Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Aging Backwards

Today I am entering the final year of my fifties. The decade has been good to me in many ways, but this aging business reminds me of puberty—a new surprise every morning. Lately, it’s been my left knee. Some days, it’s painful enough to prevent me from walking to work. Walking to work is the only thing standing between my current level of unfitness and the next: a blob of blubber. I really need to conquer the knee. And, while you couldn’t pay me enough to actually age backwards, I would like to finish out my years as mobile as possible. So, I want to tell you about a pain relief tool I’m finding surprisingly helpful.

In August, 2015 my right shoulder suddenly became painful and my range of motion extremely limited, for no apparent reason. Six months went by before the left side followed suit, meaning both shoulders were out of commission. Window washing was out of the question. I could no longer pull dishes down from the upper cupboards. My clothesline hung empty and forlorn. Pain woke me at night. On the up side, I finally broke a life-long bad habit. My inability to place my arm on top of the seat or crane my neck around to see out the rear window forced me to learn how to use my side mirrors when backing out of the driveway! 

I sought help from my chiropractor, massage therapist, and physiotherapist. The last two provided relief in the moment, but nothing seemed to really change. Then in 2017, my massage therapist, Claudette, shared a book called Aging Backwards by Miranda Esmonde-White. I read the book, then ordered one of her DVDs. It includes two half-hour workouts, one for posture and one for pain-relief. The latter is a whole-body workout, addressing shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees, hands and feet. The movements seemed too simple to be of any benefit, but to my surprise, my shoulder pain began to ease almost immediately (after two years of persistent pain)! Yes, it later returned. But by doing the workout daily, I soon began to see a steady decline in pain and an increase in range of motion. When my 86-year-old mom experienced shoulder problems, I walked her through some of the stretches. She was shocked by how quickly her pain subsided!
Miranda Esmonde-White

“I spent most of my life in chronic pain,” Esmonde-White says during her pain relief workout video. “It wasn’t until I developed this program fifteen years ago that I became completely pain- free.” And speaking of age, she’s been around ten years longer than I have, but looks much younger.

Esmonde-White is a Canadian, now based in Montreal. Following her career as a professional ballerina, she developed her own fitness technique called Essentrics, and became the flexibility trainer to numerous professional and Olympic athletes and other notable clients.

“Regular movement,” she says, “is the key to repairing all mechanical pain. We think we have to work hard to see any success, and end up working too hard and doing more damage. The trick is to work out of pain, not in pain.” 

Don’t take my word for it. Without spending a dime, you can check out Miranda Esmonde-White and her many resources online, and follow along with some of her workouts on You Tube. “Aging Backwards” might be a stretch, but do let me know if you find it helpful. If you need me, I’ll be doing knee bends while I blow out my birthday candles.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

It's a Girl!

It was at a Breakforth conference in Edmonton in 2007 when I raised my hand to receive a very special envelope. Compassion Canada representatives had left their booth to work the crowd, holding up packets much like you’d see ushers selling programs at a concert. Each packet held details about a child in a third world country awaiting sponsorship.

It was something I had always wanted to do. I’d already stopped by their booth and looked at photos of these precious kids, but still I hesitated. Now, when I felt my heart pounding, I knew it was time. I waved the guy over.

“Lord,” I prayed. “Whichever envelope I am handed, that is the child you want me to sponsor. I won’t trade it.”

Seconds later, I was looking into the face of a little boy from Ecuador with at least four fancy Spanish names. I sponsored him until he moved out of the sponsorship area, then Compassion replaced him with another boy around the same age named Tarion. We exchanged letters for several years. Each time I received a new photo of Tarion, I could see him growing taller and more mature. Last fall, he too moved out of the area—although at 17, he would have “aged out” soon anyway.

So I called Compassion to see about being matched with another child.

“Would you like another boy?” the lady asked.

“You know what?” I said. “Since I first signed on for this, God has given us five grandsons and no granddaughters. I really think I’d like a little girl.”

Perhaps it’s politically incorrect to categorize children into only these two designations these days, but that doesn’t seem like a high priority to those struggling simply to survive.

She laughed and asked if age or nationality mattered. I told her wherever the need was greatest would be fine. Children are automatically ranked by greatest need, and the first girl on her list was a four-year old named Sara from Colombia. Now she’s MY little Sara, and she’s as cute as a bug!

"My" Sara
Compassion Canada reports that sponsored kids are 27% - 40% more likely to finish secondary education, and 35% more likely to have professional careers than their unsponsored peers. Further, Compassion kids are 40% - 70% more likely to become church leaders. This is because Compassion takes a holistic approach, rather than simply handing out food or clothing. Real and lasting change happens when children are developed physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually to become the adults who will create change in their community. These children grow up to be givers and community leaders. All for $41 a month off your credit card! 

If you ever want to check on the rankings of charitable organizations, a good place to look is the 2018 Charity 100 list produced by MoneySense. As its name suggests, the list names the top 100 charities in Canada and gives letter grades, based mostly on efficiency. It’s a great way to ensure your giving dollars go as far as they can for the cause you care about. I was pleased to see Compassion Canada near the top. On Compassion’s website, you can view pictures and details of the children awaiting sponsorship. Or call them at 1-800-563-5437. You will never regret it!