As the deadline for submitting my last Meridian article (scheduled for June 2) came and went, I found myself technologically paralyzed andunable to send even the briefest e-mail or make the shortest phone call to contact Meridian with my completed document … all due to the lack of electricity from the freak storm that wrecked havoc where we live in the Washington, D.C. area on June 30.
What a wake-up call this experience was in countless ways!
We were relaxing at home late in the evening when suddenly the power flickered off-on-off-on—OFF! Immediately thunder boomed, lightning flashed and a hard rain that sounded like bullets commenced. We rushed to see through the front windows, then watched through flashes of lightning as maniacal windsripped off huge tree limbs and tossed them onto our neighbor’s car. It lasted for 20 minutes, perhaps a bit longer, and then just rained and rained. We were extremely grateful for candles and flashlights that were prepared and ready.
For the next two days one could not deny the frightening, ominous feeling that pervaded everything, as if we were all actors in some strange movie together. Great stretches of densely traveled, main roadway systems were without traffic lights. Huge shopping centers were closed for the entire weekend or longer. All the neighborhoods in our area were completely dark on Saturday night. There were no services in our chapel that Sunday.
Thankfully our power was on by Sunday afternoon. The $500 bill for damage to our own roof was miniscule compared to the losses of many of our neighbors, including the deaths of three people in neighborhoods so close to us that we drive through them each and every day. And of course, it could have been much, much worse, as the residents of Joplin, Missouri can easily report from their tornado last summer.
As strange weather, bizarre natural disasters like this along the fires in Colorado take the media’s center stage at this very early part of the summer, it leaves one humbly grateful for something more than the TV for important and life-saving information.
Sharing that thought was the beginning of a fascinating conversation with Meridian reader Melody Barber of Spanish Fork, Utah. She is a returned missionary, wife, mother of eight, home school teacher, blogger, Ward preparedness coordinator, and oh, by the way, has kept off 40 pounds for over 25 years with what she calls “the best weight loss and health plan ever …. The Word of Wisdom.”
Melody reached a healthy weight of 140 (she’s 5’ 6”) in her teenage years, growing up in Meridian, Idaho. “I was very athletic and busy, and just stayed at that weight, it seems. There wasn’t a problem.”
Her weight challenges began as a missionary in Argentina. “Our main meal of the day was provided by a woman of Italian descent, which is very common in South America. Each day she would prepare massive amounts of pasta with rich cream sauces for my companion and me. We had been told not to offend our hosts and those who helped us, so I just ate plate after plate – every day. Then there were the desserts! Cakes, treats and an amazing thing called dulce deleche, it is like really thick caramel. I wouldn't say it was a dessert but a sauce, and it was spread on everything.Often I was almost ill from so much food.
My companion was a tall, lean young woman who didn’t gain a pound. I, on the other hand, gained 40 pounds in the first four months and my clothes no longer fit. Through prayer, I realized I had to do what was right for me. I politely told our cook that I would eat only one plate of food and no dessert. Interestingly, she started serving fruit for dessert.
That helped, but even so, I returned home with that 40 pounds, and spent the next six months losing it. I turned to the Word of Wisdom for guidance, and learned at this young age how this inspired health plan works for me! It set the stage for years of fascinating study and a foundation for how I would raise my family.”
She married at a healthy 140 pounds. As she and her husband, began their family, they quickly added eight children in fourteen years: a girl (now 24 and married) followed by five boys, and then finished with a set of twin girls, now aged 10.
“Nearly 20years ago, when it was it became time for our oldest daughter to start kindergarten, it was just the right thing to do to homeschool. It wasn’t something I’d dreamed of or planned, or even now consider myself an expert in, but it was right for us, although some of the boys have chosen to attend high school at some point or another. It’s important for them to make choices as well.”
“It’s an interesting thing about homeschool families, I’ve observed that as a community, many of us home schoolersare much more inclined to 1) take healthy eating and living quite seriously and 2) become politically active. That has sure happened with us!”
At about the same time they started kindergarten with their oldest daughter, they decided to become vegetarians, i.e., follow a primarily plant-based diet.
“There are lots of variations on becoming vegetarian, but as I continued to study the Word of Wisdom and did more reading, it was just right for us. I did have some “token” meat available for my husband every now and then, as I had thought this was his preference, but I quickly learned that he was perfectly happy without it, just like rest of us.
How do they manage social eating?
“It’s been interesting! We know what we prefer to eat at home, and we also know that much of it is often in stark contrast to what our friends eat and what is served at almost every event, even at Church. Early on, I found myself becoming quite judgmental and critical. I knew this wasn’t right or good for anyone! Through prayer realized that I had to either stop attending these events, or to go and have a good time and be pleasant, without judging or being overly observant of what was being served or what others were eating. That’s provided a lot of peace.
“We encourage our kids to eat healthfully outside our home, but let them choose for themselves.
But honestly, the kids don't know any different, so they're fine with it. They do enjoy meat whenever we do have meat. Unless we're at someone else's house for holidays, we continue to eat like we do. We'll have turkey on Thanksgiving if it's at our house, and now with married children that might be something we'll start doing. We're not big into Jello and things like that, so the rest of the meal would be salads and other plant-based dishes.”
Even with this strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom philosophy and excellent habits in place, by January of 2012, Melody had slowly acquired extra 20 pounds from “too much time at a computer and not enough on my feet. I’m a snacker, and it had caught up to me! I was so uncomfortable with 20 extra pounds.