Be Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor (#BestOf)

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

I just got back from the gym at the YMCA. Yes, I still try to go to the gym diligently. Reading this blog post from February 2014 again, I am reminded that being kind is such a helpful, useful thing. And often, it’s simple to be kind. Just to be thoughtful, too, helps ease the social interaction between strangers and acquaintances. As I look at society today, we need kindness more than ever. Please, consider being kind.

BK one kind word b-w

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Be Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor

This morning, I went to the gym at the YMCA. I had a good workout! So, I needed a shower afterwards, in the locker room. (I was going to work later in the morning.) The shower area is bright and shiny, with a number of shower spots. Sometimes there are just one or two people in there, but other times it’s like Grand Central Station—wall to wall ladies! They often chat while they wait for showers, when it’s so crowded.

I took a quick shower, and there were only two other women in the shower area. By the time I finished up—maybe two and a half, three minutes—the number doubled. A swimmer was turning on the last shower when I said I had just finished. Her eyes brightened. That last shower head was really rotten, she said. She thanked me sincerely! She and I exchanged smiles and several comments as I grabbed my towel. She mentioned again—with a smile—how kind I was to let her have a good shower spot.

Being kind? That’s what I am trying to do every day, with intention. Except, this time, my kind act just happened. I offered my shower spot to another person, just as a matter of course.

I thought about what this swimmer said. I know she said it in a half-kidding manner. But I could see she was half-serious, at the same time. Her comment kept coming to my mind. I was kind to my neighbor, to someone else in the locker room. I’ve mentioned a small book of short selections before, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mister Rogers:

“The more I think about it, the more I wonder if God and neighbor are somehow One. ‘Loving God, Loving neighbor’—the same thing?”

Mister Rogers raises a deeper question. Additional, going further. Somehow more fundamental. What a loving and caring way to go through life. Yes, intellectually, I know I am supposed to love God. As the greatest commandment of Jesus states, Love God, and the second is like it—love neighbor. (I think Mr. Rogers was referring to this twin set of commands of Jesus in the quote above.)  And as Mr. Rogers wonders, aren’t the two commands two sides of the same coin? Yes, loving God is the greatest command. Certainly, there is nothing greater. But Jesus gives “loving neighbor” almost equal billing! (Take a look at Mark 12:28-34 if you want to get a direct take on Jesus and His words.)

What a tall order! Living like this, treating each individual in this way? God, I’m not sure I can live up to all this. That may be just the point. I can’t. God can. Ask God for help. Then, go forward with my hand in God’s, living life the way God means me to. And God can help you, too! Just ask.

@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!)

 

 

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Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, I got a real sense of taking care of home and hearth. Not something that I am particularly skilled at, I am afraid. Sure, I can clean, and I even enjoy it. (To an extent.) However, cleaning is not one of my spiritual gifts. (Sorry about that.) I am so focused on my work right now, outside of our apartment This blog post reminds me that I ought to strive to do these things that are a stretch for me. Regularly. Dear Lord, help me to keep trying, both in and outside of my home.

 kitchen scene -Flickr

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 6, 2014

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, so I took the opportunity to be a homebody. Just stayed at home, did work on the computer, and caught up on some business (not urgent, but it still needed to get done eventually). I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, but it also needs to be done. I cleaned and straightened a number of things, including the counters, microwave oven, table, and especially the stove and sink. (I must be rigorously honest, though. Yes, I still need to wash the floor. It’s in the back of my mind. Nagging. Pestering me. But that’s for another day.)

Some members of my extended family are natural cleaners. Since our family grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, among some Polish immigrants, and since our family has Polish stock in our ancestry, several of my family joke that certain members inherited the Polish cleaning genes. I remember some of the middle-aged and older Polish ladies in the neighborhood, while I was growing up. Their houses would be immaculate. I remember one older lady—I think she was the older aunt or grandmother of the people who owned the house. I’d walk by their garage, a few doors down the alley, and she would be on her hands and knees washing the garage floor. Seriously. No joke cleaning. Well, some of my relatives are almost that thorough.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that my kitchen is a clean and pleasant place to cook and to eat food? And, to sit and read at the kitchen table? I must admit, things do tend to pile up around my house. Mail. Papers. Books. (It is not a large space to begin with.) This is one area that I know I need to work on. God, I get the message. I feel the nudge. Or, nudges, depending on the week. Sometimes I have legitimate reasons why I can’t get to the housework. Work is important, and I have worked some overtime recently. (My husband was pleased about that—so was I.) But sometimes . . . sometimes, I only do the minimum required.

That’s like my internal housekeeping, too. Sometimes, I only do the minimum to keep things spiritually tidy, to get thoughts and ideas internally organized, to get my brain oriented towards things that are useful, or helpful, or worthwhile. Not that I waste a lot of time (since we don’t have cable television or any of the computer-assisted television packages), but I am pleased to say I do not watch hours of reality television. And—I do not miss it! But enough with bashing current trendy culture.

God, I do want to follow You. Be of service. Act in ways that are kind and helpful. Please, help me as I work on cleaning more regularly, each day. Wow, what a way for me 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 Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, February 23, 2015

This is a sweet, poignant blog post featuring one of my favorite people, now dead several years. Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame. I can always use this lesson, Fred, and always need to consider your words on caring and attachment, as well as managing my angry feelings.

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

Posted on February 28, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

heart - on a branch

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

“It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment.”

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@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!)

 

Being Kind with Singing Valentines (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, February 15, 2016

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from two years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a couple of years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@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!)

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, February 28, 2015

Talk about “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” To my mind, no one exemplifies this principle more than my friend John. John Mroczka has recently retired from his many years of work at the YMCA, yet he is still going strong. Still doing lots of things for others. God bless you, John! What a wonderful blessing you are (and have been), in so many people’s lives!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 28, 2014

 

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) - credit Getty Museum

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) credit Getty Museum

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

I love the town where I live! Such an eclectic group of people. Such a diverse bunch of individuals. A little bit of everything—snooty, artsy, down-and-out, parents, families, empty-nesters, students, immigrants, salt of the earth. Just about all kinds are represented here.

Some of these various kinds of people cross paths at the large YMCA near downtown. Yes, many people are active members of the Y and use the pool, gym, weight room, activity classes, and its other services on a regular basis. However, about one hundred and twenty men (give or take—the number varies) live in the attached single-room residence. I love that the YMCA also serves as a place where guys can get a leg up, and have a safe, warm place to live at a reasonable monthly price. However, some of these men are living on the edge of not-quite-enough. Some are on government assistance because of health reasons. Some have lost their jobs and are on the downhill slide into extreme poverty. Some have other issues.

Whatever the individual difficulty, by and large, the lives of many men who live in the residence at the YMCA are not cushy, posh and comfortable. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s where John’s Cupboard fits in. John’s Cupboard is a service of the YMCA specifically to benefit the men who live in the residence. With all the government belt-tightening, corporate cost-cutting, and lessening of social services, many of the guys in this building have real, material needs. The Cupboard provides canned chicken and tuna, Ramen noodles, canned soup and crackers. Those are its staples. Plus, additional food is provided through donations. Another important part of the Cupboard are the toiletries provided by the Y, ordered from American Hotel. These are handy since they come in small, individual-sized packages. Soap, shampoo, disposable razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes. All greatly appreciated.

Enter John Mroczka—men’s residence director at the Y. (Also the John of “John’s Cupboard.”) John has done a great number of jobs at the facility over the years, and will retire this summer with twenty-nine years of service at the Y. But how did John start the Cupboard? At first, it was some spare cans of food kept on a shelf in his office. The Cupboard has since enlarged in both number of items offered and in size. John hopes to enlarge what the Cupboard provides to new socks, too. Socks are always appreciated!

For years, John has given a Christmas present of two pairs of socks and a coffee mug to each and every resident at the YMCA. He adds, “A few other employees and I solicit Y board members for additional things, gift cards for the residents.” John has the gifts of helps, discernment and service in abundance. He certainly shows it, too!

His kindness and compassion—tempered with a savvy eye and sharp nose for scams—make him uniquely qualified to do exactly what he’s been doing for years. Which is serving others, for the benefit of these men and their families, as well as for the glory of God as he understands God. Thanks for all you do, John! May God’s richest blessings rest on you, too.

@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!)

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I love Mister Rogers. I really do. Re-reading this post brought me right back to his nurturing, friendly assistance in the business of being a parent. Yes, caring and attachment to those close to me can be so difficult! Such a chore, sometimes! Yet, I can always come back to my Heavenly Parent and ask for forgiveness, come to complain, or ask for a hug. Thanks, God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 27, 2014

baby and butterfly

Do I Show Love, or Show Anger? Good Question.

“Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!” Really, being the mother of two teenagers can have its challenges. It is so easy for me to become irritated, even exasperated with my teens. I guess God has given me an opportunity to be kind and to show love right here in my own home.

I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a beginner, a rank amateur at this business of being a parent. I know I’ve mentioned this little book a couple of weeks ago—The World According to Mister Rogers, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mr. Rogers:

It’s the people we love the most who can make us feel the gladdest . . . and the maddest! Love and anger are such a puzzle! It’s hard for us, as adults, to understand and manage our angry feelings toward parents, spouses, and children, or to keep their anger toward us in perspective. It’s a different kind of anger from the kind we may feel toward strangers because it is so deeply intertwined with caring and attachment. “

Oh, Mister Rogers, how right you are! I end up getting angry or irritated or upset with my family and with my spouse so much more than I might at complete strangers. I act in an informal, natural way with my family and close friends. Strangers or people I don’t know very well get served my ‘company manners.’ (Usually, that is.) And as Fred Rogers mentioned, anger expressed in close relationships is different. More complicated. More deeply intertwined with caring, attachment, and deep emotion. I’m not particularly attached to my mail carrier—although I’m sure she’s a really nice lady. But my son or daughter still living at home? My older daughters on their own? My dear husband? Even my siblings—although we haven’t been in the same house for a couple of decades. All of us are bound together with caring, attachment, and deep emotion.

I fly off the handle—sometimes. I bite my tongue—less often than I should. God, I need more patience! But I am not wild with the way the Bible says You will grant me more of that valuable commodity. And this—in the middle of this is where God has placed me. God, I get the message. You want me to show love not only to strangers and casual acquaintances, but show love towards my family. Close friends. I know I will fall down on the job, but God is right there to help me up again.

I sure am glad that God has seen fit to provide such awesome help to me. I readily admit I need it! And God willing, God will be there for us, no matter what.

@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 at a Potluck!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 7, 2014

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@chaplaineliza

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