Thankful in all times?

I was working on the spiritual discipline of gratitude recently.

My body had fallen into another funk in which my irritating neurological symptoms were rearing their ugly heads.   The main culprit? Fatigue.

To my disgust, I was once again requiring afternoon naps. My nights were restless and regardless of how many hours, the amount of sleep I did get was never satisfying.  I was most frustrated that my activities had to be dramatically minimized to conserve the limited energy I had to expend.

It was a disheartening reminder that my health cannot be taken for granted.

And so the spiritual discipline of gratitude was called forth…reluctantly.   Honestly, this is when my inner pessimist comes out to play or in this case, protest.

Not easy being grateful when things are not going well, is it?  But what if you are dying?  During my week of intentional gratitude, I had an epiphany.  There, on the wall directly above one of my hospice patients were these words in big bold print from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Be thankful in all circumstances…


I was struck by the profundity of the image. Wow. Even in our dying days we are called as Christians to be grateful. Whether we are healthy or chronically ill, wealthy or destitute, living or dying we are to be thankful…in ALL circumstances.

One of my favorite gratitude stories is told by Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place.  This Dutch woman along with her father, brother, sisters and other family members, helped Jews escape capture by the Germans in WWII. They were eventually arrested.  Along with her older sister Betsie, Corrie faced the perils of Dutch prisons and finally the Ravensbrueck concentration camp where her sister would die. (Learn more about Corrie here)

The sisters had miraculously smuggled a Bible into prison and used it as their primary source of strength to spiritually and emotionally endure.

After being moved to an overcrowded, flea-infested barracks, Bestie recalled the same scripture from 1 Thessalonian 5:18 and began listing off what she was grateful for: She and Corrie had not been separated but instead had been assigned to the same barracks.  The sisters had not been searched before entering their new quarters so the Bible, contraband that it was, remained in their possession. The barracks was overcrowded, but that meant they could share God’s light and love with more women.

And then Bestie gave thanks for the fleas.

“The fleas!” Corrie writes in The Hiding Place. “This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.'”

But Bestie insisted.  “Give thanks in all circumstances,” she reminded Corrie. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”

Much to Corrie’s surprise, a genuine gratitude did come, however.

It was Bestie who overheard a guard adamantly refuse to enter their barracks because of the flea infestation.  The fleas. Although the women had noticed an unusual absence of guards, all was now clear.  Since the guards were avoiding the fleas by remaining out of their building, the sisters had been able to hold regular worship for their fellow prisoners.

Yep.  Thank God for those tiny, irritating creatures.

I’ll end with these words from writer and poet, John Milton.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. 


So practice being grateful every single day, no matter what comes your way.

Even the smallest blessing can be found.  Let your daily “transcendent moments of awe” not only enhance your experience of life and the world, but let them prepare you to gracefully face your own mortality.

Into your dying days, may gratitude be ever flowing.


A Pessimist in Recovery

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

I am a recovering pessimist.

unhappy faceWay too often, however, I tumble off the wagon and roll into my old patterns of negative thinking. (Broken and Beautiful is a perfect example!)

Last week I was made painfully aware of how difficult it is to refrain from having a gloomier, darker outlook on life.

As I was leaving a skilled nursing facility I could not help but glance in each resident’s room as I cruised down the hall.

In one room there was a mountain of small stuffed animals carefully stacked on top of an individual’s dresser.  Without missing a beat, I said to the facility employee moving past me “I can’t imagine having ALL those eyes stare at me at night.”

It was a weak attempt at getting her into my car of trash talking someone’s conceivably weird behavior.

To make things worse, would you believe she had the nerve to suggest that all those eyes were “looking out” for their owner, protecting her against the “boogie man”?

Oh suuure…. isn’t that sweet.  Little furry protectors.

Then clearly the person is paranoid, I suggested.

In was no use.  With each negative slant I had on that mound of stuffed animals and the resident who piled them, the caregiver had something positive to say.

And before I realized it, I was an official jerk wondering why I had, once again, been drawn to the dark side. Why had I been so set on ferreting out the slightest negative perspective—and on stuff animals of all things?

What a waste of time and energy for my entire being!

And now for your Spiritual Prescription:                    

Don’t go to the dark side!0910131602

Resist seeing the world in a gloomy, dreary light.  It is a bad habit that impacts your body, mind and spirit!

Proverbs 17:22 puts it this way : A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Don’t allow your spirit to be crushed by dark imagining.

Notice and fight off the temptation to negatively respond to life around you.

We miss so much of the beauty around us when we do.

(I saw this happy chalkboard message on my way home that day.  A nice reminder to keep working toward a joyful heart.)













Go Ahead—Struggle

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:


StruggleThere is something to be said about struggle.

As a baby comes through the birth canal, it may struggle to make its entry into the world, but being moved through such a tight space assures the child will have minimal fluid on its lungs when it takes that first breath.

Babies born by cesarean section, however, are at a greater risk of transient tachypnea (rapid and labored breathing) because the struggle to come through that narrow passage was avoided.

Yes.  To struggle can be a good thing.  And yet, we naturally prefer to avert it.  Certainly understandable.  Most people really rather not experience hardship.  Birth canal be damned!

But that’s not how life works.  In fact, life can often suck.  Big time.  In hospice, I meet individuals who have encountered the uglier sides of life.  I hear unbelievable, heartbreaking stories on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Amazingly, what I also hear in those stories of hardship are the epilogues of how  individuals rose up out of the ashes.  They were the ones who risked the vulnerability in reaching out to others, who shared about and processed their grief/loss/brokenness, and in turn helped others up out of their own ruins.

And with that…here’s your Spiritual Prescription:



Be open to experiencing pain, loss, sadness or any other such crappy miseries.

Risk loving—with the chance of losing that which you have loved.  Risk going beyond your comfort zone—with the strong possibility of failure.  Take a chance on doing what you believe is right—even if you learn later that you were wrong.

Already “been there, done that” you say?

Then consider this:

Is there a past struggle that you are avoiding, ignoring, or keeping buried deep with in you?yellow rose

Is it a pain you’ve caused someone else?  A mistake or regret that you’d rather not face? Or perhaps harm caused to you that your harbor deep within?

Are you afraid to face the pain?  Are you attempting to drown out a loss or tragedy with too much work, recklessness, or self-medication (food, drugs, alcohol, sex, t.v.)?

Anais Nin once wrote,  “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

 Struggle, but don’t remain there.

Don’t become bitter and close yourself off—remaining tight in that bud—because of past sufferings or in fear of new struggles. Allow yourself to open to the possibility of healing. Push through the darkness and into the light that you might reach out to others in return.

A bit of scripture to go along with your prescription:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Blessings to you in the struggle!

Transform your Attitude

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

Transform your Attitude

So…there is this volunteer plant that has been growing in my back yard for just over two years, a desert marigold to be specific.  Honestly, I was irritated when this wildflower sprouted in the narrow space of dirt between our no-longer-working fountain and brick patio.

“Really?” I said to it.  “Did you really have to sprout roots in that crack?  You know I can’t transplant you, right?  You’re now stuck in that ridiculous, barren space.  Didn’t you consider any other spots, like near some fellow plants in the garden, before grounding yourself there?”

My response to this beautiful Arizona native wasn’t as hospitable as it could have been.  At all.  My perspective at the time was admittedly narrow-minded.  I could only think of the lack of purpose the plant had in that particular spot in my yard.

And then it happened.

Spring arrived.  And what should I notice while looking out my kitchen window upstairs in our split-level home? It was that damn marigold in bloom!  It was in clear view, and oh so gorgeous.    In fact, it was the only pretty thing in sight!!

For all of my initial complaining and negative attitude about where it had grown, I had never before considered the joy it could bring me from that particular vantage point.

My negative attitude about that beautiful wildflower had been transformed!

And now for your Spiritual Prescription:

Take a fresh look at a current situation.

What have you missed? What do you see new for the first time?

How is a negative attitude affecting your perspective and even your life?

It may be time to gain a new perspective and transform your attitude

Do it today and discover the possible joys all around you!