ), among other gifts. So, I naturally gravitate towards doing helpful, encouraging things for people. Like taking my elderly aunt to the doctor or dentist, or fetching prescription medication for my older mom. I consider such errands to be opportunities to be kind to relatives. More importantly, being with my relatives (or friends, or acquaintances) gives me a chance to be in relationship with them.

Some years ago, I often had my small children with me when I traveled around Chicago on these kinds of errands. Such a wonderful opportunity for my children to connect with their older relatives! Now, my children are adults, or nearly. They still occasionally talk about or remember times when we went to Grandma’s house, or Auntie’s apartment. I am glad I gave them the gift of being with their senior relatives. And to think, all this came from me being willing to drive my car and go on errands. Taking my aunt to a regular medical exam, or picking up something from the pharmacy.

Being kind and tenderhearted benefits me too. (See Ephesians 4:32, for further information.) I was not only providing a service, I also was kind and tenderhearted, as the Apostle Paul directs. Plus, I was doing service pleasing to God. That’s been important to me for a long time. Still is, often. I try to be obedient to God, clearing the way for a close vertical relationship with God. And that paves the way for a clear, close relationship to other people, on a horizontal plane.

It all works, somehow. Thanks, God! Help me find some way to serve You tomorrow, 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 Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, December 11, 2017

Yes, my kitchen has again been transformed into a cookie factory. (Or, so my husband says.) I love making cookies. And, I give them away to friends and family every year. As people grow older, and as their diets become more specific—and sometimes gluten-free or lactose-intolerant or other forms of cautions—I need to be more careful and considerate. However, people still enjoy my cookies, made from scratch. Just like my mom made them.

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

cookies variety

Posted on December 13, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 12, 2014

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

It’s that time of year again.

My husband said just the other day, “It’s that time of year when our kitchen has been transformed into a cookie factory. In keeping with tradition, I have volunteered to serve as quality control, sampling each batch. It’s a thankless job, I tell ya.” (I told him he does a very good job of it, too.)

I have made Christmas cookies for years, to give away as presents. Just like my mom.

My mother, Dolores, was a champion at baking. (Cooking, too. But I’m not going to talk about that right now.) Sadly, she died more than ten years ago, but I still remember her superb Christmas cookies. As much as my husband talks about my Christmas cookie baking, I was a mere beginner compared to my mother. Her cookies were amazing.

She used to deliver them to her friends, co-workers, and to our neighbors. She would give them as presents, and bring them to our relatives at holiday times. They always appreciated them. (And, thought the cookies were delicious, too.)

My mother was so creative, in so many ways. I’d like to remember her creativity—in baking Christmas cookies. Butterballs, chocolate raspberry sandwiches, thimble cookies, and, of course, cocoa drops. She made other cookies, other years, but those were always in the mix, as long as I can remember. Sweet memories—in several ways.

Sure, my mother definitely had a mind of her own. Sure, my mother was loving and giving. And sure—my mother gave away a lot of cookies.

It’s good to remember. Remember my mom, and remember her wonderful Christmas cookies. Remember how loving and giving she was.

@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 Advent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @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, Friday, November 17, 2017

In the waning of the year, I get introspective. Not only about the harvest, but also the closing down of nature’s bounty. November, with its blustery weather blowing leaves from trees, and the cold snaps and freezes causing the ground to harden, is a challenging month to like. (Unless you are one of my daughters, who has a birthday in November. Today, in fact.) As I re-read this blog post, I saw several other things to be thankful for. See whether you might agree.

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

winter sunrise Evanston lakefront January 2015 - credit Joe Agnew

Posted on November 18, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 17, 2014

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service

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!

@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!)

God Made Each of Us Special (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, October 20, 2017

I happened on this older blog post. I was so struck by several things in it that I couldn’t help reposting it as a #BestOf post. Yes, we are all incredibly special to God. Each one of us, no matter who, no matter what. No matter the ability, no matter how differently-abled each person is. Even if someone has a hurtful self-blaming internal monologue in their head, it does not matter to God. Each of us is, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Posted on September 20, 2014 by chaplaineliza

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@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!)