Suicide Prevention Week: A Parable

A Simple Gesture

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden. As they walked Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. They arrived at Bill’s home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally the long awaited senior year came and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mothers sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life.”

-John W. Schlatter

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Examine Yourselves: The Communion Table is NOT About You

IMG_9945Last Sunday I took part in communion at the church I’m attending.   They did something “different” for this particular service. In the Baptist tradition, the cup and bread trays are passed out among the people. The congregation members stay in their seats and the trays are passed down the pews. This time, the pastor directed the parishioners to come forward to accept the cup and bread near the communion table. Two leaders stood next to each side of table. One held the communion wafers and one held the tray of juice cups. Each individual approached them to take the bread and the cup and remember Jesus.

When I was a minister in the church, it was a sad tradition that whenever something was changed in the traditional worship, it stirred up members. They would make faces, shake their head or make mention of it in the next council meeting.   In one church, I passed out the juice trays in the wrong direction and was reprimanded. In another church during the summer, when attendance was less than half, we served communion by intinction.   With absolute certainty, one or two deacons would reprimand me in the deacons’ meeting.  During communion this past Sunday, I watched the parishioners when it was announced how communion would be handled. Sure enough, I saw people roll their eyes, shake their heads and one person behind me said, “I don’t like this.”

I sat in my pew and watched the people come forward. Thankfully, most took it in IMG_5787the honor and respect it was meant to be.  People were going forward to partake in the Lord’s Supper. We were going forward to the table.   The table is not our table. This table is the table of Jesus Christ. We were invited to come to THAT table. Jesus sacrificed his life and before he did, He set up this tradition of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Corinthians 11:23:33 We were invited to HIS table. He was NOT invited to our table.   Can you imagine when this past Sunday, or those Sundays I mentioned earlier, when we honored Communion at a table with the following words etched in the side, “In Remembrance of Me,” – can you imagine how Jesus felt when He saw those smirks? When he heard the people reprimand me? When He heard people complained that they had to get out of their comfy pews to walk forward? Jesus died on the cross, after being judged, ridiculed, beaten and shamed.  Yet, people complained about getting out of their seats.

I want to remind people that when you come together to take part in the Lord’s Supper, the tradition is not meant to please you. This ordinance, this sacrament was meant to remember Jesus and what He did for us. We are not to restrict who is welcomed to the table. We are not meant to complain about how it is served. And we are certainly not meant to fuss when we are inconvenienced. The table does not belong to Joe or Jane Parishioner. The table does not belong to ABC Baptist Church. The table belongs to Jesus. The least we can do is honor Him and remember what He did for us. If we “sacrifice” something along the way, so be it. Jesus certainly sacrificed enough.

IMG_20991 Corinthians 11:28: “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

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What is a Board Certified Chaplain?

Where have I been lately? I have been working extremely hard at the hospital as the trauma season is in full swing.  However, I have also been working extremely hard on my board certification application. What? Yes, I am working on the Board Certification process so I can get my BCC BCC imagecertification/license with the Association of Professional Chaplains. Just as other members of the medical team go through boards and licensing processes, so do chaplains.

I am surprised when I explain this to people and they looked shocked. I get asked, “Really? Chaplains do that?” Yes, we do. At least those who are serious about their work and want to continue their growth, progress, and earned respect in chaplaincy.   Most institutions are now requiring that we have our certification, or are at least working towards it.

What is the process? Why did I have to cut back in my patient care in order to work on this application? With a self-imposed deadline of June 27 and a national deadline of July 25, I have been working for the past few months on my application. Here is what I had to do. Here is what every BCC certified chaplain has to do, in order to be considered a candidate for board certification.

APCSmallThe Association of Professional Chaplains has a list of 29 competencies with which I had to prove that I’ve either mastered them or am actively engaging them in my work at the hospital.   Those competencies focus on pastoral care, professionalism, medical ethics, patient care, interdisciplinary commitment, spiritual assessment, written and oral communication, theory of pastoral care, interfaith education, psychological and sociological theory, group and institutional dynamics, and personal and professional identity.   On top of these national standards, chaplains have to honor the APC National Code of Ethics.

For my application process, I had to explain what I am doing to master and engage those 29 competencies in my work. To do that, I had to do the following:

  • Fill out an extensive application and questionnaire
  • Already obtained a Masters Degree in theological study or pastoral care
  • Be endorsed by a denominational body, with whom I have proven to and they have agreed to back my work as a chaplain. (This does not include the two ordinations I already had.)
  • Write two verbatims (patient/chaplain dialogue of a visit) that included spiritual assessments, chaplain assessments and chaplain interventions
  • Write four essays that covered the four categories of competencies and how I met the 29 competencies
  • Obtain three letters of recommendations from my supervisor, chaplain colleague and members of the interdisciplinary team
  • Write an autobiography on what I encountered in life that developed my role as a chaplain
  • Mentor coaching with a BCC chaplain who works hours with me on editing, corrections and coaching. He also helps to stop the voices in my head when they tell me how bad I am.
  • Study and sign a Code of Ethics that if I don’t meet, I will lose my certification
  • Submit at least 2000 hours of clinical work (NOT counting my residency)
  • Complete at least 4 Clinical Pastoral Education units during residency
  • $325 application fee (which incidentally, is self-paid and doesn’t come easy with a chaplain’s salary). It’s $475 if you aren’t a member of APC.

Then once all of that is accepted (and it may not be), I will go through an interview panel process four months later in October. If I pass that, I will FINALLY be recognized on a national level as a Board Certified Chaplain and can put the letters, BCC after my name. Just like a doctor when he/she writes MD after their names or a nurse, the letters RN, and others, it will be just as exciting for me when I can write those three letters after my name.  I will have my credentials to go along with my spiritual calling as Chaplain. Don’t even get me started on what I went through to finally hear my spiritual calling.  :)

Here’s the other piece that completely floors people. In order to MAINTAIN the certification and credentials, chaplains have to earn 50 CEU Credits every single year. That’s the SAME amount of credits that a MD, RN, NP, and PA have to earn yearly (varies by state). Did you hear that? Chaplains have to earn the SAME AMOUNT of CEU credits as their interdisciplinary colleagues on the medical teams. I will do that through classes, research, writing, enhancing assessment and counseling techniques, ethics training, and collegial teaching. I will also continue my specific training in staff care, grief support, pastoral care related to organ donation, and pastoral care related to trauma.

I was actually asked once, “What do you do besides pray with a patient?” (I should have written a competency on how I maintained professionalism after I got asked that question.)

This is what I do. I am honored, humbled and proud.

I'm Done

I’m Done

PS: As of today, I have completed my application, which is two inches thick. I just need to get the fee, send two copies in for the committee and then…….I wait.

 

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A Nurse’s Blessing

For the incredible nurses who give more than they are given, may this be a blessing for you.

IMG_3041-Blessing-

Knowing the Lord has blessed the journey you traveled to get here today, may this journey become the foundation for what will be tomorrow.

May the laughter and the tears, the long days and sleepless nights, the pleasure and the pain, the presentations and exams, the clinicals and the labs, may they all bear bountiful fruit for the nurse you will become.

May the mountains you climbed and the valleys you crawled out of; build the strength of your courage to face whatever comes your way.

May the experiences you went through set the tone of your voice because you will be the one speaking for the patients in your care. May that voice also stand for the person inside of you.

May the friendships and memories you made be forever in your heart when the 12 hours shifts feel like 40 hour stand stills. You will need those memories to get you through.

And may the family and loved ones that were sacrificed for this night, be worth all that you are feeling at this moment in time. Look out in front of you, to see and feel just how proud they are of you right now.

You now stand before me with your pin, uniform, lamp and light.

May the pin you wear be the Badge of Honor for all that you accomplished to reach beyond your dreams and set your place in the world. May it remind you of what you were called to do and the preparation it took to get here today.

May the uniform that you wear protect you as your shield. Wear it proudly, stand tall and never let it bring you down. May it carry you through the physical demands of your work and may it protect you from the thankless moments that will indeed be in your way.

May the lamp that you carry be forever placed deep within your mind. May it remain full of all that you studied and all that you will learn as science is an ever changing demand of your work and time. May you remember these medicines, techniques and figures because they will indeed help you save lives.

May the flame you light be forever placed in your heart and flicker full of your passion and strength. May the light that you feel remind you of the warmth and compassion that will be needed to balance out the science of your patient care. And may the patients see the light within you, to bring hope to their darkest days.

May the light you hold never be forever extinguished, even on YOUR darkest of days. And when your light does go out, when your passion is low, and you know as well as I do that it just might happen, let the fuel of all that you have done refill the reservoir of who you are to everyone you will meet. You are called to be here, to be who you are and it will take every drop of your blood, sweat and tears to keep your light shining brightly and I have no doubt it will.

And as I bless your hands and bless this call that you have answered, remember above all else the blessing that you will be to the patients, to the families, to your brothers and sisters in nursing. May you feel all those blessings in return, may those blessings fill your lamp, pour into your soul and bless you on this day and the years to come. Amen.

Written by Rev. Linda C. Moore © 2014

Note: This blessing was written to present at the Pinning Ceremony for Nursing Graduates at Pitt Community College, Greenville, North Carolina.  Please do not take without permission.

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It’s a Dark Place

It’s a Dark Place
Can’t to go through it alone
Some days, not even possible
To make it to the other side.
Push through with all that is mighty and strong
Even when it hurts with it’s own will and strength
To go through this wilderness is gut-wrenching
It’s dreadful beyond compare

Comes when least expected, yet comes right on time
Looking up or ahead is difficult to do
The darkness surrounds and suffocates
Every little crevasse and crack there is
Not a care in the world
Will make the trip any better
Except time. Space. Tears. Darkness. Fear. Isolation.
Patience. Hurt. Reality. Denial. And Fear again.

There are times when death becomes a wish
When the world seems worlds away
Hoping against hope to get through the night
Even when it is as bright as the sun and ice
To this day, there is little human understanding
On how one gets through the storm

The one Person, the one Soul
That was right there through it all
Never left me even when I dropped
Every known contact I had
God, I lost it all, I threw it all away
Those lines that kept me connected to you

Then I looked and I knew, you reminded me over and over
That’s when you carried me through and through
I don’t remember days and nights
They become a blur to me, to this day
I was alone, without anyone else
They continued on and left me behind
Yet you were there, through every step and every fall;
Through every painful stone along the way

You carried me through the pain
The struggle and the grief
You kept going, through it all
Holding me close to your heart
Wiping away my tears and bringing in the light
Even when I couldn’t see beyond the shadows
I certainly didn’t deserve it, but you loved then
and you love me now, even more
Your love makes this dark place
survivable, yet once again.

(c) Linda C. Moore, 2014

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I Wanted a Hug but Something Else Happened

I wanted a hug today but there was nobody around. So I did something I have been contemplating for a while.   Thinking that I can’t be the only person in town in need of a hug, I made a couple of stops in Greenville and shared hugs with some of my neighbors.

God provided a picture perfect day today.   I went to the park and made this sign, “Free IMG_2871Hugs”. The letters were big and bold enough for anyone to read. Now, where do I go to love my neighbor? Facebook friends provided suggestions for me and I considered them all. One suggestion was one that’s been on my mind for a while, the local Wal-Mart. Actually, it’s been on my mind for nine months. The Friday before I started my new job, there was a shooting in front of this particular Wal-Mart. Four people were shot. The suspect also shot at Greenville police officers as they were trying to apprehend him. The officers weren’t hurt. The suspect was.   Thankfully, all survived.

I found myself in front of that Wal-Mart today.   With my sign in hand and comfortable shoes on my feet, I stood just to the side of one of the entrances. I didn’t say much and I only asked twice if people wanted a hug. The sign did most of the talking for me. For the first seven minutes, not one person took me up on my offer, even the three gentlemen that were sitting on the sidewalk right beside me. They were the ones I asked. They laughed at me and shook their heads.  Hmmm, this might be tougher than I thought.

On minute seven, things started to change.

Two children hugged me first. Their parents did the same. Then throughout my 51 minutes many more followed suit. It was intriguing to watch people’s responses. Like I said, I saw laughter and smiles. People made eye contact and kept going. Others looked in the opposite direction. I heard a few “awe, that’s sweet” and a couple question the idea of “a free hug?” Two individuals asked questions I didn’t expect. One gentleman walked by and asked, “Free hugs? How does that work?” He didn’t stick around to find out. Then a woman wondered, “Who do you work for?” I simply said, “me,” and she kept going. I was not there to work. I was not there to make people do something they didn’t want to do. I simply wanted a hug.

Then I started getting hugs and not long after, my need turned into a want. I wanted to give hugs to those in need. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about Greenville. I watched how people reacted. Based on some reactions, this was quite a strange experience to see in front of Wal-Mart. This project turned into a blessing. An employee said, “I sure needed this hug today.” Others responded the same when they hugged me back:

IMG_2877

“How wonderful!”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Thank you”
“God bless you”
“Really? A free hug? I’ll take one!”
“You made my day.”
“You know, I’m sure somebody needs a hug.”
“A hug can make a big difference in someone’s day. Thank you.”

Four ECU students gave me a group hug and took a picture with me.  Others skipped up to me and laughed before they too, took a turn. People stopped their cars in front of me, got out and gave me a hug. Others waved when they drove by. One grandmother stopped her shopping cart to give me a hug and her cart kept going. Her granddaughter exclaimed, “Grandma, your cart!” That one had us in tears laughing so hard.

This experience was great. Young and old. Black and white. Multicultural. Inter-faithful. Tall and short. Big and small. Men and women. Friends and solos. Somehow they all came around and you know what? So did those three men sitting on the sidewalk in the beginning. After they watched what was happening for about 30 minutes, they got up from their perch and gave me hugs. They were smiling about the whole thing. It was wonderful.

Then it all stopped, 51 minutes later.

Yes, you guessed it. I was told to leave. Two employees from the store, who I assumed were managers, came out and said I had to go. “You can’t solicit here. We know they are free, but you can’t solicit.” I could have interpreted those statements other ways, but I didn’t. I simply asked without anger or malice, “But I didn’t approach anyone. I thought I saw girl scouts out here a few weeks ago.” They explained that if I had applied and reserved the spot 30 days ahead of time, I could be out there. I didn’t apply. I barely gave it 30 hours of thought. I simply had a thought to go out and hug a neighbor.

I put my arms down to my side and walked away. Deep within me I wanted to be mad and say something like, “Well, you are denying people the chance to get a hug. That’s just rude.” But I didn’t because that’s not what happened. Instead I thought, “Hey, 37 neighbors got hugs in 51 minutes. How wonderful is that??!!”

Then I asked, where can I go now?

I found my way to Target and stood outside for about an hour. Do you know how tiring it is for an introvert to give two hours worth of hugs? The great thing is nobody told me to leave. Nobody turned me away. In fact, I got just as many hugs there, 44 to be exact. The funnier ones were the two ECU students who each gave me a hug and one said, “Can you run a tab? We’ll be back.” Sure enough, when the guys came out of Target, each one got another hug. Another group of ECU students gave a group hug and I was in the middle. One young teenager made her mom stop the car in front of me. She got out and yelled, “I want a hug!” Some folks smiled and continued on. Very few looked the other way. A woman thought I was one of those “Candid Camera” stunts and this little boy ran so fast to give me a hug, he almost knocked me down. And of course, there were many wonderfully gracious comments similar to the ones I shared above.

It was a great afternoon and one I didn’t anticipate. The feelings and responses were a bit overwhelming, yet so beautiful. There’s something here. I’m not sure what but I’ve got to find out.

IMG_2727One woman at Target said right before she gave me a hug, “I don’t know why you are
doing this but it’s awesome.” I’m not sure either. I simply wanted to love my neighbor as much as I love myself and on this day, I did both.

 

 

 

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I’m Fine but I Still Have Questions

I’ve had some kind people ask how I am doing since I posted my last blog.  For the record, I am doing fine.  I can promise you that if I weren’t doing fine, I would not have been able to write all that I did on my previous posts, or other posts where I shared some of my personal life.  If I weren’t doing well, I would have kept all of that information in my soul and allowed it to continue bubbling through resentment, hate, anger and hurt.  The fact that I shared as much as I did means I am doing better.

As I continue to grow and develop in my years, I still have questions that don’t have acceptable answers.  I am coming to you for that.  Based on my experience, I’ve had to reconsider my definitions of certain words in my vocabulary.  I’ve had to consider changing my views on certain positions as well.  If you feel so inclined to help me find answers to these questions, I will greatly appreciate it.

IMG_03801. I have to redefine what the word “family” means.  

The only definition of family I have is not a good one.  How do you define family now?  What does it mean when your biological family hasn’t come to see you in almost 6 years of living out of state? What is family to you?

2. I have to redefine what the word “friend” means.

Not too long ago, the word “friend” was very important to me. I could say to my friend, “I would do anything for you”.  That friend said, “I can’t say that.”  The word friend was an extremely important word to me, however I am finding out the definition isn’t the same for others.   In some ways, not even close to similar.    Who would you consider a friend? And what would you do for a friend?

Note:  one thing I have not gotten better at, and that’s finding friendship now.  Due to my experience with the above question, I am afraid to ask for new friends, not knowing how to define them, how to build trust with them and how to connect.  Be patient and understanding.

3.  I am learning it may not be possible for a single female to have married male friends.

Growing up with three older brothers and being a daddy’s girl, I tend to get along better with men.  There is absolutely nothing to fear with that.  Many men my age are married.   That’s not the surprise to me.  What is surprising is the fact that their wives don’t think it’s appropriate to have lunch with a female friend, or coffee, or even a phone conversation (although nobody uses the phone anymore anyway).  I guess you can call me singly naïve, but I don’t understand this.  Where is the trust?

4.  Is there anyone out there willing to do anything for a friend?

IMG_1521Who can I call at 3 in the morning when I am crying, hurting, in the hospital or in jail?   One of my favorite songs when I first became a Christian was Michael W. Smith’s “Friends”.  One verse, “A friend will not say never, ‘cause the welcome will not end.”  Does that ring true now? Does a friend “not say never”?

Disclaimer: Just for the record, I am having some anxiety about posting the question on friendship. I have some good people in my life now who call me “friend” that I work with. Please don’t be scared and please don’t leave. I won’t call you at 3:00 in the morning.  But I wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee or glass of wine after work.  And I love kids, so having a family is fine with me.

Dear world, your thoughts to any or all of these will be greatly appreciated.

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