Christmas with a Cat? Helping Out. (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, December 26, 2018

This is a quiet, relaxed post. Just what I needed for Christmas Day, several years ago. Just what I needed this year, as well. I have a common cold, again. I feel rather miserable, but I am under orders from several on my Church Council to take it easy for the rest of the week. So, that is exactly what I am doing. (Oh, and reposting one of my Year of Being Kind posts.) Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas season. God bless everyone. No exceptions.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 25, 2014

cat in a window

Christmas with a Cat? Helping Out.

Three services in the past four days? Check, check, and check. Sunday worship, the last Sunday of Advent. The Blue Christmas service on Monday. And, Christmas Eve service last night. Other pastors at other churches have as heavy a schedule, if not more so. But since this was my first year in a parish setting in a pastoral role, everything was more hectic than I would like.

After a number of days with a good deal of activity—and the prayer, planning and forethought that went into each worship service—I had a much needed rest today. A true day of rest. A Sabbath. A day to rest and recoup. What more blessed day to rest than the day we have set aside to celebrate the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem?

I did not do a great deal all day. Of course, there was present-opening around the Christmas tree this morning. My daughter and I went out to get some late lunch, mid-afternoon. (There is a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant about two miles or so from our house. Kifta! Shawarma! Falafel! And of course, good rice!) No huge Christmas dinner for me, this year. Truth to tell, I preferred it that way.

However, I think I can speak for my husband, daughter and I when I say that one of the highlights of our quiet, low-key Christmas was going over to another daughter’s apartment to check up on her cat. Toby is very sweet. She really enjoyed our visit. Toby even got rambunctious. My husband took some string and was playing with her for a bit. Her tail whipping to and fro, pouncing on the string, or on my husband’s outstretched hand and drumming fingers.

Isn’t it fascinating how much enjoyment can be found in simple things? Things like visiting with a cat, lively conversation and laughter at the cat’s antics. I made sure Toby’s physical needs were met, too. Food, water, litter box. And, I enjoyed visiting her, very much. I always like it, even though I do have cat allergies. (Which did become more obvious today, since one of my eyes became red, swollen, and extremely itchy. I must have touched my face near my eye with a hand covered with cat dander. Alas.)

Nevertheless, it was a good day. A day to be kind, and be helpful to a sweet cat. Toby cat.

@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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Be of Service? Togetherness and Unity! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, October 8, 2018

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. With all the separation, argumentation and isolation in our respective neighborhoods and communities recently, I thought this post was much needed. There is much to be upset about, for sure. Not only individual separation and isolation, either. Pick a hot-button issue, and I am sure you would find people willing to come to blows about opposing views on that issue. I am for peace, and blessing, and cooperation. I dream of people coming together in friendship and amity, with smiles on their faces and outstretched, open hands. God willing, let it be so.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 5, 2014

heart and people illustration

Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

Separation. Anxiety. Fear. If I get started and think about things like this, these emotions can make me want to shrink away. Go hide under the covers. What’s more, I just spoke with four friends over the past few days who are feeling similar emotions. The yucky kind, the kind that can make me feel as if everything is all gray. Dingy, washed out emotions, lonely, tattered and torn.

Yes, I can listen when my friends tell me those sad, dark feelings keep encroaching upon my friends or acquaintances. I can journey alongside of them, and provide encouragement and support. Yes, I know what it’s like to walk through those dark times. Or to sit in them, even to wallow. And—I also know what it’s like to come out the other side. To walk together with others, to support and share with them in friendship, and encouragement.

Isolation is something that can sneak up on a person. Sure, being alone from time to time is good. Healthy. Even, needed. Just ask five of my close family members. All introverts, and all enjoy their alone time. All need recharging time. But—isolation is going one step too far. Even a couple of steps too far, since some individuals go to extremes. Isolation is something that anxiety and fear feeds upon. I appreciate learning more about positive strategies I will be able to use.

I know one thing that encourages me to bloom, to come back and share with people. I can stop thinking about myself, and concentrate on others and their concerns. I can provide encouragement, support, caring and love. Praise God.

World Communion Sunday is just another way to provide this companionship. Togetherness and unity. Instead of being separated from one another and from God, we are joining together, across Christian backgrounds. Alone? My tendency is to curl up alone, to isolate. Sometimes even to feel sorry for myself. (!!!) However, when I come into community, I join myself with the wonderful help of others who might be feeling similar, dark feelings. Together, we all can support and pray for each other.

One of the best things about World Communion Sunday is that it looks forward to the time of Christian unity, togetherness and ecumenical cooperation. Banishing separation, loneliness, anxiety and fear? Yes. Joining together in one body. What’s more, this helps us catch a glimpse of the hope-filled group of believers. All believers, from all over, can express togetherness, caring and love for each other. Another loving, worthwhile way to come before 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!)

 

 

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!)

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!)

Helping My Husband? Sure! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I re-read this post, and it struck a chord within. My husband knows I am kind and helpful, ready to be of service. He is more of a person who would stand back and observe, quietly. He’d lend a hand if asked, but he would not be the first to step in. We are two different people. This post reminds me of that difference. This post also says a lot about my husband and his work. He is very good at what he does. I re-post it today, letting him know I appreciate him very much!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, March 15, 2014

selection of ties

selection of ties

Helping My Husband? Sure!

A little after 10 o’clock in the morning. And where do we find ourselves? My husband and I are in a discount clothing store, which is just about the last place he would prefer to be. Especially on a bright, sunny (but chilly) March weekend day. He claims to prefer sitting in the dentist’s chair to going to a clothing store. However, he wanted to buy himself a couple of ties. He wears a jacket and tie to work downtown every day in his work as a senior editor in the Loop. Several of his favorite ties were showing signs of obvious wear. So, out with the old. He went to the clothing store with the intention of buying several ties.

I came along for the ride. When we arrived at the store, my husband made a direct route to the tie display. This place indeed is stocked with good-looking ties. He methodically went through the different ties. (Avoiding pinks and purples, bright colors and cutesy patterns.) I took my time getting over to the rear of the store, but I tried to walk with purpose. When I got there, he already had one tie in hand. He had a task, an errand to do. By golly, he was going to do it.

My husband knows I am a naturally helpful person. I like to help, when I’m asked! He’s used to this. And every now and again, he’ll even accept my help. I unobtrusively began to look through the ties. I have a pretty good idea of what type, design, or look of tie my husband might prefer. (I am pretty good at this, if I do say so myself.) A few minutes later, he walked away from the display. Satisfied, he had four ties in hand. I helped him find three out of four of them. (After glancing between his initial choice and one I pointed out afterwards, he quietly put his choice back.)

Goodness knows, my husband can decide what he’s going to do, and stick to it. A great attitude, most times! But God, sometimes his firm attitude is a bit wearing. Except today. He welcomed my low-key suggestions about ties. Some might say that a tie is just a little thing. Except it’s not a little thing to my husband; he wants to be a well-dressed man. He looks on his neatness in dress and classic, well-made clothing as part of the pride he takes in his job. (What can I say? He’s an orderly, methodical editor.) And, I took the opportunity he offered me, to assist him.

God, I know I try to do things without help sometimes. I know I feel like saying, “I can do it myself!” (Just like my toddler- and preschooler-age children. I remember it well.) God, it felt so good to be able to pitch in, to be able to help my husband on a relatively small thing. Please God, help me to see where I have been (and am, currently) stubborn and willful. I know You want me to be independent—sometimes. But You want us all to be interconnected. So, help me to help others, daily. And help me accept help, 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 Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, March 1, 2018

Saturday, March 3rd is the World Day of Prayer. I am presenting on prayer to a local denominational Christian conference here in a nearby suburb of Chicago, presenting to the Ecumenical Kerala Churches. I am excited about this possibility to lead and teach about prayer! I’ve been interested in and active in prayer for a number of years. I hope I am always helpful and encouraging, whether it’s one-on-one (as in this post), or teaching a group of people. Lord, truly!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 2, 2014

pray - hands and blocks

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

As I brushed off the car this morning, I groaned. Internally, I mean. Will this snow and wintry weather ever stop? I drove to church down the half-deserted streets. Despite my grumbling about the cold and the snow, I grudgingly had to admit that the glistening white coating of snow did help. It helped the trees and grass to shine as the sun peeped through the clouds. Such a sight helped raise my spirits, too.

True, I did dash into church late. Late for choir practice, due to a minor waffle iron malfunction this morning. My son had a friend sleep over. I made waffles in a hurry before I left, but the first waffle stuck in the (older) waffle iron. I couldn’t very well run off and leave the waffle iron full of half-burnt pieces of waffle, so I did scrape and clean it off. (sigh)

I enjoy singing in choir! I like singing, period. Especially singing in parts. The morning service went well, too. I really worshiped, most of the time. (It’s a challenge to keep my mind on worship at all times, to tell the truth. I suspect most people would acknowledge that. At least, part of the time.) Since this is the first Sunday of the month, our church celebrated Communion. That was good, too.

Benediction said, church service over, congregation dismissed, sanctuary cleared. I went downstairs with the other parishioners to the memorial room (under the sanctuary). But—another worshiper caught me before I entered the large room. “Do you have a minute?” Sure, I nodded. “How do I get a prayer request in the prayer chain?” was the follow-up question.

Instantly, my chaplain antennae started to vibrate. “You came to the right place. I keep track of the requests and email out the weekly prayer list.” All of which are true. But I still had this intense feeling that something was going on with my fellow church member.  The two of us stepped into a little out-of-the-way area, and I asked for more information about the prayer request. It turned out, there were two requests. I wrote down both of the requests on a scrap of paper I had in my pocket. I used active listening. I pitched my voice to be soft and gentle. And—I used my less-anxious presence to help my fellow church member feel more calm and relieved.

After I wrote down specifics on the person we were praying for, I continued to listen closely to what the fellow parishioner was saying. I was moved to relate a couple of my views and spiritual insights concerning suffering, pain and death. And afterwards, we both teared up, and almost cried. I felt that my presence was appreciated! Not only by my fellow church member, but by many at worship today. But specifically, the situation regarding the prayer request after service? That’s my act of kindness today.  I am so glad I was at the right place, at the right time. Or—perhaps I was in the place God intended me to be today.  Regardless, I wonder what God will 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 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!)

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!)