Friday, January 03, 2014

Back at it...again.

I've completely neglected this blog for well over a year.  There has been a lot going on in my life & lots of transitions.  One of my goals for 2014 is to get back to writing & blogging.  Here it goes...

Since I last posted:
1) I left Pennsylvania in November 2012 & moved back home to Tennessee while I began the search for a new church call.  It was a hard decision, as I loved living in PA, but due to financial constraints, it was a necessary choice.
2) I spent most of the spring of 2013 as a substitute teacher in an elementary school.  It was good income & I loved spending time with the students.
3) I did some supply preaching in a few churches, getting my feet wet again in the world of preaching.  Good stuff.
4) Went to UNCO13 in Stony Point, NY.  Love those people.
5) After months of searching, I was called to be the new pastor of a church in Minnesota.  I moved here in September 2013, so coming up on my four month anniversary.  It is the best church I could ask for - amazing people, willingness to move forward, new possibilities.  Happy.
6) I bought a house.  It is amazing to finally be a homeowner.
7) I got a cat.  His name is Watson.  I love the little guy.

So, that brings us to today.  January 3rd.  2014 is starting out on a good note.  Glad for a quiet start after a hectic, uncertain, filled with transition 2013.

I promise to write more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

back from the shadows

It's been quite a while since I wrote here.  So much has been going on.  First of all, I finished my CPE residency at the hospital a few weeks ago.  What an amazing, challenging, frustrating at times, beautiful experience.  I learned so much about myself - my strengths, my growing edges, my passion for mentoring interns.  Through this process, which can be hard, I learned that I am beautiful & broken, & that's okay.  I am enough.  I am good enough.  That is a huge statement for me, as I've struggled at times in my life with feeling good enough.  I had an amazing supervisor who pushed me, loved me & allowed me to cry, laugh, struggle with myself & where I was in my process.  I am eternally grateful for her presence in my life. 

While I am officially done at the hospital, there is the sticking point of last fall.  When I needed to have surgery on my left hip, I needed to be away from the hospital for several weeks.  I did not have enough clinical hours to get the full unit for the fall.  So, I have to make up a 1/2 unit of CPE to get the full units needed to be certified.  My amazing supervisor took a job at another hospital two weeks ago & offered a spot in their program to get the hours I need to get the 1/2 unit.  Did I mention that she is awesome?  And, there is a possiblity for more permanent work there, so we shall see. 

But, there is something else that happened this summer.  Back in January, I began to have some trouble with my right hip.  Same pain as I had in the left hip during the fall.  After months & months of pain & trouble, it was decided that I needed to have surgery on my right hip.  I had the surgery on August 2nd.  Right now, I am in my third week of recovery & spending time off my leg.  This means that I cannot work right now & won't be cleared to begin working for another month or so.  I am trying hard to just stay calm about all the stress this places on me, on my finances, on my sanity.  But, I am remaining thankful for the great medical care I have received; for my parents who were here for the last several weeks helping me; for my friends who have offered prayers & encouragement; for God's presence with me even in the shadows of pain & recovery. 

I am in a space of discernment of where God is calling me next.  I know where my passion is - chaplaincy & working with students.  Maybe I want to be a staff chaplain at a hospital & go with the board certification route.  Or maybe pursue CPE supervisory training.  I've gotten lots of support for the latter choice.  I'm not sure what I am going to do.  Only time will tell.  Prayers are always welcome & much appreciated.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


This really spoke to me when I watched it on my friend Kate's blog. Over the last three months of my residency, I've been working so hard on being okay with being vulnerable. And in turn, helping patients be okay with being vulnerable. It's not easy. One line from this TED talk I love is this: Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Yep. Watch this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Love what you do.

This is the wrapper from a Dove chocolate given to me by my colleague Tim at shift change tonight at the hospital. It really speaks to me - love what you do. I've been working at LGH as a chaplain resident for the last 7 months & have grown into my own as a chaplain. I often say, "I love what I do" & I mean it. Even though there have been some pretty rough times with difficult cases or lots of fetal deaths at Women & Babies, I still love what I do. I truly believe God brought to this place for a purpose.

Last week was filled with a lot of learnings for me & some challenges. My supervisor joined me on Thursday in my Spirituality group on our Mental Health Unit. She wanted to experience a group setting & see how I minister to these patients in a group. I wasn't nervous at all & the group went pretty well given the challenges of getting patients to open up. The best part was the amazing feedback from my supervisor - she was impressed with my skills & my honest, trustworthy, safe presence. And, I do feel like myself when I am running these group sessions each week. I love what I do.

On Friday, I finished up my second 3 week rotation at Women & Babies Hospital. In the course of my rotation, I encountered 5 fetal losses. Each one is unique, but they all share one thing: it's the saddest, gut-wrenching experience. I've worked hard at how to minister to these grieving families & to the staff who care for them. But, on Friday, I hit my limit. I just couldn't do it anymore. I cried out to God - please, no more. What I learned was I have limits, but I can do it. I can handle fetal loss when placed in that situation. And, despite the pain, I love being there. It's hard, but I love what I do.

I love journeying with those facing their final hours here on earth. I love comforting people in their grief and loss. I love being able to share a comforting prayer, crying with them, holding their grief. Simply, I love what I do.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

late night thoughts

Right now, it's the middle of the night & I am on the last night of my overnight shifts for the week. You never know what will happen overnight at a hospital - some nights are crazy busy with multiple traumas & code blues, while other nights are quiet. It has certainly given me a lot of time to think, to reflect on my life, my work, & the amazing, yet sad places I find myself in these days.

I've been a chaplain resident for three & a half months. While I consider it to be such a privilage & an honor to walk with people along their journey in the hospital, I am personally experiencing a spiritual famine. It's hard to admit that out loud. I'm an ordained minister. How can I feel like this? It feels like I'm putting on a show, all the while wondering what it all means. My relationship with God was pushed to the limits when I was leaving the church. That time was incredibly painful & I often questioned why God would do this to me. It was such a mess. And, I walked away from that mess into the world of hospital chaplaincy. I think I just shoved all that mess, pain, fear - into a corner & wanted to forget about it. But, it still haunts me. And, it hurts. I put up a wall to protect me from it all & that was pretty evident in my fall unit of this residency. I tried to engage in the process, desperately wanting to let go, but something was holding me back. It was the mess again. And, I am left with searching for God in it all.

And, there are questions that plague my head & my heart. Why am I resistant to praying with patients? I'll do it if they request it, but I don't offer it myself. Why can't I delve into spiritual matters in my visits? And, why am I so resistant to opening up completely to my colleagues?

I feel like I've lost myself along the way - through the mess that was my first call, the transition into a new situation with work, moving. I want to find myself again. I want to find the things that make me happy. I just want to be happy again. And, I desperately want to have a deeper connection with God, not just going through the motions & what is expected of me as a minister, as a chaplain. I desire deep peace.

Something that is plaguing me is the unresolved issues with my relationship with a guy I've known for over 11 years. We have this insane connection & felt it from the beginning. But, something happened back in late October - he began distancing himself from me. He changed. I felt like I've been robbed of the relationship - he wasn't there for me during the period of pain, the surgery, or the recovery. It had all changed in a moment. Over the last few days, I've toyed with the idea of sending a letter explaining all of my feelings. But, is it worth it? Or should I just walk away? What I know is that I have a broken heart. And it hurts.

My goal is to be more open about the thoughts in my head & the feelings in my heart with those around me. I can't simply exist behind the walls of protection anymore. The walls aren't serving me well. It's not going to be easy - that's for sure. But, I know I need space for healing & it can be done in community. Healing takes time - one step at a time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

giving thanks

I'll be two weeks post-op on Tuesday. Thank goodness they did the surgery on this crazy hip of mine - there was indeed a tear in my hip joint. No wonder I was in so much pain for the last month! I'm doing much better now - figuring out how to negotiate the world on a pair of crutches, which will be my best friend for another 4 weeks; driving is easy; got a stool so I can sit in the kitchen while cooking; & I'm a pretty good driver of those electronic scooter carts at the store (watch out!). My mom's been here with me since the surgery, which is a tremendous blessing. She's been cooking, cleaning, & making sure I am not doing anything I shouldn't be doing...
I was pretty worried that this surgery would not allow me to travel to Ohio this week to be with my family for Thanksgiving. But, I am! Figured out how to pack in a backpack so I don't have to negotiate a rolling suitcase with crutches. And, my mom is on the same flight there with me. I am so thankful to be headed there to celebrate Thanksgiving with my extended family, which we've been doing for the last 30 years.
And, I am very thankful to be going back to work full time on November 28th. It's a great birthday present to be able to go back to a job that I absolutely love & to see my lovely colleagues who I miss so much. I know that I will not be at full speed, but I can do it. I am confident of that:)
Here's to giving thanks. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love & adore.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


To say that life has changed in the past few months would be an understatement. After months of agonizing over a situation that was never going to change no matter how hard I tried, I made the decision to leave the church. I realized I was just making myself sick & not serving myself well. I knew I was well on my way to burnout & I didn't want that for myself, so leaving there was the best option for my own sanity. The blessing was being able to move on to something I that I knew would be healing, challenging & life-giving - I am now serving as a chaplain resident at a great hospital. I'm walking this journey with four amazing colleagues, two fantastic supervisors & a score of other chaplains. So far, it has been a wonderful, challenging, gut-wrenching, and beautiful experience. I am tasked with the clinical assignments of oncology & mental health, which are both hard. Also, I've done one of my three week rotations on our palliative care service, which works with patients & families who are facing end of life decisions. I loved it more than anything, even though it's broken my heart more than a few times. The passion of the team of doctors, chaplains, nurse & social worker makes me thankful & grateful for their presence during the hardest times of life. I look forward to my next rotation with them in December/January.

Other changes include moving from a four bedroom home into a 627 square foot downtown apartment. It's enough space for me. I always felt the house was way more than this gal needed & I love that it doesn't take a whole day to get it clean! I now live within walking distance of the central market, a great coffee shop, yummy restaurants, & a great church where I love simply being a part of the community. It's a good place to be. A healing place.

The next change will come on Tuesday. About a month ago, I suffered a hip injury that has plagued me. After many days on crutches, lots of medications, and a failed cortozone shot, I am having surgery. The hard part is not being able to work for awhile, but I need to get this fixed. I've been in a lot of pain. But, there is no guarantee that this will work, but I am willing to take the chance. The recovery process will be difficult, but my parents are coming to help. Of course, I'm scared of the surgery & the pain afterwards, but I am trying to stay positive. Prayers are certainly welcome.

Hopefully, these changes of life will bring me to a better place - a place of healing, a place of happiness, a place where I will regain my courage & confidence in myself.