Of Service When Sad.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 10, 2014

KIND one kind word

Of Service When Sad.

Ever have someone in your family or friends get really sick? So sick that it affected you? So sick it was like I was walking through chest-high water? That’s the way it is with me. Someone I know is quite sick. I was thinking about this dear one for the past few days, and I feel so sad as I remember. Also happy, warm and grateful at the thoughts, but mostly sad, today.

I remember other times when I felt like I was walking through chest-high water. Sad times. Heavy times. Even though I am trained in how to deal with difficulty and challenging situations, it doesn’t make very much difference. I am still sad.

I know that my chaplain training helps me with others, assists me to help contain emotions—feelings. Helps me to be kind and helpful, of service to those going through difficulty.

As much as I don’t think of it, I need a chaplain from time to time. I need someone to walk with me, when I am feeling sad, or lonely, or depressed, or angry. Sure, I can separate myself from those strong emotions, and sometimes even train the feelings to be used for beneficial reasons. That’s turning sad feelings upside down. That’s just a couple of examples.

Yes, all of us need someone to walk by our sides, now and then. Someone to listen, someone to walk at one’s side. I was one of those helpful, kind people today. But what about my feelings inside of my heart and mind? I had to slow down, personally, and just acknowledge those the sad feelings inside of me. And maybe, I’ll be kind and gentle with myself today.

If you’re facing difficulties today, you might feel like you’re walking through chest-high water. I urge everyone to stop, and do a status check—a feelings and emotion check. Feelings and emotions can be wild and difficult. If you are going through some challenging times today, consider being kind and gentle with yourself today. And God will be there to help, too.

We all need kindness and gentleness, especially when we’re sad or mad. Thanks, God, for sending friends to help us through those difficult times.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 20, 2014

autumn road

In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

Ever feel that tickly feeling in the back of your throat? The kind where you feel something sort of uncomfortable back there, but you can’t do much about it? That’s how I’ve been feeling for the past few days. October is here. Brightly colored leaves, cooler weather, the grass and greenery turning faded and brown. With all of that change in the growing things out of doors comes mold. The October gusts of wind spread that mold everywhere. Lucky me, I happen to be allergic to much of that mold. Thus—the tickly feeling in the back of my throat—post nasal drip. Also, itchy eyes and full sinuses. Those are things that I need to deal with, every October.

Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn. I really do! I love to walk in the woods or the Forest Preserves, and take a look at the beautiful panorama of nature. But—the mold count does impinge on my full enjoyment of this season of the year. Because of my allergies, I was moving slowly this morning. Sure, I went to work today, and I did get some things done. However, for the most part, I took it easy.

My youngest daughter is home for several days. It happens to be her fall break. She was kind enough to do several loads of laundry while I was at work. (Thanks, Rachel!) On Saturday, she and I talked about her college band. She happens to play the bass clarinet. (Very well, I might add. And, no, it’s not just pride in my daughter. I do know something about music.) She needs several new reeds for the bass clarinet mouthpiece. I said I would pick them up. It’s not like I was going miles out of the way or anything. However, the music store was an additional thing to do. Place to stop. And, I was not feeling that well, on top of things.

But once I got in the car, I found the wheels almost steered themselves to the Band and Instrument store. I asked for some mid-grade reeds of the appropriate hardness, and spent a few enjoyable minutes conversing with one of the workers at the shop. I was kind and friendly to him, too.

Moral of the story? well, not really. It’s just that I have the ability to be kind, friendly, and helpful. I can be of service, even when I don’t feel well. Even when I am rushed, frazzled, frustrated, or downright angry. That means I still have the chance, the opportunity to be kind, courteous, and helpful. Please, God, help me remember these kind, encouraging words and actions. I might be able to pass them along—even when I am not feeling bouncy, friendly and energetic. God willing.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service? Naturally!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 25, 2014

people with whom our hearts are knitted

Of Service? Naturally!

I had the opportunity to be kind, helpful and of service today.

It was like this. Someone called the church some days ago, and wanted to know whether she might be able to rent out the church for an event in a few months. We arranged to meet this afternoon, at a time that was convenient for all of us. The office manager, Sunny, and I showed the woman around the church, answered as many questions about the facility as we could, and were genuinely as helpful as both of us could be. Sunny even let the friendly woman know that she could make herself available as photographer—since that is another business that she has. The woman laughed, and mentioned something about the full services our church provides. We all agreed on the humor in that situation.

The woman seemed to be both pleased and touched to see the preschool children, as well as the babies and toddlers. The children were taking their nap right after lunch, when the two of us peeked into several spaces where the children usually made their presence well known. But, not at this time. It was nap time, and we were especially quiet, even while checking out the facilities.

I had a good day before that, too. I grabbed a quick lunch with Pastor Gordon, my former fellow pastor at St. Luke’s Church. Gordon and I always have a wonderful time together, and he is so helpful and wise on top of everything else. He and I periodically meet together to talk, since he has so kindly offered to mentor me and give me some handy tips for church administrative and procedural matters. Of course, I was tickled to death at this prospect. Gordon has several decades of solid experience, and he is one of the best people I can think of to mentor me. Solid stuff he communicates, and so helpful, too.

After that, meeting with the cheerful, pleasant woman at church was the main event of the day, as far as I am concerned. It felt good to be responding to someone who was asking genuine questions about our church, and had real interest in our building. I know St. Luke’s Church building is a modest facility, but I certainly appreciate its many good qualities. And, I hope I highlighted them today. God willing, yes!

@chaplaineliza

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Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 28, 2014

be a blessing be a friend

Do I Hesitate Being Kind, Nurturing and Giving?

I never met the man, but from what everyone said, he enjoyed his friends. He loved to visit with whomever came to the house, And with his in-laws. He was kind, nurturing, friendly. Most everything, most every character trait that was good, kind and generous. And now—this wonderful ability to be kind is gone—permanently. He is gone, too.

I wonder. I’ve been purposely trying to do loving, kind, helpful things for months. Taking opportunities for service, in fact. But—I wonder how many people hesitate to do kind things? I have a shameless confession to make. I know I hesitate, sometimes. Not as much as I used to, but the tendency is still there, clear as day. Just waiting for a fine example to inspire me? I hope not. I want to be internally motivated to be kind, be of service, and be helpful.

The bible verses I’ve chosen for each month are prompts for myself. Examples to show me different aspects of being kind. Being helpful. Micah 6:8 is one of the most significant bible verses for me, as I have been reflecting on it during the month of August. This verse from the prophet urges me to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Yes, I am encouraged to live in this way. But sometimes—I find I just don’t want to.

Forgive me, God.

If I have difficulty finding internal motivation, perhaps external impetus will help. Like, considering this man who is no longer with us. He was surely kind, generous, and warm.

As for me, today, I was intentionally kind to a friend I haven’t seen for a number of months. I asked after her family, and was genuinely interested in the answer! This older friend is very dear, and I was especially glad to hear about the moderately good health she and her family are currently enjoying. Yay! Oh, and we had coffee and conversation, which is always enjoyable with her!

The only thing is that I didn’t go out of my way to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God at any time today. Today was a paperwork sort of day, a day to catch up in the office, and a day to prepare for two services this weekend. At least my friend and I had a wonderful time this past morning!

I know I am going to continue to try to be kind every day. That’s my part. I know God’s glad when I strive to show kindness. God willing, I will, too!

@chaplaineliza

Being Kind to a Centenarian

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

BK only kindness matteres

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.

@chaplaineliza

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Example of Kindness and Caring

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 13, 2014

BK definition of kindness

Example of Kindness and Caring

Sometimes, people follow those who are good examples. Those whose lives exemplify some trait or quality they would like to have. Or, have more of.

When I was young (I’m talking grade school here), I attended a Lutheran church on the northwest side of Chicago. The church was about seven blocks from my house. I would willingly walk both ways, to and from the church. But occasionally—especially in inclement weather—I would appreciate a ride home after morning service. Mrs. Pabst would take me home. She was the parish visitor, a volunteer position in the church, but one that many of the members and friends appreciated so much. She would visit the homebound parishioners, those who were hospitalized, and those in retirement and rehab centers.

Mrs. Pabst was an active senior, a widow who lived just a few blocks from my house. She and my mother had been acquainted for some years, and my mother thought Mrs. Pabst was a very kind, very caring individual. Mrs. Pabst also talked kindly to me, on occasion.

I vividly remember this situation. I must have been about eleven. Going to church on my own, as I usually did. It was the winter, because people were all bundled up. I remember being shy and hesitant to say that I had done something. (I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was . . . ) Mrs. Pabst took me home after church that morning and spoke to me in her kindly way. She told me it was all right for me to take pride in my accomplishments. It was okay for me to own up to being responsible for something. Take ownership of, or point to something I had done. In other words, I could blow my own horn! Really, it was the good and honorable thing to do, and even pleasurable for me to do this!

This advice came from one of the kindest and most caring women I had ever known. Instead of being shy and retiring, hesitant to own up to any worthwhile activity or action I did, Mrs. Pabst helped me to see that I could, indeed, proudly let people know that I was the one responsible. It was okay. Even more than okay, sometimes. Just great, in fact!

I happened to think of this very kind lady today, as I remembered the words I used in a recent conversation. I gave myself as an example. I was self-deprecating and apologetic in my conversation with my friend, but I did point to myself. Tell my friend that I try to follow the right, Godly thing to do. Even now, decades after the advice given to me by Mrs. Pabst, I still am somewhat hesitant to blow my own horn. But as the years pass, I am getting more and more self-confidence. I do know that I am a worthwhile person and God’s creation. So are you! You, and I, and every other person made is a much beloved creation of God, and of infinite value to God. This is good news! Correction: this is great news!

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

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

BK show more kindness than necessary

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

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Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind at a Library

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 27, 2014

library clipart illustration

library clipart illustration

Being Kind at a Library

Today was Sunday. The second Sunday of Easter. Today was also a busy day and evening for me. Since a nearby library has open hours on Sunday evenings, I decided to head there after dinnertime. I’m in the process of writing several articles for an encyclopedia, and I wanted to do some additional research. Busily (and happily), I involved myself with research until almost nine o’clock.

I could have written about several encounters I had today. But one brief encounter stuck in my mind. I packed up my laptop and came down to the library lobby, a little before nine. As I entered the vestibule with the sliding doors, I noticed two people blocking the primary exit doors—one library employee and an older library patron with a fancy walker. The older man was a bit stooped. He peered through his glasses anxiously, into the chill and the rain. He seemed to be waiting for someone or something.

This older man caught my attention. As I zipped up my coat, he turned toward me with some stiffness. I could see he had some kind of difficulty in walking or in movement. His shoulders were not quite square as he tried to face me. I smiled at him. Open, friendly. “Hello! You look like you’re waiting for someone.” I nodded with my head at the pavement—and street—outside. Relaxed and easy, I continued to smile.

The man opened right up, and engaged with me immediately. He nodded his graying, frizzy head at me, saying “Yes, I’m waiting for a cab.” He looked outside again, and frowned. The library employee excused himself, and went outside to see whether the cab happened to be waiting around the corner. (Which every once in a while, they are.)

As is the case with some people, the older man started telling me about his life. Waiting for the cab, how long it would take at times. What he was carrying with him in a bag (he showed me), and more, besides. His manner and style of communication seemed a bit awkward, probably due to his physical condition. But I could tell his mind was sharp as a tack.

Our brief interaction was pleasant, open. I could honestly say I think I made a new friend tonight. I smiled again, my bright, cheerful smile. I wished him well and a safe trip home despite the wet and the cold. As I walked to my car, I reflected on the fact that I could have asked him whether he might appreciate a ride home. But—I wasn’t sure how he might receive the offer. On top of which, I did not know what kind (kinds?) of physical difficulties he might have. I did not desire to have an unknown man of questionable health and mobility in my car. Even though he might appreciate the ride.

God, I know I could have offered him a ride. Forgive me for not offering. How sad—and awful—to be considering insurance and liability. That was why I prayed for the older man, though. I really wanted to do the kind thing, and be of service to him. I pray I was.

@chaplaineliza

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Human Contractor, or Heavenly One?

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

God trying to change your heart

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!

@chaplaineliza

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