Helping Out, with Bakery Goods (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 3, 2017

Almost everyone loves baked goods! This post reminds me of spreading the caring around, being kind with extra baked goods. Especially in cases like this one, where I can show caring and be kind to some friends at the YMCA where I also go to the gym regularly. God bless these guys!

Helping Out, with Bakery Goods (#BestOf)

Posted on August 4, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baked goods photo

Helping Out, with Bakery Goods

Today being Sunday, we had church service. And, we celebrated Holy Communion. I am so grateful to Rev. Kris Ronnow for assisting me with Communion. (Thanks, Kris!)

The good folks at the church I serve love to get together and eat. Have coffee. Talk together in the fellowship hall after the service. Plus, the church has some great things to eat, every Sunday! Meier’s Bakery, only a few blocks from the church, sends over some of their day-old bakery goods to the church. They are so kind to do this! Thank you, thank you, Meier’s Bakery!

But wait, there’s more! Several dedicated ladies from the church serve the coffee and pastries each and every Sunday. They prepare the coffee and make sure there’s a pitcher of ice water. They put out all the baked goods, and they see that everything happens smoothly in the coffee hour after the service. I am hesitant to mention the ladies’ names, because I would be sure to forget someone, and I would be so sad to omit someone’s name. Ladies, thank you one and all! You have a wonderful ministry to the congregation at St. Luke’s Church.

Sometimes, the bakery sends over a good many baked goods, more than the people who attend coffee hour can eat. So, individuals from the congregation take home things. For example, someone works at a retirement home, and took pastries for the residents. Another time, someone took things for a senior center, for a function later in the afternoon. And on occasion, I take some baked goods over to the YMCA near my house, for the gentlemen at the men’s residence.

I know I’m repeating myself. This is just such an awesome thing that Meier’s Bakery does! And, I wanted to mention something that happened today, too.

One of the wonderful ladies was cleaning up in the kitchen, after almost everyone had left the fellowship hall. I came into the large serving area to pick up several bags filled with buns, loaves of bread, and a number of doughnuts. She stopped still where she was. “Really!” she said. “You are so kind to do that for those men at the Y residence.”

She then told me about an older relative of hers, staying at a nursing home some distance from here. She would go to visit, and see a number of older veterans at the home. An outgoing person, she talked with some of them. She found out that many of the veterans had next to no money, even no resources. She felt so badly for these veterans. I agreed, and told her that some of the men at the Y residence were veterans, down on their luck, or on disability, or some other terribly sad story. All true. And sad.

Yes, I was able to bring the men some baked goods today. God, I hope I was able to bring a smile to a few hearts when I went to the YMCA, too. Both are important. And—both are so needed.

@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 meditation journey through Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 7, 2016

This blog post from two years ago is a post about self-care. That is so important for people in caring work. (That was one of the most important lessons I ever learned when I attended seminary. Self-care!) Since we are now in the middle of Lent—one of the hectic times of the year for pastors—I thought this post was a good reminder for all of us. Take time for myself. Well worth the time.

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

Posted on March 11, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 10, 2014

yoga guy zacara spot

(yoga drawing – Zakar art by Chris Carter)

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

I needed to dive right into the week, right off the bat this morning. Work today, running and fetching, some computer work, some necessary telephone calls that needed to be made. Then, I made dinner. At least, I started dinner and asked my daughter to finish turning the chicken in the covered skillet while it simmered. Why the hurry at the end of the day? Simple! I have a one word answer: yoga.

Earlier today I went out of my way to do things for other people. Yes, I did acts of service, intentionally. But I want to focus on what happened at the YMCA. In yoga class. The Y has a number of different classes and exercise opportunities each day. In the pool, in the exercise studios, in the big gym. There are several yoga classes each week, too. I am no expert at yoga, believe me! But the gentle yoga class on Monday afternoons is perfect for me. Yes, there are yoga poses and stretching that challenge me! But nothing is too hard. Nothing that the older instructor has the class do is beyond most people’s abilities.

I’ve been attending the gentle yoga class for about three months, and it helps me! The yoga teacher helps me, too. She has a kind and easy-going way about her. One of the biggest reasons I appreciate this teacher is the open, generous manner she has with each person in the room. She also invites people to leave their worries, troubles, and stresses outside the room. Inside the room is calmness and peace. We can take our time and stretch, and restore balance and harmony to our bodies and our inner selves.

Yes, I realize that there is a component to certain yoga instruction that is rooted in eastern thought and religious practices. Yes, true. But not this teacher, and not this kind of gentle yoga and stretching. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. But—I saved the best for the last. I find this regular yoga class is a superb way to care for myself. I run around most of the week like a chicken with its head cut off. (My father-in-law saw quite a number of these in the barnyard, and he said they were pretty funny!)

Sometimes I am running, or in a hurry, or worrying. Other times I am caring for others—my children, my family, my good friends, those at my work, patients or residents. It seems as if I seldom take the time or the opportunity to carve out an hour to rest, to release the worry and upset of the day or the week. That is just what my kind yoga teacher invites us to do. It’s no wonder I am dashing off to her class each Monday!

I need to take the time on a regular basis to allow myself to unwind. And more importantly, to allow myself to become refreshed and recharged—as in this class. I am so grateful to the YMCA for employing such a wonderful teacher. Thanks, YMCA! And thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

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


 

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I love going to the gym at the YMCA. I really do. In this post, I saw how a chance encounter can be so touching and meaningful. For me, as well as for my friend.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 9, 2014

prayer is powerful

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my . . . oh, wait. No, that wasn’t me.

Well, I did wake up. I did get out of bed. And, I did bustle over to the YMCA for a quick work out. A couple of tiny twinges of arthritis this morning, but that’s okay. After all, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I managed to cross the threshold of the lobby in good time, ready and raring to go.

With so much else going on in my life, I haven’t been focusing as much on my gym time at the Y. However, I have been continuing to go to the gym! I want to keep consistent.

I am afraid I missed a whole week, several weeks back, what with the bathroom facelift and the carpeting change-over in our condominium. Oh, and the middle of a busy Lenten schedule, and with several other personal things going on. However, I am now back on track. And among other things, like my weekly yoga class, I have returned to the running track at the Y.

I just love the track! Something about being up there, working hard, concentrating on my pace (first, power-walk, then alternating with jogging). I often meet people I know on my way to, or coming down from the track. Or—in the case of today, when I arrived I happened to meet a good friend up there, power-walking already. It was great to see my friend. After I stretched, the two of us power-walked around the track. And talked! We sure do like to talk. Both of us do. (*grin*)

My friend asked me what was new since we hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. After giving a brief description of my new job, my friend suddenly said “Ow!” and stopped as the two of us were just rounding the far turn on the track. “What’s the matter?” I asked. I was concerned, and immediately felt for my friend. Then the story came out. A continuing medical concern, for several years. A new flare-up, and a trip to the doctor was indicated. I heard some concern and anxiety, too.

When my friend mentioned that this was the last lap around the track, I immediately asked whether I could pray—either right now, or later. “Now would be great!” said my friend, with a big smile. So we prayed, right there by the edge of the track, near the door.

I prayed for comfort, encouragement, for pain to go away, for the medical staff looking at what was the matter, for my friend to discover any good exercises to do in the meanwhile, and finally—for a good outcome, short term and long term, too. Talk about encouragement! We hugged afterwards.

Thanks, God, for the opportunities You give me for prayer. And thanks for my dear friend, too!

@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!)

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

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

Talk about “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” To my mind, no one exemplifies this principle more than my friend John. John Mroczka has recently retired from his many years of work at the YMCA, yet he is still going strong. Still doing lots of things for others. God bless you, John! What a wonderful blessing you are (and have been), in so many people’s lives!

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

 

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) - credit Getty Museum

Men sitting on a park bench (mixed media) credit Getty Museum

Showing Love to All God’s Children (Feature Friday!)

I love the town where I live! Such an eclectic group of people. Such a diverse bunch of individuals. A little bit of everything—snooty, artsy, down-and-out, parents, families, empty-nesters, students, immigrants, salt of the earth. Just about all kinds are represented here.

Some of these various kinds of people cross paths at the large YMCA near downtown. Yes, many people are active members of the Y and use the pool, gym, weight room, activity classes, and its other services on a regular basis. However, about one hundred and twenty men (give or take—the number varies) live in the attached single-room residence. I love that the YMCA also serves as a place where guys can get a leg up, and have a safe, warm place to live at a reasonable monthly price. However, some of these men are living on the edge of not-quite-enough. Some are on government assistance because of health reasons. Some have lost their jobs and are on the downhill slide into extreme poverty. Some have other issues.

Whatever the individual difficulty, by and large, the lives of many men who live in the residence at the YMCA are not cushy, posh and comfortable. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s where John’s Cupboard fits in. John’s Cupboard is a service of the YMCA specifically to benefit the men who live in the residence. With all the government belt-tightening, corporate cost-cutting, and lessening of social services, many of the guys in this building have real, material needs. The Cupboard provides canned chicken and tuna, Ramen noodles, canned soup and crackers. Those are its staples. Plus, additional food is provided through donations. Another important part of the Cupboard are the toiletries provided by the Y, ordered from American Hotel. These are handy since they come in small, individual-sized packages. Soap, shampoo, disposable razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes. All greatly appreciated.

Enter John Mroczka—men’s residence director at the Y. (Also the John of “John’s Cupboard.”) John has done a great number of jobs at the facility over the years, and will retire this summer with twenty-nine years of service at the Y. But how did John start the Cupboard? At first, it was some spare cans of food kept on a shelf in his office. The Cupboard has since enlarged in both number of items offered and in size. John hopes to enlarge what the Cupboard provides to new socks, too. Socks are always appreciated!

For years, John has given a Christmas present of two pairs of socks and a coffee mug to each and every resident at the YMCA. He adds, “A few other employees and I solicit Y board members for additional things, gift cards for the residents.” John has the gifts of helps, discernment and service in abundance. He certainly shows it, too!

His kindness and compassion—tempered with a savvy eye and sharp nose for scams—make him uniquely qualified to do exactly what he’s been doing for years. Which is serving others, for the benefit of these men and their families, as well as for the glory of God as he understands God. Thanks for all you do, John! May God’s richest blessings rest on you, too.

@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!)

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, February 4, 2015

Sometimes a smile can do a world of good. It can lighten someone’s day. Just take a look at this conversation I had, a year ago.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City bus - credit Marin Dobson

City bus – credit Marin Dobson

Showing Love and Kindness—On a Bus!

I can get into the most intriguing conversations with people I meet, at a moment’s notice. My family rolls their (collective) eyes, sighs, and says, “Oh, Mom.” (Or simply sighs, in my husband’s case.)

I took the opportunity of a day off from work to go to the YMCA this morning, after bringing my son to school. I went into the women’s locker room to change into my workout clothes. Many of the same people were there, the usual denizens of the gym and the pool on a typical weekday morning. I took my time to change, relishing the extra time I had at my disposal.

A woman I had met a number of times before bustled up to a locker near me. We hadn’t seen each other for some days. After we said hello, she was reminded—internally—of the blog I’ve been writing. (Yes, this blog.) She turned to me as she changed and asked how the blog was going. “Fine!” I said, with a smile. She is involved with a non profit organization that assists women and children, and she wanted more information about the blog. So that some of the women could post suggestions about acts of kindness they are familiar with. I said that would be great, and thanked her so much! We talked a bit about how people could contact me. (Reminder: anyone can always contact me at the Facebook page A Year of Being Kind, or through my Twitter account @chaplaineliza, or through wordpress.com—just in case anyone was wondering.)

Another woman, a few lockers down, happened to be listening to us as we spoke about intentional acts of kindness and service. My friend went off to the gym upstairs as I began to talk to the second, older woman. She apologized for eavesdropping on my conversation, but I told her that was perfectly all right. Introduced myself, and the two of us immediately engaged in conversation, also! She told me about an act of service that instantly came to her mind, as soon as she heard about people being kind. “Giving people a smile. Just that simple action can help so much.”

I agreed, and told her about my smile (and I showed it to her, too—my smile just-sort-of happens, you understand). She smiled back, and we exchanged a few words about smiles. But then she went back to her story. She used to ride the bus here in our suburb to work. A bus driver on the route greeted everyone who got on his bus with a big smile, friendly and cheerful. As the woman told me about this driver, she obviously remembered him with fondness. A big smile came across her face. “I used to tell him that his bus ought to be called ‘the Happy Bus.’”

What a happy memory! And what a kind thing to do. A smile and a positive attitude may seem to be little things, but they can brighten a person’s day. They changed this woman’s day, this morning, just remembering. Thank God for small things—like smiles.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 27, 2014

We are His workmanship Eph 2-10

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

I have gone to our local YMCA almost every Saturday morning this year. Mostly for yoga class, but occasionally to power walk and jog on the upstairs track. And today—to encourage my husband, who has decided to join the YMCA as a member.

Yes, I did go to yoga today. And yes, class was absolutely marvelous, thanks to my wonderful teacher Ine! We did most of the usual poses and stretching, true. And, I’ve occasionally waxed eloquent about Ine and her kind, encouraging manner of teaching and leading the yoga classes. I do wish her the best in 2015! (as well as the other regulars in my yoga classes)

My husband and I needed to go out to get some gym shoes today, after yoga. (He needs gym shoes if he means to go to the gym.) So, this afternoon, outfitted in his new gym shoes, he and I headed back to the Y for a workout.

I reflected on this, both before and after going to the gym. What better thing to do for ourselves, than to continue being physically active? In terms of heart health, lowering blood pressure, obesity control, bone density, balance, and a whole host of other issues, it makes a whole lot of sense. Good sense.

As I continued to reflect—as sometimes happens—I thought about the spiritual angle. God is pleased when we take care of our physical bodies, too. I mean, when we eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and take care of the gifts God has given to us. Because, that is exactly what our bodies are. Or, to use a different metaphor (a Pauline metaphor), our bodies are God’s temple. Since the Holy Spirit resides within, I am responsible to care for my body as a good steward. I don’t often think of that.

Finally, I remember my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Another word for “handiwork” is “masterpiece” or poema. That’s the same word where “poem” comes from. God has composed each of us, individually. What’s more, God means for me to do good works, or good things. To be helpful, kind, and of service. Not only outwardly, but inwardly, as well.

So, yes. A whole host of reasons to be a good steward of my own body. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015. As my husband and I go to the gym on a regular basis in 2015, we can’t help but be healthier.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 9, 2014

best things in life aren't things

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

I splurged. I really did. Since last month was my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I took the opportunity to buy a half hour massage at the YMCA here in town. And, today was the day I enjoyed a half hour of pampering. Self-care. Being kind—to myself!

Most times, I do prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga to try to relax. Ease my stress levels. Calm my breathing and minimize my worry. But every few months, I go out of my way to try to fit in a massage.

In case anyone reading this has never experienced a massage, they are wonderful. Marvelous. Truly a splurge-worthy experience. Of course, I go to an awesome masseuse, when I can scrape together the money. Dori is absolutely fantastic. I told her, as she was working on my forearms and hands at the end of the half hour, that I thought I died and went to heaven. (And I was more than half serious.) And, I sincerely thanked her for the wonderful job she did on me—and my lower back, too.

Of course, there are other ways to be kind to myself. Slowing down, having coffee with a friend, going to the Botanic Garden, or reading a fiction book (my current favorite books are a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s). There are other ways to practice self-care, too. Regular exercise. Going on walks in nature. Practicing giving or encouragement. Listening to quiet music. Prayer. Meditation. Silencing my spirit and mind. And, countless other ways, besides. Self-care—caring for one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual parts of the whole person, however that may happen best.

Listed above are all ways that appeal to me. I know they won’t appeal to everyone. (And for some, the thought of a few of these ways are probably like fingernails screeching across a chalk board.) I also give God a big praise for making each of us different from all the others—over the world, as well as over time. King David in Psalm 139 refers to each of us being fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s hands. No cookie cutter creation for us, no sir!

What about you? What kind of self-care particularly appeals to you, right now? Or, are you shy of making room or making time for self-care? Does caring for yourself sound selfish and thoughtless? If you are not clearing your calendar or your life for taking care of yourself, you are missing out! (And believe me when I say I am preaching this to me even more than preaching it to you.)

God, thanks for the awesome focus on self-care. Help me to not only practice this good gift from you, but to pass it on. Help others learn the importance of being Selfish—towards God, and towards each person. Individually. I’m no cookie cutter creation, and neither are you!

@chaplaineliza

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