Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 29, 2015

I love to read out loud. I read to the preschoolers at my church every week. This past Tuesday, I read several Halloween stories to them, and they enjoyed the special holiday books very much. I’ve loved reading my whole life long. So, when I re-discovered this blog post from last October on A Year of Being Kind, I knew I had to include it in the #BestOf feature.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 31, 2014

childrens-books

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

As some of you know, I am a mom. (My youngest is seventeen, a senior in high school.) As some of you also know, I love books. I love reading. And I especially love to read books out loud to children. (Yes, I do voices. I studied with a vocal coach for some months about fifteen years ago, thinking I might get into the voiceover business. And then, I did comedy improv. But that’s another story. Another post!)

One of my blogging friends, Marilyn— http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com on wordpress.com—had an intriguing capper to her cross-cultural blog post earlier this week. She talked about a friend of hers who has started a service called Kids Books Without Borders, and added the link. Wasting no time, I contacted Gail through her blog. And—she wrote back! She said she was more than happy to be featured in my blog.

I am so happy to let people know about Gail’s service through Kids Books Without Borders. Almost everyone I know is acquainted with someone who is presently living or who has lived overseas. Gail grew up in France, with a British mom and an American dad. Gail especially loved to read. (Just like me, when I was a girl!) However, their family had a real challenge in finding children’s books in English. While in France, I mean. Gail treasured those rare packages from grandparents that included children’s books! The Little House books. The Paddington books. Any book by Roald Dahl. Charlotte’s Web. Mary Poppins. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Hobbit.

As Gail grew up, married, and had children of her own, she passed on her special love of books and of reading. However, she remembered the difficulty she—and her parents—had of finding many children’s books in English while overseas. She came up with the idea for this service to be able to “put children’s books (and some young adult and adult books as well) in the hands of children and families living overseas.”

Here is more about Gail’s service, in her own words: “I now have available over 2000 books, both picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, which are available to you at no charge, if you are living overseas. They are all books that I have read and which come highly recommended. I am mostly self-taught, but have read extensively about children’s literature. If you are overwhelmed by choices or do not know what books would be best for your child, please email me. I would love to give you recommendations if you let me know your child’s (children’s) age, gender, reading level and areas of interests.

“All the books are free and there is no limit on the number of books you can request. However, I do ask that you pay for postage if shipped to a US address and half of the postage if shipped overseas. The majority of families living overseas ask that I send the books to US-based friends or family. The recipients then deliver them when visiting the person requesting them. This is the least expensive and most reliable way of mailing them.”

The link to Gail’s blog is below. (Just a reminder—the holidays are not far away!) I am also glad to be able to pass the word along about Gail’s tremendous service! Such a wonderful opportunity to pass the gift of books along to another generation. I am so grateful for the gift of books, and awed by the innovation and inventiveness of the authors, illustrators, and all the other creative people who contributed to the production and publication of these incredible resources. The written word. So powerful. So moving. Thank you again, Gail!

For further information, see: http://kidsbookswithoutborders.wordpress.com/

@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!)

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Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, February 28, 2015

Talk about “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” To my mind, no one exemplifies this principle more than my friend John. John Mroczka has recently retired from his many years of work at the YMCA, yet he is still going strong. Still doing lots of things for others. God bless you, John! What a wonderful blessing you are (and have been), in so many people’s lives!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 28, 2014

 

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) - credit Getty Museum

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) credit Getty Museum

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

I love the town where I live! Such an eclectic group of people. Such a diverse bunch of individuals. A little bit of everything—snooty, artsy, down-and-out, parents, families, empty-nesters, students, immigrants, salt of the earth. Just about all kinds are represented here.

Some of these various kinds of people cross paths at the large YMCA near downtown. Yes, many people are active members of the Y and use the pool, gym, weight room, activity classes, and its other services on a regular basis. However, about one hundred and twenty men (give or take—the number varies) live in the attached single-room residence. I love that the YMCA also serves as a place where guys can get a leg up, and have a safe, warm place to live at a reasonable monthly price. However, some of these men are living on the edge of not-quite-enough. Some are on government assistance because of health reasons. Some have lost their jobs and are on the downhill slide into extreme poverty. Some have other issues.

Whatever the individual difficulty, by and large, the lives of many men who live in the residence at the YMCA are not cushy, posh and comfortable. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s where John’s Cupboard fits in. John’s Cupboard is a service of the YMCA specifically to benefit the men who live in the residence. With all the government belt-tightening, corporate cost-cutting, and lessening of social services, many of the guys in this building have real, material needs. The Cupboard provides canned chicken and tuna, Ramen noodles, canned soup and crackers. Those are its staples. Plus, additional food is provided through donations. Another important part of the Cupboard are the toiletries provided by the Y, ordered from American Hotel. These are handy since they come in small, individual-sized packages. Soap, shampoo, disposable razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes. All greatly appreciated.

Enter John Mroczka—men’s residence director at the Y. (Also the John of “John’s Cupboard.”) John has done a great number of jobs at the facility over the years, and will retire this summer with twenty-nine years of service at the Y. But how did John start the Cupboard? At first, it was some spare cans of food kept on a shelf in his office. The Cupboard has since enlarged in both number of items offered and in size. John hopes to enlarge what the Cupboard provides to new socks, too. Socks are always appreciated!

For years, John has given a Christmas present of two pairs of socks and a coffee mug to each and every resident at the YMCA. He adds, “A few other employees and I solicit Y board members for additional things, gift cards for the residents.” John has the gifts of helps, discernment and service in abundance. He certainly shows it, too!

His kindness and compassion—tempered with a savvy eye and sharp nose for scams—make him uniquely qualified to do exactly what he’s been doing for years. Which is serving others, for the benefit of these men and their families, as well as for the glory of God as he understands God. Thanks for all you do, John! May God’s richest blessings rest on you, too.

@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!)

Of Service When Sad.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 10, 2014

KIND one kind word

Of Service When Sad.

Ever have someone in your family or friends get really sick? So sick that it affected you? So sick it was like I was walking through chest-high water? That’s the way it is with me. Someone I know is quite sick. I was thinking about this dear one for the past few days, and I feel so sad as I remember. Also happy, warm and grateful at the thoughts, but mostly sad, today.

I remember other times when I felt like I was walking through chest-high water. Sad times. Heavy times. Even though I am trained in how to deal with difficulty and challenging situations, it doesn’t make very much difference. I am still sad.

I know that my chaplain training helps me with others, assists me to help contain emotions—feelings. Helps me to be kind and helpful, of service to those going through difficulty.

As much as I don’t think of it, I need a chaplain from time to time. I need someone to walk with me, when I am feeling sad, or lonely, or depressed, or angry. Sure, I can separate myself from those strong emotions, and sometimes even train the feelings to be used for beneficial reasons. That’s turning sad feelings upside down. That’s just a couple of examples.

Yes, all of us need someone to walk by our sides, now and then. Someone to listen, someone to walk at one’s side. I was one of those helpful, kind people today. But what about my feelings inside of my heart and mind? I had to slow down, personally, and just acknowledge those the sad feelings inside of me. And maybe, I’ll be kind and gentle with myself today.

If you’re facing difficulties today, you might feel like you’re walking through chest-high water. I urge everyone to stop, and do a status check—a feelings and emotion check. Feelings and emotions can be wild and difficult. If you are going through some challenging times today, consider being kind and gentle with yourself today. And God will be there to help, too.

We all need kindness and gentleness, especially when we’re sad or mad. Thanks, God, for sending friends to help us through those difficult times.

@chaplaineliza

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

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 31, 2014

childrens-books

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

As some of you know, I am a mom. (My youngest is seventeen, a senior in high school.) As some of you also know, I love books. I love reading. And I especially love to read books out loud to children. (Yes, I do voices. I studied with a vocal coach for some months about fifteen years ago, thinking I might get into the voiceover business. And then, I did comedy improv. But that’s another story. Another post!)

One of my blogging friends, Marilyn— http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com on wordpress.com—had an intriguing capper to her cross-cultural blog post earlier this week. She talked about a friend of hers who has started a service called Kids Books Without Borders, and added the link. Wasting no time, I contacted Gail through her blog. And—she wrote back! She said she was more than happy to be featured in my blog.

I am so happy to let people know about Gail’s service through Kids Books Without Borders. Almost everyone I know is acquainted with someone who is presently living or who has lived overseas. Gail grew up in France, with a British mom and an American dad. Gail especially loved to read. (Just like me, when I was a girl!) However, their family had a real challenge in finding children’s books in English. While in France, I mean. Gail treasured those rare packages from grandparents that included children’s books! The Little House books. The Paddington books. Any book by Roald Dahl. Charlotte’s Web. Mary Poppins. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Hobbit.

As Gail grew up, married, and had children of her own, she passed on her special love of books and of reading. However, she remembered the difficulty she—and her parents—had of finding many children’s books in English while overseas. She came up with the idea for this service to be able to “put children’s books (and some young adult and adult books as well) in the hands of children and families living overseas.”

Here is more about Gail’s service, in her own words: “I now have available over 2000 books, both picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, which are available to you at no charge, if you are living overseas. They are all books that I have read and which come highly recommended. I am mostly self-taught, but have read extensively about children’s literature. If you are overwhelmed by choices or do not know what books would be best for your child, please email me. I would love to give you recommendations if you let me know your child’s (children’s) age, gender, reading level and areas of interests.

“All the books are free and there is no limit on the number of books you can request. However, I do ask that you pay for postage if shipped to a US address and half of the postage if shipped overseas. The majority of families living overseas ask that I send the books to US-based friends or family. The recipients then deliver them when visiting the person requesting them. This is the least expensive and most reliable way of mailing them.”

The link to Gail’s blog is below. (Just a reminder—the holidays are not far away!) I am also glad to be able to pass the word along about Gail’s tremendous service! Such a wonderful opportunity to pass the gift of books along to another generation. I am so grateful for the gift of books, and awed by the innovation and inventiveness of the authors, illustrators, and all the other creative people who contributed to the production and publication of these incredible resources. The written word. So powerful. So moving. Thank you again, Gail!

For further information, see: http://kidsbookswithoutborders.wordpress.com/

@chaplaineliza

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

Living Life, Being of Service (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 1, 2014

circle of hands

Living Life, Being of Service (Feature Friday!)

It’s been a while since I graduated from seminary. More than nine years. I attended a United Methodist seminary here in town. (No, I am not a Methodist. Perhaps I’ll tell you about that, sometime. Not now.) A friend of mine graduated in the same class, and he returned to the section of the country he came from—the Dakotas. Yes, Duane has been serving UMC churches out on the plains ever since graduation.

Duane and I are Facebook friends, now. I’m afraid the Dakotas are a bit far afield for me, at present. (But one can wish—and dream.) From time to time, he puts up some interesting and amusing posts, and shares some wonderful photos. Two days ago, he put up a link to an article on the Dakotas UMC Conference webpage. Intrigued, the headline got me. I followed the link. Sure enough, the story was more than worth it. (And, thanks to the anonymous reporter who wrote up this article for the Conference webpage!)

I quote from the subject of the article, a teenager in a Sioux Falls high school: “James 2: 14-26 challenges us to show our faith by our actions. I share my faith with others by my actions,” Anne Reinhiller said. Anne does exactly that—shows her faith through her loving actions. She works in her local church (where her mom and dad are co-pastors). She serves on the technology team in the congregation, helps out with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and participates in the living nativity in December.

Even though she is young, at seventeen, Anne has not had an easy life. She faced bullies a number of times in her short life. But, faith in God has helped her, through bullies, through moving several times to difficult places, as well as through her loneliness. She continues to serve God as Director of the Nightwatch, which is a cooperative feeding ministry. The Nightwatch works with and feeds the poor of the Sioux Falls area. Anne “coordinated the serving schedules, kept the motorhome supplied with paper products, as well as filled with fuel. Through the ministry of the Canteen, over 7500 meals are served to the needy of Sioux Falls each year.” [to quote the Conference article]

This past June, Anne was honored with the (well-deserved!) Denman Award for Evangelism, at the Dakotas UMC Conference held in Rapid City, South Dakota. Truly, Anne is an example for those who strive to live out their faith in Christ. And, she shows by her presence on the ministry team that God can use people of all ages, in all sorts of ministry.

Whether by face-to-face contact, in feeding ministry, or through social media assisted by personal computers and other electronic devices, Anne strives to help. She tries to reach out to her corner of the world. And, she is indeed making a difference in many lives, even before she’s graduated from high school. Praise God for Anne, and other young people who are like her. Here’s praying for you, Anne!

(For further information, go to: http://www.dakotasumc.org/news/anne-reinhiller-teenager-lives-out-her-faith-in-service/ )

@chaplaineliza

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

Of Mothers and Opportunities for Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, May 10, 2014

PRAY God can hear you

Of Mothers and Opportunities for Service

Everyone has a mother. Or, in the case of some people, had a mother. For many, many people, this close, intimate relationship is precious, and conjures up wonderful memories. And then, there are others who do not have good memories of mothers, of families. Deep-seated memories, certainly, whether good or not-so-good.

Today is Mother’s Day here in the United States. I preached this morning on John 10 and Psalm 23, about the parable of the shepherd. Or more specifically, the shepherd’s voice. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and recognize it, no matter what. Even when sheep go through dark valleys, still, the shepherd is right at their side, no matter what. Jesus called Himself the Shepherd—the Good Shepherd. And we are the sheep.

Are you going through dark valleys? Am I? Whatever kind of difficulty, or pain, or problem I may be going through, I know God is right by my side.

At least, I think I know. I hope I do. That is, sometimes.

I know of several serious, continuing situations that certain of my friends and acquaintances are going through. Of course, when I am acting as a chaplain, I try not to think of my own problems. (Stray, personal thoughts do happen to sneak in, from time to time, but I do try to focus on others.) I support others, and let them know that God is with them. God is with me, too. God wants a relationship with all of us. A loving, caring relationship, at that. I do believe it! Really, I do.

At the beginning of the year, I asked God to bless me with a daily opportunity o be helpful, loving, and to serve others. These opportunities for service are the things that I’m looking for, each day. The things I’m praying for. I’m concentrating on helpful, loving acts of ministry in order to get out of myself, and to be faithful to God. And—in order to develop a closer, deeper relationship with God.

In the past few days, God has put people in my path—several mothers, among them—who needed prayer for some serious reasons. Of course I offered prayer! I let these people know that God cares for them, and I do, too. I wanted to offer them possibility of a relationship, as well. A few of these people accepted my offer of prayer right there on the spot, and I intuited that I was able to help them. Or, more importantly, God was able to help.

Thanks, God! Even when I kinda, sorta doubt You. Even when others doubt You, too. You come through, and wrap us in Your arms of love, encouragement and care. Thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 28, 2014

men on a park bench - the Getty Collection

men on a park bench – the Getty Collection

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

I love the town where I live! Such an eclectic group of people. Such a diverse bunch of individuals. A little bit of everything—snooty, artsy, down-and-out, parents, families, empty-nesters, students, immigrants, salt of the earth. Just about all kinds are represented here.

Some of these various kinds of people cross paths at the large YMCA near downtown. Yes, many people are active members of the Y and use the pool, gym, weight room, activity classes, and its other services on a regular basis. However, about one hundred and twenty men (give or take—the number varies) live in the attached single-room residence. I love that the YMCA also serves as a place where guys can get a leg up, and have a safe, warm place to live at a reasonable monthly price. However, some of these men are living on the edge of not-quite-enough. Some are on government assistance because of health reasons. Some have lost their jobs and are on the downhill slide into extreme poverty. Some have other issues. Whatever the individual difficulty, by and large, the lives of many men who live in the residence at the YMCA are not cushy, posh and comfortable. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s where John’s Cupboard fits in. John’s Cupboard is a service of the YMCA specifically to benefit the men who live in the residence. With all the government belt-tightening, corporate cost-cutting, and lessening of social services, many of the guys in this building have real, material needs. The Cupboard provides canned chicken and tuna, Ramen noodles, canned soup and crackers. Those are its staples. Plus, additional food is provided through donations. Another important part of the Cupboard are the toiletries provided by the Y, ordered from American Hotel. These are handy since they come in small, individual-sized packages. Soap, shampoo, disposable razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes. All greatly appreciated.

Enter John Mroczka—men’s residence director at the Y. (Also the John of “John’s Cupboard.”) John has done a great number of jobs at the facility over the years, and will retire this summer with twenty-nine years of service at the Y. But how did John start the Cupboard? At first, it was some spare cans of food kept on a shelf in his office. The Cupboard has since enlarged in both number of items offered and in size. John hopes to enlarge what the Cupboard provides to new socks, too. Socks are always appreciated! For years, John has given a Christmas present of two pairs of socks and a coffee mug to each and every resident at the YMCA. He adds, “A few other employees and I solicit Y board members for additional things, gift cards for the residents.” John has the gifts of helps, discernment and service in abundance. He certainly shows it, too!

His kindness and compassion—tempered with a savvy eye and sharp nose for scams—make him uniquely qualified to do exactly what he’s been doing for years. Which is serving others, for the benefit of these men and their families, as well as for the glory of God as he understands God. Thanks for all you do, John! May God’s richest blessings rest on you, too.

@chaplaineliza

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