Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 16, 2014

Holy Spirit, descending dove

Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

Spiritual gifts. All believers in God are supposed to have at least one. I have several. At least, several have been identified in me, by spiritual elders and people of faith I respect a great deal. Spiritual gifts shown in my actions, speech, and thought-life, anyway.

I know I’ve mentioned before how I have the gifts of encouragement and helping. Upon reflection at the end of the day, I realized I used encouragement several times during the day. Without even giving it a second thought. I gave compliments to several people. Sincere compliments, not just slathering it on. I really try my hardest to be real, sincere, and genuine, as much as possible. And, I appreciate it when people are the same way with me.

The small children who attend the preschool at my church are so refreshing. They could not be dishonest or disingenuous for the world. Small children have such sincerity and honesty, and say exactly what they think and mean. As I read to them this past Tuesday, I spoke in an encouraging manner. I read two books with superb illustrations to them, and several of the children got quite involved in the stories. They started to interact with me as I read, and I dealt with each comment (actually, interruption) in a kind, encouraging way. I didn’t want to halt the reading, since there were a group of children listening to the stories. But that didn’t stop me from being kind and sincere—briefly.

Sadly, with adults, it doesn’t work quite the same way. A few others may be insincere or wear false faces around me. They may even try to pull the wool over my eyes. True, I try to think the best of most people; that is one of my blind spots. Just because I strive to be rigorously honest doesn’t mean that everyone else acts (or thinks) in the same way. But, I still attempt to act as if that were the case. Just so, I often try to treat others as if they are acting and speaking (and thinking) in good faith. Sometimes I get burned. But, usually not. That won’t stop me from acting in this way, and treating others as if they all behave in a similar, genuine manner.

So, yeah. I gave several individuals sincere, honest compliments today. I know that I did the helpful, loving thing. Another day being kind, in A Year of Being Kind. I know that God was pleased, too.


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Of Service? To a Community Member!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HELPING one hand to help Audrey Hepburn

Of Service? To a Community Member!

I like helping people out. I really do. I guess some church people might call that the spiritual gift of helps. (See commentaries on spiritual gifts, and 1 Corinthians 12 for more information.) Yup. I enjoy giving people a hand, when I can. Being of service helps me in so many ways. Including in thinking of other people, and not concentrating so much on me, myself and I. (In other words, focusing on my three favorite people! Or. One favorite person . . . <grin>)

Yesterday, a woman from the neighborhood around the church telephoned the office. She was able to speak to the church office manager, who in turn gave me the message. Sure enough, the anxious woman is looking for someone to care for her elderly relative, who will be getting out of rehab early next week.

What an opportunity to come alongside of this anxious woman, to let her know I was going to search out more people who might have a lead on private duty caregivers or certified nursing assistance. What do you know? I was able to talk with a friend of mine yesterday evening, a woman who works in home health care, and she said she would be happy to talk to this loving family member. Give what information and handy, helpful hints there might be.

Accordingly, I made a follow-up call this afternoon. I was sorry to say that I couldn’t find a caregiver or a CAN who wanted the job. No dice. However—all was not black. The woman quite willingly accepted my offer of the phone number, as well as the name of the website where my friend is listed.

There are a hundred and one other ways to be of service and helpful, even for someone I know on such a superficial basis. Anywhere from giving clear directions, answering a question, offering assistance (such as, in bringing groceries into the house or in taking out the garbage), or doing an errand. I am so glad I was able to call this woman back in a timely fashion. And help her out by giving a suggestion for further help.

So . . . spiritual gift of helps? Can you give a non-religious way of describing it? I’m sorry if all I can come up with is that I enjoy helping people. But, it’s true! I even provide service with a smile, too. (I smile a lot. And sometimes, I can only smile. But isn’t that giving people something, too? Giving people the gift of my friendly smile. Thank God that God gifted me abundantly with a lovely smile. The gift that keeps giving.


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Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 23, 2014

kitten and little girl

Back to the Office—and Still Being Kind

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, what about all play and no work? What will that do to Jill? What kind of a girl will she become? It’s not that I did no work over the weekend. Certainly not! But I was in a very different setting. In two different settings, actually. (For those who missed my comings and goings, I was at one conference in Cleveland from Friday afternoon until Sunday midday. And then, I made a hop, skip and a jump to another conference in western Pennsylvania from Sunday mid-afternoon until after lunch on Tuesday.)

I’ve blogged about my conference-going for the past few days. Some marvelous insights! Some innovative ideas! Lots to think about, and lots to process over the next couple of weeks.

So—I was back in the office today. Answering a ton of email, responding to social media, doing a good deal of computer file maintenance and other types of office work and correspondence. Oh, I read to the preschoolers and kindergarteners at the preschool. Had several meetings with people over the telephone. Pretty much just stayed put, at the church.

And yet, I realized today that in just about every interaction, I purposed to be kind. Amazing how much six months of a kindness-orientation or service-practice can cause me to change my mindset. Well, that’s not quite right. I have shown the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement for decades. That’s nothing new. But—this purposeful kindness- or helps-orientation every single day? That is new for me.

I haven’t spoken of the verse I chose for the month of July much. This is not a deliberate error on my end, because so much has been going on! But before July slips away, let’s take another look at James 1:22; “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” To my way of thinking, using my spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement is doing the Word. Being active, not passive.

Towards the end of the day, I did something else that was active. Doing the Word, not just sitting there, vegetating like a spiritual couch-potato. I wrote out two cards and sent them to two separate people. One was a birthday card. A happy occasion! The other was a sympathy card—a friend’s mother recently died after some years in a nursing home. A sad occasion.

Yes, I spent most of the day sitting in my office, doing necessary work. But, I can still be kind. Still be of service and help to someone else. And, I do pray for each family who will be receiving a card. God be with them and bless them as God knows they need a touch from above. Thank You, God!


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Being Kind and Friendly, with Lunch!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, July 12, 2014

friendship God's way of loving through someone

Being Kind and Friendly, with Lunch!

I love brats. Especially grilled brats. What a wonderful idea, to have excellent brats at a church lunch fundraiser!

My husband, one of my daughters and I visited a church where I used to attend, St. Peter’s UCC, in a nearby suburb. They had a luncheon fundraiser in conjunction with an arts festival across the street in the downtown area. Even though it was drizzle-y outside, the food was wonderful. And, it was good to see some friends again—friends I hadn’t seen for some months!

I do wish I had had the opportunity to see more of the congregation, but it was a busy Saturday today. I expect different people came to the church when they had the opportunity, all during the afternoon.

This luncheon was certainly a fine way to be kind. To be of service. That’s the marvelous thing about many churches—they often take opportunities to serve others. To be loving, caring and giving. St. Peter’s Church has several events during the year where they open up the fellowship hall. This brat fry is just one of them during the year, and hospitality is a big part of the mission and outreach of St. Peter’s.

The church where I work, St. Luke’s, is in a neighboring suburb. St. Luke’s Church has a similar make-up, and a similar orientation. They, too, are hospitable! St. Luke’s is a gracious host to a Korean congregation (Love Sharing Disciple Church) as well as a full-day preschool program, Kids Academy. Such a wonderful opportunity for the St. Luke’s congregation, council and trustees to be kind and to be of service!

I am reminded of the verse I had chosen for the month of July: James 1:22, “But be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” Having the spiritual gifts of hospitality, helps and encouragement are certainly ways of acting on God’s Word. Being welcoming and kind? Fine chances to be a doer of what God commands in the Bible.

I have seen a number of the members of St. Luke’s congregation go out of their way to be kind, to be caring. I am so glad that I can be at this church at just such a time as this. So many God-incidences, so much confluence of many spiritual streams! Between my spiritual gifts, my professional skill set, my preferences and orientation in ministry, I am leaning more and more towards my good friend’s opinion: Pastor Gordon wonders whether I was called to exactly this place and this time.

I know being kind, encouraging and caring is something that I have determined to do, every day in 2014. I can try to lead by example, and encourage others to live in such a way. God, please help me as I try to do this. Each and every day. God willing, may it be so!


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Of Sermons and Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 12, 2014

Worship - New Row Presbyterian Church

Worship – New Row Presbyterian Church

Of Sermons and Service

I was of service today. A friend of mine, Chaplain Sarah, asked me to help out. So, I did.

Let me back up, and give a little background. Chaplain Sarah went out of town for several days. A little vacation at holiday time. One of her relatives needed additional assistance, so she took a few extra days off from work to help out. Sarah knew she had Sunday services today to lead, and did not want to unnecessarily be concerned about preaching. She contacted me last weekend. She asked whether I could play the piano as well as prepare a sermon to preach at the two retirement homes where she’s a chaplain. Of course, I said!

That’s one of the things I have found I can do. (on a fairly regular basis!) I can be a pinch-hitter, to use a baseball analogy. I can willingly step up to the plate and go to bat for those who have emergency needs. I’ve noticed that’s one of my gifts—not that it’s listed in the ‘official’ listings of the spiritual gifts, but still.

As last week progressed, I knew I had to prepare a sermon on John 2:1-11, the wedding at Cana. I prayed about it, and had an outline and a general idea of what I wanted to say to the two little congregations. But I had the darnedest time just sitting down. Writing. Or, not writing, as the case may be. One thing came up after another. Friday passed and went. Saturday—anxiety time, except for the fact that the message was straight-forward and solid, and I basically knew what I was going to say. And I still couldn’t write. Correction. I finally could, but it was like pulling teeth.

I did finish the sermon by the time I got to bed last night. I was having so much difficulty that I was starting to think there was something spiritual I was up against. Something not of God, something that did not want me to be at the two services this morning. As I took off my hard contact lenses at the bathroom sink, the second lens popped out of my hand. I’m particularly near-sighted, so I was only able to hear the ‘click’ of the lens as it bounced on the sink—and then, nothing. No second ‘click’ as the lens bounced on the tile floor. Arrgh! Where did it go? In the water? On the rug? Not in the waste basket? I ended up looking for that lens for over an hour. Going over every inch of that bathroom, even to the other side of the room, five or six feet away. No lens.

So, I have lost my contact lens. Lost. No idea where it might have gone. Thankfully, I was able to call my optometrist and leave a message. I wore my glasses, except that the prescription is over twenty years old. I hurried to the services. My husband was kind enough to drive me in the car, since my eyes were adjusting to the foreign glasses. (I really don’t wear them much at all.) And, I played the piano and preached at both services. Chaplain Sarah did everything else. She did a great job! It was a team effort, and I was heartily glad I could help out. Oh, the sermon? It did the job, I think. Jesus changed a whole lot of water into a whole lot of wine. Superior wine, too! He provides for us abundantly. Extravagantly. I’m grateful to Jesus for blessing me abundantly, each day. I have a suspicion He can take care of me, too.


Another Snowy Day

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 2, 2014

a boy's best friend

Today was another snowy day. Slow driving, drifting snow. Treacherous walking, blowing snow. A good day to be of service! So many worthwhile opportunities, I saw potential ways of service all over the place. I rose to the occasion. Ran an errand for someone else. Cleaned someone else’s kitchen. Several times, people expressed their gratitude to me. Said ‘thank you’ to me. And, that felt good.

I’m not doing this for the strokes. (At least, not primarily for the strokes . . . but that is a consideration. Let’s be honest, now.) I want to see how making intentional service a daily part of my life will have an effect on me. Will it change me? (I think, yes.) If so, how will it change me? What kinds of service am I drawn toward, or repelled from? What about those I serve—what are some varying attitudes towards being served?

I return to the verse I’ve chosen for the month of January. Ephesians 4:32 begins “Be kind to one another . . . .” Service is a great way for me to get out of myself, and being kind is certainly one way to be of service. One of the attitudes I wanted to flee from is the attitude of self-centeredness, or of bondage to self. When I concentrate on myself to the exclusion of everyone else, that is selfishness to the extreme. God is not pleased with me, and neither are other people. And truth be told, I am ultimately not pleased with myself, either. So, being kind is a positive step outside of my self, or a step outside of my self-centeredness.

As I’ve said before, I do have the gift of being helpful—on occasion. It comes naturally to me. Usually. I especially want to focus on being kind to others. Surprise, surprise! I find I take the focus off myself. And, I put the focus on God and on other people, which is so beneficial to me and my continued journey with God.

This blog will incorporate my thoughts on my intentional service, but it may morph into something more. In fact, I hope so! Here’s an example. As a part of the launch of this blog, I sent out a message/email to a number of my friends and acquaintances yesterday.  I included this quote:  “If you have a great way of serving, please drop me a line and tell me about it. I’d like to list some tried-and-true ways to serve others on my blog site, too. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.” In this twenty-four hour period, the response has been amazingly gratifying, and quick!  A dozen ideas of how to serve others, and that’s just the beginning!

My heart was so warmed by this generous response that I decided today to have a weekly focus on one featured way of doing or being of service. I want to make Friday my focus day. (“Feature Friday,” anyone?) Stay tuned for ways to serve that have particularly touched my heart.


(P.S. I don’t know who took this photo, but I thought it was an awesome expression of being kind!)

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

A Year of Being Kind blog post for Monday, December 30, 2013

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

            For the past few years, I’ve been concerning myself with—myself. I have been striving to maintain some kind of spiritual balance, working on my internal, spiritual component. I pray regularly (or at least, try to). I visit my therapist and spiritual director regularly, work out on a weekly basis at the local YMCA gym, and I even practiced relaxation and meditation in an intensive way for several months. In all of this, I have been working on the inner “me.”

I have also been intentional with my prayer life. Not only have I been praying on an increasingly regular basis, but I’ve also started a prayer chain and prayer blog, so we all can be encouraged in our personal prayer lives. This helps my inner relationship with God prosper, too.

            But, what about my relationship with others? How about my family? Friends? What about those at church, or at the gym? What about my co-workers, or strangers I meet on the street? Have I been as studious and diligent at developing my relationship with them?

            Yes, I am called by God to be in relationship with God—the vertical relationship.  But I am also called to be in community, as well—the horizontal relationship, one with another. One of my spiritual gifts is helping people. And by nature, I am kind and compassionate in my relations with others. It’s my relationship with others and with my local community (as well as their relationship with me) that I want to work on in 2014.

            That’s why 2014 is my year to be kind. To help. To be of service. Intentionally.