Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@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 meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Advertisements

You Help Me, I Help You! (#BestOf!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, April 1, 2016

I had forgotten all about this situation. This vignette. Yes, two years ago at the beginning of April was a very busy time around my house. It felt good to remember this man. How helpful he had been. And, his kindness did not seem forced, at all! That was the best part. I do remember him, now. I wish him the best, wherever he may be. Good thoughts, gentle prayers, and my best wishes are winging his way.  

bathroom Roy Lichtenstein pop art 1961

Roy Lichtenstein – pop art, 1961

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 5, 2014

You Help Me, I Help You!

I’ve spoken here about getting prepared for some remodeling of our bathroom. A facelift, as I like to think of it. Today, I went out in search of more supplies. I need to have just about everything ready for the contractor when he arrives on Monday morning. So, there we were, my daughter and I. At the huge do-it-yourself big box store.

I guess I’m rather a novice at this sort of thing. I have rarely bought anything larger than a birdbath at one of these stores. Either that, or I’ve bought enough paint for a couple of rooms on several occasions. I felt like a kid in a candy store! Imagine, being able to choose the type of tile and the type of vanity I want. (I take pleasure in the small things in life. Or, I’m just easily pleased.)

The gentleman who helped us was great. He was kind, friendly, and especially helpful with suggestions for the vanity. (We have a modest condo, and small bathroom—therefore, small vanity.) He left us alone after a short time so my daughter and I could finish collecting the towel bars and the faucet for the sink, but assured us he would be around if we needed him.

As we made our way to the register in the front of the store, my daughter, the store employee and I chatted some more about the upcoming work. I checked out of the store and the clerk helped us to our car with the things we had bought. After he finished loading the rear of our vehicle, he handed me a small piece of paper with his name, store and employee number listed. He asked me—in a sort of shy way—whether I might be able to rate him and his customer service. I gave him a smile (my usual wide, friendly type of smile). “Sure! I’d be happy to do that.”

I don’t often follow through with the online form. For example, when a cashier at the grocery store hands me a form like that, I realize I have had minimal contact with him or her. I know they are told to give them to customers, but I feel very little reason to actually go on line. (I am not sure whether that makes me a “bad person” or not, but that’s the way I think right now.)

The duplicated form he handed me caused me to think about the time we spent together. I felt perfectly comfortable with him. As I said, he was cordial, helpful and friendly. The only thing that I really regretted was that I hadn’t asked his name.

I found out his name as I looked at the form. Reggie. Here’s a shout out to you, my friend! As far as I was concerned, you were absolutely great, Reggie. I hope you are the same way with every other customer you meet. God’s blessings be yours.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a blogging journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A year ago, last weekend. What a memory. What an unusual spring break trip. Instead of going someplace like a big theme park, or some beach in the sun, we went to Iowa last spring. It’s good to revisit thoughts from the past, especially when they are so kind and neighborly. Check it out!

 

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

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa are so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude.

God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these good people!

@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!)

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, February 4, 2015

Sometimes a smile can do a world of good. It can lighten someone’s day. Just take a look at this conversation I had, a year ago.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City bus - credit Marin Dobson

City bus – credit Marin Dobson

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

I can get into the most intriguing conversations with people I meet, at a moment’s notice. My family rolls their (collective) eyes, sighs, and says, “Oh, Mom.” (Or simply sighs, in my husband’s case.)

I took the opportunity of a day off from work to go to the YMCA this morning, after bringing my son to school. I went into the women’s locker room to change into my workout clothes. Many of the same people were there, the usual denizens of the gym and the pool on a typical weekday morning. I took my time to change, relishing the extra time I had at my disposal.

A woman I had met a number of times before bustled up to a locker near me. We hadn’t seen each other for some days. After we said hello, she was reminded—internally—of the blog I’ve been writing. (Yes, this blog.) She turned to me as she changed and asked how the blog was going. “Fine!” I said, with a smile. She is involved with a non profit organization that assists women and children, and she wanted more information about the blog. So that some of the women could post suggestions about acts of kindness they are familiar with. I said that would be great, and thanked her so much! We talked a bit about how people could contact me. (Reminder: anyone can always contact me at the Facebook page A Year of Being Kind, or through my Twitter account @chaplaineliza, or through wordpress.com—just in case anyone was wondering.)

Another woman, a few lockers down, happened to be listening to us as we spoke about intentional acts of kindness and service. My friend went off to the gym upstairs as I began to talk to the second, older woman. She apologized for eavesdropping on my conversation, but I told her that was perfectly all right. Introduced myself, and the two of us immediately engaged in conversation, also! She told me about an act of service that instantly came to her mind, as soon as she heard about people being kind. “Giving people a smile. Just that simple action can help so much.”

I agreed, and told her about my smile (and I showed it to her, too—my smile just-sort-of happens, you understand). She smiled back, and we exchanged a few words about smiles. But then she went back to her story. She used to ride the bus here in our suburb to work. A bus driver on the route greeted everyone who got on his bus with a big smile, friendly and cheerful. As the woman told me about this driver, she obviously remembered him with fondness. A big smile came across her face. “I used to tell him that his bus ought to be called ‘the Happy Bus.’”

What a happy memory! And what a kind thing to do. A smile and a positive attitude may seem to be little things, but they can brighten a person’s day. They changed this woman’s day, this morning, just remembering. Thank God for small things—like smiles.

@chaplaineliza

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

How to Pray? How to Serve.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, November 5, 2014

pink roses, again

How to Pray? How to Serve.

Today, this was my week to pray. I mean, for an intercessory prayer group I am part of. Each Wednesday, in round robin fashion, a member of the group offers prayers for the rest. By email. I know that there are more than fifteen members. I know that I have only met two others (and one is the administrator for the prayer group). But there is a cohesiveness in prayer. A fellowship and kinship that comes from gathering in prayer together.

Today, I had the opportunity to gather prayer requests (and praises!) from a friendly group that meets together each Wednesday morning. I had the privilege to pray for those who were at the group meeting, and those others we were missing. God, this is awesome. And, a privilege. And, exciting to be able to lift up many prayer requests and cries for God to act. For God to do or not to do, to speak or not to speak. God knows.

I get prayer requests from the most different sort of amalgamation of prayer email. And telephone calls. And people stopping by. Some prayer requests come from relatives or friends, concerned about their loved one. Near or far, that doesn’t matter to God. God will hear, God will encourage and support you.

I ask the dear Lord to help me to be welcoming. And honest, and caring. God, help me to be prepared with all the unknown events of the day ahead. And God, we pray for the sick, the shut-ins, for those who are far away. And, especially for those who do not know You. Thanks for loving me, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 28, 2014

be a blessing be a friend

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

I never met the man, but from what everyone said, he enjoyed his friends. He loved to visit with whomever came to the house, And with his in-laws. He was kind, nurturing, friendly. Most everything, most every character trait that was good, kind and generous. And now—this wonderful ability to be kind is gone—permanently. He is gone, too.

I wonder. I’ve been purposely trying to do loving, kind, helpful things for months. Taking opportunities for service, in fact. But—I wonder how many people hesitate to do kind things? I have a shameless confession to make. I know I hesitate, sometimes. Not as much as I used to, but the tendency is still there, clear as day. Just waiting for a fine example to inspire me? I hope not. I want to be internally motivated to be kind, be of service, and be helpful.

The bible verses I’ve chosen for each month are prompts for myself. Examples to show me different aspects of being kind. Being helpful. Micah 6:8 is one of the most significant bible verses for me, as I have been reflecting on it during the month of August. This verse from the prophet urges me to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Yes, I am encouraged to live in this way. But sometimes—I find I just don’t want to.

Forgive me, God.

If I have difficulty finding internal motivation, perhaps external impetus will help. Like, considering this man who is no longer with us. He was surely kind, generous, and warm.

As for me, today, I was intentionally kind to a friend I haven’t seen for a number of months. I asked after her family, and was genuinely interested in the answer! This older friend is very dear, and I was especially glad to hear about the moderately good health she and her family are currently enjoying. Yay! Oh, and we had coffee and conversation, which is always enjoyable with her!

The only thing is that I didn’t go out of my way to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God at any time today. Today was a paperwork sort of day, a day to catch up in the office, and a day to prepare for two services this weekend. At least my friend and I had a wonderful time this past morning!

I know I am going to continue to try to be kind every day. That’s my part. I know God’s glad when I strive to show kindness. God willing, I will, too!

@chaplaineliza

Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 23, 2014

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle  by Andette

Illustration of Hogwarts Castle
by Andette

Helpfully Transporting a Daughter

I almost wasn’t going to blog about this, but yesterday was the day. Move-in day. My daughter went away to college. And yes, my husband and I transported her to the campus, not so many miles away from our condo. Just far enough away for her to feel on her own, but near enough to be able to easily come back for a special event. Like on Monday, when she’ll be coming back home for a special Doctor Who event, shown that evening in “selected theaters.” And if you don’t know what or who Doctor Who is? Don’t ask. My daughter will simply give one of her signature eye rolls. Suggestion? Check out the article on Wikipedia. That should provide sufficient information.

My husband, daughter and I went to her dorm, moved in her stuff (with the assistance of two helpful, burly varsity athletes from the college), and wandered around the small campus. Went to the bookstore. Had a very nice, barbequed lunch. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. I don’t know whether it was because of an extra-special effort for new students on campus, or what, but my husband and I were impressed and pleased. Especially at the care taken for transfer students—which is what my daughter is.

I am reminded a bit about my daughter’s other “first day at school” experiences. Preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school. From my observations, she (more or less) rolled with the experiences. It didn’t take her very long at all to become comfortable with her surroundings, and well accustomed to the school schedule, the campus procedures, the strange and unique ways of the particular student culture. It didn’t matter whether it was preschool, middle school, or high school. I suspect she will do something similar here, too.

God’s blessings on all the students at my daughter’s college. New students, transfer students, continuing students. Also, the faculty, administration and staff. I wish them all success and good experiences in the coming year.

We hope our daughter will be content, happy, and industrious. God, bless Rachel, too. Help her know that You love, encourage and bless her, each and every day. Thank You, Lord.

@chaplaineliza

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