The Grace of Joy


The girl looked to be about ten years old. Slowly, she rose from her chair. Putting one hand on the back of the chair, and one hand at her side, she began to hop from one foot to the other.

Her smile gave birth to a grin as she warmed to the dance. Her parents swayed and clapped out the time, smiling their encouragement.

I was in an Irish restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day. My sister made reservations well in advance and we had a prime table. We were right in front of the stage. A three-man Irish band played fiddle, guitar and tin whistle while Irish dancers clicked out the beat with their hard shoes.

But the real show was at the table behind me.

The music and dancing was so infectious that the shy little girl was transformed. She knew she wasn’t like the pros on the stage, but that didn’t matter. It was impossible for her to sit still.

Her jubilant dance rippled over to her parents who encouraged her steps. Losing herself in the rhythm of the fiddle, her joy washed over all of us.

That’s the power of joy.

Every life has this power. Every soul has this joy.

I have a choice. I can cooperate with the grace of joy that fills me, or ignore it. How I choose will not only make my life a dance, but it can also bubble over to everyone I meet.

We all have people who look to us. We have families, friends, co-workers, and church friends. The number of people doesn’t matter. It matters that I realize that there are people who will be affected by my attitude and spirit.

Everyday, good things happen and bad things too. The challenge is to decide to be an inspirational song, no matter what is happening. And my choice won’t just affect me. My actions and words have power. There are people watching.

That’s a lot of influence, isn’t it?

But God only has you and me to encourage another person (or a whole room) to dance with joy. He is hoping that I will allow others to see his gifts in me, and give him praise.

It’s easy to be negative; it’s easy to just sit. But that’s not what God calls us to do. We’re supposed to be like his Son. Although Jesus faced challenges, his joy radiated to everyone he met. Always on the move, always available to pray; his life inspired and healed.

The same power of the Spirit that was in Christ rains down on all us every day. And it’s renewed every morning.  The grace of joy is a gift, but not to own. It’s to share.

Every morning, I have a choice. Do I get up and dance to the tune of joy, or do I stay mute in my chair?

I think I’ll let that ten year old lead me. I think she’s got the right idea.



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68 thoughts on “The Grace of Joy

  1. Most certainty, my dead friend… I agree! Although, I must admit…I am more of a stay in my chair, let others shine, and support them as they do kind of gal. You have inspired/challenged me to get up and join in. : )
    Have a blessed, cozy week, my friend!

    • Hi Billie Jo! I’ll need a cozy week. Sadly, we have snow again the forecast. Heavy sigh…

      Oh believe me, you are a light to many who come to your blog. Your love of family and faith washes over to your readers. But I’m glad you feel urged to dance in a new way. I know Jesus is smiling 🙂

      Blessings to you my friend,

    • Hi Linda! And you do share it through your photos. So many come to see your work, and the nature you capture. Isn’t that wonderful?

      Life is so much more joyful when we share what we’ve been given. It gets a whole new life in others!

      Thanks for your visit today my friend.

  2. You certainly brought joy to me tonight. I smiled all through your post! Wow just think how others watch us and if they see that joy within our hearts, they find it too. love how it ‘washes” over us. Great description and Sunday night encouragement,

    • Hi Jean! It is an amazing thing to consider…others do watch us. Whether it’s family, friends or someone on the street, what we do matters. I hope they do see joy in my heart! (I might make it a little challenging to see sometimes.)

      Good to see you again 🙂

  3. Oh, Ceil. I truly loved this. Beautiful. With JOY being my one word for the year this spoke to my heart. I want to dance with joy and I want the joy in me to overflow and be contagious to those around me. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    Much love,

    • Hi Beth! I’m so glad you liked what you read. And your word for the year fits right in, that’s so great!

      I know if you want to dance with joy, the joy will be there. God wants to give us every good thing. That’s a good thing!
      Have a joyful Monday. Thank you for your visit today 🙂

    • Hi Patty! Thank you for much for your kind comment. Isn’t it fun to see this little girl in your mind? She was so darn cute. And not a drop of self-consciousness…all joy!

      Have a joy-filled Monday!

  4. Welcome back Ceil.

    Thanx for a brilliant post. We are all role models for others to see and emulate – no matter who we are.

    Your description of that restaurant reminded me of times in bars in Dublin.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Thank you, it’s good to be back!

      We are all role models for someone, I agree. The restaurant was so much fun, loud and joyful. Well, it was St. Patrick’s Day after all! And this little girl made it memorable.

      Have a great day my friend,

    • Hi Elizabeth! You would have loved it. She was so cute, and completely unaware of anyone watching.

      You and your husband are in my prayers. Please let us all know how it works out, ok?


    • Hi Linda! Me too! And I think the Irish music would be a perfect tune for an inspirational song. But I think God is already working in you for his purposes through your blog. You are a song my friend!

      Have a joy-filled day 🙂

  5. Oh Ceil, you are an inspiration! What a beautiful picture you have painted in my mind and my heart – thank you, sweetest friend!

    You are a lovely vessel, inside and out, for our Lord and Savior. Hugs to you!

    • Hi Stephanie! I’m so glad you liked the post today. She was just precious, and I know you would have thought the same if you were there with me.

      We all are God’s songs, and a way for him to spread his joy. Isn’t that wonderful?

      Have a joy-ful day my friend 🙂

  6. Hi Ceil,
    Sounds like you had a great trip! (Florida sounds like a good place to be right about now if you know what I mean – 15 degrees when I woke up this morning!) I loved this post, it was uplifting and the perfect thing to read this morning. Thank you, Ceil. You are a bright spot of sunshine on a cold winter’s (hey wait…it’s spring) day 🙂

    Welcome back, my friend!

    • Hi Mary! Oh, it feels like winter here too. It’s not going to get much above freezing. Isn’t that nice?

      Florida was really lovely. So many flowers! It was a feast for the eyes. My sister and I were saying that it sure is nice to go outside and not automatically hunch our shoulders against the cold. I even went in an outdoor pool!

      Thank you for your kind comments Mary. And the warm welcome back. You are such a wonderful blog-friend 🙂

  7. Such a beautiful post Ceil! Reminds me of that famous quote that talks about how it’s not the number of years we ought to measure a man’s life by, but the number of people he touches for good.

    • Hi Natalie! Thank you for your lovely comment!

      And I think that quote is really great. We can let our joy just ooze out of us if we allow it. Think of how many people would be affected! And then their joy would spill out too. A great domino effect 🙂

      Great to see you today! Thank you for visiting.

  8. Yes, indeed..I wish I could more like that girl..I think as we age we get more reserved and when in truth, we need to be more “free” to express outselves. (for whatever reasons behind the “maturity” thing.) I find myself as I have gotten older, more wiser to the world, some of that joy is lost. You know, if I was there, I prob would gotten up and danced with her. Honestly..there is nothing like a child to bring “joy” into ones heart. I often forget to laugh or find joy..thanks Ceil..WELCOME BACK. Blessings

    • Hi Linda! How you made me smile! I love that you would join her and dance. I just stole looks at her and her family. It was so fun. Later, she was able to take the stage with some other brave children and dance with the pros. So cute!

      I do think you’re right about getting more reserved as we get older. We all go through a lot, and it can make us very defensive. But it’s so much better to let our graces flow. Like you, dancing with the best of them!

      Thank you for your welcome back, it’s good to be back too 🙂
      Blessings to you my friend,

    • Hi Lauren! Oh, thank you for your supportive comment. I really appreciate that.

      I’d love to see you dance! Maybe you’d start a little dance party over here 🙂

      Joy Always on this Monday!

  9. “The grace of joy is a gift, but not to own. It’s to share.” So true, Ceil. Wish I was there to see that little girl getting her dance on. We may be the one source of the joy of Christ to someone. How important that we remember the privilege and the responsibility of being a joy-carrier!

    • Hi Ali! I wish you were there too. You would have loved it!

      And I’m sure she had no idea what a ‘joy carrier’ she was. I think the key is not to worry, and just let it flow. You do that on your blog Ali. You are a joy-carrier!


  10. It is a choice isn’t it? I love Irish music and when I see the dancers on TV there is something in me that suddenly thinks I can do it too. Of course my version is laughable but it brings me a bit of joy to try : ) Welcome back from your trip!

    • Hi Mindy! I love the Irish music too. My daughter participated in it for many years. I just loved it. When I was in college, my friend taught about six of us a basic step so we could be part of a talent show. Ha! There was some comedy relief 🙂

      We could dance together, wouldn’t that be a sight? Lol! But we’d be joyful, that’s for sure.

      Thank you for your warm welcome back!

  11. Hi Ceil
    It’s good to have you back 🙂
    I loved this post.
    I truly believe the good Lord wants us to be full of joy.
    This morning I was dancing across the kitchen floor (with my granddaughter Rose) and my heart was indeed joyful.

    Thanks for the inspiration you share in your writings.

    Have a wonderful, joyful and blessed day.

    • Hi Margie! Thanks my friend, it’s good to be back!

      I think we just swapped images. Now I can see you dancing with your granddaughter. How fun! I bet your little one just loved it. Joy is infectious, isn’t it?

      Have a peaceful night. So good to see you 🙂

  12. I want to be that 10-year-old! That light… that enthusiasm… that contagious spirit of joy. What a beautiful picture you’ve painted with words here Ceil and what a lovely reminder for us to move through this dance of life with a skip in our step.

    Wishing you a blessed day my friend.

    • Hi Jennifer! Oh my, I think that you and your girls must dance all the time! At least that’s the impression that I get from your blog.

      I like that phrase “a skip in our step.” Thank you! That is joyful 🙂

      Have a restful night,

  13. While reading your post, I was reminded of my girls. When they were young, they were invited to join an Irish dance group. They loved it and picked up the dances very quickly. They were the only two chocolate girls in the group, but after performances, people approached them with praises, telling them how much they enjoyed their performances. I was so proud of them and the teachers and students embraced them with so much love. I guess, my girls were spreading joy as well.
    I love your post. I once read that happiness is fleeting and situational, but joy is internal and eternal. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Marilyn! Yay for your girls, and you too! My daughter was in Irish Dance for many years. It’s a real work out, isn’t it? I’m so glad that you were made welcome, and felt so loved.

      I know your children were spreading joy. I couldn’t even watch a practice without feeling happy. And I love your theme about joy being ‘internal and eternal.’ I’ll have to remember that.

      Thank you for reading two posts, and commenting too. You are such a wonderful blog-friend! Blessings to you 🙂

  14. Your right Ceil, we do have a choice. God wants us to be a joyful and shinning example of His character.Thank you for the reminder that there are people who watch us and will be affected by our words and actions. I sometimes forget.

    • Hi Dee! Realizing that we do have influence in the world, no matter how small is a sobering thought. But once the decision is made, we can spread joy and love all over the place. Isn’t that wonderful?

      I know that you are a shining example of God in your photography. You find beauty everywhere, and share that will all of us. What a gift you have!


  15. Hi Laurie,
    when I think of ‘joy’ I always think of two scriptures. One is ‘Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.’ Jeremiah ch.15 v.16, and the other is ‘ Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Nehemiah ch.8 v. 10.
    These verses have always spoken to me about sharing the goodness of the Lord with others. To see others blessed by the Lord is a blessing in itself.
    God bless.

    • Hi Brenda! Thank you for sharing your Bible verses with me. They really do speak to the joy in God’s words and blessings.

      May you experience the joy of the Lord today!

    • Hi Kim! They sure don’t, do they. They experience those feelings and just let it fly. I’m sure that Jesus wanted us to be like children so we could express the joy and wonder of living.

      Great point! Thank you for your visit, it’s good to see you today 🙂

  16. What a lovely story, Ceil! May we overflow with joy in Him so that others can join in the dance through us. Your post reminds me of an inspiring quote from Schumann we saw at a competition this weekend, on a dance photo: “The work of an artist is to bring light to the darkness of men’s hearts.”
    God bless,

    • Hi Laurie! What a wonderful quote. And I have seen your dancing so I know it lights up the room!

      I know you connect with the dance theme because of your talents. You pass along the grace and inspiration you get through your art. What a great gift to share!

      Have a joy-filled day 🙂

  17. Oh Ceil,
    the Spirit inside you open your eyes to see the unseen things. It’s a beautiful thing That I always want to have to see the Lord even in little things.

    Reading this post I just remembered of the season that God has brought me while I was break from my blog. God taught me to be bold and not let my joy be taken of any situation. I was there, it’s was like in a battle. My praise and worship were my main guns in the battle. Praying made me stronger and reading Bible was my medicine. It released peace.

    thank you for reminding me again 🙂 I feel like God speaks about this to me again while reading this.
    blessing to you my friend.

    • Hi Delvalina! Seeing God in the little things really is a gift. Well, he is in all things, but I often miss the small events.

      It sounds like your blog break was really fruitful, I’m so happy for you! Not so much for the battle, but how you knew what to fight with; praise and worship. Wonderful! I am so glad you are at peace.

      Have a joy-filled day my friend 🙂

  18. Such a convicting post, Ceil (in the best way possible!) Yes, it is easy to be negative. But, I’m learning that that can really just be a matter of spiritual laziness. You’re so right – JOY is most often a choice. It must often be intentional. This is what I’m learning on my JOY journey so far. That it doesn’t always come naturally, and that sometimes I must willfully fight for it.


    • Hi Sharon! Thank you for qualifying your comment. Sometimes when people say they are ‘convicted’ I feel bad! I don’t want to convict anyone… But I’m glad you saw some value in what I wrote here.

      I know you are working so hard on being joyful. It’s a stretch for me sometimes too. You are so right, we have to fight for it some days. I know that if I am in a habit of prayer it’s easier. Another reason to pray each day.

      Thinking of you,

  19. Amen!
    I thought of Ecc 9:11 as I read this,”…time and chance happen to them all”.
    If we are breathing right now and reading this, then we are given both time and a chance to know God more.
    “Chance” not referring to winning the lottery, but as in the opportunity to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

    I love your post. I want to dance like a 10 year old. I want to share God’s joy. This world needs hope. He is that hope.

    • Hi TC! It’s so nice to see you! I hope your book launch is going well.

      I think we all have that ‘time and chance’ to be joy-spreaders. I hope we’ll both choose to dance when we are called. Sometimes I’d rather sit and watch…but God needs doers!

      He is our hope. So true my friend.
      Have a peaceful evening,

  20. Oh Ceil, I love the message of choosing JOY! Living the GOSPEL! It’s about deciding to focus on the positive. It’s not that the negative isn’t there, it’s just that we don’t let it rule our lives. This is how I’ve made it through so many hard times in my life. Sure, I have down days just like anyone else, but it’s the decision to choose joy that brings me up and out of it. 🙂

    • Hi Anne! I’m so happy (joyful!) that you liked the post. That is living the Gospel, isn’t it?

      Another blogger commented that joy is a choice too. Like you said, every day is not going to go all that well. But it’s all about living the life of Christ. He sure had his down days. But he knew his mission, and we know ours.

      Let’s be his joy everyday 🙂
      Thank you for your precious blog-friendship!

  21. Good Morning Dear Ceil, Sounds like a bit of the Irish is in all of us! For it is joy that will take us from a chair and our toes start tapping and we join in with the flow of His Spirit that takes above our situations and into His fullness and joy!
    This was so sweet and I believe I was that little girl :o)
    Love Always, Roxy
    So glad you enjoyed seeing my grandchildren!
    Hope your trip was relaxing!

    • Hi Roxy! The flow of his spirit..I like that! I think we can all be that little girl, letting our joy flow out to all we meet. You can lead the way!

      Your grandchildren were so sweet, thank you for sharing those photos!


  22. Your new blog is so nice and I really like your profile picture. I want to be like that little ten year old and join the dance. Sometimes life gets in the way and I find that I take myself way too seriously. So this was a good post for me to read!

    • Hi Mary! How nice to see you here! And on Twitter too 🙂

      I take myself way too seriously sometimes, that’s a great point. You have to be like a child to want to dance. Maybe we can join in together!

      Have a great day!

  23. This is a timely post. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my words and feelings impact not only on others but on me. It’s so important to stay positive and speak positively, to be kind to oneself and to others. Have a wonderful rest of your week. 🙂

    • Hi Joyful! It is important to stay positive, I agree with you. And that’s not always easy. But I think it’s going to be hard to ‘dance’ while feeling negative or being unkind.

      Great points. Thank you! I hope you will have a ‘joyful’ day, just like your name 🙂

  24. Don’t you love the joy and uninhibited actions of little children? They don’t care who is watching; they are just full of innocent laughter and happiness! ♥ When we put God first in our lives, we can have that immodest and outgoing joy in our heart that illuminates our life! We’ll RADIATE with His love. We’ll be bright ambassadors for Him, and our purpose will be to glorify Him in all that we do and say, so that our light will shine with JOY! ♥

    Have a joy-filled day full of smiles and love Ceil!! ♥

    • Hi Denise! I agree 100% with your comment Denise. The love of God lifts us all up to himself, and makes us forget ourselves. In a good way! We are able to shine and do his will because we want to reflect his love. An ‘immodest and outgoing heart’…I love that!

      And that is a joyful thing. Thank you for your lovely wish for joy today. I pray the same thing for you my friend 🙂

  25. What an inspiring post! You have such a gift with words, I am glad that you share it with us!
    God bless~ Lisa :O)

    • Hi Lisa! Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for your support on Facebook too. You are such a wonderful blog-friend!

      May God send his blessings on you today,

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