Being Kind by Cracking a Joke (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 31, 2018

This post made me so happy! When I read through this, I instantly remembered the young man whose day I brightened. Imagine, I was able to do that just by giving him a bright smile and making a humorous comment. How many other people go through their everyday activities all sad and down in the dumps, with no one to make them smile? It was a simple interaction I had with the cashier, and I hope a meaningful one, too. It is a reminder for me: be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Please.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

ruddy duck, Chgo Bot Grdn, photo credit Kevin Jones

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@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 Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 23, 2014

kitten and little girl

Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, what about all play and no work? What will that do to Jill? What kind of a girl will she become? It’s not that I did no work over the weekend. Certainly not! But I was in a very different setting. In two different settings, actually. (For those who missed my comings and goings, I was at one conference in Cleveland from Friday afternoon until Sunday midday. And then, I made a hop, skip and a jump to another conference in western Pennsylvania from Sunday mid-afternoon until after lunch on Tuesday.)

I’ve blogged about my conference-going for the past few days. Some marvelous insights! Some innovative ideas! Lots to think about, and lots to process over the next couple of weeks.

So—I was back in the office today. Answering a ton of email, responding to social media, doing a good deal of computer file maintenance and other types of office work and correspondence. Oh, I read to the preschoolers and kindergarteners at the preschool. Had several meetings with people over the telephone. Pretty much just stayed put, at the church.

And yet, I realized today that in just about every interaction, I purposed to be kind. Amazing how much six months of a kindness-orientation or service-practice can cause me to change my mindset. Well, that’s not quite right. I have shown the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement for decades. That’s nothing new. But—this purposeful kindness- or helps-orientation every single day? That is new for me.

I haven’t spoken of the verse I chose for the month of July much. This is not a deliberate error on my end, because so much has been going on! But before July slips away, let’s take another look at James 1:22; “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” To my way of thinking, using my spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement is doing the Word. Being active, not passive.

Towards the end of the day, I did something else that was active. Doing the Word, not just sitting there, vegetating like a spiritual couch-potato. I wrote out two cards and sent them to two separate people. One was a birthday card. A happy occasion! The other was a sympathy card—a friend’s mother recently died after some years in a nursing home. A sad occasion.

Yes, I spent most of the day sitting in my office, doing necessary work. But, I can still be kind. Still be of service and help to someone else. And, I do pray for each family who will be receiving a card. God be with them and bless them as God knows they need a touch from above. Thank You, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind, Keeping A Confidence

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 9, 2014

quiet--more you can hear

Being Kind, Keeping A Confidence

Just about everyone knows about gossips. People who can’t hold their tongues, and go blabbing to all and sundry. Gossip-py people can be tiresome. They can also cause a great deal of disruption. It all depends on how much they gossip, and what about. Oh, and what kind of rumors or half-truths they end up telling, too. But what about those people who purposely try not to spread mis-information?

I tried my best to be of service today, and listen to a dear acquaintance of mine. I used my active listening skills, and practiced several of the motivational interviewing skills I learned. (Valuable skills, indeed! Thanks to my substance abuse counseling instruction!) And most importantly—I found, yet again, how needed it is for me to come alongside of someone. Journey with them for a little, and try to listen with a less-anxious presence. With as little judgment in my heart as possible. And—to keep things as confidential as possible.

I know, this practice is so, so difficult! Yes. True. But that doesn’t make it any the less needed. Any the less appreciated. Yes, I did try, to the best of my ability. And, I hope I was an encouragement and a comfort to my acquaintance.

I also preached a sermon at a midweek service this afternoon. The sermon was based on Matthew 10:42 and I enjoyed both the sermon as well as the preaching of it. I received a great number of comments afterwards on the sermon, and almost every comment was positive. (I did like that. It stroked my ego.)

However, I am not sure which interaction I had today, which would make God more pleased. I know I encouraged and blessed people in their hearing and reading of the Bible passage, and their attendance at the midweek service. And, I hope I gave some encouragement and comfort to my acquaintance in the midst of the difficult, continuing situation I heard about today.

I could just take the easy way out. Say that God was pleased by both situations. And, use one of my favorite expressions: “both/and.”

Yes, I think God was pleased by both/and. I don’t think I serve and love an “either/or” kind of God. No, I’m glad God is both/and.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Encourage Others at a Conference

A Year of Being Kind blog –Tuesday, March 18, 2014

drawing people at conference

In Which I Encourage Others at a Conference

I am at a conference for the next few days. I love being with fellow professionals, getting a refresher on the area of my certification! (For those of you who are wondering, I have a state certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. That’s on top of my master’s degree in Divinity.)

The continuing education conference is twice a year. Once in the spring, west of O’Hare Airport and Chicago, proper. And again in the fall, downstate in Springfield. I know, it’s not exactly the usual thing I blog about. But then, I have many and varied interests, from music to theology, from history to animals, from arts and handcrafts to all kinds of vehicles.

After the opening session in the morning, we had several all-day seminars. The one I attended featured Positive Psychology and what bearing it has on drug and alcohol counseling. Well, that was the day’s starting point—but there was a great deal more than just that! Fascinating subject, and even more fascinating presentation. (Thank you, David Folkes!) Actually, positive psychology is just that; instead of the study of messed-up functioning of mental health and aberrations of various people’s thoughts and actions, positive psychology concentrates on beneficial functioning! Good, properly-working mental health! Such a refreshing, encouraging study!

I discovered quite a lot of things that will help me in my new position as interim co-pastor. Helpful aspects of individual and group interaction, from a positive and encouraging angle. However, I want to get to the service part of my post today. We did have about seven dozen counselors and social worker-types in a large room today. So we were used to interacting with others in our day-to-day work. I was still surprised at how quickly just about everyone got involved in the group activities. The presenter asked everyone to break up into groups of two and three. Amazing how cohesive the small pairs and trios of people became—almost instantly!

Just as I willingly pitched in, and opened up to the other two people, they did the same! A lot of trust was displayed in that room today, trust, openness and honesty. I willingly tried to be of service in the workshop. Just as at church or mission conferences in the church, quick and close relationships are often the norm. So, too, with this professional and educational gathering. Encouraging and beneficial treatment of each other helps each of us—in whatever sphere we happen to be in.

I am further reminded that there is no “right way” or “only way” to show the love of God. Yes, I am allowed to display kindness and friendliness, even at a professional conference where I only know three or four other people among four hundred people. (If Jesus were in a similar position, What Would Jesus Do?)  Hmm. If I had a big flashlight in a dark place, what would Jesus suggest I do with it? Would He tell me to keep to myself and shut off my flashlight? Or would He be pleased if I offered my flashlight to others for their help and service? Hmm. What do you think?

@chaplaineliza

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