welcomehome_kimberleywoodhouseI enjoy books that surprise me.

Unfortunately I consume enough books that it is rare that I’m truly surprised. However, Kimberley Woodhouse’s recent release, Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy was a pleasant surprise.

It’s not your typical story of a near perfect family, nor does it wrap up with a nice little red bow at the end. The reality of the Woodhouse’s struggles are ongoing and real, but so is their determination to choose joy regardless of them.

I picked up the book on a Saturday, and by Wednesday had read the complete story of daughter Kayla’s rare medical disease, several family moves, multiple changes in ministries, a devastating fire, near homelessness, son Josh’s breathing issues, and countless doctor’s appointments, surgeries and hospitalizations. Life seemed to be one trial after another, many times one on top of another. Behind all the chaos, however, Kim heard God speaking one simple and reassuring message:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds … “ ~ James 1:2-4

Perhaps the most difficult challenge in any crisis is developing the vision to see beyond the immediate circumstance to the greater possibilities. Kimberley was able to do that (granted, her circumstances provided a lot of opportunity to practice!). Her story gives the rest of us hope that we can find joy in the midst of our own messes.

Welcome Home is an easy read, and the fact that the Woodhouse’s family circumstances were laced with so much adventure makes it difficult to put down. With every page turn I found myself anxious for a happy ending. A happy ending does come eventually, but not the way you might think. Yes, Kayla’s health has improved, as has Josh’s. A vast community of friends and family have surrounded them, providing both relationship and finances. And they now live in a beautiful, state-of-the-art home thanks to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Still, all those blessings are merely the whipped cream on top a bowl already full of joy. A joy that came as a result of choosing it, rather than waiting for it.