Photo by Sybil Holland




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A chaplain's rousing communion service

February 25, 2011

Tags: More chaplain stories

Retired Air Force Chaplain Lt. Col. Jeffrey Neuberger sent me this hilarious short story. I think it's worthy of Readers Digest!

"While in Iraq at the combat hospital, I would offer a noon communion service in the chapel. The patient affairs office would announce the service on the public address system.

One day, I called and asked them to say that 'the liturgical communion service will be held in the hospital chapel at 12 p.m. today.' I waited for a few moments, and then the young woman made this announcement:

'The lethargical communion service will be offered in the hospital chapel at 12 p.m. today.'

Everyone must have been 'lethargical' that day, as no one showed up for the service!"

The big moment

February 23, 2011

Tags: Book release

The author gets a gift-wrapped copy!
The big day finally arrived! My publisher sent me a gift-wrapped copy of Miracles and Moments of Grace. The UPS guy did come through! I thought it was just a box of business cards, so I left it unopened all day on the kitchen table. I'm glad for that, though -- my husband and son got to share in the excitement of opening the box that evening.

I had a really odd reaction to seeing the book. I thought I would be excited about the big reveal, but instead I was terrified! After a quick glance and a few photos, I hastily packed it back up in the box and went on with getting dinner ready. What was that all about?!?

People often say that publishing a book is akin to childbirth, seeing your "baby" safely into the wider world. I didn't experience it that way at all, and I've been through childbirth, so I know! (There was no putting my son "back in the box," that's for sure!)

After I took the book out of the box again the next day, I came to realize that I just wanted to savor the moment of arrival without any reservations. I wanted the moment to be unsullied by my ever-critical brain. Having published hundreds of articles over the years, I understood that pretty quickly I was going to see something I didn't like -- a mistake, a typo, something I could have said better.

Sure enough, once I looked closely, I fixated on something I didn't like. A single typo. But, you know... I have to live with it. There is no perfection this side of heaven. I'm so pleased with this book -- and eager for all my chaplains to be pleased as well. I hope I have done them proud. That's what matters to me. It's not my baby; it's theirs.

West Coast gets first look

February 15, 2011

Tags: Book release

A friend of mine living in Oregon -- my long-ago college roommate -- says she got her copy of Miracles and Moments of Grace yesterday. I think she's the very first!

From what I understand, the distributor has a warehouse in Oregon, so that's why the West Coast is getting copies first. So, when does the author get to see her own book?!?

It's a big moment for an author, when the UPS guy drops that box of books on the front porch. I'll hear that THUD no matter where I am in the house, guaranteed!

60,000 prayers

February 9, 2011

Tags: More chaplain stories

Chaplain Geoffrey Whitaker
Recently, a retired military doctor contacted me asking if I could help her track down a chaplain she had encountered briefly at a VA hospital. The two had talked about the chaplain's amazing life story and she wanted him to know she was praying for him.

That chaplain was Capt. Geoffrey Whitaker, garrison chaplain at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq, with the Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

Chaplain Whitaker was a Navy SEAL in 2003 when he suffered a traumatic head injury after a fall from a helicopter in a speed rope accident that crushed his skull.

Even though he received immediate care and life-saving brain surgery, doctors pegged his chance for survival at only 10 percent and an even smaller chance of recovery if he did survive.

But the doctors weren't counting on the power of prayer to raise those percentages. Whitaker made a complete recovery, returning to full duty within a year.

After his recovery, though, Whitaker went back through the cards and expressions of care people had sent, and he realized that upwards of 60,000 people around the world had prayed for him. That number, more than beating the odds of recovery, changed his life. The impact of the outpouring led him to swap his SEAL career for the military chaplaincy.

After I was able to track down Chaplain Whitaker, the doctor who had contacted me was able to correspond via e-mail with him. I was so pleased to be a link in the network of people who care for each other's well-being.

The Four Chaplains Memorial

February 4, 2011

Tags: Book events, Chaplains in MMG

Air Force Chaplain Capt. Christopher Reeder (l) and Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, Captain, Chaplain Corps, USN, Retired (r)
Yesterday, I had the great privilege of attending a memorial event sponsored by the Library of Congress History Project and the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The event commemorated the four interfaith chaplains who went down with the USAT Dorchester in WWII, after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The chaplains -- two Protestant, one Jewish and one Catholic -- selflessly helped others into the too-few life boats and when life jackets ran out, they took theirs off and handed them to those in need. They were among the 672 men who lost their lives that night.

You can read Dan Kurzman's terrific account of that act of heroism, a book titled The Four Immortal Chaplains. There were many eyewitnesses to the events of that night who all agreed on the basic facts of the chaplains' actions.

The event yesterday marking the 68th anniversary of the tragic event featured Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff as keynote speaker. Chaplain Resnicoff is one of the fifty-five chaplains I interviewed for Miracles and Moments of Grace. He told me his harrowing story of being present at the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

It was a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Chaplain Resnicoff, and with another one of my chaplains, U.S. Air Force Chaplain Christopher Reeder, and his wife Jennifer. Chaplain Reeder told me the wonderful story of meeting Jennifer while he was deployed to Afghanistan.

For more photos from the event, head on over to my new Miracles and Moments of Grace facebook page.