Tuesday, May 12, 2020


“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion and caring 
without even a prescription.”
- Val Saintsbury

It was shortly after 2 a.m. rounds when the call light panel lit up and chimed.  I could hear groans as the nursing staff all looked at the panel, seeing the room number which was requesting our assistance.  Much to the relief of the other nurses hovered over their charts, I quickly responded that I would answer the call!

Entering the room of one of the most difficult patients to whom I have ever given care, I asked  how I could help. This patient was a Catholic priest, and in his final stage of cancer. Over  previous weeks and admissions, I had the opportunity of having multiple short conversations with him. On one occasion, he asked if I was married and noted that I did not wear a wedding ring. I smiled and told him yes, that I was happily married and blessed with a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. The questions followed, with the priest wanting to know my husband’s occupation, the size of our “parish," and even asking if my husband preached "store house" tithing. Over the multiple times that I answered his call light, he would question me about our church and beliefs.  

Answering the call light this night was similar in his requests for care, every little request before leaving his room taking forever to complete (pull the tray table ½ inch this way, put my head up one inch, move my water glass ¼ inch that way…the details were so time consuming), but was also strikingly different. As he again turned the subject to our church and religion, I felt God’s nudge to share with him the plan of salvation. I told him that we both knew that death was imminent, and I wanted him to be prepared to meet Jesus. Just as I would speak to a child, using the scriptures of the Roman Road, I shared that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; Jesus died on the cross for our sins because of His great love for us; if we confess our sins to Him and believe Him for forgiveness He is faithful to forgive us, and we can accept His gift of eternal life. He then asked me if I would pray with him. I took his hand and asked him to pray along with me as I prayed the sinner’s prayer. When the prayer was ended, with tears in his eyes, he peacefully said, “I think I can sleep now.” Then he made a statement that left me wondering, “If anyone gives you any trouble for being in here so long (about 45 minutes) refer them to me.” 

On my next scheduled shift, my supervisor, a sweet Methodist lady, asked me if I had heard that our patient had passed away. You see, when I had been interviewed by her for the position on the Oncology Unit, she told me to feel free to pray or read scripture with any patient that was open to it. So even though I was a Protestant working in a Catholic hospital, I had an open door to share Jesus with those who were so close to eternity, and my opportunities were many! Hearing the account of my last moments with this patient, my supervisor became so excited and said, "Oh, just wait until I tell the nuns and priests!" Then she began to tell me the rest of the the story.  My patient was not just a priest, he was one who had oversight of the diocese in that area. (No wonder he told me to refer questioners to him!) The nuns and priests in the hospital had felt he was so high above them that they could not minister to his spiritual needs. My supervisor said they would be so thrilled to know that someone had met that need. God had used me that night, just a simple nurse following the nudge of the Holy Spirit, to share Jesus. I was just a willing vessel through which He could work.  Someday, I plan to see that Catholic priest in heaven!

When considering my role as a nurse, I have always felt it to be a ministry. An unknown author once said, “When you are a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours.” Knowing that every human being to which I give physical care has a soul, I also have an obligation to minister to their spiritual and emotional needs to the best of my ability. I have been so grateful for the opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of my patients. Nursing is rewarding work, but also very hard work for those who are in it for more than a paycheck. You don’t leave your ministry at the time clock when you end your shift. Your concern and prayers for your patients continue. You celebrate even baby steps toward recovery, and you grieve when the doctor says, “We have done all we can do.”  

As we celebrate Nurses Week, I congratulate every nurse working in every field of the profession! Mahatma Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Some are on the front lines of service frantically trying to save the life of someone hovering between life and death. Others are behind a desk making policies and putting in place procedures for those life and death situations. Wherever you are as a nurse, I challenge you to give it your best. Your character will be as important as the knowledge that you have obtained. We need hard working, ethical, and morally upright Christian nurses to most effectively minister to the whole patient-physically, spiritually and emotionally. And during this time of COVID – 19, treating all three is more needed than ever.  

Congratulations on choosing to serve others!  Happy Nurses’ Week!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Empowerment: Are We Sure?

- guest article by Joan Stetler

“Being a wife and mother is akin to being in a comfortable concentration camp.”

So said feminist, Betty Friedan in the 1960s, enlightening women everywhere of their inhumane and unjust victim existence.

Womanhood, motherhood, the home and family have been under attack for a long time. But Betty and her feminist pals weren’t content to keep their deviant brand of sunshine and cheer to themselves. She wrote a book called The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and became an immediate celebrity. In 1976, a New York literary club included it with works by Marx and Mao Zedong in its exhibit on “Books As Troublemakers.” So now we all know who to hang with if we’re looking for a better and more exciting life!

Why did Betty become a sudden celebrity with her new message for women? What was its message of appeal? 
One word - power. 

Forces Against the Family

But there were other forces arrayed against the home and family which had been coming together for over a hundred years that will further explain this loud cacophony of disgruntled women’s voices. Liberal theology, enlightenment, rationalization, modern biblical criticism, social gospel, neo-orthodoxy, and fundamentalist-modernist controversy were influencing seminaries and preachers to make significant changes in practical biblical application in messages to their congregants, thereby affecting society at large. Evolution and atheism began being promoted as the more intellectual and highbrow way to think. Who would be so boring and uninformed to actually want to be guided by truth? 

Margaret Sanger began her twisted push for population control and eugenics, setting the stage for the 1973 legalization of abortion. And perhaps the single most powerful influence on society came from Hollywood. Affairs, workplace infidelity, immodest dress and behavior, partying, smoking, drinking, gambling all began to be glamorized and made sophisticated by the messages sent everyday, all day from the producers of television. Housewives were made to appear as dull drudges. 

Then war happened; women left the home and went to public work to promote the nation’s efforts. The family began to realize the effect of an absent mother. The traditional balance of support and care for one another as husband and wife began to wear away. Men felt freer to pursue their own afterwork interests. Mom was thrown in with male attentions and making her own money, but she had just as much work to be done at home. Women would soon feel this lack of commitment, cohesion and mutual support; they began to exchange their homes and families for sexual freedom, money and careers. Divorces became commonplace. Relationships between husbands, wives, and children were broken. Children suffered emotionally. Young people drank, took drugs, joined gangs and committed suicide. Teenage pregnancy rose. The pill was invented. Soon we were in the middle of an STD, HIV/AIDS epidemic. Something had gone horribly wrong in American society. 

Voices and Dissent

We had many voices warning us of our steep moral decline, voices such as James Dobson, Kevin Leman, Henry Cloud, Phyliss Schlafly. They helped many and salvaged many homes. But women’s quest for empowerment still continues its increasingly aggressive fist-shaking and man-hating. 

We watch in horror as women march in the streets screaming vulgar obscenities, holding up figurative heads of those in authority, wishing them physical harm. We try to look at the daily news online and are met with pornographic litterings of celebrities. Families with small children attend sports events where half-time shows are comprised of shocking, lewd and depraved acts. Then we’re supposed to feel sorrow for those who have used their bodies to obtain sought-after acting roles and then want to charge the directors with rape. I ran onto this terribly frightful quote
So many people think the rise of women and the evisceration of our culture are somehow coincidental. But it’s been calculated and deliberate . . . it is the result of hate - hating God, hating life, hating society, hating men, hating babies, hating our families, hating our white male Founders, hating happiness, hating heterosexuality, hating western civilization.
Why did intelligent, educated women come to these mad, insane conclusions? Why are women still falling for the same old, ancient, satanic, Garden of Eden, “Why don’t you just live a little” line?

The Power of Created Design

Women are intrinsically created by God to be naturally sensitive, intuitive, creative, with limitless potential for love, tenderness and affection. We love beauty, manners, romance, flowers, candlelight, sweet nothings, babies, baby magic baths, and adorable children. We can scream about inconveniences and injustices at the top of our lungs, but all of these wonderful nurturing gifts are undeniably programmed into our innermost beings, our feminine DNA, our complex, intricate hormonal structures, our mental construct of superb multi-tasking abilities, and our ever-changing emotional variants. When we bond in a physical way by choosing to honor our created design, our minds, our emotions and our spiritual components become inseparably, irreparably, and unchangeably intertwined.  (Speaking of empowerment - why, we women have the world eating out of our hands, literally, with all the comfort foods that our families and loved ones consume with much enthusiasm and fondness for favorites. But women do much more than mere cooking and cleaning.)

And when we buck against the created design in us, we’re trying to come up with some warped sense of happiness and fulfillment with power, money and career? No wonder we’re crazy with anger!

God has given women a very strategic and vital role in the delicate balance of society. Women with their innate sensitivity were designed to be the conscience and character of our families. We have the power to create fidelity and virtue by being pure and modest in our thoughts, motives and actions and by instilling the same in our children. When we walk into a room, we either exude wholesome goodness or questionable deportment. The Bible calls this “shamefacedness and sobriety.” When we carry out this essential role, societal ills are kept in check. We maintain a safe and orderly society. Without it, we risk the gradual but sure destabilization of civility. 

Women Who Changed the World

Think about the forever-altered course for humanity that came from Eve’s choice of forbidden fruit in place of quiet, evening conversations in the garden with her husband and God, the Creator Who came to talk with them personally. 

Think about Sarah and the far-reaching implications of bearing Isaac in her old age. 

And Jochebed, with her baby Moses that she hid in the bulrushes, along with his famous babysitting sister, Miriam. Jochebed’s Moses, who is considered the greatest of Jewish leaders and prophets, who authored five books of the Bible. 

Rahab, who intuitively sized up the men of God who had her life in their hands and made a deal with them which protected a nation and her own family by hanging a simple scarlet cord in her window. 

Consider Abigail with her diplomacy skills and picnic lunch that kept a lot of angry men, including the soon to be king, David, from making rash decisions and from perhaps altering his future. 

And then there was Deborah, who was a national leader, judge and military leader over Israel for sixty years.
She judged while sitting under a palm tree - a setting rabbinic tradition maintains that validated her fairness, openness, and refusal to show partiality . . . The Bible records no dissent or rebellion against her leadership. Leadership resides not in gender but in character and gifting. The Israelites recognized her abilities and prospered under her tenure. 
(How’s that for empowerment, girls?) 
Remember Queen Esther and her policy-making, political positioning dinner dates that preserved the life of the nation of Israel and exalted the Jewish status in the Persian kingdom? 

Elizabeth with her son, John the Baptist, the announcer and forerunner of the Messiah? 

And lastly, there was Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - Jesus, whose life was such an history altering event that the ancient calendars were forever changed. We still use Christ’s birth and death (B.C.) and (A.D.), to tabulate time. 

Yes, truly our churches, our schools and our homes are in crises. We, as women, have the ability, the gifting, the skill set; we have this opportunity and this moment in time, to bring back conscience, character and Christianity to our communities, our country, our continent and our world.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Thoughts from the Classroom

                                           -Stephanie Burley
Three decades ago, Congress made a declaration which recognized teachers all across America.  They called it National Teacher Day, and for five years it was celebrated on March 7th.  In 1985, The National PTA took things a bit further and established Teacher Appreciation Week.  Since that time, Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated annually the first week of May, with Tuesday being named National Teacher Day. That's a bit of information you may or may not have known, but the important thing to recognize is that teachers not only deserve our prayers and support, they desperately need it. Now more than ever. 

One of the greatest lessons we have learned through this national crisis is the importance of a strong yet flexible educational process.  If your children typically leave home and go to school each day, your world was upended mid-March as schools were shuttered and stay-at-home orders were issued with as little as a day's notice.  This has affected each family differently, depending on family dynamics, needs of the child, accessibility to curriculum and technology, and the preparedness of the school to pivot to a distance learning format.  What is the one constant in this process?  The teacher.

As a caring educator, the teacher is taking this opportunity to engage with students in a way that assures them of their individual importance.  She spends her days interacting, offering feedback, explaining difficult concepts, and giving the students a sense of security by being a constant in this ever-changing time.  Like you, she is adapting to circumstances for which she was unprepared.  Like your children, she is grieving the loss of the end-of-year celebratory events and the opportunity to close out the school year along side of her closest companions.  For many teachers, the 2019-2020 school year is the last in what may have been a lengthy tenure.  They are retiring or moving into a different career path.  This journey was supposed to culminate in celebration and reflection with students, parents, and co-workers as the school-year came to a close.  

Although we are now socially distanced, teachers have remained fully engaged.  So how can parents and students recognize and support our teachers during this special week?  Let me share some meaningful ideas:
  • Have your child create a card for the teacher and mail it to her.  An emailed note would suffice if you are unable to secure an address. In the note, have your child name a specific action or trait of the teacher for which he/she is appreciative.  For instance, "I love how you take extra time to help me in Math." Or, "Your field trips are my favorite!"
  • Take a meal to your teacher.  Everyone is busy right now, and teachers are no exception.  Days are long and often run into dinner time.  Maybe you can run lunch to her home at noon, deliver dinner to her family at six, or even just drop a dessert by her house for her to enjoy as she wishes.  Those acts of kindness are never forgotten.  An alternative idea is to order a meal for her and have it delivered.
  • Place a hanging basket of seasonal flowers on her porch or have a bouquet delivered from a local florist. 
  • Find out where your teacher has her vehicle's oil changed and give her a gift card for that service.  An alternative would be a gift card to a local car wash.
  • If the teacher doesn't have a membership to a local wholesale club, purchase one for her.
  • For coffee lovers, Panera Bread is currently offering a monthly coffee subscription.  Click here for details.  Gift cards to local shops and national chains are a great idea, as well.  As an alternative, a gift bag of coffee (or tea) related items or K-cups is a fun surprise.
These are just a few ideas varying from no cost to a larger investment, but the sentiment is the same, and I promise you, your thoughtfulness will make her day!

On a different note, maybe you are struggling in your relationship with your child's teacher and you're just not sure what to do.  Let me encourage you to pursue the following actions:
  • Pray for your child's teacher.  I don't mean just a passing "bless her" type prayer, but pray specifically for her.  Ask God to empower her to flourish in this season of upended expectations.  Ask Him to give her strength for her days.  There's a good chance that your child's teacher is taking care of/teaching her own children at home while she's supervising the students who are in her virtual classroom. These changes are significant to everyone, and your child's teacher is no exception.
  • Give your child's teacher the benefit of the doubt. If your child is struggling and the temptation is to blame the teacher, remember your child's teacher is human.  You may not be seeing the whole picture, so it's helpful to talk with your child and explain that you are sure that his/her teacher is doing her best.  Then stick with the problem to help find a solution.  Avoid speaking negatively of the teacher in front of your child.  That is counterproductive to building what needs to be a good and effective relationship.  Also keep in mind that, in many cases, teachers are simply carrying out instructions provided by principals and administrators.  They are seeking to meet mandates they didn't create, and this can create extra pressure, especially with so many new things happening quickly.  
  • Communicate with your child's teacher.  Begin by telling her that you are praying specifically and daily for she and her family.  Let her know that you understand that this time of virtual or distance learning is tough for teachers, parents, and students, and that you are willing to do everything you can to lighten her load and help your child succeed.  Then follow through with that.  If you or your child are frustrated, be clear and respectful in your communication with her.  Seek resolution, not further conflict. Be open to honest, constructive criticism.  I assure you, there is no place your child's teacher would rather be right now than in the classroom, fulfilling her God-given calling.  The best thing you can do for her during this time is to communicate well.
  • Look for the good in your child's teacher.  Personality clashes are a real thing, and they aren't necessarily a bad thing.  However, what we choose to do with them makes a huge difference in our relationships.  Your child may not like his/her teacher.  You may not like your child's teacher.  But that doesn't mean your child's teacher cannot be a positive force for good in your child's life.  If there are glaring problems creating lingering issues, of course, that could be a sign of further problems and you need to seek God's help and use the proper chain of command in securing a resolution.  Many times, though, frustrations are brought about by a simple misunderstanding or a personality clash.  How can you work through this?  Understand that your child's personality may be difficult for the teacher, as well.  All teachers have students who are more difficult for them to relate to than others, and a good teacher will make it nearly impossible for a student to tell the difference.  The best way for you to work through a personality clash with your child's teacher?  Look for the good.  Make a list of her positive qualities and find ways to weave those into your conversations with your child.  List the sacrifices she makes.  List the fun activities she plans.  Yes, even include the seemingly demanding assignments she issues.  All of those things are helping your child grow into the person he or she needs to be.  
As we head into the home stretch of the 2019-2020 school year, we realize it has taken a team effort between parents, teachers, and students to arrive at the completion of a successful term.  No one asked for this challenge, but we are meeting it in ways we never thought possible.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Speed Bumps on My Road Called Contentment

- Janet Burton
Have you ever had difficulty breathing? I have because my asthma kicks in anytime I have a sinus infection which then develops into bronchitis.
In mid-March I began to hear the news reports about the coronavirus that would be having a great impact on the older population, especially those with respiratory diseases. Whoa! That hit close to home! They were talking about ME and I didn’t like it one bit! Immediately, a “speed bump” of fear sprang up on my road called Contentment. As a nurse, I know about ventilators and multi-system organ failure, and I was not interested in experiencing any of that. 
Fear set up big time. I was afraid to leave my house for anything. For days, I lived trapped in fear. 

Speed Bumps

I had been so content with my life. I had just retired in December and had already made three trips south to be with family at Christmas, to attend Sea Breeze camp and to be with my brother-in-law during his surgery. My friends and I had enjoyed shopping, attending revivals, eating out, etc. We were all looking forward to the InterChurch Holiness Convention and then a “speed bump” of disappointment showed up on my well paved Contentment road. Stay-in-place guidelines until the end of April or longer. Really? 
Truth vs. Falsehood was the next “speed bump” I encountered. 
Oh my, who in the world is telling the truth? Who’s lying? Are we losing our religious freedoms? What is essential? What isn’t essential? Is Covid-19 part of the end-times? Is it a conspiracy? A biological terrorist attack? Opinions were abounding everywhere!
And then there was the boredom “speed bump.” What does one do for hours on end? Well, I’ll tell you later how I avoided letting boredom lead to the loneliness “speed bump”.
Perhaps you experienced these same “speed bumps” or maybe you experienced other ones during this pandemic. Let me share my approach, and the ways I coped with the quarantine.

Conquering Fear

Fear has not always been a major issue with me, so I was surprised when it gripped me fiercely. I could hardly think of anything else except the possibility that I might die from this virus. I just knew if I got “it,” I would die. I told the Lord HE would to have to help me because I couldn’t control this fear. And you know, HE helped me! He brought to my mind all the times He had protected me in various circumstances. God assured me He was able to protect me now and He would be with me. 
Although God relieved my fears, I didn’t throw caution to the wind and do what I wanted. No, I followed the guidelines. In the midst of my fear God worked through my neighbor to provide me with a N95 face mask. I am no longer fearful when I go grocery shopping. Hopefully, this quote from Brian Tracy will help someone: “Stress [fear] comes from within; it is your reaction to circumstances [Covid-19], not the circumstances themselves.” I’m glad I looked to Jesus to defeat Satan’s tactic of fear!

Coping Skills

Disappointments can lead to depression and if you are prone to depression it is especially easy to fall into despair. You might say I did a little grieving over what I was “giving up” to be safe and healthy. I had to implement some previous coping skills to work through this. 
 How do you cope with all the “if he had” or “if he hadn’t opinions,” end-of-times predictions, etc.?
Well, it helps me tremendously not to read and believe everything I read on Facebook. I had to become very discerning about whose posts I read in order not to fill my mind with controversy and negativity. Sometimes I spoke out when I knew a post was giving inaccurate health information. I had to ask a friend not to send me any more messages about the pandemic. To keep a positive mindset, I had to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience [submission] of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5 KJV). God’s Word became my filter to process the end time predictions. To assist me in this effort I enrolled in the free online course offered by God’s Bible School & College on the Book of Revelation (taught by Dr. Stephen Smith). 
Now, back to the boredom “speed bump.” 
As a single person, battling boredom has become a daily activity for me. I have to be intentional so I can ward off loneliness. I take each day as a new day and start each day with “Lord, what do you want me to do today?” It is amazing what He tells me to do. 
Some days God’s answer is to do some long over-due deep cleaning in my house. Other days God tells me specific people to call and check on or to whom I should send a card. One of my friends was really struggling with being homebound, so I colored a picture and took it to her, along with some books and magazines to help cheer her up. Basically, now, as in other times, God wants me to be a blessing to others. When we bless others, we often receive a blessing ourselves, and that helps combat boredom. 
There have been some rewards to the slower schedule. One of my friends bought bird feeders and has enjoyed watching the birds come and go. A couple of my friends and I have discussed how we now do not feel rushed in our devotional time. We are finding God’s grace sufficient as we come from His presence! I obtained a digital library card and have enjoyed reading books from our local library. My new best friends are Facebook (in spite of the negativity), Marco Polo (staying connected with family), and the Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN which has provided me with hours of good music and stories). Online church services and live musical performances have been so helpful to keep me inspired spiritually. 
Yes, I too long for the day when states are “open” again. When that happens, you will find me with bags packed and headed to who knows where-just because I can!