My second-born girl takes hold of a pearly gem. With hazel eyes grinning, she drops it in a Mason jar ringed by a blue band of painter’s tape, six-year-old hearts and the words “J’s Joy Jar.”


The peach-colored gem joins the turquoise and jade jewels that already line the jar’s bottom — each one representing an act or attitude of joy. Wide-open eyes and nods as little sister tells a story. A skip in her step while setting the table. A kind, forgiving word to big sister who accidentally kicks her leg. A dance with Papa as she puts toys in bins and folds fort blankets. Extra loving hugs and smiles when greeting Mama at school.




Over the last few weeks since beginning the joy jar project, these sounds have become my music.

J and I first discussed the jar over a coffee and hot cocoa date.

“When we pour out joy, it fills up our house with joy. When we pour out joy, we fill the world with joy. Your joy is a special gift to have inside, and it’s a special gift to pour out.”

My girl of pretend and sparkle and twirl stopped moving and listened intently.

“And when you fill up the jar to a certain line, we’ll have some sort of a reward to remind us that joy brings good things. What would you like that to be?”

She spoke strong and clear, without a hint of hesitation. “I want to go to the book store — the one with the coffee shop in it — with you and Papa. Just us. Not my sisters.”

We had a plan.

In the weeks since, we’ve certainly seen the occasional joyful act followed closely by, “Do I get a jewel?” or “How about four jewels? How about three?” But how different is this questioning from my own desire to be recognized for the good I’m doing? Humans, all of us.

This morning, hand pausing over the jar covered with her favorite letter, I see J hold the gems ready for plunking, perhaps recalling the act that brought the jewel to her hand in the first place, maybe excited to watch the jar fill. Whatever she sees, I know it’s new.

“Real treasures,” she says.

Sparkling treasures created not by sequins, but by glimmers made alive when joy-filled love and giving rain down from our hands.

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21 (NASB)

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