Clarity of Sight

iStock_000011718606XSmallI know it’s not Thanksgiving, but I’ve recently found thankfulness to be on my mind anyway. The past few weeks have been very difficult for me. The pain of fibromyalgia and the exhaustion of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have blurred my vision and drawn a veil over my eyes that I find it hard to see past. With each step taken and every movement made, the pain is my constant, unwelcome companion. It whispers in my ear to just give in, give up, nothing will ever get better. Unfortunately, after 28 years, this is probably true, it won’t get better. Just when I’m about to give into the sorrow and grieve over the life I’ve lost, my eyes are opened.

I see with such clarity that to give in is to permit illness and pain to define who I am. I think of Jesus and the pain He suffered on the cross and how that pain is not what defines Him. Instead, it is the resurrection that defines who He is. I think of Paul, who says he can do all things through the strength of Christ, and suddenly, this illness that I’ve seen as a curse, becomes something to be thankful for.

In my weakness, I experience the strength of Christ enabling me to do what He has called me to. As my pen moves on paper, I feel His strength. As I feel hope once again take up residence in my heart, I know it’s Him. The One who took five loaves of bread and two small fish and fed five thousand people until they were full, can take the one “loaf” of my life, and if I accept it is enough, will use that life to do so much more than I can imagine. I need only be thankful for the life He’s given me and simply say, “not my will, but yours”. What freedom thanksgiving brings!

Stepping Out


I began something yesterday, something that I knew I needed to do but had continually put off. Have you ever done that? You knew there was no getting around the fact that you needed to get something done, work on something, or focus on a goal, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to start. Why do we do this? What makes us continue to find excuses for not even beginning, let alone finishing, something we realize has to be done? There are many reasons for our procrastination, but for me it usually boils down to two. One, that I feel like I have plenty of time to get it done. Unfortunately, I seem to work well under pressure, so I will procrastinate until I feel the deadline approaching, and I have no choice but to get to work. Two, I put things off because I’m afraid I might fail. If I never start working toward that difficult goal, then I can’t fall short of reaching it. Of course, neither reason is good or even true.

The idea that I have plenty of time is one that takes a lot for granted. There is no way I can possibly know how much time I have. The book of James points out to us that our lives here on earth are like a mist that is here for a little while and then vanishes. None of us knows if we will be here tomorrow, let alone next week. Only God knows how much time we have on this earth, and it is our responsibility to use that time wisely. I should stop taking time for granted and instead, use my time to complete the tasks given me without procrastinating. In this way, I won’t leave things undone and have regrets.

My other excuse, the fear of failure, is just simply untrue. The only way I truly fail, is by not trying at all. As a child, and later as a young adult, my dad kept drilling this into my mind. He used to tell me that not trying was the true failure. He encouraged me to set my goals as high as possible, because then, even if I didn’t reach my goal, I would achieve more than I thought possible just by aiming for it. If we set our goals based only on what we know we can achieve, then we leave out one very important element, God. He wants to use us in ways we can’t even imagine. If we set our goals based only on what we feel confident we can accomplish, we leave no room for Him to amaze us and show others His power. It is scary to step out of our comfort zones, but when we do and God accomplishes something through us, what an amazing feeling we experience. It strengthens our faith and we are able to see God at work. Taking that step in faith, even if we don’t accomplish what we hope, is a victory in itself – there is no failure when we trust God.

So, yesterday I took that first step. I stopped procrastinating, thinking I had plenty of time, and I stopped worrying about failing. In my weakness, I began the journey toward accomplishing what I believe God has called me to do in His strength. It was frightening to take that first step into the unknown, but I’ll tell you a secret. Today, because I took that first step, I feel totally alive. It feels like I have woken up from a very long nap and I’m excited about the time that lies before me. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Surely there will be more scary steps to take ahead, but the adventure they’ll take me on is one I’m eager to experience.


Revealing the Subject

Woman photographer with camera, isolated on whiteWith the new year comes my traditional cleaning and organizing period. I’ve been busily shredding old papers, cleaning closets, and catching up on things I’ve put off. The last couple of weeks have been dedicated to cleaning out my son’s old bedroom and transforming it into a craft room. Finally! A place to have all my craft supplies neatly organized and easily accessible.

The other night I was in the new craft room, working on a scrapbook. Because I have so many pictures, I try to fit as many as possible on one page without sacrificing aesthetics. So, as I looked at the pictures of my beautiful granddaughter, I had to decide how to trim the photos. When I first started scrapbooking, I was nervous about cutting my pictures. Then I realized that most photos were filled with extraneous images that did nothing to enhance the picture, but actually took away from the subject or focus of the shot. With that realization came a freedom to cut the picture until the image I really wanted became the focus.

Our lives are so much like that. They are filled with so many extra activities, experiences, must-do’s, should-do’s, work and events, that we are spread so thin that the image of our lives becomes distorted. It’s hard to tell what is really important from what looks important, but could really be cut away. We get so busy with life that before we know it, it’s passed us by. None of us are here by chance. God determined when we would be born, to whom and where we would live. (Acts 17:26) He has a specific purpose for each one of us, but if we’re not careful, we might miss it. The busyness of life could distract us and take our focus away from what is most important.

Just like in my pictures, our eyes can be pulled away from the true subject or focus of our lives, to things that detract from our purpose. God has called us to something, and it is up to us to bring that  calling into focus by recognizing the things in our lives that either enhance it or detract from it. So, while I’m cleaning out and organizing my home, I’m going to do the same with my life. It’s time to cut away the distractions and bring my life into focus around the true subject – following God and pleasing Him. It won’t be easy, but in the end, the picture of my life will be more beautiful and full of  meaning that will outlive the snapshot of time I spend on this earth. So let the trimming begin…