Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)


“In my former life, before my diagnosis, I used to ______.”

Have you ever caught yourself speaking those words, filling in the blank with whatever activity you are missing in this changing landscape with chronic illness?

I enjoyed crafting as a way to creatively express my heart for the Lord back when my hands and arms were stronger. After rheumatoid arthritis weakened so many of my joints and ligaments, I thought those days were gone.  I was so disappointed when I tried to revive those activities but found I lacked the necessary precision. Even handwriting in my journals seemed like a chore and beyond my abilities.


You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. (Psalm 63:1,6)




When a friend gifted me a new journal, I tried to hold back the tears. How could I ever fill those pages with the long paragraphs I used to write? She suggested I try printing out my digital journals, and then cutting and pasting them on the pages when I had moments of strength. A new kind of journaling began to unfold.


Then my dear friend, Gayl Wright, invited me to a “gluebooking party” through an online event.


It was a simple craft, not requiring precise placements, but utilizing cutting or even tearing of pictures or words from books or magazines followed by easy gluing to journaling pages. I was hooked!

Just like the Butterfly

My heart soared as I found expression for thoughts and creativity that had felt locked inside. Since that early beginning, I’ve experimented with other kinds of art journaling when I have moments of strength. There are many YouTube videos giving great ideas for “junk journaling” as a way to combine snippets of writing with tearing and pasting. Adding some multi-media colors through pastels, gelatos, or even markers is also a fun outlet for expressing my heart’s deep feelings.


Faith is the assurance of thing hoped for ...


 On days when my hands are too weak for any physical activity, I have discovered easy ways to combine my own photos with words written on my phone’s simple note-taking app.


Poetry or Scripture combined with a photo can bring a touch from God’s loving heart that I might have missed if I had not allowed that creativity to find new expression.


Chronic Joy has a beautiful poetry section which includes poetry prompts. This poem of “Reckless Abandon” came as a response to a prompt by Karin Fendick, given during a time of change in my life.


Reckless Abandon

Worry births cement
My feet refuse to move but
Christ bids me follow

Come! His voice is clear
Fear not the days ahead nor
Fret the path behind

Abandon with JOY
Watch My will unfold see the
Greatness of your God

Reckless Abandon

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)


  • Have you felt your heart stunted or closed off because you are missing abilities or activities from your “old life” before chronic illness?
  • What expressive creativity might the Lord be stirring in you?
  • Is there a poem or a song or an easy-art gift just waiting to be discovered in this current season of your life?

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

(Psalm 63:7-8)

Yellow Bubbles
Bettie Gilbert

Bettie Gilbert

Chronic Joy Contributing Writer

You can find Bettie blogging from her home in the far north suburbs of Chicago at She is walking forward with Jesus in the middle of her pain and weakness from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature and her family (including nine young grandchildren) are Bettie's joys. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great delight in their weekend coffee breaks together.

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