A Poppy for Remembrance (#BestOf)

Memorial Day is right around the corner. Remember the veterans in the cemeteries, as well as all who served or are presently serving.

A Poppy for Remembrance

red poppy painting

A beautiful day! Clear blue sky, low humidity, comfortable Memorial Day weekend. All in all, a great day.

I went downtown (in my suburb) to have breakfast with a few friends mid-morning. Today was such a lovely day that I almost felt like skipping down the sidewalk. My friends and I strolled along, talking, when I spied a man with a big bunch of poppies. The man stood near a street corner. He had on a baseball-style cap, but with some military insignia emblazoned on it.

I had been wondering about poppies. I always get at least one poppy on Memorial Day weekend. More, if I can. Poppies are for remembrance. And—I know I will be remembering my father and his three brothers, who all fought in World War II. They served in various capacities, in various branches of the armed forces.

My father Jack was stationed in the China-India-Burma theater of operations, in the Army Air Corps. I don’t really know too much about his service, because he never told me much. Except that the weather was really unpleasant, there were insects all over (of every description!), he was heartily glad of mosquito netting at night, and that the bulk of his time in the Army consisted of “hurry up and wait.” On occasion, while I was growing up, he would get stern and call for me and my older siblings to come “front and center!” I knew what that meant—I better show up speedy-quick! And be quiet and respectful, once I got there in front of him, besides.

But, back to poppies. The poppies are made by veterans in the VA hospitals, and distributed in many, many places by the American Legion, and the American Legion Auxiliary. But where did this originate? The red poppy was a symbol of the fallen soldiers, taken from a poem written during the first World War by a Canadian officer, Colonel John MacCrae: “In Flanders field the poppies blow,/Between the crosses row on row—“ The servicemen who returned brought back this vivid memory. Soon, poppies became a symbol of remembrance of the fallen servicemen and women who lost their lives during the wars. The disabled veterans took the poppy as their own, making them and distributing them for remembrance, on Memorial Day. And, contributions go towards rehabilitation work and disabled veterans, nationwide.

So—there I was. Face to face with this man in the baseball cap. I didn’t have too much in my wallet. Only a couple of bucks. But, I gave it to him, put the dollars in the can. He gave me a poppy, out of the large, red bunch of paper flowers he held. I told him about my dad and uncles, in World War II. He nodded, and said he had served in the first Gulf War, and pointed to an anchor pinned to his chest. “I was a Navy man,” he said. He wasn’t very talkative after that, but he certainly seemed grateful to receive the donation. And grateful for the openness on my part, to hear about him and his service.

God, bless this veteran. And every other veteran, nationwide. Especially those who have died in the service of our country.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, May 12, 2016

I re-read this post, and reflected on it. On how countercultural it is to follow this advice. Really, not speaking up? Keeping quiet? Strange, but true.

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Posted on May 14, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 13, 2014

quiet--more you can hear

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Ever get the feeling that you said too much? That you should have kept your mouth shut? That you would have been much better served if you had said nothing at all?

I got that message today, several times. Loud and clear!

First, as I met with a colleague, we had a regular, periodic meeting where we updated each other on the state of the workplace, the people we work with, and any coming events both of us need to be aware of. As we talked, I asked my colleague (an older and wiser person!) for some advice. And, I got some! Ears open, listen hard, and keep quiet! (It could very well have been “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” but my co-worker did not say that. Not today, at least.)

Wise words. I listened to them, filed them away, and thanked my co-worker!

Again, later in the day, I ran into a friend of mine. We talked about a number of things. Lo and behold, I got the same (unsolicited) advice from my friend. Slightly puzzled, but still very much open to the advice, I considered what had been mentioned to me. Hmm.

After dinner, I went to a get-together. A group of friends and acquaintances met tonight near downtown. I greeted a good number of people I knew tonight. Including one person who told an interesting anecdote. She had taken a cab today, downtown. A work associate was in the cab with her. She was amazed to observe her associate tell the cabbie exactly how to drive. With great precision. Exactitude. And demanded that the cabbie comply.

As she watched the drama unfolding beside her, my friend felt something—inside of her—was the matter. Bubbling over. She didn’t know quite what it was, so she prayed. Asking God to help her calm down and stay in the moment. Not get all bent out of shape. She realized she was getting upset at how ridiculous her fellow rider was being. It was a victory for her (yay!). Previously, even a few years ago, she would have wanted to tell her associate exactly how ridiculous she thought their words and actions were! But now, it just stayed a want, a desire. Nothing came out of her mouth! Nothing that she might have wanted to take back. (Thank God!)

God, that’s three times today that You brought communication to my attention. Or rather, lack of communication. (I know, I know. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”) As I said before, these are wise words! God, please help me to listen, and follow them. Help me to be an active listener AND a responsive, caring person. One who doesn’t let her mouth flap in the wind. Wise words, indeed!

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Serving, at the Waning of the Year (#BestOf)

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

Serving? Being kind? Being helpful? Yes. I try to be all those things. As I reread this blog entry, I thought of the difficulty many families have—mourning over a holiday. In subsequent years, the death will oftentimes be inextricably mingled with the holiday celebration. And in this particular case, I hope and pray I was a decent minister to this small family. I did not even know them, but I responded in their time of need. God, wherever they are at this Thanksgiving time, comfort and encourage them.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Serving, at the Waning of the Year

autumn candles

As I sat in my office, I was surprised by a sudden telephone call. I was asked to officiate at a funeral service, with very short notice.

I was happy to be able to do it. To have the opportunity to do it. And, it also was another opportunity to be of service. To use my multifaceted training and abilities, and to come alongside of these dear people who mourn.

Just as 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I not only have received the spiritual gifts of encouragement, mercy, pastor/teacher, and helps, I also have chaplain training, and Clinical Pastoral Care. I stepped up to the plate, and I offered what I could to the loved ones who mourned. I pray for them, and hope that God is with them in this special, tender, painful time.

Yes, I cried today. Not only did I observe a family in the midst of a memorable experience, I felt with them. I saw them grieve. And, I pray that I was able to be a comfort and a support for them.

I keep coming back to this, again and again. With the waning of the year. Just as I mentioned last week. Taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” I thought of this dear person who died several days ago. Even though I didn’t mention this verse at the funeral, I thought of it, to myself. I considered both the end of the year as well as the end of a long life. Gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory, reckoning up the deeds done for God.

We are about to begin the circle of the liturgical year, again, with the beginning of Advent. Yes, I can prepare myself to say “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Yet, I am not quite ready. Yes, I acted as a chaplain today, and used my pastoral care gifts and skills. Thank God I have them! But, Advent isn’t here, yet. I’m not quite there yet.

Soon. I am still at the point of numbering my days. Soon enough, I’ll be thankful. (Tomorrow, in fact.) And then, soon enough, the time of preparation, of Advent. But not yet. Soon.

@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!)

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 27, 2015

It was almost a year ago today that a journalist contacted my husband Kevin about debt consolidation companies. And, my husband had a story to tell! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning. You can read about it, below.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 29, 2014

BK kindness is a lifestyle

Being of Service? Showing People How to Fight Back! (Feature Friday!)

I have heard horror stories of how less-than-honest companies bundle and buy out debts at only a fraction of their value. Then, they hold the debt or note for the money owed. So instead of cash-strapped people owing a credit card company money, or a bona fide medical center money, they now owe these sleazy debt consolidation companies the money. But wait, there’s more! Much more . . .

I’ve been involved with seniors for a number of years, especially recently. I mean, at their homes. These seniors, often frail and in poor health, receive all kinds of telephone solicitation calls. Many of these calls come from shady, fly-by-night companies. But the worst of them all? The worst come from these sleazy, slimy debt consolidation companies. The debt collectors call. Then, call again—and again. And if they get a trembling, anxious senior on the other end of the line, so much the better! These pond scum debt collectors bully the elderly, trying to force them to send money. And sometimes, the senior is bullied into paying off a debt they do not even owe.

Most people don’t realize how to stop this horrible harassment and misuse of the telephone, not to mention get revenge. But a debt collection company tangled with my husband Kevin one time too many. My husband—who did not even owe the debt mentioned—took action. Action against the company, and action to stop this daily harassment for a debt which was never his to begin with.

My husband is extremely methodical, and he takes excellent notes in his work life. So, he decided to do the same thing in this case. Every time the home telephone was called by this company, we noted the date, time, and whether it was a recorded call or a real, live person. Every single time there was contact with a real, live person, we recorded their name. My husband sent two “cease and desist letters” by registered mail (so a real, live person at the company was required to sign for the letter, and show proof they received it). He took extensive notes whenever he spoke with anyone, and kept all of the notes in a file. And—he employed a law firm that specialized in fighting with these slimy debt collection firms.

The lawyers at the law firm were pros! They knew exactly what they were doing. My husband worked with them, hand in glove, and actually won the case in small claims court!

So, that was several years ago. My husband Kevin and I had almost forgotten all about the case, when a journalist contacted my husband a number of days ago. Mr. Sullivan wanted to know whether he might be able to write an article about the debt collectors and how my husband beat them at their own game. My husband gladly agreed! Moreover, he sent Mr. Sullivan all of his notes. (The journalist complimented my husband on his extremely thorough note-taking, too!)

So—long story short, the story appeared in Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. And—my husband is a hero! He showed, through his excellent example, exactly how to defuse these pond scum debt collectors. And, he wants people to know their rights under the law, too. In a quote from Mr. Sullivan’s article: “I would gladly do it again, not for the money, but because these people are slime who abuse and exploit people who don’t know how to defend themselves,” he said. “While I was defending myself, I followed various forums on the subject, and I was appalled at how many elderly people are victimized. It’s sickening.”

Not only the elderly, but people of all ages might be victimized. Thank God there are people who know how to stop these abusive practices and horrid debt collectors. People like my husband Kevin. That’s a sure way to live by the tenets of Micah 6:8! Live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

(To take a look at the Yahoo Finance article by Mr. Sullivan, check out this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-man-got-even-debt-103042195.html )

@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!)

 

Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 28, 2015

Touching. Moving. Poignant. Whatever you call it, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry is all that. And more. I wrote about this excellent food ministry a year ago. It still touches me as much, as I reread the post. And, all because a high school kid saw a need and decided to do something about it. Would that more people would be that proactive!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, June 27, 2014

loaves-and-fishes feed the hungry

Being of Service—Through Sandwiches! (Feature Friday!)

“Have you ever felt invisible before?” This hand-lettered statement on a plain piece of paper stuck out at me like a sharp thumbtack on the floor, pointy side up. The photo of this printed sign is one of the images on Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry website. Three years ago, Dano was a high school student in the north suburbs of Chicago. He realized that there were 100,000 homeless people in Chicago, just a matter of miles south of where he and his family lived. 17 percent of those people were—are teenagers. Just like Dano. These homeless people often feel as if they are invisible. Uncared for. Less than nobody.

Dano and his parents had an idea. Three years ago, they came to the Church Council at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wilmette. They got permission to start a sandwich ministry, with some help from the church. They decided to pack dozens of lunches once a month at St. John’s, which were then brought to the Night Ministry in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. From there, the bag lunches were distributed.

For those who don’t know, the Night Ministry is an outreach to the night community in Chicago—a ministry reaching out to the hidden underside of society. The Night Ministry offers assistance to those suffering from homelessness and poverty, in a number of ways. Not only the food outreach, and also a Health Care Bus, a temporary shelter, and assistance for pregnant teens and young mothers.

But back to Brother Dano and his sandwiches. This ministry took off at St. John’s Church in Wilmette. People of all ages started to get involved. Not only on the day they made the sandwiches and packed the bag lunches, but also in donating food items and financial gifts. Bread, bananas, cookies. Plastic bags, deli meats and cheese. Even young children can help assemble parts of the lunch, and put cookies and bananas in plastic bags. This has become a service project for all ages.

Many people, both in the congregation and from outside the church, are now involved in this worthwhile service opportunity. The price for each lunch is only $1.00, and people are well fed for at least one meal in their day. Pastor Joe McInnis of St. John’s Lutheran Church says, “What began as a simple idea has become a beloved ministry of our whole church. And in July, Brother Dano’s Sandwich Ministry will reach a milestone. They will reach and pass 10,000 sandwiches—made by volunteers here over the past three years, and passed out at the Night Ministry.”

Dano is now away at college. This ministry has developed a life of its own. God bless the worthwhile efforts of so many, making such a simple yet tasty thing as bag lunches. And thank God for Dano, for thinking of the great idea in the first place.

(For further information, check out Brother Dano’s website: www.brotherdano.com )

@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!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!) (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A year ago, last weekend. What a memory. What an unusual spring break trip. Instead of going someplace like a big theme park, or some beach in the sun, we went to Iowa last spring. It’s good to revisit thoughts from the past, especially when they are so kind and neighborly. Check it out!

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 11, 2014

to-do list for today

Being Kind and Neighborly (Feature Friday!)

How about being neighborly? Rural and small-town Iowa has lots and lots of neighborly people! Kind, friendly, and open, with smiles and nods all over the place.

I know this is Friday (Feature Friday!). I’ve been featuring a special mission, ministry or non-profit organization here in this spot each week. Except today. Not an organized ministry, but instead a whole area in southeast Iowa. As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, about as far from rural Iowa as one might imagine. But, for years, my husband has told me about his memories of the small towns there. About how people are just plain friendly. Open. Nodding and waving. I experienced it for myself, up close and personal.

My husband’s family lived in southeastern Iowa for over a century and a half. We traveled to the tiny town where his grandparents lived, and went to the little historical building where many different kinds of photos, books, furniture, quilts, and other memorabilia are on display. The older woman who let us into the building was also kind enough to show us the way to a very-much-out-of-the-way cemetery, too. (We never, ever could have found it on our own. We would have gotten totally lost in the winding gravel roads separating the hard scrabble farms, hilly brush and stands of forest, and the occasional rusted trailer near the Missouri border.)

My husband saw dozens of his direct ancestors, aunts, uncles and cousins. He carefully took photos of all of the relatives he had knowledge of. How awesome is that? The kind, elderly lady who showed us to the cemetery was quite matter of fact about it. Her husband was buried there. We saw the double gravestone, and her name was already there, carved on it as plain as day. She spoke in a natural, conversational tone of her expectation that she would rest there, at his side.

And then at Iowa Wesleyan College, where we stopped by for about an hour. My husband’s mother and father had graduated from that college many years ago. His deceased mother had provided a gift for the Music Department there, and my husband took several photographs to show to his elderly father, three states away. Everyone we met at Iowa Wesleyan was so friendly and kind. Helping us and giving us directions.

So many people in Iowa are so kind and pleasant! And I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Am I a cynical, hard bitten city dweller? So unused to being kind that I had to start a blog about it? And pray that God might help me to find kind things to do every day? What about the intentionality part of A Year of Being Kind, too? I suspect that I would do well to observe these kind folks in Iowa. Thank God for them, and their helpful, giving attitude.

God, I pray that You help me to be as neighborly and as kind as these good people!

@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!)

A Diaper Pantry? What a Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

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

This outreach is near and dear to my heart. Even though my youngest is now a senior in high school, I still feel strongly about these dear little ones. I also feel strongly about what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” These little ones and their loved ones are definitely part of “the least of these.”

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

diaper babies dancing 

A Diaper Pantry? What a Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

We hear about people losing jobs, the loss of homes and apartments, lack of money for decent clothes, no shoes that fit properly, choice of utilities or necessary medications. Let’s look more closely at certain families at risk, with very little money. Like, for instance, parents with babies and toddlers. Sure, some of these people are trying very hard to make ends meet, scrimping and cutting corners everywhere they can. But ever think about where they find the extra money for a very real, daily necessity—diapers?

The congregation at First United Methodist Church in Evanston has a solution that will help in this difficult situation: a ministry called Bundled Blessings. This ministry provides diapers to people in need by giving collected diapers to partner agencies in the Evanston area. And in turn, these agencies distribute the donated diapers to those in great need.

This ministry is recent. It just started in September 2013, when it held its first diaper drive. They collected enough disposable diapers for 30 small children and brought the collected diapers to two agencies in October, just a few months ago. This spring, Bundled Blessings added a third partner agency. They plan to provide 50 diapers to several dozen babies and toddlers per month.

But, why diapers? What makes that need so urgent?

I can relate. When my husband and I had our second child, neither of us had a secure job—for several years. We had a difficult time finding money for the necessities—for many, many months. I can remember sometimes being really inventive. Like putting our daughter into the bathtub for an extended bath in the evening. That way, I could possibly save a disposable diaper that day, and only use six per day, instead of seven.

I can empathize with moms today who cut corners so closely. Their babies and toddlers wear diapers longer than usual. Parents and other caregivers sometimes scrub disposable diapers so they could even be used a second time. This sad circumstance means that so many little bottoms are more often exposed to possible irritation and diaper rash. In short, little bottoms are just plain uncomfortable!

Here in Illinois, the LINK card (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) cannot be used to buy disposable diapers. So, low-income parents and caregivers need to find another way to get this necessity. Bundled Blessings fills a much needed gap.

Thank God for this new ministry, helping these local partner agencies to make certain babies and toddlers have one of the necessities of life: diapers.

If anyone would like more information, check out First United Methodist’s website, http://www.faithatfirst.com and you can contact: bundledblessings@faithatfirst.com or bundledblessings@outlook.com .

@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!)