Helen Luksan of the Burien Ward, Seattle Washington Stake is down a glorious 34.5 pounds since joining MyWeightLossTeam through the Meridian link in April. New teams are forming now for September! It’s a great way to stay focused with any eating plan. MyWeightLossTeam is LDS owned and operated. Click HERE to register for your free 30 day trial. Helen’s delicious salsa (printed below) is our recipe for today.

Last week’s article (centered around the Katrina experience two years ago) was written shortly after the August 17, 2007 earthquake in Peru, just as Hurricane Dean was building up steam. During the same week In Hawaii, a triple-header was in play with Hurricane Gertie, a 5.4 earthquake and a tsunami warning. (If you didn’t have a chance, go read Susan Law Corpany’s entertaining article “Taking Stock” in the “A Beacon of Light” column posted in last week’s Meridian.)

Is there any doubt that calamites abound? And that we have been counseled to be prepared and ready to take action before, during and after natural disasters? What if that natural disaster is your own health condition that leaves you weakened for any of life’s unexpected emergencies?

Today’s Scripture: When saw we thee an-hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” (Matt: 25;37-38)

It’s always fascinating to see how the world rises to the occasion after a disaster. After Katrina, one of my favorite news stories featured New Orleans evacuees from the Deep South being moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.

It was neat to see friendly Mormon ladies wearing Mardi Gras beads serving up big bowls of jambalaya and shrimp gumbo as a way of saying “You’re welcome here! We’re glad to have you! What can we do to help you get on your feet? What are your needs right now?”

Equally heartwarming was the response of the evacuees being interviewed: “Although I feel like a fly in a bowl of milk, (meaning there are far fewer African Americans in Salt Lake City than in New Orleans) they genuinely want to help. I’ve already had a job interview and I think it’s going to be OK,” said one grateful man.

After a disaster, it’s a lift to hear of things starting to move forward. There’s peace when we’ve done what we can do for the time being.

In a funny kind of way, I don’t think it will be out of line as we strengthen ourselves by gaining health and fitness to apply this scripture in a new way and “liken” it unto ourselves. Does not “natural disaster” define being overweight and at risk for a host of health problems when we overeat and do not exercise?

With the same love, desire and effort you’d extend if given the opportunity to bless the life of a New Orleans evacuee or earthquake/hurricane victim, offer a little prayer now that today’s questions will be a meaningful spiritual exercise. Place them in framework that there is no greater, genuine need than your own personal health and fitness to bless your life and those who are dear to you as a means of personal preparedness.

Here goes:

Step outside yourself, and as wise leaders do (whether international heads of relief, or a Ward Council) get the “big picture” to assess the most obvious needs for this very special, needful person and child of God – you ! Through their eyes view this wonderful stranger who very much needs support for her journey to independence and health.

Go down the list to get your assessment started:

  1. Do his/her spiritual and emotional needs come before her physical needs? If so, let’s focus on strengthening those first.
  2. Is she/he getting enough unconditional approval? Is she getting enough credit for what she’s been through, her goals and the darling person she is with or without weight loss progress?
  3. Is he/she hungry? What for? Does she need something new and interesting to eat to keep her interested and feeling important? A balanced diet plays a big role in dealing with emotions.
  4. What’s he/she thirsty for? More water? Or some new activity to divert thoughts and activity? Is there a gym that’s offering a trial membership that we could sign her up for?
  5. How’s his/her schedule? Would delegating some duties provide some badly needed freedom?
  6. Yes, he/she’s clothed, but does he/she need some new attractive things that fit? Casual clothes? Pants? Tops? Would that give her a lift and a boost to help her stay on her journey?How about a manicure or pedicure? Little things mean a lot.
  7. Does he/she need a trip to the doctor to make sure everything is OK?

As we have talked of before, on Matthew 5:43, the Savior commands us to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves…” With that thought, we go back to that conclusion, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” So, if you think about it, it’s a circle of love. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish – it’s a small gift of respect and affection to Him, who created us and wants us to love Him, each other – and ourselves.

A strange thought, perhaps – but no stranger than the practice of strangers reaching out with love to change lives and make a lifetime difference.

God bless the loving stranger. I have a feeling stranger would often give us a lot more credit for our lives than we give ourselves. Let’s give ourselves a hug and be brave enough to see ourselves through the eyes of someone new and impartial.

I think we’ll be surprised and pleased.

samaritanVincent Van Gogh’s interpretation of the story of the Good Samaritan reminds us to care for the strangers in our midst – even if the “strangers” are ourselves.

Today’s Empowerment: “I step out of myself regularly to observe the big picture of my accomplishments and needs. It is not selfish to seek for health and fitness, but a gift of love that improves my physical strength, spirit and ability to serve.”

Today’s Journal Prompt/Discussion Starters:

Use the list of questions above to get the ball rolling.

Today’s Recipe: Fresh Tomato Salsa

A lively discussion on the MyWeightLossTeam message boards on “How do you use summer tomatoes?” prompted Helen to provide this recipe. It is from the book, Looneyspoons (Low fat food made fun!) by Janet & Greta Podlesk.

Helen says: “It is an easy one and so many people love salsa but don’t know how to make it. One of the things I do is to cut everything by hand.  That way the tomatoes and other veggies don’t get bruised.  It is also a good idea to just make the amount that you are going to eat that day. Otherwise, it gets watery and will not be as fresh tasting.”

Helen’s favorite quote to keep her going is a good one: “Small steps and great strides both propel you forward.

2 cups diced tomatoes
3/4 cup diced onions
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.Mix well. Allow to stand for 30 minutes for flavors to develop.

Great over veggies, salad, beans, or lean meat.

(2 tablespoons: 9 Calories, 0.1 g fat, 2g carbohydrate, 0.2 g protein, 18 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol )