Category Archives: Health

A Spirit of Thankfulness Brings Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace

“A Spirit of Thankfulness Brings Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace”
By Joan Y. Edwards

Here is a link to a video of this Lenten Reflection I did for St. Matthew Catholic Church on Friday, February 23, 2024.

 When you are feeling hopeless, anxious, resentful, or depressed because you feel you do not have enough of what you want or need, thank God for what you do have. A spirit of thankfulness will bring you love, hope, joy, and peace. Gratitude helps you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have.

 As a teenager, I watched a neighbor dig up azalea bushes and take them away to her friend’s house across town. I asked her “Why?” Her response was: “Because my family doesn’t appreciate them.”

If you aren’t thankful for things, will God take them away from you? No. God is not like that. God gives to you freely without expecting anything in return.

When you are thankful, you receive more of what you are grateful for. Tests prove that gratefulness produces more dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” hormones, in your body. It makes you feel happier and healthier immediately. It gives you such a warm feeling of hope, joy, love, and peace that you search for more reasons to be thankful, to experience that “good feeling” over and over again.

Choose a rock and designate it as your Gratitude Rock. Keep it in your pocket or put it in a good place to remind you to say “Thank you, God for the big and the small.”

 Being thankful makes you aware of God’s light of love, hope, joy, and peace deep inside you. You feel it so strongly that you want to share this good feeling with others. You hold a door open for someone. You pay for the food for the next person in line at a restaurant. Tell God, “I love you, Lord. Thank you for my many blessings. I am doing this for you.”
1. Positive Psychology has learned through tests that when we express gratitude and receive the gift of thankfulness, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.
2. “Neuroscience of Gratitude:” Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain
3. Scripture about Thanksgiving:
St. Paul the Apostle said to the people of Phillipi in Greece: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
4. National Christian Foundation says: Giving is a grace from God. He empowers us to give, fills us with joy when we do, and then often replenishes our supplies, so we can give more.
2 Corinthians 9
5. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11

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Appian Way, Queen of Long-Distance Roads, 312 BC

Original Appian Way Rome, Italy

“Appian Way, Queen of Long-Distance Roads, 312 BC ” by Joan Y. Edwards

On October 2, 2023 I was fortunate to visit Rome, Italy. I went to see the Appian Way…the oldest road there. I heard that it was the Queen of Long Distance Roads and wondered why. Oh my!
I discovered that although this road is technically more than 2,335 years old, ten miles of it still exists!!! I actually stood and walked on it.  Sometimes you have to witness something in person, in picture, or video to understand the strength of things built to last. I’m not sure that Appius Claudius Caecus knew the strength of this highway, but he knew that it was desperately needed to carry troops from Rome to the southern part of Italy. 
The first section to Capua near Naples was approximately 120 miles and  in 244 BC it was expanded to reach Brindisi along the Adriatic Sea on the west coast  of Italy was about 400  miles long. From Brindisi, it was easy to sail to Greece and Egypt.
The Appian Way was built to move troops swiftly and easily during the Samnite Wars. They built forts along this highway, too.  Appian Way was the first long distance road. They built 19 other roads from Rome. Hence the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” The Appian Way was celebrated by The poets Horace and Statius called it longarum regina viarum, or “queen of long-distance roads.” I definitely agree with that statement.
The Appian Way on an average was 20 feet in width. It was slightly convex to allow the rainwater to drain well. Heavy stone blocks formed the foundation of the road. They were cemented together with lime mortar.  Many sided blocks of lava were smoothly and expertly fitted together. They say this early road was  very smooth, not bumpy or rough edged. No potholes. 
Appian Way intersection with red light and wall
Appian Way Red Light intersection
Today there is a red light at the intersection. In this picture you can see the sign for Appia Antica.

Later times they built the roads like this. They were not and are not known for being smooth like the old Appian Way. So if you go to Italy or other towns where there are cobblestone roads, be careful not to twist your foot. I twisted mine. I am glad to say it healed nicely in about 3 weeks.
  1. “Appian Way”
  2. Live Virtual Tour. “What is the origin of the Appian Way in Rome?”
  3. Rick Steves.  “Time Travel on Rome’s Ancient Appian Way:”
  4. Sidetrack Adventures. “Exploring The Appian Way – Ancient Rome’s First Highway:” 
  5. Worldsiteguides.   “Appian Way – Rome:”