Leveling the Playing Field

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Politics seems to pervade every segment of American life this election year. There are two very extreme philosophies coming from the two dominant political parties in America. The one party wants a government-mandated redistribution of wealth so that all live on the same playing field. The other party wants everyone to have a chance at doing the best they can for themselves so that the playing field is naturally leveled by their own efforts. Jesus would certainly agree with both parties that the poor need help. He was very clear about that. He cares deeply for the orphan, the widow, the misplaced and the oppressed. That is why He calls those of us who have more to take action and He modeled the action.

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) Though He was God, He did not think that equality with God was something to cling to. Instead He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

He came to earth in the womb of a vulnerable teenage girl who was suspected of betraying manger-crossher betrothed and was birthed in a stable because there were no rooms available for a human baby. It occurred to me that Jesus became poor to show us how to be poor. He showed us how much it may cost to accomplish His will on the earth. He experienced everything a poor person in society experiences and He did not let it stop Him. He did what God asked Him to do even when it became increasingly unpopular, even when it caused His death.

God’s word is clear that the way up is down, that we stand best when we are on our knees, that in humility we are a formidable presence. He modeled that. What does that mean for a Christian on the eve of a very serious presidential election? Seriously, let’s seek Him and do what He calls us to do.

prayer_warrior

Dawn

 

 

 

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A chip off the old block

Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining,

and delight to be

not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned,

but separated from the old rock

where I have been embedded so long,

and lifted from the quarry to the upper air,

where I may be built in Christ for ever.

~ from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

 Chip off the old block is an idiom that describes a person (usually a male) who behaves in the same way as his father or resembles his father (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/chip+off+the+old+block). I am always thrilled when someone says to me that I am a chip off the old block when comparing me to my earthly father, but what I covet even more is to behave like and reflect my heavenly Father. I pray to be lifted from the quarry to the upper air where I may be built in Christ forever so that I may represent Him on earth: a chip off the rock of ages.

Giving thanks is the firm foundation that a Christlike spirit requires and so I am learning to be thankful in and for everything. On Mondays I join the wonderful community at Ann’s to list my thanks. Today is Monday, so here’s my list. Today, I am thankful

#774 for an upcoming generation of young people who love the Lord and want to give their all to serve Him. I can name dozens, but today I want to mention Jon Gregory who will have an interview Tuesday for a State Police Officer position. I took this picture today after church. He is with his grandfather. They used to be a cross-cut saw team and always won first place. Pap is no longer able to saw, but he and Jon have a bond that is tangible. Here they are talking about the boundaries of Pap’s land. You can see the surveyor’s stake in the background dividing the neighbor’s land from the church parking lot which is on the land Jon’s Pap donated. I am so thankful for Godly men like these.

#775 for generational faith.

#776 for healing in my body. I broke the 3 center toes on my left foot 2 weeks ago and they are healing nicely even though I have to walk on them 8-12 hours every day as I do home health nursing during the orientation to my new job. The three middle toes were dark purple for two weeks. Now toes 2 and 3 are slightly blue-gray. It’s quite a change! Thank you, Jesus!

#777 for birthdays for my older daughter and my older son, both this week. I am so thankful that Harry has helped his pastor bring a vision for ministry to the poor to fruition. Love Works is changing lives in the name of Jesus. Joyce IS love on two feet.

#778 that my friend, Cherie, is rolling along with Parish Nursing in her church. She does blood pressure clinics after church, organized a Red Cross blood mobile, helped families with ideas for caring for ill loved ones. She is amazing.

#779 that my friend, Joanne, has found a caregiver for her father (he suffered a stroke with right-sided hemiplegia) and is setting up her office in her home. She is legally blind, but is in demand as a Health Care Management educator. She was downsized from the hospital after 35+ years. Her resilience is inspiring. Please pray, Friends, as she tries to find her way in these tough times.

#780 that, after 4 months, my friend, Ashley, is loving her management position with the pediatric arm of Bayada Nurses. She is also helping my sister get a job with Little League Baseball International through her connections at the International Headquarters in our city.

#781 that my puppy, Sebastian, continues to have moments of puppyhood even though he is blind, deaf and seems to have dementia. He still snuggles and goes outside to do his business. We are so fortunate that he is doing so well. He’s still with us 2 years after the vet said he would live only 6 months.

#782 for my daily commute to work. I get 30 minutes twice a day completely alone to pray and praise, listen to programs on the radio and decompress after a day of caring for very sick people.

#783 for a very good new young physician for my family taking the place of the very good one who is retiring.

#784 that the people I work with are caring and compassionate.

#785 that my younger son feels called to take my granddaughter to Haiti over her Christmas break from school. They are applying for their passports. He has changed his visits home to the first weekend of every month from the third weekend because that is when the Haiti team meets till the end of the year.

#786 that my biking friend, Ann and her husband, Jeff are willing to include Samuel and Jessica in their Haiti Mission Group working with the Christian Light orphanage and school there. They were among the first official schools to reopen after the earthquake because teams from the US rebuilt it.

#787 for Godly women who live in strength before me. I watch widows re-establishing their lives after their beloved husbands die and I am awed by their determined strength and ruthless trust in their Lord Jesus.

#788 for my husband who struggles day by day with pain and does not complain. I have to pay attention to know when he has needs.

#789 for Fox News. It’s the only national news media outlet in the US that presents my political point of view.

Blessings all,

Dawn

The least

She could be the clerk that just rung up your purchases at the local retail store or the one who helped your loved one eat their lunch in the nursing home or the woman who delivers your mail. She was tall, willowy and attractive. She had just turned 27 and she certainly didn’t want to be there. She apologized for being there. She explained, “If I buy my prescription medication, I can’t pay my rent. Can you help me?” We certainly can write a prescription, but the generic form of the drug she needed was $108.73 for a month at the cheapest place in town. I know because I am the nurse who called all around. A talk with a pharmacist enabled her to get a comparable drug for $15.00! The clinic doctor said that would be fine.

He was a short man and as round as he was tall, but was surprised when the scale said he weighed 258 pounds. “I usually weigh over 300, but I haven’t weighed myself in a long while.” When asked why he was there he said he lost sight in his left eye and now his right eye was blurry in the morning. “I am really scared and I don’t know what to do.” He was told 2 years ago he had diabetes. At that time he was given a 30-day supply of pills, a meter to measure his glucose levels and an appointment to see a diabetes educator. He had no job, no money, no doctor so when the medicine and test strips for the glucose meter ran out, he didn’t do any more. Now his sight in one eye is gone. He called the Community Health Center for those who have Access cards for medical care. He was put on a waiting list for March 2013. Must he lose his second eye before someone will pay attention? He found the church’s medical clinic phone number in some of his deceased mother’s papers. He called.

Folks, I do not have to wonder why I am no longer working as a nurse in the hospital. First, I had to feel what unemployment felt like. I had to soul-search to re-establish my sense of direction and then I had to be with the poor to see Christ and bask in His healing presence. In Ann Voskamp’s list of 10 things you can do to change the world. This is #4

Do whatever it takes to stay with the poor: around the corner, across town, around the world. Make it your lifestyle to live face to face with the needy on a regular basis, because this is a way to stay face to face with Christ.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:45

Still in rehab,

Dawn

“Raise your standard of giving, not your standard of living” John Wesley

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, identified the major threat to the vitality of the Spirit’s movement in the new church as “the growing prosperity of the Methodists.” Wesley’s experience was that an increase in wealth resulted in a decrease in the reliance on grace, a lack of discipline, and separation from the poor. He believed Christians had to look the poor in the eyes frequently, intentionally. In fact, Wesley believed Christians should not strive to love and help the poor from a superior position, but to actually live as simply as possible so that we could actually be with and learn from the poor. At the point we Christians truly understand the situation of the poor from their vantage point, we.see.Christ.

[Christ] who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave ~Philippians 2:6-7

Christ is the slave standing in front of us! Right there in the midst of the everydayedness of the poor, we will find Him. He is not usually prominent in places of prosperity. While on earth, He was born in a stable, He had no home, He ministered to outcasts, He was crucified between two thieves and was buried in a barrowed tomb. Jesus calls us to the poor because He wants us to be like Him, and that is where He spends His time.

Last week at the School of Christian Mission with my granddaughters, I was spurred on to work for social justice, reconciliation and system change. I am so thankful for my heritage in Methodism. John Wesley lived on 30 pounds per year and when he died he had only pocket change to his name. He believed he was to live in such a way that everyone’s needs could be met until Jesus came again to make all things new.

In a sermon entitled “The New Creation” Wesley preached that one day all creation would be transformed.

All the elements…will be new, indeed entirely changed as to their qualities, although not as to their nature….All the earth shall then be a more beautiful paradise than Adam ever saw….He that sitteth upon the throne will soon change the face of all things, and give demonstrative proof to all his creatures that his mercy is over all his works.

But until that day, Wesley believed the foundation of our faith rested in the poor.

Religion must not go from the greatest to the least, or the power would appear to be of men.

So this morning I awaken and think about what this Parish Nurse will do. I have a van load of supplies from my friend who is a Bayada Home Health Pediatric Nurse manager. She told all her clients that if they have left over supplies to give them to her because I had a place they could be used. Three times now I have loaded my van with supplies and it has only been a month since she sent out the call. There is a fortune in medical supplies here, I can assure you. The special formula in the cases that I have a picture of here are probably worth $1000.00 retail. These will be loaded into cargo containers for shipment anywhere in the US or world where people need them.

I took this van load of supplies over to the Sojourner Truth soup kitchen, a drop-off place for anyone wanting to give supplies to Mission Central, our United Methodist Mission distribution center. I drove up and they were having breakfast going on. Sister Valinda yelled to two young men to unload my van and told me they were making a trip to Mission Central that very afternoon! Yeah!

In 1731 as a young professor at Oxford, Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living was 28 pounds so that he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds and gave 32 pounds away. In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds, but he kept his expenses to 28 pounds and gave 62 pounds away.

In 1744 Wesley wrote, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds…you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers.

I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,

Dawn

I didn’t know I was going to need that! Thank you!

It’s just so unreal that my God watches over me as a Father watches over a child. I think about my own sons watching over their children and making sure they have coats before they get cold, checking them for ticks after a romp in the woods before they get Lyme Disease, preparing dinner before they feel the first pangs of hunger and teaching them about the Lord before the real hard times of life come upon them.

As those of you who read here regularly know, I am beginning a new kind of nursing and a new kind of ministry in the county where I live. I became certified in Parish Nursing in May and am just beginning to build a network of church leaders who want to partner with registered nurses to form alliances to care for the physical, mental and psychosocial needs of parishioners as well as their spiritual needs. This task is so much bigger than I ever imagined in the beginning and as I looked at its expanse, I began to doubt my sufficiency. Hooray! Admitting I can’t do this is a big first step. God has to do this. In order for God to do this, I must let Him in the driver’s seat. If I don’t, He will use someone else.

I want to thank Him in this space today for what I have learned just this past week (and it is A LOT). I want to thank Him

#651 for teaching me to do the “next right thing”. Whatever that “next right thing” is to do it because that is my agenda. I have no boss but Jesus and He is scripting my days.

#652 for enabling me to connect with people. I am not a natural people person. I like people and like to spend time with people, but I also like to be alone and not have to be bothered by people at times. He is teaching me how to “be polite” ALL the time.

#653 that I work side by side with Sue in the free clinic every Wednesday. She has a compassionate heart like few people I have ever met. She is politically saavy and has the courage of a lion beneath that woolly sheep skin she wears. She is ruthless and tireless in pursuit of care for the “least of these”. I am proud to be her mentee. When clinic extended to 5 hours last week and then she had to stay and follow-up a couple of more hours I said, “How can we do all this, Sue?” She looked up at me and said, “One patient at a time until we are done.” And, when we were all done, we talked about how the people we saw that day were “the end of the line”. They were addicts and mentally ill patients who had dissed all their other options because they could not control their own selves for one reason or another. Sue said, “We should be thankful, we can, and we must help them until they can.” I was undone in the presence of such love.

#654 that an experienced Parish Nurse from another denomination has the same heart for the Episcopal Church that I do for the Methodist Church. Ann has been doing Parish Nursing for 5 years and has all kinds of resources, forms, policies and solutions she is willing to share, and she does. I am amazed at this connection because it will save me literally months of design time just using her templates for foundational materials. Oh, and she is a biker so we can have fun together, too!

#655 that my denomination has incorporated the International Council of Parish Nursing credentialing into the highest levels of my denomination’s hierarchy linking three established places within the denominational structure to Parish Nursing: the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the United Methodist Board of Pensions and Health and the United Methodist Council of Health Ministries.

#656 that pastors want to meet with Parish Nurses to discuss how we can work with them and interface with their congregations.

#657 that nurses, paramedics, aides, therapists, physicians, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners in congregations want to help carry out the mission.

#657 we are welcomed into the county council of churches, community health center, get assigned to Americorps volunteers and are recognized by other philanthropic partnerships.

#658 for unemployment that seems to be the will of God. I apply for jobs all the time and never get them. Yet, during the application process, I am ushered into rich resources and meet key stakeholders in the community through the job interviews. I also learn who is connected to whom and the lay of the political landscape. These connections are more important that any position I could gain and God knows what I need.

#659 for meeting my health needs as I have a VERY high deductible on my health insurance.

#660 that He lets me know when I am headed for trouble. His angels watch over me in miraculous ways. I receive warnings, have meetings cancelled and have technical difficulties of some sort or another and what comes out of those “curves” and “bumps” in the road are directions I needed to take for some aspect of the ministry. He even reminds me of those angels as I find pennies lying on the ground throughout the day. (An old wives’ tale says that picking up a penny should be a reminder to you that you have guardian angels watching over you.)

#661 His patience as I hesitate when something doesn’t seem rational. I’d expect Him to say, “Are you kidding me, Dawn? You expect working in the Kingdom to be rational?” He doesn’t. As I step out in faith, He surrounds me with people who they tell me they trust me even though things seem chaotic.  I am trusted even when I don’t think I’d trust me. Amazing!

Well, Dear Ones, my word count is twice what a good bloggy length is supposed to be so I’ll quit for this Monday, but I am really really thankful,

Always alleluia (phrase stolen from Chris at Always Alleluia),

Dawn

Delight gets a bike

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun. ~ Psalm 37:4-6

As those of you who read here regularly know, I am in the midst of a Parish Nurse whirlwind. I have been called to establish Parish Nursing in the district of my church denomination. The Lord God of the universe has taken my little heart, ripped it open, laid it out in the Son to heal and is now retraining it to beat in rhythm with His heart. All along the way He has orchestrated the rehabilitation and let me in on the next steps in the process just before they were going to happen–not a minute sooner. Since rehabilitation is slow and He is patient, gentle and merciful, I am gaining trust and have really learned to rest in Him. I do what He tells me to do when I hear His voice (which is happening more often, I think).

Yesterday He asked me to do three things: meet a couple of parish nurses for breakfast, coordinate a wheelchair delivery and pickup for a woman in need of one and have a second phone interview with a Robert Woods Johnson grant coordinator at Penn State University. This all seemed fairly typical, ordinary, and straight-forward so I proceeded out the door of my house content in the mundane. HA! I should have known better. The God of the universe is not in the business of mundane. Even if the situation looks mundane, I assure you, Dear Ones, when you are walking in the center of His will, it is not. I was settling for a brown bag and He was preparing  a banquet for me. Here is what happened:

I get to the Parish Nurse meeting and I meet dynamic Ann. I have known her from afar, but I did not know she was an enthusiastic Parish Nurse, but perhaps more importantly for me for the first dazzle of the day, I learned she was a biker. Oh my gracious Lord Jesus, here was someone who was as serious about biking as I was! In fact, I had completed a 16-mile bike run before I went to the Parish Nurse breakfast. I had eaten at 7:00 am, biked 2 hours and was now going to down an oatmeal with raisins and walnuts to refuel. Oh the glory we had at that Parish Nurse meeting! Three of us met. We are the beginning. We plotted out meetings for the summer and began plans to invite others. Ann even had a room for us to meet in. Her pastor had anticipated our need.

Next, I was on the phone with the Roberts Woods Johnson grant person at Penn State. That was scheduled. What wasn’t scheduled was a call from the local Community Health Center wanting me to work with them on projects and a call from an AmeriCorps volunteer asking how she could be of assistance in helping the Community Health Clinic! I am thinking “abundantly, above anything we could ask or think”.

Finally, as day was closing and the stars of the heavenlies lined up next to a slightly-golden 3/4 moon in a navy sky, I thought about how earlier in the day I was able to secure a wheel chair for someone who broke her foot and needed one for the day and how that very same wheelchair has now  become my husband’s because the woman who dug it out of her attic for me for this other person said I could keep it for ministry because she never used it. I told her about my husband’s need for such a chair and she was so happy to let me have it. Oh, my, as I type this I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness. I pray that some of this is an encouragement to you. I am not a good servant. I do not always obey. I can be obstinate and ornery. I am not always swift to hear. He does not bless me because I am worthy to be blessed. He blesses me because I am His child and He loves me. The same is true of you.

When you go out  your door today, if you’re walking with Jesus, it is no ordinary day. Be prepared for a spectacular day!

Praise and honor, glory and strength, be to our God forever and ever, Amen,

Dawn