Tag Archives: friendly

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016

 

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

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

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

Day #28 – Roll Up My Sleeves? Yesss!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 21, 2015

My A Year of Being Kind t-shirt!

My A Year of Being Kind t-shirt!

Day #28 – Roll Up My Sleeves? Yesss!

When I read the #40acts post for today, I couldn’t have been more pleased. This blog post was right up my alley. I don’t know if you know, but I am intimately acquainted with this idea. I wrote a daily blog in 2014 called A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

In this blog, I tried to focus on being kind, being helpful, and being of service. In most blog entries, I tried to write about how I tried to be kind. Each Friday, I focused on someone else being helpful or of service. (Yes, a Focus Friday!) I was successful in writing every day in 2014. What a wonderful offering to God! And, what an opportunity to show my friends, family, church, and strangers that God loved them, too. (I am still highlighting my Being Kind posts, at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com . )

Yes, I immediately connected with #40acts back in February, when I saw that they were offering the opportunity for people to do 40 acts of generosity and kindness. When #40acts asked people to think about how much they could affect their neighborhood, their church, their friends, their workplace, their school. This is a marvelous chance to truly change the world! One generous, kind act at a time.

Practical generosity. The kind that gets things done, one act at a time. One day at a time.

Before I even saw today’s suggestion for Day #28, I saw an older woman trying to open a door at a coffee shop, later last night. The woman had mobility issues, difficulty with her feet, and walked with a cane. Without even thinking about it, I held the door open for her. (Second nature, I suppose.) I smiled at her with my friendly, cheerful expression, and waited for her to slowly make her way through the doorway.

After getting my coffee, I proceeded out the other way. I saw the older woman again, near the bathroom. She had dropped one of her gloves, and was trying to scoot it up the wall with her cane. (She had difficulty bending over.) She wasn’t doing very well, and I could see her start to get frustrated. I stooped to get the glove and gave it to her on my way out. She was so grateful!

I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but that is typical of what I often do. I help people. I’m often kind and of service. Of course, having the spiritual gifts of helps, mercy, discernment and spiritual nurture makes it easier. (Note I did not say “easy!” No. Just easier.) I wonder how much I have affected the world? The world? Nah!! Too grandiose. My neighborhood is enough for me.

God willing, I can express God’s love. And I can preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, I can even use words. Thank You, Lord!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  I also have Being Kind t-shirts at my blogs, too. @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

go where you're celebrated

I loved today’s suggestion! Right up my alley, too.

I am naturally friendly. I know I’ve mentioned my smile before. It just sort of happens. So, I share it with lots of people. And, I’ve been told a number of times that my smile brightens people’s days.

As far as engaging in conversation or smiling or being friendly with waiters, baristas, mail carriers, garbage collectors, or people going to a food pantry or clothes closet, I do those things. In fact, my husband and children shake their heads about it. I can fall into conversation with the checker at the grocery store, for example, and she or he can pour out their life story to me in the time that it takes to scan the contents of my cart.

I am serious about that. I struck up a conversation with a checker several years ago. She was about to go on break, and I was the last person she had go through her line. I was friendly, smiled at her, asked an open-ended question, and she began to tell me about a family concern she had. How this family member was making her very anxious, and how the situation was monopolizing her thoughts. I can’t remember quite how I responded, but I could see how much the checker appreciated my attention and my caring attitude.

This is not a rare occurrence for me. Not in the least! Sure, it takes an extra minute or three, but I make a human connection. God made other people just as much as God made me. Then, I am not just waiting idly, bored, impatient to get out of the store, or for the street light to change so I can cross the street. Instead, I usually look for opportunities to engage, to interact with others.

One of the few exceptions for these opportunities comes when I am tired. Especially, when I’m exhausted. If I am not at least sort-of alert and oriented, I find I don’t particularly like to engage with anyone! (I know. God, forgive me.)

I try to follow this suggestion, on a regular basis. Even before I knew anything about the #40acts. Maybe you could try one or two of these suggestions, too. See whether you get any enjoyment, encouragement, or nurture from this engagement.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #21 – Be Silly? When Smiles Happen, Naturally.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 13, 2015

SMILE reason someone smiles

Day #21 – Be Silly? When Smiles Happen, Naturally.

Silliness can be uproariously funny. Have you ever laughed with a friend? Laughed at a joke, and then, kept on laughing? Or, especially with children. Have you ever made silly faces with children? Your children, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews? Children have such freedom to be silly. Joyously, happily free to be themselves.

But I thought of silliness in a slightly different context. Silliness helps lighten serious moments. Silliness makes difficult things bearable. A smile can be a precursor to silliness. I still remember dear, retired Pastor Carl (who died aged one hundred years old last summer) telling me about twelve years ago that I have a lovely smile, and I ought to use it often.

I worked as a chaplain in a busy urban hospital for some years. My friendly smile was (and still is) a great opportunity for me to begin conversations. I have had people say that my smile lit up a hospital room, or the hospital hallway.

But—I’m thinking specifically when my smile lightened tense situations. Or, when a humorous comment punctuated with my signature smile helped ease a difficult time. Especially when working with the medical staff in the hospital. It can get pretty hectic in the emergency department. Or, intensive care.

Sometimes, the staff lightened the atmosphere with “black” or “gallows” humor. Absolutely! It served a purpose, and helped people deal with really serious situations or traumatic events. Part of my duties were to reach out, to be there for the medical staff. If I could be a calm, less-anxious presence for the staff as well as for the patients and their loved ones, then I was effectively doing my job. So, did I sometimes smile when I greeted the staff? You bet. When the nurses were kidding around, even a bit silly at the nurses’ station, did I join in from time to time? You bet.

That’s one of the things I miss most of all. Yes, the supportive relationships, yes, the one-on-one interaction. But the smiles, and the silliness. That was so important. And life-giving. And just plain silly. Sometimes, silliness hits the spot.

God, I know You have a sense of humor. And, You have given that same humor—silliness—to people, to use. Even when things are dark and desperate, we can still use our sense of humor to lighten situations and ease difficulties. And, we can laugh. Smile. Just be silly.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #20 – Stranger Things Did Happen Today!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 11, 2015

happy jumping dolphins

Day #20 – Stranger Things Did Happen Today!

I have mentioned before how I can fall into conversation at the drop of a hat. My children and husband shake their collective heads in bewilderment, sometimes. It just, sort of, happens. It isn’t like I go out of my way and plan it! Just happens.

As I read today’s suggestion, I couldn’t help but think this morning was a perfect example. I have a state certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. As a result, if I want to remain in good standing as someone with a CADC, I need to take a certain number of continuing education classes during the year. Each year. Actually, the classes are excellent refreshers. I do appreciate them.

I attended one this morning. Accordingly, I arrived at the place. (A synagogue in another Chicago suburb.) Round tables were set up all around the large room where the presentation was being given. I sat down a couple dozen feet from the presenter. A woman was already seated at the table I chose, and we immediately began talking. (I could tell she was rather introverted, but she began to talk, readily enough.)

As several minutes went by, three more people came in. Seated themselves at “my table.” It only took a minute or two, but five ladies—who had never met each other before—were involved in fairly deep communication. It helped that we were all there for a common purpose. Plus, all involved in a helping profession. Several clinicians, one administrator, and me.

There were others—dozens of others—in the large room. I am often able to “feel” the “temperature” of a room, in a social sense. This room definitely felt warm and friendly! True, there were some attendees who did know one another. However, some were in the same boat as all the people at my table. We talked to each other. Of course, we were encouraged to, by the presenter. However, quite a lot talking buzzed around the tables even before she told us to talk to one another as an ice breaker!

I went one step further. The presenter had reached the halfway point in her talk. She had a tickle in her throat, and tried to clear it. Meanwhile, she asked someone to read a handout, a meditation that was included in everyone’s folder. Her eyes fell on me, and I spontaneously raised my hand. Rose to my feet. The presenter introduced me, off the cuff.

Thus, I read the meditation. (I do read well, by the way.) I could tell that everyone was surprised. Some were pleased. A few asked me whether I was a “plant” in the audience because I read with such feeling and compassion. (Yes, it was an introspective meditative reading.)

Did I make myself useful today? I think, yes. Did I go out of my way to talk to people? Be friendly? Absolutely. Even after the training, in the hallway? Yes, there, too. Wherever there are people. It’s a human thing. A feeling thing. God willing. God, help each person on their jobs. Help them know their job is a worthwhile job. Help me, too, on a regular basis. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #14 – Mind the Gap? The Generation Gap—with Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 5, 2015

family reunion drawing

Day #14 – Mind the Gap? The Generation Gap—with Prayer!

In case you don’t know and have just started reading this blog, I am a friendly person. My natural smile kind-of, sort-of just happens. And, I often strike up conversations with complete strangers. (To the bemusement and occasionally unbelief of my husband and children.)

That being said, when I read today’s suggestion from #40acts, I immediately connected to the call for intergenerational communication. I do this on a regular basis. Perhaps not every single day, but as a regular occurrence at least several times every week. One on one, or in small groups. And, in large groups, on occasion.

But, then, I am a pastor. It is part and parcel of my job, my position. My business, so to speak. I am a communicator. In addition, I have special training in pastoral care, I am a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and I’ve done several extended internships (one paid) as a hospital chaplain. So, yes, I am familiar with talking to people. And I pray with people. As I sometimes say when asked, in part, I am a professional listener.

An acquaintance of mine is in the hospital right now. So, I have visited regularly, talked with the patient and loved ones, prayed, and sent cards. This person is in a different generation. I also call several people from the church on a regular basis. I try to keep tabs on them, pray, and give encouragement and support as I can, over the phone. And in person, when I am able.

Finally, and quite meaningful to me as well, I read each Tuesday morning. I read to two classrooms of preschoolers at my church. I love reading to these little ones. I try to choose books that have interesting stories, lovely illustrations, and not too many words on each page. Most weeks, I have the opportunity to interact with the children, ask questions, and sometimes talk about the illustrations or about the points in the story. Since my youngest child is now a senior in high school, I so much appreciate this precious time with young children.

I try to be friendly to people when I talk with them, too. (Since I am an encouraging person, that’s kind-of natural, too!) It is as easy as smiling at people waiting for the elevator, or standing in line at the grocery store or post office. And if the person is in a different generation from yours? So much the better!

So many people are isolated and separated today. I think a bit more togetherness is a wonderful thing. And—that is exactly what this post from #40acts called for today. Friendliness. Openness. Kindness. Togetherness. In an intergenerational way. Why don’t you try it, too?

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #12 – Lose the Plastic. Seriously.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 3, 2015

do something your future self will thank you for

Day #12 – Lose the Plastic. Seriously.

Wasting stuff. So much stuff gets thrown away. It is a crime to just watch stuff going out, tossed in the garbage, day after day.

Today’s suggestion from 40acts is more of a challenge. If you had to live without plastic for a week, how would you do? As the author of today’s post said, “No bags, no food containers, no toothbrush.”

Wow! Right there, that stipulation almost makes it a deal breaker for me. I try to focus on my teeth, and oral health in general. But the suggestion for today goes much beyond mere toothbrushes and plastic bags. Do I take care of my home, my neighbors, just by being careful what and how much I try. To use plastic less and less, that is.

A related fact come in when a person uses less and less plastic. Just a simple thing like having my coffee in a reusable cup would make a difference! I have several reusable coffee cups (or, cups for tea). Since I love to drink coffee and tea so much, I already do this! Often.

I pass this on to my friends reading this post right now. A friendly suggestion. I also turn down the offer of a plastic bag periodically—like today, when I visited someone in the hospital. I bought several greeting cards in the gift shop, and turned down the offer of a plastic bag. (The weather was sleeting and raining during the day, so I can easily understand the offer.)

Remember what Jesus said, at the end of the paragraph in John 6? When they had all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’

Accept the challenge? The world will be so glad you did! So will your neighborhood. And your neighbors, for that matter. God is smiling as you strive to reduce, reuse and recycle!

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .