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Why Hospital Chaplaincy?

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Since I've noticed that hospital chaplaincy can actually be quite a mysterious vocation, I thought I'd write a bit about why this ministry has so moved my heart.

The first time I encountered a chaplain was when I was twelve years old, six months after my sister Katie suddenly died. After being in a grief program at Little Company of Mary Hospital – facilitated by my now dear friend Peg – I saw how meaningful pastoral care was in my own life.  Through several years and many God-ordered opportunities and movements, I know deep in my heart that this is the kind of ministry He has created me to do – the kind of person He's created me to be:  being on a pastoral care team at a hospital.

It was a dream-come-true to serve as a 'chaplain intern' this past summer at a suburban hospital in Massachusetts.  It's in those eleven weeks that my passion not only cemented but grew beyond anything I thought imaginable. So now that I have the God-given opportunity to serve as a &…

What I've Learned from the Spiritual Disciplines.

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As the past two weeks have shown me that my schoolwork is monstrously piling up, I've decided to tie up my weekly account of the spiritual disciplines (at least for now). Though I may get back on this road of experimentation in the future, I have chosen to stop and to reflect at this point -- to pay attention to how these rhythms have shaped my heart this final semester of seminary.

When I think about what's happened in my heart the past ten weeks, I narrow in on the following image of a tree's roots aggressively fighting through the blacktop cement (photo taken on a walk in Cambridge):


For so long before this journey, I felt myself trapped by fear of failing in discipline, lack of motivation in connecting with the Lord, and a general complacency in my spiritual journey. However, living these past several weeks in light of the spiritual disciplines -- with a literal expectancy of meeting with God -- I've seen the roots of my heart begin to fight against the previous te…

Week Ten: Retreat.

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This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a day-long retreat with a discipleship center we have on campus called The Pierce Center for Disciple Building. These day-long retreats have very much become part of the fabric of my time at seminary (I have gone on five), giving me just enough pause to catch up to where my heart is and how God is working within it.

This is a spiritual discipline that first captured my attention two years ago exactly, in March 2016, right before I graduated from college. I traveled with a small group of graduating seniors and a professor, lodging for three days and two nights at a Cistercian monastery in Ava, Missouri. Ever since that experience, I've known that silent retreats must be part of my spiritual life.

So, it's been a joy to retreat at the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Abbey in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  I love that the founder of the order, St. Julie Billiart, declared: "How good is the good God!" Truly, that Abbey is …

Week Nine: Scripture Memorization.

This past week, I practiced a discipline that reminded me of my elementary school days of memorizing chunks of Scripture.  However, this week was probably my first time memorizing Scripture not for a homework assignment or a Bible quiz competition.  Instead of my motivation being external, it was internal – truly wanting to tuck God's Word in my heart so I might access it at my weakest moments of discouragement and temptation.

Here's Adele Calhoun's take on "Memorization":

"Desire: to carry the life-shaping words of God in me at all times and in all places

Definition: Memorization is the process of continually remembering the words, truths and images God uses to shape us. Memorization provides us with a store of learning, which can be accessed anywhere and anytime.

Practice Includes:

memorizing Scriptures, hymns, poems, quotes, etc.rereading portions of Scripture until they are committed to memorymemorizing Scripture verses that clearly reveal God's plan of…

Week Eight: Celebration.

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Since this past week was my 'birthday week,' I thought it would be a good time to put into practice the spiritual discipline of Celebration. When I think of the word 'celebrate,' my mind immediately wanders back to an old VHS about Disney World I used to watch as a kid; Mickey and his friends, as well as a bunch of kids dressed in colorful clothes, would all sing, "Celebrate good times, come on!" Believe it or not, I found the video:



The above video might make you smile, or it may even be a little obnoxious (for me, it's a combination of both). But what might Celebration as a 'spiritual discipline' look like?
Adele Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, writes the following about the discipline:
"Desire: to take joyful, passionate pleasure in God and the radically glorious nature of God's people, Word, world and purposes
Definition: Celebration is a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and …

Twenty-Four.

Twenty-three has been a sweet year, filled more with what's felt like moments than days and weeks and months. Here's some of the moments I remember:

Starting my birthday last year with my dear friend Shannon, as well as my college-pals-and-still-pals Jeremy and Jami, on a Rhode Island adventure. I remember feeling so cold on the coast (it was a 20 degree day) that all we could do was take photos and then run into the nearest warm building. That day was filled with yummy tea, many laughs, and more laughs...and a Mike's Pastry Lobster Tail (the only thing resembling seafood I'll eat!). Beginning and processing through and finishing my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Beverly Hospital. During those eleven summer weeks, I learned how to take care of myself while diving into an intensive ministry setting. I discovered a deep love for chaplaincy work – for holding frail hands, sitting next to tired bodies, praying earnest prayers. I experienced an interfaith…

Week Seven: Examen.

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This week, I very acutely realized that I was cranky. After a Nor'easter (a fierce New England storm) knocked out our power on campus – not once but twice – I had had enough.  The darkness of the power outage did not bother me so much as the lack of heat in my bedroom.  Even though I bundled up in my blankets like a hibernating bear in winter, I woke up freezing cold with a sore throat and a sour attitude. Though hot coffee seemed to warm my throat and my perspective, I still felt some residual annoyance at having to deal with the interruption of a power outage.

I had no idea that my spiritual discipline of Examen would be so appropriate and challenging for this week when I did not feel like being particularly attuned to God's presence and grace.

So, what is Examen?

According to our now much familiar friend Adele Calhoun, here's the skinny:

"Desire: to reflect on where I was most and least present to God's love in my day.

Definition: The examen is a practice for di…