Touched by their Kindness

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

BK a little kinder

Touched by their Kindness

Today was a down day. A day when I was not feeling up to par (due to a frog in my throat, which I wish would hop away, soon!). However, I got some things done at church. Some email answered, several extended telephone calls made, plus additional work done on the final draft of the children’s Sunday school program. (Chiefly, the addition of some simple stage directions.)

Since I felt under the weather, I was almost tempted not to come to the church at all today. However, I needed to meet with several people. And, I had another brief meeting this morning. Thank goodness for over the counter medication! It makes going to work bearable, at least.

A very dear senior member of our congregation died recently. Several relatives dropped by St. Luke’s Church today to bring the church something very special—a whole Christmas town and Christmas train, made with colorful yarn. Needlepointed on plastic, and lovingly—painstakingly—put together.

The dear senior’s spouse made the Christmas town some years ago, but the spouse died several years ago. Now, both have passed on. However, the Christmas town and train are still here. The relatives wanted the church to have them, in memory of the dear couple.

I thought this was marvelous, and I told the relatives so! Such a wonderful way to be kind. I let them know that the church would love to have the Christmas town, permanently. I put a sign on the big plastic bin, announcing its contents, too.

I feel happy and appreciative when I am the recipient of kindness, however indirectly. God bless the memory of these two dear seniors. And, God bless their family.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Help, by Taking Someone to the Doctor

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

today I woke up

In Which I Help, by Taking Someone to the Doctor

From time to time, I get asked if I could take a friend or acquaintance to various places. Going shopping, or to the hospital, or to the doctor. I am happy to do it. It’s a change of pace.

I got all set with my laptop, so I could get something done while waiting. (The day was a two-part affair, with the first stop at a testing facility, and the second stop the doctor’s office.) Everything went smoothly. Beautiful day, left on time, pleasant conversation, light traffic. Even got into the testing facility without a hitch. But then, a hiccup. A wrinkle. In the small waiting room, a television blared. And I mean, it was loud. I did not have any type of earplugs or headphones or anything to help cut the noise. Ggrrrr!!

Really, it was a small thing. Not much to complain about. Big deal. So I wasn’t able to do much writing, at all. But it wouldn’t have mattered if I had brought a book, either. I still couldn’t have read. Not with that television blaring.

Other than that, the two of us had an uneventful day. We finished at a nice diner for a late lunch. (I had soup, which was delicious!)

Upon reflection, today was a pleasant day, indeed! (Except for the nonsense with the blaring television. Which was really too loud for the space.)

But sometimes I wonder, from time to time; will I ever need a ride? To go shopping, or to the dentist or doctor. Or for tests at the hospital. Will I be able to find people ready and willing to transport me? Or, will I be dependent on the kindness of strangers? Taking cabs, or buses, or some other form of para-transit. I wonder?

I am not going to think about that sad, disappointing future right now. I’ll think about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, I can be glad that we had the opportunity—today—to have a pleasant, enjoyable trip to and from the facility and the doctor’s office. God willing, I’ll be available to transport friends for a long time to come.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

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

childrens-books

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

As some of you know, I am a mom. (My youngest is seventeen, a senior in high school.) As some of you also know, I love books. I love reading. And I especially love to read books out loud to children. (Yes, I do voices. I studied with a vocal coach for some months about fifteen years ago, thinking I might get into the voiceover business. And then, I did comedy improv. But that’s another story. Another post!)

One of my blogging friends, Marilyn— http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com on wordpress.com—had an intriguing capper to her cross-cultural blog post earlier this week. She talked about a friend of hers who has started a service called Kids Books Without Borders, and added the link. Wasting no time, I contacted Gail through her blog. And—she wrote back! She said she was more than happy to be featured in my blog.

I am so happy to let people know about Gail’s service through Kids Books Without Borders. Almost everyone I know is acquainted with someone who is presently living or who has lived overseas. Gail grew up in France, with a British mom and an American dad. Gail especially loved to read. (Just like me, when I was a girl!) However, their family had a real challenge in finding children’s books in English. While in France, I mean. Gail treasured those rare packages from grandparents that included children’s books! The Little House books. The Paddington books. Any book by Roald Dahl. Charlotte’s Web. Mary Poppins. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Hobbit.

As Gail grew up, married, and had children of her own, she passed on her special love of books and of reading. However, she remembered the difficulty she—and her parents—had of finding many children’s books in English while overseas. She came up with the idea for this service to be able to “put children’s books (and some young adult and adult books as well) in the hands of children and families living overseas.”

Here is more about Gail’s service, in her own words: “I now have available over 2000 books, both picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, which are available to you at no charge, if you are living overseas. They are all books that I have read and which come highly recommended. I am mostly self-taught, but have read extensively about children’s literature. If you are overwhelmed by choices or do not know what books would be best for your child, please email me. I would love to give you recommendations if you let me know your child’s (children’s) age, gender, reading level and areas of interests.

“All the books are free and there is no limit on the number of books you can request. However, I do ask that you pay for postage if shipped to a US address and half of the postage if shipped overseas. The majority of families living overseas ask that I send the books to US-based friends or family. The recipients then deliver them when visiting the person requesting them. This is the least expensive and most reliable way of mailing them.”

The link to Gail’s blog is below. (Just a reminder—the holidays are not far away!) I am also glad to be able to pass the word along about Gail’s tremendous service! Such a wonderful opportunity to pass the gift of books along to another generation. I am so grateful for the gift of books, and awed by the innovation and inventiveness of the authors, illustrators, and all the other creative people who contributed to the production and publication of these incredible resources. The written word. So powerful. So moving. Thank you again, Gail!

For further information, see: http://kidsbookswithoutborders.wordpress.com/

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness to Those with Less

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 8, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Kindness to Those with Less

Ever have something come to mind from a long time ago? Something you thought was long forgotten? That happened to me. I remembered something from three decades ago, last week.

This sort of thing happens periodically. I forget some things, and they get submerged in my memory. My subconscious mind. And then—from time to time I have no idea why—the person or event or occurrence pops up in my conscious thoughts. Sometimes, I think of it as mental driftwood, washing up on the shores of my memory. I walk along the beaches of my mind collecting the driftwood, turning it over and over. Once in a while, I get extremely uncomfortable with my memories. But not this time. This was a pleasing memory. A happy memory.

Almost thirty years ago, I received a lump sum of money. I was quite grateful, and quickly figured out what I was going to do with it. Part of it went for the marvelous upright piano that is sitting here in my living room, not ten feet away from me. (Thanks, Tim, for assisting me with that purchase!) However, I decided to use some of it to help out a family—anonymously. I believe this is the first time I have ever openly discussed this. Ever. (Other than with my then-husband, at the time.) I guess I took Jesus’ injunction in Matthew 6 seriously: when giving to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. I tried to keep my action quiet, and not let anyone know. Until now.

Several times I remember—it might have been four, or perhaps five times—I sent them some money. Anonymously. I knew this was a needy family, and I knew I had an unexpected financial windfall. So, I was kind to them. Without letting them know where the money came from.

In late December 2013, I made plans for this year’s blog. I set out verses from all over the Bible on being kind. Including this verse for October – Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” When I chose this particular verse, I wasn’t thinking of this specific situation from three decades ago. However, now I am. I am pleased I gave that family some needed funds. I remember thinking at the time of how excited they probably were, opening the envelope that came in the mail, and discovering the cash inside the cheerful card.

Other than a period of financial hardship a few years after this act of kindness, I have always had enough to live on. Not an extravagant amount, by any means. My family has lived in a modest, no-frills, four-room condominium for the past twenty years. Not much money to spare. But I am, on the whole, content. God willing, I’ll continue that way. And, now that I am remembering them, I wish this family the very best!

@chaplaineliza

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Abundance of Everything? How Kind!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 6, 2014

all things work to the good Rom 8-28

Abundance of Everything? How Kind!

I got an invitation several weeks ago, out of the clear blue sky. It was addressed to me as the pastor of St. Luke’s Church. Wow! How unexpected. What a surprise, too. Invited to the grand opening of an upscale food store. The food store is going to open tomorrow, so Sunny (the church office manager) and I went to the open house and grand dinner and opening tonight. What a festive, fun occasion!

Almost everyone had lovely clothes. Evening wear, fancy dress, even outrageous shoes. Lots to watch! Including texters. There was a jazz trio, and a singer joined them after a short while to entertain all the people while they enjoyed hors d’oeurves for almost an hour. (Yes, I did partake of some of the delectable goodies. Just didn’t eat like there was no tomorrow, cramming my face into them.) The appetizers were marvelous, and then, there was more, on top of that. How kind! And the wait staff? Extra kind and helpful, to everyone at the event.

Isn’t this like so many instances in life? You and I can be blithely going along, things pretty good, nothing to complain about. But then, something wonderful happens. Something happy, surprised or scared. A great number of people I’ve spoken with say, “yes, that’s happened to me, too!” That’s when life happens, in all of its surprising ways. Good things happen. Accidental things happen. Surprising things happen. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But the unexpected almost always manages to make an appearance.

And then, after the cutting of the ribbon, and declaring the store open? Then, all the guests went to another part of the store for dinner. Delicious food, tastefully presented, a number of food stations. All the wait staff so helpful and pleasant. What’s not to like?

The evening was delightful, in all kind of ways! I enjoyed myself so much.

@chaplaineliza

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Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

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

clip-art-telephone-742802

Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

I love my family. My sisters and brothers. My children. My husband. My in-laws. My cousins. I love them all!

Sadly, most of them are far away. And I mean, far away. A plane ride away. Much further away than the other side of the Chicago metropolitan area. Yes, my parents were native Chicagoans, and my oldest sister and I still live in the area. But my other siblings have scattered, all over the country. One of my children is now on the east coast (because of work). It is becoming more and more difficult to gather everyone (or, even most of us) together in one place, at the same time.

Yet, I do try to communicate, from time to time. Social media is great! Several long-distance family members have Facebook accounts, and it’s great to keep in touch that way. Then, of course, I also use the older technology—like tonight, with the telephone. I used my land line, and I talked with one of my sisters, also on her land line.

I love talking with my sister Sue. She is such an interesting person, in her own right. Fascinating. Sue and I talked about my upcoming breakfast with Leslie (my oldest sister), tomorrow morning. Two days, and two experiences with family. (Besides my son and husband, of course. They live with me. Or, I live with them.) Leslie always has something going on, including travel, in the near future.

Hmm. I wonder whether my relationship with my earthly family (my family of origin) is at all similar to my relationship with those in my congregation. I love my congregation. I really and truly do. And I love hearing about various members going out of town. It doesn’t matter whether they were traveling or just staying at home. Wonderful experiences. I hope I will be able to show love, caring, encouragement and support to my friends, the flock. And those beyond the church, too!

That’s what this experience of being kind has taught me. Since I have been concentrating so hard on being kind or helpful, or showing too much stress, or worrying about circumstances, I can miss prayer, and meditation. Sometimes. Thank God I have a great church! And, a great family, to boot. God bless me, and bless everyone else in my extended family, too.

@chaplaineliza

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“You’ve Got Mail!” — Kindness through Email

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 18, 2014

BK life is short-be kind

“You’ve Got Mail!” — Kindness through Email

Ever think of two people, and have a sneaking suspicion that the two of them would get along well together? I mean, more than a strong hunch?

Last week, I wrote about St. Viator’s High School. I also made a new acquaintance in Father Corey. (Can I call him a new friend? I hesitate, since I have a great deal of respect for him and I don’t want to impose. But, maybe, I do have a new friend. I could ask, next time he and I exchange email.)

When we talked last week, Fr. Corey told me about the Children of Abraham Coalition. This interfaith group has a worthy, worthwhile goal and cause. Let me quote from their mission statement: “Our mission is to educate others about the Abrahamic traditions, to be ambassadors for interfaith dialogue and to continue to learn about and build relationships between our religions as we work to fill the world with Salaam, Shalom, Peace.”

The Children of Abraham Coalition (COAC) has about four large events in the course of a year. In September, they are going to be getting together to commemorate the tragedy of 9/11 in a dinner at St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. As Fr. Corey told me more and more about the COAC, I knew like a shot that my good friend Dan (the Reverend Dan McNerney, Presbyterian Church/USA minister) would be all over this like a cheap suit on a used car salesman.

So, I sent Dan a great, gratitude-filled email. (I mean, I communicated with him through email.) Dan is quite active in social media, and I sent him a new note, with the contact info about the Coalition. Dan is also active on his own, concerning Christian and Muslim relations. He regularly instructs interfaith groups face to face, as well as on social media. I told Fr. Corey about him!

After a bit of an email exchange with Fr. Corey, I made sure that Dan was in contact. I told him what a wonderful place St. Viator’s High School was. And, I made sure that Dan had Fr. Corey’s contact information. I hope that these two men truly connect. That was my prayer in the first place.

Dear God, bless the work of the Coalition. (For further information, check out www.coacoalition.org )

@chaplaineliza

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Someone Being Kind—to Me. Thank you!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THANKFUL always something to be thankful for

Someone was kind to me today. I appreciated it so much!

But that was later on. Earlier in the day, I went to work. I took care of some necessary business in my office, and several important emails, too. Just about all were things that I needed to handle in a timely manner. And calendar items. Planning for events coming up. I still have several more immediate things on my desk, but that’s okay. I can take care of them in the morning.

This being Tuesday, I read to the preschool and kindergarten children. The children are really enjoying my reading books, and get all excited when I come into the classrooms. I enjoy it, too! But my time at the church was getting short. I had a luncheon appointment.

My oldest daughter and I had arranged to go out for lunch today, several days ago. But you could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me she was paying for lunch today. Wow!

I mentioned here, some days ago, that I took care of my daughter’s cat. My oldest daughter and her roommate have an apartment not far from where I live. While the two of them were out of town, I stopped by and visited the cat every day. I gave her food and water, and took care of the litter box. My daughter very much appreciated my attentiveness to the cat. I never expected my daughter to give me anything like a nice lunch! (I told her so, too.) But, no. That’s what she wanted to do for me. So, who was I to say no?

Afterwards, later this afternoon, I was reflecting on acceptance of gifts. Gracious acceptance, and saying thank you. This is not a skill that I learned easily. No way! Believe me, it was an excruciating, gradual process. I never learned it from my parents, when I was a small child. (They seemed to do all right, socially, but didn’t pass on the information to me.) I got a little bit of instruction in manners from a kind older lady at church, but not much. This was when I was in the middle and upper grades of elementary school. I was a naïve teenager. Intelligent in terms of book-smart, but woefully unprepared for life, in terms of manners, social graces and street smarts.

I have improved greatly, since then. That seems like several lifetimes ago. Now, I can easily thank people for their kindnesses towards me. When others go out of their way to be helpful, I so appreciate it. I know how to say “thank you,” and do.

And of course, God gives me regular opportunities to say “thank you.”

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind? With a Teacher and a Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 9, 2014

yoga illustration  from dreamstime.com

yoga illustration
from dreamstime.com

Being Kind? With a Teacher and a Computer!

This being a Saturday, I went to the YMCA this morning for yoga class.

Have I mentioned that I just love my yoga class? And I love my yoga teacher. Awesome, helpful, patient. Her classes usually fill the large room, yet she keeps an eagle eye on all of the class members. In a good way, though. Three weeks ago, I moved up from the beginner class to the intermediate level. (I feel very much at the low end of the class. But, I can do almost all the poses now!) The class was doing the plow pose. On your shoulders, arms supporting the back perpendicular to the floor, and legs straight as you can make them, over your head. It’s only the second time in my life that I have ever done a plow pose.

As the teacher walked about the room, she came over and assisted me to try a variation. And then she continued to lead the class in the next poses. I exchanged a few words with her outside of the locker room, after the class. She encouraged me in continuing with yoga, and said she had noticed my improvement. (Such a kind thing to say!) She also said that I needed trust in myself and my own body. I responded, and told her what a tremendous teacher she was. I mentioned, “How important it is to have trust in a teacher. Like you,” I finished, with a big smile. And—I meant it!

I needed to stop by my work after I left the gym. I swung by to pick up my daughter, on the way to do several other errands. We drove out to the church, admiring the forest preserves on the way, too. It’s August. School time will be upon us before anyone knows it. My daughter is going away to college in less than two weeks, so I am glad to be able to spend what time that I can with her.

After I talked with another church member for a little while, I turned on the computer at the office manager’s desk. I don’t appreciate Windows 8, and unfortunately, that is the operating system installed. The church member and I were commiserating about Windows 8, and he mentioned that he was going to try to install Windows 8.1. I had a sudden idea. My daughter—the maven of computers and social media—was in the next room. (She was sitting in my office, on her laptop.) She obligingly downloaded the 8.1 update! Both the church member and I thanked her so much. I truly appreciate those who have comprehensive and extensive knowledge about areas where I am—at best—an advanced beginner.

So, people are kind to me each day! And I try to be kind, too. It certainly helps to make things run more smoothly. In terms of communication, operation, and personal interaction. God, thanks for showing me more great examples of kindness today.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 22, 2014

silhouette crucifix and stars

Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

I spent the first half of the day in Pennsylvania, at the mission conference I’ve attended for a number of years. While there (even for so short a time), I had a number of significant experiences, conversations, and “divine appointments.” However, one of the most significant parts of today happened at one of the sessions. The first speaker of the morning (Russell Smith) spoke on several things this morning, but one piece of his session impressed itself upon my heart with particular depth.

Russ used two Scripture references to illustrate this point. His first (which he will expand tomorrow—when I won’t be there . . . <sob!>) was from Psalm 139. Each of us is created an individual. God made each of us, and designed us while we were inside of our mother’s bodies. God knew every facet of each one of us. And, God created each of us the way we are for a reason. (That’s the A-part of what Russ said.) The B-part, the second Scripture verse Russ referred to, was Ephesians 2:10. Each of us—each individual—is God’s masterpiece. We will not become a masterpiece at some future point in time, but God created each of us as a masterpiece already, in Christ Jesus. God designed each individual for God’s purposes, and God created good works for us to do—so each of us has a job (or work, or things to do), prepared for us beforehand.

Yes, I knew all this already. Ephesians 2:10 is and has been so precious to me! But have you ever known something already, even known it by heart, or from the time you were very small, or have been through it a hundred times before . . . and all of a sudden, it’s presented to you once again. Strangely enough, this time, the same-old, same-old words come across in a profound way.

That’s what happened to me. These words knocked my socks off. Moreover, I had the distinct feeling these words, this teaching, was for me. Not for anyone else, today. I can clutch it tight to my chest, like a small child holds a beloved, treasured stuffed animal in its arms.

Later in the morning, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn outward. To be of service. To listen to a grandparent tell about their grandchild who is seriously ill. A continuing difficulty. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. What an awesome thing that I was there, to listen, with my less-anxious presence. I could tell this grandparent was concerned about the grandchild, so far away. And—I have been trained for just such an eventuality.

This second happening was also from God, intended for someone else. God provided a sympathetic ear and an understanding heart. (At least, I hope I was sympathetic and understanding!)

I thank God for new opportunities to serve. To be kind. And especially, for when people are kind to me.

@chaplaineliza

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