PREFACE:  I started to write this post back in July but I never finished it.  Today, my daughter begins her Freshman orientation for college and I’m feeling fairly contemplative today so I set out to finish what I started on the day Kara Joy turned 18.

Today marks 18 years since I first saw you face-to-face.  And the joys of being your dad are without number, but I thought I’d list 18 special joys as you begin this next phase in your life.

1.  The Joy of Firsts.

I’ll never forget that moment you were born.  I’ll always be grateful for that unbelievably small hospital (we were the only ones on the maternity ward).  We had the run of the place.  I weighed you, helped to give you your very first bath, carried you from one place to the next.  You moved on of course to your first lollipop, first words, first steps, first Christmas, first hunting trip, first day of preschool, and first AWANA book. On to things like your first playhouse, first sleepover, and then things your first driving experience.  I can’t help but to smile as I remember the joys of all these firsts!

2.  The Joy of Prayer.

The announcement of God’s blessing us with you drove me to prayer.  And that is one of my greatest joys.  Oh the joy of kneeling together with you there in front of that white gliding rocker in our old house.  You would fold your hands and pray as I helped you with the words.  Now today, in many ways you help me with the words as I pray for you moment-by-moment (especially when you’re away from us!).

3.  The Joy of Fun.

You are fun.  And everyone else has fun with you.  Just thinking about you brings a smile to me (and to your mom).

4.  The Joy of a Good Game of “Monster”

“Come on daddy, play the monster game” (or “bull rider” or hide ‘n seek, etc). You were and are always up for a good game of monster.  I can’t tell you the joy that brought and still brings me.  Those games usually end up with a bunch of messed up beds and out-of-place sofa cushions…and sometimes a sore back.

5. The Joy of the Moment

I suppose if there’s one thing that I wish I could treasure more, it would be the joy of the moment.  You seem to have mastered that.  You never miss a good song, or a happy moment, even just now you and your brother just had a water battle when you were supposed to be washing your car!

6.  The Joy of a Beautiful Voice

Whether its your favorite song on the radio or when you sing as part of the Youth Group band, you have a beautiful voice.  That’s better than gold to me.  I could listen to you for hours and never get tired or bored.

7.  The Joy of Talented Hands

God has taught me the joy of talented hands as I’ve watched you learn to play the piano.  There are few things as sweet to me as hearing you sit down at your keyboard and begin to play.

8.  The Joy of Pajamas, School work, and a Rainy Day

Because you’ve been schooled at home you’ve spent many school days in your pj’s.  Few things make you as happy as that…and when you add a rainy day in there it just doesn’t get much better!  At first I couldn’t imagine how anything productive could happen that way…and now I can’t imagine how any learning takes place any other way!

9.  The Joy of Family

Family is not just important to you, it’s essential.  Your love for family is instructive to me…just spending time together in a dimly lit basement on movie night or making sure to just pop over to mamaw’s house (and maybe get a snack too) is cause for joy.

10.  The Joy of a Lovely Young Lady

You are absolutely beautiful.  And you know that this beauty is not skin deep–it’s founded in a heart that is being formed in the image of Christ.

11.  The Joy of Jesus

Whether you were “preaching” to your sister when you were 5 or battling today to defeat sin and to pursue Christ, you’ve come to love Christ and that is pure joy!

12.  The Joy of Forgiveness

It’s no secret that you’ve been the family “guinea pig”.  In many ways we feel like we’ve been experimenting as parents with you.  And that necessitates lots of forgiveness from you.  I’ve said it a lot, but never enough, “please forgive me”.  And your free and willing forgiveness has been the cause of 1,000 joys.

13.  The Joy of making breakfast for supper

Remember pancakes and broccoli?

14.  The Joy of spending time with good friends

I enjoy your joy when you’re with your friends.  That usually involves Mack’s ice cream, sweet frog, or pizza at our house.

15.  The Joy of a dance party

Is there ever not a good excuse for one?  I’m not quick to participate but when you, your momma, sister, and brother, and a few good friends break out, t’s a sight to behold…and to enjoy!

16.  The Joy of sleeping in

When you were 2 your naps were measured in hours not minutes…and even today on those days when you can (even though they are fewer today) sleeping in puts a smile on your face.  There are even times when I’ll go in to try to wake you up and notice you sleeping with a smile.

17. The Joy of being a dad.

When I first heard you’d be making an entrance into our lives, I was ecstatic.  I told everyone I met about you.  And I can say today that there is a joy in being a dad to three wonderful blessings…and you began it all.

18. The Joy of Future Joy

I happily anticipate future joy.  We don’t know what events lie ahead, but whatever those events are, I await the next joy.  And one day I anticipate that place called “the joy of the Lord” everything that we enjoy now is just a prelude that that Day.