Mind Body Spirit – March 2019


Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Wellness Ministries of the UCC Newsletter
(formerly The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter)

March 2019, Volume 4, Issue 2

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty.”
William Shakespeare

01-Daffodils.jpgMarch – the month that heralds the close of winter’s grip and beckons vernal spring’s arrival.  This year, March is also the harbinger and onset of the Easter season.  

March 2019 includes these celebrated days: 

March 5th is Shrove Tuesday or as it is better known in many locations, Pancake Day.  This day is associated with eating fatty and rich foods that cannot be eaten during Lent. In Pennsylvania – German communities it is called Fasnacht Day (translation: the night before the fast).  Fasnachts are donuts made to use up the lard, sugar, butter, eggs and other rich foods in a house before the austere diet of Lent begins.  Other areas of the country call this day Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the last day of the Carnival season which began on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany (King’s Day).    Churches may host pancake dinners as part of their preparation for Lent. 

March 6th is Ash Wednesday.  This day marks the beginning of Lent.  It is always 46 days before Easter Sunday.  During Ash Wednesday services, parishioners receive ashes on their foreheads. In many congregations the ashes are prepared by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday as a reference to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 

Lent: March 6 – April 21.  Not counting Sundays, Lent is 40 days in length and marks a time for repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration.  Lent is an intentional season focusing on the life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 10, 2019: Daylight Savings Time: begins at 2:00 A.M. Remember to “spring forward” in the spring and set your clocks forward one hour (losing one hour of sleep). 

Wednesday, March 20th  is the March Equinox; also called the vernal Equinox:  This year it falls on Wednesday, March 20th  at 5:58 pm EDT.  It marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  The sun sits directly over the equator so day and night all over the world are of equal length. 

Observe World Water Day March 22, 2019:  World Water Day.  Support various campaigns and check out the water resources provided by Creation Justice Ministries: http://www.creationjustice.org/water.html

Observe Earth Hour 2019 on March 30, 2019: Turn off the lights for one hour to observe how much energy will be saved  if people around the world cooperate with energy saving. Click here to see the impact from years before and how you can get involved.

Living In The Lenten Season:   

02-Lent.jpgLenten Program Ideas:
Our thanks to First Congregational Church (UCC) Western Springs, Illinois for sharing their  activities planned for Lent:

  • Walking the Way of the Cross – This labyrinth walk is held on Good Friday evening. The Passion Story from Luke is read as participants walk a candle-lit labyrinth. The area around the labyrinth is embellished with symbols of the scripture story. Walkers are instructed to stop on the labyrinth each they hear a prayer bell rung. With the ringing of the bell, a section of the scripture is read. Taize music is played during the walk. By the time a participant walks the labyrinth, they have heard the whole scripture story.
  • Lenten Devotional – About six weeks before Lent begins, congregation members are invited to submit a personal devotion, poem or story which speaks to a specified Lenten theme. Some examples of themes used are: God Was There, Pray without Ceasing, Sharing the Cross, and We are Pilgrims.  Members of all ages are invited to participate. The pieces submitted are organized into a booklet with each submission being assigned a day during Lent.  Members enjoy the Devotional for daily spiritual reflection and feel more connected to fellow congregants during their Lenten journey.
  • Lenten Connection Groups – Congregation members are invited to join small groups of 8-12 led by congregation members trained to lead the scripture reading process of Lectio Divina. It is a way of studying the scriptures using repetitive reading, meditation, reflection and discussion to discern how God is speaking to the individual and the group through selected scripture.


03-Moonlight.jpgMoonlight Reflections: A. Breisch

I have had a fascination with looking at the moon since a young age.  In adult life I discovered that I was born on a night of a full moon!  This February the “Super Snow” Moon occurred on February 19th.  It was also called a “Supermoon” because the moon was at its closest point to the earth. In fact, it was the largest, nearest, and brightest full moon of the year.  Gazing up at the moon draws us into quiet reflection.  It reminds us to “look up”.  As noted by Galileo in 1610, “it’s a beautiful and wondrous sight to behold the body of the moon”.            Watch this short video, A New View of the Moon, to see the awe and wonder experienced as Wylie Overstreet invites everyday people to view the moon up-close through a powerful telescope: https://www.mountainfilm.org/media/a-new-view-of-the-moon


A looking up moment: D. Stankiewicz

While working in nursing administration years ago, I would often vent my frustrations to my administrative assistant, Rosebud. She was an especially spiritually mature woman who would respond “Just keeping looking up Deb”. I try to remember to do that each day especially in my work as a faith community nurse.  I am finding it increasingly difficult to endure Midwestern winters.  This winter in Chicago has been particularly bad with unprecedented arctic temperatures and frequent prolonged ice storms. My work visiting congregants requires me to be out in the weather.  Most days I have railed against the winter and fall into the habit of counting the days until it’s over, as if wishing my life away.  Recently, I found myself gingerly driving to visits in the aftermath of a night-long ice storm.  On that day, I looked up in the literal sense.  The sun was shining, but it was still so cold that the treetops were encased in ice!  Voila! Crystals sparkling everywhere I looked in the light of the God-given sun.  The beauty of it was breathtaking and my heart lifted in gratitude for having had a glimpse of it.  I brought that experience into my visits with congregants that day; realizing that coping with extreme climate and helping those I serve also do so, might best be enhanced by focusing on the beauty in every season.

Health Observation Dates in March:

04-Sleeping.pngSleep Awareness Week: March 3-10, 2019.  This is a good topic for health ministries bulletin board displays or newsletter articles.  World Sleep Day: March 15, 2019.  World Sleep Day is held the Friday before the spring vernal equinox each year.  Sleep Hygiene tips can be incorporated into a bulletin board display: 



Good Sleeper or Bad Sleeper: Dr. Darius Loghmanee, a pediatric sleep medicine physician at Advocate Aurora Health System in the Chicago area, is on a mission to help parents realize that good sleep is a learned behavior made by promoting good sleep habits. He teaches parents and teachers about the science of sleep and the importance of good diagnostic assessment to determine why children have trouble getting good sleep. Poor sleep in children may manifest in symptoms such as emotional outbursts, learning difficulties, and daytime sleepiness. These are some of the same symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Children may be misdiagnosed and medicated for ADHD when in fact they are suffering from Sleep Pattern Disturbance. Medications prescribed for ADHD often worsen the sleep difficulties. A comprehensive diagnostic work-up for behavioral problems should include assessment of sleep pattern and quality to rule out such physical problems as sleep apnea. To learn more about healthy sleep in children and strategies to help children become good sleepers, check out this link:  https://www.dailyherald.com/entlife/20170820/are-good-sleepers-born-or-made

National Nutrition Month:  this initiative focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.  https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month-celebration-toolkit

American Lung Association: Year of Air Pollution and Health 2019: 

During 2019, The American Lung Association (ALA) will celebrate progress in reducing pollution in the air we breathe and highlight remaining obstacles to healthy air for all.  Each month will spotlight the lifesaving importance of healthy air, focusing on different themes such as how air pollution harms health, who is at risk and ways to act to protect our communities.  Their topics may be a resource for Bulletin Board displays, educational articles, or small group discussions. The focus for March is Where Does Air Pollution Come From? The topic for April is State of the Air.  The ALA website will feature resource content each month. https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/fighting-for-healthy-air/year-of-air-pollution-and-health/

Educational Happenings:

Healing touch:  Deb S. recently attended the 2019 Healing Touch Worldwide Conference, Being the Healing Bridge: Expanding Spirit Into Practice, in San Diego, California. Over 400 Healing Touch Practitioners gathered to learn how to use personal stories to constructively impact healing work.  The Keynote Speaker, Zelda Lockhardt, MA, PhD, spoke on Building Community Through the Mutual Vulnerability of Shared Stories.  Her latest book, due out this spring, is The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript. Learn more about this excellent storyteller:   https://zeldalockhart.com/

Religion and Public Health Collaborative at Emory University:  Emory University is conducting an assessment to guide them in the development of a continuing education program for religious and health professionals.  They are asking for input from practitioners in the fields of religion, community-based health programs, and public health.  You may participate in the survey which will take about 15 minutes to complete and is available through the link below:
Religion and Public Health Collaborative Survey   

NOTE:  Deadline to complete the survey is March 15, 2019

Webinar: Tuesday, March 19, 2019:  Free webinar by the Insurance Board: Training Parishioners to Recognize and Respond to the Active Shooter Threatwww.anymeeting.com/insuranceboard

Connecticut conference: The CT Council of Parish Nurse Coordinators is offering a one-day conference April 3rd, 2019 for lay health ministers and parish nurses. Alyson Breisch MSN, RN-BC will speak about trends in faith community nursing and the revised Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice,3rd ed. on behalf of Health Ministries Association, Inc.  Reverend Carl Anderson will provide insight on caring for people with dementia. Join us to network with vendors and colleagues promoting the integration of faith and health. click the link for full details:  CCPNC Symposium Health Ministry/ Parish Nursing Trends for 2019 

April 8-10, 2019: Westberg Symposium for Faith Community Nursing. In These Times: Serving Through Adversity. Memphis, TN   https://westberginstitute.org/symposium2019/

Dates for Your UCC Calendar:

Plan Early to Go Green:  One of the UCC’s 3 Great Loves initiative is Love of Creation.  April is Earth Month and the UCC has designated Sunday April 22 as Earth day.   March is the time to plan for your church’s activities focusing on care of creation.

April 22: Earth Day Sunday – UCC Creation Justice Ministries.  http://www.creationjustice.org/earth-day-sunday.html

Keep Connected:      

Previous issues of the newsletter:  Use previous year’s monthly newsletters to aid your search for links to resources on health ministries and wellness topics: http://www.ucc.org/ucc_faith_community_nurse_network_newsletter

Contact us: Have something you want to share with your colleagues? Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry?  Interested in joining the Leadership Team for the Wellness Ministries of the UCC?  Let us hear from you.

Alyson Breisch alyson.breisch@gmail.com and/or Deb Stankiewicz debbie@wscongo.org