Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House? (#BestOf)

 (the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remodeling? Yes, this is where I was at, last year. What a mess! But now, almost a year later, it was so worth it! Looking at our modest (all right—small, it’s true) bathroom, I know the headaches were just for a little while. The facelift, the fresh tile, the new paint? All go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable in our modest condo. Lord, is that what You want me to feel like in my spiritual house, too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - Oleg Kujala (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

 

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter.

I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much.

I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul?

Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(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!)

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How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 5, 2014

PRAY prayer changes things

How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

Sometimes, stuff happens. Accidents happen. Disagreements happen. People get sick. Some lose their jobs. Anxiety flares up. Family fights continue. Some of us need to deal with things one day at a time. The business of living continues.

Like I said, stuff happens. And—what do you do when the stuff that happens is negative? Scary? Less than pleasant? Depressing? Downright awful? All kinds of feelings and emotions can come with those negative happenings. People can feel overwhelmed. Or alone. (Lonely, too!) People can give up hope. Or, people can get angry, resentful, even desperate.

A church in the Chicago suburbs is doing something about all that negativity. St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove is starting an intercessory prayer ministry. The Prayer Project at St. Luke’s is providing a welcoming place, a safe place to share those deep prayer needs, with some faithful pray-ers. The praying people at the Prayer Project have volunteered to lift up the requests and needs that come to our attention, as they pray on a regular basis.

I am the pastor at St. Luke’s Church, and I have been preaching a summer sermon series on prayer for the past three months. We have examined prayer from many different points of view that are included in the biblical record. We’ve talked about some mis-understandings about prayer: consequently, “God is not a vending machine in the sky!” Have you ever had friends or acquaintances who considered God a sort of waiter? They would order things from some kind of heavenly menu, and give God a specific list of do’s and don’ts.

But—don’t many of us slip into that sort of thinking, sometimes? As well as that sort of praying? God, forgive me, but I know I do.

I have encouraged the praying friends at St. Luke’s Church to lift up prayer requests (as well as prayer praises!)–on a regular basis.  In the Bible, we are urged to join together in prayer, too. Who doesn’t need prayers of friendship, support, encouragement and comfort?

Thank God we can turn to God in prayer. The Lord will be right beside us, whenever and wherever the need happens to be. And—God will never leave you. Never forsake me. Never, ever. That’s a promise, made by the best Promise-Keeper I know.

(If anyone is in need of prayer, St. Luke’s Prayer Project can help. Our email address is saintlukesccc@sbcglobal.net. For more on prayer, check out my companion blog at  matterofprayerblog.wordpress.com. )

@chaplaineliza

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A Season to Be Kind. A Season to Be of Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BK power of touch, smile, chance to be kind

A Season to Be Kind. A Season to Be of Service

“To everything–turn, turn, turn!/There is a season–turn, turn, turn!” The Byrds’ song echoes in my mind today as I consider things in my life. My personal life, my professional life. Yes, things are shifting and changing, even as I sit here and type on my computer.

People are sick. People go into the hospital. People have operations. People get well. People go to school. People graduate. People get jobs. People lose jobs. People retire. People get pregnant. People have babies. People die.

Yes, I realize these things, intellectually. Even experientially, on occasion. But these happenings are occurring with more and more regularity. Or not ‘regularity,’ per se, but I see increased occurrences. In that case, I wonder why I’m particularly noticing the changing of the ‘seasons’ of life?

A good thing for me to do would be for me to focus on one thing at a time. Not get bombarded by lots of things, all at once. That’s a prudent idea for anyone who is going through a number of shifts and changes in their lives. (Even good or positive changes!) God, help me to take life one thing at a time. One day at a time. Even—one hour at a time, sometimes.

Anyone else feel overwhelmed from time to time? (I know I do!) Well, meditation techniques and mindfulness practices come in very usefully, here. If I can keep my head and keep up a less-anxious presence, then I have a decent chance to keep an even keel, emotionally and psychologically. It is then that I have the opportunity to be of worthwhile service, to act in a kind and caring manner.

Yes, I have been trained to be of service in a health care center setting. Sometimes this setting can be really trying, even traumatic. But I have been praised by my supervisors for my less-anxious presence. Thank God, I do know how to act and (often) how far to go to keep things in a positive, healthy direction. Even when tragedy strikes, as it has recently. A senior I have known for the past several years has died. I did my part in letting people know, just a little while ago.

And, that’s only the beginning of the stuff that’s going on. Personally as well as professionally. God, please give me the words to say to bring comfort and concern to me, and for my people, as well. And help me minister to the loved ones and those who mourn his passing.

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service on Carpet Day!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, April 15, 2014

animated-pictures-of-people-working-together-i4.gif

Being of Service on Carpet Day!

Today was the day—the day the carpet was laid. (It looks superb, by the way!)

I worked like a pack animal to get my house ready for the carpet layers. The biggest, most time-consuming thing was packing up all of our books. My husband is a book lover. He married another book lover. We have a child who is also a book lover. I rarely can say “No!” when I am asked to purchase a book. So the children know I’m a sucker for a good book.

It took some time, but finally all of our books went downstairs to the basement. Thank God we did not have any more to pack, since it’s getting to be a bit crowded in the laundry room!

My continuing acts of service involved the apartment. First packing, next cleaning, and then getting each room unloaded as much as possible. I did whatever I could to assist the guys. The carpet guys were wonderful. Speedy in and out, and extremely thorough.

God, how should I take this situation? Sure, I can simply accept it at face value, and be very grateful to the carpet guys. (Which I am, fear not! I communicated that fully.) But I have referred to God as my General Contractor before. That’s very true. Maybe God has some plans for my spiritual life. Or, my emotional life. Or possibly, God might let me rest easy for a little, instead of having a constantly challenging life. It’s a day at a time, whatever happens.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve been getting ready for the carpet guys for some days. Now, after the carpet has been installed, I need to put the house back together. Wish me the best. If you could, prayers gladly accepted, please!

I wonder. What kind of service will God send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - by Oleg Kujala  (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – by Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)

Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter. I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much. I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul? Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Serve with Enthusiasm Means Be Kind, Positively!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin - illustration by Ernest Shepard

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin – illustration by Ernest Shepard

Serve with Enthusiasm Means Be Kind, Positively!

Today was a whirlwind day. Running, running from one thing to the next. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed everything I did today! However, I also considered the verse I’ve chosen for March again. It comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.”

I was at my new job for a while this morning, then at my old job this afternoon, and back to the new job for the evening Lenten service. My new church is full of life during the week, what with the preschool and small children in many classrooms throughout the north part of the church. I love children, and especially small, exuberant ones. Overwhelmingly, they have almost no inhibitions at all, entering into each experience as a new adventure, or a fascinating curiosity.

This exuberant enthusiasm of these dear children is something I find echoed in the verse I chose for March. (And I chose it for March at the beginning of January, I’ll have you know. Coincidence? Providence? You decide.) Truly, God is blessing people at my work. Not only the congregation, but also the preschool. I pray that it continues!

I also had a bittersweet good-bye today. I said farewell to someone I’ve gotten to know very well. I don’t mean, farewell for good. However, this dear person and I will not see each other very often, now that I have taken this new position. This dear one wished me the best! Imagine the appreciation and kind regard I have in my heart! And I wished the very best for that person, as well.

Question: how did I get in this particular place, anyhow? I still feel like pinching myself, because at the beginning of March, I had no idea that by the third Sunday, I would be leading worship in a new church. Today was the weekly bible study. Already, I am starting to feel the rhythms of this new place. Already, I can enjoy the children as I walk down the halls and say hello to students and staff alike.

It’s good to praise God with enthusiasm! Of course, the pessimistic viewpoint tries to inform me that it may rain tomorrow, and I may lose my keys, and someone might even shut the door on my tail. (Oh, no. Now I’m sounding like Eeyore. Oh, bother!) I much prefer the optimistic view, right now. Happy-go-lucky, one-day-at-a-time thinking. I suspect Winnie the Pooh would approve.

So, whether I am channeling Eeyore, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger or Owl, I hope I can always consider the excellent example of these dear preschool children. And be enthusiastic. Even if I’m not quite as exuberant as Tigger.

@chaplaineliza
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Being Kind While Assembling a Puzzle?

A Year of Being Kind blog –Tuesday, March 25, 2014

KIND another one kind word

Being Kind While Assembling a Puzzle?

There are lots of new things to learn when a person gets a new job. Even when a person knows how to do the component parts of the position, still. I compare it to putting the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, I know most of these various parts of my new position, but I have just barely gotten started. I suppose I am still turning all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle over, and starting to put the border together. (to take the analogy a bit further, that is)

I’ve learned so much from so many different places! For example, I started learning visitation in earnest when I was a chaplain intern at a large retirement center. That was more than ten years ago, when I attended seminary.

I still remember the first resident I visited. The frail, elderly senior was in the health care unit. My chaplain supervisor encouraged me to visit this dear person, and gave me a little background on the senior’s physical and mental condition. The senior’s spine was chronically, increasingly bent and deformed. The mental condition was deteriorating, too, although simple language and communication still were effective. I spoke gently and cheerfully to this person, talking about my small children. My younger two were in primary grades at the time. I got very little feedback, but I knew this senior recognized I was there. I tried to be a gentle yet cheerful presence, yet I wondered afterwards how effective I could possibly have been. I remember talking about this visit with my supervisor afterwards, too. He encouraged me to continue—and continue I did.

This was where I started to learn about how to be present with people, in a gentle, caring way. I found I have a real ability in this area. Several chaplain and pastoral supervisors have told me about it, especially how I am able to be with people in a calm, less-anxious way. Not always, of course. But as I am with people, I discover this calm, gentle manner just sort of switches on. And happens.

So, I know how to be with people in serious, even traumatic situations, from my years of serving as a chaplain. I can see how this skill will be applicable to my new position, from time to time. Even more often sometimes. Like today—I was present with someone and encouraged them just by being there. I did not say too much. However, I heard them thank me, heard the appreciation in their voice. That’s satisfaction, to be sure. And I suspect my being with people, my gentle, caring presence is a large part of my job—of the puzzle that makes up my new position.

This living one-day-at-a-time business sure is interesting! I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza
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