"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)

It has been a rough time for my family this Summer. We went through weeks of stress and strain. New problems continually popped up that drained on our patience and taxed my meager savings. I worked harder than I had in a long time and didn't keep my good cheer nearly as much as I wanted to. I found myself praying and talking to God a lot, asking for us to just make it through this rough patch and get back to our normal lives.

Now that our lives are almost back to normal I find myself being much more thankful for the things I normally took for granted. In a sense my struggles opened my eyes to my blessings. Now I thank God for electric lights and dry clothes. I thank God for hot showers and clean dishes. I thank God for air conditioning on hot afternoons and heat on cold nights.

In addition, I have gained a heightened appreciation for all the blessings our Heavenly Father has given me in this life. I thank God every day for my wonderful children, for my dogs and cat, for living in these beautiful mountains with their colorful leaves and breath taking sunsets. I thank God for my daily bread and for always having just what I need. I thank God for the ability to share His love and light in my writings and in my life.

I have also learned something very important from this difficult Summer: a grateful soul helps you to create a happy life. When you open your eyes, your mind, your heart and your soul to the billions of blessings that our Heavenly Father gives us every single day then it is easy to be happy. It is easy to share your love. It is easy to find joy in this world and to bring joy to this world. A grateful soul awakens within you the knowledge of just how much God loves you. A grateful soul reminds you that you too are a Child of God, capable of doing so much good in this life. A grateful soul helps you to become the person you were always meant to be.

Joseph J. Mazzella