Time to Take Care of YOU

One might assume that because the United States spends more on health care than any other nation ($4,500 per person in 2000) Americans should also be the healthiest folks on the planet. Unfortunately, according to the UC Atlas of Global Inequality, that is far from the truth. In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. ranks 27th (77 years). An even more alarming trend is a 30-year pattern of decreased life expectancy, a high infant mortality rate, and the reality that U.S. youth have the “highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and deaths from car crashes” among 17 developed countries studied in a recent report produced by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

An article by Sabrina Tavernise in the January 9, 2013 edition of The New York Times summarized the report’s distrubing findings. Particularly troubling are the findings that Americans under 50 had a higher mortality rate from gun-related homicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and car accidents than any of their counterparts in the other countries studied. We also posted the second highest rate of death from heart disease and lung disease.

Despite our many strengths as a nation, the United States also has the highest rate of poverty among the 17 developed nations in the study, limited  primary care resources in a fragmented healthcare system, and a high percentage of uninsured citizens. Cuba, despite its many economic challenges and limited resources, has made healthcare a priority. The country has a universal healthcare system and one of the world’s highest doctor-to-patient ratios. The average per person healthcare expenditure in Cuba is a mere $186 or about 1/25 of per person spending in the United States. Cuba comes in just behind the United States at 28th in terms of life expectancy (76.9 years compared to the U.S.’s 77 years). Go figure.

The bottom line is that YOU are responsible for your health. No one is going to force you to be healthy or to make good choices. Some health issues bear no relation to lifestyle, but most of the truly pressing health issues in the United States are indeed related to lifestyle, income, and education. The playing field is not a level one, but we make it even less level through choice and public policy.

Controversial filmmaker and best-selling author Michael Moore made the simple choice to start walking 30 minutes each day. As Moore notes, it’s free and it feels good. Don’t stop there! You can bypass the cigarettes and save money. You can cut out the sodas and drink water or green tea. You can brew your own coffee at home and moderate your alcohol intake. You can prepare simple, fresh foods and cut out the highly-processed junk. If you don’t know how to cook, you can learn.

No one is asking you to make a 180 degree change in how you live overnight–although if that’s how you work, go for it! Try to change one thing and see where it goes. Don’t go out and get an expensive gym membership; take that walk around the neighborhood. If you hate going outside, turn on a music channel and dance like a fool where no one can see you. Instead of driving eight blocks to the post office, walk there. Plant a garden. Get enough sleep. Drink enough water. Play ball with your kids. Walk through your neighborhood and get to know folks. Just do something.

Don’t wait for a better or more convenient day. Get started right now. It’s time to take care of YOU because YOU are worth it!

Photo by Green_Mamba. Thanks!

Squeaky Clean

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap… — Malachi 3:2

Read:  Malachi 3:1-4

Ponder:

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” ― Martin Luther

Reflect:

I don’t know about you, but I like things squeaky clean. Unfortunately, with a busy life, children, and pets, my home is rarely squeaky clean. I’d like to think my spiritual life would past the proverbial “white glove” test, but I know that is not the case. I will never be perfect in this life, and I can never be “good enough” for God. Without grace and mercy I am nothing. Thankfully, by grace I am a work in progress. I am being scrubbed clean–purified and sanctified–in the discipleship process. Like Martin Luther wisely said, we grow, are healed, and are becoming what God intends for us to be.

The process is not always easy or smooth. Pain is often part of growth. We may find ourselves burned, stripped bare of all pretense and illusion, of everything to which we aspire or think we ought to be. God has a way of scrubbing us right down to our bare humanity, sanding our rough edges and cleaning away old coats of unnecessary fluff and nonsense.

When the going gets tough, just remember that you are a work in process–a work dearly loved by your Creator. You are precious. You have purpose (even if you haven’t discovered it yet). And you have been bought with a great price. Squeaky clean? Nah. Getting there? You betcha!

Thanks-Living:

Clean something. It can be dishes, clothes, your kitchen, the floors, the bathroom. Find something to clean and do it mindfully. Watch as the grime and dirt wash away. Use natural substances if possible like lemon, mineral oil, salt, vinegar, and baking soda. Take delight in making something sparkling and fresh. Imagine…this must be at least a tiny bit akin to how God feels as we are being made new and being purified.

Photo by internetsense. Thanks!

New Clothes

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.  — Baruch 5:1-3

Read: Baruch 5:1-9

Ponder:

“Even today, Christians give God glory primarily through acts of justice and mercy. Witness is only commentary on these acts. In the season of waiting, let us not forget the less fortunate. Let us act with justice and mercy.” — Larry Broding

Reflect:

But I’m just one person! What can I possibly do? But we’re such a small congregation. We have no resources. Our members are aging. We’re just trying to keep the lights on. What can we do? Our denomination is losing members hand over foot. Budgets are shrinking. What kind of difference can we make when we can’t even agree on simple things?

Ever heard anything like this? So has God. In the words from the prophetic writings of Baruch, a disciples of Jeremiah and the traditional author of the deutero-canonical book that bears his name, we learn that God will restore the beleaguered nation of Israel from captivity to righteousness.

This reading ends the book with hope and promise. If Israel will return to the LORD, to right worship, to acts of mercy and justice that give glory to God, then Israel will remain in right relationship to the LORD.

The next time you feel yourself weighed down with woe and smothered by sorrow, when your worshiping community feels ill-equipped and small in the face of the world’s needs, remember this reading. Put on the fresh clothes of God’s righteousness and live into a new reality that is the reign of God. Justice and mercy are lived out in small acts as well as large ones. There is work for all of us to do, and a place for all God’s children at the table. No one is too small, too insignificant, too young, too old, too rich, too poor, or too anything to help usher in the reign of God. Remember that God chose a seemingly insignificant lowly teenager to bear Christ into the world. Surely God can use us, too!

Thanks-Living:

What one small act of mercy or justice can you do this very day? How can you help spread the good news of the coming of Jesus in your own little corner of the world? It could be as small as a smile and a hug or as grand as buying a goat or a water buffalo for a family half way round the world that you will never meet. It might be writing a letter to your elected official or praying for world peace. Small acts add up!

Blessings on your Sabbath day.

Photos by Pharma Mike and juditK. Thanks!

 

Seven Shades of Gratitude

The week is ending with a quiet, crisp sunset and a chill in the air. Tomorrow a new week will begin, a week filled with promise and possibility. I leave you this evening with seven shades of gratitude for this past week of thanks-living.

1.  I am grateful for our house. We don’t own our home; we live in a parsonage provided by my spouse’s congregation. It’s part of his compensation package, and we both feel grateful to live in this commodious turn of the 20th century brick home. It is more than ample for our needs, full of character, and set amidst a lovely landscape of Pennsylvania orchards dotting the rolling hills.

2.  I am grateful for heat. My writing desk sits next to the radiator, and I find its gurgling and occasional clanging to be a comforting sound and a reminder of the gift of heat. Heat is something I all too often take for granted until the power goes out and we find ourselves suddenly without it.

3.  I am grateful for hot green ginger honey tea. A pot is sitting beside me now. It warms and soothes my throat, helping to reduce the residual soreness from this week’s surgery. A cup of hot tea or coffee cupped between one’s hands is a simple pleasure not to be taken for granted.

4.  I am grateful for Skype. Skype allows me to converse with my daughter at college and my mother in Tennessee. It allows me to be a good steward of resources and and attend meetings at the congregation I serve without leaving home and burning fossil fuel. Skype dates were one of the ways my spouse and I kept connected when we were dating and lived so far apart. Yes, I am thankful for the gifts of technology.

5.  Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I am thankful for freedom. I am grateful to live in a country that guarantees me certain rights freedoms and also holds me accountable for the responsibilities of citizenship. I am grateful for the many men and women who have served in our country, including my father who served in World War II. Thank you all!

6.  I am grateful for music. I enjoy a variety of musical styles and genres ranging from jazz to folk to bluegrass to classical and a whole bunch more in between. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to, sing, or play some kind of music.

7.  I am grateful for books to read. Since I’ve been home this week I’ve been turning the pages of several books–a biography, a diary, poetry, and fiction. While I appreciate the NOOK my daughter gave me, I also love to turn the pages of library books and wonder about their journeys. Right now, for example, I’m reading Jon Krakauer’s fine book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. A previous borrower must have had this book at the beach because grains of sand are caught between the cover and its cellophane protector. I wonder which beach?

So many things for which to be grateful and so many shades of gratitude to share and experience are available to each one of us every day. What shades of gratitude have colored your day and week?

Nota Bene: Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing one of the books I read this week, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen. Drop in; I think you’ll enjoy hearing about it so much that you’ll want your own copy to read! If you just can’t wait, you can check it out on Facebook. Click here.

Photos by k4dordy and RichardBH. Thanks!

In Praise of Soup

Nothing for me heralds the transition from autumn to winter like soup on the supper table. A good soup is warming, filling, and frugal. A pot can be whipped up using cans relatively quickly, can simmer all afternoon, or  can simmer in a slow cooker from morning ’til night. The aromatic scent of spices fills the house and beckons all to pull up chairs to the table. Add salad and bread, and the repast becomes a feast.

Guess what we had for supper tonight? If you guessed soup, you’re invited over for an amazing bowl of curried sweet potato and lentil soup, along with a spinach, apple, walnut, and cranberry salad. My spouse’s homemade whole wheat and white bread rounded out the menu. And if you live too far away for leftovers, click here for the recipe we used.

As a busy clergy/writer couple, we look forward to slow cooker soup meals at the end of busy days. We use lots of beans, brown rice, fresh vegetables, and ethnic spices. Because we use fresh seasonal ingredients and try to buy our legumes in bulk, most recipes are quite frugal. We keep stock and leftovers in the freezer to add to soups, decreasing food waste. Another benefit of soup is that many recipes can be easily and quickly expanded if a need exists for a few extra bowls.

Last night, for example, we enjoyed a big kettle of “loaded potato” soup (minus the bacon bits). The recipe is simple: combine a sauteed onion and crushed garlic to taste, a five pound bag of russet potatoes chopped, flavor with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add enough veggie stock to just cover the potatoes. Once they’re soft, add chives, up to two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream). We use a potato masher and and enough skim milk to reach a consistency that’s thick, creamy, but still sporting potato chunks. Yum.

Other favorites are tomato, butternut squash, vegetable, black bean, split pea, and vegetarian bean chili. We’re always open to try new recipes, and this time of year we eat soup, salads, and sandwich combinations several times a week.

I am thankful for good food, especially for the food we are able to purchase from local farmers and markets, and share with generous friends who garden. I am also grateful for the warming and comforting properties of soup suppers when the temperatures drop and nights become longer.

A meal doesn’t have to be time-consuming and expensive to be good for you, tasty, frugal, and local. Soup makes a fine option for entertaining because it’s easier on the cook. Try putting together a couple of soup options, a few loaves of bread, and a hearty green salad the next time you host guests. Better yet, make it a “crock-luck” soup party and let everyone contribute something for the table.

What are your favorite soups? Feel free to share a recipe!

Photos by erin.kkr, jeffryw, and Qfamily. Thanks!

No Place Like Home

How wonderful one’s own bed can feel! Not that the hospital bed was uncomfortable–I actually slept pretty well all things considered, and all the caregivers were excellent. Still, it was good to get home this afternoon.  It was relaxing and fun to sit at the dinner table with my family, although I had a tough time not laughing and straining my neck.

Yes, the blessings of a soft bed with fluffy pillows, potato, chive,and sharp cheddar soup with homemade breads, and being with the ones I love are not to be taken for granted. Fresh coffee, a refrigerator and pantry full of good, healthy food, and plenty of heat and light are blessings indeed. Oh, and I’m quite sure a hot shower will be counted among my blessings when I can finally take one! Have to let that surgical wound heal a bit more, you know.

It’s amazing to me how easy it is to take the basics for granted, at least this thought crossed my morphine-muddled mind several times yesterday.  Simply shuffling across the room while “dancing” with the caddy that held my IV bag or attempting to eat the delicious crab cake on my dinner tray despite a raw throat provided opportunities to reflect on the ordinary blessings of walking and chewing. Even something as simple as blowing in the respiratory therapy device brought to mind that every breath is a gift of God.

My situation is miniscule compared to those being faced by so many other folks right now. I think of people who are facing life-threatening illnesses, devastation from Superstorm Sandy, or economic calamity. Boy howdy, I am lucky. Even if I get a not-so-nice report on the nodule biopsy, I’ll still count myself in pretty good shape because I have access to good healthcare, a loving family, and a broad network of support. Most of all, I have faith in a loving and generous Creator who proclaimed everything good and desires good for all of us.

One final blessing I’ll share with you is Nurse Andi. She was an awesome nurse–patient, kind, efficient. I kept thinking she looked familiar but couldn’t quite place her face with a context. Today, on the ride home, I remembered. She was a student in one of my freshman English classes at the local community college several years ago. How cool to see that a good student has turned into a most capable healthcare professional.  That one small connection was a true blessing. You never know when something in your life will come full circle.

Off to follow Dr. McKee’s orders–rest, rest, and more rest! And blessings abound.

So how about you, friend? What about your home has been a blessing to you today? What have you taken for granted? What can you do to be a blessing to someone else right now?

Photos by sblezard and Valerie Everett.

Thankful for Medical Care & Freedom to Vote

I’ll keep this entry short and sweet because in less than three hours I’ll be in the process of being prepped for surgery. I am thankful for a good primary care physician who determined I should have an ultrasound on my thyroid and follow-up with a surgeon. I’m thankful for the skill and care with which my surgeon handled the biopsy and recommendations to remove my right thyroid lobe and the suspicious nodule. As a cancer survivor, I believe in being proactive and taking preventative measures if necessary.

Hopefully, all will be well, the nodule will turn out to be a mere annoyance, and the surgery won’t transform me from a mezzo to an alto. Seriously, I am truly grateful to have access to good healthcare and good insurance.

I am also so thankful to Wanda and Bonnie, the surgical schedulers who were able to move my procedure back so that I can vote first thing before coming in to the hospital. I would have been devastated had I not been able to vote because I’ve never missed a presidential election since coming of age. If you’re in the United States, I hope you plan to vote today, too!

I have to stay overnight for observation, but I hope to be back tapping away on my keyboard on Wednesday night. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to be thankful for when I get back home!

Prayers and good, healing thoughts are appreciated. And please, please give thanks for your health, for healthcare providers, and for insurance if you are fortunate enough to have it. Peace and blessing!

Photo by Lucid Nightmare. Thanks!

Chow, Chow, Chow*

*or, the fine art of maximizing excess produce and living frugally but well

Spatchy Cat checks out the Chow-Chow

Unless you live somewhere in or around Appalachia, Pennsylvania, or various Southern states (or have roots in these areas), chances are you think of Chow Chow as a dog breed of Chinese extraction rather than a delicious relish to slather on pinto beans or hot dogs.

Growing up in the foothills of Appalachia, Chow-Chow was a regular condiment on our family’s table. Mammaw Nannie, my paternal grandmother, used to give us a few jars every year, and my father prized it about as highly as he did banana pudding and my mother’s meatloaf. As a child, I was ambivalent about the brightly colored pickled concoction. But it grew on me the older I got, sort of like a taste for coffee grows on a person, and by the time my Mammaw passed on, it had become one of my favorites, too.

Mammaw Nannie shelling beans for canning.

For most of my adult life, I’ve resorted to local or regionally produced varieties, an occasional purchase of a homemade batch sold at craft fairs and festivals, or (gulp) none at all. In fact, I’d gotten to the point that I didn’t really think about it–until my spouse and I started gardening again.

This year we had an over-abundance of green tomatoes, and as the first frost loomed ever closer, I started looking for ways to use the excess produce rather than letting it go to waste. (After all, one can only consume so many fried green tomatoes.) I posted a question to The Compact looking for Chow-Chow recipes and got a few responses and ideas, but nothing seemed to match exactly what I remembered from childhood.

My resourceful cousin Bev was able to figure out the basic process and ingredients from conversation with her mom and our aunt. Between that and a vintage cookbook my mother had given her for a wedding present, we came up with a workable recipe for “Green Tomato Relish.”

My spouse and I harvested the remaining tomatoes, and chopped them along with onions, red and green peppers. We cooked them down with a brew of vinegar, sugar, and spices, and water-processed 10 pints and three 1.5 pint jars. We even saved the excess seasoned vinegar for salad dressing and cooking.

Tomorrow we’ll open the first jar to serve with pintos, turnip greens, and cornbread–a Southern Appalachian feast.  Better yet, we have plenty to share and made the best possible use out of virtually all the tomatoes in our garden. Mammaw Nannie and so many others of her generation knew how to stretch a dollar, feed a family, and make the most of everything–including each and every day of life. Thanks, Mammaw, for continuing to teach me how to live well and be a good steward of God’s many gifts!

What ideas do you have for making the most of your garden produce to live frugally but well?

Mom’s Green Tomato Relish (aka Chow-Chow)

1 gallon ground green tomatoes

6 green peppers

6 red peppers

4 stalks celery

2 T. salt

1 T mustard seed (white)

1 T celery seed

Onions to taste (optional, but I use four or five)

Grind (or mince) tomatoes. Put hot water over them. Drain and rinse in cold water. Boil three pints vinegar and three cups sugar along with the salt, mustard seed, and celery seed for 5-10 minutes. Add drained vegetables and simmer to consistency desired. Pack Chow-Chow into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Note: I processed them in a water bath for 15 minutes.

When I shared this story and recipe with the journaling and scrapbooking group at Trinity Lutheran Church, Sally B. brought me a photocopy of a couple of recipes from an old family cookbook (handwritten). Here they are:

Chow Chow

1 peck tomatoes, green-ground

6 cup ground cabbage

6 onions

6 sweet peppers ground

6 stalks celery

1/2 cup salt

Boil 20 minutes, strain, add vinegar enough to cover it well.

4 lbs sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tablespoons cloves

a little mustard

boil 15 to 20 minutes, makes 7 1/2 qts.

Pepper Hash

24 peppers

16 onions

1 qt vinegar

3 cups sugar

2 ts celery seed

2 ts salt

Grind pepper and onions, scald with salted water 32 times, drain, add vinegar, sugar, and celery seed. Let boil 15 minutes and seal.

Sally also brought me a copy of a traditional Pennsylvania version of Chow-Chow that uses a wider variety of vegetables and makes about 12 pints.

1 pt green string beans

1 pt yellow string beans

1 pt sliced celery

1 pt kidney beans

1 pt yellow corn

1 pt carrots sliced

1 pt lima beans

1 pt Navy beans

1 pt cauliflower

1 pt small pickles

6 chopped red peppers

2 small onions chopped

Note: Anything that isn’t precooked…do it, but not until it’s mushy. Whenever possible I use frozen vegetables @ room temperature, or canned beans because they are already precooked.

Drain and rinse all vegetables. Make a syrup of:

1 1/2 pound sugar

1 tsp. mustard seed

1 tsp. celery seed

1 qt. white vinegar

1 qt. water

1 TBSP pickling spice in a cloth bag…..bring to a boil….remove spice bag….add vegetables to liquid….bring to a boil again and then pack in jars & seal.

Photos by sblezard and davidpbaxter.

Thankful for Access to Healthcare

Me before first chemo session. I shaved my head and donated the hair to Locks of Love rather than watch it fall out. I figured someone ought to have use of it!

Several events of this week have made me aware of just how thankful I am to have access to healthcare. I am extremely fortunate. My spouse and I serve as pastors to congregations that are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). One of the biggest expenses in the benefits category to our congregations is our family healthcare policy–and it is a wonderful policy. Our denomination also places a strong emphasis on wellness and preventative medicine, offering us both incentives and resources to attend to our health as an act of stewardship and faithful discipleship.

One of the reasons I am so thankful to have insurance is because I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in June of 2004, and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation between late summer and Easter 2005. The diagnosis came just one week after my girls and I had moved to Rushville, New York, to begin internship. What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a formative experience and a lesson in blessings, the goodness of God, and the importance of community.

My internship supervisor, the congregations of St. John and St. Paul Lutheran, the UMC in Rushville (in whose parsonage we lived), my extended family, dear friends and neighbors, seminary professors and staff, and an amazing team of physicians, technicians, and caregivers surrounded me with more love, prayers, and care than I could have ever imagined. I would never wish a cancer journey on anyone else, but I can say that the blessings and gifts in the experience far outweighed the difficulties.

Here’s the important thing about my experience. Had it not been for a free mammogram and basic student health insurance, I might have waited too long due to financial insecurity and the rigors of grad school and single parenting. My cancer was aggressive and moved extremely quickly, breaking out of the breast into my lymph system. St. John and St. Paul worked together and threw a chicken barbeque benefit with help from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans that raised enough money to keep us from bankruptcy, and the hospital and cancer center helped me find a study, subsidies, and grant funds to help offset what student insurance would not cover. Even so, I am still paying down student loans that were necessary to take, especially considering the cancer slowed my graduation by an extra year. Still, I maintain that I am one of the lucky ones. I am alive and healthy. Every day is a gift.

Because of the cancer, however, other insurance would have been difficult to get. I was able to move directly from student insurance to ELCA insurance, but when I went on leave from call to assist my parents in 2009, I was not able to find insurance that I could afford, so I had to stay on the ELCA plan and pay the premiums out of pocket. I was lucky to have that option, but the year and a half I was on leave was financially devastating–even though I worked three jobs (a contract family and youth ministry position at my home congregation, adjunct teaching at two colleges, and freelance writing). It was a tough time, but again, the gifts of being able to be close to my parents outweighed the sadness of leaving a call, a community, and friends I loved and the tenuous financial situation of living hand to mouth.

I’ve been reminded of the gift of healthcare this week as I’ve seen and heard about others struggling with serious health issues. Two family members were hospitalized. Both have insurance, thanks to Medicare. Were it not for insurance, all of these folks would be in horrible situations.

My own 24-year-old daughter would not have affordable healthcare were she not able to remain on our family policy (thank you, President Obama). She currently works for a non-profit ministry as a mental health worker, and they offer no group coverage, only a minimal plan brokered through a local insurance agent that has a high deductible and minimal benefits. This was a shock to her after returning from working in Korea as a teacher–where national healthcare is good and provided at a minimal cost.

Today I read Nicholas Kristof’s essay in the New York Times about his friend, Scott, who is without healthcare–a Harvard educated, intelligent, thoughtful man, who simply took a chance on not purchasing a private plan and ended up with stage four cancer. Click here, please, to read the story for yourself. It reminded me again why I am grateful to have health insurance and ready access to fine healthcare.

June 6, 2010–Six years a cancer survivor and just married, with daughter the younger, my mother, and Mr. Husband. Daughter the elder attended the wedding via Skype. Every day is a gift!

If you do not have insurance, please look into how you might get some; don’t play roulette with your life. If you cannot afford it, pursue every avenue to find subsidized insurance. We can all inform ourselves about the issue, seeking facts behind the polarizing rhetoric, and write to our elected officials urging them to continue to pursue a way to provide care for all citizens. Finally, if you do have insurance, be sure to give thanks for it. It could save both your physical and financial health some day.

P.S.: To all the many people who walked with me through the wilderness of cancer, thank you again. You will always be held close in my heart, and I am grateful for each and every one of you.

A Simple Step Toward Good Health

If you have good health, give thanks! If your health is compromised, don’t despair. Give thanks that you can likely do something to improve it. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, you don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t even need to join a fitness club.

Dr. Mike Evans believes there is a simple and inexpensive answer to vastly improving health and well-being. Check out his animated health lesson that challenges all of us to give just 30 minutes a day to the one thing that can do the most for our health. The answer is simple: GET MOVING! Just 30 minutes of walking a day–or some similar physical activity–can make a big difference in your overall physical and emotional health, your longevity, and your pocketbook.

Are you willing to trade 30 minutes a day to live longer, have a more positive outlook on life, and avoid chronic health problems such as obesity, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, and high cholesterol? Look at it this way. Becoming a better steward of your time, talent, and resources begins with taking good care of your body. After all, it’s hard to help others if you aren’t willing to help yourself.

And if you think you’re too old, or too unhealthy, or too busy, well think again. My 84-year-old mother walks almost every day. My cousin’s spouse was extremely overweight, and he started walking, then running, and finally competing in triathlons. He’s lost the excess weight, added years to his life expectancy, and looks fit and healthy. You can do it, too.

If you need a little faith nudge, remember what Paul said about our bodies in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Even Jesus pointed out in his greatest commandment that loving others begins with loving ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Faithful discipleship involves faithful self-care.

Research tells us it takes 21 days to create a habit. Why not challenge yourself to creating the daily habit of physical exercise? Better yet, enlist a friend or family member to join you and hold you accountable. You are worth it, my friend. So get out there and take a simple step toward good health and better stewardship of self. Oh, but first watch the video; if you have any doubts, it will surely dispel them.

Here’s to your health and to the stewardship of all aspects of life!

Photo by puuikibeach used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!