Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pastoral Care -- A New Perspective
Tommy Deal, Chaplain, Hamilton Health Care System Hospice, Dalton Georgia

For over thirty-five years I have attempted to offer pastoral care to those whom God placed before me through church, community, compassion ministry, disaster response and now hospice.  I have learned and am continuing to learn that the strongest message spoken in times of care are not words, but presence.

Recently I had just finished a week offering pastoral presence to nineteen hospice patients and their caregivers.  The first half of the following week I saw nine more.  Through this ministry of end of life care I am honored to be present with people who truly are “walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”  I find each one of these are Holy moments.  When it comes to the door this side of eternity most everyone contemplates where he or she is headed.  God is ever-present and in most all of these times there is a sincere seeking His divine love and grace.

Then, I found myself on a table in the Cardiac Cath Lab of our hospital.  Apparently what I had surmised as “out of shape old guy syndrome” was just a little more serious.  Over the next fifty-six or more hours I became the recipient of pastoral care.  Susan, who lovingly and patiently waited on me, soon found she was needing answers.  The hospital Chaplain and caring fellow hospital associates brokered the securing of information to calm her concerns.

Many, many friends from our church, First Baptist Church of Dalton, Georgia, showed up to check on us, pray with us, offer their presence and love.  Some sat with me while others went with Susan to the Cafeteria for something to eat. Many came by and shared their deep concern and love for me.  My co-workers wonderfully expressed their love, appreciation and prayers.  The pastoral staff at our church (minus the Minister of Music, of course!) were present offering prayers, presence and encouragement. 

The end result of my time in the hospital resulted in two now unblocked arteries thanks to three stents and a balloon, a heart attack or worse averted and a “New Lease on Life!”  The new insight I have gained is how powerful and wonderful pastoral care is.  Most everyone of these dear friends near and far are not “professional clergy.”  Yet, they earnestly live their lives with an understanding that they ARE the presence of Christ; that they are called to be a blessing; that “because they have been given much, they, too, must give.”

“Thank you!” seems to be inadequate to express how blessed I am to have experienced each of their (and your) expressions of love and concern for me.  The ol’ ticker is much better now.  However, I am still an “out of shape old guy.”  I guess I need to work on that!

Monday, February 13, 2017

“I’m down…in a Good way!”

For several years I would write a Blog every so often.  Nothing ground-shaking; just my thoughts and ramblings about life as I was experiencing it.  I never knew when the “spirit would hit me.” But when it did, I would sit down and the thoughts would brew, the words would percolate up and the fingers smoked as I tried to put it down before I forgot something.

I checked and my last “DEALingwithmyworld” Blog was over a year ago.  And it was full of the pride and joy of becoming a grandfather.  There has been a lot to write about this last year with their (twin girls!) bubbling into this joyous life.  I just have not taken the time or have listened to my inner self; oh, and I have been busy—well, who hasn’t?

So, here I sit with something to write.  Again, nothing earth-shattering nor profound.  Just my musings for my life right now.

I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  Not because I do not want to improve in some area of my life.  It is more about the fear of not succeeding.  We all are amused at those who pronounce far-reaching resolutions, only to be disheartened by falling short.

With that being said, I did come into this New Year (or more accurately I left the holiday season) uncomfortable, stuffed and not feeling up-to-par.  I wasn’t obese, but I knew I was not healthy.  My pants were tight and I could barely suck it in enough to fasten them.  I seriously had reached the last hole on my belts!  My shirt collars would not button.  I literally would get winded walking down the drive way walking the dog or taking the stairs to my bedroom.

While our little nuclear family was gathered for Christmas I insisted we take a family photo.  A tradition, a documentation for years to come.  It became Susan’s and my Christmas Card.  It was great!  Susan and I each holding one of our precious granddaughters, William and Mary Kate, Ragan and Jessica.  And it dawned on me:  I don’t have one good reason to get healthy; I have SEVEN!  (Eight if you count me!)

I want to be energetic to be “Tom-Tom,” I want to be fit to enjoy our family get-togethers, I want to be able to help my sons and their families with home projects, baby-sitting, etc.  Basically, I want to be around!

I’ve said it before, “Getting healthy is a state of mind, and the state of mine is pretty darn good,” now.  Seriously, I challenged myself and began to get healthy by following a healthy diet, receiving encouragement and support from a health coach and enjoying the successes.  (It helps that Susan wanted to as well!)

Dec. '16
Feb. 12, 2017

Here I am at Christmas.  Notice there is no chin, no jaw.  Heck if it wasn’t for the facial hair one would think I was all neck!

On the right is me today, four weeks after starting this journey.  I am down fifteen pounds (five away from my Goal #1 weight), my pants fit, and I’m using the correct belt holes and the dress shirts button!  Best thing is I can walk my driveway and skip up the steps!  It is amazing what fifteen extra pounds does to one’s body!  I am feeling good, I am feeling good about myself, I have a healthier outlook on life and my kids and grandkids are going to have to put up with me for a very long time!

Many of you have kept me going!  You’ve seen my Facebook posts.  Thank you for every “Hoorah” and encouragement you have given.  It has meant a lot!  I could not have done this without my life’s partner, my best friend and my bride by my side. 

The one vital element in all of this that I would like to point out:  my health coach!  This is a friend who has encouraged me, advised me, and is on the journey with me (he’s lost over 30 pounds!).  He is the key “free” element in what I am doing.  I believe in it so much that I have decided I, too, want to help others who want to get healthy.  If you would be interested in learning more, or having me as your Health Coach, send me a message, 12tdeal55@gmail.com.  “Let’s talk.”