I believe that God generally starts the process of fulfilling our dreams at that point at which we are weakest. For me on my list of seven items, that would be gratitude. As a middle class American and as a Protestant Christian, I have been taught that if I work hard and play the game by the rules, I will get what I “deserve.” Like most human beings my life has had its share of disappointments. I get angry with God and complain. By the way, that is OK. God can handle your tantrums. I think that sometimes God looks at us the same way we look at an unhappy two year old child, with love touched with both sorrow and joy. Of course I am smart enough to know that I should be very thankful that I have not received what I deserve. The wages of sin are, after all, death. As we receive, it is important that we continually give thanks. As we pursue our goals it is possible that everything we need will fall into our hands in an instant. This is called a miracle and miracles do happen. However, in this world, it is more common that a house is built brick by brick. As we watch the construction of the house of our dreams, give thanks for each piece of wood that is raised and for every dollar added to your investments and savings. Rejoice in your increase as it occurs and cultivate a heart of gratitude. Gratitude always begins in the present moment. Right now, find something, anything in your life that is good and express your gratitude to the God of the universe. There is nothing that so adds to your happiness, as finding joy in what you have in this present moment. I am grateful that I live in a country where I am free to follow after God in the light of my understanding, a country where I am free to teach what I believe according to the dictates of my own conscience. I can honestly thank God that he gave me a secure job in my field for over 27 years. How many Americans have received such a blessing? I am in good health for my age and I have been given the time and energy to continue to try to improve this gift of good health I have received from our Lord. I have been blessed to have been given sufficient resources to pay cash for just about everything we have ever owned or obtained. My employer even paid for my Master’s degree. I thank God for my new home in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I am grateful to have the resources to continue to be a lifetime learner. I thank God for my credit union. Unlike my bank account, I never get hit with any mystery fees or weird charges, and I don’t need to worry about getting nailed by some of the nonsense going on with bank issued credit cards. If I ever have a question or problem even though I no longer live in Maryland, it is a place where everybody knows my name. You see, it isn’t hard to cultivate gratitude in the present moment. Do not limit joy and gratitude to your own life but extend it to others. When you see a friend or acquaintance receive something good in their life, experience the joy of gratitude from blessings poured out by our God no matter where they fall. This is the beginning of love. Consider the joy of a mother as she watches her healthy baby take his first steps. Her heart is filled with love and joy even though the blessing falls to another. Pss.23  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.