Elders Make a Difference in Our Lives

Since I have been the chaplain at Signature HealthCARE of Pikeville, all that I’ve heard from other people is: “It’s so great how you take care of those poor souls,” as if the people we work with are something other than human beings. What they don’t understand is that these lovely people inspire and help us more than we could ever help them.

We have an elder here that can only move her head, but every time I talk to her and ask how she is, she says, “Blessed.” We have another elder that just turned 92, and he says all the time that he will come back and see us when he goes home, because such good people need to have a visit every now and again.

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Be Content

Hebrews 13: 5 says “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. We have a resident that is the picture of this verse, she can only move her head but she always has a smile on her face and everytime you ask her how she is she says ‘I am blessed.'”

Why is it so hard for us who can do what we want and go where we want to be happy and content? The answer is we are waiting for the next bad thing to happen. We are never looking at the good things God has blessed us with, we are focusing all our energy on the things that we don’t have.

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“Nursing Home” What do those two words mean to you?

When I was growing up, my dad always visited the nursing home. Sometimes I would go with him, and I remember thinking that I hope my kids would never put me in one of those places.

I smelled bad smells, and saw the look on people’s faces like they were crying out for help without saying a word. Now fast forward some 30 years and I am the Chaplain at Signature Healthcare of Pikeville, and my view of nursing homes has changed drastically.

I get the privilege of seeing the love that all the stakeholders have for the residents, and I get the privilege of working for a “Nursing Home” that puts the residents first. Whatever they want to do, if it’s possible, they do. Whatever they want to eat, if it’s possible, they eat. And we make sure that very few things are impossible.

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Purpose for all ages






The Bible tells us that our time is but a vapor, we are here today and gone tomorrow. It’s important that we embrace our mortality, because when we do, it makes us appreciate our lives all the more. It’s not enough just to live, to breathe and to exist; we all are searching for that one reason we are here, our purpose. As our lives progress it’s common for us to think that once we reach a certain age that our life loses its purpose, but that’s simply not true.  For our facility, purpose can be renewed by changing one room.

Our facility recently underwent a massive remodel and one of the new features that was added was a general store. Why would you put a general store in a long term care facility? Well, I’m glad you asked. Part of the mission statement for Signature HealthCARE is to radically change the landscape of long term care forever and one way that we are doing that is through the Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative is simple; essentially it puts the Elder at the fore of every decision that goes into his or her treatment and care. A byproduct of this is that the Elder’s choice, his or her preference, is a priority, as it should be. Why our general store is important is because it constantly provides our Elders with a choice. Simply put, they have the choice to buy a candy bar if they want to, or a pop, or a hand knitted toboggan if they so desired.

This may seem trivial to some but this is more important than most realize. Not only does the general store provide the Elders with a choice but it also allows them to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. We take for granted how readily available things are if we wanted them. If we want a bag of chips or a pop we could stop at any number of gas stations on the way to work to get them, yet in most long term care facilities these are not easily obtained. Our store remedies that.

So how can this one room, this room filled with choice and simple pleasures, how can it renew purpose? Another excellent question. Part of having a store is selling products, maintaining inventory, and handling cash. Who better to do those things than one of our own Elders. When the idea was brought forth there was one name that immediately came to mind, Gary Kidd. With his warm personality, friendly demeanor, and inviting smile we knew that he was a perfect fit.

Unbeknownst to us, it was more than that. It was easy to see that this was something he wanted to do. Eagerly he wakes up every morning and opens the store at shift change so those Stakeholders leaving and those arriving can have a chance to buy his wares. He breaks to smoke and for lunch and then he is right back at it. He tracks every purchase, constantly mindful of what is leaving, what is selling best, what needs to be restocked. His passion for this store is undeniable, and he is thankful for the opportunity to manage it. When asked about what he thought of everything he only had this to say. “I have a reason to get out of bed again. I used to just sit in my room and do nothing all day, but now my life has meaning. Now, I have a purpose.”

What is truly great is that the store’s reach is not limited to just him. Our facility has been blessed with women who are the craftiest I have ever seen. Linda Robinette said, “I want to help. I’m not able to do a lot, but I can make booties, boggins, and scarves!” Other women have jumped on the craft bandwagon and are making everything from doilies to yarn owls. It’s amazing to see the handmade crafts fill the store, but what is even better is to see the positive change it’s having on our Elders.

It’s a wonderful thing to see people excited over the things that are going on here. The best thing is seeing how one little room can have such an impact on our Elders; to see that purpose can in fact, be renewed.

– Matthew Reed, Chaplain

Lesson From A Toothache

“When I was a child I often had a toothache,” wrote C. S. Lewis in his classic book Mere Christianity. He continued, “and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something that would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least not till the pain became very bad. . . . I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. . . .  I wanted immediate relief from pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right.”

Similarly, we might not always want to go to God right away when we have a problem or are struggling in a certain area. We know that He could provide immediate relief from our pain, but He is more concerned with dealing with the root of the problem. We may be afraid that He will reveal issues that we are unprepared or unwilling to deal with.

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What is God’s will for my life

What is God’s will for my life? The question haunted me when I was growing up. What if I couldn’t find it? What if I didn’t recognize it? God’s will seemed like a needle in a haystack. Hidden. Obscured by lookalikes. Outnumbered by counterfeits.

But my view of God’s will was wrong because my view of God was wrong. God takes no pleasure in seeing us lost, wandering, searching. He wants us to know His will. He makes it clear, and He makes it simple. He doesn’t even make it multiple-choice. He gives just two choices: “life and good” or “death and evil” (Deut. 30:15). In case the best choice isn’t obvious, He even says which one to choose: “Choose life” (v.19). To choose life is to choose God Himself and obey His Word.

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The fruit of righteousness

“The Silent Pen”


The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18


Former US President Harry Truman had a rule: Any letters written in anger had to sit on his desk for 24 hours before they could be mailed. If at the end of that “cooling off” period, he still felt the same sentiments, he would send the letter. By the end of his life, Truman’s unmailed letters filled a large desk drawer.


How often in this age of immediate communication would even 24 minutes of wise restraint spare us embarrassment! In his epistle, James addressed a universal theme in human history when he wrote about the damage an uncontrolled tongue can bring. “No man can tame the tongue,” he wrote. “It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8).

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“Bolster Your Faith”

“Bolster Your Faith”

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28


The disciples boarded the boat and headed for the other side of the lake, believing they would make it with no problems. But when the storm began to rage, their doubt was then revealed. It was at this point that Jesus had to rebuke the disciples for their unbelief and remind them that no matter how bad it got out there, He was with them.


When our family members are well, our finances are in order, and our health is intact, we believe we can make it through anything with unfaltering faith. But then we get an unexpected diagnosis, a pay cut, or the news that one of our children has strayed, and suddenly we begin to question just how much we truly rely upon the Lord and trust in His sovereignty and provision.

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In the Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, author Luo Guanzhong describes the “Empty Fort Strategy,” a use of reverse psychology to deceive the enemy. When 150,000 troops from the Wei Kingdom reached Xicheng, which had less than 2,500 soldiers, they found the city gate wide open and the famous military tactician Zhuge Liang calmly playing the zither with two children beside him. The Wei general, baffled by the scene and believing it was an ambush, ordered a full retreat.

The Bible offers another example of a bewildering battle strategy. In Judges 7, God had Gideon use 300 men, horns, jars, and blazing torches against armies that were “as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number” (v.12).

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