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A Summer to Remember
By Carolyn Allen

Let the summer begin! And Happy Memorial Day! Whether school is out or not, Memorial Day, May 25, 2009 launches a holiday mindset and marks the beginning of the summer season for Americans. This national holiday serves as a day to remember and memorialize those who have served in the military forces. It is easily forgotten, even in a time when our soldiers in distant lands make sacrifices. What will you do to memorialize this day and make it memorable?

Perhaps you could send a letter to a solider in the Middle East , or spend time with a vet to thank him or her — if not today, then soon! Our favorite World War II vet, Leland McCants, of Springfield Virginia , is in our own Ward and will turn 95 this next September. We have him over for dinner regularly to soak in the great spirit of his life and hear his stories. He lost his precious wife Ruby to cancer nearly 16 years ago, a son to the war in Viet Nam , and recently a son-in-law with health problems, yet he steadfastly continues to live alone in a spotless town home where he cooks and cheerfully cares for himself. He is never seen without a smile on his face, a crisp white shirt and tie, an enthusiastic greeting and a cute joke. He reads constantly and is up-to-date on current events. He does his own taxes, enjoys talking about politics and is regularly invited to speak to the young men in our ward who need inspiration and direction. His spell-binding tales about his personal experiences during the Great Depression and World War II (which ultimately led to an outstanding and exciting lifelong career in the military and an opportunity to see the world) are an inspiration for all. He is quite a guy, and based upon his full engagement with life at this point, he may very well continue to live for a long, long time.

As we finished Sunday dinner with him at our home not too long ago, my husband asked a golden question. “Mack, how have you managed so well physically throughout all these years?”

Mack cleared his throat and emphatically said, “Well, I’ll tell you! When I was a teenager working outdoors with my Dad one day, he watched me working up a pretty good sweat and pointed to my heart.”

“Son,” said my dad, “The Lord can only give you one body. And only you can take care of it. Do it!”

“That has stayed with me all my life,” said Mack. “I’ve had my problems, of course, but not from things that were within my control. I’ve asked the Lord to help me take good care of myself – and He has!”

Mack’s life and continuing good health are an inspiring fulfillment of one of my favorite scriptures, Psalm 37:5:

“Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”

Mack’s long and healthy life is a tribute not only to his own self-discipline, but to his dad, and to the power of prayer and the Lord. God is ever-forgiving and, remarkably, so are our bodies! Perhaps it is because they are created by Him, the Master of Forgiveness, that our bodies will literally erase and forget years of neglect as they respond almost immediately to wiser eating and exercise. As the summer begins, Memorial Day and the beginning of June is the perfect time to commit ourselves to an increase in physical strength, energy, personal fitness and self-mastery.

Many of us enjoy a bit lighter work schedule during the summer. The longer days and warmer weather make it easier to exercise. Fruits and vegetables at an affordable abundance make it easier to eat natural, nutritious food. This Memorial Day can easily mark the beginning, if you decide to make it so, an unforgettable personal season of great purpose and great progress.
After all, the scriptures tell us so! “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

On Memorial Day family outing several years ago, I learned a valuable lesson and started a memorably summer season at our regional amusement park, Paramount Kings Dominion. There are enough roller coasters to thrill the most adventuresome teens, and enough flowers to thrill me. One of the rides that is fun for the whole family features a fabulous Imax/3-D theatre. After donning the 3-D glasses, we strapped ourselves into the action seats. That year the movie featured none-other than Sponge Bob Square Pants, the popular (though decidedly goofy) cartoon character.

The plot was ridiculous, of course: Sponge Bob needed a slice of dill pickle to make the perfect crab cake sandwich. As he reached for it, he spoke poetically: “Oh, little pickle! Fulfill your destiny!” Then the pickle slice was kidnapped by some crazy evil-doers and we were all tossed around in our action seats, like cowboys on a bucking bronco, as Sponge Bob chased the pickle slice and the kidnappers into the deep depths of the ocean until at last the pickle was rescued.

It was all incredibly silly, yet there was supreme power in Sponge Bob’s request of the pickle: “Fulfill your destiny!” Food’s purpose is to provide nutrition and please us. That is its entire, God-given destiny. We take advantage of that simple divine principle when we overeat with others or binge alone.

As we picnicked later that day, I did a little experiment. After blessing the food and inviting the Lord to be with us while we ate, I mentally said to myself, “Oh, little strawberries, fulfill your destiny!” I enjoyed them immensely. They fulfilled God’s plan for them in a lovely way as I savored every one. I had one (one!) chocolate chip cookie that I also asked to fulfill its purpose. When the cookies came out later in the day, I was able to remember that I’d had my cookie, its destiny had been fulfilled and I didn’t need to prove that fact with another one or two or three.

As I straightened the kitchen the next morning, I faced the remains of a large birthday cake. I side-stepped the frosting and nibbling it to death by thinking “No, its destiny was fulfilled when the family enjoyed it together. Put it away now.” And with a quick prayer, I was able to.

When you step back, everything we eat has a purpose or destiny, and when we can establish that purpose, we can establish ourselves, our own weight loss, and more readily see our own great purpose as well.

Between the Lord to make it eternal, a War Veteran to make it valuable and memorable, and a cartoon character to make it fun, how can we go wrong? Make a plan! Set a schedule! Get to the grocery store! Then memorize the scriptures and thoughts below and make them your mantra for your most memorably healthy summer ever!

Happy Memorial Day!

“Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”
(Psalm 37:5)

“Only one body, only one me to take care of it!”
Brother Leland McCants

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Fulfill your divine destiny!”
Sponge Bob


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