I have a certain friend who says "There is no better way to cultivate joy than to live life a grateful person."
We moved back to the US after our stint in Australia and found life to be less than what we anticipated or expected. Apparently I had the notion that everything was somehow going to fall smoothly into place, better than ever, roses would bloom as we walked by, there would be dancing and doors opening for us and tra la la la. I've since learned some lessons about hopes and disappointments, entitlement and humility, gratefulness and joy.
We had a baby 6 months ago. A perfect, happy, beautiful, very bouncy baby girl. We named her Aspen and she is pure joy. At times we have to do things for her that she does not approve of. Things like clipping her nails, wiping her nose, changing her pants, cleaning her ears and putting her socks on. It ends up like the scene from that TV show "Up All Night." The parents are wrangling the baby and they shout "we are just trying to help you! We're on your side." It would be so much easier if she would cooperate, just hold still for 2 seconds. If she could understand that she might not like what we are trying to do and it may hurt a little, but in the end it will be for her benefit. So much better than long scratchy nails, a crusty nose, dirty pants, waxy ears or cold feet. Really, it will be better if you just hold still.
At some point through the moving process and transition I decided to give up and quit fighting, to give in and accept what God is working out. To hold still. I choose to be grateful and find the positive, to be thankful for the smallest of things. I couldn't be happier because I quit being a baby and joy was cultivated when I realized my Father knows best.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtlewill grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." Isaiah 55:8-13
(12 & 13 are the verses we chose for Aspen's life blessing)