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Hello again friend! Remember about a year and a half ago I asked everyone to pray for me as I embarked on a new adventure. I was beginning an online Emergency Chaplain course and had no idea where it would take me. Then, I pretty much disappeared from the world of blogging. Sorry about that. It was harder than I expected to add a class to my routine and I completely underestimated the amount of mental exhaustion it would cause.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for me! Your prayers gave me courage to walk into the unknown, trusting that God would be there every step of the way, guiding me and helping me through the Holy Spirit. Your prayers helped me to be in the moment, seeking God where I was, not worrying about what I was to do with what He was walking me through. Your prayers helped me focus on all the information given to me, without many distractions…..SQUIRREL!
I began the journey of studying to become a First Responder Chaplain because that’s what my husband is. He was a paramedic before I met him and a Deputy Sheriff when we met. I thought it would be nice to come along side him to help the spouses of the First Responders he assists, especially because I have been one for 18 years.
God has not chosen to use me in this capacity, yet, but wow, has it given me some great perspective. I believe God used this part of my chaplain training to teach me compassion for my husband and what he does. I was seriously lacking in this area. I have always believed that his ability to help others as a Chaplain was a gift from God, but now I have a deep love and respect for him and what he goes through each and every day, regardless of the pain and agony it may cause him.
If you have any interest in becoming an Emergency Services Chaplain, I highly recommend this online program run by Robby Jernigan.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~Hebrews 13:20-21
Let me back up a bit. I had my first taste of Chaplain training in February of 2016 when my husband suggested I take a 3-day class taught by icisf (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation), which was being sponsored by KLOVE at no cost. It was on Assisting Individuals in Crisis and Group Crisis Intervention. I really didn’t think I belonged there amongst all the Nurses, Fire Fighters, Police Officers and Counselors, but found the information extremely helpful with everyday interaction with people. I’m not a Counselor, Nurse, Fire Fighter or Police Officer and I come across broken hurting people everyday.
July of 2016 is when I began the Emergency Services Chaplain Training courses. I studied Emergency Services, Christian Chaplaincy, Emergency Services Chaplaincy, Death Notification and Related Issues (this is what my husband does quite often), Psychological First Aid, CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) and Ministry to a Suicidal Subject. There are many more classes offered through this training center that will take you deeper into the life of a Police Officer, Fire Fighter, etc. but I hear enough first had from the work my husband does, so I didn’t go any further.
Then in January of 2017 I took an online class through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), an Introduction to the Incident Command System. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you, but I did find it very interesting.
As I was busy processing all of this information and trying to figure out what I would do with it, if anything, God opened a door, for more training! I signed up for a Church Compassion Team Chaplaincy Class put on by Educational Ministries in Rocklin, CA. This class was once a week from 6:00 – 10:00pm for 8 weeks followed by a Graduation Ceremony. This class was about an hour away, but I signed up with a friend, so we made it into a weekly fun and educational outing. We took turns driving, which was nice, and started each trip with dinner and dessert before heading to class. Dessert was the highlight of each trip, oh and of course the silly conversations that would come about each week.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ~Philippians 2:13
I’m thankful God has given me the opportunity to train as a Chaplain and trust God will enable me to use this training when He sees fit. It was an amazing and fun experience bulking up my brain. More importantly, it’s helped me gain a greater respect for all First Responders; Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Paramedics, Dispatchers, Nurses, Doctors and Counselors. They have extremely difficult jobs and are on high alert 24/7 with your well being in mind. If you know someone in one of these positions, please find a way to express your appreciation of who they are and what they do.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the amazing men and women you call into the roles of First Responders. I pray we would see them through Your eyes and treat them with respect, compassion, kindness and love, Amen.
As some of you may know, my husband is a Chaplain for First Responders. He works with local Police, Sheriff, Fire, EMS and Dispatchers. He visits these various stations and offers emotional and spiritual support and a helping hand when needed. The call he gets most often is to give a death notification. Which means he has the job of telling someone that their close family member has died, usually because of a tragic unexpected accident.
Very rarely does a week go by that he isn’t called out to give a death notification. As you might imagine, I hear about most calls he goes on, including the death notifications, as well as the follow-ups.
Death is something we all must face at a time unknown. When asked why we must die, the response is usually “because we can’t live forever”. As a believer in Jesus, I think we (Christians), those who believe in God and have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, can and will live forever. Not forever here on this earth, but eternally in heaven and someday the new earth with Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34
Recently, I heard that a dear friend, who had been fighting her second battle with cancer, had weeks, possibly days, to live. My heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I thought about her being a light in the community and to anyone she came in contact with. She has a true servants heart with a desire to build the Kingdom of God and share the love of Christ.
I immediately began lifting my sweet friend in prayer, asking God Almighty for a miracle. I believed that He had cured her the first time around, so I asked Him to do it again. A day or two later, I heard things were not looking good, so I added to my prayer. I asked that if He were calling her, His child, home that He would allow her to slip away from us into His loving arms filled with His peace, feeling calm and with no pain.
The next evening, the world lost an amazing woman, a true light.
For all those who are affected by this devastating loss, I am overwhelmed with sorrow. I pray God will reveal Himself to them in ways that fill them with peace and comfort as they process their grief and adjust to the loss of the relationship they had with her.
For my sister in Christ, I am filled with joyous praise. Why?
- She has reached her eternal home in heaven with Jesus.
- I will get to see her again, when God calls me, to my eternal home.
- Her sorrow, tears and pain have come to an end.
- God blessed me, and many others, by knowing her
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
My heart breaks for everyone across the world who does not know God, chooses to hold Him at arms length or who simply reject Him. I cannot imagine living eternally without experiencing God’s love, grace and mercy, which we all receive at some level as we walk through this life here on earth.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of eternal life with You, through the life Your Son Jesus gave for us. I pray you would soften the heart of those who do not know you so they would see You through the love, compassion and help they receive from others, Amen.
I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a pet. Growing up we always had at least one cat and on occasion a dog. My mom was a softy when it came to puppies, so she would often come home from the grocery store with one. We never had the puppy for long. It would either chew up everything in sight or my brother and I wouldn’t help take care of it, so it had to go.
I’m a cat person myself. I think dogs are high maintenance, and there’s only room for one thing that’s high maintenance in this house, and that’s me.
A few years after our last move, my family decided the only thing missing was a dog. We had three cats, which seemed like more than enough animals to me, but they insisted they needed the comfort of a dog. Of course I was promised everyone would help take care of the dog and I wouldn’t even notice it was around. I knew, in reality, I would be the main one doing all the work. I soon gave in and within a few months, we had Layla, a yellow lab from Canine Companions for Independence. She was meant to be a breeder dog in their program, but flunked out due to chronic ear infections. The day we brought her home, she was two and fully trained with over twenty commands. She’s now eleven, and continues to bring us comfort.
Recently, we welcomed a black lab into our family. Her name is Kepi. She’s also from Canine Companions for Independence. She didn’t flunk out of the program. She’s a facility dog and works with my husband, who’s a Law Enforcement Chaplain, as a Chaplain dog. She lives with us and goes out on chaplain calls with him. She brings a smile and comfort to those who are hurting.
This is a difficult time of year, when many of us mourn the loss of our loved ones. I’m thankful for the way our animals bring us comfort. I think they can sense when we aren’t well or when we’re feeling sad. How do your pets bring you comfort?
Emma and Kitty, two of our cats, are sisters. Emma’s a princess, tiny and petite, and Kitty is a scaredy-cat, fluffy and squishy. Earl, a stray black cat my daughter found out in the country hanging on to life, is the only male pet we have. He follows us around, like a dog, and is quite the talker. I’m thankful for the different personalities each of our pets have.
I’m excited to see how God will use my husband and Kepi to bring comfort to the community. How has God brought comfort to you and your family this year?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the comfort you bring us through the animals in our lives. I pray You would protect them from those who wish to bring harm to them. Help us to see that animals are part of your creation, Amen.
I would like to introduce you to Terry Morgan. He’s an ordained minister and currently the Chaplain/Executive Director of Gold Country Chaplaincy and Press4hope. My husband, Robert Duvall, met him at a Chaplaincy Recognition Dinner in Sacramento. Terry’s passion is teaching various ministries how to help their own parishioners through critical incidents, crisis, and traumatic events, while exercising good stress management techniques and preventing compassion fatigue or burn out in their ministers. I asked Terry to share about his passion and journey writing.
The Chaplain’s Role – the Birth of a Book; By Terry Morgan
My first book is called “The Chaplain’s Role how Clergy can Work with Law Enforcement.” It took about ten years to write. There have been two more since then, “Life Celebrations”, a handbook on conducting funerals, and “When Grief Kidnaps Your Soul”, a book on dealing with various kinds of grief.
When someone asks me why I write, I answer, “I write because I need to write”. My first book bounced around in my head for years before finally being released onto paper. It was like the idea for this book was trapped in my head and needed to get free. Putting the thoughts and words on paper offered a huge release. It was no longer pent up inside, and now it has a life of its own. This was similar to the experience with my other two books. The thrill of birthing them is still the same, but it has gotten a lot less painful.
The inspiration to write the Chaplain’s Role was partially from my life experiences and training as a law enforcement chaplain. The passion to serve law enforcement and the community was a big driver for me. Training is one of my passions. At the time of writing this book there was no books to be had on the subject. There was and is a real need for the material.
My greatest challenge in writing this book was committing to do the work. We all live very busy lives, and quite often, this book would be put on a back shelf to collect dust. A few months later it would be picked up again, only to be re-shelved a few days later. A good friend of mine and Christian counselor, Martha Smalley encouraged me to finish the book. I had to set aside a few hours every week, and commit to writing in my spare time. It really surprised me how fast it came together after that.
The cover was a bit of a challenge in itself. Another friend of mine is police officer who also happens to be a really good graphic artist. I explained to him I wrote a training book on how to do chaplaincy and he agreed to help with getting a cover that would pop. We vetted several cover ideas. When he showed me the “simple” photograph of his gun, badge, and the cross, I knew immediately that was the cover.
My advice to other aspiring writers is to write on a subject you know a lot about, you are very interested in, and you enjoy writing about. That is probably the key for anyone who wants to write a book but doesn’t know where to start. Start with something you love. Then commit to writing at least a few hours every week.
You can find out more about Chaplain Terry Morgan and all he has to offer the community and Law Enforcement at http://chaplainmorgan.wix.com/chaplainsrole. You can also find his books there as well as in bookstores.
By Robert Duvall
Most of us have had second chances. In relationships, friendships, jobs and the list goes on. I have had so many second chances that I really can’t remember them all. But I do remember all the details of the most significant second chances of my life. First was when my wife forgave me for being unfaithful in our marriage. Second was the grace, mercy and the miracle of healing that God gave me.
For most of my life I have been blessed with good health. When you’re young you really don’t think about stuff like good health. You think more about material items you have acquired, status at work and so on. Working in Emergency Services for 20+ years was really hard on my body.
It all caught up to me in July of 2008. I was working 24 hours shifts, same as Firefighters, as a Deputy Coroner. On my shifts, it seemed that I never got any real sleep and was up most of the 24 hour shift. I was also supervising a county-wide DUI grant on my days off. My wife will tell you that I was working every day, and she was right.
I had a busy 24 hour shift and when I got home at 11 am and I didn’t feel well. I should have gone to bed then but I was restless and had some chest pain and sweating. I blew it off and told Rebecca that I was fine. I was up the entire night and when she woke up the next morning she told me I looked awful. She called the hospital and gave them my symptoms. She was told to take me to the hospital right away. I knew she was right. I went even though I argued with her the entire 30 minute drive. When we got into an exam room and the tests came back, I was told I had had a heart attack.
I was in the hospital less than a week and back to full duty in 30 days. About a month later I was at home reading my son a bedtime story when all of a sudden my heart start racing. I began to sweat uncontrollably and couldn’t catch my breath. I called 911 and when the Paramedics arrived and got me hooked up to the heart monitor, the medic said,”Oh SH**.” I was rushed to the hospital, lights and sirens. My heart was going over 260 beats a minute. I spent another couple of days in a hospital.
It was during these events that the doctors told me I had become diabetic, had extremely high blood pressure and there were signs of damage to my kidneys. Over the next 2 years I would suffer near fatal Pancreatitis, have a stroke and eventually go into complete kidney failure. I had to medically retire from a career I loved. By the end of 2011 I started dialysis and literally had to live one day at a time. I opened my heart to God and came to grips with the possibility that my life was coming to an end. God told me that he had more work for me to do on earth, not as a cop, something else.
In June of 2012 I had open heart surgery. We then found out that my wife was a perfect match for a kidney transplant and in October of 2012, we both went into surgery. She gave me a kidney, saving my life. It was through the grace of God that I had all these second chances. I now serve as a Law Enforcement Chaplain for several Law Enforcement agencies and I know that God saved me so that I could serve others. God is GREAT!!!!
My Prayer for us today ~ Lord I thank you for loving us unconditionally. I pray we see the good in each day that can only come from You, Amen.
If someone had described to me what my future would have been like 5 years ago, I would have thought they belonged in a padded room hugging themselves for a long long time. God has done so much for me, with me and through me over the past 5 years. I am brought to tears each and every time I think about where I was 5 years ago and how I got to where I am now.
Five years ago my marriage was headed down the path to divorce. The really sad part was neither of us knew it. I thought nothing was wrong with me, but everything was wrong with my husband. I saw myself as a good person, mom and wife. I knew I wasn’t great at any of those things, but thought it was better than how my husband was. I saw my husband as selfish and inconsiderate when it came to the family.
I was always comparing myself to my husband. I didn’t think I had to give my best to the family or marriage because, in my eyes, my husband wasn’t. I thought it was up to me to let him know where he fell short and how he could do better.
Then during a counseling session with Robert we were read Luke 6:41-42:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This verse hit me like a ton a bricks! I felt God was calling me out. He was telling me to stop concerning myself with all the mistakes my husband was making and work on how I could do better. I needed to take a long hard look at myself in the mirror instead of shoving it in my husband’s face all the time.
I had no idea how to change or where to start, so I went to God in prayer. I didn’t know what to ask for. I realized I was a total and complete mess. After hearing the song ‘Open the Eyes of my Heart’, it became my prayer. I told God I wanted to see Him in all His glory and asked Him to open my eyes so I could. This song was played at my Baptism in June 2009. It’s one of my all time favorite songs along with ‘Friend of God’. Those songs truly fill me with great joy, the kind that only comes from God.
Five years ago I was continually irritated with my husband. Today, I see my husband as a gift from God. I am blessed and thankful for the life God has given us together. Last week Robert graduated from the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy in Sacramento as a Law Enforcement Chaplain. Robert is now doing things in God’s way and I am proud to say he is the spiritual leader in our home.
My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for being our creator, provider and friend. I pray you continue to open the eyes of our hearts so we may see and experience You and all Your glory, Amen.
My husband, Robert Duvall, has been a public servant for many years. He was first a Paramedic in Contra Costa County, CA. He then became a Deputy Sheriff for Contra Costa County in 2000. In 2009 he was injured on the job and medically retired in 2011. For a few years, because of his health, he was forced to stay home and take care of himself. His days were filled with many doctor visits, ER visits and many hospital stays. In 2012 he had 2 massive surgeries. In June he had a stint put in his heart along with an oblation done. In October he received a Kidney Transplant. Thanks to the God Almighty he’s now doing well. Not quite 100%, but pretty close!
During Robert’s health trials he felt God tugging at his heart to become a Chaplain. So with the support of our Pastor at church he signed up for Chaplain training as soon as he recovered from his Kidney Transplant. He’s completed his class and put in all the hours and is set to graduate in September. I am so proud of Robert and all the time and energy he has put into this. It’s so exciting to see God working through him.
The Servant page is for Robert to share his stories. He’s experienced many things over the last 25 years. So please check back often to read them.
Please click here or click the Servant tab at the top to read Robert’s first post.