Category Archives: relationships-family, marriage, parenting

woman with hands bowed in prayer

5 unexpected rewards by ditching a critical spirit

Did you notice that Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fell on the same date this year? What a coincidence that a day when people often give or receive chocolate was also a day that some people choose to give up chocolate for 40 days.

What happens during Lent

Lent is the season in the Christian calendar that precedes Easter. (Easter also falls on an interesting date this year, April 1. ) Many Christians do something to observe this time as a spiritual refresher, like fasting from a certain food or drink. I’ve heard of people “giving up” a range of things during Lent, like television, video games, social media, news, sports, or music. Some people “take up” a certain practice, like prayer, Bible study, or service projects.

man with hands folded over a book

“meditation of my heart” photo from– stock photo source (affiliate link)

A “critical” lesson

One of most interesting examples of fasting I’ve heard of was from the late Catherine Marshall. Mrs. Marshall wrote a memoir about her husband, Peter Marshall who served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. She also wrote a best selling novel Christy.

In a story reprinted in Spiritual Classics, Catherine realized she was too critical, tending to judge people and situations harshly and negatively.

Matthew 7 :1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. 

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

(The word “judge” used here is analogous to “criticise.”)

So she felt her “assignment” from God was:

“For one day I was to go on a “fast” from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.”

At lunch with her family that day several topics came up that she had definite negative opinions about but she refrained from speaking up. Even though she felt lost without her usual sharp interaction, she said no one else seemed to notice.

“The federal government, the judicial system, the the institutional church could apparently get along fine without my penetrating observations.”

She thought about a young man she knew whose life had gotten “sidetracked”, and suddenly realized her negative attitude toward him wasn’t helping. As she began thinking about him in a more positive way, she saw ways that his life could be turned around that she had not considered before. Her new attitude seemed to create an ability to see a new vision for his life that she hadn’t been able to before.

5 unexpected rewards by ditching a critical spirit



She related 5 things that she learned about a critical attitude.

  1. It focuses us on ourselves and makes us unhappy.
  2. It can distort our perspective and destroy humor.
  3. It blocks positive creative thoughts God will give us about situations.
  4. It impairs relationships with other people, perhaps causing them to be critical also.
  5. It blocks feelings of  love, good will, and mercy from  God’s Spirit.


Whatever you decide to do to observe Lent, look for something that will restore or increase your joy, creativity, positive relationships, mercy, and love.

I would love to know what you do to observe Lent. Please leave a comment, or if you prefer to stay anonymous, send me a private message.

On the blog home page is a link to Lenten theme posts that have appeared on the blog in the past. I hope they bless you in your Lenten journey.

The story about Catherine Marshal is told in Spiritual Classics- Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines.

Books by Catherine Marshall – find more at this link

These are all affiliate links, this blog earns a small commission for purchases here.




that I might seek to love-St. Francis quote 


(This is an affiliate link. )

person holding a lit candle

Finding Holiday Joy Amid the Grief



Although this season brings  fun and festivities, many of our friendsgroup of lanterns

find it hard to feel joyful when their hearts are heavy with grief.





Whether from a  recent loss, or  one many years ago, grieving for the loved ones who won’t be here to celebrate with us can dampen our holiday spirit and  lead to depression. 

  • I think of my friend  who has lost both a sister and a son this year.
  • I remember my friends who tragically lost their teen aged daughter in a car wreck just a few days before Christmas many years ago.
  • I consider my medical colleague who is battling cancer.
  • My heart aches for my friends who lost a young aunt to an undiagnosed medical condition which suddenly proved fatal .
  • And my husband and I  still grieve the loss of our parents and siblings at Christmas even after many years.


As one friend wrote-

“This is my second Christmas without my husband.  It has been tough, but also a reminder that God is the god of all comfort. That works for me. And… it is a reminder to pray comfort to anyone who has faced a loss of a loved one including precious pets. Loss from any source needs a comforting friend.”

If you know someone who needs a “comforting friend”,  please take the time to reach out to them so they know someone cares and they are not alone.

Here is advice from Nancy Guthrie on

What to say to grieving people. 

“Honestly, the most painful thing is when you’ve had a loss and someone around you—because of the awkwardness — never acknowledges it. That’s what hurts the most.”

xmas house

On the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Anthony Komaroff  advises on 

Coping with grief and loss during the holidays

 “Grief is not a tidy, orderly process, and there is no right way to grieve. Every person—and every family—does it differently. This can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season when the emphasis is on rebirth and renewal.”

My family and I wish all of you health and wholeness in

body, mind and spirit.

man and woman in front of the Alamo at Christmas

My husband and I at the Alamo in San Antonio Texas at Christmas


More holiday tips from Watercress Words at these links-

How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

Healthy holiday eating made easy


And please consider my affiliates and advertisers for your holiday gifts, your support helps  fund this blog and increase its value to you. Thank you!