How to Pray? How to Serve.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, November 5, 2014

pink roses, again

How to Pray? How to Serve.

Today, this was my week to pray. I mean, for an intercessory prayer group I am part of. Each Wednesday, in round robin fashion, a member of the group offers prayers for the rest. By email. I know that there are more than fifteen members. I know that I have only met two others (and one is the administrator for the prayer group). But there is a cohesiveness in prayer. A fellowship and kinship that comes from gathering in prayer together.

Today, I had the opportunity to gather prayer requests (and praises!) from a friendly group that meets together each Wednesday morning. I had the privilege to pray for those who were at the group meeting, and those others we were missing. God, this is awesome. And, a privilege. And, exciting to be able to lift up many prayer requests and cries for God to act. For God to do or not to do, to speak or not to speak. God knows.

I get prayer requests from the most different sort of amalgamation of prayer email. And telephone calls. And people stopping by. Some prayer requests come from relatives or friends, concerned about their loved one. Near or far, that doesn’t matter to God. God will hear, God will encourage and support you.

I ask the dear Lord to help me to be welcoming. And honest, and caring. God, help me to be prepared with all the unknown events of the day ahead. And God, we pray for the sick, the shut-ins, for those who are far away. And, especially for those who do not know You. Thanks for loving me, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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

Helping One Another in Friendship and Prayer

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 2, 2014

PRAY God's help a prayer away

Helping One Another in Friendship and Prayer

A lovely day! Perfectly gorgeous, with blue sky and temperature right around 80 degrees. Almost perfect summer’s day. Just what an August day ought to be. Errands and some computer work filled up a good part of the day.

I did some self-care today, too. I went to a yoga class this morning, and spent an hour and a half working hard. Stretching, bending, holding poses. A ton of work, too. Many of the people in the yoga class are much more accomplished, even eager to get down to some advanced poses. But my teacher? Wonderful, welcoming, kind. (All things I admire.) Yes, there is encouragement to strive to do our best, to even try to reach a little further, or to get a little more out of the stretch or bend. She presents the class in just the way I prefer it. One of my children has done yoga in high school, and tells me of certain teachers who are much more dictatorial. Not mine! I am very glad.

However, I didn’t spend this whole day concentrating just on me. I particularly want to mention a friend I ran into over coffee. (Actually, there was a little group of us, but I connected with one person in particular, today.)

As we talked, I found my friend and I had a similar concern. A prayer request. It was almost funny (ironic?) how closely our two prayer requests matched. Tracked with each other. Almost as if God meant for us to talk with each other today. Of course, I don’t put such things past God. Piece of cake for the Almighty! God can certainly manage such a minor, even miniscule thing like bringing two people together to encourage and support each other.

Similar to when I was at the conference two weeks ago. There were over seven hundred people at the campus in the Pennsylvania small town. Wouldn’t you know that I happened to run into several people? It almost seemed as if these meetings were by chance. But after a few of the “by chance” meetings, I finally figured out that God must be up to something. (Just like God may well have done—orchestrating “by chance” meetings and coordinating impromptu conversations.)

In the same way, I suspect God’s hand at work in the situation later today, too. What a marvelous thing, to have such a loving, kind, gracious God. And, I continue to pray about this continuing situation (actually, in both of these continuing situations=my friend’s and mine). God, thanks for listening to us when we pray. And meditate. And everything in between.

@chaplaineliza

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

My Son and I—Being Kind Together?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 3, 2014

BK kindness let me do it now

My Son and I—Being Kind Together?

There we were—in conversation with one another. (Rare circumstance now, that we should be in the same room together long enough to actually have a conversation!)

My son knows about this blog. (As he might ironically say, “Duh, Mom! Of course I know about it!”) After all, I’ve just been involved in this being-kind-thing for five months now. Anyway, he and I talked about my efforts to be kind and to take opportunities to be of service, and help others.

I acknowledge my religious affiliation. Yes, God (or if you like, my Higher Power) is a part of my motivation for this being-kind-thing. But, wait! There’s more! I have the definite feeling that God is pleased by my efforts to be of service to others. To be kind. My son had his own slant on this: he called it “light work.” He is exploring his own understandings of spirituality and God/Higher Power, and he is enthusiastic about my daily writing about being kind.

We had a lively, intellectual discussion this afternoon about how exerting positive energy (his term) helped a person to have a positive feeling/aura that emanated from them. (Again, his slant.) I agreed, and tried to say something similar to what he just said, but with a Christian understanding. We ended up agreeing that positive, beneficial feelings naturally came out of a person who was in the regular habit of being kind, helping others, and looking for opportunities to serve.

I gave him a specific example. I told him about our trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden two days ago. His father, sister and I went to enjoy the beautiful weather and even more beautiful floral and greenery displays. As the three of us walked toward a small bridge, we approached a family coming toward us. From my years and experience in the hospital, I identified them as Latino. Several women, some preschool or elementary aged daughters, and two men. The father (or maybe uncle?) pushed a toddler boy in a fancy plastic car with a long handle. (Bright blue, with red wheels and a red handle!) I made eye contact with the father and the boy as I came toward them. I smiled. The toddler looked up at me. Just as the man passed me, pushing the blue car, I looked down at the toddler. I smiled even more, bent over a little, and said, “Bueno!”

That was it. But the little boy started to smile! So did the adults. I straightened, made eye contact with the man and with the women again, and nodded my head as they passed us on the path.

My daughter and husband were several steps behind me. My daughter sighed. I heard my husband say softly to my daughter, “You might roll your eyes now, but eventually you will appreciate how your mom can instantly connect with people.”

This made me smile! All of it. My non-verbal interaction with the family on the bridge, my daughter’s subsequent sigh (and probable eye roll), and my husband’s comeback. But this was a wonderful example of being kind. Taking the opportunity to be friendly. Open, welcoming! Or as my son would say, practicing “light work.” God, thanks for the great opportunity! Help me be open to Your leading tomorrow, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being kind? At the YMCA

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 18, 2014

be kind to others

Being Kind? At the YMCA

Week in, week out, I try to keep to some sort of weekly schedule. Not daily schedule, no. For me right now, each day is a little different. Some days have more involvement, others have various meetings or errands, and most days have at least some work-related activity. However, rare it is to find myself at home all day (and all night, too) with no social interaction whatsoever.

Saturday morning is a time I set aside for going to the gym for one of my several-times-weekly exercise sessions. I am fortunate that I don’t find it very difficult to get to the gym. I understand that motivation is a large barrier to some people when they begin an exercise routine. Thank God, not me. I understand the benefits that come from regular stretching and exercise! So, I try to make it to the YMCA here in town three times a week.

Today, I happened to pass S in the hallway at the Y, a lovely woman I’ve known for a number of years. S so often has a bright smile and a sunny disposition. S and I greeted each other this morning, said a few words, and parted after exchanging big smiles. That’s all.  It was only a brief interaction, but I remembered it. Distinctly. As I reflected on the chance encounter in the hallway outside of the women’s locker room, I thought of S’s job. She’s now on the janitorial staff at the YMCA. My town is pretty egalitarian. I’ve found that people generally greet each other regardless of the employment or society position they hold. But the situation is somewhat different for those ladies who work in the locker room.

Sometimes, the denizens of the locker room have no interaction at all. Admittedly, the locker room is an intimate place. Women get dressed, undressed, take showers, dry hair, and a hundred and one other little things involving personal, intimate details. I have been working out at the YMCA here in town for five years, and I’ve noticed. On occasion, those in the locker room don’t even speak a word to someone changing at the locker right next to them. What about the women on the janitorial staff who take such excellent care of the locker room? Who keep it clean, welcoming and usable for the many women who change there on a daily basis? Sometimes these kind, generous women might just as well be invisible. (I observe things like that, especially since I have a personal and professional interest in how people interact in different social situations.)  True, the locker room can be an odd place, due to the emotions, mores, and upbringing of all those who inhabit it.

But for me, I always try to have a kind and friendly word for S, as well as the other janitorial staff who keep the YMCA clean and inviting. What a way of being kind to all of us, who use the place on a regular basis!  I thank God for all of you.

@chaplaineliza