Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners (#BestOf)

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 14, 2016

I was reading through several of my old blog posts when I came across this one. One about my no-nonsense, businesslike husband. As I mentioned in the post, he does not think of himself as very much of a “kind person.” Definitely not touchy-feely.

True, this was a bit out of character for him. Yet, I was so touched that he did this kind thing, at the dry cleaners. Reminding me that I need to take every opportunity I can to be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. To the least of these, every day.  

bk-be-kind-to-one-another-eph-4-32

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

Posted on October 19, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 18, 2014

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

It being Saturday morning today, my husband and I did Saturday morning-type things. Including sorting through clothing, deciding which to take to the dry cleaners today. He took his five work shirts, and I added my raincoat. I ought to add a parenthetical comment. I received this black raincoat from my sister Sue. She is a high-level salesperson in the New York City area, and she has to look sharp and dress professionally at all times for her job. She wore this coat for a number of months, but then she bought another one. Was I glad to get this gently-used item! Lovely, durable, classy-looking raincoat. Just the thing for a ministry professional.

My husband Kevin dropped me off at the YMCA (yoga class today!). He went on to the cleaners. He has started going to a different cleaners lately. It’s located in a newer building in a small strip mall, and the husband and wife who own the business keep the premises very clean. Kevin parked, gathered up the clothes, and went for the door with arms full. Another man reached the door at the same time, but his arms were empty. He kindly held the door open for my husband. Kevin reached the long counter several seconds before the other man, and Kevin laid the clothes down near the cash register.

The Korean woman behind the counter seemed to be a bit flustered. She looked from one customer to the other. My husband noticed, and asked her about it. She gestured to the other man, and seemed very apologetic. “He’s just coming to pick up.” The other man nodded. “Go right ahead,” Kevin said. The woman ran and grabbed some clothes on hangers for the customer, and the man left.

Now it was Kevin’s turn. The proprietor of the cleaners checked in the clothes my husband brought. He paid for them with two ten dollar bills. That really pleased the woman. “We need ten dollar bills. Thank you, thank you.” My husband had two more in his wallet, and asked whether she could use them. She was so excited! “Yes, thank you so much!” She gave him a twenty in exchange, and then looked at him with a serious face. “You are a very kind man. You were patient, and let the other customer go first. Then, you gave me extra ten dollars. You are very kind!”

This embarrassed my husband. He’s a journalist, and a senior editor. A no-nonsense sort of a guy, he doesn’t particularly see himself as “a very kind man.” (He freely admits that’s more his wife’s department.) However, he thanked the proprietor with sincerity. And then, related this account to me.

After hearing what had happened, I told Kevin that he had been very kind. This made him wonder. He does not particularly go out of his way to be kind and helpful. However—he reflected whether he might be able to act his way into kind, helpful thinking. I told him that a number of months of doing kind, helpful acts of service every day was certainly affecting my habitual way of thinking. He nodded, seriously considering what I had said.

God willing, we might all act our way into kind, helpful thinking.

@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!)

Be of Service to a Grateful Family (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Serving, helping, being kind. These actions come naturally to me. As I was reading through several entries from the beginning of December 2014, I came across this one. I thought of this dear family, and my kind and compassionate friend—the mother of this family. She is in another sad, distressing, continuing situation. I don’t do this much at all, but I will ask my readers for prayer today. Please pray for my dear friend Susan. Pray for her finances. Pray for her children. Pray for her and her family to have a happy, healthy and blessed holiday season. Most important, pray for the Lord to go before and protect her, to prepare the way and to make her paths straight. Hear all of our prayers, dear Lord. Amen!

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, December 7, 2014

Zimbabwean nativity set

Zimbabwean nativity set

Be of Service to a Grateful Family

I’ve been talking about being kind this whole year. Yes, talking about it, and writing about other people being of service. And, giving some examples of me being helpful. Kind. Of service.

Yes, I could mention being of service in the morning worship service. Especially since it was a communion service. Pastor Gordon and I served communion to the congregation, and I believe they appreciated the whole service: from the Advent candle-lighting at the beginning of the service to the singing of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” for a closing hymn.

And, I was concerned about someone in our congregation. This senior was not in church this morning, so I called and double-checked. I am glad I did, because we were able to lift this senior up in prayer during the church service—a bad cold, which is now getting better. (More good ways of being of help!)

However, the highlight of my day was bringing a number of things to a grateful family. This family was some distance away, and it took a little while to get there. That did not matter to me, though. They were so appreciative! (That is the part I was concerned about!)

Yes, I can be kind. Be of service. Yes, I can buy some food or a few gifts or some items for some grateful individuals—or, for a family. This specific case was a bit different. A few of my friends and I all pooled our resources, and provided some things for this family. And, what was I doing there? I was the bearer of good tidings, and the one designated to bring the things.

I am reminded of my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Just think—God gave me the inclination, the impetus. And, God provided a nice vehicle so I could get there in safety and comfort.

Truly, providing much needed supplies and gifts for grateful people is certainly something God-honoring. And, it’s also something that our Lord Jesus commands in Matthew 25:34-40. What a way to be of service, and please God, at the same time.

@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!)

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 6, 2015

Almost time to go to the mission conference again. Yes, my daughter and I will be going again this year. The service project (Stop Hunger Now) was so popular and so needful to so many people last year that the New Wilmington Mission Conference is going to do it again. Feeding people. Giving out a cup of cold water. Doing what Jesus would do. God willing, may I always be so willing.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 4, 2014

following Jesus

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

Stop Hunger Now! (This is a tremendous opportunity.) Imagine, being a part of stopping world hunger. Even if I can only do a little bit, only a tiny portion, I will still be doing something. This ministry opportunity is the selected service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC) in July.

Every summer for more than one hundred years, NWMC has sought to make youth aware of mission effort around the world. Yes, it’s a conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but it’s much more than just that. Held every July on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA (and thus the name, NWMC), this week-long conference has morphed into a multi-generational conference, going beyond just intellectual knowledge. True, NWMC informs attendees about its Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of mission outreach worldwide, but the conference also promotes active service and witness for God—and much fun is had while promoting it, too!

I’ve attended for a number of years. My younger children remember NWMC with great fondness, and every year this conference has a selected service project. Everyone who attends—no matter what the age—is encouraged to participate in the project!

For several years now, the service project has concentrated on world hunger. More specifically, Stop Hunger Now! (That’s the name of the mission organization.) This organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too!

In 2011, the packaging team at NWMC made more than 24,000 meals which were shipped to Kenya. In 2012, NWMC sent more than 37,100 meals to Liberia and Uganda. And in 2014? God willing, that number will be even higher. Everyone who attends the conference is encouraged to participate. To be the hands and feet of Christ, feeding the hungry.

The use of volunteers to package meals makes the cost of each meal even lower. Plus, the use of packaging teams from all over the nation increases awareness of global hunger; many people become even more aware of how scarce food is, in large parts of the world.

This is an opportunity to be doers of the word of God, and not just hearers, only—like James said in Chapter 1 of his letter. What a chance to provide food for hungry people. And, what a chance to be helpful. Be of service. And be kind.

@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!)

Be Helpful? Be Hospitable! (With Chili, Too.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 13, 2014

people diverse fellowship in the church

Be Helpful? Be Hospitable! (With Chili, Too.)

I enjoy being helpful. Yes, that’s one of my spiritual gifts. That’s what this blog is all about! But, today I also had the opportunity to be hospitable, too.

I took the opportunity to host a holiday open house at the church this afternoon. It was a chance to have a little more relaxed time with people in the congregation, and for me to bring a few things to the church. Like cookies. And chili.

It’s funny. I’ve been using the same chili recipe every time (your basic chili, from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, minus the bay leaf). I did use three different kinds of beans—red kidney, black beans, and white Northern beans. But other than that, it always turns out just a little bit different. Not bad different, but just different different. I wonder why that is?

I suppose I could make that a metaphor for life. Or, more specifically, for the Christian life. The walk with God. I use the same basic recipe. I put in the same ingredients. And somehow, things change. Usually, just a little bit. But, my recipe—my day by day life—changes incrementally. Usually in very small ways, but it keeps on changing.

If I consider the verse for December, from Ephesians 2:10, I have the same basic ingredients in my Christian life; the same ingredients and same basic recipe for the human condition. Yet, I have the opportunity to do marvelous things. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Yes, I am God’s handiwork. Another translation says “God’s masterpiece.” God made these ingredients and put them together in the same basic recipe. And, I have the chance to take these God-given ingredients and put them together in a useful way. A tasty way. A winsome way.

It’s good to be hospitable, to offer what I have and what I am to the congregation. Yes, I prepared food. (I think most people enjoyed what I brought, too.) I also took the opportunity to play Christmas carols this evening, and everyone sang. It didn’t matter that we didn’t sound like a wonderful choir. No, that didn’t matter to us. Instead, we sang carols to the glory of God. (Also for our enjoyment!)

All in all, a good day. Thank You, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Be of Service to a Grateful Family

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, December 7, 2014

Zimbabwean nativity set

Zimbabwean nativity set

Be of Service to a Grateful Family

I’ve been talking about being kind this whole year. Yes, talking about it, and writing about other people being of service. And, giving some examples of me being helpful. Kind. Of service.

Yes, I could mention being of service in the morning worship service. Especially since it was a communion service. Pastor Gordon and I served communion to the congregation, and I believe they appreciated the whole service: from the Advent candle-lighting at the beginning of the service to the singing of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” for a closing hymn.

And, I was concerned about someone in our congregation. This senior was not in church this morning, so I called and double-checked. I am glad I did, because we were able to lift this senior up in prayer during the church service—a bad cold, which is now getting better. (More good ways of being of help!)

However, the highlight of my day was bringing a number of things to a grateful family. This family was some distance away, and it took a little while to get there. That did not matter to me, though. They were so appreciative! (That is the part I was concerned about!)

Yes, I can be kind. Be of service. Yes, I can buy some food or a few gifts or some items for some grateful individuals—or, for a family. This specific case was a bit different. A few of my friends and I all pooled our resources, and provided some things for this family. And, what was I doing there? I was the bearer of good tidings, and the one designated to bring the things.

I am reminded of my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Just think—God gave me the inclination, the impetus. And, God provided a nice vehicle so I could get there in safety and comfort.

Truly, providing much needed supplies for grateful people is certainly something God-honoring. And, it’s also something that our Lord Jesus commands in Matthew 25:34-40. What a way to be of service, and please God, at the same time.

@chaplaineliza

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

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 28, 2014

hearts in hands

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

I was not feeling 100 percent today. (I felt even worse yesterday . . . ) Being under the weather is unpleasant, to say the least! I wonder what God would say about me laying low, and not doing too much, either yesterday or today? I hope God would nod, and say, “That’s all right. You rest up, and take it easy.” I know that’s what I would say, if any of my children or my husband were at home sick. Or, not feeling well. But I can use my computer, even if I do feel unwell.

I also wanted to concentrate on the verse of the month today: Proverbs 19:17 – “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” Coincidentally (or, providentially—depending on how you look at it), I read in an online article yesterday about several ideas for church outreach. One of them really struck a chord. The idea that resonated with me concerned a local school. The suggestion is for a church to ‘adopt’ a school in their community. Willingly filling a need for the school is a wonderful way of giving back to the neighborhood. And, it is a wonderful witness to the community, too.

Yesterday, I sent email to several members of the Church Council, telling them of this innovative idea. I received a go-ahead! One of our church members is also on the Parent Teacher Organization at her child’s school—a school in the neighborhood. She and I talked today, and I am so glad she can ask whether our church might be able to help with any special needs the school might have. Especially since the holidays are fast approaching, along with cold weather.

I suppose this idea was gestating in my head for about a day. On Sunday, two of the older ladies were talking after church about things they used to do for outreaches. Like, for example, collecting mittens, hats and scarves to bring to a Christian child welfare agency in Chicago. I know that my children’s elementary school used to do the same thing—collect mittens, hats and scarves for the needy in our community, too. (Of course, they are long past that age, with my youngest a senior in high school.)

I’m not sure quite what the neighborhood school will suggest to our church, but we can do our best to be ready. To be of service. Be helpful. Be kind. And if anyone would like to offer prayers for our church’s outreach to the elementary school, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.

Gee, if I didn’t know better, I would think I’m starting to communicate this being-kind-sort-of thing. Thanks for the idea, God! May it be a blessing to many in our neighborhood. Including the good folks at St. Luke’s Church.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 4, 2014

autumn road

How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

Isn’t it wonderful when everything comes together? Especially when a big event—planned for some time—happens, and everything works out wonderfully? Yeah. That happened tonight.

Actually, this morning was really awesome, too. But more about that, first. I’ll briefly describe what happened this morning, as an appetizer to this evening’s festivities. I prepared for a Blessing of the Animals this morning. Yes, I had fliers with a prayer all printed up, but the weather did not cooperate.

Today was the coldest day of the fall so far, and the weather was threatening to rain all morning. (And, it finally did start sprinkling, just before noon. Just before I started to move things inside.) Lo and behold, I blessed nine animals. Several in-depth conversations happened. Plus, two more people came to the church and brought lists of their animals. The two dear people wanted their pets blessed long-distance. Of course, I did!

But, this evening? Better and better. It was marvelous to see so many people come out and support St. Luke’s Church. And like I said before, everything came together to create a lovely night. Excellent food, hard work by everyone involved. Even the student youth leader and his roommate came to the spaghetti dinner—both did yeoman’s service, helping out with the serving and whatever else was needed around the kitchen and the fellowship hall.

Such an example of service! Serving with love and caring to others, being helpful, loving and caring with no sign of anyone paying me back or doing something for me in exchange. And here, at St. Luke’s Church? That kind of attitude is what I saw. That’s the loving and caring attitude I find in the larger passage I’m preaching from tomorrow, from John 16 and 17. How wonderful it is to show others how important each individual is. Such a difference! And, each person is truly valued and cared for.

Everyone pitching in helps each one to be more and more encouraged and supported. And, the encouragement and support is circular, helping members of the congregation feel better about themselves. Which just encourages more love and caring to others. That is what I would like to show to everyone: our congregation truly is striving to be a congregation after God’s own heart. Difficult? Challenging? Are there setbacks, sometimes? Yes. Yes, and yes. What’s more, I think God is pleased and continues to bless our efforts. God willing, we’ll continue to try!

@chaplaineliza

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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

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Helping A Friend In Need

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 15, 2014

God making a way

Helping A Friend In Need

Today was a day to be helpful. And caring. I went to visit a good friend of one of my relatives, in the hospital. He had had a procedure recently, and I said I would go to see him. Wouldn’t you know, when I got there, he had just checked out of the hospital.

But wait—that’s not the end of it! I then called one of his relatives while I was standing there in the hospital lobby. In considerable distress, the relative told me about a serious concern she had. Immediately, I felt my chaplain skills swing into action. Of course I tried to help her to calm down, to try to be less frantic and more relaxed. I asked her for possible choices she might make, and helped her see that she could take some action in the specific situation. And even though she felt weak, she was neither helpless nor powerless.

After traveling back from downtown Chicago, I swung by the friend’s house to check on him. See how he was doing. I didn’t stay very long at all, but I was relieved to see he was resting. Thank goodness, especially since he had just been released from the hospital!

Afterwards, I reflected that I haven’t been coming alongside of people as much, as when I was a chaplain. Then, of course, I helped people in the hospital on a regular basis. Assisted them when they had concerns, facilitated getting answers, prayed for them and their loved ones when they asked, journeyed with them when they needed someone by their sides. Sure, sometimes I do this here at my new job, too! However, my current job is just not as intense a position as the one where I was working in a high-needs, intensive trauma situation.

God knows that I am facing new challenges and new joys in this new position, at the church! But, I really appreciated coming back to the familiar ground of a hospital. And as is often the case, I find that people are people. Their serious concerns still touch me deeply, and it doesn’t matter whether I hear of these concerns by email, over the telephone, on the street, or next to a hospital bed.

I pray that God will be with my friend, his relative, and with all those I know who are suffering and in pain today. Please, God, touch them in a special way today.

@chaplaineliza

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Questioning My Kindness Quotient?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 14, 2014

BK be kind 1 Thess

Questioning My Kindness Quotient?

Today was a pretty average day, as far as typical days go. Nothing particular to write home about, unless I count email correspondence, several telephone calls, a couple of phone messages, a few conversations, and stops at a couple of businesses on the way home. Upon reflection, it does sound average to me.

Except—one of these interactions struck me as a bit uncomfortable. I stopped at a business later in the day, and asked a question about the transaction before I paid the bill. The cashier seemed a bit testy in response. As I completed the transaction, I noticed the coolness of the cashier, avoidance of eye contact, and minimum of chit-chat.

I reflected on that interaction, after dinner. I was wondering about it. Almost troubled, but not quite. (And that was interesting to me, too.) I replayed the words I said and the actions I took, in my mind. I didn’t find anything particularly disturbing in my words. I didn’t think I had been abrupt or mean in my attitude or my manner, either. Upon considerable reflection, I don’t think my words or actions were upsetting. At least, I don’t think so.

On second thought, it could have been something about the cashier. Something going on in their life, or a bad experience at work. Or even, a health concern for them or for a loved one. In other words, it might not have been about me, after all.

So, I may not have been a kind, loving, caring person, at least as far as this interaction on the way home is concerned. Or, contrariwise. As I said before, I am unsure whether others are keeping up their end of the social contract. But as long as I do my best, and keep my side of the street clean, I hope that will take care of my end of things.

A wise woman remarked a number of times (in my hearing) that “Ninety percent of what happens to you is none of your business.” Very true! I really appreciated her wise words. Now, alas, she has gone on to eternity. I want to be a good example of being kind and helping people. Why not try to keep my side of the street clean?

God willing, I’ll get an extended opportunity to continue trying to be kind, be helpful, and be of service. Thanks, God! Help me follow Your wish for me to be willing, honest and open.

@chaplaineliza

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