Why is that Girl So Full of Joy?

"Jenna's Joy"
Oil • 28" x 22"
Today, I'd like to share with you the beautiful story behind "Jenna's Joy," a painting I was commissioned to create by Jenna's parents, Jim and Cyndi.

When Jim and Cyndi took this painting to the framer, one lady commented on the joy on Jenna's face. After Cyndi shared the story behind the piece, the lady urged her to have the story printed and placed on the back of the painting. I'm excited that Cyndi and Jim have given me permission to share that story with you today.

Before I do, I'm happy to announce that "Jenna's Joy" has received two wonderful honors:
  • 10th Place in The Portrait Society of America's
    2016 Members Only Competition.
  • Inclusion in the "Artists to Watch" feature in the
    Jan '17 issue of Southwest Art magazine (below)

I praise God for these blessings, but to me, the highest honor was the privilege of capturing this beautiful story in paint. Here is the story behind "Jenna's Joy," told from the perspective of her mother, Cyndi:

  The Story Behind "Jenna's Joy"

Jenna and I had a really rough day yesterday. Just before school and immediately after, she was very angry with me about not getting her way. The resulting behavior was repeated disobedience, disrespect and hitting.

I sent her to her room to calm down and then I wrote a list of her multiple infractions and the typical consequences. As I looked at the list I thought, “there is no way this little child can bear all of this punishment.” It just seemed like such a long, overwhelming list. Then God brought to mind something I heard at Bible study a few weeks ago. The chasm between us and God is so big (because of our sin) we can’t possibly cross it to get to him, much like Jenna couldn’t possibly bear all of the consequences of her behavior. Knowing that we couldn’t cross the chasm on our own, God provided someone to do it for us... Jesus. I wanted to be an example for Jenna of what Jesus did for us.

I showed Jenna the list of mistakes and consequences and asked her how she felt about them. She said, “sad.” I told her that the consequences were too big for her to bear; she couldn’t do them on her own.

I told her that the consequences of my sins are also too big for me to bear, so Jesus took them for me. “Why would he do that?” I asked her. “Because he loves you,” she said. “And I love you. So I am going to take all of your consequences and you will have all of your privileges... you are free,” I said.

What followed was an example of how we should all celebrate our freedom. She lived life with abundant joy. She took off out the back door, leaped off the deck, ran to her playset and jumped onto her swing. The smile, relief and joy on her face was unlike anything I had ever seen. On some level (perhaps better than I do) she seemed to understand the gift of freedom that she had been given, and she enjoyed every minute of it!

I never want to forget the joy on her face at that moment. So when Jim said he wanted to have Jenna’s portrait painted, I knew just what scene I wanted to capture.

My Own Story of Joy

It was a daunting challenge—how on earth was I going to capture the joy on Jenna's face? I hadn't been there that day. I could paint a smile, but how could I hope to depict joy? It would have been impossible if I hadn't experienced the joy of being forgiven too.

The list of Jenna's infractions was long. So was mine. Reading God's Word, I learned there were many things I had done that God says are wrong. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and I realized that "all" included me.

Like Jenna, who faced difficult consequences, I was overwhelmed by God's punishment for my sin—"For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)." How could I possibly bear that penalty? How could I ever pay that price? I simply couldn't

"For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."
(Ephesians 2:8–9)

I couldn't pay the price for my sin, but I also didn't have to.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

(Romans 6:23)

This gift of life came at an unimaginable price, yet it cost me nothing. Instead of giving me the punishment of death I deserved for my sin, God provided a way out. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for my sin by dying in my place.

Why would God do that? The question is answered in one word—love.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life."
(John 3:16)

As a 14-year-old boy, I chose to accept God’s gift of life. With a repentant heart, I asked for forgiveness for my sin and placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior. Just as He promised, God saved me—
“For whosoever shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

(Romans 10:13)

If you see any joy coming through my paintings, it didn't originate from me. Many things inspire me to paint, but none inspires me more than my joy over receiving forgiveness and salvation through Jesus. This painting is a celebration of that joy.

If you haven't received the gift of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus, I want you to know that this free gift is available to you. Jenna's mother mercifully waived the penalty for her wrongdoings. Similarly, a loving Heavenly Father extends His mercy and grace toward you. Would you receive God's gift of forgiveness by placing your faith in Jesus as your Savior?

Thank you for taking the time to read this long email. If you'd like to chat about this topic, please feel free to email me at Contact@AdamClague.com—I'd love to hear from you! Thanks again, and have a wonderful day.


Note: All Scripture was taken from the
King James Bible. Bold and italic styles were added.


  1. Incredibly beautiful - both the painting and the story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. And, as you get older and realize even more the depth of that forgiveness, your joy grows. Because you KNOW He is ALWAYS with you. You may get too old to run like sweet Jenna, but your heart soars beyond all earthly bounds. Thank you, Adam, for sharing Jenna's revelation with us. Your paintings honor your Jesus.

  3. God bless you, Adam, and God bless Jenna and her wise mother. What a perfect picture of sacrificial love, forgiveness, salvation, and the joy that follows. Thank you.


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