When I’m Reminded to Give It Away (#BestOf)

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

Another day of service, another opportunity to be kind. I can be kind in all sorts of situations, including the library. Take a read, and find out how.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, May 19, 2014

dancing dancing

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away

Giving it away—doing things joyfully, for others. Being kind, caring and helpful, to others—that’s what I am trying to do!

However, I have a problem. It’s ME. I carry myself around each day, between my ears. I concentrate on myself, I am self-centered, and even selfish, from time to time. (Well, maybe even more often than that.) Some days—nights, too—it gets a bit old. Or unbearable. I feel badly, as I realize it yet again.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this my Year of Being Kind? Whatever happened to 365 Days of Service?

Oh, I almost forgot. My negative, self-centered state of mind is part and parcel of the human condition. Looking out for number one! That’s me. I freely admit it. (Don’t we all think—and sometimes act—like this, from time to time?) That kind of negative, selfish state of mind is part of the reason why I wanted to try to look for intentional acts of service to do each day. If I think about doing things for another person, I have the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel of self-importance. Serving others gets me out of my own head. Not that this is a sure-fire way to get off the merry-go-round of endless quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. But being kind certainly goes a long way towards eradicating that kind of negativity.

I heard an acquaintance of mine talking about this very thing, earlier today. Being kind, with no strings attached. Why is that so difficult? Oh, yeah. The negative, self-centered thing. (Some might even call it ‘sin.’) Whatever it’s called, if I practice getting out of myself, being kind becomes easier. And easier.

This afternoon, I went to the library and asked the children’s librarian for help in choosing some recent picture books. I’m getting ready to read to the preschoolers tomorrow. (Tuesday is reading day!) So, I was gearing up to be kind. To be of service. She was so helpful, knowing which books were recently released. And, I really enjoyed going through some possible books and deciding which ones would be good to read. (I love children’s books with innovative illustrations and engaging stories!)

So—an enjoyable afternoon? Talking with a librarian-lady who obviously loved her subject material? And, choosing books that I hope will be amusing and engaging for the children? All wonderful things. And the best part is that I didn’t get caught up inside my own head and my mental hamster wheel once. Not one single time! All in all, I think this was a good day for being kind.

Thanks for the good ideas, God!


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(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!)




Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House? (#BestOf)

 (the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Remodeling? Yes, this is where I was at, last year. What a mess! But now, almost a year later, it was so worth it! Looking at our modest (all right—small, it’s true) bathroom, I know the headaches were just for a little while. The facelift, the fresh tile, the new paint? All go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable in our modest condo. Lord, is that what You want me to feel like in my spiritual house, too?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, March 30, 2014

bathroom painting - Oleg Kujala (Lichtenstein exhibition)

bathroom painting – Oleg Kujala
(Lichtenstein exhibition)


Remodel a Room in My Spiritual House?

A week from tomorrow. That’s the deadline for the day the contractor is coming to do work on the bathroom. On top of that, a handyman friend of mine is going to paint our living room later this week. One problem: we have A LOT of books. And I mean A LOT. I promised we would box them all up and move them down to the basement so the four bookshelves in our living room would be easy to move. As a result, our place is topsy-turvy right now.

Is topsy-turvy an analogy for my life, or what? My life seems to be off-kilter.

I just left a job last week. I just started a job two weeks before. My house is a jumble. I am excited at the prospect of things coming up. I’m not quite sure what they are, but they are still exciting.

Because almost every facet of my life is turned upside down right now, I am falling back on the trusty old one-day-at-a-time thing. That wonderful way of life tells me not to worry about tomorrow, not to concern myself with yesterday. Only consider today. It sure simplifies a lot. At first, today I paid attention to the morning service. I handled my responsibilities, and everything went well. I enjoyed meeting people at church and talking with them, praying with them. It was great! I didn’t overthink anything, or worry too much.

I think Jesus would be proud of me. That’s the way to follow Matthew 6:34—only concern myself with one day at a time.

This afternoon, after boxing up some more books and staging them in the living room, my daughter and I went to the big box do-it-yourself store to buy some tile and grout for our bathroom. Yes, it was inexpensive tile, with a nice, stylish accent tile around, under the top border. Understated, and attractive. Best of all, the price was great. Came back home, boxed up more books. Today’s activities? All accomplished. Good enough.

While packing and going through our books, my husband and I are sorting, too. Separating, and choosing books to give away. I brought another big bunch to the resale store today. I still see piles of stuff when I look around my apartment, but I realize most of the piles are staged to go various places. I am giving away a lot of books. And, we are in the process of making our condo a more comfortable place to live.

God, do You have something for me to learn from this exercise? Is my life in need of a spiritual overhaul?

Do I have a “bathroom” inside where the old, tired tile needs to be pulled off the wall, and fresh, new tile gets put up? I already know You are my Contractor. You get to say where things in my life need attention, and when I ought to work on things. I hesitate to ask You where and when work needs to be done next, because You will let me know! All right, already. I will. Show me what needs work. And help me have the persistence and gumption to stick to it. One day at a time. Thanks, God!


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(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!)

Thanksgiving Dinner becomes an Opportunity to Help (Feature Friday!)

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

THANKS give thanks to the Lord - Psalm 107

Thanksgiving Dinner becomes an Opportunity to Help (Feature Friday!)

For those of you following at home, I did not eat a big turkey dinner on Thursday, the traditional Thanksgiving Day. No, instead, I celebrated on Friday. I joined with my family at my sister’s large house. Lovely table, delicious bird, wonderful side dishes. All in all, a successful meal. Excellent, as always. Just as I told my sister.

What I would like to highlight is my daughters (and their friends, too). All three of my daughters were in attendance. And, all three of them were working hard to get the food and drink ready. Prepare the table. Slice and boil and stir and open, and all the other dozens of small tasks it takes to get a large meal ready.

This reminded me so much of holidays past. Not only here, at my sister’s house. But at my mom’s house, years ago. There were similar scenes that occurred in my mom’s smaller kitchen. The turkey—or ham, or roast beef, depending on what Mom chose to serve—and the group of relatives and a few friends offering their help and assistance in getting the table all set.

And, eating? Too much eating. Years ago, and now, too.

Thank God I come from a family that, even though we usually did have to scrimp and save when I was young, did have a turkey with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving. Yes, I am thankful for enough. Enough when I was small, in my parents’ house. Enough when I was a young mom (although, sometimes scrimping and saving again), and enough right now. Enough, and then some.

Thank God I have three healthy daughters (and their friends) who are able to gather with the family, and help prepare dinner, serve, and clean up, and generally assist my oldest sister. I am so appreciative of family, and of friends. And of people who are more than willing to roll up their sleeves and volunteer. Help out. Be of service, willingly. Lovingly.


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Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, November 23, 2014

THANKS filled with both thanks and giving

Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

Thanksgiving! Yes, that was the focus of the Sunday morning worship service at our church today.

Giving thanks was an important part of the service. For a scripture passage this morning, I used the readings for Thanksgiving, instead of this particular Sunday, Christ the King Sunday. Yes, it was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. True! However, I had a strong feeling to preach from the Thanksgiving Gospel reading today. From Luke 17, the narrative of the Ten Lepers.

Sure, this particular reading could be viewed from any one of a number of ways. However, I took the view of thankfulness. Ten lepers asked for pity. Mercy. Healing. And—only one returned to give thanks. (The ex-leper was even a Samaritan, not a Jew.)

Yes, I did bring up the other nine ex-lepers, briefly. But, I did not allow us to get bogged down in what might have been, or what flights of imagination easily could have come up with. It also might have devolved into, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” I did not want that to happen.

Instead, I discussed the one ex-leper who did come back. As soon as he noticed his healing, he came back to the Rabbi Jesus, like a shot. Thanked Jesus! Praised God! And—Jesus commended him, even though he was a Samaritan. (Gee, he must have been doubly marginalized, being a leper and a Samaritan.)

I lifted this thankful, grateful ex-leper up as an example for all those in the congregation. I asked, “What are you—any of you—thankful for? Grateful for? I gave a few examples from the church’s life, and then went out into the congregation. Asked for personal examples. Personal incidents. Testimonies! We certainly shared some significant situations today. We all saw how much God was continuing to bless, and give God’s gifts to one and all. We all saw how great God’s love is toward us.

So—are we thankful, today? How about grateful? God opens doors too numerous for me to even imagine. We can be grateful and thankful for so much. One last way? We can help each other, too. That can show others how much we feel, too. How about you?


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How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 28, 2014

hearts in hands

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

I was not feeling 100 percent today. (I felt even worse yesterday . . . ) Being under the weather is unpleasant, to say the least! I wonder what God would say about me laying low, and not doing too much, either yesterday or today? I hope God would nod, and say, “That’s all right. You rest up, and take it easy.” I know that’s what I would say, if any of my children or my husband were at home sick. Or, not feeling well. But I can use my computer, even if I do feel unwell.

I also wanted to concentrate on the verse of the month today: Proverbs 19:17 – “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” Coincidentally (or, providentially—depending on how you look at it), I read in an online article yesterday about several ideas for church outreach. One of them really struck a chord. The idea that resonated with me concerned a local school. The suggestion is for a church to ‘adopt’ a school in their community. Willingly filling a need for the school is a wonderful way of giving back to the neighborhood. And, it is a wonderful witness to the community, too.

Yesterday, I sent email to several members of the Church Council, telling them of this innovative idea. I received a go-ahead! One of our church members is also on the Parent Teacher Organization at her child’s school—a school in the neighborhood. She and I talked today, and I am so glad she can ask whether our church might be able to help with any special needs the school might have. Especially since the holidays are fast approaching, along with cold weather.

I suppose this idea was gestating in my head for about a day. On Sunday, two of the older ladies were talking after church about things they used to do for outreaches. Like, for example, collecting mittens, hats and scarves to bring to a Christian child welfare agency in Chicago. I know that my children’s elementary school used to do the same thing—collect mittens, hats and scarves for the needy in our community, too. (Of course, they are long past that age, with my youngest a senior in high school.)

I’m not sure quite what the neighborhood school will suggest to our church, but we can do our best to be ready. To be of service. Be helpful. Be kind. And if anyone would like to offer prayers for our church’s outreach to the elementary school, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.

Gee, if I didn’t know better, I would think I’m starting to communicate this being-kind-sort-of thing. Thanks for the idea, God! May it be a blessing to many in our neighborhood. Including the good folks at St. Luke’s Church.


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Helpful? Four Significant Conversations.

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

speak so others listen, listen so others speak to you

Helpful? Four Significant Conversations.

I’ve been told I have the spiritual gift of helps. As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I enjoy helping people! Sure, I’ve needed to learn when and where to offer a hand. But by and large, when I do offer to help, people are open. Receptive. Sometimes, even grateful.

Today, I participated in a number of conversations. Four were especially significant. In two of them, I was greatly helped. The other two conversations? That was where I helped others out. And, I think they were grateful.

One of the conversations was with my spiritual director. She is marvelous! I am so blessed to have her as my spiritual mentor. I asked her for her opinion, and then advice, on two subjects. Wow! She has such clarity and understanding. I thought that conversation very helpful to me. Also, she aided me in some direction I ought to take. Always a plus, particularly when I am wondering which of several paths to take.

In two of the other conversations today, I was helpful to two separate people. I went the extra distance with one, and sent several files by email after our conversation. I hope the files made my points clear. At least, my friend said that the electronic file transfer would be helpful. (I certainly hope so!)

I was just thinking to myself—I wonder how the Rabbi Jesus (as He was, in His earthly body) was involved in personal interaction? The Gospels record a number of conversations Jesus was involved in. I never really thought about it before, but I could track the interactions Jesus had with others. Categorize them. Find places where Jesus was helpful. Of service. See whether I can find any other commonalities. That would be fascinating, and helpful! (And, I am certain it’s been done before. But, fascinating, nonetheless!)

Even though I purposely set out to be helpful, people don’t always want assistance. They want to do things on their own sometimes. Yeah. I get that. And that’s okay. Even great! But for me to be ready, able-bodied, willing to help when asked or needed? That’s worth a great deal. Yes, I can be of service. I am often kind. I want to help. God, lead me into situations where I can be helpful. Like I was today. And, thanks for the conversations I had, where I was the one who received help.


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How to Be of Service? Taxi Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 30, 2014

God best relationship you can have

How to Be of Service? Taxi Service!

Email. Work, work. Telephone call. Read to children. Email. Meeting. Computer work. Email. More work. Telephone call. Then—taxi service!

To go back to the beginning of my day, I kicked things off with email. Checking several blogs I follow. Writing. And, talking with my son. I so enjoy our interaction. (I don’t mean to brag, but I’m going to say some really nice things about my son. About his intelligence, his curiosity, his kindness, his capability. All wonderful features.) I left for work, and promptly got on the phone once I arrived. Hit the ground running, and didn’t stop all afternoon.

When I talked about my son just now, that made me wonder. How does God talk about me? About you? Is God a loving parent? Does God feel any twinges when you and I do something like go away for school? Does God miss us when we go wandering away—in a far country? What about when I am disobedient—what then? How about when I make God happy and proud, by going out of my way to help someone?

That’s sort of what I did, this afternoon. Helping someone, I mean. I went to the convention center near O’Hare airport about 5 o’clock, and picked up my husband. He was out covering a trade show, preparing to write for his trade publication. I don’t usually drive very far from home during afternoon rush hour, but today was an exception. I could hardly wait to ride back home with my husband. (Really and truly.) Hear about his interesting day, and all the kinds of things that went on at the show.

What about God? Is God interested to have us tell God what is going on in our lives? What happy, sad, scary or exciting things are happening to us? I know God is eager to communicate. To be together. \

What about you? What about me? How often does it slip our minds and neglect to remember God in prayer? Or, what’s worse, to just run away—like the prodigal going to a far country?

It helps me so much to understand that God is described by the prophet Hosea as a loving, caring Heavenly Parent, cuddling us to God’s chest. What a comforting, nurturing thought! Gee, thanks, God!


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