Chronically Ill and Ceaselessly Blessed

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  Yet, this is a phrase that describes my life.  I have a long list of health problems which are life-limiting, at least in the usual sense of what most people are able to do.  I will spare you the extensive details and just mention a few areas that pose a challenge: I’m unable to hold a job, I cannot make ongoing commitments (I frequently cannot even keep occasional ones), I rarely leave the house, it’s a challenge to accomplish housework, and I can rarely keep the refrigerator stocked on my own.  Getting through each day is often a monumental task.  But, I am blessed!

Sometimes, I hear comments such as “I don’t know how you do it.” or “I wish you didn’t have to suffer so much.”  Many times, I just hear the silence of isolation.  Few people understand. Fewer take the time to do so. Some cannot fathom what it is like.  And some don’t care to know.  It often feels as though I am forgotten as the world moves on without me.  But, my cup of blessings overflows!

How do I cope?  How can I say I am ceaselessly blessed?  First and foremost, I cling to the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 which say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  I have God, and He gives me the amount of grace I need to get through each day.  He gives me strength I would never have on my own.  I hold two other verses close also: “God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect.”1 and “I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”2  He is my helper, at all times, in all ways. What a blessing!

He also sends me comfort.  Sometimes, it is a bird, or a flower, or a breathtaking sky.  Sometimes, it is a song in my heart. Sometimes, it is a card, or a call, or a text.  Sometimes, it is a family member taking up my slack.  Sometimes, it is a friend grabbing a few groceries for me while she is out.  God sends me reminders of His love and care.  He cares for the birds of the air.  How much more does He care for us!He gives good gifts and great blessings!

And in my current state, I have come to know Him deeper than I ever did before—back when I had a frenetically-paced life, when I was self-sufficient, overachieving, and too busy for Him.

So, in the midst of the difficulties you face, seek His face.  In your struggles, look for the blessings He is pouring out. In your weaknesses, seek His strength.

He daily loads us with benefits, and His salvation is available to us.4

The help of His countenance will be the health of ours.5 


1 2 Samuel 22:33

2 Psalm 71:16

3 See Matthew 6:25–27.

4 See Psalm 68:19.

5 See Psalm 42:5, 11.

Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, March 27, 2022.

The Staredown

I wrote this as a guest post for a friend’s website.*

Invisible disabilities.  The world may not see them, but they stare us in the face every day.  And some days, they stare harder.  What will we do with our gaze?  Avert it and pretend this is not happening to us?  Look down at our feet in defeat?  Level the gaze and freeze our movements?   Or, stare down the disability and then look up and move forward? 

I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon: people with disabilities, myself included, sometimes add more disability to the original amount.  The mentality changes into one of “I can’t.”  The focus is on the freedoms lost, and then the heart gets lost, too.  And when the mind and heart give up, there is not too much the body can do; it is at the mercy of following where it is led.  But, if the pattern of thinking is changed, and the focus shifts to what is still possessed and what can still be done, hope will infuse the heart, and there will be an ability to move forward.

There are choices when it comes to invisible disabilities.  True, the choices may be limited, but they still remain.  While the reality exists that one cannot fully control what happens with the body, there is still some measure of control.  One can retreat or press on, wither or flourish, become a victim or a victor.  It is up to each one whether to take advantage of what is available, and thus, thrive in the midst of invisible disabilities.

How does one press on while unable to function “normally?”  Well, the days of disability do not have to be random, purposeless, and inconsequential; on the contrary, they can be extraordinary by simply choosing to make them so.  A life is not only full when it consists of good health and time spent “out amongst the real world;” it can be full while being stuck at home dealing with disabilities and chronic illnesses.  When thoughts, actions, and attitudes are adjusted, things can change.  Lives can become purposeful and impactful.  Instead of pessimistically hanging onto glasses that are half empty, intentional actions can be taken to make them overflow.  These actions involve being conscientious, creative, and conquering.

Be conscientious.  Life is to live, not shrivel up and die.  Disability does not have to become our winter.  We can forget what is behind and press forward.  Being deliberate and taking decisive action can keep us from becoming stuck in our limitations.  Having a hidden disability doesn’t mean we have to remain a hidden figure.  We can make a difference and devote ourselves to doing so.  By taking the focus off ourselves and redirecting it, we can make the lives of others better.

Be creative.  We do not have to be passive and let disability “happen” to us.  We don’t have to get stuck in the mindset of “what used to be” or “what can never be.”  Instead, we can be inspired and get creative.  God designed us to impact lives and make a difference in this world.  We can examine the resources we have and move to do something with them.  We can do a new thing—or do an old thing in a new or modified way.  And with our new skills and knowledge, we can reach out to touch the lives of others.

Be conquering.  We can push ourselves to improve and become stronger people.  Taking good care of our bodies and mastering life hacks, such as using assistive devices or modifying our space to accommodate our disabilities, can help us move forward.  We can hold on to hope and vigilantly battle the enemies of despair, discouragement, and depression.  Processing what is happening and realizing that today is a new day gives us new opportunity to bloom.  We can use the worst circumstances to become our best.

The staredown can come to an end each day as we stop staring at our disabilities and our four walls and get busy instead looking at how we can bloom in the field in which we have been planted.  Look up and move forward.  Win the staredown.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 30, 2020

*Visit to find resources to help you as you live with invisible disabilities or care for someone who does.

Repurposed Lives

Repurposed lives are redirected lives. I would be going about life in one way (independently), at one pace (fast), in one manner (efficiently), with one aim and one goal, and suddenly, my life would get redirected. Sometimes this would happen because of my own doings and sometimes because of the world we live in, but this one particular time, it was because my health failed. My way, my pace, and my manner all had to change, and at first, I was not necessarily okay with that. Yet, after experiencing such heartbreak, shedding many tears, and releasing my hopes and dreams, I realized that my aim and my goal was the same: to live a life surrendered to God and to bring Him glory.

So the question was how exactly I was going to do that in a body that no longer worked correctly. Well, that is where the detective work came in. But even before I got around to detecting, I had to prepare my heart to be repurposed. I had to resurrender my life to God. I had to let my hopes and dreams die. I had to let go of who I thought I was, and who I thought I was going to be by a certain age in life. Essentially, I had to determine to let my vessel be used differently now—yet still allow it to be used. This meant not throwing a temper-tantrum, not falling into inconsolable depression, and not setting myself on the “antique collectible shelf” to gather dust and not be touched anymore.

Being repurposed means I take this vessel in the state that it is in and I allow it to be used in a fresh new way. When we give attention to a broken piece of furniture by giving it time, a new coat of paint, a new space to reside, and a new exposure to light, beauty comes forth. If I allow God to put new touches on my life with His timing and attention, allow Him to set me in a new space, and allow Him to put a new light on who I am, beauty is going to shine forth.

We all have skills, abilities, and talents that may need to be tapped, dusted off, and strengthened. In these bodies that do not work quite right, we have a new arena in which to create a beautiful display. We have a new arena in which to use the things with which we have been endowed. We just have to take the time and focus the attention, and then beauty is going to come forth.

God’s mercies are new every morning, and they can be new in you and through you. You can have a greater impact now than you ever had before—as you allow God to redirect you into a new avenue of purpose.*

©May 2017 by Francee Strain

*This article was written as a guest post for my dear friend Carole’s website.  Her website addresses the struggles of invisible disabilities and offers help and encouragement to those affected by such situations. You may visit her site at