Archive for the ‘Life & Work’ Category

Growing a Compassionate Heart

March 24, 2017

God calls us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8), but what does this look like for marginalized people in health care? Nurses and students gathered in Minnesota to explore how to represent Jesus Christ with a growing heart of compassion for the underserved in their communities.

The NCF group in the Twin Cities hosted 35 nurses and students for a soup supper and informative discussion led by Leya Didur, Twin Cities Urban Program Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The NCF seminar provided 1 CE credit.

Leya shared her vision for her work training students in cross-cultural urban experiences: “Throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, it is impossible not to see the theme of God calling his people to be concerned and care for the marginalized. Ultimately God wants to see all his children thrive and, as Christ’s followers, we can be active participants to bring about that thriving.”

Table groups first discussed the question, “What patients are marginalized in your work?” Then they explored barriers to providing quality care for marginalized individuals or communities.

A core component of the seminar looked at how Jesus had compassion on the people he met. Leya provided questions to ask when reading stories about Jesus engaging with people at the margins.

* How is this person marginalized in their community?

* What barriers does Jesus have to overcome or address to care for this person?

* How does Jesus provide compassionate holistic care for this person?

* How do others respond in this story?

The challenging question for nurses is how to grow in compassion and make an intentional effort to change. “It is critical to be honest with your starting point and the barriers you have,” Leya reminded the participants.

“We talked about the importance of receiving the love of Jesus for ourselves and taking care of ourselves,” said Mary Thompson, former director of Nurses Christian Fellowship. “This is at the heart of growing in compassion for others.”

Finally, Leya challenged nurses and nursing students to develop a plan for practical ways to grow in compassion and understanding for marginalized people. She suggested watching movies or reading books from a different perspective, or visiting a church of a different ethnicity or culture. The key factor is developing authentic relationships with others and loving them in Christ.

Mary Thompson is grateful to God for NCF ministry in the Twin Cities, MN, and for this new partnership with Leya as InterVarsity staff. “Through Leya’s excellent presentation, we are encouraged by the opportunities before us as followers of Jesus—in healthcare and in the community.”

As these nurses and students return to their daily lives, they take with them this reminder about the God they serve in nursing, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). It’s a good word.

Why Suffering?

February 13, 2017

2132017sufferingAs nurses, we regularly encounter suffering. We also suffer. Suffering is a part of life, and we all ask, Why?

I’ve asked a lot of why questions. Why could I never get pregnant? Why did my brother die at an early age? Why did Hurricane Matthew kill so many and wipe out more of Haiti’s infrastructure? Why did a friend get cancer? Why can’t we alleviate a patient’s severe pain?

There are no answers to these questions. And no answer will change fact that suffering happens, and it is awful.

It seems the more valid question is: How do we cope with suffering? The Bible teaches principles that help me deal with suffering:

  • God is faithful through suffering and accomplishes bigger, even better, things than we can imagine. The most poignant example of this is Jesus who suffered to bring about the redemption of the world.
  • We can learn through suffering. Suffering focuses our attention on God like nothing else; it molds our faith and character in profound ways. Suffering can accomplish God’s purposes in our lives as we cry out to him and learn to trust and follow him.
  • Pain and suffering will end when God accomplishes the final redemption of the world. We will see for ourselves that “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54).

Even if I never understand what God is doing in suffering, I’ve learned he is worthy of my trust.

As you face hard things, bring your pain and questions to God. Dig deeper into his Word and prayer. Trust God and learn to hold on to his strength and unfailing love.

I encourage you to improve your nursing practice and learn how to respond to suffering by reading our feature article, “Entering into Suffering: Becoming a Transformed and Transforming Healer,” in Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan/Mar 2017 (1.5 CE credits offered). This article hits home for nurses.

A suffering world awaits us.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Christian Nursing

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Read Kathy’s full editorial in Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan/Mar 2017, p. 6. Become a member of NCF and receive Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit throughout the year.

Significant Moments

December 1, 2016

11292016oruRecently, I’ve been focusing on how to seek and receive God’s direction, how to find and stay in that place where I hear his voice. What I want is to understand God’s leading and the right actions, words, or decisions for everyday situations. This can feel like instinct or intuition. But as Christians, it can be the leading of the Holy Spirit.

As nurses, we need the leading of the still, small voice of God. A simple responsiveness to God in everyday events can create significant moments.

I remember how God’s whisper created a significant moment in my life the summer after I became a nurse and I traveled from Texas to Iowa to help my grandparents move. Mom and Dad said, “When you drive through Tulsa, Oklahoma, check out the campus of Oral Roberts University. It’s beautiful!” They had wanted me to do my undergraduate work there.

I took their advice, parked the car, and walked around the ORU campus. A thought hit me to find the nursing department and see what it looked like.

I was walking down the hall of the mostly empty office area when a faculty member (the only one there!) asked what I was doing. I think she listened to the still, small voice of God and stopped to talk with me. She heard my passion for nursing and envisioned something great for my life. I had absolutely no inclination toward further education, but an hour later I was applying for the master’s program in nursing.

Two months later, I began an adventure that changed me forever!

Recently I was invited back to ORU as a featured speaker for students, faculty members and community members. I spoke about “Expecting God in Nursing” and used the story in Luke 5 about how the disciples responded to a strange request from Jesus. As they obeyed and let down their nets, they saw Jesus in a new light. It’s a great reminder of what happens when Jesus shows up and calls us to new levels of trust in him.

Hearing and responding to the still, small voice of God can create significant moments.

kss110

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Christian Nursing

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–Excerpt from Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct/Dec 2016, p.197. Become a member of NCF and receive Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit throughout the year.

The Still, Small Voice of God

November 22, 2016

ID cardIn everyday nursing practice, we need the leading of the still, small voice of God—at the bedside, in the classroom, leading an organization. A simple responsiveness to God in everyday events can create significant moments.

Once I had a patient with Bipolar II disorder who had been difficult to manage since admission earlier in the day. He was extremely anxious about the loss of his state-issued identification (ID) card.

As I introduced myself, he immediately begged for help. I told him I knew this was important, and I would look into it with him after I assessed all my patients. He persisted. I started to get irritated, then a still, small voice said, “Kathy, you’d be anxious if you lost your driver’s license (my ID card). Talk to him.” So I sat down and asked him to tell me step-by-step what he remembered about the card. He mentioned the hospital safe where we keep patient valuables, but he said he’d already looked there.

He then said, “Do you think God would help me? Would he? I don’t think he would…” The still, small voice said, “Ask if he wants you to pray with him.” I cringed. He’s so manic: is that going to be helpful? I’ll check to see if he has medication for anxiety. He kept spitting out words, then exclaimed, “Lady, please, you’ve got to pray with me!” I thought, How can I pray? If we don’t find the ID, then what?

Jesus’ words came to mind, “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven…” (Matthew 18:19-20, NIV). I remembered what Jesus said about having faith, even as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). So I prayed with him, asking God to help us locate the ID card. Silently I prayed, God help me know what to do. I know you know where that card is.

As we finished praying, I noticed a security guard at the nurses’ station. I asked him about the ID card, and if he would check the safe. He said no, he’d already looked. I countered, “It would help him calm down if I could tell him you’ll check the safe one more time. Take your time so I have something to tell him for a while.”

In less than an hour, the guard came back with the card in hand. He’d found it in the wrong patient envelope. I grabbed the card and ran to my patient. We hugged, and he cried as we realized God had answered our prayer.

Responding to the still small voice of God can create significant moments.

kss110Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Christian Nursing

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Excerpt from Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct/Dec 2016, p.197. Become a member of NCF and receive Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit throughout the year.

Delighted to be a Member

October 17, 2016

10172016wendyI have been a member of Nurses Christian Fellowship for several years. NCF has greatly blessed my life’s calling to be a nurse as well as an educator. It is important for nurses to support and be connected to an organization such as this by joining NCF.

NCF knows nursing is more than a job, more than an occupation, and it is definitely more than a chosen career path. Nursing is a calling from God which requires a close relationship with our heavenly Father so we can embrace and operate in the fullness of his grace and favor in everything we do.

10172016wendykenyaLast summer I was on a medical mission in Kenya. I talked to the Kenyan nurses and nursing students—our partners there—about how NCF bridges the gap between healing and total health. I know God uses NCF in the lives of nurses like myself who do cross-cultural nursing.

I recommend joining Nurses Christian Fellowship to become a part of God’s family of faithful nurses serving him in our world.

Wendy Brooks, BSN, RN, shared these words of appreciation with the NCF Facebook community. Find out how you can become a member of NCF to integrate your faith and your nursing practice.

The Right Thing to Say

August 20, 2016

ToxicWorkplace toxicity is a desperately needed topic for nurses to know how to face. Each time I encounter toxicity, I am struck by how much our words matter. What we say—or don’t say—can have deep, lasting impact. But how do we know the right thing to say in noxious situations when our emotions are intense and negative?

Early in my Christian life I started a collection of Bible verses I named The Tongue. Over the years I’ve added other collections, such as Temper, Forgiveness, and Generosity. I keep the verses in an app on my phone so I can review them as needed. Sadly, implementation is tougher than knowledge.

I also realize I am Christ’s witness to others. My words, attitudes, and actions reflect God’s character and should reveal who he is to those around me. The best proof of what we believe as Christians, the real evidence of knowing Jesus, is a transformed life.

As a Christian nurse, I want to be a part of bringing God’s kingdom of grace, peace, joy, respect, and more, to my work. That is what thriving in a toxic workplace is all about.

I urge you to read the rest of my editorial, The Right Thing to Say, in Journal of Christian Nursing. And don’t miss the feature CE article, Surviving (even Thriving?) in a Toxic Workplace, which identifies unhealthy work environments through sick systems, toxic leaders, or dysfunctional colleagues—and what to do about them.

Working in a toxic environment can be overwhelming, but inaction is your greatest enemy. You can start the process of change. You are not alone.

kss110Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN,
National Director of Nurses Christian Fellowship/USA
Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Christian Nursing.

 

Become a member of NCF
and receive Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit throughout the year.

Church Attendance Really Helps!

July 7, 2016

772016churchNurses are in an excellent position to offer spiritual support to patients—and can do so with the backing of research connecting faith and health! A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that attending religious services can help you live longer.

In a study of 74,534 women from 1996-2012, religious service attendance was associated with lower risk of mortality from all-causes, including cardiovascular and cancer death. Attending >1 time weekly led to a 33% less chance of dying, once a week attendance decreased mortality by 26%, and even some attendance decreased mortality 13%. The effect of religious service attendance was stronger than that of any other form of participation in a social group.

A large European study also found that participation in religious organizations offers health benefits beyond those gained from other forms of social participation. Study authors conclude that religion and spirituality may be an “underappreciated resource” that physicians can explore with patients.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship/USA

My Work Christ’s Home

July 7, 2016

772016myheartchristshomeWhen I was a new Christian more than 24 years ago, a fellow believer gave me a booklet, My Heart Christ’s Home, written by Robert Boyd Munger in 1951. The story is about a new Christian with Christ in his heart who invites the Lord into all areas of his life through the metaphor of a home.

For example, when the new believer shows Christ the library and the recreational room, Christ points out the importance of inviting him into our reading materials and into our leisurely activities. Christians are often tempted to compartmentalize faith. We may keep a focus on Christ in our family and on Sundays, but we may be tempted to leave our faith out of our non-Christian relationships, television or movie choices, or our work environment.

As I reflected on the simple yet powerful truths found in this story, I thought of nursing. As Christian nurses we seek to live out Christ’s life and teachings in our clinics, schools, and hospitals. Christ doesn’t want to just come into the comfortable areas of our work and reside as a guest. Christ wants to dwell in every work relationship, every patient encounter, every project, class and meeting.

I encourage you to take time to allow Christ to walk through each area of nursing. Even if we consider ourselves mature a believer, I believe each of us will find a locked closet, a dusty cabinet, or even a hidden room that we have kept from God’s Spirit.

The good news is we can always repent: Robert Munger wrote, “I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, ‘Lord, You have been a guest and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the owner and Master and Lord.'”

This reminds me of  the words of Jesus in John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come into him, and make our abode with him.”

Let’s welcome Jesus to fully move into our work and into our hearts!

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/.

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

Being Transformed?

February 1, 2016

212016jcnandbibleWhat changes are you hoping for this year? What would you like to see transformed in your life?

The apostle Paul has a lot to say about how God transforms us in Romans 12:2.

“Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome not to fashion their lives after the customs of the world about them, but to have God-focused thinking,” writes Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner in her recent editorial in Journal of Christian Nursing.

“It’s the same for us today. To be transformed, we must renew our minds by focusing our attention on God and feeding our thoughts with God’s Word, as found in the Bible,” Kathy writes.

This is why Nurses Christian Fellowship uses the tagline “Be Transformed, Transform Nursing” to invite nurses, students, and educators on a journey of renewal and transformation.

“NCF helps nurses think about God and make daily, real-world connections between God’s Word and nursing,” writes Kathy. “As we follow Jesus in nursing, we are changed from the inside out. We help each other fix our attention on God and his designs for our individual and collective nursing practice.”

Kathy invites you to start your 2016 journey to be God’s transformed nurse by becoming a member of NCF. Join NCF and be a part of what God doing to change the nursing world.

Kathy summarizes, “Together, we can transform nursing students and schools of nursing. Together, we can be transformed nurses who transform our work places. Together, we can transform nursing.”

Find out more about membership and benefits of the NCF professional network.