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The following post was written by author and health care administrator F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs of Windber PA, who has spent his career working to make health care more humane, especially for those of us who don’t have much clue about it. He is also related to my mother-in-law which is testimonial enough right there. 🙂  His take on the healing power of kindness echoes many of the themes found in the healing miracles of Jesus. If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Jacobs’ work, check out his blog Healing Hospitals.

kindness2

Having had responsibility for administering the first rural hospice in the United States, a palliative care unit that was established in 1977, I quickly learned about the critical nature of kindness. Although many serious diseases may be life-ending, these same serious diseases are always life-changing, and kindness helps everyone involved.  In fact, Stanford University did a study that demonstrated that kind medical care can lead to faster wound healing, reduced pain and anxiety, and lower blood pressure plus shorter hospital stays.

This coincides with my own finding where, with a fully integrative hospital, we had an infection rate that never went above 1 percent (national average was 9 percent), and we had the lowest readmission rates, lowest restraint rates, and even though we had a hospice where people came to die, we had the lowest death rates of our 13 peer hospitals. When we brought in the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Georgia Tech to try to quantify these outcomes, there was only the ethereal connector, kindness.  Kindness seemed to be one of the root causes.

What are the keys to kindness?  They are profound, sincere listening, empathy and compassion, generous acts, timely care, gentle honesty, and support for family caregivers.

For empathetic listening, listen with minimal interruption and convey respect for the person’s self-knowledge.  As my brain surgeons used to say, “This is not rocket science.” And my rocket scientist friends used to say, “This is not brain surgery.”  It’s uncommon common sense. Nurses from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston begin their shifts by asking their patients, “What’s the most important thing we can do for you today?” And then listening to and responding to those patients.

A key element needed to provide actual empathy is the avoidance of judgment. Hate the disease, but don’t judge the person.  Don’t give your unwanted opinions or interrupt with your personal solutions. Simply listen with empathy.  Another is the ability to recognize the emotion that is present and then genuinely respond to it in a caring way.

Generous acts do not have to be limited to healthcare activities.   I’ve had patients who have proclaimed that hugs from nurses or physicians literally saved their lives, and that is not an exaggeration.

Kindness

My career path took a very circuitous route to where I am today.  I started as a professional trumpet player and school band director, became an arts organization executive, and later founder of two genomic research institutes.  But in my thirties, before I entered health care administration, when I was serving as the president of the Laurel Highlands Convention and Visitors Bureau, I learned about customer service.

In that scenario, timeliness is always a problem. When I got into healthcare, I’d ask why it was I could stay in a nice hotel and in 15 minutes have two or three employees bumping into each other to take care of me for less than $200 a night, but for $2500 a night, after ringing my call bell for 45 minutes, I couldn’t get a bedpan in a hospital? That all changed very rapidly.

The next challenge is carefully administered gentle honesty. A physician friend told me the story of his first year of practice when he told a congestive heart failure patient to get his things in order because what he had was not reversible. This patient had at least 18 months or more to live, but the physician didn’t mention that.  The patient’s wife called the next morning and told my friend that her husband had died that night. Words are powerful.  Use them very carefully.

Finally, it’s imperative that we treat not only the patient but also their family members by considering their daily needs and providing emotional support.  I can honestly tell you that more healing took place in my hospice than in any other department in the hospital: family healing.

That’s the magic of kind care.

Nick Jacobs of Windber PA is a Partner with SunStone Management Resources and author of the blog healinghospitals.com.

 

 

 

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It’s been way too long since I’ve done any blogsurfing. It’s good to be out browsing other people’s work today and exploring the cyber-world out there.

These are in no particular order or category, and all the sites are new to me so I can’t really add much other than to recommend them, so I’ll just say “grab a cuppa and enjoy”.

Bhavna Misrahttps://bhavnamisra.com/ – I love art. I love its beauty and creativity, and the unique way every individual views and expresses the world around them.  This young California-based artist has a real eye for color.

One Bottle, One Glasshttps://onebottleoneglass.wordpress.com/ – Addiction and its heart-rending consequences is all around us these days.  I’m always looking for things that might help reach people who are trapped in addiction.  First-person stories are powerful.  This thirty-something mother of two shares her very personal journey to sobriety.

Wild About Scotlandhttps://wildaboutscotland.com/ – Scotland is breathtaking, and this photographer captures views most tourists never get to see.  Stunning!!

Shopfront Elegyhttps://shopfrontelegy.wordpress.com/ – One of the best pieces of advice an undergrad professor ever gave us was: “when you walk around a city, look up!”  Urban architecture is full of beauty, history, humor, and surprises.  This blog preserves British storefronts – a unique online opportunity to get to know “the real England” and appreciate the vision (or lack thereof) of urban designers.

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Reblogging. Good information from someone who’s been there. The ultimate reason: “They need our help.” Exactly.

Rottin' in Denmark

I made a video:

I sort of couldn’t help myself. When I lived in Denmark I volunteered at an asylum center. I mentored a 17-year-old Afghan refugee. Since then, I’ve had friends and colleagues get jobs in international refugee policy. Seen them, one by one, become frustrated at the stinginess, the injustice, the cruelty masquerading as bureaucracy. It’s impossible for me to talk or write about this in my own voice without getting worked up, so I tried using someone else’s.

I grew up in a super religious family. Church on Sundays, hands clasped before dinner, Bible camp every summer. I remember talking to one of my parents’ friends when I was maybe 13 or 14. She worked at a homeless shelter, she provided food and clothes and beds all winter, a big brick building in the middle of a neighborhood I had lived my whole life avoiding.

I was in my Ayn Rand phase at the time, and I…

View original post 217 more words

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“We are watching one of the most horrendous human rights crises of our generation.”

Try to imagine that your government wants to harm you and your family, maybe even take your life. You desperately seek refuge in another country, only to be turned away. With effectively no citizenship in any country, no place to legally live, what are your options? That is the situation for thousands of refugees at this very moment. We are watching one of the most horrendous human rights crises of our generation. I know firsthand the fear, dejection and hopelessness they feel. I’m receiving a constant flow of calls from refugees served by Gateway of Grace. Each one filled with fear and hopelessness, evoking doubts of worth and dignity.

There is no shortage of political discussions and media’s coverage of it, and that certainly has its place. But, what has been among the most unsettling comments is the reactions of some Christian leaders. I won’t enter the political wrangling of the matter, but I accept the obligation to correct a gross denial of Biblical authority on God’s love for the refugee.

I have yet to hear a more theologically inaccurate statement from a Christian leader than the one given a few days ago by Franklin Graham in which he stated that the refugee crisis is not a Biblical issue. From the brightest Biblical scholars to the Christians who faithfully read the Holy Scriptures daily, it is clear that God cares deeply for the refugee. And, how we respond or not respond reveals a lot about our knowledge of God.

We became refugees and were expelled from the presence of God the moment we sinned. God in His mercy reached out to us, repeatedly and lovingly to welcome us and bring us back to himself. God gave his only son WHILE we were still sinners, far from Him. He did not wait for us to convert before He loved us.

The theme of exile and finding refuge is undeniably the most prominent theme of the Scriptures. Acts 17 and 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 are very clear about the reason for welcoming the stranger. God’s desire is to bring ALL people to himself and restore them into the fullness of His image. God does not have a favorite nation and He has called us to be His redeeming, loving, and restoring presence to those who are hopeless. If as the Psalms point out over and again, God is our refuge, as little christs, we are the representative of that refuge to those in need.

For the sake of the Gospel, we are also called not to live with the spirit of fear.

We share the Good News of Jesus Christ with our loving actions and loving kindness and by obeying the commandments of Christ that fulfill that purpose. As Pope Francis poignantly said, “You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he continued, “You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.” This is a reference to Christ’s injunction to help the needy by such works of mercy as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger.

“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” he said. “If I say I am Christian, but do not do these things, I’m a hypocrite.”

As I write this, I see faces of our refugees, their tears as they share their stories and prayer requests, their hopes for the future, and their hard work to make a new life out of the ashes of the old one. As my friend Pastor Paul Wheatley puts it, “We are only as good as our ability to help the least of these.” And, that is what we will be held accountable for by our Lord.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author Samira Page is Executive Director of Gateway of Grace, a multi-denominational church-based ministry to refugees in the Dallas, TX area. She is an Anglican who studied at Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Ministry. She is herself a naturalized American citizen.

Samira adds: “Gateway of Grace will hold a cross-denominational prayer vigil to seek God’s wisdom, mercy, direction, and healing, and to pray for all who are involved in the refugee process. Consider this your personal invitation. The prayer vigil will be held next Monday at 6:30 at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Dallas. A reception will follow. Please RSVP to samira@gatewayofgrace.org”

(reposted by permission)

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The big day is tomorrow, and I’ve been looking forward to it all week.  I’ve even got special Super Bowl food planned for the evening.

But what should be a time of celebration and enjoyment for football fans everywhere has become a nightmare for people caught in the world of human trafficking.

This blog post reminds us the Super Bowl is also the biggest human trafficking event in the world.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.  It’s the fastest-growing crime in America, faster than even the drug trade.  And while women make up the largest percentile of victims, they’re by far not the only ones.  Increasingly children and men are disappearing into this world, where they are forced to work without pay, often forced to ‘serve’ ten or more ‘customers’ a day.

Public awareness is the key to fighting this devastating practice. Learn to recognize the victims of human trafficking including victims in lines of work other than sex trafficking.  And because victims of trafficking are moved around the country frequently, learn how to spot a trafficker in a crowd or on a plane.

If you suspect you see a trafficker or know someone who is being trafficked, DO NOT take direct action yourself .  Instead notify authorities or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 and report your observations.

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It’s rare to find religious commentary that is level-headed, fair, and downright funny (though it begins on a serious note).

A blog post entitled Evangelical Drama Needs Mainline Experience explains it all in terms of high school drama.

There’s the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Football Team (“pretty sure football is only for boys, and the only sport for girls is cheerleading”), the Rich Kids (“oblivious to the fact that there are other students at the high school”), the Valedictorian (“bright and well-liked, but constantly at odds with the football team”), the Debate Team, and more.

Click the link above and relate!

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The debate has been running for centuries: what is and is not acceptable for women in terms of church ministry? Can we teach? Prophesy? Serve communion? Be ordained?  No two denominations answer these questions in exactly the same way, but beliefs generally fall into one of two categories: Some say women must take a subordinate role with limited participation (complementarianism); others say Scripture teaches full gender equality (egalitarianism).

The problem with these two terms is they confuse the issue.  Definitions of the terms are unclear and open to endless tweaking of minutae; but more importantly, all but the most backward of people would agree genders are equal in the wider world outside of church.  With this in mind, New Creation blog has proposed new terminology: “restrictive” and “non-restrictive“.  I agree with the author – these terms are far more accurate and much clearer not only for churchgoers but for outside observers as well.

Color me pleased to have useful words to work with.

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Anyone who knows me knows about my love for cats.  (I can’t resist posting at least one cat pic on Facebook every day!)  Truth be told I love and enjoy all animals, and nature in general, and deeply appreciate God’s creativity, love of variety, and pure joy displayed in this world He’s created.

And I’ve been puzzled, and sometimes hurt, by the lack of interest the Christian community often shows in being good stewards of God’s creation.  From being told there are “more important things to do” (more important than obeying the first command God gave to humanity after “be fruitful and multiply”?) to being accused of “seeking popularity with nonbelievers” because “supporting the environment is cool” (huh??) my love for God’s creation has been discouraged for decades.

So tripping over this site (“Not One Sparrow: A Christian Voice for Animals“) today brought tears to my eyes.  Here’s a quote:

“We want to help Christ’s community become better caretakers of animals, for the sake of our own response to the gospel and to show the world that the good news reaches to all creatures.  We’re committed to supporting animal advocacy cause where we can, and contributing a faithful perspective to it.  Our hope is to consistently encourage affirming and empathetic relationships with animals, and to speak out against neglect and abuse of all kinds.”

In a nation where literally millions of animals are abused and/or euthanized every year, and where the consumption of natural resources continues at an alarming rate, it seems to me God’s people should be at the forefront of caring compassionately for our Maker’s creation.  Amen to the above, and if others are aware of similar resources, please post in the comments.

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The Facebook post read: “to see the fruits of complementarianism (the teaching that women are “equal but different”) google ‘Does God Hate Women?’ the results are heartbreaking!”

They are indeed. Stories of abuse, lost faith, lost hope.

And among the brokenness, a gem of an article: Why Does God Hate Women?.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever wondered about religion’s gender biases, been hurt by misguided pastors or counselors, been shut out because of your gender, been puzzled over how we got where we are… read this.  Every word is golden.

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Recommended by friend and Anglican priest Christina V, this article talks about who Mary the mother of Jesus really was and what she was really like.  Not quite the way she is portrayed in many churches… not quite the kind of role model Christian women are often told to emulate.  Rather, an amazing woman of chutzpah, courageous beyond the power of words to describe: Hail Mary, Bad-Ass Queen of Heaven.  Check it out!

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That’s what I’m talkin’ about.  Occupy Advent.

“This Advent, we invite you to join with us as we focus upon the season of preparation even as we live within the world.  In the weeks ahead, we will be talking about how we can slow down in our lives, how we can simplify our celebrations, and how we can watch and wait for the coming Lord.”

Keep watching this space for more on discovering the Christmas light through Advent.

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Sharing a moment of serendipity.

I was Googling “ember days” to find out when this year’s Ember Days are and tripped over this site.  It’s entitled “Faith and Family: Resources for the Liturgy of Life” and it is jam-packed full of creative ideas for making the liturgical year come alive in everyday life and with kids of all ages.  Even non-Roman-Catholics can find lots of worthwhile suggestions for reading and activities to bring the reality of God’s presence into daily living.

It’s worth a visit just to spend a calming and peaceful moment with the background music.

~Enjoy~

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This blog post — Shifting Evangelicalism — and the comments following it put into words a trend I have been sensing in the world of Evangelicalism for the past couple decades.  The rise of hard-line-ism and attempts to find reasons to exclude various sub-sets of believers from the church is troubling if not un-Scriptural.

Call me old-fashioned but I can’t let go the vision I caught in my younger years of what the author calls “Big-Tent Evangelicalism”, where we agree on the authority of Scripture and allow for differences in understanding.   The ‘new Evangelicalism’ seems to want to force all believers into the same mold and call it ‘unity’.  Forget about ‘liberty’ and ‘charity’.

If Jesus is true then we need to find ways to bring people INTO the kingdom, not ways to keep them out.  And we shouldn’t be wasting time trying to figure out (as if we had the right to) who’s going to make it into heaven and who isn’t.

Thanks to author Scot McKnight for his insights and to Mark for posting the article to FB.

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There are folks close to me who feel like I’ve been picking on Glenn Beck a lot lately, and I think I’ve covered the subject well enough, so this post is basically just a way of bookmarking another post I saw and liked.  Here’s a quote:

“…on the day of the rally I actually yelled at my poor mother for not being more outraged.  We were on the phone making plans for the evening when  she casually mentioned watching the whole thing on TV.

“How can you watch that without getting angry?” I demanded.

“Because if I’ve seen this once, I’ve seen it a million times,” Mom said. “It’s no big deal. It will pass….You guys wanna come over for steak?”

“No big deal!” I shouted. “Are you kidding?! They’re basically taking the Lord’s name in vain! Preaching a false gospel! Worshiping an idol!”

“Oh I know. Your dad’s firing up the grill, so you better get on over here.”

I hate to admit that Mom was right…”

The article is entitled Why Glenn Beck Isn’t a Big Deal.

Thanks to the author for giving us a much-needed term: “Beckianity”.  Excellent — now we can take back the word “Christian”!

It’s comforting to remember that this too will pass.  OTOH I think maybe the author is right to be angry… angry for all the people who will be hurt and disillusioned and maybe even lose their faith when yet one more take-back-America-for-God movement crumbles to the ground.  Angry for all the people who will never give the Gospel a chance because of what they think Christianity is about.

I think she ends in the right place: compassion.  And I would add: prayer.  Remembering those on all sides of the issues who will be hurt by this movement and by the reactions against it… pray for the people.

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Dr. Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has just proven me wrong about the Southern Baptists.  And I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.  Check out his article God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck.

Here all this time I’ve been blaming the excesses of the ultra-right-wing socio-political movement rooted in Liberty University, Focus on the Family, etc and egged on by Glenn Beck, on the Southern Baptist Convention.  Judging by readers’ reactions to Dr. Moore’s post, the LU-FOF-TeaParty gang have departed from anything resembling a church denomination, including the Southern Baptist Church.  They’ve become more like… well… a political party!

But I digress.  Kudos to Dr. Moore for saying what so many people have wanted to say, and have been trying to say, in a voice that others will hear and from a position that other leaders will (hopefully) take note of.

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