Human Contractor, or Heavenly One? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, April 12, 2018

I’m reminded of this bathroom facelift, several years ago. I appreciate it still. I like looking at the clean, white tile, the accent mosaic tile running around the top of the white tile work. Sure, the cabinet under the bathroom sink is already showing signs of wear, but the bathroom is such a nice place now. I thank the contractor we hired to do the job on the bathroom, just as I appreciate the big remodel job my Heavenly Contractor is doing on me. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, work continues. Until, I suspect, I am done with this earthly tent I’m living in. Thanks, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 12, 2014

bathroom painting Oleg Kujala-Roy Lichtenstein

Human Contractor, or Heavenly One?

Day Six of the bathroom facelift. After driving around all day—doing errands and going places—I finally got home later in the afternoon. The contractor told me, regretfully, that the medicine cabinet I had bought did not fit the opening in the wall. The width was fine, but the new cabinet was a few inches too high. So, off I went again to the big box do-it-yourself store to replace the medicine cabinet I had just bought a few days ago. But, that’s okay! I enjoy going into those stores. All kinds of hardware supplies and building materials are on display, for sure.

The man in the plumbing materials section of the store turned out to be quite helpful. Conversational, too! I needed to buy a replacement for our ratty old shower curtain rod, and get a few other incidentals, in addition to the medicine cabinet. He made the process of buying supplies smooth and easy. I did not even ask him his name. That makes me sad. But I can pray for him, and wish him the best in his job and in the rest of his life, and wish his family good health and harmony. And, I do!

So, this kind man was kind and helpful to me! He was of great service to me and my family, too.

I wonder: what kind of remodeling job do I need in my spiritual house? I know I need some work, that’s for sure. But I don’t quite know where my General Contractor, God, is going to start work next. I think God has helped me make great strides with my regular prayer time. As I’ve mentioned here before, I could not keep up a consistent prayer time. Even though I tried and tried, I just couldn’t. Until late last fall. God helped me to stay pretty consistent with the Advent prayer calendar I was following. After years and years of prayer about praying consistently, I finally succeeded. (With my General Contractor’s help, in great part.) Praise God!

Dear Lord, thank You for people who smooth the way for me, and show me kindness and service, too. Please, help me to intentionally, consistently show kindness. Service. Encouragement and love, too. Thanks, God!


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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind to a Centenarian (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 14, 2015

Looking back, a year ago today, I wanted to remember a dear friend. The centenarian I mentioned, in this post. He died last fall, one hundred years young. I know for sure he is very much missed. There is a Jewish traditional service where the worshipers ask Ha Shem (G-d) to remember those for whom we mourn and grant them rest. Many remember their beloved ones who have died. In this way, I remember my dear friend. (Personally, I think he’s helping people, being kind to those in heaven, right now. Just like he did while here on earth.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

only kindness matters

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook.

Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.


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(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!)

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A year ago, last weekend. What a memory. What an unusual spring break trip. Instead of going someplace like a big theme park, or some beach in the sun, we went to Iowa last spring. It’s good to revisit thoughts from the past, especially when they are so kind and neighborly. Check it out!


A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 11, 2014

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa are so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude.

God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these good people!


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!)

Tell People How Special They Are! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, March 19, 2015

This is one of my favorite Psalms—Psalm 139. Plus, this blog post has one of my favorite word-pictures from Scripture. God’s blessings on my son, too.

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

yes-you are special

Tell People How Special They Are!

God made you special. God made me special, too. King David talks about this special-ness in Psalm 139. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that full well.”

I informed my son of this God-given special-ness today, and hugged him. That was the way I was intentionally kind today!

How about you? God not only gives us blessings each and every day, but has also created each one unique and special. Take the opportunity to tell someone that God made them absolutely unique. Special. One of a kind. (And, thank God for it!)

Dear God, help the dear person reading this post understand how special and one-of-a-kind they are. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!


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!)

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, February 4, 2015

Sometimes a smile can do a world of good. It can lighten someone’s day. Just take a look at this conversation I had, a year ago.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City bus - credit Marin Dobson

City bus – credit Marin Dobson

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

I can get into the most intriguing conversations with people I meet, at a moment’s notice. My family rolls their (collective) eyes, sighs, and says, “Oh, Mom.” (Or simply sighs, in my husband’s case.)

I took the opportunity of a day off from work to go to the YMCA this morning, after bringing my son to school. I went into the women’s locker room to change into my workout clothes. Many of the same people were there, the usual denizens of the gym and the pool on a typical weekday morning. I took my time to change, relishing the extra time I had at my disposal.

A woman I had met a number of times before bustled up to a locker near me. We hadn’t seen each other for some days. After we said hello, she was reminded—internally—of the blog I’ve been writing. (Yes, this blog.) She turned to me as she changed and asked how the blog was going. “Fine!” I said, with a smile. She is involved with a non profit organization that assists women and children, and she wanted more information about the blog. So that some of the women could post suggestions about acts of kindness they are familiar with. I said that would be great, and thanked her so much! We talked a bit about how people could contact me. (Reminder: anyone can always contact me at the Facebook page A Year of Being Kind, or through my Twitter account @chaplaineliza, or through—just in case anyone was wondering.)

Another woman, a few lockers down, happened to be listening to us as we spoke about intentional acts of kindness and service. My friend went off to the gym upstairs as I began to talk to the second, older woman. She apologized for eavesdropping on my conversation, but I told her that was perfectly all right. Introduced myself, and the two of us immediately engaged in conversation, also! She told me about an act of service that instantly came to her mind, as soon as she heard about people being kind. “Giving people a smile. Just that simple action can help so much.”

I agreed, and told her about my smile (and I showed it to her, too—my smile just-sort-of happens, you understand). She smiled back, and we exchanged a few words about smiles. But then she went back to her story. She used to ride the bus here in our suburb to work. A bus driver on the route greeted everyone who got on his bus with a big smile, friendly and cheerful. As the woman told me about this driver, she obviously remembered him with fondness. A big smile came across her face. “I used to tell him that his bus ought to be called ‘the Happy Bus.’”

What a happy memory! And what a kind thing to do. A smile and a positive attitude may seem to be little things, but they can brighten a person’s day. They changed this woman’s day, this morning, just remembering. Thank God for small things—like smiles.


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

A Year of Service, Almost Over.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 30, 2014

only kindness matters

A Year of Service, Almost Over.

Only one more day to 2014. Today was a routine day, a day not particularly out of the ordinary. A quiet day at work, since the preschool was on vacation during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The only thing really different about today was the afternoon. I was asked to take a senior friend of mine to a medical appointment, and pick the senior up afterwards.

Did I, you might ask? Sure! Why not? (I ask this in all seriousness.)

Really—why not? I was asked to pick up the dear person, transport them about ten minutes away, and leave them at the medical appointment. Then, I could go back to work, do work for about an hour, pick up the senior after the appointment, and bring them home. Sure. Of course I could do that. And, I did.

My question is directed to myself, as well as my readers. Again, why not? Why not help someone in need?

Now, I perfectly well understand some people are not particularly steady on their feet or have various health difficulties. Others need to work. Still others have other obligations they need to take care of. But—please, if you can, if you’re able, could you consider picking up someone? A neighbor? And then, transporting them to work or to medical appointments, or even to pick up some groceries, or medication from the pharmacy. Then, back home.

I’d like to remind my readers. I said this year was going to be a journey of service. Of being kind. A daunting, exciting, up-and-down journey. I invited anyone, everyone, to come along with me. To come along with me—and God.

I tried not to have any expectations beforehand. No idea what was lying ahead. (Or, was it lying in wait?) I had been told any number of times—before this Year of Being Kind—that I often act in a naturally kind and tenderhearted manner towards others. I often use my spiritual gifts of helpfulness and mercy. This year, others have surprised me with unexpected words, looks, acts, and ways of being. On occasion, I see such kindness, helpfulness and service in the world today. You and I? God willing, we can add to the kindness. And helpfulness. We can be of service, too.

This year, 2014, has been a banner year for me. I’ve learned a great deal about myself. I’ve learned even more about different ways to be of service. A suggestion? Make 2015 a year to help out.

A year of service for you. 365 days of kindness.

P.S. My new blog for 2015? A Year of Everyday Prayers: Connection with God and Others. Stay tuned! More information tomorrow.


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In Which I Am Kind to a Sister

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas presents

In Which I Am Kind to a Sister

Who doesn’t like to get presents? I think of little children. My four little ones (when they were little), and just about every other small child I have ever known. Even most adults I know enjoy getting presents. Receiving a gift-wrapped package, wrapped in pretty paper.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two of my children and I drove into Chicago mid-afternoon today, to see my sister. She had been quite sick for most of last week. So sick, she needed antibiotics from the doctor, right in the middle of the holidays. Sadly, last week was one of my busiest weeks of the past few months, so I was not very available to her. After spending several days quiet at home, she is now much improved. We all went to one of the Christmas movies currently showing in the theater. Afterwards, we went to a nearby restaurant to get some delicious Italian food.

True confession time: when she was living, my mother was difficult to buy presents for. She was a tremendous woman, strong-willed, kind to a fault, generous, artistic, fond of music and books and the creative impulse within. And—she was incredibly picky. (I haven’t been willing to do a full analysis of it, but I know that some of my attitudes and “stuff” associated with gift-giving comes from this.)

I do try to choose presents that I think people will enjoy. With everything I know about that person, I am on the lookout all year for presents. Understand, I definitely do not haunt retail establishments on a weekly basis. No, that’s not my favorite thing to do, at all. However, if I see something—even something little or inexpensive—that I am reasonably sure one of my close relatives likes or might enjoy, chances are that I’ll buy it. And put it away for a gift-giving occasion. Just so, in the case of my sister.

At dinner after the movie, we brought the presents into the restaurant. My sister pulled them out of the small bag they were in. She made the comment, “This is the first present I’ve opened this Christmas.”

That sudden statement made me reflect. Some people do not receive Christmas presents. Do not have anyone to give them Christmas presents. Or, sometimes, do not have any money to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones.

A sad thing. Desperately sad. Just as some people are alone on the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day. I know that some years, I have been caught up in my own family doings, and haven’t been as attentive to others as I ought. I am sorry. I hope I can make up for it by being a good, gracious, loving person from this point onward.

I hope my sister enjoyed her small presents. I honestly chose them with great care. And—despite all the attitude “stuff” that is a legacy from my mother—I hope all my presents this year are useful, or enjoyed, or bring a smile to people’s faces. God willing, may it be so.


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Helping? Going to the YMCA.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 27, 2014

We are His workmanship Eph 2-10

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

I have gone to our local YMCA almost every Saturday morning this year. Mostly for yoga class, but occasionally to power walk and jog on the upstairs track. And today—to encourage my husband, who has decided to join the YMCA as a member.

Yes, I did go to yoga today. And yes, class was absolutely marvelous, thanks to my wonderful teacher Ine! We did most of the usual poses and stretching, true. And, I’ve occasionally waxed eloquent about Ine and her kind, encouraging manner of teaching and leading the yoga classes. I do wish her the best in 2015! (as well as the other regulars in my yoga classes)

My husband and I needed to go out to get some gym shoes today, after yoga. (He needs gym shoes if he means to go to the gym.) So, this afternoon, outfitted in his new gym shoes, he and I headed back to the Y for a workout.

I reflected on this, both before and after going to the gym. What better thing to do for ourselves, than to continue being physically active? In terms of heart health, lowering blood pressure, obesity control, bone density, balance, and a whole host of other issues, it makes a whole lot of sense. Good sense.

As I continued to reflect—as sometimes happens—I thought about the spiritual angle. God is pleased when we take care of our physical bodies, too. I mean, when we eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and take care of the gifts God has given to us. Because, that is exactly what our bodies are. Or, to use a different metaphor (a Pauline metaphor), our bodies are God’s temple. Since the Holy Spirit resides within, I am responsible to care for my body as a good steward. I don’t often think of that.

Finally, I remember my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Another word for “handiwork” is “masterpiece” or poema. That’s the same word where “poem” comes from. God has composed each of us, individually. What’s more, God means for me to do good works, or good things. To be helpful, kind, and of service. Not only outwardly, but inwardly, as well.

So, yes. A whole host of reasons to be a good steward of my own body. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015. As my husband and I go to the gym on a regular basis in 2015, we can’t help but be healthier.


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Helpful with a Cat. Again.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, December 15, 2014

lovely kitty

Helpful with a Cat. Again.

I like animals, very much. And my daughter knows that when she is out of town, I would be more than willing to take care of her cat. Lovely tabby.

So, guess who is cat-sitting? Again? The tabby cat is happy when I come over to her place. (I mean, the cat’s place. Where she allows my daughter to live, too.)

I am sad that I cannot live in the same place as a cat. I have allergies, and my eyes will water and my nose will run. Then, I’ll sneeze. That is, when my face comes in contact with the cat’s fur. Or, when I pet the cat and then touch my face near my eyes—much less coming into direct contact and actually rubbing my eyes. (I can’t even imagine how badly my eyes would water if a cat were to get cat dander all over my bed sheets.)

What is it like for people who are allergic to a great many things? I know my older sister is even more allergic than I am. I have absolutely no idea what I would do. I am afraid I’m not a person who keeps the house spotless. (I wonder whether I would keep things more spotless if I had to? Thank goodness I don’t need to.)

Which leads me back to my daughter’s tabby cat. The cat was so happy to see me. She is affectionate and sweet, occasionally mewing and asking for pats on the head and neck, and tummy rubs. I stayed there for about an hour and a half, doing some writing that needed to be finished. And, petting the cat who was seated in my lap. I definitely was kind to the cat—who very much likes company. And, I was helpful to my daughter, who appreciates the time I spend with the tabby when she is not available.

In my apartment, I am animal-deprived right now. I could have a cat. I could. The condo rules permit owners to have an animal fifteen pounds or less. However, as stated before, I am allergic to cats. My husband is not in favor of us having a dog. So—we do not have any animal right now. If I want to see a four-legged creature, I need to appreciate and visit other people’s animals.

But I can still be helpful and kind. Kind to my daughter’s cat. Like today.


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Praying for a Kind Solution in an Unjust World, Part 2

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Praying for a Kind Solution in an Unjust World, Part 2

Oh, how I wish I did not have to make a “Part 2” for this post from some days ago. But, I am afraid I do.

Not Ferguson, Missouri, this time. No, this time the grand jury made a pronouncement in New York City. A (white) police officer was found not at fault for choking a (black) man.

And, again, I viewed the reactions both Twitter and online media. This time, I viewed the responses and reactions for several hours. And again, I posted my own response on Twitter: “St Francis’s prayer comes to mind: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Praying for justice/clarity of mind/open ears. #EricGarner

It breaks my heart. It is heart-wrenching, just reading the transcript of Mr. Garner’s words in that last minute or so.

I do not have much else to say, other than 1) thank you to Mr. Garner’s stepfather for recommending that there be no violence as a response to this verdict. 2) I would like to go further, and pray people find positive, responsible ways to change society and change the justice system; 3) God be with everyone who is on the streets tonight and in these next days, no matter who or where they may be—protect each one.

This post is so similar to my previous post. Such serious, heart-breaking news.

Even though I wish my cold would go away soon, I am afraid my garden-variety cold doesn’t even begin to compare to this incredible sadness. And danger, for many, many people. Of all sizes, shapes, colors, and walks of life. God, please watch over many, many people. Not only here, in the United States, but around the world, as they protest this new example of inequity and injustice. And, be with those who truly wish to serve and protect the communities where they work.

Dear Lord, help me to continue to be of service to all those who are struggling for justice in an unjust world. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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