The editor of a magazine asked me to submit an article on joy for her consideration. Of late, with many life circumstances crowding my space, joy seems elusive. Perhaps a study on the topic is just what I need to remind myself of how joy works and what my part should be in achieving it. In the meantime, Fern came for a visit, and thoughts of deadlines, writing, and even problems, disappeared. When Fern is in the house I live in the moment and enjoy her presence.

Fern repeated for me the lesson she had learned at church. In her childish speech but with confidence and determination she shared, “God made me! Yay!” My heart swelled with contentment and yes, overwhelming joy. Is there a better lesson for a toddler to grasp than the truth that God is real and that He is involved in the miracle that brought her to life?

One of our Grandpa/Granddaughter things is for me to open my arms and say, “Big hug!” Fern drops whatever is occupying her attention (unless it is in the dessert family) and runs to my arms to share a hug. Sometimes she returns the hug while at other times she simply folds herself contentedly into Grandpa’s arms. My prayer is that she never outgrows the need for those hugs.

After an intensive hunt for hidden eggs Fern joined me on the hammock. We marveled at the clouds as a gentle April breeze cooled our faces, and I felt my granddaughter relax as her head settled onto my shoulder. I sensed that a few additional minutes would tumble the both of us into a long nap. That moment overflowed with joy, and reliving the memory days later revives that joy. I can add my own declaration to Fern’s doctrinal recitation, “God blessed me with a bit of heaven in this granddaughter! Yay!”

The feeling of joy transcends our bank balance, our material collections, and even our health. Joy comes about when we grasp a sense of God’s blessings and His work on our behalf. For a few moments we recognize His hand and enjoy a bit of heaven on earth. We relax confidently in His arms knowing that He is enough. And then we practice that posture over and over until joy becomes a mark of our lives.