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Breath of Life

It’s amazing how easy it is to take for granted the most important thing in life – breath.
The moment you stop breathing, life is gone. Yet, most of us never even think about breathing, it’s automatic.

I’ve been having trouble breathing again the last week and a half. It has reminded me yet again how important breath is.

It’s incredible how many parts of the body all function together so that you can take a breath. For example – diaphragm, lungs, sinuses (if you breathe through your nose), abdominal and back muscles, ligaments attached to your lungs, etc.

At different times, my difficulty breathing is caused by one or more of these parts not working properly – diaphragm constricted, lungs inflamed, sinuses stuffed up, back muscles tight, etc.

Usually with trouble breathing, I have one of two reactions – I feel angry, or I panic. These are both completely natural and understandable responses. Unfortunately, both anger and fear only make the problem worse, because they cause the brain to release harmful chemicals. So it’s vital to stay calm.

Over time, I’ve learned to differentiate between “trouble” breathing and serious, life-threatening inability to breathe. When it’s just “trouble” breathing, I may feel angry, but I try to stay calm. If it’s life-threatening, I almost always panic. (Which is why I keep benedryl on hand at all times.)
I’m not a doctor, so I can’t advise anyone with serious inability to breathe (hopefully you already have emergency measures in place).

But for everyone like me who struggles with chronic breathing difficulty, I can say – Take heart! Every breath comes from God. As long as He wants you to stay on this planet, He will continue to give you enough breath to go on.

If you’ve never had trouble breathing, stand up and do a dance of joy! You have reason to give thanks every day for the breath that comes so easily to your body.

However, all of us can learn how to better develop and guard this precious gift of breath. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

– Do deep breathing at least twice a day.
I take a big breath in while raising my arms over my head (to help the lungs expand), hold for a moment, then slowly exhale as I lower my arms. I repeat this two or three times.
You can also rest your hand on your diaphragm and take quick “sniffy” breaths in and out through your nose, while feeling your diaphragm expand and release. You can do it for 2-3 minutes or until you start to feel lightheaded. (Definitely stop if you feel lightheaded or dizzy.) This is a good exercise to strengthen the diaphragm.

– Do stretches every day to help the muscles around the lungs stay limber.
One good stretch is to stand in a corner with one foot in front of the other and arms up on the wall in a “football goal” position. Then lean in gently and feel the stretch through the back and chest. Repeat with arms stretched straight up on the wall.
Another stretch is to put your arms behind your back with fingers laced together and raise as high as you can, gently of course. =)
When lying down, you can turn on your side, then raise your arm up and out, slowly letting it rotate around and back down.
There are other stretches you can do, these are just a few to get started.

– Try to consciously work at good posture.
Keeping your back straight and shoulders back really does help your lungs function more effectively. If this is hard for you, try doing a few ab crunches 2 or 3 times a week. Strengthening the abdominal muscles often helps improve posture.
Also, when brushing your teeth or doing other mindless tasks, practice exaggerated good posture for those few minutes.

– Try physical therapy for chronic problems.
My physical therapist has stretched, pushed and pulled my body in more ways than I thought possible. But it has made a tremendous difference in my ability to breathe better.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. Remember, your breath is your life. Do what you can to improve your breathing function. And thank God every day for the breath He gives!

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” -Psalm 150:6

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Reminder

With summer in full swing, I just wanted to mention again that if you can’t afford to buy all organic produce, then I hope you’ll make use of the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” by EWG.
http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
This list tells you which produce has the most and the least amount of pesticides. It’s very helpful in deciding which things you definitely should buy organic, and which things aren’t as crucial to get organic.

Also, just wanted to add that the most important food to buy organic is actually meat. Not only does “normal” meat have pesticide residues but also hormones, antibiotics, steroids, GMO grains (fed to the animals), and all kinds of junk.
If you can only afford to buy one thing organic, start with the meat. I’ve been eating Laura’s Beef for the last few years and it’s very good.
http://www.laurasleanbeef.com/

Most big grocery stores now carry organic products in everything from produce, to meat, to dairy and pasta, etc. Keep a lookout for these foods or ask a store employee about them.

Remember, you ARE what you EAT. Keep growing in Health!

Blessings,
-Joanna

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Some Humor

I thought you’d appreciate some E.I. humor today. =) Enjoy!
(And yes, I really have been to this many doctors – more in fact.)

Doctors, Doctors

Doctors, doctors, you’re so smart,
But medicine is not like art.
Dr S declared, “you’re fine.
Perhaps it’s all just in your mind.”
Dr. U thought I had allergies
And promptly stuck a needle in me.
Dr. B said “Let’s test your blood.”
Those results were clear as mud.

Doctors, doctors, can’t you tell?
Something’s wrong, I know it well.
Dr. A affirmed it’s not infectious.
Dr C said my heart looked precious.
Dr G told me to quit my med.
Dr O wanted to “fix” my head.
Doctors, doctors, I wish you knew
Just one right thing that you could do.

Doctors, doctors, if only you had
The help I long for, need so bad.
Dr. T said “We’ll do an IV.”
Lots of things they pumped into me.
Dr. H wanted to crack my back.
I said, “Let’s try another tack.”
Dr. V told me, “Take these pills.”
Unfortunately they made me ill.

Doctors, doctors, don’t you know?
Is there no weapon to fight this foe?
Dr. F said “Write everything down.”
Dr. L gave up with a frown.
Dr. D tried acupuncture.
Dr. M was crazy, I’m sure.
Doctors, doctors, it’s so unfair.
Why is a good one totally rare?

Doctors, doctors, so much to learn,
You practice on me and I get burned.
Dr. R said “You’re past my help.
Go live by the sea.” Try some kelp?
Dr. K asked “Do you want to get well?”
I got so mad, I wanted to yell.
Dr. J knew less than I.
Just take me home, let me cry.

Doctors, doctors, there must be one
Who God can use before I’m done.
Dr. Z taught me massage.
Dr. P used an alternative collage.
Dr. N gave me natural remedies.
Dr. Y cured my allergies.
Doctors, doctors, I’m thankful for each
Who brought good health within my reach.

by Joanna K. Harris

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He Cares

“In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” -Isaiah 63:9

My friend, in all your distress, your heavenly Father too is distressed. In His great love, He will lift you up and carry you through all the difficult days.

Take heart. You are precious to your Father. He cares about you.

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Law of the Harvest

You’ve probably heard the saying many times in your life, “You reap what you sow.”

I’ve heard this phrase since I was a child. But somehow it didn’t really “click” in my brain…until I heard it explained in a different way.

Andy Stanley calls this principle the “law of the harvest.” That is in contrast to the “law of Pinochio.”

The “law of Pinochio” is instant cause-effect reaction. He told a lie – his nose immediately grew.

For some reason, most of us expect life to be like that. If we eat a donut and don’t instantly feel bad, we think, “no big deal.” If we work hard this week, we want to be wealthy next week. If we exercise today, we think we should be stronger tomorrow.

The reality is that almost everything in life operates not under the law of instant results, but under the “law of the harvest.”

You prepare the soil. You plant seeds. You water. You weed. You wait. You weed. You water. You wait.
FINALLY – you get a tiny sprout. Gradually followed by a small plant. Then a bigger plant. And at long last – the HARVEST.

Every day we are preparing some kind of harvest – either a harvest of negative fruit or positive fruit. But we won’t see instant results. The consequences of our actions show up over time.

Many years of toxic exposure, poor nutrition, little sleep, lots of stress, etc. may not manifest a problem for a while. But eventually the “harvest” will show up and we’ll experience the result of damaged health.

The same is true as we try to take care of our bodies. All the hard work, tough choices, self-control, good nutrition, etc. doesn’t yield instant healing. But gradually, over time, the body has what it needs to heal. One day we will experience the “harvest” of restored health.

Every day we are at work in one garden or the other – sowing seeds that will destroy health or sowing seeds that will repair and promote health.

When I’m tempted to give in to the flesh or when I’m discouraged by lack of progress, God reminds me of this principle, the “law of the harvest.” And I pray for strength to keep on sowing, and weeding, and waiting…for the precious fruit.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9