Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I love going to the gym at the YMCA. I really do. In this post, I saw how a chance encounter can be so touching and meaningful. For me, as well as for my friend.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 9, 2014

prayer is powerful

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my . . . oh, wait. No, that wasn’t me.

Well, I did wake up. I did get out of bed. And, I did bustle over to the YMCA for a quick work out. A couple of tiny twinges of arthritis this morning, but that’s okay. After all, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I managed to cross the threshold of the lobby in good time, ready and raring to go.

With so much else going on in my life, I haven’t been focusing as much on my gym time at the Y. However, I have been continuing to go to the gym! I want to keep consistent.

I am afraid I missed a whole week, several weeks back, what with the bathroom facelift and the carpeting change-over in our condominium. Oh, and the middle of a busy Lenten schedule, and with several other personal things going on. However, I am now back on track. And among other things, like my weekly yoga class, I have returned to the running track at the Y.

I just love the track! Something about being up there, working hard, concentrating on my pace (first, power-walk, then alternating with jogging). I often meet people I know on my way to, or coming down from the track. Or—in the case of today, when I arrived I happened to meet a good friend up there, power-walking already. It was great to see my friend. After I stretched, the two of us power-walked around the track. And talked! We sure do like to talk. Both of us do. (*grin*)

My friend asked me what was new since we hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. After giving a brief description of my new job, my friend suddenly said “Ow!” and stopped as the two of us were just rounding the far turn on the track. “What’s the matter?” I asked. I was concerned, and immediately felt for my friend. Then the story came out. A continuing medical concern, for several years. A new flare-up, and a trip to the doctor was indicated. I heard some concern and anxiety, too.

When my friend mentioned that this was the last lap around the track, I immediately asked whether I could pray—either right now, or later. “Now would be great!” said my friend, with a big smile. So we prayed, right there by the edge of the track, near the door.

I prayed for comfort, encouragement, for pain to go away, for the medical staff looking at what was the matter, for my friend to discover any good exercises to do in the meanwhile, and finally—for a good outcome, short term and long term, too. Talk about encouragement! We hugged afterwards.

Thanks, God, for the opportunities You give me for prayer. And thanks for my dear friend, 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!)

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(the Best Of) – Yarn Alive Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 19, 2015

I have a great appreciation for seniors. When I heard about this way of being kind last January, I knew I had to find out more. So, I asked my friend Jill for more information. Thus, this post. Awesome way of being kind!

 halcyon yarn

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 17, 2014

Yarn Alive Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

When disaster hits—anywhere in the world—the disaster is all over the news. Media coverage and live reports can be seen (or heard, or read) on most any media outlet.  Relief efforts are often launched. Good-hearted individuals and worthy relief organizations send donations. Wonderful efforts, one and all. What a loving, giving way to be kind!  But then another disaster happens. Another, and another. After a while, something called disaster fatigue can set in.

Specifically thinking about Japan and a disaster almost three years ago, in March 2011, a tsunami devastated large portions of coastal land and the communities on and near the coast. Many of those left homeless were elderly. For many months, huge numbers of these displaced people went to temporary housing. With little to do in the following months except consider all that was lost in the tsunami, large numbers of these elderly people became sad, even depressed.

Enter Teddy Sawka, a Christian missionary to Japan for several decades. She saw first-hand the ravages of depression in the displaced seniors living in her small community of Shichigahama, a sea-side village. Knitting is quite popular in Japan. Teddy thought that by keeping their hands and minds occupied, perhaps these seniors would find some purpose in their lives. She began Yarn Alive among the displaced seniors, who took to knitting and crocheting with great eagerness.

Missionary Teddy’s cousin is Jill France, member of Cuyahoga Falls United Presbyterian Church. Jill and Teddy keep in touch regularly. Teddy communicated to Jill that the seniors in the budding knitting group in Japan needed more yarn. Jill brought this need to the knitting group (prayer shawl-making group) at her church. In a number of weeks, the group had prepared six boxes holding knitting needles, crochet hooks and 40 pounds of yarn to send off to the seniors in Japan. This was the first of a number of ‘care packages’ sent.

Word spread in Japan. Other knitting groups—Yarn Alive groups—began to meet in other villages and towns in Japan. Meanwhile, word also spread among the media. Missionary Teddy was interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter in Japan, almost two years ago. Teddy gave the reporter her cousin Jill’s name and contact information. Soon Jill was interviewed, and several women in the Ohio church knitting group, also. After the article appeared in the Wall Street Journal in the first week of March 2012, calls and emails started pouring into the Presbyterian church office. And even more yarn, needles and hooks sent off to Japan.

Signs of such giving, gratitude and solidarity, in Jill’s own words: “The Lord works in such amazing ways.  It has been just so wonderful to hear from people that are eager to help and so full of love!  It has also opened my eyes to the bonds that women feel for other women around the world.  All enjoying the same gift of sitting together and knitting (or crocheting) and talking!  Doesn’t matter what language we speak, we are sisters!”

Jill, how right you are, my friend. Such a wonderful ministry. Such a marvelous way of being kind! May God continue to send all of us ways of being kind, on a regular basis.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

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

I try to go to the YMCA several times a week. In this blog post, I mention a chance meeting on the stairs at the Y. See whether you can relate.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Walking with Friends" by Carolee Clark

“Walking with Friends”
by Carolee Clark

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

Earlier today, I happened to stop on the stairs. I had an unexpected encounter with someone from another country, and I hope I was of service.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give a little background, and set up the story. As is my habit during the week, I went to the gym to do some stretching and cardio exercise. I finished a good workout, and started down to the women’s locker room. Halfway down the stairs, I saw a young woman holding an open pamphlet, obviously reading intently. She looked puzzled, and frowned at the piece of paper. I slowed down, since she caught my attention. She glanced up.

We smiled at each other. And that’s all it took for her to engage me in conversation.

As it turned out, she held a pamphlet that listed information about GED classes. She trustingly started pouring out her story in accented but fairly good English. She wanted to take a GED course. And then, get her GED to be more prepared to get jobs here in the Chicago area. I encouraged her, and took a look at the pamphlet with her. “Yes,” I said. “The GED class you want is at the high school, on Tuesday night.”

She told me about studying English in high school, in her country of origin in South America. Again I smiled and was encouraging. “You speak English really well for taking only a couple of years of classes. I wish I could speak another language as well.” She beamed and nodded her head in gratitude for my words. She was very hesitant about English grammar, it turned out. Plus, she also was enrolled in citizenship classes. I was quite supportive. “That’s great! I wish you the best in both of your classes. God’s blessings in this new year, too.” She smiled even more widely. She wanted to know my name. Elizabeth, I told her. She readily gave me her name.

I think I made a new friend!

This is not an isolated incident.

I guess I have that kind of appearance that makes me approachable. People come up to me on the street, or when I’m stopped at a stop light. They’ll roll down their window and tell me they’re lost. And, ask directions. Or when I’m standing in line at a grocery store they’ll engage me in conversation. Tell me about personal details of their lives. Believe me, it happens! (My family is endlessly amused, and say that I have that kind of face. Or chaplainly air. Or something.)

In preparation for this year of service, I’ve prayed specifically to be open and willing, each day. As subtext to my month’s service, for January, the verse I have chosen is Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” I think I was kind to this sweet young woman. She and I made a genuine connection. And—I pray that I was of service.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

 

Snow Blowing, Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 2, 2015

This was my first Feature Friday post in January 2014. Even though there’s no snow (yet) in the Chicago area right now, the spirit of this post still is true.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 3, 2014

chairs shoveled parking place

Snow Blowing, Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

Another day of snow. Another day of service opportunities!

A friend of mine, David, who lives here in Chicago told me about a wintry situation that sometimes happens to him. I’ll let him explain in his own words.

“Owning a snow-blower opens up a whole new sense of “neighbor,” as in “Who is my neighbor?” As I’m out trolling the snow-blower up and down the sidewalks on my city block, where would I stop removing the snow from the pavement? What is the logical or “natural” boundary or stopping point? At what property line do I draw the line and turn back toward my “own” sidewalk? My next-door neighbors on each side are close and friendly people, friends even, so there’s no question that I’m going to go ahead and clear their sidewalks . . .  and now they pretty much expect that, if I’m out there clearing sidewalks, I’ll also plow out their driveways to the street. OK. We’ve all got our various senses of necessity and contingent emergency.”

Wow. How far down the block does my friend go with his snow blower? Who IS his neighbor? (For that matter, who is ours?) So, there is also a guy with another snow blower across the street. Could this blowing of snow turn into a competition? “Hmm. The guy across the street cleared off three more houses’ walks of snow. He’s winning! He’s more virtuous (loving/giving/helping) than I am!” I can just see how worry, griping, fear, resentment, frustration, anger, and even more negative emotions start roiling around inside, stifling good, loving, nurturing, helpful feelings.

We might know physically handicapped people who either have great difficulty or just can’t possibly clear their walks. Or folks who are in the hospital, or on vacation, or working two jobs and are rarely at home. Is God nudging me—or you—to blow off the snow from their walks? And what about people who do not “deserve” to have the snow cleared from their walks and driveways? (Who gets to decide that, anyway?) People who are snooty, or slobs, or just plain mean. Does that give me the right to ignore them when a service opportunity comes my way? Who IS my neighbor, anyway?

It goes without saying that any of these, ALL of these are my neighbors. If I get a creeping resentment or niggling gripe in my heart, I don’t think that negative emotion comes from God. Instead, it pleases God to see me being kind. (It pleases God to see my friend being kind, too.)

Yes, using a snow blower is a wonderful way of being kind. We are blessed to have such mechanical appliances and tools like snow blowers (and snow plows too, when that’s applicable!). We are so blessed to be a blessing to others. To be kind and tenderhearted. Thank God that I am given opportunities like that. I don’t want to be like the lawyer in Luke 10, who grudgingly acknowledged the Samaritan as being kind and showing mercy. Instead, I want to strive to be like the gracious, giving Samaritan. God willing!

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

@chaplaineliza

Got Concerns? Be of Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peace John 14-27

Got Concerns? Be of Service!

Yesterday evening, I heard a dear acquaintance of mine was in the hospital. I needed to take care of some necessary personal stuff this morning (including getting a check-up on my tooth extraction, which I found is healing nicely!). Later in the morning, I tried to track down my friend, making several telephone calls. I was successful! I met with my friend this afternoon. We had a nice (and brief) visit; I do hope everything will be going well at the rehab center from now on.

Sure, I had concerns! Of course I was wondering what was happening! Yes. Not only for my friend, but also for myself (and my tooth). And, those were only two of the things I did. But even though I did some necessary business today, I still was able to check on my friend. I did not allow my concerns to paralyze me and cause me unnecessary distress or anxiety. I was able to deal with these several concerns, using my less-anxious presence. (Thank you, chaplain training!)

I remember a situation some years ago, when I only had my first two daughters. The older had just finished kindergarten. My younger one was three. Our family attended a church for the first time. Then, coffee hour time! (Cookie hour, my children called it.) The girls were running around in the church basement with the other Sunday school children. Wouldn’t you know that my oldest took a flying leap off the stage. (She was very athletic.) She landed on her feet, no problem. But she had too much momentum. She continued in a forward direction, and crash-landed on her face and hands. Crying ensued. Plus—she chipped her brand-new top front teeth.

I was only a few dozen feet away, so I came to her side. The pastor’s wife was a registered nurse, so she wasn’t far behind me. She checked out my daughter, who—other than being a bit surprised by her accidental meeting with the floor—was quite all right. The pastor’s wife remarked to me afterwards she was surprised that my daughter’s crying subsided so quickly. She looked at me more closely, and made a discerning statement. She said my calm, quiet demeanor in such a traumatic situation really helped my daughter to calm and quiet herself. I was amazed at her words. (And I still remember them, about twenty-five years later.)

Amazing, prescient words. And look at me now! God has led me through seminary, into chaplain training and service. Now, into pastoral ministry. Thank God I can be there for people like my friend at the rehab center, today. And, thank God I have been trained to use my natural less-anxious presence effectively, in a number of situations. God, how are You going to lead me to serve tomorrow? I suspect it will be interesting, whatever it is.

@chaplaineliza

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

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 9, 2014

PRAY believe hope

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track!

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my . . . oh, wait. No, that wasn’t me.

Well, I did wake up. I did get out of bed. And, I did bustle over to the YMCA for a quick work out. A couple of tiny twinges of arthritis this morning, but that’s okay. After all, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I managed to cross the threshold of the lobby in good time, ready and raring to go.

With so much else going on in my life, I haven’t been focusing as much on my gym time at the Y. However, I have been continuing to go to the gym! I want to keep consistent. I am afraid I missed a whole week, several weeks back, what with the bathroom facelift and the carpeting change-over in our condominium. Oh, and the middle of a busy Lenten schedule, and with several other personal things going on. However, I am now back on track. And among other things, like my weekly yoga class, I have returned to the running track at the Y.

I just love the track! Something about being up there, working hard, concentrating on my pace (first, power-walk, then alternating with jogging). I often meet people I know on my way to, or coming down from the track. Or—in the case of today, when I arrived I happened to meet a good friend up there, power-walking already. It was great to see my friend. After I stretched, the two of us power-walked around the track. And talked! We sure do like to talk. Both of us do. (*grin*)

My friend asked me what was new since we hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. After giving a brief description of my new job, my friend suddenly said “Ow!” and stopped as the two of us were just rounding the far turn on the track. “What’s the matter?” I asked. I was concerned, and immediately feeling for my friend. Then the story came out. A continuing medical concern, for several years. A new flare-up, and a trip to the doctor was indicated. I heard some concern and anxiety, too.

When my friend mentioned that this was the last lap around the track, I immediately asked whether I could pray—either right now, or later. “Now would be great!” said my friend, with a big smile. So we prayed, right there by the edge of the track, near the door. I prayed for comfort, encouragement, for pain to go away, for the medical staff looking at what was the matter, for my friend to discover any good exercises to do in the meanwhile, and finally—for a good outcome, short term and long term, too. Talk about encouragement! We hugged afterwards.

Thanks, God, for the opportunities You give me for prayer. And thanks for my dear friend, too!

@chaplaineliza

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

Of Social Media and of Service. Of Kindness, Too!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May t, 2014

laptop kitten

Of Social Media and of Service. Of Kindness, Too!

Who here is a maven of social media? Knows social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus—inside and out? Um. Ahem. Definitely NOT me.

Oh, yeah. Sure, after some repeated trials, I can put up some basic posts on Facebook and on Twitter. And of course, this blog you’re reading right now, on wordpress.com. And I do have a Tumblr account.

I remember when I set up the Tumblr account last fall—giggle! It was quite humorous to see my college-age daughter react as she sat across the living room from me. (She is often on Tumblr, Facebook, and Skype, scanning different sites and blogs and .gifs and other kinds of social media. She has dozens of contacts and friends not only all across the United States, but all around the world. She is a maven of social media if there ever was one.)

Well, she glanced up at me, at the computer table. Her eyes practically popped out of her head when she saw a Tumblr image on my screen. She even made some kind of puzzled, questioning noise! No words, for a change, from my literate, English-major-type daughter. I remember grinning at her. “Can’t I be on Tumblr, too?” She deadpanned right back, “No, you can’t, ever. Never, ever.”

I spent some time on Twitter today, more time than usual. I try to check in with my various accounts, most days. But today, I spent a bit more time, like I said. I happened to retweet several interesting, thought-provoking tweets. And, I followed a few links. Wouldn’t you know that I followed one link from the Director of a mission in London, England, read the post, and was so moved by something he said in the blog that I condensed it and sent it out as a tweet?

Here it is: Seen on the blogosphere, from @Windy_London: “We need to be “both and” Christians who obey the 2 GCs.” I so agree, Graham! Both/and! Amen.

My new Twitter friend Graham said, “We need to be ‘both and’ Christians.” In the post, Graham was talking about some fair-weather Christians who only carry out the part of the Great Commission were they ‘go and tell.’ Well, who wants that? It’s like people (parents, anyone?) who say to their teenagers “Do as I say, not as I do!” These fair-weather Christians only talk the talk. But that’s not what Graham wants believers in Christ to do! We need to be Both/And. (Both/And is one of my favorite phrases! Really and truly!)

So, cut to the chase. Graham “favorited” my tweet, retweeted it (RT), and “followed” me. Yay, I have a new Twitter friend! And I tried to be of service to Graham—and Paul, and Tom, and Fran, and Joan, and Kevin. And I tried to be kind to others, on social media today.

@chaplaineliza

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