Keeping Quiet, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, January 25, 2018

Looking back at my daily blog from 2014, I see a great many things that are really heartwarming. I reread blogs of instances where I was kind, where I helped, and where I was of service. As I mentioned, this is kind of natural for me. (God has gifted me with the spiritual gifts of mercy and helps, and so I almost automatically reach out when I see the need.) But…what about when I realize it’s better to keep quiet about being of service? What if a kind word or a helping hand is better shared behind closed doors? Sometimes, this way is the best way.

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Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

Posted on January 23, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 22, 2014

keep it simple

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

I know I’ve been trying to blog each day in 2014. As I’ve said before, I’m highlighting an intentional act of service every day. A wonderful opportunity to show different ways of being kind, to find ways of being of service to others!  Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Recovery program.

But what about things done in secret? Acts of kindness or service that the doer doesn’t want anyone to know about? I personally know a couple of people who try to do kind things for others on a regular basis, and go out of their way to keep it hush-hush. Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline deals with this aspect of service. Chapter Nine talks about the service of hiddenness. Serving in this way can be a needed test of one’s devotion. As Foster says, “[it is] a rebuke to the flesh and can deal a fatal blow to pride.”

Instead of getting all puffed up and walking around with a big head (“My goodness, look at me! Look at all the acts of service I’ve piled up—I mean, I’ve done for God!”), I can readily see the benefits of service done in secret. I have done any number of acts of service that I haven’t spoken (or blogged) about. First, perhaps because I knew the person I did the service for would not appreciate me blogging about them. Second, because I did not want to openly broadcast the act of service, and otherwise shine a spotlight on what ordinarily would be a quiet act of kindness or compassion.

Foster tells his readers that acts of hidden service not only affect the person serving, but others, as well. “Hidden, anonymous ministries affect even people who know nothing or them. They sense a deeper love and compassion among people though they cannot account for the feeling.” (p. 134) I can attest to this. On numerous occasions when I’ve been involved in ministry to others, doing acts of kindness or service, I have sensed a sweetness, a freshness about the place. It’s as if the positive energy or God’s blessing (or whatever anyone decides to call it) permeates the atmosphere. I can’t explain it, I can’t quantify it. But I have experienced it. The difference being kind makes.

I do have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I know how important acts of service are to those in recovery. A common saying in recovery goes, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.” And again, on page 77 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the chapter Into Action talks about the recovering person’s attempts to be of “service to God and the people around us.” This concept is a foundation of the recovery program. Being of service to others is not only helpful, but essential to maintaining a healthy balance and spiritual walk with God and with others.

So, yes. I did do several acts of service today. And I am going to choose to keep quiet about them.


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

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


Saying “Can I Help?” (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, January 19, 2018

Among several other spiritual gifts, I have the spiritual “gift of helps” in abundance. That was one reason why I decided to do this project—A Year of Being Kind—in the year 2014. I really do enjoy helping people. When I think that the blog post below is right at the very beginning of the year, I get excited all over again. There is absolutely no reason why I cannot continue being kind to others right now, on a daily basis? Helping, being of service, being kind. We don’t have enough kindness in this country. Spread some kindness, if you can.

Saying “Can I Help?”

Posted on January 20, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 19, 2014

helping tree

Saying “Can I Help?”

The Chicago area had a snowfall last night. Feathery, light dusting of snow. Several inches worth of the white stuff. Enough to make older people think twice before venturing out to church. Me, I enjoyed getting outside! The church I attend has a number of senior members, so there were not as many in attendance this morning. Our church has a traditional, liturgical service, with typical elements such as vestments, hymns, and organ. Today, we celebrated the second Sunday after Epiphany. (I sang with the choir, as usual.) The sermon revolved around the followers of John becoming curious about Jesus. “Come and see!” Just as the curious followers of Jesus were invited to come and see, we are, too.

After church, pretty much every week, a couple or several people from the congregation volunteer to host coffee hour. With attendance down today, I happened by the church kitchen immediately after service. I saw the woman hosting coffee hour today just beginning to set out everything on the tables. (Most weeks, all the serving dishes and drinks are set out by that time.) Her husband was not there at the moment, to assist. I smiled at her and heard the words coming from my mouth: “Can I help?”

She was so appreciative, and enthusiastically said “Yes, thank you!” I stripped off my choir robe, shoved it onto a hanger, and hurried to the kitchen. I grabbed the water, and the plates of coffee cake and bowls of grapes, and trotted them out to the table. I saw to the eating-end of the table, and she poured coffee, tea, and water at the other. I had fun, and made myself generally helpful. I re-filled coffee carafes, fetched serving utensils, did whatever else needed doing. I helped her clear off the tables, wash the dishes and carafes, and clean the kitchen. The church grew quiet as it emptied out. She and I had a wonderful time getting to know each other better as we tidied up.

I’ve read in theological books (like chapter 9 in the modern classic by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline) that serving others is a good choice if someone wants to increase in spiritual disciplines. When I intentionally set out to make this year my year of serving, of finding ways to be kind, I knew that this would entail a good deal of fetching, carrying, listening, and helping. Even if I hadn’t prayed for God to send me specific service opportunities, I would still be helpful. Some Christian elders and people of discernment have told me that I indeed have the spiritual gift of helps. I’ve noticed for years this is something that I enjoy. I knew this propensity would aid me in the practice of being kind.

As I drove home, I realized that those words “Can I help?” came from my mouth without thinking. Just automatic. I was of service, before I even knew it.  God, thank You for putting me in the right place at the right time. Would that service could always be so fulfilling and joy-filled!


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

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

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


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?


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

(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 .   @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.


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

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.


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

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.


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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.


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