The Son

My son got married last week!  What a joyous occasion!  It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was a beautiful thing to watch my son.  As he stood before me, I saw two people: my baby and a mature young man.  He moved about the day with love, joy, kindness, calmness, and patience.  I was impressed by his demeanor and impressed by his actions.  The words that came out of his mouth were words of love and grace.  As a mother, I was very proud of him.

Recently, I had an encounter with two other sons.  I had a medical appointment in the city, and I tacked on some errands afterward.  As I drove, I saw a homeless person sitting on a street corner and felt I needed to get him some groceries.  I went to a nearby store and bought a few items; however, when I got back to the corner, he was gone.  I drove around the area for a little while looking for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.  I placed the bag of groceries on the front seat of my car—in case I encountered anyone else in need—and continued on with my errands.  As I began to make my way out of the city and head toward home, I felt prompted in my spirit to stop at a particular fast-food restaurant.  I decided I would order a cinnamon roll.  A teenaged boy stepped forward to the counter to take my order.  I asked how his day was going, and he told me he had been busy.  He had just finished mopping the floors and was scurrying around taking and filling orders.  For some reason, my cinnamon roll was quite delayed.  I stood waiting for about ten minutes.  As I waited, I observed this same young man doing task after task: helping at the front counter, helping his coworkers with filling drive-thru orders, taking orders outside to customers in the parking lot, etc.  He moved quickly.  I imagined this was how things were for my own son, a few years older, working at another fast-food restaurant.  I was impressed at this young man’s diligence and demeanor.  I determined that when he finally brought me my food, he was going to hear some words of encouragement from my lips.  As I continued to wait, a woman in regular clothes walked behind the counter and began talking with the employees.  She was still there when the young man brought my order to me.  I asked if I could speak with him for a moment.  I proceeded to tell him what a great job he was doing and how impressed I was.  At that moment, the woman spoke up and said, “That’s what a manager likes to hear.”  Once I realized who she was, I proceeded to fill her in on how this young man had behaved.  I imagined his parents would be proud of him.

I then proceeded out to my car and messaged my husband that I was now beginning my twenty-five-minute drive home.  As I backed out of my parking spot, a man entered the dimly lit parking lot.  I observed him looking around on the ground as if he had lost something.  I drove up next to him and asked what he was looking for.  He said he was looking for money and then asked if I could spare fifty cents.  I told him city regulations did not permit me to hand him money, but I had a bag of groceries I could give him if he desired.  He accepted the groceries, thanked me, and continued wandering in the parking lot as I drove away.  My heart couldn’t stand it.  I turned my car around and went back to the restaurant.  I parked and got out of my car, calling out to the man.  He approached me, and I offered to buy him some dinner.  I estimate he was about thirty years old, but his current appearance caused him to look much older.  He was filthy and disheveled.  He was hungry.  He was homeless.  I thought about my safety for a moment.  I thought about my husband awaiting my return home.  I thought about what this man needed.  I pulled out a pen and paper and wrote down the details of his order: a special-order burger, a cinnamon roll, and a flavored coffee.  I went back into the restaurant and was waited on by the same young man from earlier.  As he took my order, he apologized for how long he had kept me waiting when I had come in earlier for the cinnamon roll!  He quickly filled my order, and I headed back out into the parking lot where the homeless man continued to wander around, looking for coins on the ground.  I gave him his meal and spent a few minutes talking with him.  He told me that people who came through the parking lot usually were not very nice to him.  I told him that God cared about him and had arranged for me to meet him that night.  I told him that I don’t even live in that city.  I told him the story about why I had the bag of groceries I had given him.  He was surprised by that.  I then asked if I could pray for him about anything.  He said he wanted his mom to know he loved her.  We said our goodbyes and parted ways. 

As I drove home, I thought about the two sons and their mothers: how proud one must be and how the other one must be missing her son terribly.  The first young man reminded me of my son.  I realized the second young man could have been my son.  My heart was proud and broken at the same time.

People go through their daily lives looking different on the outside, experiencing different things on the inside, yet they are all in need of the same things: love, hope, kindness, respect, and an introduction to the Savior of the world.  How do we treat these people?  Do we favor some over others?  At that restaurant, both of those men were valuable, created by the hand of God; and yet, both get treated poorly.  Customers are sometimes not nice to the employees who are doing the best they can to wait on them.  People are sometimes not nice to the homeless.  But these sons have value because of the Son. God fashioned each person and sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all.  How do we treat this Son?  Do we love Him in return, or do we scorn Him, turning our backs on Him?  Do we fully give our hearts and lives to Him, or do we keep them for ourselves?  We were created for a relationship with Him.  We have the option and opportunity to pursue that course for our lives.  And when we give our lives to the Son of God, we can then be a channel of His love, being faithful to all God has appointed us to do. 

Love the Son, and love the sons.


Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, 

and love your neighbor as yourself.1


NOTES

1 From Luke 10:27

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, November 14, 2021

Fashion Watch

Some years ago, my two children accompanied me to a Christian bookstore so I could spend my birthday money on a new Christian t-shirt. I chose a bright red shirt which featured half of a sentence on the front and the profound remainder of the sentence on the back. My daughter wanted to have a matching shirt. How could I say no to that?! We found an identical shirt in her size and then set about to find a shirt for my son also. His shirt made a different but still profound statement. It was not their birthdays, so we used money from their school clothes budget to make the purchase. My children attended public school, and by wearing their shirts there, they connected with believing schoolmates, as well as addressed questions from those who did not.

Not long after our trip to the store, we had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a trip across the country. He was asked to preach in his uncle’s church 2,112 miles from home. I had no role there other than to support my husband and visit with his side of the family. Or so I thought.

My children and I have flown several times to visit family out of state. As we travel, we wear our Christian t-shirts. We have had the opportunity to share Jesus by doing so. On this particular trip across the country, we donned our newly-purchased shirts and ended up having several interesting encounters. The shirts caught the eyes of many. Sometimes the attention was strictly visual. Other times, it became verbal. Some complimented us. Some told us they believed in Jesus also. And some asked for an explanation of the meaning of the words.

Our trip lasted for six days. During that week, I purchased a watch that soon quit working. On our final day there, we had some free time before heading to the airport and decided to return the watch. There was a slow-moving line of ten people waiting at customer service. My husband and the kids decided to walk around for fifteen minutes while waiting on me.

As I stood there looking around and greeting passers-by, a man in a motorized wheelchair got in line behind me. When I turned to greet him, he responded by asking what Jesus would think of the shirt I was wearing. It seemed time stood still at that moment, and there was nothing but this conversation to tend to. I explained to the man that I am a passionate follower of Jesus. The man replied that he should be more like that. When I asked if he was a believer, he said he wasn’t, but he should be, but he couldn’t be because he had too many questions. I explained that our knowledge and comprehension of God is limited, but we can ask God to reveal Himself to us. I further explained that God had the most important question for him, wondering where he wanted to spend eternity. The man told me he didn’t like it where it was hot (hell), and I responded that the choice was his. The conversation then shifted to the weather and where we lived. I was suddenly called to the service counter where the clerk proceeded to tell me I was in the wrong line and would need to go to the jewelry department. I turned to tell the man goodbye, but he was already with another clerk.

I hurried back to the jewelry counter with only minutes to spare before needing to rejoin my family. I laughed as I told the clerk I had just spent the last ten minutes in the wrong line. She looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, “Didn’t the clerk at the front door tell you to come straight back here for a jewelry return?” As I told her no, I smiled because I knew God had appointed that time for me to talk to that man. This was about more than temporal time—this was about eternal time.

After finishing in the jewelry department, I quickly walked around looking for the man to at least find out his name, but I never saw him again. To our family and praying friends, he is “The Nashville (insert name of store) Man,” but God knows his very name. Oh, how I long for his salvation. Please join me in praying for him, and remember that people are “watching” you, clothes and all.


“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside,* redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

Colossians 4:5–6

For “whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Romans 10:13


NOTES

*”Those who are outside” refers to those who are unbelievers.

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

©Revised text and photo Francee Strain, October 31, 2021.  Original version posted February 29, 2020.

Unfolding Beauty

I have been watching a beautiful love story unfold.  It has only been evident for three years, but it began fifteen years ago.  God brought a little girl and her family to our church.  This little girl began to take piano lessons from me when she was seven.  I then became her Sunday school teacher while she was in the 4th–6th grade.  I had occasional contact with her during her teen years while at church or working with the youth group.  I received an invitation to her high school graduation, which happened to be the same ceremony from which my son was graduating.  She and my son both entered college, and life moved on.  I did not see her much for about eighteen months, but then she and my son began developing their friendship, which led to dating, which led to engagement, and which, in just two weeks, will lead to their marriage.  I will enter a new stage of relating to her as I gain a daughter, and I will see more beauty unfold.  I never saw this coming all those years ago, but God had a perfect plan, and when it was His timing, it came to fruition.

God makes everything beautiful in its time.Although we don’t know how things will all turn out, He does, and we can trust Him. Will all things we experience in our lifetimes be good?  No; we live in a fallen world.  But God is good, and He will work for the good of those who love Him.2  So even if the circumstances of our lives do not change, we can be transformed by His glory and for His glory.  There are flowers that can bloom in the desert, during drought, and in the dark, and when we choose to live a life for God, beauty will unfold in our lives.  When we move to become more like Christ and exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, we will become beautiful.  Just as a flower needs time and nutrients to bloom, He will grow us, tend us, nurture us, and bring a beautiful harvest from our lives.  He who started the work will faithfully complete it.

The beauty of His plan for us is beyond anything we can even imagine. Just as it was when God created the world, adding more and more beauty, so it is with a heart surrendered to Him. It is like watching a beautiful love story unfold. Just as we move from being a stranger to an acquaintance to a casual friend to a serious friend to a dating relationship to being engaged to being married, our relationship with God moves through stages.  The more time we spend with Him, the more we will know Him and see His involvement in our lives.  Our actions will make all the difference in how our relationship with Him unfolds.  We can move from a point of realizing He exists to knowing Him intimately.  We can move from being His creation to becoming His child.  We can invite Him to be our Savior, and His Spirit will come to dwell within us, never leaving nor forsaking us.  We can then continue to grow our relationship by communing with Him and taking on His heart and mind.  Over time, we will discover more of His attributes, and our love for Him will grow.  And a beautiful story will unfold.  

He has declared His love for us.  Will we receive it?  Will we invite Him to live in us, walk with us, and be the One with whom we spend eternity?  Prophecy is unfolding step by step.  One day, Jesus will return for His own, and the beauty of eternal life with Him will unfold for them.  Will this beauty unfold in your life? 


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


NOTES

1 See Ecclesiastes 3:11.

2 See Romans 8:28.

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, October 23, 2021

Do You Trust Me?

If you follow my posts, you may have noticed I missed a week of writing.  I had begun to write about my son’s upcoming wedding, but then I took ill, and last week’s article didn’t happen.  All this week, I wondered what to write.  Should I finish what I began last week?  No; it didn’t feel right.  I sat still, waiting for inspiration, but there was nothing.  A possible topic flitted through my mind.  Again, no.  I then wondered if I should just repost my article about writer’s block.  No, that wasn’t it either.  So, I prayed and asked God what I should write.  This was His answer: “Do you trust me?”

Off and on for the past week or so, I have been thinking about and grappling with whether I truly trust God.  Am I a fair-weather Christian, or will I trust Him at all times, in all circumstances?  Will I trust Him in the little things as well as the monumental?  Will I trust Him all through life and even to the death?  Will I remain faithful, steadfast, unmoved?  Do I actually trust Him like I think I do?

Fear seems to be a factor.  I want to say I trust Him.  I have demonstrated in the past that I did.  But do I now?  Will I always?  And why would I not?  Whose vision am I going to trust?  My shortsighted vision which is limited to what is right in front of me, or the vision of the One who sees the end from the beginning and everything in between, whose vision is eternal?

There is no need to fear trusting Him.  On the contrary, trusting in Him will remove a huge load from us.  When we commit our lives to Him, He will take care of us.  Just as the Bible tells us Abraham trusted God and went forward despite being unaware of where he was ultimately going, so we, too, should trust in God’s plans and promises to get us where we need to go.1 God created the world, and He created us.  He has things well in hand.

He will guide our steps even when there are obstacles in our paths.  We can trust Him step by step, day by day.  He is working all around us, sometimes seen and sometimes unseen.  He works on a future timeline beyond our scope, with a path laid out for us which we cannot even begin to conceive. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be u­tterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”2 Thus, we can step out in faith, knowing He is holding us securely in the palm of His hand. He will lead us safely home. 

“We do not need to know everything today; we just have to trust that He has our best in mind. We can find a resting place for our bodies, minds, souls, and faith in the safety of His hands. We can place the details of our lives in His capable hands. We can place the recesses of our vulnerable hearts in His loving hands. We can place our trust in Him because of His unfailing hands. He never fails, never breaks His promises, and will never let go of us.”3

So, am I going to place my trust in people, or in my own limited skills, intellect, ingenuity, strength, and resources; or am I going to place my trust in the One who has proven Himself trustworthy?  He fights for His people.  He provides for every need.  He does not fail nor forsake His own.  He has all power and authority, and by Him all things subsist.  His wisdom is infinite.  He is a God of purpose.  He is working for my good and His glory. The bad and the ugly from this world of sin can be transformed into something beautiful by His hand.  He triumphs over evil.  He is good, and He does what is good.

Such great knowledge of this great God can give us the ability to trust, and trusting Him will bring peace. There is no need to fret; He can handle the details.  I don’t need to force my hand; I can just place it in His.  He is God.

I know what I will answer Him now.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.4


NOTES

1 See Hebrews 11:8.

2 Psalm 37:23–24

3 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 116.

4 Proverbs 3:5–6

©Text and photo Francee Strain, October 10, 2021

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

Power Up

“I’m weary, I’m exhausted, I’m beat, I’m so tired, I’m worn out.”  These are phrases I keep hearing— from the mouths of others and even from my own mouth.  We are run ragged by the demands of society, the demands of our schedules, the demands of others, and the demands of our own self-expectations.  We hustle and bustle, expending every ounce of energy we have, and then we go looking for more to finish the job.  Caffeine and chocolate and exercise and power foods become our aids.  We try to boost our energy and keep our eyes open wide.  But somewhere, something is going to give.  We can only keep up such a pace for such a time before it all comes tumbling down.  Soon we will be running on empty, and then crawling on fumes, and then there will be no motion at all. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  This is not how God designed things to be.  He gives rest, strength, power, and peace, yet, we seem to want to live independently in a frenzy.  He is right there, available and willing to assist us, and yet, we try to get through life on our own and in our own strength.  His ways are higher than our ways, yet we choose the low road, the long road, the hard road.  Our independence and our human solutions make life heavier and more difficult. But there is a better way: His way. 

“We can combat weariness by thinking about these facts: God is our strength, God is our power, and God makes our way perfect (see 2 Sam. 22:33). I can relate these words to my own life because I am not my strength and power, nor do I make my way perfect; I do quite the opposite: I often make my way messy, very messy. Thankfully, the Lord gives strength and peace to His people (see Ps. 29:11). We will find rest when we fill our minds with Him rather than with obsessive thoughts of fear, failure, and worry. And if we are willing to take the time to lay our burdens upon His shoulders and be taught a be­tter way, we will be refreshed, renewed, revitalized, and educated about how to do things in His strength rather than ours. At times, we may be rescued entirely and have the burdens completely taken away; other times, the burdens remain, but He is there to help us carry them. No ma­tter how long, how far, and how difficult our journeys are, God will help us complete them, and not just complete them, but excel at doing so. He will strengthen our spirits with His supernatural power so that we can meet the challenges of life.”1

There are so many things in life that can render us powerless, but His power is always available to us. Whether we are weighed down in our physical bodies, in our hearts, in our minds, or in our spirits, He can give help that is beyond our understanding. We are not left to flounder on our own in hopelessly powerless positions; He is right there by our sides, and He knows exactly how to aid us and handle the circumstances we are in.  When troubles come, He will guide our paths, direct our steps, hold our hands, and guard our hearts.  Even when things look impossible, and it seems we cannot take another step, He is still the omnipotent God. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to those who believe in Him.2   We can be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power.”3


I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.4


NOTES

1 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 47.

2 See Ephesians 1:19–20.

3 See Colossians 1:11.

4 Psalm 121:1–2

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 26, 2021

Many Sparrows

A little sparrow awakens each day and does what it was created to do.  It happily hops along, singing and eating insects.  It does this in lush lawns, in parched medians, beneath cars in parking lots, and even beside highways, with vehicle tires inches from its little body.  It takes no thought for the circumstances surrounding it.  Its focus is on doing what God created it to do.

Have you ever taken the time to observe these magnificent little creatures?  They are so common and non-flashy in appearance that we might easily take them for granted, but I find observing them to be fascinating.  Their little sounds are heartwarming.  Their little antics are adorable.  And once, I even saw a parent feeding its offspring beneath a car tire, picking up little bugs from the steaming asphalt and hopping them over to a baby’s wide-open beak.  Sparrows fill the landscape with their flocks, swooping around, landing on sidewalks, branches, rooftops, fences, and power lines.  I find their presence comforting when I think on the words of the Bible which say that God knows when each sparrow falls to the ground, and each of us is of more value than many sparrows combined.1

I was recently within the flock of my extended family.  We ranged in age from two months to seventy-one years.  The room was full of chatter and laughter as we flitted about, happily connecting with one person after another.  But within that flock were twenty-six individuals, all with unique personalities, needs, gifts, and pains.  God knew our family unit, but He also knew each one of us individually.  

God created each of us, and He loves us. He thinks about us.  He sees us.  What we go through is known by Him.  When we fall, He knows.  When we sing, He hears.  He is very aware of us and watches for us to spread our wings or seek shelter beneath His. But do we allow God to care for us as He cares for the birds?  Do we let Him into our lives?  Do we glorify Him with the talents He bestowed upon us?  Are we doing what He created us to do?  Are we functioning within our circumstances the way He designed us to even if the circumstances are not ideal?

How often do we not walk in our giftings?  How often are we held back by ourselves and the fears of our own minds, by others who disallow us, by others who discourage us, by the enemy of our souls?  Feelings of doubt, worthlessness, and other negative things can cloud our thoughts.  But if we listen to truth and look up to the One who thinks we are of more value than many sparrows, we can fly.  Our hearts can soar even if circumstances don’t change.  We can be settled in our spirits, fully confident in the truth.  We can trust that He will never leave us, that He will work all things for our good, and that He will complete the work He begins in us.2

We can come under the cover of His wings where He will shelter us near to His heart.  We can wait upon God and let our expectation be from Him.  He is our rock of strength and our salvation.  He is our defense, our refuge, and our stay.  Power belongs to Him, and we can trust in Him at all times.3 He will help us and carry us through all the difficulties of life.  We do not have to fear what roars right beside us, what could crush us in an instant, because we serve the living God who is above all and has all power and authority.

Negative circumstances cannot detract from the greatness of His plans for us.  Temporary trials and storms do not alter His greater, eternal plan.  Thus, even when treacherous times come, it is possible for us to sing.  We can glorify Him from the midst of the fires or the midst of the sea.  Whatever He does will be forever; nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken away.4


“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”5


NOTES

1 See Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6–7.

2 See Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:28, and Philippians 1:6.

3 See Psalm 62:5–8, 11.

4 See Ecclesiastes 3:14.

5 Luke 12:6–7

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 19, 2021

Comfort Zone

I’ve cried so many tears this month they have likely comprised a measurable amount. There is so much pain and sorrow in my life, my family’s life, my friends’ lives, and the world around us.  I find I am in a zone where I need some comfort.

What do we consider to be comforting within our zones?  Our homes?  Being surrounded by family?  Having a cuddly blanket?  Experiencing some peace and quiet?  Eating chocolate?  These might be our default settings for times of difficulty, but what about the comfort zones we erect during days that are not filled with grief—a comfy couch, our favorite shows, a good book, good friends, our hobbies?  Whatever the comforts are, and in whatever seasons of life we seek them, there is a commonality—they are mostly all about ourselves.  But God did not design us to remain focused on ourselves. We are supposed to live to bring Him glory through our love and service to Him and others. 

It can be a scary prospect, or an inconvenient one, to step outside our comfort zones, but the truth of the matter is, life is not designed to be stationary.  We are to move forward in the purpose for which God created us.1  We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.2 And in order to do that, we have to enter their zones.  We have to be aware of others and be involved with them.  

There are an untold number of people who need us to enter their zones and bring them comfort.  How do we accomplish this? If we know the God of all comfort, then we are capable of bringing comfort to others.  He will comfort us in all our difficult times, and later, we will be able to use that to comfort others.  God can bring comfort to our minds, knowing we will spend eternity with Him after these difficult days are over.  He can bring comfort to our hearts, knowing He is sovereign.  In the midst of the bewilderment and grief, the comfort of His presence can be known, but how many people remain unaware of this fact?  Unless we move out of our comfort zones, they may never know.

We have the good news of the gospel, and people could really use some good news right now.  But in order to deliver the news, we need to shift the focus from ourselves onto others.  In order to love God and love others, we have to take action.  We have to move past ourselves, let go of our selfishness, forego our self-interest, shift our self-focus, and surrender our self-preservation. Our purpose here is not to “get all we can and can all we get,” making ourselves rich, pretty, and famous.  God placed us here to serve Him and serve others.  Our treasures are not to be in earthly things but in things of eternal purpose.

At times, we will need to linger in our comfort zones while God is ministering to our hurts and our needs, equipping and preparing us for what’s next, but then comes the time to step out, to cross the line and enter the zones of others—showing them the way of hope and peace, showing them Christ, showing them the God of all comfort.


Let all that you do be done with love. 3

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.5


NOTES

1 See Philippians 3:12.  

2 See Romans 12:15.

3 1 Corinthians 16:14

4 2 Corinthians 2:14–15

5 2 Corinthians 1:3–4

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 29, 2021

Stand on the Sea

The world seems to be a raging sea in a relentless storm.  There are storms of war, famine, disease, natural disaster, political difference, family brokenness, and more, and the waves are threatening to overtake us.  What do we do in times like these?  Where do we look for help and hope?  Where do we look for peace?  How do we withstand the storms?

We need to make sure our foundation is firm—this is what will enable us to stand on the sea as if it is solid rather than raging.  If we are planted firmly on Christ as our foundation, then we are planted firmly upon the Rock.  Though the rains come, and the winds blow, He will not be defeated, and we will not fall.  The storms may not dissipate, but our fear and anxiety can, if we keep our eyes fixed ahead on the One stretching out His hand to us, urging us to trust Him, offering us His peace.

Just before Jesus was crucified, He spoke these words to His followers: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus conquered sin and death, and He makes His power available in our lives.  Yes, we live in a broken, fallen world, but He can lift us up and bring us healing.  He can bring a great calm to us in the midst of the storms.

We can scale the highest height, descend into the deepest deep, and traverse the darkest night because there is nowhere we can go where He is not.2  He whispers peace to our anguished hearts and weary souls.  He whispers peace to our racing minds and trembling bodies. 

Peace, be still. 

Peace, with Him. 

Be with Him. 

Peace, be still, with Him.


Stand on the Sea

You can stand on the sea, with eyes kept on Me;
I am with you in the midst of the storm. 
Look up, don't look down.
I'll never let you drown; 
I am with you in the midst of the storm.


Fears will rise.
Child, lift your eyes; 
Look at me in the midst of the storm. 
Courageous and strong, 
With me you belong; 
Look at me in the midst of the storm.


Cares pile heavy, high, and wide.  
Child, it is I who's by your side, 
Who holds you in the midst of the storm. 
Winds will rage both day and night, 
And you'll feel too weak to fight;
But I am with you in the midst of the storm.


Stand on the sea, child. 
Look at me, child, 
In the midst of the storm, in the midst of the sea. 
You can endure.  You can stand. 
And you’re safe.  Hold my hand.
In the middle of the storm, my child, stand on the sea.3 

NOTES

1 John 16:33 taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

2 See Psalm 139:7–12 and Romans 8:35–39.

3 “Stand on the Sea,” Francee Strain, ©2021.  These are some words of peace He spoke to my heart.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 21, 2021

Another Sunrise

Am I going to live to see another sunrise?  Covid caused me to ask that question.  I am currently on day sixteen of symptoms.  There have been several times over the past two weeks where I could not breathe or could not breathe well.  Interesting thoughts occur at a time like this.  Fear tries to take up residence in the heart and mind.  But I decided I was having none of that because my life is held in the hands of Almighty God.  He will determine the number of my breaths, and I do not have to fear since my heart belongs to Him.  I entrust my life to Him—at this time and at all times. 


For if I live, I live to the Lord; and if I die, I die to the Lord.

Therefore, whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s.1


Book Excerpt:

I have heard this statement many times: “Life is what you make it.” This is a futile human a­ttempt to make life look pre­tty. The underlying principle is that there is something that can be done about the lives we live. But sometimes, we just cannot change our lives no ma­tter how much we try. What we can do is ask God to change them and change our perspectives of them. When we look at things through God’s eyes, with an eternal perspective, our views will surely change. We will no longer be blinded by what the enemy puts in front of us to keep us from seeing what God wants us to see. For example, Satan does not want us to see our blessings. He does not want us to praise God or serve God but instead wants us to turn our backs on Him in bi­tterness and anger. Satan also wants us to be so inwardly-focused that we do not help others in the name of Christ. But God wants us to see the blessings that He has made available for our lives and wants us to use them to bless others in turn. So, this is what we are presented with: two perspectives. Satan can blind us from what truly ma­tters, and God can open our eyes to what truly ma­tters. Whose vision are we going to trust?

Regardless of the states of our circumstances, it is here that we can seek out God’s joy, peace, and strength—even when we struggle, even when there is loss, even when we are overwhelmed. No ma­tter what happens and no ma­tter the trials and sorrows that we find ourselves involved in, our minds can be at ease and our hearts can be at rest. Even when we are rendered nearly helpless, we are never truly helpless, because we have the Helper. We can rest contentedly, knowing that we rest in His hands. We have cause to give thanks.

In addition to health issues, I deal with the normal things of life that everyone else does: financial issues, vehicle breakdowns, runaway dogs, complicated family relationships, the loss of loved ones, etc. There are also undesirable realities of life that I have to face. Things have not gone as I had planned. Things have not turned out the way I had envisioned. People have not treated me as I had hoped. There have been devastations and limitations. Essentially, my dreams are gone. I have been in the depths of despair—hurting, suffering, lonely, broken, disappointed, frustrated, angry, and dissatisfied. Yes, I have been all of these things and more. But even as much as I am limited in my life, I have cause to give thanks. God’s dreams for my life are so much be­tter, and they are in the process of unfolding.

Over the years, I have had a perspective adjustment. I have come to the conclusion that if this is the road that God desires for me to walk—because through me He is achieving a great and eternal purpose—then I most definitely want to walk it, and walk it with gratitude. I have experiences, circumstances, and even a physical body that I never signed up for, but despite all this, I have a boundless treasure because I have God as my Father, Jesus Christ as my Savior, and the Holy Spirit as my Helper. God Almighty is on my side! And if He is for me, then absolutely no one can be against me!2

I have cause to give much thanks as I watch another sunrise.


NOTES

1Based on Romans 14:8

2 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 199–200.

©Original text and photo Francee Strain, August 14, 2021

Celebrating Four Years

Hello to all of my readers!

I want to share some exciting news with you: it is the fourth anniversary of the publication of my book and writing for my website. I invite you to celebrate with me and participate in some special activities. I am conducting an online Open House throughout the month of August on my Facebook author page (found under my name, Francee Strain) and will be posting the activities there.

I look forward to your participation and the opportunity to connect with you through comments, questions, and suggestions. I will be posting trivia questions, a readership map, reader photos, event photos, book reviews, endorsements, excerpts, reader testimonies, and more.

Thanks for reading and giving your support,

Francee