Are You Being Served? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, April 9, 2017

As I read through a 2014 blog post list from A Year of Being Kind, this blog post jumped out at me. Yes, I still go into Curt’s Café from time to time (even though it is a little out of my usual traffic pattern). And, I am so glad they expanded—to a second location, on the south side of Evanston, on Dempster near Evanston Township High School. What a great opportunity for young people, looking for a leg up! And what a wonderful chance for restorative justice to be lived out. Thank you, Susan. Thank you to all the supporters of Curt’s Café, too!

coffee shop drawing

Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, March 14, 2014

Are You Being Served? (Feature Friday!)

Imagine a place where young people are valued. Mentored. Taught not only what to do on the job, but how to manage life skills, as well. Imagine no longer—this place is for real, and it’s Curt’s Café, in Evanston, Illinois. This café and coffee shop in north Evanston has a mission to “equip at-risk youth (15 to 22 years old) with job and life skills through training, career coaching and mentoring.”

Worthy goals, you say? That’s not all. The training and support these young people receive help them to succeed in life, find worthwhile employment, and become active participants in their local community. These young men and women are not always the first choice for general employment, because of a brush with the legal system. Or, they haven’t had the opportunities that other youth often take for granted. Those are things that usually are a red flag to employers. However, the staff and director at Curt’s Café go out of their way to provide these young people (“at risk”) with fine opportunities. Careful training by food service professionals. Mentoring in positive, helpful life skills. Gainful employment.

I had the opportunity to talk today with Susan Trieschmann, Curt’s Café’s executive director. She said one of the most transformative things about working at the Café is watching the transformations happen in the lives of the young people. And, she not only watches the youth working and training at the Café, but also watches the interactions of the patrons with the staff.  Susan marvels at the patience of the patrons, and talks about observing them “dig deep down and grab the patience from somewhere inside.”

She gave a recent example. A good-hearted recent hire at the Café was serving breakfast to a father and daughter. The young man messed the order up. He not only messed up, but he has issues with shyness. Messing up the order made his shyness even more apparent. Susan observed the daughter encouraging the staff member and letting him know that it was all right. People mess up. And that just happens sometimes.

Penny Doyle, fundraising manager for the Café, is touched by transformation, too. She watches the young women and men become more confident as they continue to grow in learning at the Café. Learning not only about the restaurant and food service business, but about life in general. She especially has gratitude for the incredible community support. Penny encourages anyone who would like to contact the Café to check out their Facebook page or contact them at www.curtscafe.org. And donations are a wonderful thing, as well!

The patrons, by and large, realize and fully support the mission of Curt’s Café; they have a great capacity for willing understanding. Even active encouragement!  Susan, who attends classes on a part-time basis at Catholic Theological Union, is fully committed to the mission of the Café. This ministry is a visible, tangible way for restorative justice to be lived out. Lived out locally, in our community, praise God.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Lent, into Eastertide 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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In Which I Am Kind through Social Media (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, November 5, 2015

As I looked back today at my posts from a year ago, I felt like I was transported back to 2014. Seeing those year-ago words, feeling those year-ago feelings. And then, I read the post where I talked about praying for my friend’s children, and for mine. Yes, every day in the month of November 2014 I prayed for all of these children. (Grown-up and not so grown-up.) I appreciate Stormie Omartian for her loving, nurturing book (The Power of a Praying Parent) that served as a help and a prayer prompt! But most of all, I thank God for a wonderful friend, and for her loving family. God, bless them all today, and every day.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, November 6, 2014

BK be kind be kind be kind

In Which I Am Kind through Social Media

I was kind to several people today. Most significantly, I was kind to a friend. I have decided to pray for her children and for mine. I wrote about that here in A Year of Being Kind, a few days ago. But after praying today, I was moved to tell her my impressions from God.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t puff myself up, and think I regularly get messages from God. (Messages through email, maybe? Or carrier pigeon, or even perhaps smoke signals? Nope.) But every once in a while, I realize something about someone I’m praying about. Or, get some kind of idea that a certain thing might be going on. It was that way today.

I told my friend about my strong impression. I also quoted three sentences from the chapter on prayer that I read today. Those things almost made her cry, she said! She is so grateful that I am taking this month to pray for her children. (And for my four, as well! I am not purely altruistic! A little bit, yes, but not a whole lot. God, help me.)

The chapter from Stormie Omartian’s book concerns feeling loved and accepted. Dear God, this is so important! Not only for children, but for all of us! For the least of these, and for our seniors, the handicapped, the marginalized, the outsiders.

Specifically, I prayed for these dear children that they feel love and acceptance from God. That Satan not be able to poison their thinking and their experience of people’s love toward them. And I especially pray that these dear children’s parents (I very much include myself here) not only communicate their love and acceptance to the children, but also to everyone else they can. God, please bless, encourage, and support these children. Bless me, bless my dear friend, too. In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

@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!)

Be of Service? Offer to Pray! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yes, it’s a beautiful autumn day! But—not for some. For patients in the hospital or in extended care centers, for their loved ones sitting alongside the beds, for homebound people unable to leave their residence as well as their faithful caregivers. The beauty of the day is not the first thing that comes to mind. And sometimes, the beauty of the day doesn’t come to mind at all. I’m reminded that the deepest cries of each of our hearts is heard by the Lord. Thank You for hearing us, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 29, 2014

PRAY God understands without our words

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

How to be of service? Show people I care? I offered to pray, several times today.

I wish I had magical powers, or super powers. Some kind of power other than myself that would support, comfort and encourage these people. Wait . . . I do have that power! God’s power. The Holy Spirit will readily come alongside of anyone who needs healing, is hurting, or discouraged, or troubled. The Holy Spirit’s other title is Holy Comforter, which is exactly what several people needed today. And, I am encouraged—in a number of places in Scripture—to come alongside of people who are hurting, or damaged, or otherwise messed up. I am with them in support, caring—and prayer.

This is where my using the ministry of presence comes in. Remembering these few individuals, I saw immediately that I had the opportunity to ease the difficulty. Or sadness. Or disgruntlement. Or downright anger. I am reminded of this verse from Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Well. That is what I am striving to do. How I try to operate.

I know that some grumpy or hurting or disadvantaged people do not want to be comforted. Okay. I hear that. I’ve got it. No. Nothing. Not at all. I don’t absolutely have to be forced, arm twisted behind my back, to talk to these individuals. Sometimes—and this is is awesome, and remarkable, and God-honoring—I don’t need to interact directly with these hurting individuals. Sometimes, I have offered to pray at a future time (as with one person today). Of course, I said! I want to make people feel as comfortable and content as possible.

What do you do when you encounter people who are hurting, or in pain, or discouraged? Do you avoid them? Or, do you engage with them, interact and see what is the matter? It does not matter, since God can still work in their lives. God can come alongside of them while they are sleeping, and ease the nightmares. God can work in their lives and alleviate the suffering and pain. God can spread comfort, encouragement, and support. Most of all? Our God is a mighty, wonderful, powerful Helper, ready to ease anxiety and heal disappointment, discouragement, and anger. And—we don’t even have to pray out loud for those caring activities. The Holy Spirit interprets our groanings too deep for words. The Mighty, Loving, Generous God knows. Amen!

@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!)

Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, July 31, 2015

I attended New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania again this year, just a week ago. My friends Kathleen and Roger were there, too, with their sons! I wanted to feature Kathleen and Roger’s ranch, Jeremiah’s Crossing, again. A #BestOf, for sure! Yes, the mission conference featured missionaries and mission agencies from far flung places! From all over the world! Yet, the outreach that Kathleen and Roger are involved in is right in Wisconsin. Their ranch specializes in equine therapy—where horses help kids! This kind of special needs outreach is moving, heart-warming, and super-special, as are Kathleen and Roger. So, it is with great affection and appreciation that I reprise this post from July 2014.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 25, 2014

mama horse and foal

Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!)

Ever see horses up close? Ever want to help kids? How about combining the two, at a welcoming place where horses help kids?

My friends, Kathleen and Roger Harris, are executive directors for Jeremiah’s Crossing, a nonprofit therapeutic horseback-riding ranch. This ranch is located in Babcock, in central Wisconsin. The nonprofit’s purpose is to help horses help children—and adults—who have diagnosed physical, mental, cognitive, and academic special needs. The best part? There is no cost for the therapy to the children or the adults.

The overall cost of caring for children and adults with special needs can be significant. The staff and those associated with Jeremiah’s Crossing do not wish to add to the financial burden of those families with members and loved ones who have special needs or disabilities. That is why “God’s ranch” provides Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) and lessons, for both children and adults, at no cost to the participants.

Kathleen and Roger Harris were married in 1995, and their children made a blended family from the beginning. They started the ranch in 2006. But even before that, they were gradually being led in the direction of helping kids, through a variety of activities. New Wilmington Mission Conference played a leading role in the Harris’s discernment and progress towards opening Jeremiah’s Crossing. The equine therapy part became more clear as God led them, too. Now, the ranch is a warm, welcoming place to everyone in families with disabled or differently-abled members.

The equine therapy is beneficial (to the persons with a diagnosed disability) in so many ways. First, the therapy gives people a positive nurturing activity that urges them to get into a regularly-scheduled routine. (to work on a regular basis with the trainer in their own therapy sessions, and in the training.) Second, horseback-riding allows for regular exercise and strengthening of their muscles. A bonus here is the assistance the riding provides for the balance center in the inner ear. And, God uses the horses in their riders’ lives in a variety of ways, including creating a friendship between the disabled person and the horse. This helps model relationship-building for the disabled people (especially the children).

The lessons are led by a PATH International Certified Instructor. The number of volunteer team members who accompany the individual riders depends on the needs and abilities of the various riders. The lesson content varies! The instructor plans each lesson on an individual basis, and volunteer side walkers come alongside of the rider and encourage appropriate posture as best suits the individual. Proper grooming, outfitting and care for the horses is modeled, as well. Everyone joins together in facilitating a positive, therapeutic experience for every individual who rides and cares for the horses.

As Kathleen Harris says, God has provided a beautiful place in Jeremiah’s Crossing as part of God’s plan to heal children and their families. Healing happens in a variety of ways—“God’s ranch” is one place where horses truly help to heal—physically, emotionally, mentally, as well as spiritually. Thank God!

(For more information, check out their website at http://www.jeremiahscrossing.org )

@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

(the Best of) Kindness through Connection (As in People)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday. But I’m not going to concentrate on ashes in my post. Instead, I’m going back to a situation where I was not simply kind (as in, ‘nice’), but I may have helped out in a material way. I hope so. I pray so.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, February 15, 2014

 

friends drinking coffee credit - courtesy of the BBC

friends drinking coffee
credit – courtesy of the BBC

Kindness through Connection (As in People)

Some days ago, I happened to run into a friend of mine. I hadn’t seen this friend for a number of months, and was very happy to reconnect with him. Someone was with him, someone I had never met before. I smiled my friendly smile and stepped towards this second man. He seemed a bit hesitant and taken aback, almost as if he was unsure exactly why I’d even smile at him. My chaplain antennae started twitching. I detected something, some way of being that concerned me. I softened my voice and manner and started talking to him and our mutual friend, both together.

After seating ourselves and after initial uncertainty, my new friend opened up. He and I made an instant connection, too. He told me he had been out of work for a number of months. As the months began to pile up, he became more and more discouraged. I recognized the plight and problem of the long-term unemployed: employers hesitating even to consider people who have been unemployed for a long period of time. This wasn’t under-employment, but instead unemployment, pure and simple. Feelings of uselessness, self-pity, anger, despair, depression. (Sadly, I could relate, since I have gone through similar times in my own life and experience.)

This sort of thing does not happen to me all the time, or even most of the time. But making an instant connection does happen sometimes. And when I get the feeling, the urge to talk with someone, I usually listen to that urge. And, I listen to the person, too. As I was taught, I try to journey with the person for a little while. And, I try to actively listen to the story the person brings to me, too.

After I found out what my new friend had been doing before he was “downsized,” I realized I was acquainted with an older man who had worked for decades in the same industry before his retirement. Accordingly, I told my new friend. It was marvelous to see him perk up and tentatively begin to blossom. He asked me whether I could give the retired fellow his name and number. “Certainly!” I again smiled my friendly smile at him. I cautioned that I might not see this retired man for a number of days. My new friend said that would be okay—he had been unemployed for so long, a few more days (give or take) wouldn’t matter.

So, I ran into the retired man yesterday. He was interested in the story of my new friend’s long-term unemployment, and readily gave me his telephone number. However, he cautioned, my new friend needed to call him. (Excellent strategy—make the unemployed man need to do something.)

I called my new friend today. I gave him the cell phone number, and boy, was he grateful!  For him, this phone number was a lifeline, a connection with an industry that had been holding him at arm’s length for months. He said thank you to me, several times.

All because I made a connection, introducing two people who otherwise might never have met. What a way to be kind. What an opportunity to show caring and encouragement, in God’s name.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 5, 2015

On this snowy, frigid evening in January, this post from a year ago strikes a familiar chord.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – originally published Monday, January 6, 2014

photo by Sergei Kvitko

(photo by Sergei Kvitko)

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

It was cold in the Chicago area today. Frigid. I mean, exposed skin would freeze if uncovered for more than a few minutes. I understand that we broke a temperature record with -15 degrees. We won’t even talk about the wind chill, with wind gusts anywhere from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

I needed to be out and about today, going to and from work. Despite the extreme temperature, it was a beautiful day! Crisp, clear air. Blue sky. Since I had a functioning vehicle and wasn’t walking, I enjoyed the trip.

During the course of the day, I met someone who needed to get out of their garage. Thank heaven their suburb was on top of things and had already sent snow plows down the alleys. One wrinkle: in sending out the plow to clear the alleyway, the snow subsequently was piled in a heap against the garages. An anxious senior was involved, and I had the time and the ability. They had the snow shovel. So, I was happy to shovel out the apron of their garage and allow them access to the alleyway.

Another case of “who is my neighbor?” I didn’t live anywhere near this senior, not like my friend with the snow blower whose story I related several days ago. However, I felt compassion for this dear senior. Of course I shoveled the snow.

I try to keep myself in fair physical condition. I consider this part of my spiritual service to God, to keep up my physical self, to stretch and exercise regularly. I try to go to the gym three times a week and do what I can. Cardio-vascular, a little strength training, and (most important!) stretching both before and after. When I don’t go to the gym for a few days, my body starts to let me know through aches and pains.

This is a roundabout way for me to mention exactly why I felt so free to just pick up the shovel and go at it. I feel blessed that I am in decent physical shape, and I don’t want to lose that ability any time soon.

But what about people who are less-abled? Like several of my friends and acquaintances, who have lost some or most of the physical range of motion and ability they were born with? They are growing more and more dependent on others to do things for them. This dependence can be a source of griping and grumbling, or of gratitude and thankfulness. I see any number of reactions and responses to offers of service, on a regular basis.

However, I can let those I serve (or offer to serve) respond as they will. God has not made me an arbiter of people’s thoughts and actions. Instead, God has encouraged me to serve. And this year, my hope, my intention is to find some kind of service each day. Not to judge people on whether they have gratitude for the service, or whether they thank me. Service is what God has called me to do.

I wonder what will show up tomorrow? God willing, I’ll find out.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 27, 2014

We are His workmanship Eph 2-10

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

I have gone to our local YMCA almost every Saturday morning this year. Mostly for yoga class, but occasionally to power walk and jog on the upstairs track. And today—to encourage my husband, who has decided to join the YMCA as a member.

Yes, I did go to yoga today. And yes, class was absolutely marvelous, thanks to my wonderful teacher Ine! We did most of the usual poses and stretching, true. And, I’ve occasionally waxed eloquent about Ine and her kind, encouraging manner of teaching and leading the yoga classes. I do wish her the best in 2015! (as well as the other regulars in my yoga classes)

My husband and I needed to go out to get some gym shoes today, after yoga. (He needs gym shoes if he means to go to the gym.) So, this afternoon, outfitted in his new gym shoes, he and I headed back to the Y for a workout.

I reflected on this, both before and after going to the gym. What better thing to do for ourselves, than to continue being physically active? In terms of heart health, lowering blood pressure, obesity control, bone density, balance, and a whole host of other issues, it makes a whole lot of sense. Good sense.

As I continued to reflect—as sometimes happens—I thought about the spiritual angle. God is pleased when we take care of our physical bodies, too. I mean, when we eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and take care of the gifts God has given to us. Because, that is exactly what our bodies are. Or, to use a different metaphor (a Pauline metaphor), our bodies are God’s temple. Since the Holy Spirit resides within, I am responsible to care for my body as a good steward. I don’t often think of that.

Finally, I remember my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Another word for “handiwork” is “masterpiece” or poema. That’s the same word where “poem” comes from. God has composed each of us, individually. What’s more, God means for me to do good works, or good things. To be helpful, kind, and of service. Not only outwardly, but inwardly, as well.

So, yes. A whole host of reasons to be a good steward of my own body. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015. As my husband and I go to the gym on a regular basis in 2015, we can’t help but be healthier.

@chaplaineliza

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