Being Kind with Birthday Cards (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, June 20, 2015

I enjoy sending cards. I truly do! Good thing I do, for it’s a part of my job that I find touching and meaningful. I pray for each person who receives a card I send. And—unlike the mountains of junk mail that get slipped in the typical mailbox on a regular basis, a handwritten card is a lovely change of pace.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 22, 2014

happy-birthday-sky-wallpaper

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

Each day brings new things into my life, that’s for sure.

Now that I am settling into my new position, I am acquainting myself with a whole new set of activities. New list of priorities. And getting to know a new congregation.

One way that I can come to know this group of new friends better is by sending them birthday cards. What a wonderful idea!

The office manager at the church had a list of birthdays of the members and friends of the congregation, already printed up. So, it’s a straight-forward activity. Except—I pray for each church member as I write and address the card. I hope and pray that they might have a wonderful birthday celebration, and that God might bless them and their family during the year ahead. I try to do that for each and every card I address and mail.

I just sent off two cards today. And, I needed to buy more cards already, too. That’s perfectly okay with me. I just love buying cards! I love receiving cards, and personal mail of any kind, too. I know that sending greeting cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but almost everyone enjoys receiving mail.

I understand that people are grateful of the thought and care someone took for them, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card.

I know that several months ago, I wrote about my chaplain friend who has a card ministry. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. In my blog post, I also mentioned the Apostle Paul’s comment at the beginning of the letter to the Philippian church: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” (1:3) What a touching way to remember each other! Sending a card or a note with a few words or sentences of genuine interest, care and concern. What a way to be kind! My chaplain friend finds this ministry an opportunity to serve others and to connect with those near and far.

Paul’s words tell us how much Paul appreciated his friends and acquaintances in the city of Philippi, from a long distance away. How much more can we express our care and concern for others through cards and notes?

Noteworthy features are the words chosen to communicate, the picture(s) on the card, and the sentiment and attitude of the person sending the card. In other words, things to appeal to the ears, eyes and feelings of the recipient. Also important, the card or note helps the recipient know that you and I care. It doesn’t matter whether we are near or far, what an opportunity to be kind and tenderhearted.

God bless my new friends and fellow parishioners, and God be with each of them as they celebrate their birthdays!

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 13, 2015

I try to go to the YMCA several times a week. In this blog post, I mention a chance meeting on the stairs at the Y. See whether you can relate.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Walking with Friends" by Carolee Clark

“Walking with Friends”
by Carolee Clark

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

Earlier today, I happened to stop on the stairs. I had an unexpected encounter with someone from another country, and I hope I was of service.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give a little background, and set up the story. As is my habit during the week, I went to the gym to do some stretching and cardio exercise. I finished a good workout, and started down to the women’s locker room. Halfway down the stairs, I saw a young woman holding an open pamphlet, obviously reading intently. She looked puzzled, and frowned at the piece of paper. I slowed down, since she caught my attention. She glanced up.

We smiled at each other. And that’s all it took for her to engage me in conversation.

As it turned out, she held a pamphlet that listed information about GED classes. She trustingly started pouring out her story in accented but fairly good English. She wanted to take a GED course. And then, get her GED to be more prepared to get jobs here in the Chicago area. I encouraged her, and took a look at the pamphlet with her. “Yes,” I said. “The GED class you want is at the high school, on Tuesday night.”

She told me about studying English in high school, in her country of origin in South America. Again I smiled and was encouraging. “You speak English really well for taking only a couple of years of classes. I wish I could speak another language as well.” She beamed and nodded her head in gratitude for my words. She was very hesitant about English grammar, it turned out. Plus, she also was enrolled in citizenship classes. I was quite supportive. “That’s great! I wish you the best in both of your classes. God’s blessings in this new year, too.” She smiled even more widely. She wanted to know my name. Elizabeth, I told her. She readily gave me her name.

I think I made a new friend!

This is not an isolated incident.

I guess I have that kind of appearance that makes me approachable. People come up to me on the street, or when I’m stopped at a stop light. They’ll roll down their window and tell me they’re lost. And, ask directions. Or when I’m standing in line at a grocery store they’ll engage me in conversation. Tell me about personal details of their lives. Believe me, it happens! (My family is endlessly amused, and say that I have that kind of face. Or chaplainly air. Or something.)

In preparation for this year of service, I’ve prayed specifically to be open and willing, each day. As subtext to my month’s service, for January, the verse I have chosen is Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” I think I was kind to this sweet young woman. She and I made a genuine connection. And—I pray that I was of service.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

 

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 22, 2014

cupcake birthday

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

Each day brings new things into my life, that’s for sure.

Now that I am settling into my new position, I am acquainting myself with a whole new set of activities. New list of priorities. And getting to know a new congregation.

One way that I can come to know this group of new friends better is by sending them birthday cards. What a wonderful idea! The office manager at the church had a list of birthdays of the members and friends of the congregation, already printed up. So, it’s a straight-forward activity. Except—I pray for each church member as I write and address the card. I hope and pray that they might have a wonderful birthday celebration, and that God might bless them and their family during the year ahead. I try to do that for each and every card I address and mail.

I just sent off two cards today. And, I needed to buy more cards already, too. That’s perfectly okay with me. I just love buying cards! I love receiving cards, and personal mail of any kind, too. I know that sending greeting cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but almost everyone enjoys receiving mail. I understand that people are grateful of the thought and care someone took for them, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card.

I know that several months ago, I wrote about my chaplain friend who has a card ministry. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. In my blog post, I also mentioned the Apostle Paul’s comment at the beginning of the letter to the Philippian church: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” (1:3) What a touching way to remember each other! Sending a card or a note with a few words or sentences of genuine interest, care and concern. What a way to be kind! My chaplain friend finds this ministry an opportunity to serve others and to connect with those near and far.

Paul’s words tell us how much Paul appreciated his friends and acquaintances in the city of Philippi, from a long distance away. How much more can we express our care and concern for others through cards and notes? Noteworthy features are the words chosen to communicate, the picture(s) on the card, and the sentiment and attitude of the person sending the card. In other words, things to appeal to the ears, eyes and feelings of the recipient. Also important, the card or note helps the recipient know that you and I care. It doesn’t matter whether we are near or far, what an opportunity to be kind and tenderhearted. God bless my new friends and fellow parishioners, and God be with each of them as they celebrate their birthdays!

@chaplaineliza

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

Breakfast, Friendship, Encouragement!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 26, 2014

friends who ask about you and then really listen

Breakfast, Friendship, Encouragement!

I took the opportunity to have breakfast with a group of friends this morning. You know the usual drill: eating, laughter, friendly conversation together. There were a group of us at the restaurant this morning, but I focused especially on one friend. We talked in depth, and had excellent communication! And I think I was open, encouraging, and helpful.

As I reflected on that personal conversation this morning, I honestly tried to be kind. I know it comes with the territory. Yes, I’ve been a chaplain for the past number of years. And yes, now I am an interim pastor. So, I “ought” to be kind, tenderhearted, encouraging. All of that.

I can feel the special training come to the fore, but I don’t think it’s forced. Not at all.

I do try to come alongside of others. I do use the ministry of presence I learned in seminary. But today I also reflected on where I came from, in my childhood and adolescence. I was a chubby child, and turned into a chunky teen. Talk about an awkward child! I didn’t have the opportunity to learn much about the social niceties when I was growing up, for a lot of reasons. So, I was behind most other folks in my social skills when I reached my late teens and early twenties.

Ever feel like you’re on the outside, looking in? That was me. Figuratively, I was outside on the sidewalk with my nose pressed to the glass. Looking inside, at all the cool kids. Yup, that was me. So by the time I started seminary at forty, I was still trying to play catch up. Seminary was a charm school of sorts, as were my internships. My learning curve was rapid! Pastoral care and active listening were two skills I immediately found useful.  I also continued to develop the practice of general courtesy and caring, with some amount of success.

So—here I was, at breakfast today. All of this background information was subtext, as I had interactions across the restaurant table. And lo and behold, I found myself being encouraging, of service. Kind. Actively listening. Not because I had to, but because it was natural for me to be that way. I am continuing to try to do daily acts of intentional service. And not surprisingly, I suspect my loving, caring actions are right on the money. Bingo.

My good friend and I had a wonderful time, talking in depth, making a true, real connection. This is not a new thing for me, but I felt it in a special way today. Have you ever felt God being pleased with you? I mean, in a genial and affirming way? That’s what I felt earlier today after I talked with my friend.

Just so, I try to be honest, open and willing in my thoughts and actions. Kind, helpful, encouraging. I hope I was encouraging to my friend—to all of my friends—today. God willing, I pray so.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being There For Someone–Or Two Someones

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, January 27, 2014

BK Eph 4-32

Being There For Someone—Or Two Someones

I went to the grocery store recently. Just ran in to grab a couple of things before going home for the night. Lo and behold, I happened to run into a couple I’ve known for years, but haven’t seen for some time. It was wonderful to see them! We had a joy-filled meeting, right there in the dairy aisle. We all hugged, and we picked up right where we had left off, several years ago.

Isn’t it amazing how that can happen, with certain friends? You don’t see each other for many months, or even years, and then you meet again—unexpectedly, in a grocery store, for instance—and it’s just as if the last time we met was only a few days ago. We started up an unfinished conversation just as if we had only been briefly interrupted. (I’m smiling as I write, because it’s so marvelous! Good, good friends.)

One half of the couple recently started a new job, and I rejoiced with him. “That’s wonderful,” I said. “Congratulations!” Right off the bat, we began to talk in depth, not simply superficial stuff at all. (That’s one thing I love about my friend. We can both dive into the serious stuff when we need to, and find ourselves on the same wave length.)

I know the verse I’m lifting up for this month is Ephesians 4:32. Looking back at the conversation my friend and I had, we both exemplified being kind and tenderhearted to each other. There was a great deal of give and take, both of us listened to each other sincerely. We didn’t waste time, but got down to honest, open communication.

Funny thing, communication. Words are powerful. Words can be hurtful and destructive. (As both my friend and I can attest.) But words can also praise, build up, encourage, comfort, and soothe. This passage from the end of Ephesians 4 has a list of both negative as well as positive suggestions for action. Sure, the list of the things we are not supposed to emulate is clear, but so is the positive list. Communication can rank high on the positive list, and seems to be a common thread. We are encouraged to exhibit these positive characteristics in our words, deeds and lives. Communicating in a way that is pleasing to God is a marvelous start.

My friend and I certainly were supportive to each other when we met by chance. Or was it by chance? God’s providence, perhaps? I suspect God had a hand in our meeting, because I believe we all received encouragement from each other. Isn’t that the way that God often works? Even when God’s hand might be mostly hidden from view?

As verse 32 tells us, we can build up each other. Whether we’re friends, family or simply strangers, it’s the loving, encouraging thing to do. Be kind and tenderhearted.

@chaplaineliza

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Walking with Friends," by Carolee Clark

“Walking with Friends,” by Carolee Clark

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

Earlier today, I happened to stop on the stairs. I had an unexpected encounter with someone from another country, and I hope I was of service.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give a little background, and set up the story. As is my habit during the week, I went to the gym to do some stretching and cardio exercise. I had finished a good workout, and started down to the women’s locker room. Halfway down the stairs, I saw a young woman holding an open pamphlet, obviously reading intently. She looked puzzled, and frowned at the piece of paper. I slowed down, since she caught my attention. She glanced up. We smiled at each other. And that’s all it took for her to engage me in conversation.

As it turned out, she held a pamphlet that listed information about GED classes. She trustingly started pouring out her story in accented but fairly good English. She wanted to take a GED course. And then, get her GED to be more prepared to get jobs here in the Chicago area. I encouraged her, and took a look at the pamphlet with her. “Yes,” I said. “The GED class you want is at the high school, on Tuesday night.” She told me about studying English in high school, in her country of origin in South America. Again I smiled and was encouraging. “You speak English really well for taking only a couple of years of classes. I wish I could speak another language as well.” She beamed and nodded her head in gratitude for my words. She was very hesitant about English grammar, it turned out. Plus, she also was enrolled in citizenship classes. I was quite supportive. “That’s great! I wish you the best in both of your classes. God’s blessings in this new year, too.” She smiled even more widely. She wanted to know my name. Elizabeth, I told her. She readily gave me her name. I think I made a new friend!

This is not an isolated incident. I guess I have that kind of appearance that makes me approachable. People come up to me on the street, or when I’m stopped at a stop light. They’ll roll down their window and tell me they’re lost. And, ask directions. Or when I’m standing in line at a grocery store they’ll engage me in conversation. Tell me about personal details of their lives. Believe me, it happens! (My family is endlessly amused, and say that I have that kind of face. Or chaplainly air. Or something.)

In preparation for this year of service, I’ve prayed specifically to be open and willing, each day. As subtext to my month’s service, for January, the verse I have chosen is Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” I think I was kind to this sweet young woman. She and I made a genuine connection. And—I pray that I was of service.

@chaplaineliza