Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I love Mister Rogers. I really do. Re-reading this post brought me right back to his nurturing, friendly assistance in the business of being a parent. Yes, caring and attachment to those close to me can be so difficult! Such a chore, sometimes! Yet, I can always come back to my Heavenly Parent and ask for forgiveness, come to complain, or ask for a hug. Thanks, God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

baby and butterfly

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment. “

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion. I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@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!)

T-Shirts for Being Kind! (Feature Friday!)

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

A Year of Being Kind t-shirt (at Zazzle.com)

A Year of Being Kind
t-shirt (at Zazzle.com)

T-Shirts for Being Kind! (Feature Friday!)

Usually, I feature someone else on Fridays. I mean, I post about someone who is a true example of being kind. I am really, really proud of this feature, because over the past ten months, I have blogged about some extremely moving things. And awesome missions. And inspiring people.

But, today, I have decided to depart from my regularly scheduled program. (Pardon me for the crass commercial announcement.) I am posting today about t-shirts,

Yes, I have made a t-shirt.

I thought that A Year of Being Kind was such a wonderful idea that I would popularize it, as much as possible. I would offer a t-shirt for sale. Several days ago, I went to one of the Interweb’s handy-dandy personalization websites (Zazzle.com), chose a plain t-shirt, and customized it with a brand-new logo that my friend and graphic artist Bill made for me. (Thanks, Bill!)  You can see this white t-shirt with the blue Being Kind logo on it, above.

I am trying to make the price for the shirts inexpensive enough so people would be able to afford to buy them. Plus, I am trying to balance this with a specific, small amount I will be able to receive for each t-shirt sold.

The best part is: I will give a portion of the money I receive for these shirts to the Maine Township Food Pantry. That is the food pantry in the area where my church is located. In the Chicago area, even people with two jobs sometimes have difficulty making ends meet.

So, it’s a win-win situation. You get an awesome t-shirt, telling the world about being kind. I’m the middle man, passing proceeds on to the Maine Township Food Pantry. Which also finds out about being kind, through action.

How do you get said t-shirt, you wonder? I’m glad you asked! You can click on the following link, BeingKind. It should take you right to the pertinent webpage on Zazzle.com.

I am in the process of trying to get a link on the sidebar to the right of where you’re reading, right now. My daughter needs to tinker with it a bit more. (Thanks, Rachel!) Hopefully, a working link in a widget will be coming soon.

Buy one! Maybe, even, buy two! (One for you, and one for a friend.) And if you like the idea of A Year of Being Kind, you can always try it yourself. God willing, when 2014 ends, I’ll keep going with my being kind. Being helpful. Serving others.

@chaplaineliza

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

Youth Who Live Justly, Show Mercy, Walk Humbly (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 15, 2014

micah68 vertical

Youth Who Live Justly, Show Mercy, Walk Humbly (Feature Friday!)

A friend of mine volunteers at a nearby hospice, about once a week. She told me how awesome it was to have a large number of youth come to the hospice. This was several weeks ago, when the youth made blankets for the hospice patients. My friend saw how affected and moved the young people were. Talk about emotion!

This activity moved and intrigued me. It’s not the typical activity for youth to do, much less a large number of youth. So, I asked my friend Ann where the young people were from. Which group sent them? St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights was the answer.

I did a little footwork, and found the contact information I needed. After a bit of telephone tag, Father Cory Brost and I finally were talking, person to person. He heads up St. Viator’s High School as President. He told me about an amazing summer program at the high school for youth 6th grade to 9th grade (just entering high school). It’s a one week service camp called “Praise and Service.” He related about the two different tracks in the camp, one choir track and the other track for service opportunities. Service and song make up the core of St. Viator’s mission, alongside of the importance of education excellence.

This summer camp had a total of 108 students in attendance in the camp the third week of July 2014, from 12:30 to 5:30 pm. 70 were campers, 6th through 9th grades. The rest were high school-aged leaders and recent alumni as facilitators, helping the campers on both tracks make the most of the week of service. Plus, 12 adult leaders also participated.

80 students went out each day of the camp week. Fr. Cory wasn’t certain, but he suspected that these young people had 80 different responses to their activities. Different people were moved by differing aspects of their work. I thought that Fr. Cory’s appreciation for the individualized reactions was most welcome. Awesome!

I asked Fr. Cory about the visit to the hospice. Yes, he told me that many of the youth were deeply touched by the patients, and by the opportunity to make blankets for them. He also mentioned another afternoon activity later that week. The camp invited seniors from the community to St. Viator’s. The youth acted as hosts. Another opportunity to be kind, be helpful.

After Fr. Cory and I ended our wonderful conversation, I reflected on how deeply moving it was for St. Viator’s High School to be so loving and giving with their time, resources, and expertise. Truly, an opportunity for the youth to live out the tenets of Micah 6:8: Live Justly, Show Mercy, and Walk Humbly. God willing, I pray that I might have such enthusiasm. God, thanks for their excited, exuberant, emotional acts of helpful service. And, thanks for showing Your love through the service of others, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 7, 2014

pink roses

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Peace can be a transient thing. It’s difficult to come by for some people, and even more difficult to hold on to, for others. I know in my life, I have not always been peaceful. At peace. For years, I have (more often than not) been longing for peace, even actively searching for peace . . . and not finding it.

A number of years ago, when my two older girls were toddler and preschooler, their father and I were having a particularly difficult time with finances and with unemployment. It lasted for several years. We shopped at resale stores. We counted pennies. We went without a great number of things. We had a really tough time paying for necessary stuff like doctor bills and medication. (Remember when your toddler or preschooler would have the occasional ear infection, or strep throat?)

I am so grateful for family members! Loving, kind, giving family members gave us a hand. Helped us out. I don’t know how I would have made it through without our great families! But, wait! You say, that’s great for long time ago, but . . . what gives? Sure, what you’ve said so far is all very nice. All heartwarming and everything. But it was some years ago! What about today? How am I—how are we being kind today?

I’m so glad you asked! Some time has passed, and I have been actively searching for peace ever since. More often than not, for years. And years.

I believe I have some idea of peace in my life, right now. At bible study today, we were all talking about peace. God’s peace. How Jesus wished His disciples—His followers peace. What did that mean, anyway?

To greet someone with the word “Peace” was a common way of saying hello, in the first century. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. “Peace” didn’t mean just a cessation of violence . No, the connotation of the word shalom meant much, much more. By using this greeting, the risen Christ was wishing His followers not only peace and wellness, but also wholeness, in terms of the world being made peaceful.

As we talked about this rich, multi-layered concept of peace—of shalom, what a wonderful idea it is! How awesome, to have Jesus wishing this for the disciples. And even, wishing it for each of us, too! That was my act of service today, telling people about the peace of Christ. Truly, a wonderful discovery for each of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus can deliver. For me, and for you, too. I put my trust in the risen Christ. I know the risen Christ makes Himself available to me. On a daily basis, even. And how awesome is that?

@chaplaineliza

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

For the Joy of Reading!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 6, 2014

children heart illustration

For the Joy of Reading!

I love to read! I love reading out loud, too. (With some books, I have been known to do voices for different characters.) I’ve been told I have an excellent way with the spoken word, as well.

At my new position, I have the great joy and opportunity to read to some young people each Tuesday. Today being Tuesday, today was reading day! I had two excellent books to read to the children. The same two I read last week, except I changed the order in which I read them—so, I read Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema to the four year olds this week, and read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey to the kindergarten children.

I’ve been reading for almost fifty years In fact, I can vividly remember the moment when I started ‘decoding’ the letters. My mother was reading one of the Oz books to me, by L. Frank Baum. (We had several, in hardcover.) I was barely four years old—it was winter, and cold weather. I remember her reading the words at the bottom of one of the full-page illustrations, and running her finger along as she read each word. Wow! I had the grand feeling of huge puzzle pieces falling into place as she did that. I suddenly understood what reading was all about. I connected those sounds and those letters that my mom was tracing and the words she read . . . and everything fell into place. It was glorious magic!

And after that, it seemed like I never stopped reading.

I read a great deal of fantasy and fairy tales when I was in grade school, although I had fairly eclectic tastes. (I was the youngest child in my family, so we had all the books from my older brothers and sisters around the house. I was free to read whatever I chose.) I started writing my own stories and books when I was a teenager. And I kept right on writing fiction, through my twenties, into my thirties and forties—and took a break when I went to seminary. Or, instead, started to write serious papers and articles. And started to write sermons, too!

Sermons seem to be a great combination of several skill sets. A confluence, if you will, of several streams of interest. I’ve written here about my preaching before, and I’ll say again—I love it! There is something so satisfying, so deeply moving about handling the scriptures. Praying about what to say. Crafting the structure, the arc of the message. And then—the delivery. Excellent!

Reading picture books to children is also excellent, but in a different way. I get up close and personal. I can interact with the children. (I do interact with the congregation, too, except it’s different. Somehow.) I felt this wonderfulness today, as I read the picture books. And I connected with the children. Up close and personal. God, thank You for this awesome opportunity that You’ve given me—to read to children once more! Such an opportunity. So rewarding. Thank You, God.

@chaplaineliza

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

Render Service, Express Love

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 9, 2014

LOVE love God love people

Render Service, Express Love

I enjoy preaching—in fact, I love it! I have for more than ten years. But how did I start preaching to begin with? I’ll need to go back to spring of 2003, when I was chosen to be one of the chaplain interns at a large senior residence (with full continuum of care) in the suburbs north of Chicago. The director of chaplaincy was very pleased to have me as an intern starting that fall, but he cautioned me. I would need to take a course in preaching, that summer, if possible. Why, you ask? Because the chaplain interns had regular preaching responsibilities in the weekly Sunday morning health care services as well as the weekly Wednesday afternoon Hymns and Devotions. I preached over forty sermons in those thirteen months I served as a chaplain intern. (!!)

In retrospect, it really was no surprise that I found I loved preaching. I enjoyed poring over the Scripture passage, praying for inspiration on what direction the sermon ought to take, carefully crafting the message like the wordsmith that I am. And then, the delivery? That’s awesome, too! When I lead in worship, I use many of the gifts and graces God has given me. (More, if I prepare the bulletin, plan the order of worship, and play either piano or organ.) And, I get a strong sense that God is deeply pleased with me and my service.

I served again, today. I was asked to preach and lead worship at two retirement homes in Chicago. I feel a real tenderness and affection for these dear seniors. I’ve been preaching at both places about once a month for approximately two years now. Seeing these dear people on a fairly regular basis cements the warm, loving feelings in my heart. Yes, there is some change of residents, and some people who are doing rehab or are at the residences for only a period of time. But by and large, many of them continue to attend the Sunday morning services each week.

Today, as I spoke to one lovely senior after the service, she told me she had been praying for me. (I was so touched! Imagine!) For several months, she had been praying for God to find an extra-good place for me to serve and minister. I teared up a bit and thanked her with overflowing gratitude in my heart. As we stood side by side, she said, “I love you,” and leaned her head towards mine. My response? “Oh, I love you, too!” I leaned my head towards her, too. We stood next to each other, gently being with each other for a few long seconds.

Intellectually, I know that my ministry touches hearts and minds. But today was extra-special. Yes, my sermon was good. (I had great material to work with—the raising of Lazarus!) This touching exchange with this extra-dear senior will stay with me, for a long time. God, I am amazed at how wonderful ministry to Your people truly is. Thank You for the opportunity and the calling to minister.

@chaplaineliza

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

How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday morning - Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 - Painting Prayers

Saturday morning – Monmouth College Fall retreat, 2005 – Painting Prayers

How Can I Be Kind? Be Present for Others!

My family took a trip today to Michigan and back. Not particularly a nice day for travel, but we had a luncheon appointment planned for this particular day. We went to a fine restaurant in a small town in Michigan and met two older relatives for lunch. Comfortable eating place, wonderful view, excellent company. I think I can safely speak for us all if I say a fine time was had by all of us.

One of the relatives has done a good bit of (lay) work for the church, for a number of decades. I had the opportunity to seriously listen to him and glean some wisdom from him and his vast experience. What an opportunity! I was very glad I could do that. I could see that he felt good, sharing his expertise. And I? I was listening with both ears open—and pen in hand—taking down all the information I could.

On the way back to Chicago this afternoon, I reflected upon the serious discussion the two of us had over the coffee cups, after lunch. Since I’ve worked as a chaplain for most of the past ten years, I could say that I am also a professional-listener. I listen to people with several aural filters: first, spiritual. Since I often act as a chaplain, I have a primary focus on people’s spiritual orientation (and I don’t mean “religious!” but instead, spiritual, internal focus). Second, emotional. I am naturally intuitive and a feeling/perceptive person, so I can actively listen to individuals and their feeling/emotional orientation.

So, I used my active listening skills at lunch today. (It was automatic—they just sort-of switched on. I found myself in the middle of this significant conversation, and I felt my internal, active listening just being there. Fully operational.) Meanwhile, something was going on under the surface inside of my head while I was cogitating on this conversation. I also reflected on something I recently heard at a gathering of friends. A new acquaintance was speaking. She said quite a number of excellent things. However, what was the most significant thing I thought she said? The most important thing she could do for people besides showing up for them was being fully present with them. I truly appreciated that, and took that thought home with me. The zinger for me? I somehow connected the two trains of thought.

I guess I could say that I was fully present with my older relative today. I listened attentively to him after lunch, with appreciation for his wisdom and expertise. I guess I could also say I took the opportunity to be kind today. Actually, the act of service was a two-way gift this afternoon—both for my relative and for me. I think it is just superb how God sovereignly acts in disparate situations and ties them together in my mind—like at lunch today, and in my remembrance of this recent conversation. Awesome job, God! Thanks so much!

@chaplaineliza

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

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

whatever makes you happy

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

“It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment. “

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion. I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@chaplaineliza

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