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Coming Soon!

CARES II Front Cover

Yes! It is true. There is a second compilation of NCFI CARES Devotions being published!

NCFI celebrates the publication of the second compilation of NCFI Cares devotions entitled CARES II: Reflections of Nurses. The Lord’s timing cannot go unnoticed. For, as the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus Pandemic, stress for nurses and midwives is at an all-time high. As the heart and hands of health care it is important that each individual nurse feels assured as vital member body of Christ and the global nursing profession. Christian nurses need encouragement, support, and prayers to persevere and stand firm in their faith.

The reflections are written by diverse authors from around the world that inspire peace, strength, and hope amidst the challenges of Christian nursing. They include practical advice on staying calm, responding to conflict, and rekindling our joy while opening our hearts to how Jesus can guide our nursing practice. Whether you work in the hospital, clinic, university, or ministry, all Christian nurses will be encouraged professionally and personally.

Each reflection begins with a central scripture and a brief teaching or insight. Unique to CARES II is the inclusion of an accompanying passage of scripture, reflective question, and a simple prayer.  They can be used for a personal prayer/devotional time or part of connecting a nursing fellowship group.

CARES II will be published in a bilingual English/Spanish book and an English only book. The pdf copies will be available on the NCFI resource website. Check back for the link for free downloads!

NCFI Cares: The Lord’s Presence: A Two-Fold Response to Despair

…the LORD was not in the wind…the LORD was not in the earthquake…the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a soft whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12

After Elijah received divine nourishment from the pre-incarnate Christ, he traveled for 40 days and 40 nights to a cave in the mountain Horeb. There he slept. The Lord awakened Elijah with the question, “Why are you here, Elijah?” Elijah once again explains his zealous service. This time, the Lord provided a two-fold response.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Look, the Lord is ready to pass by (1 Kings 19:11).

 First, the LORD sent a powerful wind that caused landslides, earthquake, and fire. God was not in these powerful events. The presence of the LORD was in the soft whisper. Elijah covered his face recognizing the whisper as holy and divine. Bible scholars state the reason for the extreme weather events prior to the soft whisper, was to remind Elijah that God’s work is most often in the unseen things – like a changed heart.

            Then, the LORD provided Elijah with specific directions for his next steps in ministry.

“Go back the way you came…anoint Hazael king over Syria…anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to take your place as prophet.” (1 Kings 19:15-16)

The Lord was clear to Elijah. He was not done. In fact, my personal thought is the Lord had a sense of humor by saying “Go back the way you came….”. Repeatedly the Lord has asked Elijah, “Why are you here?” This time, the Lord just sent him back into the ministry. Elijah’s sacrifice and work has not been in vain. There is a future prophet to mentor and 7000 faithful followers needing a leader.

As we conclude our time with Elijah, the Lord has the same two-fold response for us who are weary and are saying “It’s enough.”

First, God is with us! We have the Holy Spirit within us. He speaks as a soft whisper that we will recognize. We don’t need to hide in a cave to hear His voice. We can just open the Scriptures and hear His voice. During the most challenging and difficult time of Elijah’s ministry, the Lord reached out with a personal, intimate voice. Himself. Thus, we are assured that out of our suffering comes a deeper intimacy with Christ. A connecting that fills us with joy, grace, and peace (Romans 15:13).

Furthermore, don’t become discouraged when we do not witness the fruit of our ministry.  God may not eradicate COVID, poverty, nor suffering; God is moving in the hearts of people to achieve a faithful following. Listen for the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit who is working within our clinics and communities. (John 6:37).

Finally, God is not done with us! No matter how discouraged, depressed, or exhausted you may be, you still have work to do! Your ministry is not over. Opening our heart to the work God has called us to will extinguish those arrows of doubt and despair. (Ephesians 6:16)

For further study: Two Articles by J. H. Keathly III

15. The Crisis of Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-14) https://bible.org/seriespage/15-crisis-elijah-1-kings-194-14

16. The Restoration of Elijah 1 Kings 19:4-18, Keathly III,  J. H. https://bible.org/seriespage/16-restoration-elijah-1-kings-195-18

NCFI Cares: Divine Nourishment

“Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:7)

Last time we discussed how we need rest and rejuvenation to recover from spiritual and physical exhaustion.  Elijah not only slept under the broom tree, but he also received nourishment from Heaven. This was no ordinary angel that ministered to Elijah. Biblical scholars teach that the “angel of the Lord” in this passage is the pre-incarnate Christ. The Eternal Word personally provided Elijah with the following divine nourishment. (1)

  • God’s love and grace.
    • Elijah was assured of God’s love and grace even when he tried to run from his presence.
  • God’s abiding presence.
    • In our lowest point of feeling of depression, rejection, and failure, God does not abandon us.
  • God’s strength
    • The meal the Angel of the Lord prepared energized Elijah to travel 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
  • God’s assurance of His plan and our work.
    • God was not done with Elijah and would provide for his next mission.

Yet those who wait for the Lord,

Will gain new strength;

You will mount up with wings like eagles,

You will run and not get tired,

You will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31 personalized with You)

Our divine nourishment is find in the Angel of the Lord/Jesus Christ (Phi 4:19).

(1) The Restoration of Elijah 1 Kings 19:4-18, Keathly III,  J. H. https://bible.org/seriespage/16-restoration-elijah-1-kings-195-18

NCFI Cares: Strategies for Rest

So he ate and drank and lay down again (1 Kings 19:6)

As Elijah rested under the broom tree, he received rest and nourishment. Many times, when we think of “rest” we think of vacations or going on holiday. Travel may not be possible due to restrictions or personal schedules, and there may be difficulties with taking a holiday, an extended weekend, or even an extra day off from work.  In addition, many nurses have kids and spouses home for remote working or virtual learning. Now more than ever, we need to be creative with finding rest.

Here are some tips for Power doses of individual rest:

  • 2 minute break while working

            A friend of mine recently discussed how a quick “bathroom break” during a busy nursing shift can be a well-deserved moment to regroup. Sounds hilarious at first, but if you are overwhelmed with the needs of patients, family, and staff, a quick bathroom break is an opportunity to breath and repeat scripture. If you think this only applies to nurses, many moms of young children tell me a “bathroom break” gives them time to themselves amidst the crying and demanding needs of babies and toddlers.

  • A few hours

            Connect with your spouse or a friend to coordinate a few hours of rest and relaxation. For example, you may take the morning and go for a walk while your spouse or friend watches the kids, does the laundry, etc. Then, switch. I would encourage making this a weekly activity, even if it is only for 2 hours. Don’t fall into the trap of grocery shopping, or household stuff during your rest time—that is NOT rest.

  • Do something different for rest.

If you normally exercise, then take the time and read a book, or vice versa. Mixing up our activities can help our over-worked brains and bodies reframe events into relaxation. This can be a time to try a new hobby or activity.

What we do with our rest time is just as important as the rest. In our culture of constantly being connected via phone, it is challenging to “rest” from social media, messaging, and notifications. Stop or mute “notifications” from popping-up on the phone. This is an important reminder. Rest includes putting the phone aside.

One Bible commentator stated, “How interesting. God remembers that we are frail. He knows our frame, that we are but dust. He is mindful that we possess material bodies that must be cared for, often, before the spiritual part can function (Ps. 103:14).”

Are you encouraged by NCFI Cares?

Have you been encouraged by the NCFI Cares devotions?

Please share your experience and how you are using the NCFI Cares personally and/or with other nurses.

With your permission, we may share your story on the NCFI website/publications or in the next publication of CARES 2! 

Tell us! 2 ways Complete the form: https://forms.gle/PYcEWbJpDPziZvtRA

OR

Send email to ncfi.cares@gmail.com. Be sure to include name and country with your comments.

Thanks!

NCFI Cares: Resting Under the Broom Tree

And he lay down and slept under a broom tree.

1 Kings 19:5

After Elijah’s depleting work as a prophet, prayer warrior, mentor, and marathon runner, we find him sleeping under a broom tree. Let’s sit with Elijah and reflect on how he became so exhausted.

Even though all Elijah’s activities were directed by God, they had left him spiritually depleted and vulnerable leaving him open to a spiritual attack from the Devil.  Thus, when Jezebel threatened his life, he doubted God’s protection and went running for his life.

We also can become vulnerable in ministry. As we continue to do God’s work in nursing, ministry, universities, and clinics, we risk becoming weary and tired. This is especially true during the Coronavirus pandemic when the stress and workload is extraordinary! In a previous devotion, we discussed the inordinate amount of home, work, and personal stress most of us are experiencing. Like Elijah, we are vulnerable to the Devil’s arrows in his quiver that bring fear, anxiety, depression, and others (Ephesians 6:16)

As we continue to sit with Elijah under the broom tree, we also notice he is alone. Remember, he left his servant back in Beersheba and then traveled all day to collapse in despair under the broom tree. Similar to Elijah, many of us are isolated from our support systems. The shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of covid has caused many of us to be isolated from family, friends, colleagues, and church family.

Many of us are trying to stay connected through online church, What’sApp Bible studies, and virtual prayer meetings; yet they are not the same as in-person connections. We were not made to be alone. God created us to live in community. We need to not only stay in community through technologies; we also need have extra time for prayer, worship, and fellowship. This is a time when we need one another more than ever.

Exhaustion does not mean an end to the Lord’s work. Instead, it means a time to rest, regroup and find nourishment. Take some time to reflect on what has brought you to despair and exhaustion. Are you like Elijah, exhausted from the Lord’s work? Alone in ministry and/or in faith? In the next devotion, we will explore strategies for resting.

NCFI Cares: Zealous for the Lord

“I have been very zealous for the Lord,” (1 Kings 19:10)

In the previous devotion we followed Elijah’s example and cried out in distress to God saying, “It is enough!” (1 Kings 19:4). In this devotion we will review events in Elijah’s life and discover how a prophet of God can become exhausted and in despair.

During the severe drought in the land, Elijah received provisions through ravens and then from a widow and her son. (1 Kings 17)

  • Later, at the appointed time, the Lord directed Elijah to confront King Ahab for his wickedness and idoltry worship of Baals. (1 King 18)
  • Elijah then confronted the Isaraelites and their idolatry. He challenged the prophets to a showdown with the LORD. The Lord triumphed and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:22-41)
  • In response to the coming rain and empowed by God, Elijah runs from Mount Carmel to Jezreel about 50 km. (1 Kings 18:46)
DOMENICO FETTI (ROME C. 1588-VENICE 1623)The Sacrifice of Elijah Before the Priests of Baal c.1621-22
Oil on panel | 61.2 x 70.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405466

This brief synopsis reveals how Elijah confronted wickedness and fought a spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal. The events were all directed by God to bring King Ahab and the Israelites to repentance. After their repentance, the Lord blessed them with rain. However, all is not well for Elijah. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, in response to the slaughter of the prophets of Baal, sends a death threat to Elijah. (1 Kings 19:1-2)

Then he (Elijah) was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (1 Kings 19:3)

After his spiritual victory, we think Elijah would be courageous. Instead, he was afraid for his life and runs to Beersheba, a 172 km journey. He leaves his servant at Beersheba. Alone, Elijah continues for another day’s journey into the wilderness. Under a broom tree or shrub Elijah lies. Alone, afraid and exhausted he cries out to the Lord, “It is enough”. This brief look shows how Elijah became exhausted from ministry work.  

As overworked, stressed nurses we are at risk of exhaustion and burnout; or a common American idiom states, “running yourself into the ground.” As I mentioned last time, there is nothing wrong with admitting our human distress and exhaustion. Jesus recognized the importance of leading his disciples to a place to rest, even if he wasn’t successful at find the time and place.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.). They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. (Mark 6:30-32)

Take some time to review events and experiences that has led to your exhaustion. It may be helpful to journal or write them out as a prayer.

NCFI Cares: “It Is Enough!”

In addition to the onslaught of stress in our personal life, many of us have lost our support systems. Friends we had previously commiserated with and strategized about family issues are no longer readily accessible. Yes, we can still meet via video chats and phone calls, but gone are those precious chats over a meal or during a favorite activity. Our in-person meetings with colleagues to brainstorm solutions and navigate coping mechanisms are no longer available Instead, many of us are remote workers, isolated at home to navigate responsibilities without the support of peers.

2020 has been an exhausting year. Nurses and health care workers have and continue to experience extreme emotional and physical distress. What was originally predicted to be an upheaval for a few weeks or months. Has now turned into a grueling, endless year of lockdowns, remote schooling, and work-related stressors. Many of us have been blessed to not experience the illness and/or loss of loved ones from the coronavirus. Yet, we are overwhelmed with the numerous social and personal difficulties:

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com
  • Burden of home schooling children.
  • Worry over children and their response to homeschooling, social isolation and family stress.
  • Extreme stress and over worked related to work AND/OR inundated with economic worries due to job loss
  • Strained relationships with spouses and/children
  • Inability to visit and/or care for aging parents and sick relatives.
  • Isolation, fear, and depression as a prisoners in their own home,
  • And countless sufferings, too many to name.

The biggest, most acute loss has been our spiritual support. As Christians our lifeline is the rooted attachment found in our Christian fellowship. Weekly times of worship, regular consistent group prayers, and connectedness with our church family is the bedrock to life. Yes, many can attend online church, chat via group video, and send frequent texts and messages through WhatsApp. YET, it is not the same as coming into the House of the Lord and experiencing the Holy Spirit’s connection with our church family. In less than a year’s time our solid footing in life has been drastically changed by the pandemic.  We have been proverbially  cut-off at the knees and are no longer able to stand strong in our faith.

Many of you may be saying with me, “It is Enough!”  During a recent period of extreme fatigue the Lord reminded me of another person who had said, “It is enough.”—Elijah. In the next few devotions, we are going to explore events leading up to Elijah’s exhaustion. Then, like Elijah, we can gain strength to stay the course in how the Lord is using us during this unprecedented time. 

In the meantime, I want you to openly cry out to God about your exhaustion. It is okay to say, “It is enough”.  Psalm 118:5 David shared his distress, “In my distress I called on the Lord, and he answered me and set me free.”

From this place, God will care for you and provide what you need. If need be, reach out to someone else who can provide a helping hand. Remember, the Holy Spirit uses other people in our lives to help us out.  “Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken”. (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

A Sacred Sorrow

In the fall 2019, I found myself once again a wreck with grief and stress. My younger brother had died of an overdose and then my 18 year-old nephew had committed suicide. These two deaths, along with stress related to my grown daughter, I was an emotional wreck. So, I dragged my husband and I into our pastor’s office for some spiritual care.

As he counseled me on self-care, which included time to rest and prayer, he recommended A Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card. The book uses David and other “lamenters” in the Bible to guide reader on various ways to cry out to God.

Being open, honest and real with God can be a challenge, especially when our emotions of anger, frustration and pain seem contrary to what we think God wants to hear. In fact, the opposite is true–God wants to hear and be part of our human experience.

I encourage you to “lament” with God. He wants to hear and “be with you” and your pain. Lamenting can be through journal (my choice), audio, and/or via video.

I am weary with my sighing;
Every night I make my bed swim,
I dissolve my couch with my tears.

My eye has wasted away with grief; . . .
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.

The Lord has heard my supplication,
The Lord receives my prayer.

Psalm 6:6-9 David’s cry/prayer to GOD.

Be sure to comment if you have used this book to assist you in lamenting to God about your grief.

Why Grief Soup?

Many years ago while working on a medical surgical unit I was caring for a terminal patient who was being transferred to home hospice care. The liaison for hospice came by to chat with the patient, exploring if she was ready for hospice care. I have always been drawn to caring for the dying. Some nurses are anxious or prefer not to care for the terminal or even those patients who will die while in the hospital. In health care we call them “comfort care” for the focus of their medical and nursing care is keeping them comfortable.

Later on, the nurse liaison got to chatting and she mentioned a book hospice provides for family members entitled “Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” .

The book through a wonderful story is about “Grandy” who has experienced a loss is reminded of a family recipe for making her own “Tear Soup.” The book recognizes that everyone responds to the loss of a loved one differently, like a unique recipe for soup. Included is a basic recipe for grief AND then has poignant notes that are helpful for different “cooks”, like men and children.

Besides recommending the book for any one experiencing grief, Tear Soup spurred me to make my own grief soup after the death of my sister in 2013.

Hope you will find some help as we cook together our own version of Tear soup.