I joined First Place in 1981 because I had once again gained back the 20 pounds I lost the last time I dieted. The program was offered at my church and I thought it was a great idea to be in a group with friends from church. Little did I know that this program would be used by God to radically change my life in every area: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Physical. I have learned what it means to live a balanced life in every area through the truths written into First Place 4 Health materials. It didn’t happen quickly; it has taken years to learn the lessons I needed to learn and to change from the inside out. Here are some of the highlights of what the program means to me.
Spiritual. I learned how to pray when I began writing in a prayer journal in 1990. My journals were precious records of God’s blessings and answered prayers in my life. When Hurricane Ike hit our home in 2008 and destroyed all of our possessions, my journals are what I have missed the most. They were written records of my life since 1990. Writing my prayers helped me to stay focused and spend more time praying than I ever did before. A neighbor found one of my mud-caked journals after the hurricane that I still have and treasure today.
Mental. We began using Scripture Memory CD’s in 2000, with our memory verses put to music at an exercise tempo. These songs were a dream of mine, because words are much easier to remember when attached to a song. Most of us remember every word to the songs we loved when we were younger. Finding a tool to make Scripture memory easier was a gift from God. Memorizing 100 verses over a two year period and saying them every day, as I walked on the treadmill, was lifesaving and lifegiving for me after the death of our daughter, Shari, in 2001. God’s word will heal our hearts and change who we are if we commit to read, study and memorize it.
Emotional. One of the greatest blessings I have received from being involved in FP4H is the friendship of so many wonderful men and women. I love connecting on social media, reading about their lives and seeing pictures of their families. My retirement party was a glimpse of what heaven will be like for me: spending eternity with people I love and who love me, and hearing their stories from beginning to end. After all, we have all of eternity to do it. This all began in my small group and over these many years, it has expanded to hundreds of people I love deeply.
Physical. I am amazed that I am still learning in this area. My husband, Johnny, did all the shopping and cooking of our food for over 30 years. Even when he was not able to cook any longer, I went out to restaurants and bought whatever sounded good to him. Johnny has been in heaven for three years now and miracle of miracles, I have begun cooking! God continues to place people in my life who inspire and motivate me to change. I’m still not one who wants to cook three meals every day, but I am learning to cook in batches for the week. Yesterday, I was at the grocery store at 8:00 a.m. and home by 8:30 a.m. to begin my preparations. I made six Mason Jar salads and steel-cut oats, with apples, and tuna salad in just one hour. I love that I used all the vegetables I bought at one time instead of letting them stay in the refrigerator to spoil like I used to do. You can really teach an old dog new tricks!
I have been a regular exerciser since 1984, but resisted strength training for years. I didn’t begin strength training until eight years ago when I was 67 years old, but it has been without a doubt something I intend to continue working on as long as I live. My trainer moved this summer to New Jersey and I continue doing the routines she taught me three days each week.
I could go on for days about what the FP4H program has meant to me, but one of my memory verses sums it up perfectly. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. May you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” ( Romans 15:13). I am overflowing today with hope—full of joy and peace—because of the balanced life I have learned to lead in FP4H.
FP4H Director Emeritus