Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery Leader

Last year I received a health scare. After my semi-annual physical, my blood sugar levels spiked. Diabetes runs strong in my family. My Mother died of renal failure related to complications from diabetes. Each of my brothers are diabetic, and now so am I. The truth is I’d been diagnosed as pre-diabetic for years. But I didn’t take it seriously. I was in a weird form of denial. I figured that if I didn’t pay attention to my diabetes, nothing would happen and my numbers would decrease, and all would be well. Last August that myth was shattered.

My first response was to change my diet. Actually, my first response was a weird depression, sadness, and belief that my life would end with blindness and the loss of limbs! Once I got over my apocalyptic drama, I focused on what I can control. After talking with my brothers (they are the greatest brothers a brother can have!) I learned more about diabetes than any doctor could tell me. Perhaps it is because people who love us know how to talk to us in ways we can listen; ways we can hear with compassion what they are saying.

Back to the diet! I watched sugar and carbs. I no longer drank soda or sugary drinks. I watched my alcohol intake. I began a serious exercise program. I walked after dinner and worked out 3 – 4 days a week. I did weights and cardio. I sweat, a lot! And I began checking my blood sugar levels. I learned how my body works, when my sugar rises and when it falls, how it responds to food and exercise. I learned that the biggest contributor to a rise in my blood sugar is stress (I now take Bible reading, prayer, and meditation more seriously). By Thanksgiving I’d lost 25 pounds! My glucose levels were within normal range (my next A1C is February and I’ll know for sure). So far, I’ve kept the weight off.

I must give a huge shout out to the Board of Pensions. Through their Livongo plan I am able to obtain a blood sugar kit with an endless supply of strips and lances. The plan connects to my Call to Health monitoring as well. All of this is free. I know many of you are part of Call to Health. 46% of our eligible members participated last year. I would like to get that number up. I would like to see more of our pastors and Board of Pension members get involved with Call to Health.

I still love sugar! Just ask Ruthie down at Fisk Presbyterian church. I couldn’t resist her apple pie on Sunday after worship! My eating is a lifetime choice, a choice I make daily, and sometimes meal to meal. I am aware that the loss of sight and limbs may not be avoided, but I hope to do all I can to live a full and abundant life for those I love and myself, with the help of God.

Rev. Craig M. Howard


  • Posted January 21, 2020 6:09 pm

    Craig, I was diagnosed with diabetes in December. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Like you I’ve been prediabetic for years, which I basically ignored. I’m eating healthier now and have lost weight, without really trying. Your exercise regimen is an inspiration. Keep up the good work!

  • Posted January 21, 2020 6:55 pm
    Julie Allen Berger

    Blessings in your health journey, Craig! Thanks for sharing with all of us how your efforts have made a difference.

  • Posted January 23, 2020 8:06 am

    Craig- The aftermath of a life-altering diagnosis is an ongoing rollercoaster for sure. The grief and sadness in the beginning are a real hurdle, so kudos to you for working through that! I too have found meditation to be an incredible tool for stress/life management. Just learning it still so hoping for more unexpected benefits! Keep up the exercise and one day at a time approach. You have support here among your flock when you need it!

  • Posted January 23, 2020 11:25 am
    Diane McCullough

    Thanks for the inspiring reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. Congratulations on your successes. Weight and stress are issues for so many of us whether we are diabetic or not. It is good to know that PCUSA and the pension folks are taking care of our spiritual leaders. We need you to be with us for many years to come.

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