It was her smile that first drew me to her. I mean, you see that picture. How could it not?

This kid is of a lot of things: smart, determined, funny. But what catches you most is her joy. 

Dolly has been through so much in her short life. She watched her twin brother drown. Her father left shortly after the tragedy and her mother abandoned her at one of our partner homes. That would certainly be enough to zap the joy right out of me. 

That’s why I see the joy of the Lord in Dolly. Too often, we have decided that the solemnity of God is our strength. The rules of God are our strength. The hard parts of following Jesus are our strength. But what does the Bible say?

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” -Nehemiah 8:10

The joy of the Lord. 

I firmly believe that joy and reverence are both vital. The thing is that I’m not too bad at the reverence. But that’s why God put this beautiful kaleidoscope of humans on our little planet, so we can learn from each other. Little, barely 6-year-old Dolly teaches me joy.

– Michaela Shake, Director of India Ministries