Category Archives: Tom Nuckels

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





Lord, Help Me to Choose Gratitude

My friend, Joe Baisden, doesn’t send Christmas cards, but he does send out Thanksgiving cards to his friends. That somehow seems more appropriate…to share reasons for thankfulness for all that God has done throughout the year. He always includes an updated picture of his family and words of encouragement.

I was struck with the thoughts inscribed on the back of a card sent several years ago which included a quote from Colossians:Unknown.jpeg

“Be ‘abounding in thanksgiving,’ Paul encouraged the Colossians (Colossians 2:7). It’s the picture of a river overflowing its banks during flood season, spilling out not in seeps and sprinkles but in gushing waves, scattering everywhere, leaving no section of ground untouched by the surging waters. Except this flood—this flood of gratitude—far from being a torrent of destruction, flows forth as a steady stream of blessing. Helping. Healing. Giving life.”—from Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Gratitude.

I don’t know what difficulty life is throwing at you right now, but my prayer for you is that you find something for which to be thankful…that you might choose gratitude.

Yet, Will I Rejoice in the Lord


Sometimes, things just do not work out the way that we had planned. Sometimes, it seems like our best laid plans, our hopes, and dreams, just go up in smoke. You look forward to retirement, only to find yourself laid up in the hospital, struggling through chemotherapy and endless doctors’ appointments. The child you prayed for, is now dealing with high fever and an undiagnosed respiratory illness and you just wish the doctors could find a cause, and quickly. Your wife is having “minor surgery” to remove a benign mass, but during the pre-surgery blood tests, doctors discover “something suspicious.” We wonder where God is in all of this? Why doesn’t He do something? After all, we have prayed and prayed, yet nothing seems to help. I am reminded of the prophet who had like sentiments, but continued to trust when he wrote:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights…”         —Habakkuk 3:17-19

This is one of my favorite all-time verses. Habbakuk, the prophet, had been asking God lots of questions. He asked why evil people seem to get away with everything while the good people suffer. God’s answer was basically, “they don’t, in the long run.” Habbakuk, as well as us, are limited in what we can see. God is working in the world and we can be assured that nothing goes on without His notice. We, like the prophet, can rejoice in God, even when things do not seem to be working out the way we had hoped. Today is not eternity and we must not confuse the two. If God is in control of my life and the universe, I can learn to trust Him in matters of life and health, even in the tough times. And that is all that matters.


Tom Nuckels




A Modern Day Job

A Modern Day Job

By Tom Nuckels, Director of Spiritual Care, Central Texas


I recently met a modern day Job, a patient who had been referred to me via the Lifeline website.

As we talked, Mary rehearsed a history of illness, beginning at age eleven months, when she was hospitalized with pneumonia with temperatures spiking high for hours. She described her very concerned parents. Doctors didn’t think she would live. They informed her parents that because of the high fever, if she survived, she would probably have cognitive issues. Mary laughed, saying, “See, if I hadn’t had pneumonia, I would now be a genius!” She was pregnant in high school. She also had cancer at age sixteen. Her baby went through the radiation treatments with her, she said. Most recently, she had an auto accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down, burns on her arm and leg resulted from landing on top of the hot engine following the accident. One leg had to be amputated. On top of all of this, her husband divorced her, leaving her to raise three daughters alone.

Rather than being bitter because of all that had happened to her, this woman exemplifies steadfast endurance. Mary’s attitude demonstrates a true model of what chaplains call “positive coping skills.” How one copes with the cards they have been dealt in life determines their emotional and spiritual well-being. She chooses, over and over, to trust in her God through the pain. Time and time again, Mary said, “I know God was with me, because without Him, I would be dead already.” She rehearsed events of her life where tragedy was overcome because of people surrounding her. She is convinced these were “God’s angels” caring for her.

I entered Mary’s room that day a stranger. I left as an edified sojourner. She reminded me to face difficulty with joy and trust in a God who is present, even when all evidence appears to say otherwise; and to depend on God, to have faith, plus to have a dash of humor in the midst of trouble. Faith of this kind only comes when life is severely tested.


A Night Prayer

A Night Prayer


Let nothing, O Lord, disturb the silence of this night.

 And here in the gathering darkness, let me relax in your presence.

 There is nothing to be afraid of, there is everything to hope for.

 I may not become perfect overnight or be instantly blessed

 With the joys and consolations of the great saints, but little by little

 I will grow in the knowledge of the road that leads to heaven.

 Remind me that here in the closing moments of this day,

 I am in your Presence.

 I do not need to court you with great thoughts or profound insights.

 For the good of my soul consists not in thinking much

 But in loving much.

 If I love you, God, I will want for nothing.

 You alone suffice.



Teresa of Avila, 16th Century


Submitted by Tom Nuckels





“I am with you always…”—Matthew 28:20

A Blessing Prayer

What is a blessing

but a rain of grace

falling generously

upon those who are in need;

And who among us is without need?
May this day be a pathway strewn with blessings.

May your work this day be your love made visible.

May you breathe upon the wounds of those you live and work with.

May your breath be the breath of God.

May your own wounds feel the breath of God.

May you honor the flame of love that burns inside you.

May your voice this day be a voice of encouragement.

May your life be an answer to someone’s prayer.

May you own a grateful heart.

May you have enough joy to give you hope,

enough pain to make you wise.

May there be no room in your heart for hatred.

May you be free from violent thoughts.

When you look into the window of your soul

may you see the face of God.

May the lamp of your life shine kindly upon all who cross your path.

May you be a good memory in someone’s life today.

Excerpted from Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr

Submitted by Tom Nuckels

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


Tom Nuckels