Our feet can be one of the most neglected aspects of our bodies, even though they do most of the hard work everyday. They are charged with carrying us through every trail life takes us on, and oftentimes they are stuffed deep in stinky, sweaty shoes. Take a peek at your feet right now. Are they loose and free and comfortable, or are they being neglected? I think one of the best things about growing up in South America is that I learned the importance of caring for my feet, as it was ranked right up there with dental care!

Brazilians value their foot health, and they treat their feet with the utmost care. Although every culture is different, some of the most serious side effects of bad health are neglected feet. For example, in diabetes, we check feet on every exam. This is because the first signs of complications from diabetes can often be seen in feet. What are your feet telling you about your health? Go ahead and buy those shoes that give them the extra comfort they need. Who knows, maybe that will help you be as active is you want to be as well. Here are some pointers on picking the right shoes, directly from Harvard:

Shop for shoes in the afternoon, as your feet expand throughout the day.
Wear socks that you would normally wear.
Walk in the shoes before purchasing, and trust your own comfort fit more than size!

As I think about the past 10 years in medical missions, I think the best stories are of being able to give someone the gift of new shoes. For many of us it's easy to take for granted that we can have the right shoes we need. But, this is definitely a luxury in many parts of the world.

I think specifically of a woman I met in Africa, who walked five miles every day to work. Her feet looked so worn and tired, and all she had to wear were flip flops. Once I realized we wore the same size, I gave her my favorite running shoes that I was wearing that day. The colors looked so cheery on her feet, and definitely gave her an extra bounce as she walked the dirt road home. The look of relief on her face was priceless when I handed her those shoes. She could now walk to work with shoes that supported her. As I watched her step turn into a bounce, I was reminded how easy it is to take something as simple as good shoes for granted.

Take a peek at your feet today. Do they need any extra care? Are they looking for a little extra bounce? If so, here's to new shoes this holiday season!

“Beautiful are the FEET of those that bring good news”! Is 52: 7