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Welcome, friends! 

A NAMI benefit

My local chapter of The National Alliance on Mental Illness is focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder this year. They will have monthly educational talks and hold benefits to aid the cause.

Over the weekend, a showing of a new play at McCarter Theater in Princeton was dedicated for the benefit of NAMI. After the play, The Convert, NAMI held a silent auction of donated items and experiences related to health and well-being.

I was thrilled to be contacted to donate copies of both Miracles and Moments of Grace and How We Did It, my new book of weight loss success stories. I even threw in a copy of the Chicken Soup book Shaping the New You, a book of encouraging stories about weight loss and fitness. One of the 101 stories is mine!

I hope the auction went well for NAMI and I wish this worthy organization all the best this year as they focus on post-traumatic stress. It's a huge issue for the milistary and chaplains play a much needed role in helping our troops cope with this debilitating illness.  Read More 
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Cell Phones for Soldiers

My son got a new cell phone for Christmas. Even his old phone was better than the ancient one I carry around, so I'm upgrading to his.

I thought I'd find out if I could donate my old phone to an organization that benefits military members. Sure enough, right away I stumbled onto the website for Cell Phones for Soldiers.

The group accepts gently used cell phones (and accessories like chargers) through drop boxes or by mail. They recycle the phones and turn the cash they get for them into calling cards for troops.

On the website, you can print out a mailing label. You can even link to a program that erases data like stored phone numbers from your phone before you donate it.

If you got a new phone for Christmas, please consider giving your old one to Cell Phones for Soldiers. You'll be making a great call!  Read More 
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Christmas prayers for the deployed

The executive director of the Christian Missionary Alliance's chaplain endorsing agency, Rev. Robert W. Collins, II, Chaplain (LTC), U.S.Army(Ret.), sent me this message about praying for deployed troops during the holidays. Thank you, Chaplain Collins, for sharing these thoughts and prayers with us.

"Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for military families. Many are serving at installations far from home, family and friends. Others have a loved one deployed, making it hard to focus on the 'reason for the season' as they anxiously mark the days until their family member's return.

In addition to the pains of separation during the holidays, many National Guard and Reserve families experience reduced income while the breadwinner is deployed, making gift exchanges problematic. Deployed personnel have limited opportunities to shop, and gifts sent to them are subject to customs limitations, and must be mailed by late November or early December to arrive by Christmas.

The absence of a parent or other family member during the holiday season invariably dampens the joy of a family celebration of the Savior's birth, and many military families opt to delay 'Christmas' until the return of their loved one.

Churches can help mitigate the 'holiday blues' for military families by reaching out to encourage and involve them in holiday activities to ease some the stresses they face.

Remember our deployed troops in your prayers during the upcoming holidays. Here are some specific requests you can make on their behalf.

- Lord Jesus, as we celebrate your birth this Christmas, may we also remember military families who are separated by the requirements of their service.

- Blessed Savior, be especially with those women who, like your mother Mary, may be giving birth over the holidays, yet can not fully enjoy the experience because their husband is deployed.

- Gracious Lord, bless and protect those who defend our nation in distant lands during this special time, and give them the joy of the season even though they're away from home and family.

- Heavenly Father, shower our chaplains with your grace and bless their ministry of presence as they remember your son's birth with the troops. Read More 
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It's an iBook!

I just learned from my publisher that Miracles and Moments of Grace is available as an iBook in the iTunes iBookstore. (Say that three times fast!)

If you have an iTunes account, you can download the free iBookstore app and find the book under its title or my name. For those who already have an account, the link is here.

The book received a lovely review over the weekend from a reader identifying herself only by her initials, CBW. In part, she says, "What a beautiful, insightful, inspirational book.... We have all seen news reports of wars, and the fighting in other countries, but not much of the behind-the-scenes happenings. This book gently takes us there, showing the commitment, dedication, and faith of our soldiers and clergy.... This book would make a wonderful gift, for others, and for yourself."

I'm honored by CBW's review, and I appreciate the fact that she mentions giving Miracles and Moments of Grace as a gift. That's something I always had in mind while I wrote the book. I think the book would be a great gift for a member of the military, or for families of those serving. In writing the book, I wanted to show that our servicemen and women are not alone, that our miltiary chaplains are caring for them. I hope that brings some comfort, particularly during long and dangerous deployments.  Read More 
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Visit with a reader

Chaplain Beauregard and his wife Susan
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I paid a visit to a very special person, Allen Beauregard. Chaplain Beauregard took the trouble to write me a note after reading Miracles and Moments of Grace. It was a lovely note, the first I received after publication of the book.

At his home, Chaplain Beauregard told me about his life. He is a disabled veteran who served for 17 years in the Navy. He spent 38 months in Vietnam, during the height of the conflict. He was aboard the USS Ranger when the last helicopter lifted off from a Saigon rooftop on April 30, 1975.

Chaplain Beauregard ministered for over six years at a VA hospital in upstate New York. He spent six months on an Alzheimers ward, another year in a surgical recovery ward, and five years in a hospice ward.

"As I went from patient to patient, the one thought that was always in my mind was how God was blessing me by ministering to veterans and their families," he told me.

The surprising thing about Chaplain Beauregard is that he is legally blind. Where drugstore reading glasses are at most a 3+ or 4+ prescription, his reading glasses are 35+. Yet even with this disadvantage, he wanted to minister to others.

We had a great visit, and I thank you again, Chaplain Beauregard, for taking the time to tell me how much you enjoyed the stories in Miracles and Moments of Grace. I hope we can visit again some day soon.  Read More 
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A Thanksgiving thought

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.

-- Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco
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Reverse Trick-or-Treat

My faithful friend and fellow writer (and a darn good photographer, to boot!) Chaplain Jeffrey Neuberger shared a Veterans Day reflection with me this week. It is my pleasure to share it with you.

"My grandson just entered the first grade, but I think he’s on to something. This past Halloween was his first opportunity to welcome 'trick-or-treaters' at his door. He had recently moved from an apartment to a new home, and the concept of Halloween was ever on his mind, with costumes at school and the like. The first group of kids arrived and stood at the door with bags outstretched.

In the background, my daughter watched as Andrew greeted them. The trick-or-treaters held their bags wide open as he paused, and then slowly reached into each bag to retrieve a piece of candy. It was a case of reverse trick-or-treating! I can imagine the bewilderment of those kids. My daughter handled it perfectly, and after a brief explanation Andrew understood the concept and the rest of the night proceeded 'in keeping with the tradition.'

As I write this article, it’s Monday morning, the day after we honored veterans in both worship services at our church. It was really wonderful to have each of the veterans stand to be recognized. I was amazed at how many veterans were in the congregation. We also recognized three of our acolytes, each who has a parent currently deployed. In my sermon, I noted the important statistic that a mere 1 percent of our citizenry are in uniform to protect and defend the other 99 percent.

You may be asking yourself at this point what a 'reverse trick-or-treat' has to do with our veterans. It occurred to me that as citizens we are like my grandson Andrew, unknowingly taking from a bag which we should be putting into. The difference, however, is that our veterans, the men and women who serve in our military, stand before us freely offering the gift of their service for us to enjoy and appreciate as a nation. With their permission, we can reach into their 'bag' whenever we want. On this Veterans Day, give thanks for them."  Read More 
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Monument to Jewish Chaplains Erected

A monument to Jewish chaplains who have died while on active duty was dedicated yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.
You can read about the ceremony here.

Incredibly, until now, Jewish chaplains have not been recognized on Chaplains Hill at the cemetery. The oversight came to light in 2007 when someone went looking for Rabbi Alexander Goode's name and could find no mention of him. Chaplain Goode was one of the "Four Immortal Chaplains" who perished along with more than 600 men when the USAT Dorchester was torpedoed during World War II. All of the chaplains -- two Protestant ministers, a Catholic priest and Rabbi Goode -- gave up their life jackets to others. The chaplains were last seen on the deck of the listing ship, their arms linked, singing hymns and offering prayers together.

A grandson of Rabbi Goode attended the ceremony yesterday. It must have been an immensely satisfying day for this family, and for those who have benefited from the ministry of Jewish military chaplains.  Read More 
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Chaplain job posting

I thought you'd like to know about a job posting I saw on a facebook page yesterday. Samaritan's Purse, the Christian relief and evangelism organization, is looking for a retired chaplain to fill a full-time opening.

Here is the listing from the Air Force Chaplains facebook page:

Chaplains: Samaritan’s Purse is looking for a retired chaplain to fill a full-time paid position beginning Jan 2012 at their headquarters in Boone, NC, directing four months of summer activities (to include counseling) that provide injured military members and their spouses with a week of “healing” at a lake-camp in Alaska. For more information, please contact BGen (Ret) Jim Walker at (828) 278-1549 or at jwalker@samaritan.org.

I know so many chaplains who would be perfect for this job!  Read More 
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Thank you!

I want to say thank you to everyone who has encouraged me in my writing and shown enthusiasm for Miracles and Moments of Grace. I'm happy to report that the book is going into a second printing. I'm so glad for my chaplains!
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