Sometimes silence can speak volumes
If you’ve experienced a major loss in your life, you’ve probably had people say to you, “I’m so sorry. I just don’t know what to say.”
So why is it that they somehow manage to open their mouths anyway?
Years ago, I was walking past the glass-enclosed surgical waiting room in the Houston hospital where I served as the chaplain. I stopped when my eye caught a surgical nurse w... Read on...
Don't assume that I make assumptions
When people ask me what the most important lesson I’ve learned from hospital chaplaincy, I say, “Don’t assume.”
The advice encompasses all walks of life, but in the hospital, there are three specific things I try not to assume: relationships, my own ability to comfort, and personal beliefs.
First, I’ve discovered that it’s best not to assume relationships. That’s why ... Read on...
Trouble, forgiveness comes in threes
Twenty-seven years ago, I was a newly minted Air Force chaplain when I asked my mentor, Chaplain Major Ron Kelling, to name the top three ways chaplains get in trouble.
Kelling, a former Vietnam War fighter pilot, had no trouble squeezing out a rapid-fire answer.
“It’s either money or women!”
He mentioned money because military chaplains ... Read on...
Faith helps chaplain to finish line
Today’s column might as well be scripted in the voice of the old-time melodramatic narrators who often began, “When we last saw our hero….” because if you read last week’s column, you’ll be amazed to hear that I’m still alive.
When we last saw our hero, Chaplain Norris, he’d registered to run the California International Marathon with almost 9,300 runners. However, on race day last week, only 6,474 runners braved ... Read on...
Offer sympathy the only way you can
Editor’s note: I am writing a memoir about my experiences as the chaplain at the Air Force Field Hospital in Balad Iraq in 2009. The following excerpt is about my encounter with a boy whose Iraqi father brought him to us with third degree burns over fifty percent of his body. _______________________
“This is Hakeem,” the IC... Read on...
Look closely, the miracle often is not-so-obvious at first glance
In the mid 1990s, I was working for Houston Northwest Medical Center when I got a call from our ICU nurse manager, Grace Heffron.
“Chaplain, what are you doing at 2 p.m.?’’ she asked in a tone that fell short of the quality for which she was named.
“We have an end-of-life conference with a family. Can you make it?”
Frustrated over the lengthy use of ICU beds, Grace called the conference to discuss continuing lif... Read on...
Oh, what a night: God's own sky show
If you follow my column, you know that I’m pretty starry-eyed about my wife, but I also get starry-eyed about God’s world, too. And last week, I got the chance to combine both loves.
I finished seven lonely weeks of temporary duty with the 152nd Intelligence Squadron in Reno, Nev., when I decided to invite my wife to join me for Reno’s famous Hot August Nights, the largest classic car event in the U.S.
I... Read on...
Ignorance can often be expensive
The first time that I gave my wife a flower, it didn’t work out so well. We were on our first date when I bought the flower from what I thought was a street vendor raising money for world peace. Hey, I don’t know. It was the 1970s.
“Did you know that you just gave money to... Read on...
Humble help often is just the answer
Whenever people ask me about “the wife,” I say, “Her name's Becky, so please don't call her ‘the wife.’ ’’
I say this because at our wedding 30 years ago, she refused to let her father “give” her away. “I'm not a commodity to give away like ‘the house’ or ... Read on...
Loss of a child never goes away
In 2005, I wrote about Sue Wintz, a hospital chaplain whose 17-year-old daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Wintz, was killed in a Phoenix car accident on Dec. 2, 2003. Almost nine years later, she asked me to share with you how she has survived and... Read on...