Being Kind and Encouraging? Sweet. Bittersweet.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 30, 2014

autumn road

Being Kind and Encouraging? Sweet. Bittersweet.

I wear several hats most days. A very important hat I wear is that of Mom. I’ve been a Mom for quite some time. My older two daughters have been out of the house for some years. I have a third daughter who is away at college. And then there is my son—a senior in high school. So, yes. I have been a Mom for a long time. Secondly, there is Wife. I try to be a good companion, friend and helpmate to my husband. That’s another hat. The third hat concerns my work—it’s called Pastor. I earnestly try to serve the congregation as well as I can. Praying for them, teaching bible studies, preparing services and sermons, and especially through pastoral care. That’s a third hat, an important hat I wear. Most days.

Except, today. My husband had a dental appointment this morning, and didn’t go to work. Yes, I did go in to work for a few hours, but I took the opportunity to come home a little early this afternoon. And, my son was here at home. All three of us, here in the living room. Talking earnestly, engaging in serious conversation. Earlier, my son made another brief video and put it up on Facebook. He proudly showed it off to his father and to me, and we all discussed it. Then, branched off into related topics.

Our lively, three-way conversation didn’t last too long, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Afterwards, upon reflection, I thought about my youngest son. I did my very best to be encouraging and tried to show my interest in what he was doing. He was so animated and excited about his latest video. Moreover, he and his father always get involved in such interesting conversations. As I looked at them talking together, I couldn’t help but think that soon my son is going to graduate from high school. Soon, he’ll be out of the house, too. Soon, my third daughter is going to graduate from college. And then—get launched into her own activities.

Gracious, if I am not careful, I’m going to get weepy. Maudlin. Even, down in the dumps. Depressed. It’s a good thing I wear several different hats. I’ll just need to get used to hanging up the Mom hat most of the time. But that doesn’t mean I need to stop being an encouragement and being kind to my children. God, please go with them, wherever they go.

Yes, I am so glad my children are grown, or are growing up. Yes, I am so proud of them, that they are so accomplished in so many different ways. And, yes, I will miss having children around the house. Sweet. And bittersweet.

@chaplaineliza

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Interrupted—to Help Out

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 31, 2014

direct line to heaven

Interrupted—to Help Out

Ever get interrupted by the telephone? Unexpected call? Need to rush to pick someone up?

That was me, later this evening.

Don’t get me wrong: today was great. Beautiful weather. And the last of my relatives spent their last day in Chicago today. This evening, my husband, daughter and I went to dinner with my brother and his wife before they prepare to fly back to the west coast tomorrow. Lovely time together, with awesome food (deep dish pizza, yum!!). I think I can say all five of us had a fine dinner. Or should I say, “dining experience?”

My son couldn’t go with us. He works at a downtown restaurant in our town. He needed to work later this afternoon, and this evening. Everything here was settling down. Getting quiet. My daughter had left to spend the night with a good friend (also to chat, and have some girl-talk). My husband had turned in—already sleeping. I took advantage of the opportunity (and the quiet) to get some computer work accomplished.

The telephone rang, breaking the silence. “Good evening.”

“Hi, Mom.” Deep, chesty cough. Several more coughs. “Could you come pick me up from work? Like, now?” More coughing. I thought he sounded sad, almost forlorn. So, off I went. Of course, I picked him up! I needed to switch gears, put on my Mom/practical nurse hat, and tend to his cough and his respiratory difficulty. I gave him some medication, and suggested that he get in the warm shower. Breathe in the warm steam. Gratefully, he did that, for a good long while.

What did parents do before easy access to medication? Pray, pray, and pray. (It’s still a good idea.)

God, thank You for my son. I pray for him, for his respiratory difficulty, and for his cough. God, please alleviate his discomfort. Give me wisdom and understanding to know what to do and when to do it. In Your mercy, Lord, hear my prayer.

@chaplaineliza

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Serving By Choosing Books

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 23, 2014

kidsbookopener

Serving By Choosing Books

For those of you who don’t know, I have four children. My youngest child just turned seventeen years old today. So, I can still remember those days of diapers and bottles, teething and banged-up knees. It’s just those days are getting further and further away. But I still remember, and as I revisit those days, I find I still enjoy being with small children. Happy for me, since there is a preschool onsite at my new job.

Yes, I am a mom. This was the way I used to describe myself. Up until a dozen years ago, that was the primary activity or purpose I used to associate with me. In fact, on occasion, when I’d go to parties or get-togethers at my older sister’s fancy house, her friends and acquaintances would sometimes ask me, “And what do you do?” Truthfully enough, I would be somewhat embarrassed. My answer would usually be, “My sister—and my older siblings? They have advanced degrees. I have children.” I’d say this in a humorous tone, and the people who asked me would often laugh.

But not any more. A dozen years ago, I started a master’s degree program, and three years later I received a master’s in divinity degree. Since then, I have had exciting and interesting experiences in the church, in hospitals and care centers, and at inpatient detox units and rehab centers.

However—I am still a mom. I still love my children very much, even though God has led me through a variety of challenging experiences. Now, in my current position as interim co-pastor, I find I have the opportunity to interact with preschoolers and kindergarten children each week. I read to two of the rooms of children yesterday. I was surprised to see that there were not too many books for the children to read. Of course, I tried to choose the very best of what was there. And I enjoyed being with the children, a great deal! That was the most important thing, of course.

This evening, I took the opportunity to go to a local library in the next town. They have a lovely used book area, where the Friends of the Library sell gently used books for only a small amount of money. This way, the library gets some badly needed money, people get really nice books, and the cost is really quite economical.

I went to the children’s section of the book area. I haven’t looked extensively at children’s picture books for some years. Such colorful, interesting books! I chose eleven (only fifty cents apiece!), and I’ll be more than happy to present them to the preschool director tomorrow, when I go to the church to work. I suspect the children—and the teachers—will be very pleased to have a fresh supply of books.

Yay, God! Thanks for the good idea, to go to such a place and get books. I’m so excited! I can hardly wait to see the faces of the boys and girls. It’s so wonderful to be able to bring a happy surprise with me.

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service, Being a Mom

A Year of Being Kind blog –Monday, March 17, 2014

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Being of Service, Being a Mom

This morning started out to be the usual weekday morning. Wake up, pray, go to the computer (to look and see if I got anything REALLY important since the last time I looked), and then drive my son to the high school in good time for his first class. I did so, and he and I talked about the gymnastics practice after school. (team photo shoot today!)

Today was a little out of the ordinary, after that. I dialed the office (I currently work a part-time position), and informed them that I was giving my two weeks’ notice today.  I also sent a brief email, telling them the same thing—I now am employed as interim part-time co-pastor! Then I went to my other job. I enjoy my other job, I really do. However, I have lots of other training and schooling and internships in pastoral care and counseling, leading small groups and group facilitation, and a whole host of other things. Now, I get to put all of them to work!

But—not quite yet. I have several more days at my old job. As the morning continued, I received a call from my son. He told me—in a sad voice—that he was starting to get a migraine headache. He was going to try to stay for two more classes, but then would like me to pick him up at the nurses’ office. I told him of course! That is, as long as I could finish my four-hour shift.

Sure enough, one of the nurses at school called in a little over an hour. As I drove to the high school, I could feel my mom-hat slipping into place. My son waited for me as I pulled up, and I (naturally) asked him whether he had eaten, reminded him of some likely foods and beverages up in the kitchen, and urged him to lie down in a dark room when he got home. What can I say? I’m a mom.

After a couple of errands, I came back home. All of those things were on his list, and he said he had accomplished them. I ended up taking him back to the high school for practice AND the team photo shoot.  And then, off to the YMCA myself, to their gym and fitness equipment! Yay! (I suspect my son appreciated the ride, so he wouldn’t need to get killed.

My son’s a junior in high school, but he’s still “young” in significant ways.  That made me think about me. True, I sometimes push through disease and not-feeling-well. Sometimes a bit too much, too. God, help me to know when to work, but also when to stop. And God, I usually know when to offer my service to others. But sometimes, I put my foot in my mouth. It sure would be great if You could help out with a little guidance! You know, in those difficult-to-assess situations. God, thanks for helping me be of service. And thanks for helping me to be a mom. More effectively and lovingly, of course!

@chaplaineliza

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Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

whatever makes you happy

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

“It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment. “

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion. I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind on a Day of Service

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

lovely kitty

Being Kind on a Day of Service

Today is the day America celebrates the birthday anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also becoming a day more and more people associate with acts of service. What an opportunity for people to do something for someone else! Helping the poorest of the poor, or those particularly needy in some special way, this is a significant way to remember Dr. King. Volunteers all across the country are donating their time to make a positive impact, a difference in the lives of others.

I had the opportunity to do a number of things for other people today. I even received several thank you’s and words of appreciation for some of them. However, I am going to concentrate on my favorite among them: preparing a birthday present for one of my children. She lives in a city out east, and she just loves (I mean, LOVES) one particular cookie I bake for the Christmas cookie plates I prepare every year. I took the opportunity to make this particular cookie for her tonight. I’ll pack up a few dozen of them, and mail them tomorrow. She will be so surprised and pleased when they arrive! (Unless she reads this blog post, that is.)

I’ve heard some people planning to do big things, difficult things, even out-of-the-way things for their act of service. To remember, to commemorate Dr. King. Any act of service is wonderful! God honors all of this service.  And when God calls people to do acts of service that stretch them, or move them out of their comfort zone, that is a marvelous opportunity to change and to grow. Going above and beyond the usual day-to-day activities can definitely be God-honoring, too! But what about the small things? The behind-the-scenes things? The things that people don’t really notice? Faithful obedience to what needs to be done? I think there is a special place in God’s heart for this kind of faithfulness. These unsung acts of service are extra special, too. And I suspect these loved ones of God receive special hugs, too!

True, my baking cookies this evening is a little thing. But I baked them with love, and I know my daughter will really enjoy them when they arrive on her doorstep! As I packed the container and put them in a shipping box ready for the mail, I prayed for my daughter, for this coming year, for her to have a fruitful year at her job, and blessing in her personal relationships. I prayed for her good health, for safety at home, at work, and in all her activities, and most especially—for her to have fun!

Yes, I’m a loving, caring person. Yes, I act as a chaplain, or a professional caregiver. I can jump right into service to others. But I’m also a mom. I love my children! It is good for me to take the time to serve them, too. God bless my four children richly, and bless my daughter the birthday girl, in particular.

@chaplaineliza