Unexpected? Kindness to a Stranger

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 23, 2014

praying for things you take for granted

Unexpected? Kindness to a Stranger

I spent the whole day at work, cleaning up from last night’s service. Getting ready for tomorrow night. Read to the preschool children, and talked with a few others. Someone came to the door. Talked and prayed with that person, had some more interaction. Answered some email, wrote a few letters, and generally had a productive day. Good day. Worthwhile day.

I had a few errands to run on the way home. Stopped at a grocery store, a drug store, a friend’s apartment, and then—finally! I ran by a fast food place to pick up some things for dinner for my family. Got a couple of tacos apiece, and left.

As I walked to my car, I happened to pass a woman. She was dressed in a worn winter coat. Knit hat on her head. I looked at her. Met her eyes, with my friendly smile. I could see, from the way her face changed slightly, that she had some hope. She asked me for some change. One problem: I do not often give people on the street any money. But tonight?

“I don’t have any change. But are you interested in something to eat?” The middle-aged woman quickly nodded. “Do you like tacos?” Again, the agreement. Positive response. I beckoned to her. She walked with me the few dozen feet to the door of the taco place. I found out that she didn’t have any place to live. “I ride the train at night.” She meant the elevated train. A difficult thing to do, riding the train. Especially when it gets really cold, which it will in the Chicago area starting tomorrow night. She agreed.

The woman ordered two tacos. As we stood at the counter, I gave her the rest of the five dollars (which was all I had left). Plus, my brother had sent me a coffee card in his Christmas card a few days ago. I still had the gift card, with about four dollars on it. I gave it to the woman, too.

The young woman behind the counter watched all of this with eyes wide open. (She couldn’t have been much more than twenty-one or twenty-two.) She knew I had ordered some food a few minutes before, and left. And then, I returned with the middle-aged woman. As the counter person looked back and forth, her expression took on wonder. Surprise. “That is nice. Really, that is.” After a moment or two, again, she said, “That is so nice.”

As the two of us left, I asked whether the woman had someplace to go on Christmas. She said she hoped she might. Maybe, find someone she knew who would allow her to stay inside for a night or two. I smiled at her, sadly. “I hope you can find just such a person. God bless you.” She thanked me for what I had done, what I had given her. And, I said I would remember her in prayer.

So, please—could you remember this dear woman? Send kind thoughts her way. Pray God’s comfort, encouragement and mercy upon her. God knows who she is. God bless her. Truly.


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Of Service? To a Community Member!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HELPING one hand to help Audrey Hepburn

Of Service? To a Community Member!

I like helping people out. I really do. I guess some church people might call that the spiritual gift of helps. (See commentaries on spiritual gifts, and 1 Corinthians 12 for more information.) Yup. I enjoy giving people a hand, when I can. Being of service helps me in so many ways. Including in thinking of other people, and not concentrating so much on me, myself and I. (In other words, focusing on my three favorite people! Or. One favorite person . . . <grin>)

Yesterday, a woman from the neighborhood around the church telephoned the office. She was able to speak to the church office manager, who in turn gave me the message. Sure enough, the anxious woman is looking for someone to care for her elderly relative, who will be getting out of rehab early next week.

What an opportunity to come alongside of this anxious woman, to let her know I was going to search out more people who might have a lead on private duty caregivers or certified nursing assistance. What do you know? I was able to talk with a friend of mine yesterday evening, a woman who works in home health care, and she said she would be happy to talk to this loving family member. Give what information and handy, helpful hints there might be.

Accordingly, I made a follow-up call this afternoon. I was sorry to say that I couldn’t find a caregiver or a CAN who wanted the job. No dice. However—all was not black. The woman quite willingly accepted my offer of the phone number, as well as the name of the website where my friend is listed.

There are a hundred and one other ways to be of service and helpful, even for someone I know on such a superficial basis. Anywhere from giving clear directions, answering a question, offering assistance (such as, in bringing groceries into the house or in taking out the garbage), or doing an errand. I am so glad I was able to call this woman back in a timely fashion. And help her out by giving a suggestion for further help.

So . . . spiritual gift of helps? Can you give a non-religious way of describing it? I’m sorry if all I can come up with is that I enjoy helping people. But, it’s true! I even provide service with a smile, too. (I smile a lot. And sometimes, I can only smile. But isn’t that giving people something, too? Giving people the gift of my friendly smile. Thank God that God gifted me abundantly with a lovely smile. The gift that keeps giving.


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Speedy Delivery? No, Helpful Delivery!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 15, 2014

colorful flower bouquet

Speedy Delivery? No, Helpful Delivery!

Flowers can be so lovely and bright. Yesterday, in church, we had an especially pretty arrangement on the altar. Our church doesn’t have a huge floral piece each Sunday; it’s more on the modest size. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in beauty and cheerfulness!

The general practice at my church is that the person who purchases the flowers each week gets to bring them home after church. Well, the senior who bought yesterday’s flowers in honor and memory of one of their loved ones did not have the opportunity to attend worship service yesterday. This morning, I called over to the senior’s apartment. Yes, I was able to dash over there before lunch and deliver the flowers. Speedy quick!

We sat down after I dropped by, and had a pleasant time talking for a good long time. How helpful is that? To bring over a pretty bouquet? You bet!

Yes, this is all in a day’s work for me. Sure, I can pay a visit, ask intelligent questions, and say a prayer before I leave. But people really appreciate my visit. How do I know, you ask? Well, they engage in close, intimate conversation with me, and they tell me they enjoy having me there. And, I use my friendly smile often. For example, today. I had my smile-ly face all set and ready. (Both my inward, courteous smile as well as the outward, friendly smile.) And, why not?

I’ve found you don’t have to be a senior citizen to enjoy flowers. Especially the flowers from our church. In the same vein, you don’t have to be a shut-in or homebound, either. A number of businesses and St. Luke’s Church. Thank God for gorgeous things in this world. Even routine things like the weekly altar flowers at the church.


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A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014


A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners

I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.

I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.

The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.

I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.

This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.


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