Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@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 Eastertide 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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God Made Each of Us Special (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, October 20, 2017

I happened on this older blog post. I was so struck by several things in it that I couldn’t help reposting it as a #BestOf post. Yes, we are all incredibly special to God. Each one of us, no matter who, no matter what. No matter the ability, no matter how differently-abled each person is. Even if someone has a hurtful self-blaming internal monologue in their head, it does not matter to God. Each of us is, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Posted on September 20, 2014 by chaplaineliza

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@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!)

Being Kind at a Potluck! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, September 2, 2017

Looking back at this post from three years ago, I am amazed and humbled at the excellent advice I received from a fellow pastor friend of mine. He was so right: let the congregation know I love them. (And, I do! I did, and I still do.) I always try to listen with attentive, intelligent, compassionate ears. And, I truly do care. Great advice, and still applicable. Dear God, help me always to be kind and loving to the congregation where You have led me to serve.

Posted on September 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 7, 2014

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@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 Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 22, 2015

Another day, another memory. Except, this is an especially poignant one, concerning the Ebola crisis in Africa. (And, there is recent, hopeful news. The crisis has been over for a number of months!)

This post also concerns my friend Jim, in Africa. He and his family are over there, far away. He and his wife Amy are doing important, life-saving work. God bless them!

 A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 24, 2014

Heal me, O Lord

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way (Feature Friday!)

Ebola crisis. When I say that, what happens inside? Do you get anxious? Afraid? Do you know much about Ebola? Do you know anyone who is actively working with the medical personnel concerned with Ebola, in areas affected by that particular disease? I do. My friend Jim—Dr. James Mcauley, medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—is stationed in Africa, along with his wife and part of his family. (Jim and Amy’s younger son was in the same grade as my son—we all knew one another from church.)

Jim has been stationed in Africa for three years. Formerly an infectious disease physician here in Chicago, he is now doing life-saving work managing and supervising medical personnel in a large area of Africa. Here’s a snapshot of what his day-to-day work looks like, in his own words.

“Our team has been working flat out trying to stop this epidemic, and morale is always an issue. I visited four of our teams in the last 48 hours – bringing supplies and listening. [I’m thinking of] two – discussing infection control with the nurse in charge – part of our roving team and have had a particularly rough road…. Others have had to deal with the stress of having a cold or diarrhea and wonder if it might be Ebola. Although our teams avoid contact with Ebola patients, it is always a concern. I have lost a lot of sleep worrying about my team.”

One other important thing about Jim? Yes, he attended seminary part-time while holding his position as infectious disease doctor—full-time. He and I were in seminary at the same time, in the same Reformed Tradition class. We sat at the back of the room, and made joking and snarky comments to each other. (Yes, I was that kind of student.) He is now ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has that qualification, too. So, when I read that he is concerned for his team, I know he and his wife Amy (also a physician) are praying for the workers on the field.

More from Jim: “Saw first hand the Ebola Holding Units where people are isolated while diagnostic tests are done. [I] visited two quarantined villages, and participated in several calls with the US. CDC staff do not enter Ebola Treatment Centers or any home where an Ebola patient might be housed. So we kept our distance…. I think the bags of Snickers I left with my teams held the Dementors at bay for another day…. Pray, resist the urge to call for US isolation, donate (CDC Foundation has been amazing), and consider volunteering to help our neighbors in Africa.”

Jim is reporting from the field, from where the disease is affecting countless people, every day. Not only the people who were infected, but also their families. Their friends. The people who lived next door, or down the street. All because of the fear and anxiety that comes from Ebola.

This is what Jim has to say about that: “So much we don’t yet understand. I am starting to think of ways to reach out to the faith based health worker groups – who better to stand in the gap and demonstrate to the world what it means to love God and love my neighbor. Wouldn’t it be great if in a few years when the world looks back on this epidemic they say, ‘Ah, but the people of God stood fast and demonstrated real love!’”

This is my hope and prayer, too, Jim. I pray that you and Amy will demonstrate God’s love in your actions, too. God’s blessings on your work and service. And, thanks for the permission to share your story!

@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!)

Helping Out—A Pinch Hitter? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baseball season is with us again. I feel badly because I don’t watch the game like I used to. There is a Big Ten university not far from my house, and my husband and I have seriously considered watching them play baseball. Almost like watching a minor league game! But, not yet. Still, I love the game. I can relate so well to baseball analogies when discussing life. I sometimes do feel like a pinch hitter! See what you think as you read this post.

(. . . “for it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out/at the old ball game!”)

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, April 7, 2014

baseball players -  metal art from Mexico

baseball players –
metal art from Mexico

 

Helping Out—A Pinch Hitter?

It’s April again, and baseball season is again with us. I haven’t been to a major league game for several years, but I really enjoy a good game of baseball. (Of course, the team I’ve rooted for, ever since I was a girl, is the Chicago Cubs. But that’s a whole different matter. No joking comments, please.)

From time to time, I seem to be placed in a position where I need to step in at the last minute. You know, where I might need to speak, or teach, or facilitate, or drive, or – you name it. I’ve probably done it. I have training in several areas. A few years ago, I even thought of myself as a jack of all trades. (Or would that be a jill of all trades? Good question. But I digress.)

Another way to think of this kind of position is that of a pinch hitter. Sure, from time to time I have stepped up to the plate and competently taken a swing. I try to do my best, whatever I do! My conscientiousness helps a good deal here, too. I could tell you about some tricky situations, and a few times that ended up being tragic. But instead, I’m going to focus on today. I stepped up to the plate here at home, and helped out the contractor to the best of my ability. On the phone, walking all over the building, doing an errand. And then some. (Here I thought that getting a new vanity, sink and wall tile was just a simple, straightforward job. Little did I know . . . )

And later, I talked with a friend. He and I were going to meet tomorrow morning before a meeting. But not now! Not with his dripping nose and scratchy throat! So, I can certainly substitute for him and do a competent job facilitating the group.

God, I get the feeling that You’re trying to show me something with this blog post. You don’t need to worry about being a pinch hitter. You’re a superstar. You could blow everyone away with Your batting, fielding, throwing and pitching talent! But what about me? How do I fit in?

I know You love me, God. Thanks a lot! (I really mean that, very, very much. Despite my humorous, sometimes offhand way of communicating.) But what if You want me to keep on helping out? Doing what I can. Stepping up to the plate when I need to, filling the need when necessary. Maybe this is another way of You showing Your love for me—by giving me opportunities to serve You, in any one of a number of ways.

I wonder what You’ll send my way tomorrow? I bet it will be interesting, whatever it is! Thanks ahead of time for helping me handle it, 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!)

 

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way—My Friend Jim (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 24, 2014

Heal me, O Lord

A Helper and Servant, in a Big Way—My Friend Jim (Feature Friday!)

Ebola crisis. When I say that, what happens inside? Do you get anxious? Afraid? Do you know much about Ebola? Do you know anyone who is actively working with the medical personnel concerned with Ebola, in areas affected by that particular disease? I do. My friend Jim—Dr. James Mcauley, medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—is stationed in Lusaka, Zambia, along with his wife and part of his family. (Jim and Amy’s younger son was in the same grade as my son—we all knew one another from church in Evanston.)

Jim has been stationed in Africa for three years. Formerly an infectious disease physician at Rush University Medical Center here in Chicago, he is now doing life-saving work managing and supervising medical personnel in a large swath of Africa. Here’s a snapshot of what his day-to-day work looks like, in his own words.

“Our team of 60+ has been working flat out trying to stop this epidemic here in Sierra Leone, and morale is always an issue. I visited four of our seven district teams in the last 48 hours – bringing supplies and listening. [I’m thinking of] two – discussing infection control with the nurse in charge – part of our roving team and have had a particularly rough road. They needed to stop a health worker training due to hostile local villagers who believe we have brought Ebola to their communities. Others have had to deal with the stress of having a cold or diarrhea and wonder if it might be Ebola. Although our teams avoid contact with Ebola patients, it is always a concern. I have lost a lot of sleep worrying about my team.”

One other important thing about Jim? He and I were in seminary at the same time. Yes, he attended seminary part-time while holding his position as infectious disease doctor—full-time. He and I were in the same Reformed Tradition class. We sat at the back of the room, and made joking and snarky comments to each other. (Yes, I was that kind of student.) He is now ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has that qualification, too. So, when I read that he is concerned for his team, I know he and his wife Amy (also a physician—a pediatrician) are praying for the workers on the field.

More from Jim: “Saw first hand the Ebola Holding Units where people are isolated while diagnostic tests are done – about half end up positive and are moved to an Ebola Treatment Center, where half die. [I] visited two quarantined villages, and participated in several calls with the US. CDC staff do not enter Ebola Treatment Centers or any home where an Ebola patient might be housed. So we kept our distance…. I think the bags of Snickers I left with my teams held the Dementors at bay for another day…. Pray, resist the urge to call for US isolation, donate (CDC Foundation has been amazing), and consider volunteering to help our neighbors in Africa.”

Jim is reporting from the field, from where the disease is affecting countless people, every day. Not only the people who were infected, but also their families. Their friends. The people who lived next door, or down the street. And what about those who were afraid to attend school? To go to shops? To go to offices? All because of the fear and anxiety that comes from Ebola.

This is what Jim has to say about that: “I started to think – for such a contagious disease in such crowded impoverished settings, why don’t more people die? Why did ‘only’ half of the people who lived in the house I visited yesterday get sick? Why did ‘only’ 10% of the village die? So much we don’t yet understand. I am starting to think of ways to reach out to the faith based health worker groups – who better to stand in the gap and demonstrate to the world what it means to love God and love my neighbor. Wouldn’t it be great if in a few years when the world looks back on this epidemic they say, ‘Ah, but the people of God stood fast and demonstrated real love!’”

This is my hope and prayer, too, Jim. I pray that you and Amy will demonstrate God’s love in your actions, too. God’s blessings on your work and service. And, thanks for the permission to share your story!

@chaplaineliza

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

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

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