Sometimes bad news comes thick and fast, to the point of being overwhelming. I have two friends whose fathers are struggling with lung cancer. Another whose marriage is on the rocks. One lost his house to foreclosure recently. On a national scale, we have heard plenty of bad economic news. The weather has caused death and destruction. The political environment continues to become even more polarized. When will we get some good news?

A few years ago, we had challenges going on within our family – I was stressed out at work, Kathi was busy homeschooling our eight children, there were health problems, we were bickering, and we knew something was missing. But what?


Under the “it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness” theory, we decided to do something about it. Something very small. After dinner each night, we started to “go around the table” and offer any grateful thoughts, for people or situations, one by one.

The younger kids picked it up very quickly. Their gratitude lists were the longest. Our four year old Hannah is a gratitude superstar.

Over the course of time, this became a way to say thanks to one another. To appreciate some of the small blessings, even as larger events threatened to drown out their impact. For someone making dinner. For someone else helping out with chores.

I am grateful for so many things. For my wife Kathi, and that we got to hang out last night and watch a movie. For our kids. For the blurb on my upcoming book that came in the mail from Cardinal Wuerl yesterday. For my friend’s Dad, who has always been a positive force in my friend’s life – and mine. His has been a life well lived. It just keeps on going.

None of this changes any of the difficulties we face, of course. But no matter what our circumstances, gratitude is a key to a life well lived. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

What’s on your gratitude list?