Many years ago when my oldest daughter was a baby, I'd pray (no, beg) with God to give me joy. Katie Lea was a strong willed child and as a baby had colic. I was blessed to be able to stay at home with her, but many days, the joy just wasn't there.
When Katie Lea was about 2 or 3 years old, I was once again asking God to give me joy with my strong willed child. He allowed me to see a great article at just that time that changed my perspective on so many things.
In this article, a man wrote about his battle with cancer. He said that he had always been a joyful individual, but since his diagnosis of cancer, joy had eluded him. One day, a dear friend suggested that he give thanks. The man said, "Are you mad? I've got cancer, or have you forgotten that?!" His friend quietly said that he remembered it quite well, but that maybe, just maybe if he offered thanks for the things he WAS thankful for, then maybe joy would come.
Six months went by and the man began giving thanks for his wife, his children, that he had been able to keep his job. He bumped into his friend later and the friend noticed the man was overcome with joy. He told his friend that he began giving thanks for the things he was thankful for and before he knew it, he was even thankful for the cancer.
This article had a profound impact on me. I began thanking God for Katie Lea's health, for my husband, for our home, for friends, for cool breezes, for the beautiful flowers, for the smell of baking bread, you name it. I'm guessing you know what happened. I started thanking God for Katie Lea and her unique personality. I began thanking him for the beautiful creation he had placed in our lives. Before I knew it I was really joyful! I was really enjoying life! I was really enjoying our Katie Lea...our Kitty.
I'd love to sit here and tell you that every day is joyful. While certainly most days are, I sometimes get off track and don't count my blessings. But, when I stop to count them, joy returns.
For me, Gratitude = Joy. Pure and simple.
Counting my blessings,
(and you are among them)