Are You Being Served? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, April 9, 2017

As I read through a 2014 blog post list from A Year of Being Kind, this blog post jumped out at me. Yes, I still go into Curt’s Café from time to time (even though it is a little out of my usual traffic pattern). And, I am so glad they expanded—to a second location, on the south side of Evanston, on Dempster near Evanston Township High School. What a great opportunity for young people, looking for a leg up! And what a wonderful chance for restorative justice to be lived out. Thank you, Susan. Thank you to all the supporters of Curt’s Café, too!

coffee shop drawing

Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, March 14, 2014

Are You Being Served? (Feature Friday!)

Imagine a place where young people are valued. Mentored. Taught not only what to do on the job, but how to manage life skills, as well. Imagine no longer—this place is for real, and it’s Curt’s Café, in Evanston, Illinois. This café and coffee shop in north Evanston has a mission to “equip at-risk youth (15 to 22 years old) with job and life skills through training, career coaching and mentoring.”

Worthy goals, you say? That’s not all. The training and support these young people receive help them to succeed in life, find worthwhile employment, and become active participants in their local community. These young men and women are not always the first choice for general employment, because of a brush with the legal system. Or, they haven’t had the opportunities that other youth often take for granted. Those are things that usually are a red flag to employers. However, the staff and director at Curt’s Café go out of their way to provide these young people (“at risk”) with fine opportunities. Careful training by food service professionals. Mentoring in positive, helpful life skills. Gainful employment.

I had the opportunity to talk today with Susan Trieschmann, Curt’s Café’s executive director. She said one of the most transformative things about working at the Café is watching the transformations happen in the lives of the young people. And, she not only watches the youth working and training at the Café, but also watches the interactions of the patrons with the staff.  Susan marvels at the patience of the patrons, and talks about observing them “dig deep down and grab the patience from somewhere inside.”

She gave a recent example. A good-hearted recent hire at the Café was serving breakfast to a father and daughter. The young man messed the order up. He not only messed up, but he has issues with shyness. Messing up the order made his shyness even more apparent. Susan observed the daughter encouraging the staff member and letting him know that it was all right. People mess up. And that just happens sometimes.

Penny Doyle, fundraising manager for the Café, is touched by transformation, too. She watches the young women and men become more confident as they continue to grow in learning at the Café. Learning not only about the restaurant and food service business, but about life in general. She especially has gratitude for the incredible community support. Penny encourages anyone who would like to contact the Café to check out their Facebook page or contact them at www.curtscafe.org. And donations are a wonderful thing, as well!

The patrons, by and large, realize and fully support the mission of Curt’s Café; they have a great capacity for willing understanding. Even active encouragement!  Susan, who attends classes on a part-time basis at Catholic Theological Union, is fully committed to the mission of the Café. This ministry is a visible, tangible way for restorative justice to be lived out. Lived out locally, in our community, praise God.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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


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!)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I went in for a regularly scheduled dental visit last week. Teeth cleaning. When the dentist came in, he gave me a clean bill of dental health. As I read through several posts from June 2014 (when I was in the middle of my Year of Being Kind), I came across this one—where I talked about self-care, and how self-care was so important a part of the life of someone in the caring profession. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s good to take care of oneself. Jesus is an excellent example for me. God willing, may I continue to follow His example and continue to take care of myself.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

kindness sand image

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@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. Thanks!)

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

 

 

 

Kindness Through Planning and Preparation

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 8, 2014

prayer and meditation

Kindness Through Planning and Preparation

My husband has the occasional dream (or is it nightmare?) where he is completely unprepared for a class. Different classes—middle school, high school, and sometimes college—with different specifics, but he always seems to be completely unprepared.

Me? I don’t remember my dreams. Well—that isn’t quite true. I rarely (and I mean, very, very rarely) remember my dreams. I might have similar dreams, like my husband. I just don’t remember them. However, I wouldn’t like to be caught unprepared, either. (Especially caught with my pants down, as has happened in my husband’s dreams now and then. Really.)

What does all this have to do with being kind, you ask? Great question! I am busily preparing for a morning of presentations and group facilitation, coming up soon. The presentation is going to be a morning of focus on prayer and meditation. A beginner’s overview, with some prayer practice built in during the final half hour. I’m excited! Enthused! Pumped! Oh, and I am wondering whether anyone will show up. *sigh* (That’s the nervous, anxious, nail-biting-me talking.)

Ultimately, who comes or doesn’t choose to come to the morning presentation doesn’t really matter. What matters is my stewardship. How faithfully and well I plan and prepare. I am providing service to others, and I hope those who attend the morning groups and presentation receive a blessing. And if they receive helpful, encouraging information, too, that’s an additional bonus!

I don’t usually talk about this here, but in addition to my Master of Divinity degree, I also am certified in the State of Illinois as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (or, CADC). As I share about prayer and meditation and facilitate that group, I will also weave some basic recovery principles into the presentations. Spirituality, prayer, and meditation intersect and are closely aligned with the recovery program. A well-rounded understanding of prayer and meditation can be helpful to those who would also like a more thorough understanding of the recovery program.

So, yeah. That’s what I am busily involved in right now. Actually, it’s fascinating, finding so many intersections of prayer, meditation, and spirituality. Then, the practical side, the practice-part. And to add some spice to the mix, a healthy dose of recovery principles.

Is this being of service? Is it kind? Am I helpful? I hope so. I pray so. God willing, let it be so.

@chaplaineliza

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

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.

@chaplaineliza

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

Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 22, 2014

silhouette crucifix and stars

Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

I spent the first half of the day in Pennsylvania, at the mission conference I’ve attended for a number of years. While there (even for so short a time), I had a number of significant experiences, conversations, and “divine appointments.” However, one of the most significant parts of today happened at one of the sessions. The first speaker of the morning (Russell Smith) spoke on several things this morning, but one piece of his session impressed itself upon my heart with particular depth.

Russ used two Scripture references to illustrate this point. His first (which he will expand tomorrow—when I won’t be there . . . <sob!>) was from Psalm 139. Each of us is created an individual. God made each of us, and designed us while we were inside of our mother’s bodies. God knew every facet of each one of us. And, God created each of us the way we are for a reason. (That’s the A-part of what Russ said.) The B-part, the second Scripture verse Russ referred to, was Ephesians 2:10. Each of us—each individual—is God’s masterpiece. We will not become a masterpiece at some future point in time, but God created each of us as a masterpiece already, in Christ Jesus. God designed each individual for God’s purposes, and God created good works for us to do—so each of us has a job (or work, or things to do), prepared for us beforehand.

Yes, I knew all this already. Ephesians 2:10 is and has been so precious to me! But have you ever known something already, even known it by heart, or from the time you were very small, or have been through it a hundred times before . . . and all of a sudden, it’s presented to you once again. Strangely enough, this time, the same-old, same-old words come across in a profound way.

That’s what happened to me. These words knocked my socks off. Moreover, I had the distinct feeling these words, this teaching, was for me. Not for anyone else, today. I can clutch it tight to my chest, like a small child holds a beloved, treasured stuffed animal in its arms.

Later in the morning, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn outward. To be of service. To listen to a grandparent tell about their grandchild who is seriously ill. A continuing difficulty. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. What an awesome thing that I was there, to listen, with my less-anxious presence. I could tell this grandparent was concerned about the grandchild, so far away. And—I have been trained for just such an eventuality.

This second happening was also from God, intended for someone else. God provided a sympathetic ear and an understanding heart. (At least, I hope I was sympathetic and understanding!)

I thank God for new opportunities to serve. To be kind. And especially, for when people are kind to me.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

BK show more kindness than necessary

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@chaplaineliza

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