Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 4, 2017

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

Today was Pentecost at my church. Yes, I preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I spoke of the mighty acts of God breaking into the lives of all believers. This #BestOf post marks the day the Holy Spirit was poured out. I don’t want the Holy Spirit to remain sequestered to only one day a year. No! Our Advocate helped the followers of Jesus to turn the world inside and upside down. Read it again, and praise God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 8, 2014

Acts 2 Pentecost-El-Greco-cropped

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

So there I was—at an evening meeting several years ago in a public building. Out of nowhere, the lights flickered. Went out! And stayed out. Immediately, everyone inside the building filed out. As a safety precaution, of course.

But—what happened? Was it a brown-out? Did something happen to a transformer attached to the electrical supply in the neighborhood? Everyone wanted the power supply to get back on line!

I narrated the story of Pentecost this morning, in church. I told about Jesus ascending to heaven, and then—what? Nothing! Not a thing, for days. But at last, when the band of beleaguered believers was all gathered together in one place, Pentecost happened! The Holy Spirit came with mighty power! The disciples became courageous overnight. And the Holy Spirit turned the disciples inside out and upside down. Life—as they knew it before—was never the same again.

As I preached this morning, I honestly felt like I was serving the congregation in a deep, meaningful, wonderful manner. Opening the Word of God. I’ve felt that in the past, and it is such an awesome, stunning feeling to have. Almost like Isaiah falling on his face before God Almighty in the Temple (in Isaiah 6). However, today had a different feel to it. This morning, it was almost like I was uncovering something rich, something precious. Something of immense value! And then, turning to the friends out in the pews. Showing them the treasure of immense value! Offering them the opportunity to come along on this tremendous journey.

What about you? How has your journey through life been going? This small congregation has had its ups and downs, but I felt that this particular message from Acts 2 was just exactly what I ought to preach to this congregation. I hope and pray that any time people consider this chapter in Acts that they also consider the tremendous opportunity that God is holding out to all of outs. Just like a treasure, a rich and beautiful thing.

I want to serve. I have been praying for opportunities to help, whatever way I can. In this case, I will try my darnedest to get out the Good News. And if I can serve, be helpful, and be kind along the way? All fantastic ways to follow God. And God’s Good News!

@chaplaineliza

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

Advertisements

Are You Being Served? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, April 9, 2017

As I read through a 2014 blog post list from A Year of Being Kind, this blog post jumped out at me. Yes, I still go into Curt’s Café from time to time (even though it is a little out of my usual traffic pattern). And, I am so glad they expanded—to a second location, on the south side of Evanston, on Dempster near Evanston Township High School. What a great opportunity for young people, looking for a leg up! And what a wonderful chance for restorative justice to be lived out. Thank you, Susan. Thank you to all the supporters of Curt’s Café, too!

coffee shop drawing

Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, March 14, 2014

Are You Being Served? (Feature Friday!)

Imagine a place where young people are valued. Mentored. Taught not only what to do on the job, but how to manage life skills, as well. Imagine no longer—this place is for real, and it’s Curt’s Café, in Evanston, Illinois. This café and coffee shop in north Evanston has a mission to “equip at-risk youth (15 to 22 years old) with job and life skills through training, career coaching and mentoring.”

Worthy goals, you say? That’s not all. The training and support these young people receive help them to succeed in life, find worthwhile employment, and become active participants in their local community. These young men and women are not always the first choice for general employment, because of a brush with the legal system. Or, they haven’t had the opportunities that other youth often take for granted. Those are things that usually are a red flag to employers. However, the staff and director at Curt’s Café go out of their way to provide these young people (“at risk”) with fine opportunities. Careful training by food service professionals. Mentoring in positive, helpful life skills. Gainful employment.

I had the opportunity to talk today with Susan Trieschmann, Curt’s Café’s executive director. She said one of the most transformative things about working at the Café is watching the transformations happen in the lives of the young people. And, she not only watches the youth working and training at the Café, but also watches the interactions of the patrons with the staff.  Susan marvels at the patience of the patrons, and talks about observing them “dig deep down and grab the patience from somewhere inside.”

She gave a recent example. A good-hearted recent hire at the Café was serving breakfast to a father and daughter. The young man messed the order up. He not only messed up, but he has issues with shyness. Messing up the order made his shyness even more apparent. Susan observed the daughter encouraging the staff member and letting him know that it was all right. People mess up. And that just happens sometimes.

Penny Doyle, fundraising manager for the Café, is touched by transformation, too. She watches the young women and men become more confident as they continue to grow in learning at the Café. Learning not only about the restaurant and food service business, but about life in general. She especially has gratitude for the incredible community support. Penny encourages anyone who would like to contact the Café to check out their Facebook page or contact them at www.curtscafe.org. And donations are a wonderful thing, as well!

The patrons, by and large, realize and fully support the mission of Curt’s Café; they have a great capacity for willing understanding. Even active encouragement!  Susan, who attends classes on a part-time basis at Catholic Theological Union, is fully committed to the mission of the Café. This ministry is a visible, tangible way for restorative justice to be lived out. Lived out locally, in our community, praise God.

@chaplaineliza

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, into Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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


Being Kind with Singing Valentines (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from three years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a few years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@chaplaineliza

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 Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

 

Place-Holding, Being Kind (#BestOf)

Place-Holding, Being Kind (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ever been in the middle of things, and have the opportunity to be kind? This is a post where exactly that happened. I was waiting in line at the grocery store, and I held someone’s place for him. See what happened next.

Home » Uncategorized » Place-Holding

Place-Holding

Posted on January 15, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 14, 2014

shoppingcart2

The grocery store. I don’t generally go to the store during the day. Usually, my shopping trips involve evenings or weekends. But not today. My daughter called and asked for several things we could use in the kitchen, and I went on my way home from work, mid-afternoon.

What a difference a few hours makes! The daytime clientele inhabiting the nearby grocery store had marked differences. I saw a lot of moms doing shopping for the week (or, at least a number of days). The most notable group I noticed were senior citizens. As opposed to the moms of families. I felt a bit like a sociology grad student, out doing field research. Yes, I watched the moms as they pushed the well-laden carts. I could relate to them, and I knew what they were doing. Having often done it myself.  But the seniors, they were especially fascinating to me.

I’ve been told that I am especially good at working with seniors. A chaplain friend of mine who works at a large senior retirement center said to me a few years ago, “You ought to have ‘Good with seniors’ tattooed on your forehead.” This does not only go for my work. I genuinely like older people. They have complex and fascinating stories to relate. It’s satisfying for me to come alongside of seniors, listen to them, journey for a little way with them, try to alleviate their problems or needs, or rejoice and praise God with them. Whatever it is that fills the bill.

This particular afternoon as I shopped, I observed the seniors as they chose things at the store. I only had about twelve things in my basket, so I made a beeline for the 15 items or less lane. (The moms with large carts-full were taking up many of the other check-out aisles.) A senior stood directly ahead of me, also waiting his turn. Stooped and elderly, he still determined to get his own shopping done. His items already sat on the conveyor belt. Just a few feet from me, a store employee was assisting him as he tried to read the small print on a coupon. “It’s right over there. See? Just around the corner.” She pointed two aisles away.

I could see the senior deliberate. I could almost hear his thoughts. He decided to go for it. He left the ten or so items on the belt, and went over to get the popcorn. I had a sudden image of him at night, after dinner. Popping that corn and watching television or cable or movies, on DVD or TiVo. I found myself smiling. He had a bit of difficulty finding the specific popcorn, for the store employee went to help him. Just two dozen feet away. Just a number of seconds. I waited patiently in line, saving his place.

Another senior, a disgruntled one this time, came up behind me. He narrowed his eyes and looked over the seemingly-abandoned items on the belt. He looked at me. I smiled at him, and then turned my eyes to the first senior, still fetching his last item. The popcorn. The disgruntled one glanced over at the belt of items, and then back two aisles over. His face wrinkled up in a decided frown. He muttered to himself and stalked away to another check-out aisle. It was only a few more seconds before the popcorn-senior returned to his place in line.

He never knew about that little drama with the disgruntled man. And I never told him. But I saved his place for him. I stood back at a respectful distance, and that man got his popcorn. Bought it. Brought it home. I wonder if he’s popping it tonight, after dinner? I hope he enjoys it. And I was of service today. I think God was pleased. It’s as simple as that.

@chaplaineliza

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 Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners (#BestOf)

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 14, 2016

I was reading through several of my old blog posts when I came across this one. One about my no-nonsense, businesslike husband. As I mentioned in the post, he does not think of himself as very much of a “kind person.” Definitely not touchy-feely.

True, this was a bit out of character for him. Yet, I was so touched that he did this kind thing, at the dry cleaners. Reminding me that I need to take every opportunity I can to be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. To the least of these, every day.  

bk-be-kind-to-one-another-eph-4-32

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

Posted on October 19, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 18, 2014

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

It being Saturday morning today, my husband and I did Saturday morning-type things. Including sorting through clothing, deciding which to take to the dry cleaners today. He took his five work shirts, and I added my raincoat. I ought to add a parenthetical comment. I received this black raincoat from my sister Sue. She is a high-level salesperson in the New York City area, and she has to look sharp and dress professionally at all times for her job. She wore this coat for a number of months, but then she bought another one. Was I glad to get this gently-used item! Lovely, durable, classy-looking raincoat. Just the thing for a ministry professional.

My husband Kevin dropped me off at the YMCA (yoga class today!). He went on to the cleaners. He has started going to a different cleaners lately. It’s located in a newer building in a small strip mall, and the husband and wife who own the business keep the premises very clean. Kevin parked, gathered up the clothes, and went for the door with arms full. Another man reached the door at the same time, but his arms were empty. He kindly held the door open for my husband. Kevin reached the long counter several seconds before the other man, and Kevin laid the clothes down near the cash register.

The Korean woman behind the counter seemed to be a bit flustered. She looked from one customer to the other. My husband noticed, and asked her about it. She gestured to the other man, and seemed very apologetic. “He’s just coming to pick up.” The other man nodded. “Go right ahead,” Kevin said. The woman ran and grabbed some clothes on hangers for the customer, and the man left.

Now it was Kevin’s turn. The proprietor of the cleaners checked in the clothes my husband brought. He paid for them with two ten dollar bills. That really pleased the woman. “We need ten dollar bills. Thank you, thank you.” My husband had two more in his wallet, and asked whether she could use them. She was so excited! “Yes, thank you so much!” She gave him a twenty in exchange, and then looked at him with a serious face. “You are a very kind man. You were patient, and let the other customer go first. Then, you gave me extra ten dollars. You are very kind!”

This embarrassed my husband. He’s a journalist, and a senior editor. A no-nonsense sort of a guy, he doesn’t particularly see himself as “a very kind man.” (He freely admits that’s more his wife’s department.) However, he thanked the proprietor with sincerity. And then, related this account to me.

After hearing what had happened, I told Kevin that he had been very kind. This made him wonder. He does not particularly go out of his way to be kind and helpful. However—he reflected whether he might be able to act his way into kind, helpful thinking. I told him that a number of months of doing kind, helpful acts of service every day was certainly affecting my habitual way of thinking. He nodded, seriously considering what I had said.

God willing, we might all act our way into kind, helpful thinking.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Kindness and Service, All in the Family (#BestOf)

Posted on August 7, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At first glance, this post seems ordinary. Everyday. But then, I stepped back and thought about that. Aren’t our lives often ordinary and everyday? I have the opportunity to be kind and to be of service in ordinary situations, just as much as missionaries have the opportunity to be of service in far-flung places around the world. Wherever God wants me to help and to be kind, to be other-centered, I will strive to follow Jesus’s example.

BK kindness is contagious

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

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

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

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

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I went in for a regularly scheduled dental visit last week. Teeth cleaning. When the dentist came in, he gave me a clean bill of dental health. As I read through several posts from June 2014 (when I was in the middle of my Year of Being Kind), I came across this one—where I talked about self-care, and how self-care was so important a part of the life of someone in the caring profession. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s good to take care of oneself. Jesus is an excellent example for me. God willing, may I continue to follow His example and continue to take care of myself.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

kindness sand image

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@chaplaineliza

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

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