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 a hope and a future."

Monday, May 25, 2020

1 Peter 1:2B (TPT)

May God’s delightful grace and peace cascade over you many times over!

Photo from Stanford medicine

God I need You. I need Your grace and peace. As the water cascades over the rocks, I need Your grace and peace splashing over me; over the rocky places in my soul. I need that water to soften up the membranes of my soul so that the water of Your grace and peace seep into me. Seep into me until I am full. Full of grace. Grace means to do honor or credit by one’s presence. Biblical grace is about Your enabling power and spiritual healing offered through mercy and love of Jesus Christ. Peace means totality and completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security, and well being. Father, change me on the inside so that I can experience this. Enable me to cooperate with You in this work.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The struggle

Today I'm struggling.
February 2012 – Reaching Hurting Women Ministries
Photo from Reaching hurting women ministries

I'm so over the top tired.

This whole COVID-19 situation has created lots of extra work at my job.  Lots of missives coming out every week from LA county DPH (dept of public health), from CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid), and the CDC.  Lots of time trying to figure out what they mean to me operationally for our facility and then working with our director of staff development  to determine how to train everyone on these changes.  Typically staff training prep and execution are among my favorite things, but I just feel exhausted.

Of course this is on top of an already challenging job of running a skilled nursing facility (SNF) with a special treatment program for schizophrenics.

My people are tired.  They've been working hard to absorb all the changes.  We have to wear these masks and goggles and that's exhausting; especially given that a large portion of our facility is outside.  On the good side it's like a park with all the big trees and grass; I've always adored these grounds.  But it's warm and the mask & goggles feel awkward and hot.  It sounds so minor but I can see it taking a toll on folks, and know it does me too.

I'm the administrator.  I'm the leader.  I've got to be positive, unafraid, confident and give encouragement to everyone else.  Make sure that I take care of my people.

It's not like I'm alone.  I've got some great leaders on my team who have really worked together with me to try to make things good for staff.

I recognize that I have so much to be thankful for.

We have not had anyone come down with COVID-19 symptoms (I say it this way because my guess is that if you tested all of the patients and our staff you'd find several of us have the virus but no symptoms).  My heart goes out to the traditional SNFs who are serving the elderly and have COVID-19 running rampant through their buildings and people dying.  Those are the people I'm praying for.  Those are the people who have a right to be tired.

But, even so, I still feel how I feel.  I can't guilt myself into feeling any better.  I read something from Brian Morykon with Renovare that struck true for me.   Morykon said:

"When I feel down, I’ll often compare my situation to others who currently have it much worse or historical worst case scenarios. My self pep talk goes something like this: “Get over it.”

This works about as well as you’d imagine.

While a strong dose of perspective is sometimes just the thing we need, author Fil Anderson notes that it is rarely healthy to “get over it”—things pushed down eventually come out sideways. We must instead enter into it and pass through it.  And to do that, “it” has to be clearly named."

This resonated for me.

Then my second thought was - but what is it?  What's actually making me feel so above and beyond overwhelmed and exhausted?

My first thoughts leap to what a poor woman of faith I am.  That I'm not making enough time to spend time in God's presence and that's why I'm so exhausted.

Now, it certainly is true that I will benefit from more time with God.  More time of spiritual nourishment so my soul can be strengthened for those tasks set before me.  I truly believe that God wants to use me right where I am and that I'm where I'm supposed to be.  But the guilt and self put downs are rarely helpful.

I don't get to bed at a reasonable time at night.  Partially 'cuz I'm afraid to go to bed - I've a history of tossing and turning. Partially 'cuz I stay up late reading fiction or watching TV and the conscious thoughts are about fun - I want fun in my life, this vicarious living out something energetic and fun calls to me. There's something disturbingly unwholesome in this whole dynamic but I don't know exactly how to fix it.  I guess, going forward, I will just make myself stop everything - reading, Youtube, TV-within 7.5hrs of when I need to get up the next day.  I can just sit for 30 minutes with my thoughts if I want to .....I'll try that and see what happens.

Maybe my it is a group of things that when all put together make it seem like "too much".  The work demands & sleep issues mentioned above combined with my own deepest fears of inadequacy.  Can I really do this, really be enough, really give my staff what they need and be the leader that can make things good here?  Of course not.  I know that God has me here, but it's only through Him that I'll ever pull this off.

Right now, I'm not even good at praying.  But I thank You God that You've give me Your Holy Spirit to live within me.  I thank You that Your Word tells me that the Holy Spirit prays with words that can't be expressed. Oh Father, I need You.  I need Your encouragement, hope, strength, wisdom and joy...

Friday, May 15, 2020

It's great when stuff works

Mini Glass Purple Jar with Lid
Image from The Purple Store
It's always delightful when something works.

Recently at work I took a risk - and it paid off!

With all the COVID-19 things it's extra tough at work.  Thankfully, to date, we've not had any patients catch the virus.  But I still recognize how hard it is for my staff.  All the new rules; just donning the required goggles and face mask make work feel harder.  Not to mention that it's tough for staff after work; even little things like going to the grocery store are hard now.

To help accommodate for this, we've been doing things for staff at work.  But, aside from one psychological first aide video training, it's all been food related.  We've provided staff with 2 or 3 meals or some snacks each week just to make things a bit easier for them.  Also, because when there's food it's a soul-connection time as we share food and eat together.

A few weeks ago I got the idea that I wanted to give staff the gift of time for themselves.  My Health Information Manager helped me.  We bounced ideas off each other and came up with all kinds of creative things.  We took our Resident activity room and turned into an interest center room for 3 days.  There was a gardening section, the pool table, a nap area, and a scrap book section where people could make their own page for a facility scrap book.  We had aroma therapy scents and music playing.  We let staff sign up for 1/2 hour slots to spend in the room while a manager covered that 1/2 for them so they could go take time for themselves.

The part where I feel like I was putting myself out there was the training that went with the sign ups for this.  It was just a 1-page worth of 14pt writing where I spoke from my heart to the staff.  It had a picture atop of water going into a well. I super briefly used the water well analogy and talked about how as care givers we are like a well that is always giving out water.  I exhorted them about the need to ensure that they do things to keep their well full so that they can keep giving out.  Then tied this idea into the room filled with "filling" things in which they could choose to engage.  I even kind of preached just a tiny bit about gratitude.  How being grateful as a way of life will help fill their wells.  We had a glass jar and lots of brightly colored small paper squares on which staff could write something for which they're grateful and put in the jar.  I let them know that we're going to keep the gratitude jar going even after the 3-day gift of time event.

I was scared that this whole thing might bomb.  The director of nursing initially just acted distracted and didn't get into it when I tried to explain what I wanted to do.  But medical records and the activity director helped me.  I'm so grateful to say that staff super got into it and totally had fun with it.  There's lots of beautiful individual pages in our scrapbook.

Most of all I'm blessed to see a glass gratitude jar filled with brightly colored bits of paper!  And yes, I'll admit it.  I read through all of them and my heart is overflowing.....
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