Be Someone’s One

Have you ever received a delivery, card, text, phone call, donation, hug, or visitor you were not expecting, and it greatly lifted your heart? I have received all of the above—things which were totally unexpected but which touched my heart deeply. Did all my problems go away when I received these things? No, but some of the heaviness on my heart and mind did. I received hope, comfort, joy, love, and the reminder I was not alone. I was remembered when I thought I had been forgotten. I was loved when I felt unloved, and unlovable. I was comforted when I was sad. I was encouraged when the road felt too long. These gestures made it seem as though someone was journeying with me at a time when I was feeling alone on the road of life. And every time I look at the gifts now, reread the words, or reflect on the experiences, they continue to lift my heart. One person. One person took action, but the results were multiple and were just what I needed at the time. One person can make a difference, and one person can change the world.

At times, our reach may not seem to cover much space, but what if we are encouraging the ones who will change the world. What if we are parenting them? Are married to them? Are the child of one of them? Are the friend, or neighbor, or customer of one of them? In one gesture, in one moment of our time, in one stamp from our desk, one dollar from our wallet, one click on our screen, our one effort could make all the difference in the life of another one. And if our labor of love is founded on Christ, we will be bringing Life itself. We are His hands and feet while we live and breathe. Where will we reach? Where will we go?

People are lonely—lonely by themselves, lonely in their families, lonely in crowds. People are weary and downtrodden, living in prisons of shame, living lives of defeat and despair, grieving deeply, and believing that no one cares. Times are dark. Burdens are heavy. Pain is real. And we cannot even begin to imagine some of the things people are facing right now because they paste on plastic smiles and go through the motions, day after day after day, while inside, their hearts are withering away. What will make life better for them? Someone who will be their one.

We can reach out and help others by following Jesus’s example of being kind, encouraging, helpful, loving, giving, and sacrificial. We can help people see the love and beauty of God. We can help them find a way to live again, and the way to live eternally. When they are buried under the hardships of life, we can be the ray of sun that shines the love and hope of Jesus into their pain. When people are bowed low, we can be the ones to lift their heads and point them to the One who can truly help, the Maker of heaven and earth. His power strengthens the powerless, and His help helps the helpless.

Gestures, big or small, inexpensive or costly, can greatly lift someone’s heart and meet their needs—physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The consequences are significant. Our involvement can make burdens lighter. We can help mend a heart, be the glue that holds someone together when everything else is falling apart, and help someone live to fight another day. Our tokens and actions will remind people they are not alone, that they are seen and loved, and that God cares about the details of their lives. We all have the capability, no matter our resources, to encourage someone. Even if all we can give is a smile or a kind word, it matters. And when there has been giving on one side, there is now less lack on the other side. Our simple acts may pull someone back from the brink of hopelessness, depression, despair, or even suicide. We should make time and take time to pour into the lives of others. Time is fleeting, and the opportunities are passing.

We can make people feel loved and valued—today, and for years to come. I still remember kind words from decades ago, hugs from decades ago, people making time for me decades ago. Our actions matter. We can choose to bless someone every day. We can make it a habit to think of others and let them know we are thinking of them. The kind words we give today may be the only ones that have ever been heard. These simple words can have a profound impact. We can encourage people to face the trials they encounter in difficult places, the places where they are told they are worthless, and the places where they never feel loved. And even after we have passed out of their presence, the memory of how we touched their lives will remain. May what we do continue to comfort them just as a sweet fragrance lingers in the air.

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”1Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”2

May we cheer people on and help them finish, and help them finish well. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Infants need nurture, or they will not grow and develop well; and after infancy, each person needs uplifted. God designed us for relationships, not just to receive from them but to pour into them. Everyone needs to know they are worth it—worth someone taking the time for, worth someone being kind to, worth someone stepping into their world, worth someone feeling their pain.

We have the opportunity to change lives every day. Will we do it? And when we do it, will we do it for the better? An action or a word at just the right time can make all the difference. Will we be someone’s one?

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.3

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.4


1 Ephesians 5:1–2

2 Philippians 2:3–4

3 Galatians 6:9–10

4 First John 3:16–18

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, March 20, 2023

Dear Reader,

Know that you are loved and are never alone. Even when no human is physically present or offering you love and kindness, God will be your One. He gives love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness; and He can fill every part of you. And if you choose Him to be your God, He will never leave you or forsake you. He is waiting with outstretched arms. He is ready to adopt you into His family, to be your Father, to be your Savior, to be your ever-present help in time of need. He is ready to be your One.

Immeasurably More

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”1

These are the words of Ephesians 3, verses 20 and 21. When we read these words, we find an amazing concept about our amazing God. In short, we find that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask, think, or imagine.2

He is able to do these things because of His great power.

And He does such things in us because of the power of Jesus at work in our lives.

Greatness comes into our lives when we allow God to come into our lives through the acceptance of His Son, Jesus, as our Savior. Greatness in word, greatness in deed, greatness in endurance. Greatness that is immeasurable.

Life is hard, and so many times it is ugly, overwhelming, painful. But through all of this, in spite of all of this, there is immeasurably more.

There is immeasurable grace, immeasurable endurance, immeasurable love, immeasurable hope, peace, and joy, just to name a few.

There is immeasurable grace to cover our mistakes, failings, and shortcomings. We are immeasurably forgiven by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus. Our sins are buried in the deepest ocean and are as far as the east is from the west.3 They are immeasurably forgotten as He remembers our sins no more.

There is immeasurable endurance to face any trial that comes our way. We can get out of bed in the morning. We can continue to put one foot in front of the other. We can accomplish the things that are necessary to get through the day. We can sleep peacefully through the night because He gives His beloved sleep.

There is immeasurable love that covers us, that sings over us, that draws us ever nearer to God. His immeasurable love is patient, and it is kind. It keeps no record of wrongs. It endures all things, and it never fails.

There is immeasurable hope. Even when we cannot see any way out of this or through this, even when we cannot understand what is happening and why it is happening, we can hope. Everything that takes place can be worked into something beautiful by His hand. All things are not good, but He is able to work all things for good. Not some things, not a few things, not many things—ALL THINGS. Immeasurable hope. Nothing is hopeless with Him in our lives—standing beside us, going before us, dwelling within us.

There is immeasurable peace. Peace came to live with us and dwell among us in the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He came to bring peace between us and God—peace in knowing that we will have eternal life if we place our trust and faith in Him and receive His forgiveness. Immeasurable peace. Peace for now. Peace for eternity.

There is immeasurable joy. Through my tears, I can see His beautiful face. Through my pain, I can see His mighty hand. Through my unhappiness, I can have a joy I have never known before because I know He has done immeasurable things for me. He has given His very life for me. He has given me salvation. He is preparing a place for me in heaven. And He is never going to leave me or forsake me. Ever.

Immeasurably more. Immeasurably God.


1 Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

2 “Imagine” is a synonym of “think.”

3 See Psalm 103:12 and Micah 7:19.

©Text and photo Francee Strain March 10, 2023. This is a revised version of an article I posted July 29, 2017.

A Change of Heart

As I was preparing to record for my podcast a few days ago, God brought this old article back to my mind … and then He brought it back to my heart. Reading the words was impactful. Speaking the words aloud as I recorded was impactful. Listening to the podcast recording played back was impactful. And I have had a change of heart—again. I hope in whatever way you experience these words today (reading them from the page or listening to them on my podcast), you will have a change of heart as well.1 

Who likes change? Anyone? Anyone?! I do—if it is a certain type, that is. I like heart change.

There was a time when I needed to have a change of heart. I was so burned out, worn out, stressed out, stretched out, and flat laid out that my heart had become a stone. I was still living and breathing, yet I was cold and dead and numb. But I came across the words of scripture in Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV) which say, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I began to cry out for God to change my heart. And He did. But not in the way I ever imagined, nor in the way I hoped things would go. I had some open-heart surgery, spiritually speaking. Everything was laid out before God; nothing was hidden from Him. Yes, He saw into the depths of my heart, and what He saw there was not pretty. God had changed my heart once before, from a spiritually dead one to a fully alive one at the point of my salvation, but now I needed some remodeling. At times I still do. So, He went to work in ways only He could, and before I knew it, I had a heart of flesh again.

Back then, it was definitely time for a change, but sometimes still today it is, too. Sometimes I need a change of attitude. Sometimes I need a change of direction. Sometimes I need a change in my motivational level where I have the fortitude and the gumption to keep on keeping on when every cell in my body cries out that it wants to quit. I need to be changed into the image of Christ, to move from my present state into an ever-changing one—one that becomes more and more like Him. This is the essence of growth. 

I follow His lead, I follow His example, I follow His commandments—even if all of these require change—change in my thoughts, my hopes, and my dreams; change in how I live life and how I do my routine; change in where I go and how I spend my resources; change in my perspective and change in my priorities. 

I have a change of heart when my broken heart becomes a healed heart. I remember His promises, and they soothe my pain. I receive His forgiveness, and He makes me whole. I release the anger and the bitterness, and the gaping hole they left is stitched back together with His divine comfort.

I have a change of heart when I move from being selfish to being generous. I remember it is more blessed to give than receive. I count my blessings and realize all I have comes from His hand. I remember what Jesus gave for me—His life, forgiveness, and eternal life.

I have a change of heart when my restless heart becomes a peaceful one. This happens when I trust His heart, not mine. His ways and timing and thoughts are above mine and perfect. His words “fear not” are not advice or a suggestion, rather they are a command. I am directed to trust Him rather than myself. I am called to focus on the One who has all power and authority. When I listen to Him speak peace over my life, my quivering heart becomes still.

I have a change of heart when I move from having a joyless heart to a joyful one. When I shift my focus to what truly matters, I find joy. This joy is like medicine in my broken life. Heavy circumstances bring heavy hearts, but these hearts can be lightened when they are filled with His hope. Even if the circumstances don’t change, I can. The joy of the Lord becomes my strength.

I have a change of heart when I move from being dissatisfied to content. Rather than trying to skip particular seasons of life, I seek to accomplish God’s purposes in them. Rather than rush through, I realize what I have in Him right now spiritually is more than anything I could ever gain materially. I am learning to be content in whatsoever state I am in.

I have a change of heart when I move from pursuing the desires of my heart to pursuing the desires of His. I pursue Him rather than me. I seek His glory rather than mine. I seek to do His will rather than my own. I focus on the eternal rather than the temporal so that I might leave His love and legacy in the hearts and minds of those I encounter.

Yes, I like change—not for the sake of change itself, but for the end result. For when I draw near to God, He draws near to me. And that changes everything.


1 You can access my podcast, Eternal Purpose Podcast, on Anchor, Spotify, or the podcast page on my website.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, February 25, 2023. Original article posted October 24, 2018.

Faithfulness and Light

“Faithfulness and Light?” Shouldn’t the title read “Faithfulness and Love?” This is February after all, and those are the concepts frequently on our minds right now. Well, for a few weeks, I have been thinking about faithfulness, but then a few days ago, light invaded and intertwined itself in my thoughts and notes. How are faithfulness and light related? We want them to ever be there.

As we think about love and our loved ones this month, relationships become our focus. We want the other parties in our relationships to ever be faithful to us. We want our spouses to maintain fidelity. We want our friends to be forever. We want our children not to go prodigal. We want our bosses to always provide us with a paycheck. We want the cashiers to always greet us and treat us well. We desire others to remain faithful to us, and we desire our relationships to remain bright. We even usually attempt to offer faithfulness in return, sometimes even in spite of their failings.

We are supposed to esteem and obey God rather than do what is right in our own eyes. We have the opportunity to follow Him and be at peace with Him and others. But sometimes, there are failings on our parts, and sometimes, there are failing on the parts of others. And unfaithfulness is bitter and dark, cold and lonely, the last thing we want to receive or bear.

Unfaithfulness can be a long, hard winter, and all hope can seem lost. But spring can still come. It can even come in the midst of the winter. When we have gone out to the ends of the world, even there, God’s hand will guide us.1 From the ends of the earth, with overwhelmed hearts, we can cry out for Him to lift us up.2 His faithfulness will give us light, and looking for His light will show Him faithful. Hope will arise and overshadow, overpower, and overcome the darkness. The dark winter will see dawn. Chilling fears and worries will melt in the warmth of His love and reassurance. The blinding blizzard will give way to a clear vision of Who He is. The burdens piled as high as the snow banks will be shouldered by His strong arms. And the lies and deceit that howl in our ears will be silenced by the words of His peace to us and our praise to Him.

“There are multiple cares we have, and there are multiple loads we carry, but we can bear these loads and rest in Him simultaneously. Our burdens do not have to overpower us, and they will not, if we take the time to be led by God in the midst of them. These are not platitudes but truths. I have seen proof in countless lives, including my own. We do not have to wait until we get to the end of the tunnels to see the light; we can see it now, even though it is dark all around us. We can see the light of God’s glory shining through the darkest of clouds and the darkest of nights, radiating brightly through the darkness of hopelessness and the darkness of despair. God gives strength beyond strength and peace beyond peace. He is there with us through His Spirit, and He is there with us in love. He does all things well and will be there with us every moment of every day. He is for us, and He has eternal purpose in each day. He is the fountain of life, and in His light we will see light (Ps. 36:9).”3

We don’t have to wait until the calendar says it’s spring to break free from the clutches of a cruel winter. God’s hope and help are available now. We don’t have to wander alone, aimlessly, through this cold darkness. He will accompany us on our journeys and see us safely home. He is ever faithful and will never leave or forsake His own. He has shown Himself to be faithful to us, faithful to the death, the death on the cross. And He doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Will we be faithful to Him? In this world of falling and failing, will we determine to stand? When all else turn away, will we continue on with God?4

If we have been caught up in addiction and adultery, gossip and gluttony, immorality and idolatry, we can turn away from those things and turn our whole hearts to God, forever, until the end. We can order our steps to steadfastly follow Him rather than continue on in the ways of error. He is merciful and will forgive us. His face will shine on us as we draw near to Him and receive His grace, forgiveness, truth, and knowledge.5

We can resolve to stay the course, finish the course, and finish it well. We can allow Him to complete the work He has begun in our lives.6 We can let His light shine in us and through us until the work is finished in us, and He returns again. He will be faithful to do it. He always keeps His promises.

Will our Februarys, and our lives, be filled with His faithfulness and light?


1 See Psalm 139:10.

2 See Psalm 61:2.

3 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), pp.181–2.

4 See Deuteronomy 7:9, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 13:5–6, 8.

5 See Psalm 119:112, 133, 135, 142, 151; Lamentations 3:22–23; Joel 2:12; 2 Peter 3:17–18; 1 John 1:9.

6 See Philippians 1:6.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, February 19, 2023

To Love with All My Heart

As I was jotting notes of what God was laying on my heart this week, I was reminded that we are to love one another. We cannot say we love God Whom we have not seen if we are unable to love people whom we have seen. Love is of God, and those who are born of Him love others. Our display to a watching world is to be one of love. And we are to love others from a pure heart, fervently.* But much can happen in the course of a week to cause our hearts to want to be unloving. We can be cut off in traffic, encounter a grouchy cashier, sit beside a coarse coworker, not be attended to by an attendant, be disrespected by a child, be neglected by a friend, be disregarded by a spouse, and be badmouthed by a neighbor, just to name a few encounters. Every realm of our relationships, both public and private, is an arena for negative interactions, an opportunity for unforgiveness to begin. The level of severity in the circumstance frequently impacts how quickly our negative response arises, but an accumulation of offenses can finally bring us to a breaking point, too.

Two years ago, I shared about circumstances such as these. I am reposting the article today because it is just as applicable now as it was then, and God’s Word never changes. We are called to be like Jesus—and He gave His all in love, even for those who gave Him nothing but trouble, heartache, discouragement, disrespect, unkindness, rejection, and death. He is our example, and He is our strength to do the impossible. He can help us to love and to do it with all our hearts.

With All My Heart

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.

Recently, someone deeply wounded me emotionally. I then got to the point where I cycled through a host of negative emotions that seemed to keep coming around to anger. The offense ate at me for days. My brain was imagining the next conversation I would have with this person and what I would say. I was going to give this person a piece of my mind. But then, God stepped in and reminded me I was not behaving appropriately. Vengeance is His, not mine. He sees every tear I cry. He knows my pain. He endured the deepest pain of all—separation from His Son because of the sin of humankind being placed upon Him at the cross—and yet He loved with all His heart. So, I agreed with God and changed my thoughts. But then later on in the course of the day, my anger and hurt resurfaced. I battled back and forth, day after day, not being able to release the hurt. I was losing peace, productivity, and even sleep. And then one day, I cried out with all my heart and said, “God, what do I do about this? Please, help me.” God subsequently spoke to my heart and said, “Love this person well.” I agreed. I needed to love this person well. I needed to do what God wanted me to do. I needed to do the right thing regardless of what the other person had done. So, I began to think and speak different thoughts. “I will love you. I forgive you.” But I had to go a step further, I had to move this from a matter of the mind and tongue to a matter of the heart. I had to allow God to help me love this person with all my heart.

And then came the face-to-face meeting with this person, our first encounter since the painful situation had unfolded. I held my tongue and showed love and kindness. Victory! God had brought healing to my heart! And because my heart was right with God, healing entered this particular relationship, whereas the opening of my mouth with my previous thought pattern would have utterly destroyed it.

I am trying to live as God would have me to live. He is love, and He offers forgiveness. I have asked Him to teach me His ways and unite my heart to reverence Him.2 When I go off and start living for myself, caught up in my ways and my sins, my heart is divided. And, I cannot serve two masters. I am either serving God, or I am serving myself. Thus, when I recently allowed these negative thoughts and emotions to take over my life, I was not following God; I was following myself. I was not exhibiting love, and I was not exhibiting forgiveness. I was not loving God with my whole heart; yet, this is something I always need to be doing. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, this was His response: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”Jesus also spoke about forgiving others, and at one point He answered a question to say that it should be done 490 times—for the same person!4

So, onward and forward I go, seeking to love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. And when I am wholeheartedly doing this, I will be able to love my neighbor as myself. 

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.

All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.

For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.5


* These reminders can be found in John 13:35, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 4:7–16, 20–21.

1 Psalm 86:12

2 See Psalm 86:11.

3 Taken from Matthew 22:37–40.

4 See Matthew 18:22.

Psalm 86:5–12

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, February 4, 2023. “With All My Heart” article originally posted April 18, 2021.

Eyes Looking Forward

What are you looking forward to in life? A celebration? A promotion? A reunion? Rest?

I am looking forward to all of the above. I have set my gaze forward, and I await the day when I will be promoted from this earthly life to my heavenly one, my labors finished, celebrating my reunion with the Savior of my soul for all eternity. 

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples that He would see them again and their hearts would rejoice.1 He also told them He was going to prepare a place for those who would believe in Him and that someday He would return to take them there to be with Him.2 But what would they do while they awaited His return? What will we do? I am looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.3

With the eyes of faith, I have seen Him for the first time, and when He returns, I will see Him again, face to face, and my heart will rejoice. Until that day, my eyes need to continue looking forward to the eternal, undistracted from the cares of this world and the sin which so easily besets me. He has given me an eternal purpose, and for this reason, I press on toward the goal.

Will you join me in looking forward?

“Since before time began, a call went out to you. Even in the midst of a crowd, God has been seeking your heart as an individual. An invitation was developed with you in mind. From the time that the foundation of the world was laid, Jesus prepared to die for you and for each soul that would ever live. His sacrifice was arranged before you were ever a thought—before a single soul had ever lived. He did this so that you might have eternal life. Have you responded to His invitation?

“This call has gone out directly to you. It does not involve living vicariously through someone else; it involves you living directly. The rewards of answering this invitation are beyond anything you could ever imagine. God is offering you a most amazing prize: the gift of eternal life. This gift was given in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).”4

If we come forward to receive this gift, we can look forward to eternal life.5

Faith in His salvation will be our salvation. Jesus conquered the power of sin and death to save our souls, and if we accept His gift of eternal life, the things of this temporal life grow dim. Eyes that look beyond the now to the eternal purposes of God find life, and hope, and peace.6

“Eyes that look forward see life is not just about waking up, eating three meals a day, going to work for a shift, and filling the evenings with family and recreation. These eyes don’t focus on the mundane or the chaotic. They don’t look inside themselves for answers. They don’t focus on the pain, the past, the addiction, the fear, the comparison, the discontent, the regret. They look forward. They look to God. He created us for a purpose. He gave His Son to save us. He has a plan for our lives and a desire to commune with us. He will do amazing things in us and through us, if we look to Him. He will watch over and care for His own. His eyes and heart will be with them. And beyond the now, those who have placed their faith in Jesus will see more than what their hearts know; they will see Him, face to face. We have this to look forward to.”7


See John 16:22.

See John 14:1–6.

See Hebrews 12:1–2.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 4. Scripture quoted from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

5 Paragraphs one through eight are taken from my blog article “Looking Forward,” August 1, 2021,

6 Adapted from Francee Strain, “Eyes Forward,” June 13, 2021,

7 Francee Strain, “Eyes Forward,” June 13, 2021,

©Text and photo Francee Strain, January 21, 2023.

A Joyous New Year

A joyous new year to you!

Do those words make you joyous, or do they make you bristle? Is your year off to a great start or a terrible one?

Honestly, mine has been a bit rough. And I know I am not the only one. Some friends and family are going through many difficulties as well. 

My mind could easily run off on a tangent thinking of all the stressors and pains because there are plenty of them to think about: poor health, financial obligations, bad weather, broken relationships, missed appointments, housing issues, heavy disappointments, and dismal failures, just to name a few. But instead of letting my thoughts run roughshod over my brain, I have decided to rein in my thoughts and let Jesus reign in them.

When the tears course down my cheeks, I remember He is with me in the course of this life. 

When my heart and body ache and break, I remember He is the Great Physician and the Great Healer. He will strengthen me and help me.

When the anxiety and fears rise up to overtake me, I remember that my Savior has conquered the grave, and His power lives in me.

The knowledge and understanding of Him brings knowledge and understanding to my world. Pain and problems are no match for the One who holds the universe in His hands. He has defeated hell and death and the enemy of my soul.

When the wind-tossed waves of life threaten to pull me under, He will carry me through the floodwaters, and they will not overwhelm me.

When the storms pound relentlessly at my door, He will speak peace into my heart because I have allowed Him to enter there.

When my problems are perplexing and paralyzing, I can hold on to His faithful hand, and He will guide me through.

I can rejoice, and I can do it always, because the Source of all joy dwells within me; and He will be with me as I traverse every day of the new year, even if it is the most painful day I have ever faced. His presence will go with me, and He Himself will be my joy in the new year.

(The following is from an article I wrote in January 2022)

Joy to the World

Just over 2,000 years ago, the angels brought good news of great joy which was for all people. The Savior of the world had been born!

Jesus, the bundle of joy, was born to bring us a bundle of joy: joy resulting from us having a savior, from having a way to have our sins forgiven, from being gifted eternal life, from having the help of His Spirit, from having the constancy of His presence, from having the provision of our needs.

Jesus brought joy as He grew up. He was bringing love, help, hope, and healing to an untold number of people.

Jesus then brought joy in His resurrection from the dead, offering eternal life to all who would receive it. 

Jesus brings joy now to all who give their hearts to Him.  He walks with them and talks with them and tells them they are His own.

And Jesus will bring joy again when He returns to the earth to gather His own. In His presence there will be fullness of joy, and at His right hand there will be pleasures forevermore.1

Joy to the world!  Jesus came for us and He is coming again!

[W]hom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. 2

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.3


1 See Psalm 16:11.

2 1 Peter 1:8–9

3 John 3:16

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

© Text and photo Francee Strain, January 15, 2023.

The Difference a Day Makes

What difference does a day make? Is it important in the grand scheme of things? Of course, it is. We all know that things can turn from bad to good in the course of a day, or from good to bad. We can find ourselves with more. We can find ourselves with less. We can gain it all or lose it all. We can be on top of the world or at our lowest point. A day can be an utter tragedy or a total victory.

A day can be something we want to remember forever, or something we want to forget forever. We can experience our greatest pride or our deepest shame, our highest joy or our deepest sorrow. We can have it all together, or we can have zero control. A day can be full of extremes and polar opposites, or it can be completely mundane. But each day is important. Each moment of each day is important because every decision we make determines who we are and the course of the rest of the day. We have choices to make about our time: whether we will squander it, save it, spend it, share it, savor it, or separate ourselves from it.

We talk about doing things tomorrow: I will start my diet tomorrow. I will talk to my child in a better way tomorrow. I will start that project tomorrow. I will begin my new year’s resolutions in the new year. But there is no need to wait until tomorrow to change. The change can begin now. Even if we are at the mercy of the clock or the calendar, change can begin in our minds, our attitudes, our hearts.

In a moment, life can change. Can we resolve to use our moments rather than waste them? We can take this moment to change, to become more like Christ—to grow, love, serve, and change the world for Him. What we do today can truly make a difference. This difference can make the day.

So, if we have failed and things look hopeless, we need to remember God’s mercies are new every morning.1 We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to get those mercies because He gave us new ones today. Today, we can show integrity, love, compassion, forgiveness, and repentance. We can do the right thing. We can turn away from the wrong. And tomorrow can find us in a new place, if not physically, then spiritually. We can grow. And the shape we become will be because of the choices we made today, at this moment.

Sometimes we mark the day as significant such as when there is a holiday or special occasion. Other times, the day is viewed as ordinary and just a typical passage of time—an old day ends and a new one begins. And now here we are changing from 2022 to 2023 and marking it as significant, but every day after January 1st can be just as significant. We can choose the brightest tomorrow by choosing the Savior today. Our souls can be saved, and our lives can be changed forever. We can turn our faces fully to Christ rather than living with our backs to Him. We can leave behind the old and step into the new. Our days can be different, if we will fill them with Him. We can give Him our grief and pain and take on His strength and power. We can walk the road He has intended for us rather than go our own way. We can say “This is the day the Lord has made” and ask ourselves what we will make of it.2 What will we do with what He gives us? Will we make the day about Him or about ourselves? Will we enter His presence, enjoy His blessings, and bask in His love? Will we shine for Him and show His glory?

This is the difference a day makes. How will our day make a difference?

“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”3


“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”4


1 See Lamentations 3:22–23.

2 See Psalm 118:24a.

3 Romans 10:13

4 Philippians 3:13–14

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, January 1, 2023.


(This is a revised version of a 2019 article)

Here we are in December, counting down the days until Christmas when we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. What a wonderful celebration it will be! But there is much more to it than that—Jesus is for 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑑𝑎𝑦 of the year, not just December 25th. He is for the good days and bad, the joys and sorrows, the mountaintops and valleys. No matter the circumstances, there is cause to celebrate, if we are celebrating Him. He is Immanuel, every day of the year.

And He will be called Immanuel, which means God with us.1

“Immanuel. God with us. This is one of His names, one of His amazing characteristics, and one of His precious promises. He has said that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). When our hearts are heavy and our spirits are wounded, Immanuel. When our minds swirl and whirl in chaos and questions, Immanuel. When nothing makes sense and all hope seems lost, Immanuel. Storms rage. Dreams die. Immanuel. People leave. People die. Immanuel. Homes are lost. Possessions ravaged. Immanuel. Days are long. Nights are longer. Immanuel. Pits are deep. Scars are deeper. Immanuel. No one even understands our pain and the depths of it. Immanuel. In this name, there is hope and there is rest. Immanuel. Comfort can be found in knowing that we are not alone in what we are facing. We can rest, assured of His promise to always be with us. And because God always keeps His promises, we can cling to this name for all we are worth. Immanuel. When we are lost, we can find Him: Immanuel.”2


1 See Matthew 1:23.

2 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 65-66.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, December 23, 2022.  This is a revised version of an article posted December 14, 2019. 

Gifts of the Season

Some seasons in life are really difficult. Our hearts get broken, and the days drag on and on, making the season seem endless and sometimes even hopeless. And during the holidays, this brokenness seems compounded. But if we open the eyes of our hearts, we will find we are surrounded by gifts.

God is a gift-giver in every season of life. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.1 But will we be receivers of these gifts?

There are some gifts which have been given for each and every one of us, and some are gifted specifically and individually.

Available for all of us to receive are the gifts of His salvation, eternal life, grace, and love. And once we receive these gifts from Him, we will also know hope, comfort, and peace.2

There are gifts in the world around us: natural beauty, love and kindness from others, joy, laughter, music, art, words, our senses, and His provision.

There are gifts He has instilled within us, meant to be poured out for others. He created us and prepared us in advance for good works.3 These works are not to be left undone, with our gifts hidden away, hoarded, neglected, and uncultivated. No, they are meant to be stirred up and administered—things like mercy, compassion, kindness, and love.

The unique giftedness of each of us is to reflect His light and love to others. We are to shine as only we can—not for ourselves so that we will get the glory but for Him and so that He will.4

So, if in these seasons of difficulty, heartache, suffering, and grief we are wrapped up in ourselves and the pain of our circumstances, then God’s gifts are not being unwrapped for ourselves or presented for a waiting world to receive. As difficult as it is, we should not hide our light or stop living our purpose in the midst of our painful circumstances. We can hold on to the words of Hebrews 6:19 which tell us that hope is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” In the midst of these difficult times, we will find He is hope, balm, healing, and the God of all comfort. We have the privilege of entering His presence to find His help in our time of need.5 Consider the joy of His presence and the wonder that He would commune with us! And He has promised to never leave nor forsake His own.6 

May the gift of the Savior whom we celebrate this Christmas season be part of every season of our lives. May His light shine through us even in our darkest of nights. May our lives be a gift to Him and to the world on His behalf. Yes, may we show the world the greatest gift we have ever been given: Immanuel, God with us.

 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15


1 See James 1:17.

2 See John 3:16, John 14:27, Romans 10:13, 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 2:8, and 1 Peter 1:3.

3 See Ephesians 2:10.

4 See Matthew 5:16.

5 See Hebrews 4:16.

6 See Hebrews 13:5.

Hebrews 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 9:15 are taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, December 11, 2022