Being of Service? Where I Work! (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Interfaith Walk for Peace in Morton Grove happened yesterday, Saturday, September 24th. A wonderful experience! One of the other organizers of the Walk was Dilnaz. I remembered this post from two years ago, when Dilnaz and I first met. A good deal of friendship and interfaith work has happened since then in Morton Grove and the surrounding area. Wonderful, new friendships have started, too!

Many people today in the Morton Grove area advance the radical notion that people of different faith traditions and different ethnic backgrounds can get along in peace and harmony. What a marvelous concept! What a marvelous way to find ways to serve, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 23, 2014

serve-because-christ-served

Being of Service? In the Town Where I Work!

The town where my church is located is Morton Grove. Great town! And, multi-cultural town, too. People of many different cultures, different languages, and different faith traditions all living together.

I attended a planning meeting for the Interfaith Ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve Service this afternoon. Excellent introduction to a number of other ministers and religious leaders from the community. I so much appreciated it. And—this was a wonderful way of serving.

I especially was grateful that this ecumenical service is so well laid out. Since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Thanksgiving Eve service in Morton Grove, this celebration will be particularly poignant. Much support from the local congregations, too!

One of the people at that meeting was a representative from the Muslim Community Center, Dilnaz. She was eager to enter into the planning process. She also had a number of great ideas. We incorporated one—in particular—into the later part of the service. It involves children and youth, and will be a welcome addition to the multi-generational aspect of the service.

At the end of the meeting, friendly Dilnaz and I asked each other several questions. She is involved with a number of interfaith dialogues and outreaches in the neighboring suburbs. It turns out we both know a Presbyterian minister who also is instrumental in interfaith outreach in this area! I am pleased and amazed when that happens . . . when I find out that someone I’ve just met knows someone else I know.

This Muslim/Christian interfaith dialogue has been going on for some time, although a number of people are (knowingly or inadvertently) putting on the brakes. I have noticed Muslim people here in the area being cautious in their interactions in public. I am glad that people like Dilnaz, our Muslim friend at the planning meeting, was so genuine and outgoing. Believe me when I say that I have seen reports of some hesitancy, even some downright animosity toward Muslims, in the greater Chicago metro area.

I am even more happy to see reports of some push-back. A group of British Muslim young people came up with an excellent video, and use of a hashtag: #notinmyname. This shows people throughout the world that the extremists are just that—a small, even tiny percentage of the whole of the Muslim world. You go, young people! God be with you. God be with me, too. God be with all of us!

@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!)

Advertisements

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 31, 2016

Yes, the Super Bowl will be here again in just a few days. That entertainment extravaganza with some football thrown in. (I kid, I kid.)

Seriously, The Super Bowl has become a Winter Event, even for people who do not ordinarily watch football. Except—it’s become much more than that, in several other, important areas. Including the area I highlight here, in last year’s post. My friend Pastor Ross recently left the Presbyterian church in Cuyahoga Falls and moved to a new church. (All the best at your new church, Fairgreen Presbyterian Church, in Toledo, Ross!)

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

souper bowl of caring 

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is a pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Ohio. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls or Toledo, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my regular blog for 2016: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

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

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, September 4, 2015

I am giving my readers a two-for-one deal today. I will put a bit of my post from Wed., Sept. 3 last year in this space. And then, I will repost the post from Thurs., Sept. 4, 2014 in its entirety. I hope this is an encouragement to those of you who know someone who now has or has had mental challenges, or has been diagnosed with mental illness. Maybe even some of us.

(Excerpt from my post “Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!” Originally posted Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

I don’t often willingly think or talk about this, but I had a bout of severe postpartum depression after the birth of my second daughter, 28 years ago. Talk about a Slough of Despond . . .

I can dimly remember feeling barely able to get out of bed. Crawling around the apartment like a snail or slug, barely able to go from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen. It’s a good thing that my daughter was breastfeeding, since I can hardly remember feeding myself and my older daughter, much less her. (My mother-in-law was living in the upstairs apartment at the time. She would often bring her older granddaughter, who was the light of her life, upstairs to visit.)

The depression lasted for about six months. I had absolutely no idea I was in depression until it lifted. I have no idea how or why it ended, either. I just thank God that it did.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 4, 2014

heart - heart held in pink gloves

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

Surprised. Humbled. Gratified. And then, I guess, yes. Okay. Wow!

Those were some of the emotions I felt today as I went to my blog statistics, and checked the retweets and shares. The blog post I wrote yesterday apparently touched a chord with many people. At least, it sure looks like it from the response I received on the stats page, Twitter and Facebook.

I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I wrote that post. I was truly moved by another post (Joani Peacock’s recent blog post at Unorthodox & Unhinged, at wordpress dot com), and I sat down and wrote from my heart. I figured I had kept the information about my postpartum depression inside long enough. I feel stable and whole, now. I’ve decided to share more of this intensely personal, private story, now.

There is dysfunction in just about any family: it just depends on how much (too much!), how often (way too often), and what gives? (No answer, usually.) If those responses fit your family of origin and your growing-up experiences, you’ve got a lot of company!

Being the youngest of six by a number of years, my parents were pretty much done with child-raising by the time I hit the middle grades. A lonely, awkward, chubby kid, I turned into a lonely, awkward chunky adolescent. Sure, there was the on-and-off, general depression (more on than off), extreme loneliness, complicated by some other, medical-related difficulties in my high school years. Yeah, it could be written off to teenage angst. Yeah, it was partly that. But it was more. It was complicated.

Somehow, I find I can sometimes relate when I hear about other teens having difficulties right now—in the present. I find I can relate when people talk about depression—chronic, clinical, or whatever other kind they call it.

The awesome people at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) can help. They really, truly can. Or, they can steer you (or someone you love and are concerned about) to people who can help. There are people at NAMI who understand. I can walk with you a little way. God can help. Having a whole team of people helps so much more! We all can journey together on the road to better mental, emotional, spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it, please!)

Today is September 4, 2014, the day that NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC is marching on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@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  

Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 28, 2015

Touching. Moving. Poignant. Whatever you call it, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry is all that. And more. I wrote about this excellent food ministry a year ago. It still touches me as much, as I reread the post. And, all because a high school kid saw a need and decided to do something about it. Would that more people would be that proactive!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 27, 2014

loaves-and-fishes feed the hungry

Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!)

“Have you ever felt invisible before?” This hand-lettered statement on a plain piece of paper stuck out at me like a sharp thumbtack on the floor, pointy side up. The photo of this printed sign is one of the images on Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry website. Three years ago, Dano was a high school student in the north suburbs of Chicago. He realized that there were 100,000 homeless people in Chicago, just a matter of miles south of where he and his family lived. 17 percent of those people were—are teenagers. Just like Dano. These homeless people often feel as if they are invisible. Uncared for. Less than nobody.

Dano and his parents had an idea. Three years ago, they came to the Church Council at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wilmette. They got permission to start a sandwich ministry, with some help from the church. They decided to pack dozens of lunches once a month at St. John’s, which were then brought to the Night Ministry in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. From there, the bag lunches were distributed.

For those who don’t know, the Night Ministry is an outreach to the night community in Chicago—a ministry reaching out to the hidden underside of society. The Night Ministry offers assistance to those suffering from homelessness and poverty, in a number of ways. Not only the food outreach, and also a Health Care Bus, a temporary shelter, and assistance for pregnant teens and young mothers.

But back to Brother Dano and his sandwiches. This ministry took off at St. John’s Church in Wilmette. People of all ages started to get involved. Not only on the day they made the sandwiches and packed the bag lunches, but also in donating food items and financial gifts. Bread, bananas, cookies. Plastic bags, deli meats and cheese. Even young children can help assemble parts of the lunch, and put cookies and bananas in plastic bags. This has become a service project for all ages.

Many people, both in the congregation and from outside the church, are now involved in this worthwhile service opportunity. The price for each lunch is only $1.00, and people are well fed for at least one meal in their day. Pastor Joe McInnis of St. John’s Lutheran Church says, “What began as a simple idea has become a beloved ministry of our whole church. And in July, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry will reach a milestone. They will reach and pass 10,000 sandwiches—made by volunteers here over the past three years, and passed out at the Night Ministry.”

Dano is now away at college. This ministry has developed a life of its own. God bless the worthwhile efforts of so many, making such a simple yet tasty thing as bag lunches. And thank God for Dano, for thinking of the great idea in the first place.

(For further information, check out Brother Dano’s website: www.brotherdano.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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 28, 2014

hearts in hands

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

I was not feeling 100 percent today. (I felt even worse yesterday . . . ) Being under the weather is unpleasant, to say the least! I wonder what God would say about me laying low, and not doing too much, either yesterday or today? I hope God would nod, and say, “That’s all right. You rest up, and take it easy.” I know that’s what I would say, if any of my children or my husband were at home sick. Or, not feeling well. But I can use my computer, even if I do feel unwell.

I also wanted to concentrate on the verse of the month today: Proverbs 19:17 – “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” Coincidentally (or, providentially—depending on how you look at it), I read in an online article yesterday about several ideas for church outreach. One of them really struck a chord. The idea that resonated with me concerned a local school. The suggestion is for a church to ‘adopt’ a school in their community. Willingly filling a need for the school is a wonderful way of giving back to the neighborhood. And, it is a wonderful witness to the community, too.

Yesterday, I sent email to several members of the Church Council, telling them of this innovative idea. I received a go-ahead! One of our church members is also on the Parent Teacher Organization at her child’s school—a school in the neighborhood. She and I talked today, and I am so glad she can ask whether our church might be able to help with any special needs the school might have. Especially since the holidays are fast approaching, along with cold weather.

I suppose this idea was gestating in my head for about a day. On Sunday, two of the older ladies were talking after church about things they used to do for outreaches. Like, for example, collecting mittens, hats and scarves to bring to a Christian child welfare agency in Chicago. I know that my children’s elementary school used to do the same thing—collect mittens, hats and scarves for the needy in our community, too. (Of course, they are long past that age, with my youngest a senior in high school.)

I’m not sure quite what the neighborhood school will suggest to our church, but we can do our best to be ready. To be of service. Be helpful. Be kind. And if anyone would like to offer prayers for our church’s outreach to the elementary school, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.

Gee, if I didn’t know better, I would think I’m starting to communicate this being-kind-sort-of thing. Thanks for the idea, God! May it be a blessing to many in our neighborhood. Including the good folks at St. Luke’s Church.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 4, 2014

HOPE look to this day

Being of Service for NAMI? Sharing My Story!

Surprised. Humbled. Gratified. And then, I guess, yes. Okay. Wow!

Those were some of the emotions I felt today as I went to my blog statistics, and checked the retweets and shares. The blog post I wrote yesterday apparently touched a chord with many people. At least, it sure looks like it from the response I received on the stats page, Twitter and Facebook.

I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I wrote that post. I was truly moved by another post (Joani’s recent blog post at Unorthodox & Unhinged, at wordpress dot com), and I sat down and wrote from my heart. I figured I had kept the information about my postpartum depression inside long enough. I feel stable and whole, now. I’ve decided to share more of this intensely personal, private story, now.

There is dysfunction in just about any family: it just depends on how much (too much!), how often (way too often), and what gives? (No answer, usually.) If those responses fit your family of origin and your growing-up experiences, you’ve got a lot of company!

Being the youngest of six by a number of years, my parents were pretty much done with child-raising by the time I hit the middle grades. A lonely, awkward, chubby kid, I turned into a lonely, awkward chunky adolescent. Sure, there was the on-and-off, general depression (more on than off), extreme loneliness, complicated by some other, medical-related difficulties in my high school years. Yeah, it could be written off to teenage angst. Yeah, it was partly that. But it was more. It was complicated.

Somehow, I find I can sometimes relate when I hear about other teens having difficulties right now—in the present. I find I can relate when people talk about depression—chronic, clinical, or whatever other kind they call it.

The awesome people at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) can help. They really, truly can. Or, they can steer you (or someone you love and are concerned about) to people who can help. There are people at NAMI who understand. I can walk with you a little way. God can help. Having a whole team of people helps so much more! We all can journey together on the road to better mental, emotional, spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it.)

Today is September 4, 2014, the day that NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC is marching on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@chaplaineliza

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

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 20, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

Another day, another conference. Just before noon today, I went from the National Assembly of the Federation of Christian Minstries to the New Wilmington Mission Conference. A mission conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I’ve attended NWMC for a number of years—always before with at least one of my children in tow. Not this year. But, it’s great to see what is going on in outreach and misson, all around the world.

I especially wanted to see the mission fair on Sunday afternoon, where many different mission and outreach agencies (local, regional and international) come to share their message. Their story. Come and see. Come and see what these different outreaches are doing. How they are touching lives. What a difference they are making. Come and see.

Then, in evening meeting at the outdoor auditorium, I heard the call again. Come and see. The speaker for the evening (Rev. John McCall) gave an excellent message with some heart-touching illustrations from his time in Taiwan. As he repeated, come and see.

I take this to mean, “Come and see where I can serve. Where I can help. Where I can be kind.”

I may not be able to go to another area of the country, or overseas, to serve any time soon. But I can certainly go to where people are hurting, or lonely, or anxious. I can carry the good news of God to people in need. Or, to someone who is homebound and lonely. Or, to those who are anxious, and in need of prayer. In need of someone to come alongside of them, to journey with them. If I come and see where the needs are, then I can go out and serve. Help. Be kind.

As my friend Stuart mentioned to me over dinner tonight, he and several others from his church helped some refugees from the Middle East move into an apartment recently. He saw where the needs were, and he responded. He helped. He was kind to a family he didn’t even know. And this family has opened their hearts and their doors to my friend and the other couple from their church. The family from the Middle East considers these Americans to be part of their extended family now. Because my friend saw this family’s need for some used furniture and kitchen supplies, and helped them move into an apartment, this refugee family is now so grateful and thankful. They feel welcomed and encouraged. Such a small thing, and yet how needed.

Come and see where the needs are? Go and serve.

@chaplaineliza

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