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!)


Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

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

I love Mister Rogers. I really do. Re-reading this post brought me right back to his nurturing, friendly assistance in the business of being a parent. Yes, caring and attachment to those close to me can be so difficult! Such a chore, sometimes! Yet, I can always come back to my Heavenly Parent and ask for forgiveness, come to complain, or ask for a hug. Thanks, God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

baby and butterfly

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment. “

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion. I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@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!)

In Which I Have Patience. And Am Kind.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 11, 2014

things you can't buy in stores

In Which I Have Patience. And Be Kind.

I like to people-watch. I enjoy it! When I sit in a coffee shop, browse at a book store, even walk outside, down a busy sidewalk. All prime places to people-watch. I know, through experience.

My husband and I went to a coffee place nearby, this afternoon. It was a mom-and-pop establishment, later on a Saturday afternoon. Quiet, not many patrons in the shop. An older couple, seated a little way from the cash register. A younger man on his laptop, at the counter facing the window. A knot of men speaking Italian, heads close together.

As the two of us approached the cash register to order, we both noticed the bag casually slung under the table. A clear Chicago Marathon bag sat at one of the men’s feet. Including the official entry form and number. Was he from Italy, I wondered? What was his story? Were any of the others running in the Marathon tomorrow? All this flashed through my head in a split second while I considered what to drink. Waited for the woman ahead of us to finish and pay.

It didn’t look hopeful. For a quick turnaround at the cash register, that is. The young person working the cash register apparently was a new hire. Not familiar with the register, not used to the menu, not that facile with the money. My husband and I were patient, slowly giving our order. (One simple coffee drink, one tea. No frills. Straightforward.) We gave it again. And again. And, one more time.

We decided to sit down. We did not have a time crunch, or anywhere particular to go or do at that time, so we pulled up chairs. (Next to the men speaking Italian, by the way.) We watched the proceedings, and made editorial comments. Not particularly snide ones, either. My husband surprised me by relating a story about his dry cleaners, and how something similar had happened there just this morning. They somehow misplaced my husband’s order. My husband patiently waited, standing quietly. Just standing, not upset, not distraught. He could see the lady behind the counter get a bit frazzled. However, the clean clothes were simply misplaced. All was well, at last.

But, that was at the dry cleaners. This afternoon at the coffee shop was another story. We waited. And waited some more. Finally, another young person brought my husband his tea, and then about two minutes later, my coffee. Out of habit, more to double check than anything else, I asked whether it was decaf. Crestfallen, the young person said, “No, it’s caffeinated,” and disappeared. I waited even longer. Finally. I got a coffee drink, decaffeinated, at last.

I wondered just now. Does God ever get impatient with me? God knows, I give God plenty of reason to get impatient and upset. Even disgruntled. Thank You, God, for not getting impatient and angry with me.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service? With Patients—and Patience

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 31, 2014

FAITH help me trust God

Of Service? With Patients—and Patience

This blog is called “A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.” Now, after seven months of striving for God’s presence with me in what I do and say (not to mention what I think!), I am starting to truly feel God with me, as a general rule. It is particularly wonderful when I ask the question “how can I be of service today?” automatically now. Just pops right out of my mouth. Happened twice today. Stunning way to live for and serve our God.

What about this afternoon? I made a number of telephone calls, and a pastoral visit to a health facility. I prayed beforehand, and I hope I was an encouragement to those I contacted.

God surprises me, too, with God-incidences. I responded to an email today, and I think I used encouraging and supportive words. I tried to convey a real spirit of helping and service. God had another email ready for me this evening. I opened that second email, and, wow! A continuing healthcare situation I’ve been praying about for many, many months? I opened that email and looked at the contents—and was moved to tears. I can tell you that God is able. God can work in hospital rooms as well as people’s hearts.

God gives patience. Sometimes when I really need it, God sends it. In the case of this continuing situation, it is pretty serious. But, God is right smack in the middle of it. Yes, I am acquainted with the whole family, from another state. Yes, there was and still is a ton of email support. My friends with the situation have awesome prayer and comfort coming their way on a continuing basis. Every day, someone is praying for that family. And tonight, when my friend sent another of the regular email updates of the ups and downs of the continuing health condition, I was sincerely moved. Choked up.

Yes, people perform some extraordinary acts of courage, persistence, and patience. Like my friends. And I can be of assistance, too. I can continue to pray. I can send cards. And, God willing, God will keep me on track. Ready to ask “where can I help today?” Plus, ready to answer, respond or give praise to God? That, too.

God, please continue to open my heart to this long-distance heathcare situation. Thanks for the number of hopeful and positive months of communication! May they continue.

@chaplaineliza

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Another Rainy Day—to Be Kind!

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 1, 2014

zinnia seeds - illustration from Blogspot

zinnia seeds – illustration from Blogspot

Another Rainy Day—to Be Kind!

Ever have someone give you a really great idea? So fantastic, that you pounce on it right away?

Today was another rainy, chilly spring day. Not your typical May 1st, to be sure. Not warm or sunny. Not very appealing for outside work, either. Good thing I spent most of the day in my office.

I had a good deal of computer work to be done. Being a pastorly-type person, I engaged in several conversations, and prayed with two people. I also happened to talk with several people today, in the course of doing business. There is one snag, though. Most of my business happens to be of the time-lapse variety. Very little of the business I transacted today was completed today. It will come to pass, over time.

To get back to my friend’s fantastic brainwave, I was very much struck by it. Practically fell all over myself to thank my friend. Implemented it. And, guess what? This idea is also of the time-lapse variety. So—even though one of my telephone conversations was super excellent, I won’t be able to track the outcome until later. Perhaps it will turn out to be much later.

I’m reminded of the seeds my mother had me plant, in our backyard. In the house where I grew up, on the northwest side of Chicago. When I was six and seven, and even eight, the idea of planting flower seeds seemed somehow magical to me. Plant the seeds in May. Wait. Wait. And wait some more. (Something I was never very good at. At least I have improved in the waiting department a little bit.)

It would take some weeks. Aha! I’d see little, green sprouts as I went out in back to check on my seeds! Time would pass—June would arrive, and school would end. I usually would have forgotten about my seeds until one day, later in June. I’d run out in the back yard, and the zinnia seeds would have magically changed to sturdy, green plants, in rows. The bigger ones in the back, smaller plants in front. And sometimes, depending on how the weather had been for the past few weeks, I could see little buds. That was so exciting! I loved seeing the colorful petals ready to unfold from all the green.

Patience! That’s what I need. Just like with the zinnia seeds. That’s what I need in these several situations I started today, too. Especially the fantastic idea I got from my good friend. I wonder whether the acquisition of patience is one of those things that sort of creeps up on you, gradually? Like seeing those zinnia plants finally standing in the soil, a couple of inches high?

Yup. I get the feeling, it’s God’s sense of humor again. God’s pleased with me, with my efforts to be kind to others. Just now, I’ve got to wait. And wait some more. It’s the zinnia seeds all over again. And God? I think You’re smiling right now.

@chaplaineliza

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Adventures in Plumbing!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God handling my problems

Adventures in Plumbing!

Day Two of the bathroom facelift. Good thing I could be home most of the day. I was very helpful almost all day long. (The contractor said so!) I helped in various, small ways. Even helped him bring the sink/vanity up to our third floor unit (yes, a walk-up) and made a suggestion that really helped as he was deciding what to do about a small leak in the bathroom.

In fact, the contractor said his client (that’s me!) was wonderful. The rest of the day didn’t go so well. The contractor had difficulty with the faulty shut off valves under the bathroom sink AND in the basement of my condo building, so a plumber friend of his came over. Several hours—and much aggravation—later, we now have working shut off valves. Down side? The contractor is about a day behind in his estimated time to finish the bathroom.

God, there must be something in this continuing experience for me to learn. Some analogy, or learning experience. There is a car that usually is parked several blocks from my house with a bumper sticker in the rear. The sticker says: “Oh, no! Not another learning experience!”

Some days go like that. Even some months. Once in a while, whole years seem to go like that, too. Let me see. What can I learn, anyhow? Patience. I certainly saw where patience was necessary for both workers: easy does it. Perseverance. Stick to it. Work gradually: slow and steady wins the race. And mustn’t forget a sense of humor! Yeah, someone with a pessimistic, sourpuss attitude would not do very well with a situation like this. Probably get him/herself an ulcer, or turn into a chain smoker. Or something similar.

We can look on the positive side. We are all done with the valves. Now, we have working shut off valves. It is the second week of April! The weather and temperature are really pleasant outside. Unlike January and February in Chicago, when we were experiencing the occasional polar vortex and subzero temperatures. And, my contractor is a super nice guy! That makes it even easier to want to give him a hand when I can.

God, help me to give a hand where and when I’m able. I want to be helpful and encouraging, of course. And when I can make things easier (like when I helped bring up the vanity), even better! And thanks for reminding me to pray about this job. I know that with Your help, we have the best assistance of all.

@chaplaineliza

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Are You Being Served? (Feature Friday!)

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

Toronto cafe interior - watercolor by Wilfrid

Toronto cafe interior – watercolor by Wilfrid

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.