The Movement of the Spirit

I was running to my car in the rain, doing my best to not get completely drenched. The promised wind and rain arrived and that meant traffic would be worse than usual.

Lovely. My shirt and hair were drenched, my glasses smudged, and my shoes squished. I hate seeing patients when I’m little more than a frumpy, wet noodle! Grumbling, I took a deep breath and tried to re-focus. The last visit was very taxing on me emotionally and spiritually. I leaned back against the headrest. And there it was…

One maple leaf, just turning golden, plastered on my windshield. The raindrops around it glistened, and the sun peeked through the clouds, illuminating from behind like a stained glass window.

My car became a cathedral, and my heart was encouraged. God’s Spirit blew in through that mystical moment and lifted me up. “I can do this work… God help me, I can do this!”

Words from Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved came to mind:

The movement of  God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft… but that movement is also very persistent, strong, and deep. It changes hearts radically.

I had multiple reminders that day to stop, rest and see God’s Spirit at work. This was the first of many. There are times my work is exhausting spiritually and emotionally, but God’s Spirit is always there to guide, change, and move.

Blessed be…


The work of the Spirit photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see — how good God is. Blessed are you who run to the Lord. Psalm 34:8 (The Message)

Elegy for a Broken World


It is just an echo
of the Creator’s Masterpiece.
Her former glory now hints
of brilliance and beauty.

Impressions of the Divine’s handiwork
are there…
You must keep looking.
This world is still
in the hands of the Almighty.
The gun violence
the racism
the sexism
the self-interested corporations
are just a symptom
of this broken world.


Take the steps that are necessary
to send Light
streaming into minds and hearts,
to broadcast the wailing,
to comfort the mourning,
to offer hope to the forever-changed.

Be their voice.
Say their names.
Call out the questions
to the entitled and smug who champion
“the right to bear arms”
and who have more blood on their hands.

Be the David against Goliath.
Speak Truth.
Preach Justice.
Offer Mercy.
Be Christ’s hands and feet. 
But most of all…
Be Love.

Friday Five: Push or Pull?

The traffic crawled for over a mile this afternoon and this was most of what I could see:

DO NOT PUSH (if you know what's good for you.)

DO NOT PUSH (if you know what’s good for you.)

It was the inspiration for this week’s Friday Five (which I’m hosting this week over at RevGals). Play along if you’d like!

I am fortunate to have some great encouragers in my life. The ones who know me the best are great at knowing when to challenge me, and when to just chill and let me figure it out myself. SO… think about the encouragers and challenges in YOUR life and tell us…

  1. After achieving a goal, do you set the bar higher, or rest on your laurels? I am someone who pushes herself, always going for that next goal.
  2. Which is better: a kick in the pants or a hug and a cuppa? If I’m struggling, I need “a hug and a cuppa.” I am far too self-critical and have (probably) already kicked myself around the block.
  3. What’s your baseline motivation? Fear? Competition? Not getting caught? ;) Being seen as lazy. I’ll push past my limits to try and do it better. One of the things I’ve had to learn along the way is to let “good enough” be OK sometimes.
  4. When you’re facing a big challenge, do you need to talk it out, or puzzle it out yourself? It’s kind of a combination. I want to talk about it, but not so that you give me the answers.
  5. Who is in your corner – always? Who helps you achieve more than you imagined you could? (You don’t have to give names) Family. Friends who have gone the distance. Some pretty amazing co-workers. And RevGals that I’ve never met IRL but always have a word of encouragement when I’m feeling defeated.

BONUS: A picture, piece of art or music that expresses your experience of the push/pull process.

I found this in my photo files. It speaks to me of this process of making headway and then falling back into old habits or struggles. I also like the image of being in the process with someone — human or Divine.

Abandoned swingset. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Abandoned swingset. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Oh Me of Little Faith!

2015-07-11 17.00.40

Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t God do even more for you? You have such little faith! 

Luke 12:27-28



Refugees and “compassion fatigue”

Because of the nature of my work (hospice chaplain) I must constantly wrestle with “compassion fatigue.” It is far too easy to be disengaged after a day of walking with those who are in an end-of-life scenario. I screw it up all the time…

But here’s my honest reflection on the nature of Calling and serving, of Christ and the “least of these.” It’s published over at RevGalBlogPals. I hope you’ll go read it.

Illustration by Dez Pain form Used by permission

Illustration by Dez Pain form Used by permission

Religion that pleases God… must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil. (James 1:27 CEV)

Healing Rain

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming nearer to this old town
Rich and poor, weak and strong
It’s bringing mercy, it won’t be long

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming closer to the lost and found
Tears of joy, and tears of shame
Are washed forever in Jesus’ Name.

Lift your heads, let us return
To the mercy seat where time began
And in your eyes, I see the pain
Come soak this dry heart with healing rain

from Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

I took off my shoes and carried a stool out to the back porch.

It was the first real rainstorm we’ve had in probably a month. The sound of the rain on the leaves and the patio was a soft, inviting hiss.

I soaked it in.

(null)I listened to the birds calling, watched a chipmunk scamper within inches of my toes. The rain dripped off the wisteria and ran down the trellis. Little by little, the stresses of the week washed away. The rain came down harder, and I realized I was soaked from the knees down.

It was time to retreat and get ready for the next part of my day. It was funny that ten minutes in a rain storm did so much to refresh me.

Remembering to stop, pray, breathe, and be thankful got me through the end of one week and prepared me for the beginning of the next. It refreshed my perspective. It released hope. It reminded me why I do the work I do.

My toes got a little wet. But my heart was refreshed.

Blessed be.

BOOK REVIEW: Daddy, this is it. 

Daddy, this is it. Being-with my Dying Dad by Julie Saeger Nierenberg. Self-published (c) 2013. ISBN: 0-9919-2070-8. Paperback 72 pages.
This simple, autobiographical volume shares the journey of one daughter with her father through hospice. Julie writes about the real, painful journey of walking with her father through his diagnosis, treatment and eventual admission into hospice. As one person’s story, it brings a limited viewpoint. But those of us who work in palliative care settings or hospice need to reflect on what her story could teach us.

My take-aways included:

Listen for the back story. What was he concerned most about? Being unable to see. Being alone. Not being able to see his wife (in the next room). It’s those “little things” that support a higher quality of life for the patient.

Find ways to help the patient stay involved in the lives of their family and friends. Skype is probably the best way I know to help people stay connected. Grandchildren. Friends. Church. Exercise partners (in this patient’s case), the “Hill ‘O Beans” walking buddies. Being pro-active and at times, an insistent advocate for the patient is a necessary part of helping them feel connected to the important relationships in his life.

If you are the chaplain, be engaged, be involved! The biggest disappointment for me was that there was no mention of the support of a chaplain in their journey. There may have been one (spiritual care providers are essential in the whole-person care of hospice) but either his/her impact was minimal, or the family refused chaplain visits. There was mention of the nurse, social workers and “sitters” but not the rest of the interdisiplinary team. The logical conclusion is that, at least in Tulsa, chaplains are not as prevalent or engaged in whole-patient care. I hope that’s corrected now, over 2 years later.

And finally, Keep telling your story! Other need to hear it!  Whether one is a practioner or a family member, we need to hear the ways that lives can be enriched, supported and encouraged as we walk this hospice journey together.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided this book without cost from the author and was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Evening Prayer



From the New Zealand Prayer Book

Lord it is night:

The night is for stillness.

Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done.

Let it be.

The night is dark.

Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.

Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.

Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.

In your name we pray.

– Amen

Friday Five: Go to the head of the Class!

I’m hosting the Friday Five over at Rev Gals. Care to play along??

It’s Back-to-School time! Are you that “A+ Student for life” or the King/Queen of Detention? RevGals want to know! We are all still learning (or re-learning) some kind of lessons!Tell us about your learning edges in:

1. Reading: what’s in your “to-be-read” stack? Fiction? Church leadership? Commentaries?

Here’s a picture… Notice my Kindle is on top. It’s just an unending stack!!  

2. Writing: are you blogging? Journaling? Developing a new book proposal? Or just crafting sermons? Any excerpt you’d care to share? (We won’t grade your penmanship!)

I have been struggling with blogging, to be honest. I have stories to tell… But some of them are impacted by HIPAA privacy rules. I’m still figuring this one out.

I have been mulling over a book idea called “What NOT to say!” It’s meant for all those horrible moments when someone says that trite pablum that makes clergy blanch…

3. ‘Rithmetic: Family budget? Church budget? National debt? What are you discovering about yourself and your church/family when it comes to handling money?

I asked this question, did I!??? Or be quite honest, I’m tired of “the budget” being given as a reason for doing/not doing something. If you are a leader, you learn how to prioritize and pay for what matters. 

4. Music: favorite new hymn or worship band?

To be honest, I haven’t been listening to a lot of Christian music. It’s had a “Jesus-and-the-money changers” feel to it. But I do like the song “My Ev’rything” by Owl City. 

I’m getting new songs these days from my 20-year-old, whose Spotify playlists were fresh and fun! I’m kinda loving Hozier. He’s so raw and real. 

5. Detention: uh huh… If you were supposed to report for detention today, what would be the note on the slip?

Probably being too loud in the restaurant last night while playing the “glamour shot” game. You Google your first name + “glamour shot” and then look at the images that come up with your search terms. Completely silly.

BONUS: Recess! RevGals just want to have fun! What’s your favorite way to unwind?

Hang out in the hammock chair on my back patio with a book.