Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, August 26, 2014

cat drawing from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

cat drawing
from 1000illustrations (Tumblr)

Being Kind to a Daughter’s Cat

One of my daughters has a cat. And a roommate. What to do when both she and her roommate are out of town? Ask her mom to be of service, of course. To take care of the cat, I mean.

Toby, the domestic shorthair cat, is quite affectionate. She’s tiger-striped (in shades of brown), with a white bib and paws. She doesn’t mew very loudly, but she does make her presence known. For example, when I’m typing on my laptop—like I am right now. Yes, I’m at Toby’s apartment. She’s been fed, her water’s changed, and I’ve cleaned her litter box. She is regularly coming over to me and asking for petting. I’m happy to oblige! (At least, being careful not to touch my face with a hand full of cat dander. Allergies.) That’s how I’m being kind, today.

Toby makes me think of various pets I’ve shared my house with in my life, or have been in my sister’s life. When I was born, there was a large, friendly Airedale terrier resident in my parents’ house. My earliest memories were of her. Fond memories, indeed! Then, when I was in the middle grades, my parents got another Airedale. A bit smaller, but equally as friendly! Such good girls. So affectionate. And the adventurous, striped cat that shared our apartment when my older girls were small? They all certainly made me feel good. I don’t want to forget my sister’s dogs over the years: the Labrador mix, the German shepherd mix, and the Vizsla? All faithful companions, every one. God, thank You so much for bringing animals and people together! So helpful. So loving. So inspiring!

A recent online article I read spoke of depression, and several simple ways to lessen its effects. A proper, healthy diet and regular exercise featured highly in this article. However, the article also mentioned companionship of pets. Just petting an affectionate dog or cat helps me feel better. Amazing, I know. This is one sure-fire way for me to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. Of course, sharing a house or apartment with pets is not for everyone. But for those who are able, our animal friends are wonderful, loving companions.

Besides, I can be of service to my daughter, and help out her cat, at the same time. Sounds to me like a win-win-win situation!

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind to a Centenarian

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, August 14, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Being Kind to a Centenarian

Imagine being one hundred years old. Wow. That’s almost twice as old as I am, right now.

I talked with Chuck, a good friend of mine, on the phone recently. We discussed a great many things. And then, he mentioned a dear senior, an aged man we both know and love. “Can you imagine? He turned one hundred a few days ago. A number of us went to see him and had a birthday party for him.”

I know and am familiar with the care center where the senior is now living. I can just imagine the birthday party. The circle of aged and elderly residents, all around the table. The guests, gathered by the birthday person’s side. There are often some employees attending the party, too. Certain residents inspire a great deal of affection, on the part of residents as well as the workers in the care center. I’m sure this centenarian had a number of employees at his party. (He has lived there for a number of years. He’s been a much beloved person to those all over the center.)

Singing “Happy Birthday to You”—I can just hear it. The cake. The balloons. But our dear, elderly friend is not as aware as he once was. So bittersweet, having a celebration for someone who wasn’t sure exactly who was at the birthday party. My friend Chuck thought this dear man understood that it was his birthday, though.

I’ve known this gentle, humorous senior for twenty years. Faithful, friendly, loving and kind. He was truly an example of being kind. Being of service. So helpful, going out of his way to do things for those who were shy of asking for help. Even crossing the street to say hello and find out how people truly were.

I hope and pray that all of us are aided to remember this wonderful, courageous, helpful man who did so much for so many. Without reward, without fanfare, without the benefit of tweets on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or posts on Facebook. Dear God, bless my dear, senior friend. The centenarian.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness to a Daughter (and Granddaughter)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, August 10, 2014

birdhouse and flowers

Kindness to a Daughter (and Granddaughter)

My youngest daughter is leaving home, for college. Soon. This afternoon, we went for a drive, and ended up at a mall. I bought my daughter some needed clothes. We did a little windowshopping, too.

The wonderful thing about our drive (on such a beautiful day, too!) was that it was unhurried. We took our time, and had no time constraints placed on us. A wonderful feeling, too! We went into Chicago and drove through some areas that I had not visited for some time. We saw some really attractive areas of Chicago, and I went a little out of my way to show my daughter some special houses, and houses from the turn of the 20th century, too. (Fascinating!)

I took the opportunity to relate some vignettes about my mother—dead these past twelve years. My mom was an amazing lady, and her wide and varied interests included art, architecture, real estate, history, and political science. (She had a bachelor’s degree in political science, earned in the 1940’s.)

Traveling down those very familiar—yet not-recently-traveled—city streets sparked some bittersweet memories. My daughter and I continued to talk about her grandma, mentioned some things she used to do and places she liked to frequent. As I went further into Chicago, we also talked about her great-aunt, my mom’s sister. She died a few years ago, over ninety years old. Another dear lady.

My mother loved being a grandma. She loved all her grandchildren dearly. She would have been so excited to see her first grandchild (my niece) get married. Just two weekends ago, that happened in Washington state. I was unable to attend, but Grandma would have loved it. And, it’s another of the grandchildren entering another stage of life.

This is my third daughter going off to school. Yes, it’s bittersweet to have another child leave home. Yet, I am so pleased another of my children is doing so well. She is growing up to be a curious, competent, capable, and interesting young lady.

So, yes. I acted as a mom. I did more mom-things today, by buying my daughter several items for the fall semester. (My daughter really appreciated the clothes, and told me so.) I realize it’s kind-of my job, as a parent, getting my daughter outfitted for college. But, it wasn’t a chore. My daughter and I had a very enjoyable afternoon. It was fun. A good time. And yes, a bittersweet time.

I wish my mother had had the opportunity to see her grandchildren continue to grow, and learn. But I know my children were glad for all the time they did have with their Grandma. My mom was regularly kind and helpful to her grandchildren. And me? I was kind to my daughter today. Thanks, God, for a wonderful afternoon.

@chaplaineliza

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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

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Being Kind, Going to Ravinia

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ravinia poster, 1923

Ravinia poster, 1923

Being Kind, Going to Ravinia

Several months ago, my husband broke one of his coffee mugs. He was sad! It was one of his ‘favorite-est’ mugs. A mug given away as a premium or a gift from the classical music station in town, WFMT-FM. (98.7 on our FM dial.) He accidentally knocked it over while sitting at the kitchen table, and it went over the edge. Crash, onto the floor! Like I said, he was extremely sad.

Wouldn’t you know, but a number of days after that came an opportunity for me to get another mug. Sure enough, WFMT held their spring membership drive. I took the bait. I got my husband another coffee mug. Except, during the hour I called in, the morning drive time host (Carl Grapentine) offered a special bonus. Two tickets to Ravinia, absolutely free. No extra charge. Just the amount requested for the WFMT mug. Well, who wouldn’t want to go to one of Chicago’s premier summer concert venues? You better believe I called in right away!

I’ve been a member of WFMT some years, on occasion, as the pocketbook permits. And this spring, there was enough money to splurge just a little on a coffee mug for my husband. Besides, this was a wonderful birthday present for my husband, whose birthday was coming up at the end of April. (Sometimes, he can be a bit of a challenge to get presents for.) And, this also was a great way for me to be kind to my husband! (Recognize, A Year of Being Kind?)

Yes, my husband did very much enjoy the new coffee mug, which did arrive in time for his birthday. Now, this is a new one of his ‘favorite-est’ mugs! I also received the Ravinia tickets under separate cover, a few weeks later. I tucked them away, since July seemed SO long away at the end of April . . . Yet, here we now are, Sunday, July 6, 2014. Tonight, the two of us went to see Chanticleer, compliments of WFMT. Awesome, luscious, complex vocal harmonies! Top flight performance, as well. And, such a setting, too. Everything conspired to make it a perfectly lovely evening!

I don’t do this very often, at all. Treat myself to one of the awesome musical events that regularly go on in the Chicago area, that is. I guess you could say that WFMT was kind to me and my husband! I know I was being kind to someone (which I was, originally, getting my husband the mug). The radio station took it one step further; they took the initiative to be kind to us—to my husband and me.

God, thank You so much for the gift of music. All different kinds of music. And, thanks for the kindness of the people at WFMT-FM.

@chaplaineliza

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Mutual Encouragement, Mutual Kindness!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, June 26, 2014

THANK God for remembering you Phil1-3

Mutual Encouragement, Mutual Kindness!

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” The words of Philippians 1:3 suddenly popped into my head as I remembered my good friend Chuck. Just thinking of him brings a smile to my face! It is good to know that I have such a wonderful friend as Chuck. True, we haven’t seen each other in quite a number of months, but we have kept in touch by phone. And today, by lunch.

Chuck is an ordained Presbyterian minister, and he’s going to help me out in two weeks. He’ll come to the church where I serve, and assist with communion the first week of July. I really appreciate him! And, I hope and pray he is blessed when he serves with me in church on the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday.

But let me return to the words of Philippians 1:3. It isn’t many people who can get quite that instant response from me, but my friend Chuck will. He and I are not all that similar, since Chuck is also a retired science teacher from the City Colleges of Chicago. (And then he went to seminary, where he and I had class together some ten years ago.) I have never been brilliant at science . . . I’m more of a humanities-type of person. But Chuck and I hit it off, right from the get-go. And whenever we meet? We both talk like a house afire! And we can communicate on a deep level, too.

Isn’t that wonderful? How when you find someone with whom you can truly communicate, you are totally yourself. No hiding, no facades, no faking it. Just me. Just him. Talking up a storm.

I feel so encouraged just being with my friend. I hope he feels the same. (I think he does—I’m not absolutely sure, but I think so.) We are mutually encouraging to each other, then. What a wonderful thing! So helpful, such an opportunity for service!

What about my husband, someone wonders? He and Chuck really hit it off. The two of us have known Chuck and his wife for about twenty years. (Scary, now that I think about it . . . ) His lovely wife Yvonne—such a gracious, elegant woman. A wonderful pair, the both of them.

Yes, I thank God for the pair of them, but I really feel a connection to Chuck. Maybe it’s the seminary thing. (I don’t think so, but I’ll just go with that for now.) People need good friends they can pray with. And talk to. Just about any thing. Any thing, indeed. God, thanks so much for good friends. Like Chuck.

@chaplaineliza

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Helping, Serving—in the Short Term (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog –Friday, June 13, 2014

helping-the-poor-and-needy

Helping, Serving—in the Short Term (Feature Friday!)

I have a confession to make. I have never been on a short term mission trip. Not out of the country. Not in the United States (and there are plenty of places to minister here!).

But, I am fascinated by the short term mission experiences talked about by my new friend in South America, Rich Brown. The mission he helped found, IncaLink, has a tremendous outreach and ministry for groups from North America. Yes, IncaLink runs several kinds of mission outreaches in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. A primary way of ministry is touching the lives of youth in a number of ways—through youth job training and schooling, training youth in leadership skills, and bringing young people to South America in internship roles with IncaLink.

A companion ministry in IncaLink is very much linked with the work with youth: short term mission. When I hear short term mission, one thing that immediately leaps to my mind is groups of youth from various churches in North America, gearing up to go to some faraway place over spring break, or during summer vacation. IncaLink’s response? Yes! Certainly, that’s a part of their short term team mission and ministry! But that’s not all. Not by a long shot!

Any kind of team, of any description, can come to IncaLink and be sent out on a worthwhile ministry to one of IncaLink’s sites. (How awesome is that?) Not only youth groups, but teams of college young people, teams of men, or of women, groups of senior citizens, and other groups of just about any description are welcomed and put to good use. Doing service. Being kind. Seizing the opportunity that God offers to enter into relationship with God’s people.

When I spoke with Rich through Skype some days ago (I still think that technology is SO cool!), Rich told me that small group ministry is so important to IncaLink. Not only are they fully committed to providing God-inspired short term experiences, but a portion of the money that is paid to the mission helps fund further ministry. A portion of the money each short term team member pays into IncaLink is sent directly to the other ministries and outreaches that IncaLink provides for so many youth, children, women and men. I could tell how excited Rich was, as he told me about this “financial engine” that provides for so many wonderful things to be done in many locations.

Rich wanted to add that he would very much like young people—in college, in their twenties—to consider short term mission experiences. Internships, too. Longer than a week, he means! “Come and see,” he says. Come and see what worthwhile ministry is going on at the dump in Peru. Or the orphanage in Ecuador. Or women’s prison ministry, or ministry to seniors, or to special needs youth.

Come and see. Come for the love of God. Stay for the love of God’s people.

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 11, 2014

senior couple walking away clipart

senior couple walking away
clipart

Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day

I preached at a retirement center today. Midweek service—Hymns and Devotions.

After being away from more of a chaplain’s role for a number of months, I felt really good as I revisited it. My pastoral care gifting certainly is being expressed when I do chaplainly things, that’s for sure! Plus, I can use the spiritual gifts of encouragement and helps in this retirement setting, too. That’s fulfilling (and filling!) for me, too.

Since I got there almost a half hour before the service was to start this afternoon, I took the opportunity to go into the chapel and greet the residents who were already gathered for the service. I went down the row of wheelchairs that were placed in the chapel, spending time with each person. A few had difficulties raising their heads. (What a sad thing, to always have to look at the floor because of difficulty with the neck and back!) Several of these extreme elderly showed significant signs of frailty, and a couple more had signs of dementia.

I was so pleased to see the organist! I have known her since I served at this retirement center as a chaplain intern. (Ten years ago!) The organist is also a resident. Such a sweet, lovely person. I especially enjoyed the hymn arrangement she played just before the service began. An arrangement of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” I made special mention of the prelude. I also said this hymn reminds us that God created everything, indoors and out, and especially the creatures, the animals big and small.

After opening the service with prayer and thanksgiving, the organist and I led the congregation in two hymns. And then, the scripture lesson. Ah! I chose the Acts 2 passage from Sunday, three days ago. The passage for the day of Pentecost! And then, I talked about a Power shortage. (Especially with our Lord Jesus gone!) I moved into talk of the Holy Spirit, and reminded people that Peter said these words at the end of our passage today. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

I certainly did my best to be animated and engaging when I preached and led worship this afternoon. I received some nice compliments from the residents and others who attended the service today. I do this as a labor of love, it’s true. In addition, I am so glad that my voice was clear and sounded good to the majority of these dear seniors in the chapel.

God, what a blessing to be able to serve these dear folks. I need to remember this wonderful feeling! God, thank You for the many blessings you provided for all of these residents, all through the years. What a witness to Your love, grace, mercy and power. Amen, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service, with a Vacuum (Cleaner, That Is)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, May 25, 2014

car-wash and sponge drawing

Of Service, with a Vacuum (Cleaner, That Is)

Today is (was) the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Today was also Sunday. A wonderful day, and perfectly gorgeous outside.

I worked this morning. I do enjoy leading worship and preaching, very much! I hope and pray that the service was a blessing to many people. And afterwards, I finished up watching a video this afternoon. (My thinking? All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, indeed!) After some computer work, a few emails, and a few tweets on Twitter, my daughter and I went out to clean up the car. After all, I have a number of family members coming into town tomorrow!

One of my sisters is hosting a family reunion this week. For my part, I said I would be happy to fetch people from the airport, and drive them around town while they are here. One problem: the car needed to be cleaned out. I do this periodically, but I hadn’t done it thoroughly since last fall. Our car badly needed cleaning! Vacuuming, and general tidying up.

We have one of those do-it-yourself car washes in town. Plus, the car wash also features several heavy-duty, industrial strength vacuum cleaners. Good for clearing and cleaning out vehicles, both large and small. When I need to clean out our car, I make a beeline for this place. Accordingly, I tidied the car, cleared out all the miscellaneous junk and stuff that needed to be thrown away, and vacuumed the car.

Meanwhile, my daughter cleaned the inside windows, and the dashboard and control panel. I know we didn’t do anything like deep cleaning, but it’s amazing how nice and tidy the car looks now! And, it’s ready to pick up and drop off my family, too.

Routine maintenance, that’s one way of looking at it. Gosh, I could make an analogy out of this, without much difficulty! Regular, routine cleaning of my mind. My intellect. My emotional state. My feelings. If I tidy up mentally, from time to time, I feel better. I am more likely to be on an even keel, emotionally. Part of my mental-cleaning routine involves prayer. Meditation. Mindfulness practices. And more recently—in the past six months—I have added gentle yoga. All helpful to me!

This kind of mental, routine maintenance certainly helps me get things in order to be kind. Do acts of service. Take opportunities to be helpful. I am going to be helpful to my family! Since I ordinarily don’t have much of an opportunity to see them (most of them live out of state!), I am very glad for this chance. I am looking forward to a family-filled next few days!

@chaplaineliza

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Serving By Choosing Books

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 23, 2014

kidsbookopener

Serving By Choosing Books

For those of you who don’t know, I have four children. My youngest child just turned seventeen years old today. So, I can still remember those days of diapers and bottles, teething and banged-up knees. It’s just those days are getting further and further away. But I still remember, and as I revisit those days, I find I still enjoy being with small children. Happy for me, since there is a preschool onsite at my new job.

Yes, I am a mom. This was the way I used to describe myself. Up until a dozen years ago, that was the primary activity or purpose I used to associate with me. In fact, on occasion, when I’d go to parties or get-togethers at my older sister’s fancy house, her friends and acquaintances would sometimes ask me, “And what do you do?” Truthfully enough, I would be somewhat embarrassed. My answer would usually be, “My sister—and my older siblings? They have advanced degrees. I have children.” I’d say this in a humorous tone, and the people who asked me would often laugh.

But not any more. A dozen years ago, I started a master’s degree program, and three years later I received a master’s in divinity degree. Since then, I have had exciting and interesting experiences in the church, in hospitals and care centers, and at inpatient detox units and rehab centers.

However—I am still a mom. I still love my children very much, even though God has led me through a variety of challenging experiences. Now, in my current position as interim co-pastor, I find I have the opportunity to interact with preschoolers and kindergarten children each week. I read to two of the rooms of children yesterday. I was surprised to see that there were not too many books for the children to read. Of course, I tried to choose the very best of what was there. And I enjoyed being with the children, a great deal! That was the most important thing, of course.

This evening, I took the opportunity to go to a local library in the next town. They have a lovely used book area, where the Friends of the Library sell gently used books for only a small amount of money. This way, the library gets some badly needed money, people get really nice books, and the cost is really quite economical.

I went to the children’s section of the book area. I haven’t looked extensively at children’s picture books for some years. Such colorful, interesting books! I chose eleven (only fifty cents apiece!), and I’ll be more than happy to present them to the preschool director tomorrow, when I go to the church to work. I suspect the children—and the teachers—will be very pleased to have a fresh supply of books.

Yay, God! Thanks for the good idea, to go to such a place and get books. I’m so excited! I can hardly wait to see the faces of the boys and girls. It’s so wonderful to be able to bring a happy surprise with me.

@chaplaineliza

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