Kindness to a Daughter (and Granddaughter)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, August 10, 2014

birdhouse and flowers

Kindness to a Daughter (and Granddaughter)

My youngest daughter is leaving home, for college. Soon. This afternoon, we went for a drive, and ended up at a mall. I bought my daughter some needed clothes. We did a little windowshopping, too.

The wonderful thing about our drive (on such a beautiful day, too!) was that it was unhurried. We took our time, and had no time constraints placed on us. A wonderful feeling, too! We went into Chicago and drove through some areas that I had not visited for some time. We saw some really attractive areas of Chicago, and I went a little out of my way to show my daughter some special houses, and houses from the turn of the 20th century, too. (Fascinating!)

I took the opportunity to relate some vignettes about my mother—dead these past twelve years. My mom was an amazing lady, and her wide and varied interests included art, architecture, real estate, history, and political science. (She had a bachelor’s degree in political science, earned in the 1940’s.)

Traveling down those very familiar—yet not-recently-traveled—city streets sparked some bittersweet memories. My daughter and I continued to talk about her grandma, mentioned some things she used to do and places she liked to frequent. As I went further into Chicago, we also talked about her great-aunt, my mom’s sister. She died a few years ago, over ninety years old. Another dear lady.

My mother loved being a grandma. She loved all her grandchildren dearly. She would have been so excited to see her first grandchild (my niece) get married. Just two weekends ago, that happened in Washington state. I was unable to attend, but Grandma would have loved it. And, it’s another of the grandchildren entering another stage of life.

This is my third daughter going off to school. Yes, it’s bittersweet to have another child leave home. Yet, I am so pleased another of my children is doing so well. She is growing up to be a curious, competent, capable, and interesting young lady.

So, yes. I acted as a mom. I did more mom-things today, by buying my daughter several items for the fall semester. (My daughter really appreciated the clothes, and told me so.) I realize it’s kind-of my job, as a parent, getting my daughter outfitted for college. But, it wasn’t a chore. My daughter and I had a very enjoyable afternoon. It was fun. A good time. And yes, a bittersweet time.

I wish my mother had had the opportunity to see her grandchildren continue to grow, and learn. But I know my children were glad for all the time they did have with their Grandma. My mom was regularly kind and helpful to her grandchildren. And me? I was kind to my daughter today. Thanks, God, for a wonderful afternoon.


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Being Kind, Keeping A Confidence

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 9, 2014

quiet--more you can hear

Being Kind, Keeping A Confidence

Just about everyone knows about gossips. People who can’t hold their tongues, and go blabbing to all and sundry. Gossip-py people can be tiresome. They can also cause a great deal of disruption. It all depends on how much they gossip, and what about. Oh, and what kind of rumors or half-truths they end up telling, too. But what about those people who purposely try not to spread mis-information?

I tried my best to be of service today, and listen to a dear acquaintance of mine. I used my active listening skills, and practiced several of the motivational interviewing skills I learned. (Valuable skills, indeed! Thanks to my substance abuse counseling instruction!) And most importantly—I found, yet again, how needed it is for me to come alongside of someone. Journey with them for a little, and try to listen with a less-anxious presence. With as little judgment in my heart as possible. And—to keep things as confidential as possible.

I know, this practice is so, so difficult! Yes. True. But that doesn’t make it any the less needed. Any the less appreciated. Yes, I did try, to the best of my ability. And, I hope I was an encouragement and a comfort to my acquaintance.

I also preached a sermon at a midweek service this afternoon. The sermon was based on Matthew 10:42 and I enjoyed both the sermon as well as the preaching of it. I received a great number of comments afterwards on the sermon, and almost every comment was positive. (I did like that. It stroked my ego.)

However, I am not sure which interaction I had today, which would make God more pleased. I know I encouraged and blessed people in their hearing and reading of the Bible passage, and their attendance at the midweek service. And, I hope I gave some encouragement and comfort to my acquaintance in the midst of the difficult, continuing situation I heard about today.

I could just take the easy way out. Say that God was pleased by both situations. And, use one of my favorite expressions: “both/and.”

Yes, I think God was pleased by both/and. I don’t think I serve and love an “either/or” kind of God. No, I’m glad God is both/and.


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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.


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Connecting People, Being Kind!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 2, 2014

preschool palms painting

Connecting People, Being Kind!

I have a new friend! Azar is the Director of Kids Academy, a preschool in the church where I now work in Morton Grove. She is a lovely woman, and so good and caring with the small children and teachers she directs. She has been leading this preschool for twenty years. I have had an interest in preschool ever since my children were small and attended preschool themselves. Being a helper with the children in the classroom and contributing my time was important to me. I look forward to getting to know Azar better and finding out where I might best be able to help her.

When we were talking briefly today, I happened to mention the preschool my two younger children had attended, several suburbs over from where I work. Azar had heard of the preschool, but didn’t have any more contact with it than that. “I know the Director there,” I said. “I’d be happy to give her a call and connect you two. I think you both would really benefit from knowing each other. And you’re both lovely ladies,” I smiled as I spoke.

My new friend was overjoyed! She thanked me several times as we finished our conversation, and before we went our separate ways.
I reflected on this brief interaction, afterwards. My husband says I not only have the gifts of caring and encouragement, but also a knack for connecting people sometimes. I guess this must be one of those times. That connection-part doesn’t happen every week, or even on a regular basis, but my mind makes connections when people talk to me. (That’s what comes of my being a professional listener, trained in ways of listening and interpreting verbal and non-verbal communication.) So when I make mental-connections, I often mention them to the person or people I’m talking with. And sometimes, I take the next step and introduce the people involved to each other. I’m so pleased when that happens!

God must be pleased when we use the skills and gifts we were given to be useful to others. Or helpful. Or creative. I am not sure whether this knack of connection and connecting people is a bona fide gift from God or not, but I certainly get some pleasure out of doing it! I don’t think God gives skills, gifts and graces to be burdensome. Instead, I figure it’s a part of God’s extravagant, endless creativity.

I don’t quite understand how this mental-connection thing works, but I’ve experienced it. I know it does work. My husband has even verified and acknowledged I have this particular thing, this grace. This ‘something’ from God. That’s enough for me. I am content. And, I get the feeling that God is pleased.

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Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, February 12, 2014

fruit of the Spirit

fruit of the Spirit

Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

Recently, I had another experience that showed me how blessed it is to keep my mouth shut.

It happened this way. I was in conversation with someone. I talk to a number of similar people, at least several times a week. I try to be courteous and kind. Naturally! Of course! It’s simply the way that I customarily operate.

But not this time. I don’t know quite what was the matter, but I must have felt out of sorts. Maybe I was tired or hungry. Or something. But for whatever reason, I had a short fuse. And I almost exploded in my acquaintance’s face while we were talking.

This situation reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5. I get the sneaking suspicion that I have a certain amount of most of these qualities—I have love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness. I’m pretty patient, gentle, and faithful. But the one where I consistently fall down is self-control. I do not have the best self-control in the world, especially when things can be really exciting, or fun, or good-tasting, or an awesome experience. No, my self-control does not rate very highly.   I’ve known about this difficulty with self-control for years. Decades, in fact. I have prayed about it off and on ever since. I’m still waiting.

I know that God is pleased with me when I’m involved with others. Or doing things for others. Could be showing kindness or love. Any way out of myself, and towards someone else.   We’ve already talked about how pleased God is because of acts of service. When a believer in God does something loving or honest, or exhibits attitudes that are kind or gentle, those kinds of actions can also be thought of as acts of service . . . for people in recovery, too.  One of the foundation principles of recovery is doing things for others—in other words, getting the focus away from “myself” and performing some act of service

But back to the story. As I mentioned, I had a conversation. I was somehow out of sorts. The other person made a comment that struck me as really silly. I was about to fire back with a sarcastic statement or cynical comment, when . . . I didn’t. Instead, I finished up the exchange with two or three more sentences and excused myself. So, I wouldn’t be further tempted to make any more snarky comments.

All I can say is, I am grateful to God for helping me to shut my mouth and keep it shut, instead of “flaming” others. To change up an old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can stay in my head and heart forever.” I am grateful and thankful that God helped me to stop before I said anything unwise or unkind. Words can hurt in a powerful way, and words can stay in the heart and mind for years. Thank God that I didn’t add to those mean, nasty words. Thank God that I was able to keep them to myself.

So, yes. My act of service in that particular situation was keeping my mouth closed.