Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 6, 2015

I wanted especially to repost this blog post. Yes, I still read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. However, this particular post means a great deal to me. Last August, I read a book to the preschool about two immigrant children coming to the United States on a steamship from Europe. Just like my grandfather did, when he was a boy. I count this as a proud part of my heritage. I thank God that my grandfather had so many opportunities in this new country. He always strove to impart the importance of education to his children and grandchildren. He is still remembered with great love. God bless the memory of Joseph Recht!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 7, 2014

statue-of-liberty-27

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind

I chose some books today at the library. Picture books.

I read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. This is my joy as well as my opportunity of being kind. So, I now make a habit of periodically going to the library and choosing some good books to share. Tonight was one of those times. I happened to find a book that I read to my children, some years ago. (They are now ages late teens to thirty.) And—I simply had to take this book out again, to share with the preschoolers.

The book is called “Watch the Stars Come Out” by Riki Levinson, illustrated by Diane Goode. It features a girl and her brother coming from Europe on a steamship, to America. The date, I believe, is the late 1800’s. The touching story, paired with the poignant illustrations, shows some of the trials as well as the excitement of the immigrant journey. And then, they are greeted by and reunited with family once they arrive in New York City.

I love when the two children finally see the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steamship. Such a beacon of hope and welcome to so many, over the years. Just as everyone in that book was so grateful to see Lady Liberty, so was my grandfather. I know, because he told me so, more than thirty years ago.

My grandfather was the oldest child in his family. They came here from Europe, too. From the far eastern part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, at that time. Just after 1900. The small town—village or shtetl, really—is now in eastern Poland. After the map of Europe has gone through some major revision.

I specifically asked him about coming over on the steamship. He was in his late eighties, and his glance got really wistful. Far away, and long ago. Yes, he could remember seeing the Statue of Liberty as they approached Manhattan. (They stopped at Ellis Island, first.) He told me everyone on the ship pressed up against the rail, or as close as they could get. And looked at Lady Liberty.

I think it’s wonderful, how children’s books feature such important things as going on a long journey, traveling to a brand-new place, discovering a whole new world. This book is a great representation of all those things, and a marvelous beginning for talking about people of different cultures, who speak different languages, eat different foods, and sometimes wear different clothes. Yet, they are all welcomed here to America. Under Lady Liberty’s lamp.

What a wonderful thing it is to let the preschoolers know about the opportunity and freedom so many people have today, in this new country. Where they can worship God as they please, too. I am so glad I can share this important story with the children.

@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!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

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Saying “Hello,” Being Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another year older, another year flown by. I think about my children, and remember. I think about the little ones in preschool, and get nostalgic. Another school year comes to a close. The promise of summer vacation lies ahead. Have fun, little ones! Be happy, my children, now not so little.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 29, 2014

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind!

Suffer the Children - von Uhde, 1884

Suffer the Children – von Uhde, 1884

I love small children. I loved it when my children were small, and I could take them to the park, the beach, the playground. We would have such adventures! The smallest things captured their interest, and became the topics of deep discussion. Like a busy little ant nest next to the sidewalk. I remember one of my preschool-age daughters squatting down and examining it so closely, and for so long! We talked about that ant nest for some time afterwards.

Another time, I remember two of my children (I think one in kindergarten, the other in preschool) as they laughed and splashed in the outside shower, at the beach house near our condo. Simple pleasures. They spent a good long time having fun in the open air shower! I was relaxed and unhurried, and I enjoyed watching them having a great time.

Now my children are grown. (And almost grown—with my youngest at seventeen.) New ages, new adventures, new challenges.

But I still enjoy small children. I have the opportunity to see preschool aged children almost every day. At my work, the building houses a preschool that provides daycare, preschool and kindergarten for several dozen children each day. So, I get to see the children in the halls. In the bathroom. Outside in the playground. All around the church.

“Pastor Elizabeth! There’s Pastor Elizabeth!” And sometimes one or two of the braver ones ask me, “What do you do here?” and “Where do you stay when you’re here?” I laugh and tell them I am working here at church. “But this is our school!” I nod and say, “Yes, and my office is right around the corner, too!” I get happy “hellos!” and random hugs around the knees. And I say “hello!” right back!

I’m reminded of what Jesus said to His disciples and other followers in the Gospel of Matthew—He said that the little children had an open invitation to come to Him! There were some adults who wanted to keep them (and their mothers) away from Jesus—such an important Rabbi couldn’t be bothered with children, after all!

Jesus corrected the adults’ fallacy, and went ahead and welcomed small children. Then—Jesus laid hands on the children and blessed them. How awesome is that?

I want to follow Jesus’ example, whenever I can. Imagine, welcoming children, being friends with them, and encouraging and caring for them. And—their responses are so honest, loving and genuine! God willing, I’ll be able to continue to say “Hello!” for a long time. What a chance to be kind, loving, and caring. Thanks, God, for this awesome opportunity!

@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!)

Kindness through Imagination

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 2, 2014

favorite children's books

favorite children’s books

Kindness through Imagination

Have I mentioned that I love to read out loud? I am so happy that I am able to read out loud to the preschoolers and kindergarteners who attend Kids Academy at my church. This is a separate preschool, but housed in the same building.

I enjoy the children being excited about my reading to them. The teachers tell me they regularly, eagerly ask when I am coming to read to them. Every Tuesday, at 11:00, is the answer. Even though I had a cold today, I still came and read to the girls and boys. (I just made sure I stayed a good distance away. I don’t want anyone to catch what I have!)

I read two books today that involved imagination. The first book had a girl who imagined all of the stuffed animals and toy creatures in her bedroom came to life. (All this imagining kept her from cleaning her room!) We enjoyed seeing her have fun with each creature, in turn.

The second book was more involved. (The girls and boys got very much invested in the story!) This story had a more timid boy who wanted to go to the playground, but a pushy boy kept scaring him away. The timid boy would go home, where he and his father talked about the different situations and what he might do. The timid boy and the pushy boy finally made friends and started playing together in the playground. Imagination was a big part of this book too!

I’ve always had a marvelous imagination. I love to encourage this in people, any chance I get. (Especially in children!) This ability is such a gift, and such an opportunity. Almost like a muscle, imagination almost always just needs to be used to get stronger, quicker, and easier to use.

I’m happy to oblige! I am so glad that the children are so excited about reading. God bless these girls and boys, and help them develop their imaginations further. And especially, help all of these children to develop a lifelong love of reading.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being Helpful on the First Day of School

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to school, circa 1950

Back to school, circa 1950

Being Helpful on the First Day of School

I love the start of a new school year! The children, expectant, excited, beginning their new classes. Since I am the mother of four (growing and grown) children, I remember it well. New backpacks, new pens and pencils, new notebooks. New school clothes and new shoes. (The less said about the occasional school physical before the beginning of school, and the inoculations and booster shots, the better. Although, none of my children were deathly afraid of shots, thank goodness!)

The preschool and kindergarten at the church where I work started their school year today, too. The students who were in preschool? They moved to kindergarten! Exciting! And the children in the three year old classroom? Moved to the four year old classroom! More excitement!

Since today is Tuesday, today was my day to read to the four and five year olds. And, when I went to the library several days ago, I chose picture books about the first day of school. Talking about getting ready for a new school. Fears about a new school. The adventures of the first day. How excited and nervous and pleased children are about the first day, and how everything turns out well. I really think the children enjoyed hearing these books, as much as I enjoyed reading them.

This is my way of being helpful, being of service to the preschool at my church. I love children. I love to read (and am good at it, too!). And, the children enjoy it when I bring them special books, and we share them together. Since my youngest child is now seventeen, it’s been a while since I’ve read picture books to an appreciative class of children. I do enjoy it, very much! And I love the relationship I’ve built up with the children over the past months. They call to me, say hello in the hallway, when they’re standing in a line outside of their classroom, or while they are playing outside in the playground. That’s a wonderful thing, in and of itself.

We’re starting a new season at the church, too. New midweek bible study starting tomorrow! New Sunday School year beginning this Sunday. Our summer sermon series on prayer is over, and it’s back to the lectionary readings and sermons for fall. Plus, we have a new intercessory prayer ministry ready to start this Sunday, too! It isn’t quite the same as getting a new backpack filled with new notebooks, pens, erasers, scissors and markers. But it is all new stuff. (Or, mostly new stuff.)

Yes, I’m getting ready for a new fall program. I have fears. I’m excited, nervous and pleased about the prospect of a new season. And, I hope everything turns out well here at church, too. God willing, it will!

@chaplaineliza

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

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 7, 2014

statue-of-liberty-27

Being Thoughtful, Choosing Books, Being Kind

I chose some books today at the library. Picture books.

I read to the preschool at my work on Tuesday mornings. This is my joy as well as my opportunity of being kind. So, I now make a habit of periodically going to the library and choosing some good books to share. Tonight was one of those times. I happened to find a book that I read to my children, some years ago. (They are now ages late teens to thirty.) And—I simply had to take this book out again, to share with the preschoolers.

The book is called “Watch the Stars Come Out” by Riki Levinson, illustrated by Diane Goode. It features a girl and her brother coming from Europe on a steamship, to America. The date, I believe, is the late 1800’s. The touching story, paired with the poignant illustrations, shows some of the trials as well as the excitement of the immigrant journey. And then, they are greeted by and reunited with family once they arrive in New York City.

I love when the two children finally see the Statue of Liberty from the deck of the steamship. Such a beacon of hope and welcome to so many, over the years. Just as everyone in that book was so grateful to see Lady Liberty, so was my grandfather. I know, because he told me so, more than thirty years ago.

My grandfather was the oldest child in his family. They came here from Europe, too. From the far eastern part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, at that time. Just after 1900. The small town—village or shtetl, really—is now in eastern Poland. After the map of Europe has gone through some major revision.

I specifically asked him about coming over on the steamship. He was in his late eighties, and his glance got really wistful. Far away, and long ago. Yes, he could remember seeing the Statue of Liberty as they approached Manhattan. (They stopped at Ellis Island, first.) He told me everyone on the ship pressed up against the rail, or as close as they could get. And looked at Lady Liberty.

I think it’s wonderful, how children’s books feature such important things as going on a long journey, traveling to a brand-new place, discovering a whole new world. This book is a great representation of all those things, and a marvelous beginning for talking about people of different cultures, who speak different languages, eat different foods, and sometimes wear different clothes. Yet, they are all welcomed here to America. Under Lady Liberty’s lamp.

What a wonderful thing it is to let the preschoolers know about the opportunity and freedom so many people have today, in this new country. Where they can worship God as they please, too. I am so glad I can share this important story with the children.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com:

In Which I Helped Water Plants

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 5, 2014

don't be afraid to sparkle

In Which I Helped Water Plants

Ever have a day when you were busy all day? A lot of little things? But at the end, couldn’t really point to any one big thing and say, in large part, that’s what I did today.

Oh, I can think of specific, minor things that happened. Discrete items I could tick off one by one. I organized some material for the worship service on Sunday. I answered some email and did other work on the computer. I read to the four and five year olds in the preschool. I talked with the trustee at church about several matters, including an upcoming meeting. And, I asked the trustee about some plants, since the four year olds’ teacher asked.

As the trustee and I walked out of the building, we came upon the four year old class. The teacher was there, too. I told her that Bob the trustee was the man with the answers for her. “I think he’s just the person to ask,” and matters were resolved in less than a minute. The preschool teacher was really happy! Her students will get a chance to see things grow, and I was glad that I could so easily get two people together who would be able to benefit and help each other.

The trustee and I also saw the four year olds with a large watering can. “I can get the key for the water. You can use the hose to water the plants by the sidewalk,” Bob offered. Sure enough, the hose was coiled up, right by the spigot on the outside of the building. Nice, white pebbles lined the walkway to the front door, and more than a dozen plantings of greenery were on either side of the walkway. The children got so excited when they saw the water bubble up. Come out of the hose, and water the thirsty plants.

I stayed outside and helped to keep watch over the large group of children, while the teacher gave two or three children special attention. Yes, I had fun! And, the children and I talked about quite a number of subjects while I was overseeing the watering and having the children take turns with the hose. (I even encouraged the children to do their best to keep their shoes dry!) And, I talked about the water nourishing the plants, among other important matters. At least—it was important to the children!

I haven’t prayed about this month’s verse yet. (I try to, each month.) I know this verse well—the wonderful call from the prophet Micah to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” This impromptu session outside was a definite learning experience. And, use of the hose showed the children how much the plants needed that water. Perhaps not today, but soon the plants will be greener than green. Nurtured. Growing.

God, help me learn other ways in which You will be pleased to see this verse from Micah 6 get put into practice. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Providing for Children—Here, and at the Dump (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 20, 2014

smile-the same language

Providing for Children—Here, and at the Dump (Feature Friday!)

Difficult. Heart-wrenching. Makes me want to cry, or shout, or get downright angry.

I’m talking about watching videos of children at the dump near Trujillo, Peru. These children are parts of families of the poorest of the poor. There are many, many people of reduced circumstances in Central and South America, but these good folks who live at or near the dump are even more poor than most. And, the vast majority of children in these disadvantaged families are born into an impossible situation. Extreme poverty. Little hope. Lack of any kind of opportunity.

Until IncaLink came to give a helping hand. Lessen the devastating effect of extreme poverty.

Rich Brown, one of the founders of IncaLink, gave some background for a worthwhile ministry to the children in the dump. This good work was conceived, instituted and developed wholly by indigenous people in Peru. Pastitos de Fe is what came through their thinking, dreaming, design efforts, and prayer. When representatives of IncaLink spoke with their co-workers at the dump, their co-workers “brought out a whole marketing plan they had already prepared and said, ‘We’ve got to get these children out of the dump.’”

Rich continues, “So we started the plan, and we started to see what God had in store.” First, IncaLink started a daycare center, where over one hundred children are cared for. And soon, they reevaluated. Some of these kids did not even have parents. Or, their parents were in jail, or their families just couldn’t take care of them. The indigenous workers wanted an orphanage, a children’s home where these children could live. So, IncaLink Peru bought the property, raised funds, and assisted in the building of the buildings. Despite considerable obstacles, they persevered. And, now, the children’s home is a reality. Several dozen children are happily enrolled now!

This ministry opportunity came to mind today, especially since the preschool at my work had the end of the year graduation this afternoon. The children worked so hard! The teachers and staff did a wonderful job, and everything that the children did, said, and sang was truly heartfelt and earnest. I saw how blessed the children and families are with this excellent preschool and kindergarten. In the suburbs of Chicago, we are truly blessed with abundance from God. Even those families who don’t have much, here in the Chicago area? Still, I suggest that even the most disadvantaged family here consider themselves blessed by God. Because we are.

The families of the preschoolers and kindergarten of Kids Academy have many basic necessities the children in Trujillo can only dream about. The dreams of both groups of children are very similar, but now the children of the dump have a chance. A leg up. A terrific opportunity. And, abundant blessings from God. Praise God!

(For further information, check out this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDgyWjjULQ0&list=PL67F8C2BC59CCE665 )

@chaplaineliza

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