When Winter Comes Early

Well, it seems winter came early for our region.  Approximately eight inches of snow arrived on October 23rd.  We typically expect a bit of snow in November, with our majority coming in December and January, so, snow in October found us surprised, shocked, caught off guard, and not mentally ready.  Our flowers were still blooming.  Our lawns were still green.  Leaves were just beginning to turn to their autumn colors.  And then came the snow.  Relentless.  Almost all day and into the night it fell.  Piling on, inch after inch.  Branches broke.  Possessions were buried.  Roads were obscured and treacherous for drivers.  And then came the cold the following day.  Winds whipped the snow into drifts across the ground and rooftops.  Gusts blasted trees and drifts, sending swirls of snow into the air.  And the temperature dropped, and dropped, and dropped, all the way down into the teens.  Surprised comments, sighs, and groans escaped the lips of many.  A few may have even shed some tears.

Sometimes, life is like an early heavy snowfall.  Blizzards of problems fall down on us unexpectedly and relentlessly.  One day, our lives are sunny, and the next, we need to break out the winter gear.  Our health gets buried in doctor’s appointments and medical bills, we face the sharp winds of grief when we lose a loved one, we watch irreparable damage come when our retirement savings disappear as our company folds and puts our pink slip in the mail.  Now what will we do?  How can we go on when we can’t even see which way is up, or forward, or through?

When dreams die, and our plans don’t go as planned, our life landscapes look bleak, barren, and hopeless.  Depression colors our skies gray.  Our hearts become cold and joyless.  Our thoughts become dark and desolate.  We feel forlorn, forgotten, and forsaken.

This happens to all of us at one time or another, in different forms and fashions.  The account of Job as told in the Bible shows us that sometimes every aspect of who we are gets hit, all at the same time, before we are even finished processing the reality of the first thing that happened.  Job lost his ten children, his livelihood, his wealth, his health, the support of his wife and friends, his reputation, and any comfort he had.  He was alone.  Alone with his thoughts, with his overwhelming grief, with a crowd of unsupportive people.  But then, things changed.  He had a talk with God.

God’s perspective got Job through the blinding, swirling cloud of questions and doubts.  Truth pervaded his darkness.  The immensity and majesty of God’s power broke through and changed everything.

Job got up out of the dirt, realizing that God had a plan, and God could do anything.

And then, Job continued to live.  A new depth of relationship with God remade him from the inside out.  Hope and joy came again.  New blessings arrived.  New purpose set him on a new path. 

So, if you have gone into the wintry ditch, look up.  There are still sunrises and sunsets.  Look at the beauty that is still there.  Look at the silvery-blue skies crafted by the hand of the Almighty God.  Look at the glimmer in the sparkles of snow. 

While things sleep, waiting for the next phase of God’s plan, progress is underway.  Moisture is being put into the earth, and plants are resting in preparation for the work of spring.  They are awaiting their cue from their Maker, and then the wonder of spring will unfold.  We, too, can anticipate the bloom that is coming and prepare for it now.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”*  Because He lives, we can live also.  Faith, hope, love, and resurrection power will cause us to bloom when the timing is just right. 

So, have a conversation with God, and hold on for spring.  He is doing something in you even now, and you are going to be a new and beautiful creation.

~~~~~

Isaiah 55:6–13 (NKJV)

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

~~~~~

*Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

©Text and photos Francee Strain, October 24, 2020

What’s in a Name?

What’s your name?  How many times do we hear that question asked over the course of a lifetime? 

Our names are composed of a word or words by which we are known, addressed, and referred to.  Those names indicate a mark in the world of who we are.  Our names identify us to set us apart from other people.  Signing an important document with our names testifies to who we are. With our own hand, we make a mark on paper to testify that the name placed there represents us as an individual.  But we are more than just names.  Things go deeper. 

My name is Francee.  My name is a combination of parts taken from the first names of my mother and father.  My first name is rare, and only once have I ever encountered someone by the same name and with the same spelling.   I saw a similar name on some merchandise as a few years before I was born there was a doll by the same name, albeit with a different spelling.  I moved on through childhood not thinking too much about my name other than feeling weird because no one else had my name.  

While a name testifies to the identity of who we are, there may be an attachment to the name to offer further details.  If we carry the same name as a parent, the name “Junior” or “The Second” may be added on.  There might be an indicator preceding our name to indicate marital status.  If we are certified with a degree or operate within a particular career, there may be an assortment of letters after our last name to signify this.  We may also possess various names which never get written onto paper.  We may be called mom, boss, brother, teacher, friend, or customer number 53.  But all of these particular names and titles only touch on part of who we are.  These names are about how we relate with other people.  But what about the deeper part of each of us?  What about our souls?

How we live testifies to who we are.  But what testifies to whose we are?  How are we known, and who knows us at the level of our souls? 

Before the foundation of the world, God had a plan for our lives.  Before we were in our mothers’ wombs, He knew us.  He knew the names by which we would be called, and He knew the people we would become.  And He loved us and reached out to have a relationship with each of us.  He sent His son Jesus to make His Name known.  Jesus took on the name of Savior of the World.  He became the Messiah.  The Redeemer.  The Atonement.  His is the Name above all names.  And there is a future of hope and promise in His Name.  He is the soon and coming King.  And He is everlasting. 

Yes, He knows our names.  Do we know His?  When we respond to His name with our souls, it will change our names—it will change our lives—both now and for all eternity.  If we choose to get to know Him, He will write our names in the Book of Life, and we will dwell with Him forever once our earthly lives end.  But until that day comes, we will also get to have a variety of new names and experience the identity that comes with each one.  We will be known as forgiven, redeemed, beloved, a child of the Most High God, an heir with Christ, and a member of the family of God.  We will be called His own, and nothing will ever pluck us from His hand.

What’s your name?

~~~~~

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11 NKJV)

~~~~~

©Text and photo Francee Strain, October 18, 2020

Languishing in Limbo or Living in Liberty?

Are you languishing in limbo or living in liberty?  I am seeing and hearing so much pain and anger in people’s lives and voices.  I see people bowed down, hunched over, listless, and joyless.  Disappointed, disillusioned, and distressed.  Clenched and cocked and flinging words and punches.  This is not how things are supposed to be.  Let’s do a heart check.

The Bible tells us that heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop, but a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25 KJV).  This is so true.  So, here is a good word for you today: Jesus loves you! 

There is life, joy, hope, and peace available to all who ask Him for it.  In the midst of dark, dreary, and drudging days, there is light.  He is the Light of the World. 

Look up, my friends. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”* 

©Text and photo by Francee Strain, October 10, 2020

*Quotation taken from the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen Howarth Lemmel.

The Staredown

I wrote this as a guest post for a friend’s website.*

Invisible disabilities.  The world may not see them, but they stare us in the face every day.  And some days, they stare harder.  What will we do with our gaze?  Avert it and pretend this is not happening to us?  Look down at our feet in defeat?  Level the gaze and freeze our movements?   Or, stare down the disability and then look up and move forward? 

I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon: people with disabilities, myself included, sometimes add more disability to the original amount.  The mentality changes into one of “I can’t.”  The focus is on the freedoms lost, and then the heart gets lost, too.  And when the mind and heart give up, there is not too much the body can do; it is at the mercy of following where it is led.  But, if the pattern of thinking is changed, and the focus shifts to what is still possessed and what can still be done, hope will infuse the heart, and there will be an ability to move forward.

There are choices when it comes to invisible disabilities.  True, the choices may be limited, but they still remain.  While the reality exists that one cannot fully control what happens with the body, there is still some measure of control.  One can retreat or press on, wither or flourish, become a victim or a victor.  It is up to each one whether to take advantage of what is available, and thus, thrive in the midst of invisible disabilities.

How does one press on while unable to function “normally?”  Well, the days of disability do not have to be random, purposeless, and inconsequential; on the contrary, they can be extraordinary by simply choosing to make them so.  A life is not only full when it consists of good health and time spent “out amongst the real world;” it can be full while being stuck at home dealing with disabilities and chronic illnesses.  When thoughts, actions, and attitudes are adjusted, things can change.  Lives can become purposeful and impactful.  Instead of pessimistically hanging onto glasses that are half empty, intentional actions can be taken to make them overflow.  These actions involve being conscientious, creative, and conquering.

Be conscientious.  Life is to live, not shrivel up and die.  Disability does not have to become our winter.  We can forget what is behind and press forward.  Being deliberate and taking decisive action can keep us from becoming stuck in our limitations.  Having a hidden disability doesn’t mean we have to remain a hidden figure.  We can make a difference and devote ourselves to doing so.  By taking the focus off ourselves and redirecting it, we can make the lives of others better.

Be creative.  We do not have to be passive and let disability “happen” to us.  We don’t have to get stuck in the mindset of “what used to be” or “what can never be.”  Instead, we can be inspired and get creative.  God designed us to impact lives and make a difference in this world.  We can examine the resources we have and move to do something with them.  We can do a new thing—or do an old thing in a new or modified way.  And with our new skills and knowledge, we can reach out to touch the lives of others.

Be conquering.  We can push ourselves to improve and become stronger people.  Taking good care of our bodies and mastering life hacks, such as using assistive devices or modifying our space to accommodate our disabilities, can help us move forward.  We can hold on to hope and vigilantly battle the enemies of despair, discouragement, and depression.  Processing what is happening and realizing that today is a new day gives us new opportunity to bloom.  We can use the worst circumstances to become our best.

The staredown can come to an end each day as we stop staring at our disabilities and our four walls and get busy instead looking at how we can bloom in the field in which we have been planted.  Look up and move forward.  Win the staredown.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 30, 2020

*Visit https://www.navigatingthestorms.com/ to find resources to help you as you live with invisible disabilities or care for someone who does.

Steadfast

Are you weary?  Steady on.

Are you tired?  Don’t quit.

Are you faltering?  Don’t stop.

Are you losing touch?  Reach out.

Do you feel like giving up?  Look up.

Keep on Keeping on.  Steadfast.

Stand firm in the faith, and walk forward in it, too.  Have faith in the Only Begotten Son of God who loves you and gave His life for you.  His love is steadfast.  He spent a night with no sleep, being betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, mocked, and beaten.  And then, He made His way to the cross—for you.  He gave His very life so you would never have to journey on alone.

He holds the hands of those who hold Him in their hearts.  He never leaves His own.  He was faithful unto death, and now He is faithful unto life.  Eternal life awaits those who place their trust in Jesus, the Savior of the world.  There is hope for better days, days with no more pain, sorrow, or tears.

Life is hard.  And tiring.  And painful beyond belief.  But His presence will go with His children, and He will give them rest.  When the earth shakes, and the mountains fall into the sea, our quaking hearts can walk forward unafraid.  Do not fear.  He will hold us fast.  Having our foundation firm in Christ will give us a solid rock upon which to stand.  He never lets go of those who belong to Him.  He is the Creator of all.  He holds all power and knowledge in His hand.  He does not change, faint, grow weary, or close His eyes in sleep.  If you are on His side, He is on your side.

When we keep our eyes steadfast on Him, we will see His glory and His beauty.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is steadfast and faithful.  His mercies are new every morning.  His love is unconditional.  His peace is beyond understanding.  His joy is indescribable.  His grace is freely given to us, undeserved. 

Do not look for other things to fill, comfort, and satisfy you.  Only He can save, and only He can perfectly help.  Set your heart on Him.

Keep your mind stayed on Him.  Do not let it be overtaken by doubt, impurity, lies, and deception.

Set your ears to listen for His voice.

Set your voice always determined to praise Him.

He is high and lifted up.  He is the King who sits enthroned forever.  And He has said that we can boldly approach His throne and find grace to help in our time of need.

So, for all of my days, I will be steadfast in Him.

I will endure and continue, unshaken.  I will be confident, strong, sure, and peaceful.  I will continue on course, on task, on focus, on point, onward.  Steady on.  Steadfast.

My soul follows hard after You; Your right hand upholds me.*

*See Psalm 63:8 KJV.

For further reading: Psalm 40, Psalm 103, Romans 12:12

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 20, 2020

Overwhelmed, Again

IMG_6485

Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled “Overwhelmed,” and I asked these questions: Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Too much to do? Too many places to go? Too many people to see? Too much laundry? Too many dishes? Too many pieces of paperwork to read? Too much pain—inside and out? And now, here we are in 2020, and I could add a new assortment of questions to the list. Life sure has changed, but one thing still hasn’t: we get overwhelmed.

Sometimes, life is just too much—and then a whole new set of circumstances rolls in, and we almost don’t even know what to do or think. Overwhelmed describes our state of being and our emotional state. We take the circumstances that surround us and internalize them. The “stuff” of life becomes the emotion of life. And sometimes it is just too much. Overwhelmed then describes our status.

Overwhelmed by circumstances, by emotions, by the present reality.

And then, more questions come: Why? Why is it like this? What made things this way? Will things ever change?

And then comes a question we can actually answer: Do things have to stay this way? My answer is an overwhelming NO!!!

Things do not have to stay this way. Our being overwhelmed can be overwhelmed by God! His greatness and His power, His majesty and His authority, His presence and His involvement can change all that we are and all that we are in the midst of.

And even when circumstances do not change, we can change. We can let ourselves be overwhelmed differently. We can be overwhelmed by the presence of God. His peace can flood our minds. His joy can spill from our hearts. His strength can empower our actions. We can be made new.

And again, questions: Have you ever been overwhelmed by God? By His goodness, His love, His mercy?

You have…you just may not have known it.

Did you wake up this morning? Did you see and hear and feel and taste? Did you see the beauty of His creation all around you? Did you lay your head on a pillow last night and sleep beneath a blanket of stars? You have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness.

Did you awaken this morning with an opportunity to know God and know He loves you? Do you know that you have the capability to be forgiven for every wrong thing you have ever done? You have been overwhelmed by His goodness, AND His love, AND His mercy.

God has been good to us in body and in soul. Do our minds understand this?

What an overwhelming thought: to think that the God of the universe loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to save us. He wants to be with us and cares about every detail of our lives. He has made Himself available to us. The gift of salvation is free for the taking. And after that, His strength and power are abundantly available to help us through all the things of life that would overwhelm us.

My heart is overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Psalm 107:1 (NKJV)

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 30, 2020

The Sparrow Keeper

IMG_2037

I am a birdwatcher. I peek out the windows to check on the happenings in my yard. Certain birdcalls send me running outdoors to catch the action. At times, you will find me with my mouth agape as I observe the spectacular scenes unfolding before me.

Several of my hobbies revolve around wild birds. Some days, I get a finger cramp pressing the shutter button on my camera. I use my photographs in a multitude of ways. I have a feather collection. Bird figurines adorn my tabletops, shelves, fireplace mantel, and piano. There are framed bird prints hanging in various rooms of the house. I have bird identification books and recently had a magazine subscription where I could gaze at other people’s bird photographs and further my bird education. I am not sure where my fascination came from. I remember checking out bird guide books from the elementary school library and sitting at my bedroom desk tracing over the photos. Birds of paradise were my favorites. But after that, I do not remember too much of anything else related to birds—until five years ago, when I acquired a birdbath. At that point, I moved beyond being a bird watcher—I became a bird keeper.

A keeper is one who has the job not only to watch but also to protect and maintain what or whom is being cared for. Daily, I have taken to caring for the birds. I water them, fill up feeders with birdseed, and cook up batches of hummingbird nectar. I chase away cats looking for a feathery meal and shoo away deer who believe the bird feeders exist for their benefit. Thus, I have become a sparrow keeper, along with being a keeper to more than thirty-five other types. It brings great joy to my heart to be able to share in the lives of these beautiful creatures.

When we look at sparrows, beautiful may not be the first word that comes to mind.  We probably are not impressed by their appearance or wowed by their size. We might think they are a dime a dozen and are nothing in comparison to the showy peacocks or powerful birds of prey. But the Bible says not one sparrow is forgotten by God or falls to the ground without His knowledge. And we humans are told not to fear because we are of more value than many sparrows.* Think of it!  If God cares for each one of these little creatures, how much more must He care for us?

But, how do we understand this when life seems to be flying out of control in many directions at once, like a flock of birds flushing out of the field? Right now, there is noise, confusion, scrambling, blurring, fleeing, crying out, and fear. Things are startling us out of our peace and rest, interrupting us as we try to go about our normal lives, causing us to question what is happening and what to do next. We don’t understand the outside forces that are bearing down on us and making our anxious hearts pound. But I want to encourage us not to fear. God’s eyes are on the sparrows, and He is watching over us, too.

Recently, I was thinking of two songs which talk about God being a sparrow watcher. But the more I thought about this concept, I realized He is not just a sparrow watcher, He is a sparrow keeper. He is not simply an observer of what’s taking place in our lives, He is involved in our care. He fulfills the definition of a keeper as He guards and cares for, protects and maintains. As we live our lives in the midst of a difficult and fallen world, He abides, faithful.

Indeed, we are told the very hairs of our heads are numbered.** God is aware of each of us and is paying attention to the details. From our safe little perches and our huge falls to the ground in this big overwhelming world fraught with danger, He remains vigilant. When gale force winds, seasons of drought, firestorms, and famine come, He speaks peace. When we are separated from the flock, lost, or abandoned, He is omnipresent. When our feathers get ruffled, when we smack into the window while looking at the reflection of something we think we want, or when we get blown off course in the high winds, He sees. He knows. He remains steadfast. And He is available to help us recover. No one else can meet each need or save our very souls except Him. He has provided Himself, the living water and the bread of life. He guards souls from eternal death and is capable of keeping them in life. He is omnipotent and everlasting.

Yes, God is the world maker, star namer, and soul saver. He is the sparrow watcher and the sparrow keeper. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God.

IMG_8166

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.

I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.

He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
(Psalm 57:1-3 NKJV)

*See Luke 12:6
**See Luke 12:7

©Text and photos Francee Strain, August 16, 2020

Between Seasons 2

IMG_2376

These are difficult days. Long. Hard. Tiring.

We beg for relief from the firestorm that blazes around us. Will these days never end? Aloud we commentate. Silently we muse. In our hearts we wonder. In our minds we question. Confusion and chaos seem to reign supreme. But I want to encourage you to hold on. Hold on to hope. A change of season is coming. Refreshing rains. Beautiful colors interspersed amongst the landscape. The fruit of harvest.

Things will not always be as they are now. We are simply between seasons. Beyond what our eyes can see and what our minds can comprehend stands Jesus Christ, reigning supreme over all. Fully aware. Fully engaged. Fully planning to keep His promise to return for His own.

But something amazing can happen before the time of His return—He can speak peace to our storms even now and cause the raging winds to cease. We may not see it with our eyes, but we will know it in our spirits. Rays of light and hope will burst in and pervade the darkness and despair hanging over our heads. Peace will flood these plains of anxiety. Rivers of calm we have never known before will fill our quaking hearts.

We can invite His presence to enter into our situations. Today. Now. Even while this relenting heat beats down on our heads and tries to scorch every drop of hope we have remaining within us. He will come if we ask. We won’t need to fret or worry about what tomorrow holds because His power is real, His plan is perfect, and His peace is available.  He created the world from nothing, and in Him all things exist and subsist.

So, while we are here between seasons—enduring difficult days and bracing for more yet to come—we can access His strength.  He will enable us to pass through this dry season into a bountiful harvest.

“The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.”
Psalm 29:11

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”
James 5:7

~~~For further reading, see my blog article entitled “Between Seasons.”~~~

©Text and photo, Francee Strain, July 26, 2020

Scripture quotations taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982, Thomas Nelson.

Beyond the Now

I wrote and posted this article a year ago and also posted it earlier this year…before things were, well, like they are now.  I hope these words encourage you today, even if you have read them before.  Remember to look up.  Remember who you are, why you are here, and what it is all about.  Let your weary heart take heart.

IMG_6650

(Repost)
Eyes on the goal. Eyes on the prize. What you do today impacts your future, and that of others.

There is more to this life and more beyond this life. We must plan and be intentional. We must count the cost when we are laying the foundation. We need to be rooted and built up in Jesus and let Him become our life.

We need to move in God’s direction—staying on course, getting directions from His Word, and letting Him be our motivation. And we need to come back after we fail.

We need diligence, perseverance, and endurance. Just like the slogan for graduates that says “The tassel was worth the hassle,” this hard journey pays off. You are impacted by the path you choose, and you impact others by the path you choose. Choose wisely. Do not give up. Do not quit. Keep pushing. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Be encouraged by those cheering you on, and in quiet stretches, remember those whose voices you cannot physically hear. I think of my grandma; you can think of me; we can both think of the cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 12:1) …and remember that God is on our side.

We need to saddle up, buckle up, buckle down, hunker down, and batten down. We need to keep calm and carry on. We are not to worry or be anxious. We need to trust in where our help comes from (It comes from the Lord—the Maker of heaven and earth!). We need to look up, but also ponder the path of our feet. We need to hydrate with the Living Water and keep moving, all the while being still and knowing He is God. We need to shake off the pain and take on the peace. There can be joy in this journey. We will never be alone; He is there beside us—hearing us when we call and drawing near to us as we draw near to Him.

We need to reset our focus to the season ahead and move with eternal purpose. What’s done is done, and we need to move forward. Time does not stop, and we do not get to go back. So, now is important, and so is prepping for the future. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross. He finished the race that was set before Him to fulfill the reason for which He was born; and He is our example. The “now” for Him was to give His life for us so in the future we had a Savior. Now is our time to call on Him so we can be with Him in the future.

Finish the course. Keep the faith. You can do this. You can get beyond the now. All things are possible with God. And when you cross the finish line, you will lay your eyes on the prize—your eyes will be on Him. He is the joy, and He is the prize that is set before us.

Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the goal. Eyes beyond the now.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12–14 NKJV).

©Text and photo Francee Strain, June 15, 2019

Make Me More

Do you ever feel like you are not enough?  Do you want to be more?  I suppose we all might likely answer yes to this question, as I do not think I have ever met anyone who has said, “I wish I was less.”  Why is it that we want to be more? Why do we think that we are not enough just as we are?

We want to be more because that is how we were created to be.  We long for more. We search for more.  We ask for more.  We yearn for more.

We have hearts that are on a quest.  Hearts that search and long for something else that they do not yet have.  That something that we do not yet have is eternity.  God has placed a longing in our hearts for it.  A longing for a life that is full and vibrant and beautiful.

So, how do we reconcile the reality of what is and the reality of what could be? How do we get to this place of eternity where the longing will be fulfilled?  The answer is really quite simple.  We place our longing into the hands of God and we take into our hands what He offers in return for that longing.  He offers salvation first.  If we choose to accept that gift, our hands can then become so full that they overflow.

The gift of salvation opens the door to blessings unimaginable because it is the key.

Salvation is given to you when you give your faith and trust to God.  When you realize that there is a door between you and God, a separation that needs to be removed so that you can be together with Him, that is when your hand is about to grasp the key.

Jesus is the key–the key to eternal life.  He is the perfect Son of God who became a perfect sacrifice for you.  He lived a sinless life on this earth and died a painful death on the cross to become the key that opens the door to eternal life.  Each of us is separated from God by our wrongdoings and imperfections.  Jesus came to die on the cross to forgive us of those wrongdoings and make us perfect through His righteousness.  Your belief in His death to atone for these wrongs, and your request that He forgive you of yours, will cleanse you of them and permit you to enter through the door.

And then, there is more.  Salvation through Jesus gives you eternal life, but you also have the opportunity to have abundant life.  Into your hands–into your life, heart, mind, soul, and relationships–can come love, joy, peace, strength, ability, patience, kindness, and so much more.  You can be transformed in how you live–how you act, think, feel, relate.  You can be more.  More because of the gifts that will be placed into your hands.  More because you will have things that you never had before.  Things that cannot be measured.  Things that cannot be priced.  Things that are not tangible.  The “more” will be things that are immeasurable: like the grace of God that covers all sin, a peace that passes all understanding, a joy that is present even when there is no cause for happiness, and a supernatural ability to endure.

And then we, when we have “more,” can be made more.  We can be made into beautiful representations of the love of God, the strength of God, the passion of God.  He is able to do above and beyond all that we ask, think, or imagine.

As for me and myself, I say: “Make me more!”

I want to glow like I have never glowed before.  I want to shine like a star in the heavens.  I want to go in the strength of the Lord God.  I want to do what I have never been able to do before.  I want to tread a path that follows in the footsteps of Jesus.  I want to think like He thinks, feel like He feels, love like He loves.

Yes, God, make me more.

Peony Time-Lapse 1Peony Time-Lapse 10Peony Time-Lapse 13Peony Time-Lapse 15

© Text and peony time-lapse photos, Francee Strain, July 8, 2017, revised May 25, 2019