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!

@chaplaineliza

(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 ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @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!

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas-Candles-and holly

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

I planned a Christmas Eve service for tonight. A candle-lighting service. A service where we sang Christmas carols, read from the Bible, and—lit candles.

I know how special a Christmas Eve service is, for many people. Accordingly, I made a particular effort to do my very best planning for this service. I was at my friend’s Christmas open house a week and a half ago. Her son was home from college. He is a baritone, a music major (vocal performance emphasis). I had the brain storm to ask him to sing some special music for this Christmas Eve service. Of course, he said! (His mother assured me he would be there. And, he was!)

I prepared a short message. More of a meditation than a sermon. I laid it out, in clear fashion. I mean, why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I tried to make it straight-forward.

Here’s the situation. I’ll state it in plain words. Humanity was in a mess. (Still is, without God.) I mean, people going this way and that, doing what they want, not acting or thinking in a way that is pleasing to God, or living the way God wants them to live. Like the prophet said in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way.”

But God didn’t want humanity to be left out in the cold, or separated from God for eternity. There was no way for me or for you to get back to God, on our own. We were separated by sin. What could we do? Left all by ourselves, we were in a terrible situation, a horrible mess!

But, God.

God loved us. God wanted to reach out. To bring us back to God. But, not in a mean or angry way! Not in a fearful way, either. Instead, God wanted to reach down to earth in love. And how better to communicate to earth than to become one of the frail human beings God intended to reach? Yes, that same God wanted to reach to earth—reach to each of us, to all of us, in love. With love. Through love.

That was an important point I wanted to get across this evening, when I preached. After church, one of the people who attended the service told me that they had never quite understood why Jesus became a baby—until tonight.

God, I have a feeling I know at least one reason why You wanted me to say what I did tonight. Thank God for the leading and prompting I had as I prepared the service and my message. And thank God for the Baby born in Bethlehem.

@chaplaineliza

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(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

No Heat? Being of Service Anyhow!

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

LOVE because He first loved us 1 JN 4-19

No Heat? Being of Service Anyhow!

When I arrived at church this morning, I discovered that there was no heat in half of the building. The sanctuary half! Fortunately, we were able to set up chairs in a meeting room in the other half of the building. Most everyone pitched in. The large choir room (which also doubles as the bible study room and church meeting space) was plenty warm, and I enjoyed seeing people working diligently to get things set for the service. A group of people pulled chairs out of the storage room, conveniently right across the hall. Several people got the hymnals ready (with a bulletin in each one), and they were wheeled down all the way around the corner, to the door by the warm side.

Yes, the sanctuary at our church is lovely. Open, airy, simple yet elegant. But—too cold for many in our congregation to sit and worship this morning. It was a good thing that we could have the service in the choir room, which even had a piano available for the church musician to play.

This was not just any worship service, since this was the first Sunday of the month. That means Communion. Plus, since this was November 2nd, I had planned for a remembrance Sunday. The day after All Saints Day, but a day when we would lift up all the saints, relatives, and friends we could remember who had gone before us. Died, and were added to that great cloud of witnesses.

So, this was a special service, indeed. And, we had a different kind of a gathering this morning, for this Communion Sunday. I remembered those who went before, true. But I also mentioned how impermanent our time here was. (In the sermon, I mean.) I tried to communicate the facts that God loves us. We are called God’s children! And, when we get to heaven, we will see God. That’s a promise.

Very true, the choir room was a different sort of a place to have a worship service. But everyone helped. We each did a part, whether small or big. And, I do need to give Bob, our trustee, and his son, a huge thank you for working so diligently on the heat. All weekend!

God knows when we come together that God is quite willing to help. Assist. And, God will be able to protect, guide and deliver us. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Be of Service? Taxi Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 30, 2014

God best relationship you can have

How to Be of Service? Taxi Service!

Email. Work, work. Telephone call. Read to children. Email. Meeting. Computer work. Email. More work. Telephone call. Then—taxi service!

To go back to the beginning of my day, I kicked things off with email. Checking several blogs I follow. Writing. And, talking with my son. I so enjoy our interaction. (I don’t mean to brag, but I’m going to say some really nice things about my son. About his intelligence, his curiosity, his kindness, his capability. All wonderful features.) I left for work, and promptly got on the phone once I arrived. Hit the ground running, and didn’t stop all afternoon.

When I talked about my son just now, that made me wonder. How does God talk about me? About you? Is God a loving parent? Does God feel any twinges when you and I do something like go away for school? Does God miss us when we go wandering away—in a far country? What about when I am disobedient—what then? How about when I make God happy and proud, by going out of my way to help someone?

That’s sort of what I did, this afternoon. Helping someone, I mean. I went to the convention center near O’Hare airport about 5 o’clock, and picked up my husband. He was out covering a trade show, preparing to write for his trade publication. I don’t usually drive very far from home during afternoon rush hour, but today was an exception. I could hardly wait to ride back home with my husband. (Really and truly.) Hear about his interesting day, and all the kinds of things that went on at the show.

What about God? Is God interested to have us tell God what is going on in our lives? What happy, sad, scary or exciting things are happening to us? I know God is eager to communicate. To be together. \

What about you? What about me? How often does it slip our minds and neglect to remember God in prayer? Or, what’s worse, to just run away—like the prodigal going to a far country?

It helps me so much to understand that God is described by the prophet Hosea as a loving, caring Heavenly Parent, cuddling us to God’s chest. What a comforting, nurturing thought! Gee, thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 28, 2014

clip-art-telephone-742802

Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

I love my family. My sisters and brothers. My children. My husband. My in-laws. My cousins. I love them all!

Sadly, most of them are far away. And I mean, far away. A plane ride away. Much further away than the other side of the Chicago metropolitan area. Yes, my parents were native Chicagoans, and my oldest sister and I still live in the area. But my other siblings have scattered, all over the country. One of my children is now on the east coast (because of work). It is becoming more and more difficult to gather everyone (or, even most of us) together in one place, at the same time.

Yet, I do try to communicate, from time to time. Social media is great! Several long-distance family members have Facebook accounts, and it’s great to keep in touch that way. Then, of course, I also use the older technology—like tonight, with the telephone. I used my land line, and I talked with one of my sisters, also on her land line.

I love talking with my sister Sue. She is such an interesting person, in her own right. Fascinating. Sue and I talked about my upcoming breakfast with Leslie (my oldest sister), tomorrow morning. Two days, and two experiences with family. (Besides my son and husband, of course. They live with me. Or, I live with them.) Leslie always has something going on, including travel, in the near future.

Hmm. I wonder whether my relationship with my earthly family (my family of origin) is at all similar to my relationship with those in my congregation. I love my congregation. I really and truly do. And I love hearing about various members going out of town. It doesn’t matter whether they were traveling or just staying at home. Wonderful experiences. I hope I will be able to show love, caring, encouragement and support to my friends, the flock. And those beyond the church, too!

That’s what this experience of being kind has taught me. Since I have been concentrating so hard on being kind or helpful, or showing too much stress, or worrying about circumstances, I can miss prayer, and meditation. Sometimes. Thank God I have a great church! And, a great family, to boot. God bless me, and bless everyone else in my extended family, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Mutual Encouragement, Mutual Kindness!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, June 26, 2014

THANK God for remembering you Phil1-3

Mutual Encouragement, Mutual Kindness!

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” The words of Philippians 1:3 suddenly popped into my head as I remembered my good friend Chuck. Just thinking of him brings a smile to my face! It is good to know that I have such a wonderful friend as Chuck. True, we haven’t seen each other in quite a number of months, but we have kept in touch by phone. And today, by lunch.

Chuck is an ordained Presbyterian minister, and he’s going to help me out in two weeks. He’ll come to the church where I serve, and assist with communion the first week of July. I really appreciate him! And, I hope and pray he is blessed when he serves with me in church on the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday.

But let me return to the words of Philippians 1:3. It isn’t many people who can get quite that instant response from me, but my friend Chuck will. He and I are not all that similar, since Chuck is also a retired science teacher from the City Colleges of Chicago. (And then he went to seminary, where he and I had class together some ten years ago.) I have never been brilliant at science . . . I’m more of a humanities-type of person. But Chuck and I hit it off, right from the get-go. And whenever we meet? We both talk like a house afire! And we can communicate on a deep level, too.

Isn’t that wonderful? How when you find someone with whom you can truly communicate, you are totally yourself. No hiding, no facades, no faking it. Just me. Just him. Talking up a storm.

I feel so encouraged just being with my friend. I hope he feels the same. (I think he does—I’m not absolutely sure, but I think so.) We are mutually encouraging to each other, then. What a wonderful thing! So helpful, such an opportunity for service!

What about my husband, someone wonders? He and Chuck really hit it off. The two of us have known Chuck and his wife for about twenty years. (Scary, now that I think about it . . . ) His lovely wife Yvonne—such a gracious, elegant woman. A wonderful pair, the both of them.

Yes, I thank God for the pair of them, but I really feel a connection to Chuck. Maybe it’s the seminary thing. (I don’t think so, but I’ll just go with that for now.) People need good friends they can pray with. And talk to. Just about any thing. Any thing, indeed. God, thanks so much for good friends. Like Chuck.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind with Birthday Cards

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

cupcake birthday

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!

@chaplaineliza

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Listen Up! Being Helpful

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 9, 2014

BK one kind word

Listen Up! Being Helpful

Talk about a busy day! Running here, running there. I keep It’s a good thing I cancelled my appointment for a haircut this afternoon, because I am dog-tired. Packing things up at home. Running to work. Several meetings. Doing a couple of errands. Whew! At the end of the day, my feet hurt—and I wear sensible shoes.

But I honestly tried to be helpful and kind. I listened to several people today. I hope they felt my encouragement. I truly tried to show my support. One particular instance was where I needed to respond, too. I hope and pray that I communicated faithfully. As well as listen faithfully, too.

Sometimes it is helpful to just listen. But listen with intentionality. Actively listen, as I’ve been trained to do. I remember the first instance I had formal classes in this. It was in Stephen training, where I learned how to serve as a Stephen Minister. I very much enjoyed this service as a compassionate friend in Christ. I offered a listening ear to hear of someone’s spiritual, emotional and—sometimes—very real physical pain and suffering. Stephen training was excellent. My leaders and teachers communicated effectively, too. And, I felt truly supported and lifted up as I went through a difficult time in my own life, right in the middle of training. (Perhaps that was why God had me in that place at that time. Remind me to ask God about that when I see God, by and by.)

Listening is important for some people, too. I’m thinking especially of those individuals who are sometimes passed over. Ignored. Even criticized or snubbed. I try to listen to just about everyone. I really do. But God knows that I am busy from time to time. I recognize when I need to gently cut someone off. Of course, that was a bit easier when I served as a chaplain in the hospital. When the pager went off, people would well understand that I needed to go, and right away, too!

But, still. I try not to overlook people. I suspect that’s because I have felt overlooked, snubbed and ignored sometimes. Thank God that I can make time to be fully present with and for people. I can even go out of my way to show individuals that I truly care and am interested in them and their activities, their concerns, and especially their feelings.

God, thanks for always taking the time to listen to me, too. You’re never in a hurry, or stressed, or upset. You always concern Yourself with me. With my activities, and especially my feelings. Thanks for lowering my anxiety and distress, God, as well as being right by my side in the good times. You are awesome.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind? By Mail

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 29, 2014

greeting-cards

Being Kind? By Mail

Someone I know had a death in his family recently. Right now, the loved ones are gathering for the funeral service, from several states. When I saw my friend a few days ago, I expressed condolences, along with a number of others.  And, I pray for him, his family members, and all those who love and mourn their loved one’s passing.

I realize there are many concerns and details to handle when there is a death in the family. I have seen people deal with the death in a number of different ways. Getting angry is common. Unbelief, shaking of the head and denial of the passing is also a way to cope, to find a way to begin to process the news. Extreme sadness, or loud expressions of sadness and sorrow can be another option. I have even had a few deaths at which the family and loved ones did not do much of anything; their family and friends were extremely subdued and silent. All of these responses are valid, and deeply personal. Even those who only knew the deceased slightly may still be strongly affected.

But what about other friends, and acquaintances? People who didn’t have a chance to personally express their sorrow for the death, because of distance? Or poor health? I suspect they might get upset about their weakened physical condition, or feel badly simply about being far away.

I do have an idea. Send a note, or a card. I know that sending greeting or condolence cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but people notice. I understand that people are grateful, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card. (or even with an email, although “by mail” is the subject of this blog post)

This brings to mind a friend of mine. A good friend, a chaplain, who has a ministry of sending cards. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. What does the Apostle Paul say 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, than to send 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.

Again, 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 a way to be kind and tenderhearted. God bless my friend, and God be with all who mourn.

@chaplaineliza