Friday, December 5, 2008

Muslims and terrorism

One of my friends in a class recently commented on the stereotype of "terrorist" that's connected with Muslims. She asked if we think of terrorism when we see her. That's not at all what I see when I see her...but it was interesting to think about. Especially considering all the fear and stereotypes surrounding Muslims since 9/11/01.

She gave me permission to share that and pose the question to you. So, what do you see when you see someone who is Muslim or hear about the Islamic faith? Do you connect Muslims with terrorism? If so, did you before 9/11?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The semester is winding down...

I couldn't believe that blog entry title even as I typed it. All I have left is a few weeks full of BIG papers. I rocked 2 presentations recently (so I've heard) and handed in papers that I hopefully rocked, too. Now time to ROCK those big papers!!

I can really say now that I LOVE where I am and what I'm doing. I get to worship EVERY week with awesome people, hear different perspectives and share my own. I have found the ability to be who I have always been...out loud! I am finding my voice for myself rather than pretending another voice is also my own...and really am HEARD by those around me. Some have wondered if this school has changed me...and they don't seem to mean it in a good way. But if it's changed me, it's in an AWESOME way. It's helping me share more of who I've always been and the God I have always known (and letting me get to know It more) and letting me get to know people I would probably NEVER know otherwise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Last night I went to a presentation at school, mostly on Islam...but they talked a lot about the relations between Christianity/Judaism/Islam, too. I've thought a lot about the interrelations between Christian denominations and all the problems there, but this summer MIGHT be one of the first times that I've really thought about problems with interfaith relations.

And something interesting happened that I can't help sharing. One of the speakers was reading something from the Koran about "running the race". I really thought he was reading from Philippians. It's amazing how similar we are...and yet we can't get over ourselves and move past fighting about who is right and who "needs" to convert to which organized religion.

Maybe if we started looking at how similar we are instead of looking at our differences, we could all get over ourselves and stop fighting about it. Yes, we still will have a lot that's not the same...but looking at where we're NOT different is a start, right? After all, aren't WE oftentimes the reason that people DON'T see the God we claim to know? Maybe this would be the difference in us seeing God through each other. If that makes sense?...

Imagine if we put a LOT of things in God's hands and just admitted that we don't know...and that we're glad that God has control. We know how to hate, but are we willing to learn how to love and meet people where they're at? Man, the world would be a lot different. Thoughts?

I have really been able to see the negative effects of churches and of intolerance and hatred in a real way lately, just to put this all in perspective of where it's coming from. (Thank you to all who are curing my ignorance and making these things REALLY real to me!) It's reminding me of past examples of hatred I've seen because of religious intolerance. It's very real...and NO group is innocent. Where do we start to fix it? Hopefully being able to be in peaceful relationship and dialogue with each other is a start. I am really blessed to be able to be in an environment where that happens. Even if that environment is just a very small piece of the world. Hopefully we can take it out into the world.

As I'm editing this, I looked over and saw my copy of Bill Hybels' "Just Walk Across the Room". That title alone (and the book) get at where I'm going with this. Isn't being willing to "walk across the room" and get to know each other a good start?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quick update

This week is the 175th anniversary celebration of Hartford Seminary. We have events on/off campus all week I'm sure I will be on/around campus every day all week...starting tomorrow for the Great Awakening Tour!

Putting together my presentation on Accessibility in Worship and my Prayer/Worship Walk activity have both come together well. If anybody wants to see, I can let you in on it. (Unless you're in my class...then you just have to wait!)

And I THINK I found a verse to use for my first paper in Studying the New Testament Through the Eyes of the Oppressed. I have been reading the Gospels in preparation and found something that struck me. We'll see if I can use it. We have to use 2 different groups that we've studied in class, so we'll see. I've been doing research on all sorts of theology related to "disability" for that class, too. It's really interesting and something I've found is easier to embrace than the theologies that have always sounded very HUMAN to me. Some of the theology I've looked at is MUCH more like the God I have always known and loved.

Oh, and the LAST bizarre dream I had? Could very well come true. A lot of us on campus are interested in going to each others' places of worship and someone asked about where I go to church. I have no problem with anyone, WHOEVER they are, coming to church with me...I think it would actually be pretty awesome!

Some of us are going to a synagogue together on Dec. 5. That should be interesting...I've never been.

This weekend is WLI and the interfaith worship for the 175th. It'll be a full weekend! I'm interested to hear what people's experiences were like at the Women's prison in Niantic. In case I hadn't mentioned this yet, God is alive and well in prison (maybe even more than out in the rest of the world).

We're trying to see if we can start having lunches on Thursdays on campus rather than going out every week. That way whoever wants to just come to campus or happens to already be there can participate. And we can work it potluck style so that hopefully everyone has what they need as far as dietary needs etc. go. And the conversations we've had OFF campus have been really'll be nice if we can open that up to other people we are at school with!

EDIT: We got a room! YAY!

OOH and here's a little preview of something that I'll be excited to see when it comes out!

I think that's all...I'm sure I'll have a LOT to post after this 175th week is over!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yet another weird dream

Recently I had another weird dream that I forgot to post about. I was at church and one of my friends who happens to be Muslim came with me. (First off, I have no idea why she would have wanted to, as awesome as it would be to be able to have anyone I know come to churches with me!) The reaction from the congregation was pretty mixed. Some, though not a lot, were welcoming and open and friendly. Others whispered and were generally rude.

Not a response that I'm surprised by...just a dream I thought was incredibly odd all around!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Differability and heaven

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately...and I found an AWESOME blog on it here:

One of my comments on heaven is now there, too.

I used to make a list of all the things I'd do in heaven because then my body would be "perfect" and I'd do all the things I didn't "get" to do here on earth (I've broken those boundaries since then and done things I didn't think I would do!).

But how sad would heaven be if we all looked the same? I hope heaven has just as much diversity as we have here...without the stereotypes and discrimination and hatred...or that there's just no physicality at all.

People will quote verses like Revelation 21:4 in talking about how my body will look like theirs in heaven and not be "broken"...but the thing a lot of people miss is that a lot of my tears and sorrow and pain comes from the way people view me...their crappy stereotypes and judgments etc. THAT is what's more important to be wiped away in heaven! My "brokenness" comes from things deeper than my legs. And when you look at my real brokenness, you'll realize that you're just as broken as me. I get that we'll all be made "whole", but maybe our definition of whole is too limited.

In looking at healing and THIS life, one trend I've noticed is that the faith of the people AROUND the person who was healed was increased. The people who were healed already seemed to have the faith. I do wish, however, that there were more stories in the Bible about God using someone the way they are (with a differability). If there are those stories, they don't seem to be emphasized enough, if at all!

Food for thought: Is everyone made in the image of God or is God capable of "messing up"?

And a bit of a side note: It's awesome to be at a school that has people who will use words like "able-bodied" and CORRECT themselves when they realize that they've used language that excludes me. I know some people aren't comfortable with the language changes I've used since I've found the "updated" and more inclusive words...but I'm now in a place where they are being used and taught and embraced! It's more the way the world should be! ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

God in a box?

As I'm reading through things for Looking at the NT Through the Eyes of the Oppressed, and thinking back to the weekend of WLI, I have been thinking about all the nice, neat little boxes that we try to put God into...and think He actually fits!

In my background, for example, God, in the form of Jesus, is a skinny, white guy with a beard and brown hair...and He can walk. The walking part I won't harp on in relation to the image of Jesus since the Bible says "walk"...but where do we get the skinny, white guy with a beard from? Do we have actual scripture to back it up? (If you have some, post it please! ;-))

OOH but I will say that just because JESUS had a physical form and walked etc., does that mean God does? Is there anywhere in the Bible that says anything about God's physicality? Would one go as far as saying that because the Trinity is 3 in 1, that means each part has physicality? And if each part does, is it all the same?

*Because I already know my answer to the above here, especially because of the Holy Spirit and the fact that both men and women are made in God's image...these feel like really dumb questions...but I thought I would throw them out there for you to think about, dumb or not! And no question here is dumb, so feel free to dump your own in comments! ;-)*

If that's not the box that your view of God comes from, what is yours?
Even within Christianity, I wonder how many different boxes we'd find if we put them together. Is yours a God in Whose image you and all of those around you have been created? Or is yours a god (lower case there done on purpose) in whom has been made in YOUR image...excluding all or at least some of those around you?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Something I just found...

Some may remember that I mentioned a dream I had a while back and my also mentioning a Jacob's Ladder sermon at church? (I believe they were 2 separate entries...but I could be wrong.)

WELL, look what I just found! How awesome! Focus on the very last part! :-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Women's Leadership Institute (WLI) class

I decided to take this monthly class. I figure it won't be too much since it's not like it's another one that meets once a week!

Saturday edit:

Now that the weekend is over, I decided to just post more in here rather than starting a whole new entry...

I'm really glad I decided to do this class. I had decided not to sign up for it right off the bat so I could see what my other classes were like etc. But this really has some similar themes as in the New Testament class...talking about feminism etc. And there are 26 or so amazing women!

It's awesome already. People opened up a lot even in this first weekend. I'm excited to see how much of that happens over the year (it's a year long, 6 credits, one weekend per month). Lots of reading as in my other classes, but that's one of my stronger points, so I will handle it. And little to no writing...

One of our experiences besides the once a month (maybe the only one) is a trip to a women's prison. That I'm doing on the 5th. It will be interesting to compare that to what I still remember of my experience at a women's prison in Peru.

OH, and the thing that was REALLY awesome that the facilitator, "MT", said was that EVERY learning style/type of personality is OK in that class. She realizes that some people are more verbal than others and the people who are less verbal are still really engaged and always thinking etc. She described my personality perfectly in talking about people who might not talk a lot because they REALLY think about what they're going to say before they say it. I tend to need to have something REALLY thought out before I'll say it...and I need to REALLY process what's been said or learned before I even seem to have a thought in my head. This is something that people, no matter where or what the situation, seem to get frustrated by and people have made it sound like a bad thing in the past...and have tried to get me to change it and to conform to being the more verbal type that they're comfortable with. BUT those really verbal, talk-90-miles-a-minute-without-taking-a-breath, types really frustrate ME! And I don't try to get them to change. I just realize that I may not always be able to keep up with them...and I'll hopefully hear what's important out of what they're saying and be able to throw out "fluff" or things said just to fill space if there is any of that...and sometimes things are repeated when they're not thought out, which is actually helpful. Not to say that what really verbal people have to say isn't important, but it may not always be "put together" because it's not necessarily thought out first. These could be stereotypes of the two groups, too, I will admit...but this is generally what I've found. And unfortunately one group seems to be more accepted or welcomed in groups than the other. So, I'm really excited that ALL of who I am is being accepted and not put down or seen as something that needs changing. I can just BE the way I was made/put together! HOW AWESOME!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A new kind of church...

In Fundamentals of Worship today, I was thinking about how cool it would be to see a church that had all ramps and no stairs. Something all somehow based on the senses so that people could experience it no matter what limitations they might have.

Maybe I'll just have to make millions one day and put it together. Hey, I've always wanted to have something with a spiral ramp, right? Why not a church? And then at least there would be a place that really had no barriers! Imagine that...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Heidi Hadsell, the president at Hartford Seminary, gave the message on Monday at our weekly ecumenical and interfaith service. She spoke on James, specifically 1:19-27. This section of the chapter is on ACTING on what you hear...being doers of the Word.

I hope that her whole talk will be posted on the website. It is a good challenge to Christians, to remember to not only hear the Word...but to act on it/live it out as well.

Funny, it seems to go along with the question I posted in my last blog. This part of the chapter seems to speak to what I was trying to get at.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Posing a question...

This is something I've been thinking about lately, and I've come to my own conclusions... Now I'm interested to hear yours!

Say you meet two different people. One is someone who labels themselves a "Christian" and lives and/or acts in a way that's completely unlike Christ would (maybe even the opposite). The second person is someone who maybe has never heard of Christ/Christianity...or has but doesn't give themselves the label of "Christian". But this person lives and/or acts the way Christ did/would.

Which would you think REALLY knows Christ? Why did you choose the person you did?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things I've been thinking about...

As I looked back on the journey that brought me to Hartford Seminary, one of the things I remembered was being a member of the student body at Quinnipiac University. The Christian Fellowship, Branches (the Catholic group on campus) and Hillel had some activities that they did together (mostly "Faith Week", but even if it wasn't an event, people of the different groups did things together sometimes).

I remember noticing, too, that there were a few Muslim students over the years. Not many as far as I remember, but I'm sure I saw at least a few. And as far as I know, there was no group or activities etc. for them on campus.

We're getting a little farther on that campus, though. I just found this:

Since the chaplain program this summer and my looking into/starting at Hartford Seminary, my way of thinking and noticing things around me has already changed a lot. For example, thinking about how it might be hard to practice Judaism or Islam in public school (I wrote my thesis senior year on "Prayer in Public School", but it was mostly, if not all, just based on Christians praying in public school).

Even if prayer wasn't the issue, what about food in the cafeteria? I'm sure there are other issues that it still hasn't dawned on me to think of.

I've also been thinking about the PRIVILEGE of being able to go to church and worship freely. Not just worship, but to CHOOSE who and where one worships. There are SO many other places where this isn't the case.


(If you're reading this and you will...PRAY)

I was reading the other day about times and places where people used to get together IN COMMUNITY to pray more than once a day. And this was all within the Christian faith. Prayer, both alone and in community, used to be treated like it was IMPORTANT! Imagine that...

I wonder how things would look today if that were still the case.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weird dream...

I had such a weird dream last night. I haven't remembered dreams in a while it seems like. Maybe this one is symbolic, though.

I was at church (WIND service, as usual for me). Tessa was there, and I assume she must have been preaching.

The only part of the service that I saw in the dream, though (that I remember), was Communion. There's a stage in front of the room where we have the service. That is usually where the worship band is, but for whatever reason, this time Communion was set up on the stage instead of in front of it.

The stage isn't wheelchair accessible, so everyone else in the room was lining up - going up one set of stairs over to get communion and then back down the other side. Obviously I couldn't use the stairs, so I just didn't go up. I was just sitting there watching. I don't know if anyone even looked at me.

I have a REALLY hard time believing that Tessa would EVER let that happen to I don't know why she would have been the pastor in the dream.

I did have a visual when she talked about Jacob's Ladder (I think it was) recently, of a ramp instead of a ladder. I still don't get how this dream would have come about, though.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Tonight was the first night of my Fundamentals of Worship class. It's a strictly Christian class, which I'm both excited and a little disappointed about. I'm sure I'll get opportunities at school for both, though. And if not, I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for learning experiences.

I already picked my topic for our presentation: "Inclusion" in worship. That is something I'm really passionate about and have thought about in a few different dimensions this summer, so I'll be interested to see what I come up with!

And we each get to take turns planning a time of devotion, as well as coming up with 4 different services from our denomination.

Our topic for tonight was: What is worship? We expanded on it in discussion. Before I flesh out my own thoughts here...what is worship to you?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Orientation at Hartford Seminary was yesterday. Everyone got to meet each other and hear why people are at at Hartford this semester. It was really cool to hear where people are coming from (different states, countries, religious backgrounds, ages etc.) and why people are there. I even met a woman who is at CCMC working in pediatrics and is interested in children's hospice. That's what I've thought a lot about doing, so it was cool to hear that I'm not as weird as I thought! :-)

One thing that was really eye opening and interesting to me was meeting Christians from other countries who have actually been persecuted and almost put to death. Meeting them and really thinking about what they've probably been through has made me wonder if Christians here in the U.S. REALLY get it. I know we read about it, but do we get that we're reading things that are REAL and happen all the time in other places? Do we really get what safe little bubbles we live in? Imagine what it would be like if those bubbles were POPPED! Maybe we'd be living closer to the way we're supposed to be! Who ever said we were supposed to be living safely?

And everyone is SO NICE! Classes start tomorrow, and I'll be excited to see who is in my classes. We've already some time to all get to know each other yesterday and exchange info, so that was really nice.

I've gotten a lot of mixed reviews about my being there (from people who aren't). As I've thought about that, I have been thinking about whether or not people REALLY practice what they preach...and what that really means to people. We talk ENDLESSLY it seems about evangelism...but as I've heard people's reactions to Hartford Seminary, it doesn't seem that we get how to do it in a way where it actually gets through. It sounds like people believe exactly the opposite of getting out in the world and making a difference in it, actually. In fact, I have rarely heard people being supportive of getting out of their safe little bubbles or having their faith tested and challenged. People actually seem to be really threatened by the fact that I'm OK with that...and actually really excited. But to me, part of evangelism and being in the world is getting to know where people are coming from and being an example of Christ in how I live and act etc.

We as Americans, as people of faith, etc. are SO IGNORANT of the world around us...and that is NOT OK! It's really sad to talk to people who think that it is.

Although I have heard everyone's opinions (which they are entitled to), GOD is my ultimate authority...not anyone I've heard from, Christian or not. If God is going to open a door, I am going to be obedient and use it for Him...whether I have support or not. I can see the path God has brought me on and how it all comes together. People can choose to hear about it or not. While I hope people want to hear about all that and really see where I'm coming from, if people don't...I'm going to save my breath and keep moving. I've always said that I want to be on the front lines and really be involved in what God is doing...and now I get to be! If you want to knock me for it, go right ahead.

If churches feel like they don't give people what they need to go WHEREVER GOD CALLS THEM, WHENEVER GOD CALLS THEM...isn't that something for churches to wrestle with rather than judging what people are doing?

One thing I'm really excited about, too, is that not only do I GET to use my Bible to study, I HAVE TO! As I've looked through my books, most of them use a lot of Bible verses. So my study Bibles will come in handy! :-)

OOH AND I have already had a few opportunities to educate people on the language they use when referring to people with differabilities (SO OUTDATED AND even offensive). Usually they usually just make me cringe, but this time I actually made a gagging face (its funny the things I do when I'm by myself). I kind of wish people had seen it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I found out the other day that I got into Hartford Seminary! Orientation is on September 8 and classes start on September 9. I'll post more about classes once they're approved and everything. I'm going to use this blog for CPE AND school related stuff.

I recently found out, too, that one of the girls I got to see every day in pediatrics at HSC WENT HOME! YIPPEE!!! I'm so excited for her!

I won't lie...when I've watched the Disney Channel at home, I've definitely thought of the kids I met there!

I'm meeting with my supervisor at UCONN Health Center from this past summer tomorrow in the morning for my final evaluation. I was excited to be able to talk to him on the phone the other day when I found out about school! Ha ha, I was so excited...and nobody was home!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I graduated from my first unit of CPE yesterday! Man, the summer flew by! Sorry I wasn't good about keeping this up...

What do you want to know that I left out...?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Decision time

After a crazy/amazing/tiring/stretching experience at CPE, I have decided to hopefully go to Hartford Seminary in the Fall (that's where the major prayers come in that everything works out with my application...I only have two days to get it in! Deadline for applications is in the Fall). I am still unsure as to whether or not I am going to be accepted for the next unit of CPE either, but hopefully their knowing that I have sealed my decision to go to Hartford Seminary for my Master of Arts (to later be combined with M. Div. hopefully...I have to apply for that later), will help seal their decision. I had applied to UCONN School of Social Work, which is what made one of the supervisors out of the two unsure of whether or not I really wanted to do chaplaincy. I was unsure of how different MSW and Master of Arts was until I looked at the Hartford Seminary website today. Now knowing how different they are, I can understand more of where the woman I have been under at HSC was coming from.

Wow, this may seem like a lot of rambling....sorry! Ask me to explain if you have questions! And thanks loads for your prayers, encouragement, etc.! (Still very much needed!)

And the service for the 20th has now been outlined!!! :-D

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What's Coming Up...

There have been a lot of things going on...lots coming up. I'm still updating the service for the 20th. Hopefully that will be fully outlined today. I threw out the Noah's Ark idea with the puppet. But the theme of hope will still be one of the things involved. I will post more once it's fully outlined.

Monday my supervisor from UCONN is coming to the hospital to have lunch with me and Karen (and Janet if she comes to lunch). Karen let me know that her recommendation to Dan is going to be that I get career counseling because she still feels that I need to pick either chaplaincy (and go to seminary) or social work (MSW). I'll be interested to see what Dan's reaction/comment is to that.

Edit: After I wrote this, I remembered that MUSIC is on Monday. I emailed Dan to see if he could come early to see that in action since I've already talked about it...and one of the kids did something REALLY cute on Friday (he discovered that he can step on my foot pedal and hold on to me to climb in my lap...SO CUTE). I would love to see if he does it while Dan is there. But I was a really big chicken when I talked to him on Thursday about him seeing me in I'm not sure if it's too late for that to happen or not. I emailed and paged him just in case. (But I don't know if I did the page right lol.)

I discovered in talking to Dan just how serious the idea of changing the way I pray is to me. I know that it's affected my experience at HSC in that I haven't brought up praying with patients because of it. Since it's something that's really intimate and I don't believe that it's something that can be watered down or generalized, I haven't really known what to do with it. Karen feels that praying and "God talk" is how someone is pastoral. The God talk has happened in a lot of my conversations with people. And I feel like one of the ways I've been pastoral is in that I've given patients and staff and family members/visitors the ability/space to share their stories with someone. Even though I've been on one particular unit the whole time, people have still been sharing their stories with me as of yesterday. And it's something Karen has even been surprised by from the very beginning.

I take their stories etc. and pray about them on my own, whether anybody knows it or not. That way I am not imposing God or prayer or faith on someone who hasn't brought that up...but things I've heard in their stories are still being brought to God (whether that person believes or not). And patients, staff, and I have seen prayer answered although those prayers weren't things that happened with all of us together.

This all makes me think of 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about spiritual gifts and how each part of the Body of Christ has different gifts and that we have to work together.

Hopefully that's something I'll be able to explain accurately on Monday when we get together. THEN on Tuesday, I'll have to explain to the group how angry I've been with the group about their reaction to my bringing how serious the idea of taking Jesus out of my prayers is to me. A lot of people have explained to me that I can just replace Jesus with "Light" or something else that is an attribute of God/Jesus. But to me that's the same as my telling someone about you and my friendship with you, but changing your name because I am ashamed to let someone know who I'm really talking about. We have had discussions about ritual and religion, but nobody has yet verbalized a personal relationship. So that will be an interesting discussion. Hopefully I'll be able to articulate it in a way that I won't end up getting angry or upset, and hopefully nobody else will either. For others, I do realize that it's probably hard for them to HEAR me say Jesus...just as it's hard for me to take Him out of my prayers. And it'll be interesting to have to articulate that even in a primarily Christian/Catholic country (which we have talked about the U.S. as being), I have been ridiculed and mocked and put down for what being a Christian means to me. Especially in being a pretty conservative Christian! Hopefully I'll be able to articulate all that in a way that people will be able to REALLY understand where I'm coming from.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sunday Service

I'm in charge of doing the Sunday service at the hospital on July 20. I can do whatever I want. I was thinking since I'm trying to come up with a service surrounding Noah's Ark, I might use that service and talk about hope...and maybe use my puppet.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Today (Monday) was awesome! I talked to the other chaplains at HSC about whether or not it would be a good idea to put prayer request boxes on each of the units (idea I’m totally thankful to have stolen from one of the other women in the program!). I’m getting to try it out on both my units (step down rehab and pediatric) to see what the response is. If the response is good, maybe it’ll get to be tried out on the other units of the hospital (and my units can get some kind of boxes that are more permanent...right now they are card board boxes).

When I went on the pediatric unit today, I brought a puppet that I recently remembered I had (my aunt made it for something I did in high school...and made it in a wheelchair etc. to look like me). For the most part, it was a big hit (one of the really little girls cried at first...but other than that everyone really liked it)! Even the staff seemed to like it.

Also, on the pediatric unit, when I was talking to one of the nurses about the prayer boxes, we were also talking about me possibly doing a service on the pediatric unit. I would love to do something patients and their families and the staff would all be able to come to and be a part of if they wanted to. (I started thinking about this after going to the service they already have in place on one of the other units.) The nurse I spoke with is going to talk to the head of the unit and we’ll all hopefully talk more and put something in place!

Sadly, I’m realizing we only have a month left (how did that happen?) I’m hoping everything I’ve mentioned really works out and gets rolling before this unit is over. Or if I do another unit, maybe God will open the door to my being placed there again and keeping things going. And if I don’t end up doing another unit, maybe I can still be connected to the hospital somehow and see that things continue to progress!

On a different note, I’m still struggling with the whole “interfaith” idea. Maybe that’s something the group will talk about, in light of some of the discussions that happened on Friday. But I had an interesting encounter with one of the chaplains and a staff member today. The chaplain seemed to totally be pushing her “you’re OK, I’m OK” agenda on the staff member, which the staff member seemed to me to clearly be saying she didn’t agree with. I could see the staff member getting visibly frustrated and she was late to go back to work, so the conversation was pretty short). The chaplain said that she’ll continue to “check in” etc. but even with me seemed to be pushing her agenda since she thinks she clearly knows what I believe and wants to “stretch my theology” and “make me more open”. But what she didn’t seem to see is that my comments and hopefully the encounters she has with people who don’t necessarily buy “I’m OK, you’re OK”, are to stretch HER theology and make her more open as well. She seemed to say, too, that if I wasn’t able to view things that way, maybe chaplaincy isn’t for me...but is chaplaincy necessarily only for people who buy into every view out there? And is it really possible to be the type of person who buys into everything...or is there a point where that becomes a contradiction and it’s just not possible to say that “everything” is OK. When I asked what the word “OK” meant, too, there really was no can people who SAY they buy into everything really explain what that means...or do they just not want to admit that it’s not possible to buy into EVERYTHING. Is there a point in time where, even as a chaplain, it’s better to be honest about what we believe and relate to people in that way...and is that time possibly from the very beginning? (So that patients and families etc. get an accurate picture of whom they are relating to and can decide which KIND of chaplain to go to....maybe part of the problem is that it’s all under one umbrella.) I know for me, I would MUCH rather talk to someone about faith based things (especially when I’m in a vulnerable state like being in the hospital) who shares my faith. That’s when I’m much more likely to open up. If someone were to come to me as a chaplain and not disclose what faith background they’re from and say that they serve people from all backgrounds, I have a feeling I would be less likely to open up if I open up at all.

Edit: I found out Wednesday that because DCF etc. would have to get involved, I probably won't be able to do a worship service on the pediatric floor. We're actually not even allowed to read them faith-based stories etc. unless it's noted that we have permission from the family. It all sounds complicated and frustrating. At least I can spend time with the kids and make them laugh or hold their hand when they're afraid etc., but man...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What I'm wrestling with now...

I'm not so good about updating this thing. By the time I get home sometimes, I have a lot of thoughts going on but I'm kind of DRAINED and don't feel like writing everything out.

But now I'm wrestling with something, so I thought I'd throw it out there and see what people's thoughts are.

I was the one leading the Worship service the other day in "group", and for the most part it was pretty amazing and everyone got a lot out of it. BUT even though I explained that the story I told and where the song came from was a Christian camp, people didn't like that it had "Jesus" in it. And then when I prayed in closing, "in Jesus name" just came out naturally before I could even think about it or stop it. It was REALLY interesting and a bit frustrating to see that that's the non-interfaith prayer that got the strongest reaction of all the non-interfaith things that have happened in the group.

So, how do I pray in a way that's interfaith...and leave my genuine self at the door. And how do I reconcile that with 2 Timothy 2:12?

Maybe it's in how I interpret the verse, but I feel like my NOT praying in a way that's genuine is denying Him...

Since the place that I do my clinical work is primarily Catholic/Protestant, I don't have this problem 3 days a week (even the other chaplains pray "in Jesus name" or use the Lord's prayer). And really no other non-inclusive prayer has gotten a strong reaction at all, even though it's been kind of pointed out.

Even the Christians had a really strong reaction, so that was interesting to see, too.

I'm noticing that because I'm the only Christian that isn't UCC, I'm truly the black sheep. But I have really kept it to myself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Janet, the other chaplain at HSC, came back from FL today. I got to know her for a while this morning before Karen came and the 3 of us talked for a while, too. Then I got to shadow Janet on some of her visits and see how she does "her thing" on at least one of the floors. She and I went over forms they use and I got to be present during initial conversations with a couple of the patients so that I could not only get to know the patient, too, but get to see how the initial conversation goes (to get the information for the form they do for new patients). One of the women we met in one of these visits asked that both Janet and I come see her again, so hopefully I'll see her around again and get to witness her progress.

Since I've spent the majority of my time so far on step-down, it was a LITTLE weird not being there all day, but nice to see how the chaplains really work rather than just being in one place all day. One of the girls I usually see up there (who is a patient but also does volunteer work and is sometimes out and about around the hospital) came to the chaplains office when we were all there today, so it was nice to see how she was doing (I hadn't seen her since last Wednesday). She got to witness my accidentally jamming the shredder and Janet fixing it. :-p OOPS!

I was showing Janet the Max Lucado book I wanted to give the hospital for the pedi floor (and whoever else wants to use it...I have no doubt that adults might like his kid books, too!). She and I are going to go on the pedi floor some day, too, so we'll get to bring it then.

Oh, one of the girls I met when I was outside with Janet asked Janet if she and I would come visit her sometime soon (probably Monday since we're going to a conference on Friday all day). It felt kind of awesome that she wanted me to come even though she only knew me for all of a minute.

If I think of anything else, I'll edit...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just a couple thoughts

I'm finding that there are a lot more complications (maybe that isn't even the right word) in this program than I thought...and maybe things are being made more that way than they need to be. Possibly both by me and those running the programs?

And the program in general is really hard to explain to those who aren't in it. I feel like I should at least be trying to explain it, but it seems to leave frustration for people who aren't in it. I kind of wonder if it would be better to not even go into it, but I want to be able to at least share as much as I can with people.

Maybe I don't even really get what's going on/why certain things are happening the way they are, so that can't be too helpful.

Monday, June 2, 2008


In our class, we have weekly reflections that we hand in on Tuesday mornings. I may have posted some of the same thoughts here (I know I was going to do that tonight with the reflection I wrote for tomorrow), so I thought I would post bits and pieces of the first two reflections. They say what I've thought about "dumping" here pretty much. But I'm taking out any references to people and "group" stuff etc., hopefully for obvious reasons...

One random side that's not in these reflections: When I was at HSC going to see patients/meet people who work on the floors today, I decided to see if I could get myself lost and then find my way back to somewhere I was familiar with. It was a little bit fun/interesting to see where I ended up and what happened when I got there. And it was nice out, so I got "lost" a little bit outside, too, before I went to my car. :-)


Reflection 1

As we have gone through this week, I have been thinking a little bit about my own faith tradition and the concept of “dying to self” or “emptying of self” to become more like Christ. I have seen and felt how counter-culture it is to be open about being drained and vulnerable...and thought about how that’s part of what we’re in our position as a chaplain for. To let people become open and vulnerable. So, I have actually been grateful to have that experience this week of being there myself. At first it felt like inadequacy or “What am I getting myself into...maybe I’m not cut out for this”. I tend to feel that way when I don’t do something exactly right at the first shot....or when it doesn’t seem like there’s one specific way of doing something (it seems like there’s a lot of “figure it out on your own” even though part of this program is class-like). Part of what has made me feel that way, too, is that I noticed that I’m the only one in the group who hasn’t already gone through or isn’t currently in seminary. Part of that is an awesome privilege to me, to get to do this program having not been a part of that, and another part of me wonders if that’s something that’s needed to be better at chaplaincy.

Maybe this emptying/anxiety etc. just a process I, and we all, have to go through before God can really use you and fill you with Him, so there is less of you and your judgments/biases etc. that may get in the way of our work as chaplains.

I have already realized, too, how important it is going to be to take care of myself fully so that I can be completely present for the people I encounter. To not do so would be a disservice to them and ultimately mean my not doing my job to the best of my ability. It’s amazing how easy it is to not do things like getting enough sleep, eating right, spending my own time with God/time for myself...and how much it takes a toll when I’m not doing those things. I was really frustrated with myself this week that people, especially patients, noticed that I wasn’t fully present because of not getting enough sleep (which I think had a lot of factors behind it), not wanting to take over or be too much in what the chaplain I was with was doing on his floors. Since they weren’t my floors and it’s important for them to be the one developing relationships and establishing himself as the chaplain on the floor, I thought it was important for me to hold back...and I had a hard time finding the balance between fully being present while holding back and letting the other chaplain do “his thing” at the same time.

Part of what these visits and this orientation so far has shown me is how much I can use what I’ve learned in school through the counseling program, and that it’s more about who God made me as a person rather than having the degree at the end of the program. It has already been interesting to see that the things we’ve talked about in this program are things I learned in classes...and how intertwined being good at what we do is with being a pastoral counselor (which is what I was doing at Saint Joe’s) or someone in that type of field...while they are different at the same time. It will be cool to see, too, how the social workers and chaplains etc. may work together in this program, especially since social work is the route I’m looking into for school.

I also realized that it may be important for the group to know how I’ve found I process things in a group setting. I have found that a lot of the time, I listen and process and come back later with thoughts when they’ve fully been developed. I don’t like to come out and say something until I’ve fully thought about it and put it together. Sometimes I have found that that means coming back the next time with thoughts from a previous time, or coming out with an email or something in between meetings with people. So, part of the way I will hopefully challenge myself more this summer will be to speak up more at the time, rather than analyzing or over-thinking situations or what I want to say about what’s going on. I just don’t want my “off the cuff” responses to things to seem silly or for me to not be able to fully explain what I’m thinking. I don’t want that to be frustrating either for myself or for the group. But I know that my holding back won’t be helpful for the group, either.

I noticed this on Friday when I felt one of my comments in group seemed random/out of place/bringing the conversation to being about myself and not about the person we were talking to/about. Once we got out of the group setting and she and I were going to our cars, I was able to have a deeper conversation with her about it and she got where I was coming from. But I was frustrated with myself that that’s one of the only comments I made in the group setting and I didn’t think I explained well that that’s what came up for me when she was talking about everything that’s been going on with/for her. I have noticed this week that when people talk about what’s going on for them (both in and out of our group setting), I’m able to relate it to something that has previously gone one for me, and I’m not sure if/when that’s OK to bring up.

There were a lot of different emotions/thoughts etc. that came up this week. I guess that’s normal for the beginning of a program one has never been involved in, though. It will be awesome to see how all of these things develop, as well as the things that are going on for others in the group, as we continue this journey together this summer.


Reflection 2

My sense of pastoral identity and authority is changing even since our last interpersonal session. I think having the conversation, both in my session with my supervisor and in our group session, about my feelings of inadequacy and ineloquence etc. opened the door for me to really deal with what I was feeling in a positive way rather than just getting upset about it at home or inside myself. I think that conversation opened the door for me to be more comfortable opening up in group, too. I’m already not really as intimidated as when we started. And I’m realizing that I’m GOING to mess up and not do things exactly right (and sometimes not even the way I plan them out) and that I need to cut myself some slack and learn from those experiences.

Also, I had about a half hour today before lunch where I got the chance to pray and read my Bible. Before the opportunity to be a part of this program came about, I had really been longing for and praying about having a job where I would NEED to rely on God. I am confident that this program was God’s answer for me at this time in my life. I have seen the times that I’ve broken down already and not felt qualified enough as a chance for God to empty myself of me and fill me with Himself. As a result, God makes me more qualified because He is doing the work through us, and we’re not doing it on our own strength. I just need to remember to look to God through everything.

I found today, too, that people sometimes relate to you in sharing their stories and struggles and being given the chance to ask about and hear about your own. God gives each of us a unique story, and we are the only people in the world who are qualified to relate it to others. Not that it will always be in sharing your story that one is able to work as a chaplain, but I found today that He will use the sharing of a part of your life when it fits. In a way, I’m lucky to have common ground with some of the patients in the hospitals that were born with a differability or have one now because of something unexpected. I know that God will use my story and my experiences in the lives of whatever patients He has in store for me to relate them to, at whatever appropriate times it comes up. And in turn, I know He will use the stories and experiences of the people I have met and will continue to meet in my life as well.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I got to witness something pretty awesome yesterday. The woman who is my mentor/supervisor at HSC and I and one other woman were sitting the the chaplain's office when someone knocked on the door. It turned out to be a woman who came from the chapel and was having some kind of treatment done and wanted someone to pray with her.

The woman serving as my mentor/supervisor there let me go home before she met with the woman an hour or so later. But even that part of the encounter got me thinking. We get the amazing privilege of being there whenever the opportunity arises for WHOEVER happens to be in need while we're there in the hospital.

And it's not just people who happen to serve as chaplains. We as Christians (and really those of us from whatever faith background we happen to come from) get the privilege of being "on call" 24/7/365 for not only each other, but whoever we come in contact with whenever the opportunity arises. It's just up to us to have our eyes and hearts open for those opportunities so we don't miss them.

Who are WE to be able to have that privilege? That I can't answer...but I know that regardless of the answer, God has given that privilege to us. Whether or not we take hold of that privilege and answer the call to be there for someone in need is up to us.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Man, there HAS been so much going on already...

Yesterday was my orientation at Hospital for Special Care. I saw and got an orientation to all the floors and met a LOT of people and got my badge/pager and all that.

Today was another "Group" day. Those are pretty intense. It was my first time doing "worship". Didn't go the way I had seen it in my much as I think about things ahead of time, I got way nervous and with the whole "interfaith" aspect, I'm totally over-analyzing what I can say and what I can't...and am really pretty nervous about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Other than those kind of things, group is really personal, and I won't go into that here.

After that, I got to go into the cancer center and spend some time with the patients there.
At first it was a little awkward trying to make sure I was out of the way of the nurses and just introducing myself to patients. After a while, I found a few people who were really interested in talking. One woman in particular who had been there with one of the patients and hadn't eaten and wanted to get something from her car, but didn't want to leave the patient alone. So, I sat with the patient (who I found out later was a woman that this person was a caretaker of) while she went to her car and got some food. When she got back, we spent a lot of time talking about her job as a caretaker and she told me more about the woman she was with. Towards the end of her treatment, the woman had woken up and started talking with us a little, too. The nurses are really nice there, and seemed really open to my being there and willing to interact with me, too. I haven't found on a lot of the floors that people working in the hospital even notice when someone new is on the it was nice to have that. The nice thing is that since we don't have our cell phones on, I didn't know what time it I was able to focus more on the people there than on the time...and ended up staying a lot later than 5. But I just figure the conversation is over whenever it's over, you know? Especially when it starts mid-afternoon and some of these people are there for hours sometimes (I got to learn more about the treatments and everything from all 4 of the people I spent a lot of time with).

Tomorrow is my second day at HSC. I know there are more orientation type things to do, but I'm not sure when we're doing that. I know I have a few patients that requested for a chaplain to visit, so that will be part of tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Orientation so far

Today was only day 2 of the orientation part of things, and already it feels like there's so much that's gone on...

We've started having our "group" sessions, had a tour of the hospital, had lunch with people from the pastoral committee, gotten or badges, had our first round of shots at the health center... I've met with the woman who is going to be my supervisor at Hospital for Special Care (partly along with the people who are running the CPE program this summer and partly alone)...

That's not everything that's happened...but it's the "me" related stuff. If I think of anything else, I'm sure I'll edit.

Our group sessions are going to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with some time to be out on the floors of the main hospital. For the group time, we have some homework assignments throughout the summer.

Monday, Wednesday and Fridays (starting on Wednesday next week) I will be at Hospital for Special Care (I'll probably start labeling it HSC here). The first Wednesday there (since Monday is a holiday) starts my orientation there. I'll be getting my HSC badge and meet the staff/patients and get a tour of the building.

As far as my feelings about everything so far go, I'm less nervous about not being able to relate completely to patients because my "differability" happened at birth and not later in life. All of us have our own stories, and nobody can COMPLETELY relate, except on the level that we all can understand emotions. That's all the same no matter what color, gender, etc., we are.

I'm excited to realize how much I can probably use the training I've gotten both in undergrad at Quinnipiac and at Saint Joe's. I realized that one of the problems I had personally with the counseling sessions in school was that it felt more fake. This will be an opportunity to use it in "real" life. I'm just hopefully getting to use it in real life sooner than I thought. In a weird way, that feels like a bonus to me.

I've been thinking a lot about the internship I did at Camp Hope in Carmel, NY (, too, now that I'm doing this. I discovered when I was there how good I was at relating to/with the campers each week, even if they weren't my specific campers. Both the campers and the counselors, I think, felt comfortable with me as far as opening up to me/asking questions/getting advice etc. And I think I was really good at making sure everyone had what they needed, being an encourager/cheerleader when it was needed... Maybe some of the gifts I discovered there will be things that will also be used this summer. And maybe I'll discover new gifts that I haven't found in myself yet.

It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. I'll talk more about specifics about the Hospital for Special Care at some point, but I won't get ahead and talk about it until that part starts. (Although, I am a "research nerd", as I proudly call myself, so I will probably do research on different things that will be involved there before I blog about them.)

I could definitely tell you about things I KNOW are supposed to happen tomorrow, too...but this is enough for now. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saint Jude Children's Hospital TV programs

I don't know why I watch these. They frustrate me, but somehow I can't change the channel or turn off the TV.

At first I thought this was an "unrelated to the chaplain program" entry...but in a way, it directly relates. I would really love to work in some kind of children's a chaplain (which hospitals DON'T have for children) or a child life specialist or SOMETHING.

Even when I was young, I KNOW I realized that children die ALL the time. I remember seeing kids when I was in the hospital who looked so sick...or people I knew personally who died because of something related to their "disability"...and I wondered, while people were working on healing their bodies, who was dealing with their souls and those of their family members/friends? Who is helping them deal with their deepest fears (that could become a reality) ?

Unless the children or their families/friends are asking for it outside of the hospital, the answer may be NOBODY. What kind of sense does that make?

Imagine if we had places that deal with the mind, body and spirit at the same time!

It's amazing to see the advances that get made as far as the medical part of things go, but this part is still so frustrating...

Friday, May 16, 2008

90 Minutes in Heaven

I started reading 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper yesterday. The thoughts I've had while reading (some of the experiences I've had while in the hospital have started flooding back), and the experiences Don had while in the hospital made me think how interesting it might be to start a blog about my experiences/thoughts while in the chaplain program this summer. So, that's what I hope to do! We'll see how it goes...

If anyone is interested, I'll post an entry/entries on the experiences that have come back and the things I'm talking about from Don's book (although I don't want to give it away for those who want to read it!).