Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)#BestOf

Posted on August 30, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 26, 2016

My husband and I recently received several annoying telephone calls from debt collectors. (Our last name is one of the most common in the country.) These calls reminded me of this post, about my husband and his superb research and tracking skills. Thank God he was so persistent. I want to let as many people know how to research and track these sleazy debt consolidation companies.

BK kindness is a lifestyle

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 29, 2014

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

I have heard horror stories of how less-than-honest companies bundle and buy out debts at only a fraction of their value. Then, they hold the debt or note for the money owed. So instead of cash-strapped people owing a credit card company money, or a bona fide medical center money, they now owe these sleazy debt consolidation companies the money. But wait, there’s more! Much more . . .

I’ve been involved with seniors for a number of years, especially recently. I mean, at their homes. These seniors, often frail and in poor health, receive all kinds of telephone solicitation calls. Many of these calls come from shady, fly-by-night companies. But the worst of them all? The worst come from these sleazy, slimy debt consolidation companies. The debt collectors call. Then, call again—and again. And if they get a trembling, anxious senior on the other end of the line, so much the better! These pond scum debt collectors bully the elderly, trying to force them to send money. And sometimes, the senior is bullied into paying off a debt they do not even owe.

Most people don’t realize how to stop this horrible harassment and misuse of the telephone, not to mention get revenge. But a debt collection company tangled with my husband Kevin one time too many. My husband—who did not even owe the debt mentioned—took action. Action against the company, and action to stop this daily harassment for a debt which was never his to begin with.

My husband is extremely methodical, and he takes excellent notes in his work life. So, he decided to do the same thing in this case. Every time the home telephone was called by this company, we noted the date, time, and whether it was a recorded call or a real, live person. Every single time there was contact with a real, live person, we recorded their name. My husband sent two “cease and desist letters” by registered mail (so a real, live person at the company was required to sign for the letter, and show proof they received it). He took extensive notes whenever he spoke with anyone, and kept all of the notes in a file. And—he employed a law firm that specialized in fighting with these slimy debt collection firms.

The lawyers at the law firm were pros! They knew exactly what they were doing. My husband worked with them, hand in glove, and actually won the case in small claims court!

So, that was several years ago. My husband Kevin and I had almost forgotten all about the case, when a journalist contacted my husband a number of days ago. Mr. Sullivan wanted to know whether he might be able to write an article about the debt collectors and how my husband beat them at their own game. My husband gladly agreed! Moreover, he sent Mr. Sullivan all of his notes. (The journalist complimented my husband on his extremely thorough note-taking, too.)

So—long story short, the story appeared in Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. And—my husband is a hero! He showed, through his excellent example, exactly how to defuse these pond scum debt collectors. And, he wants people to know their rights under the law, too. In a quote from Mr. Sullivan’s article: “I would gladly do it again, not for the money, but because these people are slime who abuse and exploit people who don’t know how to defend themselves,” he said. “While I was defending myself, I followed various forums on the subject, and I was appalled at how many elderly people are victimized. It’s sickening.”

Not only the elderly, but people of all ages might be victimized. Thank God there are people who know how to stop these abusive practices and horrid debt collectors. People like my husband Kevin. That’s a sure way to live by the tenets of Micah 6:8! Live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

(To take a look at the Yahoo Finance article by Mr. Sullivan, check out this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-man-got-even-debt-103042195.html )

@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. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

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

Be of Service—Part Two! Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 22, 2014

God will ALWAYS provide

Be of Service—Part Two! Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

Last month, in the first week of July, I did a Feature Friday post on Stop Hunger Now! This ministry opportunity was the service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), just a few weeks ago. NWMC informs attendees about its Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of mission outreach worldwide, but the conference also promotes active service and witness for God—and much fun is had while promoting it, too!

I’ve attended this conference for a number of years. My younger children remember NWMC with great fondness, and every year this conference has a selected service project. Everyone who attends—no matter what the age—is encouraged to participate in the project.

As I mentioned last month, each year the service project has concentrated on world hunger. More specifically, Stop Hunger Now! (That’s the name of the mission organization.) This organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too! What a caring, effective way to feed the hungry. Through this ministry, the volunteers also strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.

We just received an update earlier this week about the meals packed at New Wilmington, in July. Stop Hunger Now sent word that 285,120 meals have been shipped to Haiti. Of these meals, 24,840 were packaged at NWMC 2014. This is 840 meals over the conference goal of 24,000 meals! The meals packaged by the folks at New Wilmington Mission Conference have been combined with those of other packaging events.

Haiti is in desperate need to receive these meals. Not only is Haiti the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, but also is extremely low in terms of daily calories taken in, per person. Haiti and their citizens need the food assistance almost more than anywhere in the world. Stop Hunger Now has a partner in Haiti called The YouthBuild Haiti Rebuilding Academy (YHRA). This group is instrumental in rebuilding the country still reeling from the significant damage done by the earthquake, so many months ago. YHRA is also taking the lead in distributing the meals sent by Stop Hunger Now!

I’m reminded again of the words of Micah 6:8, to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. I am urged to look for opportunities—not just today, not just in the month of August. But, every month of the year. Ways to be of service. Ways to love mercy. And, ways to walk humbly with the one who loved me so much. What a way to be the hands and feet of Christ.

@chaplaineliza

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Helping? Playing for a Hymn Sing!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 21, 2014

not in control

Helping? Playing for a Hymn Sing!

Nothing like a good, old-fashioned hymn sing! That’s where I was, this afternoon. I played for a group of seniors at a retirement center where I used to preach, once a month. (That was before I had this position as pastor at the church where I am, now.) I am so grateful that I am able to help out, doing what I could. Giving enjoyment, providing music.

It warmed my heart to see so many of the seniors. I remember them from when I used to come and preach, lead worship, and sometimes play the piano, too. I really enjoyed playing for them, too—both then and now. And, there are additional seniors at the facility, too. So many, so sweet. And several came up to me and thanked me afterwards. One even said, “This is my most favorite thing to do, having a hymn sing. Thank you so much for playing for us.” That warmed my heart, and brought tears to my eyes, too.

Of course, I enjoyed seeing my friend, Chaplain Sarah. She and I had a short while to talk afterwards, as well.

I know I’ve spoken about this recently, but I’ll say it again. I am trying to follow the suggestions made in Micah 6:8 this month, in August. “Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” I think being of service to these dear seniors certainly qualifies. I try to be humble and teachable, when I come to this retirement facility. I know that residents can often teach me things I just do not expect. And if I didn’t have my eyes open? Receptive? I would miss these lessons. Usually soft-key, gentle lessons. But other times? The lessons can be more serious, more sobering, too.

Next week, I am going to another (larger) senior facility, to lead a midweek service. At this facility, too, I can learn so much from the dear seniors in residence. I try to be humble, try to listen, and try to minister with my heart and hands open. Yes, the words of Micah 6:8 are worthwhile for me to consider—not just today, not just in the month of August. But, every month of the year. I need to continue to actively look for ways to be of service. Ways to love mercy, and ways to walk humbly with the one who loved me so much, God gave me things to do. Business to take care of.

God, I wonder what You’ll have for me to do, tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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Sharing with a New Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 16, 2014

friendship you do stuff

Sharing with a New Friend

I made a new friend today! We live in different states, and had never met in our lives before today. But, I really feel we made a connection.

The two of us spent some time talking, and we weren’t satisfied with peripheral or superficial nonsense. We didn’t even begin with banalities, but instead immediately started to communicate on a deep level. Like we had known each other for some time. (Again, so satisfying!)

In my new position, I don’t have many opportunities to meet friends. I mean, good friends, who I can truly talk to. I appreciate people who are friendly and kind, of course! And so many people I’ve met in the past several months are that way. It’s truly a blessing. I mean that. But—I am a pastor. I serve as a minister. Right off the bat, that causes some separation. I need to maintain some professional, objective distance in my position, while at the same time being appropriately empathetic and understanding.

My many months in chaplain internship (Clinical Pastoral Education) have reinforced that, to be sure. Yes, I can come alongside people who are hurting, and try to be a comfort, support and encouragement. Chaplain internship has sharpened my skills at journeying with people as they are in trouble—either in terms of poor health, other kinds of crisis, emotional or spiritual upset.

It’s a good thing I have a number of friends from the years before I became a pastor. It can be lonely, even though I do have several long-term friends I can take the liberty of calling at pretty much any time. But these few long-term friends are not always available. (They lead busy lives, too!)

Of course, I try to be of service when I can. This fulfills me, nurtures me. It’s true that I am trying to follow the suggestions made in Micah 6:8 this month. “Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” Just like when I took a senior acquaintance to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, earlier this week. Just like when I made reminder calls to several people for an upcoming activity. But I would sincerely like some kind of intimate connection—like that of having a good friend.

So, finding another friend is always a welcome thing. Yay! Thanks, God. You know what I wanted even before I formulated the thought. And, I just might be the answer to prayer for my new friend, too. Again, thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Helped Water Plants

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 5, 2014

don't be afraid to sparkle

In Which I Helped Water Plants

Ever have a day when you were busy all day? A lot of little things? But at the end, couldn’t really point to any one big thing and say, in large part, that’s what I did today.

Oh, I can think of specific, minor things that happened. Discrete items I could tick off one by one. I organized some material for the worship service on Sunday. I answered some email and did other work on the computer. I read to the four and five year olds in the preschool. I talked with the trustee at church about several matters, including an upcoming meeting. And, I asked the trustee about some plants, since the four year olds’ teacher asked.

As the trustee and I walked out of the building, we came upon the four year old class. The teacher was there, too. I told her that Bob the trustee was the man with the answers for her. “I think he’s just the person to ask,” and matters were resolved in less than a minute. The preschool teacher was really happy! Her students will get a chance to see things grow, and I was glad that I could so easily get two people together who would be able to benefit and help each other.

The trustee and I also saw the four year olds with a large watering can. “I can get the key for the water. You can use the hose to water the plants by the sidewalk,” Bob offered. Sure enough, the hose was coiled up, right by the spigot on the outside of the building. Nice, white pebbles lined the walkway to the front door, and more than a dozen plantings of greenery were on either side of the walkway. The children got so excited when they saw the water bubble up. Come out of the hose, and water the thirsty plants.

I stayed outside and helped to keep watch over the large group of children, while the teacher gave two or three children special attention. Yes, I had fun! And, the children and I talked about quite a number of subjects while I was overseeing the watering and having the children take turns with the hose. (I even encouraged the children to do their best to keep their shoes dry!) And, I talked about the water nourishing the plants, among other important matters. At least—it was important to the children!

I haven’t prayed about this month’s verse yet. (I try to, each month.) I know this verse well—the wonderful call from the prophet Micah to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” This impromptu session outside was a definite learning experience. And, use of the hose showed the children how much the plants needed that water. Perhaps not today, but soon the plants will be greener than green. Nurtured. Growing.

God, help me learn other ways in which You will be pleased to see this verse from Micah 6 get put into practice. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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