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  • Writer's pictureLisa Blair Fratzke

This is life in color

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

Did you know that Netflix has multiple fireplace video options? James and I spent an embarrassing amount of time the other night picking out the perfect fireplace to play while we worked. There’s nothing quite like the crackling of a hot fire (in a contained fireplace) to make you feel like all is right in the world.

I was sitting in front of a real fireplace the other day during a prayer retreat with my community group. It was quiet time and I decided to spend that time writing down my fears. I filled up three pages of my journal with “I’m scared of…” statements. Three pages.

One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is that “No one ever told me that grief felt so life fear.”

There’s something beautiful and profound about that thought. I haven’t felt the kind of grief C.S. Lewis is describing. The quote is from A Grief Observed, a book he wrote about the loss of his wife. But, I know fear. We’ve been longtime companions since I first realized that life and the people in it aren't ours to keep.

The end will come for all of us, at least here on earth. There is a beginning and an end to our lives.

We are limited.


At church on Sunday our pastor talked about how limits can actually be a gift. They help us understand our boundaries. Limits shape the canvas that is our life. Instead of a sprawling and undending page, we know where the edges lie.

Limits makes it easier to get started and make our mark.

Where I get into trouble is when I acknowledge the canvas in my hands is mine, and decide that it’s not enough. I look around at everyone else's canvas, and decide I much rather find other places to paint. 

I spend time looking for a canvas that has been abandoned or maybe someone invites me to paint with them on theirs, but in the end the outcome is the same. It’s much easier to leave the canvas of my life blank or in the hands of other artists than to acknowledge that it is my responsibility to fill.

It doesn’t even have to be a masterpiece. I don’t need to be Michaelangelo or Da Vinci. I just need to be me. And for some reason, that’s the scary part.


When I was growing up the walls of our house were filled with paintings by my grandma. Beautiful landscapes, and still lifes and portraits of people in the countryside. There is a painting in my room right now of beautiful orange and yellow flowers with her signature at the bottom. It says “Evelyn Deratany.”

I don’t think it’s an accident that this same woman was my spiritual mentor growing up. She wasn’t afraid to get messy and paint the canvas of her life. She shared God with those around her and had a child-like joy at the age of 90 that I continue to aspire to have.

Some of her paintings are beautiful and exquisite, and some of them are not as impressive. Toward the end of her life she had a hard time controlling her hand movements, but she still painted and we still hang those pictures. It's not because they were perfect. It's because they were painted by Grandma’s hands.

There’s something to that. I think that’s what this life thing is about.

Coming to terms with the fact that no one asked us to paint a masterpiece. How well the world receives us is not really up to us. Even the best artists will acknowledge that the success of their work is out of their hands.

We are just asked to paint.

 In spite of our fear and in spite of our doubt, we are asked to put our brush to the canvas. One stroke, one day at a time.


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