Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, December 11, 2017

Yes, my kitchen has again been transformed into a cookie factory. (Or, so my husband says.) I love making cookies. And, I give them away to friends and family every year. As people grow older, and as their diets become more specific—and sometimes gluten-free or lactose-intolerant or other forms of cautions—I need to be more careful and considerate. However, people still enjoy my cookies, made from scratch. Just like my mom made them.

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

cookies variety

Posted on December 13, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 12, 2014

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

It’s that time of year again.

My husband said just the other day, “It’s that time of year when our kitchen has been transformed into a cookie factory. In keeping with tradition, I have volunteered to serve as quality control, sampling each batch. It’s a thankless job, I tell ya.” (I told him he does a very good job of it, too.)

I have made Christmas cookies for years, to give away as presents. Just like my mom.

My mother, Dolores, was a champion at baking. (Cooking, too. But I’m not going to talk about that right now.) Sadly, she died more than ten years ago, but I still remember her superb Christmas cookies. As much as my husband talks about my Christmas cookie baking, I was a mere beginner compared to my mother. Her cookies were amazing.

She used to deliver them to her friends, co-workers, and to our neighbors. She would give them as presents, and bring them to our relatives at holiday times. They always appreciated them. (And, thought the cookies were delicious, too.)

My mother was so creative, in so many ways. I’d like to remember her creativity—in baking Christmas cookies. Butterballs, chocolate raspberry sandwiches, thimble cookies, and, of course, cocoa drops. She made other cookies, other years, but those were always in the mix, as long as I can remember. Sweet memories—in several ways.

Sure, my mother definitely had a mind of her own. Sure, my mother was loving and giving. And sure—my mother gave away a lot of cookies.

It’s good to remember. Remember my mom, and remember her wonderful Christmas cookies. Remember how loving and giving she was.

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Advent 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 Funeral Home (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year!” Except—when it isn’t. Reading over this post from last December, I am thinking of all of those who are feeling sad. Grieving. Feeling lonely. All the fears and anxieties and depressions and sadnesses, all getting in the way of the holiday holly-jolly. This is for anyone who is feeling that way, today. Or, in case you know someone who is not feeling happy and festive, today.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 18, 2014

winter road at night

Being Kind—at a Funeral Home

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—“ except when it’s not.

Yes, it’s just a week before the “big day.” Yes, I drove past a large shopping mall on the way home this afternoon (against my better judgment). I did not see a single empty parking place in the parking lot from my vantage point, driving by. Yes, the children at the preschool were excitedly talking about Christmas coming soon. “Is it tomorrow?” “Is it the next day?” And, I know the teachers patiently go through the calendar, counting the days until Christmas. “Next Thursday. We have a week until then.”

But it isn’t beginning to look much like Christmas for a good friend of mine, and their whole family. They have lost a dear, senior loved one earlier this week. This afternoon, and evening? The viewing. The wake. I went to the funeral home so I could be there for my friend.

So incongruous. Frenetic, anxiety-laden, rush-rush. Mad, frantic preparations for the holidays. (It doesn’t particularly matter whether the holidays people celebrate are Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa.) And then—to have a loved one die in the middle of all of that? As I said, so incongruous. It’s the holidays! There isn’t supposed to be any death, or sickness, or fighting, or negative emotions, or negativity of any kind. Not now.

But, life doesn’t work that way.

So, I took the sad opportunity to be kind to my friend. To offer my condolences on the passing of this sweet senior. To be with my friend for at least a little while.

I reflected, later on, that this is exactly why there is a Christmas. So we could have hope, in something much better and much greater than we could possibly imagine. Yes, it’s very sad to us, here. Yes, people are grieving, right now. And yes, people are rejoicing in new life, the life to come, with God.

I don’t want to say this too loudly, in case I step on the toes of someone who is grieving, sad and even angry right now. But—I look forward to a merry Christmas. Quietly, looking forward. Expectant. Quietly.

@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!)


Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

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

bluechristmas-1

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.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind—at a Funeral Home

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 18, 2014

winter pathway

Being Kind—at a Funeral Home

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—“ except when it’s not.

Yes, it’s just a week before the “big day.” Yes, I drove past a large shopping mall on the way home this afternoon (against my better judgment). I did not see a single empty parking place in the parking lot from my vantage point, driving by. Yes, the children at the preschool were excitedly talking about Christmas coming soon. “Is it tomorrow?” “Is it the next day?” And, I know the teachers patiently go through the calendar, counting the days until Christmas. “Next Thursday. We have a week until then.”

But it isn’t beginning to look much like Christmas for a good friend of mine, and their whole family. They have lost a dear, senior loved one earlier this week. This afternoon, and evening? The viewing. The wake. I went to the funeral home so I could be there for my friend.

So incongruous. Frenetic, anxiety-laden, rush-rush. Mad, frantic preparations for the holidays. (It doesn’t particularly matter whether the holidays people celebrate are Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa.) And then—to have a loved one die in the middle of all of that? As I said, so incongruous. It’s the holidays! There isn’t supposed to be any death, or sickness, or fighting, or negative emotions, or negativity of any kind. Not now.

But, life doesn’t work that way.

So, I took the sad opportunity to be kind to my friend. To offer my condolences on the passing of this sweet senior. To be with my friend for at least a little while.

I reflected, later on, that this is exactly why there is a Christmas. So we could have hope, in something much better and much greater than we could possibly imagine. Yes, it’s very sad to us, here. Yes, people are grieving, right now. And yes, people are rejoicing in new life, the life to come, with God.

I don’t want to say this too loudly, in case I step on the toes of someone who is grieving, sad and even angry right now. But—I look forward to a merry Christmas. Quietly, looking forward. Expectant. Quietly.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Am Planning to Be of Service—at a Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Christmas tree

In Which I Am Planning to Be of Service—at a Service

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—or, is it? Christmas can be difficult for many people, for many reasons. I did a good deal of planning today. Preparing the order of service for a very special, alternative Christmas service next Monday night.

I don’t know whether you might have heard of a “Blue Christmas” service. Perhaps by another name? The Longest Night service? A service held either on or close to the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. A service for people for whom Christmas is a difficult time.

The custom of holding Blue Christmas services has been growing over the past ten years. The name refers to the loneliness, sadness and grieving people sometimes experience during the holiday season. Many people consider the holidays to be such a “happy, joyous time.” However, holiday and family gatherings can be negative and difficult. This Blue Christmas service is a time and place where sad, grieving, lonely people can join together to share their emotions with people who feel the same way.

This will be a subdued Blue Christmas service, on Monday, Dec. 22 with quiet music, reflective readings, a brief time for silent contemplation, community candle-lighting, and a reflection from me (as one of the service leaders). My good friend Chaplain Sarah is going to co-lead this service with me. (Thank you so much, Sarah!)

I know very well that there have been years when I have dreaded the holidays. When this whole season of the year was just a time to be endured, a time to grieve, a time to hold on by my fingernails. Yes, I have anxious, fearful, recurring memories of those holiday seasons. (And, yes. There were more than one holiday season when I felt this way.)

So, I want to offer this Blue Christmas service as an opportunity for those among us who are having a difficult time. Or, who have recently been through something negative and traumatic. Or, who are especially feeling the loss of someone dear at this time of the year. This is a time and place—a space where people can gather together in a refuge from the festivities and “jollity” of the season. And, a place where such sad, anxious, negative, grieving feelings can be brought out into the open. God willing, validated, and expressed.

“The most wonderful time of the year?” For some people? No, not really. Sorry. Maybe next year.

(This Blue Christmas service will be held at St. Luke’s Christian Community Church on Monday, Dec. 22 at 7:00 pm. The church is located at 9233 Shermer in Morton Grove, Illinois, and is fully handicapped accessible. Just in case this information is helpful to anyone. God’s gentle blessings at this sometimes-difficult time of the year.)

@chaplaineliza

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