You see the core of who somebody is in their toughest moments.

What happens when you wrestle with illness from a young age? How does battling chronic illness challenge you specifically as a man? Josiah gives us an honest look at the things he's learned along his own journey. Through his experiences and an unwavering vulnerability, Josiah's story boldly challenges us with his perspective on who we're becoming throughout the process.

When you get frustrated with something,
you have a choice of how to respond.
This isn’t an end. This is a new beginning.
This is a new opportunity for you to live your life in a way that compels people more than maybe you could have before.

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To Have & To Hold

To Have & To Hold

“…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”

I said those vows at age 21, knowing what they meant, but not understanding their weight until later in marriage. My husband, Jace, and I considered ourselves to be an adventurous couple. We enjoyed traveling, hiking, biking, and running next to one another in our local gym. Two miscarriages at the end of 2014 activated an autoimmune disease in my body. I started losing physical functions, which quickly became crippling. Only a few months later I had lost significant abilities, causing me to struggle just to climb stairs or lift my arms above my belly button. I began falling with the inability to get myself off the ground as my muscles significantly atrophied. After a blood lab, a three-day hospitalization, and a muscle biopsy surgery, I was diagnosed with a rare muscle disease.

The vows Jace said to me on our wedding day came to light the moment I entered our apartment for the first time after leaving the hospital. I had become weaker since I checked myself in the ER just three days prior. We lived in an upper apartment, and because my legs buckled easily, our new normal involved my husband putting the gait belt around my waist to help me walk up our stairs. I think for both of us chronic illness became real at that very moment. Despite being prescribed a strong medication, my disease rapidly took over my body. My weakest point had hit. 

I was reminded of our vows when I cried out in tears from the restroom for Jace to help me. To be fully transparent, I could no longer get myself off the toilet. No matter how hard I tried my body was too weak to go from the sit-to-stand position. As he helped me up, tears streamed down my face, recognizing this as a true representation of “in sickness and in health.” 

As he helped me up, tears streamed down my face, recognizing this as a true representation of ‘in sickness and in health.’ 

I was reminded of our vows in the middle of the night when I would wake up from medication induced sweats and I was too weak to kick the covers off. In tears, I would wake up Jace, begging him to pull the covers off my body.

Our marriage had inevitably changed. Our workouts together turned into him manually lifting my legs and arms for physical therapy, and our outings became doctor and physical therapy visits. As with the trial of our miscarriages, our marriage had to grieve what was lost. Jace, a full-time, working college student, had to take on the additional role of a full-time caregiver for me when he wasn’t occupied elsewhere. But when it felt like our world was shattering, as it so often did, we made the decision to remain “unbreakable us.”

But when it felt like our world was shattering, as it so often did, we made the decision to remain ‘unbreakable us.’

It’s been almost three years since my diagnosis, and so much life has happened since. My body has healed significantly, I’ve seen periods of relapse, learned to manage lingering weakness, and even given birth to our micro-preemie baby boy. My new normal has been filled with celebrating the grace and mercies the Lord has given Jace and I. On the other hand, at times this new normal has also left me feeling the pangs of grief over all I’ve lost to my disease.  I’m learning that there’s a space and time for grieving my illness in my marriage. To be honest, sometimes Jace and I still grieve the season in our marriage when my body was healthy.

We also keep believing that one day I will wake up healed, and my physical health will be completely restored. But what if that day doesn’t happen for you or I on this side of heaven? Are our marriages considered less fortunate than those who have a clean bill of health? Can our marriages endure the hardship of a spouse being sick, and still ground ourselves as unbreakable? Dare I say that I believe a marriage can actually flourish despite the reality of chronic illness?

The cold, hard truth is that the list of things Jace and I both grieve and dislike about my disease far exceeds the benefits of having a chronic illness in our marriage. There’s money every year spent on medical bills rather than romantic trips together, constant bruises on my skin from infusion pokes or blood labs which couldn’t possibly make me feel sexy, vacation days used for doctor visits, and physical weakness and exhaustion that dictates how much time we spend together. The list goes on.  

Dare I say that I believe a marriage can actually flourish despite the reality of chronic illness?

But, believe it or not, there is a list of benefits to having chronic illness in a marriage. So, while the list of “cons” could far exceed the “pros,” what I’ve come to understand is the life lessons from the “pros” far outweigh the “cons.” Chronic illness has given Jace and I a healthy challenge to change our perspective about the circumstances we face.  It’s tested and grown our perseverance, humbled us to become more patient, and reminded us of the extraordinary gift of the present. 

Jace and I have had to learn to change our perspective about our challenges to be able to remain grounded in our marriage. This change certainly didn’t happen overnight. When I was so weak and the list of what I couldn’t do outweighed the list of what I could do, we had to learn to look at our situation with gratitude and focus on the positive. We may not have been able to be running buddies, but we sure could still compete and play a mean game of cribbage together. We may not have been able to have the time of our lives exploring, but we could most definitely have the time of our lives laughing over and over as we watched “Mrs. Doubtfire” or “Home Alone.”  When we changed our perspective and found gratitude for what we could do rather than what we couldn’t, our hearts changed. We no longer took on the weight of the significant trial upon us, but rather took every day as it came, and trusted that we would be given the grace to tackle the next day if we were given. 

When we changed our perspective and found gratitude for what we could do rather than what we couldn’t,
our hearts changed.

During my weakest times, we kept holding onto hope that our sufferings wouldn’t be wasted. Romans 5:3-5 states, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” We held onto hope through these verses and kept persevering that one day we would see beauty from the ashes. 

We learned quickly what it looks like to be patient and kind to one another, and what it looks like to humbly serve your spouse. We quickly recognized we are a team, and while we both experience different responsibilities and stresses that come along with my muscle disease, we must work as a team. There have been seasons in our marriage over the last three years when we haven’t agreed upon things. We could be disagreeing with one another about a minor issue or battling an ongoing issue, but at the end of the day, no matter what we are disagreeing on, chronic illness has taught us that we have to drop our pride and stubbornness and represent love to one another. At night when my legs feel numb and tingly and I no longer have any energy to crawl out of bed to grab myself a glass of water, Jace still shows me unconditional love by grabbing a glass of water for me. He also serves me by taking on most of the nightly duties of having a medically fragile child in our home. On days when I have extra energy and my disease doesn’t feel completely present, I love to serve him by doing extra household chores. While there are extra stresses and lifestyle changes that have had to be made, my diagnosis has softened our hearts and encouraged us both to find ways to lovingly serve one another. 

Lastly, we’ve been reminded by my disease and the many trials in our lives that have come from it, how important it is to be present with your loved ones. Our marriage has grown from a deeper understanding of how fragile life can be. If it weren’t for my diagnosis, we wouldn’t have come to understand how important it is to take the time to be present with your spouse and loved ones. We both have been taught that tomorrow, if we are even blessed with that gift, is worth celebrating! We have come to know that we may not be given tomorrow. Yet, if we are, and my health isn’t in the best shape, we will tackle that challenge tomorrow. Until then, we’re given today. 

Jace and I have come to fully understand the weight of the blessing of today. Our hearts continue to beat and our lungs continue to inhale and exhale. Oftentimes these two intricate functions get overlooked and we believe these need to be a profound life-altering heart change for those of us with chronic illness. The many negative aspects that can accompany chronic illness in marriage could cause us to become bitter, angry, and sad. Yet how can we focus on the negative aspects when we have the gift of life? We’ve been blessed with the present; therefore, no matter in sickness or health, for better or worse, we will choose to find joy in today. matter in sickness or health, for better or worse, we will choose to find joy in today.


Written by: Lacey Klimeck

Lacey is one of our amazing People Hope Tribe members, representing all things hope in Wisconsin. As a wife and mama bear, she wears the title “superwoman” better than just about anybody we know. You can find her sipping French press coffee while she daily battles her own chronic illness and loves on her micro preemie son! Give her a journal, a Bible, and a good sunrise or sunset, and she’s a happy camper. 

Photos of Lacey and her family are all courtesy of our friends at James Stokes Photography.

All rights reserved.

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Sentiments for the Sick & Single

Sentiments for the Sick & Single

If you’re anything like me, that heart of yours is wavering a bit more than normal lately. The shops are full of every shade of pink. There are hearts painted on every store window. Social media is overflowing with engagement announcements and wedding pictures and anniversary posts. “Love is in the air,” they say. 

Maybe you’ve heard that small voice in your heart whispering “What about me?” That voice tells you to lie in bed awake for another night, wondering if you’ll ever find a love worth savoring. It’s the same voice that tells you you’re too much, you’re too broken, and you’re too sick. No one could ever possibly love you and all of your scattered pieces. 

Do you want to know a secret? 

You are not alone.

I hear that voice too. 

I hear it when I open Instagram and see another cheesy love post. I hear it when I’m shopping with my friends and they pick a new outfit for their anniversary date. I hear it when I see a couple kissing on campus. I hear it as I relive the memories of my last catastrophic breakup. It’s a loud voice. It drowns out the cries of my own heart and the endless chatter of my inner thoughts. This voice demands to be heard and sometimes it overwhelms my very weary soul. 

I know your pain, even if just in the slightest way. It’s a pain that’s deep and feels eternal. It’s unlike the pain of an aching joint or swelling limb, although it seems to be just as familiar. 

I was thirteen years old when I was diagnosed with a disease that may last a lifetime. I was given the list of things that I can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t ever do again. I was prepared for the prognosis of a life filled with physical pain and endless medical treatments, but nobody warned me of the damage that would wreck the sacred spaces within my young and impressionable mind. 

“You won’t be able to live on your own,” they said. “You may never fall in love. You may never have a family of your own.”

In that moment the doctors convinced me that my ability to be loved was dependent on the quality and capability of my physical body.

In that moment the doctors convinced me that my ability to be loved was dependent on the quality and capability of my physical body. I was led to believe that my very broken mess of flesh and bones was the sole determinant of my future relationships. It was as if the qualities of my heart and spirit meant nothing to anyone. Could my loyalty ever mean more to a man than my ability to physically grasp his hand? Could the attraction of my passion and empathy overshadow the detraction of my atrophying muscles and pale skin? Would anyone ever see past the medical devices, the service dog, and the treatment side effects? Is there even a man out there who is willing to stand by my side through it all? Could anyone truly vow to love me in sickness and in health? Is loneliness meant to be just another side effect of illness?

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Again I tell you that you are not alone. Not at all. 

Friend, let me hold your hand for a second and tell you that I don’t know the answers to those questions. I don’t know what our hearts will one day conquer or what the future looks like. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you. I want you to have that hope just as much as I want it for myself. What I can tell you is that it’s okay. Whatever your heart feels today, tonight, tomorrow – that’s okay. We are fragile beings with delicate skin. Sometimes our souls become just as frail as our bodies. If you have been fed similar lies that you are incapable of being loved, please hear me when I say that those words are simply not true. 

When the weight of your singleness becomes too much to carry, give yourself permission to put it down. Set it down amongst the piles of laundry, the lists of doctors to call, the bottles of medications to be refilled, the groceries to be put away. 

Could anyone truly vow to love me in sickness and in health?

Society seems to have this inexplicable desire to paint a picture of love that is completely unrealistic and unattainable. The movies make it look like romance is waiting to fall into your lap at any moment. Are we really meant to believe that love may catch our eye in the most mundane moments, like on the way to the mailbox or in line at the grocery store? Social media and tabloids make love look adventurous and desirable and all consuming. We’re raised to believe that adulthood means college, followed by marriage, and ending with a dreamy retirement with our soul mate.  But what if we stepped back into reality and discovered that love doesn’t always look like a white dress and matching wedding bands? It doesn’t always feel like a hand to hold or a warm embrace. 

I want to remind you today that love comes in so many forms and can be found in so many unexpected places. Look for it. Really look for it. Find it in the voicemail that your best friend left you a year ago. Discover it in the scent of the candle that your sister bought you for Christmas, or the cold dampness of your dog’s nose. 

Most importantly, allow yourself to encounter love in its most forgotten form: The eternal love of Jesus that seems to find you no matter how deep you bury your heart under your own human flaws. You can find this love written on every page of the Bible. Its etched into every scar on your broken body. This is the kind of love that doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, status or health. It’s a love that you don’t have to choose, because He chose you first. Let that love consume you and carry you through the heartbreak. If you ask me, that’s the only way we’ll ever make it to the other side of this season of singleness. 

I know that this journey is painful. I know that there are times you want to surrender and denounce love all together. Your fight for love and acceptance is not for nothing. Your spirit, even when broken, is beautiful and brave. The courage that you have within you is powerful and protective, even if you feel small and weak. That bravery comes from a God who promised to never let go of your hand, no matter how deep the waters get. 

One thing I want you to carry with you is hope. As hard as it is, hold onto the hope that love is real and attainable and you have every right to experience it. Don’t give up on the prospects of relationship simply because you’re currently stuck in a season of singleness. You never know what’s up ahead, but I assure you that those new seasons and experiences will bring with them their own obstacles and questions. None of these things are too big for God. Despite the ever-changing circumstances around you, His love within you is unfailing and never-ending. 

Has anyone told you today how deeply you are loved? 


Allow me to do the honors:

Friend, you are far more loved than you will ever know. You are strong and brave and loved for who you are as an individual. The goodness within you is not tied to the actions or affections of any other person. Your heart was created to be known and cherished and cared for. Not a single part of you is meant to be defined by your age, your health, or your relationship status. There is nothing you could ever do to change that. Jesus says that you are fully loved from the first page until the very last. You may not feel it now, but that love is there. It always has been and it always will be. That’s one promise that I know will stand true for eternity. 

You are so loved. 

Plant the seeds of those words deep into your heart right now; cover them with the soil of gentleness, kindness, grace, and fearlessness. And let them grow into a hope that will continue to protect you and nurture you on this journey. 

Next time you find yourself walking amongst a sea of pink hearts at the store, distracted by that small voice coming from within your broken and wavering heart, remind yourself that you are loved in more ways than one. As that voice attempts to convince you otherwise, gently whisper back the truth that you are known and loved for exactly who you are in this moment. You always have been, and you always will be. 

Written by: Ally Zinsmeister

Ally is one of our beautiful twenty-something People Hope Tribe members residing in Texas. Through her own battle with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Ally keeps us all guessing what barrier she’ll overcome next, with the help of her service dog, Malibu, of course! She loves sprinkles, pillow forts, and 2nd Corinthians. If you need her, she’s probably in a coffee shop somewhere. 

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Preface: I asked Martin to share his story, knowing that he has a much-needed, unique voice. He sent me his first draft, and I was confused by the first line. I thought, “this story is supposed to be about you.” But as I read on I quickly realized it’s only fitting that he begins his story by writing about the most cherished part of his life — his wife. Where he begins his story says just as much about his character as the rest of what you’re about to read. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to read something that profoundly impacted my own life. 

— Anna Kowlessar, Founder of People Hope

 Above and banner photos courtesy of  Brett & Emily Photographers .

Above and banner photos courtesy of Brett & Emily Photographers.

My wife is amazing. Perfect.

My wife is amazing. Perfect. 

She's smart and beautiful and hilarious, even as I type this I’m smiling as I think back on the (literally) thousands of times she’s made me laugh over the 15 years we’ve been together. She's the type of wife and mother I prayed for, and that my parents begged God for their son to marry. When I say she’s smart, I don't mean she does math well; I mean she's literally brilliant. She understands things quickly, processes information, and sorts it while I’m still rereading. 

She’s beautiful, stunning, sexy, mysterious. These words lose their meaning compared to her. She has these deep brown eyes that speak volumes about her heart. Her shape and frame are intoxicating. Her face and smile, her delicate hands, the arrow tattoo on her foot. There is nothing about her that isn't the pinnacle of God’s creation.

She’s hilarious. No one has ever made me laugh like she does. Her humor isn't crass or cruel; it’s timely and quick-witted and funny. When she teases me or laughs at something I’ve done, there is a sweet kindness to her laugh that speaks no malice or harm, only joy. It’s perfect and perfectly sweet, and her laughter brightens my very worst moods. 

By looking at her or watching her, you would never guess that she's struggling with deep cramping and stabbing pain from a chronic illness that has plagued her beautiful body since she was 12 years old. 

You’d never suspect the pain was crippling and exhausting and ever-present.

You’d never suspect the pain was crippling and exhausting and ever-present. I didn't suspect either. I didn't even really understand what she was dealing with while we were getting to know each other, and it wasn't until I started going to her treatments and studying for myself what she was dealing with that I started to even begin to grasp what she was suffering from. 

Her drive and commitment to who she is means that “she” supersedes her illness. Her smile shines through her pain. Her love of family and the people around her are more visible than the horror. Occasionally a tear will escape or a sob will force its way out, but in her genuine emotional beauty, she smiles past it, not putting on a front, but allowing her true self to shine through. The true and strong “she,” the joyful “she,” the “she” that sings like an angel and cracks jokes and loves deeply and fiercely is what she feeds and lives out.  

This incredible strength of character is a double edged sword, however. When people see how strong she is, it makes it hard for them to believe that she feels like she’s being stabbed, or that she couldn't sleep from the aching and cramping. The migraine-inducing exhaustion “couldn't possibly” be blinding her and making her nauseous. It would be hard to believe that someone so full of life and love and beauty could be suffering so severely. Growing up was so hard for her because people didn't believe the pain. In her 20’s her friends and even some doctors didn't believe her. How could she expect to be in a relationship with friends who didn't understand and therefore wouldn't make room for how tired she could be or that she wasn't well today. She couldn't walk yesterday, but today she’s laughing and carrying on? How could she get the treatment she needed if the doctors wouldn't help her? Who would she rely on with her family so far away from where we live and unable to come help with the kids, or the house, or her pain? Who?

Me. Her husband. Her best friend. I take care of her. I do the dishes and take the kids to school, keep them clean and feed the cats. I sweep the floors, and take out the trash. I’m mom and dad and nurse and husband. I’m entertainer and caretaker. I’m homemaker and romancer. I chose this life everyday of our years of marriage, and I continue to choose it. Everyday I choose it anxiously and excitedly and with a renewed sense of passion for this delicate but strong life that God has placed in my care. 

I’m mom and dad and nurse and husband. I’m entertainer and caretaker. I’m homemaker and romancer.

I'm mom and dad and nurse and husband. I'm entertainer and caretaker. I'm homemaker and romancer. I chose this life with her, and it is hard. It’s been really hard, and it’s been incredible. I have this desire to protect her and keep her from harm. To hurt the people who hurt her; to take all of her pain away. To pray it away, to find the cure and be the hero. To fix it. I want to give her the freedom to grow too, and blossom. I want to step aside while she becomes the fullness of who God made her to be, and to be strong and prove herself. She doesn't need me, she could do this all alone, and I know that. Boy, do I know it. She’s stronger than she knows, but I see that she’s tired. That the weight of being alive and choosing a joyful attitude is draining and it takes its toll. And it’s in those times, too, that I want to rescue her. Those are the times I stay awake all night praying and begging God; screaming at Him to give me her disease, to give me her pain and her hurts, her fears, and the scars they have caused. I know when I hold her hand while she sleeps during her infusion treatment in the endoscopy unit at the hospital, I would watch over her for all of eternity. I would let her sleep in my arms and watch over her in our bed while she whimpers from the discomfort during whatever dream her beautiful mind conjures. The times I encourage her to trust God, even in those moments I hate Him for allowing her to hurt like this, and He lovingly reminds me that He is God, that He loves her more, and loves me despite my lack of faith. Sometimes she just doesn't want to be strong anymore, and that’s okay. I will be strong when she can’t. God made her strong, but He made me just that much stronger to be our sons’ strength and her strength too. In the moments I even start to feel weak, God fills me with strength again. Even if it’s just enough to take another breath.

The pain isn't constant, there are good days and even weeks. There are also bad weeks, and days and things can change by the moment and the hour, and it’s painful to watch. It’s emotionally draining to roller coaster with someone in this way, to bare the weight of her disease with her, and be strong for her always. Never able to have a moment of weakness, never allowing her to see faithlessness, never allowing the Enemy a moment to sneak into my marriage and turn her already fragile heart away from God. 

Sometimes this hyper-attentiveness doesn't allow God the space to touch her heart and remind her of who He is. He’s not only the Healer, He’s also the Comforter, the Counselor, Lover of her Soul and mine. My strength in care for her makes me fall behind in other areas. 

Sometimes it’s hard not to look at friends and family who don't deal with the struggle of chronic illness, and wish for their life; to wish for a win every once in a while. It’s hard not to be angry with them, and consider scenarios where these people are confronted with the amazing gift they have in their health. It would feel so good to show people how good they have it when they whine about getting the flu or having to go to the doctor for the first time in years. To speak up when they complain about insurance and the price of medications, this self-righteous argument over healthcare and politics by people who aren't sick and never get sick, and whats “fair.” As an ER Nurse, I see this with my patients as well as the people I love. 

Deep inside I feel this hurricane of anger and hate and bitterness roiling and growing and increasing in strength, while this overwhelming love and gratitude for this beautiful woman, the most perfect thing God has ever created, soothes the rage in me. Deep inside I feel this thankful wind blow. This cooling breeze that calms the storm in me and renews my soul and mind.  I am humbled constantly by a Holy God, that in His amazing love and mercy, He would show me how faithful He is, and how extremely and perfectly He loves me and my incredible wife. How He reveals His loving and giving nature by creating this perfect being and giving her to me. I see how easily and significantly He fulfills her needs as a Father, and lover, and caregiver. I see Him being everything I am not and the reason for everything I am. I see Him romancing her in His ever pursuing love, and His never-ending faithfulness. 

My life is far from perfect. It’s harder than I could have ever imagined. Too hard, sometimes. So hard I don't know how I can go on any more. The tears I’ve shed for her and for us, the life she wants so desperately that we just can’t have. But I wouldn't trade her for anyone. She is my heart’s one and only, the one my soul loves, and I commit my heart and life to her only every day until I die, and not a second before. 

Yes, times can be tough. Yes, we have occasionally wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if God had seen fit to not give us life at all. But here’s where He shows His wisdom and understanding: we laugh, and smile, and appreciate every beautiful sunset. We steal kisses when it rains but the sun is out, or when it isn’t. We dance with our precious, innocent, trusting sons who protect and care for their mother as selflessly as I wish I could on my best day. We dance with each other. We hold hands, and enjoy the mountains we live in. I rest my left hand on her right hip as she sleeps, it makes us feel safe. We dream, and wonder, and cry, and sing, and make-believe. Our future is brighter because of the person the Father gave us to hold tightly to, and I will be forever thankful to Him for loving me enough to give me to her, and her to me. 

Being married to my wife has made this outdoor-enthusiast, minimalist mountaineer, ER Nurse, and future flight medic into a hopeless romantic; a softy. And I love who I am with her. 

Yes, things are hard. But I wouldn’t trade her. No, not for a second; not a moment on our worst days. Things will always be okay as long as we have each other and plenty of snacks.

 Library photos courtesy of  New Beginnings Photography  .

Library photos courtesy of New Beginnings Photography.

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New Year, New Me*

New Year, New Me*

(*same chronic illness, same symptoms, same body, same problems.)

When I first became sick with my chronic illness, I had a lot of purposeless, unfocused, bitter months, and the long-lost concept of setting goals for my life became a thing of the past. In a fear-flooded way, the idea of establishing goals and not being able to reach them was terrifying. So I stopped setting them. And that’s also where I went very wrong.

Growing up I remember hearing this old Proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” A different paraphrase of that same verse puts it this way, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” This idea of “stumbling all over myself” perfectly sums up my first many months of chronic illness. There was no vision. There was no direction. There was only “sick.”

This verse gives us the most heartbreaking, honest picture of failing for lack of effort. How often do we cheat ourselves the opportunity to celebrate fully attainable victories only because we never took the initiative to establish what victory would even look like in the first place? And time and again we starve ourselves of those could-be gleeful moments spent celebrating hard-earned progress simply by never noticing it. 

We don’t win because we don’t try, and we don’t try because it’s become a scary thing!

But is it possible that setting goals isn’t the scary monster we think it is? What if our framework just needs a little adjusting, and our focus needs fixing?

We’ve all heard that writing down your goals makes you a zillion times more likely to succeed (give or take a few zillion), but what if there’s a way to make your goals even more effective? Enter gratitude. More and more studies are now documenting the profound physiological power of practicing gratitude. It literally re-wires your brain, so you can imagine the impact of pairing these two practices together. 

To put it in a different lens, whatever has your focus has your energy. When I think about all the things in my life that I’d like to change, I’ll be honest, I’m instantly overwhelmed by the metaphorical heaps of frustration-inducing crap. I don’t even know where to begin, my focus is scattered, and my energy is completely drained. But when I start with gratitude, I’ve instantly jumpstarted my brain, fixed my focus, and aimed my energy well. I’m no longer overwhelmed by the seemingly endless metaphorical crap heaps of things I want to change in my life. Instead I’m empowered, focused, and determined to make progress in my goals.

I want to challenge you to begin practicing both gratitude and intentionally fixing your focus throughout the year ahead. Don’t settle for another month, week, or even minute of purpose-less “bleh” life. You’re stuck in a hospital room? I get that. You’re not able to go out and do things that you’d like to? I get that too! But where did we buy into this idea that being chronically ill is somehow synonymous with being “put on the bench.” Stop telling yourself that your life doesn’t have purpose now that you’re sick! 

What if you’re more and not less capable of loving people now that you have a greater empathy? What if you’re more and not less able to relate to hurting people now that you have scars of your own? What if you’re more and not less empowered to have a greater impact with your life now that you understand pain and suffering? What if this isn’t a set back so much as it’s a set-up for you to do exactly what you were put on this earth to accomplish? 

Fixing your focus doesn’t make the pain and depression and symptoms magically vanish, but it does empower you to choose your perspective and determine that you’re unwilling to spend another minute without purpose. In the same way practicing gratitude doesn’t eliminate the previously mentioned metaphorical crap heaps that we all have in our lives. But it literally gives you the power to choose how you want your brain to operate.

I’m personally inviting you to join me in using People Hope’s Focus Fix to jumpstart your monthly practice, but whatever tools you choose to use and whenever you start to use them, don’t quit on the possibility of having a purposeful year and intentionally building a purposeful life.

I believe in you. And I honestly believe that God has good plans in store for your life that far outweigh the tendency to focus on our metaphorical heaps of…well…you know what. 

New year, new me*

(*same illness, new perspective on it.)

Fix that focus, friends. It looks good on you.

Grab your Focus Fix now, and start practicing gratitude and living with intention through our free resource! It's our gift to you!

Written by: Anna Kowlessar, Founder of People Hope

After many years of dealing with her own chronic illness, Anna began People Hope to fill a much-needed void that so many people are looking for today - a place of audacious hope, a genuine community, and a place to belong regardless of diagnosis. You can read more here.

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