Tag Archives: smile

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 20, 2015

floating lantern festival

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

I have been widening my circle this past week. I attended a yearly conference for substance abuse counseling. (I have a state certificate, a CADC.) So, I need continuing education hours. Lo and behold, I really enjoyed myself at the conference. Plus—I made some new friends.

So, yes. I did, indeed, widen my circle in the past few days.

Today, however, was another matter. I read the email from #40acts this morning, before I left the house. As I considered today’s suggestion, I became sad. You see, I had made plans to go see a dear friend, a senior who is seriously ill. This dear one will not be here much longer.

My circle is widening, indeed. To heaven, above.

Yes, I did make a visit. My friend was—to our eyes—unresponsive. But in some deep, profound sense, God knew I was there. And I hope my dear friend—in some way—knew so, too.

Last night, I attended a panel discussion on end-of-life medical issues, and the differences of opinion each of several different religious groups had on suffering, hospice, and end-of-life decisions. I was particularly struck by what my acquaintance Rabbi Joe said. (He got this piece of wisdom from one of his older rabbi mentors.) “Everyone has an expiration date.”

The expiration date is almost here for my dear senior friend. (You’ll be saying hello to God, soon.)

I know many people don’t even consider this aspect of widening the circle. Gee, for some, it’s enough of a challenge to say hello to a stranger on the street, or in a coffee shop! Yet, our circles continue to expand as each of us continues to try to stretch and grow.

Why not smile? Say hello? Go one step further, and strike up a conversation with someone. Anyone. Or, even invite someone new to coffee, or a movie.

I wish God’s blessings to you! Whether my expiration date is near or far, I hope and pray that you rejoice in the days God has given to us. I am trying my very best to rejoice in my days.


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.


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 .

I Want What I Want When I Want It

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, February 15, 2014

knows you and loves you

I Want What I Want When I Want It

I sometimes have difficulty settling down to prayer. I mean, real, earnest prayer, as uninterrupted as I can make it. Sometimes my mind flits about, from one topic to another to yet another. And that’s all in about three seconds. This has been happening more lately, and I suspect it’s due to having so many things on my mind. However, I have been consistently coming to God. Pretty consistently, anyhow.

Recently, when I was praying in the morning as I customarily do, my mind and my attention began doing the same thing, flitting around. Hop, skip and jumping all over the place. But then, I started thinking about what I wanted. What I needed. I continued in this vein for some seconds, and then I drew myself up short.

Wait a moment! I drew back, mentally, and reconsidered how I was expressing myself in prayer. “I want! I want! I want!” It seemed like that was most of what was coming out of my mouth that morning. Isn’t that the request that most people have in hand, when they come to you? Goodness, I should think that might get pretty whiny, even unpleasant. And then, I turn right around and ask—no, beg is the appropriate word. I am afraid I am also guilty of praying like this, from time to time.

What about when people want things they shouldn’t have? Or, in a related way, what if people ask for things that are wildly inappropriate?

Take my daughter, for example. (It’s been several years since she graduated from college, just to let people know how long ago this was.) Years ago when she was a preschooler, she very much wanted a pony for Christmas. Her father and I lived in an apartment in Chicago at the time, finances were very tight, and a pony was absolutely, positively out of the question. But, how could I tell my young daughter that? How could I give her the very adult, reasonable, matter-of-fact reasons why she wouldn’t be receiving a pony for Christmas?

She was so earnest, so sincere in her child’s-desire for a pony! I knew I had to do something, since her strong desire was lasting for days and days. Eventually, I got up the courage to tell her that there was no way she could receive that pony. I had to be the loving but firm parent, telling her that she would not get her heart’s desire.

God, how often do You have to be the loving but firm Parent, letting me down easy? Telling me in loving but firm manner that I am not receiving a “pony” for Christmas, either. (Whatever the “pony” in my life happens to be.) Thanks for loving me, no matter what.

Let’s pray. God, Your ears are always open, Your arms always widespread. Help me align my will with Yours. Thank You for helping me find innovative ways to approach You in prayer. Thanks for being my loving, heavenly Parent. I appreciate and love You, too! Amen.