When a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 15 began robbing her of her sight and her dreams of becoming a commercial artist and cartoonist, nationally-known author, speaker, recording artist, and leader of the popular Fresh Grounded Faith conferences Jennifer Rothschild learned firsthand the reality of "walking by faith, not by sight." Her journeys are chronicled in her best-selling books, Lessons I learned in the Dark and Lessons I learned in the Light. Her latest book Self Talk, Soul Talk focuses on the power of our words -- particularly the ones we speak to ourselves.

Recently, Jennifer shared her message of hope with me and how she learned to navigate through an often dark and uncertain world with the help of God's ever-present guidance. Check out the interview below.

Deborah Thompson: Jennifer, as we face the prospect of another New Year which brings with it the hope and joy of new opportunities -- but all too often also the fear of new challenges -- you are uniquely suited to share with us some of the ways in which God has taught you to embrace life with all of its circumstances... learning of your impending blindness at such an early age was a pivotal challenge for you and one that set you on a new course for your life.

How were you able to move from that young girl with a devastating diagnosis that robbed her of her dreams to the inspiring woman you have become?

Jennifer Rothschild: Well Deborah, in summary, I would have to say "grace and grit." Anything I have accomplished is really just a reflection of God's grace and Him working in, through, and even in spite of me! I really believe that when we are believers in Christ and His life is in us, He becomes the hope and the glory that anchors us. When we tap into that hope and glory that is within us because of His indwelling Spirit, then we can agree with His Spirit and we can walk with tenacity and an unwillingness to quit. I don't believe that I would have any grit without the grace of God first empowering me. I don't take credit for it -- I believe that I have received, not achieved.

DT: When something troubling or tragic comes into our life, it is hard to immediately have a sense of peace and acceptance about it. There is generally a process by which we come to a deeper understanding of God and how to trust and walk more closely with Him. Would you share a bit about your own walk and the process by which you came to understand the necessity of both grace and grit?

JR: Riding home from the hospital that day after the diagnosis at age 15 there is no way that I could have answered this question the same way. I could not have known then that I would deal with this news through the gifts of both grit and grace. It is only through the seasons of life, the opportunities I have had to walk out my faith, to test out what I thought I believed and see that God's grace really is sufficient that I have been able to affirm that which I thought and believed really is true.

And when I look back over my life, I see a constant recurring theme of learning to master my emotions and utilize them to arrive at God's truth. There are so many feelings that come with loss such as grief, sadness, frustration, confusion, etc. I believe it is important to pay attention to those feelings and respond to them. Jesus responded to his emotions — He wept.

But if I let my emotions govern me then there is no way I would have tenacity. What I have learned to do over the years is to trust God more than I trust my feelings. When I feel a sense of isolation (blindness can do that), I feel the sadness and I take it to the heart of Jesus who knows how I feel. When I take that voice of ultimate isolation to the cross, I am able to see it clearly as a place of divine unfairness that allows me to still walk on this side of eternity by faith.