Being of Service, Even Though I Had a Splinter . . .

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 20, 2014

little things

Being of Service, Even Though I Had a Splinter . . .

Today was a busy day. Lots to do at work, with a sermon to block out and outline, but email to answer. Calls to return, even some paperwork to take care of. (Yes, there’s still paperwork. The church has not gone paperless yet.) Plus, I am still helping my daughter get ready for move-in day on Friday. I did three loads of laundry between late last night and early this morning. Almost all for her, I may add.

Yes, that was my big task of being kind for today. But I needed to prepare for tomorrow, too. I am participating in a hymn sing at a senior residence facility in Chicago in the afternoon. I am going to play the piano and lead the seniors in hymns and gospel songs. I am looking forward to this, very much! It will be so good to see many of these seniors again.

But—I’m not there yet. I was still at my church this afternoon, handling some necessary things, on the computer. I sat at my desk. The desk is large. Wooden. Mostly plain, except with a rather fancy edge trim, all around the top. Little lip, inset, out again, and then straight down for about half an inch. I must admit, I never really thought about that edge before. That is, not until this afternoon. Not until I happened to bump my left hand against that little lip. My hand was on its way up to the laptop computer keyboard, I got distracted, and bump! I ended up with a tiny sliver in the tip of my middle finger. That sliver? About one quarter of an inch long.

I ended up spending almost an hour getting the sliver out. I went to the kindergarten teacher (it was nap time). I asked whether they had a needle anywhere around. No. Only a set of plastic tweezers. I searched in the church office, just about everywhere. Finally, I found a pin. A large pin with a decorative head, probably used for securing a corsage. At least it was sharp! I washed the point off with soap and water and proceeded to pick at the splinter. I finally removed it, bit by bit.

That little splinter totally preoccupied my mind for almost an hour. Such a little bit of a thing was huge in my mind and my feelings.

All this time, I dearly wanted to practice the piano. I haven’t played for a number of days, and I wanted my fingers at least a little limber, to be better able to play tomorrow afternoon.

Yes, I did finally practice. And yes, I did continue helping my daughter pack, and get ready to leave. Being kind, and being of service. Preparing for more service to come.

Now, God, there’s still the matter of that sermon . . .

@chaplaineliza

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Feeling Sad—but Helping Anyway!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, July 26, 2014

striped cat

Feeling Sad—but Helping Anyway!

Today was my niece Josie’s wedding day, in Tacoma, Washington. (I’ve already seen a photo from the occasion. Lovely! She looked so happy. As all brides ought to.) The wedding took place outside in a beautiful park. Many of my family members attended the wedding, including my two older daughters. But, alas, I was not able to attend. (For a number of reasons, not least of which was that I really needed to go to the two conferences I attended last weekend.)

I felt badly that I was unable to go to Washington, and regretfully told my niece so about a month ago. I did send my best wishes, good thoughts and prayers with my oldest daughter. Plus, I’ll be sending a card next week. A little extra wedding good-wishing, after the fact.

However, this circumstance frees me up to take care of my daughter’s cat. My oldest daughter and her roommate have an apartment not far from where I live. I can easily run over there and pop in on the cat. Give her food and water. A friendly, sometimes attentive cat! While I sat at the dining room table with my laptop, the cat jumped onto my lap a number of times. Rubbed her head and shoulders against my hands and arms, and was insistent about being petted. Accordingly, I petted her willingly enough.

This cat likes people! That is, usually. She does have her moods, and sometimes goes off to hide or to be on her own. But even so soon after my daughter left (early yesterday morning), the cat came running to see me as soon as I came in the back door. Eager to be with company, desiring attention and praise.

Reminds me a little bit of . . . me. Me as I used to be, as a teenager. I wanted attention. I craved praise and admiration. (Strokes, perhaps?) When I was a teenager, and afterwards for a number of years, I had a sad case of low self-esteem. Due to a number of factors, I would strive for attention, help out at school, church, neighbors’ homes, and also my own home. Also, I would go after praise and strokes from others. I seldom heard these compliments at home, so I listened hard whenever anyone sent a compliment my way. I valued them, so very much!

Now, of course, I have gained greatly in self-esteem. Plus, I have a faithful prayer team that lifts me up in supportive prayer on a regular basis. I regularly encourage and support younger and more tentative people. (But enough about me.)

Yesterday and today, I gladly went to take care of my daughter’s cat! I know the cat was very pleased to see me. Moreover, I am pleased to help my daughter, and to be of service when and where I can. Plus, I got to pet a friendly cat! A win-win-win situation.

@chaplaineliza

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Helping, Serving—in the Short Term (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog –Friday, June 13, 2014

helping-the-poor-and-needy

Helping, Serving—in the Short Term (Feature Friday!)

I have a confession to make. I have never been on a short term mission trip. Not out of the country. Not in the United States (and there are plenty of places to minister here!).

But, I am fascinated by the short term mission experiences talked about by my new friend in South America, Rich Brown. The mission he helped found, IncaLink, has a tremendous outreach and ministry for groups from North America. Yes, IncaLink runs several kinds of mission outreaches in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. A primary way of ministry is touching the lives of youth in a number of ways—through youth job training and schooling, training youth in leadership skills, and bringing young people to South America in internship roles with IncaLink.

A companion ministry in IncaLink is very much linked with the work with youth: short term mission. When I hear short term mission, one thing that immediately leaps to my mind is groups of youth from various churches in North America, gearing up to go to some faraway place over spring break, or during summer vacation. IncaLink’s response? Yes! Certainly, that’s a part of their short term team mission and ministry! But that’s not all. Not by a long shot!

Any kind of team, of any description, can come to IncaLink and be sent out on a worthwhile ministry to one of IncaLink’s sites. (How awesome is that?) Not only youth groups, but teams of college young people, teams of men, or of women, groups of senior citizens, and other groups of just about any description are welcomed and put to good use. Doing service. Being kind. Seizing the opportunity that God offers to enter into relationship with God’s people.

When I spoke with Rich through Skype some days ago (I still think that technology is SO cool!), Rich told me that small group ministry is so important to IncaLink. Not only are they fully committed to providing God-inspired short term experiences, but a portion of the money that is paid to the mission helps fund further ministry. A portion of the money each short term team member pays into IncaLink is sent directly to the other ministries and outreaches that IncaLink provides for so many youth, children, women and men. I could tell how excited Rich was, as he told me about this “financial engine” that provides for so many wonderful things to be done in many locations.

Rich wanted to add that he would very much like young people—in college, in their twenties—to consider short term mission experiences. Internships, too. Longer than a week, he means! “Come and see,” he says. Come and see what worthwhile ministry is going on at the dump in Peru. Or the orphanage in Ecuador. Or women’s prison ministry, or ministry to seniors, or to special needs youth.

Come and see. Come for the love of God. Stay for the love of God’s people.

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service, Being a Mom

A Year of Being Kind blog –Monday, March 17, 2014

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Being of Service, Being a Mom

This morning started out to be the usual weekday morning. Wake up, pray, go to the computer (to look and see if I got anything REALLY important since the last time I looked), and then drive my son to the high school in good time for his first class. I did so, and he and I talked about the gymnastics practice after school. (team photo shoot today!)

Today was a little out of the ordinary, after that. I dialed the office (I currently work a part-time position), and informed them that I was giving my two weeks’ notice today.  I also sent a brief email, telling them the same thing—I now am employed as interim part-time co-pastor! Then I went to my other job. I enjoy my other job, I really do. However, I have lots of other training and schooling and internships in pastoral care and counseling, leading small groups and group facilitation, and a whole host of other things. Now, I get to put all of them to work!

But—not quite yet. I have several more days at my old job. As the morning continued, I received a call from my son. He told me—in a sad voice—that he was starting to get a migraine headache. He was going to try to stay for two more classes, but then would like me to pick him up at the nurses’ office. I told him of course! That is, as long as I could finish my four-hour shift.

Sure enough, one of the nurses at school called in a little over an hour. As I drove to the high school, I could feel my mom-hat slipping into place. My son waited for me as I pulled up, and I (naturally) asked him whether he had eaten, reminded him of some likely foods and beverages up in the kitchen, and urged him to lie down in a dark room when he got home. What can I say? I’m a mom.

After a couple of errands, I came back home. All of those things were on his list, and he said he had accomplished them. I ended up taking him back to the high school for practice AND the team photo shoot.  And then, off to the YMCA myself, to their gym and fitness equipment! Yay! (I suspect my son appreciated the ride, so he wouldn’t need to get killed.

My son’s a junior in high school, but he’s still “young” in significant ways.  That made me think about me. True, I sometimes push through disease and not-feeling-well. Sometimes a bit too much, too. God, help me to know when to work, but also when to stop. And God, I usually know when to offer my service to others. But sometimes, I put my foot in my mouth. It sure would be great if You could help out with a little guidance! You know, in those difficult-to-assess situations. God, thanks for helping me be of service. And thanks for helping me to be a mom. More effectively and lovingly, of course!

@chaplaineliza

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Helping My Husband? Sure!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, March 15, 2014

selection of ties

selection of ties

Helping My Husband? Sure!

A little after 10 o’clock in the morning. And where do we find ourselves? My husband and I are in a discount clothing store, which is just about the last place he would prefer to be. Especially on a bright, sunny (but chilly) March weekend day. He claims to prefer sitting in the dentist’s chair to going to a clothing store. However, he wanted to buy himself a couple of ties. He wears a jacket and tie to work downtown every day in his work as a senior editor in the Loop. Several of his favorite ties were showing signs of obvious wear. So, out with the old. He went to the clothing store with the intention of buying several ties.

I came along for the ride. When we arrived at the store, my husband made a direct route to the tie display. This place indeed is stocked with good-looking ties. He methodically went through the different ties. (Avoiding pinks and purples, bright colors and cutesy patterns.) I took my time getting over to the rear of the store, but I tried to walk with purpose. When I got there, he already had one tie in hand. He had a task, an errand to do. By golly, he was going to do it.

My husband knows I am a naturally helpful person. I like to help, when I’m asked! He’s used to this. And every now and again, he’ll even accept my help. I unobtrusively began to look through the ties. I have a pretty good idea of what type, design, or look of tie my husband might prefer. (I am pretty good at this, if I do say so myself.) A few minutes later, he walked away from the display. Satisfied, he had four ties in hand. I helped him find three out of four of them. (After glancing between his initial choice and one I pointed out afterwards, he quietly put his choice back.)

Goodness knows, my husband can decide what he’s going to do, and stick to it. A great attitude, most times! But God, sometimes his firm attitude is a bit wearing. Except today. He welcomed my low-key suggestions about ties. Some might say that a tie is just a little thing. Except it’s not a little thing to my husband; he wants to be a well-dressed man. He looks on his neatness in dress and classic, well-made clothing as part of the pride he takes in his job. (What can I say? He’s an orderly, methodical editor.) And, I took the opportunity he offered me, to assist him.

God, I know I try to do things without help sometimes. I know I feel like saying, “I can do it myself!” (Just like my toddler- and preschooler-age children. I remember it well.) God, it felt so good to be able to pitch in, to be able to help my husband on a relatively small thing. Please God, help me to see where I have been (and am, currently) stubborn and willful. I know You want me to be independent—sometimes. But You want us all to be interconnected. So, help me to help others, daily. And help me accept help, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Helping Others to Be Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, February 22, 2014

40Days_icon3b

Helping Others to Be Kind

I spent most of my day on the computer today. Not the most exciting of Saturdays, but I got a great deal done. Like the list for my Lenten calendar. Yes, I am going to feature a daily calendar for Lenten observance. 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind: A Lenten Calendar of Service. And in case you were wondering, the sign-up hyper link is immediately to your right (right there –>).

Let me back up a few steps and talk about how I first came up with this idea. I have been working on getting closer to God for a number of years, with sometimes lesser, sometimes greater effect. For the past couple of years, I followed Advent and Lenten calendars and readings with mixed results. Yes, they did help me to get closer to God. Success! However, I wanted something a bit different this time. This put me into a bit of a quandary, but then I came up with it—A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

For those of you who have been following this space since the beginning of January, you probably know this already. When the idea for this whole “Being Kind” concept came to me earlier in December, I felt that it was such a natural for me! I’ve been told a number of times that I often act in a naturally kind and tenderhearted manner. This blog turns out to be a great way to develop those gifts and graces, and to get more facile at naturally performing acts of service and ministry.  I know I’ve said it before, but I want this Year of Being Kind to be a year of opportunity for me. I have asked God-as-I-understand-God for opportunities to help others and be of service.

That’s a long way of getting back to what I’ve been doing today—which is preparing the Lenten calendar 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. For the past week and a half, I consulted a number of other Lenten helps and calendars online. I discussed this concept with several good friends and got a few fine recommendations for acts of service. So, finally I was ready. Ready to compile the list from everything I had rounded up.

I had a few ground rules: primarily, nothing that cost a lot of money. Second, service-oriented acts of ministry and kindness. And most important, I was conscious of older or less-abled persons participating with the Lenten calendar.  I would like as many people to be able to use this calendar as possible!

Another thought came to mind as I compiled this list of Ways to Be Kind; some people might not have certain of these listed items in their local area, or easily accessible to them. That’s okay! They can always pray for those at their local facility, or at the place they just couldn’t go to, for whatever reason. Prayer is always a great idea!

So, that is today’s act of service: compiling the Lenten calendar 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. God willing, many will be assisted in growing closer to God during Lent through acts of kindness, love and ministry!

@chaplaineliza

Yesterday—Vacuum Cleaner, Today—Washing Machine

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 11, 2014

washing machine image

Yesterday—Vacuum Cleaner,  Today—Washing Machine

Yesterday, I did not pray for an act of service to come my way today. At least, I didn’t intentionally pray. I am not sure whether the prayers I’ve been praying periodically had an effect. (I’m half-joking, but half-not.) However, several acts of service came my way today.

Yesterday, I wrote about using a vacuum cleaner to help out a senior, and the complications that arose. Today, I used a washing machine to help out a senior. Sure enough, some complications came up today, too.

This string of events reminded me of helping out Mrs. W when I was in high school. She was an awesome older lady. And I mean, older. As in, elderly. She was the mother of Mrs. S, one of the middle-aged church ladies at my Lutheran church in Chicago. But back to Mrs. W. She was essentially housebound, and lived in a beautiful, well-kept, older brick house. She used a wheelchair and walker to ambulate around her house, but she was one of the most lively, interesting people I remember from my childhood.

Some complications came up when I was helping Mrs. W out, too. I did some deep cleaning in her kitchen, and got thoroughly slimed by the filthy broiler pan under her oven. That was okay, because I cleaned up using some cleanser and dishwashing liquid on me AND on the pan. But it took some time to clean up the pan, and clean me up, too.

Today, the washing machine wasn’t working properly. Except, I didn’t know that before I loaded it and started filling the machine with water. Fortunately, I was able to manually hit individual cycles (quick rinse, and extra spin). Gingerly, I finished the load of laundry and transferred it to the dryer.  (The repairman is coming tomorrow, I think.)

What a life lesson! Sometimes, no matter how hard I try or what I do, things just don’t turn out the way they are “supposed to.” Yesterday, the vacuum cleaner just wouldn’t pick up some of the tiny bits of paper, crumbs and other small odds and ends. Today’s problem was more serious, but not the end of the world. I was still able to get the laundry done.

God, do You want me to learn something from today and yesterday?1)  Some life lesson, or pertinent piece of wisdom? 2)  I know, Don’t worry! Umm, no, another guess—don’t be afraid! Mm, I’m not sure. Or is it 3) one more time, You are always with me, no matter what!

Yeah, that’s it. I know the first two lessons are also true, but the third feels especially true today. God, You are with me, even though I have greasy sludge on my hands from a stove.  God, You are with me, though I fiddle and growl at a strange vacuum cleaner. And God, You are right by my side, even though I am dealing with a recalcitrant washing machine, refusing to operate the way it should.  I am reminded of a verse from 1 Peter 5:7. “Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.”

I think that ‘s what You wanted me to get from my adventures with household appliances. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

A Helpful Errand

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

A Helpful Errand

When I started this blog, I had few expectations. (On purpose!) I tried—and continue to try—to have few expectations. With 365 days of service, I want God to bring along things that will sometimes take me by surprise. Get me enthused. Even make me uncomfortable. I know it’s putting myself out on a limb, but I have earnestly prayed to have that happen. The frigid, wintry weather has certainly been interesting the past few days, and I have had no problem finding ways to be of service.

I helped a younger person go to and from a medical outpatient procedure today, and hung around for a few hours after returning to their home. (Because of HIPAA and related issues, I am hesitant to say much more about specifics—even though I am not working in any official capacity for this younger person, still. Good, ingrained habits need to be maintained.) This procedure was something I had known about for several weeks. I just didn’t expect the weather to be so uncooperative. However, with the car warmed up and our destination not far away, the trip to and fro was fairly easy. Straight-forward. And the young person is now resting comfortably.

This whole process of running to and from a medical procedure (or a doctor’s or dentist’s office) put me in mind of previous times I did much the same thing. I have the spiritual gift of helping (you can read more about helps at this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_gift ), among other gifts. So, I naturally gravitate towards doing helpful, encouraging things for people. Like taking my elderly aunt to the doctor or dentist, or fetching prescription medication for my older mom. I consider such errands to be opportunities to be kind to relatives. More importantly, being with my relatives (or friends, or acquaintances) gives me a chance to be in relationship with them.

Some years ago, I often had my small children with me when I traveled around Chicago on these kinds of errands. Such a wonderful opportunity for my children to connect with their older relatives! Now, my children are adults, or nearly. They still occasionally talk about or remember times when we went to Grandma’s house, or Auntie’s apartment. I am glad I gave them the gift of being with their senior relatives. And to think, all this came from me being willing to drive my car and go on errands. Taking my aunt to a regular medical exam, or picking up something from the pharmacy.

Being kind and tenderhearted benefits me too. (See Ephesians 4:32, for further information.) I was not only providing a service, I also was kind and tenderhearted, as the Apostle Paul directs. Plus, I was doing service pleasing to God. That’s been important to me for a long time. Still is, often. I try to be obedient to God, clearing the way for a close vertical relationship with God. And that paves the way for a clear, close relationship to other people, on a horizontal plane.

It all works, somehow. Thanks, God! Help me find some way to serve You tomorrow, too.

lego medical center

@chaplaineliza

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

A Year of Being Kind blog post for Monday, December 30, 2013

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

            For the past few years, I’ve been concerning myself with—myself. I have been striving to maintain some kind of spiritual balance, working on my internal, spiritual component. I pray regularly (or at least, try to). I visit my therapist and spiritual director regularly, work out on a weekly basis at the local YMCA gym, and I even practiced relaxation and meditation in an intensive way for several months. In all of this, I have been working on the inner “me.”

I have also been intentional with my prayer life. Not only have I been praying on an increasingly regular basis, but I’ve also started a prayer chain and prayer blog, so we all can be encouraged in our personal prayer lives. This helps my inner relationship with God prosper, too.

            But, what about my relationship with others? How about my family? Friends? What about those at church, or at the gym? What about my co-workers, or strangers I meet on the street? Have I been as studious and diligent at developing my relationship with them?

            Yes, I am called by God to be in relationship with God—the vertical relationship.  But I am also called to be in community, as well—the horizontal relationship, one with another. One of my spiritual gifts is helping people. And by nature, I am kind and compassionate in my relations with others. It’s my relationship with others and with my local community (as well as their relationship with me) that I want to work on in 2014.

            That’s why 2014 is my year to be kind. To help. To be of service. Intentionally.