Of Taxi Service and Altruism

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, June 15, 2014

God thanks for everything

Of Taxi Service and Altruism

Music is awesome! Since I studied a music major for my undergraduate degree, I absolutely concur.

My daughter plays several reed instruments. She is quite skilled at what she does, and she currently plays in a community band here in the north suburbs of Chicago. The band director at her school retired recently. He now directs the community band, and he recruited her to play several lower reed instruments.

The band happened to have a concert scheduled for today. This afternoon, at a senior citizen retirement center. The center was located a distance from home, and I acted as a taxi service for my daughter today. The humorous stuff aside, I offered to drive my daughter to and from the concert.

I hesitate to admit this, but I was not completely altruistic. The day was simply gorgeous! True, I did need to drive a long way, but the weather more than made up for it. Plus, after the concert, my daughter and I took the opportunity to drive more on some roads we don’t usually get to.

I wonder . . . how many times am I less than altruistic in my ways of being kind? In my attempts at service and being helpful to others? If I am honest, it’s more than once in a while. I haven’t kept count, but I would think it’s on occasion. Even, sometimes.

The verse I chose for June keeps rattling around in my head, too. Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” God, I ought to keep my eyes on You, and not get distracted by any other person, place or thing. Sure, I drove my daughter to her band concert. But I can’t get all puffed up by this tendency I have to pat myself on the back. No self-aggrandizement. (I’ve got to put a stop to that!)

I realize it’s a kind of a contradiction. Yes. But any time I start feeling smug, and congratulating myself? That’s for sure the time that I ought to put on the brakes. In that case, I need to take stock of exactly why I’m doing this being-kind-thing.

God, help me keep the focus where it ought to be—on You, and on others. I want to help, to serve. To be kind. Thanks for the reminder.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness on a Sunday? Of Course!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, May 4, 2014

Great is Your faithfulness Lam 3-23

Kindness on a Sunday? Of Course!

Happy Sunday! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Sure, today was Sunday. One of my busiest days of the week, given my new position. Since I am working with a co-pastor, I did not have to preach this morning. However, I still had the responsibilities for the music and prayers at church. And, since this was the first Sunday of the month, my co-pastor and I served communion.

Wonderful service this morning! My co-pastor and I are a great team—we support each other and one picks up right where the other leaves off.

One extra special feature of today’s service: we had two visitors. Relatives of a couple in our church. There had been an extra special birthday celebration yesterday at our church. A precious, older relative had a birthday. According to the report, there were seventy people at the big party. She’s in her nineties, and she and her daughter were guests at our church this morning. Such a special occasion. Such a lovely, sweet lady.

As I know I’ve mentioned, I’ve talked in this blog before about an older friend of mine who works for a large senior citizen facility here in this suburb. She told me a few years ago, “You ought to have ‘Good with seniors’ printed on your forehead. Because, you are!” I must admit, yes, I am. It’s true. I am drawn to seniors, coming alongside of them. Talking with them, and even more important, listening to them. Really listening, and responding to them from my heart.

So after the service ended this morning, I took the opportunity to go to the two visitors. First, I talked with the daughter. I thanked her for coming to the service, and especially for bringing her mother. Then, I had the precious chance to talk with this dear senior. I got down on her level, and talked with her in her wheelchair. She was so open, and so grateful for the birthday celebration. She told me about her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren—and even great-great-grandchildren. So many of them had attended the party the day before.

I couldn’t help but ask her if I could give her a hug. She said “of course!” Her eyes started to tear up. So did mine. We hugged, I smiled at her again, and she even asked me for another hug. I had the sudden feeling that I could please God (not to mention this sweet lady), and so I prayed with her briefly. She was so happy at that! She sincerely blessed me. I appreciate her blessing so much.

God, bless this dear senior, and bless her whole family. Draw the many family members together in love, support, and mutual encouragement. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, March 16, 2014

THANK thank you God

Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

What a difference a day makes! Or, a few days, in this case. Today, I started serving in an interim position at a church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. My arrival there was providential, to say the least. (I am sure I will say more about it, in the days ahead.) I am looking forward to a wonderful time of service.

One of my new responsibilities at the church is serving as interim music director. (They have a lovely digital piano!) I enjoyed playing the piano for the congregation this morning. I have been doing that on a periodic basis for two retirement centers in Chicago, about once a month. I’m sad to leave that part-time ministry, but happy and excited to move into a new, more varied one. Yes, I did active service today, by leading music, playing the piano, and praying in the church. I tried to be a blessing to the congregation.

Later today, I reconsidered the verse I’ve chosen for March, for this blog. It comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.”  When I consider my new position, I am energized! Excited! May I say—enthusiastic? I think, yes.

I talked with one of my wonderful relatives this afternoon, who rejoiced with me over my new position. She has worked in corporate business for several decades. (She is wise in the ways of business and savvy in interpersonal communication, from a fast-paced, cut-to-the-chase orientation. So useful, and so appreciated!)  She often gives excellent advice. Today was no different. Her thoughtful, to-the-point words struck home with me. She said, “Whenever I go into a new management situation, I always tell myself that I will try to actively like all the members of my management team. Working together is always easier and smoother when we like each other.”

Wow, God. Such an excellent piece of advice! I can see how important this is. If I like, respect and, in a Christian context, pray for people I work with, work will always go more easily and smoothly. I knew this piece of advice said in a little different kind of way. I remember one of my seminary professors telling us to pray for the congregation, and invite the congregation to pray for us, as church leaders. Regular prayer helps me like them, and even love them. Which is what God commands, by the way. (And it’s really difficult to actively dislike someone I’m regularly praying for, besides.)

This is going to be a busy week. I have a conference to attend for several days (for my certificate for Alcohol and Drug Counseling, or CADC). And since it’s Lent, I need to prepare a brief service for Wednesday night, on top of everything else. Busy, busy! But God, I know You will be right there next to me. Thanks for this new adventure! And thanks for the assurance that “whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

@chaplaineliza

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Hush Up!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 8, 2014

runner wall decal

Hush Up!

Rhetorical question: am I doing an act of service if I keep my mouth closed?

Let me back up, and give some context to my question. After I dropped my son off at the high school in town, I went to the gym at the YMCA, as often is my practice. I really like using the track on the floor above the main gym most days. Today was no different. I quickly changed in the locker room and went upstairs, through the cardio and weight room through to the large gym. I had totally forgotten that this was Wednesday. (I usually don’t go to the gym on Wednesdays, for a variety of reasons. But I did today.)

As I warmed up and stretched, and started my workout on the track, I noticed some people coming in to the main gym. Oh, no! Today is Zumba day. Don’t get me wrong—I sometimes watch the people doing Zumba to the energetic, pounding music, and it’s wonderful cardio-vascular exercise. It’s the music that sometimes gets on my nerves. Today was particularly annoying. The first song that was played as I power-walked and jogged around the track had four chords. A four-chord progression, played over and over and over and . . . you get the idea. Repetitive, mind-numbing. It almost made me want to scream. It went on for seven minutes. (Yes, I watched the clock as I circled the track.)

I’m a classically-trained musician. Piano is my primary instrument, and composition was my emphasis for my undergraduate degree in music. I usually can “turn off my ears” and ignore or just not pay attention to poorly composed or performed music. But not today. As I went around the track for a good part of those seven minutes, I felt like giving someone a piece of my mind. Grrr! But I didn’t. It came to me (I suspect God brought this thought to me) that by complaining and kvetching to whatever unlucky YMCA staff member was on duty this morning, I really wouldn’t accomplish much of anything. The Y staff member would probably cluck his or her tongue, nod understandably and say, “There, there.” Or words to that effect. I know. I’ve worked in customer service, and that’s what I would have done in a similar situation.

Instead, I had another thought—also inspired by God, I think. This morning was an opportunity for me to practice forbearance and patience. Two fruits of the Spirit that are not as readily apparent in my character as they ought to be. I kept my mouth shut. I did not blow up or gripe to any Y staff or to the Zumba leader. People have a perfect right to listen to whatever kind of music that they like.

What about a positive act of service? Later, I saw another Y staff member wearing a really pretty sweater today. I smiled at her and gave her a sincere compliment on the sweater. She blossomed, telling me that her daughter had given her the sweater for Christmas, and she’d be sure to tell the daughter.

I think both were acts of service. I was proud of myself. And I think God was amused.

@chaplaineliza