The end of August means both the end of the summer and the beginning of a new school year. It also marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina ? the end of many things for many people and the beginning of a new and different life for countless residents from that region.

Believe it or not, a natural catastrophe such as Katrina or the earthquake in Peru last week can mark the end of an unhealthy weight and the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle as we learn to step back for a bigger picture of how daily health choices evolve into invaluable resources for emergency preparedness, peace and service.

Today’s Scripture: Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day, nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (John 16:20).

What were you doing two years ago as Katrina hit? As the impact and stories from Katrina developed, those of us who watched on TV were all confused and heartbroken about how things like this could possibly happen to people we know and places where we live and visit. The earthquake in Peru last week, and other natural disasters and tragedies, leave the same heartache and sadness.

Surely, these are signs of the times that mark the last days. Though we can discuss them theoretically and philosophically from a safe distance in Gospel Doctrine classes on Sunday, the realities of shattered homes, lives, cities and communities are hardly scriptural theories for those who are living in these areas.

Even as the five foolish virgins were left behind because they had not prepared and filled their lamps (the parable that goes with today’s scripture), Katrina and other natural disasters serve as priceless, lifesaving warnings and extremely easy motivation for healthy living and increased commitment persistence to lifestyle changes.

virginsThe Wise and Foolish Virgins, by Peter von Cornelius (1783-1867)

Consider 9/11 and the tsunami on December 26, 2004. Who would have known a week, a day or even hours before that these trials and tragedies were a breath away and that countless lives would change so drastically and dramatically in a matter of a few hours and days?

Where is there proof that someday it won’t be our personal turn to escape from extreme danger in the form of a flood, fire, or accident in the matter of moments or a few hours or days?

Although nutrition and exercise hardly seem to be the right topic in light of these devastating events, some questions are.

OK! Be brave! Here Goes! Ask yourself now:

In the event of an emergency, would my weight have an impact on how the rescue work proceeded? (This does not include health conditions outside of your control.)

  1. Would I be strong enough to walk up stairs and/or lift myself out of a burning car, into an attic, tree or high place for safety?
  2. If I were to have to spend several days in a sports stadium, would I fit in the chairs?
  3. Would I be embarrassed at a rescue attempt if someone had to lift me? Or use a swing or hoist? What if I had to jump?
  4. Would I be able to walk fast enough to not hold up people behind me?
  5. How would I do in a little boat or crowded ambulance at this weight?
  6. Would my extra weight hinder emergency surgery if I were to be injured by debris or a fall?
  7. Would I slow down my family’s escape from danger?
  8. Would I risk someone else’s life who wanted to stay with me if I could not be rescued?
  9. If pinned somewhere, would my weight make it difficult to release me?
  10. Would I be relieved if I had achieved a healthy weight before an accident or tragedy occurred?

Now there’s some food for thought. The vital, gospel goal of serving those around us in times of disaster because we’re physically, mentally and emotionally strong enough to do so (all natural blessings of achieving a healthy weight) is of equal importance.

Though the actuality of these calamities may be uncertain: what is certain is this fact: If such a time should come, we will be glad we have chosen salad over Doritos, apples over cookies, and exercising over watching TV. In a very direct way, not only our own lives, but the lives of those we love, may depend on it!

Back to the five virgins: I’m quite sure they were too sweet and righteous to be selfish. In my mind there is no doubt of their desire to share their oil. This precious oil and light, however, symbolizes personal preparation, something that can never be given away. When the time comes that it is needed, it is too late to start anything ? especially a healthy lifestyle.

Enough of the heavy stuff! Go find some summer tomatoes, peaches or any of the other fruits in abundance that August also brings, and have a great week! Think of President Kimball and “Just do it !” Next week brings another health lesson from Katrina.

Today’s Empowerment: ” I do not dwell on future tragedy or misfortune. Nevertheless, I am preparing for all emergencies by making a healthy weight a healthy priority today.”

Today’s Discussion/Journal Prompts: Use the list of 10 questions above.

Today’s Recipe: Toasty Tomato Sandwiches. My husband’s bumper crop of tomatoes means we can have these delicious, filling sandwiches every day in August!

1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 medium tomato, sliced
Dash of Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Spread cottage cheese on bread.  Top with sliced tomato. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Place on a sheet of foil and broil for 3-4 minutes.  Eat with a knife and fork.  Heaven!

(3.5 g Dietary Fiber; 190 Calories; 3 g Fat; 27 g Carbs.)