Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

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

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

Advertisements

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage! (#BestOf)

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage! (#BestOf)

be-good-to-yourself-too

Posted on September 10, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 10, 2016

One of my—recent—favorite things is a massage. Truly wonderful! Heavenly. And, my masseuse is marvelous. She knows what my body needs and what my muscles are telling her as soon as she checks things out. I know this is a luxury. But, such a wonderful luxury. I thank God that I can take advantage of this excellent service at the YMCA where I am a member. (Thanks, Dori! Thanks, YMCA!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

I splurged. I really did. Since last month was my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I took the opportunity to buy a half hour massage at the YMCA here in town. And, today was the day I enjoyed a half hour of pampering. Self-care. Being kind—to myself!

Most times, I do prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga to try to relax. Ease my stress levels. Calm my breathing and minimize my worry. But every few months, I go out of my way to try to fit in a massage.

In case anyone reading this has never experienced a massage, they are wonderful. Marvelous. Truly a splurge-worthy experience. Of course, I go to an awesome masseuse, when I can scrape together the money. Dori is absolutely fantastic. I told her, as she was working on my forearms and hands at the end of the half hour, that I thought I died and went to heaven. (And I was more than half serious.) And, I sincerely thanked her for the wonderful job she did on me—and my lower back, too.

Of course, there are other ways to be kind to myself. Slowing down, having coffee with a friend, going to the Botanic Garden, or reading a fiction book (my current favorite books are a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s). There are other ways to practice self-care, too. Regular exercise. Going on walks in nature. Practicing giving or encouragement. Listening to quiet music. Prayer. Meditation. Silencing my spirit and mind. And, countless other ways, besides. Self-care—caring for one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual parts of the whole person, however that may happen best.

Listed above are all ways that appeal to me. I know they won’t appeal to everyone. (And for some, the thought of a few of these ways are probably like fingernails screeching across a chalk board.) I also give God a big praise for making each of us different from all the others—over the world, as well as over time. King David in Psalm 139 refers to each of us being fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s hands. No cookie cutter creation for us, no sir!

What about you? What kind of self-care particularly appeals to you, right now? Or, are you shy of making room or making time for self-care? Does caring for yourself sound selfish and thoughtless? If you are not clearing your calendar or your life for taking care of yourself, you are missing out! (And believe me when I say I am preaching this to me even more than preaching it to you.)

God, thanks for the awesome focus on self-care. Help me to not only practice this good gift from You, but to pass it on. Help others learn the importance of being Selfish—towards God, and towards each person. Individually. I’m no cookie cutter creation, and neither are You! Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

 

 

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A year ago. A wet, chilly, dreary October day. Unlike today, which had blue skies, high clouds, and a fresh wind. As I read last year’s post, I was transported back there, to that wet, chilly day. Gloomy feelings, uncomfortable situations, and deep sadness. Usually, I don’t want to go back to times like these. However, I especially wanted to remember this dear one, this senior, who has now died. Passed on to heaven. Blessings on all of these infirm dear ones, whether seniors or younger ones.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BK kindness touching your life

Of Service Through Sorrow and Sadness

A wet, rainy October day. Sad. Anxious. Depressing. Especially when I needed to make an emergency trip to the dentist. (At least that turned out all right.) Afterwards, I spent the morning taking it slowly, easily. Letting my mouth recuperate from the dental work.

But what about other people who spent today in less than comfortable places? Like individuals who have lost a job and can’t find another one? What about them? What about their families? How are they making ends meet, financially? What about the desperate, long-term anxiety that comes with unemployment—especially being without a job for a long, long time?

What about people who are caregivers? Who faithfully stay by their loved ones, feeding, cleaning, doing heavy lifting. Sometimes these dear ones have the most thankless jobs, but still show up every day. Still continue to care for their loved family member, spouse or significant other. I know, I have seen the care, love, and comfort displayed by faithful people stepping up and loving, caring and being an encouragement.

And individuals who are terribly sick, in the hospital or an extended care center? It doesn’t where these dear ones are located. Serious sickness happens. Sadness and anxiety afflict countless numbers of people, every single day, affecting patients as well as the loved ones. (I have some familiarity with this, from my time as a chaplain.)

When I visited one of these dear ones today in an extended care center, I tried to be as encouraging and supportive as possible. I prayed; this dear senior prayed for me, too. I cried because I was so emotionally shaken.

God be with the dear one I visited today. Thanks to you for any prayers you can offer for this dear person. And, thanks for prayer for me, too. I need it, since I am regularly dealing with emotions, feelings, relationships. All difficult, challenging, filled with anxiety and sadness. I know God is with me, in this rainy, sad October day. Thanks for good thoughts too, and may God’s blessings surround all of us–even through sadness, depression and anxiety.

@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!)

Render Service, Express Love (#BestOf #ayearofbeingkind)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 9, 2015

Talk about a heartfelt post! Touching, poignant. All kinds of “feels” all over. (To quote my college-age daughter.) I loved revisiting this post. It truly describes how I feel about preaching, and handling the Word of God. In addition, like icing on top of an oh-so-meaningful cake, there is the extra vignette about the dear, dear senior who so faithfully prayed for me.

This post from 2014 is especially significant for me because of my upcoming commissioning next Sunday, on March 15th. A culmination of many years and much heartfelt hard work, earnest prayer and overcoming of challenges. All the way around, a blessed reminder. Travel with me back one year, to the second Sunday of March 2014.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 9, 2014

 

LOVE love God love people

Render Service, Express Love

I enjoy preaching—in fact, I love it! I have for more than ten years. But how did I start preaching to begin with? I’ll need to go back to spring of 2003, when I was chosen to be one of the chaplain interns at a large senior residence (with full continuum of care) in the suburbs north of Chicago. The director of chaplaincy was very pleased to have me as an intern starting that fall, but he cautioned me. I would need to take a course in preaching, that summer, if possible. Why, you ask? Because the chaplain interns had regular preaching responsibilities in the weekly Sunday morning health care services as well as the weekly Wednesday afternoon Hymns and Devotions. I preached over forty sermons in those thirteen months I served as a chaplain intern. (!!)

In retrospect, it really was no surprise that I found I loved preaching. I enjoyed poring over the Scripture passage, praying for inspiration on what direction the sermon ought to take, carefully crafting the message like the wordsmith that I am. And then, the delivery? That’s awesome, too! When I lead in worship, I use many of the gifts and graces God has given me. (More, if I prepare the bulletin, plan the order of worship, and play either piano or organ.) And, I get a strong sense that God is deeply pleased with me and my service.

I served again, today. I was asked to preach and lead worship at two retirement homes in Chicago. I feel a real tenderness and affection for these dear seniors. I’ve been preaching at both places about once a month for approximately two years now. Seeing these dear people on a fairly regular basis cements the warm, loving feelings in my heart. Yes, there is some change of residents, and some people who are doing rehab or are at the residences for only a period of time. But by and large, many of them continue to attend the Sunday morning services each week.

Today, as I spoke to one lovely senior after the service, she told me she had been praying for me. (I was so touched! Imagine!) For several months, she had been praying for God to find an extra-good place for me to serve and minister. I teared up a bit and thanked her with overflowing gratitude in my heart. As we stood side by side, she said, “I love you,” and leaned her head towards mine. My response? “Oh, I love you, too!” I leaned my head towards her, too. We stood next to each other, gently being with each other for a few long seconds.

Intellectually, I know that my ministry touches hearts and minds. But today was extra-special. Yes, my sermon was good. (I had great material to work with—the raising of Lazarus!) This touching exchange with this extra-dear senior will stay with me, for a long time. God, I am amazed at how wonderful ministry to Your people truly is. Thank You for the opportunity and the calling to minister.

@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!)

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking back at this post, this was just one day before I heard about the position I now have. On this particular Sunday, I was attending church, singing in the choir, and talking with someone after the service. Or, was it listening? Regardless, God was in it.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 2, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Can We Encourage Others—Can We Pray?

As I brushed off the car this morning, I groaned. Internally, I mean. Will this snow and wintry weather ever stop? I drove to church down the half-deserted streets. Despite my grumbling about the cold and the snow, I grudgingly had to admit that the glistening white coating of snow did help. It helped the trees and grass to shine as the sun peeped through the clouds. Such a sight helped raise my spirits, too.

True, I did dash into church late. Late for choir practice, due to a minor waffle iron malfunction this morning. My son had a friend sleep over. I made waffles in a hurry before I left, but the first waffle stuck in the (older) waffle iron. I couldn’t very well run off and leave the waffle iron full of half-burnt pieces of waffle, so I did scrape and clean it off. (sigh)

I enjoy singing in choir! I like singing, period. Especially singing in parts. The morning service went well, too. I really worshiped, most of the time. (It’s a challenge to keep my mind on worship at all times, to tell the truth. I suspect most people would acknowledge that. At least, part of the time.) Since this is the first Sunday of the month, our church celebrated Communion. That was good, too.

Benediction said, church service over, congregation dismissed, sanctuary cleared. I went downstairs with the other parishioners to the memorial room (under the sanctuary). But—another worshiper caught me before I entered the large room. “Do you have a minute?” Sure, I nodded. “How do I get a prayer request in the prayer chain?” was the follow-up question.

Instantly, my chaplain antennae started to vibrate. “You came to the right place. I keep track of the requests and email out the weekly prayer list.” All of which are true. But I still had this intense feeling that something was going on with my fellow church member.  The two of us stepped into a little out-of-the-way area, and I asked for more information about the prayer request. It turned out, there were two requests. I wrote down both of the requests on a scrap of paper I had in my pocket. I used active listening. I pitched my voice to be soft and gentle. And—I used my less-anxious presence to help my fellow church member feel more calm and

After I wrote down specifics on the person we were praying for, I continued to listen closely to what the fellow parishioner was saying. I was moved to relate a couple of my views and spiritual insights concerning suffering, pain and death. And afterwards, we both teared up, and almost cried. I felt that my presence was appreciated! Not only by my fellow church member, but by many at worship today. But specifically, the situation regarding the prayer request after service? That’s my act of kindness today.  I am so glad I was at the right place, at the right time. Or—perhaps I was in the place God intended me to be today.  Regardless, I wonder what God will send my way tomorrow?

@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!)

Being Kind to Unkind People?

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 30, 2015

When I think of unkind people, one of the last things in the world I want to do is to be kind to them. Be helpful. Be friendly.

Wait just a minute . . . what would Jesus do? (Here are my thoughts from a year ago.)

BK be kind to unkind people 

 Being Kind to Unkind People?

When I think of unkind people, I think of sourpusses. People like Scrooge (before his reformation). Or people who do particularly nasty things. I see articles on the Internet under the Crime section of news sites I visit that astound, horrify, and sadden me.

In this blog post, I won’t concentrate on such extreme examples. Instead, I’ll mention a person in my acquaintance who was not kind with their tongue. I’ll also use a bit of C.S. Lewis’s excellent comments about the same fault from Book IV, Chapter 10 of Mere Christianity.

One person I’m thinking of qualified as a sourpuss. (I say “qualified” because she has passed on to her heavenly reward.) In our common ministry in the church, nothing was ever right. Nothing was ever good enough. She had to step in and readjust things, or redo arrangements, or rewrite the report. Moreover, her opinions of her fellow church members were often not charitable or kind. People didn’t exactly tiptoe around her. But sometimes, they did modify comments made in her hearing or just not ask her about things. Yet, she was accounted as a Christian, and a lifelong church member.

In Mere Christianity’s example of a nice, good-tempered atheist and a mean, nasty-mouthed Christian, C.S. Lewis asks the excellent question of what the mean Christian’s tongue would be like if she were not a Christian, and what the nice atheist’s tongue might be like if he were to become one.

Both the atheist and the Christian, “as a result of natural causes and early upbringing, have certain temperaments: Christianity professes to put both temperaments under new management if they will allow it to do so. . . . You cannot expect God to look at [the atheist’s] placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do. Being merely temperamental, they will all disappear if [the atheist’s] digestion alters. . . . In the same way, God has allowed natural causes, working in a world spoiled by centuries of sin, to produce in [the Christian] the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for most of her nastiness.”

My goodness. I have not read that particular passage for a number of years. Yet, it came back to me because of my prayer and meditation time this morning. I was not even concentrating on that specific topic today, yet God had this passage from Mere Christianity wash up on the shores of my mind. It all fits together. Really.

I needed to have my elbow jogged. God wanted to remind me about my attitude, and treating all people kindly. It doesn’t matter whether they are mean-spirited or nasty or unkind. I am to treat them in a kind and tenderhearted manner. And if I step back and wonder, “Do they really deserve kind treatment? After all, look what they’ve done/said/acted like!” all I need to do is to reflect on, “What would Jesus do?” How would He treat that horrible person? What would He say to the person who did that nasty action, or said that mean comment?

All I need to do is look in the mirror, and look at myself. God wants me to be kind to unkind people—they need it the most. (Unkind like me. Sometimes.)

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

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

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 27, 2015

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.

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 pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. 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, 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 daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com