Sharing with a New Friend (#BestOf)

Sharing with a New Friend (#BestOf)

Posted on August 17, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 13, 2016

It’s always good to remember a good friend. The friend I mention below is now in a different apartment, in a different town, but still my good friend. And, I hope in a much better situation, all the way around. God willing, I pray wonderful things are ahead for my friend and her family.

friendship you do stuff

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sharing with a New Friend

I made a new friend today! We live in different states, and had never met in our lives before today. But, I really feel we made a connection.

The two of us spent some time talking, and we weren’t satisfied with peripheral or superficial nonsense. We didn’t even begin with banalities, but instead immediately started to communicate on a deep level. Like we had known each other for some time. (Again, so satisfying!)

In my new position, I don’t have many opportunities to meet friends. I mean, good friends, who I can truly talk to. I appreciate people who are friendly and kind, of course! And so many people I’ve met in the past several months are that way. It’s truly a blessing. I mean that. But—I am a pastor. I serve as a minister. Right off the bat, that causes some separation. I need to maintain some professional, objective distance in my position, while at the same time being appropriately empathetic and understanding.

My many months in chaplain internship (Clinical Pastoral Education) have reinforced that, to be sure. Yes, I can come alongside people who are hurting, and try to be a comfort, support and encouragement. Chaplain internship has sharpened my skills at journeying with people as they are in trouble—either in terms of poor health, other kinds of crisis, emotional or spiritual upset.

It’s a good thing I have some friends from the years before I became a pastor. It can be lonely, even though I do have several long-term friends I can take the liberty of calling at pretty much any time. But these few long-term friends are not always available. (They lead busy lives, too!)

Of course, I try to be of service when I can. This fulfills me, nurtures me. It’s true that I am trying to follow the suggestions made in Micah 6:8 this month. “Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” Just like when I took a senior acquaintance to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, earlier this week. Just like when I made reminder calls to several people for an upcoming activity. But I would sincerely like some kind of intimate connection—like that of having a good friend.

So, finding another friend is always a welcome thing. Yay! Thanks, God. You know what I wanted even before I formulated the thought. And, I just might be the answer to prayer for my new friend, too. Again, thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide 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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Be of Service? Offer to Pray! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yes, it’s a beautiful autumn day! But—not for some. For patients in the hospital or in extended care centers, for their loved ones sitting alongside the beds, for homebound people unable to leave their residence as well as their faithful caregivers. The beauty of the day is not the first thing that comes to mind. And sometimes, the beauty of the day doesn’t come to mind at all. I’m reminded that the deepest cries of each of our hearts is heard by the Lord. Thank You for hearing us, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 29, 2014

PRAY God understands without our words

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

How to be of service? Show people I care? I offered to pray, several times today.

I wish I had magical powers, or super powers. Some kind of power other than myself that would support, comfort and encourage these people. Wait . . . I do have that power! God’s power. The Holy Spirit will readily come alongside of anyone who needs healing, is hurting, or discouraged, or troubled. The Holy Spirit’s other title is Holy Comforter, which is exactly what several people needed today. And, I am encouraged—in a number of places in Scripture—to come alongside of people who are hurting, or damaged, or otherwise messed up. I am with them in support, caring—and prayer.

This is where my using the ministry of presence comes in. Remembering these few individuals, I saw immediately that I had the opportunity to ease the difficulty. Or sadness. Or disgruntlement. Or downright anger. I am reminded of this verse from Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Well. That is what I am striving to do. How I try to operate.

I know that some grumpy or hurting or disadvantaged people do not want to be comforted. Okay. I hear that. I’ve got it. No. Nothing. Not at all. I don’t absolutely have to be forced, arm twisted behind my back, to talk to these individuals. Sometimes—and this is is awesome, and remarkable, and God-honoring—I don’t need to interact directly with these hurting individuals. Sometimes, I have offered to pray at a future time (as with one person today). Of course, I said! I want to make people feel as comfortable and content as possible.

What do you do when you encounter people who are hurting, or in pain, or discouraged? Do you avoid them? Or, do you engage with them, interact and see what is the matter? It does not matter, since God can still work in their lives. God can come alongside of them while they are sleeping, and ease the nightmares. God can work in their lives and alleviate the suffering and pain. God can spread comfort, encouragement, and support. Most of all? Our God is a mighty, wonderful, powerful Helper, ready to ease anxiety and heal disappointment, discouragement, and anger. And—we don’t even have to pray out loud for those caring activities. The Holy Spirit interprets our groanings too deep for words. The Mighty, Loving, Generous God knows. Amen!

@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!)

How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 4, 2014

autumn road

How to Be Helpful? Everyone Pitches In!

Isn’t it wonderful when everything comes together? Especially when a big event—planned for some time—happens, and everything works out wonderfully? Yeah. That happened tonight.

Actually, this morning was really awesome, too. But more about that, first. I’ll briefly describe what happened this morning, as an appetizer to this evening’s festivities. I prepared for a Blessing of the Animals this morning. Yes, I had fliers with a prayer all printed up, but the weather did not cooperate.

Today was the coldest day of the fall so far, and the weather was threatening to rain all morning. (And, it finally did start sprinkling, just before noon. Just before I started to move things inside.) Lo and behold, I blessed nine animals. Several in-depth conversations happened. Plus, two more people came to the church and brought lists of their animals. The two dear people wanted their pets blessed long-distance. Of course, I did!

But, this evening? Better and better. It was marvelous to see so many people come out and support St. Luke’s Church. And like I said before, everything came together to create a lovely night. Excellent food, hard work by everyone involved. Even the student youth leader and his roommate came to the spaghetti dinner—both did yeoman’s service, helping out with the serving and whatever else was needed around the kitchen and the fellowship hall.

Such an example of service! Serving with love and caring to others, being helpful, loving and caring with no sign of anyone paying me back or doing something for me in exchange. And here, at St. Luke’s Church? That kind of attitude is what I saw. That’s the loving and caring attitude I find in the larger passage I’m preaching from tomorrow, from John 16 and 17. How wonderful it is to show others how important each individual is. Such a difference! And, each person is truly valued and cared for.

Everyone pitching in helps each one to be more and more encouraged and supported. And, the encouragement and support is circular, helping members of the congregation feel better about themselves. Which just encourages more love and caring to others. That is what I would like to show to everyone: our congregation truly is striving to be a congregation after God’s own heart. Difficult? Challenging? Are there setbacks, sometimes? Yes. Yes, and yes. What’s more, I think God is pleased and continues to bless our efforts. God willing, we’ll continue to try!

@chaplaineliza

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Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 29, 2014

PRAY God understands without our words

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

How to be of service? Show people I care? I offered to pray, several times today.

I wish I had magical powers, or super powers. Some kind of power other than myself that would support, comfort and encourage these people. Wait . . . I do have that power! God’s power. The Holy Spirit will readily come alongside of anyone who needs healing, is hurting, or discouraged, or troubled. The Holy Spirit’s other title is Holy Comforter, which is exactly what several people needed today. And, I am encouraged—in a number of places in Scripture—to come alongside of people who are hurting, or damaged, or otherwise messed up. I am with them in support, caring—and prayer.

This is where my using the ministry of presence comes in. Remembering these few individuals, I saw immediately that I had the opportunity to ease the difficulty. Or sadness. Or disgruntlement. Or downright anger. I am reminded of this verse from Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Well. That is what I am striving to do. How I try to operate.

I know that some grumpy or hurting or disadvantaged people do not want to be comforted. Okay. I hear that. I’ve got it. No. Nothing. Not at all. I don’t absolutely have to be forced, arm twisted behind my back, to talk to these individuals. Sometimes—and this is is awesome, and remarkable, and God-honoring—I don’t need to interact directly with these hurting individuals. Sometimes, I have offered to pray at a future time (as with one person today). Of course, I said! I want to make people feel as comfortable and content as possible.

What do you do when you encounter people who are hurting, or in pain, or discouraged? Do you avoid them? Or, do you engage with them, interact and see what is the matter? It does not matter, since God can still work in their lives. God can come alongside of them while they are sleeping, and ease the nightmares. God can work in their lives and alleviate the suffering and pain. God can spread comfort, encouragement, and support. Most of all? Our God is a mighty, wonderful, powerful Helper, ready to ease anxiety and heal disappointment, discouragement, and anger. And—we don’t even have to pray out loud for those caring activities. The Holy Spirit interprets our groanings too deep for words. The Mighty, Loving, Generous God knows. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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

Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 28, 2014

clip-art-telephone-742802

Show Kindness and Love? To My Family!

I love my family. My sisters and brothers. My children. My husband. My in-laws. My cousins. I love them all!

Sadly, most of them are far away. And I mean, far away. A plane ride away. Much further away than the other side of the Chicago metropolitan area. Yes, my parents were native Chicagoans, and my oldest sister and I still live in the area. But my other siblings have scattered, all over the country. One of my children is now on the east coast (because of work). It is becoming more and more difficult to gather everyone (or, even most of us) together in one place, at the same time.

Yet, I do try to communicate, from time to time. Social media is great! Several long-distance family members have Facebook accounts, and it’s great to keep in touch that way. Then, of course, I also use the older technology—like tonight, with the telephone. I used my land line, and I talked with one of my sisters, also on her land line.

I love talking with my sister Sue. She is such an interesting person, in her own right. Fascinating. Sue and I talked about my upcoming breakfast with Leslie (my oldest sister), tomorrow morning. Two days, and two experiences with family. (Besides my son and husband, of course. They live with me. Or, I live with them.) Leslie always has something going on, including travel, in the near future.

Hmm. I wonder whether my relationship with my earthly family (my family of origin) is at all similar to my relationship with those in my congregation. I love my congregation. I really and truly do. And I love hearing about various members going out of town. It doesn’t matter whether they were traveling or just staying at home. Wonderful experiences. I hope I will be able to show love, caring, encouragement and support to my friends, the flock. And those beyond the church, too!

That’s what this experience of being kind has taught me. Since I have been concentrating so hard on being kind or helpful, or showing too much stress, or worrying about circumstances, I can miss prayer, and meditation. Sometimes. Thank God I have a great church! And, a great family, to boot. God bless me, and bless everyone else in my extended family, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Helpful? A Lesson from Chaplain Internship—and More

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 27, 2014

heart balloons

Be Helpful? A Lesson from Chaplain Internship—and More

I feel strongly about chaplaincy. One of the foundation stones for my whole ministry is that of pastoral care, ministry of presence, and journeying alongside of those who are hurting in any way. I have spent more than ten years in the ministry of chaplaincy, in a variety of settings. And, I’ve spent a goodly portion of these years serving in internships, as well.

Today, I was vividly reminded of a situation where I needed some advice. Some discernment. I couldn’t help but be reminded of several times in the past, in my various chaplain internships. I have been blessed in my internships, in three different clinical settings. All three have involved cohesive, collaborative groups of interns. I understand from others that not every group is so fortunate. So, I do consider myself blessed by the groups. In addition, I was blessed even more with my chaplain supervisors! Each one, though different from each other, was effective, supportive, and engaging to the interns separately, as well as in the group.

I thought of a specific instance in my latest chaplain internship unit, at a downtown hospital in Chicago. Chaplain Peter was our supervisor, and he directed and facilitated the group with a light hand. Yet—he was present. Very present to all of us. To each of us. He led by compassionate, loving example, and I learned to take cautions and negative comments as well as positive ones, contain them, prayerfully consider them, and seriously and objectively take them to heart.

Not that I hadn’t had some experience and direction at how to take correction as well as compliments before, in chaplaincy, in various internships, and just in life, in general. But with Chaplain Peter, both the clinical and the classroom learning seemed upped to a graduate level and beyond. Serious learning! No kindergarten-level learning there.

My mind drew a direct parallel between that learning experience and a situation today. I got a long distance telephone call out of the clear blue sky, and even when I hung up, I was in a quandary. Really, earnestly puzzled at what to do. I wondered and thought and prayed. Still needed assistance and advice. I turned to a Facebook page where a number of women ministers, clergy, chaplains and other women of faith join together in support, camaraderie and fellowship. (This is an international group, too!) I have been following this page for some months, and I noted the wide-ranging and varied comments were often helpful, sometimes pointed, and always informative.

All right, I thought. I am really in a quandary. So—I posted a brief explanation of the telephone call. I asked for comments, suggestions, even advice. And, boy! Did I get a response! In a matter of minutes, I received so many helpful, informative comments and suggestions.

I was suddenly, vividly reminded of what I learned, sitting in that chaplain’s classroom in downtown Chicago. I was moved to take these current cautions and comments as well as positive ones, contain them, prayerfully consider them, and seriously and objectively take them to heart. Just so, God tied these two situations together in my mind. What a moving connection. Thanks, God. Help me take these comments and suggestions I received tonight to heart, sincerely. As sincerely as these were offered.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 5, 2014

PRAY prayer changes things

How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

Sometimes, stuff happens. Accidents happen. Disagreements happen. People get sick. Some lose their jobs. Anxiety flares up. Family fights continue. Some of us need to deal with things one day at a time. The business of living continues.

Like I said, stuff happens. And—what do you do when the stuff that happens is negative? Scary? Less than pleasant? Depressing? Downright awful? All kinds of feelings and emotions can come with those negative happenings. People can feel overwhelmed. Or alone. (Lonely, too!) People can give up hope. Or, people can get angry, resentful, even desperate.

A church in the Chicago suburbs is doing something about all that negativity. St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove is starting an intercessory prayer ministry. The Prayer Project at St. Luke’s is providing a welcoming place, a safe place to share those deep prayer needs, with some faithful pray-ers. The praying people at the Prayer Project have volunteered to lift up the requests and needs that come to our attention, as they pray on a regular basis.

I am the pastor at St. Luke’s Church, and I have been preaching a summer sermon series on prayer for the past three months. We have examined prayer from many different points of view that are included in the biblical record. We’ve talked about some mis-understandings about prayer: consequently, “God is not a vending machine in the sky!” Have you ever had friends or acquaintances who considered God a sort of waiter? They would order things from some kind of heavenly menu, and give God a specific list of do’s and don’ts.

But—don’t many of us slip into that sort of thinking, sometimes? As well as that sort of praying? God, forgive me, but I know I do.

I have encouraged the praying friends at St. Luke’s Church to lift up prayer requests (as well as prayer praises!)–on a regular basis.  In the Bible, we are urged to join together in prayer, too. Who doesn’t need prayers of friendship, support, encouragement and comfort?

Thank God we can turn to God in prayer. The Lord will be right beside us, whenever and wherever the need happens to be. And—God will never leave you. Never forsake me. Never, ever. That’s a promise, made by the best Promise-Keeper I know.

(If anyone is in need of prayer, St. Luke’s Prayer Project can help. Our email address is saintlukesccc@sbcglobal.net. For more on prayer, check out my companion blog at  matterofprayerblog.wordpress.com. )

@chaplaineliza

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