A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

 

souper-bowl-logo

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 2, 2017

Earlier today, I was reminded of the Super Bowl coming up in a few days. I passed the big screens of televisions at the gym this afternoon, and saw the promos for the big game. I like football, but for some reason, my thoughts came right to this blog post. The reasons behind this blog post are so worthwhile. I hope and pray that all houses of worship that are participating in this Souper Bowl of Caring receive a great deal of donations. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 31, 2014

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.un

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Santas Help Out the Hungry (#BestOf)

Santas Help Out the Hungry (#BestOf)

santas-in-front-of-the-art-institute-chicago-12-6-14-credit-kevin-jones

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 24, 2016

I’m reminded of this photo my husband Kevin took. A wonderful collection of Santas! On top of which, a thoroughly heartwarming charity. Food for the Hungry. Please, please, donate to food pantries. Help people in need. Please.

 Home » Uncategorized » Santas Help Out the Hungry

Santas Help Out the Hungry

Posted on December 7, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 6, 2014

Santas in front of the Art Institute
photo credit – Kevin Jones

Santas Help Out the Hungry

I do not often go downtown on a December Saturday before Christmas. Ever. And I mean, ever.

However, my husband was the last-minute recipient of three tickets for a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center today. He and I? Our favorite period of classical music is Baroque, one of our preferred composers is George Frederick Handel, and our absolute fave oratorio is the Messiah.

So, why not go to downtown Chicago to listen to some top flight musicians, in one of the premier nationwide music venues?

My husband, daughter and I motored down Lake Shore Drive and enjoyed the day. (It was beautiful and temperate, considering it was the first Saturday in December.) We parked, and strolled down Michigan Avenue about a half an hour before concert time. Across the street, on the east side of Michigan, we gazed at a marvelous sight. When, to my wondering eyes should appear—a whole host of St. Nicholases! And some not-so-tiny reindeer, too!

More than that, all the the Santas, Ms. Santas, elves, reindeer, and other assorted Christmas people were all on the steps of the Art Institute. (My husband helpfully took a photo.)

As I came across the street to gaze upon this wondrous sight, the lead Santa (bullhorn in hand) led them off to march north up Michigan Avenue. I asked the marching Santas why they were there. One of the more helpful Santas called back over his shoulder: “We’re with Food for the Hungry—feeding hungry children.”

What a great thing to do! Colorful, helpful, kind, and—fantastic public relations, too!

Oh, that performance of the Messiah? Top flight! Really superb, in every way. The Apollo Chorus did a remarkable job. The four soloists? Excellent! And the conductor, Dr. Stephen Alltop? He led the chorus, soloists and orchestra with a light, yet sure hand. The three of us enjoyed it very much.

I have been trying to find out which food organization these Santas were with. I haven’t found out yet, but I will, soon! So, stay tuned. Watch this space. And, please—help out a local food pantry. Feed hungry children in your community. God bless you. And, God bless these local food pantries, too.

@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 PEACE 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!)

In Which I Ride the El (evated Train)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, February 6, 2015

As I reread this post, I vividly remembered the situation. I was back there, in the El car. I pray for both of these men, even today.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, February 8, 2014

 

Under The El Tracks  Painting by J Loren Reedy

Under The El Tracks
Painting by J Loren Reedy

 

In Which I Ride the El (evated Train)

I rode the Elevated train (or, the El) downtown, amidst the big flakes of thickly falling snow. Since the ride downtown lasted approximately one hour, I had my trusty reading material. (I’m currently reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. But I digress.)

About twenty minutes into the ride through Chicago, a young man in an older jacket, stocking cap, hoodie and sweat pants came walking slowly through the El car. He gave a practiced little speech about how he was broke and hungry, and he needed money. I looked up. I usually am leery of people who ask for money. In fact, this guy looked and sounded like a typical panhandler—practiced, and too pat. I checked him out, looked him up and down. Since I have some experience working with people in a drug and alcohol rehab, I suspected he was mildly high or intoxicated. (For my money, I’d bet high.)

He stood there after he finished his spiel, gazing from person to person. Most of the passengers completely ignored him. I sat there for a moment, and then dug into my bag. I pulled out a wrapped chocolate biscotti. Held it out to him. He took it, and looked at it with a big question on his face. “It’s a cookie,” I said. “A chocolate cookie. I really like them.” The information I gave him slowly registered, and he said thanks. Then ducked out of the train car through the connecting door.

I continued to read my book, traveled to the Loop, went to a restaurant to meet my sister, and had a wonderful lunch. After a pleasant afternoon, I traveled back on the El. Got on a very crowded train car, and was fortunate enough to find a seat. After about ten minutes, similar story. A young man in layers of clothes and a stuffed backpack got on the El. He stood in a group of people near the door. He seemed a bit nervous, but got up some gumption and started to speak.

This time, I could tell the man was desperate. He told a story of job loss last fall, and then homelessness. He had been sleeping on the El train for a number of weeks, by his own account. He had just gotten out of the hospital and offered to show discharge papers to anyone who wanted to verify his story. He said his leg was getting better after being infected and inflamed, and that he needed some antibiotics. $18.60, he said they would cost. He showed everyone on the train his calf. (Yes, the calf did look puffy and inflamed. I know what that looks like, from my years in the hospital.) Again, no one moved or looked at the young man. I could see the desperation on his face. Even despair. His eyes filled with tears.

I waited almost a minute. I hardly ever do this—again. (I usually do not have the money to spare, to tell the truth.) But, I gave him some money. And I said, “God bless you,” as I gave it to him. I held his hand for a moment. He and I made eye contact. Held it. His voice broke. “Thank you. Thank you, and God bless you.” I could hear the gratitude in his voice. Then he got off the train at the next stop. I waved and smiled as he got off the train car. He nodded at me and then ducked his head as he made his way through the mass of people clambering in or out of the car.

Two people. Two situations. Honestly, I do not usually give things to panhandlers. But today, I did. I wasn’t even thinking or making a conscious decision—the compassionate gifts just happened.

A friend of mine is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika. She had an article published the other day that featured three people who had lost their jobs many months ago. (In case anyone is interested: http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/25404540-418/still-jobless-little-hope-of-long-term-benefits.html) Just like the second man on the El. Perhaps I was empathizing with his situation. Perhaps I was recalling my friend’s article. Whatever the reason, I acted in a loving and giving manner. Just like in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

God, thank You for the loving, caring nudges. Thank You for the opportunity to be of service to these two men, these members of God’s family.

@chaplaineliza

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

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 27, 2015

Yes, the Super Bowl will be here again in just a few days. That entertainment extravaganza with some football thrown in. (I kid, I kid.) Seriously, The Super Bowl has become a Winter Event, even for people who do not ordinarily watch football. Except—it’s become much more than that, in several other, important areas. Including the area I highlight here, in last year’s post.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 31, 2014

souper bowl of caring 

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Santas Help Out the Hungry

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 6, 2014

Santas in front of the Art Institute photo credit - Kevin Jones

Santas in front of the Art Institute
photo credit – Kevin Jones

Santas Help Out the Hungry

I do not often go downtown on a December Saturday before Christmas. Ever. And I mean, ever.

However, my husband was the last-minute recipient of three tickets for a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center today. He and I? Our favorite period of classical music is Baroque, one of our preferred composers is George Frederick Handel, and our absolute fave oratorio is the Messiah.

So, why not go to downtown Chicago to listen to some top flight musicians, in one of the premier nationwide music venues?

My husband, daughter and I motored down Lake Shore Drive and enjoyed the day. (It was beautiful and temperate, considering it was the first Saturday in December.) We parked, and strolled down Michigan Avenue about a half an hour before concert time. Across the street, on the east side of Michigan, we gazed at a marvelous sight. When, to my wondering eyes should appear—a whole host of St. Nicholases! And some not-so-tiny reindeer, too!

More than that, all the the Santas, Ms. Santas, elves, reindeer, and other assorted Christmas people were all on the steps of the Art Institute. (My husband helpfully took a photo.)

As I came across the street to gaze upon this wondrous sight, the lead Santa (bullhorn in hand) led them off to march north up Michigan Avenue. I asked the marching Santas why they were there. One of the more helpful Santas called back over his shoulder: “We’re with Food for the Hungry—feeding hungry children.”

What a great thing to do! Colorful, helpful, kind, and—fantastic public relations, too!

Oh, that performance of the Messiah? Top flight! Really superb, in every way. The Apollo Chorus did a remarkable job. The four soloists? Excellent! And the conductor, Dr. Stephen Alltop? He led the chorus, soloists and orchestra with a light, yet sure hand. The three of us enjoyed it very much.

I have been trying to find out which food organization these Santas were with. I haven’t found out yet, but I will, soon! So, stay tuned. Watch this space. And, please—help out a local food pantry. Feed hungry children in your community. God bless you. And, God bless these local food pantries, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 8, 2014

BK hug a blanket of kindness

I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

Ever have someone close to you need help? Assistance? Someone to be there, with him (or her). This kind of situation is probably all too similar to so many people. As someone who is familiar with care centers and people who might need more care at home, that clears my brain and heart to be present with people.

I know I’ve spoken about this aspect of care and concern before. As a chaplain, my inner ‘antennae’ are sensitized to people who are going through stuff. Any kind of stuff. And it’s not only the people I know, but it’s also others who know them.

It doesn’t particularly matter. Whether I’m called a chaplain or a pastor, I still come alongside of people. I still try to be calm, gentle, welcoming. A practice I’ve developed in the past few years, it doesn’t always work—it doesn’t even usually work. But when it does, I try to journey alongside of others. Use my less-anxious presence.

Sometimes, I am so grateful to have people appreciate my presence. At other times, they haven’t. They want to be alone, or with their friends. They can be hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and therefore snap my head off. But regardless, I offer to be there. To be of service. To be kind.

Thank God that many people are grateful, thankful for company while they are going through stuff. And for the others who aren’t, at the time I asked? That’s okay. Some people have real challenges, and it’s difficult for them to come up smiling all the time. I understand, better than others. Hugs help, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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