Be of Service? Togetherness and Unity! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, October 8, 2018

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. With all the separation, argumentation and isolation in our respective neighborhoods and communities recently, I thought this post was much needed. There is much to be upset about, for sure. Not only individual separation and isolation, either. Pick a hot-button issue, and I am sure you would find people willing to come to blows about opposing views on that issue. I am for peace, and blessing, and cooperation. I dream of people coming together in friendship and amity, with smiles on their faces and outstretched, open hands. God willing, let it be so.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 5, 2014

heart and people illustration

Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

Separation. Anxiety. Fear. If I get started and think about things like this, these emotions can make me want to shrink away. Go hide under the covers. What’s more, I just spoke with four friends over the past few days who are feeling similar emotions. The yucky kind, the kind that can make me feel as if everything is all gray. Dingy, washed out emotions, lonely, tattered and torn.

Yes, I can listen when my friends tell me those sad, dark feelings keep encroaching upon my friends or acquaintances. I can journey alongside of them, and provide encouragement and support. Yes, I know what it’s like to walk through those dark times. Or to sit in them, even to wallow. And—I also know what it’s like to come out the other side. To walk together with others, to support and share with them in friendship, and encouragement.

Isolation is something that can sneak up on a person. Sure, being alone from time to time is good. Healthy. Even, needed. Just ask five of my close family members. All introverts, and all enjoy their alone time. All need recharging time. But—isolation is going one step too far. Even a couple of steps too far, since some individuals go to extremes. Isolation is something that anxiety and fear feeds upon. I appreciate learning more about positive strategies I will be able to use.

I know one thing that encourages me to bloom, to come back and share with people. I can stop thinking about myself, and concentrate on others and their concerns. I can provide encouragement, support, caring and love. Praise God.

World Communion Sunday is just another way to provide this companionship. Togetherness and unity. Instead of being separated from one another and from God, we are joining together, across Christian backgrounds. Alone? My tendency is to curl up alone, to isolate. Sometimes even to feel sorry for myself. (!!!) However, when I come into community, I join myself with the wonderful help of others who might be feeling similar, dark feelings. Together, we all can support and pray for each other.

One of the best things about World Communion Sunday is that it looks forward to the time of Christian unity, togetherness and ecumenical cooperation. Banishing separation, loneliness, anxiety and fear? Yes. Joining together in one body. What’s more, this helps us catch a glimpse of the hope-filled group of believers. All believers, from all over, can express togetherness, caring and love for each other. Another loving, worthwhile way to come before God.

@chaplaineliza

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

 

 

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Saying “Hello,” Being Kind! (#BestOf)

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

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

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

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind!

Suffer the Children - von Uhde, 1884

Suffer the Children – von Uhde, 1884

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@chaplaineliza

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(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!)

Not One Hundred Percent

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 8, 2015

What do you do when you aren’t feeling quite well? Do you drag around, trying to make do with what you can? Or, do you get plenty of rest? This blog post from a year ago relates a little about me and my day of being kind when I did not feel one hundred percent.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not One Hundred Percent

hospital-patient

I didn’t feel one hundred percent today. Sub par. Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of the house this morning. Once I had started the day and was outside, I felt better. (I ought to take my own advice, since that’s what I’ve said to my children for years when they don’t feel very chipper in the morning.)

I had the opportunity to be with a senior for a bit today. This senior needed some assistance and companionship, and I was happy to provide it. We didn’t talk too much, but this senior was content to simply sit with me there as a companion. I was very much aware of the ministry of presence. My being-with this senior was loving and giving of myself.

I know what the ministry of presence is, but some do not. Simply put, it is not a human doing, but instead becoming a human being. Simply being present with another person. I’ve been told by many people that my caring, less-anxious presence can be gentle and calming. Sometimes that’s what anxious or frightened or upset people need. And oftentimes, I provide it.

Several of my former supervisors mentioned this aspect of my character (my giftedness?). I think back to how I began this post, and connected it to a verbatim I wrote for my first chaplain internship. The verbatim concerned a senior couple at the hospital where I did my clinical rotation. However, one of the most distinctive things about that in-depth paper was one of the learning issues that I dealt with at the time. How do I manage to navigate and work when I don’t feel up to par? Not one hundred percent? I was not feeling quite chipper for the clinical day at the hospital, either. Yet God was still able to use me.

I did pray before I went to the floors for my clinical chaplain visits that day. It’s amazing. I wrote this particular verbatim almost ten years ago, yet I can still see and hear portions of the conversation and interaction in my mind. Upon reflection afterwards, I was awed by the openness of both the husband and the patient. God has given me an open heart and open ears to listen to people who are hurting. That’s a big reason why I went to seminary in the first place—to get further training in how to more intelligently, actively listen to people, and to walk with them as they go through difficult places in their lives. I am surprised at how little I did say to both of these dear seniors, reading over the verbatim just now. Yet the couple seemed really happy with my visit, and really wanted me to come back.

This situation in my verbatim was early in my experience as a chaplain. However, even then I used the ministry of presence. Today I come alongside of people, being with them. Sometimes I talk with them, and sometimes I’m quiet. For example, like I was with the senior I helped today. I tried to be a gentle, friendly companion, and I think I succeeded.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 12, 2014

easy-christmas-cookies-11

Baking Cookies—to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

It’s that time of year again.

My husband said just the other day, “It’s that time of year when our kitchen has been transformed into a cookie factory. In keeping with tradition, I have volunteered to serve as quality control, sampling each batch. It’s a thankless job, I tell ya.” (I told him he does a very good job of it, too.)

I have made Christmas cookies for years, to give away as presents. Just like my mom.

My mother, Dolores, was a champion at baking. (Cooking, too. But I’m not going to talk about that right now.) Sadly, she died more than ten years ago, but I still remember her superb Christmas cookies. As much as my husband talks about my Christmas cookie baking, I was a mere beginner compared to my mother. Her cookies were amazing.

She used to deliver them to her friends, co-workers, and to our neighbors. She would give them as presents, and bring them to our relatives at holiday times. They always appreciated them. (And, thought the cookies were delicious, too.)

My mother was so creative, in so many ways. I’d like to remember her creativity—in baking Christmas cookies. Butterballs, chocolate raspberry sandwiches, thimble cookies, and, of course, cocoa drops. She made other cookies, other years, but those were always in the mix, as long as I can remember. Sweet memories—in several ways.

Sure, my mother definitely had a mind of her own. Sure, my mother was loving and giving. And sure—my mother gave away a lot of cookies.

It’s good to remember. Remember my mom, and remember her wonderful Christmas cookies. Remember how loving and giving she was.

@chaplaineliza

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How Shall I Serve? Good Question.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 3, 2014

no borders to prayer

How Shall I Serve? Good Question.

Another month, another bible verse for me to think about. This is a verse that I can sink my teeth into, for sure. I usually don’t think much about 1 Peter. (And even less about 2 Peter, truth to tell.) I much prefer to dwell on the Gospels. Or think about Philippians, or Romans. And there are a number of psalms I really enjoy, not to mention certain passages in Isaiah, or Jeremiah.

But, random places in the Bible? Just open it at random, and stick your finger down. Find a verse, in a book not usually read. Actually, I did read through the Bible a number of times, some years ago. I really appreciated the depth and breadth of it, too.

This particular verse I’ve chosen for November is one that concentrates on being of service. I have branched out a bit, during this Year of Being Kind, into being helpful and being of service, too. My focus is primarily on what I might be able to do for others. Whether I might be able to make others feel good through kindness, that is true. But also trying to serve others. Here’s the verse for November – 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

In the past few months at the church where I work, I have concentrated on prayer. Not only preaching and teaching on prayer, but actively doing prayer, too. Over the weekend, I talked with someone over social media. Through our mutual conversation, I felt the stirrings of an urging from God. As I considered the idea some more, I remembered an excellent series of books on prayer I have. (Stormie Omartian. Great, earnest stuff on prayer.) So—the outcome of my inner stirrings is this: I have decided to pray my way through November (and going two days into December). The book I’ve chosen has thirty chapters. Thirty days. I will lift up some significant people in prayer, each day.

This is not the first time I have done something of the sort. No, I did have a prayer partner for almost six years, while I went through seminary and for about two years afterwards. My wonderful prayer partner and I used to pray for each other, as well as each others’ families, once a week. However, my friend in prayer moved a distance away. We continued to pray for some months. But then, I got more and more busy, as did she. Now, I miss those times of prayer, and my dear friend in prayer, too.

Let’s fast forward to this weekend. Just yesterday. My friend knows I will earnestly try to do this. Each day for thirty days, I’ll pray for several dear people. God willing, I will try to be faithful, and loving, and caring. Help me, God! Thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 26, 2014

cat drawing from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

cat drawing
from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

One of my daughters has a cat. And a roommate. What to do when both she and her roommate are out of town? Ask her mom to be of service, of course. To take care of the cat, I mean.

Toby, the domestic shorthair cat, is quite affectionate. She’s tiger-striped (in shades of brown), with a white bib and paws. She doesn’t mew very loudly, but she does make her presence known. For example, when I’m typing on my laptop—like I am right now. Yes, I’m at Toby’s apartment. She’s been fed, her water’s changed, and I’ve cleaned her litter box. She is regularly coming over to me and asking for petting. I’m happy to oblige! (At least, being careful not to touch my face with a hand full of cat dander. Allergies.) That’s how I’m being kind, today.

Toby makes me think of various pets I’ve shared my house with in my life, or have been in my sister’s life. When I was born, there was a large, friendly Airedale terrier resident in my parents’ house. My earliest memories were of her. Fond memories, indeed! Then, when I was in the middle grades, my parents got another Airedale. A bit smaller, but equally as friendly! Such good girls. So affectionate. And the adventurous, striped cat that shared our apartment when my older girls were small? They all certainly made me feel good. I don’t want to forget my sister’s dogs over the years: the Labrador mix, the German shepherd mix, and the Vizsla? All faithful companions, every one. God, thank You so much for bringing animals and people together! So helpful. So loving. So inspiring!

A recent online article I read spoke of depression, and several simple ways to lessen its effects. A proper, healthy diet and regular exercise featured highly in this article. However, the article also mentioned companionship of pets. Just petting an affectionate dog or cat helps me feel better. Amazing, I know. This is one sure-fire way for me to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. Of course, sharing a house or apartment with pets is not for everyone. But for those who are able, our animal friends are wonderful, loving companions.

Besides, I can be of service to my daughter, and help out her cat, at the same time. Sounds to me like a win-win-win situation!

@chaplaineliza

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Questioning My Kindness Quotient?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 14, 2014

BK be kind 1 Thess

Questioning My Kindness Quotient?

Today was a pretty average day, as far as typical days go. Nothing particular to write home about, unless I count email correspondence, several telephone calls, a couple of phone messages, a few conversations, and stops at a couple of businesses on the way home. Upon reflection, it does sound average to me.

Except—one of these interactions struck me as a bit uncomfortable. I stopped at a business later in the day, and asked a question about the transaction before I paid the bill. The cashier seemed a bit testy in response. As I completed the transaction, I noticed the coolness of the cashier, avoidance of eye contact, and minimum of chit-chat.

I reflected on that interaction, after dinner. I was wondering about it. Almost troubled, but not quite. (And that was interesting to me, too.) I replayed the words I said and the actions I took, in my mind. I didn’t find anything particularly disturbing in my words. I didn’t think I had been abrupt or mean in my attitude or my manner, either. Upon considerable reflection, I don’t think my words or actions were upsetting. At least, I don’t think so.

On second thought, it could have been something about the cashier. Something going on in their life, or a bad experience at work. Or even, a health concern for them or for a loved one. In other words, it might not have been about me, after all.

So, I may not have been a kind, loving, caring person, at least as far as this interaction on the way home is concerned. Or, contrariwise. As I said before, I am unsure whether others are keeping up their end of the social contract. But as long as I do my best, and keep my side of the street clean, I hope that will take care of my end of things.

A wise woman remarked a number of times (in my hearing) that “Ninety percent of what happens to you is none of your business.” Very true! I really appreciated her wise words. Now, alas, she has gone on to eternity. I want to be a good example of being kind and helping people. Why not try to keep my side of the street clean?

God willing, I’ll get an extended opportunity to continue trying to be kind, be helpful, and be of service. Thanks, God! Help me follow Your wish for me to be willing, honest and open.

@chaplaineliza

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