Blog Post – A Special Mother’s Day Blog

Diana Johnson, BSN, RN

“This is my favorite part of the day!”

I hear this line all the time, usually between 0800 and 0930 when the Detox Unit is seeing pregnant clients and checking fetal heart rates. They beam with excitement and I hold my breath as the light blue probe touches their tummy.

“This is my ninth, she’s in there somewhere, you can press harder, it won’t bother me none,”
“I’ve had three, this one is going to be a handful, I can tell already,”
“this is my fourth and hopefully my last”
“my third,”
“fifth.”
“This is my first, I’m so **** scared.”

I don’t exhale until I hear a little heart beating and see variable numbers flashing on the Doppler screen. 141, 143, 150, 146. “Looks perfect!” I breathe again and smile reassuringly at mom.

Before I graduated nursing school I would daydream about different directions I would go with my career. I was certain I’d end up at a big hospital and I always imagined it being filled with noise. There would be doctors rushing around, nurses feverishly charting, IV pump alarms going off, and call lights illuminating the halls. I would imagine working late nights in the emergency room, or early mornings in surgery, or endless days on a med-surg floor. What I never imagined though, was having to scan my badge outside an unmarked door, entering a quiet, dimly lit, six-bed medically monitored detox unit tucked away inside the walls of The Next Door.

The Next Door has held a special place in my heart for fifteen months now. And not the kind of “special” where every day is amazing and nothing bad ever happens. As a nurse, that kind of special does not exist. Actually, I’m pretty sure in any profession, that does not exist. But it’s special in the way you get to see lives changing in front of you, knowing God’s hand is in all of it. You get to see the hard stuff. The stuff families keep quiet around company. You see pictures of children taped to keycards hanging around necks of the clients and you watch as tears well up in their eyes when they tell you they haven’t actually seen their babies in eight months. You overhear ultimatums given by spouses, parents, friends. You hear about upcoming court dates, nerves, DCS, lawyers, judges, which county has the nicest jails. It’s a safe place. A place where talking about “bottom” is embraced and not judged. There are cravings and crying, prayers and encouragement, coffee and cigarettes. It is one hour at a time and just for today. And somewhere along the way you see strength and courage where you once saw fear. You watch the woman who called you every name in the book (and some you’ve never even heard of) two weeks ago pull up a chair next to a new client who is wanting to leave treatment early and you listen as she tells her:
“I was where you are now two weeks ago”
“please give it a chance”
“staying saved my life.”

There are so many miracles. A few months ago I was able to be there at the hospital for the birth of a client’s son. I had been listening to his heartbeat with the Doppler for weeks and was overcome with joy to hold him in my arms. As I sat in that hospital room, I listened to the nurse ask mom her questions and watched her feverishly enter all the data into her computer, doctors and residents were conferencing in the hallways, the IV pump alarm went off and more nurses rushed in to silence it. And amidst all of the commotion, the people, the noise, I realized that I ended up where I was meant to be. Behind an unmarked door, in a medically monitored detox unit tucked away inside the walls of The Next Door. I hope very much that fifteen months is only the beginning of my journey with The Next Door and the incredible women who come through these doors every day.

Diana Johnson BSN, RN serves as a Registered Nurse in the Detox Unit for The Next Door.

Blog Post – Love, Hope, Support, & Life

Patience Ruffin

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.
It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will
determine the significance of the life we lead.
— Nelson Mandela

“There is an island of opportunity in the middle of every difficulty.”
― Alcoholics Anonymous

Daily the staff at TND walk through the door with one goal in mind, and that is to fight the disease of addiction. We come into the building with the agenda to help a woman not be defined by her past and to develop hope for her future.

By no means is this an easy task, but we have taken on the assignment to combat addiction and help reunite families. In the midst of that, sometimes the disease is too strong and women lose their fight. This was the case for the agency this month. We lost someone very close to us to the disease of addiction. Her untimely death became a time of sadness, reflection, and celebration for the employees at TND.

While we were hurt by the loss of her, we celebrated the beautiful life she lived. We also used this as a time to reflect on the work we do and how important it is to treat every moment with the clients as if it is the last. What I recall the most about this difficult time was how we as an agency embraced, supported, and encouraged one another. In the midst of our own mourning, each of us found a way to comfort one another.

Her beautiful life helped us lean on the strength of those we stand alongside of to fight the disease. I learned that though the disease of addiction is horrible and in some instances fatal, The Next Door is a place of love, hope, support, and life for those who are impacted daily.

Patience Ruffin serves as The Next Door’s Director of Treatment Services

Blog Post – Navigating Faith and Works

Johana Desir

This week I celebrated my two-month anniversary at The NextDoor, I am still as excited today as I was back in January when the offer was made to me. However, truth be told, I didn’t know if the next major step in my young and promising career path, should be a faith-based, non-profit organization. I mean, for 8 years I was cultivated and mentored in the for-profit side of addiction treatment, very much business driven with very aggressive numbers, goals, and very strong personalities. This would certainly be a very challenging departure from what I had known. I was worried about employee mindset, what to say, how to say it. Could I truly be open and honest to my colleagues without the extra emotionality that I had often heard comes with being in a faith-based agency? If someone sneezed and I didn’t say “bless-you” would that make them look at me as less of “a Christian”? From my point of view, those were very legitimate concerns that I had.

Once my fear waned a bit, I was reminded of Dr. A. R Bernard’s principle of “Christ in Culture”. Meaning, don’t just speak about your faith, but you show it in deeds and action. “Faith and Works” So I decided the best way I can be effective in my new role in a “faith-based” organization is to walk the walk and talk the talk. Come through those doors every day thinking, “how will I exercise my faith today in my professional setting”. The best way to do that, is to plan and create strategies, and execute the vision and mission that my leaders have set before me; which is to open the doors at The NextDoor wide open and have the opportunity to serve and rescue more women in need of treatment. My job as the Chief of Business Functions is to think of business strategies for the agency, the women we serve, and the employees that help us do that, in that order. This means, in a loving and yet firm manner I make and execute tough decisions, and set strong priorities and objectives focusing on business goals. Realizing, that too should be the organizational goals of a non-profit, faith-based agency. I must think and do both “Faith and works”. One cannot exist without the other!  That is the best way to serve and honor my faith in my professional life.

In closing, I am reminded of this Stanley C Brown, illustration “A young boy, on an errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry. A few people gathered to see if he was OK and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the works of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, “I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?”

You see, it takes faith to take the action step and give 25 cents to that young boy. In that moment he needed more that just their understanding and compassion, he needed a dozen eggs to take to his momma!! James 2:17 (NIV) “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”

Johana Desir serves as The Next Door’s Chief of Business Functions

Blog Post – The Face of Addiction

Cindy Sneed

Do you know your neighbor?

So often we think of our neighbor as the person who lives in the house on the next lot or in the adjacent unit of our apartment building.  Maybe we think of a neighbor as someone living in a certain “neighborhood,” living within a specific geographic area.  The Bible demonstrates a clear standard for how we are to care for our neighbors in the book of Luke. In Chapter 10 we read about a man who encountered a group of robbers, where he was stripped, beaten, and left alone to die.  There were several people who saw the man’s predicament but did not stop to help.  There was only one man, a priest, who went out of his way to show compassion and provide help to this man.

Luke 10 teaches us the standard of care for being a good neighbor. Most of what is said is good and helpful and right, but what really matters is this:  there was a person in need and someone – a neighbor – responded to that need. Interesting we never learn the name, identity, profession, socioeconomic status, the person’s physical or mental capabilities, or any other identifying characteristic of the injured person. The only thing we know is that he is from a region that is not-the-most favorable.  In other words, he was a neighbor from another neighborhood who needed help.

The opioid epidemic that we are experiencing in our city, the State of Tennessee and across the country is devastating our neighborhoods—not just “some” neighborhoods with less favorable zip codes—it is happening to ALL of our neighborhoods.  Every day there are new stories about families and friends who have lost someone they love to this terrible disease of addiction.  These are the stories of our neighbors who we have the privilege to serve each day at The Next Door. Our neighbors come to us from neighborhoods such as Brentwood, Antioch, Nashville, Clarksville, Belle Meade, Franklin, Knoxville, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, and other neighborhoods from across our state. Our neighbors are your mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, sisters, coworkers, mentors, and best friends.

Like the man in Luke 10, we all need help at some point in our lives. We are all poor in some way. Sometimes we need (and are given) good, helpful, and right things. While in other seasons we crave and have a desperate need for things that are unhealthy and destructive.  Like the priest in the story who offered help to a neighbor he did not know—we are called to be non-judgmental neighbors who provide quality, compassionate care to our neighbors who are struggling with the weight of addiction, mental illness, and trauma.

At The Next Door we teach women and their families that hope can be found even in the midst of their darkest circumstances—when they feel broken and abandoned and all alone. Our team teaches that not only is there a way out of these circumstances—we teach them HOW to heal and HOW to protect themselves from the continuing devastation caused by this chronic disease of addiction.

We are thankful for all of the brave women and their families who have asked for help from The Next Door.  It is humbling to spend your days serving as a good neighbor to hurt people and to be called to render aid to them.  It is such a privilege for our team to get to know our neighbors—each of them are unique and have a desire for meaningful relationships, have professional and educational goals, dreams, and abilities that are amazing and gifted—each of our neighbors is marvelously created! The women who sit in our groups, joke with one another over lunch, meet with a nurse practitioner in medical services, and attend family therapy with their loved ones are OUR neighbors.  We are so glad they chose to come to The Next Door.

Cindy Sneed serves as The Next Door’s Chief Clinical Officer

Blog – Celebrating The Next Door’s Roots

Linda Leathers

Image result for the next door nashville    Then – 128 8th Ave

I am not sure if it is just me or if everyone when hearing the Miranda Lambert’s song, “The House that Built Me” written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, a warmth fills my soul and causes me to burst out in song –every single time. As I drive past 128 8th Avenue, The Next Door’s founding home, this song comes to my mind. The words do not fit the melody but this property will always be the Place God used to strengthen and grow my faith to see first hand that nothing is impossible with the Lord. My soul causes me to burst out in… THANK YOU LORD!

This parcel of property, which will soon turn into a pile of dirt and then in a couple of years will transform into two beautiful hotels, will always be holy ground to this wild praying woman. We experienced the Lord work MIRACLE after MIRACLE in this old building. For me, this piece of property is the POWER OF PRAYER in action. I celebrate and thank the Lord that, in His grace, He used this building to restore hundreds and even thousands of women’s lives. He gave our staff and volunteers the privilege of walking life with amazingly courageous women impacted by heartbreaking disease of addiction.

Many people ask me how I feel seeing the building being demolished and becoming dirt. I feel GRATITUDE! I loved our first location, but am absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how the LORD, in HIS goodness, provided our new campus at just the right time. Today, up to 106 women may find HOPE at The Next Door in services today. We have an additional 21 moms and 12 incredible children who call the Freedom Recovery Community home. The Next Door offers a continuum of care designed specifically for women in a Christ-centered culture that is unmatched in the community.

I do not worship the past. I worship the Lord who brought the past to life in this building and gave The Next Door an amazing future to run towards and embrace. The past makes me trust wholeheartedly in His leadership for the organization’s present and future. These are exciting days – Thanks be to the Lord!

Image result for the next door nashvilleNow – 402 22nd Ave N

Image result for the next door nashvilleImage result for the next door nashville
Then                                                               Now

Linda Leathers serves as the CEO at The Next Door.

Blog – Facing the Facts of Addiction

Alison Cooke

I have been the communications director at the Next Door for almost three months now. I’ll be honest and say that all I knew about opioids is what I had heard in the news – I just knew it was an epidemic, but I didn’t know why or how big the issue was. I didn’t know much about addiction in general either. I am slowly but surely learning more than I ever wanted to know. More than I wanted to know because I had no idea how big of a problem addiction was. It’s shocking and heartbreaking to learn the facts of this disease.

Fortunately, I am also learning a lot about the amazing work The Next Door, my new employer – and new home, does to combat this epidemic. Their hearts are big, but their expertise is even more impressive.

I have a background in the nonprofit industry, but came from for profit most recently. I just felt like something was missing from the work I was doing and I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than me or my employer. I wanted my marketing efforts to be about more than just the bottom line.

My first week here the CEO challenged me and the marketing company we work with, Brand Wise, to come up with a marketing campaign that would make women call our number and reach out for help – and hope. While the epidemic is bigger than I ever realized, The Next Door’s arms are open even wider – to ANY and ALL women who want help.

Here’s a sneak peek at part of the campaign. We are so proud to be rolling this campaign out in mid April. You will see us on Channel 5, some billboards, Graffiti ads, and all of the various social media platforms. This is one of four different profiles in our campaign. This one struck me the most because my niece’s birth mom was an addict. Perhaps she still is. Or perhaps she got the help she needed and is living a life of hope now. That is my prayer for her. And if she hasn’t yet, I hope she will soon. That is my prayer for all women with this disease. I hope this campaign works and that women call for the help they need.

There will be a fact on each profile along with a call to action. this just gives you a sneak peek at the creative. Stay tuned…

Alison Cooke is the communications director at The Next Door

 

Blog – Choosing Which Path to Take

Carrie Fraser

“Trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make straight your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision.” Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 86

      

On the White Trail in Percy Warner Park there are markers that point left or right along the trail. I’ve often wondered why these arrows were placed at those particular points because the path itself is a loop. Many of us experience those moments where we have to make a decision on which direction we are going to go.  Sometimes we choose to head out into the wilderness and off the path with a determination to do it on our own. Addiction leads people out into the wilderness where they often find themselves isolated and alone.

The Next Door provides women with therapeutic and spiritual care and support to help them make the decision to follow the path of recovery. The women we serve also face moments where those arrows point towards their past or their future. They make decisions every day to not let their past define their future. Developing a loving relationship with God reminds us that God is a God of redemption and transformation. When we are at a crossroads, we can turn toward God to provide us with the direction we need to move forward as God’s beloved. Through our relationship with Christ we are “a brand new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5) When we understand this truth our past has no power over us. We stop running and start living.

God is more interested in who we are and what we are going to be than who we were once and what we used to be. God can use our past to serve the world and God’s beloved. Each and every one of us is special and loved by God. Whatever your past, it does not define you. God’s love and grace defines us.

Carrie Fraser, MDIV, LMFT, CADC is the Director of Spiritual Wellness and Alumni Services at The Next Door