Thankful for Fleas


…always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… (Ephesians 5:20, Common English Bible).

Back in our younger days, Cindy and I had a dog that got infested with fleas. She was a semi-inside dog. She lived in a room in the back of the house. To access the backyard you had to walk through this back room. This was before the days of the current, give the dog a pill and your flea problems are gone forever. We tried everything, flea shampoo, flea powder, flea collars and nothing worked. And, when you walked through this room, you were attacked by fleas. We finally solved the problem but I don’t really remember how.

Those flea attacks came back to my mind this week as I was listening to an audio book while driving. The past couple of weeks I have been listening to a couple of books by Eric Metaxas. The first was Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness and the other is Seven Women and the Secret of Their Greatness. The books are biographical profiles of seven men and seven women. I highly recommend both books.

Tuesday I was listening to Metaxas’ essay on Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place. If you haven’t read The Hiding Place or some other biography of Ten Boom such as the book by Metaxas, Ten Boom and her family were at work in Nazi occupied Holland during World War II. They organized a network where they hid Jews and others the Nazis tried to exterminate until they were turned in to the Gestapo. The entire family was arrested. Corrie and her sister Becky managed to stay together until Becky died shortly before the end of the war. Both were women of great faith but Becky is the one who showed Corrie the way. One day they were having a discussion in their flea infested barracks and they began talking about giving thanks in all circumstances. Corrie just couldn’t bring herself to be thankful for fleas so she as Betsy prayed thanking God for the fleas, Corrie just prayed that God would listen to Betsy’s prayer.

Several days later Betsy came rushing to Corrie. She knew why they should be thankful for the fleas. Betsy discovered that because of the fleas the guards wouldn’t come into the barracks, giving the women, not just the Ten Booms, but all the women in the barracks a measure of privacy and freedom they would otherwise not be afforded. It was a lesson Corrie said she would never forget and that in every circumstance there was some reason to give thanks.

I thought about that flea infested dog and room in the back of our house. I thought about how miserable it felt to be attacked by the fleas when you just walked through the room. As I listened to Metaxas’ words about Corrie and her sister I started thinking, what reason did I have to be thankful for the fleas in my house. My conclusion came to the dog. Without the dog I wouldn’t have had the fleas, but I also wouldn’t have had the dog our family loved and enjoyed.

Sometimes you may have to look hard to find it, but I guess there is always a reason to give thanks.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

One thought on “Thankful for Fleas

  1. I love this attitude. It is a blessing for the person involved as well as everyone around him/her. With this attitude, everything is better. It seems that today, people take the opposite attitude–finding something bad about every blessing. That is a real downer for everybody involved.

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