Chaplain Chat

Our chaplains write a Chaplain Chat for our internal newsletter. The messages are too good to keep to ourselves. So we decided to share them. 

"Remembering God's Faithfulness"

By Chaplain Chris M. Wade, M.Div, MC

As I sit here in the ICU, I remember where I was five years ago. I was finishing my Master’s degree in chaplaincy out in Oregon and I had just been offered a full-time chaplain residency here at Providence. Soon I would resign my job, move out of my house, and prepare to move across the States with my wife. We sold everything we couldn’t pack away to get later or fit into two cars. We were ready to see what God had planned for us. 

Two days before we were going to drive out of Eugene, Oregon I got a phone call from Providence. They told me they were going to sell the hospital and could no longer offer me a residency. 

What do we do now? We had no clue. We had lined up a place to live in Columbia, at least while my wife finished her last few classes of a degree at CIU. We still felt it was God’s plan for us to come to Columbia. But it seemed the rug was pulled out from underneath us. 

We reached South Carolina on a Saturday after a long, leisurely trip across the country. I emailed one of the Providence chaplains asking if we could meet up. I had a feeling there was a lot of uncertainty with the acquisition and I wanted to know how I could pray for Providence. But I was surprised when they asked me to come in on Monday. They apologized that there were no residencies anymore, but they were going to need some chaplains to cover the night shift. Long story short, that Thursday I had an interview and was offered the position I still hold today. When I left Oregon, the position did not exist. When I got to South Carolina, it did. I can only say that God was in it.

Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty here at the hospital. We don't know what is going to happen or how it will affect each of us. In times like this, I remember God's faithfulness in my life and even in the life of this hospital. As I think about how God has proven Himself faithful in my life in the past, I know I can rest assured He will be faithful with my future. He has proven Himself faithful.

How has God been faithful in your life? Why would we think He wouldn’t be faithful now? If you would, please feel free to send me your stories of God's faithfulness in your life. I would love to hear them and rejoice in how you’ve seen God’s care in your life. You can send them to Chris.Wade@ProvidenceHospitals.com.

"Planning"

By Rev. John Schumacher, MDiv/RE, BCC,

I have been doing something new, I have been spending time doing a type of personal planning and I found that process rewarding and challenging.   After realizing how important it is to begin planning, I invested myself in this new way of taking care of myself.

As you can imagine, part of that planning, at the young age of sixty-four, was for my financial life after I stopped working.  I soon discovered that was only a part of the planning that I needed. I needed to plan for the other parts of my life.

Last year, I sought out the counsel of a spiritual advisor and during that time of discernment and discovery, I learned about creating a Life Plan.  I had never heard of such a thing. This plan would include all the facets of my life and structured to have the flexibility to be able to adapt to the inevitable unforeseen things that happen in life.

I learned about planning for my spiritual life, my physical health, my social life, my financial life, my family life, my professional life. In this way, I am participating with God in my life’s path which for me is an important way that I am trusting God.

Do you feel that your life is out of control?  Maybe take that step of faith and create your own Life Plan and create some stability.  Do you feel that your life is on “cruise control”, why not plan for those bumps in the road that you cannot see now?  You may be better prepared for those times when life takes an unexpected turn.

"Matthew 11:28 'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'"

By Chaplain Rev. Charles Robinson Sr.

Rest has so many connotations in today’s world.  It could mean a vacation to some, while to others it could mean to breathe, to relax, to lean, to pause, to repose, the list could go on.  We always look for rest and seek rest. In the season of holidays, I am sure that you had an experience of any of these in some way or the other.

There is always a need for rest. We are living in the most restless age our world has ever seen. The ones invited to find this rest are those who are burdened with a load of care. Every person has some sorrow or some burden that breaks the heart. Jesus invites those who are burdened with sorrow. How one may find this rest? Jesus simply says, “Come unto me not to a Church, not to a Creed but to Christ.” We have many burdens to bare. We cannot carry them alone. We can come to Jesus and he can carry both us and our burdens.

I have seen this in my visits to patients here in the hospital. These patients are casting their burden on God when they are faced with difficult challenges or situations of trauma or death. It is a blessing to witness this as a chaplain, and a great reminder to us all to turn to Jesus and let him carry our loads.

"Time"

By Chaplain Jimmy Montgomery

Possibly, here at Providence Hospital, you may have said, or you heard someone utter the statement, “I am making up time”, as though the time can be restored, replaced or repeated.  Time isn’t static.  Time is always fleeting.  Time can neither be replicated or duplicated.  Once time passes, it is gone never to be experienced again.

Time is both a sacred and precious commodity.  We are entrusted with time as a gift from God. Time is not a right.  One does not own time.  Time is a privilege. God allows us to participate in time. God does not allow us to control, nor to manipulate time.  We are stewards of the time God has entrusted to our care.  We can use time wisely or foolishly.  However, as stewards of God’s time, we are accountable for how we utilize and manage our time.

In the book titled Mastering Life by Robert J. Morgan,  Richard Baxter shares, “it will be an unspeakable comfort to look back on a life well spent and to say in humble sincerity, “my time was not cast away…It was spent in sincere labors for my God in making my calling and election sure, in doing good to men’s and women’s souls and bodies…”At Providence, we are given and afforded time to care for the whole person, both body and soul.  We provide a caring environment supported by time to minister to both body and soul. How noble would it be for us at providence to say with confidence our lives and time are used “in doing good for men and women’s souls and bodies?”  It is imperative that we take seriously our calling and role in maximizing our time with excitement and to the fullest.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, former president of Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia often recited to his students this brief poem about time, “I have only just a minute. Only sixty seconds in it. Forced upon me, I can’t refuse it.  Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.  But it is up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it. Give account if I abuse it.  Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.”  Today now is our season to be in ministry to both the body and the soul of our patients and their loved ones.  “For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

"Compassion Fatigue"

By Chris Wade, Chaplain

Superman has his kryptonite, and I know my weakness… sleep deprivation. If I don’t get enough sleep a lot of things start to spiral out of control.  I have less patience and I have trouble concentrating. As the night chaplain on the weekends, I’m usually called in only for major things like a cardiac arrest. Sometimes there are no calls. Other times I may respond to three or four cardiac arrests a weekend. I work another job during the week which involves crisis chaplaincy. The cumulative pressure can push me to my limit. Compassion fatigue can go through the roof. I’ve made a list of ways I help replenish myself. Would any of these be helpful to you?

  1. Learn how to say no.
  2. Seek out what you need to stay centered.
  3. Set your life priorities.
  4. Guard your time to practice your faith.
  5. Have an accountability partner.
  6. Take time to recover.

Compassion fatigue is a secondary traumatic stress disorder. It affects those who care for the traumatized, walking with them in their suffering beyond empathy to compassion. Such compassion work, especially with those grieving or going through acute traumatic stress, can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. As a Christian, I recognize the compassion Jesus had for people (see Matthew 9:36, 14:14, and 15:32). But I also notice He got away to recharge (see Luke 5:16). He sets an excellent example of how to live with an emotionally taxing ministry.

"Simplicity"

By Donna Solesbee, Certified Chaplain

True simplicity is a wonderful gift to cherish and to share.  In simplicity, one finds the gift of openness, freedom, and the peace of being who we are and where we are to be. It is often a bittersweet time of life to sort through ones belongings and life events.  We sort through what we want to keep and what we need to give away.  Many memories surface as we sort through belongings and life experiences. The song “Simple Gifts” reminds us how being simple is truly a gift to be free within, to be oneself amidst the ups and downs of life.  In simplicity, we return to our center and are called to be true to self in our daily lives. 

"Sickness and Sacredness"

By Father JohnBosco Duraisamy (aka "Father John")

The Eagle does not fight the snake on the ground. It picks it up onto the sky and changes the battle ground, and then it releases the snake into the sky. The snake has no stamina, no power and no balance in the air. It is useless, weak and vulnerable unlike on the ground where it is powerful, wise and deadly. Time of sickness is indeed a battlefield. Especially when it is a matter of serious sickness. In a Life changing situation, we are challenged. The very purpose of Life is questioned. I have seen many who really struggle as they are unprepared. I have also seen others who are prepared to bring God in these situations to find strength and fight it. There they experience the sacredness. Take your fight into the spiritual realm by being rooted and involving God in every area. When you are in the spiritual realm, God takes over your battles. Don’t fight the enemy in his comfort zone, change the battle grounds like the Eagle and let God take charge through your earnest prayer. Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation/sickness comes, and you will always have victory.

"Broken and Blessings"

By Rev. John Schumacher, MDiv/RE, BCC,

I recently suffered a broken wrist after falling from a ladder as I helped my cousin install security lights around her house. During the time after my fall, I had many emotions – one of which was anger. I was angry because I was helping someone whose husband had just died, and I had this injury.  How could this happen when I was helping someone in need? As a Chaplain, many people have asked the same kind of question, so I knew that my anger and questions were normal. What I did not think about, at first, was how God was present for me during that time. God’s Grace was poured out on me by the multitude of people that went out of their way to support me. I have learned from this is to stay off ladders when you are a person of my age, but more importantly that God is always present and gives God’s grace in the circumstances of our lives. I tell families often to be willing to accept God’s Grace, and this time, I found myself taking my own advice – accept God’s Grace! I accepted help from those who cared about me. I did not have to be the Chaplain in this situation – the helper – I just had to be myself and accept the Grace that was given to me. I am reminded of the scripture that tells us to “be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes we have to look for the Blessings.  Where are the Blessings in your life?

"Thank you for everything."

By Chaplain Jimmy Montgomery

While providing pastoral care to a family at the bedside of their loved one who transitioned from the Church militant to the Church triumphant, the eloquent voice of one family member whispered the profound words, "thank you for everything" to the deceased.

My mind began to reflect, wonder and ask quietly, did the proclaimer express words of appreciation and gratitude to the deceased when she was alive?  If so, when, how often, and under what circumstances? Was she given her "flowers" while she was alive? How often do we fail to express gratitude and appreciation to one another for who they are and for whose they are?  How often have we allowed good deeds done by others to go unnoticed. 

Four words, simplistic, yet profound and filled with grace. Four words, brief, however, affirming and assuring.  A concise sentence, even a toddler is taught to utter, "thank you." Four words that stands the test of time. Through such words redemption and reconciliation are birthed in estranged relationships. 

Today is a good day to give thanks. Today is the best day to give thanks. Why?  Because today is the only day we are privy to give thanks.  The Apostle Paul charged us to "give thanks in all circumstances."  (I Thessalonians 5:18).

"Come to me"

by Donna Solesbee 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

How often this passage provides refreshment when we get overwhelmed by life's journey.  This is a reminder that we are not alone in whatever the day holds for us.  It is also a good reminder of how important it is to take care of yourself each day.  What is it that brings refreshment to you?  Is it walking outside, spending time with family or friends, reading a book, etc.?  There are many unique ways to get replenished.  We just need to get to know what works best for us.  It may be as simple as remembering to breathe, or as complex as planning an adventure.

God's Unexpected Presence

By Joan Bumpus

Many years ago my morning routine was to get out of bed, pour myself a cup of coffee, sit in my favorite chair and settle into prayer. I was intentional about inviting God to join me and inviting myself to be in the peaceful presence of God, not praying about anything in particular.  

All was well until I got my very first kitten. The kitten would get up in my lap and roam around until she found a comfortable spot to settle in. I found her quite distracting and began to regret getting her. I thought I would never be able to be attentive to God's Presence/Prayer again.

Then one day, I noticed...., that I had not noticed the kitten even getting into my lap. But there she was sound asleep. I began to think about how much she must trust me; how safe and secure and how warm and loved she must feel to be so sound asleep in my lap.

I began to imagine myself resting in the lap of God; engulfed in the safety and security of His arms; surrounded by His unconditional love for me; knowing I can always trust Him.  

This has become a very powerful image in my own prayer life and relationship with God. So, just when you least expect it. God may reach out to you, even through a kitten.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3) 

By Kim Thompson

You might have heard this scripture before, and what a season to be living: a Presidency ending and a new one beginning, raging fires nearby, and the upcoming Holiday season. You might be excited, scared, or terrified. 

Whatever your feelings, know you're not alone. We tend to believe we have to rush through whatever emotion we have and get to the "good feeling" we can't sit in the sadness, fear, or grief.

In the Jewish tradition, grievers sit through Shiva: 7 days, starting the day of burial, which allows the immediate family to mourn the loss of their loved one. The community tends to every need of the family. 

Understanding that our feelings take time to process will help us to keep moving forward. Skipping the understanding can lead to unresolved grief in the future.

Whatever your particular tradition this winter: May we sit, wait, and acknowledge our feelings and not rush ourselves through this important season.

"Invoke My Name"

By Reverend Dr. Jimmy Montgomery, Chaplain

I am intrigued and fascinated at the extent parents go through to select the perfect and unique name for their bundle of joy. Exciting to me is the person who takes the time to learn a person's name, remembers a person's name, and invoke a person's name when seeing them again. Ann Spangler's Praying the Names of God suggests, "names in the ancient world...were often thought to reveal the essential nature and character of a person."

At Providence, we extend Christ's healing ministry to our patients, visitors and each other.  I implore you to invoke the name of your God and the name of one another in your interactions.  When you speak a name, the one whose name is invoked is drafted into a unique time and space, is energized, empowered, and claimed by a unique deity. They experience solitude, healing and a peace, "which passes all understanding." 

The Hebrew prophet and messenger, Isaiah, God's spokesperson said "I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me" (Isaiah 45:4C). God knows our name, God remembers our name, and God calls us by our name. Let us do the same with His and our neighbors'.