Life’s Love Notes

….I wanted to be sure I was not running, and had not been running, my race in vain. Galatians 2:2

Did you know that commercials actually have names? You may be familiar with the Humana commercial portraying an older gentleman waking up at 6 AM to go on a run. His run through the neighborhood seems to have no rhyme or reason. He changes his path abruptly, making sudden turns, squeezing through gates, running through alleys, up a rocky slope. At one point he is almost run down by a dump truck! We can hear Ray Charles’s Love Notes playing as he runs. Finally, he makes it home. He takes off his smartwatch and downloads his activity tracker to a printer. He gives the piece of paper to his wife and we see the pattern of a heart imposed over a map. His wife adds it to a cork board of other maps with other love notes produced with the same seemingly haphazard pattern of running.

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Doing All Things With Excellence

And whatsoever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men Colossians 3:23

It is easy to fall into frustration when we observe the half-hearted habits of others that seem to go unnoticed or unchecked. As much as you try to perform at a high level, a spirit comes in that nags us with the question, why am I trying to raise my standard when others seem to be satisfied with doing just enough. But the scripture reminds us that looking horizontally at man’s habits will deflate us while lifting our eyes to the heavenly throne will cause us to run the race with patience and a mind toward mastery.

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We Must Learn To Disagree Well

Acts 15:36-41
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company…
Earlier in this chapter of Acts Paul and Barnabas are a power packed theological and ecclesial debate team. They knew how to combine their efforts to counter the arguments of “certain people from Judea”. By the end, it seems that Paul and Barnabas could not “disagree without becoming disagreeable.” Their “sharp disagreement” divided a great team and likely caused division among the believers as well. Nothing helpful or edifying could have come from this!
At one time or another we may find ourselves in some type of disagreement. Unfortunately, not everyone has the skills to disagree well. Yes, we can consider the ability to disagree well a professional skill in today’s workplace. Paul Graham has created a Disagreement Hierarchy ( Rated from 0-6, this hierarchy examines ways of expressing disagreement from the least to the most effective. It’s worth a look!
Mainly we fail at disagreement when we attack the individual who presented the idea. We fail when we attack the way an idea was presented (I understand we may get distracted from the merits of what is proposed because the way the idea was presented wasn’t very palatable). We also fail at disagreement when we fail to counter a proposal with strong reasoning that focuses on the central point of the argument.
Most importantly we fail to set an example of mature discipleship, not to mention strong leadership, when we lose focus on what is proposed and make the person our target. It is the content, the problem being addressed, the strategies, and the solutions being proposed, not the tone or the person, that should always be the focus. There may be a time and a place to address how the information was presented, but if we are truly focused on solutions and we keep “the main thing, the main thing” we will find ourselves becoming more efficient and effective servant leaders.
We need not leave a discussion with, “we will simply have to agree to disagree”. As Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Unskilled disagreement that continues to go unchecked AND unforgiven can build resentment and bitterness whether at home, among friends, or among stakeholders.
Dr. Chris Wyckoff, Chaplain
Signature HealthCARE, Chapel Hill

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I’m Finally Here!


Hello! I’m Rev. Chris Wyckoff. It’s okay to call me Chaplain Chris. It is my privilege to serve as chaplain at Signature Healthcare, Chapel Hill. Besides getting to know my new position, prioritizing my responsibilities, and responding to the unknown and unforeseen events that come up daily, I have been trying to figure out just how to make a post to this page. Figuring this out has been quite a journey. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. I’m learning to deal with not having control over something that I do have control over in other environments. But isn’t that much like our lives? Our journey takes us to different places, and different places require that we change our ways of being and knowing and doing.

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Man Lives Behind Mask for Years

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true – not just for one man, but for all mankind. We live our lives behind masks, behind false facades that we have constructed for ourselves to hide our true identities. We sometimes have several different masks throughout a single day, making ourselves look like someone else to please someone else’s expectations.

Sometimes we wear the “life is all good – see my smile?” mask to hide the pain we are going through. Sometimes we wear the “I never struggle with sin and temptation” mask to hide the fact that we are just as vulnerable and messed up as the next guy or gal. We think it’s working, even though nobody is really buying it.

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Get a Grip on This


TODAY. We only have today. Therefore, we must not miss out on today’s opportunities. We cannot go back and change yesterday. Tomorrow is not in our grasp. But today we can choose to respond to each moment of life as it unfolds before us. We can’t control or even predict what challenges, surprises, pains, or joys will emerge during this day, however, in each of life’s twists and turns we can make the most of every situation.

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Visiting a Loved One with Dementia


chapel brian morph

Many of us have an uneasy feeling about visiting our family or friends in a nursing home, especially if they are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This initial discomfort usually stems from the fear that we will not know what to say or do in these situations. The good news is that it doesn’t take any special abilities to have a pleasant visit with those who are experiencing memory loss or confusion due to dementia. They are just like you and me in most respects–they love to have someone to talk to, they appreciate someone who will listen, they express their ideas and feelings in many ways beyond words, and they long to be loved and appreciated. Just like us, they enjoy a tasty snack, they sway with their favorite music, and they care deeply for friends and relatives. I hope you’ll join me in overcoming our apprehensions and spend some quality time with those we love. Click HERE for more on how to relate to those with dementia, whether you are a friend, a family member, or a visiting pastor.

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A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

For many years, Reader’s Digest magazine has published a monthly article called “Laughter the Best Medicine.” But Reader’s Digest didn’t originate the idea. It was written in the Bible thousands of years ago. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” The Proverbs are wise sayings written by wise men such as King Solomon of Israel, inspired by God Himself. God has made us in such a way that joy and humor are meant to be vital parts of our lives.

The connection between our emotional health and physical health is undeniable. Those who are have a joyful and positive outlook are far more likely to have better physical health. It’s not a guarantee that the joyful will never get sick, but their ability to recover and cope with illness is greatly enhanced. Conversely, those who rarely laugh or spend long periods of time in overly serious states have less of an ability to handle the stress of illness and disease. Those with long term depression–what the Bible calls “a broken spirit”–often have physically declining health that parallels their emotional illness.

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Confessions of a Thrift Shop Junkie

OK, I admit it. I love a good thrift store! I’ve had this bug since I was a college student when I first discovered the world of savings and fun that a thrift store can provide. My first trip, I went with a friend to the local thrift shop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I found jeans and sweatshirts for about a buck each and even found some comfortable chairs for my dorm room for ten bucks. Soon, all my friends were visiting the thrift store and reveling in the great deals.

A few years later, after I was out of school and working as a collegiate chaplain, I found one of my all-time favorite thrift stores. I took a bunch of students to Chicago to work with the homeless in the downtown area. One of the men we were working with told us about a thrift store just a few blocks from the soup kitchen ministry where we were staying. This unique thrift store was about as big as a typical Walmart and had even better deals than most! At least half of the clothes were brand new with tags still attached, yet they only cost between 50 cents and a dollar. Winter boots, gloves, coats, they had them all! Sporting goods, tape decks (keep in mind this was the early 80s), dishes–you name it, they had it! It was such a neat experience.

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Problem or Blessing?

CH prayer or blessing

Having very few clothes in the closet could be a problem or a blessing, depending on your point of view. If you’re like me, you may have accumulated a large collection of clothes over the past few years, many of which never get used. Maybe they no longer fit, or maybe they are no longer in my favorites category–either way, they tend to just take up space. When I was young I had very few things for a few years and so I developed a “hold on to it forever” mindset. This was later reinforced by my stepfather who lived through the depression era where almost everything was saved or reused in some way. But now those habits of saving everything have cluttered my space to the point where I can hardly function. It’s time to clean out and do some serious simplifying. I only really need a few shirts, a few pants, and a few pairs of shoes. When all the old or unused items are cleared out and either thrown out or donated to the thrift store, I know it will be a blessing in more ways than one. I will have more space and a better organized closet. I will have less stress and less laundry to do. I’ll have more appreciation for the things that I keep. Others will be blessed with the items that get donated to the thrift store.

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