Morning by Morning (11/24/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. My Cali friends, including but not limited to Cambry, Adam, Jon, Bryan, Zach, Jeff, and many others. These are the good people I miss often but love seeing when I visit and love seeing them as husbands, fathers, ministers, and people.
  2. Ryan’s growing imagination, as now he has begun to play imagine ghosts and monsters and hunting them as well as finding mysterious pretend surprises on the floor. I just love seeing his imagination increase.
  3. Leftovers. Some things just get better with time!
  4. The humble privilege of pastorally serving a unit of nurses and staff who have had such a difficult two weeks. This staff in the PICU is amazing and so compassionate, but also vulnerable as we all are to human pain. It is one hell of a privilege to encourage, listen, and support them.

When Holidays Hurt

I hope that we are thankful enough people during these holidays. Thankful enough that we are aware and thankful enough to remember.

Holidays are a beautiful wonderful time. They have the potential for incredible joy and lots of family time, feasts, gatherings, secret Santa’s, parties, traveling, songs, and all sorts of other good stuff.

But holidays are also a time of grief and hurt because families are incomplete:

  • Families with loved ones serving in the military far away from home.
  • Families anticipatorily grieving the loss of a dear and core member of the family because of illness, aging, or chronic health issues.
  • Families missing a parent or both parents because of divorce, separation, division, or even death.
  • Families who can’t come together because they are distant or live distant.
  • Persons feeling lonely and isolated with mental illness like depression.
  • Children missing families because of neglect or abuse.
  • Children missing family because their family has to work to make ends meet.
  • Families grieving the loss of a child.

Holidays can be brutal. Are we thankful enough to acknowledge the fragility of life and own our gratitude for the special relationships we cherish and not just the stuff we call “blessings?” Really, the question is, am I? This is just as much personal struggle and desire as it is a soapbox of sorts.

I am particularly aware of the last thing on that list. I am a parent who finds great joy in my children, and I work with families who will lose children and have very few reasons to celebrate when the holidays arrive. One less seat at the child’s table, if not just one empty seat that shouldn’t be. One less hungry finnicky mouth belonging to a beautiful kid. One smiling face missing in the family picture.

Perhaps it is the loss of the child who far outlived expectations of life and lived on that home ventilator till just recently. Perhaps it is the loss of a school ager to an awful virus. Perhaps the loss is a teen who committed suicide. Perhaps it is the loss of a toddler to a cancer that his brother also has. Perhaps it is the loss of a baby due to a sudden and unexplained stoppage of the heart. Perhaps it is the loss of a baby who couldn’t make it to birth, a miscarriage that weighs on that family. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. The list could go on with losses that families carry during this season and feel excruciatingly painful.

Please remember these families. They do not need sympathy but people who aren’t afraid to notice that the family is not complete and that the grief sucks. They do not need your truths (and I believe those truths too) that their boy or girl is in heaven, rather they need people who can invite them to tell stories about that boy or girl that will make them laugh and cry. They do not need reminders to move on, but reminders that you are there and their little one will not be forgotten.

I feel grief for these families, but I also acknowledge the beauty and courage in their grief. I don’t know what the right words are, but my heart goes out to these pained families looking for peace this holiday season, looking for a friend in the chaos, looking for a voice they will not hear again. May they find that voice in the form of Gods comforting love, in the presence of their family and friends, and in their own hearts where that voice will always be cherished.

Reach out to others if you know who they are. For any who might appreciate support, I am thankful to hear your story and your grief if you want to share.

Morning by Morning (11/23/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Christmas season arriving!!!!!
  2. Painting and fingerprinting with Ryan this morning! We painted colorful flowers and Thanksgiving colored flowers/brush. These are the little activities I love doing with Ryan! (see bottom picture)
  3. A great Friendsgiving with the Days, Mikey, and Stephanie.
  4. The Southwest Central youth, who I respect and love for their faith and openness to others. I love serving them and receiving their grace and joy.

Morning by Morning (11/22/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Late night hangouts with Josh. It’s always a good time!
  2. Painting a fingerprint tree in remembrance of the patients and families that have touched me. I got to do this with fellow Chaplains and was a quite touched by the memories that came to mind of sweet and resilient parents and courageous and funny children.
  3. Thanksgiving prep and the excitement of a good turkey! (Dry brine is where it’s at!)
  4. International Justice Mission. I am very moved by the work they do for children and families across the world.
  5. Serving hospital families around the holidays!

Morning by Morning (11/20/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The 9 days off from work over the last week and a half. I think I had to remember what I wore for work!!!
  2. The holidays that have arrived, which will bring Friendsgiving, baking a turkey, a trip to California, seeing family, and renewing of lots of traditions!
  3. TCH Christmas decorations already up!
  4. The new PCN website (pediatricchaplains.org) that will serve us well.
  5. Being asked to participate in a child’s memorial, a child and family who I treasure so much.

Morning by Morning (11/17/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Falling asleep next to Elana after a week of being away.
  2. My fellow pediatric chaplains who are really passionate about both compassion and advocacy, which is a great challenge to me to find a voice beyond the unit I serve. Whether gun violence and its impact on kids, health care for children of immigrants, continuity of care for medical special needs kids through government programs, or the encouragement to provide educations where the children we serve can thrive, this group of chaplains seeks the voice of a Divine who loves the vulnerable little ones among us.
  3. Manny, Elana’s Dad, and his almost daily presence with Ryan and willingness to play with him.
  4. The warm but beautiful weather back in Houston that is more natural for me!

Morning by Morning (11/16/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The flight home, where Elana and Ryan wait! I am so grateful to see them!
  2. A quick driving tour today of the DC National Mall area including monuments and the Capitol. Such a high paced and fascinating place!
  3. Lavender Kelly and Lindsay Bona, our PCN President and President Elect, who I feel are so well equipped for their leadership of our organization and pediatric chaplains across the country. I appreciate you both so much!
  4. Crab soup at the Blue Dog Saloon in Port Tobacco, Maryland!!!! (The rest of their food is fantastic too- prime rib, crab cakes, scallops, chicken pot pie, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, almond creme brûlée!)

Morning by Morning (11/14/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Taking an early morning hike around a retreat center.
  2. Sunset over the Potomac.
  3. The grace and beauty of leaves in the beautiful forest surrounding our retreat center!
  4. The bluffs along the Potomac.
  5. The glory of the Creator through nature!! I was marveling at the trees, the crisp East Coast cold air, the wonderfully colored leaves…just amazing!

Morning by Morning (11/13/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Flying. I just love flying and looking out from the window at the sights outside and below. It’s wonder.
  2. Astros gear all over the place- I love brig in a place that is celebrating its championship!
  3. Seeing my friends from the PCN Advisory Council today. These people are some of the best encouragement and supporters I have.
  4. Leaving for four days and Ryan bringing tons of smiles this morning- my little cowboy!!

Morning by Morning (11/11/17)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. A quiet night at our house.
  2. Getting to play some disc golf this afternoon and practice a little, feel good a little, learn a little, and most of all, be outside with a nice breeze and lots of sunshine!
  3. This smiling face!
  4. Blessing a hospitalized family with chocolate covered pretzels and teriyaki sauce, both favorites of the amazing 14 year old who has CF. I️ love bringing a smile to their face!