Shut In and Roaming Free

August 31, 2015

GateWe often think of the stages of grief as only applicable to a death. However, often patients who have been given a potentially disabling or terminal diagnosis go through the same stages of grief as they come to terms with the changes they will face in life.

Recently InterVarsity president Alec Hill was diagnosed with myelodysplasia and is currently undergoing a bone marrow transplant. As he prepared for this debilitating procedure, he wrote, “In the third century, Tertullian penned the following words from prison. Little did he realize the impact they would have on this cancer patient nearly 1800 years later:

Call it not prison but the place of retirement.
The body is shut in, but all is open to the spirit;
it may roam abroad on the way to God…
The leg does not feel the chain if the mind is in heaven.”

Changing our perspective and coming to a place of healthy acceptance can be quite a journey. How can we assist patients through the spiritual angst of this process? What types of spiritual assessment and interventions can you use to assist your patients as they adapt to new diagnoses?

Please join us in praying for Alec Hill’s complete healing.

Partnering with Nursing Faculty

August 28, 2015

Nurse educators have limitless opportunities to influence the knowledge base and character of future leaders in nursing.

In many nursing schools, Faculty Advisors play a crucial role in providing spiritual mentoring, campus recognition, and stability for NCF student chapters across the country.

Nurses Christian Fellowship partners with faculty members who are God’s “salt and light” in many schools of nursing. NCF provides networking with other faculty, encourages the pursuit of Christian scholarship, and offers support and spiritual inspiration for educators in their significant work with nursing students.

If you’re a nurse educator, thank you for investing in the next generation of Christian nurses. Learn more about what NCF offers to encourage you in your vital role in academia.

Last Words from Hospice

August 21, 2015

Last Words

A wise man once said, “The best education in the world is at the bedside of the dying.” As hospice nurses, we are blessed, indeed, to observe such miracles from those who have one foot through heaven’s gate!

Spirituality is an important component for all members of the hospice interdisciplinary team, as we each visit the patient and family at different intervals. In this respect, our roles often overlap due to timing and the situation. A chaplain may note the need for more pain control, just as the nurse may be privy to the most intimate responses from those souls who are knocking at death’s door.

End-of-life care is the one specialty where the staff universally believes in a hereafter, and a creator. We offer honesty and authenticity, without proselytizing. We respect, without judgement, the belief of the patient and the family. Witnessing people’s transitions is so faith-affirming that most hospice nurses find the work more of a calling than a career.

Here are a few last words that we have either heard ourselves, or were told to us from reliable sources:

  • “There is a long line. It isn’t my turn yet. My angel will wait with me. Her name….Gloria. She says her name is Gloria.”
  • “God has such beautiful flowers in Heaven.”
  • “Gertrude has grown into the most beautiful young woman.” Gertrude was a daughter who had died as a toddler.
  • “When they were resuscitating me, I saw everyone from above, like I was a fly on the ceiling. The music in heaven is like none that you have ever heard. Soooo beautiful!”
  • “When I was so deeply asleep, I met a little four-year-old girl there. She was also in a coma.”
  • “Do you know why I am still here? God’s waiting room is full. But I saw Harvey Miller! I didn’t know he had died!”
  • “Peaches is back. (The dog had died.) He is running around my recliner, like old times.”
  • “I am going to be OK! I’m going to LOVE it! The girl across the hall, the one like me, says I’m going to love it in heaven.” (The girl who had occupied that room had died two years earlier.)

What a privilege it is to hear these thrilling statements from our diverse, home-going souls. It is confirmation that the Scriptures are true:

“God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

These remarkable transitions through Heaven’s Gate are a welcome reminder of what is on the other side.

–by Lorna Bell RN, CHPN, in collaboration with Barbara Cliff, RN, PhD, CHPCA

Excerpts and stories used with permission. For more uplifting end-of-life stories, see Even More Happy Endings, by Barbara Cliff & Lorna Bell.

Our Nursing Uniform

August 20, 2015

Paul, the writer of Ephesians, was imprisoned in Rome and surrounded by Roman soldiers. He used the constant presence of a soldier’s uniform as a metaphor for a Christian soldier’s battle armor (Ephesians 6:11-17). Like a soldier, a Christian’s armor contains a belt, breastplate, sandals, shield, helmet and sword. As we put on our nursing uniform and prepare to fight disease, so we also need to ready ourselves for spiritual warfare and understand each article of armor God gives us.

The Belt of Truth

The first piece of our outfit is the belt of truth which holds our armor together and is foundational to our faith (Ephesians 6:14). Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Set them apart in truth, for you are truth.” This simple, yet profound, statement was included in Jesus’ prayer for the disciples and us. For not only is the Bible true, but God and scripture is Truth, meaning without error and never changing. Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately, but not exhaustively) in the Bible.

In contrast, Satan would have us believe his lies and the lies of the world (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9). Whether it is incorrect facts about the character of God, the divinity of Christ, or the workings of the Holy Spirit, Satan would have us doubt, be misinformed or, worse, uninformed of Truth! Don’t forget, Satan can also twist scripture to deceive and confuse us (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Jesus’ temptation found in Luke 4:1-13 is an excellent example of Satan’s misuse of scripture.

We fasten our belt of truth to our nursing uniform by memorizing scripture and Bible study (Psalm 119:105). Thus we are equipped to discern the storms of mistruths found in the world.

Here is my prayer for you from 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5: Our Lord is faithful to strengthen you and protect you from the evil one while directing your heart toward his love and the endurance of Christ.

Breastplate of Righteousness

A breastplate covers and protects our vital internal organs and is a necessary component to our nursing uniform. This breastplate isn’t just a metal or physical protection, for our breastplate is righteousness. Satan loves to taunt us with our shortcomings, human desires, and anything that causes us to look at the depravity of our soul. This is true—we are depraved human beings—. But we are righteous through Christ’s payment (Hebrews 9:11-14). Our true shield of righteousness is the blood of the cross that has cleansed us (Ephesians 6:14; Hebrews 9:22).

Satan wants us cower in fear and shame. In contrast, we stand holy and pure before God, for he sees us through the blood lens of Christ. When we beat ourselves up because of sin, or try to “work” to be holy, we are playing into Satan’s hand. When we judge others for their sin, then we have forgotten the basic truth of righteousness that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (John 3:17; Romans 3:23).

Our breastplate is a shining, holy assurance radiating from Christ which permeates through us, bringing a warm welcoming grace to patients, families, and colleagues (Revelation 1:13-15; Exodus 34:29).

Gospel Sandals

After we fasten the belt of truth and attach the breastplate of righteousness, we are now ready to secure the gospel of peace to our feet (Ephesians 6:15). These unique shoes or sandals are strong, sturdy and fortified with the message of Christ (Matthew 10:5-13).  Jesus did not come to judge or cause war or conflict (John 12:47). Instead, he brought healing, peace and forgiveness. This is the peaceful message we fasten to our feet (Acts 10:36).

One way to change shoes is by not allowing our minds and hearts to be absorbed by stress, anxiety, or fear. All of these emotions and responses come from a spirit of fear and not the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). These are also emotions and thoughts that Satan capitalizes on.

I am reminded of the children’s story, “Chicken Little,” who has something fall on her head, then runs in a panic yelling, “The sky is falling!” She runs to all her animal friends, Henny Penny, Turkey Lurkey, Goosey Loosey and others. Together they go to warn the King. Depending on the version, the animals either hide in a cave, never warning the King, or they warn the King who explains to Chicken Little and her friends about the large acorns falling from the trees.

Obviously, Chicken Little and her friends forgot their “sandals of peace” and the promises of Christ (Philippians 4:7).

Here is my prayer for you from 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5: Our Lord is faithful to strengthen you and protect you from the evil one while directing your hearts toward his love and the endurance of Christ. Amen.

–By Carrie Dameron, etc.

Carrie will continue her devotional series with more blog posts on “Our Nursing Uniform.”

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/.

10 Quick Prayers for Nurses

August 6, 2015

PrayI love to pray, but I know many nurses just don’t know where to start. Here are some brief scripture prayers to rely on the Lord throughout your day, in addition to your more extended devotional times.

In upcoming months I will address more prayer topics in regular blog posts. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis who said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time—waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God—it changes me.”

Amen!
~by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

Strength

♦ Lord, help me to be strong, while bearing with the failings of those who are weak. Let me not seek to please myself. (Rom 15:1)

♦ Father, I rejoice in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

♦ May I be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus and in his mighty power. (2 Timothy 2:1 and Ephesians 6:10)

Commitment

♦ Lord, I commit my way to you today. Help me to trust in you to make my righteous reward shine like the dawn, my vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:5-6)

♦ Father, help me to devote myself in love to those in my care today. Show me ways to honor my colleagues. (Romans 12:10)

♦ Keep me faithful, Lord! (1 Corinthians 4:2)

♦ Help me, Lord, to willingly suffer the consequences of faithfulness, knowing that you alone promise life as a victor’s crown. (Rev 2:10)

Compassion

♦ Heavenly Father, let me know your compassion in my work today and share it with those in my care. (Psalm 103:13 and Matthew 14:14)

♦ Lord, help me to be kind and compassionate to my colleagues, forgiving them, just as in Christ you forgave me. (Ephesians 4:32)

♦ Lord, as your dearly beloved child, I put on your compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience as I begin my work today. (Colossians 3:12)

©2006, Nurses Christian Fellowship/InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

The Problem of John’s Deathbed Conversion

July 28, 2015

JohnAs a hospice nurse, I witness good people selflessly caring for the dying. These kind souls became my role models as I tried to follow the spiritual guideposts of Jesus’ commandments. I aspired to emulate their loving actions–the good works–I saw in them.

Then I heard about John. I was shocked by his death-bed change of heart. It was a paradox for me–I couldn’t get past its startling conclusion.

John was an abusive, hard-drinking, club-hopping coal miner. His wife, Mary, was a devout Christian and his loving caregiver. As he succumbed to lung disease, John asked Mary to share her faith with him. Then John became unresponsive, and Mary wondered if John understood or even heard her words.

As he breathed his last, John opened his eyes, looked at Mary, and said quite clearly, “I’m in heaven!”

Then he died.

John was like the prodigal son who was reconciled with his heavenly Father after years of hard living.

Great story . . . but I had a problem with it. Could someone betray his marriage vows, mistreat others, lead a mean-spirited life, repent with his final breath, and then be with the Lord? John had played it very close!

Researching the scriptures, I found a plethora of verses about judging others. The prevailing theme was summarized in Mathew 7:1-5: “Do not judge others or you will be judged.”

This similar but expanded verse from Luke 6:37 also spoke to me: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

More verses echoed our Lord Jesus’s words. Then I ready James 2:26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

But, John didn’t have time for good deeds! How could he be alive in faith?

I realized I had no idea of John’s pain and suffering, his memories and experiences, the demons in John’s past that led him to his behavior. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul revealed the answer I was seeking: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Our heavenly Father loves all of his children. I could imagine his admonishment: “This is MY job! You children, just get along!”

Jesus reminds us, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

Even More Happy EndingsJohn’s story has given me a new model for loving others. Beyond tolerance, which suggests a critical overlooking of another’s faults, I will try to open my heart to others who are different from me. I hope to become more generous with an unconditional love.

I am grateful to God for the lessons John taught me.

–by Lorna Bell RN, CHPN, in collaboration with Barbara Cliff, RN, PhD, CHPCA

Excerpts and story used with permission from Even More Happy Endings, page 41, “John’s Change of Heart.”

YOUR OPINION NEEDED!

July 17, 2015

SurveyShould nurses leave their beliefs in a locker when at work?

If you’re currently working as a nurse, share your opinion in a study conducted by Journal of Christian Nursing and Loma Linda University to explore how nurses provide spiritual care, their opinions on talking about religion with patients, and their personal religious practice.

Click HERE to learn more and take an online survey (about 30 minutes).

On completion, you’ll receive a 40% discount you can use on NCF membership ($65.00 practicing-nurse fee only), or choose another discount toward a subscription to the Journal of Christian Nursing.

If you are currently an NCF member, complete the survey and you’ll receive a 40% discount that you can use on your next NCF membership renewal ($65.00 practicing-nurse fee only)!

Discounts are good until June 2016.

Add your voice to this valuable study!

Prayer: Water for a Thirsty Soul

July 10, 2015

RainCan there ever be too much rain and water in a dry and thirsty land?

After three years of drought in Texas, I didn’t think we could get too much rain to replenish the lakes and land. But I recently changed my thinking as I drove through blinding sheets of rain with bolts of lightning dancing all around. The rivers and creeks in my path were rising furiously and flooding their banks and bridges. God alone was in the car with me during this stormy drive, and I let him know that I really wanted the rain and rising waters to stop.

Even though too much water coming too fast can lead to big problems for people and communities, it is essential for all life. Nurses know that water is necessary for dissolving and transporting life-sustaining nutrients and oxygen and for maintaining moist environments within the body. And it also plays a vital role in flushing waste and toxins from the body. Physical life cannot be sustained without a continual inflow of fresh, clean water.

As water is necessary for physical life, prayer is necessary for spiritual life. Can there ever be too much prayer in our lives? No! A constant flow of God’s love, grace, and peace that results from ongoing communication with God through prayer is necessary for our spiritual health and flourishing.

Simply put, prayer is having a conversation with God, sharing our hearts with him and listening for his small, quiet voice to speak to us.

Thankfully, God’s Word has given us specific instructions and guidance about prayer. Jesus is our primary model. Scriptures tell us that Jesus often withdrew from people to be alone to pray (Luke 15:15-16). He taught the disciples how to pray (Luke 11) and he prayed specifically for them (John 17).

God’s Word instructs us to pray “at all times” (Ephesians 6:18) and to have an attitude of thanksgiving as we present our petitions to God. We can also expect God to change us when we pray (Philippians 4:6-7). We can ask God to meet any and all of our needs, even very practical ones. Just as I prayed for safety on my trip, the Apostle Paul asks the believers in Rome to pray for his safety as he traveled to Jerusalem:

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed” (Romans 15:30-32).

Thankfully, nothing is too small or big to ask God for. Praying is so simple, but yet it can be difficult. We may experience periods of spiritual drought and an inability to talk with God, but God is never far away from us. He understands our situations and never holds back his great love for us.

There is much to learn about prayer and how God uses our prayers to help us sense his presence and our unity with Christ and other believers. Jesus prayed that you and I can have this very thing:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20b-21).

The foundation of our prayer life must be that we know who we are praying to. If you are looking for a primer on who God is, or want a reminder of God’s characteristics, see my series, “Devotionals on God’s Attributes.”

In Christ alone we have abundant, refreshing rivers of living water for our thirsty souls. That’s worth a prayer of thanks.

~by Jane Hall, NCF National Director

NCFI: A World-Wide Fellowship

July 9, 2015

NCF InternationalIf you were a Christian nurse in Pakistan, or Nigeria, or Japan, how would you connect with other nurses who want to live out their faith in professional practice?

Praise God for Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI) which connects nurses in many different countries around the word, including NCF-USA.

“We are partners with NCFI and embrace the mission to equip and encourage Christian nurses to integrate Biblical principles and Christ-centered values in clinical practice, leadership, education and research,” said Jane Hall, National Director of NCF-USA. “Our common values are built on God’s love and care for us and his work through us as nursing professionals.”

Dr. Barbara White, NCFI President, leads the international movement connecting Christian nurses. “This is an exciting time in the life of NCFI.  Country members continue to expand, connect and grow through local and national events,” said Dr. White. “Nurses gather for Bible study, worship, fellowship, and teaching for spiritual and professional growth.”

NCFI focuses on these areas:

  • Deepening the spiritual life and cultural awareness of Christian nurses around the world
  • Encouraging and equipping Christian nurses and students to live out their faith in nursing
  • Bringing nurses together through Regional Conferences and the World Congress in June 2016

Find out more about NCFI and NCF ministry in other member countries by visiting the new NCFI website.

From Campus to Hospital to Campus

July 7, 2015

Krista DoanWhen God knocks on your heart, it’s time to open the door.

For Krista Doan, God’s knocking meant applying for a campus staff position with Nurses Christian Fellowship.

“I graduated last year and started working as an RN, but there was always a yearning in my heart for something more,” Krista said, “but I didn’t exactly know what that was.” She began praying for God to show her where he wanted her to serve.

Last November, God’s knocking got louder, and Krista wrestled with a lot of fear and doubt about trusting God in this new journey.

“The challenges of my first year of nursing brought me to a place of complete surrender to God and his will for my life,” Krista recalled. “I was willing to go anywhere, as long as he was with me.” Doors opened to work on campus with nursing students as part of the NCF and InterVarsity staff team.

Krista personally understands the demands of nursing school and the opportunities for spiritual growth in college. She knows that NCF chapters encourage spiritual growth, offer leadership training, and create close relationships in supportive communities.

The decision to join NCF staff wasn’t easy, but Krista is excited about working with nursing students. “I am humbled to be called by God to serve this special group of people,” Krista said. “As I step out in faith, God makes his plan clear to me. The Lord never ceases to amaze me.”

“God is pursuing the hearts of nurses and nursing students,” Krista believes. “There is so much we all can contribute to Jesus’ kingdom.”

Krista Doan is currently developing a team of ministry partners who will pray and give financial support to her campus ministry in Florida. Join Krista’s ministry team.


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