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Guaranteed to Decrease Stress and Anxiety

According to an article by Psychology Today, nearly 70 million Americans are dealing with stress and anxiety. Are you one of them? Do you feel uneasy going to public places like the grocery store, Target, even church? Are you worried about your job performance, the behavior of your children, or problems in your relationships? You are not alone.

The article continues with these five tips to “squash the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety.” First, acknowledge that you are feeling stressed, identify the anxiety you feel, and remember that whatever is causing you to feel this way will eventually end. Second, learn self-soothing techniques such as deep breathing and positive self-talk. Third, eat healthy foods and limit or avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. Fourth, exercise. And last but not least, get plenty of sleep.

These tips are great advice and will no doubt help to decrease anxiety and stress in your life. But as Christians, we know that the main source of comfort in our lives does not come from the actions we take ourselves. Rather, our main hope of everlasting confidence is given to us from God. Jesus has already lived the perfect life and died the perfect death for all of us, giving us proof that he truly cares about our every need. Yes, Jesus even cares about the crushing anxiety you are feeling and he invites you to turn to the only source of true comfort, the Word of God.

With this in mind, let’s look again at those five tips for decreasing anxiety in our lives.

Remember that our struggles are only temporary. In John 14, Jesus tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We can live each day looking forward to everlasting peace in heaven.

Practice positive self-talk with this theme: though Jesus, God sees me as perfect and worthy. In catechism class you memorized this about Jesus: “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death , and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. All this he did that I should be his own.” Your worth and value is not found in your behavior or appearance, your work ethic, or how organized your closets are. Your worth and value comes from the fact that you are a redeemed child of God.

Feed on the blessings that surround you and avoid worldly stimulants that turn your focus away from God. Turn off your news channel of choice, mute your social media accounts, and promise yourself you will not look at your work e-mails tonight. Heat up a warm soothing beverage of your choice, and open your Bible to the Psalms where we read over and over that though we have troubles in our lives, God is our light and our salvation (Psalm 27), our sins have been forgiven (Psalm 32), we have nothing to fear (Psalm 46), neither a plague that destroys (Psalm 91), nor walking in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), for God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46).

Use difficult exercises to grow closer to God. God uses challenges in our lives to bring us closer to him. Remember when Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus? The Bible tells us in Matthew 14 that “when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” If you are surrounded by wind and waves in your life, call out to God. Trust that as he did with Peter, Jesus will immediately reach out his hand to you and pull you closer to himself.

Finally, climb into bed early and quiet your mind with this prayer from page 139 in the Christian Worship hymnal: O God our Father, by your mercy and might, the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light. We place into your hands our unfinished tasks, our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes, knowing that only what you bless will prosper. To your great love and protection, we commit each other and all those we love, knowing that you alone are our sure defender. Amen.

As the pandemic surges, as hospitals fill up, as political divisiveness and social unrest continues, as relationships are strained, as depression sits on your shoulders, turn your heart to God. God loves you. God cares about you. You have been redeemed. Your struggles will end. You will spend eternity in heaven. This is all most certainly true.

Allison Spaude currently works in the Medical ICU of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. and serves as the communications coordinator for the WELS Nurses Association.

Website Source: Long, J. (2013, August 25). 5 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Stop Stress. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-cloud9/201308/5-quick-tips-reduce-stress-and-stop-anxiety

 

 

 

The Gift of Blood

We are well aware of the importance of blood in regard to our salvation. Were it not for Jesus shedding his, we would all be lost. But he did give his blood, and by doing so, he gave us spiritual and eternal life. We can never repay him for this gift, and we certainly can’t duplicate it. At least, not fully. But we can give the gift of our own blood. And while our blood won’t provide eternal life for anyone, it can give a new lease on physical life for some who need it.

St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash., decided it wanted to make a positive difference for some of the people in our community. The challenge was to find some niche that would truly make a difference, that could be carried out with limited resources (financial and otherwise), and that might bring some of our neighbors onto our campus. The solution? A Red Cross blood drive in the fellowship area of our church!

What did it take to make it happen? One dedicated coordinator to communicate with the Red Cross on the date and details, a small committee of two others (one of whom happened to be a nurse) to handle incidental details (like recruiting cookies, making signs and etc.), a few key people in our congregation to promote it (e.g. church website, Facebook page, congregational e-mails, and church sign), and a few volunteers to remove tables and chairs in advance of the drive. And, of course, your congregation needs sufficient space for the Red Cross to set up their gear. (A Red Cross rep will visit your facility in advance to confirm that it will work.)

Other than that, the Red Cross does the heavy lifting. But it’s what they do, so they have the process well refined. Upon approval of the facility, your site, date and time will be posted on the Red Cross website where anyone can sign up to donate. People can look for the drives nearest them by entering their zip code. Whenever anyone enters a zip code close to your church or school, your drive will be listed as a nearby option! Then on the day of the drive, Red Cross will set up their equipment, handle the donor registrations and blood donations, monitor the donors, and after it’s over, remove their equipment and leave.

The goal of the Red Cross is to get 25-35 donors, with a cap at 40. The first time St. Paul’s hosted a blood drive, we had 40 registered donors, with about 30 of them from outside our congregation! There are always some “no shows,” but we had members on standby to fill those gaps. We ended up with 38 donations. Red Cross was thrilled, and so were we. We had just done something significant for our community, and it was so easy to do! And we had heightened the community awareness of our congregation, brought 30 neighbors into our church, and given St. Paul gifts and social media resource information to all of them.

We have our next drive scheduled already and expect this will be a regular activity for our congregation going forward. Perhaps it might be an activity that works well for your church too?

Pastor David Birsching currently serves the members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington.

 

 

 

Standing Up for Children

As Christians, we place our faith and trust in God. And as the Church we feel connected to fellow Christians because of our shared faith. We naturally want to extend that faith and trust those around us, especially if they are fellow Christians.

However, sin is a very real and present danger. Although we warn children about stranger danger, strangers are rarely the molesters of children. In fact, studies indicate that a child knows his/her offender in 90 percent of abuse cases. Many times, the offender is someone who was trusted, someone others thought would be “good with kids.”

What does this have to do with nursing? Here are some words I found from a top 10 list of necessary qualities for a nurse: caring, empathetic, organized, emotionally stable, adaptable, and having endurance. These traits, in conjunction with your training, prepare you to help your church become and stay a safe place for children.

As a nurse you’ve likely received training about child abuse throughout your career. You’ve learned the physical and emotional signs that may indicate abuse. You’ve perhaps seen how abuse affects your patients, whether as a child or as an adult who must deal with difficult childhood experiences. You know how to respond to child abuse. As a mandated reporter, you’ve most likely had to report it.

Our Lutheran churches and schools do not always have the same amount of education you have. In fact, if a pastor or teacher graduated 15 or more years ago, they most likely did not even discuss child abuse in college, much less talk about the need to report it.

You are in a unique position to advocate for more education for those who interact with children! This does not mean you would have to provide the training yourself. You can offer resources to the church to do the training. WELS has an excellent free online training program for people who interact with children.

Your knowledge can also be helpful to your church as it creates and reviews policies surrounding the care of children. Policies need to include the process a volunteer must follow in order to work with children, safe environmental standards, how to respond to allegations of abuse, and training requirements. Ask your church if it has a childcare policy you can review.

If it does not have a policy, ask if you can be on a committee to explore this. You do not have to be an expert to help form policy; many examples and information about best practices are available on the internet. For example, the Centers for Disease Control has an online manual to assist with creating policies and procedures.

As a nurse you bring a unique skill set and knowledge base to your church. By simply sharing what you know with family and friends you can engage their help in fighting child abuse. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful steward of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10.

Michelle Markgraf is the Director of Family Support Services at Kingdom Workers and an advisory board member to Freedom for the Captives.

 

 

 

 

“Direct my footsteps according to your Word” Psalm 119:133

Parish nurses can serve their congregations in a variety of ways. Each congregation is different, and each nurse brings different skills with him or her. My area of practice was in a hospice unit and so bereavement follow-up seemed a good place to start. I keep in regular contact with those who experience a loss.

Tragically, one of our families lost a cherished son to a motorcycle accident. Both Pastor and I kept in touch with the family with comfort from God’s Word. As time went on, Mom felt she needed more help and asked about a support group. So Pastor Loescher contacted John D. Schuetze, LPC, DMI, BC-TMH with Christian Family Solutions and it was decided that he would facilitate our first group. Both Pastor and I attended the eight weekly hour-long sessions, with the thought that I would facilitate in the future.

Professor Schuetze opened with a prayer and Scripture reading relating to God’s love and care for us. He established guidelines for the group: we are there to listen, care and support, we will listen to those who are speaking and not dominate the discussion, no one is compelled to speak, tears are a normal expression of grief, we may also enjoy times of joy and laughter, each individual may be in a different place in their grief journey, what is shared in the group will stay in the group, and we will begin and end on time.

Each session allowed time for learning about a different aspect of grief in general and also time for each to share something about their own journey. In our second session we bring a picture of our loved one for “show and tell.”

We have offered the grief support group a total of four times now with me facilitating the last three. Pastor and I keep in touch and I know I can go to him with any concerns. I have used two different resources for my opening devotion and/or closing prayer. Both are excellent!

  • “Grief Doesn’t Have the Last Word – The promise of blessing in seasons of sorrow.” by Pastor Kurt Ebert. I assign reading and we discuss. Available through Time of Grace.
  • “Purposeful Grieving – Embracing God’s Plan in the Midst of Loss” by Stacy E. Hoehl, Ph.D. An eight-week daily devotional that the group uses at home. Available through NPH.

We send information to nearby WELS congregations when promoting another group and some have joined us. Participants express appreciation for the opportunity with 6 – 10 in each group. I have noticed that members continue to care for each other as time goes on. We offer the group about once a year, depending on the need.

For more information about how to start a grief support group at your church, you can contact me at parishnurse@davidsstar.org

Sue Bolha is a parish nurse at David’s Star Lutheran Church in Jackson, Wisconsin.