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Note From Carolyn: Our herbal detox, so helpful for a fresh start from overeating and over-relaxing in the summer is on sale through Wednesday, 09/06. Save 10% on all orders. Click HERE to learn more. The easy to use capsule form has become just as popular as the drink and this is a great chance to try it out.
Welcome, September! Today is Labor Day and marked as a U.S. Holiday dedicated to the workforce of the United States of America, the greatest country on earth. Ordained as the “Promised Land,” we Americans have had our troubles this summer. I for one gladly welcome turning the calendar page and to feel the nip in the early morning air.
Although we call it “Labor Day” referring to U.S. workers and honoring their right to fair labor laws that balance the needs for work, rest and safe working conditions, the word “labor” has many applications that are well worth spending a moment on this Labor Day.
First, a brief definition of the word itself: What does ‘labor’ mean?
1. Exertion of muscular strength or bodily exertion which occasions weariness, particularly, the exertion of the limbs in occupations by which subsistence is obtained, as in agriculture and manufactures, in distinction from exertions of strength in play or amusements, which are denominated exercise, rather than labor. (i.e., “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work – Exo 20”);
2. Intellectual exertion; application of the mind which occasions weariness; as the labor of compiling and writing a history;
3. Work done, or to be done; that which requires wearisome exertion;
4. Heroic achievement; as are Joseph Smith’s marvelous labors in establishing the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ; and
5. To be in travail; to suffer the pangs of childbirth, or the experience of childbirth. This definition reminds us of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s masterful message, “Behold Thy Mother.”
To be sure, there are many more definitions of the word “labor”. I think the principle and word “labor” deserve their own holiday since there is nothing more important in this life than honoring the privilege to work and to labor. In labor are the improvements necessary in mortal life to bring salvation for the next.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has a marvelous poem entitled “Psalm of Life” that I encourage you to read today. It’s a perfect welcome for September and the school year. It concludes with the verse:
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor — and to wait.
To labor AND to wait! To wait for what? The good things that labor (of the body, mind and heart) will ultimately bring! If not this life, then the next.
Another of my favorites for a fresh and purposeful start to the month and season is Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s masterful October 2010 General Conference address: “Reflections of a Consecrated Life.”
Elder Christofferson says: “A consecrated life is a life of labor. Beginning early in His life, Jesus was about His Father’s business (see Luke 2:48–49). God Himself is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and Eternal Life of His children (see Moses 1:39). We naturally desire to participate with Him in His work, and in so doing, we ought to recognize that all honest work is the work of God. In the words of Thomas Carlyle: “All true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but true hand-labour, there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven.”3
God has designed this mortal existence to require nearly constant exertion. I recall the Prophet Joseph Smith’s simple statement: “By continuous labor [we] were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance” (Joseph Smith—History 1:55). By work we sustain and enrich life. It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience. Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.”
At this particular time, America and the world watch as Houston’s citizens and volunteers from around the USA begin to assess the labors ahead of them. The magnitude of the damage received from Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking floods will require labors of months or even years. Photos and videos can never capture it all, as we experienced with our trip a year ago to Baton Rouge to be a part of Mormon Helping Hands in Louisiana one year ago. (You can read that article HERE )
The marvelous thing about these volunteer labors are, however, that there are many opportunities for Christ-like service and missionary work that would not have been possible otherwise. Lives, both those affected by the disaster and the volunteers, are touched in ways that would have been impossible otherwise.
The days we worked there were a physical labor, but watching those wonderful home owners coping with their losses was an emotional labor, requiring spiritual labor to patiently and faithfully accept that sometimes the Lord calms the storms and sometimes He calms our hearts as He, in his omniscience, sees fit.
There’s another kind of labor that encompasses many of the definitions of the word “labor. ” It is the “labor” required to achieve and maintain a healthy body.
Many years ago, shortly after Katrina, I wrote an article with ten questions to ask yourself about your personal preparation for a severe weather crisis, such as Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Harvey. I don’t remember all of them, but among those questions were:
1) Would your weight or state of health make it difficult to get into a boat?
2) Would your weight or state of health make it difficult to climb into an attic or tree?
3) Would your weight or state of health make it difficult for rescuers to assist you?
4) Would your weight or state of health leave you encouraging the rescuers to take others who were easier to assist?
With compassion, knowing that there is much that is outside of our control with age and health-related conditions, in our heart of hearts, we know what IS in control. And that is the number one labor for our minds and hearts as we get this new month and new season started. It’s especially true if your summer has been disjointed with holidays, crazy eating and you’ve anxiously been waiting for the end of the summer.
Good news! It’s here and time to get focused.
Here’s my personal inspiration for September; I don’t even know her name, but she’s my new hero.
Last night we attended a concert at a neighboring non-LDS church. Before the intermission, one of the featured singers mentioned that a special woman and musician who had inspired him in his youth was in attendance. He called out to her by name and asked her how old she was by now. To my surprise, she was sitting right in front of us! I’d been admiring her snappy outfit, cute haircut and earrings from sitting directly behind her all evening.
She stood up and called back to him, “I’ll be 89 in two weeks!” Amazing! Nearly 90 years old! The entire audience laughed and applauded in delight.
He then asked if she’d come up to play the piano and sing for everyone. Without a moment of hesitation, she reached into her purse for a small card. With no physical assistance, she rose from her chair, quickly walked to the stage and practically pranced up the two or three steps. Her body was straight and tall, filled with strength and energy. He asked if she was comfortable playing on an electronic keyboard to which she laughed and said, ‘Of course!” She waved the little card and said into the microphone, ‘At my age, sometimes the words come and sometimes they go …this way I won’t lose the chorus!”
She then sat down and performed like the pro she must have been in earlier years. It was a beautiful song about the Savior and His love. She threw her head back and sang from memory – and her heart. Her fingers danced and flew over the keyboard. Her voice was strong and pure. And loud. What a belter! It would have been a song and a performance to remember no matter her age, but especially as she is nearly 90!
She had obviously played and sung professionally and in churches most of her life. Clearly she is still joyfully sharing her talent and testimony whenever invited. It was incredible! After a standing ovation, she quickly took her seat. After being thanked once again, she stood up and called out …
“I just want you all to know that it’s never me that sings or plays. I’m just a vessel for whatever God wants me to do!”
As the concert ended, she was so near that I was able to speak to her! I mentioned how physically agile she was for her age and commented that it was no accident – to be so strong, straight, balanced and quick on her feet.
“Oh, my no!” She replied with a beautiful smile. “I work on my health and fitness constantly!”
She’s one I want to hang with at the gym. She’s the one I want to be like when I’m turning 90!!!
While we know, of course, that our bodies decline and they were not meant to last forever in this phase of the Plan of Salvation, there is ever so much we CAN DO to make the years easier, better, and happier not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones as well. The loved ones that we share our lives with and those that will care for us as we age are very important considerations. Don’t we want to be as helpful as little a burden as possible for them? It’s never too early or too late to get started with the perspective that our personal health is not quite as personal as it may seem.
With that thought in mind, isn’t the first of September an excellent time to renew your commitment to yourself, the Lord and your family that you’re willing to LABOR for your good health? Isn’t the first of September an excellent time to commit to the peace and fun that being as healthy as possible brings?
With that thought, I encourage us all once again, to go visit Jane Birch’s marvelous website: www.DiscoveringtheWordofWisdom.com.
Those testimonials of what plant-based whole-food eating can do for you inspire me every time to focus and eat better With the weather cooling down, get going on an exercise plan that’s fun and rewarding. Make a date with some friends to get out and socialize. Turn off the computer and go enjoy the sunset. Make it a labor of love for your overall health of body, mind and spirit to be a true priority.
Why? For life is quick in passing, ‘tis as a single day.
Welcome, September and the personal labors that bring love, joy and health.
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE