It was early and dark when my alarm crashed into my subconscious.  Today was the day.  Eight years in the making, and it was here.  I slid quietly out of bed, pulled on some socks and walked gingerly out of my room and down the hall to my daughter’s door.  As I walked up I could see her wrapped snuggly in the mounds of covers that she loves.  Tiptoeing up beside her, I rubbed her back and said, “Happy birthday sweetheart.  Let’s get up and go.”

My beautiful ‘Bella turned eight today, and the one thing she asked from me was that we would go out to breakfast together.  “Of course!” was my reply.

After we had dressed and climbed into the car we discussed the various breakfast options: Steamers, Denny’s, Starbucks or Village Inn.  She chose the Inn.  As we sat across from each other slicing and dicing our pancakes, I certainly couldn’t argue with her choice.


‘Bella is adopted and one of her favorite requests is to hear the story of when my wife and I first met her at the hospital just five hours after she was born.  It is a great story and one that always makes both of us smile.  Today though, it made me do more than smile, it made me tear up.  Not for any sense of sadness, quite the opposite.  Sitting across from my “very grown up eight-year-old” girl flooded me with overwhelming pride, humility and joy.  Ultimately it was the “joy” that overwhelmed me.

True Joy has a way of doing that.  You can’t prepare for it.  It is as different from happiness as sticking a glass under the water dispenser in my refrigerator versus stepping into the raging torrent of a 100 foot aquamarine waterfall.  The waterfall will take your breath away every time.


My wife has begun a new series on Joy on her site: www.womenwhobelieve.wordpress.com beginning with the story of our beautiful ‘Bella.  I encourage you to click through and read it.  She offers some penetrating questions that all of us should wrestle through.

My parents taught me a great lesson about the difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is fleeting, temporary and based solely on earthly things.  Joy is a choice that is empowering, ongoing and rooted in the eternal heart of the Father.

I hope today that you will choose to step into the whelming flood of God’s eternal Joy.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – Jesus, John 15:11

Joel Thomas

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