Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I think this blog post is just what I need right now. Peace. God’s peace. Jesus giving me peace. I am so grateful that Jesus provides peace for us. Peace, wellness, wholeness, shalom. God be with you, with me, with everyone.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 7, 2014

pink roses

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Peace can be a transient thing. It’s difficult to come by for some people, and even more difficult to hold on to, for others. I know in my life, I have not always been peaceful. At peace. For years, I have (more often than not) been longing for peace, even actively searching for peace . . . and not finding it.

A number of years ago, when my two older girls were toddler and preschooler, their father and I were having a particularly difficult time with finances and with unemployment. It lasted for several years. We shopped at resale stores. We counted pennies. We went without a great number of things. We had a really tough time paying for necessary stuff like doctor bills and medication. (Remember when your toddler or preschooler would have the occasional ear infection, or strep throat?)

I am so grateful for family members! Loving, kind, giving family members gave us a hand. Helped us out. I don’t know how I would have made it through without our great families! But, wait! You say, that’s great for long time ago, but . . . what gives? Sure, what you’ve said so far is all very nice. All heartwarming and everything. But it was some years ago! What about today? How am I—how are we being kind today?

I’m so glad you asked! Some time has passed, and I have been actively searching for peace ever since. More often than not, for years. And years.

I believe I have some idea of peace in my life, right now. At bible study today, we were all talking about peace. God’s peace. How Jesus wished His disciples—His followers peace. What did that mean, anyway?

To greet someone with the word “Peace” was a common way of saying hello, in the first century. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. “Peace” didn’t mean just a cessation of violence . No, the connotation of the word shalom meant much, much more. By using this greeting, the risen Christ was wishing His followers not only peace and wellness, but also wholeness, in terms of the world being made peaceful.

As we talked about this rich, multi-layered concept of peace—of shalom, what a wonderful idea it is! How awesome, to have Jesus wishing this for the disciples. And even, wishing it for each of us, too! That was my act of service today, telling people about the peace of Christ. Truly, a wonderful discovery for each of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus can deliver. For me, and for you, too. I put my trust in the risen Christ. I know the risen Christ makes Himself available to me. On a daily basis, even. And how awesome is that?

@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 meditation 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!)

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Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I went in for a regularly scheduled dental visit last week. Teeth cleaning. When the dentist came in, he gave me a clean bill of dental health. As I read through several posts from June 2014 (when I was in the middle of my Year of Being Kind), I came across this one—where I talked about self-care, and how self-care was so important a part of the life of someone in the caring profession. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s good to take care of oneself. Jesus is an excellent example for me. God willing, may I continue to follow His example and continue to take care of myself.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

kindness sand image

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

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

 

 

 

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another year older, another year flown by. I think about my children, and remember. I think about the little ones in preschool, and get nostalgic. Another school year comes to a close. The promise of summer vacation lies ahead. Have fun, little ones! Be happy, my children, now not so little.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 29, 2014

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind!

Suffer the Children - von Uhde, 1884

Suffer the Children – von Uhde, 1884

I love small children. I loved it when my children were small, and I could take them to the park, the beach, the playground. We would have such adventures! The smallest things captured their interest, and became the topics of deep discussion. Like a busy little ant nest next to the sidewalk. I remember one of my preschool-age daughters squatting down and examining it so closely, and for so long! We talked about that ant nest for some time afterwards.

Another time, I remember two of my children (I think one in kindergarten, the other in preschool) as they laughed and splashed in the outside shower, at the beach house near our condo. Simple pleasures. They spent a good long time having fun in the open air shower! I was relaxed and unhurried, and I enjoyed watching them having a great time.

Now my children are grown. (And almost grown—with my youngest at seventeen.) New ages, new adventures, new challenges.

But I still enjoy small children. I have the opportunity to see preschool aged children almost every day. At my work, the building houses a preschool that provides daycare, preschool and kindergarten for several dozen children each day. So, I get to see the children in the halls. In the bathroom. Outside in the playground. All around the church.

“Pastor Elizabeth! There’s Pastor Elizabeth!” And sometimes one or two of the braver ones ask me, “What do you do here?” and “Where do you stay when you’re here?” I laugh and tell them I am working here at church. “But this is our school!” I nod and say, “Yes, and my office is right around the corner, too!” I get happy “hellos!” and random hugs around the knees. And I say “hello!” right back!

I’m reminded of what Jesus said to His disciples and other followers in the Gospel of Matthew—He said that the little children had an open invitation to come to Him! There were some adults who wanted to keep them (and their mothers) away from Jesus—such an important Rabbi couldn’t be bothered with children, after all!

Jesus corrected the adults’ fallacy, and went ahead and welcomed small children. Then—Jesus laid hands on the children and blessed them. How awesome is that?

I want to follow Jesus’ example, whenever I can. Imagine, welcoming children, being friends with them, and encouraging and caring for them. And—their responses are so honest, loving and genuine! God willing, I’ll be able to continue to say “Hello!” for a long time. What a chance to be kind, loving, and caring. Thanks, God, for this awesome opportunity!

@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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Have Bible Study? Be Kind! (#BestOf)

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

Helping? Being of service? Why not with a bible study? This way is a natural for me. I love teaching, and I’ve been told I’m fairly good at leading groups. As I read over this post from last May, I thought, “How encouraging!” See if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, God!

@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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House? (#BestOf)

 (the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remodeling? Yes, this is where I was at, last year. What a mess! But now, almost a year later, it was so worth it! Looking at our modest (all right—small, it’s true) bathroom, I know the headaches were just for a little while. The facelift, the fresh tile, the new paint? All go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable in our modest condo. Lord, is that what You want me to feel like in my spiritual house, too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - Oleg Kujala (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

 

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter.

I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much.

I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul?

Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

@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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(the Best of) Be Kind—Reunite Kids and Moms (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 22, 2015

The post that follows is a post that means a lot to me, and a ministry I felt deeply about, for a number of years. Even though I am now in other ministries and have moved on from this loving, giving church, this particular ministry to incarcerated moms and their families continues. Thank God for loving, caring people who willingly give of their money, time and talents to help others.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 24, 2014

BK kindness workboots on

Be Kind—Reunite Kids and Moms (Feature Friday!)

The weather outside is frightful. As I look out the window, I think of blustery weather and dangerously low wind chills. A difficult time of year to travel, here in the Midwest. It’s even more of a challenge for people to travel, if they must rely on public transportation.

The prison ministry I used to drive for eases just such a challenge. The prison ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Evanston reunites incarcerated moms with their children—for at least part of a Saturday. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois organizes transportation for children and their caregivers (grandmothers, aunts, and other family members or friends). First Pres Evanston is one of their transportation volunteers.

For years, this church has used their bus to transport loved ones to federal penitentiaries—for no charge to the relatives. The relatives transported are often on public aid, Social Security, or some other form of assistance. They have very little money to begin with, and often rely on public transportation. This makes trips to downstate prisons to see incarcerated loved ones almost an impossibility.

I was one of the main drivers for First Pres during most of the decade 2000 to 2010. I transported these relatives many miles on Saturdays. Never mind that I had to get to the church extra early to check out the bus, warm it up, and head off to the pick-up point on the south side of Chicago. (I didn’t mind. Really. Honest.)

That pick-up point—a huge strip mall parking lot next to the expressway—struck me as particularly sad. Shrewd, cynical shysters crassly make money (a LOT of money) doing the same thing. Transporting loved ones in similar situations, at a considerable profit. A few years ago, the price for one of these for-profit seats on the commercial buses lined up at the lot’s edge was in the area of $35 to $40. That was the price PER SEAT. If a grandma wanted to take two or three grandchildren to see their mom in prison, the cost would triple or quadruple. Way out of reach for those on a limited income.

I willingly gave up frequent Saturdays to drive the church bus, because I believed in being kind, offering what I had—some driving ability and a commercial driver’s license—for others. But I didn’t immediately make the connection with the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, specifically in Matthew 25:31-46. I finally got my elbow nudged from God: I helped these relatives to go see their loved ones, the incarcerated women.

So, yes. I was aiding them to do what Jesus directed in verses 36 and 39-40. (“What you did for the least of these.”) I had a small part in making the world a more nurturing place, a more compassionate place. And most especially, allowing children to have some kind of personal, face-to-face relationship with their moms.

Thank God there are people who still willingly give up their Saturdays to drive to prisons a long distance away. And I pray for ministries like that of First Presbyterian Church in Evanston and Lutheran Social Services. Bless them, and prosper their continued ministry. What a way to be kind and tender-hearted.

@chaplaineliza

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

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas-Candles-and holly

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

I planned a Christmas Eve service for tonight. A candle-lighting service. A service where we sang Christmas carols, read from the Bible, and—lit candles.

I know how special a Christmas Eve service is, for many people. Accordingly, I made a particular effort to do my very best planning for this service. I was at my friend’s Christmas open house a week and a half ago. Her son was home from college. He is a baritone, a music major (vocal performance emphasis). I had the brain storm to ask him to sing some special music for this Christmas Eve service. Of course, he said! (His mother assured me he would be there. And, he was!)

I prepared a short message. More of a meditation than a sermon. I laid it out, in clear fashion. I mean, why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I tried to make it straight-forward.

Here’s the situation. I’ll state it in plain words. Humanity was in a mess. (Still is, without God.) I mean, people going this way and that, doing what they want, not acting or thinking in a way that is pleasing to God, or living the way God wants them to live. Like the prophet said in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way.”

But God didn’t want humanity to be left out in the cold, or separated from God for eternity. There was no way for me or for you to get back to God, on our own. We were separated by sin. What could we do? Left all by ourselves, we were in a terrible situation, a horrible mess!

But, God.

God loved us. God wanted to reach out. To bring us back to God. But, not in a mean or angry way! Not in a fearful way, either. Instead, God wanted to reach down to earth in love. And how better to communicate to earth than to become one of the frail human beings God intended to reach? Yes, that same God wanted to reach to earth—reach to each of us, to all of us, in love. With love. Through love.

That was an important point I wanted to get across this evening, when I preached. After church, one of the people who attended the service told me that they had never quite understood why Jesus became a baby—until tonight.

God, I have a feeling I know at least one reason why You wanted me to say what I did tonight. Thank God for the leading and prompting I had as I prepared the service and my message. And thank God for the Baby born in Bethlehem.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com