The Healing Power of Gratitude

Kim Funkhouser B&WAs I ran some errands this morning I realized, it’s that time of year again. The surplus Halloween candy is sporting reduced prices while Christmas lights are hanging in displays. I have heard some say, “Where is Thanksgiving?” Indeed, where is Thanksgiving in this world of greed? I have often felt myself slipping down the slope of ingratitude. I hear messages from many sources, “You owe me something” or “I deserve this!” This disease of ingratitude appears to be contagious. Is there a cure? Oh, Yes! Yes, there is!! It is called: GIVE THANKS!!

Today, I give thanks for the glory of God and for His word that admonishes us to give thanks in all things (John 5:18). I have to be honest here and just say that I haven’t always understood this concept, but I’m finding it to be the key of unlocking a world I have yet to fully explore.

I have picked up a book written by Corrie ten Boom. In her book, The Hiding Place, she described a scene from their lives during the Holocaust at Ravensbruck, a women’s concentration camp in Germany during WWII. They had just been moved from a temporary tent barrack to a block barrack number 28. Corrie, in the midst of horrid smells, sights, and fleas, wailed, “Betsie, how can we live in such a place!” Betsie replied, “We can, He has already given us the answer!” and together they recited the verses they had read earlier that day. I Thessalonians 5:14-18 admonishes us to “…encourage the disheartened, help the weak…rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” They offered up thanksgiving, even for the fleas.*

Nothing inspires me more than people who are able to put their trust in God for the unknown and express gratitude in the midst of personal trials, physical sufferings and heartaches.

Truly, we may never know what the future holds. Tomorrow may hold a stress- induced heart attack which happened to me on June 7, 2011. Celebrating my 44th birthday just four days prior to this event, I did not have a heart attack on my “to do” list for the coming year. But it came and it changed my life. I’m thankful to be here to say, “I am a survivor.” I’m not only a survivor in the physical sense, but like Corrie ten Boom, I am a survivor on the emotional and spiritual journey on which this event has placed me. Establishing a heart of gratitude in all things has brought a depth to my relationships and life that otherwise had a tendency to be cluttered with wants, needs and unrealistic expectations.

Today, I can walk by those aisles of discounted candy and enjoy the beauty of the lights that brings the promise of the celebration of the true “Light” of Christmas. My heart also revels in the hope and the healing Thanksgiving brings. The Thanksgiving season is not one to be forgotten or overlooked. It is to be celebrated everyday! Let us give thanks and be well.

* Weeks later the ten Boom sisters would learn that these fleas were actually a source of protection from the prison guards. They often wondered why they had so much freedom to do as they pleased in their barrack and the answer was that the guards would not set foot in a barrack infested with fleas!

Kimberly Funkhouser is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and heart-attack survivor.

©Copyright 2014 Kimberly Funkhouser

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When It Hurts Too Much To Care

Sara opened the door to her rusting, maroon 2003 Ford Taurus and slid sideways into the empty driver’s seat. “Wow,” she thought, “sitting down has never felt so good!” She raised a cup of hot, steaming coffee to her lips, sipping slowly as not to burn her mouth. She then allowed her head to sink softly into the headrest in an attempt to relax and clear her thoughts. A tear appeared in the corner of her right eye and began to trickle down her cheek. Another nightmare shift had come and gone at the local community hospital where Sara was employed as a registered nurse.

The past several weeks have proven extremely busy for the unit where Sara works. Patients are very sick, demanding more of her than any of the previous clients she could remember. One of her favorite patients died, while others continue to struggle with the pain and nuances of their chronic conditions, lack of family and social support, depression, and fear. New processes and computer updates are coming weekly as attempts are made to streamline care, meet quality and critical indicators, and save money. A colleague took unexpected ill time, resulting in Sara’s manager assigning her extra hours of mandatory overtime. Sara’s healthcare benefits package has changed and she is paying more money for less coverage. Her husband recently joined the ranks of the unemployed and her two children are begging to participate in sports and summer camps – and that is just the beginning.

While Sara has found herself complaining more to her boss about the workplace, clients and co-workers are voicing complaints about Sara that her manager finds to be a bit unusual and out of character. She is showing up to work late; unkempt and disheveled. She has gained a lot of weight. Sara is preoccupied, can’t seem to concentrate, and finds no joy in the things she once enjoyed the most.

Sara closed her eyes, wiped the tears from her face, and wondered if she had the strength to go home, fix dinner, clean the house, and spend time with her kids, let alone come back to work again that night. She had so wanted to change the world for good and now it seems so far out of reach, if not impossible. She is physically and emotionally spent and couldn’t care less about anything or anyone.

Let’s Talk About Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue – it’s not a new concept, but one we’ve brushed aside and cannot afford to ignore any longer! According to recent statistics, between 18% and 65% of health care workers (nearly 85% of emergency room nurses (1),25% of paramedics, and 34% of hospice nurses (2)) suffer from secondary traumatic stress and/or compassion fatigue.  But it’s not just limited to health care professionals – caregivers, or those who care for the dependent (and often chronically ill) family member, friend, neighbor, or client are also at risk.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue can be described as the reactions to chronic stress from the care-giving efforts health care professionals and caregivers provide. The stress begins to manifest itself in negative ways and if not recognized, leads to an overall loss of caring or compassion.

Who’s At Risk?

Experts tell us individuals who identify with the hopeless, helpless, at risk, and suffering populations are predisposed to suffer compassion fatigue, because they already possess an element of fatigue by the mere fact their worldview consists of caring for others before caring for themselves. Add a lack of self-caring practices  to the mix, and the conditions are right for developing compassion fatigue. (3)

What Are The Signs?

The signs of compassion fatigue range from the annoying and irritating, to the disruptive and disabling. Here is a list of some (not all) signs you might discover in someone experiencing compassion fatigue:

  • Excessive complaining
  • Unusual complaints from others
  • Compulsive behaviors such as overeating, gambling, etc.
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Poor hygiene and appearance
  • Substance abuse

What Are The Solutions?

There are many ways health care providers and caregivers can prevent and/or recover from compassion fatigue. Here is a list of some (not all) suggestions:

  • Understand the job you do effects you – awareness is the first step
  • Get healthy – see your doctor and adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • Seek counseling
  • Embrace your faith
  • Surround yourself with positive people and influences
  • Manage your life and lifestyles – be proactive and find balance
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Keep a journal
  • Schedule “me” time
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep

What Should I Keep In Mind?

If you are a health care professional or caregiver, then understand God has created you as a unique and caring individual, entrusting you with this wonderful gift of caring. He has also created you with personal needs and limitations. By taking care of yourself, and perhaps decreasing the quantity of caring you provide, the quality of your caring can grow and mature into a meaningful and distinctive experience. Remember, even Christ Himself went away to the desert after ministering to the crowds who followed Him, so He could be ministered to by the angels.

1. Beck, C. (2011).Secondary traumatic stress in nurses: A systematic review. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25(1), 1-10. Retrieved from  http://dx.doi.org.hslezproxy.ucdenver.edu/10.1016/j.apnu.2010.05.005

2. Hooper, et al. (2010). Compassion satisfaction, burnout, and compassion fatigue among emergency nurses compared  with nurses in other selected inpatient specialties. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 36(5), 420-427. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org.hslezproxy.ucdenver.edu/10.1016/j.jen.2009.11.027

3. Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. (2013). What is compassion fatigue? Retrieved November 19, 2013, from http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/compassionfatigue.html

©Copyright 2013 Scott Rhoades/Ivory Hill Studios

*Disclaimer: This forum is intended to provide general health and wellness information only. It is not a prescription and/or endorsement for any specific health/medical brand, product or program. You should ALWAYS consult your physician before starting, changing, modifying, or stopping any non-prescription and prescription medications, herbs, treatments, alternative therapies, exercise/wellness programs, physical and/or psychological therapies.

Is It Too Late To Start Exercising Now?

Laurette Willis 072213 B&WPerhaps you haven’t exercised in a l-o-n-g time.

Maybe your schedule at work or home demands too much of your time or you simply fell out of the routine. I have good news for you! If you haven’t exercised in months, a year or ever—it’s never too late to begin making fitness a part of your life.

I know. For most of my life I hated exercise and did not follow a sane food plan. I fought excess weight and overeating since I was a child. As a teenager, I tried lots of kooky diets. I even went on a water fast for 10 days (and believe me, there was nothing spiritual about it; I just wanted to be “skinny.”). I became skinny all right. I also developed pneumonia and looked horrible. The weight piled back on shortly thereafter, with an extra 10 pounds on top of it!

After I came to Christ in my late 20s, the Lord delivered me from alcoholism, helped me quit smoking, redeemed my life from the deception of the New Age movement (metaphysics, mysticism and yoga), and brought a loving husband into my life. But overeating and lack of discipline continued to plague me.

“Father,” I prayed, “You have removed so many negative things from my life. Please help me overcome this, too.”

Victory in this area did not come as quickly for me as it did for the other addictions which had held me captive. In fact, the fruit of self-discipline is something I must be conscious of walking in every single day in order to experience the freedom the Lord promises us.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)

For me, freedom from “couch potato-ism” and overeating is a choice I have to determine to “stand fast” in daily. Thankfully, the more I “exercise” self-discipline, asking for God to help me, the more I find myself actually wanting to be more active, eat more healthful food and saner portions.

Do we have to exercise?

Well, that’s up to you. If you want to be what I call a “fit witness” for Christ, have a healthy body (“the temple of the Holy Spirit,” according to 1 Corinthians 6:19), full of energy and strength to do all the Lord is calling you to do, it is certainly advisable.

You may already know some of the problems associated with not exercising:

• weight gain

• decrease in flexibility, strength and balance

• increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels

• aches, pains and other medical issues

Hey! You told me there was good news…

There is!

Even if you’ve not been consistent in years, beginning some regular exercise now can help in a number of ways:

• reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis
• relieve stress, anxiety and depression
• achieve and maintain a healthy weight and fitness level
• strengthen bones and joints
• strengthen the immune system
• increase energy levels
• decrease risks for various diseases (including diabetes, colon cancer, plus high blood pressure, stroke and degenerative diseases associated with age)

While plastic surgery is only skin deep, exercise benefits us inside and out. Some encouraging news for those of us over 30 years of age appear to gain the most benefits from exercise. After the age of 30, the body responds quite well to the overall “tune-up” exercising brings.

So, why don’t we “Just Do It”?

I could tell you all the things the world tells us to do to motivate ourselves—all of which boil down to a Nike-inspired, “Just Do It!”

It’s not that easy though, is it? That’s probably why research from Johns Hopkins is predicting that there could be a 75% obesity rate in America by the year 2015.

But we don’t have to be part of that statistic. As believers, we can lead the charge to change. We can be “fit witnesses” for the Lord, leading others to health in spirit, soul and body through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Does the Bible have answers to help us with weight and exercise? Yes!!!

Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Patience, faithfulness and self-control are the three fruit of the Spirit I’ve found most helpful in going from being a “couch potato” to someone who actually enjoys walking and getting some exercise in every day.

You already know how to yield to the Holy Spirit and the fruit He is developing in your life in some areas.

For example: When someone on line at the grocery store is taking a long time paying for their purchase, you don’t throw a wall-eyed fit anymore, do you? You don’t stomp your feet, jump up and down and bang your shopping cart into the register, do you? Of course not!

You’ve learned to yield to the Lord and the fruit of patience. “Okay, I’m letting patience have its perfect work in me. The Word says it’s by faith and patience that I inherit the promises of God. All right! I’m up for that!” You may not do that spiffy a job of it, but at least you’re trying.

Why not plant some seeds toward developing the fruit of patience, faithfulness and self-control in the area of exercise, too?

Here’s an idea:

1. PLAN:  Tomorrow—or today—plan to take a brisk walk for 20 minutes. Or do a quick workout (there are several quick exercises and workouts with accompanying scriptures online which you can do at home or the office at my website www.PraiseMoves.com ).

2. TIME: Choose a time you will get some activity in.

3. ASK: Speak to the Lord and ask Him to help you keep your commitment to honor Him by taking good care of your body (the “temple of the Holy Spirit”) by doing some physical activity for 20 minutes.

4. DECIDE: Make the decision now that when the time comes to fit the activity in, you will NOT yield to any excuses, but yield to the Lord.

5. YIELD: When the time comes, dedicate the time to the Lord, and go for that walk, Christian Fitness workout, or whatever you’ve purposed to do.

6. PRAISE: Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to you as you have just begun a new habit. Go through the steps again for the next day, and the day after that.

With time and practice, the fruit of faithfulness, patience and self-control will become more fully developed and you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to moving your body and praising the Lord! By giving your time and yourself to the Lord in this way, you’ll find His grace sustains, maintains, contains and retrains us to be all He’s call us to be.

And now I’d like to invite you to get my free guide, 5 Simple Steps to Looking & Feeling Fabulous, at http://www.5StepsGuide.com.

Christian Fitness Expert and Certified Health Coach
Laurette Willis is the Director of PraiseMoves Fitness Ministry with DVDs,
Training, and Classes by Certified PraiseMoves Instructors on six continents (
http://PraiseMoves.com).

*Disclaimer: This forum is intended to provide general health and wellness information only. It is not a prescription and/or endorsement for any specific health/medical brand, product or program. You should ALWAYS consult your physician before starting, changing, modifying, or stopping any non-prescription and prescription medications, herbs, treatments, alternative therapies, exercise/wellness programs, physical and/or psychological therapies.