Christmas with a Cat? Helping Out. (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, December 26, 2018

This is a quiet, relaxed post. Just what I needed for Christmas Day, several years ago. Just what I needed this year, as well. I have a common cold, again. I feel rather miserable, but I am under orders from several on my Church Council to take it easy for the rest of the week. So, that is exactly what I am doing. (Oh, and reposting one of my Year of Being Kind posts.) Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas season. God bless everyone. No exceptions.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 25, 2014

cat in a window

Christmas with a Cat? Helping Out.

Three services in the past four days? Check, check, and check. Sunday worship, the last Sunday of Advent. The Blue Christmas service on Monday. And, Christmas Eve service last night. Other pastors at other churches have as heavy a schedule, if not more so. But since this was my first year in a parish setting in a pastoral role, everything was more hectic than I would like.

After a number of days with a good deal of activity—and the prayer, planning and forethought that went into each worship service—I had a much needed rest today. A true day of rest. A Sabbath. A day to rest and recoup. What more blessed day to rest than the day we have set aside to celebrate the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem?

I did not do a great deal all day. Of course, there was present-opening around the Christmas tree this morning. My daughter and I went out to get some late lunch, mid-afternoon. (There is a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant about two miles or so from our house. Kifta! Shawarma! Falafel! And of course, good rice!) No huge Christmas dinner for me, this year. Truth to tell, I preferred it that way.

However, I think I can speak for my husband, daughter and I when I say that one of the highlights of our quiet, low-key Christmas was going over to another daughter’s apartment to check up on her cat. Toby is very sweet. She really enjoyed our visit. Toby even got rambunctious. My husband took some string and was playing with her for a bit. Her tail whipping to and fro, pouncing on the string, or on my husband’s outstretched hand and drumming fingers.

Isn’t it fascinating how much enjoyment can be found in simple things? Things like visiting with a cat, lively conversation and laughter at the cat’s antics. I made sure Toby’s physical needs were met, too. Food, water, litter box. And, I enjoyed visiting her, very much. I always like it, even though I do have cat allergies. (Which did become more obvious today, since one of my eyes became red, swollen, and extremely itchy. I must have touched my face near my eye with a hand covered with cat dander. Alas.)

Nevertheless, it was a good day. A day to be kind, and be helpful to a sweet cat. Toby cat.

@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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Be of Service? Togetherness and Unity! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, October 8, 2018

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. With all the separation, argumentation and isolation in our respective neighborhoods and communities recently, I thought this post was much needed. There is much to be upset about, for sure. Not only individual separation and isolation, either. Pick a hot-button issue, and I am sure you would find people willing to come to blows about opposing views on that issue. I am for peace, and blessing, and cooperation. I dream of people coming together in friendship and amity, with smiles on their faces and outstretched, open hands. God willing, let it be so.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 5, 2014

heart and people illustration

Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

Separation. Anxiety. Fear. If I get started and think about things like this, these emotions can make me want to shrink away. Go hide under the covers. What’s more, I just spoke with four friends over the past few days who are feeling similar emotions. The yucky kind, the kind that can make me feel as if everything is all gray. Dingy, washed out emotions, lonely, tattered and torn.

Yes, I can listen when my friends tell me those sad, dark feelings keep encroaching upon my friends or acquaintances. I can journey alongside of them, and provide encouragement and support. Yes, I know what it’s like to walk through those dark times. Or to sit in them, even to wallow. And—I also know what it’s like to come out the other side. To walk together with others, to support and share with them in friendship, and encouragement.

Isolation is something that can sneak up on a person. Sure, being alone from time to time is good. Healthy. Even, needed. Just ask five of my close family members. All introverts, and all enjoy their alone time. All need recharging time. But—isolation is going one step too far. Even a couple of steps too far, since some individuals go to extremes. Isolation is something that anxiety and fear feeds upon. I appreciate learning more about positive strategies I will be able to use.

I know one thing that encourages me to bloom, to come back and share with people. I can stop thinking about myself, and concentrate on others and their concerns. I can provide encouragement, support, caring and love. Praise God.

World Communion Sunday is just another way to provide this companionship. Togetherness and unity. Instead of being separated from one another and from God, we are joining together, across Christian backgrounds. Alone? My tendency is to curl up alone, to isolate. Sometimes even to feel sorry for myself. (!!!) However, when I come into community, I join myself with the wonderful help of others who might be feeling similar, dark feelings. Together, we all can support and pray for each other.

One of the best things about World Communion Sunday is that it looks forward to the time of Christian unity, togetherness and ecumenical cooperation. Banishing separation, loneliness, anxiety and fear? Yes. Joining together in one body. What’s more, this helps us catch a glimpse of the hope-filled group of believers. All believers, from all over, can express togetherness, caring and love for each other. Another loving, worthwhile way to come before God.

@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!)

 

 

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 31, 2018

This post made me so happy! When I read through this, I instantly remembered the young man whose day I brightened. Imagine, I was able to do that just by giving him a bright smile and making a humorous comment. How many other people go through their everyday activities all sad and down in the dumps, with no one to make them smile? It was a simple interaction I had with the cashier, and I hope a meaningful one, too. It is a reminder for me: be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Please.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

ruddy duck, Chgo Bot Grdn, photo credit Kevin Jones

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@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!)

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 30, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, the whole situation outside the grocery store came vividly to mind. I could see the middle-aged man, bright smile on his face, dreadlocks under his oversized stocking cap. I’ve seen him a number of times since, and he always has that same smile. He’s always happy to see me. I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference again this year, and I realized the people who attend are always encouraged to reach out to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s across the street, across the city, or across the ocean. Reach out and be a neighbor. I was blessed by this lovely man. Perhaps you will be blessed when you reach out, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@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!)

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I think this blog post is just what I need right now. Peace. God’s peace. Jesus giving me peace. I am so grateful that Jesus provides peace for us. Peace, wellness, wholeness, shalom. God be with you, with me, with everyone.

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.

(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!)

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, March 1, 2018

Saturday, March 3rd is the World Day of Prayer. I am presenting on prayer to a local denominational Christian conference here in a nearby suburb of Chicago, presenting to the Ecumenical Kerala Churches. I am excited about this possibility to lead and teach about prayer! I’ve been interested in and active in prayer for a number of years. I hope I am always helpful and encouraging, whether it’s one-on-one (as in this post), or teaching a group of people. Lord, truly!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 2, 2014

pray - hands and blocks

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

As I brushed off the car this morning, I groaned. Internally, I mean. Will this snow and wintry weather ever stop? I drove to church down the half-deserted streets. Despite my grumbling about the cold and the snow, I grudgingly had to admit that the glistening white coating of snow did help. It helped the trees and grass to shine as the sun peeped through the clouds. Such a sight helped raise my spirits, too.

True, I did dash into church late. Late for choir practice, due to a minor waffle iron malfunction this morning. My son had a friend sleep over. I made waffles in a hurry before I left, but the first waffle stuck in the (older) waffle iron. I couldn’t very well run off and leave the waffle iron full of half-burnt pieces of waffle, so I did scrape and clean it off. (sigh)

I enjoy singing in choir! I like singing, period. Especially singing in parts. The morning service went well, too. I really worshiped, most of the time. (It’s a challenge to keep my mind on worship at all times, to tell the truth. I suspect most people would acknowledge that. At least, part of the time.) Since this is the first Sunday of the month, our church celebrated Communion. That was good, too.

Benediction said, church service over, congregation dismissed, sanctuary cleared. I went downstairs with the other parishioners to the memorial room (under the sanctuary). But—another worshiper caught me before I entered the large room. “Do you have a minute?” Sure, I nodded. “How do I get a prayer request in the prayer chain?” was the follow-up question.

Instantly, my chaplain antennae started to vibrate. “You came to the right place. I keep track of the requests and email out the weekly prayer list.” All of which are true. But I still had this intense feeling that something was going on with my fellow church member.  The two of us stepped into a little out-of-the-way area, and I asked for more information about the prayer request. It turned out, there were two requests. I wrote down both of the requests on a scrap of paper I had in my pocket. I used active listening. I pitched my voice to be soft and gentle. And—I used my less-anxious presence to help my fellow church member feel more calm and relieved.

After I wrote down specifics on the person we were praying for, I continued to listen closely to what the fellow parishioner was saying. I was moved to relate a couple of my views and spiritual insights concerning suffering, pain and death. And afterwards, we both teared up, and almost cried. I felt that my presence was appreciated! Not only by my fellow church member, but by many at worship today. But specifically, the situation regarding the prayer request after service? That’s my act of kindness today.  I am so glad I was at the right place, at the right time. Or—perhaps I was in the place God intended me to be today.  Regardless, I wonder what God will send my way tomorrow?

@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!)

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!)