Being Kind with Singing Valentines (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, February 15, 2016

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from two 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 couple of 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

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

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

Serving, at the Waning of the Year (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Serving? Being kind? Being helpful? Yes. I try to be all those things. As I reread this blog entry, I thought of the difficulty many families have—mourning over a holiday. In subsequent years, the death will oftentimes be inextricably mingled with the holiday celebration. And in this particular case, I hope and pray I was a decent minister to this small family. I did not even know them, but I responded in their time of need. God, wherever they are at this Thanksgiving time, comfort and encourage them.

 

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

Serving, at the Waning of the Year

autumn candles

As I sat in my office, I was surprised by a sudden telephone call. I was asked to officiate at a funeral service, with very short notice.

I was happy to be able to do it. To have the opportunity to do it. And, it also was another opportunity to be of service. To use my multifaceted training and abilities, and to come alongside of these dear people who mourn.

Just as 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I not only have received the spiritual gifts of encouragement, mercy, pastor/teacher, and helps, I also have chaplain training, and Clinical Pastoral Care. I stepped up to the plate, and I offered what I could to the loved ones who mourned. I pray for them, and hope that God is with them in this special, tender, painful time.

Yes, I cried today. Not only did I observe a family in the midst of a memorable experience, I felt with them. I saw them grieve. And, I pray that I was able to be a comfort and a support for them.

I keep coming back to this, again and again. With the waning of the year. Just as I mentioned last week. Taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” I thought of this dear person who died several days ago. Even though I didn’t mention this verse at the funeral, I thought of it, to myself. I considered both the end of the year as well as the end of a long life. Gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory, reckoning up the deeds done for God.

We are about to begin the circle of the liturgical year, again, with the beginning of Advent. Yes, I can prepare myself to say “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Yet, I am not quite ready. Yes, I acted as a chaplain today, and used my pastoral care gifts and skills. Thank God I have them! But, Advent isn’t here, yet. I’m not quite there yet.

Soon. I am still at the point of numbering my days. Soon enough, I’ll be thankful. (Tomorrow, in fact.) And then, soon enough, the time of preparation, of Advent. But not yet. Soon.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, October 29, 2015

I love to read out loud. I read to the preschoolers at my church every week. This past Tuesday, I read several Halloween stories to them, and they enjoyed the special holiday books very much. I’ve loved reading my whole life long. So, when I re-discovered this blog post from last October on A Year of Being Kind, I knew I had to include it in the #BestOf feature.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 31, 2014

childrens-books

Kindness through Kids Books Without Borders (Feature Friday!)

As some of you know, I am a mom. (My youngest is seventeen, a senior in high school.) As some of you also know, I love books. I love reading. And I especially love to read books out loud to children. (Yes, I do voices. I studied with a vocal coach for some months about fifteen years ago, thinking I might get into the voiceover business. And then, I did comedy improv. But that’s another story. Another post!)

One of my blogging friends, Marilyn— http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com on wordpress.com—had an intriguing capper to her cross-cultural blog post earlier this week. She talked about a friend of hers who has started a service called Kids Books Without Borders, and added the link. Wasting no time, I contacted Gail through her blog. And—she wrote back! She said she was more than happy to be featured in my blog.

I am so happy to let people know about Gail’s service through Kids Books Without Borders. Almost everyone I know is acquainted with someone who is presently living or who has lived overseas. Gail grew up in France, with a British mom and an American dad. Gail especially loved to read. (Just like me, when I was a girl!) However, their family had a real challenge in finding children’s books in English. While in France, I mean. Gail treasured those rare packages from grandparents that included children’s books! The Little House books. The Paddington books. Any book by Roald Dahl. Charlotte’s Web. Mary Poppins. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Hobbit.

As Gail grew up, married, and had children of her own, she passed on her special love of books and of reading. However, she remembered the difficulty she—and her parents—had of finding many children’s books in English while overseas. She came up with the idea for this service to be able to “put children’s books (and some young adult and adult books as well) in the hands of children and families living overseas.”

Here is more about Gail’s service, in her own words: “I now have available over 2000 books, both picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, which are available to you at no charge, if you are living overseas. They are all books that I have read and which come highly recommended. I am mostly self-taught, but have read extensively about children’s literature. If you are overwhelmed by choices or do not know what books would be best for your child, please email me. I would love to give you recommendations if you let me know your child’s (children’s) age, gender, reading level and areas of interests.

“All the books are free and there is no limit on the number of books you can request. However, I do ask that you pay for postage if shipped to a US address and half of the postage if shipped overseas. The majority of families living overseas ask that I send the books to US-based friends or family. The recipients then deliver them when visiting the person requesting them. This is the least expensive and most reliable way of mailing them.”

The link to Gail’s blog is below. (Just a reminder—the holidays are not far away!) I am also glad to be able to pass the word along about Gail’s tremendous service! Such a wonderful opportunity to pass the gift of books along to another generation. I am so grateful for the gift of books, and awed by the innovation and inventiveness of the authors, illustrators, and all the other creative people who contributed to the production and publication of these incredible resources. The written word. So powerful. So moving. Thank you again, Gail!

For further information, see: http://kidsbookswithoutborders.wordpress.com/

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, September 13, 2015

It was a sparkling September day today. Just like it was last year, on the 13th. I wanted to repost this, partly because it has good memories, and partly because it has a two-for-one kind of deal, again. Yes, I link in today’s repost to the Feature Friday article from the day before, where I posted about the Children of Abraham Coalition. (Check out my link, below, if you’d like to find out more!) Yes, good memories from the farmers’ market, and good memories from the potluck, too!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 13, 2014

BFM produce for blog book

BFM produce for blog book

Being Helpful, at a Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Markets are wonderful things, whether in the middle of the city or in the suburbs. Not only are they places where local produce, goods and products are readily available, they are also great places for communication; for local non-profit organizations, churches, synagogues and other places of worship to get their messages out. Last—but certainly not least—farmers’ markets are wonderful places to meet and greet. For friends and acquaintances to say hello, touch base, and even make new friends.

It was a gorgeous, sunny September morning. For something different and out of the ordinary, my husband and I went to the market downtown today. We haven’t gone there regularly for a few years (not since the children were smaller). It’s a happening, bustling sort of place! Lots of shoppers, lots of stalls selling all manner of goods and produce, and lots going on. We strolled up and down the large aisles amidst all of the people coming and going. Took in the sights, as it were.

As we strolled, my husband put his head close to mine and said, “I wonder how long it will take before we meet someone we know?” This is a humorous sort of game we play when we go to a local restaurant, or take a walk downtown on a weekend. Sure enough, it’s rare that we don’t run into someone we know. And sometimes, know well!

Almost before the words were out of my husband’s mouth, the next thing we know I bump into a good friend. Literally! I had just picked some corn on the cob from a bushel basket and straightened up when our friend bumped into me with his backpack! (It didn’t hurt at all.) We both immediately stopped, turned, and started to apologize—when— “Hello! Good morning!”

After smiles, shaking of hands, and hugs, we started right in, talking. Our friend Gregg asked me about the church (which is going well, thank God!), and inquired what I had been doing lately. I knew our friend was interested in social justice, peace and reconciliation. So, I told him about the Potluck for Peace I had attended on Thursday. I mentioned the Children of Abraham Coalition, and he was indeed interested. I particularly mentioned the different groups and synagogues associated with the Coalition. Our friend thanked me, and I said I would get more information to him. (I will, Gregg! The link to my Friday Feature: http://wp.me/p4cOf8-fP)

I know it may seem like a little thing, but friendly meetings mean so much, sometimes. Keeping up connections, friendships. Exchanging smiles and hugs. And welcome information, too! Thanks for the opportunity to do all of these things today, 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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 6, 2015

I wanted especially to repost this blog post. Yes, I still read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. However, this particular post means a great deal to me. Last August, I read a book to the preschool about two immigrant children coming to the United States on a steamship from Europe. Just like my grandfather did, when he was a boy. I count this as a proud part of my heritage. I thank God that my grandfather had so many opportunities in this new country. He always strove to impart the importance of education to his children and grandchildren. He is still remembered with great love. God bless the memory of Joseph Recht!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 7, 2014

statue-of-liberty-27

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind

I chose some books today at the library. Picture books.

I read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. This is my joy as well as my opportunity of being kind. So, I now make a habit of periodically going to the library and choosing some good books to share. Tonight was one of those times. I happened to find a book that I read to my children, some years ago. (They are now ages late teens to thirty.) And—I simply had to take this book out again, to share with the preschoolers.

The book is called “Watch the Stars Come Out” by Riki Levinson, illustrated by Diane Goode. It features a girl and her brother coming from Europe on a steamship, to America. The date, I believe, is the late 1800’s. The touching story, paired with the poignant illustrations, shows some of the trials as well as the excitement of the immigrant journey. And then, they are greeted by and reunited with family once they arrive in New York City.

I love when the two children finally see the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steamship. Such a beacon of hope and welcome to so many, over the years. Just as everyone in that book was so grateful to see Lady Liberty, so was my grandfather. I know, because he told me so, more than thirty years ago.

My grandfather was the oldest child in his family. They came here from Europe, too. From the far eastern part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, at that time. Just after 1900. The small town—village or shtetl, really—is now in eastern Poland. After the map of Europe has gone through some major revision.

I specifically asked him about coming over on the steamship. He was in his late eighties, and his glance got really wistful. Far away, and long ago. Yes, he could remember seeing the Statue of Liberty as they approached Manhattan. (They stopped at Ellis Island, first.) He told me everyone on the ship pressed up against the rail, or as close as they could get. And looked at Lady Liberty.

I think it’s wonderful, how children’s books feature such important things as going on a long journey, traveling to a brand-new place, discovering a whole new world. This book is a great representation of all those things, and a marvelous beginning for talking about people of different cultures, who speak different languages, eat different foods, and sometimes wear different clothes. Yet, they are all welcomed here to America. Under Lady Liberty’s lamp.

What a wonderful thing it is to let the preschoolers know about the opportunity and freedom so many people have today, in this new country. Where they can worship God as they please, too. I am so glad I can share this important story with the children.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, July 16, 2015

An exciting enterprise! A meaningful ministry! Those are two ways to describe the Magdalene community. Similar way to describe Thistle Farms! As I said in my blog post, an innovative women’s enterprise. Also a haven. Safe space. Place for healing and growth and nurture. Thank you, Rev. Becca Stevens, for having the vision to begin a place like the Magdalene community, and its companion ministry Thistle Farms! (You can read more about this wonderful place for women, below!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 18, 2014

God making a way

A Social Enterprise? A Helping Hand! (Feature Friday!)

The computer has made my world expand. And at the same time, get small. Almost like a small town. I’m thinking of several new-ish friends of mine, blogging friends and email friends. Friends I have never met, nor are very likely to. But, friends indeed, drawn together by similar interests and orientations, not to mention similar senses of humor.

One of my blogging friends is Matt Marino, an Episcopal priest in Arizona. (His always-excellent, and sometimes-snarky, blog is http://thegospelside.com/ ) He and I exchanged several comments recently, and he gave me information on an innovative women’s enterprise in the Nashville area. Oh, and it’s a mission, too! Started in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt University’s campus.

Thistle Farms now incorporates a thriving business enterprise. I quote from the website: “By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.” But that is just one of the end outcomes of Thistle Farms. The supportive women’s community is much, much more than just a bath and body product production facility.

This supportive community is also known as the Magdalene program, a residential program for women who have known abuse, prostitution and trafficking, drug and alcohol abuse, and life on the streets. Some come to the program from prison or from the streets, but all have in common the fact that they are survivors. Overcomers. One of the distinctive things about this two-year program is that they give the women housing, food, medical and dental treatment, counseling and therapy, further education, and job training. All this, without charge to the residents. (And without receiving government funding.)

Operating on 24 principles that were developed from St. Benedict’s Rule, the Magdalene community strives to live ”gracefully in community with each other.” This simple, practical guide to living aids everyone in the community—residents, staff and volunteers alike—to live cooperatively, building up each other and sharing in work to help the community grow. Be nurtured. Become so much more.

After new residents become acclimated to the Magdalene community for several months, they then start to look for work, return to school, and have the option of entering their home-grown job training program at the bath and body product facility, Thistle Farms. There they have the opportunity to learn worthwhile job skills in every facet of production, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The women learn responsibility and cooperation, which are the foundation for everything else. All worthwhile skills for life management, as well as opportunities to gain healing experiences. These experiences build up and nurture themselves and each other.

Magdalene staff, volunteers, residents and graduates “stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from abuse, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that continues to buy and sell women,” as the website says. God’s richest blessings on this innovative, caring, nurturing community that seeks to give value to each woman they assist. (For further information, see http://www.thistlefarms.org/ )

@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!)

 

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 6, 2015

Almost time to go to the mission conference again. Yes, my daughter and I will be going again this year. The service project (Stop Hunger Now) was so popular and so needful to so many people last year that the New Wilmington Mission Conference is going to do it again. Feeding people. Giving out a cup of cold water. Doing what Jesus would do. God willing, may I always be so willing.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 4, 2014

following Jesus

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

Stop Hunger Now! (This is a tremendous opportunity.) Imagine, being a part of stopping world hunger. Even if I can only do a little bit, only a tiny portion, I will still be doing something. This ministry opportunity is the selected service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC) in July.

Every summer for more than one hundred years, NWMC has sought to make youth aware of mission effort around the world. Yes, it’s a conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but it’s much more than just that. Held every July on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA (and thus the name, NWMC), this week-long conference has morphed into a multi-generational conference, going beyond just intellectual knowledge. True, NWMC informs attendees about its Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of mission outreach worldwide, but the conference also promotes active service and witness for God—and much fun is had while promoting it, too!

I’ve attended for a number of years. My younger children remember NWMC with great fondness, and every year this conference has a selected service project. Everyone who attends—no matter what the age—is encouraged to participate in the project!

For several years now, the service project has concentrated on world hunger. More specifically, Stop Hunger Now! (That’s the name of the mission organization.) This organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too!

In 2011, the packaging team at NWMC made more than 24,000 meals which were shipped to Kenya. In 2012, NWMC sent more than 37,100 meals to Liberia and Uganda. And in 2014? God willing, that number will be even higher. Everyone who attends the conference is encouraged to participate. To be the hands and feet of Christ, feeding the hungry.

The use of volunteers to package meals makes the cost of each meal even lower. Plus, the use of packaging teams from all over the nation increases awareness of global hunger; many people become even more aware of how scarce food is, in large parts of the world.

This is an opportunity to be doers of the word of God, and not just hearers, only—like James said in Chapter 1 of his letter. What a chance to provide food for hungry people. And, what a chance to be helpful. Be of service. And be kind.

@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!)

Being Kind with Birthday Cards (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, June 20, 2015

I enjoy sending cards. I truly do! Good thing I do, for it’s a part of my job that I find touching and meaningful. I pray for each person who receives a card I send. And—unlike the mountains of junk mail that get slipped in the typical mailbox on a regular basis, a handwritten card is a lovely change of pace.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 22, 2014

happy-birthday-sky-wallpaper

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

Each day brings new things into my life, that’s for sure.

Now that I am settling into my new position, I am acquainting myself with a whole new set of activities. New list of priorities. And getting to know a new congregation.

One way that I can come to know this group of new friends better is by sending them birthday cards. What a wonderful idea!

The office manager at the church had a list of birthdays of the members and friends of the congregation, already printed up. So, it’s a straight-forward activity. Except—I pray for each church member as I write and address the card. I hope and pray that they might have a wonderful birthday celebration, and that God might bless them and their family during the year ahead. I try to do that for each and every card I address and mail.

I just sent off two cards today. And, I needed to buy more cards already, too. That’s perfectly okay with me. I just love buying cards! I love receiving cards, and personal mail of any kind, too. I know that sending greeting cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but almost everyone enjoys receiving mail.

I understand that people are grateful of the thought and care someone took for them, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card.

I know that several months ago, I wrote about my chaplain friend who has a card ministry. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. In my blog post, I also mentioned the Apostle Paul’s comment at the beginning of the letter to the Philippian church: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” (1:3) What a touching way to remember each other! Sending a card or a note with a few words or sentences of genuine interest, care and concern. What a way to be kind! My chaplain friend finds this ministry an opportunity to serve others and to connect with those near and far.

Paul’s words tell us how much Paul appreciated his friends and acquaintances in the city of Philippi, from a long distance away. How much more can we express our care and concern for others through cards and notes?

Noteworthy features are the words chosen to communicate, the picture(s) on the card, and the sentiment and attitude of the person sending the card. In other words, things to appeal to the ears, eyes and feelings of the recipient. Also important, the card or note helps the recipient know that you and I care. It doesn’t matter whether we are near or far, what an opportunity to be kind and tenderhearted.

God bless my new friends and fellow parishioners, and God be with each of them as they celebrate their birthdays!

Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too! (BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 7, 2015

I enjoy animals so much! I enjoyed the Blessing of the Animals that happened twelve months ago, too. It’s part of my church’s outreach to the community. People love their animals, and I really want to show God’s love to everyone in our community—both people and their animals.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, June 7, 2014

blessing-of-animals

Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too!

Clear blue skies, gorgeous weather, perfect temperature. Lovely morning! What a great day to be alive! (This is me, thinking.)

What could I find today to help people? How might I be able to serve, today?

Good thing that I had a church event planned for this morning, then. Yes, the Blessing of the Animals happened this morning. And sure enough, I had the joy of meeting 16 dogs and their families outside. They all came to the church parking lot for their animals to be blessed. I talked with the families, petted and blessed the dogs, and had a wonderful morning. I had prepared for cats, too, because I know a few people like to take their cats out on leashes. Perhaps in cat carriers, as well. But we did not have any cats this time. Oh, well. Maybe next time!

My son and his good friend came to help me with the animals. As I put it to the guys, I appreciated animal wranglers. I did have several dogs in the parking lot at one time, on a few occasions this morning. The guys really helped me out, and did their best to manage every dog! They acted as able-bodied assistants, and moral support as well.

I love animals, especially dogs. They offer companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their human families? They can connect with them in a fundamental way, and provide a great deal of mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. I’ve been reflecting on the Church, and how the ideal picture of that community of believers is a lot like the relationship between animals and their human families. The Church also provides companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their fellow believers? They all connect in a fundamental way. Or, at least, that’s the ideal picture of believers coming together.

What about my son and his friend, acting as assistants? The analogy can be extended. The leader of the Church (or, the group of believers) needs assistants or helpers. These helpers direct and manage the activities of the individuals, or perhaps small groups. And, the helpers provide support and aid to the leader (or leaders), too.

All in all, my son, his good friend, and I had a wonderful time this morning with the animals and their human families. I blessed and prayed for a number of dogs! I also had an awesome opportunity to show the community that our church is active and cares about the people who live right next door. And on the next block. And down the street. That kind of opportunity is amazing.

I wonder what kind of opportunity for service will happen tomorrow? God willing, I’ll be ready!

@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!)
 

 

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another year older, another year flown by. I think about my children, and remember. I think about the little ones in preschool, and get nostalgic. Another school year comes to a close. The promise of summer vacation lies ahead. Have fun, little ones! Be happy, my children, now not so little.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 29, 2014

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind!

Suffer the Children - von Uhde, 1884

Suffer the Children – von Uhde, 1884

I love small children. I loved it when my children were small, and I could take them to the park, the beach, the playground. We would have such adventures! The smallest things captured their interest, and became the topics of deep discussion. Like a busy little ant nest next to the sidewalk. I remember one of my preschool-age daughters squatting down and examining it so closely, and for so long! We talked about that ant nest for some time afterwards.

Another time, I remember two of my children (I think one in kindergarten, the other in preschool) as they laughed and splashed in the outside shower, at the beach house near our condo. Simple pleasures. They spent a good long time having fun in the open air shower! I was relaxed and unhurried, and I enjoyed watching them having a great time.

Now my children are grown. (And almost grown—with my youngest at seventeen.) New ages, new adventures, new challenges.

But I still enjoy small children. I have the opportunity to see preschool aged children almost every day. At my work, the building houses a preschool that provides daycare, preschool and kindergarten for several dozen children each day. So, I get to see the children in the halls. In the bathroom. Outside in the playground. All around the church.

“Pastor Elizabeth! There’s Pastor Elizabeth!” And sometimes one or two of the braver ones ask me, “What do you do here?” and “Where do you stay when you’re here?” I laugh and tell them I am working here at church. “But this is our school!” I nod and say, “Yes, and my office is right around the corner, too!” I get happy “hellos!” and random hugs around the knees. And I say “hello!” right back!

I’m reminded of what Jesus said to His disciples and other followers in the Gospel of Matthew—He said that the little children had an open invitation to come to Him! There were some adults who wanted to keep them (and their mothers) away from Jesus—such an important Rabbi couldn’t be bothered with children, after all!

Jesus corrected the adults’ fallacy, and went ahead and welcomed small children. Then—Jesus laid hands on the children and blessed them. How awesome is that?

I want to follow Jesus’ example, whenever I can. Imagine, welcoming children, being friends with them, and encouraging and caring for them. And—their responses are so honest, loving and genuine! God willing, I’ll be able to continue to say “Hello!” for a long time. What a chance to be kind, loving, and caring. Thanks, God, for this awesome opportunity!

@chaplaineliza

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