Author Archives: paulriddle

Effective Personal Coping Resources During A Medical Crisis

Each of us is responsible for developing the innate characteristics that have been provided by our Creator.  Some areas that may be most useful to focus on are listed below.

  1. Spirituality.  The development of our spiritual dimension is unquestionably the single greatest determinant of pastoral effectiveness.  As one deeply spiritual chaplain has said, “I want everything I come in contact with to be affected by the presence of God in my life.”  This statement lies at the core of the pastoral relationship, especially when interacting with those in crisis and loss.
  2. Religion.  How we connect our spiritual dimension to our religious tradition is another key component of effective coping with the crises that come our way.  Religious practices and community can be sustaining during these times.
  3. Family.  Those who have the blessing of a strong nuclear and extended family will be able to draw on these bonds during times of disruption.
  4. Personal Foundation.  One recognized school (Coach University) that trains personal coaches emphasizes the need to develop (in advance) a strong personal foundation.  “One can go further with greater ease if one first takes the time to build a strong personal foundation.”  In coaching language a personal foundation includes the following.
  5. Life experience.  There is no substitute for having experienced the realities of life’s ups and downs.  The more one has experienced in the past, the more one can trust that the current situation will work itself out.  Trust generates peace.  In Christian terms, if we know God has been with us in the past we can more easily trust that He will be with us in the present and in the future.  Philip Yancey has said, “Faith is believing in advance that which will only make sense in reverse.”

Resources for Effective Personal Coping During A Medical Crisis

Each of us is responsible for developing the innate characteristics that have been provided by our Creator.  Some areas that may be most useful to focus on are listed below.

  1. Spirituality.  The development of our spiritual dimension is unquestionably the single greatest determinant of pastoral effectiveness.  As one deeply spiritual chaplain has said, “I want everything I come in contact with to be affected by the presence of God in my life.”  This statement lies at the core of the pastoral relationship, especially when interacting with those in crisis and loss.
  2. Religion.  How we connect our spiritual dimension to our religious tradition is another key component of effective coping with the crises that come our way.  Religious practices and community can be sustaining during these times.
  3. Family.  Those who have the blessing of a strong nuclear and extended family will be able to draw on these bonds during times of disruption.
  4. Personal Foundation.  One recognized school (Coach University) that trains personal coaches emphasizes the need to develop (in advance) a strong personal foundation.  “One can go further with greater ease if one first takes the time to build a strong personal foundation.”
  5. Life experience.  There is no substitute for having experienced the realities of life’s ups and downs.  The more one has experienced in the past, the more one can trust that the current situation will work itself out.  Trust generates peace.  In Christian terms, if we know God has been with us in the past we can more easily trust that He will be with us in the present and in the future.  Philip Yancey has said, “Faith is believing in advance that which will only make sense in reverse.”

VOLUNTEERS “COME ALONGSIDE” THOSE WHO ARE HURTING

PR shipAll praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.                                                                     2 Corinthians 1:3 (The Message)

Earlier in my career, I served almost a decade as a chaplain in the United States Navy.  During those years, I spent a lot of time aboard warships at sea, supporting the sailors and Marines who form the backbone of our sea services.

One of the indelible images that remains with me from my years at sea is that of an operation known as underway replenishment (or, in Navy jargon, UNREP).  When a Navy ship needs more fuel, food, or other supplies, it doesn’t always have the luxury of pulling into the nearest port like you or I would pull our cars into the nearest gas station or convenience store.  It has to be able to get what it needs through underway replenishment.  During an UNREP, the ship comes alongside a support ship, hoses and lines are strung between the two ships (which, by the way, are moving), and the support ship provides whatever is needed.  It’s thrilling, and a little scary, being aboard a ship during an UNREP.  The ships are close together, and the operation tests the nerve and ship-handling skills of both crews, but the result is worth the effort.   

“Coming alongside” is an apt image for the spiritual care Lifeline’s volunteers provide to the patients and families we serve.  In underway replenishment, each ship is fully seaworthy and has its own captain and crew.  The supply ship doesn’t take over the mission of the other ship.  It simply comes alongside and provides the support that is needed.  Similarly, in pastoral encounters with patients and family members, our volunteers come alongside, not to fix or to take over, but to listen, to pray, and to engage in caring conversation.  By doing these things – and even more importantly by simply being there – our volunteers offer reassurance of God’s steadfast love and abiding presence.  This is the unique contribution spiritual care makes to patients’ healing and wholeness.      

A Whole Lot Better When Done Right

A WHOLE LOT BETTER WHEN DONE RIGHT

By Paul Riddle

 

I received this letter from a local minister a few weeks after the minister attended one of Lifeline’s training workshops in Houston:

 

Dear Paul,

 

Since my first training just a few short weeks ago, I have been asked to sit with a new widow whose name I did not know. Today, I visited a man in the hospital that deeply cut his foot while getting drunk and high on glue under the bridge, only to be swept away in last week’s sudden floods. He had to tear off his clothes in order not to drown, and while running naked and dripping wet down the street, realized he was severely bleeding. 

 

May I sincerely Thank You and the Team for the excellent training. I had a good sense of timing, waiting, not talking or the need to fill in the blanks because I learned what to do at the Lifeline Chaplaincy training. 

 

Thank you, brother Paul. I am sure that the Lord was pleased either way, but it was a whole lot better when done right.

 

Blessings,

 

Name Withheld

 

This letter offers eloquent testimony to the value of Lifeline’s training in spiritual care and crisis ministry.

 

For information on Lifeline’s training offerings, go to http://www.lifelinechaplaincy.org/train.htm.

Meet Our Summer Interns!!

Meet Our Summer Interns 2014

 

By Dr. Paul Riddle, Director of Spiritual Care

Lifeline Chaplaincy Houston

We are in the midst of the 2014 summer internship, which began on May 16 and ends August 8.

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. This summer, three students have come to Houston to gain first-hand experience providing pastoral care in the Texas Medical Center Hospitals. Additionally, we have four interns in Fort Worth, working in hospitals in that city 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.

HOUSTON Interns

Lindsay Anderson – Plano, TX
Ministry to Children and Families – ACU

Ministry to Children and Families - ACU

Ministry to Children and Families – ACU

 

Kaitlin Pegoda – Huntsville, TX
Social Work – ACU

Social Work - ACU

Social Work – ACU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carleigh Wieder – North Richland Hills, TX
Family and Youth Ministry – ACU

Family and Youth Ministry - ACU

Family and Youth Ministry – ACU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORT WORTH Interns

Mykayla Gunderson – Spring, TX
Nursing – ACU

Nursing - ACU

Nursing – ACU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erik Masci – Denver, CO
Christian Ministry – ACU

Erik Masci

Christian Ministry – ACU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cameron Morris – Alvin, TX
Family and Youth Ministry — ACU

Family and Youth Ministry - ACU

Family and Youth Ministry – ACU

Coming Alongside – By Paul Riddle

COMING ALONGSIDE
By Paul Riddle

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

2 Corinthians 1:3 (The Message)

Earlier in my career, I served almost a decade as a chaplain in the United States Navy. During those years, I spent a lot of time aboard warships at sea, supporting the sailors and Marines who form the backbone of our sea services.

One of the indelible images that remains with me from my years at sea is that of underway replenishment (or, in Navy jargon, UNREP). When a Navy ship needs more fuel, food or other supplies, it doesn’t always have the luxury of pulling into the nearest port. It has to be able to get what it needs through underway replenishment. During an UNREP, the ship comes alongside a support ship, hoses and lines are strung between the two ships (which, by the way are moving), and the support ship provides whatever is needed. It’s thrilling, and a little scary, being aboard a ship during an UNREP. The ships are close together, and the operation tests the nerve and shiphandling skills of both crews, but the result is worth the effort.

“Coming alongside” is an apt image for the spiritual care Lifeline’s volunteers provide to the patients and families we serve. In underway replenishment, each ship is fully seaworthy and has its own captain and crew. The supply ship doesn’t take over the mission of the other ship. It simply comes alongside and provides the support that is needed. Similarly, in pastoral encounters with patients and family members, our volunteers come alongside, not to fix or to take over, but to listen, to pray, and to engage in caring conversation. By doing these things – and even more importantly by simply being there – our volunteers offer reassurance of God’s steadfast love and abiding presence. This is the unique contribution spiritual care makes to patients’ healing and wholeness.

This contribution is reflected in the following lines from a patient, who wrote to express her thanks to Lifeline’s volunteers who came alongside her and her family during a long illness:

Thank you all for such a wonderful ministry. I appreciate all the visits, prayers, communion, and support for my family during my lengthy 2-month hospital stay. It was so nice being so far away from our own congregation, but having brothers and sisters in Christ to visit. Special thanks to [several named volunteers] and all the others that continued to pray for us. In Christian love…

Book Recommendation

I want to commend a book to you that came to my attention at a Palliative Care Grand Rounds session at Methodist Hospital a few weeks ago. The book is entitled, Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty With Empathy and Hope, by Anthony Back, Robert Arnold, and James Tulsky (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009 ISBN 978-0-521-70618-6).

This book is written by physicians for physicians, and it addresses a pressing need in healthcare: The need for better communication between doctors and patients. The authors acknowledge that, for many physicians, communication is not their strong suit. They then proceed to lay out a practical, positive approach that doctors can use to relate more effectively with their patients. What impressed me, aside from the very fact that the book exists, is how similar the emphasis of Back, Arnold and Tulsky is to the emphasis of our training of volunteers and interns at Lifeline.

The authors articulate seven principles which illustrate their overall approach (pp. 6-7):

1. Start with the patient’s agenda.
2. Track both the emotion and the cognitive data you get from the patient.
3. Stay with the patient and move the conversation forward one step at a time.
4. Articulate empathy explicitly.
5. Talk about what you can do before you talk about what you can’t do.

Chapters are devoted to such thorny doctor-patient communication issues as: Talking about serious news; discussing prognosis; conducting a family conference; dealing with conflict; transitions to end-of-life care; talking about dying; and saying goodbye. In each chapter the authors lay out the problem, illustrate it, and lay out a “road map” for the physician to build communication skill in that area. Especially helpful are verbatim-like text boxes in which samples of a conversation are laid out under two columns: “What Happened” and “What We Can Learn.”

The authors function as empathetic, though uncompromising, coaches, providing their fellow physicians with practical tools, challenges, and encouragement in improving their relational skills.

Even though the book is written for physicians, I found it to be a very helpful review of basic communication skills and strategies. It merits close attention by anyone who works closely with persons dealing with serious illness and loss.

Author: Paul Riddle