Being Kind, Relative-ly Speaking

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 21, 2014

girl, roses, heart in the sand

Being Kind, Relative-ly Speaking

I have a number of relatives. Including siblings. I was born into a family of six brothers and sisters here in Chicago. Now, of course, the family has scattered for a number of reasons (mostly work-related) to the far corners of the country.

One of my sisters has repeatedly been coming to my mind. One problem: even when that happens, I just do not pick up the telephone to call. At least, I usually don’t even think of calling Sue, except very early in the morning or much too late at night. You know, the times a decent person wouldn’t even think of calling unless there were a life or death emergency. Somehow, I kinda, sorta figured my sister repeatedly coming to mind is not—to my mind—a life or death emergency. In addition, I was quite busy for the last few days, on top of everything else.

I did remember to call her at a reasonable time, this evening. She wasn’t home, but I left her a cheery message. I do hope she spent an enjoyable, relaxing weekend.

I did remember something else, too. Some good advice my sister gave me, when I had just started working for St. Luke’s Church in March. Yes, it’s been just about six months, and I have been looking back over the past months, plus my track record while at the church. I‘ve only just started reflecting and assessing, and I have a ways to go. However, I am quite pleased at what I’ve turned up so far. So, yes. I’m looking backwards, to see what I did. And what advice was given to me. But wait, there’s more. Much more!

Now, I’d like to consider where I’d like to go, and what I want to do. The help and assistance with prayer is so kind! I thank everyone for their kindness and caring towards me.

From one of our earlier conversations, my sister Sue gave me an excellent advice that I will try very hard to continue to implement. With the start of the fall season already here, I know Sue’s words will be gracious and helpful! I know my sister will call back, and I have a lot to tell her.

So, I’m grateful to my sister for her kindness to me and assistance she gave to me in March. And I hope she appreciates the cheery message I left on her voice mail today. I hope so. I pray so!

@chaplaineliza

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Conversation with God

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, August 15, 2014

PRAY God can hear you

Conversation with God

Got prayer?

Levity aside, do you pray? Once in a while, or sometimes, or even daily? I saw a recent survey of “average Americans” that said over 50 percent pray several times a week. As a woman of faith who strives to stay in regular contact with God myself, my initial thought was, “That’s great!”

But—my second thought came quickly on the heels of the first one. Did the people asking questions in that survey define “prayer?” And, how do each of the individuals answering the questions define “prayer?” I can’t answer either of those questions. However, I can tell you how I answer that question.

To me, prayer is often “a conversation with God.” Sure enough, when I pray, I do have conversations with God. Sometimes, I wish they could be conversations like I have with my friends, my family, those I care for and love. Wait a moment—God is all that to me, and more. God knows my deepest thoughts, the dearest desires of my heart. When I’m anxious or afraid, frustrated or downright angry. God can go with me, wherever I go. (“Whither thou goest, there also will I go,” to quote from a poetic, older version of the first chapter in the book of Ruth.)

But sometimes—sometimes God seems distant, even hiding. It’s as if I’m all alone. No one cares. No one is there for me, not even my husband, family, or friends. Not even God. Those are the dark times. The sad times. The times of depression, even despair. Yes, I have gone through times like that. When things are more positive and moving in a good direction, I often don’t want to think back to those dark, dismal times. Those bleak, even heartbreaking situations where I felt like I was in the bottom of a slimy pit with no way out.

Yet—I have come out of those situations. With the help of family, friends, colleagues. With the help of faithful praying companions. And I do have conversations with God. I do not start the conversation. Instead, I pick up the thread of the conversation, midstream. God spoke first. The beginning of my prayer “is in response to who God has been for us, or what God has done, or is making known to us, or causing us to feel.” (“The Word is Very Near You,” p.19, Fr. Martin Smith)

Yes, this is a redefinition of prayer. Yes, God does woo me “back from isolation into belonging and from anxiety into life-giving awareness.” (p. 18, Smith) As 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love, because God first loved us.” Just so, we communicate with God—converse with God, because God communicated and conversed with us, first.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for not demanding prayer. Instead, You graciously give prayer to us. It’s a gift! Thank You so much for this wonderful experience, and an opportunity to talk intimately with You, the God who created the heavens and the earth. It’s just You and me, God, Up close and personal. Intimate. Awesome. Thank You.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Someone Being Kind—to Me. Thank you!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THANKFUL always something to be thankful for

Someone was kind to me today. I appreciated it so much!

But that was later on. Earlier in the day, I went to work. I took care of some necessary business in my office, and several important emails, too. Just about all were things that I needed to handle in a timely manner. And calendar items. Planning for events coming up. I still have several more immediate things on my desk, but that’s okay. I can take care of them in the morning.

This being Tuesday, I read to the preschool and kindergarten children. The children are really enjoying my reading books, and get all excited when I come into the classrooms. I enjoy it, too! But my time at the church was getting short. I had a luncheon appointment.

My oldest daughter and I had arranged to go out for lunch today, several days ago. But you could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me she was paying for lunch today. Wow!

I mentioned here, some days ago, that I took care of my daughter’s cat. My oldest daughter and her roommate have an apartment not far from where I live. While the two of them were out of town, I stopped by and visited the cat every day. I gave her food and water, and took care of the litter box. My daughter very much appreciated my attentiveness to the cat. I never expected my daughter to give me anything like a nice lunch! (I told her so, too.) But, no. That’s what she wanted to do for me. So, who was I to say no?

Afterwards, later this afternoon, I was reflecting on acceptance of gifts. Gracious acceptance, and saying thank you. This is not a skill that I learned easily. No way! Believe me, it was an excruciating, gradual process. I never learned it from my parents, when I was a small child. (They seemed to do all right, socially, but didn’t pass on the information to me.) I got a little bit of instruction in manners from a kind older lady at church, but not much. This was when I was in the middle and upper grades of elementary school. I was a naïve teenager. Intelligent in terms of book-smart, but woefully unprepared for life, in terms of manners, social graces and street smarts.

I have improved greatly, since then. That seems like several lifetimes ago. Now, I can easily thank people for their kindnesses towards me. When others go out of their way to be helpful, I so appreciate it. I know how to say “thank you,” and do.

And of course, God gives me regular opportunities to say “thank you.”

@chaplaineliza

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Being A Chauffeur

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 4, 2014

Being A Chauffeur

picture credit Tom Brown

picture credit Tom Brown

I met together with several friends this morning. Earlier this week I offered to chauffeur a senior friend of mine to and from the get-together. Accordingly, I pulled up in front of her apartment at the appointed time. We had a wonderful time in the car, going both to and fro, not to mention a good time of conversation and laughter with our friends.

What a small thing, agreeing to pick up a friend and transport them. Sure, I’ve sometimes done that before. (In my twenties and thirties I drove commercially, including driving a school bus for some years.) I like driving and am good at it. It’s certainly not a difficult thing for me to do. However, with my busy and haphazard schedule for the past few years, I just have not been chauffeuring people much.

Or is it that I haven’t taken the time to offer people rides?

This train of thought led me down a similar path to yesterday’s post. Who is my neighbor? By extension, who am I to offer rides to? I know, I know. I’m already feeling the conviction in my heart. Yes, God. I know You have graciously allowed me and my husband to purchase a good (used) car, and moreover, provided us with money to keep the car in good repair. I am so grateful, really I am! Therefore, You are not asking too much of me to be kind with my car. With a sturdy car like we own, I can pick up or drop off people, run errands or help people out by carting things around. Plus, I make a point of keeping in fairly good shape. (I have adult children—figure out my approximate age from there.) So, I can fetch and carry most things without too much difficulty. This helps with the carting-things-around-part.

Being kind to people seems to be a natural outgrowth to me and my way of thinking and acting. It’s when the kindness is reversed that I get taken aback, and find myself off kilter. What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if I were in need of transportation, or didn’t have access to my car, or sick in the hospital, or immobilized at home? You get the picture. I hope and pray that—number one—I would be willing to call people and ASK for help, and—number two—be gracious enough to RECEIVE the help freely offered and given. After all, I need to give others the opportunity to be of service, too.

During the past few months, a number of people have been gracious to me. Encouraging, helpful, loving, kind. It’s funny. I hadn’t fully thought it out before. But, because of various people and their kindness and graciousness to me, this is part of the reason I am where I am today. Doing what I’m doing, which is 365 days of intentional service.

Chauffeuring is a great start to the year! Let’s see what tomorrow will bring. God, help me be open, willing and ready.

@chaplaineliza