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Small Joys Behind Big Gates

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 ESV

I used to think that joy had to be found in the big moments of life. I expected to only find joy in achieving my long-term goals, checking a box on my bucket list, or even hitting a major life milestone such as graduating college or signing a lease on my first apartment. Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me the joy of His presence. When Jesus is invited into our lives in both the big and small moments, joy can fill that space, no matter how simple or grand the space may be. Before I walk into any correctional facility, I invite Jesus into the gates with me. During the check-in process, I find myself I silently praying for the moments that lie ahead. I pray that every person I encounter – guard and inmate alike, will feel loved and seen by Jesus whether they know Him or not. What I’ve begun to realize is that those prayers invite the joy of God’s presence wherever He has me that day. I am blessed to have a front row seat to see how that joy transforms the small things. A children’s book becomes a vessel for an intimate connection with a parent and their child in a Little Readers recording, a sewing machine becomes a symbol of confidence for a woman in a quilting class, and a new pack of paint brushes becomes stress relief and peace for a juvenile girl in a Project A.R.T. class. Without your generosity, a lot of these small things that bring huge joy would simply not be possible. God takes our simple moments of entering someone’s brokenness and transforms them into reflections of His love and care. When His presence invades a prison library or a youth detention center classroom, we see lives changed and hearts renewed. Thank you for bringing small joys to the dark places. May you feel God’s joy over you. Grace Hall

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