Author Archives: lifelinechaplaincy

Central Texas – Ministry in Times of Illness and Loss, Part 1 – May, 2017

Tom Nuckels our facilitator of this event and his assistant Valerie Crim snapped some pics of their training session learning together, role playing, and a group shot. It is an amazing workshop with a lot to learn and also a lot of fun. Big thank you to the registrants of this workshop.

“Ministry in Times of Illness and Loss” is a two-part training course for spiritual caregivers. Intended primarily to train Lifeline Chaplaincy’s pastoral care volunteers, the course is open to all persons who have an interest in developing spiritual care skills. Men and women involved in ministry, church leadership, and helping professions such as medicine, nursing, counseling, and social work have found this training to be highly valuable in both their professional practice and their personal lives.

Part 1

(formerly called “Creating a Healing Community”), is a 15-hour intensive workshop designed to equip beginning pastoral caregivers with basic skills and concepts that will enable them to provide competent spiritual support to patients and families dealing with serious illness and loss. Registration fee: $50.00, payable at the door. Scholarships are available if needed.

Topics include:

Loss and Crisis

From Casual Visit to Spiritual Encounter

Emotions 101

Perceptions and the Interpersonal Gap

Basic Listening Strategies and Communication Skills

Story Listening

“Why Me?”

Grief and Grieving

Self-care for the Pastoral Caregiver

Effective Hospital Ministry

 

 

 

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Understanding Emotions

Degrees of Emotions

Behavior is driven by emotions. Emotions are driven by thoughts. Thoughts are underpinned by beliefs, and the human mind can believe anything!

Terror

How Emotional States Play Out in Life

The tables demonstrate how various situations produce emotions that in turn cause behavior. The search for the emotion or feeling behind the behavior (and hleping the patient or other recongnize thier own feelings) is one of the pastoral caregiver’s primary tasks.

Slide 2

Expressing your feelings can be demonstrated directly or indirectly through various behavior; commands, questions, accusations, name calling, and sarcasm. For example: Using a command – Directly: “I hurt too much to hear anymore.” or Indirectly: “Shut up!”

Understanding the concept of “Emotional Intelligence”

Defined in 5 dimensions:

  • Knowing one’s own emotions (self-awareness)
  • Managing one’s emotions
  • Motivating oneself
  • Recognizing emotions in others (othe-awereness)
  • Handling relationships

A primary goal for he pastoral caregiver is to help the patient and family acknowledge and understand their emotions.

Register HereCTx Registration

You’re a Star

by McKayla Dawn Rosen
McKayla

“Are you confident?”

As I was exiting a hospital unit, I heard a nurse utter these words… I have no idea the context, but in that moment, I was tempted to audibly answer the question that hadn’t been meant for me. Overwhelmingly, I felt like shouting back, “Yes.”

Had I been unintentionally posed this question earlier this summer, my answer would have been quite the opposite. Why? Resilience. This summer, I’ve been expanded.

I began the summer literally and metaphorically overwhelmed with the baby hairs and frizzies on my head. I was to dress business casually each day, meaning I shouldn’t permit my hair its traditional unruliness. So I fought to pin down the baby hairs and smooth over the frizzies to force my hair into submission. I’ve spent a lot of time this summer feeling like so much of who I am and what I look like clashes brutally with the sterile hospital environment.

I’m trying to improve my drawing skills (I want to create a comic book of sorts soon), so I follow a few illustrators on Instagram. I saw a cute drawing that exemplified resilience with drawings of bodies of water (and I love bodies of water). There are 3 pools that grow larger as they proceed down the page with the words, “I swam across this,” written beneath each of them. Then, beneath all of them, is a larger body of water, like a lake, with the words, “I can swim across this,” written beneath it.

It’s taken me a while, but I think I’m finally realizing that I’m a star, we all are— and we’re meant to shine.

The best band in the world, Brand New, has a lyric that goes, “So I’m asking you to shine it on and stick around.”

In Confessions St. Augustine writes, “Grant my prayer, O Lord, and do not allow my soul to wilt under the discipline which you prescribe. Let me not tire of thanking you for your mercy in rescuing me from all my wicked ways, so that you may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me; so that I may love you most intensely and clasp your hand with all the power of my devotion; so that you may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.”

It seems to me that St. Augustine and Brand New are urging the same thing. And it seems that this summer, I learned the merit of each’s words.

There’s this belief that keeps entering into my being during times when I start to self-deprecate… it’s this belief that I can. I can go talk to that person (whatever the context may be). They are worthy of my time, but I’m also worthy of theirs. Instead of waiting out the perfect conditions, instead of waiting until I feel good and ready enough, I should act. Maybe in order for those conditions to be perfect, I just have to go and start creating.

At the beginning of the summer, I couldn’t get out of the hospital faster. Now, I find myself staying late. I open each patient’s door to join in with what I believe God has already been doing in there, but I see now that God has a very specific role for me in that, should I choose to accept. I’ve learned that nothing I do or don’t do can thwart God’s plans and acts of reconciliation for the world. I have also learned that guilt is not a credible guide and have started refusing it power over me. Should I allow laziness or fear to keep me from saying or doing what I feel I need to, I believe God will appoint someone else to deliver what is needed. But how much more wonderful is it to RSVP on time to the party God has invited you to?

I’ve had the sweet privilege of serving as Chick-fil-A’s cow mascot this summer. I’ve been a mascot in different contexts for the past 8 years (hahaha). It’s something I love, feel called to and feel I’m good at. I see mascotting as an art and as ministry— as a way to spread joy and love to people, helping them recognize beauty. This week as the cow, I approached a customer who almost immediately started laughing receptively and welcomingly. I turned up the funny and even picked up her fork and fed her a bite of the mac & cheese resting on her tray. She started laughing even more vibrantly. She said through smiles, “You must have known I had a bad day! I was sitting here about to start crying and then you came over. You just made my day, cow, thank you.”

Similarly, this week a patient I visited said to me, “I thank you so much for coming! I am grateful for our conversation; this made my day.” It seems that what I do as the mascot (something I’ve been so comfortable with for years) is not so different from what I have been doing as a hospital chaplain (something I’ve been quite uncomfortable with for most of the summer). I went through so many days this summer thinking there was no way I could be good at being a hospital chaplain.

I’m amazed and pleased to say that I can. When God calls and empowers you to do something, you can. I can’t wait to see what I learn I can do next.

The baby hairs from the beginning of the summer have grown out now. I still have some other baby hairs springing up, and I certainly have some frizzies, but I’m far better at managing them now.

Little Did I Know

A Short Story based on a True Story by Tori Treat

Tori

As I stuff this pillow, I begin to pray. I wonder where this pillow will go? Who will receive it? As I sew the last stitch, I cannot help but think that God will use this pillow for a greater purpose than I could even imagine. I put the pillow in a bag with the rest, trusting that it will fall into the right hands.

Little did I know, one of my pillows went to a young man dying of cancer. Through his tear stained eyes, he clutched his new pillow as a token of hope in his hopeless situation. Another one of my pillows went to a cynical homeless woman suffering from severe back pain. As she placed her new pillow under her back, the relief it brought her made her smile for the first time in a while. She cherished her new little pillow for it was now one of her only possessions. Yet another pillow went to an elderly woman who was only alive because of the machine pumping air into her lungs. Unconscious and unaware, the small pillow was placed under her hand. Though she cannot see or understand what is happening, this pillow makes her cold, hard bed a little bit softer.

Another week passes and it’s time to go back to sew more pillows. As I pack my supplies into my car, I suddenly feel a sharp pain in my chest. The pain becomes stronger, and I become weaker. My husband comes running, and everything goes dark.

As I slowly open my eyes, I see this white ceiling of my new hospital room. The doctor explains what a heart attack is, but I cannot even comprehend what he is saying. All I could think about is why? Why me? How? How can I survive this? How will I pay for this? Is this what I deserve? Am I going to live?

The doctor leaves and I lay agonizing in my bed. My health, my future, my life; It all changed in an instant. I hear a tap on the door. A young woman asked if she could visit. She was so beautiful that I swore she was an angel. I told her of my pain and struggles, and she just listened. She did not try to advise me, or inform me, but with each nod of her head, my emotions lifted lighter. She prayed for me, pleading to God on my behalf. As I opened my eyes, she reached into her bag. She pulled out a small little pillow. She told me that kind people from the local churches made these pillows and prayed over them. I began weeping and hugged the pillow tight to my chest.

Little did she know, I made this pillow last week and prayed for whoever would receive it. How could I have known that I would be praying for myself?

After she left, I laid peacefully in my bed. My room did not seem as cold anymore. Though my situation was still dreadful, heavy, and pressing, it did not intimidate me anymore. Holding tight to my new little pillow, I remember that God is right here by my side, sending me exactly what I need right when I need it.

Why My Job Isn’t “Fun” and I Love It!

By Madisen Sallaz Lifeline Houston Summer Intern

MadisenSomething I get asked daily by family, friends and even strangers is, “is your job fun?” My job is not “fun.” My work is with the sick and dying, and let me tell you that there is nothing fun about that. I talk to people who feel hopeless and lost. I work with those who can not even remember a day without pain. I console grieving mothers who have lost babies that they shouldn’t of. I work with people who have been abused or hurt, by people they thought they loved and that they thought loved them. My work is with people born into a death sentence, like AIDS, knowing that the only way to escape the pain is often death, which also usually comes too young. My job is not “ fun.”

However, I love my job. My patients bring me hope. My work allows me to see miracles I never thought could happen. My job lets me see the sick and dying recover. My job brings healing. My work brings me hope. My work allows me to see hope and light in the dimmest and darkest situations. My job allows me to see love, a love someone has for a child that they had never even met. My job allows me to see strength, a supernatural strength like no other. A strength that inspires even the worst forecasts to seem like bright and sunny days. I get to see joy in my work. Joy despite any situation or pain, joy that surpasses every earthly thing.

My job is unique. It allows me to see so many different types of people and in so many different situations, situations that seem hopeless. But everyday, my patients show me hope and life. They show me that in even just a simple prayer or conversation, transformation can happen and real healing can begin. My job is not easy, it is hard, heart wrenching and sometimes downright impossible. It has made me clutch my steering wheel harder and harder everyday. It has me look in the mirror at my tear stained face wondering why God allows such pain. However, my job has revealed to me more about God and the love of Christ more than a class, sermon or book ever could. My work has inspired me to love and love hard. It has inspired to me to be intentional and hopeful. My job isn’t “fun” but I love it.

 

Confessions of a Chaplain

Reflection by Tori Treat, 2017 Tarrant County intern.
Tori
I am not God. I cannot heal your diagnosis. I cannot speed up your recovery. I cannot change your age old family dynamics. I cannot even understand them. I cannot make your nurse be nice. I cannot make the doctor be more gentle. I cannot lift your financial burdens. I cannot take away the pain of your childhood. I cannot make your pain stop. I
cannot make your parents love each other. I cannot make your siblings visit. I cannot make your wife speak kinder. I cannot make your husband stay. I cannot take away your confusion. I cannot rescue you from your guilt. I cannot take away the pain in your heart.
With God, all of these things are possible. But in case you haven’t noticed, I am not God.
But I am human. I am capable of compassion. I can greet you with a smile. I can ask you what’s going on. I can sympathize. I can validate your feelings. By validating your feelings, I tell you that I hear you and I care, and that you are justified to feel the way you do. I can connect with you. I can be a vessel sending you to God, who can heal in ways that neither of us can understand. And even when I leave the room, He will not. God has been with you before me and He will be with you after me. Because it’s not about me, and what I can and cannot do. It is, and has always been about God.

Reflecting back on grief at age 10

First Summer reflection from Kate Herring – Abilene Christian University student

Kate

I have some new shoes, a new outfit, a new bow, new teachers, new classmates, new schedule, new normal. The first day of school no matter what year of school it is always a frightening time, but that was the least of my worries. The first day of fifth grade was spent clinging on to the hope that my uncle would wake up. My little mind sits silently in the waiting room of the ICU because I am too young to go back and see him. I pray and plead with God for Him not to take my uncle away. I sing and promise that if God does this for me I will spend the rest of my life serving him and doing the work of the Lord. I am only 10 years old and my uncle is the one that tells me I am beautiful, makes me laugh with his silly jokes, and is a father figure to my cousins who needs one. My little family needs him. The nurse gave clearance for us to go back to his room clinging to the hands of my loved ones we sang “it is well” as a family around his bed. But, it was not well with my soul. I need him. My family needs him. But, a couple moments later God took him from me. When my mom told me he passed, I did not cry nor let out a scream. I just stood in disbelief. My precious Uncle left this earth and now is with Jesus, probably singing off key. I don’t understand this, and I don’t know what to think. My ten year old brain is going insane. He is gone. His body is dead. We won’t see him on earth, but we will see him again. It wasn’t until eight years later, I came to terms with my uncle’s death.

I never thought about God weeping. I never thought about how He comes and hurts alongside of us. In John 11:35, Jesus’ friend has passed and “He wept.” Jesus came and broke down just like I did when my uncle passed. But earlier in the passage in John 11: 25-26, Jesus is comforting his friend’s (Lazarus) sister and he makes a promise,  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

As I read this, the song ‘It is Well’ popped into my head and the memory of my uncle. Form this learned: it is okay to weep, it is okay to mourn, but it is not okay to forget the promise. Jesus resurrected my uncle from his sins, so death is not the end of his life… but maybe just the beginning. Jesus has resurrected me from my sins, so that I may live after death and one day see my uncle again.

Until then, I am stuck in a broken world that can foster pain. In this pain it is okay to weep, it is okay to grieve, because this world is only the beginning  and it is not my home. So with a longing in my heart to see him again, I patiently wait on this earth clinging on to the promise that Jesus is the resurrection and life… So, death where is your sting?