Women and Parkinson’s

My mother has Parkinson’s.  I never knew such a disease existed until I came to North America when I learned that Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with it.  Other famous people who had it were Pope John Paul II and Hitler.  I have seen people with tremors but like Katherine Hepburn they may have had  what is known as Essential Tremor.  If you have tremors, don’t panic.  See your doctor.  It may not be Parkinson’s.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

It was was first founded by Dr. James Parkinson of London who was a physician that described the neurological disease in year 1817. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time.

Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson’s primarily affects neurons in the an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a cgsfffhemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. 

What causes Parkinson’s and who gets the disease?

There is evidence to suggest that some people may have a genetic predisposition to Parkinson’s, but there is no clear evidence to suggest that it is hereditary. Other risk factors that have been identified are head injury, direct occupational pesticide exposure and the age-related loss of brain cells that transmit nerve impulses.

Despite popular belief, Parkinson’s is not found only in the elderly. As many as one out of five Parkinson’s cases are found in people under 50 years of age.

Parkinson’s is one of the most common neurological disorders and affects one out of every 100 adults in Canada. Parkinson’s affects men and women equally and the disease crosses all ethnic lines.  Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms. 

What are its symptoms?

The symptoms Parkinson’s disease is been classified into two primary and secondary Parkinson’s disease. The patient of Parkinson’s disease may not show all symptoms and the progress of this disease differs from person to person. Parkinson’s disease in most of the people is found over the age of sixty years. However, there have been many cases identified in men and women of young age.

It affects the movements, muscle functions, memory, mood, energy and sometimes pain can occur. These are the common symptoms found in Parkinson’s disease.

The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are named as bradykinesia, tremors, rigidity and poor balance. The symptom bradykinesia causes sluggishness in several voluntary movements like sitting down, standing up and walking. This is because of the delayed communication signals that are received by the muscles from brain. This creates difficulty for the patient to initiate walking.

The second symptom in primary Parkinson’s disease is the tremor that causes opposition to movements when the limbs are at rest and normally occurs in fingers, foot, chin, hands, forearms and mouth.

Rigidity causes stiffness in muscles and produces pain in muscles with an increase in pain when there is any muscle movement.

Another primary Parkinson’s disease symptom is poor balance in which the patient loses the reflexes that help posture and sometimes leads to falls because of unsteady balance.

The secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are many in numbers and every patient may have a different type of symptom though all of these symptoms stated below may not be present in a patient. The physical symptoms that are observed in Parkinson’s disease are difficulty in swallowing, constipation, excessive sweating, choking or coughing, excessive salivation, loss of bowel or bladder control and dry skin on face or scalp. The mental symptoms are depression, anxiety, loss of intellectual ability, cramped handwriting soft voice and slow responses.

My mother experiences the tremor of the hands.  She moves slowly and sometimes she freezes.  She has fallen a couple of times which causes great concern for us because she is in her eighties.  Today I learned that she fell yesterday before supper as she was changing her clothes.  The nurse said she seemed okay.   My sister has repeatedly told her to buzz for help.  I guess my mother still can’t get used to being so dependent on others.  A few days ago she told me how frustrating it is not being able to move about as she would like.  

I feel sad whenever I think of how active she used to be.  Now she has to depend on others to help her to do so many things that she used to be able to do herself–like getting up from a chair or going to the bathroom or changing her clothes.  She didn’t send out any Christmas cards because of her handwriting.  It has become difficult for her to write legibly.  She uses a cane.  On Christmas Day, her three and a half year old grandson was eager to help her get up from the sofa.  She was touched by his thoughtfulness.

I hope and pray that one day there will be a cure for Parkinson’s.  I read that fish oil may protect against it.  An omega-3 fatty acid has been found to prevent the misfolding of a brain protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, according to new research.  The study was conducted by Dr. Nicolas Bazan from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and presented on April 19, 2009 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition and Experimental Biology.  “These experiments provide proof that neuroprotectin D1 can be applied therapeutically to combat various neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Bazan.  “[It also] provides the basis of new therapeutic approaches to treat patients with disorders characterized by this mutation like Parkinson’s, Retinitis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimer’s disease,” he adds.  If you don’t get enough fish oil from your diet, nutritional health supplements may be a good alternative.

It is also believed that naturally produced Estrogen can help to protect women from Parkinson’s Disease.  Women who have more years of fertility (the time from first menstruation to menopause) have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than women with fewer years, according to a large, new study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. 

The study found that women who had a fertile lifespan of more than 39 years had about a 25 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s compared with women who had a fertile lifespan shorter than 33 years.  In addition, the data showed that women who had four or more pregnancies were about 20 percent more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than were women who had three or fewer pregnancies. “One explanation for this finding is that the post-partum period, which is typically one with lower levels of estrogen, subtracts from a woman’s total fertile lifespan,” says co-author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and population health and the principal investigator of the WHI study at Einstein.

Dr. Saunders-Pullman also found that women who were taking hormone therapy did not have a lower risk for Parkinson’s.  In fact, earlier studies in the Women’s Health Initiative have demonstrated that hormone therapy increases one’s risk for both stroke and dementia.  More research needs to be conducted to determine estrogen’s effects on the brain.

How does one cope with Parkinson’s?  Here are some helpful tips:

Positive/Hopeful Attitude – you can’t control the disease but you can control your attitude.  Don’t let the disease define who you are.  Focus on the positive things in your life.  Think about the things you are grateful for each day.  Avoid self-criticism.

Exercise – Exercise has been found to be very helpful in minimizing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, increasing mobility and improving quality of life. It can also be very emotionally beneficial. It has been found to help in improve a depressed or anxious mood.  Try exercises that will relax you and improve your flexibility and balance.

Support Groups – It always helps to connect with other people who know exactly what you are going through.  This will prove to be very helpful in coping. Support groups offer a safe place to talk about your feelings, questions and concerns and to get valuable information. There are many available Parkinson’s support groups in the community that are free of charge.

Take Care of Yourself – Apart from taking medication to keep the disease under control, there are other things you can do to help yourself such as diet, exercise, support of family and friends and a healthy attitude. Be good to yourself, be patient with yourself and be a friend to yourself.

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and haven’t told your children as yet, Michelle Lane is an advocate and Founder of the Parkinson’s Association of Louisiana has some tips which may help you:

1. Explain your diagnosis in simple terms, including the symptoms and what behaviors to expect.

2. If you have more than one child, you may want to initially talk with them one at a time.

3. Be prepared to answer basic questions, such as if the diagnosis is fatal, if PD is contagious and if your child will get PD.

4. Encourage your child to ask questions, and be prepared for some of them to be of a sensitive nature.

5. Set up a visit for your child with your neurologist to talk about the disease and what to expect.

6. Let your kids know that there will be some changes in daily living and that working as a team will help your family.

7. Explain that people may stare at you because of the disease, and that it is usually because of curiosity and not rudeness.

8. Talk about how your kids can explain the disease to their friends if they ask about it.

9. If your child has a particularly difficult time dealing with your diagnosis, ask your child’s doctor to recommend a therapist who specializes in helping children whose parents live with a disease

My sisters and I were upset when we first learned that our mother had Parkinson’s.  Her sister was in denial at first but we have come to terms with it and are doing what we can to help her through this.  I receive the e-Parkinson Post, an online publication of the Parkinson’s Society Canada, which provides information for people living with the disease and those who want to learn more about it.  You can read the article on Genetics and Parkinson’s in their December issue here

This year the Parkinson SuperWalk 2011 raised an impressive $2.79 million. About 14,000 people brought life to 95 communities across Canada to raise funds for education, support, research and advocacy on behalf of the over 100,000 Canadians with Parkinson’s.  One year I hope to participate in this event.  Until then, I will continue to learn what I can about this disease so that I can become more involved.  If you know someone with Parkinson’s, I encourage you to educate yourself about the disease.  The more you learn about it, the more you can help your loved one and the less frightening it becomes.  There are many resources out there.  You can start with the Parkinson Society Canada.  Parkinson Society Canada seeks to ease the burden of people living with Parkinson’s disease through support and education. They provide information to people with Parkinson’s, their family members, and caregivers as well as health professionals.  Check out their website.  There is a lot of information that you might find helpful such as what it is like for a person living with the disease, the progression of the disease, how it affects their sexuality, treatment and how to communicate effectively with someone with the disease.

Here are some suggestions on how you can help someone with Parkinson’s and their caregiver:

  • You can be supportive.  Ask the person how he or she is feeling and encourage a truthful answer.  Help them to relax in your company.  Don’t try to cheer them up.  It’s okay for them to grieve.
  • Offer to lend a hand to the person with Parkinson’s or the caregiver but be specific with the day, time and task. For example, offer assistance with housework Saturday morning or grocery shopping every other Wednesday. 
  • Take the person with Parkinson’s out to visit the museum or get new glasses. This way the person with Parkinson’s gets a new experience and the caregiver gets an hour or two of respite. The Society can provide you with these and other volunteer opportunities.

Find out what you can do to help those with Parkinson’s understand and cope with their disease. 

Sources: http://www.pdf.org/en/about_pd?gclid=CPDt2cikpa0CFWcBQAodaTNAoQ; http://www.betterhealthresearch.com/news/fish-oil-may-protect-against-parkinsons-disease-19130024/; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090225161038.htm; http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Neurology/Treatments-and-Programs/Movement-Disorders-Program/Coping-with-Parkinsons-Disease.aspx; http://www.pdf.org/en/children_cope_pd; http://www.parkinsons.ca/faq.html

Clementine Churchill

On Christmas Day my husband and I watched the movie The Gathering Storm, a biography of Winston Churchill, starring Albert Finney.  It gave us an idea of what life was like for Churchill prior to him becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain and World War II and it was the first time I caught a glimpse of his wife, Clementine (played by Vanessa Redgrave).

There was a touching scene in the movie between Churchill and his wife which is reflected in the following dialogue:

Winston Churchill: Thank you.
Clemmie Churchill: For what?
Winston Churchill: For being rash enough to marry me, foolish enough to stay with me, and… for loving me in a way… I though I’d never be loved.

Apparently Clementine was greatly loved by Churchill.  Who was this woman before they met?  She was born in in Mayfair, London to Lady Henrietta Blanche Hozier (1852–1925), daughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie and second wife of Sir Henry Montague Hozier (1838–1907).  Clementine was the second of four children (three daughters, one son).

There was much debate about her paternity as her mother was well known for sharing her “favours”.   After Sir Henry found Lady Blanche with a lover in 1891, she managed to avert her husband’s suit for divorce due to his own infidelities, and thereafter the couple separated. Lady Blanche maintained that Clementine’s biological father was Capt. William George “Bay” Middleton, a noted horseman;  Mary Soames, Clementine’s youngest child, believes this.  However, due to Sir Henry Hozier’s reputed sterility, Clementine’s biographer concluded that all Lady Blanche’s “Hozier” children were actually fathered by her sister’s husband, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford.  He was better known as the grandfather of the famous Mitford sisters of the 1920s.  Whatever her true paternity, Clementine is recorded as being the daughter of Lady Blanche and Sir Henry.

Before Winston, there were two suitors.  The first was Walter Sickert, an artist who came to be a great friend of the family.  Clementine met him in Dieppe where her mother relocated the family and she was deeply struck by him and thought he was the most handsome and compelling man she had ever seen.   Their happy life in France was interrupted in 1899 when Kitty, Clementine’s sister became ill with typhoid fever.  Clementine and her sister Nellie were sent to Scotland so that their mother could devote all of her time to caring for Kitty, who unfortunately died a year later.  While in Scotland, Clementine was twice secretly engaged to Sir Sidney Peel, a British soldier, financier and Conservative politician who had fallen in love with her when she was eighteen.

Clementine’s and Churchill’s courtship was a short one.  They met four years earlier and then were reacquainted during a dinner party in 1908.  There was an instant attraction between them.  On their first brief encounter Winston recognized Clementine’s beauty and distinction and after spending an evening in her company, he realised that here was a girl of lively intelligence and great character. After months of correspondence, Winston wrote to Clementine’s mother, Lady Blanche Hozier, requesting consent for their marriage.  Here is a copy of that letter:

My dear Lady Blanche Hozier,Clementine will be my ambassador today. I have asked her to marry me & we both ask you to give your consent & your blessing. You have known my family for so many years that there is no need to say vy much in this letter. I am not rich nor powerfully established, but your daughter loves me & with that love I feel strong enough to assume this great & sacred responsibility; & I think I can make her happy & give her a station & career worthy of her beauty and her virtues.Marlborough is vy much in hopes that you will be able to come down here today & he is telegraphing to you this morning. That would indeed be vy charming & I am sure Clementine will persuade you.With sincere affection

Yours ever,
Winston S. Churchill

The couple married On 12 September 1908, at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.  Winston was ten years older than his bride and already a seasoned Parliamentarian.  They had five children.  Only one survived–their daughter Mary Soames and author of the books Winston Churchill, Winston and Clementine and A Daughter’s Tale.  Mary is still alive today.  Her parents were married for fifty-seven years and theirs was a close and affectionate marriage in spite of the stresses of a public life.

After her marriage and during World War I, Clementine organised canteens for munitions workers on behalf of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the North East Metropolitan Area of London.  During World War II she was Chairman of the Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund, the President of the Young Women’s Christian Association War Time Appeal and the Chairman of Fulmer Chase Maternity Hospital for Wives of Junior Officers. The hospital in Harrow, Middlesex is named after her.

In 1946, a year after the second World War ended she was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, becoming Dame Clementine Churchill GBE. Later, she was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oxford and later, in 1976, by the University of Bristol. In May 1965, she was created a life peer as Baroness Spencer-Churchill, of Chartwell in the County of Kent. She sat as a cross-bencher, but her growing deafness precluded her taking a regular part in parliamentary life.

Clementine became a widow  on 24 January 1965 when Winston died at the age of 90.  She outlived him by almost thirteen years.  During her final years she sent five paintings of her husband to be auctioned due to inflation and rising expenses.  The sale went well.  It was later discovered that she destroyed the famous Graham Sutherland portrait of her husband two years after it was finished in 1954 because the couple hated it.

On 12 December 1977 at the age of 92, Lady Spencer-Churchill died in Princes Gate, Knightsbridge, London of a heart attack and was buried with husband and deceased children with the exception of Marigold.

As the wife of a politician who often took controversial stands, Clementine was used to being snubbed and treated rudely by the wives of other politicians.  However, she had to draw the line somewhere and it happened when she was travelling with Lord Moyne and his guests.  They were listening to a BBC broadcast in which the speaker who was a pro-appeasement politician criticised Winston by name.  One of Lord Moyne’s guests, Lady Broughton said, “hear, hear” at the criticism of Winston.  Clementine waited for her host to offer a conciliatory word but none was forthcoming.  The offended Mrs. Churchill stormed off to her cabin and wrote a note to her host, Lord Moyne before packing her bags.  Lady Broughton came and begged Clementine to stay, but she refused to accept any apologies for the insult to her husband. She went ashore and sailed for home the next morning.

Notes to Women celebrate the woman whose character, intelligence, and good looks won the attention of the impetuous Winston Churchill.  She was a devoted wife and fiercely protective of her husband.  She stood by her man.  Theirs was a solid marriage which spanned many of the major events of the twentieth century.

An excerpt from a love letter written by Winston Churchill to his wife is a testimony of just how much of an important role she played in his life and how true it is that “behind every great man there is a great woman”.

My darling Clemmie,

… you wrote some words very dear to me, about my having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love… What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.

Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and, to millions, tragic and terrible years?…

With tender love from your devoted,

W.

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clementine_Churchill,_Baroness_Spencer-Churchill; http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=60http://books.google.ca/books/about/Clementine_Churchill.html?id=EYUfAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=yhttp://www.culture24.org.uk/history%20%26%20heritage/time/art16546

The Prison of Resentment

Psalm 73:21–22

Additional Scripture Readings: Matthew 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:24

Resentment puts us in prison. Like a ball and chain, it holds us back from experiencing the positive emotions of joy and peace. Are you imprisoned by resentment?

Resentment is an inevitable result of being damaged and wounded by the words or actions of another. We will feel it. To try to squelch the pain that comes when we’ve been hurt is to deny our human ability to feel.

But we don’t have to make resentment our permanent home. When we choose to live, day in and day out, within the confines of resentment, we imprison ourselves, trapped in bitterness, incarcerated in a grudge. When our energy is poured into these negative emotions, we are barred from experiencing life-giving emotions like forgiveness, love and hope.

We can’t choose whether or not we will be hurt. The mistakes of others are out of our control. But we can determine how we will respond to the pain that comes by the hand of another. Release resentment. In so doing, we set our hearts free.

Source:  NIV Devotions For Mom

It’s hard sometimes to let go of resentment.  We can’t seem to shake the way we feel about a past hurt.  Resentment becomes our constant companion and constantly reminds us of why we need its company.  It traps us into thinking that we should hold on to our hurt and pain and carry a grudge.  It convinces us that we have every right to still be angry and bitter towards the people who hurt us.  Forgiveness becomes more and more of an impossibility.

We need to let go of our resentment and allow God to work in us.  Jesus taught us that if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive the people who hurt us.  My son likes me to read the story, Jesus Loves Me every night before he goes to bed.  He knows it well now and one of the passages is where the soldiers dressed Jesus in a purple robe and put a crown of sharp thorns on His head.  They knelt down and pretended to honor Him and then they spat on Him.

The words that stand out in the story are:

But Jesus didn’t fight back.  His heart was breaking, but He wasn’t angry at the leaders or the soldiers.  He forgave them because He loved them.  Jesus would die for the people who hurt Him.  Jesus would die for you and me.

It’s hard to imagine forgiving the people who lied about you and want you dead or the people who mistreat and hurt you but Jesus forgive the people who hurt Him.  He died for them.  When Peter asked Him how often we should forgive those who hurt us, Jesus said seventy times seven–as many times as possible.

Don’t let resentment imprison you.  Allow yourself to forgive those who hurt you.  If it is hard for you to do, pray about it.  Ask God to give you the power to forgive.  In forgiving you are letting go of bitterness and negative feelings which are holding you back.

Let love and forgiveness replace anger and bitterness in your heart.  Don’t hold on to old hurts.  Let them go.  Forgive and move on.  Break the chains of resentment and experience joy and peace.  As the devotion points out we can’t prevent people from hurting us but we can control how we respond to the hurt.  When we hold on to grudges, we are giving those who hurt us power.  We are letting them hurt us over and over again each time we fuel our resentment toward them.  However, if we do as Jesus said and forgive them, we taking away their power to hurt us.  We are setting our hearts free and opening them to experience healing, peace and joy–the very things that resentful tries to rob us of.


It’s That Time of Year

Well, Christmas is here.  Families will soon be exchanging presents, having big breakfasts and enjoying one of the busiest seasons of the year.  It seemed a long way off and many of us kept procrastinating, believing that we had lots of time to send our Christmas cards off and to do our shopping but before we knew it, the holidays were fast approaching.

All the stores here in Toronto closed at 6pm so I pity those who waited until Christmas Eve to do their shopping.  I was in the drugstore on Friday buying cards and the place was packed.  The area where the cards were was really small and I had several people breathing down my neck as we all tried to choose cards for our families and that special someone.  I spent longer than I planned because the selection wasn’t that great.  It didn’t help that I had to meet my husband at a certain time and time was flying or that I was having a meltdown because the place was hot because of all those people milling around.

I was thankful, though that I got out of work early so that my husband and I could go shopping for our little guy while he was at daycare, which fortunately for us, was a full day yesterday.  We didn’t have the list of toys I had written for him so we had to improvise and we were quite pleased with what we ended up buying.  He is going to be one happy little camper.

Today will be a busy day for us as we will be preparing a special breakfast, dinner and visiting my family.  Last night my husband baked two fruitcakes.  We already sampled one–yummy.  The gifts are wrapped and under the tree.  I don’t know what presents my husband has gotten for me but I know that whatever they are, I will gladly receive them.  I am thrilled just to be spend another Christmas with the family God blessed me with and to be able to see our son’s face light up when he opens his presents.  He is at the age where he can truly enjoy the season.

This is a special time of the year for me.  It’s that time of year when families get together and spend quality time together.  It’s that time of year when people and workplaces donate unwrapped toys to Toy Mountain so that on Christmas morning, needy children can open presents.  It’s that time of year when people are more generous.  It’s that time of year when we think of our loved ones who are no longer with us and we share wonderful memories of them as we sit around the fireplace.

It’s that time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of their Savior.  It’s that time of year when we are thankful and grateful to God for sending His Son into the world.  It’s that time of year when we wish each other joy and peace.  It’s that time of year when we are mindful of the many blessings we have and that the greatest present we could ever receive or give to someone is Jesus Christ.

Notes to Women would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  May the Lord bless you and keep you this holiday season.  May you receive the gifts of peace and happiness.

The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord – Romans 6:23

For God Alone

Jordy is 12 years old and lives in Ecuador. Although his family has suffered much, he feels that he is blessed, for his parents have shown him how to live for God alone. His mother has a painful disease that has left her unable to walk. In spite of her pain, her love for Jesus shines through everything she does. And last year his father lost his job, so the family had no income. But they don’t blame God for their problems. Instead, they praise Him for providing for their needs.

Jordy’s parents sold their house and moved into a one-room apartment in order to pay for his mother’s medical treatments. But Jordy doesn’t mind. “My mother is more important than any house!” he says. “When we can’t see how we’ll manage, we remind ourselves that God provides for the sparrows. Surely, He will provide for us too. I give my worries to God and let Him handle things. Sometimes we’ve had no food in our house, and when we prayed someone brought us food. I know that God won’t forget us.”

But Jordy doesn’t like to dwell on his family problems. He wants to talk about how God has blessed him and his family. Jordy used to be shy. Then someone invited him to preach in church. He wasn’t sure he could do it, but he agreed to try. “I prayed a lot, and I realized that God can use me to reach people’s hearts. It changed my life!” he says.

Now Jordy preaches often. He loves to tell others what God can do in their lives. He shares his faith with his neighbors and with his classmates at school too. “I want everyone to know that God loves them and has a plan for their lives,” he says. When Jordy’s uncle was married, he invited Jordy to preach the sermon for the wedding. Jordy agreed, but he was shocked to find 800 people at the wedding. He prayed for God’s blessing, and he felt God speaking through him. “Afterward when people thanked me for my sermon, I told them it wasn’t from me; it was from God,” Jordy said. “I don’t want credit for what God does. It’s for God’s glory.”

Jordy wants everyone to know Jesus and love God as he does. “I tell them that they are God’s children; they just didn’t know it until someone
told them.” Jordy has dedicated his life to God alone, and he invites everyone to do the same.  We can share God’s love with others we meet
and through our mission offerings. Thanks for living as Jordy does, for God alone.

Source:  The General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Web site: http://www.adventistmission.org

When I read this story I was very touched.  I was especially moved and impressed by Jordy’s mother.  She is suffering from a painful disease which prevents her from walking yet she is not bitter or angry.  Instead she is filled with love for Jesus and it is manifested in her actions.  The family does not grumble and complain because they have no income as a result of Jordy’s father losing his job.  Instead they praise God whom they trust will continue to provide for their needs.  They didn’t hesitate to sell their house and move into a one room apartment so that Jordy’s mother could get her medical treatments.

We could all learn from this family how to not dwell on our problems but instead count our blessings and praise God for His goodness.  Jordy’s mother does not dwell on the fact that she can’t walk.  She does not question why she is suffering with a painful disease.  Jordy’s father lost his job but didn’t lose his faith.  He continues to trust God.

Jordy can see blessings even in the midst of trials and suffering because of his parents who taught him how to live for God alone.  He and his parents put God first.  They don’t worry about how they will get by.  They know that God will help them.  He has come through for them in the past and He will come through for them again and again.

I read a Bible commentary about Matthew Henry and what his reaction was after he was robbed.  He was not angry with God or bitter.  Instead, he offered this prayer:

Lord, I thank You:

That I have never been robbed before.

That although they took my money, they spared my life.

That although they took everything, it wasn’t very much.

That it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

He found positive things to say about a negative and unpleasant situation.  How many of us would share his sentiments?  Yet, it would be great if we had this kind of heart.  Jordy and his family still have a lot to be thankful for.  His mother is getting the treatments she needs and he is able to preach about God and what He can do in people’s lives.  God is using Jordy.  And Jordy’s family is a perfect example of Christians whose faith have been tried, tested and proven to be true.  The true test of faith is not being spared heartaches or suffering but being able to rise above these adversities and still see God’s hand in each situation.

Try not to worry about your situation.  Give it to God and He will handle it just as He did for Jordy and his family.  Take Jesus’ advice and not worry about anything but “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Generous Celebrities

Recently when I was under the hairdryer, I was reading a magazine (Hello Canada, I think) and came across a few pages highlighting celebrities who generously give their time to charities and helping the needy worldwide and at home.  I wanted to highlight some of these celebrities and the charities they are involved in.

 

Scarlett Johansson

This actress with the classic ’40s look has been the ambassador of Oxfam International since 2004.  She also supports USA Harvest.  This organization is all about the food.  They are food raisers.   They move food from people who have too much to those who have too little.

 

Angelina Jolie

Apart from being one of the most highly paid actresses and the partner of one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men, this oscar winner is known as promoting humanitarian causes as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.  This is a role she does not take lightly.  Recently she presented a humanitarian award in Geneva.  She and Brad Pitt donated $340,000 to Somalia.  The mother-of-six visited agencies, bringing aid to Libyans in Tripoli and Misrata.

Angelina was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva on August 27, 2001.  “We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering. I honestly want to help. I don’t believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation someone would help us.”

Jolie has received wide recognition for her humanitarian work. In 2003, she was the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations CorrespondentsAssociation, and in 2005, she was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA.  On July 31, 2005, King Norodom Sihamoni awarded Jolie Cambodian citizenship for her conservation work in the country. In 2007, Jolie received the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee.

Angelina and Brad also formed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation which is committed to environmental security, creating peace and stability in all communities by planning and implementing interventions that prevent negative environmental changes. Working with impoverished rural villagers and local governments to alleviate food insecurities and increase access to basic primary healthcare and education, they are implementing projects that build healthy and vibrant communities.

 

Demi Moore

The former star of General Hospital who established her career in St. Elmo’s fire and became one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses following success in movies such as Ghost,   A Few Good Men and Indecent Proposal is also noted for DNA Foundation which she and her soon to be ex-husband founded.  The foundation was born out of the conviction that freedom is a basic human right.

Demi travelled to South Asia to film Nepal’s Stolen Children.  The fight to end child sex trafficking hits especially close to home for the mother of three daughters.

 

Oprah

The former queen of daytime and one of America’s most admired icons of television has donated more than 300 million dollars to various charities.  She has been repeatedly ranked as the most philanthropic celebrity.  In 1987 Oprah established the Oprah Winfrey Foundation aimed to “support the inspiration, empowerment and education of women, children, and families around the world.”  As a victim of sexual abuse, Oprah initiated a campaign for a national database of child abusers in 1991 and in December 1993, President Bill Clinton signed “Oprah’s Bill,” which became the National Child Protection Act, an act establishing a national registry of convicted child abusers. 

In 2000, The Angel Network, a non-profit, volunteer served, public charity was founded.  Oprah served as president and chairperson.  The charity’s public goal was to “inspire people and make a difference in the lives of others”. It granted awards such as the Use your Life Awards, Kids can Free the Children and various scholarships to individuals and organizations. The Angel Network also operated projects in under-served communities that provide educational initiatives as well as assist people in fulfilling basic human needs and regaining dignity.  They provided grants to charities trying to combat various problems affecting developing countries (i.e. poverty, homelessness, child neglect, disease). Among its affiliates were the Crisis Fund, a funding arm for The Threshold Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The charity stopped accepting donations in May 2010 and was later dissolved.

Before she was inspired to establish the Oprah Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, Oprah  travelled to South Africa in 2004 to bring attention to the plight of young children affected by poverty and AIDS. During the 21-day trip, Winfrey and her crew visited schools and orphanages in poverty-stricken areas, and distributed Christmas presents to 50,000 children, with dolls for the girls and soccer balls for the boys, and school supplies. Throughout the show, Winfrey appealed to viewers to donate money to Oprah’s Angel Network for poor and AIDS-affected children in Africa. From that show alone, viewers around the world donated over $7,000,000.  Oprah invested $40 million and some of her time in the academy which is in Henley on Klip south of Johannesburg, South Africa.  The academy set on over 22 acres of land, complete with state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science laboratories, a library, theatre and beauty salon opened its doors in January 2007.  The academy drew some criticism from those who considered it to be elitist and unnecessarily luxurious.  However,  Nelson Mandela praised Oprah for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others.

Oprah supports women’s education around the world and funds a scholarship program for U.S. students who give back to their communities. 

 

Reese Witherspoon

This academy award winner is Avon’s first global ambassador since 2007.  She toured 16 cities from Alanta, Georgia to Moscow this year to raise awareness of domestic violence.   On Sunday, October 16, 2011, the Honorary Chairperson for the Avon Foundation for Women,put on her walking shoes and participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Breast Cancer Global Conference in New York City. 

Reese is actively involved in children’s and women’s advocacy organizations. She is a long-time supporter of Save the Children, an organization that helps children around the world through education, health care and emergency aid. She also serves on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, a child advocacy and research group. In 2006, Witherspoon was among a group of actresses who went to New Orleans, Louisiana in a CDF project to bring to light the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims. In this trip, she helped open the city’s first Freedom School, as she met and talked with the children. Witherspoon later called this an experience that she would never forget.

 

Sandra Bullock

 

One of this popular actress’s passion projects is a New Orleans  high school affected by hurricane Katrina.  Her donations have been used to rebuild and fund scholarship programs.  Thanks to her, the school had a 100 percent graduation rate in 2011.  Sandra likes to keep her charitable work quiet.  She doesn’t want to be seen as the kind of person who does things for pubicity.  She handles her charitable work the way Jesus said it should be handled–she doesn’t let her right hand know what the left hand is doing (Matthew 6:2-4).  She doesn’t do it to be seen by others so that she could be praised for it. 

Five years after Katrina, Sandra returned to New Orleans, to open a $700,000 health clinic at a local high school. Sandra has been a public supporter of the American Red Cross, having donated $1 million to the organization at least four times. Her first public donation of that amount was to the Red Cross’s Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. Three years later, she sent money in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis. In 2010, she donated $1 million to relief efforts in Haiti following the Haiti earthquake, and again donated the same amount following the 2011 Japan Earthquake.  Along with other stars, Bullock did a PSA urging people to sign a petition for clean-up efforts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Victoria Beckham

This an English singer-songwriter, dancer, model, actress, fashion designer and businesswoman, formerly known as Posh spice and now married to hunky David Beckham spends alot of her time on causes that she is passionate about.  She is the co-founder of the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust which assists children and people with special needs worldwide.

The mother of four is known for her charity work.  She created a charm for Cancer Research UK’s“Charms for Charity” campaign. She helped raise $185,500 for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) by auctioning off two tickets to the World Cup party on eBay.  She was entered into NSPCC’s Hall of Fame in 2004.  She was one of the recipients of Love Our Children USA’s “Mothers Who Make A Difference” awards in 2009.

Victoria supports these charities:
She took her eldest son, Brooklyn to Clay County, in the U.S. state of Kentucky help Save the Children.  They spent 10 days with with impoverished children.  Victoria hopes that her son will follow in his parents’ footsteps.  ‘I’m pleased Brooklyn is learning that by helping and joining other children he can play a role in making his generation the greatest yet.’
 
 
Jennifer Aniston
 
 
This former “Friends” star is dedicated to raising awareness and money for breast cancer research.  She is a proud member of the Warriors in Pink.  She is a director with Five, a film following five people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She recently designed a “Reach for the Moon” t-shirt, and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt will go toward finding a cure for breast cancer.  Jennifer has also donated her time and talent to filming spots for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, sharing the screen with one or more of the St. Jude kids.  One mother who saw one of Jennifer’s spots rushed her daughter to St. Jude’s for treatment because she exhibited the same symptoms as a child suffering from brain cancer.  That spot saved her daughter’s life.  The mother wrote Jennifer a letter, thanking her for guiding her to St. Jude.

 

Elizabeth Hurley

The English actress and model is the tireless ambassador for Estee Lauder’s Pink Ribbon Collection which raises money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  It is a cause that is very close to her heart.  It is a deeply personal cause for her.  She lost her grandmother and five friends, all under 40 and mothers to breast cancer.  She has also helped raise funds for End Hunger Network,ARK children’s charity, and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre.

 

Eva Longoria

The “Desparate Housewives” star is the founder of Eva’s Heroes, a charity which helps teens and young adults with developmental disabilities.  She is the national spokesperson for PADRES Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer), an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for latino children stricken with the disease.

Notes to Women salute these generous women who dedicate their time and talents to make a difference in the lives of so many. 

 

Sources:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2047942/Angelina-Jolie-Libya-UN-goodwill-ambassador.html#ixzz1fWIVRXF3http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Jolie; http://www.lycos.com/info/oprah-winfrey–oprah-winfrey-foundation.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Angel_Network; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oprah_Winfrey; http://justjared.buzznet.com/2011/10/17/reese-witherspoon-participates-in-avon-walk-for-breast-cancer/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese_Witherspoon; http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/sandra-bullock-tragedies-bring-out-the-best-in-people-2010298; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Bullock; http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/179-victoria-beckham; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1227770/Victoria-Beckham-takes-son-Brooklyn-trip-poverty-stricken-U-S-town–gives-football-lessons-poor-children.html; http://www.anistoncenter.com/warriors-in-pink-psa/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Hurley

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