Have Bible Study? Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Helping? Being of service? Why not with a bible study? This way is a natural for me. I love teaching, and I’ve been told I’m fairly good at leading groups. As I read over this post from last May, I thought, “How encouraging!” See if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, God!

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping? Being There for My Friend!

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

Centering-Prayer-hands holding candle

Helping? Being There for My Friend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@chaplaineliza

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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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Of Service, with a Vacuum (Cleaner, That Is)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, May 25, 2014

car-wash and sponge drawing

Of Service, with a Vacuum (Cleaner, That Is)

Today is (was) the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Today was also Sunday. A wonderful day, and perfectly gorgeous outside.

I worked this morning. I do enjoy leading worship and preaching, very much! I hope and pray that the service was a blessing to many people. And afterwards, I finished up watching a video this afternoon. (My thinking? All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, indeed!) After some computer work, a few emails, and a few tweets on Twitter, my daughter and I went out to clean up the car. After all, I have a number of family members coming into town tomorrow!

One of my sisters is hosting a family reunion this week. For my part, I said I would be happy to fetch people from the airport, and drive them around town while they are here. One problem: the car needed to be cleaned out. I do this periodically, but I hadn’t done it thoroughly since last fall. Our car badly needed cleaning! Vacuuming, and general tidying up.

We have one of those do-it-yourself car washes in town. Plus, the car wash also features several heavy-duty, industrial strength vacuum cleaners. Good for clearing and cleaning out vehicles, both large and small. When I need to clean out our car, I make a beeline for this place. Accordingly, I tidied the car, cleared out all the miscellaneous junk and stuff that needed to be thrown away, and vacuumed the car.

Meanwhile, my daughter cleaned the inside windows, and the dashboard and control panel. I know we didn’t do anything like deep cleaning, but it’s amazing how nice and tidy the car looks now! And, it’s ready to pick up and drop off my family, too.

Routine maintenance, that’s one way of looking at it. Gosh, I could make an analogy out of this, without much difficulty! Regular, routine cleaning of my mind. My intellect. My emotional state. My feelings. If I tidy up mentally, from time to time, I feel better. I am more likely to be on an even keel, emotionally. Part of my mental-cleaning routine involves prayer. Meditation. Mindfulness practices. And more recently—in the past six months—I have added gentle yoga. All helpful to me!

This kind of mental, routine maintenance certainly helps me get things in order to be kind. Do acts of service. Take opportunities to be helpful. I am going to be helpful to my family! Since I ordinarily don’t have much of an opportunity to see them (most of them live out of state!), I am very glad for this chance. I am looking forward to a family-filled next few days!

@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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