to accompany and give back hope

Parish Nursing Health Tips



Your Parish Nursing Health Tips are prepared by
Margaret Black, RN EdD, PN



Parish Nursing Health Tip

posted for the week of January 29, 2023

Abandoned by God?  NEVER

When I saw Rev. Paul’s email this morning stating that he and his family have COVID, this question struck me. Two churches with no minister! A different situation but it helped me to empathize more with St. Cyprian’s people.

Also for Iona folks this particular situation brings terrible memories. We have already lost one beloved minister to COVID. Please, Lord, don’t let it happen again. On this point I am sure it won’t. Rev. Robert Reid had no vaccinations, as well as other health conditions which made him vulnerable. Rev. Paul is younger, healthier, and completely vaccinated, so I have no doubt he will be back with us soon.

In the meantime we will be blessed to have Antonio Siracusa, a former nurse now a minister and hospital chaplain, preaching for us this weekend. We have had him once before and appreciated his message. All that being considered, might there be a message from God for us in this situation? I think so.

Stretched by God - YES

Why, Lord, do we need ongoing struggles and changes in our lives and situations both as individuals and as Your people? My “to do” list is already too long. It feels like I will never get to the end of it. I’m surely not the only one who feels this way. Many of us are older and in relatively comfortable routines. Why do we need to be “stretched”?

Because we live in a time of unprecedented unrest, violence, social upheaval. Children are killing people they don’t even know. Thousands of homeless people wander the streets of Toronto seeking shelter, food, help with their lives. Many people struggle with mental health problems, feel ostracized and unable to cope. In short we are living in a world which no longer knows You.

As Your disciples, Jesus’ hands and feet in the world, we need to do our best to help others come to know and worship You as we do - our loving heavenly Father who gives us rules to live by but always loves and forgives us no matter how we go astray.

Just reading this list is enough to make me feel discouraged. Lord, there is NO way we can make all the changes that need to be made in our society. Of course not, and that is not what You expect of us.

What we can do is reach out to the people in our neighborhood and help them learn that there is a loving community at Tri-Church which will welcome them and be here to support them in any ways that we can. And we can only do this with Your help, not on our own. The important thing now is to accept Your need for us in our situation and do whatever we can with Your help and guidance.

Thank you, Lord, for seeing that we still have potential to serve You and others in important ways, thus giving meaning and purpose to our lives.

All praise to You forever!

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse


Parish Nursing Health Tip 

posted for the week of December 11, 2022

What Do We See With?

This woman says she is a nurse and she doesn’t know that we see with our eyes???

I can hear you thinking that and yes we see with our eyes but that’s not all. Our eyes receive the signals from whatever we are looking at but then these impulses are transmitted to the back of our brains (Occipital lobe) where the brain interprets them and presents us with the picture we see. Why do we need to know this? Because the interpretation may not be an exact replica of what the eyes are looking at. If we already have an idea of what we are looking at, our brains can leave out things that don’t fit with our preconceived notions.

Last night I was at a long, tiring music rehearsal. Most of the time I was standing up.. When we were dismissed we had to leave quickly, so gathered our things as fast as we could. My coat and bag were in different places and my music folder was in my hand. I quickly picked up things and got home at 10 pm after 3 !/4 hours.

As I entered the house, I was distracted by my young dog-walking friend who was currently watching the Raptors game. I quickly dumped my bag and purse in an unusual place. After taking him home, I got my music folder out but left the other things. Later I panicked, thinking I had left my purse and water bottle at the church where we were rehearsing. I found the purse but couldn’t find the water bottle anywhere. Finally I was so exhausted that I decided just to buy a new bottle. This morning, to my complete surprise the missing water bottle was on a small desk in my front hall where I had left it last night when searching for the other items. How could I have been so blind? My overtaxed brain ignored it when interpreting the information from my eyes.

This led me to a different, much more important question: Where do we see Jesus?

Although we may not see Him now, we know that He is always with us. Where would we have found him 2000 years ago when He walked the earth? With the homeless, the poor, the grieving, the sick, the troubled. While our eyes can’t see Him now, I believe He still walks with us and cares about all of us, especially the needy. So, when we see people needing help, guidance, prayer and encouragement we should remember that we are now Jesus’ body on earth.

Our minds can easily make us blind to the needs of those around us, especially those who are different from us. Lord, please open our eyes, minds and hearts that we might see You and do whatever You would do. A friendly phone call to a lonely person, a loaf of bread for someone with no food, a prayer for each person we see, can make a big difference for people who are hurting in so many ways.

Help us to walk with Jesus and do as He would have us do.

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse


Parish Nursing Health Tip

posted for the week of October 2, 2022

This morning I woke up feeling wonderful, having had the best sleep in several nights. On my morning walk I was thanking God for all the amazing blessings in my life - good health, wonderful family, my wonderful church family, plus all the things I need (shelter, food, etc.) that I take so much for granted. I was enjoying the fresh autumn air and sunshine and the beautiful trees just starting to turn colour. An hour later I was screaming at my dog for a few misdemeanours. Where did that come from?  My Dark Side had suddenly appeared and I was appalled.

I tend to think of myself as a sunny person, usually seeing the best in my life and trying to show God’s love to the world around me so this was a big surprise. But we all have a Dark Side. It took some time for me to really understand what had triggered it. In this case, a challenge with technology. I had scanned the area on the municipal election voting card to learn more about the candidates running in my riding for various positions. It got complicated and very frustrating, especially as Queen was nudging me, wanting breakfast and play time. They didn’t go well together and suddenly I was overtaken by my Dark Side and Queen bore the brunt. True, she’s a dog but she is also a sentient being with feelings like mine and I reacted very inappropriately.

I try to use every negative experience as a learning opportunity. This one gave me a lot to reflect on and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

I am goal-driven, setting goals for myself every day and rewarding myself for those I accomplish while criticizing myself for those left undone. This can be a useful trait but only if the goals are realistic and manageable in the time period available. August and September have been hectic for me, wonderful in some ways, challenging in others including a one month visit from my daughter who lives in Alberta, and a bathroom renovation during the time she was home. Toss in there my church responsibilities and it is apparent that I had allowed myself to become quite stressed. Although I recognized that, I didn’t allow myself time to relax, continuing to expect all the usual things from myself which led to a predictable explosion. When things go wrong I need to deal with them, but appropriately, not just as a vent for stored up stress. From now on I will work on being more realistic in my goals and schedules and take time to relax when I start to feel pressured. God has given us a wonderful place to live and wonderful people to share our lives with. I need to make the most of each day and forgive myself for unfinished business.

We all need time to relax and enjoy ourselves and to thank God daily for all His gifts. Wishing you the very best as we move into the future together.

Blessings ...

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse


Parish Nursing Health Tip

posted for the week of July 24, 2022

Where Is Our Focus?

The events of the past week are now coming together for me and suggesting another health tip. As some of you may know, Melissa Reid is currently in Scotland, visiting Robert’s remaining relatives and scattering some of his ashes in his homeland. This reminded me of a similar trip I made many years ago where I picked up this cute souvenir in the gift shop at Inverness.  It shows a small Scotsman in a little boat taking a picture of a small bird on what he assumes is a rock, and totally missing the fact that it is on the tail of the Loch Ness Monster, which is eyeing him as an appetizer.


I used to use this to show my nursing students the importance of seeing things in context, a lesson that I also need to keep in mind as I have a tendency to focus on details and miss what is really important.

This week we learned of the terrible loss at Iona of Rena Mowbray. She had been with us for many years and we had many good times together years ago, such as when she and some others would come to our house to celebrate Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve). Also, I was her elder and parish nurse and on Tuesday mornings, when she was unable to attend church, I would deliver a printed copy of the sermon to keep her in touch with us. Mostly I just stuck the copy in her mailbox, telling myself I would visit her another time when I wasn’t so busy. Little did I know that time would never come. Now I live with guilt and sorrow for not ensuring regular visits. Rena, we miss you but are grateful you are now past the pain and loneliness, as you rest in God’s loving care.

Yesterday I had a phone call from Rita Hiorth, now living in Collingwood. She said she would be in Toronto today for an appointment and we arranged for her to visit me this afternoon but I woke up worried about details: should I set up inside or on the deck; how much cleaning up do I need to do, etc. Still focused on the wrong things, I need to focus on the joy of seeing her, not knowing how many other opportunities we will have to be together.

A recent sermon by Emily Bisset pointed out that our focus as Christians should be on showing God’s love through our actions, not just having good intentions. We are Christ’s body here on earth and He depends on us to show His love to others through  what we do. Our actions could include visits, phone calls, prayers, perhaps a card to let someone know we are thinking of them, whatever else occurs to you. The important thing is to connect with those who need us and help them know someone cares. From now on, when I am tempted to put things off because I am “too busy”, I will look at my Loch Ness souvenir and ask myself what is REALLY important on that day. I hope and pray that this tip may help those who read it remember to focus on the important things, not just the details.


Margaret Black
Parish Nurse


Parish Nursing Health Tip
posted for the week of June 12, 2022

“You Do Not Walk Alone”

Where is God walking with you right now? We all feel like we are “walking alone” sometimes and it can be frightening, depressing, and lonely.  What I have learned is that when I pray for God to open my eyes to His Presence in my life suddenly I see things I have totally missed or taken for granted before.

Pentecost Sunday was a perfect example. As you probably already know, I have a wonderful dog, Queen, whom I love dearly but she does present some problems on her daily walks. If she sees a dog that doesn’t belong to “her pack”, she can become aggressive in defending “her territory”. At 110 lbs she is a force to be reckoned with and I am no longer comfortable trying to do this on my own. During the week I have great professional dog walkers and on weekends I usually have a teenage male friend who helps me walk her but occasionally he has other plans. Then I resort to a list of other friends to see who can cover for him. Yesterday he went to Wonderland and we hope he enjoyed it.

I called all my usual group of young friends who act as back-up walkers when needed, but no one was available. We walked in the morning with a near neighbour and his dog but he was busy later. I was really afraid that I was going to have to walk Queen by myself in the evening and it haunted me for a good part of the day.  While I was doing other things, a song from our recent Village Voices concert, called “You Do Not Walk Alone”, kept running through my mind. Clearly a message from God which included encouraging me to look for other possibilities I hadn’t thought of.
And it happened! I spoke to a long-time dog-walking friend in the neighbourhood to ask whether his teenage son might be available to help out. His son was not, but he came himself and brought his beautiful preteen daughter who used to play with my grandson several years ago and who loves Queen. We had the most wonderful walk together that I have experienced in years! We remembered mutual friends and neighbours and our good times with them. We joked and laughed, just enjoyed being together, and his daughter had a great time patting and playing with Queen.

I realized that this was a gift from God that would not have happened if no serious problem had arisen. So when you feel that you are struggling alone with problems you can’t solve, ask God to open your eyes so you can see where He is walking with you. We are all God’s children and He loves us far beyond our human capacity to comprehend. And once you start to see God’s Presence in your life more clearly, you can help others to see it in their lives too and reap the joy of helping them.

Always remember YOU DO NOT WALK ALONE! 
Marg Black
Parish Nurse