Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, June 19, 2018

So much attention to what has been going on recently is posted on social media. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get out the message to many, many people with a minimum of effort. (And, I must say I use social media for exactly that reason, sometimes.) However, the intimacy of a personal, one-on-one conversation can be so nurturing and healing. It can provide feelings of warmth, wellbeing and connection, which are sadly falling to the wayside in today’s rush-rush, hurry-hurry, fast-paced society. May God never allow me to shelve this intimate, personal touch of a kind, one-on-one conversation.

kindness,create

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@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 meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping My Husband? Sure! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I re-read this post, and it struck a chord within. My husband knows I am kind and helpful, ready to be of service. He is more of a person who would stand back and observe, quietly. He’d lend a hand if asked, but he would not be the first to step in. We are two different people. This post reminds me of that difference. This post also says a lot about my husband and his work. He is very good at what he does. I re-post it today, letting him know I appreciate him very much!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, March 15, 2014

selection of ties

selection of ties

Helping My Husband? Sure!

A little after 10 o’clock in the morning. And where do we find ourselves? My husband and I are in a discount clothing store, which is just about the last place he would prefer to be. Especially on a bright, sunny (but chilly) March weekend day. He claims to prefer sitting in the dentist’s chair to going to a clothing store. However, he wanted to buy himself a couple of ties. He wears a jacket and tie to work downtown every day in his work as a senior editor in the Loop. Several of his favorite ties were showing signs of obvious wear. So, out with the old. He went to the clothing store with the intention of buying several ties.

I came along for the ride. When we arrived at the store, my husband made a direct route to the tie display. This place indeed is stocked with good-looking ties. He methodically went through the different ties. (Avoiding pinks and purples, bright colors and cutesy patterns.) I took my time getting over to the rear of the store, but I tried to walk with purpose. When I got there, he already had one tie in hand. He had a task, an errand to do. By golly, he was going to do it.

My husband knows I am a naturally helpful person. I like to help, when I’m asked! He’s used to this. And every now and again, he’ll even accept my help. I unobtrusively began to look through the ties. I have a pretty good idea of what type, design, or look of tie my husband might prefer. (I am pretty good at this, if I do say so myself.) A few minutes later, he walked away from the display. Satisfied, he had four ties in hand. I helped him find three out of four of them. (After glancing between his initial choice and one I pointed out afterwards, he quietly put his choice back.)

Goodness knows, my husband can decide what he’s going to do, and stick to it. A great attitude, most times! But God, sometimes his firm attitude is a bit wearing. Except today. He welcomed my low-key suggestions about ties. Some might say that a tie is just a little thing. Except it’s not a little thing to my husband; he wants to be a well-dressed man. He looks on his neatness in dress and classic, well-made clothing as part of the pride he takes in his job. (What can I say? He’s an orderly, methodical editor.) And, I took the opportunity he offered me, to assist him.

God, I know I try to do things without help sometimes. I know I feel like saying, “I can do it myself!” (Just like my toddler- and preschooler-age children. I remember it well.) God, it felt so good to be able to pitch in, to be able to help my husband on a relatively small thing. Please God, help me to see where I have been (and am, currently) stubborn and willful. I know You want me to be independent—sometimes. But You want us all to be interconnected. So, help me to help others, daily. And help me accept help, too.

@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 meditation journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind to Myself—Through Yoga

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 11, 2014

yoga tree pose

Being Kind to Myself—Through Yoga

It has been a busy week. Rushing to and fro, getting ready, hustle bustle. I almost talked myself into skipping yoga today. Am I glad I didn’t!

My yoga instructor Ine is marvelous. She has been doing yoga for more than thirty years. And does she know how to instruct! She tells people that they should try their best, but not to get upset if your particular body doesn’t want to or isn’t able to do some of the yoga positions. And not to worry about it! Even if I am not able to do several yoga poses and positions this week, I am encouraged to continue to try. To strive to improve, but to know my body. And, not to cross the point of pain, of hurting when I stretch and move.

Ine’s wise words are applicable in so many areas in my life! If I need to improve in healthy eating, or in regular prayer and meditation, or in practicing patience, or any one of a dozen other areas . . . I can apply Ine’s simple yet effective idea.

I was talking with a newcomer to yoga today, after class. He’s fit and healthy, but had never done yoga before this month. I believe today was his third class, and he likes it very much. He mentioned to me that an hour and a half of hatha yoga makes him as worn out as a strenuous hour and a half bike ride. We both laughed at that.

But, isn’t that the way? I need to stretch and bend and do poses regularly. And as I do these poses and work on my core strength, cardio-vascular training and flexibility, it’s one of the kindest things I can possibly do for myself. Good health, better circulation, stronger core, easier mobility. What’s not to like about that?

Plus, if I look at things from a more Godly, spiritual perspective, it pleases God when I keep my body fit, in good health. Again, what is there not to like? And, God, thanks especially for Ine, a caring, loving instructor who is interested in every single person, no matter how “good” or “bad” they are at yoga.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? Be of Service? Feed Lots of People! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 5, 2014

God's masterpiece Eph-2-10

Be Kind? Be of Service? Feed Lots of People! (Feature Friday!)

At this giving time of the year, I am reminded of my recent favorite mission organization, Stop Hunger Now! This is not only a giving time of the year, for some people—lots of people—this is a hungry time of the year, as well.

Yes, I know there are earnest protests going on across the United States today. And, yes. These sit-ins and other forms of protest in the aftermath of the #EricGarner verdict are important. However—I have been focusing my Friday Feature this whole year on being kind. Helpful. Of service. I would like to lift up something hopeful, something praiseworthy. A wonderful way to be of service! Stop Hunger Now! has a tremendous track record for feeding thousands of people at a time with nutritious, filling, inexpensive meals. And, this mission effort reaches all over the world now, too.

Just to recap, 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!

First, I would like to lift up the tremendous effort made last week, at this giving time of the year. All across the United States, amidst the busy-ness of Thanksgiving week, Stop Hunger Now volunteers packed 1.7 MILLION meals for distribution. (These statistics can be verified at the Stop Hunger Now Facebook page.) That amount’s in just one week. These meals can go to families in need, to feed hungry people all around the world. Now, that’s something to be truly thankful for.

Right this minute, there are sixteen North Carolina State graduate students (from the School of Social Work) traveling to the Philippines. These students will measure the impact of Stop Hunger Now’s meals on the local communities they reach. And as the Stop Hunger Now! Facebook page says, “This vital information will allow us to refine and improve our ability to serve the impoverished and undernourished across the country.”

I am reminded of my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Truly, providing food for hungry people is certainly something God-honoring. And, it’s also something that our Lord Jesus commands in Matthew 25:34-40. What a way to be of service, and please God, at the same time.

Stop Hunger Now! kindly asks that everyone keep the group traveling in the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers, especially as Super Typhoon #Hagupit prepares for landfall this weekend. Thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness to a Senior

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 11, 2014

micah 6-8 framed

Kindness to a Senior

I don’t often go into department stores. It’s not that I don’t like shopping. (I do!) But, I try to find what I need and can use at resale shops (first) and outlets (second). And, I am sincerely trying to reduce what our family purchases. We live in a small condominium, and it’s filled with stuff as it is. We do not need more stuff. (My husband heartily agrees.)

As I posted yesterday, my daughter and I went to a mall we do not ordinarily go to. We also went to a bona fide department store to purchase some things to take to college. As we came down the escalator from the second floor to the first, I saw a frail-looking senior sitting in a small, fold-up wheelchair. She was about twelve feet from the bottom of the escalator, near the corner of the jewelry counter.

I am still thinking about her, today. My conversation with her stuck in my mind, and I keep playing our brief interaction over and over. So, I thought I would blog about it today.

My daughter and I rode down the escalator, my daughter about two or three escalator steps ahead of me. I saw the senior from a distance, as I descended. She caught my eye. Sitting still, waiting patiently, while everyone else in my eyesight seemed to be busy—moving, doing, going, bustling around. I initially approached her because her thin knit shawl was all bunched up, lying in the crooks of her elbows. The position of the shawl looked uncomfortable. Plus, there was no one accompanying her. At least, not anywhere nearby.

I slowed my steps as I stepped off the escalator and turned her way. Yes, an aged senior, for sure. But one who was quick on the uptake. “Good afternoon, “ I said, stooping slightly. (That way, I could look at her face more directly, instead of towering over her.) “I saw your shawl. Are you comfortable with it where it is, right now? Or could I help you rearrange it?”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet. No, my shawl is fine where it is.” We exchanged smiles. She panned the area, as best she could. Her head was pitched slightly forward, and even in the wheelchair, her shoulders were stooped. “Are you looking for someone?” I asked. She transferred her gaze to me, trying to look up, in my face. “I don’t see my family. They’ve gone, I suppose.” She sounded a bit wistful, but still patiently waiting. “Oh.” I smiled again. My daughter was fast disappearing, down the aisle of the store. I quickly sent a glance at her, and then looked back at the senior.

“Bye,” the elderly woman said. She raised her hand, and almost smiled at me. I gave her one of my bright, friendly smiles in return, and wished her well. I hurried, and caught up with my daughter, who rolled her eyes at me for stopping to talk with the elderly woman in the wheelchair.

As I continue to reflect on this brief meeting, I can’t help but think of Micah 6:8, my verse for the month of August. The questions that come to my mind are: how can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk lovingly with my God? God willing, my interaction with this dear senior provided an example of how to fulfill this verse. Please God, help me live in this just, merciful, loving way.

@chaplaineliza

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Making Connections? With Sincerity!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 27, 2014

blessed are the peacemakers Matt5-9

Making Connections? With Sincerity!

Some folks have the ability—the knack—of making instant connections. I won’t claim to be that skilled at connection-making, but I must admit . . . I do do that. It sort of just happens. I’ve spoken about this before in this space. My husband and children poke fun at me on occasion, and I don’t know why connection happens so suddenly. So meaningfully, sometimes. It just does.

The first time today a connection occurred was at a big-box store. My college-age daughter and I had chosen a bunch of items, over almost an hour. I even tried on a pair of shorts (on sale!), and they actually fit me. We also picked up several things for my daughter to take to college in less than a month. Lo and behold, when we came to the register, I did not have my credit card with me. Boy, was I red in the face! The cashier was so wonderful about it! She reassured me that she would set aside all of our things until we returned.

My daughter and I schlepped all the way home, picked up the necessary card, and went all the way back to the big box store. Yes! The cashier was still at the same register. I promptly went and bought everything I had originally placed in my basket, an hour before. I could tell that the cashier and I had made a connection, as brief as the communication was between us. I was sincere in my apology, and told her several times how kind it was for her to keep the contents of our cart by her cash register. She stopped—actually stopped—in ringing up our things. She told us, “Of course I would do that.” I could feel the sincerity radiating from her, as well as friendly concern.

Only a few minutes’ interaction, yet truly honest and sincere. Wonderful!

The second time a connection happened to me was in the evening. I went to a coffee place to get some beverage. The server who got the beverage for me was a lovely young woman. On top of that, she had stunning dark make up on her eyes. (Not too much, just to emphasize her eyes.) I complimented her on the make up, and made a comment about how attractive make up like that looked on dark-complected women. I also noticed her earrings—large, simple crosses. I happened to mention them, too. She seemed a bit taken aback at first. Yet she thanked me in not-too-much time, and responded willingly enough.

She related about certain well-meaning customers. When hearing that her ancestors came from the Middle East, certain people ware surprised to hear that she is a Christian. Her whole family attends church, too. I tried to encourage and support her, and I believe she was grateful for my words. So grateful! I also told her about a Presbyterian church not far from here, and how I had attended the church some years ago. Many of its members and friends were and are Christians from the Middle East—Iraq, Iran, other countries.

I mentioned how sad (beyond belief!) I was at all of the reports and brief articles I have been reading. Christians from the Middle East becoming refugees. Horror and absolute fear, on the run for their lives. She immediately said she purposely did not think about them, with a look that told me so much. Troubled, anxious, fearful. Moreover, she didn’t want to be overwhelmed. But the two of us? We drew on that deep something. And somehow, connection happened. Praise God.

I pray for both of these women, for them and their families. Please, God, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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Serving by Housekeeping—or Rather, Maintenance?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, April 21, 2014

KIND another one kind word

Serving by Housekeeping—or Rather, Maintenance?

I went to work this morning. Quite a common thing to do, for many people. Going to work, that is. I am still getting used to my workplace, and everything involved with it. I very much like it! However, there are a lot of parts and pieces to my job. I need to get up to speed in more than the areas of pastoral care, preaching and music ministry. And, that’s a necessary thing. A good thing.

Say, administration and office work. I know how to do a lot of that, in other contexts. Just not in this specific church, in this particular suburb. I know each place has different idiosyncrasies, so it’s a good idea for me to familiarize myself with as much of the office as I can. And perhaps, I can suggest some things that might be helpful to the functioning of the office and organization. Or if you like, helpful to the ministry of the church and the congregation.

I asked some questions today about operations and maintenance, too! I know that some people would think certain questions might be silly. However, I’ve found I am usually beyond feeling shy or embarrassed at asking most questions. When I was a teenager, even into my twenties, I used to be shy and awkward. I might have those tendencies even now, but I am able to laugh about my occasional stumbles and missteps. It’s okay! Really, it is. Most people slip up sometimes. Or even more often than that. Like I said, it’s okay.

Thinking about the bible verse I chose for April, I could easily apply it to today’s activities. A verse from Colossians, verse 3:23. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I don’t need to concern myself with what human beings think of me and my work. Instead, my first priority is to stay focused on God. If I try to please God, that’s the main thing.

Since I need to brush up on my church administration skills and activities, I do need to find out more about the office. Talking with informative and helpful people—like the head of the trustees, and the church treasurer—is a great way for me to orient myself to all things. And, I hope that activities at my workplace continue to go smoothly.

I know I want the best for my workplace. I also know I will try to be conscientious, kind and cheerful in my work and ministry. Will this be hard? Without a doubt. Will this job be rewarding? I know so, in many cases. I hope and pray that I will do my best—as Colossians 3:23 recommends. And not just at work, but in every area of my life.

What about you? Is there an area or a person you’re not sure about? Why not try some prayer? God will lead each of us. Whenever, wherever you or I go. God will be right there, by our side. That’s a promise.

@chaplaineliza

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(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com Shortlink: