You Help Me, I Help You! (#BestOf!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, April 1, 2016

I had forgotten all about this situation. This vignette. Yes, two years ago at the beginning of April was a very busy time around my house. It felt good to remember this man. How helpful he had been. And, his kindness did not seem forced, at all! That was the best part. I do remember him, now. I wish him the best, wherever he may be. Good thoughts, gentle prayers, and my best wishes are winging his way.  

bathroom Roy Lichtenstein pop art 1961

Roy Lichtenstein – pop art, 1961

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 5, 2014

You Help Me, I Help You!

I’ve spoken here about getting prepared for some remodeling of our bathroom. A facelift, as I like to think of it. Today, I went out in search of more supplies. I need to have just about everything ready for the contractor when he arrives on Monday morning. So, there we were, my daughter and I. At the huge do-it-yourself big box store.

I guess I’m rather a novice at this sort of thing. I have rarely bought anything larger than a birdbath at one of these stores. Either that, or I’ve bought enough paint for a couple of rooms on several occasions. I felt like a kid in a candy store! Imagine, being able to choose the type of tile and the type of vanity I want. (I take pleasure in the small things in life. Or, I’m just easily pleased.)

The gentleman who helped us was great. He was kind, friendly, and especially helpful with suggestions for the vanity. (We have a modest condo, and small bathroom—therefore, small vanity.) He left us alone after a short time so my daughter and I could finish collecting the towel bars and the faucet for the sink, but assured us he would be around if we needed him.

As we made our way to the register in the front of the store, my daughter, the store employee and I chatted some more about the upcoming work. I checked out of the store and the clerk helped us to our car with the things we had bought. After he finished loading the rear of our vehicle, he handed me a small piece of paper with his name, store and employee number listed. He asked me—in a sort of shy way—whether I might be able to rate him and his customer service. I gave him a smile (my usual wide, friendly type of smile). “Sure! I’d be happy to do that.”

I don’t often follow through with the online form. For example, when a cashier at the grocery store hands me a form like that, I realize I have had minimal contact with him or her. I know they are told to give them to customers, but I feel very little reason to actually go on line. (I am not sure whether that makes me a “bad person” or not, but that’s the way I think right now.)

The duplicated form he handed me caused me to think about the time we spent together. I felt perfectly comfortable with him. As I said, he was cordial, helpful and friendly. The only thing that I really regretted was that I hadn’t asked his name.

I found out his name as I looked at the form. Reggie. Here’s a shout out to you, my friend! As far as I was concerned, you were absolutely great, Reggie. I hope you are the same way with every other customer you meet. God’s blessings be yours.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House? (#BestOf)

 (the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remodeling? Yes, this is where I was at, last year. What a mess! But now, almost a year later, it was so worth it! Looking at our modest (all right—small, it’s true) bathroom, I know the headaches were just for a little while. The facelift, the fresh tile, the new paint? All go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable in our modest condo. Lord, is that what You want me to feel like in my spiritual house, too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - Oleg Kujala (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

 

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter.

I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much.

I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul?

Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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(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!)

Helping? Being There for My Friend!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 26, 2014

Centering-Prayer-hands holding candle

Helping? Being There for My Friend!

I have a friend who lives in a neighboring state. We recently had dinner when she was in Chicago for some business. We have gotten in the habit of having lively conversations over social media. It is so enjoyable! And I hope it’s mutually beneficial, as well.

My friend told me recently about a long, difficult day she had at work. On top of that, the situation at her home was not particularly peaceful. After the stressful day at work, of course she was anxious and frustrated. (I’ve been there, too—I know!) She gave me a play-by-play on her irritating home situation. And I commiserated. Good grief! I know how families can be sometimes.

I had a sudden thought. I asked my friend whether she wanted me to give her a brief meditation. (Great for relaxation and stress relief!) She said, “Sure!” Accordingly, I started.

Sit in a comfortable, straight-backed chair. Like a kitchen or dining room chair. (Not a stuffed armchair—too soft and squishy.) Both feet flat on the floor, and comfortably underneath you. Take three deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

Place your hands comfortably on your lap–fold them or let them just rest there. Lift your shoulders up to your ears, hold them there–1-2-3-4—and relax. Turn your head slowly from side to side. Again. Lift your shoulders again. Hold–1-2-3-4—and relax. Again, three deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Now you’re ready to come to God with a one-word or phrase prayer. Help. Thanks. Wow. I’m tired. I love you. Even, frustrated, or angry! Whatever you’ve got, that’s okay. However you feel, God knows about it. And God has dealt with lots worse! God and you together can do wonderful things.

Remember, this is supposed to be a short relaxation/prayer time! Only five minutes (*grin*). Now you’ve expressed feelings or prayer to God, let your arms fall to the sides. Wiggle them gently. Do gentle shoulder circles, forward and back. Now one last time, lift your shoulders—1-2-3-4—and drop. Three more deep breaths, in, out. In. Out. In. Out. Your breath should be more relaxed. Your blood pressure should be lower. Now you can re-engage with the family or with your co-workers, and be in a better place. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. In every way.

Afterwards, I asked her whether this meditation helped her to relax and get a better frame of reference. Her answer: Yes! “Physically, it helped me calm down and slow down. The rest of it helped me center my thoughts, and give my anxiety to God. God is much better at dealing with it than I am.”

And tears are okay, too. God has given us emotions on purpose. We are supposed to show the full range of emotions. A reminder–if you and I stuffed our emotions and feelings–stuffed crying and anger and frustration–the hidden, subterranean emotions could get really twisted and ugly.

Thanks, God! Thanks for my chaplainship training, and thanks especially for my friend.

@chaplaineliza

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Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 23, 2014

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle  by Andette

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle
by Andette

Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

I almost wasn’t going to blog about this, but yesterday was the day. Move-in day. My daughter went away to college. And yes, my husband and I transported her to the campus, not so many miles away from our condo. Just far enough away for her to feel on her own, but near enough to be able to easily come back for a special event. Like on Monday, when she’ll be coming back home for a special Doctor Who event, shown that evening in “selected theaters.” And if you don’t know what or who Doctor Who is? Don’t ask. My daughter will simply give one of her signature eye rolls. Suggestion? Check out the article on Wikipedia. That should provide sufficient information.

My husband, daughter and I went to her dorm, moved in her stuff (with the assistance of two helpful, burly varsity athletes from the college), and wandered around the small campus. Went to the bookstore. Had a very nice, barbequed lunch. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. I don’t know whether it was because of an extra-special effort for new students on campus, or what, but my husband and I were impressed and pleased. Especially at the care taken for transfer students—which is what my daughter is.

I am reminded a bit about my daughter’s other “first day at school” experiences. Preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school. From my observations, she (more or less) rolled with the experiences. It didn’t take her very long at all to become comfortable with her surroundings, and well accustomed to the school schedule, the campus procedures, the strange and unique ways of the particular student culture. It didn’t matter whether it was preschool, middle school, or high school. I suspect she will do something similar here, too.

God’s blessings on all the students at my daughter’s college. New students, transfer students, continuing students. Also, the faculty, administration and staff. I wish them all success and good experiences in the coming year.

We hope our daughter will be content, happy, and industrious. God, bless Rachel, too. Help her know that You love, encourage and bless her, each and every day. Thank You, Lord.

@chaplaineliza

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Shiny, New Asphalt! Does It Help? Or Hide?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 10, 2014

honesty word cloud

Shiny, New Asphalt! Does It Help? Or Hide?

Brand, new parking lot! The paving company stripped the church lot at my workplace several days ago, and then resurfaced it with new paving material. Shiny, new black asphalt! And, new yellow striping, to boot!

As I gazed out onto the shiny expanse today, I wondered. Does this new surface help matters? Or does it hide them?

Let’s take hiding, first. A cover of asphalt can make it difficult to get to the bottom of things. If anyone has anything to hide, a double layer of asphalt is a pretty good way to hide whatever people want hidden. Spiritually, I mean. Or, emotionally.

If someone is hesitant to express themselves, or just plain afraid to communicate, a shiny new exterior can do wonders! Covering up their real, painful, authentic selves, and pretending to be happy-happy. Or pretty-pretty. Instead of letting people know what is truly going on inside. Or at home. Or at work. Or emotionally. Or, what kind of anguish or fear or despair is happening to a loved one. Whether close kept secrets are yours or a loved one’s, they still can be painful—especially to you and to your loved ones.

What about helping? How can asphalt help? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is safety concerns. The old, broken-down blacktop in the parking lot was beginning to be a hazard, especially for those who had some difficulty walking. It doesn’t matter why, or how old people were, because broken asphalt can be treacherous for people to navigate, even if they are able-bodied and sure-footed. And what about when the weather was tricky? Wet and slick? Or icy? The broken, uneven pavement was doubly a cause of concern.

Now that we have an even, smooth surface to walk on in the parking lot, I feel a lot better. That’s on behalf of church members and friends. I earnestly want everyone to be as comfortable as possible coming to St. Luke’s Church. And if a parking lot in good repair helps in that effort? Wonderful!

So—providing a smooth, even path for people? Let’s go a little further. Get into a smooth, emotional path for people? Provide a positive atmosphere for friends and members? Encourage openness and honesty in communication? These are traits I truly want to welcome and encourage. I would like to model these traits, to the very best of my ability. Will I succeed, all the time? No, I am afraid not. (Even though I try very hard!) However, I will continue to try my darnedest. I tried my best to be honest and open today. To be kind, and helpful to several people! God willing, I can try my darnedest tomorrow, too!

@chaplaineliza

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Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, 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?

@chaplaineliza

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Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - by Oleg Kujala  (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – by Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter. I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much. I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul? Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

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