A Church Family who survived the Joplin, Missouri Tornado provides inspiration for healthy living.

Note  from author:  Today’s article was to have featured a returned missionary who healthfully lost 50 pounds while serving in California.  The before and after photos were not ready at the time of publication and this article will be provided soon.

“Oh, no,” I said to myself as I prepared to complete a customer’s large order for my online herbal products business, “This customer lives in Joplin, Missouri! I hope she’s OK!  I better contact her before shipping to make sure this will even get to her!”  I called several times that day.  The phone rang and rang and rang, but there was no answer.  I went to great lengths to get the phone number of the post office to determine if mail was getting through. There was no answer there, either.  I continued with phone calls to both locations for several days with no response. At last I sent a letter with a request for instructions.  I waited and grew more concerned for over a week when at last the phone rang and a very welcome voice said, “This is Becky Higginson, your customer in Joplin, Missouri.”

“I’m so glad to hear your voice! Are you OK!?” I asked with relief.  “Well,” the mother of five married daughters responded, “We lost everything.  But we’re alive!  Our beautiful home on seven wooded acres that we called ‘our paradise’ is gone.  What the tornado did not take, the rain – with no roof – destroyed.  All the trees are down.  We have moved in with a married daughter.  Other than our lives, the absolute and only thing left is our grand piano, a precious tender mercy as we are all musicians.  That it alone survived without a scratch is a miracle and sweet reminder that Heavenly Father is personally very aware of us.”

We talked about how fleeting earth life is and how our possessions, in the long run, matter very little when life itself is at stake.  “There’s a grieving, of course, for the loss of our home and the things that are gone,” she said.  “But we have what matters more than our grand piano:  our lives and our testimonies!

You can meet Becky Higginson, an herbalist,  and her husband, a professional builder who built chapels for the Church for many years in the Midwest at LDS.org: CLICK HERE

As we talked that morning, I had just finished reading the early chapters of Mosiah, where King Benjamin recounts his reign of kind service, not to boast but to tell his people that he can “answer a clear conscience before God this day.” (Mosiah 2:15)

Though I have never been in a tornado or other natural disaster where death is a very strong possibility, natural instinct provides two responses:  1) a desire to physically survive and 2)  like King Benjamin, a “clear conscience before God.”

Active members of the Church are blessed with many opportunities to examine and create a clear conscience  before God through many periodic interviews with Church leaders.  These interviews determine our personal worthiness to proceed with ordinances such as baptism and temple attendance.  Thankfully, as members of the church we also have the Word of Wisdom to guide how we care for our bodies.  When we honestly answer Word of Wisdom questions at these interviews, we reap great benefits since it is established that  non-smoking, non-alcohol drinking individuals are significantly healthier than the general population .

But beyond these basics of not smoking or drinking, will we meet our Heavenly Father, the creators of our bodies, with a clear conscience?  Will we be able to tell him that we cultivated a taste for His delicious, nutritious heaven-made treats of fruits and vegetables?  Did we find an enjoyable way to exercise?   Did we save enjoying celebration foods for celebration times– in the company of other people? Did we manage our weight and discipline, our carnal, physical appetite?

Science continues to document what Adam and Eve and all our early ancestors have always known and practiced: that the elements of a healthy life are found in the basics of  consuming primarily fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with limited servings of lean meats, very few refined sugars and carbs,  6-8 glasses of water and sufficient exercise.   The standard American diet (often referred to as the SAD) now includes a propensity towards overly-large portions of tasty processed and overly prepared foods and snacks.  The state of our health and the obesity epidemic document that the SAD is not healthy but as the acronym itself says, just plain sad.

Knowing these truths, are we are we taking personal action and exercising free agency to be GLAD about hour health?  Will we be able to greet our Heavenly Father with a clear conscience and a smile about how we cared for the precious gift of a mortal body?

As a little girl, I remember a very special Christmas gift:  My sister and I had been given darling little suitcases filled with baby doll clothes for our new Christmas dolls.  We loved them and played with them constantly!  As we went outside one morning after a rainy night, we found the little suitcases under a tree where we had been playing “house” the day before.  Of course they were ruined.  The look on my mother’s face when she saw them is one of the few unhappy memories I have of her from childhood.   We knew how disappointed she was that we had not been more responsible.

I had my own turn for feeling this disappointment as a mother when our nine-year old son’s Christmas bike, his pride and joy, was carelessly left unlocked outside the swimming pool one early summer day.  When he came out to ride it home, it was gone and was never found.  I found out for myself … as parents we want those lovely gifts taken care of!

Does our Heavenly Father feel the same about the gifts of our bodies he has so magnificentlly provided?

It’s food for thought, isn’t it?  Accounting to our Heavenly Father for how we have lived the higher laws of health and fitness beyond  not smoking and drinking?   Imagining his response to our answer and the state of our health?

As for me, I want to stand with the Higginson Family, the other saints in Joplin and King Benjamin  to say, “I can answer God with a clear conscience this day.”  Then I want to add with a smile, “Thank you for my body!  I took good care of it, too!”

As a closing personal thought,  P.S.  My dad;s birthday would have been today!  He died 20 years today ago of colon cancer on my Mom’s very birthday.  You may be interested in these important symptoms of colon illness.

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area.  Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available at Amazon.com  Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at  www.MyMiracleTea.com