Monday, September 27, 2010

The Attitude of Gratitude

(from 'The Attitudes of Gratitude" by M.J. Ryan)

A therapist I know was treating a woman who'd had a serious stroke and could not talk. She didn't seem too troubled by it, but her family considered it a great tragedy. As a young Jewish woman, her verbal ability was a great gift - it had even saved her life. She spoke 5 languages and had survived the Holocaust by becoming a translator for the Nazis in a concentration camp. After the war, she moved to America and supported her family by teaching foreign languages. Now she struggled for words and her adult children were constantly jumping in to "help" by filling in her words.
The stroke had changed her in other ways too. Cold and distant as a mother, the stroke had left her very physically affectionate and she constantly touched her children. But they were so caught up in the loss of her speaking ability that they didn't recognize that what they were now receiving from her was the kind of affection that they had longed for all their lives.
The therapist taught them to use the source of their frustration (their mother's inability to speak) to trigger a cultivation of an attitude of gratitude (for their longed for affection). Is there something in your life that you find terribly annoying or difficult? Is there some hidden gift in the annoying situation that you can focus on to create an attitude of gratitude?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Tell Me I Am Blind

by Lily E. G. Hendrix (1885)
graduate of the Missouri School for the Blind

You tell me I am blind, but ah!
You know not what you say;
You little know the glorious things
That I behold each day;
There is a world I call my own,
All radiant with light!
A land as different from yours
As morning is from night.

Each morn I ope my weary eyes
Upon your world of gloom,
Its chill and darkness only give
A warning of the tomb;
I linger but a moment there,
And then I turn and hie
To that fair realm all lighted up
With hope of bye and bye.

Perhaps your world is not so dark
As it has seemed to me;
Perhaps that is the reason why
You think I cannot see;
You cannot know the rays that light
This inner world of mine,
Or you would never pity me
And say that I am blind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Falling Leaves Return to their Roots

I have just finished reading "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah and I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is the memoir of an unwanted Chinese daughter and is told in the most poignant way. Adeline was born in 1937 to a wealthy Chinese business man in Tianjin, China. She was the fifth child born into this family but because her mother died shortly after her birth, Adeline is mistreated by everyone except an aunt. When her father remarries and has two more children, Adeline must endure a childhood of abuse, torment and hatred. The book follows Adeline through her childhood into adulthood and into final happiness. Although the abuse and hatred continues with her siblings through out her adulthood too - it is remarkable how she has triumphed over bitterness to find peace.
True stories like this just absolutely fascinate me. Children that are born into horrible circumstances beyond their control yet manage through something deep inside of them, to endure and overcome - and the thing that boggles my mind is that they hold no bitterness. I never tire of reading about this phenomenon. If you have ever read "Angela's Ashes", it weaves the same tale.
Both books holds out the shining light of hope to help us live through whatever darkness invades our lives.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Sermon in a Graveyard
(A True Story)
Taken from "Love adds the Chocolate" by Linda Anderson

The day had dawned sunny and clear in Western Michigan, but by eleven o'clock my inner climate was stormy. The incessant bickering of my two teenagers had annoyed me to the point of leaving for a drive in the country, and I ended up in a tiny well-shaded graveyard just a few miles from home.

A slight breeze stirred through the pines, and my edginess subsided as I strolled around the ancient tombstones. I had asked the Lord to "please do something" as I left, but I really didn't think He would, and at this point I wasn't so sure He even cared.

I walked aimlessly at first until one of the tombstones caught my eye, and I knelt down to read the inscription, tracing the words with my finger. The stone was so old and weather beaten I could hardly make out the words. "Children of C and A Arndt" it read on the front. Stepping to the side I read, "Charley, died June 6, 1883, aged 5 years." The third side of the stone read "Ricke, died May 22, 1883, aged 6 years, 19 ds". Two children died within a month? Incredible!

I was in for yet another surprise as I walked to the fourth side of the simple tombstone. "Francis," it said "Died May 18, 1883, aged 3 years, 4 mos, 15 ds."
At this I sat down and sorrowed for the unknown parents of one hundred years ago who had tasted death so bitterly three times in one month. An epidemic, no doubt.

I wondered if the parents of those children had ever had days like mine with their children, and if they regretted every impatient word and angry tone after the children died. I knew that if these parents were alive now they would urge me to go back home and love my children. I knew they would say, "Learn to laugh with them more". They would remind me that life on this earth is so very terminal and I must live it fully and abundantly as the Lord had planned. If they knew the Lord, I'm sure they would point out God's commands to give thanks in everything and to rejoice evermore. Perhaps they would even tell me to live each day with my family as if it were my last, for some day will indeed by the last.
But they didn't need to come back to tell me these things. Their tombstone had already done so. And I had listened.