Tag Archive for: welsnursessummer2021

Freedom: Purchased at a High Cost, Yet Freely Given

There is a slogan written on several billboards and clothing items and often heard in editorials or on social media that says, “Freedom Isn’t Free.”  While we can agree that it takes sacrifice to obtain and preserve freedom, we can look at freedom from a different perspective. While freedom is often purchased at a high cost, it is typically freely given.

We have used the term “front-line hero” to refer to our military men and women serving in times of war and Law Enforcement and Fire Departments responding to dangerous national, state, and local emergencies. They purchased freedom with extreme sacrifice, sometimes with their very lives, and freely gave the benefit of their sacrifice to a grateful nation.

And now, during a lengthy battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the heroism of our nurses and other healthcare professionals who collectively worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to fight this deadly virus. During these past 18 months this group of people also sacrificed, sometimes with their very lives, and freely gave the benefit of their sacrifice to local communities and a grateful nation. In every sense, they served our nation as front-line heroes.

We are now beginning to return to normal activities, but as Christians, our work is not done because freedom from earthly troubles is not our end goal.  While we can and should continue to comfort and care for those still afflicted and affected by this current pandemic, and we can absolutely celebrate restored freedoms with others who have been restricted for so long, our message must be that God has always been in control working for our eternal benefit. He clearly tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

That plan has been manifested and completed singlehandedly through Jesus Christ, the very first name on our list of front-line heroes. He came down from his heavenly throne, lived a perfect life for us, and sacrificed himself by enduring death on a cross in our place; all this while we were still sinners. Christ’s precious, innocent blood was indeed a high cost, and the benefit was the most important freedom of all: freedom from sin and death. The result is eternal life, which Christ gives to us freely because of his immeasurable love for us.

We are called to be a light in a sinful world. May God bless our efforts to speak for Jesus as we proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recover sight for the blind, and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18).

Mr. Frank Penha serves as the Chairman of the WELS Health and Wellness Special Ministries Committee which oversees the WELS Nurses Association.

 

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Member Assistance Program

Our Sunday morning Bible study was discussing how our church could use strategic planning to reach more people with God’s Word. We practiced setting far-reaching goals and putting in writing the small incremental steps we could take to obtain them. My small group chose to brainstorm ways to improve our counseling services. For our far-reaching goal, one group member said, “What we really need is a full-time counselor that can meet with members!” She had a great point. While we certainly have members who would benefit from counseling services, for our small church of less than 200 members, having a full-time counselor would be a far-reaching goal financially.

The good news is that Christian Family Solutions provides churches with the ability to provide Christian counseling services through their Member Assistance Program (MAP). Churches that participate in MAP have an agreement with Christian Family Solutions (CFS) that the church will cover the cost of counseling services provided to its members. Members can either request counseling services on the CFS website or work through their pastor. Depending on the type of counseling that is needed, CFS will set up an in-person or online session with a counselor specifically trained to give counsel on the particular topic. Their services include counseling for individuals, couples, families, and substance abuse as well as career counseling, premarital counseling, and online support groups. They have clinics in a variety of states across the country, but their ability to set up a secure video counseling session means members can still receive counseling in places where there is no clinic.

How does this apply to you? As a health care professional, members of your church may feel comfortable confiding in you that they are going through a difficult time and may ask for advice. By being knowledgeable about the services provided at your church, you can help the member receive the assistance they need. You can start by encouraging members to speak to the pastor about their concerns. For someone going through a challenging time, biblical encouragement and comfort from their pastor may be beneficial. If necessary, the pastor can refer the individual to CFS. However, there may also be times where a member does not feel comfortable speaking to their pastor about a sensitive topic. In this situation, the individual may request an appointment online or by calling CFS.

Our small group sat silent for a moment after our group member’s statement. Then I spoke up and said, “We already do! Through the Member Assistance Program, our members have access to many Christian counselors for all of their counseling needs at no cost to themselves.” As we moved on in our activity, rather than brainstorming ways to financially afford a full-time counselor, we focused on making steps to raise awareness in our church about the program. What a blessing this is to churches!

Not sure if your church is part of the Member Assistance Program? Speak to your pastor. If your church is interested and would like more information, you can reach out to the MAP Coordinator Dan Nommensen by calling 800-438-1772 or by e-mailing assistance@wlcfs.org.

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.

 

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The Link Between an Identity in Christ and a Healthier Life

As coordinator of the Health and Wellness Support program for Kingdom Workers, I am often asked, “How does your program connect people with Jesus?” The truth is that health and gospel proclamation go hand-in-hand. As a healthcare professional, understanding the link between your own physical and spiritual health will help you better care for yourself and your patients. In this post I’ll be sharing how our program in Chile connects health and identity with sharing the gospel message, and how you can do the same in your own life.

Health

The Health and Wellness Support program was created to support Chileans in the fight against obesity and diabetes. Chile’s prevalence of diabetes is among the highest in Latin America.

In 2019 the Chilean Ministry of Social and Family Development revealed that 75% of adults and 51.58% of children in Chile are obese and that 66.2% of the population is inactive. Chileans are generally aware of the risks of obesity and diabetes. They value preventive care strategies, but do not understand how to apply them to their everyday lives.

The truth is that habit-change is not easy. If it were, Chileans leaving their doctor’s office with professional advice about necessary lifestyle adaptations would immediately begin eating nutritious, balanced meals and exercise regularly.

I personally think of the various goals that I have set and not accomplished or even truly started:

  • I desire to be a runner, but my snooze button is more appealing.
  • I want to cook yummy nutritious food for breakfast, but grabbing the cereal box is easier.

Many people only focus on the outcome that they desire. They fail to make healthy changes, not because they are uneducated, but because they don’t know how to change their habits. Or they don’t have the systems, motivation, and support needed to follow through. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, acknowledges the importance of having goals and systems to accomplish behavior changes. However, he argues that true behavior change begins with identity.

Identity

One’s beliefs shape their systems and practices. James shares that your daily habits are the equivalent to votes being cast in favor of who you are and will become. The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes a natural part of yourself. Habits become lifelong when they are a part of your identity.

“True behavior change is identity change.” – James Clear

We agree with James. We believe that preventive care begins with one’s beliefs, one’s identity. When habits are a part of one’s identity, they outlast an educational workshop or a support group.

Sadly, it is all too easy to assume identities that affect us in negative ways:

  • I am not a morning person can mean There is no room for improving my sleep habits.
  • I am a hard worker can mean I have no time for lunch.
  • I am not a math person can mean I will never attempt to keep a personal budget.

Even something as beautiful as I am a mom can mean I don’t have time to be a role model of self-care and healthy living.

For this reason, every single one of Kingdom Workers’ Wellness Circles begins with an identity check: Who are we?

Gospel message

As a Christian program, this is where it gets exciting. Without Christ, a person begins the habit-change process by deciding for themselves what person they desire to be. In itself, this can be positive: I am a mom who has energy. I am a person who enjoys moving their body every day. I am a reader. 

However, we begin our sessions by going a step further—we share the identity truths that we hold in Christ. These are not identities that we desire and then cast votes for with our everyday actions. These are identities that we hold because HE gave them to us. Because of our God, we know who we are and what our true identity through Christ is.

  • We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knit us together in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13-14)
  • We are known. God calls us by name. (Isaiah 43:1)
  • We are loved. God sent His one and only son to save us. (John 3:16-17)
  • We are redeemed. We were bought at a price and therefore get to honor God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • We are saved. Not by anything we have done or accomplished, but because of what Jesus did for us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • We are forgiven. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us. (1 John 1:8-9)
  • We are set apart. God calls us to not conform to the patterns of this world, but rather offer our bodies as living sacrifices to Him. (Romans 12:1-2)
  • We are strong. God gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13)
  • We are confident. Grace changes everything. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Building on an identity rooted in Christ

Take a few moments to think about how God made you. Focus in on all the things your body is doing for you right now: the intricate workings that happen without you thinking about it, every second of every day that keep you alive and well. Think about how you are uniquely you, and there is no one else just like you. Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works and wonderful, I know that full well.”

– Excerpt from the book, “Do…What You Can” by Amanda Paltzer used in session 1 of a Kingdom Workers Wellness Circle.

Wellness Circles are made up of small groups of people who desire to improve their health together. Every session of a Wellness Circle begins with the spiritual foundation and motivation to care for one’s body. Caring for our bodies as loved and forgiven children of God.

After beginning with a strong identity foundation, volunteers trained by Kingdom Workers then discuss the intricacies of habit change. We daily support participants as they apply what they learn to their everyday lives by addressing barriers like social pressures, culture, and personal behaviors. Our identity in Christ is the center of all that we do, including our health journeys.

The gospel message is powerful. It is life changing. And it impacts all levels of participants—those who already know Christ and those who are hearing about His undeserved love for the first time.

How the Wellness Circles have impacted me

The experience of developing the Wellness Circles has led me to realize how quickly our identities in Christ can fade from our memories. I am quick to forget that I am strong in Christ as I anxiously fight to accomplish the next to-do, forgetting that he has already won the victory. My body frustrates me more than it wows me. I see good nutrition as an annoyance rather than a blessing.

Living as a child of God allows me to see the world and my wellness journey through a Kingdom lens.

I take joy in the process of caring for my body not only because it is an incredible gift from my creator, but because it was bought at a price on the cross. Daily habits like meal preparation and eating more fruits and vegetables become moments of wonder—when we go to the garden my son squeaks gleefully, “When it’s big we eat it!” Habit-change becomes easier because it is no longer rooted in the physical changes that I hope to accomplish.

Today I want to encourage you to not only consider making positive habit changes in your life, but also to do so with a group of people who encourage you and who open God’s Word with you. Working in healthcare is hard. You’ll face burnout, difficult patients, long hours, and more. But surrounding yourself with God’s word and people who will speak his truths to you can help.

You have joined the WELS Nursing Association because you likely wanted to be part of a Christian group. If you aren’t already meeting in small groups to talk about your own physical and spiritual health, I’d encourage you to team up. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you. The blessings will go far beyond just improving your own life. It will change the way you see yourself, your habits, and your relationship with God. Many of the people in our Wellness Circle agree. Alejandro shared, “The more I am in the Word, the more I want to live and share it.” Inés reflected on her faith growth and small, but steady, health improvements. Jessica told us how, “There is no doubt that being a part of this initiative has helped me improve my wellness both physically and spiritually. I am thankful for the motivation. I am thankful for each reflection in the word of God. I felt accompanied in the process, strengthened by God.” And we have data to back up just how powerful these changes are.

Our program in Chile desires to impact the community with lasting positive health changes. But more importantly, we desire to share the hope that we have with our Chilean brothers and sisters. And we pray that your own personal connection with your health and with God will grow and flourish.

How will seeing yourself as a redeemed child of God change your life?

Elise Gross is the Chile Program Coordinator at Kingdom Workers. She grew up on the island of Antigua with missionary parents and studied social science and culture in college. After spending four years in Milwaukee working with city ministry, an opportunity to serve in Chile opened up and she and her husband jumped at the chance to serve in another country. Elise hopes that the Kingdom Workers program in Chile will continue to impact lives and change people’s hearts as they grow closer to their Savior through conversations about healthy living.

 

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Equipped to Handle an Emergency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. About 655,000 die each year, which breaks down into one death every 36 seconds. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease and results in 805,000 heart attacks. That’s one heart attack every 40 seconds. These numbers are staggering.

Heart attacks can occur at home, at the gym, in public places, and yes, even at church. In response to this, many churches and schools are being equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). An AED is a device that can sense the electrical current traveling through the heart and can correct some lethal rhythms by delivering an electric shock through the skin. As all health care professionals know, AEDs can truly save lives.

Our church recently decided to purchase an AED and it took some research to determine where to purchase it and what brand would suit us. We decided to reach out to a local company that offers CPR classes for their opinion. The representative knew that we wanted an easy-to-use model since many of our members are not health care professionals. For our situation, she recommended we purchase the Philips HeartStart Onsite AED. There are many different brands of AEDs and the WELS Nurses Association does not endorse or recommend any specific brand. She also knew that we do have a handful of nurses that would start CPR if they would be present so she recommended a responder pack that includes a mask to safely give breaths. The pack is in a zippered pouch that we have clipped to the AED carrying case.

We appreciated receiving her recommendations so we decided to purchase the AED from the local company. However, if your church is interested in purchasing an AED and knows what brand and supplies they would like, everything can be purchased from online sites such as Amazon or the AED Superstore as well as many others. If possible, your church could host a CPR class where members are instructed on how to respond to an emergency as well as the location of the AED and how to use it. It should be kept in a public place with clear signage that is easily accessible.

Feel free to reach out to the WELS Nurses Association with any further questions about purchasing an AED for your church at WELSnurses@wels.net.

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: Heart Disease Facts. (2020, September 8). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

 

Have an article you want to see in the next newsletter? E-mail us at WELSnurses@wels.net!