Living Life, Being of Service (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 1, 2014

circle of hands

Living Life, Being of Service (Feature Friday!)

It’s been a while since I graduated from seminary. More than nine years. I attended a United Methodist seminary here in town. (No, I am not a Methodist. Perhaps I’ll tell you about that, sometime. Not now.) A friend of mine graduated in the same class, and he returned to the section of the country he came from—the Dakotas. Yes, Duane has been serving UMC churches out on the plains ever since graduation.

Duane and I are Facebook friends, now. I’m afraid the Dakotas are a bit far afield for me, at present. (But one can wish—and dream.) From time to time, he puts up some interesting and amusing posts, and shares some wonderful photos. Two days ago, he put up a link to an article on the Dakotas UMC Conference webpage. Intrigued, the headline got me. I followed the link. Sure enough, the story was more than worth it. (And, thanks to the anonymous reporter who wrote up this article for the Conference webpage!)

I quote from the subject of the article, a teenager in a Sioux Falls high school: “James 2: 14-26 challenges us to show our faith by our actions. I share my faith with others by my actions,” Anne Reinhiller said. Anne does exactly that—shows her faith through her loving actions. She works in her local church (where her mom and dad are co-pastors). She serves on the technology team in the congregation, helps out with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and participates in the living nativity in December.

Even though she is young, at seventeen, Anne has not had an easy life. She faced bullies a number of times in her short life. But, faith in God has helped her, through bullies, through moving several times to difficult places, as well as through her loneliness. She continues to serve God as Director of the Nightwatch, which is a cooperative feeding ministry. The Nightwatch works with and feeds the poor of the Sioux Falls area. Anne “coordinated the serving schedules, kept the motorhome supplied with paper products, as well as filled with fuel. Through the ministry of the Canteen, over 7500 meals are served to the needy of Sioux Falls each year.” [to quote the Conference article]

This past June, Anne was honored with the (well-deserved!) Denman Award for Evangelism, at the Dakotas UMC Conference held in Rapid City, South Dakota. Truly, Anne is an example for those who strive to live out their faith in Christ. And, she shows by her presence on the ministry team that God can use people of all ages, in all sorts of ministry.

Whether by face-to-face contact, in feeding ministry, or through social media assisted by personal computers and other electronic devices, Anne strives to help. She tries to reach out to her corner of the world. And, she is indeed making a difference in many lives, even before she’s graduated from high school. Praise God for Anne, and other young people who are like her. Here’s praying for you, Anne!

(For further information, go to: http://www.dakotasumc.org/news/anne-reinhiller-teenager-lives-out-her-faith-in-service/ )

@chaplaineliza

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How to Be Helpful by “Sacred Cow Tipping” (and Other Matters)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, July 19, 2014

God draw near to God clouds Jas 4-8

How to Be Helpful by “Sacred Cow Tipping” (and Other Matters)

In case any of my regular readers isn’t aware, I am at a conference: the 2014 National Assembly of the Federation of Christian Ministries. Wonderful presentations! (Really and truly. That isn’t me just saying that to earn brownie points with the association.)

Even though every presentation has been worthwhile, two sessions this afternoon were especially fantastic! Both sessions were infused by the same off-beat, dead-pan sense of humor. Both featured the same presenter: Rabbi Laura Baum (you might know her either from her online congregation, www.ourjewishcommunity.org, or from her Twitter handle, @Rabbi). I’ll talk about the second first. (If you know what I mean.)

Her second presentation was on the use of social media in building community. Since the conference I’m attending features a large group of Christian ministers in many alternative ministries, I suspect the conference organizers wished to give 21st century communication options and opportunities to the attendees. Rabbi Baum certainly delivered! She gave a genial tour of several types of commonly-used social media, and pointed out handy tips for using this media effectively. Since I am currently working with my church’s office manager to get our church’s Facebook page up and running, this is precisely what I need at this point in time! (Thank you, thank you, Rabbi Laura!) Oh, our Facebook page—in its infancy still—is St. Luke’s Evangelical Covenant Church—in Morton Grove, Illinois, a suburb north and west of Chicago.

Another totally awesome presentation (also featuring Rabbi Laura) was “Sacred Cow Tipping.” As she explained, she had formerly called this type of session “Smashing Idols,” but she found the idea of tipping over ‘sacred cows’ to be more evocative. (And humorous.) This was not your typical large-group session at a conference, where we passively sit and listen. No, each table was asked to interact with each other on a number of questions. Here, the presenter suggested that we in the audience think of something serious—a ‘sacred cow’ each individual might really want to smash—and communicate that to others in the group. This process not only was freeing for me, personally, but I could sense the same freedom and excitement coming from many other attendees in the audience, at tables close to me!

Rabbi Laura spoke at length about the whole concept of destroying a ‘sacred cow.’ Admittedly, a valued-by-many, precious-to-some, tenaciously-held white elephant of an idol. (How about that for a mixed metaphor! Mine, I must admit.) Although, as some gardeners know very well, certain types of bushes and plants need to be drastically pruned and cut back in order for them to remain healthy, and to flower and grow back in a glorious manner. Just so, certain practices or specific institutions in the church need to be prayerfully considered, cut back, or pruned—even cut down to the roots.

I still don’t know quite what I am going to do with this idea of ‘sacred cow tipping.’ But, it resonated deeply within. I’m going to pray about it. Meditate on it. And then, see how God leads! Whatever and wherever it is, it will be exciting! Thanks again, Rabbi Laura.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? Through Social Media!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, July 3, 2014

LOVE loving others, caring for their happiness

Be Kind? Through Social Media!

The wonders of modern technology! What will they think of next? Yes, I do use social media. I would call myself an advanced beginner, in terms of know-how. Plus, I only use a few platforms of social media. (I don’t want things to get too complicated. On top of everything else, I don’t want to dive in too far over my head, either.)

A few weeks ago, I had my first introduction to Skype! I talked with Rich, a missionary in Latin America. He gave me some in-depth information about IncaLink. Regular readers might remember that, since I had several different ministries of IncaLink on consecutive Fridays. As my Feature Friday feature! Not only was IncaLink’s work in several Latin American countries really innovative, but I was so excited that Rich and I could talk so easily. (!!!!) I’m in my fifties, old enough to remember what a challenge it was to communicate with missionaries. Only three decades ago, it was often difficult hearing regularly from missionaries when they were stationed some distance from even a mid-sized town. In places like Peru, Mexico, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, or Lebanon—just for a few examples.

I do have a Tumblr account, and I post from time to time. Two, maybe three times a week. Tumblr is the place I put all kinds of lovely photos, darling animal shots, breathtaking landscapes, and biblical verses with images. Plus, I also add my links to my blog from wordpress.com. (You know what that is—you’re reading one of my wordpress posts right now! *grin* )

Then, of course, I am an old hand at Facebook. I know my way around the FB world pretty well. I am acquainted with several professors, who often have lively back-and-forth on their Facebook pages. I got involved in several in-depth discussions on Facebook today, and I hope I was encouraging. One post, as I remember, was meant to be helpful. (Another one was snarky, too. But that’s me, sometimes, too.)

How simple it is to be encouraging! How easy to be kind and helpful, as well. I don’t have any idea who might read my posts, or my responses to two blogs. But my thoughts and ideas have gone forth, into the wide world. Of course, they might not be that much of a much. (I don’t want to flatter myself too much, now.) But—God may use some words I have written to be exactly the encouragement someone needs, today. Or perhaps, tomorrow. Even my snarky post might be just the admonishment God means for someone to read. Who can tell? Only God knows how far my words might travel.

May the words that flow from my keyboard be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

@chaplaineliza

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Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

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

God what God knows about you

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

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In Which I Meet New Friends!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, June 14, 2014

friends who ask about you and then really listen

In Which I Meet New Friends!

Today was a busy day! Met with friends for breakfast, then over to the library. I went to the Y to exercise, took a gander over to the little shops near the El train, and caught the El to go back home. And that was just until about 12:30 in the afternoon! I kept on going, busy doing—working—writing. And on top of everything, I had a meet-up with more friends, this evening. (!!!)

These people were people I had never met before. (As my children would say, IRL—that is, in real life.) I knew a mutual friend who has since moved to the west coast, who introduced me into this online community. This community had all attended the same Christian college, and we all shared some common interests. A select group, to be sure! I had communicated regularly with many of them over social media, but hadn’t met them in the flesh. Until tonight.

I was excited. Going into the north side of Chicago, to one of the lakefront communities. The street was hopping! Full of night life, and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Me, included! At least, I was fully expecting to have a great time. Through social media, we had all agreed on a meeting place. I mean, a restaurant and bar where we would all rendezvous.

I don’t often hit the bar scene. Now that I’m officially middle-aged, and everything, it just doesn’t have quite the same attraction. (I also noticed all the people working at the restaurant were the age of my children.) But that’s neither here nor there.

As I went into the place, I noticed this joint was jumping. I just naturally put my best foot forward. My best chaplainly attitude, also. This served me well in talking with several staff. I gave my name to wait for a larger table, and went to the door to wait some more. But it didn’t take very long. In no time I had met up with the online community! There were a few moments of hesitancy, and getting to know each other, but we all were talking together comfortably. Soon, regular rounds of laughter and general hilarity overtook our table. Amazing what can happen with the assistance and aid of social media!

In no time at all, I had acquired several new friends. Yay, me!

So, how was I kind today? Through my genial, friendly smile, of course! And my open and welcoming attitude. This is so natural for me, as I think of being a chaplain. Wow, I am going to need to get used to thinking of myself as a pastor, too. My smile and attitude is a good pastorly thing to have, too!

@chaplaineliza

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Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 30, 2014

BK wherever there is a human

Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

It’s hard to believe that the month of May is ending. And, another Feature Friday is at hand!

A good friend of mine—Alison—and I InstantMessaged each other several weeks ago. She had some good things to say about one of the Year of Being Kind posts, and I thanked her. She and her husband Ivan had been missionaries to Peru for some years, and now they are back in the Chicago area. While in conversation, I asked whether she knew of any ministries outside of the United States that really touched her heart. Her response? “Really good friend of ours, Rich and Elisa Brown founded IncaLink, which is in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.” Alison gave me their email, and I contacted them. Now, we’re connected! And once I found out about their work, I was really touched and impressed, too!

This multi-faceted ministry called IncaLink is not only a caring, helping hand offered to many of the poorest of the poor, it’s also a ministry for the 21st century. Using the tools of social media, Rich Brown (one of the founders) and others who work with him get the important, sharing, caring message of IncaLink out through YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter. IncaLink’s work also pulls at heartstrings, because much of their ministry involves bettering the lives of women, children, and families.

Rich sent me all kinds of information to start with. More than a dozen avenues of ministry, in three different countries. But I’d like to zero in on one particular ministry, one of the first places where IncaLink concentrated their efforts: a dump some distance north of Lima, in the outskirts of Trujillo, Peru. Some of the poorest of the poor live on the premises of the dump. They eat, sleep and work at the dump, and this place encompasses their whole lives.

Truly heartrending, the idea of people living, working and dying at the dump brought the three founding members of IncaLink to action in 2006. IncaLink has grown and diversified since, but the ministry at the dump remains a foundation for their work. They not only share the love of God with these loving people at the dump—God’s children, no matter where they may be found—but one of their specific ministries is to the children and youth at the dump. They provide a way out, getting the children out of the dump and into school and into jobs and workplaces to better the lives of them and their families. But perhaps most important? IncaLink offers them and their families the good news of the love of God.

Not only do full-time missionaries work with the good people in the dump (and in the other areas IncaLink serves), but they also have short-term teams and individuals who work in special projects and specific areas. What a wonderful way to get immersed in a culture and a worldview that can change your life. Literally.

For further information, check out this video about the dump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3O-jh81kDI&list=PL67F8C2BC59CCE665  (And, want to contact IncaLink? www.incalink.org )

@chaplaineliza

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Of Social Media and of Service. Of Kindness, Too!

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

laptop kitten

Of Social Media and of Service. Of Kindness, Too!

Who here is a maven of social media? Knows social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus—inside and out? Um. Ahem. Definitely NOT me.

Oh, yeah. Sure, after some repeated trials, I can put up some basic posts on Facebook and on Twitter. And of course, this blog you’re reading right now, on wordpress.com. And I do have a Tumblr account.

I remember when I set up the Tumblr account last fall—giggle! It was quite humorous to see my college-age daughter react as she sat across the living room from me. (She is often on Tumblr, Facebook, and Skype, scanning different sites and blogs and .gifs and other kinds of social media. She has dozens of contacts and friends not only all across the United States, but all around the world. She is a maven of social media if there ever was one.)

Well, she glanced up at me, at the computer table. Her eyes practically popped out of her head when she saw a Tumblr image on my screen. She even made some kind of puzzled, questioning noise! No words, for a change, from my literate, English-major-type daughter. I remember grinning at her. “Can’t I be on Tumblr, too?” She deadpanned right back, “No, you can’t, ever. Never, ever.”

I spent some time on Twitter today, more time than usual. I try to check in with my various accounts, most days. But today, I spent a bit more time, like I said. I happened to retweet several interesting, thought-provoking tweets. And, I followed a few links. Wouldn’t you know that I followed one link from the Director of a mission in London, England, read the post, and was so moved by something he said in the blog that I condensed it and sent it out as a tweet?

Here it is: Seen on the blogosphere, from @Windy_London: “We need to be “both and” Christians who obey the 2 GCs.” I so agree, Graham! Both/and! Amen.

My new Twitter friend Graham said, “We need to be ‘both and’ Christians.” In the post, Graham was talking about some fair-weather Christians who only carry out the part of the Great Commission were they ‘go and tell.’ Well, who wants that? It’s like people (parents, anyone?) who say to their teenagers “Do as I say, not as I do!” These fair-weather Christians only talk the talk. But that’s not what Graham wants believers in Christ to do! We need to be Both/And. (Both/And is one of my favorite phrases! Really and truly!)

So, cut to the chase. Graham “favorited” my tweet, retweeted it (RT), and “followed” me. Yay, I have a new Twitter friend! And I tried to be of service to Graham—and Paul, and Tom, and Fran, and Joan, and Kevin. And I tried to be kind to others, on social media today.

@chaplaineliza

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