Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, September 13, 2015

It was a sparkling September day today. Just like it was last year, on the 13th. I wanted to repost this, partly because it has good memories, and partly because it has a two-for-one kind of deal, again. Yes, I link in today’s repost to the Feature Friday article from the day before, where I posted about the Children of Abraham Coalition. (Check out my link, below, if you’d like to find out more!) Yes, good memories from the farmers’ market, and good memories from the potluck, too!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 13, 2014

BFM produce for blog book

BFM produce for blog book

Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Markets are wonderful things, whether in the middle of the city or in the suburbs. Not only are they places where local produce, goods and products are readily available, they are also great places for communication; for local non-profit organizations, churches, synagogues and other places of worship to get their messages out. Last—but certainly not least—farmers’ markets are wonderful places to meet and greet. For friends and acquaintances to say hello, touch base, and even make new friends.

It was a gorgeous, sunny September morning. For something different and out of the ordinary, my husband and I went to the market downtown today. We haven’t gone there regularly for a few years (not since the children were smaller). It’s a happening, bustling sort of place! Lots of shoppers, lots of stalls selling all manner of goods and produce, and lots going on. We strolled up and down the large aisles amidst all of the people coming and going. Took in the sights, as it were.

As we strolled, my husband put his head close to mine and said, “I wonder how long it will take before we meet someone we know?” This is a humorous sort of game we play when we go to a local restaurant, or take a walk downtown on a weekend. Sure enough, it’s rare that we don’t run into someone we know. And sometimes, know well!

Almost before the words were out of my husband’s mouth, the next thing we know I bump into a good friend. Literally! I had just picked some corn on the cob from a bushel basket and straightened up when our friend bumped into me with his backpack! (It didn’t hurt at all.) We both immediately stopped, turned, and started to apologize—when— “Hello! Good morning!”

After smiles, shaking of hands, and hugs, we started right in, talking. Our friend Gregg asked me about the church (which is going well, thank God!), and inquired what I had been doing lately. I knew our friend was interested in social justice, peace and reconciliation. So, I told him about the Potluck for Peace I had attended on Thursday. I mentioned the Children of Abraham Coalition, and he was indeed interested. I particularly mentioned the different groups and synagogues associated with the Coalition. Our friend thanked me, and I said I would get more information to him. (I will, Gregg! The link to my Friday Feature:

I know it may seem like a little thing, but friendly meetings mean so much, sometimes. Keeping up connections, friendships. Exchanging smiles and hugs. And welcome information, too! Thanks for the opportunity to do all of these things today, God!


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(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!)

Being Kind to a Centenarian (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 14, 2015

Looking back, a year ago today, I wanted to remember a dear friend. The centenarian I mentioned, in this post. He died last fall, one hundred years young. I know for sure he is very much missed. There is a Jewish traditional service where the worshipers ask Ha Shem (G-d) to remember those for whom we mourn and grant them rest. Many remember their beloved ones who have died. In this way, I remember my dear friend. (Personally, I think he’s helping people, being kind to those in heaven, right now. Just like he did while here on earth.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

only kindness matters

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook.

Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.


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(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!)

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another day of service, another opportunity to be kind. I can be kind in all sorts of situations, including the library. Take a read, and find out how.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, May 19, 2014

dancing dancing

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away

Giving it away—doing things joyfully, for others. Being kind, caring and helpful, to others—that’s what I am trying to do!

However, I have a problem. It’s ME. I carry myself around each day, between my ears. I concentrate on myself, I am self-centered, and even selfish, from time to time. (Well, maybe even more often than that.) Some days—nights, too—it gets a bit old. Or unbearable. I feel badly, as I realize it yet again.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this my Year of Being Kind? Whatever happened to 365 Days of Service?

Oh, I almost forgot. My negative, self-centered state of mind is part and parcel of the human condition. Looking out for number one! That’s me. I freely admit it. (Don’t we all think—and sometimes act—like this, from time to time?) That kind of negative, selfish state of mind is part of the reason why I wanted to try to look for intentional acts of service to do each day. If I think about doing things for another person, I have the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel of self-importance. Serving others gets me out of my own head. Not that this is a sure-fire way to get off the merry-go-round of endless quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. But being kind certainly goes a long way towards eradicating that kind of negativity.

I heard an acquaintance of mine talking about this very thing, earlier today. Being kind, with no strings attached. Why is that so difficult? Oh, yeah. The negative, self-centered thing. (Some might even call it ‘sin.’) Whatever it’s called, if I practice getting out of myself, being kind becomes easier. And easier.

This afternoon, I went to the library and asked the children’s librarian for help in choosing some recent picture books. I’m getting ready to read to the preschoolers tomorrow. (Tuesday is reading day!) So, I was gearing up to be kind. To be of service. She was so helpful, knowing which books were recently released. And, I really enjoyed going through some possible books and deciding which ones would be good to read. (I love children’s books with innovative illustrations and engaging stories!)

So—an enjoyable afternoon? Talking with a librarian-lady who obviously loved her subject material? And, choosing books that I hope will be amusing and engaging for the children? All wonderful things. And the best part is that I didn’t get caught up inside my own head and my mental hamster wheel once. Not one single time! All in all, I think this was a good day for being kind.

Thanks for the good ideas, God!


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(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!)



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!


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(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!)

Snow Blowing, Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 2, 2015

This was my first Feature Friday post in January 2014. Even though there’s no snow (yet) in the Chicago area right now, the spirit of this post still is true.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 3, 2014

chairs shoveled parking place

Snow Blowing, Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

Another day of snow. Another day of service opportunities!

A friend of mine, David, who lives here in Chicago told me about a wintry situation that sometimes happens to him. I’ll let him explain in his own words.

“Owning a snow-blower opens up a whole new sense of “neighbor,” as in “Who is my neighbor?” As I’m out trolling the snow-blower up and down the sidewalks on my city block, where would I stop removing the snow from the pavement? What is the logical or “natural” boundary or stopping point? At what property line do I draw the line and turn back toward my “own” sidewalk? My next-door neighbors on each side are close and friendly people, friends even, so there’s no question that I’m going to go ahead and clear their sidewalks . . .  and now they pretty much expect that, if I’m out there clearing sidewalks, I’ll also plow out their driveways to the street. OK. We’ve all got our various senses of necessity and contingent emergency.”

Wow. How far down the block does my friend go with his snow blower? Who IS his neighbor? (For that matter, who is ours?) So, there is also a guy with another snow blower across the street. Could this blowing of snow turn into a competition? “Hmm. The guy across the street cleared off three more houses’ walks of snow. He’s winning! He’s more virtuous (loving/giving/helping) than I am!” I can just see how worry, griping, fear, resentment, frustration, anger, and even more negative emotions start roiling around inside, stifling good, loving, nurturing, helpful feelings.

We might know physically handicapped people who either have great difficulty or just can’t possibly clear their walks. Or folks who are in the hospital, or on vacation, or working two jobs and are rarely at home. Is God nudging me—or you—to blow off the snow from their walks? And what about people who do not “deserve” to have the snow cleared from their walks and driveways? (Who gets to decide that, anyway?) People who are snooty, or slobs, or just plain mean. Does that give me the right to ignore them when a service opportunity comes my way? Who IS my neighbor, anyway?

It goes without saying that any of these, ALL of these are my neighbors. If I get a creeping resentment or niggling gripe in my heart, I don’t think that negative emotion comes from God. Instead, it pleases God to see me being kind. (It pleases God to see my friend being kind, too.)

Yes, using a snow blower is a wonderful way of being kind. We are blessed to have such mechanical appliances and tools like snow blowers (and snow plows too, when that’s applicable!). We are so blessed to be a blessing to others. To be kind and tenderhearted. Thank God that I am given opportunities like that. I don’t want to be like the lawyer in Luke 10, who grudgingly acknowledged the Samaritan as being kind and showing mercy. Instead, I want to strive to be like the gracious, giving Samaritan. God willing!

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


A Year of Service, Almost Over.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 30, 2014

only kindness matters

A Year of Service, Almost Over.

Only one more day to 2014. Today was a routine day, a day not particularly out of the ordinary. A quiet day at work, since the preschool was on vacation during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The only thing really different about today was the afternoon. I was asked to take a senior friend of mine to a medical appointment, and pick the senior up afterwards.

Did I, you might ask? Sure! Why not? (I ask this in all seriousness.)

Really—why not? I was asked to pick up the dear person, transport them about ten minutes away, and leave them at the medical appointment. Then, I could go back to work, do work for about an hour, pick up the senior after the appointment, and bring them home. Sure. Of course I could do that. And, I did.

My question is directed to myself, as well as my readers. Again, why not? Why not help someone in need?

Now, I perfectly well understand some people are not particularly steady on their feet or have various health difficulties. Others need to work. Still others have other obligations they need to take care of. But—please, if you can, if you’re able, could you consider picking up someone? A neighbor? And then, transporting them to work or to medical appointments, or even to pick up some groceries, or medication from the pharmacy. Then, back home.

I’d like to remind my readers. I said this year was going to be a journey of service. Of being kind. A daunting, exciting, up-and-down journey. I invited anyone, everyone, to come along with me. To come along with me—and God.

I tried not to have any expectations beforehand. No idea what was lying ahead. (Or, was it lying in wait?) I had been told any number of times—before this Year of Being Kind—that I often act in a naturally kind and tenderhearted manner towards others. I often use my spiritual gifts of helpfulness and mercy. This year, others have surprised me with unexpected words, looks, acts, and ways of being. On occasion, I see such kindness, helpfulness and service in the world today. You and I? God willing, we can add to the kindness. And helpfulness. We can be of service, too.

This year, 2014, has been a banner year for me. I’ve learned a great deal about myself. I’ve learned even more about different ways to be of service. A suggestion? Make 2015 a year to help out.

A year of service for you. 365 days of kindness.

P.S. My new blog for 2015? A Year of Everyday Prayers: Connection with God and Others. Stay tuned! More information tomorrow.


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Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, December 22, 2014


Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

We had a Blue Christmas service tonight. In the freezing rain, and muck, and generally nasty stuff. Appropriate, indeed, for a service meant for people who are having a difficult time with the holidays. (Although the nasty weather probably convinced some people to stay at home instead of venturing out.)

Chaplain Sarah and I led the service. Even though we were few, gathered in the St. Luke’s Church sanctuary, I hope God’s presence made itself felt in a special way this evening.

When I was in my first unit of chaplain internship, Father Romy served as the chaplain supervisor. (A superb supervisor, by the way!) He didn’t always say this, but a common response from him was, “I hope that was helpful.” And—that would usually be the capper on top of some penetrating insight that he offered to the group of interns.

At the service tonight, we read a Psalm that is not typically read. Psalm 77, a psalm that can be viewed as disgruntled, almost despairing, in selected verses. We read Eugene Peterson’s modern translation from The Message, which gave the psalm a particularly poignant angle. The sharing time in the service became one of the high points, as well. And the candle-lighting at the end? All in all, a time to be sad together, to grieve together, to be quiet—together.

Just so, I hope and pray that the service tonight (Sarah’s offering and my offering) was helpful, encouraging, and a comfort to those who were there. God, in Your mercy, be with all those who grieve, who cry, who are lonely or depressed tonight.


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Helpful with a Cat. Again.

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

lovely kitty

Helpful with a Cat. Again.

I like animals, very much. And my daughter knows that when she is out of town, I would be more than willing to take care of her cat. Lovely tabby.

So, guess who is cat-sitting? Again? The tabby cat is happy when I come over to her place. (I mean, the cat’s place. Where she allows my daughter to live, too.)

I am sad that I cannot live in the same place as a cat. I have allergies, and my eyes will water and my nose will run. Then, I’ll sneeze. That is, when my face comes in contact with the cat’s fur. Or, when I pet the cat and then touch my face near my eyes—much less coming into direct contact and actually rubbing my eyes. (I can’t even imagine how badly my eyes would water if a cat were to get cat dander all over my bed sheets.)

What is it like for people who are allergic to a great many things? I know my older sister is even more allergic than I am. I have absolutely no idea what I would do. I am afraid I’m not a person who keeps the house spotless. (I wonder whether I would keep things more spotless if I had to? Thank goodness I don’t need to.)

Which leads me back to my daughter’s tabby cat. The cat was so happy to see me. She is affectionate and sweet, occasionally mewing and asking for pats on the head and neck, and tummy rubs. I stayed there for about an hour and a half, doing some writing that needed to be finished. And, petting the cat who was seated in my lap. I definitely was kind to the cat—who very much likes company. And, I was helpful to my daughter, who appreciates the time I spend with the tabby when she is not available.

In my apartment, I am animal-deprived right now. I could have a cat. I could. The condo rules permit owners to have an animal fifteen pounds or less. However, as stated before, I am allergic to cats. My husband is not in favor of us having a dog. So—we do not have any animal right now. If I want to see a four-legged creature, I need to appreciate and visit other people’s animals.

But I can still be helpful and kind. Kind to my daughter’s cat. Like today.


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Helpful Taxi Service—Helpful Mom

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, December 8, 2014

HELP always help someone

Helpful Taxi Service—Helpful Mom

I wear a number of hats in my life. The Mom hat is one that I don’t wear quite as often any more.

I used to wear the Mom hat almost all the time. That was when my children were young. When I had to do much more in the way of hands-on child care and mothering. I enjoyed it, very much. Don’t get me wrong! But now, with the passage of time, it’s not so much hands-on. Now, with my youngest a senior in high school, much less in the way of mothering.

Except for today. My senior in high school needed a ride. He could have walked, true, but I offered. And, the weather outside today was wet and drizzly and on the borderline of freezing. Not particularly pleasant weather for someone to walk around outside.

My son and I sometimes have fascinating conversations. That is one of the up sides of having growing and grown children. Today was no exception. There wasn’t any particularly memorable topic of conversation that I remember. I just enjoyed talking with him.

As I dropped off my son, he met up with a friend. Both of them waved as I drove off. Bittersweet, knowing that my son is growing up, growing away. Growing out.

Yes, I try to be helpful, as much as my children will allow. And, I try to be of service to them and to their friends. Today was a good example of being of service. Being kind. Helping out. God willing, I’ll be able to help out my son again, soon.


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Helpful? At a Thrift Store

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, November 20, 2014

christmas shadow puppets

Helpful? At a Thrift Store

I shop thrift stores. I don’t know if I ought to be proud of that, or ashamed, or what. But it’s something I do. And, I get some great deals! Especially on shirts, sweaters, blouses, jackets and coats. Oh, and pants for my children, too. (Not for my pants, though. My shape is difficult to fit, and I must try on pair after pair of prospective pants. So, I need to buy my pants retail. Not resale. But that’s off topic.)

Today, I had a specific mission. I wanted certain things. First, a piece of translucent white material. I figured I could get a used bedsheet, and that would do. However, I went one better. I found a lovely, thin white tablecloth. (!!) And then I needed a second piece of material, in a darker shade. I found some black cotton, unhemmed. It seemed as if someone had just had it cut from a bolt in a fabric store, and never used it. I wanted both of these for a simple shadow puppet theater. The top half white, illuminated from behind by one or two light bulbs. The bottom half dark, to mask the people manipulating the shadow puppets. (From behind the fabric on the frame.)

I was able to get both of these pieces of fabric inexpensively! I will ask our wonderful trustee and his son whether they might be able to make a simple wooden frame so the Sunday School children can practice for the Christmas program in December. I think it will be a simple, yet effective way of telling the Christmas narrative from the Gospel of Luke.

Of course, this is not my first pageant. Or play. Or musical. Or puppet show. It’s been a few years, but I am no novice. Years ago I did a number of these, at several different churches. For a number of years, too. My, I haven’t brought up extensive memories of those Christmas pageants and musicals and puppet shows for quite some time, either.

When the church needs me, I do my best to respond. To help. To serve. I haven’t been active with young people—junior high—for several years. And elementary school age? Even longer before that! Yet, I want to do my best. And, I’ll try to encourage the children to learn about the birth of Jesus, in Bethlehem.

I know we haven’t gotten to Advent, yet. We aren’t even at Thanksgiving! But, soon. Soon. Advent is coming. I can look forward to that, God. I know Advent is a time of preparation. Be with me and with the Sunday School children as we pray and prepare for Your coming.  (Help me prepare the shadow puppet stage, too!)


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