Spiritual Care of Veterans

May 28, 2016

Memorial DayOn Memorial Day we remember our fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. As nurses, what can we do to care for veterans who need ongoing physical, emotional and spiritual care today?

Over a million veterans seek mental healthcare through the Veterans Administration (VHA) every year. Many voice challenges to their spiritual beliefs, especially after deployment. Research supports that integrating spiritual care into mental health interventions improves the ability of veterans to cope.

Mental health practitioners are key to incorporating spirituality into the mental healthcare of veterans, as well as collaborating with VHA chaplains. They are in prime positions to address spiritual needs, such as the need for hope, love and belonging, forgiveness, life purpose and meaning.

“Through spiritual care, mental health practitioners have the opportunity to remind veterans of the omnipotent God, who is the protector and rescuer,” writes Stephanie T. Wynn in her article, “After the Trenches: Spiritual Care of Veterans,” from Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct-Dec 2015.

“During the battle, God is always with us. God wants to be our liberator, whether we are in or out of the trenches,” Stephanie adds. “And he wants to use healthcare providers to spiritually assist those caught in the trenches to rediscover meaning and purpose in life.”

As we remember those in the military who have died, let us care holistically for those who are living.

Read more of Stephanie Wynn’s article in JCN.

After the Trenches: Spiritual Care of Veterans

This article in Journal of Christian Nursing was recently honored with a GOLD Award for Best Opening Page or Spread: Photo, presented by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE).

Childlike Prayers

May 16, 2016

5162016lewisprayerChildren can be so refreshing, open and honest! In Children’s Letters to God, a collection of children’s prayers reveals their beliefs, desires, questions, and doubts. And despite the misspelled words and grammatical mistakes, they all express hope and trust. In just a few words, one boy let God know about his feelings and what he wanted…

Dear God, I wrote you before do you remeber? Well I did what I promised. But you did not send me the horse yet. What about it?  Lewis

Lewis prayed in faith, believing and trusting that God heard his prayer. Matthew 21:22 tells us, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” We are to pray in faith, even though God’s answer may not be exactly what we asked for!

And like Lewis’ prayer, our prayers do not need correct spelling and grammar. In fact, we do not even have to express our prayers with clarity. Sometimes we can’t even find the words to express our heartfelt needs to the Lord. But we can trust that God knows what we need, what is best for us, and he just wants us to come to him.

And when we come, we can know that the Holy Spirit speaks to God for us, constantly interceding for us. And if that were not enough, we have an intercessor in heaven—Jesus!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

Because God knows our hearts, he knows what is best for us. But he also wants us to come to him with a pure heart. When we first acknowledge that we need Jesus’ saving grace, and we trust in his death and resurrection as payment for our sin, Christ declares that we are righteous and eternally saved.

However, in our humanness, we STILL SIN, and this sin interferes with our fellowship with Christ. We need to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, confess them to God and perhaps to others, if we want to enjoy intimacy with Christ.

Personal holiness is a condition of prayer throughout the Bible. James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). The apostle John wrote that we receive from God anything we ask because “we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:22). And, thankfully, the psalmist reminds us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

God will hear and respond to our prayers of praise and petition when we ASK in Christ’s name, ASK in abiding faith, ASK in the Spirit, and ASK from a pure heart!

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

Bioethics and Nursing

May 12, 2016

682015cbhdWhere can nurses and students go to get help in understanding the questions and answers that surround challenging healthcare issues?

We need help to explore pressing contemporary bioethical issues and to see how a biblical, theological view compares with other influential perspectives.

It’s important for us to develop a biblical view of reproductive technologies, stem cell research, genetics, human enhancement, end-of-life issues, and more.

Nurses and students must be equipped with knowledge and strategies to engage with these issues. NCF partners with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (CBHD) at their annual summer conference, held at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. At the conference, nurses, physicians, other healthcare professionals, ethicists, theologians, and scientists engage with pressing bioethical issues.

InterVarsity alumnus John Kilner, author of Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, directs the graduate degree programs in bioethics at Trinity International University. TIU’s Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity offers valuable resources and other educational opportunities for nurses to invest more deeply in the study of bioethics.

To connect to a host of free bioethics resources, check out the latest issue of TIU’s Bioethics Brief e-letter.

Our hope is that students and nurses will take advantage of these resources and opportunities when encountering the challenging bioethical issues in today’s healthcare arena.

~by Jane Hall, RN, MS
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship

How to Intervene in Depression

April 29, 2016

4262016jcnTwo close friends of my children committed suicide in the last five years, teenagers who came to my home and hung out. Members of our extended family also have committed suicide. We wonder what we could have done differently.

As nurses, we need to learn the clinical signs, symptoms, and simple ways we can intervene to help those suffering with depression. I urge you to read the article, Teen Depression and Suicide: A Silent Crisis, from Journal of Christian Nursing, April-June 2016. CE credits are available.

“Adolescent depression is a serious problem affecting 30% of high school students, with 17% contemplating suicide,” state Maureen Kroning and Kayla Kroning. “We want to highlight the vital need to speak up early to parents and professionals when a teen displays signs of depression.”

Nurses are in a unique position to make an impact on teen depression and suicide,” write the authors. “Nurses are trained in assessment and can provide support and education to patients, families, the public and schools to promote protective mechanisms for depression, as well as recognize depression.”

Often adolescents, their friends or their family are worried or embarrassed about having a mental disorder, yet many open up to nurses who can talk about depression and its treatment from a caring, clinical point of view.

It is essential for nurses to know the warning signs of suicide. The article outlines DSM-5 depression criteria and ways to intervene.

“Teens need our attention to make them feel valued, accepted, and secure in the knowledge that people are there to help them,” Kroning writes. “Teens taking their own lives is a tragedy.”

The article concludes, “As a nurse, what might you do to end the silent crisis and save the lives of teens suffering with depression?”

The lives of those around us who are depressed are too precious to ignore. We must intervene.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, RN, PhD
Editor, Journal of Christian Nursing

Receive the Journal of Christian Nursing and other benefits when you become a member of NCF

Talking about Spirituality in Nursing School

April 25, 2016

4252016marylI am a nursing student at a Catholic-Jesuit university, so spirituality is integrated throughout our nursing curriculum. However, we do not have a space to reflect on how to have spiritual conversations with patients or how to process our clinical experiences from a spiritual perspective.

This semester, I felt called to initiate a spiritual reflection group for nursing students. Olivia, my InterVarsity staff mentor, helped me prepare and plan. Then I threw the idea out there with an email to my nursing class.

I was anxious to see how God would move people to respond. Two students showed up at the first meeting in February and we connected immediately over great conversations. One of my roommates listened in and I was so glad to share some of my faith with her.

At our second meeting I was amazed to see eight students and two grad students show up, plus I received many emails and questions the following morning about how our meeting went. We had such an amazing time of conversation and community. We talked about spiritual conversations with patients in our clinical assignments. We also discussed the importance of meeting our own spiritual needs, in addition to being there for patients.

Planting Seeds

I was so moved by how I felt the presence of God at the meeting. I was excited to have such open and meaningful conversation with my peers whom I had only known in the classroom setting before the meeting. This is only the beginning of seeds being planted in the lives of nursing students on my campus.

My vision for starting an NCF group began in December at the Urbana Missions Conference. I was unsure of what God had in store for me, but I left challenged and inspired to start something new for God in my school of nursing.

At Urbana, I heard from so many powerful speakers and seminar leaders who really challenged me to courageously share my faith with others and step out of my comfort zone.

I was also excited to learn about Nurses Christian Fellowship for the first time. At Urbana I met amazing NCF leaders who encouraged me with their personal stories. I heard testimonies from other students who had experienced similar feelings and went on to lead nursing students on their campuses.

I reflected on the way I had been living my life and wanted to make a change by reaching out to students who were my friends, but they didn’t know the most important thing about me. I didn’t have the courage to share my faith with them. After attending Urbana, I strongly felt God calling me to start an NCF group on Boston College’s campus.

I am grateful to God for our group of 5-10 nursing students who have started NCF ministry this semester, and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College!

–Mary Ladesic, nursing student

Investing in Leaders of NCF-Haiti

April 22, 2016

382016haitiCassandra and Vanessa are two very special nurses who serve NCF-Haiti as president and vice president. I met them last year and they are passionate about equipping Christian nurses in Haiti to follow Jesus in life and in nursing. Both have played an active role in the leadership of NCF-Haiti which began in 2014.

Cassandra and Vanessa need our help to raise $5,700 so they can attend the NCFI International Congress in the Philippines in June 2016 and meet with other Christian nurse leaders from around the world. They were selected as delegates representing NCF for North American and the Caribbean (CANA).

Please consider assisting Cassandra and Vanessa to be a part of this important global gathering of Christian nurses. You can make a difference by investing in their leadership training.

All USA donations are eligible for a tax receipt. To contribute:

  • Mail a check made payable to NCF International to:

Nurses Christian Fellowship International
c/o Mr. John White
2321 S. Juniper Circle
Lakewood, CO  80228

All Donations need to be clearly designated for:  NCFI CANA Sponsorship Funds

Please take this opportunity to bless our dear sisters from Haiti with a contribution. Your generosity will bear fruit for God in the lives of Haitian nurses through Cassandra and Vanessa and NCF ministry.

–Jane Hall, RN, MSN
NCF/USA National Director

Safety Starts with God

April 15, 2016

4152016blessinghandsNational Nurses Week provides abundant opportunities for Christian nurses to express God’s love and grace to peers and co-workers. This year’s theme is A Culture of Safety Starts with You.

Last year, the NCF nurse group in Charlotte, North Carolina had a creative idea for Nurses Week. They received a grant from a church and put together special boxes containing a small vial of oil and a card explaining the traditional ritual of the Blessing of the Hands.

The group gave hand-painted boxes to an NCF Faculty Advisor and a nursing student instructor to use to bless their students and pray for them as they prepare for nursing.

Colleen Christenson is a leader of the NCF nurse group in Charlotte. This year the group is planning to give away NCF Gift Memberships to some students and new graduates they want to encourage. “Our group is very keen on reaching out to students and new grads in this way,” Colleen said.

Nurses Week is around the corner! Invite your coworkers for a theme-related Bible discussion on Psalm 91 and explore how God provides a culture of safety for those who trust in him. Check out all the NCF resources and prayer ideas to share God’s love with your nurse friends and coworkers during this special week May 6-12, 2016.

What’s in a Name?

April 11, 2016

472016janeMany parents give names to their children that are unique, or “old-fashioned,” or quite common, like my name (Jane) that appeared along with Dick and Spot in my first reading book!  But behind every name is a person who is significant.

For centuries people throughout the world have revered the person and name of Jesus, even nonbelievers.  For Christians, there is more to Jesus’ name than any other name because there is power in his name! He has the immeasurable power to love and act on our behalf and to carry out his purposes.

When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples, he told them that he would be leaving them—really leaving them. How distressed and frightened they must have felt!  But our dear Lord went on to tell them that they need not worry because they could ask him for anything in prayer. But Jesus included a specific condition for their prayers in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

In the Bible, the name of God is more than a name; it embodies all that God is—his character and all of his attributes. God revealed the fullness of his name to Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked for his name. God responded, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

When we pray in Jesus name, we are praying for God’s shalom to bring everything together in harmony. We may not know what God’s will is, but we do know that he is listening and working all of the time to bring about his perfect purposes in the world.

We can follow Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 NIV). We must surrender our desires to God’s will.

But before we even begin to pray, we must first consider why we are praying and what we are asking so that our hearts and minds will be aligned with the Father’s intentions.  Our purposes and petitions should reflect our desire to fulfill God’s will and bring him honor and glory. Asking in Jesus’ name helps us pray in ways that are consistent with the person and work of Jesus, and we are less likely to pray for self-focused or unnecessary things.

We can trust in the name of Jesus. There is no other name in the universe that holds so much love and hope for us all.

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

R is for Rejoice

April 1, 2016

412016sunriseThe Bible tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord, always. I say it again, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The definition for rejoice is to be glad, joyful, or to celebrate. Do we celebrate the works of God in nursing?

When was the last time you enjoyed the perfectly timed answer to prayer, such as that much-needed staff person or piece of equipment? When have you been delighted by the basic pleasures of life, such as an enjoyable meal with a colleague or a simple gift from a student or patient? What are some joyful rewards of patient care, such as listening to an older adult share a childhood memory, laughing with a five year old’s cute story, or celebrating with a toddler who masters a new toy or activity?

These are enjoyable moments in nursing.

The Scriptural idea of rejoicing in prayer is to remind us to recognize all the blessed moments of our work. At the same time, we want to celebrate with our Heavenly Father who provided them.

We are also reminded that celebratory prayers don’t just occur with worship and during designated times of prayer. We can have a heart of gladness that permeates our life and spills over into multiple moments of the day.

 Let us remember the words of the psalmist, “Serve the LORD with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2) and rejoice!

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.

Peter’s Wisdom

March 21, 2016

3212016roosterDuring the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter that he would be sifted by Satan and deny him three times (Luke 22:31-34). As the evening continues, Peter repeatedly denies Christ. His denial is not quiet, but vocal and wholehearted. After the third denial, Peter hears the rooster crow—and his heart breaks.

Our hearts break with Peter, for his personal sin becomes part of our redemption story.

After reading Peter’s experience, we are not surprised when he uses the metaphor “devour” to describe Satan’s tactic for Christians. I am sure Peter felt sifted, distraught and close to being devoured. Thankfully, in the same passage, Peter reaches out to all of us with wisdom:

“Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Peter encourages us to stay “sober and alert” which means we can’t get complacent about Satan and assume he’s on vacation. We need to “resist him” by being strong in our faith, not a faith filled with words and strength, but a faith dependent upon Christ (1 John 5:5). The true victor in the war with Satan is Jesus, thus our prayers are to him.

Peter depended upon the prayers of Jesus who told him, “I have prayed for you, Simon (Peter), that your faith may not fail.” In the same way He tells us, “I have prayed for you, _[insert name]  , that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).

I thank God for Peter’s wise words to us.

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.


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