God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 1, 2017

Today’s weather was rainy in both the afternoon and evening, which followed a very rainy, gray and chilly weekend. I found I needed some serenity today. It’s difficult for me to be cheery and bright when the weather outside has been so gray and dismal for a number of days in a row. (*sigh!*) I wanted to pass this along. Perhaps someone out there needs some peace and serenity, too.

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

Posted on May 1, 2014 by chaplaineliza

serenity prayer coin

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

I did a number of various kinds of things today. Practiced the keyboard for Sunday service. Handled some administrative matters in the office. Led an adult bible study. Wrote some of the encyclopedia article I’ve been working on. Went to two meetings later in the day. Bought my daughter a dress (she’s going to a special symposium as an invited guest tomorrow). Met with a good friend after dinner.

Not to mention all the other stuff that’s going on in my life. Any one of these things is a worthy topic for being of service. But I’d like to focus on the topic of serenity. And how much I need some in my life.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the original Serenity Prayer. It was more than twice as long as the prayer commonly known by so many today. The short version is also repeated in recovery groups all over the country—even all over the world, today. But the shorter prayer is one that I have memorized. And one I say to myself, from time to time. Even more often than that, on occasion.

The thing about this Serenity Prayer is that it urges me to accept people, places and things, as they are. If I have a degree of acceptance in my life, I am more likely to be open and willing to help others. To serve and to be kind. I also find I that much more likely to have joy and gratitude in my heart.

Since there is so much going on in and around my life, currently, I honestly feel the need for serenity. Peace. I would prefer a little quiet, which is more than I usually get around my house. (Thanks to my two teenagers!) I know what many people will say—in just a few years, there will be more than enough quiet, when my two younger children follow my two older ones. When I have an empty nest.

But I am not there, yet. I still need the Serenity Prayer. I am familiar with the idea of acceptance. Accepting the fact that there are many things (even most things?) in my life which I cannot change. Have absolutely no control over. And, I need to be okay with that. Today, despite feeling as if I did not control much in my personal and work life, I was still able to help others. I still made several people smile, even laugh. I still led a bible study. (the Road to Emmaus! Great material!) And, I especially had a wonderful time with my friend—we talked about all kinds of things. Just like we always do.

I’ll close with the Serenity Prayer, because any time is a good time for serenity. God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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

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Caring for Myself—And for Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading this post, three years later, my opinion has not changed. Yoga is marvelous for me, inside and out. (Especially with that exceptional yoga teacher! Who, sadly, does not teach on Monday nights any longer.) I have now gone beyond gentle yoga to regular yoga classes—hatha and vinyasa yoga. Yes, yoga is a wonderful way to care for myself. And, by caring for myself, I can’t help but care for others.

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

Posted on March 11, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 10, 2014

yoga guy zacara spot

yoga drawing – Zakar art by Chris Carter

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

I needed to dive right into the week, right off the bat this morning. Work today, running and fetching, some computer work, some necessary telephone calls that needed to be made. Then, I made dinner. At least, I started dinner and asked my daughter to finish turning the chicken in the covered skillet while it simmered. Why the hurry at the end of the day? Simple! I have a one word answer: yoga.

Earlier today I went out of my way to do things for other people. Yes, I did acts of service, intentionally. But I want to focus on what happened at the YMCA. In yoga class. The Y has a number of different classes and exercise opportunities each day. In the pool, in the exercise studios, in the big gym. There are several yoga classes each week, too. I am no expert at yoga, believe me! But the gentle yoga class on Monday afternoons is perfect for me. Yes, there are yoga poses and stretching that challenge me! But nothing is too hard. Nothing that the older instructor has the class do is beyond most people’s abilities.

I’ve been attending the gentle yoga class for about three months, and it helps me! The yoga teacher helps me, too. She has a kind and easy-going way about her. One of the biggest reasons I appreciate this teacher is the open, generous manner she has with each person in the room. She also invites people to leave their worries, troubles, and stresses outside the room. Inside the room is calmness and peace. We can take our time and stretch, and restore balance and harmony to our bodies and our inner selves.

Yes, I realize that there is a component to certain yoga instruction that is rooted in eastern thought and religious practices. Yes, true. But not this teacher, and not this kind of gentle yoga and stretching. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. But—I saved the best for the last. I find this regular yoga class is a superb way to care for myself. I run around most of the week like a chicken with its head cut off. (My father-in-law saw quite a number of these, and he said they were pretty funny!)

Sometimes I am running, or in a hurry, or worrying. Other times I am caring for others—my children, my family, my good friends, those at my work, patients or residents. It seems as if I seldom take the time or the opportunity to carve out an hour to rest, to release the worry and upset of the day or the week. That is just what my kind yoga teacher invites us to do. It’s no wonder I am dashing off to her class each Monday! I need to take the time on a regular basis to allow myself to unwind. And more importantly, to allow myself to become refreshed and recharged—as in this class. I am so grateful to the YMCA for employing such a wonderful teacher. Thanks, YMCA! And thanks, 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 Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I am grateful to family members. As I am considering my sermon and the Sunday service for this coming Mother’s Day, I want to particularly thank those family members who helped out more than I could ask. I thank them, from the bottom of my heart.

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Posted on May 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

pink roses

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peace Be With You, With Me—With Everybody!

Peace can be a transient thing. It’s difficult to come by for some people, and even more difficult to hold on to, for others. I know in my life, I have not always been peaceful. At peace. For years, I have (more often than not) been longing for peace, even actively searching for peace . . . and not finding it.

A number of years ago, when my two older girls were toddler and preschooler, their father and I were having a particularly difficult time with finances and with unemployment. It lasted for several years. We shopped at resale stores. We counted pennies. We went without a great number of things. We had a really tough time paying for necessary stuff like doctor bills and medication. (Remember when your toddler or preschooler would have the occasional ear infection, or strep throat?)

I am so grateful for family members! Loving, kind, giving family members gave us a hand. Helped us out. I don’t know how I would have made it through without our great families! But, wait! You say, that’s great for long time ago, but . . . what gives? Sure, what you’ve said so far is all very nice. All heartwarming and everything. But it was some years ago! What about today? How am I—how are we being kind today?

I’m so glad you asked! Some time has passed, and I have been actively searching for peace ever since. More often than not, for years. And years.

I believe I have some idea of peace in my life, right now. At bible study today, we were all talking about peace. God’s peace. How Jesus wished His disciples—His followers peace. What did that mean, anyway?

To greet someone with the word “Peace” was a common way of saying hello, in the first century. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. “Peace” didn’t mean just a cessation of violence . No, the connotation of the word shalom meant much, much more. By using this greeting, the risen Christ was wishing His followers not only peace and wellness, but also wholeness, in terms of the world being made peaceful.

As we talked about this rich, multi-layered concept of peace—of shalom, what a wonderful idea it is! How awesome, to have Jesus wishing this for the disciples. And even, wishing it for each of us, too! That was my act of service today, telling people about the peace of Christ. Truly, a wonderful discovery for each of us.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus can deliver. For me, and for you, too. I put my trust in the risen Christ. I know the risen Christ makes Himself available to me. On a daily basis, even. And how awesome is that?

@chaplaineliza

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

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


 

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 7, 2016

This blog post from two years ago is a post about self-care. That is so important for people in caring work. (That was one of the most important lessons I ever learned when I attended seminary. Self-care!) Since we are now in the middle of Lent—one of the hectic times of the year for pastors—I thought this post was a good reminder for all of us. Take time for myself. Well worth the time.

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

Posted on March 11, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 10, 2014

yoga guy zacara spot

(yoga drawing – Zakar art by Chris Carter)

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

I needed to dive right into the week, right off the bat this morning. Work today, running and fetching, some computer work, some necessary telephone calls that needed to be made. Then, I made dinner. At least, I started dinner and asked my daughter to finish turning the chicken in the covered skillet while it simmered. Why the hurry at the end of the day? Simple! I have a one word answer: yoga.

Earlier today I went out of my way to do things for other people. Yes, I did acts of service, intentionally. But I want to focus on what happened at the YMCA. In yoga class. The Y has a number of different classes and exercise opportunities each day. In the pool, in the exercise studios, in the big gym. There are several yoga classes each week, too. I am no expert at yoga, believe me! But the gentle yoga class on Monday afternoons is perfect for me. Yes, there are yoga poses and stretching that challenge me! But nothing is too hard. Nothing that the older instructor has the class do is beyond most people’s abilities.

I’ve been attending the gentle yoga class for about three months, and it helps me! The yoga teacher helps me, too. She has a kind and easy-going way about her. One of the biggest reasons I appreciate this teacher is the open, generous manner she has with each person in the room. She also invites people to leave their worries, troubles, and stresses outside the room. Inside the room is calmness and peace. We can take our time and stretch, and restore balance and harmony to our bodies and our inner selves.

Yes, I realize that there is a component to certain yoga instruction that is rooted in eastern thought and religious practices. Yes, true. But not this teacher, and not this kind of gentle yoga and stretching. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. But—I saved the best for the last. I find this regular yoga class is a superb way to care for myself. I run around most of the week like a chicken with its head cut off. (My father-in-law saw quite a number of these in the barnyard, and he said they were pretty funny!)

Sometimes I am running, or in a hurry, or worrying. Other times I am caring for others—my children, my family, my good friends, those at my work, patients or residents. It seems as if I seldom take the time or the opportunity to carve out an hour to rest, to release the worry and upset of the day or the week. That is just what my kind yoga teacher invites us to do. It’s no wonder I am dashing off to her class each Monday!

I need to take the time on a regular basis to allow myself to unwind. And more importantly, to allow myself to become refreshed and recharged—as in this class. I am so grateful to the YMCA for employing such a wonderful teacher. Thanks, YMCA! And thanks, God!

@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!)


 

Potluck for Peace? Being of Service! (Feature Friday)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 12, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Potluck for Peace? Being of Service! (Feature Friday)

So, there I was. Sitting at a potluck table with a group of eight youth—four diverse Catholic high schoolers, and four Muslim youth. Two girls covered their heads, and wore hijab. The other girl didn’t, and the fourth was a boy, a high school freshman. I was very interested to hear what happened in the lively conversation. All eight were friendly, open, and wondered about each other. Asked each other questions, and found a lot of similarities in their school experience. Six of the eight had iPhones, and often glanced at them, referred to them as we all ate dinner together. Sure, there were differences between the youth! But at the same time, there were even more things that were similar!

I couldn’t help but think of the advice the Apostle Paul gave to the church at Rome as I attended the Children of Abraham Coalition event last Thursday night, September 11th: simple advice from Romans 14—don’t judge! Father Corey Brost, President from St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights, invited me to attend this Potluck for Peace, as a gesture of friendship. Many diverse people came together for peace, from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures, all over the world. And, I’m glad I attended!

As Fr. Corey told the assembled guests at the beginning of the dinner, September 11 is a fascinating day, in terms of world history. September 11, 1893 was the first day of the very first meeting of the World Parliament of Religions. Wonderful, to have September 11th be such a hopeful anniversary, an anniversary of peace and reconciliation.

Today, the Children of Abraham Coalition wants to highlight peace—shalom, salaam, peace. And, they also would like to educate others about the religious traditions that came from Abraham. These times of learning, sharing, and building relationship between individuals (and groups) is a practice by which many people are still challenged.

The separate speakers spoke of peace. Peace is the main thing, the only thing that we all need to lift up, and concentrate on. As was suggested last night at the dinner, different ages coming together do simple things like share a simple meal together, and share compassion. What a Godly thing to do! And—the world is a little bit different, a little bit more loving, because a group of peace-loving people gathered in the gymnasium in a high school in Arlington Heights, last night. Praise God!

Want more information about the Children of Abraham Coalition? Check them out on Twitter: @coacpeace

Or, go to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/174843822545174/

@chaplaineliza

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

Doing the Footwork for a Blessing of the Animals

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 15, 2014

dog and kittens

Doing the Footwork for a Blessing of the Animals

Who remembers this past winter? January . . . February . . . March. Driving snow! Slippery ice! Whipping wind! Freezing cold! Polar Vortex! (Or should I say, vortices? I don’t know what the plural of “vortex” is.) How much winter could we take, anyway? My 80-something-year-old father-in-law, who grew up on a farm in Iowa and has lived all his life in the upper Midwest, said this past winter was the absolute worst in his memory. And that’s saying something.

Even though spring is here, and May is verdant with abundant flowers and plants popping out all over the place, I still hear people talking about the challenging winter we just came through. And—that’s why I would like to have a Blessing of the Animals at the church where I work, on the first Saturday in June. June 7th, from 10:00 am until noon, in the church parking lot.

St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology, animals and the environment. Pope John Paul II wrote in 1990 that St. Francis “offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation . . . . As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. . . . when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.” (“World Day of Peace 1990”. Vatican.va. Retrieved May 15, 2014) What a positive, affirming way to show our fellowship and friendship with animals, as well as the rest of creation.

I know that the Blessing of the Animals is usually associated with St. Francis of Assisi, and is usually timed to correspond with his feast day on October 4th. I am so glad for churches that celebrate our animal friends during the first week of October. However, I think that our animal friends have gone through this challenging winter, too! They might need some additional blessing. Accordingly, we printed up some flyers, and today I went to some local businesses to see whether we might be able to have these flyers posted in the windows or on community boards inside. Plus, I started to develop some positive, continuing relationships with store managers in the area. All good things!

So, I continued to do some footwork to get the Blessing of the Animals going today. It is a great chance to get together with people from the community and to make some new friends. (Both two-legged and four-legged!) I love animals, and I am so excited to be able to offer this simple, yet heartfelt opportunity to families and their animal friends. Dear God, be with me and the rest of St. Luke’s Church community as we prepare for this community Blessing of the Animals. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, God!

@chaplaineliza

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