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!)

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Being Kind with Singing Valentines (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from three years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a few years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@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!)

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

 

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

 

souper-bowl-logo

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 2, 2017

Earlier today, I was reminded of the Super Bowl coming up in a few days. I passed the big screens of televisions at the gym this afternoon, and saw the promos for the big game. I like football, but for some reason, my thoughts came right to this blog post. The reasons behind this blog post are so worthwhile. I hope and pray that all houses of worship that are participating in this Souper Bowl of Caring receive a great deal of donations. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!

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

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.un

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@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. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

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

A Year of Being Kind blog (#BestOf) – Sunday, November 6, 2016

I was thinking about social media today, and about prayer, and I thought of my dear friend (yes, the same friend you see below). She still can use prayer. So can I. And, our kids certainly can. So, even though the date is not the first of the month—the date when I often start doing a daily task or practice—there is absolutely no reason why I cannot start praying for her kids and for mine. And, for both of us. Dear God, please hear our prayers!

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

prayer-hands

In Which I Am Kind through Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

@chaplaineliza

(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!)

 

 

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage! (#BestOf)

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage! (#BestOf)

be-good-to-yourself-too

Posted on September 10, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 10, 2016

One of my—recent—favorite things is a massage. Truly wonderful! Heavenly. And, my masseuse is marvelous. She knows what my body needs and what my muscles are telling her as soon as she checks things out. I know this is a luxury. But, such a wonderful luxury. I thank God that I can take advantage of this excellent service at the YMCA where I am a member. (Thanks, Dori! Thanks, YMCA!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

I splurged. I really did. Since last month was my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I took the opportunity to buy a half hour massage at the YMCA here in town. And, today was the day I enjoyed a half hour of pampering. Self-care. Being kind—to myself!

Most times, I do prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga to try to relax. Ease my stress levels. Calm my breathing and minimize my worry. But every few months, I go out of my way to try to fit in a massage.

In case anyone reading this has never experienced a massage, they are wonderful. Marvelous. Truly a splurge-worthy experience. Of course, I go to an awesome masseuse, when I can scrape together the money. Dori is absolutely fantastic. I told her, as she was working on my forearms and hands at the end of the half hour, that I thought I died and went to heaven. (And I was more than half serious.) And, I sincerely thanked her for the wonderful job she did on me—and my lower back, too.

Of course, there are other ways to be kind to myself. Slowing down, having coffee with a friend, going to the Botanic Garden, or reading a fiction book (my current favorite books are a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s). There are other ways to practice self-care, too. Regular exercise. Going on walks in nature. Practicing giving or encouragement. Listening to quiet music. Prayer. Meditation. Silencing my spirit and mind. And, countless other ways, besides. Self-care—caring for one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual parts of the whole person, however that may happen best.

Listed above are all ways that appeal to me. I know they won’t appeal to everyone. (And for some, the thought of a few of these ways are probably like fingernails screeching across a chalk board.) I also give God a big praise for making each of us different from all the others—over the world, as well as over time. King David in Psalm 139 refers to each of us being fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s hands. No cookie cutter creation for us, no sir!

What about you? What kind of self-care particularly appeals to you, right now? Or, are you shy of making room or making time for self-care? Does caring for yourself sound selfish and thoughtless? If you are not clearing your calendar or your life for taking care of yourself, you are missing out! (And believe me when I say I am preaching this to me even more than preaching it to you.)

God, thanks for the awesome focus on self-care. Help me to not only practice this good gift from You, but to pass it on. Help others learn the importance of being Selfish—towards God, and towards each person. Individually. I’m no cookie cutter creation, and neither are You! Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through the year. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

BK be kind be kind be kind

In Which I Am Kind through Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Reflections on 2014, A Year of Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 31, 2014

BK power to change lives

Reflections on 2014, A Year of Being Kind

On the last day of the year, I was kind to my husband. This morning, I picked him up from the gym at the YMCA, where he has a new membership. He wanted to do several errands afterwards, and I was happy to be chauffeur. We also had the opportunity to talk while driving in the car, which is always an enjoyable experience.

This evening, a lady I didn’t even know was kind to me at the grocery store. My bill was $22.22, and I gave the cashier a twenty, two ones, and dug two cents out of my pocket. I was fumbling for the additional twenty cents in all of my various pockets, when the woman behind me very kindly handed two dimes to the cashier for me. “Oh, how kind!” I said, and smiled my friendly smile at her. It wasn’t that I needed the money, since I had another five dollar bill in my wallet. But the woman and I agreed that $22.22 was a significant enough number that it deserved to be paid for in exact change. (And, we smiled at each other as we said that.)

Gee, I must be turning into an old hand at this being-kind-thing! I certainly hope so.

I know that it helps to check the numbers from time to time. I’ve been following the daily readership on this blog, but it also helps to look at the big picture—the macro view. Just to let all my dear readers know, here are several facts and figures on A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

In 2014, this blog was viewed about 5,600 times. That’s a lot of views! My viewing audience per day—on the average—ranged from between the low teens to the mid twenties. The busiest day of the year turned out to be June 3rd, with 87 views.

Two representative posts with a high number of views were Helping, while Saying Good-bye! posted June 2, 2014, and Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story! posted September 5, 2014.

How did people find my blog? People came from a large number of different website, but the top referring sites were Facebook, Twitter, and dailyoffice.org. (Thanks for including A Year of Being Kind in the blogroll, Josh!)

The sands of the hourglass are running out. 2014 is quickly slipping away. But before it completely disappears, I do have a few things to say. I have learned so much through blogging every day this year. I was fairly quick to come up with writing or an article before 2014 started, but now? Even more so. Plus, I’ve increased my ability to seek out ways to help, to be of assistance, to be of service, and—most importantly, to be kind.

Now, what of 2015, you ask? I have been encouraged by my blog in 2014. Yes, I succeeded in writing every day. Quite an accomplishment. I have been even more encouraged by the response to my service, my being helpful and kind. So, I am going to continue, except in a different vein.

I am not sure whether you are familiar with my sister blog, matterofprayerblog.wordpress.com. I started matterofprayer in the fall of 2013. I have been posting to matterofprayer about once a week to every ten days throughout 2014, in addition to A Year of Being Kind. Starting tomorrow, I will shift the focus to matterofprayer. I’m making an addition to the name, too: matterofprayer: a year of everyday prayers.

I was so happy to journey with you on this 365 day journey of being kind. This blog will not suddenly stop, altogether! I will feature “the best of” A Year of Being Kind, to be published about once a week in 2015.

So, visit me at my sister blog, matterofprayer: a year of everyday prayers. And, God willing, I will see what God has in store for me in 2015, as far as prayer is concerned. I wish my dear readers the very best. And, a happy, healthy and blessed new year.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.