Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 5, 2014

bless be a blessing

Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

Separation. Anxiety. Fear. If I get started and think about things like this, these emotions can make me want to shrink away. Go hide under the covers. What’s more, I just spoke with four friends over the past few days who are feeling similar emotions. The yucky kind, the kind that can make me feel as if everything is all gray. Dingy, washed out emotions, lonely, tattered and torn.

Yes, I can listen when my friends tell me those sad, dark feelings keep encroaching upon my friends or acquaintances. I can journey alongside of them, and provide encouragement and support. Yes, I know what it’s like to walk through those dark times. Or to sit in them, even to wallow. And—I also know what it’s like to come out the other side. To walk together with others, to support and share with them in friendship, and encouragement.

Isolation is something that can sneak up on a person. Sure, being alone from time to time is good. Healthy. Even, needed. Just ask five of my close family members. All introverts, and all enjoy their alone time. All need recharging time. But—isolation is going one step too far. Even a couple of steps too far, since some individuals go to extremes. Isolation is something that anxiety and fear feeds upon. I appreciate learning more about positive strategies I will be able to use.

I know one thing that encourages me to bloom, to come back and share with people. I can stop thinking about myself, and concentrate on others and their concerns. I can provide encouragement, support, caring and love. Praise God.

World Communion Sunday is just another way to provide this companionship. Togetherness and unity. Instead of being separated from one another and from God, we are joining together, across Christian backgrounds. Alone? My tendency is to curl up alone, to isolate. Sometimes even to feel sorry for myself. (!!!) However, when I come into community, I join myself with the wonderful help of others who might be feeling similar, dark feelings. Together, we all can support and pray for each other.

One of the best things about World Communion Sunday is that it looks forward to the time of Christian unity, togetherness and ecumenical cooperation. Banishing separation, loneliness, anxiety and fear? Yes. Joining together in one body. What’s more, this helps us catch a glimpse of the hope-filled group of believers. All believers, from all over, can express togetherness, caring and love for each other. Another loving, worthwhile way to come before God.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 4, 2014

autumn road

How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

Isn’t it wonderful when everything comes together? Especially when a big event—planned for some time—happens, and everything works out wonderfully? Yeah. That happened tonight.

Actually, this morning was really awesome, too. But more about that, first. I’ll briefly describe what happened this morning, as an appetizer to this evening’s festivities. I prepared for a Blessing of the Animals this morning. Yes, I had fliers with a prayer all printed up, but the weather did not cooperate.

Today was the coldest day of the fall so far, and the weather was threatening to rain all morning. (And, it finally did start sprinkling, just before noon. Just before I started to move things inside.) Lo and behold, I blessed nine animals. Several in-depth conversations happened. Plus, two more people came to the church and brought lists of their animals. The two dear people wanted their pets blessed long-distance. Of course, I did!

But, this evening? Better and better. It was marvelous to see so many people come out and support St. Luke’s Church. And like I said before, everything came together to create a lovely night. Excellent food, hard work by everyone involved. Even the student youth leader and his roommate came to the spaghetti dinner—both did yeoman’s service, helping out with the serving and whatever else was needed around the kitchen and the fellowship hall.

Such an example of service! Serving with love and caring to others, being helpful, loving and caring with no sign of anyone paying me back or doing something for me in exchange. And here, at St. Luke’s Church? That kind of attitude is what I saw. That’s the loving and caring attitude I find in the larger passage I’m preaching from tomorrow, from John 16 and 17. How wonderful it is to show others how important each individual is. Such a difference! And, each person is truly valued and cared for.

Everyone pitching in helps each one to be more and more encouraged and supported. And, the encouragement and support is circular, helping members of the congregation feel better about themselves. Which just encourages more love and caring to others. That is what I would like to show to everyone: our congregation truly is striving to be a congregation after God’s own heart. Difficult? Challenging? Are there setbacks, sometimes? Yes. Yes, and yes. What’s more, I think God is pleased and continues to bless our efforts. God willing, we’ll continue to try!

@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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God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service? Being Chaplainly. Quietly.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 11, 2014

Being of Service? Being Chaplainly. Quietly.

 

quiet--more you can hear

I enjoy being a pastor. I really do! I enjoy teaching bible studies, writing the orders of worship, contact with numerous people throughout the month (both on Sundays and the rest of the week), and all aspects of preaching.

However, I very much enjoy pastoral care. Being a chaplain. Coming alongside of people and journeying with them, for a time. Trying to ease their difficulties and challenges, as best as I can. (After all, I chose “@chaplaineliza” for my Twitter handle. That’s all.)

I paid two pastoral care visits today. Chaplain visits, if you like. One in person, and the other over the telephone. Yes, in this case, they were both to seniors, and both people said they appreciated the visits very much. But chaplain visits do not necessarily need to be to seniors. Just to people in need, regardless of age, as well as their loved ones, too, sometimes. To individuals who are hurting and would like someone to journey alongside of them.

Some of the people I see for pastoral care visits are so sweet and kind! Everyone else talks about them, and tells stories about them. I can hear the love, caring and support in all the other voices, and that makes me so very happy. The positive emotions and feelings are somehow amplified by their common expression. And by having those positive emotions and feelings bouncing around so much and so often? I have a sneaking feeling that the sick person is greatly benefited by so much love, caring and support.

(There are more and more research studies being done now, regarding the spiritual and emotional nature of being a patient in a hospital. I would not be surprised if some research team had already figured out some kind of test or survey using a Likert scale, finding some hard and fast measurement of the facts and figures surrounding emotions, feelings, and spirituality. I no longer have a job where I’m searching out those kinds of studies. But I digress—a little bit.)

Being a chaplain isn’t usually a showy, fancy-pants kind of job. Pastoral care is not particularly glamorous or flamboyant. Matter of fact, it is often an overlooked, quiet kind of helping. Participating on the caring team. “Oh, yes. There’s the chaplain, too. Over there.” That’s okay. I don’t want to be up front all the time. Or, even most of the time. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of coming alongside of people—in a quiet way. Especially, in a loving, caring, supportive and encouraging way.

Yes, I am quite proud of my usefulness in serving as a chaplain, or using pastoral care. Whichever you like—being chaplainly. In a quiet way.

@chaplaineliza

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Sharing with a New Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 16, 2014

friendship you do stuff

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 a number of 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!

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service on the Telephone

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 4, 2014

PRAY healing prayer

Being of Service on the Telephone

I made a number of telephone calls today. I talked with a number of people, some of them extended conversations. The most important, most significant part of several of these conversations? I joined in prayer with the person on the other end of the line. Feeling the fellowship that prayer brings.

Prayer is supposed to be a natural, everyday thing. For some people, it certainly is! I can tell, just from the ease, the confidence, the eagerness that some people bring to prayer. For these people, it is truly a conversation between them and their Best Friend. Between them and their Heavenly Parent. And, amen to that! I wish things could always be that way between God and me.

Today, I know that several people appreciated my prayers over the phone. And, I visited one person in the middle of the day, who even said my prayers hit the spot! I am glad. I used to pray much more often, as a chaplain working in an urban hospital (in Chicago). It seemed like I was doing much the same thing today. Many of the calls I made today ended with prayer. I hope I was an encouragement and support to several of these friends I talked with on the phone today.

Now, I am going to switch gears for a few moments. I went to yoga class this evening, and had a great time. I am progressing in core strength, and am feeling better and better as the weeks go by. When I came back to the locker room, I took the lock off my locker and started to shuffle through my stuff. I had the urge to go to the bathroom, so I did. Without putting the lock back on my locker. The locker room was almost empty. Only four other women, three in other areas. One young woman, about twenty, was halfway dressed and about twenty feet down the way at the lockers facing me.

I hurried to the bathroom around the corner, came back, and met my yoga instructor. She and I had a brief conversation. The young woman had left the locker room by the time I opened my locker again.

I pulled on my street clothes. For some reason, I pulled out my wallet from my pants pocket. I checked it again, to make certain. Sure enough, there was a twenty dollar bill missing. Earlier, I had gone to the cash station and taken out forty dollars. I stopped for lunch this afternoon, and spent a few dollars. So, the ten, five, and one dollar bills were in my wallet, true. But the twenty was gone. I did not fly off the handle. I did not get all upset. However, I did feel badly for that young woman. I don’t know for sure, but I strongly suspect she did take the twenty.

I found myself praying for that young woman. As I remembered her standing by her locker—I had just a glimpse of her—I remember thinking that she seemed sad. Possibly with low self-esteem. It was how she held herself and the sad, almost pinched expression on her face. All this registered with me in a flash as I turned and busied myself at my own locker.

God, I do pray for whoever took that twenty dollar bill. I hope and pray that they are blessed—nurtured by whatever they buy with it.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day

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

senior couple walking away clipart

senior couple walking away
clipart

Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@chaplaineliza

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Helpful, Visiting in a Hospital

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, June 9, 2014

hospital drawing

hospital drawing

Helpful, Visiting in a Hospital

I received a phone call several days ago. I found out that a good friend of mine was in the hospital. I wanted to go and see my friend, but I had a bad cold. I didn’t want to sneeze and drip all over the place, so I just didn’t visit until I felt better.

When I was working as a chaplain at a hospital, I was very much aware that I needed to be in good health when seeing patients. So, I did my best to stay that way. Not only prudent, but a good idea, too!

It made me really sad to have to wait to see my friend, but I had other things I needed to accomplish over the past few days. I felt better on Saturday, and the Blessing of the Animals was scheduled for that morning. (I wrote about it, two days ago.) I had a number of other necessary things to do that afternoon and evening, and couldn’t go visit at the hospital—until today. It was wonderful to see my friend! We talked for quite some time, and we prayed together before I left. I think I was an encouragement to my friend. I certainly hope so.

Until tonight, I forgot completely about the verse I chose for the month of June – Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Wow. This kind deed I did today qualifies. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but visiting sick people is something that would please God. And by extension, when others see my good, kind deed, they will be able to glorify my Heavenly Father (or, Parent).

There is one big caveat. If I have twisted motives or the wrong attitude, I don’t think God would want people to notice the deeds I did. For example, if I was like a Pharisee, I’d be all puffed up, showing off my self-righteous attitude. (Oversized, egotistical . . . ) You can bet God would turn His back on me in a big hurry, too. I’d be a big phony! I might be able to fool a few people for a while, but sooner or later they would figure me out. Me and my holier-than-thou, phony self.

On the other hand, if I act with some humility and graciousness, I think God would be very pleased with any good deeds I accomplished in God’s name. Then, when others see my good, kind, helpful deeds, they would certainly be able to glorify my Heavenly Father. (or, Parent)

Dear God, thanks for the opportunity to make the day brighter for my friend in the hospital. And, I pray that my attitude and actions will continue to be pleasing to You, too!

@chaplaineliza

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What About When I Have a Cold? What Then?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 4, 2014

prayer peace of God

What About When I Have a Cold? What Then?

For those who might be following this blog, you might know what I’m going to say already. I wrote a post about my son last weekend. He called me from work and asked to come home a little early. He said he wasn’t feeling well, and I could tell! A deep, chesty cough rattled the telephone, that’s what he had. As I brought him home, I could also see his poor eyes, starting to get red and a little watery. He certainly looked sick, for sure.

When I got him home, he had the beginnings of a cold. It turned out to be a moderate one, but I did worry about his cough for a couple of days. (I know, I know. Worrying goes with the territory. I’m a mom.) So, I didn’t exactly baby him, but I did a bit of fetching and carrying for him. By his report, he was a little lightheaded. I know what that’s like! I am not often lightheaded, but it is not pleasant. No way!

Little did I know that I would catch his cold. Yesterday morning, I felt the beginnings of a scratchiness in my throat. Then, by afternoon I started to feel post nasal drip. Oh, no! Not a cold! I knew something was coming on by dinner time. Yup. Achy muscles, and a slight headache, on top of my general yuckiness.

So, today I was scheduled to lead a bible study. Yes, I did facilitate the study, but I gave everyone lots of warning! Stay away, because I certainly do not want to share this cold with anyone! I think the study went well. I hope it went well! I had great material to work with—we took a look at John 21, verses 1 through 14. Breakfast on the shore, and the miraculous catch of fish.

But it is prayer time in the study today that is sticking with me. Several significant prayer requests, and one that surprised me! I was not expecting it at all. I prayed for these requests already, and I am sure I will pray some more as the week continues. Prayer is an opportunity to share encouragement and comfort with others. I felt that as I gathered prayer requests (and praises!), and then we all prayed. Earnestly. With heartfelt cries to God.

Even though I was not one hundred percent today, I was still able to pray and to lead in prayer. God, thank You for the comfort, encouragement and blessing of prayer. Not only on a vertical plane, between You and me, but also on the horizontal. From me to another person, on this level. Help me continue to be willing to pray and lift people up. Lift up their requests and praises, too! Thanks, again.

@chaplaineliza

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