I read a cute, likely fictitious story about Mark Twain.  A Sunday school teacher told him that his name came up in Bible Class.  One of her young students was attempting to quote the name of the books in the New Testament.  He began by saying, “Matthew, Mark Twain, Luke, and John.”

“What do you think of that, Mr. Twain?” she inquired.

“Well,” he replied, “it’s been a long time since I’ve been in finer company.”

May I say the same.  Through the course of writing this column, I’ve enjoyed the company of some of the finest women and men.  Those who are generous with their compliments. I sincerely appreciate their evaluations that are constructive and compelling, nudging me to improve this column. I’m grateful to those who read this column regularly.  Most of the time, it’s just a word of the mouth through the grapevine that encourages me to continue.  I once received a call from a man just to say “thank you.”  I am grateful because there are times when I feel like I’m just writing to this big void in the universe.

I really believe that there is no joy without gratitude.  Gratitude is defined as feeling of appreciation or thanks.   Joy is something or someone that gives to another.  Gratitude cultivates joy.  Joy is not a favor.  It is most authentic in a child’s face.  It shows all over your face when you are in it.  It’s relationships.  Dr. Wilder says, “Joy is delighted to be with you.”  You’re delighted to be with me as I am delighted to be with you.  You get home after a long stressful day at work, tired.  Your six month old child in the arms of the sitter sees your face, recognizes you and her face lights up the room. That’s joy.  It washes away all the grimes of the day.  It’s such a beautiful feeling. It’s one of those miracles that makes life wonderful. You even find joy watching your little boy coloring his coloring book, and without raising her his head says, “Hi Mommy!” too busy to even raise his head to look at you.  You smile understandingly with joy seeing your boy growing up.  It is a relationships between you and your family and friends.  And with God.

Years ago when I became a believer in Christ, I came across a text in the Scripture that made me ask God to interpret it to me. Sometimes we read a verse and we know the words used, but we do not understand the meaning.  You can find it in Zephaniah 3:17. It reads, – “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  This is what I heard within, “Ak mengeskes er kau…”  Think of a mother e mengeskeskes ra ngelekel… a little rhyme with a lulling rhythm delighting in her child to sleep.  WOW!  I thought.  God is really good.  I close my eyes to sleep at night with joy trusting…  For that I am grateful. [/restrict]