Small Victories

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”–Psalm 107:1

We made it through four days of rain and yesterday the sun came out. I had to get outside, even though it was windy and a little chilly. I packed up my painting supplies and easel and drove to a beautiful park on a lake. I was planning to paint a picture for a show I would be a part of in June. I pulled my backpack of supplies on and schlepped around the lake, looking for something to paint. As a plein-air painter, I wanted a great subject with good lighting and composition. “Plein-air” means “in the open air” in French. It’s where you take your easel and paint outdoors in nature, much like the Impressionists. You paint your experience with nature, often dealing with heat, cold, wind, flies, tourists, snow, and rain while you are doing it. Which makes it all the more challenging and fun!

Anyway, as I was looking around, it seemed that everyone had the same idea after being cooped up with yucky weather—get outside. Bikers, joggers, walkers, golfers, diners…everyone seemed to enjoy the weather. I drove around the lake a distance and found an overlook with large boulders. A lone fisherman stood, casting his line into the water. I liked how the light hit his straw hat and the view of the pavilion across the lake. I set up my supplies and got to work. After some time, a new painting was born (see above) and I drove home, joyful with the fresh wind and sun, thanking God for a good and successful painting experience.

Not all painting experiences feel successful or turn out good results. I have hauled my easel outdoors many times, only to come back with less-than-stellar pieces, but a wise instructor once told me that “every painting has a victory in it.” I may not like how a painting turns out, but I can always find at least one spot that I like, and that area was a victory. Maybe an area of color turned out great. Maybe I captured the spirit, maybe I nailed the values. Maybe I liked how one square inch looked. Small victories, but big ones in my book.

Painting is like life. I may not always be happy with how every day goes, but I can find snippets or events of each day that had “victory in it.” And I remember to thank the Lord for it. Sometimes lots of victories happen at once, but many days pass and I can see small victories here and there. A wise decision. A blessing from God. A good conversation with my kids. A great opportunity. A new skill. A new way I related to someone.

What are the victories in your life? If you have trouble finding them, look closer at each day. Victories don’t have to be huge and overpowering. Some of the most amazing victories are small. When my daughter was recovering from a nerve condition after a fractured elbow, victories moved slowly. Moving her fingers without pain, making a fist, holding a cup. Big huge victories for her, though they seem small to us. As you discover those victories in your life, be sure to thank God. We can live victorious!

Prayer–“Gracious God, thank you for the many victories you give me every day. Help me to see them and to recognize the power you give me to do all that you have called me to do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

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