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.


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 .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)


Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?


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 PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)#BestOf

Posted on August 30, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 26, 2016

My husband and I recently received several annoying telephone calls from debt collectors. (Our last name is one of the most common in the country.) These calls reminded me of this post, about my husband and his superb research and tracking skills. Thank God he was so persistent. I want to let as many people know how to research and track these sleazy debt consolidation companies.

BK kindness is a lifestyle

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 29, 2014

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

I have heard horror stories of how less-than-honest companies bundle and buy out debts at only a fraction of their value. Then, they hold the debt or note for the money owed. So instead of cash-strapped people owing a credit card company money, or a bona fide medical center money, they now owe these sleazy debt consolidation companies the money. But wait, there’s more! Much more . . .

I’ve been involved with seniors for a number of years, especially recently. I mean, at their homes. These seniors, often frail and in poor health, receive all kinds of telephone solicitation calls. Many of these calls come from shady, fly-by-night companies. But the worst of them all? The worst come from these sleazy, slimy debt consolidation companies. The debt collectors call. Then, call again—and again. And if they get a trembling, anxious senior on the other end of the line, so much the better! These pond scum debt collectors bully the elderly, trying to force them to send money. And sometimes, the senior is bullied into paying off a debt they do not even owe.

Most people don’t realize how to stop this horrible harassment and misuse of the telephone, not to mention get revenge. But a debt collection company tangled with my husband Kevin one time too many. My husband—who did not even owe the debt mentioned—took action. Action against the company, and action to stop this daily harassment for a debt which was never his to begin with.

My husband is extremely methodical, and he takes excellent notes in his work life. So, he decided to do the same thing in this case. Every time the home telephone was called by this company, we noted the date, time, and whether it was a recorded call or a real, live person. Every single time there was contact with a real, live person, we recorded their name. My husband sent two “cease and desist letters” by registered mail (so a real, live person at the company was required to sign for the letter, and show proof they received it). He took extensive notes whenever he spoke with anyone, and kept all of the notes in a file. And—he employed a law firm that specialized in fighting with these slimy debt collection firms.

The lawyers at the law firm were pros! They knew exactly what they were doing. My husband worked with them, hand in glove, and actually won the case in small claims court!

So, that was several years ago. My husband Kevin and I had almost forgotten all about the case, when a journalist contacted my husband a number of days ago. Mr. Sullivan wanted to know whether he might be able to write an article about the debt collectors and how my husband beat them at their own game. My husband gladly agreed! Moreover, he sent Mr. Sullivan all of his notes. (The journalist complimented my husband on his extremely thorough note-taking, too.)

So—long story short, the story appeared in Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. And—my husband is a hero! He showed, through his excellent example, exactly how to defuse these pond scum debt collectors. And, he wants people to know their rights under the law, too. In a quote from Mr. Sullivan’s article: “I would gladly do it again, not for the money, but because these people are slime who abuse and exploit people who don’t know how to defend themselves,” he said. “While I was defending myself, I followed various forums on the subject, and I was appalled at how many elderly people are victimized. It’s sickening.”

Not only the elderly, but people of all ages might be victimized. Thank God there are people who know how to stop these abusive practices and horrid debt collectors. People like my husband Kevin. That’s a sure way to live by the tenets of Micah 6:8! Live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

(To take a look at the Yahoo Finance article by Mr. Sullivan, check out this link: )


(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 .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Sharing with a New Friend (#BestOf)

Sharing with a New Friend (#BestOf)

Posted on August 17, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 13, 2016

It’s always good to remember a good friend. The friend I mention below is now in a different apartment, in a different town, but still my good friend. And, I hope in a much better situation, all the way around. God willing, I pray wonderful things are ahead for my friend and her family.

friendship you do stuff

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sharing with a New Friend

I made a new friend today! We live in different states, and had never met in our lives before today. But, I really feel we made a connection.

The two of us spent some time talking, and we weren’t satisfied with peripheral or superficial nonsense. We didn’t even begin with banalities, but instead immediately started to communicate on a deep level. Like we had known each other for some time. (Again, so satisfying!)

In my new position, I don’t have many opportunities to meet friends. I mean, good friends, who I can truly talk to. I appreciate people who are friendly and kind, of course! And so many people I’ve met in the past several months are that way. It’s truly a blessing. I mean that. But—I am a pastor. I serve as a minister. Right off the bat, that causes some separation. I need to maintain some professional, objective distance in my position, while at the same time being appropriately empathetic and understanding.

My many months in chaplain internship (Clinical Pastoral Education) have reinforced that, to be sure. Yes, I can come alongside people who are hurting, and try to be a comfort, support and encouragement. Chaplain internship has sharpened my skills at journeying with people as they are in trouble—either in terms of poor health, other kinds of crisis, emotional or spiritual upset.

It’s a good thing I have some friends from the years before I became a pastor. It can be lonely, even though I do have several long-term friends I can take the liberty of calling at pretty much any time. But these few long-term friends are not always available. (They lead busy lives, too!)

Of course, I try to be of service when I can. This fulfills me, nurtures me. It’s true that I am trying to follow the suggestions made in Micah 6:8 this month. “Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” Just like when I took a senior acquaintance to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, earlier this week. Just like when I made reminder calls to several people for an upcoming activity. But I would sincerely like some kind of intimate connection—like that of having a good friend.

So, finding another friend is always a welcome thing. Yay! Thanks, God. You know what I wanted even before I formulated the thought. And, I just might be the answer to prayer for my new friend, too. Again, thanks, God!


(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 .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Posted on August 7, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At first glance, this post seems ordinary. Everyday. But then, I stepped back and thought about that. Aren’t our lives often ordinary and everyday? I have the opportunity to be kind and to be of service in ordinary situations, just as much as missionaries have the opportunity to be of service in far-flung places around the world. Wherever God wants me to help and to be kind, to be other-centered, I will strive to follow Jesus’s example.

BK kindness is contagious

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kindness and Service, All in the Family

I’m a helpful person. From a Christian point of view, I have a spiritual gift of helps. I enjoy helping. I feel fulfilled when I do things for people. This is another way of saying I try to be kind to people. And—I wish to encourage others to be kind, too. It takes people out of themselves. From being self-centered to becoming other-centered.

Another ordinary day. An ordinary Wednesday, in fact. I went to work, made some telephone calls, did some computer work, sent some emails. Went on a kind visit, to a care center to see a senior. Actively listened to this dear person, and kept this senior company for a while.

Then I went to be kind, for a second time. Kind to my husband. I picked him up from the conference center and brought him home.

And I was kind, again, to my daughter. She and I went shopping again in preparation for college, and I dearly hope this is the last shopping trip. (Although she did get some really nice things!)

And lastly, I was kind to myself. In the evening, I went to the gym at the YMCA. Went on the track, and did a good bit of stretching and yoga afterwards. It felt great!

I wonder how many different ways I can be kind? I’ve already found quite a few. (After all, this blog is called “A Year of Being Kind.”) God, the best part about this endeavor is that I am becoming accustomed to discovering kind things to do, on a regular basis. Ways to be of service, every day. I know I have done some things I don’t even want to publicize, to write about in this blog, and that’s okay, too. Some things are better left private. Sometimes even the person I am providing a kindness to doesn’t even know. Isn’t in the least bit aware. And that makes the whole being-kind-thing really exciting!

God, what kinds of opportunities will you send me tomorrow? Will they be little or big? A bit scary? Unexpected? Gentle? Or even quieter than quiet, and unassuming? Whatever they are, however I discover them, help me serve others. Be kind. Help.


(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 .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Can I Be of Service? How? (#BestOf)

Can I Be of Service? How? (#BestOf)

Posted on March 14, 2016 by chaplaineliza

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, March 13, 2016

This #BestOf blog post reminds me of how much I enjoyed being kind, and doing daily acts of service in 2014. Just having that orientation, each day for a year, provided me with a wonderful store of memories. And—this particular post reminds me of my friend Sarah, who now has an even more successful florist’s business here in Evanston. (And not just flowers, but much more!) I want to be of service to others. Lord, You know how much. Send me more opportunities, please.

Can I Be of Service? How?

Posted on March 14, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, March 13, 2014


act in such a manner

Can I Be of Service? How?

Can I be of service today? I did not have that intentional thought today, it is true. However, in retrospect, I found I did perform some service. Several times!

I worked today. I was of service there. I ran some errands, so I was of service to my family and my husband. I went to the gym this morning—I even did some self-care, and was of service to myself! So, yes. I did perform some acts of service today, although they were not intentional. I mean, I did not pray specifically for God to send some brand-new opportunities for service into my life. The service just sort of happened. Just sort of was there. After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that’s great, too!

In among the errands I did today, I stopped by my friend’s store to pick up several little items I asked her to get ready for my church’s fund-raiser. (a Bunco party! How retro is that?) My friend Sarah has the most visually appealing store I know of. Of course, she is a floral designer, and has just superb taste. (In case anyone would like to find her, her shop Four Finches is in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. )

Sarah has the precious gift of making stunning arrangements, using flowers, plants and other visually appealing bits and pieces. She can also choose lovely gift items. Her store is, as I said, attractive and restful to the eye. So, Sarah took advantage of a service opportunity today! She provided several small but very appealing things that I am taking to the church as raffle gifts.

Now that I think more about it, I find I am seeing service opportunities in many places. Isn’t it funny how a prayer that I prayed a number of times could change how I look at things in such a fundamental way? I mean, seeing potential acts of service, love and caring is not the typical thing that comes to some people’s minds. And March is not even half over, yet.

This service-thing — I felt that God wanted me to embark on it for the year 2014. I tried to walk right into it with as few expectations as possible. All I knew was that I felt God wanted me to do it. Sort of. I didn’t really have a clear idea about that, either. I don’t want to appear grandiose or anything, but my embarking on A Year of Being Kind was just a little like Abram setting forth from Ur of the Chaldees. Abram didn’t know where he was going. And neither do I.

Now that I’ve started the Lenten journey to the Cross, I feel more like Abram than I did before. It’s one day at a time, for sure. God, I am sorry I did not intentionally pray for You to show me something today. But You showed up, nevertheless!

Gee, I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?


(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a Lenten journey. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at .   @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.


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!)