Creating the Warrior Spirit

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“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

I am continually amazed at the gifts God gives us, the variety and the beauty! Some are subtle, almost unseen but still so necessary; while others are obvious, prominently displayed in the forefront. All receive equal honor because the Master’s hand created them.

God – The Giver of All Gifts

When I work in my job as a yoga and Pilates teacher, I remember my faith and that God can use me for healing and health-giving purposes. Since I am very flexible, I have to keep in mind that I can push my students too far. It’s a delicate balance between healing and harming.

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Warrior 1 opens the heart with hands reaching towards heaven and feet grounded on a firm foundation.

I don’t always get it right, but looking up to God, the giver of all gifts, I have hope and motivation because I know I am His craftsmanship he is not finished with me yet. He is still carving, shaping and polishing to create something special for His grand design and His plan for my life.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8

I am grateful for God’s patience and guidance. I know He will take me exactly where I need to be. Wherever I am, I have the opportunity at all times, to do good works and reflect God’s love.

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Warrior 3 (or Balancing Stick pose) requires balance, strength, grace and mental focus. 

 

Warrior of the Lord

This week I had the chance to see a very unusual and remarkable creation, a God breathed sculpture carved from a 2,000-year-old redwood stump.

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The “Warrior of the Lord” is a dramatic 7-foot-tall carving and has an impressive 9 foot wing-span. With his wings spread and his cloak is flowing. The majestic archangel stands ready to take on his fight against evil.

warrior-of-the-Lord-SafonovThis beautiful piece of art carved by Alexandre Safonov, stands in front of an antique store in mountains of Agoura Hills. The artist’s creation was inspired by the Holy Spirit. “I feel the Holy Spirit”, Safonov said. “I put the energy of God into this piece.” ¹ Alexandre prayed every time he started work on his masterpiece.

“This is a warrior; he represents God and the word of God.” – Alexandre Safonov

His eyes seem to be looking up in adoration to God.

The Armor of God

When I saw the statue, I immediately thought of several scriptures, particularly Ephesians 6:10-18, about spiritual warfare and putting on the ‘Armor of God’. ²

alexandre-safonov-warrior-of-the-lordThe archangel’s “Sword of the Spirit” carries a ‘B’ to represent the Bible, the word of God. His “Belt of Truth” bares the cross of Jesus and his massive “Shield of Faith” is emblazoned with the initials of Jesus Christ, ‘JC’.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. – Ephesians 6: 10-12

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Warrior Fathers – Men of Honor

Happy Fathers Day to all the men who are warriors for their families and especially to my husband, Steven, who is an amazing and supportive dad to our daughter and devoted to his family. He is a warrior for our family each and every day. We are blessed and I continually thank God.

Many blessings,

Linda

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Footnotes:

1. http://www.theacorn.com/news/2015-06-11/Community/Woodcarver_uses_faith_talent_in_work_of_a_lifetime.html

2. Ephesians 6:10-18 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6%3A+10-18&version=NIV

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A Mother’s Blessing

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What a day! On May 21st, my youngest sister, Alisa, delivered the 21st of my nieces and nephews. I can say I am a very blessed Aunt! That’s a lot of hugs and kisses and yes, that is a lot of birthday checks!

Alisa-JulianAlisa amazes me, two days after a cesarean section, with staples still in her stomach and not getting sleep for days, she manages to look so good for this photo.

Behind the smile, Alisa lives with the fact that baby Julian was born with a hole in his heart and with a leaky heart valve. This was due to mosaic trisomy 9 which can affects many different systems of the body. She has to navigate several medical options for him. Not knowing what lies ahead for her son, Alisa has stayed calm and joyful. She and her husband are standing strong in faith, taking it one day at a time.

A Rough Start

The arrival of my newest nephew reminded me of my daughter Lindsay’s early years. I started out as an awkward mother. After having a C-Section and being in pain, I didn’t have a lot of desire to bond with my daughter right away.

Lindsay was a beautiful baby with pink rose bud lips but she was a colicky baby, an inconsolable crying ‘thing’ that left me sleep deprived, cranky and depressed. I remember my father trying to cheer me up; he told me, “Lindsay is going to be your best friend some day.” I heard the words but at the time, I had a hard time conceiving of such a thing.

Lindsay moved on from her colicky phase. and into her ‘wild child’ era. She was only about 2½ or 3 when she dragged a chair to the 2nd story opening over the recreation room, stood on its ledge and waved good-bye to me, announcing that she was, “going to fly like Dumbo.” I never moved so fast in my life!

Motherhood was a wild ride. Lindsay was challenging, but today, Lindsay is one of my best friends and our love continues to grow. She’s a joyful, compassionate and giving woman, a devoted daughter who makes herself available for her friends and family. I wish I could take credit for how she turned out but the truth is, I had to surrender the whole motherhood thing to God early on. delight-yourself-in-the-lord-and-he-will-give-you-the-desires-of-your-heartI knew from the start I was in way over my head.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

We all have supreme hopes and desires for our children. I pray and put my hope  in God, but learning to “Delight in the Lord”, what is that exactly? How do I best do that? Am I walking with Him in love, joy and strength? I still ask myself these questions every day. My life line is this, I am grateful because my God is with me and for me. He will never leave me or forsake me. 

Persevere through the hard times; good times are coming! 

Joy For This Journey

On Mother’s Day, Lindsay gave me a special personalized gift and a sentimental note. Her words were so beautiful and heartfelt. I wish I could see myself the way she sees me.

Lindz also took her dad and I out for a cruise on her boyfriend’s family boat. His family’s generosity was amazing: flowers, food, great scenery and witty conversation. Everyone made it a lovely day.

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Mother’s Day was followed by a very romantic get away with my honey, Steve. I am thankful; at this moment life is sweet.

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God’s Promises to Never Leave Us

1. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

2. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

3. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Joshua 1:5

4. “May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.” – 1 Kings 8:57

5. David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.” – 1 Chronicles 28:20

6. For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. “They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off.” – Psalms 37:28

7. “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” – Psalms 94:14

8. “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 41:17

9. “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16

10. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

 ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈  ≈

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God promises are true. “His word is above all! We can move forward because, He goes before us. And if God is for us, who can be against us”?¹

With a grateful heart, Linda

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Jesus in Matthew 28:20 ²

Footnotes:

1. http://www.thejourney2grace.com/index.cfm?i=11059&mid=1000&id=324730

2. Matthew Chapter 28 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+28&version=NIV

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Woman In Gold – The Untold Story

I cried more than once. The movie, “Woman In Gold” is powerful and emotional. It’s a true story about holocaust survivor, Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren. The story follows her journey to recover a world-famous Klimt painting of her Aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. This film draws much of its strength from Mirren’s spirited performance. Ryan Reynolds effectively plays the attorney, Randy Schoenberg, who helps Ms. Altmann recover the works of art looted from her family by the Nazis. Reynolds’ lively rapport with Mirren gives momentum and life to the movie.

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Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) by Gustav Klimpt, sold for a record $135 million in 2006.

In part, this movie is about loss and the atrocities of the holocaust but it is also about an exceptional family who loved music and art. Maria had a close bond with her Aunt Adele. Their affection and love for one another was well depicted in the movie.

Remember The Good

My family was invited to see the movie with Jim Altmann, one of Maria Altmann’s sons. I could tell it meant a lot to Jim to be able to share the moment with a big group of his family and friends. I asked him, “what was the predominate impression you took away from the movie?” Jim answered, “Good question; Every time I see it, something different stands out. Seeing it this time I’d say, remember the good memories.” Like Jim, I also felt that message resonated in the movie. The movie also carried the message of courage and the importance of remembering your ancestors.

One of the Great Battles in Art History

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Steven Eichberg at the theater with a reproduction of Klimpt’s portrait of Adele, the original resides in Neue Galerie, New York.

At the reception following the movie, I inquired if Jim felt the film told the story factually. He said, “yes, it did do a good job of revealing most of the facts.” He loved the movie overall and felt the description of some of the events surrounding Maria’s  journey to reclaim her family’s property were well done. But exactly how hard and for how long Maria fought, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, was not quite accurately described. Jim Altmann continues, “my mother was in her 90’s and Helen is in her 70’s. The process was very long, drawn out and exhausting, much more so than what was shown in the movie.” I can imagine how much more difficult the burden would have been on a woman in her 90’s. The trips to Vienna and the constant rejection and deception would have been a lot for anyone.

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Memories of Maria Altmann lovingly displayed at the reception

 

A Quest For Truth and Justice

“Woman in Gold” was supremely entertaining, masterfully directed and brilliantly acted! One the most touching parts of the film was when Ms. Altmann shared a story about a woman, her friend, shown in another portrait. This woman was flesh and blood to her, part of her life. She was not a ghost from the past on a lifeless piece of art. So many families of good people were decimated during the Nazi reign. So much beauty was lost. This was the truth she wanted the world to know. Legal battles to win the return of art confiscated by the Nazi’s continues, with an estimated 100,000 works of art still at issue.

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Maria Altmann

This Generation of Altmann’s

The movie did not go very deeply into Maria Altmann’s family life during the time of the trials. Ms. Altmann’s son, Jim, lives in our area. He own’s a successful Southern California construction firm. His daughter, Alana, grew up with my daughter, Lindsay, and is one of her best friends. My husband Steven and I spent a lot of time with Alana and love her like a daughter. Alana and her mom have taken my Yoga/Pilates classes.

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Alana and Maria Altmann

Lindsay has also shared quite a few special moments with the Altmann family. Lindsay enjoyed playing Scrabble with Maria and hearing her stories.  She gives accolades to Helen Mirren for the way she captured the spirit and essence of Maria Altmann in her portrayal.

Lindsay and Alana have helped each other grow into well-rounded, intelligent, hard-working woman who are comfortable in their own skin. They have nurtured close friendships and each of them is successful in their respective careers. I am so grateful to God for that.

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Seeing these two grow to become the wonderful woman they are now has been my joy!

 

The Importance of Family

During the court battle for the art, Alana would come to our home and tell us bits and pieces about her grandmother and the long arduous legal proceedings. The movie reignited the emotion and anguish of that process. In contrast to that, I remember so well our happiness the day Alana told us, “We won!”

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To Maria Altmann, it wasn’t about the money. The portrait of her aunt, displayed as Austria’s ‘Mona Lisa,’ was so much more than an expensive piece of art; it was the essence of her family’s memories and legacy. When their art was stolen by the Nazi’s, so were pieces of their history, the love and beauty they once shared together. It is essential to keep your family memories and legacy alive. 

I can say, because I know, Maria Altmann’s granddaughter, Alana, is shining her light and love in this world in marvelous ways.

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Alana and Lindsay during the wedding reception of Alana and Blaine Bisquera

Alana, and Maria’s other grandchildren are living legacies to her growing family and the story continues…

With hope and gratitude,

Linda Eichberg

 

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” – Job 42:2

 

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Open Your Heart – Change Your Brain

Research in the psychology of gratitude has found that being thankful has multiple benefits. One study found, people who practiced gratitude felt 25% happier; they felt more optimistic and better about their lives. Gratefulness inspires pro-social reciprocity; it is a form of love. “Gratitude is effective in increasing well-being as it builds psychological, social, and spiritual resources.” ¹gratitude-benefits Gratitude In Action

Gratitude that translates into spiritual actions can actually change your brain. Leading Neuroscientists have studied changes that take place in people’s brains when they are having religious or spiritual experiences. They have concluded that active, positive spiritual beliefs and habits change the human brain for the better. ² In other words, God is good for you! One of the recommended ways of letting God change your brain is to develop a positive spiritual practice that expresses God’s love to humanity.

“God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them…we love because God first loved us.”- 1 John 4:16, 19 

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Several years ago I made a mission trip with my husband and a small group of Christians to an orphanage of children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. ³ Spending time with the kids from Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, loving them and receiving their love profoundly changed me. Despite the unspeakable sorrow most of them had to endure in their short, young lives, they were filled with joy.

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During our visit, I had the opportunity to sing in a local talent show that was organized by the Heintz family, a family from our local church who were living and serving as missionaries at the orphanage. The youngest, Anika Heintz, the little blonde girl behind me in this photo, (left) ministered to the younger orphans with her two sisters, Siena and Nina.

It was a very eclectic group of talent presented that day. Tim Heintz played the keyboard and an array of local singing and dancing groups dazzled us.

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The Heintz family opened their hearts to the local people in a very big way by building the amphitheater and giving the people of Mophela the opportunity to perform and gather together in celebration. Far too often, funerals for friends or relatives who died from the ravages of AIDS, were the occasions they got together.

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After the talent show everyone was fed. Gigantic pots of stews were prepared. The food that was offered was also a very big attraction for most of the locals.

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One of the other highlights of our trip was giving away Croc shoes we brought with us. Siena and Nina helped distribute the gifts, along with my husband, Steven, a Board member of the Lily of the Valley AIDS Foundation. There were enough for every child to have a pair.

Over 100 pairs of shoes were given away. It was a rainy afternoon; our heads were wet and our feet were caked with mud, but inside, the smiles of gratitude on the children’s faces were like sunshine.

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The health care workers who volunteered at the orphanage entertained the children with face painting. It made for a very festive day!

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The Heintz sisters are now young ladies. They continued to take time from their busy schedules to do good works in the mission field here at home, and abroad. Two of them just completed a mission trip to Nicaragua with their parents, Tim and Sharon.

Abundant  Life

Each person’s idea of God and showing gratitude can be hugely different. I think our understanding about God is very important because it shapes our lives.

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My Nephew, Chris, shares his big heart!

Today, there is a great new generation of young people rising up to express God’s love. My nephew, Chris Kuz, just returned home from his second mission trip to Guatemala. He has a big heart for the children there. My daughter, Lindsay chose to go to Costa Rica to serve.

I am proud of my daughter and all my nieces and nephews who show gratitude from their heart, for what God has given them, in their own special way.

Life has beauty and purpose when it flows from gratitude for God’s majesty, mercy and love. 

Not only is God good for you, I believe God is perfect goodness, perfect love, holiness and truth and He wants us to be with Him forever.

How can anyone dare to hope of ever being with such a perfect, holy God? The bible tells us, “there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus”. [4] I know this at the core of my being.

The God of this magnificent universe loves and cares about this world, and me, so much that He came to earth as the Son of Man to die for us so we could spend a glorious eternity with Him. He took the guilt and shame of mankind’s sin and paid the price we could not pay.

There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve His amazing grace but you will want to do something to show your gratitude. That’s where the living starts and the journey gets rewarding. When we apply our gifts and talents in Christ’s name, joy overflows, grace empowers and faith proves itself in selfless service.

At the foot of the cross, lasting legacies of love are created, beyond our wildest dreams.

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From my heart to yours,  Linda Eichberg

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13

Refrences

1) http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf

2) http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Gratitude-Related%20Stuff/highlights_fall_2003.pdf

3) Lily of the Valley Children’s Village – http://www.lilyofthevalley.org.za/ & http://www.LilyValleyusa.org

4) 1 Timothy 2:5

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A Grateful Heart Produces A Bountiful Harvest

 

Thanksgiving is almost here and I am extremely thankful to God for family and friends. Sharing food together is one way we share the joys of togetherness. Each Thanksgiving, I like to create new, healthy versions of my favorite recipes. I am bringing one of these delicious vegetable dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Roasted Rosemary Vegetables
Ingredients
fresh vegetables like zucchini and carrots
extra-virgin olive oil
fresh or dried Rosemary
fresh pressed or dried powered garlic (optional)
fine sea salt
ground black pepper

Cut the zucchinis and carrots in half and then into wedges lengthwise about 3½ – 4″ in length. Toss well in olive oil, rosemary & garlic or whatever herbs you like. Arrange your vegetables on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Pre heat the oven to 425 F. Bake at 425 for 20 – 25 min. Rotate the roasting pan from bottom to the top shelf of the oven about half way through. Don’t over season. Flavors become more concentrated after baking. After baking, add salt & pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish alternating the zucchini & carrots side by side in the dish. Enjoy!

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Roasted zucchini and carrots

This recipe also works great with seasonal fall favorites like: sweet potatoes, parsnips or Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
If you’re using Brussels sprouts for this recipe, cut the sprouts in half lengthwise and follow the same directions above for “Roasted Rosemary Vegetables”. Brussels sprouts are smaller so they will cook faster. Take a few minutes off the cooking time depending on the size of your sprouts. Cook until golden brown. The leaves that are loose will be brown and crispy.

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Roasted Brussels sprouts

Add Ons – Try one of these three tasty recipe twists!

1) The last 5 minutes of roasting, add cranberries, walnut or pecan pieces to the Brussels sprouts.

2) Let the Brussels sprouts cool and add shredded Parmesan cheese, goat or feta cheese.

3) Served warm or chilled, roasted Brussels sprouts will make a fantastic topping for your favorite salad!

A Story of Thanksgiving 

Very recently my husband Steven and I were guests at a fund-raising dinner given by Lily of the Valley Endeavor to raise money and awareness for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. While we were there, we met at nice couple who told us that we were responsible for getting them and their neighbors involved in supporting this non-profit. I was very curious to hear how, since I didn’t know them.

Paying It Forward

It turned out that years ago Steven did some legal work, Pro bono, for their neighbor, a single mom who needed legal services. She was very grateful for what my husband did for her. Looking for a way to repay him in some way, she expressed her gratitude by getting a group of her neighbors to attend one of the fund raisers we were working on for Lily of the Valley Endeavor. The couple we met, were two of those neighbors. My husband Steven & I served for many years putting on events and raising money for this charity. And now these wonderful people continue to passionately support LoVE (Lily of the Valley Endeavor).

In doing good, we often do not see the results of our labor right away but in faith we keep forging ahead hoping that God will multiply our efforts beyond anything we can do.

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Singing for Lily of the Valley Endeavor, LoVEFest fundraiser

Living Legacies

My husband and I put a good portion of time and heart into growing this charity and helping the children it served. During those years much was accomplished but now that we have stepped back; it was heart warming to see the legacy continue through the couple we met and their friends. I was inspired and grateful to hear their story and to know how Steven’s kindness, in taking care of a struggling single mom’s legal problem, grew into something lasting and good for the world.

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Steven and Linda Eichberg at Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, South Africa

Grateful for the blessing of serving these children through Christ. Giving thanks for good friends, good food, family and God, who can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

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Happy Thanksgiving from Steven, Linda and Lindsay

“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

“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.” ~ Mark 4:20 (MSG)

For more information on Lily of the Valley Children’s Village – http://www.lov.org.za

and Lily of the Valley AIDS Foundation – http://www.lilyvalleyusa.org

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The Uphill Climb – Health Care

We have all been hearing a lot of arguing about health care on the news. Who can come up with the perfect plan that is thorough enough to solve all our health care problems? I am not interested in getting into the political side of the debate but I agree, we are in a crisis and we have to do something.

“One out of three children is considered obese. Without committing to a healthier lifestyle, one in three children born since 2000 will develop diabetes.” [1]

This is shocking! One in three children!

My father was willing to sacrifice just about anything for his family to have a legacy of good health. His suffering in hospitals as a youth, from chronic digestive illness brought on by what was considered a typical Italian diet, changed his thinking and way of life. He became the model of a healthy lifestyle.

I am so proud of my husband, Steven. He recently lost 11 lbs. and was able to get rid of his blood pressure medication! We can begin taking on the health care crisis by making health a priority for ourselves and our family. “A better YOU will unlock your entire family’s potential.” [2]

My daughter, Lindsay and I, as well as other family members, enjoy hiking and even a little mountain climbing to stay fit. At our last outing, my sister Maria and I met some new friends while we were stretching on our way up the mountain.

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Fellow mountain climber follows Maria Lauren in a split – hamstring stretch.

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Those with a flexible back will not get bent out of shape. ~ Linda Eichberg

Father of Fitness

Today, is the “Father of Fitness,” Jack LaLanne’s birthday. He worked tirelessly to create a healthier world. Although he has left this world, his legacy lives on. He passed on his knowledge and enthusiasm for health and fitness to my dad who passed it on to his children. When I was growing up, Jack was spreading the news about the health benefits of drinking fresh raw vegetable juices while the majority of the world bought into the fast food – junk food mindset. I had the honor of meeting Jack and being on the Jack LaLanne TV show back in the mid 80’s. What an amazing man! We met again in 2009 for his 95th birthday celebration. The Fitness Instructors of Total Woman Gym saluted him with 95 jumping jacks. My sister, Maria, representing Kaiser Permanente’s Fitness Team was leading the group!

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The Biggest Mountain Of All

Besides the benefits of good health, I am grateful to my parents for giving me many wonderful life skills. My parents worked hard all their lives and finally achieved their dream of providing their children with a large home in the suburbs. One day a fire took it all. Our beautiful family home burned to the ground along with all the contents and cherished photos. Conquering the ‘mountain’ of loss is one of the hardest things to do. My parents and siblings were resilient; faith in God, love and thankfulness held them together.

Maria and I had just moved out of the house before the time of the fire. We were working in the television industry. I am grateful we had a few family photos with us. These photos are practically the only ones left from my youth of my family and I having fitness fun together!

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Family fitness fun!

Although we lost our home and possessions, I have learned to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” [3]

Wishing you a healthy transformation and radiant health! Linda

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” – Psalm 19:7-8

Refrences:

1) http://www.letsmove.gov/learn-facts/epidemic-childhood-obesity

2) http://www.lindaeichberg.com/

3) Job 1:21

DISCLAIMER: This is a personal blog, reflecting my personal opinions and its contents are not intended to offer personal medical advice. This blog does not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employers. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. All content is copyrighted. Photo credit is given when know but some photos of unknown origin may appear on this blog. Please contact me if you have additional information about photo credits.

From the Academy to Humanity – Ben Affleck Lives ‘The GRATITUDE Life’

It warmed my heart to see Ben Affleck’s follow up to his Academy Award for Best Picture. Ben’s moving new video caught my eye this week. In it, he passionately tells the story of the catastrophic events in the eastern Congo region of Africa, where “generations have struggled under a cycle of violence and poverty.” There is also an outpouring of gratitude for his blessings in this video. Ben expresses his thankfulness by putting a good portion of his time and energy into the Eastern Congo Initiative. This group works for that region of Africa as well as with the people in those communities.

Ben Afleck’s recent Oscar win for ”Argo”, is his second Oscar. He also received the Academy Award for “Good Will Hunting” – Best Original Screenplay. Ben had this to say about his continued good fortune, “I’m a very fortunate person. I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to be very successful in ways I’ve always wanted as an actor, writer, director and so on, but I got to a point where I felt like, I’m living this kind of vacuous life. I’m just living for myself. I’m chasing some idea or some goal but I didn’t know what my values were. I didn’t know what I was contributing to the world.”

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Ben Affleck Finds ‘the Meaning of Life’

To answer his heart’s call, Ben founded Eastern Congo Initiative three years ago. It supports local organizations who are “creating lasting change in the lives of vulnerable children and survivors of sexual violence.” It is also creating economic opportunity for these people who have an “unrelenting desire to realize the extraordinary potential of their country.” Ben believes, “This is important work.”

“This is what I believe in, I think of as the meaning of life, getting involved with something, helping others, improving the fabric of the universe. I believe if we do that, even just a little bit, I think you’ll find your life gets better too.” – Ben Affleck 

Giving Back

I have to agree with Ben. Giving to others less fortunate has enriched my life. In many ways it has opened new worlds to me. My husband Steven, and I have been very involved in supporting the area of South Africa hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic. We traveled to that region to grasp a vision of what could be attained by becoming more involved in this desperate plight that was affecting millions. There were many blessing and miracles involved in the work we did on behalf of the Zulu people and the Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, HIV/AIDS orphanage. A medical center, an amphitheater, a second Children’s Village and a vocational school were built and much more is still being accomplished.

Many people of different faiths were involved in our united effort and poured so much of themselves into KwaZulu Natal, South Africa; one example is our friends, the Heintz family. They went to the Lily of the Valley orphanage at their own expense. This lovely Christian family lived and ministered there for 15 months. Tim Heintz is a composer who has written musical scores for movies such as “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Enemy of the State,” Tim also provided the music for the LoveFest fund-raisers we held here in California for the Lily of the Valley Endeavor.

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Pictured – (right) Steven & Linda Eichberg at Lily of the Valley Children’s Village (top left) Sharon Heintz, Sharon Clack, Founder – Lily of the Valley Endeavor & Tim Heintz breaking ground for the now completed Medical Centre (bottom left) Lily kids 

 

My sister, June Kuz and her family of five are headed to Guatemala this summer to work together with their church and spread God’s love in the communities there. I can’t wait to hear about the amazing life changing results of that trip. The stories we share offer incredible possibilities for the good of the world but we can’t do it on our own.

Please view and share this video, about the vision and purpose of Eastern Congo Initiative and this massive humanitarian crisis, in the heartfelt words of Ben Affleck.

 

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Lily of the Valley Endeavor – http://www.LilyValleyUSA.org

Lily of the Valley Children’s Village – http://www.lov.org.za

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’” – Jesus, in Matthew 25:45 NLV

 
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