Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A year ago, last weekend. What a memory. What an unusual spring break trip. Instead of going someplace like a big theme park, or some beach in the sun, we went to Iowa last spring. It’s good to revisit thoughts from the past, especially when they are so kind and neighborly. Check it out!

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 11, 2014

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa are so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude.

God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these good people!

@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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 11, 2014

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa who were so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface. Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude. God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these people!

@chaplaineliza

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

Helping My Husband? Sure!

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

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In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BK always be kind

In Which I Try to Serve—With Enthusiasm?

Another day, another act of service. That’s what I have been praying for God to send me, each day. Day by day. One day at a time.

Today I considered the verse I’ve chosen for March, which comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.” One problem—what if I don’t feel like being enthusiastic? Case in point: there was wintry weather again here in Chicago today. A continuation of the winter that just won’t quit. Both the yucky weather and yet another dismal, depressing day are wearing on me and my attitude. In fact, generally wearing on me, period.

But that yucky, dismal way isn’t the way I need to act. At least, not if I want to be faithful to the way I’ve been praying this past number of weeks.

All right, God. I give. I get the sense that You want me to pull out a commentary and check out Ephesians 6. Lo and behold, this particular passage concerns the different household relationships: men, women, children, and . . . slaves. (I realize this highly-charged word brings up all kinds of things, many different thoughts in people’s minds! I know. Hopefully, I will talk about this aspect in a later post this month. Remind me.)  Several other translations translate that word “doulos” as servant. Okay, I know I am the servant of Christ. I got that. I know I am supposed to do the will of God from my heart.  Grrr! Being a good and faithful servant is particularly hard sometimes! I just wanted to let You know that.

After thinking these kinds of thoughts, I got my head oriented towards service. I did have an easier time looking for opportunities to serve, then.  Among other things, I did an errand for a friend who doesn’t get out too much. I am occasionally asked to pick up things at the store, or go and fetch something else. Never any thing huge, but I’m happy to do it. (I would even be content if I did have to fetch and carry something big!) My friend was really pleased with what I was able to find, and I felt satisfied that my friend was overjoyed.

So, after the fact, I am glad that I went out of my way to provide a service to my friend today. Acts of intentional service almost sound like they are something clinical and antiseptic, or perhaps some do-gooder act. But, no! That’s not the way God has been working in my life—at least, not that I can tell. I have another friend (a kind pastor) who keeps reminding his congregation to look for where God is already working and get on board there. I think I have my marching orders. Enough to keep me busy for quite a while, anyhow.

I thank God for kind people like my friend. Or rather, both my kind friends! God bless them richly.

@chaplaineliza

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The Usual Monday

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, January 13, 2014

The Usual Monday

What do I do when I have the usual day? It’s not only a regular, ordinary weekday, but the usual Monday. Yes, I did have a number of things to do, but not any more than the ordinary Monday. A better question is what kind of service can I find to do? Or, what kind of service will God show me today?

I often hear a good deal of belly-aching about Mondays. People moan and groan about going back to work after a weekend off. The same with Facebook, and occasionally on Tumblr (those I follow on Tumblr). I don’t particularly mind Mondays. But then, I don’t dislike my job. What did rankle a bit were these same people, making the same posts or memes or comments about Fridays. “TGIF!”

Here’s why it rankled. Up until only a few months ago, I worked on weekends. Almost every weekend, for some years. So when many other people were gearing up for a wild weekend, I was getting ready to go to work. I hardly ever minded. I enjoyed that job, too! Very much, as a matter of fact. One big difference is the attitude I bring to my work. My attitude is positive (usually), and that makes all the difference.  Colossians 3:23 reads “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.” I realize these words are delivered to slaves or servants. But, am I not a servant of God? Moreover, when I took on this challenge for A Year of Being Kind, I regularly pray for God to show me ways of service. Each day. Isn’t following Colossians 3:23 also a wonderful opportunity of making myself of service?

To elaborate on this attitude of ingratitude, I know a few people who have jobs they do not care for. Their attitude toward their work is, sadly, negative and even depressing. A few years ago, one of my relatives was in this position. Thankfully, their situation has turned around. Now, things are looking up. Their attitude is much brighter. I suspect their work is much more enjoyable now, too!

Today, my specific act of service encompasses an errand. Going to the pharmacy for someone in my acquaintance. I went today to pick up several things, and when I returned, the senior really appreciated it. And, I happened to be there when the person the senior lived with called from work. This person was also grateful and gave me a sincere thank you, too.

What a small thing for me to do! I had two happy, grateful people giving me thanks. Their kind words not only warmed my heart, but also encouraged me to continue to look for acts of service. I’m not saying that every act needs to be praised. (I’m reminded of my children when they were younger. They regularly got stickers when they did something praiseworthy at school.)  No! I don’t want smiley stickers when I drive on errands or go to the store. However, I strive every day to do all (or, as much as I can) to the glory of God.

God, is this one of the things You were thinking of, when You gave me this idea of 365 days of service? I think, yes.

@chaplaineliza

from Beauty for Ashes

from Beauty for Ashes