Posts Tagged ‘Tuesday Tributes’

A Teacher Who Saw My Heart for Justice


Today’s tribute is about Mrs. Winegarden who was my 10th grade English teacher. Mrs. Winegarden lost her battle with cancer a number of years ago, but I have held her in my heart all these years.

Mrs. Winegarden required us to keep a journal. She read all the entries as the year went along and commented from time to time. At the end of the year she made a career prediction for each of us and wrote it in our journals.

Mrs. Winegarden’s prediction for me was:

I see you as a zealous ACLU lawyer!

I had written throughout the year about my faith in Jesus, about mountaintop youth group events, and even about my sense that I was called into ministry. I was sure that Mrs. Winegarden would affirm church-related ministry as my vocation. But she didn’t.

When I asked Mrs. Winegarden about it she said that in all my writing throughout the year I frequently wrote about “standing up for the underdog.” She noted that I was outspoken about things like discrimination and respect for all people. She said she “wouldn’t be surprised” if that became a centerpiece in my vocation.

While I still don’t think I’m destined for a legal career, I think she was right in some way.

In that class I wrote a paper about “ageism” and how children are often disrespected or mistreated just because they are young. Even then I was forming my attitudes about the kind of mother I would be. Today, as a mom I favor positive discipline and non-punitive parenting.

In a single journal entry I lamented abortion and capital punishment. Back then I was already forming an ethic that included respect for the unborn as well as dignity for convicted criminals. Nowadays I continue to scratch my head when someone affirms one but not the other.

I wrote in that 10th grade journal about the evils of racism, how bad stereotypes are, and my greatest ambition being to make the world a more loving place. It all sounds so idealistic now, think Jackie DeShannon’s “What the world needs now is love,” but Mrs. Winegarden was right that these types of concerns have been a big part of who I am.

Even in choosing to be a Deaconess, one of the hallmarks of Deaconess ministry is what we refer to as a “bias for the broken.” This means we pay particular attention to what Matthew 25:40 calls “the least of these” or what Mrs. Winegarden referred to as “standing up for the underdog.”

Maybe I’m too much on the fence to be a lawyer battling over rights like the ACLU does. I tend to look for quieter ways to make a difference, even if it is just one person at a time. But it means so much to me that Mrs. Winegarden saw that passion in me back then. I thank God for her insight into my future.

Boston Marathon Helpers


Today’s Tribute is for all those who helped in some way after the explosions at the Boston Marathon. These are a few of those stories.

This article from the Boston Globe describes individuals who helped runners who were unable to finish the race and separated from all their belongings:

Many (runners) were met with kindness from locals; offered blankets and jackets, cash and food, and a free place to sleep. “People in this city have been unbelievable,” said Glenn Sheehan, 50, a runner born in Wakefield and now lives in South Carolina. “ ‘Let me give you food, let me give you water’ — it’s been like that all afternoon.”

Forced from the race course at Massachusetts and Commonwealth avenues, 45-year-old Kathy Cote got a helping hand outside the Eliot Hotel.
“A very nice man offered me his jacket and his cellphone while he went into the Eliot and got me a blanket,” said Cote, a bartender from Mashpee running her second Boston Marathon, who was swept toward the Common by police with bullhorns.

The same article also says that one of the runners rerouted in an attempt to do some good:

Emily Clark, a Boston College junior, who was also forced to end her Marathon early, ran to Massachusetts General Hospital with two friends, intending to donate blood. Clark said hospital staff told her to come back Tuesday.

Another Boston Globe article talks about medical workers treating the injured in medical tents:

Alix Coletta, 26, a nurse in the medical tent, later told me she and others had treated dozens of people — including children — for severe trauma, massive bleeding, and heart problems.

Yet another article tells of the work of Boston area hospitals:

In all, eight Boston hospitals reported treating at least 144 patients, many in critical condition…Many of the hospitals activated long-held emergency plans, some calling in extra staff.

This article describes one way that Boston government officials were on the scene:

City officials set up a resource center for runners at the Park Plaza Castle. Late Monday night, Barbara Ferrer, head of the Boston Public Health Commission, said 50 people had arrived, looking for help finding loved ones or their belongings.

The mayor took time from his own hospital-stay as described in this article:

Mayor Thomas M. Menino was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, ­recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg, when the news arrived…The mayor left the hospital and headed toward Copley Square, to meet with his aides and to brief the media.”

Finally, if you would like a visual sampling of Boston’s helpers, take a look at  this from The Atlantic Wire.

Even as we try to make sense of what has happened, as we pray for the injured and mourn those lost, we can find hope, as Mr. Rogers says, by looking for the helpers.

What stories have you heard about the helpers at the Boston Marathon?

A Simple Farm Girl Overcame Obstacles and Became a Leader in Her Field


Welcome to “Tuesday Tributes,” a series for lifting up people who have impacted our lives. They may be our teachers, neighbors, parents, friends, or mentors.

Each Tuesday I will share a story about someone who has inspired me, mentored me in the faith, or shaped my character. Then you can tell your stories in the comments about someone who has impacted you in a similar way.

Today’s tribute is about my mother. There is so much I could say about my mom and how she has inspired me, but I just got back from her retirement party and I want to pay tribute to her career in particular.

My mother, Sharol Herr, was a career nurse and retired in February after 39 years. Her career was full of dedication to patients, interdisciplinary collaboration, and mentoring others in her field. My mother overcame obstacles to her dream of becoming a hospice nurse and became a leader in the field of hospice and palliative care.

My mother chose nursing at a time when it was one of only a handful of options available to aspiring professional women. As the first in her family to pursue education beyond high school, mom left the family farm to attend Mount Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, OH. She got a nursing license and began working in the Mount Carmel Health System.

When I was in grade school my mother began seriously investigating her dream of becoming a hospice nurse. She hit a roadblock though; her basic nursing license was not enough.* Even as a kid I empathized with how hard it was for her. She wanted to be a hospice nurse so badly, but she wasn’t allowed because she wasn’t qualified with the education she had.

She was faced with a choice; she could ignore her dream or she could go back to school. She followed her passion and returned to the classroom. She continued working and took classes as she was able. My favorite times were when I got to go to class with her because I got to see her learning important things to fulfill her dream.

Eventually she got her bachelor’s degree and had a little more waiting to do before she finally got to fulfill her dream of becoming a hospice nurse with Mount Carmel Hospice. This much of her story alone blows me away because of the obstacles she overcame to get to that point. She was a simple farm girl who finished college while raising two children and got into her dream specialty.

Eventually mom went back to school again to enrich her mind and she got a master’s degree in counseling. She remained working at Mount Carmel Hospice.

Then the field of hospice began to expand. Hospice is part of a broader philosophy called palliative care which emphasizes comfort rather than cure and patient and family education to help cope with illness. Hospice is reserved for patients with a terminal illness, but palliative care can be applied in other situations as well. When Mount Carmel Hospice embraced this broader philosophy they became Mount Carmel Hospice and Palliative Care.

Mount Carmel became one of the first hospitals in the country to offer palliative care more broadly and my mother was part of the interdisciplinary team that pioneered it. Not only that but Mount Carmel became one of six hospitals in the nation to teach other hospitals how to develop their palliative care programs. My mother has taught about palliative care around the country. She also helped teach at and administer the teaching program for Mount Carmel.

That simple farm girl blushes when I talk about her being a pioneer and leader in her field, but this is my blog and I’m calling it like I see it. I am so proud of my mom’s amazing career. She inspires me to keep reaching for my own dreams.

*I just spoke with my mom and she clarified that getting her bachelor’s degree was a “self-imposed” limitation. All the same her degree was a great accomplishment and was a great asset in her career.
For more information about palliative care, visit Get Palliative Care.

The Teacher Who Showed Us Jesus and Gave Us a Conscience


Welcome to “Tuesday Tributes,” a new series here on the blog. The series is about lifting up people who have impacted our lives. They may be our teachers, neighbors, parents, friends, or mentors.

Each Tuesday I will share a story about someone who has inspired me, mentored me in the faith, or shaped my character. Then you can tell your stories in the comments about someone who has impacted you in a similar way.

Today’s tribute is about Mrs. Bricker who was my 5th grade teacher.

How do public school teachers manage to remain faithful to Christ when they are not supposed to invoke his name in the classroom? If Christians are to be light to the world, how much are public school teachers allowed to shine before administration tells them to hide it under a bushel?

I don’t know if Mrs. Bricker ever told us she was a Christian that year, but when I found that out it was not a surprise to me. She probably wasn’t supposed to talk about such things, but even without talking about Jesus, she showed us his love.

Mrs. Bricker worked with us to write our own class rules. She encouraged us to think out-loud together about the importance of respecting one another.

She modeled respect in how she treated each one of us. She never raised her voice. She didn’t have to because we respected her.

When we misbehaved for other teachers, Mrs. Bricker corrected us calmly. She was clear that we had messed up, but her kindness gave us hope that we could do better.

Toward the end of the year Mrs. Bricker taught us a poem that she memorized in school. It was called, “Myself” and the author wrote about wanting to make choices that he could live with. Mrs. Bricker told us that these words had always stuck with her and made her think of the choices she made in life.

Each of us was required to recite the poem aloud to the class. We didn’t have to memorize it but I have always remembered the lessons she taught us with it.

The last couple of lines always stuck with me,

Whatever happens I want to be

Self respecting and conscience free.

I felt inspired by this idea of behaving in ways that would leave me with a clean conscience. The poem resonated with me all the more because Mrs. Bricker showed us what it looked like to live that way.

Like I say, Mrs. Bricker didn’t cross any lines separating church and state. She simply showed us Jesus by respecting us, and teaching us to respect one another. I believe she was Jesus to us when she gave us dignity even when we did undignified things. Through modeling “conscience free” living, she was pointing us to God’s better way for our lives.

When I speak to groups about living out their faith in their everyday lives, inevitably someone raises the question of “what if my job won’t let me talk about Jesus?” I think of people in my life like Mrs. Bricker and I tell them you do it by showing them the love of Jesus through your love and respect for them.

What about you? Do you recall teachers who both gave and received respect in the classroom? Who has helped shape your character or conscience? Who in your life has shown you the love of Jesus in how they have treated you?
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