Well, she did it, and I never had any doubts. Today, Deb completed her one-year Residency with the Houston Methodist Hospital system. The requirements for a professional National Board Certification of a Hospital Chaplain are more complicated than one might realize. For Deb, she needed a Master of Divinity, a massive degree in the neighborhood of 80 credit hours. Following that completion, there is the required thumbs up from an endorsement agency, which generally requires a chaplaincy ordination from a local congregation or denomination. Then there is the residency program, which includes regular and on-call hours in the hospital and credited hours of “Clinical Pastoral Education.” Finally, after all of this, Deb will undergo the National Board Certification examination in February, which I know will be a stroll in the park for her.

The role of a hospital chaplain is more than praying for and with patients. It is discovering where a person is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and helping them walk through their internal and external healing process. The position also cares for the hospital’s doctors, nurses, and other staff personnel. Much of it is purposefully being some very direct “salt and light” in a place of pain looking for healing.

While Deb graduated with a degree in Elementary Education in 1994 and taught for several years in the Public School system, she always felt something moving deep within her soul. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that she hated her position. To the contrary. She did a fantastic job and considered her work more of a ministry. This Holy restlessness came closer to the surface when she took our daughters to a college experience weekend when they were in High School. She had a solid career in teaching, but that trip drew her back to wondering what God was doing and if God might be prodding her to do something new. We prayed. And, yep, we prayed some more. Then, after we took a few days off-grid near Lake Travis, we pulled the trigger on the monumental adventure of change. Here we are today, and it is clear that Deb was made for this. I can see this, and many others who have studied and worked with her see the same reality.

The beautiful thing about Deb’s story is that it illustrates the fascinating drama God has placed every one of us in. We are all created in God’s image and have equal value. Because of this, we have also all been called firstly to a relationship with our creator, found in Jesus Christ, and to do something beautiful with our lives that will glorify God and bless others.

All these pieces are different. There are areas where we are stronger than others. We all have spaces of deficiencies and realms of prime competence. We need each other, though. Deb will be the first to tell you she does not have the same eye or skill for interior design as Joanna Gains. But arranging color schemes and countertop backsplash is not central in people’s hearts and minds when their loved ones are in ICU. They need someone like Deb to meet them where they are and help them move forward. Joanna can be friendly, but people in pain could sure use a professionally trained chaplain.

Fellow Resident, Teresa Grattic. Chaplain Supervisor and Methodist Hospital – Willowbrook Director, Albert Kemp. Chaplain Educator, Janise Randall. Debi.

Not only do we have the opportunity to produce something with our lives, but we are also expected to do so. We see this principle in the parable of the talents. It’s not what you have but what you’re doing with what you have that counts. Sure, stepping out of your comfort zone can be very frightening. It can be costly on many fronts. But sometimes, staying where you are when Jesus calls you out of the boat can be even more expensive in the long run. But that’s the call of faith before us in so many ways.

So, for Deb, as the British Say, “Good Show!” For those living in the NW Houston area, if you end up in the Memorial Hermon Hospital System, where Deb is beginning her new vocation, ask for Chaplain Debi Hinton or THE Debster, as I like to call her. For all of us, praise God for making his wonderful creation in you, and consider how you might step out in faith today to also make something creative for his glory.

PS – If anyone wants to send her a restaurant gift card regarding her graduation – remember that I like steak and bacon double cheeseburgers. For Deb? Chicken Quesadillas will do nicely just about every time!



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