we need to listen. and shut our mouths.

The other day while driving to my oldest son's baseball game, this story came on the radio.  It's about the producers memories of going on a tour of The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.  She recalls with audible disturbance, the traumatic memory she has from her school tours through the museum which depicts lynchings and a slave ship as well as segregation and slavery.  Its one of the few times everyone in the car was silent.  Three white males in the car 47, 14, and 12. And myself a white woman.  It really hit us all.  My pubescent sons' mouths were gaping and at one point my youngest announced, "This is horrible!  Why would people do that?"  I turned the volume down and asked the boys to imagine that they were born and raised in a country where in recent history white people were segregated, lynched, abused, treated like animals and made to be slaves?  That's the history that my black friends in the U.S. live with.

People like me and my husband and sons we have no idea what that feels like.  That's what "white privilege" means.  It doesn't me we get a hand out or hand up.  It means we don't live with a history of oppression against people who look like us in the country we call home.

I know folks are upset about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.  And I know people are quick to defend police officers (so am I... I'm married to one).  But we white folks need to listen.  We need to listen to stories like this.  And to the stories of our black neighbors and co-workers and friends.  We need to listen.  And shut our mouths.  We may have good arguments.  But especially those of us who call ourselves Christians need to put our hands over our mouths and listen.

I have nothing but respect and prayers for our veterans and military servants.  I love my country.  But my country has a history of sinful oppression of people of color.  What we hear in the news and see on T.V. and post in our social media is not going to stop the blood of the slaves from crying out in their descendants. We need to lay down our lives and listen. We need to stop being Job's friends to those who are bearing a bitter burden.  We need to love our black neighbors.  And give our lives for their restoration to wholeness.

This is the way of Christ, our God and Savior who wasn't white.  This is the way of the God who calls peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation to be his children.  This is the way of Jesus, who drove out the proud money-changers and proclaimed, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations"? And you have turned it into house of robbers!"

 "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." -2 For. 5:18-19

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger... -James 1:19 

something has to change

Something has to change!

Let's do a social experiment.  Let's set a limit on the ability of folks to purchase weapons. Let's start with a limit of no more than 1 weapon per eligible, background-checked, and vetted (tested for major mental health issues) person.  And le'ts completely prohibit the sale of weaponry attachments that turn single-fire weapons into automatic weapons as well as completely prohibit the sale of assault style weapons to the public.

I'm all for people having guns.  Even as a hobby.  I have zero problem with that.  I have zero problem with people wanting to own a fire arm for self-defense and have the right to bear those arms.  What I have a problem with is the notion that limiting the sales of certain kinds and amounts of weapons is taking away a persons rights.  I also have a problem with the idea that says until we can solve the reason behind why these mass shootings seem to be happening more and more we can't really do anything.  And beyond that I have a problem with the thought that trying to limit weapons purchases or prohibiting certain weapons is somehow an ignorant blaming of these atrocities on the weapon.

It's not the weapon's fault.  I get that.

It's the messed-up person's fault.  I get that.

The messed-up person with evil intent will find a way, even with one weapon, to carry out his/her horrific plot.  I get that.

Good-intentioned people need to have the right to defend themselves against crazy people like mass-shooters.  I get that.

But not one of those ideas is a good reason to NOT limit the sale of certain types of weapons or the amount of weapons a private citizen can own.

The only people who need to own 36 weapons are police departments (not even individual officers) and military personnel in certain positions in the military.   No one needs 36 weapons.  There's a reason this man in Las Vegas bought so many weapons.

As a Christian, I know that the heart of this problem is just that, the heart of man.  But while I can't change the heart of man, I can put restraints in place that hold back the evil that wants to kill.  God hates a heart that devises wicked plans (Proverbs 6:18).  And He holds those in authority accountable for restraining people who carry out their wickedness (1 Samuel 3:13).  Keeping the general public from having an accumulation of weapons seems like a perfectly reasonable option for a start in the direction of restraining the evil in the heart of men like the man who terrorized Las Vegas with his wicked plans.

What's your thought about what we should do as a society about the problem of mass shootings?

how Christians can be like any other spiritual person and how they can stand out different

James and I spent most of yesterday and this morning in historic Jerome, Arizona.  We stayed at the Surgeon's House, a bed and breakfast run by a very sweet lady named Andrea.  

The 100 year old Surgeon's house used to be the headquarters for nurses working for the local hospital before it was used as home of the chief surgeon at the hospital in the 1930's.  The house and town have quite the history.  I've never stayed at a bed and breakfast so I have nothing to compare it to, but this is most definitely the best experience I have ever had in staying at a hotel or resort.  You don't go to the Surgeon's house to stay overnight.  You go to retreat into quiet rooms and gardens full of comfy seats, art, books, plants, Koi fish, the sound of water falling, and the views of the entire valley and red-rock features on the horizon.  You go to walk the switchback, uphill streets of Jerome, visit quaint shops and historic sites (which are everywhere) and come back to a quiet home with open doors and the aroma of freshly baked goodies waiting for you.  It was honestly the best experience I've ever had for a getaway.  Which I've only done once or twice in the last 24 years, and never without kids.

Being there, and speaking with Andrea- who I took to be an odd but very nice spiritualist/mystic 60 something woman at her mention of being blessed by "Mother Earth" and her reference to her past life as a mermaid (she wasn't joking), energy fields, "Darma" and the tattoo of a moon and star on her forehead as well as the Nag Champa incense burning in the dining room- stirred up some thinking about my life as a Christian and as a wife. 

Andrea was a perfect hostess.  She was hospitable, warm, accommodating and an amazing cook!  You really couldn't ask for much better.  The only thing I didn't like was the smell of the Nag Champa.  But any who, as we were leaving today I was thinking about how nice this lady was who obviously did not worship Christ.  I thought about how people loved going to her place and how kind she was.  How was she different than a what Christ calls us to be?  

I'm not talking about doctrine (obviously Mother Earth and her past life as a mermaid don't line up with our Triune God and the hope of resurrection we have because of Christ and his atoning work on the cross).  I'm talking about how she deals with people's sin... even her own.  This nice woman is going about her business in a very high-quality way.  But the thought crossed my mind, "What does she do with people's sin in her life?  What is her response to the sin of others against her and the things about her she knows are shameful and wrong?" The difference between a nice woman like this who's into spirituality and such, and a woman (or man) who has been captured by the love of Christ and is in the process of being conformed to his image is the way they respond to sin.  Andrea had created quite the sanctuary for herself and the guests she chose to allow into her home at a price.  But what did she do with sin?

We Christians could be like Andrea, and our claims about Christ wouldn't seem to be anything more than another kind of spirituality.  We can go about our lives, trying to create a comfortable place/space/life for ourselves and only allow in those we choose at a price (they have to make it worth it to let them in, i.e. make our lives easier/more comfortable/richer).  But Christ in us wouldn't be seen.  His unique claims to being the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only way to know God and be in a peaceful, loving relationship with him would be muted by our "nice" lives.  The only way we stand out in the world of "good" religion or "nice" spiritualism, even atheistic moralism, is by the way we respond to sin.  

I tried explaining my thinking to my husband on the way home while we were discussing Andrea's spirituality.  I said, "The way Christianity tells of God is that God, who has everything and is in the highest place of honor, lowered himself to lift up others.  Other religions and spiritualism has to isolate itself from others to seem nice and attractive.  They don't go get low into peoples lives and let the messes those people have fall on them and love them through it, bearing it and dealing with it in love."  I thought about how when you look at the world and the people who are going to the hard places and the poor places and the dangerous places, it's mostly Christians.  Not people like sweet Andrea.  People like Andrea go to places like Sedona and Jerome and let people seek out their "enlightened" way of thinking.   And we Christians can be just religious-right conservative versions of Andrea if we don't put our Christianity rubber to the road of people's messed up sinful lives.  

We don't have to go to Africa to do it either.  Although we may.  If we're married we have a sinful person to take up our crosses and following Jesus in loving daily.  How we deal with the sin in the lives of the ones we've vowed to stay with until death do us part is one area where we can let Christ in us be seen as something totally other, different... holy.  Christ died bearing our sins.  He calls us to take up our cross and follow him daily.  Christians die daily to see others freed from slavery to sin.  

The Christian doesn’t hide from sin. He runs to it. In love. To die bearing it. In the Spirit of Christ who paid for it. So many try to train, tolerate or ignore people’s sin. Christians run to people in their sin in the Spirit of the One who bore it.

So driving home, I thought about Andrea, and my Christian life, and looked at my world-weary husband, laden with a load of sin and shame as he drove us home.  It's not a nice marriage I'm running for here.  It's his freedom.  

Of fall, pumpkin spice lattes, cool evenings and a Paleo Pumpkin Bread recipe

*Yep, this is the same first three paragraphs of the last post I wrote which turned into a soapbox post about advanced degrees in nursing and nursing competence. I decided that post needed to be on its own regarding that subject.   But I didn't want to waste my love of fall thoughts or the very ripe banana on my counter so, help yourself to some cool weather, a hot cup of something you like, and make yourself some paleo pumpkin bread.*

It's actually cool enough to open the windows at night and wear a light sweater to work at 6 am.  Heck, it's even cool enough to roll the windows down in the car in the evening.  By "cool", I mean it's in the 70's at night and it was 91 degrees the other evening when I felt the "cool" breeze blowing through the car at 6pm.

It's my favorite time of year.  The warm aroma of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, the cool mornings and evenings...and that's about it.  There's no changing color of leaves in Surprise, Arizona.  There's no wood stove burning in the house.  But, we do our best in the suburbs of Phoenix to make ourselves feel like the season has changed for more than the first and last 4 hours of a day.  We see fall colored fake foliage in the grocery store.  We smell warm pumpkin spice candles and see advertised warm pumpkin spice... everything.

I like to make my own pumpkin spice lattes.  Real pumpkin.  Dark french press coffee.  Milk. Honey. And a dash of pumpkin spice mix.  Better than Starbucks any day.

In honor of my favorite season I made some pumpkin bread using my adaption of one of my go-to Paleo bread recipes found at Elana's Pantry.

1 ripe banana
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 T honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda

Mix all those ingredients in a mixing bowl until a smooth, cake batter consistency.  Pour into an 8X8 glass casserole dish greased with coconut oil and dusted with almond meal.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until knife pulls out clean from the center.  Allow to cool at room temperature before cutting.

Enjoy the best time of the year!

Nursing: a degree that honors the profession is not the evidence of competence

Today is the last day of my second week in the BSN online program at GCU.  Tonight after 14 hours at work I submitted the first collegiate paper I've written in 17 years.  The assignment:  A formal 750-1000 word paper discussing the difference in competency between the associates prepared nurse and the  baccalaureate prepared nurse, as well as identifying a patient care situation where approaches to nursing care or decision making might differ in having a BSN versus a diploma or associates degree in nursing.  In my initial attempt I wrote 500 words without thinking twice and found all I had was an impassioned argument for why the RN, BSN isn't any more competent than the RN, ADN.  It hit a nerve.  But what developed I think was a pretty well thought out paper which addressed the subject matter the instructor wanted while pointing out that the perspective taken in writing this paper all depends on how you view competency.  The main difference in competency is not clinical skills for bedside nursing.  The main difference is competency in being seen as a professional amongst other health care professionals, and in honoring the leading role nursing is in health care with a degree which is fitting.  Nurses with BSN degrees can move into leadership positions and be seen by their cohorts as professionals.  Nurses with BSN degrees raise the bar for how nursing is viewed.

Nursing has evolved over it history from a job seen only fitting for, "an ignorant woman, who was not fit for anything else," (Draper, 1893/1949) where nurses blindly obeyed doctors orders without questions.  Nurses in American history strove to get nursing to be seen as a profession with a unique perspective on health care.  And they weren't wrong to strive for that.  Nursing is a profession.  It isn't mindless task work.  Nurses today have to manage the health care of acutely complexly ill patients while collaborating with doctors, therapists, and other health care professionals.  The truth is nurses are professional health care providers.  But that truth is being pushed to light in a system that is still trying to work in the dark with nurses as medicine delivery technicians. Nurse's are expected to have the knowledge of their professional cohorts while working in environments that continue to expect timed tasked work.  Other health care professionals in the health care system aren't expected to answer call-lights, take patent's trays, empty trays, pass medications, take vital signs, answer phones, call referrals, enter orders into computer system, clean their own equipment, file repair reports, make beds, move beds, order patent's meals, draw labs, draw blood, communicate with pharmacy, IT, management, CNA's, family members, case managers, cafeteria staff, PPS coordinators, doctors, nurse practitioners, PA's, patients, maintenance, housekeeping, central supply, linen services, etc.   Nurse's are expected to do all that, plus do extensive documentation and assess, plan, coordinate and carryout a plan of care for their patients as well as educate their patients and the families all in a 12 hour shift.

If the system is going to push nursing to be seen as the profession it is, as equals among health care professionals, the system has to stop treating nurses like waitresses.

The truth is nursing is a service-oriented profession.  Good nurse's will always do the "dirty work"of lowering themselves to help someone else. That is not beneath the profession of nursing.  But the pressure to do more tasks in a 12 hour period as well as the pressure to be seen as a professional by getting a higher degree are pressing hard on nurses so that the ones who do get higher degrees are moving away from bedside nursing beyond their first year as nurses.

The work of a nurse historically is honorable, no matter what society thought of them.  Whether doctor's respected nurse's or bullied them, nurses have been advocates of health and people in need of health care for centuries. The work of practical nursing does not require a bachelor's degree. And that does not mean nursing is a job vs. a profession.  But nurses do have a unique way of approaching health care that is distinct from doctors.  Doctors treat disease.  Nurses approach people wholistically  for their health and well being. Nurses should be seen as health care professionals. And I'm glad to honor the profession of nursing with a fitting degree.  I just wish the system would honor the profession of nursing not just with pressure to attain a higher degree, but with a role in health care (I'm especially thinking of acute health care, a.k.a. the hospital) that honors the profession.

At work today I parked a patient with severe brain injury next to me at the nurse's station for his safety and my convenience.  I had about four hours of charting to do and he couldn't communicate or control his body safely with attached tubes and lines.   As I assessed his needs through facial expressions, the way he held a pencil and the tears welling up in his eyes while he squeezed my arm and pointed to the coffee cup he couldn't drink out of, I decided he was communicating his despair.  I put my hand on his back and gently scratched while assuring him he was in a good place and we were going to do all we could to help him get better.   He arched his back and made an expression of relief, enjoying the back rub. A lot of problems get solved with a back rub (and a cup of coffee if the patient can have it).  It doesn't take a BSN to make an aphasic man feel comforted.  But it does take the kind of compassion that rubs a back to make a professional nurse.

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we need to listen. and shut our mouths.