Providing a Touch of Hope

Providing a Touch of Hope

By: Rosa Winfrey

“ What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?   – George Eliot

Compassionate Touch has no idea how many lives have been touched through funding of hotel rooms, parking smart chips, meals, or other special needs since its inception. We simply know that our work is gratifying. We are sincerely grateful to the social workers, hospital representatives, and our generous supporters who continue to provide a touch of hope to patients in several Texas area hospitals. Letters like the one submitted below from a social worker helps to validate why my job is so meaningful and rewarding.

 

Dear Lifeline Chaplaincy:

 

  As this fiscal year nears its close, I just wanted to take a moment to thank Compassionate Touch for all the help you’ve given our patients this year! You have truly been a God-send! Every patient and patient family you’ve helped has been so very appreciative. Many times it’s meant the difference between the family being able to visit the patient regularly or not. It certainly has helped with their quality of life by not having to choose whether to spend their limited monies on food and other needed expenses.

Many, many thanks from the bottom of our heart!

 Penelope Loughhead, LCSW, CCTSW Memorial Hermann Hospital – Social Work Department

 

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ANNOUNCING THE 2015 LIFELINE CHAPLAINCY SUMMER INTERNSHIP

ANNOUNCING THE 2015 LIFELINE CHAPLAINCY SUMMER INTERNSHIP

MAY 15 – AUGUST 7, 2015

APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED

 

For program description, qualifications, and information on how to apply, go to http://www.lifelinechaplaincy.org/intern.htm.

According to Lifeline’s mission statement, we are: Dedicated to providing compassionate support to the seriously ill, their families and caregivers, and to being an educational resource for crisis ministry.

One of the ways we fulfill our teaching mission is through our summer intern program. Students come to Houston to gain first-hand experience providing pastoral care in the Texas Medical Center Hospitals supervised by Dr. Paul Riddle, Director of Spiritual Care, Houston. Likewise, we have students coming to Fort Worth, to gain first-hand experience providing pastoral care in the Fort Worth area hospitals under the supervision of Dr. David Martin, Director of Spiritual Care for Lifeline Tarrant County.

Our interns learn by doing, and then by reflecting on what they have done. Each is assigned to a particular hospital and gets to know that hospital intimately through daily visitation with patients and caregivers, and through regular contact with hospital staff members and Lifeline volunteers assigned to that hospital.

Interns spend half their day in classroom instruction and the other half visiting patients in their assigned hospitals. Classroom sessions include case studies, discussions of books and articles pertaining to spiritual care, and other activities.

Weekly reflection essays and periodic case studies drawn from interns’ visits provide opportunities for them to integrate what they learn in the classroom with their ministry practice and their personal spiritual growth. In addition to these activities, the interns spend a week at Camp Star Trails, a camp for children with cancer sponsored by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Even though our interns are with us for only twelve weeks, they enrich the permanent Lifeline community – staff and volunteers alike – immeasurably. We trust that their experience with us will enrich them as well.

A Promise of Hope

Today, many hearts are turning to that fateful moment of 9/11 when the unthinkable happened on American soil. It’s good to reflect, remember, and to hope.

Though we cannot underestimate the pain that many are reminded of today, it is my prayer that we might also remember the One who is the giver of life, and breath, and is still Sovereign over the universe. There is nothing the causes God to “blink,” nor anything that escapes His notice. This alone gives us reason to hope, even in the midst of trouble.

I subscribe to an online newsletter edited by Jim Gentil. His thoughts today are worthy of sharing…
As we remember the tragedy of 9/11 the following Hymn of Promise
gives us hope for the future.
Hymn Of Promise

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;

In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;

There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;

In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,

In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

(From Jim Gentil, Positive Spiritual Living Newsletter, September 11, 2014)

May God bless you with hope and Jesus give you peace in believing.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul-Heb 6:19

Grace,

Tom Nuckels

A Big Bang in the Hospital Room

A  Big Bang in the Hospital Room

Very few people today dispute the fact that the universe began with a Big Bang, and before that there was a singularity, a point of power from which that Big Bang derived.  The only disagreement seems to be what or Who put the singularity there.   Many good hearted people, skeptical of God’s existence, have to take the position that a benign, extra dimensional force set off the Big Bang, without intent or design.    Those who believe in a personal Creator assume that God took some of His own power and created that singularity for a purpose that was benevolent.  By this I mean, that God created… because He meant it to be good, for us and for Him.*

Now how does this play out in the hospital room?  I offer you the example of an elderly woman I visited today.  She had taught Sunday school for decades, and though she was in the hospital for a serious illness, scarcely mentioned it in passing, but spoke instead of her faith with passion and enthusiasm.  As the visit continued, she regaled me with one story after another of her work with the church, sprinkled with liberal quotations from Scripture.  Her face shone with what I can only describe as angelic joy.  In her nursing home, where she has resided for the last ten years, she serves other residents their meals, since they cannot walk.  (She can barely walk herself).

This woman saw a purpose in her circumstances that grew from her theology of creation.  She believed in a personal God who, with intent and purpose, had created the world.  She continued His act of creation, by creating beauty through service to others.   I am not saying an atheist is incapable of showing compassion to others, as this woman does.  I am saying that it is surely easier to engage in purposeful behavior when you believe you have been purposely created.   I would certainly be less motivated to serve others, if I came into being by random chance, a great cosmic accident.  Ultimately, what would be the point?

I offer the opinion today that it is better to face life with faith, than without it.  It is better to face illness with hope, than without it.  It is better to face death believing that it is a transition to the next life, than to face demise without that same belief.  There is more to life than what surrounds my flesh (the material world).

I want to meet this Being that created the universe from a single point of His power, and then brings joy to an elderly hospitalized woman.  She is fearless as she nears the end of her life.  I wish to follow her example.

May God create within me, and you, the kind of courage that does not tremble in the face of death.

*The first paragraph of this blog was extrapolated from an article, “The Laws of Thermodynamics,” by John N. Clayton, Does God Exist, July/August 2009, Vol. 36, No. 4.

A Man’s Description of the Permanence of Loss

Just over 15 years ago I was at work on a Wednesday afternoon when I received a frantic phone call from a neighbor. He advised me that EMT personnel were outside my home with my wife. I immediately started to drive the short 6 1/2 miles home but somehow knew that I would not find her alive. My suspicion was confirmed when I got out of my vehicle and was told by this same neighbor, “Royce, don’t go to her…where they are…it isn’t good”. I complied, and in a few minutes I saw them load my wife’s lifeless body into a van. It would be much longer before the doctor came out to me with a sad face giving the news I fully expected, “I’m so sorry Mr. Ogle, we couldn’t get her back”. It was official, my wife was gone….forever.

Now, fifteen years later as I reflect on that day, and the days and months that followed, I am amazed at how God helped me through one of the toughest times of my life. I remember the pain as sharp as a knife, the loneliness, the utter sadness, and all the flood of emotions that continued to ebb and flow as I walked the lonely road of grief.

Now I have been married to another Texan for almost thirteen years. Carol is a wonderful wife, the perfect one for me! I am so thankful that it pleased God to bring us together as He did. Two broken and battered hearts who when joined together would be used to help and encourage many others who too were in the darkness of grief.

Today, that bubbly, funny, wild and beautiful woman I married in 1980 is only a memory. When we exchanged wedding vows we said these words, “…’til death do us part.” Death did it’s unwanted and unacceptable work, it parted us…forever.

Marriage is only for living earthlings. Every marriage begins at some moment in time and ends at some moment in time, either by death or divorce. The key word is “time”. Marriage, and other familial relationships, are only for time, they are not for eternity. When we all get to heaven there will be no marriages, the Bible is clear about that. You see, when my love and yours is perfect like our heavenly Father’s, we will no longer discriminate between people. When I love like God loves, I’ll love your mom as much as I do mine. Those family relationships that are only intended for time will be no longer needed, they will be obsolete.

It is against the back drop of these truths that memories of loved ones who have gone become even more precious and guarded. I think it is God’s design to give us sweet episodes to relive in our minds, to remember good times with those we love so much, until….. Until we see Jesus our Lord face to face and finally know fully what it is to love and be loved…unconditionally, forever.

I have had good cause to contemplate these things. Deaths of parents, loved ones, family members by the scores, and a wife… and now in the autumn of my life I am very aware that my time is drawing near, a myth doesn’t satisfy. I want to realize the goal of my faith. I want to see The Lamb of God.

While I’m here I want to fully enjoy and appreciate all the relationships God has been so kind to give. But when they are gone it is…, well it is…, as Paul said it “Far better..”. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take “Far better” anytime! No more funeral homes, no more grave side services, no more sickness, no more pain, no more broken hearts. Every child of God will be perfectly whole because “By His stripes we are healed”.

Cherish your precious memories. They are one of God’s best gifts to you, until you have it all! Whatever Jesus owns you and I will own, whatever He loves we will love without measure. I can’t begin to imagine how it will be one day when memories become as useless as the sun, no longer needed.

Precious promises and precious memories! God is good indeed!

Royce Ogle

For the Broken Hearted

“An eighty-year-old woman whose partner of fifty years has just died, must face the reality of having lost her lifetime companion, friend, and lover.  Such experiences shape each person’s ongoing formulation of self…”  (Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, 2nd Ed. p. 10).

I didn’t have to read this in a half price college text book, to know it is true.  How many times have I sat at the foot of a bed, and listened to those who have lost a mate after scores of years?  It’s heartbreaking for me as a (still) married man.  How much more for the person that suffers the loss?  I think I really have no idea.

And honestly, no one else knows what your grief is like, even if they, too, have lost a spouse.

YOUR relationship was unique.  There was never another just like it.  So.  What to do?

“And how am I to BE?  Its been a long time since I sat in church alone.  Watched TV alone.  Slept alone.

Alone.

Deep within me there is another.  The Christ.  He, too, suffered alone.  Bore his cross as I am bearing this one now.  Not like THE cross, but my cross nonetheless.

Somehow this comforts me now.  Assures me that this is not all “aloneness” but solitude.  It hurts, but it is getting better.  Slowly, but surely, I am learning to BE once again.”

For the brokenhearted…

David Martin

A Possum, an Egg, the Devil, and Fear

A Possum, an Egg, the Devil, and Fear

“Go gather the eggs, David.” I loved doing chores with Dad when I was a scant six years old. When he gave the order, I eagerly rounded the corner into the chicken coop. The nests were on the east wall. The west side of the tin barn had one small window that allowed the setting sun to send a sharp shaft of light onto the setting hens. It would have been another warm childhood memory, save for the large possum in the top row. The fading sunlight struck his eyes in the darkened barn, giving his eyes an unearthly glow.   In his paws were the respective halves of an egg-shell… the sticky, yolk dripping from his mouth. Then he hissed at me!

This was a little more than a six year could handle.   I backed to the west side of the coop without taking my eyes off the critter, for fear it would leap at me. My dad came in and saw my dismay, asking what was wrong. My jaws begin working, but no sound came out. I pointed at the demon in the roost, and my Father calmly, (but with a serious tone that could not be misunderstood), told me to go get the 22 (rifle). I ran as fast as my skinny legs would carry me, fetched the gun, and a box of shells. I scurried back down the path to the barn, where my Dad took the weapon from my grip. “Now go on back to the house.”

I gladly obeyed. In just a couple of minutes, the crack of that rifle silenced my fears. My Dad…my hero… has just dispatched the devil!

I am older now, and my Dad is no longer here to destroy my demons. My fears…well, they have taken on different forms. My fears don’t exactly have egg yolk dripping from their pointed fangs!

Those fears can be sharp and biting just the same. Cancer…spinal injury…stroke…demons that threaten my health, and leave me slowly turning on a spit. They are grown up fears that cause words to catch at my throat, and snatch my breath away.

I have had to find a father’s voice that would always be there…that could not be stripped away by death.

Once a 20-year old called and tried to talk to me, but he could not get the words out, though I am sure his mouth was moving. It was a choking, garbled sound. “What? Terry, I couldn’t understand you.” More garbled words, and then his mother took the phone and told me his sister had been killed in a car wreck.

Not what you want to hear at 1:30 in the morning. I went.

And I stood. I stood by a younger friend who wept over the bed of a two-month old…just a baby…who had unknowingly lost her mother.   Again, as in the chicken coop, my mouth moved as I tried to speak, but no sound came out. I am pretty sure that was a blessing. What kind of words matter in the face of such horror?

Speechless then, we embraced. Terry and I and cried together.

That was good.

It took a long time for Terry to feel better, I imagine. I can’t really know. I have never lost a sibling.

But maybe you have.   Maybe you could hold someone who is facing a fearful demon…you know…help them along the way…join them in the dark places so they can find the Father’s voice…and be comforted once again.

 

David Martin