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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Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A year ago. A wet, chilly, dreary October day. Unlike today, which had blue skies, high clouds, and a fresh wind. As I read last year’s post, I was transported back there, to that wet, chilly day. Gloomy feelings, uncomfortable situations, and deep sadness. Usually, I don’t want to go back to times like these. However, I especially wanted to remember this dear one, this senior, who has now died. Passed on to heaven. Blessings on all of these infirm dear ones, whether seniors or younger ones.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BK kindness touching your life

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness

A wet, rainy October day. Sad. Anxious. Depressing. Especially when I needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist. (At least that turned out all right.) Afterwards, I spent the morning taking it slowly, easily. Letting my mouth recuperate from the dental work.

But what about other people who spent today in less than comfortable places? Like individuals who have lost a job and can’t find another one? What about them? What about their families? How are they making ends meet, financially? What about the desperate, long-term anxiety that comes with unemployment—especially being without a job for a long, long time?

What about people who are caregivers? Who faithfully stay by their loved ones, feeding, cleaning, doing heavy lifting. Sometimes these dear ones have the most thankless jobs, but still show up every day. Still continue to care for their loved family member, spouse or significant other. I know, I have seen the care, love, and comfort displayed by faithful people stepping up and loving, caring and being an encouragement.

And individuals who are terribly sick, in the hospital or an extended care center? It doesn’t where these dear ones are located. Serious sickness happens. Sadness and anxiety afflict countless numbers of people, every single day, affecting patients as well as the loved ones. (I have some familiarity with this, from my time as a chaplain.)

When I visited one of these dear ones today in an extended care center, I tried to be as encouraging and supportive as possible. I prayed; this dear senior prayed for me, too. I cried because I was so emotionally shaken.

God be with the dear one I visited today. Thanks to you for any prayers you can offer for this dear person. And, thanks for prayer for me, too. I need it, since I am regularly dealing with emotions, feelings, relationships. All difficult, challenging, filled with anxiety and sadness. I know God is with me, in this rainy, sad October day. Thanks for good thoughts too, and may God’s blessings surround all of us–even through sadness, depression and anxiety.

@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!)

In Which I Feel Sad, But Still Try to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 7, 2015

As I read through selected blog posts from last year, I get vivid snapshots of life and experiences. As in this one, from one year ago. Yes, the post contains some everyday happenings, the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yet, those happenings can also be poignant and bittersweet, sometimes somber. Sometimes sad or grieving, myself. Even heart-wrenching, at times. Lord, thank You for the opportunity and the ability You have given me, to be available for people and to walk with them in the happy times as well as the sad times.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Which I Feel Sad, But Still Try to Be Kind

lilacs and candle  credit - ocean of compassion

lilacs and candle
credit – ocean of compassion

I tried to be kind today. I truly did.

Since today was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers and kindergarteners this morning. (That always makes me happy!) I answered a number of emails, responded to several items of business, and personally wrote thank you notes to all of the businesses that were kind enough to give raffle prizes to St. Luke’s Church—for the Spaghetti Dinner last Saturday. Busy day at work today!

But, that was not all. I found out about a dear senior today who is not in very good health. Dear, dear senior saint. I feel for this senior so deeply. I have been calling and visiting on a regular basis, over the past number of weeks. And I feel discouraged. Deeply sad.

Over the last ten years, I have known a number of people who became sick and died. Some over a long period of time, others more quickly. Some even suddenly, traumatically. It doesn’t particularly matter why they died, except for the fact that they did die.

I’ve been a chaplain for most of the past ten years. I’ve seen trauma, gun shots, stabbings, heart attacks, strokes, broken hips. Patients in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department, as well as in Extended Care and even after they’ve been released. And some of the saddest, most heartbreaking situations of all, when I was paged to Labor and Delivery for an emergency call. (For some reason, these calls are often in the middle of the night.) So, I’ve seen sadness. I have journeyed with patients and their loved ones down these heartbreaking paths.

The current, continuing situation with this dear senior is—sadly—not new to me. And yet, it is. Each individual brings a different aspect to this circle of life. I cannot help but think of others who have passed on. Crossed that river. Died.

I’ve been asked, point blank, what happens after we die. I do not really know. (Other than some tiny glimpses the Bible gives to us. And, most of them can be construed as allegorical.) I do know that I will be with God. And beyond that? I don’t particularly care. I’m held in God’s hand. That’s perfectly all right.

So, yes. I did do some kind things today. Some useful and helpful things, too. However, my day was (and is) colored by sadness. Grayness. Anticipatory grief, grieving the dear person I used to know. Hoping against hope that this senior will have a good day tomorrow.

Isn’t that all we can wish, for each of us? Each person. Each individual. I pray that each of us might have a good day tomorrow. And, good rest at the end of the day. God willing.

@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!)

Being Kind with Birthday Cards (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, June 20, 2015

I enjoy sending cards. I truly do! Good thing I do, for it’s a part of my job that I find touching and meaningful. I pray for each person who receives a card I send. And—unlike the mountains of junk mail that get slipped in the typical mailbox on a regular basis, a handwritten card is a lovely change of pace.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 22, 2014

happy-birthday-sky-wallpaper

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

Each day brings new things into my life, that’s for sure.

Now that I am settling into my new position, I am acquainting myself with a whole new set of activities. New list of priorities. And getting to know a new congregation.

One way that I can come to know this group of new friends better is by sending them birthday cards. What a wonderful idea!

The office manager at the church had a list of birthdays of the members and friends of the congregation, already printed up. So, it’s a straight-forward activity. Except—I pray for each church member as I write and address the card. I hope and pray that they might have a wonderful birthday celebration, and that God might bless them and their family during the year ahead. I try to do that for each and every card I address and mail.

I just sent off two cards today. And, I needed to buy more cards already, too. That’s perfectly okay with me. I just love buying cards! I love receiving cards, and personal mail of any kind, too. I know that sending greeting cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but almost everyone enjoys receiving mail.

I understand that people are grateful of the thought and care someone took for them, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card.

I know that several months ago, I wrote about my chaplain friend who has a card ministry. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. In my blog post, I also mentioned the Apostle Paul’s comment at the beginning of the letter to the Philippian church: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” (1:3) What a touching way to remember each other! Sending a card or a note with a few words or sentences of genuine interest, care and concern. What a way to be kind! My chaplain friend finds this ministry an opportunity to serve others and to connect with those near and far.

Paul’s words tell us how much Paul appreciated his friends and acquaintances in the city of Philippi, from a long distance away. How much more can we express our care and concern for others through cards and notes?

Noteworthy features are the words chosen to communicate, the picture(s) on the card, and the sentiment and attitude of the person sending the card. In other words, things to appeal to the ears, eyes and feelings of the recipient. Also important, the card or note helps the recipient know that you and I care. It doesn’t matter whether we are near or far, what an opportunity to be kind and tenderhearted.

God bless my new friends and fellow parishioners, and God be with each of them as they celebrate their birthdays!

Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 14, 2015

I enjoy preaching! And, I miss the lovely seniors at the several retirement centers I would occasionally visit. As I read over this blog post from last June, I vividly remembered several seniors with whom I interacted. And, I choked up. Dear God, I pray for them, and for all of the residents at that center.

 A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BK kindness is a lifestyle

I preached at a retirement center today. Midweek service—Hymns and Devotions.

After being away from more of a chaplain’s role for a number of months, I felt really good as I revisited it. My pastoral care gifting certainly is being expressed when I do chaplainly things, that’s for sure! Plus, I can use the spiritual gifts of encouragement and helps in this retirement setting, too. That’s fulfilling (and filling!) for me, too.

Since I got there almost a half hour before the service was to start this afternoon, I took the opportunity to go into the chapel and greet the residents who were already gathered for the service. I went down the row of wheelchairs that were placed in the chapel, spending time with each person. A few had difficulties raising their heads. (What a sad thing, to always have to look at the floor because of difficulty with the neck and back!) Several of these extreme elderly showed significant signs of frailty, and a couple more had signs of dementia.

I was so pleased to see the organist! I have known her since I served at this retirement center as a chaplain intern. (Ten years ago!) The organist is also a resident. Such a sweet, lovely person. I especially enjoyed the hymn arrangement she played just before the service began. An arrangement of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” I made special mention of the prelude. I also said this hymn reminds us that God created everything, indoors and out, and especially the creatures, the animals big and small.

After opening the service with prayer and thanksgiving, the organist and I led the congregation in two hymns. And then, the scripture lesson. Ah! I chose the Acts 2 passage from Sunday, three days ago. The passage for the day of Pentecost! And then, I talked about a Power shortage. (Especially with our Lord Jesus gone!) I moved into talk of the Holy Spirit, and reminded people that Peter said these words at the end of our passage today. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

I certainly did my best to be animated and engaging when I preached and led worship this afternoon. I received some nice compliments from the residents and others who attended the service today. I do this as a labor of love, it’s true. In addition, I am so glad that my voice was clear and sounded good to the majority of these dear seniors in the chapel.

God, what a blessing to be able to serve these dear folks. I need to remember this wonderful feeling! God, thank You for the many blessings you provided for all of these residents, all through the years. What a witness to Your love, grace, mercy and power. Amen, God!

@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!)

(the Best Of) Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reflecting on the past weeks, I discovered I have been in and out of hospitals and hospices recently. As I read over a few posts from this time last year, I was especially struck by this one. I wanted to bring this post to my readers today. This opportunity is something many of us can do. A suggestion: be kind! Be of service! Be generous with your time today.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 24, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Take the Opportunity to Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

I did some housework for an acquaintance of mine today. Some cleaning, some laundry. Took care of a few necessary things. This service was much appreciated, too!

But what about people who need some kind of help or assistance, and are unable to find anyone to come and give them a hand?

This is a sad situation, indeed. Imagine—an older person, or a person with limited mobility, who wants to do things or go somewhere, and rarely is able to. Or perhaps a person who is confined to a wheelchair or a walker and badly needs some assistance in their home—but is unable to afford anyone to come in and help on even an occasional basis.

I know that because of employment, family obligations, continuing health concerns, or any of a host of other urgent matters, sometimes relatives and friends are unable to assist their ill or shut-in loved ones.

In my work as a chaplain, I’ve seen people come to the hospital, loved ones who came a long distance to see their relative. Their relative—the patient—might not have any relations or even friends living close by. I know what a difficult thing this can be for some people (both for the patient as well as the far-away relatives). And even more complications can result when an older or infirm patient is released from a hospital or rehab facility. They come home to . . . what? Who? If they previously lived alone, it’s a real challenge to find someone for them to stay with. Or to stay with them in their house.

This reminds me of my elderly aunt, who died just about three years ago. My aunt and my mother lived together in my mom’s house for a number of years. That is, until my mom died about a dozen years ago. Then, my 80-something year old aunt moved into a senior apartment building. Nice-sized studio apartments, with an additional kitchenette, too. It’s a good thing my aunt had three nieces to check on her regularly (me, my older sister, and my cousin). Between the three of us, my aunt had visitors at least twice a week, and sometimes three, and even four days every week. But I know that some other families are not as fortunate or as close-knit.

All this talk of families and God and encouragement and illness intrigue me. A particular Hebrew word leaps to mind, too. The Hebrew word “mitzvah” means the precepts or commands of God. As a second meaning, Hebrew mitzvah, means something similar as the English “commandment.” Often, it’s a moral deed performed as a religious duty.

The term mitzvah has also come to mean an act of human kindness.

So, whether you or I consider our act of kindness altruistic or a mitzvah performed as a religious duty, these are wonderful opportunities to show others you care for them! Love them! Do you know someone who needs assistance? Someone who has limited mobility? Ask if you can give them a hand. And chances are, they might say yes!

@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!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Render Service, Express Love (#BestOf #ayearofbeingkind)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 9, 2015

Talk about a heartfelt post! Touching, poignant. All kinds of “feels” all over. (To quote my college-age daughter.) I loved revisiting this post. It truly describes how I feel about preaching, and handling the Word of God. In addition, like icing on top of an oh-so-meaningful cake, there is the extra vignette about the dear, dear senior who so faithfully prayed for me.

This post from 2014 is especially significant for me because of my upcoming commissioning next Sunday, on March 15th. A culmination of many years and much heartfelt hard work, earnest prayer and overcoming of challenges. All the way around, a blessed reminder. Travel with me back one year, to the second Sunday of March 2014.

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

 

LOVE love God love people

Render Service, Express Love

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

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

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

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

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

@chaplaineliza

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

(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!)