Author Archives: Stephen Bowling

Bonanza Ministry

The following is a great God Story submitted by Neal Myers, Chaplain of our Bluegrass location.

Thank God I am me because I sure could not be anybody else. If something normal happened to me I would be in shock !!!

I was assisting with a funeral for a resident who died yesterday evening. My role was praying and playing the theme music from Bonanza and then relating how it was through watching reruns of that great shown that he ( Ed ) was able to make the connection between hope in Christ, accepting that he could no longer ride a horse, and the joy he received because he felt that God sent him Bonanza reruns to watch every day at 3 PM.

Ed saw this as a reminder to him from God himself that God indeed knew his pain and sense of loss. I would see Ed about once a week around the time the show ended and he would always say , “Ain’t God GREAT!”

I guess this is a God Event for sure.

Neal Myers, Chaplain
Bluegrass Care and Rehab

The Salute

In honor of this Veteran’s Day, the following comes to us from Chaplain Eddie Santana at our Homestead, FL facility.

It never ceases to amaze me how God continues to speak and teach us through the humble and innocent mouths of children.

This past week I was asked to give a tour of our facility to a family who was contemplating having their grandmother come to live with us here. As I walked them through our halls, I showed and explained to this mother and her eight year old daughter what we had to offer and the services that we could provide.

We happened to pass by one of our long-term residents who was sitting in his wheelchair looking out of the windows in the hallway and enjoying the view of two pigeons which were at the bird feeder. The little girl looked over at him and she noticed that he was wearing a U.S. Air Force cap.

She asked me “Chaplain, is this man from the Air Force?” I answered her, “Yes, he is actually one of the last living Air Force pilots from the Vietnam War living here in Homestead.” Her face became quickly animated and she immediately asked me to introduce her to him, which I happily did.

The resident was so pleased to see the young girl and how excited she was when she extended her hand to him. The resident smiled and said “What a beautiful little girl! Thank you for coming by to say hello.”

At that moment the young girl stood straight up at attention and with a firm right hand raised it to the right side of her head she saluted the resident and said, “No sir, thank you for serving our country!”

My jaw dropped when I saw this child proudly recognize this man and the service he had given to our country. The resident’s eyes filled with tears and he simply sat up straight in his wheelchair and returned her salute, thanking the girl for her kind words.

It was then that the little girl’s mom turned to me, and with tears in her eyes she told me that the little girl’s dad had died in Iraq.

I was moved beyond words.

It’s Only Logical . . .

The following is from Chaplain Fred Jeans from Sebring, FL:

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it logically follow that:

Electricians can be delighted?
Musicians denoted?
Cowboys deranged?
Models deposed?
Tree surgeons debarked?
And dry cleaners depressed?
If you are thrown out of bed, why aren’t you debunked?
Why aren’t wrinkled trousers decreased?
Drinking and driving is illegal, so why do bars have parking lots?
If you are a band leader in your spare time, are you a semi‑conductor?
Electricity comes from electrons, so why doesn’t morality come from morons?

These are funny, and like it or not, they are not totally illogical. Life on the other hand, is sometimes not funny and often very illogical. It is not always reasonable. As a matter of fact, frequently, it seems to make no sense at all.

I worked for eleven years in a steel mill and I remember standing on the docks looking at the barges tied up waiting to unload their ore and coal. Looking at those heaps of red and black stuff, it was hard to imagine that they would one day form the base material for the cars that we drive. From that vantage point, all I could do was believe what my eyes could not see. Those barges were full of steel, not yet realized.

Life is a lot like that and, in spite of the saying to the contrary, what we see is not necessarily what we get. Scripture says that we are led by faith and not by sight. However believing for healing is not easy when you hurt so bad you want to die. Believing the sun will shine again is not easy when you are in the middle of a storm. Believing there is a better tomorrow is next to impossible when the roof is caving in.

If we who enjoy good health, and who have homes and families, find these times difficult, how much more difficult is it for our residents who might never see a better day? Who hurt in ways that we can’t imagine? Whose lives are as good as they will ever get?

There have been times in my life when I simply didn’t have the faith to continue, and to be quite honest, when I didn’t want to. They were times when like the ore in the barges, it was nearly impossible to see that something good could come of all that. It was in those times when friends and family came along side to help me carry the load; times when I relied on their faith and rested in their strength when mine had failed me.

Logic sometimes predicts a bad tomorrow or none at all to our residents. Their faith  needs our faith. Their strength needs our strength. They need to be carried. They need help to believe for a better tomorrow, in this life and the next.

Scripture tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Have you always believed that? Have circumstances ever made that seem illogical? Multiply that feeling times a hundred. That is what some of our residents feel. I believe that we are here in this place, to help carry those who can no longer help themselves. Where there seems no solution, our faith holds the answer. Where logic dictates nothing but darkness, faith always sees the sunlight. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Fredric E. Jeans, Chaplain,
Kenilworth Care & Rehabilitation Center

Focus

The following was written by Chaplain Don Walker of Gainesville, FL.

Focus – I don’t like the word…never liked the word.

The reason is…I can’t focus.

Maybe it was to much TV as a kid or maybe it was my school teachers continually telling or yelling at me to look at the blackboard and not out the window. I love golf but have a hard time keeping my eye on the ball. The bug crawling behind the ball is more interesting.

What’s our focus as Chaplains? Well we have monthly reports, goals to meet, and people to see all day long. We focus on care and encouragement for the residents.  We have skills to help others cope and endure their stay with us at Signature HealthCare. We use religious terms and pray with both residents and stakeholders. Our focus can be on everything and everyone around us because we are Chaplains, we bring hope and love to every situation but is our focus on what we bring to the situation or on what God brings to every circumstance?

On one occasion a blind man called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord I want to see,” he replied. Luke 18:41 (NIV)

How often do we limit what God wants to do in a situation because our focus is on us and what we bring with our presence. At church a couple nights ago, my priest, who had just returned from China and India, was discussing healing and the miracles of healing he was a part of over the past several weeks. He said as he prayed for people his focus wasn’t primarily on the person he was praying for, but on the love of Christ and what God was doing at that moment.

Is our focus as chaplains on what we bring to a situation or is it on God and what He wants to do?

Chaplain Don Walker,
Signature HealthCARE of Gainesville

The Signature Prayer

The following is a special devotion sent to us from Ronnie Case, Chaplain of our Rivermont facility in south Pittsburg, TN.

It is a prayer for our company based upon the Jabez Prayer and is indeed very powerful.

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” – 1st Chron: 4:10 (Jabez Prayer)

When I read this prayer, I feel that it is a wonderful model prayer for SignatureHealthCARE. Notice the significance of this prayer and it’s relation to our great company.

Signature’s Prayer

“Dear God” – We pray multiple times hourly to the same God that Jabez prayed to.

  • “Bless me” – request –  We prayer for blessings upon the company and each of it’s facilities , with calm assurance and a positive approach – “Indeed”
  • “Enlarge my coast” – We pray for increased census daily  – (Remember the 5 bed prayer)
  • “Put your hand upon me” – We believe that with His hand on us we can  accomplish our vision and mission set forth.
  • “Keep me from evil” – Our daily prayer is for God to place a wall of protection around our facilities and each resident.
  • “That it may not grieve me” – This is accepting God’s wonderful peace.

…And God granted his request – Faith that the God of Jabez and Israel will bless us in the same manner.

“Thank you Lord for the multiplied blessings that we have received, and those in which we are expecting in future days”

Ronnie Case – Director of Spirituality,
The Bridge at So.Pittsburg, TN

Running Off Ahead of God

The following post is from Chaplain Fred Jeans from Sebring, FL.

In my youth, I was an avid hunter. I hunted mostly small game like rabbit, grouse, or pheasant. I always had good hunting dogs, and actually enjoyed watching the dogs work more than I did shooting game. During the off season, I would take my dogs out and turn them loose, climb to a high point and watch them as they worked. One summer my female beagle gave birth to a litter of pups and I decided to keep one little male. With opening season about six months away, and this little fellow only a couple of months old, I set to work training him.

Beagles are a prime example of the innate abilities that many of God’s creatures possess. They instinctively hunt, and with very little work, they soon trail all sorts of game. It is possible to discern what they are sniffing by observing their movements and expressions. For example, I could watch them as they sniffed a trail and could tell by their body language, what scent they had picked up. I could tell by the sound of their bark how close they were to their quarry. The different ways they wagged their tails told me if they had found a bird or a rabbit.

I trained Dondi, my pup, with his mother Dutchess, by carrying him and holding him until we jumped a rabbit. When this happened, Dutchess would take off after the rabbit, yelping for all she was worth. When Dondi saw this, he went bonkers, yelping and struggling to get out of my arms. When I put him down, he took off as hard as he could go after his mother and quickly lost her.

He barked and bounced around until I picked him up to wait for his mother to bring the rabbit back around. Rabbits always run in circles and usually return to the place they were first jumped.  Dondi nervously waited in my arms attentively listening for Dutchess’ yelp. It wasn’t long before he learned that if he overran the trail, he could stop and listen. When he heard Dutchess yelping in the distance, he would run helter skelter in that direction to join her, only to lose her as quickly as he had found her. Sometimes he was so excited to find the trail, that he ran headlong into her and caused her to briefly lose the trail.

If I yelled “There he goes,” my dogs knew I had jumped something and came running to me to pick up the scent. When I yelled hunt em up, they looked to me to see which direction I was pointing. Dondi learned what I wanted by following his mother’s actions. I truly enjoyed watching this clumsy, floppy eared little dog, mature into one of the best dogs I ever had.

In the Bible, when Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you,” he referred to the yoke used to train young oxen. This yoke was not attached to the plow but to the older oxen’s yoke. The first few times the master gave the command to turn right, the little guy, not understanding, would be yanked or pushed in that direction by the mature ox. In like manner he learned how to go left, stop or go. His job was to walk with the lead ox and learn. Until he learned the commands, he got bounced around a little, but when all was said and done, he was not harmed and did no work. All he did was walk and learn to understand and obey the master. The field was plowed. The crops were planted, all without the help of the young ox, who at first was often more of a hindrance than a help.

Many times in my life I have acted like Dondi. I tried so hard to serve God with my innate abilities, that I took off running ahead of Him – without Him – , only to lose sight of the path before me. I had successes and I experienced failures. Many times I felt like the young ox, getting bounced around when I did not move in accord with the Master’s voice. It was not until the chaffing of my neck reached an unbearable point that I realized that my job was simply to walk with God, and let Him do the work. God didn’t want me to do His work. He wanted me to walk with Him and let Him work through me. A little old lady who had served God most of her life once said, “I used to work for God. Then I worked with God. And finally I figured it out. I got out of the way and let God work.”

With God, all things are possible.

Fredric E. Jeans, Chaplain,
Kenilworth Care & Rehabilitation Center

The Age-Old Tension Revisited

We want to welcome as a guest poster for today, SHC’s own Director of Media Relations, Ben Adkins. While Ben is not a chaplain nor even a member of the Spirituality Department, he has graciously agreed to bring his wonderful spiritual wisdom and thoughts to us on the age-old tension between practicality and spirituality.

The world is filled with false dichotomies.

Life demands that we make choices each day, but our options often appear as either/or propositions, and unfairly so. Case in point: practicality versus spirituality.

Yes, we often ascribe mythical or otherworldly qualities to spirituality, and many forms of spiritual practice call on us to suspend disbelief in that which we cannot necessarily see or prove in a worldly sense. But there are also very practical applications to be made in the teachings of these religions, as well as in the way we mentally process, frame, contextualize and “use” faith and spirituality in day-to-day life.

I recently read “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching,’ by Thich Nhat Hanh, which outlines the principles and teachings of Buddhism. (Thich Nhat Hanh is a renowned Buddhist monk who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.)

As someone who knows very little about Buddhist beliefs and practices, I was struck by their relevance to daily living – basic principles, such as how to calm our anxieties and treat others well.

Meanwhile, author Timothy Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, uses his bestselling “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” to apply logic and reason to common arguments against certain Biblical principles and precepts. He compellingly shows the inverse of those arguments, and how, if you apply logic and reason even-handedly, those arguments don’t necessarily hold up.

While drastically different, these two books, I think, still intersect at a singular point: pragmatists should not feel at odds with religion or spirituality, nor should they feel that there isn’t a place for intellectualism in spirituality.

These two books effectively argue otherwise and are thus highly recommended.

“Clif’s Notes” on Psalm 100

The following is an edition of what we love to call our “Clif’s Notes” series of thoughts and meditations from Chaplain Clif Smith at our Bay St. Joe FL facility.

PSALM 100

V1       “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”

“All the earth” includes me. Fixed in my chair with wheels my mouth just doesn’t throw out the words like it used to. I think. I reason. I remember. I would love to open my mouth and allow my mind to put into words what I am feeling, but it’s not happening. Now I am frustrated. But wait; now I remember that the Bible records that God “…knows the THOUGHTS of man…” Psalm94:11.

God, I remember now that you are listening to my thoughts and I am shouting “…for joy…” to you.

V2       “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

God, I am thinking of a hymn I used to sing out loud in church, but right now I’m not going to give in to self pity because I am learning that kind of thinking is not good for me. It makes me sad to think too much on my problems and the changes in my life. I’m going to “Shout” and “Worship” you in my heart  because…

V3 I “know that the LORD is God…he…made us…we are his…”.

Yes, I am not going to go down into the dumps of depression. Instead, I am going to…

V4       “Enter his gates with THANKSGIVING and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Why am I going to choose not to give-in to things that discourage me?

V5       “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through ALL generations.”

ALL” generations means MY present generation…my time in history…during these days of difficult and challenging circumstances that I face I will remember this:

My mouth may no longer throw out the words like it used to, but God…”knows the THOUGHTS of man…” and he has reminded me of that today so I can “Shout for joy to the LORD…worship…the LORD…come before him…enter his gates…his courts…”.

Prayer: Thank you, God for this brief but meaningful Psalm and this month of THANKSGIVING. Thank you for knowing my thoughts and reminding me that even in my silence I can return some thanks to you from a heart that loves you.

Chaplain Clif Smith,
The Bridge at Bay St Joe

Near Disaster

The following comes from Chaplain Fred Jeans from our Kenilworth Facility in Sebring, FL.

When my children were small, my wife and I lived in a rural subdivision situated on a large square cornered circle. The road coming into the subdivision was flat for about a half mile.  Then it came to a quarter mile down slope before entering the actual subdivision. It continued for another quarter of a mile, made three right turns and came back up onto the main road. Our house was the first house at the top of the hill and commanded a view of the entire circle. Traffic usually came in and out slowly on the same road and was always very light. Consequently, the children in the subdivision were pretty safe. They rode bicycles played in the street, and generally did not need to worry about getting hit by a car.

On a nice fall day, however, when the kids were out playing and I was working in the yard, I heard a car speeding across the flat coming into the subdivision. My son and another boy were standing on the left side of the road with their bicycles, approximately fifty yards past the first right turn at the bottom of the circle. When I looked toward the sound of the speeding car, I saw a Buick barreling down the hill at a speed far too fast to negotiate the 90 degree turn at the bottom of the hill. I yelled at my son but he was too far away to hear. When my wife heard me yell, she ran out of the front door and stood by me, helplessly watching as the Buick slammed on its brakes and careened around the bend, on two wheels heading straight for the two boys. The car continued on two wheels, passing within inches of the boys and then bounced down hard onto all four wheels and skidded to a stop.

As I watched, my fear turned to rage at the utter stupidity of the driver who had very nearly killed my son. I quickly backed my car out of the drive and blocked the road where the Buick had to exit. I could see two young men in the front seat as it slowly came to a halt in front of me. I was trembling with anger as I grasped the sill of the now open window and leaned down to where I could see the face of the driver. I spoke through clenched teeth as I said, “Just keep quiet. Do not say a word.”

“I didn’t know this circle was here,” he started to say, when I interrupted him. I know my voice was quivering as I told him, “If you know what’s good for you, you’d better shut up.”

I fought for control as I asked him, “If you didn’t know this circle was here, why the heck were you going so fast?” Before he could answer, I literally shouted at him, “You darned near killed my son! Do you realize that, you jackass?”

He started to respond when I said again, “Shut up. Just shut up.” By this time I suspect my fingernails were digging holes in the upholstery inside the car window. I was really struggling with a father’s desire to pull the man through the window and pound him to a pulp. It took every ounce of strength I had to release my grip on the window, and step away from the car. “Now I’m going to remove my car. You get your butt out of here and don’t ever let me see you or this car again, because if I do, I will not be responsible for what happens to you or the car. Understand?” If I hadn’t been so angry, I would have laughed at how slowly that Buick left the subdivision.

There was no doubt about the disaster that nearly happened that day, and I am convinced that angels had steered that car around a ninety degree turn, balanced it on two wheels, and kept it from hitting the boys or rolling over on them, all of which, at the speed that car was traveling, was impossible.

But it wasn’t  just the car that God kept under control – it was also me.

As I relive the emotions of that day, I can sense a hand on my shoulder, and a calming force on my mind that helped me to avoid compounding an already bad situation. I shudder at what might have happened, had God not intervened.  Without God, life after that, would never have been the same.

I can recall many times in my life where God’s hand was evident and yet went unnoticed; times when my family’s lives were in His hands, even though I thought they were in mine. I recall once when my oldest daughter decided to run away from home. She packed her dolls in her suitcase and went out the front door. When she came to the edge of the yard, she stooped down behind the hedges and stayed for a long time. She later told us that she stopped there because she was not allowed to leave the yard. Through all of this, my wife watched from the doorway to make sure she was OK.

That’s the way it is with God. His angels do in fact watch over His children. And just as my wife standing in the doorway watching over my daughter, went unnoticed by my daughter, we may not always be aware of God’s presence, but He is always there.

“In all you ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Fredric E. Jeans, Chaplain,
Kenilworth Care & Rehabilitation Center