Happy Labor Day! Happy September!

Labor Day is the first Monday in September In the United States, Canada and some other industrialized countries. This means that the first Monday of September is dedicated to the worker.

Though it recognizes no particular man or woman, living or dead, no sect, race or nation, Labor Day serves as a tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the industrialized world. Labor Day marks the end of the summer, the beginning of fall, a new beginning as the school year starts, the harvest of crops planted in spring.

In short, Labor Day celebrates the joys of – labor!

Today’s Quote: Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

Is there any word that describes the LDS people better than labor? With the industrious honeybee and its hive as our mascot, every active Latter-day Saint I know uses “labor daily and serve” as an unwritten creed to govern the rich and active lives we enjoy as Latter-day Saints.

As I mentioned in our article last week about providing relief efforts for ourselves, Charlene Paul of the Logandale Second Ward, Logandale Nevada Stake, personifies the big picture of healthy living as a labor of love, persistence dedication and service.

She is an active member at MyWeightLossTeam.com and the scales are slowly but surely heading south! As a mother and grandmother, she is laboring to sensibly return to a healthy weight from a number of years ago. She has allowed me to share the following experience:

Just a couple of days before her son’s temple wedding in July, it became clear that the bridesmaids’ dresses would need to be drastically altered. She says:

I thought I would lose my mind on Thursday when I started altering seven (seven!) bridesmaid dresses after the brunch. I was so tired from so many things that I just sat at the table and cried and cried.

Although I knew that I could do it, when I looked at the whole picture and each little stitch that needed to be unpicked, I quickly became overwhelmed and all I could do was cry and think about our old buddies Ben and Jerry! (For those not in the U.S., Ben and Jerry are the manufacturers of very rich and fattening ice cream.) However, I had made a commitment to my son, his bride and her mom that I would make sure that those dresses were finished and that they looked presentable

I had also made a commitment to myself to use food to nourish my body and not to numb my mind and spirit.

A wonderful neighbor lady came to my rescue and we were able to finish them by two in the morning! That didn’t leave too much time for sleep before the sealing, but once we got to the temple, sleep was the furthest thing from my mind as we watched them make eternal covenants. Later, it felt so good at the end to see the girls looking so beautiful in their dresses. And I did it all without Ben and Jerry!

Now I am trying to apply that same principle of stick-with it-ness to my eating, exercising, journaling and scripture reading. How wonderful to be able to look back and say, “I did it!!”

The labor that Charlene invested in herself that week resulted in another pound lost during the week of the wedding.

To keep her spirits focused, Charlene sings the Primary song “I will go, I will do, the thing the Lord commands.” She also recites Alma 1:25. This scripture comes from a period in the early part of Alma’s reign, when persecution, contention and apostasy created despair among the believers.

Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless they were steadfast and immoveable in keeping the commandments of God and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them (Alma 1:25).

Charlene continues:

I’m not certain that Alma was thinking about weight loss and fitness when he wrote that, but I think of the persecution my head puts my body through when I want what I want and I want it now – without giving a second thought to the consequences. I think of the faith it takes to believe that after so many years of bad habits and poor choices I really can reach my goals and dreams of being in shape once again.

I know that this weight loss process is a tremendous trial, but I know that God has given us the Word of Wisdom by way of commandment, and if I stand steadfast and immovable, He will give me strength to succeed. It truly is amazing to me just how these beautiful scriptures apply to every aspect of my life. What a loving Father and Savior we have!

Charlene has discovered that the labor of exercising our mind to accept a change in habits of thought – and habits of food and activity choices – is a very joyful thing that produces harmony and health.

P.S. Charlene is a very active member at MyWeightLossTeam.com and is using a neat program at www.DietPower.com to help her stay focused. This program (there is a free trial) comes highly recommended by other Meridian readers as well. You can get a $5 discount by putting in the words CJ Paul when you order.

Thanks go to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Alma for scriptures and thoughts to help us labor towards health with love.

Today’s Empowerment: “I will go, I will do small things that bring great health.”

Today’s Journal Prompt/Discussion Starter:

1) Copy, recite and memorize the quote and scripture for today.

2) Name a time that you have made wise health choices. Describe the circumstances. What did you say to yourself to encourage the choice? Write it down.

3) Make a note of that particular experience and draw upon it the next time a healthy choice challenge arises.

Today’s Recipe:

Manadarin Orange Chicken Crock Pot Dinner
(Serves 4 at 240 Calories – without pasta or rice)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1 11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained (reserve 3 Tbsp. juice)
2 Tbsp. flour

Place chicken in slow cooker.

In a separate bowl combine onion, orange juice concentrate, poultry seasoning and salt.
Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 4-5 hours.

Remove chicken and keep warm. Reserve chicken juices.

In a saucepan, combine the 3 Tbsp. reserved mandarin orange juice and flour.

Stir until smooth. Slowly stir in chicken cooking juices. Bring to a boil. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Stir in mandarin oranges. Pour over chicken Sever over rice or pasta. (Add points/calories accordingly.)

(1 g fiber; 240 calories; 3.5 g fat; 25 g carb)