Today was an awesome, inspirational, meaningful, satisfying and exhausting day of work! Even though it is my short day :)

This is a little something I wrote quickly on my phone micro journaling app and realized I might want to more publicly reflect on this (& similar) experience here in the future, so I am sharing it as a snapshot in time regarding my reactions to chaplaincy and how I am continuing to find meaning this year.

Fridays post Thursday night call are always challenging. This morning when unit rounds started it seemed it was going to be one of those mornings I would just need to get through while looking forward to my weekend off starting with leisurely work out time this afternoon before catching the bus home. Thankfully I was wrong.

The unit was busy & a bit chaotic this morning as there were up to 9 possible discharges, and 4 new admits to transition during morning rounds (knowing with more d/c than admits that Monday we’ll walk into a full unit likely with transfers in from all over the state). Add to that a few last minute staffing changes and I admit my own personality preferences for small groups & predictability was being challenged (INFJ for Meyers Briggs fans) … I had to decide how to deal with those challenges and make a difference rather than just put in my time.

I decided that as much as I appreciate learning from the medical team during walking rounds, and there is benefit to my own ministry in being present as part of the team, it wasn’t the most effective way I could spend the morning today. Since I had several patients I had worked intensely with for an extended period discharging, I decided to start there. In one case I managed to time in sync with rounds (meeting one on one before & after).

Then while charting and attempting to prioritize my next possible visits (including listening as teams went in & out from rounding, ran through partial lists, etc.) I was able to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time. Being there for an immediate referral may have made the difference between my having this opportunity or it being passed to the on call chaplain after I was gone for the day. That is speculation, but I am certain that being integrated into the unit and part of the team made a difference. Although I smiled wondering what was coming next when the Dr. turned toward me & said “we need God” I was also humbled in being able to respond as the needed presence at the time for this patient.

Although I have always felt very welcome as part of the acute psych team, any referrals have been a little less acute (at least from an outward perspective). Later both the Doctor and the lead nurse for the team specifically went out of their way to thank me. It was both interesting and profound to experience that gratitude outside of the context of a patient death (I am becoming used to how just my presence relieves anxiety in those situations).

Although I of course cannot share specifics the visit touched on something that I think will be a common theme / need in my chaplain/ministry work. (I may write about the issue in general in the future). And interestingly enough I was aware of a continue ing Ed presentation starting at noon today on a very related topic. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on my afternoon off … Until the end of this morning! Then it was perfect timing really.

Thankfully I still managed to fit in a quick 30 minute aerobic intense workout before rushing to catch the early bus home to my family.

I feel like on one side of this journey I have the blessing of my ministry time, those I minister to and with affirming my call and renewing my strength, and on the other side I have my beautiful and encouraging family always sending me off & welcoming me home with love & joy in all that I/we are. And through it all God’s loving presence to sustain me.

Sometimes it really is about showing up.

now hopefully I will be inspired to write more here

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Settling into Harmony & my chaplaincy residency

Today it is raining and coolish and feels like fall.

It also feels like we are here living, working, MINISTERING … We are not so much in transition now, but rather we simply ARE. We are as settled into our home in Harmony, MN as we are likely to be this year. At this point I consider it an accomplishment to not think about the next move (back to Dubuque for our final seminary year at Wartburg), and to instead simply be and live in each moment. It is equally an accomplishment not to be obsessed about my future calling in ministry — to set aside the questions about what type of institution I could best use my particular “chaplain gifts” and to simply exist in this present moment and give that gift to those around me, and to myself.

Shawn has settled into his pastor internship here in the Harmony area, and thankful finds it energizing. Nessa has settled into 3rd grade at her new school and we thankfully hear very few complaints, fear, etc. And I thankfully find a new appreciation for my time at Mayo almost every day.

Mayo Clinic, and its hospitals, is a unique place to minister for many reasons including both the diversity of individuals that come to Mayo and the diverse hospital units one can minister on. The site is also unique in my experience in that there are still protestant chaplain-led worship services each Sunday. All of this and more works together to create a unique culture as well as unique opportunities for ministry. I am thankful to be a part of this … To be here in this place and time.

Although some days I can’t help thinking it would have been nice to be led here when I was younger and could go without sleep easier … I especially think this on my post-call days. Leading worship in two chapels after being on-call all night is certainly a unique challenge. Yet, even on days when I am tired or when chronic pain flares in one way or another (more often than I would like this fall), I realize that it is only now that I am prepared to use the gifts given to me by God to be fully present with others in their pain, grief, doubts AND hopes (there is much hope here) … To listen, to offer the few words that come to me, to give voice to scripture, to pray AND to BE.

Love and belief,
Tami

quick update & thankful at this moment update list

First my apologies for anyone I owe an email, call or visit! This summer was even more intense and exhausting than I imagined, and my only non-CPE priority was my family (as in my daughters and my husband), and in that regard I think we did OK. However, my dream of connecting with other La Crosse area friends or extended family was dashed by the first week of CPE. 🙂

So, both Shawn and I not only survived CPE but did indeed also pass the CPE unit. Our CPE experiences were very different and yet we each learned what we needed to (although we are both still processing as well). It was even kind of hard to leave the hospital and those I had let myself be called to serve (my “favorite” was the in-patient psychiatric unit and I am looking for additional training in this area), when we had to say goodbye the week of August 10th. As good as it is to be back to Wartburg I am already thinking about a Chaplain residency (3 or 4 more CPE units) for next year (while Shawn is on his Internship year). I am also in the midst of trying to figure out my Diaconal MInistry fieldwork, but that is a another post …

I hope to have time to reflect on CPE more here, but right now I am in the midst of trying to conquer my Endorsement essay as part of the ELCA candidacy process. Shawn and I both have to have this important essay written by Sept. 1st. In the meantime we also got our daughter, Nessa, off to her first couple of days of 2nd grade here in Dubuque (Megan has her high school registration next Wed. as she starts high school in La Crescent, MN after Labor Day).

I stumbled upon this free (nook) ebook the other day: Spiritual Practices for Happiness and it reminded me about the practice of being grateful, and then that I hadn’t been following through as much as I planned to publicly share my gratitude with all of you!

So, here goes my current, very quick, top ten thankful list!

1. Shawn took Nessa to her chiropractor apt. today (yes, little and yet oh so big)

2. That we are HOME!!! (really my home is wherever my family is so home is multiple places right now, but this house here at Wartburg is my home where my heart can thrive and oh how I missed it and this community this summer!)

3. for this community! It’s so good to see not only my classmates but also the professors and others.

4. for our parents in helping Nessa to survive this summer. IF there is one person the summer was hardest on, it was her. Hopefully she will recover soon so that we can fully recover.

5. for my fabulous teenager, Megan! She not only helped with Nessa and guided her with doing chores this summer, she was ready to hang out for mom & Megan time when my scheduled allowed and I rarely had to stress about her behavior, etc. … if having a teen is like this, I LOVE it!

6. for my health … when it’s always “on the edge” so to speak (auto-immune disease can be like that) I remember to be grateful for what I have & the ability to make it better with my behavior … leading us to

7. YOGA … and specifically the hot yoga I did this summer as my scheduled allowed … now to find a place in Dubuque that I can practice yoga to help maintain my health and wellness

8. my kitchen … and a family to cook for!

9. my church … both of them 🙂 (it was good to be able to have a little time to reconnect with Good Shepherd this summer and I am blessed to have a wonderful church home here as well).

10. my husband! … not only did he survive the summer with me, we are reconnecting for a blessed fall and school year.

Brief CPE Reflection

Since I promised at least a few quick updates or reflections, here is one at least. 🙂

Obviously, I am limited in terms of what I can share in terms of direct experiences, but I can say that this is a learning experience like no other, and when former CPE students say that there is nothing like it and that there is really no way to prepare — they are right! The same can be said about our experience of both Shawn and I doing this at the same time (different CPE programs – thankfully!), and yet day by day we are doing it.

I just finished my first 24 hour on call and while there are so many things I could have done differently, I did do it and did not have any real anxiety or times of panic, so that is certainly an OK thing. So much to reflect on in terms of where all of this meats my own faith and theology. Since my on-call was on Sunday I was also busy planning and leading two worship services. Going into CPE I thought that the worship services would be a major time of anxiety since planning and leading worship is not an area I feel called to, but that was not really the case. The small group led type service was an especially comfortable and fulfilling.

Surprises so far? — too many to even name briefly. On a practical level the amount of outside work, at least this first couple of weeks as I was in class a lot and starting with quite a few on-call times to (try) to prepare for this weekend was more intense than I would have imagined.

I am becoming quite protective of my “off” time and prioritizing self care and family time. I am also redefining what good self care is for myself, including care that restores my spirit. For example, I really do love listening to public radio and since I don’t have much time to do that, my time commuting alone in the car was always valued as a time to “connect with the outside world” so to speak in that way. This week I realized that was not really helping me in the way that I needed so I switched to listening to the music that connects to my soul right now (currently a few CDs by Dakota Road as well as one by Casting Crowns), and this helps. I have also been getting back to prioritizing physical movement as well as meditation … and rest.

Prayer requests — that our family can continue to navigate this summer in a way that meets the needs of our family and does not leave anyone burned out or otherwise exhausted (spiritually or physically), and that I continue to be open to the learning process this summer.

I’ll end with one verse from a Dakota Road song that I also shared with my peers this morning before leaving for my day off (and now I realize the value of two days off in a row … looking foward to next weekend when Shawn and I both have two days off in a row!!!)

“YOUR TOUCH IS ON US”
Your touch is on us God of day and of night
Inspire our living to do what is right
Move in our hearts with your Spirit that we
may bring hope to places of hurt and of need

http://www.dakotaroadmusic.com/index.php?p=page&page_id=Lyrics

Blessings on your day.

Love and belief~

Thankful at this very moment

1 a sleep room with wifi (1st 24 hour on call)
2 that my family came to my evening worship at the hospital!
3 all the people that smiled at me today!
4 that I am somehow keeping up with assignments and essentials in spite of frequent momenys of overwhelm
5 music that restores my spirit
6 my peers here
7 yoga and walking
8 seeing my girls happy together
9 my haircut!
10 you!

Prayer requests: sustained energy and that I can be the pastoral presence needed in this place and time … For our Wartburg community during another summer of transition (I miss the community and yet still feel its presence)

Love and belief~

Summer 2012 (our family does CPE)

This is a quick reference update to let anyone that has missed it know what our family is up to this summer as well as document it when we look back on it after we survive it. 🙂 Ideally, I will also be able to share a bit of reflection on the experience during and after the summer as well. One thing I will be doing, so that the blog doesn’t go completely quiet during my very busy summer is sharing (through posts scheduled to posts every so often throughout the next couple of months) some of the assignments that I wrote during my first year at Wartburg Seminary. I thought that would help give some theological perspective for those of different faiths reading this as well as give others that may be following our journey (but not be a part of our Wartburg Community, etc.) a sense of what we do in some of our classes … and again it will be good for me to have it hear as another places some of this writing is gathered.

So, this summer?

Well, BOTH Shawn and I are completing our Summer Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE). I am at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI, and Shawn is at Mayo Health System in Rochester, MN. We are thankfully able to stay at my parents farm (located between the Nodine and Houston exists on I90 in MN), so that we can, when not on-call, be together as a family in the evenings and morning and just go our separate ways on I90 as we head to our respective medical centers each day. We began right after Memorial day and are still getting a sense of how the rhythm of the summer will go as a family. Nessa misses her Wartburg Community friends (and simply her home there), and yet is appreciating more time to hang out with grandparents, cousins and her big sisters. For the most part Shawn and I are simply happily exhausted, and don’t have time or energy for much else.

The CPE experience consists of 400 hours plus orientation time. We work as Chaplain interns and also participate in educational components regarding pastoral care work in a way that is set up as “action and reflection.” Much of what we learn is very practical, and yet much of what we learn is emotional and individualized to what we need to learn as we are there. In part we are learning to get ourselves out of the way as we help others … and well a lot more too, but I’m only about a week into this. So, far I know it is going to be intense and challenging … and I’m hoping I love it more than I want to run and curl up in the corner!

Our CPE assignments go through August 10th, so after that we’ll have a bit of time to catch our breath before settling back into our routine in Dubuque for our 2nd year at Wartburg, but not much as we have some work that will be do for our candidacy process as well).

In the meantime between our weekly CPE work schedule and our on-call schedules, we may not have as much time as we would like to be in community (virtual or real) with all of you, yet I will be holding you in my heart each day. (Also, we do not have Internet access at the farm where we are living, so that also limits some practical communication.)

Prayers are appreciated during this challenging time in our lives.

Love and belief,
Tami

Thankful at this very moment

I just finished my first week of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), and will share more about that experience later. However, it became clear to me that in order to give and minister this summer, I need to be very intentional in my spiritual practices. One practice I am going to intentionally bring back is my daily practice of listing what I am most thankful for *at this moment* … I will do this at least once a day and at least once a week share here. I encourage others to do this for yourself, and please share here and elsewhere your thankful list as well. It’s a wonderful practice.

1. breath
2. children
3. my children 🙂
4. my husband
5. my parents
6. my husband’s parents
7. all who are supporting us through this summer from keeping us in prayer to keeping our daughter for a times (or many times) while we are at our CPE assignments
8. my wonderful CPE group — classmates, current chaplain residents, staff chaplains and the rest of the Pastoral Care staff
9. a place to sleep at night (and man do I sleep sound when I get to now!)
10. The strength to be up at 5 a.m. each day this week!

Peace be with you!

Love and belief,
Tami