Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@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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Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@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 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 Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, February 19, 2018

I just got back from the gym at the YMCA. Yes, I still try to go to the gym diligently. Reading this blog post from February 2014 again, I am reminded that being kind is such a helpful, useful thing. And often, it’s simple to be kind. Just to be thoughtful, too, helps ease the social interaction between strangers and acquaintances. As I look at society today, we need kindness more than ever. Please, consider being kind.

BK one kind word b-w

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Be Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor

This morning, I went to the gym at the YMCA. I had a good workout! So, I needed a shower afterwards, in the locker room. (I was going to work later in the morning.) The shower area is bright and shiny, with a number of shower spots. Sometimes there are just one or two people in there, but other times it’s like Grand Central Station—wall to wall ladies! They often chat while they wait for showers, when it’s so crowded.

I took a quick shower, and there were only two other women in the shower area. By the time I finished up—maybe two and a half, three minutes—the number doubled. A swimmer was turning on the last shower when I said I had just finished. Her eyes brightened. That last shower head was really rotten, she said. She thanked me sincerely! She and I exchanged smiles and several comments as I grabbed my towel. She mentioned again—with a smile—how kind I was to let her have a good shower spot.

Being kind? That’s what I am trying to do every day, with intention. Except, this time, my kind act just happened. I offered my shower spot to another person, just as a matter of course.

I thought about what this swimmer said. I know she said it in a half-kidding manner. But I could see she was half-serious, at the same time. Her comment kept coming to my mind. I was kind to my neighbor, to someone else in the locker room. I’ve mentioned a small book of short selections before, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mister Rogers:

“The more I think about it, the more I wonder if God and neighbor are somehow One. ‘Loving God, Loving neighbor’—the same thing?”

Mister Rogers raises a deeper question. Additional, going further. Somehow more fundamental. What a loving and caring way to go through life. Yes, intellectually, I know I am supposed to love God. As the greatest commandment of Jesus states, Love God, and the second is like it—love neighbor. (I think Mr. Rogers was referring to this twin set of commands of Jesus in the quote above.)  And as Mr. Rogers wonders, aren’t the two commands two sides of the same coin? Yes, loving God is the greatest command. Certainly, there is nothing greater. But Jesus gives “loving neighbor” almost equal billing! (Take a look at Mark 12:28-34 if you want to get a direct take on Jesus and His words.)

What a tall order! Living like this, treating each individual in this way? God, I’m not sure I can live up to all this. That may be just the point. I can’t. God can. Ask God for help. Then, go forward with my hand in God’s, living life the way God means me to. And God can help you, too! Just ask.

@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!)

 

 

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, I got a real sense of taking care of home and hearth. Not something that I am particularly skilled at, I am afraid. Sure, I can clean, and I even enjoy it. (To an extent.) However, cleaning is not one of my spiritual gifts. (Sorry about that.) I am so focused on my work right now, outside of our apartment This blog post reminds me that I ought to strive to do these things that are a stretch for me. Regularly. Dear Lord, help me to keep trying, both in and outside of my home.

 kitchen scene -Flickr

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 6, 2014

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, so I took the opportunity to be a homebody. Just stayed at home, did work on the computer, and caught up on some business (not urgent, but it still needed to get done eventually). I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, but it also needs to be done. I cleaned and straightened a number of things, including the counters, microwave oven, table, and especially the stove and sink. (I must be rigorously honest, though. Yes, I still need to wash the floor. It’s in the back of my mind. Nagging. Pestering me. But that’s for another day.)

Some members of my extended family are natural cleaners. Since our family grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, among some Polish immigrants, and since our family has Polish stock in our ancestry, several of my family joke that certain members inherited the Polish cleaning genes. I remember some of the middle-aged and older Polish ladies in the neighborhood, while I was growing up. Their houses would be immaculate. I remember one older lady—I think she was the older aunt or grandmother of the people who owned the house. I’d walk by their garage, a few doors down the alley, and she would be on her hands and knees washing the garage floor. Seriously. No joke cleaning. Well, some of my relatives are almost that thorough.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that my kitchen is a clean and pleasant place to cook and to eat food? And, to sit and read at the kitchen table? I must admit, things do tend to pile up around my house. Mail. Papers. Books. (It is not a large space to begin with.) This is one area that I know I need to work on. God, I get the message. I feel the nudge. Or, nudges, depending on the week. Sometimes I have legitimate reasons why I can’t get to the housework. Work is important, and I have worked some overtime recently. (My husband was pleased about that—so was I.) But sometimes . . . sometimes, I only do the minimum required.

That’s like my internal housekeeping, too. Sometimes, I only do the minimum to keep things spiritually tidy, to get thoughts and ideas internally organized, to get my brain oriented towards things that are useful, or helpful, or worthwhile. Not that I waste a lot of time (since we don’t have cable television or any of the computer-assisted television packages), but I am pleased to say I do not watch hours of reality television. And—I do not miss it! But enough with bashing current trendy culture.

God, I do want to follow You. Be of service. Act in ways that are kind and helpful. Please, help me as I work on cleaning more regularly, each day. Wow, what a way for me to be of service!

@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!)

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, January 25, 2018

Looking back at my daily blog from 2014, I see a great many things that are really heartwarming. I reread blogs of instances where I was kind, where I helped, and where I was of service. As I mentioned, this is kind of natural for me. (God has gifted me with the spiritual gifts of mercy and helps, and so I almost automatically reach out when I see the need.) But…what about when I realize it’s better to keep quiet about being of service? What if a kind word or a helping hand is better shared behind closed doors? Sometimes, this way is the best way.

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Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

Posted on January 23, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 22, 2014

keep it simple

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

I know I’ve been trying to blog each day in 2014. As I’ve said before, I’m highlighting an intentional act of service every day. A wonderful opportunity to show different ways of being kind, to find ways of being of service to others!  Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Recovery program.

But what about things done in secret? Acts of kindness or service that the doer doesn’t want anyone to know about? I personally know a couple of people who try to do kind things for others on a regular basis, and go out of their way to keep it hush-hush. Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline deals with this aspect of service. Chapter Nine talks about the service of hiddenness. Serving in this way can be a needed test of one’s devotion. As Foster says, “[it is] a rebuke to the flesh and can deal a fatal blow to pride.”

Instead of getting all puffed up and walking around with a big head (“My goodness, look at me! Look at all the acts of service I’ve piled up—I mean, I’ve done for God!”), I can readily see the benefits of service done in secret. I have done any number of acts of service that I haven’t spoken (or blogged) about. First, perhaps because I knew the person I did the service for would not appreciate me blogging about them. Second, because I did not want to openly broadcast the act of service, and otherwise shine a spotlight on what ordinarily would be a quiet act of kindness or compassion.

Foster tells his readers that acts of hidden service not only affect the person serving, but others, as well. “Hidden, anonymous ministries affect even people who know nothing or them. They sense a deeper love and compassion among people though they cannot account for the feeling.” (p. 134) I can attest to this. On numerous occasions when I’ve been involved in ministry to others, doing acts of kindness or service, I have sensed a sweetness, a freshness about the place. It’s as if the positive energy or God’s blessing (or whatever anyone decides to call it) permeates the atmosphere. I can’t explain it, I can’t quantify it. But I have experienced it. The difference being kind makes.

I do have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I know how important acts of service are to those in recovery. A common saying in recovery goes, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.” And again, on page 77 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the chapter Into Action talks about the recovering person’s attempts to be of “service to God and the people around us.” This concept is a foundation of the recovery program. Being of service to others is not only helpful, but essential to maintaining a healthy balance and spiritual walk with God and with others.

So, yes. I did do several acts of service today. And I am going to choose to keep quiet about them.

@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!)

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, December 11, 2017

Yes, my kitchen has again been transformed into a cookie factory. (Or, so my husband says.) I love making cookies. And, I give them away to friends and family every year. As people grow older, and as their diets become more specific—and sometimes gluten-free or lactose-intolerant or other forms of cautions—I need to be more careful and considerate. However, people still enjoy my cookies, made from scratch. Just like my mom made them.

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

cookies variety

Posted on December 13, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 12, 2014

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

It’s that time of year again.

My husband said just the other day, “It’s that time of year when our kitchen has been transformed into a cookie factory. In keeping with tradition, I have volunteered to serve as quality control, sampling each batch. It’s a thankless job, I tell ya.” (I told him he does a very good job of it, too.)

I have made Christmas cookies for years, to give away as presents. Just like my mom.

My mother, Dolores, was a champion at baking. (Cooking, too. But I’m not going to talk about that right now.) Sadly, she died more than ten years ago, but I still remember her superb Christmas cookies. As much as my husband talks about my Christmas cookie baking, I was a mere beginner compared to my mother. Her cookies were amazing.

She used to deliver them to her friends, co-workers, and to our neighbors. She would give them as presents, and bring them to our relatives at holiday times. They always appreciated them. (And, thought the cookies were delicious, too.)

My mother was so creative, in so many ways. I’d like to remember her creativity—in baking Christmas cookies. Butterballs, chocolate raspberry sandwiches, thimble cookies, and, of course, cocoa drops. She made other cookies, other years, but those were always in the mix, as long as I can remember. Sweet memories—in several ways.

Sure, my mother definitely had a mind of her own. Sure, my mother was loving and giving. And sure—my mother gave away a lot of cookies.

It’s good to remember. Remember my mom, and remember her wonderful Christmas cookies. Remember how loving and giving she was.

@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 Advent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)


Being Kind at a Potluck! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, September 2, 2017

Looking back at this post from three years ago, I am amazed and humbled at the excellent advice I received from a fellow pastor friend of mine. He was so right: let the congregation know I love them. (And, I do! I did, and I still do.) I always try to listen with attentive, intelligent, compassionate ears. And, I truly do care. Great advice, and still applicable. Dear God, help me always to be kind and loving to the congregation where You have led me to serve.

Posted on September 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

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

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@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 Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)