Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 8, 2014

father gave me a gift-belief in me

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

Today is Friday, and it’s time for another Feature Friday. Except—this Friday feature is more challenging than some in past months.

What would you do if you were orphaned as a small child, and had no other close relatives? Or, how would life be different for you if you grew up in a poverty-stricken, single-parent household? What other serious events or continuing situations could radically change your story?  Would that fundamentally change how you grew up? Who you were, and more importantly, who you became?

This Feature Friday post tells about Emmaus Ministries, “Ministering to men in prostitution since 1990.” (according to their website) One big part of the ministry is trust and respect. Always in pairs, walking the streets alongside of the men. Coming alongside and listening to their stories. Stories are powerful. Everyone has a story, but some people cannot tell their stories. The people at Emmaus Ministries go out of their way to find out about the stories—sometimes difficult and traumatic, often painful—from the men on the street. As these relationships of trust and respect grow, the workers at Emmaus help the men to take steps to get off the streets, into a more stable place and position in their lives.

Some on-the-street experiences come from the founder of Emmaus Ministries, John Green. “Streetwalking with Jesus,” a book written by John Green with Dawn Herzog Jewell, vividly tells about justice and mercy. As he reflects on Micah 6:8, Green deals with such questions as “how do I live justly? To whom do I show mercy?  How may I walk humbly with God?” Working with male prostitutes is truly a challenge. And, a merciful and just way to live out the Good News.

The stories can involve addiction and alcoholism. Long-term unemployment (both for the men as well as their families). Homelessness. Other forms of instability and hardship, trauma and violence. Sometimes, several of these difficult items come into the stories. But the workers and volunteers at Emmaus Ministries are there to listen with compassion, to try to understand, and to help where they can. For example, on Emmaus’ blog, a recently-released person expressed his gratitude for the letters and calls that came to the prison for him. In fact, they were the only calls and visits this man had, from anyone, while he was imprisoned. Talk about gratitude!

Just having the opportunity to say you’re sorry? Or, I’m grateful? Or, I’m so afraid? Emotions! Scary, unpredictable! Sometimes; though, taking advantage of that blessing means so much. If you came from a shaky foster family, or a dysfunctional family in extreme poverty, this relationship with the workers at Emmaus sometimes might be the first healthy relationship they have had with another adult.

God bless every person blessed by Emmaus Ministry! And God be with those who will be in sme trial or tribulation. God, please! In your mystery, compassion and love, be with every person as they go about their business. Help Emmaus workers point many people to God, and let everyone know that Emmaus Ministries is truly a loving, caring, and worthwhile ministry.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness and Service, All in the Family

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 6, 2014

help someone--God answering someone's prayer through you

Kindness and Service, All in the Family

I’m a helpful person. From a Christian point of view, I have a spiritual gift of helps. I enjoy helping. I feel fulfilled when I do things for people. This is another way of saying I try to be kind to people. And—I wish to encourage others to be kind, too. It takes people out of themselves. From being self-centered to becoming other-centered.

Another ordinary day. An ordinary Wednesday, in fact. I went to work, made some telephone calls, did some computer work, sent some emails. Went on a kind visit, to a care center to see a senior. Actively listened to this dear person, and kept this senior company for a while.

Then I went to be kind, for a second time. Kind to my husband. I picked him up from the conference center and brought him home.

And I was kind, again, to my daughter. She and I went shopping again in preparation for college, and I dearly hope this is the last shopping trip. (Although she did get some really nice things!)

And lastly, I was kind to myself. In the evening, I went to the gym at the YMCA. Went on the track, and did a good bit of stretching and yoga afterwards. It felt great!

I wonder how many different ways I can be kind? I’ve already found quite a few. (After all, this blog is called “A Year of Being Kind.”) God, the best part about this endeavor is that I am becoming accustomed to discovering kind things to do, on a regular basis. Ways to be of service, every day. I know I have done some things I don’t even want to publicize, to write about in this blog, and that’s okay, too. Some things are better left private. Sometimes even the person I am providing a kindness to doesn’t even know. Isn’t in the least bit aware. And that makes the whole being-kind-thing really exciting!

God, what kinds of opportunities will you send me tomorrow? Will they be little or big? A bit scary? Unexpected? Gentle? Or even quieter than quiet, and unassuming? Whatever they are, however I discover them, help me serve others. Be kind. Help.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Am Kind by Telephone

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BK power to change lives

In Which I Am Kind by Telephone

Ever look for opportunities to be kind? Opportunities for acts of service? Yeah, me, too. Seriously!

I have been actively looking for opportunities like this, each and every day since the beginning of January. We’ve begun the seventh month, and have now passed the halfway point of the year. In the past few days, I have been taking stock. Looking back over the past six months. Overall, I am pleased. Pleased, and a little surprised.

I mean, I did not fully expect what was going to happen as the months unfolded. I’ve helped and been kind to quite a number of people. It was a lot of service, true! But also, some persons, places and things I did not expect. I met people I didn’t previously know, and wrote about some new places and things—places and things that were new to me, anyway!

Waiting for the next service opportunity can be exciting. What’s around the next corner? Is there someone in need? Or, someone who is sad, or upset, or just plain wants a smile or a hug? I’m up for it. Whatever “it” is, I would like to say that I’m ready!

Today, I needed to make several telephone calls. A couple were routine, a couple more were specific, where I had several things to communicate. But, I tried to have a kind, cheerful spirit as I called. I think I communicated with a smile on my face. I have heard a number of times that a person’s expression on their face—even while talking on the telephone—can be so important. I realize some people can tell whether the person on the other end of the line is smiling or not. (It comes through in not only the sound of the voice, but in how certain words are pronounced, too.)

Instead of being down in the mouth, depressed and sad, I do try to show a positive, pleasant attitude. I can see how several of those in my acquaintance are negative. Gloomy, and pessimistic. Even though I am really friends with a few of them, I don’t particularly want to hang around when they are like that. Sad, isn’t it? I suspect that is exactly what my friends want, and need.

Hmm. All right, Lord. I hear what You are telling me. Next time one of my acquaintances is gloomy and sad, You would like me to stay with them. Be present with them, and journey alongside of them. That is, You would like for me to at least offer to journey with them, in that land of disappointment, anger, loneliness, and fear? I understand. Yes. I’ll try. With Your help, I suspect I’ll succeed. At least, some of the time.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Kindness and Computers, and Then Some!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Thursday, June 12, 2014

BK language deaf hear, blind see

Of Kindness and Computers, and Then Some!

What happens when you spend almost all day looking at a computer screen?

Well, not quite all day. I did do a little shopping for food. And I talked with a woman and her daughter at the store. We commiserated over the high prices. (And this was at a discount store!)

The woman and I exchanged a few comments over our carts, it’s true. But as we talked, I felt her open up. She took a step closer, and became more animated. I could tell she and I connected, even though it was only a brief conversation. And our talk was a genuine expression of emotion, of connection.

I am becoming more and more aware that I need to be a good example. As a pastor of a church, as a leader of that congregation, people are eager to connect. People are watching, too. I am so glad that this woman and I were able to connect, since that is something a pastor very much needs in their life. In their “tool bag” of character traits.

The computer work I did today was important! (Spending hours sweating and slaving over a hot monitor! *grin*) I had to write several reports for a meeting tomorrow. In addition, I got a decent start on Sunday’s sermon.

I’m glad I am disciplining myself to write with more fluidity (if not finesse). Since I need to write a fair amount each week, I want to make certain that what comes out of my fingertips is pretty good. I judge others on their poor presentation skills and grammatical mistakes. I would be so embarrassed if it were me. I probably might want to crawl into a deep hole and not come out. Until, say, at least the Black Hawks take to the ice again.

Just as several of my friends and acquaintances find themselves doing a good deal of computer work, I needed to get things done before I left the office today. And, in writing several different documents, I served as an advocate. I also acted as an investigative reporter, looking into the inside scoop!

God, thanks for the ease in preparation of these written tasks, reports, and help me to continue to be on the look-out for opportunities to be kind, to be of service.

@chaplaineliza

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Being a Chaplain, and Being Kind

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

PRAY God can hear you

Being a Chaplain, and Being Kind

You never know when stuff will happen, or opportunities present themselves. In the midst of major cleaning and getting things ready for the carpet guys to come to our place tomorrow, I was really busy with sorting, packing, and schlepping stuff downstairs to the basement.

While I was involved in all this commotion, I talked with two recent acquaintances today, too. One told me of several hospitalizations that happened to the other, within the last few months. About the surgeries on the extremity, and pus coming out repeatedly. Pretty scary stuff!

It all involved a cut on a lower extremity, the cut getting infected, and what happened after that. Yucky, scary, creepy chain of events. The infection just wouldn’t go away, even after repeated hospitalizations and heavy-duty antibiotics. The three of us talked a little about these super-bacteria, resistant to even the most powerful drugs and—specifically—antibiotics. The infectious disease doctors are starting to warn the public about these super-bugs, even.

I haven’t been in a hospital or care center for a number of weeks now. (Even though my Twitter handle and my name I go by on wordpress.com are both @chaplaineliza.) However, these two acquaintances didn’t seem to notice. Or care.

They spoke to me at length and opened up about several things. But one thing stuck in my mind—the hospitalization. So much so, I felt the urge to pray for this dear one, and I acted on it. I followed God’s leading.

As I have done many times in the past, I asked my acquaintance if I could pray, and if it would weird either of them out. They both laughed, and said of course I could. My second follow-up question was “Would you like me to pray with you right now, or would you like me to do it in the afternoon tomorrow?” Right now was fine.

We stood there and prayed. Holding hands. I was conscious that this practice was unusual for my acquaintance, so I hurried my prayer along. (I don’t think God minded. In fact, I suspect God totally understood.) As I closed my prayer “in the healing, powerful name of Jesus,” I felt a gentle peace, a right-ness. Somehow, this dear acquaintance and I were in the right place, at the proper time. Or something like that. I am not sure quite what God had in mind when I prayed, but I have the strong sensation that God was pleased. Not pleased about the repeated operations and the other creepy things that happened, but about the two of us getting together and praying. Coming before our God and calling out our hurts, our victories, our fears.

Thank God that I am not calling out into some dull lifeless blog. No, You have promised to be with me, all the way. And your have promised to be with my acquaintance, too. Great job, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Can I Be of Service? How?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, March 13, 2014

God uses you in a mighty way

Can I Be of Service? How?

Can I be of service today? I did not have that intentional thought today, it is true. However, in retrospect, I found I did perform some service. Several times!

I worked today. I was of service there. I ran some errands, so I was of service to my family and my husband. I went to the gym this morning—I even did some self-care, and was of service to myself! So, yes. I did perform some acts of service today, although they were not intentional. I mean, I did not pray specifically for God to send some brand-new opportunities for service into my life. The service just sort of happened. Just sort of was there. After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that’s great, too!

In among the errands I did today, I stopped by my friend’s store to pick up several little items I asked her to get ready for my church’s fund-raiser. (a Bunco party! How retro is that?) My friend Sarah has the most visually appealing store I know of. Of course, she is a floral designer, and has just superb taste. (In case anyone would like to find her, her shop Four Finches is in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. http://fourfinches.com/ )

Sarah has the precious gift of making stunning arrangements, using flowers, plants and other visually appealing bits and pieces. She can also choose lovely gift items. Her store is, as I said, attractive and restful to the eye. So, Sarah took advantage of a service opportunity today! She provided several small but very appealing things that I am taking to the church as raffle gifts.

Now that I think more about it, I find I am seeing service opportunities in many places. Isn’t it funny how a prayer that I prayed a number of times could change how I look at things in such a fundamental way? I mean, seeing potential acts of service, love and caring is not the typical thing that comes to some people’s minds. And March is not even half over, yet.

This service-thing — I felt that God wanted me to embark on it for the year 2014. I tried to walk right into it with as few expectations as possible. All I knew was that I felt God wanted me to do it. Sort of. I didn’t really have a clear idea about that, either. I don’t want to appear grandiose or anything, but my embarking on A Year of Being Kind was just a little like Abram setting forth from Ur of the Chaldees. Abram didn’t know where he was going. And neither do I.

Now that I’ve started the Lenten journey to the Cross, I feel more like Abram than I did before. It’s one day at a time, for sure. God, I am sorry I did not intentionally pray for You to show me something today. But You showed up, nevertheless!

Gee, I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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