For Parish Nurses

Spiritual Development


Do Not Be Afraid, I Am With You
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.  Luke 1:46-47

I Samuel 1:24-28
Luke 1:46-56

The noted scriptures are about Hannah, Mary, and Elizabeth, all of whom are pregnant by divine intervention.  The story of Mary visiting Elizabeth in Luke 1 reflects the great joy they experienced, but certainly there must also have been fear surrounding the pregnancies.  Mary must have been afraid that Joseph would leave her and she would be forced into earning her own way in life, never to marry.  Elizabeth likely feared how she would handle a pregnancy, an infant, a toddler at 88 years of age.  Hannah had been childless for years and then was blessed with her son Samuel.  She had struggled with her sense of self-worth and now she was unexpectedly pregnant. 

I’ve read that the phrase ‘fear not’ occurs in scripture 365 times – once for every day of the year.  So why are our hearts consumed with so much fear?  In the news and on social media we are bombarded with the violence and hatred in the world around us, wondering how it will affect us and whether we are safe.   Some might be fearful of not having the basics of life – financial resources for things like food, shelter, clothing, and transportation.  Children might be afraid of the dark, the instability in their parents’ marriage, or face separation anxiety.  Young people wonder if they can find a job and succeed in a competitive world. 

Our fears and the reasons for fear are seemingly countless, but fear is a normal part of life and the redeeming news is that God is with us in our fears.  The question is whether we can quiet our anxiety and apprehension enough to hear God’s promises, receive His gift of hope, and let His reminder ‘do not be afraid, I am with you’ permeate our hearts and spirits.  It’s hard to hear angelic whispers in the midst of fear and anxiety.

We celebrate Jesus birth in the darkest days of the year, reminding us that God is present in the darkest parts of our lives.  As you read the Christmas story this year, notice the fears expressed by Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, as well as how the power of God helped them to respond, despite their fears.  Today, listen for His still small voice in angelic murmurings that might be unexpectedly expressed by those around you, heard in your prayer time, be found in the words of scripture, in your dreams and in your fear-laden tears.  God is with you – and may you, with Mary, proclaim the greatness of the Lord in your life.  

Prayer God of promise, I lean into your warm embrace, praying for peace and absence of fear in life.  Help me always cling to your promise to hold me in my darkness and remind me that you are my Light.  Amen.

Written by Carol Deschepper, ELPNA National Chair

To see the three devotions in Graceful Aging series click on the following:
The Gift of Hope                   The Gift of Humor                             The Gift of Vision

God Pause Daily Devotion
Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience.

Resources for Spiritual Development
Spiritual Direction – Seeking a Spiritual Companion
Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)

Some of you may wish to seek a spiritual director as a way to nurture your own spirituality.  This document briefly describes what spiritual direction is, identifies common misconceptions about spiritual direction, and gives you ideas on how to find a spiritual director.  Spiritual maturity and growth is critical for the parish nurse.  As you support others wholistically, tending to your own soul is important.  Spiritual Direction is only one way of keeping yourself on solid footing spiritually.  You might have other disciplines and practices that meet this need for you.
Please Click here for a more indepth discussion of Spiritual Direction by Carol DeSchepper,
including a web site to locate a Spiritual Director in your area.

Melissa's Prayer Journal:  The Power of Prayer in the Face of Cancer
A resource for faith encouragement and development, especially for people with health issues. In her letters to God, Melissa perfectly illustrates the power of positive coping in any circumstance! Give this book to anyone struggling with faith, health, or life issues, and let them learn Melissa’s secret for thriving in spite of difficulties!

Web sites for Spiritual Renewal and Growth
This is a wonderful spiritual resource from author and retreat and conference speaker, and spiritual "midwife"".  Joyce has a B.A. in English, a M.R. E. in Religious Education, and a M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology.  She is a member of the Servites (Servants of Mary) Community and was a volunteer for Hospice for fifteen years.  She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa.  To sign up for her monthly newsletter go to


 Updated 8/18