A spiritual practice I have taken up in recent years is maintaining a gratitude journal. On many mornings during my morning devotional time I list three things for which I’m grateful that day. It might be the radiant red of the Japanese maple outside my window; the smell of French roast coffee in the morning, meaningful work to do; a tender, smart and funny wife or goofy cats who crawl all over me purring when I’m trying to write.

I am also grateful for God’s mysterious and abiding presence; for Christ who cared enough about me and all of creation to redeem and renew this creaky and broken old world; and for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life transforming my character and growing me in wisdom and love.

If something is bothering or irritating me I reframe it as a gratitude. When Congress is in gridlock again and throwing firebombs at each other I am grateful that we live in a democracy as messy as it is. When money seems tight I am grateful for a roof over my head and enough to give away to causes I hold dear. When someone makes me want to chew my hands off  I’m grateful that God loves them because in that moment I can’t.

I commend this practice to you whether you do it in the morning as you’re eating breakfast or driving to school or work. Or share you gratitude around the dinner table with the entire family. If that doesn’t work do it at night before you retire. Gratitude is a sign of spiritual health for it reminds us of our place in the universe and how much of our lives are pure gift!


About Norman Bendroth

Norman Bendroth is a Professional Transition Specialist certified by the Interim Ministry Network. He has served as a settled pastor in two United Church of Christ congregations and as a Sr. Interim pastor in seven other UCC congregations. He was also an executive for three different non-profit agencies. He has had additional training in Mediation Skills for Church Leaders from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and training in Appreciative Inquiry from the Clergy Leadership Institute. Rev. Bendroth has the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological school where he concentrated on theology and systems theory. He is married to Peggy Bendroth and has two adopted Amerasian children.
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