By Lawrence J. Clark, Ph.D, CPT

Thank God for Horrifying Experiences . . . and for my Wife

By Lawrence J. Clark, PhD

Yesterday I had one of the most horrifying experiences of my life; as someone with a Powerful Choleric personality type, one of the worse situations I can be in is one in which 1) I have no control, and 2) someone else is in charge.

Yes, you guessed it; I spent two and a half hours in a dentist chair getting a filling replaced and having two molars drilled and sanded down to be fitted for crowns.

“Oh, what’s the big deal?” I hear you asking.  Lots of people go through this procedure, or worse, and come out still breathing on the other end.  Correct.  But they are not me.

And besides my fear of choking to death on a glob of glue or a broken filling or tooth, or my head exploding from my extremely elevated blood pressure, there is the fact that I’m being held down by two people I hardly know, am wearing dark glasses that I can barely see through, am breathing some odd mixture of chemicals through a plastic gas mask, and can hear but cannot see the foot-long drill that is screaming louder than a jet-ski racing across Galveston Bay.

It was at this point that I became extremely grateful for my wife, Kristen.  No, she wasn’t there to hold my hand throughout the procedure, but she has recently been writing a book and developing a website and a series of seminars and workshops designed to help people live a grateful life.  On the website ( she has a series of “Thank God” stories in which she begins several sentences with the words “Thank God . . .”

These stories are based on one of the concepts she teaches, which is that no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, there is always something for which we can be grateful.

While I was sitting (or should I say strapped) in the chair, I decided try out her idea.  Here’s what I came up with:

Thank God  . . . I have dental insurance that covers a good portion of this expensive procedure.

Thank God  . . . I have enough money in the bank to cover the co-pay amount.

Thank God  . . . I have one of the best dentists in Houston (Dr. Lawrence Holland) who, besides having a really cool first name, has over 30 years’ experience, does great work, and runs a sanitary office staffed with friendly people.

Thank God  . . . for Margaret, the extremely patient, competent, and compassionate dental technician who helped me through the procedure with her encouraging words, calm spirit, and generous “happy hour” helpings of nitrous oxide.

Thank God  . . . that she finally turned off the 70s disco music and put on the XM Radio Contemporary Christian station, which happened to be playing a song written from God’s point of view, telling the listeners to relax and let Him love and comfort us.  Those were the perfect words for me to hear just then.

And finally . . . Thank God  . . . that I have a wife who does her homework and writes such practical, useful, and encouraging books and articles that can help people (including me) even when she is not physically there!


Lawrence Clark is the proud father of three kids and four cats, and husband of an amazing wife.  He spent 20+ years teaching writing and literature at the university level, and supports the community through his gifts and talents in music and education to help today’s youth learn the value of reading and writing.  Additionally, he shares his personal testimony and life lessons with at-risk-teens in an effort to show them that it’s never too late to turn one’s life around.  Lawrence likes to spend his summers and vacations with his wife and family at the family retreat in New Mexico.  He can be found online at:,, or


By Kristen Clark

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

– from the Optimistic Ink Facebook page

Gratitude Tip: Develop a Habit of Gratitude Toward Your Spouse One Day at a Time over 21 Days

I recently read a few thought-provoking facts in a Wellness Milestones Newsletter, published by the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia, about habits and it made me think about developing a habit of gratitude in my effort to live joyfully and united as one with my husband.  Gratitude toward our spouses is my theme for this year, and I’d like to share some of those facts with you now:

– Habits are the result of repeated and intelligently controlled actions.

– Individuals have two major types of habits; habits that revolve around desires and habits that revolve around fears.

– The habits that revolve around desires (for health, happiness, financial independence, and success) are life-enhancing.

– Poor habits interfere with success, trip you up on a regular basis, cause you to sell yourself short, and may result in negative consequences.

– Mental habit patterns will have a far greater impact on happiness than any physical habit pattern ever could.

– It takes about 21 days to form a habit.

Start developing a habit of gratitude now by writing down three things about your spouse and marriage that you are grateful for every day over the next 21 days.
How has your spouse surprised you today?  What did your spouse do today to make you feel good about yourself, about him, or about life in general?  What did your spouse do today that made your day easier, sweeter, more enjoyable?  Ask yourself similar questions in your quest to find three things each day, and try not to write the same thing twice.  Try this for 21 days and see if you notice a difference in your own attitude about your mate and relationship.  I guarantee you will!

If you like this tip and want to read more about developing and maintaining gratitude for increased personal success at home, work, and play, visit my new Living with Gratitude website:  Please take a few minutes to check it out and register for your FREE GIFT!


Kristen Clark is the founder of His Witness Ministries and New Beginnings Marriage Ministry. In addition, Kristen writes articles on marriage and relationships for various online forums and print magazines, and her inspirational short stories have been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. She lives in Houston Texas with her husband, Lawrence.

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