Can Your Grudges Be Making You Sick?

Forgive

 

Can Your Grudges Be Making You Sick?

Forgive and Forget – that’s what “they” say.  Often, a lot easier said than done!  But, is there something to that old saying?  Could it be that by not forgiving and forgetting, the grudge could be making you sick?

It was Mother’s Day – a time for a loving visit with my mother in Ohio – the last thing on my mind was an altercation with a family member!  We had experienced a harmonious family day and I was looking forward to the next day’s activities.  That’s when my teenaged daughter made a comical comment to someone and it was taken completely out of context.  This family member then spoke harshly to my daughter and to me.  The words she said stung and hurt deeply.  No matter how we reasoned with her, she refused to budge off of her position.  She then attempted to draw other family members into the drama, but to no avail.  At that point, the atmosphere became so heated, it appeared my daughter and I would have to leave for our home in Tennessee at almost midnight!

As I began packing my suitcase to leave, my compassionate teenager reminded me that God loved us all and that we were here for her grandmother and that leaving would grieve Mom on Mother’s Day far more than this episode had.  She begged me to reconsider.  Wow!  Leave it to a child to remind me that I was choosing to neither feel nor express God’s love.

Long story short, we stayed and had a pleasant next day with family.  When it was time to leave, I hugged my relative and verbally accepted her somewhat weak apology, but brought the hurt in my heart home with me.

Over the next weeks and months, I struggled with it, feeling sick and having pains around my heart every time I thought about future family get-togethers. I prayed for God to help me see her as He sees her – good and loved.  I held to scriptures such as “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew)  I wanted to be a peacemaker, but it seemed I was a grudge-maker instead!

To make matters worse, conversations with my mother always included mentioning this other family member.  I could tell the conflict was weighing heavy on her and she was extremely sad about it since the holidays were approaching.

And, then I happened upon an article written by a colleague where she tells about healing from a confrontation she had had with someone.  I knew that same strength and resolution that came from her Christian practice was available to anyone, including me, if I was willing to let go of the grudge I was holding!

An article entitled Taking Offense  by Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy included two lines that really spoke to me:  “The mental arrow shot from another’s bow is practically harmless unless our own thought barbs it.” and “…we can hardly afford to be miserable for the faults of others.”

I concluded that forgiving my relative didn’t mean she had to change her position, or her behavior, concerning the subject about which we argued. That wasn’t the point.  I had to pray to change my reaction!

In my endeavor to forgive, I also happened upon a Mayo Clinic article where they document studies that suggest that forgiveness leads to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression

 

I certainly wanted to experience all these results!  At the same time, I truly wanted to forget this whole thing had never happened.  But, I couldn’t forget it until I truly forgave her.  And, when I had that “change of heart” that finally enabled me to forgive and forget – you guessed it, the physical illness, including chest pains, went away.  I’ve had several phone conversations with my family member in the past few weeks and I can tell we have moved past that event.

Interestingly, this past weekend, I attended a conference in Seattle where Iyanla Vanzant was a guest speaker.  You guessed it – her topic was forgiveness!  She spoke about the deep hurt (and healing) that she experienced after her husband left her for her close friend.  Her words reflect my sentiments exactly: “What I learned during my 30-year sojourn through the science of personal and spiritual growth and healing is that forgiveness will cure whatever ails you.”

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The Best Wellness For Your Knees

When Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote these lyrics, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,” I don’t think she had in mind the aching joints that seem to accompany some people as they age.

Take aching knees for example. Knee replacement has become the most common form of joint replacement surgery today.  Between 1991 and 2010, the incidents of knee replacements increased by 161%.  In 2010, surgeons performed over 721,000 of them.  And already this year, The National Center for Health Statistics reports over 51 million health procedures have been performed with almost a million of them being total knee replacement. Continue reading

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Cup of Cold Water Challenge

Cup of Cold Water

People all over the world have been participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Recently, my own daughters were nominated to have a bucket of ice poured on their head and send $10 to the ALS Foundation.  And they accepted it.

Amazingly, this challenge has raised millions of dollars to support finding the cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerate disease.  At this time, the millions the ALS Foundation receives haven’t resulted in finding a cure, but much of the money is spent to find ways to comfort those with ALS and support the family members who must care for them. Continue reading

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WOMEN AND BALANCING THE “CHANGE OF LIFE”

Women and Balancing the “Change of Life”

     My favorite act at the circus is the balancing act.  You know, the guy walking the tightrope,balancing each step he takes so that he doesn’t lose his equilibrium and come crashing down.  Sometimes life can make women feel like they are walking a tightrope and that the least change will take them off balance and they will come crashing down.

     Unfortunately, women walk that daily tightrope, and when the focus is on multi-tasking, it is easy to find one’s self  emotionally, physically, and spiritually depleted and out of balance at the end of the day.  While a good diet, regular exercise, and managing stress will help you stay in balance physically, I find it is equally important to take time to feed and exercise your spiritual self.  Continue reading

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WHO OR WHAT IS THE “AUTHORITY” FOR HEALTH TODAY?

The Bible and Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures (Mary Baker Eddy)

The Bible and Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures (Mary Baker Eddy)

Who or What is the “Authority” for Health Today?

Debra Chew

 “Oh, my aching body” was the prevailing theme at the table of a recent event I attended.  The chatter included details of operations, diseases, and drugs; and almost everyone professed to have a bionic body due to knee or hip replacement surgeries. Along with discussing the ins and outs of the ailments themselves, my friends referenced various sources – physicians, medical journals, online medical information sites – as authorities they turn to for help.

This got me thinking about who or what is an authority when it comes to our health? And, what am I responsible for? Continue reading

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Freed From the Chains of Addiction

chains

chains

FREED FROM THE CHAINS OF ADDICTION

Debra Chew

How many times have you heard “I’m addicted to chocolate” or “I’m addicted to my morning coffee?”  These statements sound familiar and generally innocuous.  Someone is simply sharing that they like something so much they want it all the time. But, there is nothing harmless when it comes to addictions to drugs or alcohol.

While often the media portrayal of addiction is tied also to gang activity or homelessness or to a certain sector such as inner-city residents, it’s important to remember that addiction does not just happen to one class of people or one sector of a community.  It could happen to your dentist or hairdresser, your child’s teacher, or your best friend.  They may suffer in secret or everyone may be aware of it.  While their actions might not be criminal, their addictions are likely detrimental to their health, and can affect their academics, careers and financial stability. Continue reading

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How to Engage Your Spiritual Nature to Improve Your Health

Biltmore Waterfall

How to Engage Your Spiritual Nature to Improve Your Health

 If there was a way to improve your health by changing the way you think about things, would it be worth it to you?  So, what if you are clueless about how to nurture your spirit and make choices that will make you spiritually and physically healthier?  There are some simple thought-changing exercises you can do on a daily basis to nurture your spirit and body – and therefore improve your health. Continue reading

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Thinking Outside the Prescription Bottle for Pain Relief

pills

 

 

Most people do not like pain. That’s a pretty safe thing to say.  Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional pain….individuals, groups and organizations have been working for thousands of years to find relief for all types.  Unfortunately, some of the solutions that have been discovered, and are recommended and used come with unfavorable risks or long-term side effects.

Whether intentional or not, many individuals are finding themselves addicted to the very prescribed medicines they look to for pain relief.  And, that addiction often sends them on to illegal drugs. Nearly four out of five people who recently started using heroin used prescription painkillers first, according to a 2013 study from the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.  And, a February 25, 2014 ABC World News with Diane Sawyer segment on Veterans reported “In 2012, Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) found VA doctors wrote more than 6.5 million prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine. That’s more than the total number of patients they saw and a 270 percent increase from 2001.” Continue reading

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BEATING HOLIDAY DEPRESSION – “mind, heart, body and spirit”

hearts by DAC

hearts by DAC

BEATING HOLIDAY DEPRESSION –mind, heart, body and spirit”

Debra Chew

I absolutely love the holidays!  I cherish visiting with family and friends, the lights, the food, the music, and sharing gifts of all kinds.  But for an estimated the350 million people all over the world who suffer from depression, this time of year can trigger deep depression and feelings of sadness, loneliness and isolation.

If you are a sufferer, what can you do to beat depression at this time of year?  Well, researchers are finding that there are some specific ways that people can cope with and even heal certain types of depression at the holidays.  One such ‘holiday depression’ is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  For some, it starts at Thanksgiving and ends in January.  Medical science estimates 5% of the US adult population suffers from SAD and another 20% have symptoms during this same period.  For some people the symptoms are slight; for others, they include deep depression. Continue reading

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FORGIVENESS … A Healthy Happy Choice

FORGIVENESS….A Healthy Happy Choice

by Debra Chew

I used to wonder how someone could forgive another who had caused them great harm.  Then, I had an experience that helped me see the path to forgiveness and understand how important it is to my wellbeing.

It was the biggest snow storm that I could ever remember in my lifetime, the winter of my 20th year.  90% of my small hometown had stayed home that morning and the roads were quite deserted.  Imagine my surprise when I got out of my car in the paper company’s parking lot and a ski-masked man approached me.  The snow was coming down so hard that I could barely see him; he appeared out of nowhere.  He first asked me for directions and when I tried to keep walking, he pulled a gun on me.  He insisted that I get back into my vehicle…I offered him my purse and car keys but he informed me he didn’t want that.  At that split second, I had a decision to make – to get back in the car and possibly be murdered or to reason with him for my safe release. Continue reading

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GUEST POST: Claim God’s Day

God’s Day Begins

CLAIM GOD’S DAY

By:  Mark M. Lawson

            Sometimes daily challenges leave me mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. When I try to be “all things to all people” (especially myself), I am sometimes disappointed. I may think that I “failed” to accomplish something needful, and therefore that my day was not “successful.” Some might recognize this as the curse of an “A” personality. I “judge” myself by some impossible standard. Thankfully, I’m learning to rise above this human weakness, though it is not an easy process.

In Isaiah (45:11), God says: “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons.” In other words, look to God to find out who you are, what you are, and what your purpose is. What God knows is the only “knowing” worth having. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom 8:16-17). Spirit, God, leads us to a proper understanding of who we are.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” They first voiced human opinion: “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Jesus wanted to know what they thought. Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This demonstrated that Jesus’ disciples now understood his divine nature, and Jesus declared that he would build his church upon this “rock” (“petros,” or rock, in the Greek). See Matt 16:13-17.

I find that as I claim my status as an “heir” of God, I increasingly “inherit” good. I’ve seen this demonstrated in my experience on many occasions. Business problems have been resolved, family needs have been met, and more importantly, a sense of peace has been restored. Mary Baker Eddy speaks of this in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”

Paul asks (Gal 5:7), “who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” What can possibly prevent us, as joint-heirs with Christ, from possessing the good that is ours? We can learn what God knows about us, and at the same time, resist human fears and doubts. We can refuse to “fall down and worship” a power apart from God (Matt 4:9), whether it is fear, doubt, or disease. As we resist evil, it will “flee” from us (James 4:7), and God’s thoughts will minister unto us (Matt 4:11). We will say with assurance, this is God’s day, “and there shall be no night there.” (Rev 22:5).

                                              

Mr. Lawson is First Reader of Christian Science Society, Bristol, Tennessee and he may be contacted at mlawson@elliottlawson.com.

 

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Want to be Younger? Change Your Views of Aging!

 

“Anti-Aging Cosmetics that take Years off of Your Face Instantly.”  Really?

Curious, I read on to find that they were advertising for the “world’s greatest wrinkle cream,” guaranteed to have an age defying formula.  I sat there, thinking and reading about supposed “clinically proven results.” And to someone who might not know better, it all sounded pretty enticing.  But…

Aging is a really “hot topic” right now – and for people of all ages.  It seems that even the very young are worried about how they will look as they get older.  They are, in greater numbers and at younger ages, seeking products or processes to reverse the aging process.

And, for those who are nearing or past retirement, it’s not just the fear of not looking good.  People have a real fear about becoming less productive.  Some fear they will be alone.  Others worry that their employers won’t want them after a certain age.  Others even worry that aging inevitably results in their body or mind becoming diseased.  And, in the broader discussion about the US healthcare system there is great concern for the fact that studies show we are living longer but we are not necessarily living healthier.

So, is there a way we can age without illness and decrepitude – perhaps even with good health and grace?

Let’s just say there are good signs pointing to “yes” and there are lots of people studying this issue – looking for solutions.  And, one emerging area of study is investigating the role that our views and attitudes about aging have on our experience.  It seems clear that how we think about aging impacts significantly our experience – for the good or the bad.

A recent study published by the Yale School of Public Health had some interesting findings – http://news.yale.edu/2012/11/20/positive-age-stereotypes-improve-recovery-among-elderly   Two groups with different views of aging were studied.  The people who felt good about older people were 44% more likely to recover from severe disability than those with negative views.  After 10 years of study, the researchers determined that “this result suggests that how the old view their aging process could have an effect on how they experience it.”  Furthermore, lead researcher Becca R. Levy found that initiatives to promote positive age stereotypes could allow people to live independently later in life.

Numerous studies also say it’s not only our attitude about aging but also our actions – how we stay involved in daily living – that is crucial. And, one aspect of staying involved – individual spiritual practices and participation in a community of faith – is increasingly tied to staying healthy.

WebMD has a feature article entitled “Spirituality May Help People Live Longer” that suggests an increasing interest in the subject of spirituality and healthy aging.  “There is an increasing interest in the subject among researchers and the public.” says Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, who is co-chair of the Religion and Aging interest group of the Gerontological Society on Aging (GSA), a national group of researchers in aging.   (Aging experts will discuss religion, spirituality and aging at the GSA annual conference in November in San Francisco.  Sessions will include a discussion of a new report — from the National Institute on Aging and the Fetzer Institute, a Michigan foundation interested in mind/body issues — that details research on the religious and spiritual dimensions of health.)  The archived feature article goes on to say that a “growing body of research is beginning to define the complex connections between religious and spiritual beliefs and practices and an individual’s physical and psychological health.”   It says that while no one says it’s as simple as going to services or “finding religion” later in life, those who are personally more spiritual are doing something that makes them feel better emotionally and helps them live longer and more healthily.

Another website, MedScape Today, has a post entitled, “Spirituality and Healthy Aging” by Helen Lavretsky.   As a result of her ongoing research about this topic, Ms. Lavretsky thinks that in individuals who are more religious, “…spirituality appears to play an
important and adaptive role in aging that seems to lead to a better quality of life and life satisfaction, as well as longevity….”

Perhaps it helps to think of aging as a process of growing in wisdom and grace, instead of moving toward deterioration.  Two favorite quotes of mine from women who never let age hold them back speak to aging with grace. Sophia Loren – active and beautiful at 79 – says this:  “There is a fountain of youth:  it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.  When you learn to tap this resource, you will have truly defeated age.”  And, an 18th century religious leader, Mary Baker Eddy, who lived to be 89 in a day when the average life-span for women was 48, shared this:  “Life and goodness are immortal.  Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

And in the Bible, we read that “Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated.”  That says to me that we can change our thinking about aging. When we do, our experience will also change.  It’s inevitable.

Debra Chew writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and health.  She has been published in the chattanoogan.com and in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  She is also the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science for TN.

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National Day of Prayer 2013 – Hope in God

As far back as I can remember, I learned to pray and find my hope in God.  In my youth, I solved my academic and social problems by prayer.  Then, in my young adulthood, I solved my career and relationship problems by prayer.  You see, I found out early in life that the solution to all my challenges could be handled by praying to God and expecting good to come from my prayers.  Now, later in life, I am confident that still God hears me.  I go to Him not only for some of those same issues that I prayed about in my youth, but also for needs concerning my life and health.

Today, our nation faces many struggles – some of them economic and some of them health-related.  Other struggles are of a fearful nature….like crime and terrorism on our own land.  On this National Day of Prayer, many, of all different faiths, will join together and pray for the needs of this nation and for our fellow citizens.  We will pray for those who lead and protect this country and other countries so that they make wise decisions.  We will pray for some who are ill, hurting, searching….or just because we love them.  The common thread today is that we will pray.

This year’s theme is “Pray for America” and it comes from Mathew 12:21.  The general message from several Bible translations is that “in His name the nations will put their hope.”  So many issues facing our nation today seem truly hopeless.  Psalms 25:5 reads “for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”  As we unite today in prayer and hope, let’s see our challenges not as hopeless, but as opportunities to give them to God and expect them to be healed.

Many years of hope and reliance on God to meet my own personal needs has never let me down.  I have seen health restored, lives regenerated, families reunited, broken hearts mended, friendships renewed, and careers saved by turning humbly to God for guidance and thereby acknowledging that He is in control of every circumstance.  Prayer is powerful and I am grateful that we can turn to God in prayer to supply all our human needs, not only on this National Day of Prayer, but every day.  God bless America.

Debra Chew writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and health.  She is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Tennessee.

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OVER-DIAGNOSIS: WHEN OVER-ACHIEVING ISN’T ALWAYS GOOD

Emma Chew achieving her goal

OVER-DIAGNOSIS: WHEN OVER-ACHIEVING ISN’T ALWAYS GOOD

Debra A. Chew

            When I was in the first grade my parents learned that my teacher considered me to be an over-achiever.  They found that when I was given my classwork, I was given twice the amount of work the other students received.  That was because I hurried through my work and finished it long before the other students and then I started talking to them.  Yes, I have always talked too much!

Looking back, I think I was seeking recognition as the fastest and smartest, or maybe trying to achieve some award by doing more than was necessary.  Today, I recognize that there are good and not-so-good outcomes as a result of being an “over” anything.  Take MDs, for example.  In their quest to help people, they can, even with the best of intentions, fail to get the desired results from their labors.  Recent studies indicate that the medical field could be regarded as over-achievers, too, when it comes to the over-diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.  Diagnosing those who are sick is a big part of a doctor’s job.  One challenge is that a diagnosis may identify something that will never become a serious health problem.  The Dartmouth Institute is studying this issue.  They have announced an international conference later this year on Preventing Overdiagnosis, where they will discuss their research about how overdiagnosis harms people with problems that never needed to be found.

It’s certainly a “catch 22”:  Overdiagnosis has the potential of making people sick in the pursuit of making them healthy.   But that brings us to the question – what makes someone healthy?  Is it because they have a scan or screening that says they are disease-free?  Then, what makes someone diseased?  Is it because they have a scan or screening that says they have cancer?

In April of 2012, The New York Times carried an article entitled Endless Screenings Don’t Bring Everlasting Health.  In this article, the physician authors wrote, “But, overdiagnosis – the detection of cancers never destined to cause problems – is arguably the most important harm of screening…..When screening finds these cancers, it turns people into patients unnecessarily.”  They went on to say, “People on the receiving end of overdiagnosis can only be harmed – sometimes seriously – by unnecessary surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.”  Even the United States Preventive Services Task Force judged that harms outweighed benefits in P.S.A. screening for prostate cancer, and recommended against its routine use.  They found the tests result in a “disturbing” amount of overdiagnosis.

So, what is someone to do?  Since February is “Wise Health Consumer” month, let’s elaborate on how to make good and wise decisions about screenings, procedures, doctors, etc. Over-screening leads to overdiagnosis, which then often leads to over-medicating, etc.  Too many “overs” for sure. As a result of these reports and findings, physicians, hospitals, the public and agencies that regulate medical care are re-thinking how to avoid this conundrum. If the goal to achieve the “best health outcome” – which it is for all of us – access to such information certainly helps a patient make better health choices.

People today are choosing a wide variety of approaches to maintaining good, health. More and more, people are discovering that their thought affects their health.  And, studies show medical institutions are now trying to catch up with the public demand for a “whole” – mental, spiritual and physical – approach to health. It’s an approach that definitely flies in the face of a model that uses whatever technology is available to look for the minutest evidence of disease.

And it’s a shift that, to me, speaks to re-discovering some ideas about health that come from the greatest healer the world has ever known, Jesus.  His counsel was to:

  • clean up our thinking
  • focus on God (here and now)
  • love our neighbor
  • turn away from the body (food, clothing, etc.)

He just didn’t spend a lot of time diagnosing illness. And, even without a diagnosis or any technology, he healed.

In fact, I think we could say, when it came to healing, he was by all fair measures the right kind of over-achiever.

Debra Chew is the media and legislative representative for Christian Science for Tennessee.  She can be contacted at Tennessee@compub.org

 

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Sprituality and Beating Breast Cancer

by Debra Chew 

Today, I passed the local hospital and saw a large pink ribbon on the sign in front.  And, pink water rushed forth from the beautiful water fountain at the entrance.  Well, of course, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The country’s awareness of this important issue for women’s health is particularly important to me as well, for I am the daughter of a breast cancer survivor.    

I can still remember that day.  I had gone to Ohio to be with my mother, Miriam Parker, as she had a suspicious lump removed from her breast.  Her surgeon was not concerned, thinking the outcome would be the same as several other lumps he had removed from her breasts through the years.  For that reason, when the call came, it was quite shocking to both of us.  Cancer?  Not my mom!  She was too young.  She was fit, healthy, and full of life in her sixties.  She couldn’t possibly be facing cancer.  What did that mean for her future?

My first response to all those questions was to turn to God.  My experiences of healing mind, body and soul, from my youth to this time, led me to choose to turn to God in time of trouble.  To quote the Psalmist, “God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble.”  (Psalms 46:1)  That meant I didn’t have to wait for an appointment or a further diagnosis or to do research online to give me a peaceful thought about my mother’s illness. I prayed and I felt more calm and able to comfort my mom who was understandably fearful.   

The MD Anderson Cancer Center recently announced a 10-year “moon shot” – a $3 billion initiative to find a cure for cancer.  This is being introduced when much time and money is already invested into technology and research.  Interestingly, other less funded studies are showing a rise in success with additional approaches – including incorporating prayer and spirituality – to treating and healing cancer.   

Research over the last decade on how prayer and spirituality affects breast (and other) cancer patients reveals promising results.  Similar to the participants in these studies, my mother found that her spirituality was an important factor during her treatment and recovery.  She would always say, “I know God is with me wherever I am and whatever I am going through.”  A March 19, 2012 article from breastcancer.org entitled Spirituality and Prayer indicates that research on prayer in women with breast cancer and people with other types of cancer shows that spiritual coping may be one of the most powerful ways people draw on their own resources to deal with cancer.   It goes on to say other benefits of prayer included:  reducing stress and anxiety and promoting a more positive outlook and a stronger will to live.  

To quote from the article: The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment looked at studies reported in the Journal of Family Practice over a 10-year time period. The review found that 83% of the studies done on spirituality found a positive effect on physical health. Another study looked at 12 years of reports in 2 major psychiatric journals. Of the studies that measured spirituality, 92% showed mental health benefits.  In research done specifically on women with breast cancer, spirituality and prayer has been associated with less depression and a more positive sense of well-being.  

Because of her faith in God, Mom was never tempted to feel depressed about the cancer.  She often spoke of the hopelessness in the eyes of some of the other patients she saw on treatment day.  But, she always felt hopeful.  Even when I could tell she was having a tough time, she never complained.  She said regularly, “I have faith in God and I know I will beat this.”  And, she did!

The year following her surgery and throughout the time she had radiation treatments, I continued to pray for my mom, as did many of her friends and family.    Her faith in God and her spiritual thought definitely helped her cope with this serious illness, had a positive effect on her recovery, and has played a major role in her remaining cancer-free.

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Healthy Aging – What It Takes (Guest Blog by Steve Salt)

Healthy Aging was a topic of awareness for the month of September.  Since this is the last day of the month, I thought I would share a blog by my Ohio colleague, Steve Salt.  Enjoy!

Healthy aging…what it takes

Photo: iStock_000010322007

Birthdays…we’re having more of them than ever in the history of mankind. The number of candles on our birthday cakes is swelling.  And there is a growing concern that as we age, we might not be healthy enough to blow them all out.  That is a depressing thought.

A demographic tsunami is coming.  7000 Baby Boomers will hit 65 just today.  Worldwide, the population of those people over 60 has more than doubled since 1980. By 2050, expect over 2 billion.  The implications to health and health care are staggering.

These are all good reasons to think about aging issues in September – Healthy Aging Month.  Organizers of the observance call it “a time to reinvent yourself”.  But that isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Many look back to their salad days as the ideal model when they were at their peak of ability and stamina.  Who doesn’t want to try to recapture youth with its promise of vitality and mental acuity?

Much time and money are spent on the possibility of halting the aging process. Pharmaceutical and beauty companies try to replicate youthfulness in compounds, drugs, and ointments, yet it seems to avoid capture.  The attention, of course, is on the body.  Are we missing something when we focus solely on physicality?

Let’s be honest.  You can’t find youth in a bottle or procedure.  There is more to it than that. Age is not a condition or an unavoidable destination.  Youthfulness is a way of thinking.  It’s not so much how the world see’s you, but how you think about yourself and others.   And, living long isn’t the only goal; living well is vital.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.  When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  Sophia Loren once said that and it makes sense.  The award-winning actress, whose career currently spans 6 decades, seems to have hit upon something.

How do you “tap” the source that conquers age and contributes to mental and physical wellbeing? It looks like religion/spirituality is a key component. Researchers at George Mason University and College of William and Mary have conducted a study that looks into the relationship between religion, spirituality and mental health outcomes.  The results are included in the September issue of Crossroads…,a newsletter of the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Duke University.

The findings are intriguing. “Results indicated a significant positive relationship between daily spirituality, meaning in life, self-esteem, and positive affect (i.e., well-being).”   Spirituality is defined in the study as “my personal relationship with a power greater than myself”.

Connecting with God every day is something anyone can do no matter how many Earth-years under their belt. In fact, many have already linked a spiritual/religious life to health.  49% of Americans pray …about their health!

When it comes to healthy aging, perhaps it takes more healthy praying and thinking, less candle counting.  Over time I have worked hard not to tally the number of years spent on planet Earth. It’s just not an accurate assessment of how I feel.  And although friends and family like to remind me how “old” I am, I tend to celebrate living rather than aging.  I don’t have birthdays.  I have cake-and-present days.

How many candles on your birthday cake this year?  Maybe you should stop counting. “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age,” writes Mary Baker Eddy in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She had a good grasp of the link between spirituality, health and aging.  The religious leader, healer, and health researcher who founded The Church of Christ, Scientist lived to 90 during a period in our country’s past when a woman’s life expectancy was just 46.

Is healthy aging possible? Rather than the accumulation of wrinkles, think of life as the buildup of experience and know-how, even spiritual wisdom.  That’s aging with attitude. 

                   Steven Salt is a Christian Science practitioner who regularly writes about the impact of thought and spirituality on health

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Aging Problems Healed by Prayer

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Lives Lived Video

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Irritation – Emotional and Physical (Guest Post by John London)

Irritation—Emotional and Physical

I’ve been dealing with a situation that has been very irritating to me. I recently spent a whole day upset about it. My practitioner even told me that I needed to deal with the feelings or they would come out in a physical form. The next morning I awoke with a very scratchy and inflamed sore right behind my knee. I’ve had these before and they’ve lasted and lasted causing me no end of grief. I’d even begun to think of myself as the Bible character Job because of the sores that plagued his body.
 

As I contemplated the sensations in my leg I realized that it felt exactly like the emotions I’d had the day before but in a physical form instead of an emotional one. As soon as I realized that, the sensation began to recede and within an hour or so it was completely gone. That showed me in a dramatic fashion how my physical wellbeing is tied to my emotions. If I’m going to be emotionally indulgent, I should expect to have a bodily manifestation—something I definitely don’t want!

 

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Let God Into Your Universe – Guest Post by Mark Lawson

 

LET GOD INTO YOUR UNIVERSE

By:  Mark M. Lawson

            I sometimes remove God from my universe. Of course, I can’t really do that, but if in my heart I don’t assert God’s presence and influence in every aspect of my life, then I effectively remove him. When this occurs, it is no surprise that I have less peace and more stress. I feel that my life is out of control. Rather than “out of sight, out of mind,” it is more like “out of mind, out of sight.” That is, it seems that God, or good, is nowhere to be found.

         In her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “In the Saxon and twenty other tongues good is the term for God. The Scriptures declare all that He made to be good, like Himself, — good in Principle and in idea. Therefore the spiritual universe is good, and reflects God as He is.” If God is All-in-all, then there can be nothing beyond illimitable divinity. In God’s all-presence, what else can be present? In the midst of God’s all-power, what else can be powerful? In the Mind that is God, what can be unknown?

            Through Isaiah, God tells us (Isa. 45:5), “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” As arrogant mortals sometimes do, I segment my life into different “departments”: spiritual life, work life, and family life. I regularly “permit” God to govern my spiritual life, but sometimes I forget to let Him govern other departments. When this happens, I experience more challenges, stress, and unhappiness. This happened lately.

            I started thinking of my work life in a very limited way. While God was in charge of my spiritual life, I was “in charge” of my work life. The result was that I found myself stressed by work challenges. I kept walking into the barriers of finite thinking, manifest as worry, fear, doubt, and unhappiness. I had been thinking that I was in control of a portion of my universe, when the remedy was to declare and know that God was in control of His universe (and that there was no my universe). I immediately experienced more peace, and problems resolved themselves better than I could have imagined.

         Again, in Science and Health, Eddy writes: “How empty are our conceptions of Deity! We admit theoretically that God is good, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite, and then we try to give information to this infinite Mind.” I had been trying to handle things on my own, telling God how I wanted things done. God is not limited, but my concept of Him had been limited. When I opened my thought to know things as He knows them, declaring His presence and all-power, I experienced His control and felt His peace. My problems were then resolved.

                                               

Mr. Lawson is First Reader of Christian Science Society, Bristol, Tennessee and he may be contacted at mlawson@elliottlawson.com.

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The Practitioner’s Song – Cup of Water (Guest Post by John London)

A few months after I became a Christian Scientist in 2007, I received a call from Lora Beth, my old Unity minister. Lora Beth said that Phyllis had died and asked if I would like to travel with her to help in Phyllis’ memorial service and play a few songs on my guitar. I was reluctant to attend a memorial service, strongly believing that there is no death, and I thanked her, but made an excuse to avoid the two hour trip to Phyllis’ family’s church.

But then I awoke in the early hours of the next morning with the question on my mind, Won’t you give a cup of water in Christ’s name? I instantly knew that I should go to the service and be a spiritual presence there. The next morning, I called Lora Beth back and accepted her invitation.

At the service, I led the congregation in singing a few songs and then Lora Beth asked me if I would like to say a few words about Phyllis. In my old church I was a chaplain, and regularly made calls to members of the congregation to pray with them. Phyllis was one of those on my call list and I had regularly prayed with her for a year or so. She had had cancer and during the time we were praying together, we regularly prayed against fear and the frequent pain she was experiencing from her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and I often spoke to her of God’s love and her natural, spiritual perfection as His beloved child.

When I rose to speak at the service, I shared some of the ideas I had learned from reading and studying Christian Science—that God never gave her disease; that God only had good for her and that she was God’s perfect child, forever in His care. Her family was sitting down in the front row of the church. They were all “good Baptists” and as I shared that God never gave disease to Phyllis, but held her eternally in His Love and care, I could see in their faces the impact this beautiful Truth was having upon them; and as I have often seen since, the acknowledgement of God’s Love has a wonderful healing effect upon all people of whatever faith or religious practice.

At the reception after the service, several people came up to me and asked me to pray for them. Rather than vaguely say that I would, I asked each one, Would you like to pray right now? We held hands and bowed our heads together. I reassured each one of God’s love for them, and his promise of healing and salvation, and I spoke the Truths I’ve learned through Christian Science; and especially, I shared Mrs. Eddy’s inspired presentation of the 23rd Psalm.

That night as I gave thanks to God for my day, I was so grateful that I had been able to share a cup of water in Christ’s name; and the very next day, God gave me this wonderful song which I love to sing each time I give this testimony.

A dear Christian Science practitioner has dubbed this, “The Practitioner’s song”.

 

Here are the lyrics:

Can you find a word of kindness you can speak?
Can you find the inner strength to help the weak?
And forgiveness you can offer for their shame?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

Can you offer them a smile as you pass by?
And encouragement to help someone to try?
Is there patience you can find within today?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

Can you look and see the light of God that shines in every face?
Can you find the holy ground in any place?
Can you see the hand of God that’s fashioning the potter’s clay?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

Can you find the wisdom not to speak in hurt?
Can you see beyond what circumstances were?
And when all have run is courage there to stay?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

Can you keep your thought on God when troubles come?
Having faith for others when they’re finding none?
And see Love divine is guiding on their way?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

Can you add some understanding to their faith?
In the midst of all confusion can you pray?
Can you see that God’s perfection’s there always?
Can you give a cup of water in Christ’s name?

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Health by Choice, NOT by Chance

 

'Choices' by kozumel

          

     A brochure I picked up recently, entitled: Health by Choice, Not by Chance, confirmed what I already know to be true – there isn’t only way path to health.   And, people are searching and exploring many avenues to find approaches that are consistently effective.

     The brochure advertised the latest research on foods that can help prevent cancer and heart disease, reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol, slow the aging clock, and increase your energy while losing weight.  It also informed me I could purchase books about foods that have healing power, plants that have medicinal value, and an encyclopedia of health & education for the family, which included natural treatments.  “Whew, if it were only that easy!”

     In this age of one-size-fits-all health care, the public is often led to believe that there is only one way to be healthy.  It includes regularly scheduled doctor visits & exams, drugs to prevent disease and/or mitigate pain and exploratory and corrective surgery to identify and address functional or organic problems.

     But the information in this brochure reminded me that increasingly many people are seeking – and finding – other paths to health. Sometimes this is complimentary with the medical approach and sometimes it is in lieu of. It seems to me that people are simply seeking better control over their health as a crucial aspect of their whole life. They quite literally want to have health by choice not by chance. And, making healthier choices about various aspects of their lives – food, exercise, natural remedies – does have health benefits.

     One approach that the brochure did not offer – but is recognized in numerous studies as a top choice – is prayer.  And, it’s an approach I’ve found very effective.  Prayer – communing with, and trusting in, God – leads me to better control over my thinking and to better choices about every aspect of my life.  I find practical guidance in passages from The Bible such as this one: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes … It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” (Prov 3:5-8)  And, I expect the results it promises – health.

     It’s great to know there isn’t only one path and that each of us has the opportunity to be healthy – by choice.

 

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The Supreme Court and the health care reform law;Justice Kagan mentions Christian Scientists

 

On March 26-28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The Court scheduled six hours of arguments—more than any case since 1966—and is expected to issue its decision in June.

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan indicated that in her view, Christian Scientists might have a basis to challenge the individual mandate (which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty):

“…of course, the theory behind, not just the government’s case, but the theory behind this law is that people are in this market right now, and they are in this market because people do get sick, and because when people get sick, we provide them with care without making them pay. And it…would be different, you know, if you were up here saying, I represent a class of Christian Scientists. Then you might be able to say, look, you know, why are they bothering me. But absent that, you’re in this market. You’re an economic actor.”

Justice Kagan’s comments give a boost to the Federal Office’s multiple efforts to resolve the inequity facing Christian Scientists under the health care reform law. Along with requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) include coverage of Christian Science practitioner and nursing services in the benefits that will be offered by health insurance companies under the new law, we continue to seek a Congressional solution that would allow anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief” against purchasing the required health insurance to be exempted from that mandate.  Learn more….

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How Gratitude to God Affects Health

 

I recently discovered several studies from Neal Krause, University of Michigan, which I found to be very interesting.  So, you may find that I am going to blog about several of them in the coming months.  The purpose of this particular study,  (http://generosityresearch.nd.edu/assets/13605/gratitude_toward_god.pdf_) was to see if feeling grateful to God reduces the deleterious effects of stress on health in late life.  One result of Mr. Krause’s research determined that the effects of stress on health are reduced for older people who feel more grateful to God.  While I am sure neither age nor gender has anything to do with it, I have to say that I agree that gratitude to God does indeed affect one’s health.

When I first started attending the Christian Science church, I heard the word ‘gratitude’ used all the time, especially at Wednesday evening testimony meetings.  For me, that word was new.  I was used to saying I was thankful for my blessings, but that word ‘gratitude’ was a new expression of being thankful.  Gratitude seemed to be a deeper feeling than just being thankful.  And, many people referred to being grateful to God.  Wow!  Not just grateful for things but grateful to God.  Now, I am not saying that I am not grateful for my many blessings because I truly am.   Last week was my birthday.  Many friends and family gave me gifts.  I was really grateful for all the gifts and I am enjoying them so much.  However, most of all, I am grateful for the giver of the gift and the love and hugs I get from them year-round.  That is giving priority to the giver and not the gift.  This is what we do when we give gratitude to God for all.  In thinking about this now, after reading Mr. Krause’s study, I would like to elaborate about gratitude in a spiritual way….. Continue reading

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Prayer Opens Eyes to Good

Photo by Wootang01

 

GUEST POST BY MARK LAWSON

     In prayer, we follow the Master’s instruction (Matt. 6:33) to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” because “these things” (health, harmony, supply, peace, joy) then will be “added” to our human experience. This is consistent with God’s instruction (Isaiah 45:11): “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” 

     What God knows about us is what we need to know, and this is what we strive to “seek … first.” It makes no difference what others may think about us, or what we may seem to think of ourselves. Humans may condemn us (as they did the woman “taken” in adultery, John 8:3-11), or we may condemn ourselves (as did the “prodigal son”, Luke 15:11-32). Therefore, the “listening” aspect of prayer may require “resisting,” or refusing to listen to negative reports coming from a human body, mind, business, or relationship.

     What God knows about us is expressed in the first chapter of the Bible, where God made man in His image and likeness, and “it was very good.” (Genesis 1:26, 31).This is the “truth” of our perfection (Matt 5: 48) that Jesus wanted us to “know” (John 8:32), and that he said would make us free. We are to commune with “our Father” (Matt 6:9), listen to His message, and live consistently with our prayer (1 Thess 5:17).

     Quoting St. John (1 John 4:16), Mary Baker Eddy writes in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in the chapter on Prayer: “God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? … Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.” Earlier she writes: “Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it.”

     Jesus demonstrated the “Science of being” throughout his ministry. He appealed to spiritual law for power over so-called material law, evidenced by sin, poverty, hunger, disease, and death. Through prayer, we may seek and realize the good that God has planned for us, “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38).

 Mr. Lawson is First Reader of Christian Science Society, Bristol, Tennessee and he may be contacted at mlawson@elliottlawson.com. A web site devoted to the teachings of Christian Science is http://www.spirituality.com/, and the official web site of The First Church of Christ, Scientist is www.tfccs.com.

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Shake Your Tree!!

 

photo by wasabicube

A few days ago I did some grocery shopping.  I went to the check-out line of my favorite clerk and, as always, asked her how she was doing.   She responded with “Well, I have seen better days.  But, I have also seen worse.”  I smiled and made some more small talk but after I left the store, I really started thinking about her reply to me.  It occurred to me that in my public practice of Christian Science, I had already been praying about just this kind of thought.

That whole thought about being happy one day, sad another–sick one day, well the next–joyous one day, depressed another day–up one day, down another just doesn’t make any sense to me.  I read in the Bible how opposites cannot dwell together.  A fountain does not send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter.  And, a fruit tree can’t produce both figs and olives.  Opposites can’t come from the same source.  Sickness and health are contrary to each other.  They can’t dwell together.  Bad days can’t dwell with good days.  Man’s body is not a battleground for good and evil!

God’s goodness is available for all mankind.  If that goodness is present – and I know it is, then there is no room for its opposite.  So, if you are feeling like your tree is growing both olives and figs, maybe it’s time to shake your tree.  Get rid of the feelings of negativity and depression.  Replace them with the uplifting thoughts that come from knowing that God loves you!

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Christian Science with Lauren and Denise (guest video)

 

Lauren and Denise talk about how they use Christian Science in their lives.

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Lives Lived: Tony

Meet Tony. He used to have sinusitis and was prescribed antibiotics to address the symptoms. But he wasn’t completely healed of the condition until he learned about Christian Science.

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Jesus Bore Our Infirmities (Guest Post)

Guest Post by John London.

One of the most telling passages in the Christian Science Bible Lesson for the week October 16, 2011 on the topic of Doctrine of Atonement is this citation which tells us that Jesus Bore Our Infirmities.

Certainly our practitioners, as well as all of us who pray for others do just that, don’t we? We meet each situation and each person as Jesus did, seeing them in Science as the perfect man, and their circumstances as the kingdom of God “intact and universal”. This is bearing one another’s infirmities…

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Health and Health Care in an Angie’s List World (Guest Post)

 photo by Globetoppers

When I listen to reporters, lawmakers, tv reports, etc., it is evident that the world believes that medical care is the only worthwhile healthcare.   While it is true that some people do achieve good results with medicine, it is not the only reliable and reasonable way to be healthy.   Christian Science has something to share and give to humanity.  Christian Science is an effective way to manage one’s health and many people do rely on spiritual means to stay healthy.  It is time to change the way the world thinks about health and health care….and that is no small change!

Below, I have posted the link to the blog by Russ Gerber, Manager, Christian Science Committees on Publication, for the Christian Science church.

Health and Health Care in an Angies’s List World  -  Guest Post by Russ Gerber

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russ-gerber/peer-to-peer-health-care_b_991352.html

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