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!)

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Human Contractor, or Heavenly One? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, April 12, 2018

I’m reminded of this bathroom facelift, several years ago. I appreciate it still. I like looking at the clean, white tile, the accent mosaic tile running around the top of the white tile work. Sure, the cabinet under the bathroom sink is already showing signs of wear, but the bathroom is such a nice place now. I thank the contractor we hired to do the job on the bathroom, just as I appreciate the big remodel job my Heavenly Contractor is doing on me. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, work continues. Until, I suspect, I am done with this earthly tent I’m living in. Thanks, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 12, 2014

bathroom painting Oleg Kujala-Roy Lichtenstein

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One?

Day Six of the bathroom facelift. After driving around all day—doing errands and going places—I finally got home later in the afternoon. The contractor told me, regretfully, that the medicine cabinet I had bought did not fit the opening in the wall. The width was fine, but the new cabinet was a few inches too high. So, off I went again to the big box do-it-yourself store to replace the medicine cabinet I had just bought a few days ago. But, that’s okay! I enjoy going into those stores. All kinds of hardware supplies and building materials are on display, for sure.

The man in the plumbing materials section of the store turned out to be quite helpful. Conversational, too! I needed to buy a replacement for our ratty old shower curtain rod, and get a few other incidentals, in addition to the medicine cabinet. He made the process of buying supplies smooth and easy. I did not even ask him his name. That makes me sad. But I can pray for him, and wish him the best in his job and in the rest of his life, and wish his family good health and harmony. And, I do!

So, this kind man was kind and helpful to me! He was of great service to me and my family, too.

I wonder: what kind of remodeling job do I need in my spiritual house? I know I need some work, that’s for sure. But I don’t quite know where my General Contractor, God, is going to start work next. I think God has helped me make great strides with my regular prayer time. As I’ve mentioned here before, I could not keep up a consistent prayer time. Even though I tried and tried, I just couldn’t. Until late last fall. God helped me to stay pretty consistent with the Advent prayer calendar I was following. After years and years of prayer about praying consistently, I finally succeeded. (With my General Contractor’s help, in great part.) Praise God!

Dear Lord, thank You for people who smooth the way for me, and show me kindness and service, too. Please, help me to intentionally, consistently show kindness. Service. Encouragement and love, too. Thanks, God!

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

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

@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 PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As I looked at this post from three years ago, I was reminded that I have helped out many relatives and acquaintances over the years. My siblings and I quite willingly were there for our elderly relatives. Moreover, I have also been trained in chaplaincy, so I have specific skills in dealing with people in hospitals and care centers. This is so important, especially for those patients and residents who do not have family or friends who are able to come and see them regularly, and give them a hand. Please, consider this opportunity to encourage someone, to brighten their day, and give them a cheery word.

 BK no act of kindness is wasted

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 24, 2014

Take the Opportunity to Be Kind—in a Health Care Setting.

I did some housework for an acquaintance of mine today. Some cleaning, some laundry. Took care of a few necessary things. This service was much appreciated, too! But what about people who need some kind of help or assistance, and are unable to find anyone to come and give them a hand?

This is a sad situation, indeed. Imagine—an older person, or a person with limited mobility, who wants to do things or go somewhere, and rarely is able to. Or perhaps a person who is confined to a wheelchair or a walker and badly needs some assistance in their home—but is unable to afford anyone to come in and help on even an occasional basis.

I know that because of employment, family obligations, continuing health concerns, or any of a host of other urgent matters, sometimes relatives and friends are unable to assist their ill or shut-in loved ones. In my work as a chaplain, I’ve seen people come to the hospital, loved ones who came a long distance to see their relative. Their relative—the patient—might not have any relations or even friends living close by. I know what a difficult thing this can be for some people (both for the patient as well as the far-away relatives). And even more complications can result when an older or infirm patient is released from a hospital or rehab facility. They come home to . . . what? Who? If they previously lived alone, it’s a real challenge to find someone for them to stay with. Or to stay with them in their house.

This reminds me of my elderly aunt, who died just about three years ago. My aunt and my mother lived together in my mom’s house for a number of years. That is, until my mom died about a dozen years ago. Then, my 80-something year old aunt moved into a senior apartment building. Nice-sized studio apartments, with an additional kitchenette, too. It’s a good thing my aunt had three nieces to check on her regularly (me, my older sister, and my cousin). Between the three of us, my aunt had visitors at least twice a week, and sometimes three, and even four days every week. But I know that some other families are not as fortunate or as close-knit.

All this talk of families and God and encouragement and illness intrigue me. A particular Hebrew word leaps to mind, too. The Hebrew word “mitzvah” means the precepts or commands of God. As a second meaning, Hebrew mitzvah, means something similar as the English “commandment.” Often, it’s a moral deed performed as a religious duty. The term mitzvah has also come to mean an act of human kindness.

So, whether you or I consider our act of kindness altruistic or a mitzvah performed as a religious duty, these are wonderful opportunities to show others you care for them! Love them! Do you know someone who needs assistance? Someone who has limited mobility? Ask if you can give them a hand. And chances are, they might say yes!

@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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

 

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Posted on August 7, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At first glance, this post seems ordinary. Everyday. But then, I stepped back and thought about that. Aren’t our lives often ordinary and everyday? I have the opportunity to be kind and to be of service in ordinary situations, just as much as missionaries have the opportunity to be of service in far-flung places around the world. Wherever God wants me to help and to be kind, to be other-centered, I will strive to follow Jesus’s example.

BK kindness is contagious

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kindness and Service, All in the Family

I’m a helpful person. From a Christian point of view, I have a spiritual gift of helps. I enjoy helping. I feel fulfilled when I do things for people. This is another way of saying I try to be kind to people. And—I wish to encourage others to be kind, too. It takes people out of themselves. From being self-centered to becoming other-centered.

Another ordinary day. An ordinary Wednesday, in fact. I went to work, made some telephone calls, did some computer work, sent some emails. Went on a kind visit, to a care center to see a senior. Actively listened to this dear person, and kept this senior company for a while.

Then I went to be kind, for a second time. Kind to my husband. I picked him up from the conference center and brought him home.

And I was kind, again, to my daughter. She and I went shopping again in preparation for college, and I dearly hope this is the last shopping trip. (Although she did get some really nice things!)

And lastly, I was kind to myself. In the evening, I went to the gym at the YMCA. Went on the track, and did a good bit of stretching and yoga afterwards. It felt great!

I wonder how many different ways I can be kind? I’ve already found quite a few. (After all, this blog is called “A Year of Being Kind.”) God, the best part about this endeavor is that I am becoming accustomed to discovering kind things to do, on a regular basis. Ways to be of service, every day. I know I have done some things I don’t even want to publicize, to write about in this blog, and that’s okay, too. Some things are better left private. Sometimes even the person I am providing a kindness to doesn’t even know. Isn’t in the least bit aware. And that makes the whole being-kind-thing really exciting!

God, what kinds of opportunities will you send me tomorrow? Will they be little or big? A bit scary? Unexpected? Gentle? Or even quieter than quiet, and unassuming? Whatever they are, however I discover them, help me serve others. Be kind. Help.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A year ago. A wet, chilly, dreary October day. Unlike today, which had blue skies, high clouds, and a fresh wind. As I read last year’s post, I was transported back there, to that wet, chilly day. Gloomy feelings, uncomfortable situations, and deep sadness. Usually, I don’t want to go back to times like these. However, I especially wanted to remember this dear one, this senior, who has now died. Passed on to heaven. Blessings on all of these infirm dear ones, whether seniors or younger ones.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BK kindness touching your life

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness

A wet, rainy October day. Sad. Anxious. Depressing. Especially when I needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist. (At least that turned out all right.) Afterwards, I spent the morning taking it slowly, easily. Letting my mouth recuperate from the dental work.

But what about other people who spent today in less than comfortable places? Like individuals who have lost a job and can’t find another one? What about them? What about their families? How are they making ends meet, financially? What about the desperate, long-term anxiety that comes with unemployment—especially being without a job for a long, long time?

What about people who are caregivers? Who faithfully stay by their loved ones, feeding, cleaning, doing heavy lifting. Sometimes these dear ones have the most thankless jobs, but still show up every day. Still continue to care for their loved family member, spouse or significant other. I know, I have seen the care, love, and comfort displayed by faithful people stepping up and loving, caring and being an encouragement.

And individuals who are terribly sick, in the hospital or an extended care center? It doesn’t where these dear ones are located. Serious sickness happens. Sadness and anxiety afflict countless numbers of people, every single day, affecting patients as well as the loved ones. (I have some familiarity with this, from my time as a chaplain.)

When I visited one of these dear ones today in an extended care center, I tried to be as encouraging and supportive as possible. I prayed; this dear senior prayed for me, too. I cried because I was so emotionally shaken.

God be with the dear one I visited today. Thanks to you for any prayers you can offer for this dear person. And, thanks for prayer for me, too. I need it, since I am regularly dealing with emotions, feelings, relationships. All difficult, challenging, filled with anxiety and sadness. I know God is with me, in this rainy, sad October day. Thanks for good thoughts too, and may God’s blessings surround all of us–even through sadness, depression and anxiety.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

In Which I Feel Sad, But Still Try to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 7, 2015

As I read through selected blog posts from last year, I get vivid snapshots of life and experiences. As in this one, from one year ago. Yes, the post contains some everyday happenings, the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yet, those happenings can also be poignant and bittersweet, sometimes somber. Sometimes sad or grieving, myself. Even heart-wrenching, at times. Lord, thank You for the opportunity and the ability You have given me, to be available for people and to walk with them in the happy times as well as the sad times.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Which I Feel Sad, But Still Try to Be Kind

lilacs and candle  credit - ocean of compassion

lilacs and candle
credit – ocean of compassion

I tried to be kind today. I truly did.

Since today was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers and kindergarteners this morning. (That always makes me happy!) I answered a number of emails, responded to several items of business, and personally wrote thank you notes to all of the businesses that were kind enough to give raffle prizes to St. Luke’s Church—for the Spaghetti Dinner last Saturday. Busy day at work today!

But, that was not all. I found out about a dear senior today who is not in very good health. Dear, dear senior saint. I feel for this senior so deeply. I have been calling and visiting on a regular basis, over the past number of weeks. And I feel discouraged. Deeply sad.

Over the last ten years, I have known a number of people who became sick and died. Some over a long period of time, others more quickly. Some even suddenly, traumatically. It doesn’t particularly matter why they died, except for the fact that they did die.

I’ve been a chaplain for most of the past ten years. I’ve seen trauma, gun shots, stabbings, heart attacks, strokes, broken hips. Patients in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department, as well as in Extended Care and even after they’ve been released. And some of the saddest, most heartbreaking situations of all, when I was paged to Labor and Delivery for an emergency call. (For some reason, these calls are often in the middle of the night.) So, I’ve seen sadness. I have journeyed with patients and their loved ones down these heartbreaking paths.

The current, continuing situation with this dear senior is—sadly—not new to me. And yet, it is. Each individual brings a different aspect to this circle of life. I cannot help but think of others who have passed on. Crossed that river. Died.

I’ve been asked, point blank, what happens after we die. I do not really know. (Other than some tiny glimpses the Bible gives to us. And, most of them can be construed as allegorical.) I do know that I will be with God. And beyond that? I don’t particularly care. I’m held in God’s hand. That’s perfectly all right.

So, yes. I did do some kind things today. Some useful and helpful things, too. However, my day was (and is) colored by sadness. Grayness. Anticipatory grief, grieving the dear person I used to know. Hoping against hope that this senior will have a good day tomorrow.

Isn’t that all we can wish, for each of us? Each person. Each individual. I pray that each of us might have a good day tomorrow. And, good rest at the end of the day. God willing.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)