Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 23, 2014

kitten and little girl

Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, what about all play and no work? What will that do to Jill? What kind of a girl will she become? It’s not that I did no work over the weekend. Certainly not! But I was in a very different setting. In two different settings, actually. (For those who missed my comings and goings, I was at one conference in Cleveland from Friday afternoon until Sunday midday. And then, I made a hop, skip and a jump to another conference in western Pennsylvania from Sunday mid-afternoon until after lunch on Tuesday.)

I’ve blogged about my conference-going for the past few days. Some marvelous insights! Some innovative ideas! Lots to think about, and lots to process over the next couple of weeks.

So—I was back in the office today. Answering a ton of email, responding to social media, doing a good deal of computer file maintenance and other types of office work and correspondence. Oh, I read to the preschoolers and kindergarteners at the preschool. Had several meetings with people over the telephone. Pretty much just stayed put, at the church.

And yet, I realized today that in just about every interaction, I purposed to be kind. Amazing how much six months of a kindness-orientation or service-practice can cause me to change my mindset. Well, that’s not quite right. I have shown the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement for decades. That’s nothing new. But—this purposeful kindness- or helps-orientation every single day? That is new for me.

I haven’t spoken of the verse I chose for the month of July much. This is not a deliberate error on my end, because so much has been going on! But before July slips away, let’s take another look at James 1:22; “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” To my way of thinking, using my spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement is doing the Word. Being active, not passive.

Towards the end of the day, I did something else that was active. Doing the Word, not just sitting there, vegetating like a spiritual couch-potato. I wrote out two cards and sent them to two separate people. One was a birthday card. A happy occasion! The other was a sympathy card—a friend’s mother recently died after some years in a nursing home. A sad occasion.

Yes, I spent most of the day sitting in my office, doing necessary work. But, I can still be kind. Still be of service and help to someone else. And, I do pray for each family who will be receiving a card. God be with them and bless them as God knows they need a touch from above. Thank You, God!


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Roll Up My Sleeves and Serve!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, March 29, 2014


today I woke up

Roll Up My Sleeves and Serve!

I haven’t been as active in serving in the past few years. That was one reason why I think God (as I understand God) nudged me to get more active and to serve with intentionality. I know, I have this year, in a number of different ways. However, I took the opportunity to roll up my sleeves this afternoon. Not metaphorically, but in actuality. I served food at the Community Kitchen of A Just Harvest.

I am a member at St. Peter’s UCC Church in Skokie. So when the pastor sent out a last-minute email request to a group of people, I said “Yes!” Yes, with eagerness! Since this was a month with a fifth Saturday, it is St. Peter’s turn to serve. I was one of nine people who went to serve a hot dinner! The pastor, Rev . Richard Lanford, led the serving team and said grace over the dinner tonight.

A number of years before this, I was much more active in ministries like this—especially when I lived further south in central Chicago. I was a volunteer youth worker and music ministry worker at Austin Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church for five years during the 1980’s. I lived only a few blocks from the North Austin neighborhood of Chicago. I suppose I was naively over-confident as I went in and out of that church, walked the streets, and went in and out of several members’ houses close by. It was not exactly the safest area of the city. Nevertheless, I did a great deal of worthwhile ministry in those years!

As I moved into my thirties, I still served and did ministry in the Austin area, although I had changed churches. Changed ministries, too. I moved much more into missions, and served as volunteer communications coordinator. Was very happy, too! But, Stephen Ministry and then seminary happened. I branched out into preaching. And being a chaplain, for some years. (Anyone follow me on Twitter? My Twitter handle is @chaplaineliza. <grin>)

However, God seems to be nudging me back into direct service with people. On the front lines of service, where I was in my twenties.
I enjoyed myself tonight! It felt deep-down good to do what I could at the Community Kitchen. I put cookies and fruit on plates, helping to fill hungry stomachs in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. I appreciated the hard work of the staff in the kitchen, DJ as supervisor of the serving area and front end, and Tonya as supervisor of the dining area. And David Crawford, the Director of Food Service? He’s got a great operation there. Everything worked like clockwork. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and the wonderful work A Just Harvest does, on a regular basis.

Sure, I was people-watching, too. Just in case I knew any of these dear people who came to eat at the Community Kitchen. I don’t think I did recognize anyone, but it could happen.

Every day brings something interesting, that’s for sure. I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

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An Act of Service and a New(ish) Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Act of Service and a New(ish) Friend

running person - clip art

running person – clip art

My son took special care in getting dressed this morning. He had his first gymnastics meet today, and the whole team dressed up for the occasion. So, dress slacks, oxford shirt, dress shoes, tie.  He was so proud to be all spiffed up! (I know—I saw him looking at his reflection in the mirror after tying his tie.)  And even though he didn’t say so, I suspect he was excited for the meet.

I dropped him off at the high school on my way to the YMCA. He stood on the sidewalk, and was all smiles as I waved to him.  He disappeared from my rear view mirror as I carefully threaded my way between the students and staff crossing the street. Yes, it was just another weekday morning, with just a slight variation.

As I’ve said before, I go to the gym several times a week. Today was one of those days. The Y is a familiar place, now. I’ve been there pretty much three times per week for the past five years. I don’t know most people’s names, but they often come to the gym about the same time. Being a naturally friendly person, I smile and sometimes say hello. This morning, I kept passing by people I recognized—so I was saying “hi” a lot.  As I went up to the track, I ran into a recent gym acquaintance. We did a few circuits around the track after I did some preliminary stretching.

My friend is a little older. A senior, and a moderately active one. My friend started telling me about the challenges of being a senior citizen—in an upbeat, uncomplaining way. Even humorous, at times. I listened, interested to hear about my friend’s viewpoints. But I also listened to some sadder stories. I heard about a few senior friends, who are not as physically active. For seniors, this can be very problematic. It’s circular. As people—and especially seniors—decrease in their activity level, they usually decrease in stamina and strength.  Which makes many even less willing to be active at all.

My mind shifted, remembering an older relative, now deceased. She broke her ankle a number of years ago, and the orthopedic surgeon needed to place several pieces of hardware into the joint. However, she was stubborn. She wouldn’t do physical therapy after surgery. It didn’t take too long for her to become more and more sedentary, which caused her to dislike physical activity more and more. Just like the other seniors I heard about today—decreasing in activity, stamina and strength, in a downward spiral.

What was my act of kindness today? I kept my friend company—and we went around the track together. I encouraged my friend in being physically active today, too. I gladly affirmed my senior friend for doing whatever they can, regularly, to the best of their ability. I delivered this act of service with enthusiasm! God, thanks for my friend. And, thanks for sending me a new service opportunity, today and every day.


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