Miracles of Motherhood

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Dear moms—of all types—biological moms, stepmoms, single moms, adoptive moms, adopted moms, foster moms, fostered moms, spiritual moms, and honorary moms; and to any woman:

Miracles can and do happen.  “Really?” you might ask.  “I’d like to see one.”  Maybe you have never seen one…or maybe you just didn’t recognize it.  Maybe you’ve actually seen many.

Here are a few:

After the life of one son was taken by another, a third son was born.  Eve experienced a miracle.

One woman, along with her husband, three sons, and three daughters-in-law were all spared from a worldwide flood.  Noah’s wife experienced a miracle.

One woman, banished with a child who approached the brink of death, was seen by God, directed to water, and promised that her child would become a great nation.  Hagar had her miracle.

A widow woman’s sons were going to be taken away by creditors to pay off her debt.  A jar of oil became bottomless, and she had her miracle.

A woman became a widow, then she became childless.  But she remained a spiritual mom to her two daughters-in-law.  These daughters were foreigners and not of the people of God, but one eventually became so and became part of the lineage of Jesus. Naomi had her miracle, and so did Ruth.

Her son was ordained from the womb to be a prophet to the nations.  And even though he ran from his calling for a time, he returned.  He shared God’s messages with the people.  Jeremiah’s mom had her miracle as her son became what God called him to be.

A widow in Nain experienced the death of her only son.  As she walked along in the funeral procession, Jesus raised him back to life.  She had her miracle.

Peter’s mother-in-law lay very sick from a fever.  Jesus came in and brought her healing.  She was able to get up and serve those around her.  She had her miracle, and it overflowed to others.

She carried the Son of God within her womb and then watched the Son of God die before her very eyes to become her Savior.  Within a few breaths of His last, He turned her over to the care of John the disciple.  Mary had her miracles.  And we all had a Savior now waiting to care for us, too.

A poor young boy did not have a formal education, but he became the president of the United States and helped save his country.  Although Mrs. Lincoln did not live to see her miracle, it came.

A rebellious young man who ran far from God turned his life back toward Him.  He now travels the world, preaching and doing disaster relief for millions of people.  Ruth Bell Graham had her miracle.

A woman with a barren womb, eyes full of tears, ears full of unhelpful statements from others, poured out her heart to the Lord.  She enlisted prayer from others.  Hannah received her miracle, and then some.  So did I.

Who would have thought a miracle could come after tragedy, abandonment, desperation, and death?  Who would have thought it?  Well, miracles could come, and did come, because God saw, and God had a plan.  A plan of comfort, provision, restoration, and salvation.  Continuation, protection, legacy, and calling.  Healing, position, vision, and abundance.  The same things are available today because He does not change.  He is the God of the impossible.  He is the God of miracles.

Be open to receive what God has for you.  Good things come from His hand in myriad forms and ways, and they may look nothing like you expect.

God is still at work in and around us, doing things both seen and unseen, doing things on a timeline we sometimes understand and sometimes do not.  He is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  Don’t give up hope.  He is the God of miracles.  He is beyond good.  And He deserves thanks and praise.  Even now.

 

©Text and photography by Francee Strain, May 16, 2019

Unbound–Part 3 of 3

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Pain and suffering in life can wrap us and trap us.  It can keep us bound.  It can make us feel so numb we wonder if we are even still alive.  It can make us want to give up on searching for life.  But I want to encourage you: there is life to be found in the midst of suffering and pain.  You can be unbound and set free.  I have living proof.  I am living proof.  Seek God’s power, and you will find your proof, too.

“After Jesus’s death, people continued to seek Him. When Peter and John heard that Jesus was resurrected, they went to the tomb seeking proof. They found their proof in an empty tomb. They went away believing, with an amazing story to share with others (see John 20). Afterward, they went to find Jesus in Galilee where He had said He would meet them following His resurrection (Matt. 28:16). They were able to see the living proof they sought!” They saw Jesus unbound,  fully alive after a time of intense pain and suffering.  God’s power overcame the horrible circumstances, and that same power had been working in the midst of the horrible circumstances, even though it was not evident.

“God is at work in the lives and circumstances of His children even when we do not see it, even when the darkness of the tomb envelops us. Even when we do not see His handiwork or feel His presence, He is there. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing is impossible for Him. He can breathe new life into us and into our circumstances. We need to take some time to look around and see what God is doing in our areas of difficulty. Psalm 66:9 tells us that God holds our souls in life and does not suffer our feet to be moved. We do not have to be removed from the circumstances in order to endure or have hope; He will be our anchor right where we are. We are told to cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He hears, He sees, and His divine purposes are continuing to be worked even as these circumstances swirl and linger around us. Psalm 69:15–18 says, “Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD; for thy loving-kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.” God will give us the strength to live and also endure whatever we encounter while we do. Nothing is dead when God gives it life.

There is freedom when we are unbound from the graveclothes. There is new breath breathed into us when we allow the breath of God’s Holy Spirit to fill our spirits. His light illumines our paths. The wonderful music of His voice joins us and guides us on our journeys. There are beautiful things to open our eyes to in this world: His creation, His people, and His purposes. The newness He brings is like the fragrance after the rain, fresh and clean. Our hearts can begin to beat again and be filled with passion for the lives He has called us to live. Instead of tasting the bitterness of life, which to us seems like death, we can “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8). Our vision will become clear when we see with His eyes. We will see that life is not over just because we are suffering and feel dead; we will see that we have not yet begun to live.” 2

 

1 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 56-7.

 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 31-2.

Photography by Francee Strain, ©April 2019

Immanuel

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.

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

The Breakthrough

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Can you answer me? Will you answer me?

Have you ever said these words and waited for the answer to these questions? What did you do while you waited? We have two choices while we wait: we can wait patiently—to hear the words when the speaker is ready to deliver them or thinks we are ready to receive them—or we can grow impatient and demand we get an answer now.

Are you waiting for a breakthrough? A breakthrough that will bring you an answer? A breakthrough in your healing? A breakthrough in a thought process? A breakthrough in a relationship? A breakthrough at the workplace? A breakthrough of freedom from addiction or pain? What do you do while you wait for the breakthrough to come? Do you wait with patient expectation? Or do you demand that it happen sooner? Do you try to force it to happen prematurely—either before the circumstances are ready, or before you are?

I have been trying to root a plant. I cut off a 3-inch stem and placed it in a glass of water. There were a few leaves on the stem when I did so. Four months later, the stem is still three inches long, and there are just a few leaves on the stem.  Things look pretty much the same from the surface vantage point.   What has been going on with this plant?  Anything? Where are the changes and the growth I expected to see in the realm of height and leaves?  Has there been a breakthrough? I need to investigate further to find out.  I need to get to the root of it!

So, I pull the stem out of the glass. And what do I find? There, below the surface of what was visible, something has been taking place. Root after root after root has been growing, growing, and growing! And besides all the roots that have been growing, there are even more that are ready to sprout out of the stem. Well then, what is going to happen once I take this stem out of water and put it into the dirt? There is going to be a massive breakthrough! Root after root after root is going to break through the soil.  And then, seen and unseen, this plant is going to flourish.

So what do I do while I wait for the breakthrough and the answers to come in my life? I just hang out. Suspended. Seemingly unchanging to the eyes of those that are looking at me from the surface. But down below, where no one can see, something big will be happening. I will be growing roots. Roots of faith. Roots of hope. Roots of patience. Roots of expectation. Roots that are strong. I will be sending my roots deeper into the well of my salvation where the Living Water of Jesus is.  And I will be waiting, just waiting, to be placed into the perfect soil so that my roots can take off. And once I am planted in the perfect place, once all of my roots are deemed ready by the Master Gardener, I am going to have a breakthrough! My roots are going to push through the fertile soil, and I am going to grow onward and upward to God. I will seemingly begin to flourish to the watching eyes around me, but really, my greatest flourishing will be happening where they cannot see—in my spirit, where I am being rooted deeper into Christ.

This is the hope of my breakthrough, for my ultimate hope comes from Christ: the One who broke through the bars of death and burst forth from the tomb, the same One who sent His Spirit to live in me, the same One who has made His resurrection power available to me, and the same One who someday will break through the clouds and return for me. A great breakthrough is coming, and I can hardly wait! But I will. I will wait patiently for the answer to come, instead of demanding that it come sooner, before I am ready and before the Giver is ready to give it. I will wait. And then I will break through.

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For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15 NKJV)

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16 NKJV)

…and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30 KJV)

 

Francee Strain, January 29, 2018

Someone Sent You Flowers

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It was me! But only after God sent them to you first!!!

He created them.

Crafting each petal.

Painting each color.

Misting each fragrance.

Placing it upon a stem:

To decorate the fields and hills,

Mountains and plains,

From sea to shining sea,

Atop the ponds and the forest floors,

Just waiting to be lifted to savor,

A glorious display of beauty…

And of love.

YOU are loved.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; … Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (from Matthew 6:28-29 KJV)

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Francee Strain, January 22, 2018

Thankful Thoughts

We have most likely learned that although it may not be raining now, one day it will be. Even though we may be living in relative ease right now, we know to anticipate the “rain” of struggles. Part of being human is facing the difficult times that will be forthcoming someday. On the other hand, we may already be living in the “someday” and be in the midst of those struggles right now. Our lives may be in states of chaos, with one crisis after another, and we can barely think straight. How can we rest amid our suffering? How can we praise God anyway? One place to find answers is to look at the life of Job.

There was a way that Job was able to find peace and rest. He said, “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. … With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” (Job 12:10, 13). Job’s burdens were lightened because he placed his trust in God’s character. When we meditate on who God is in relation to who we are, our thoughts will become peaceful as we recognize His sovereignty and omnipotence. When we read these verses and see that He has understanding, it can bring relief to our minds to know that at least He has things figured out even if we do not. God is wise and strong, and He has been around so much longer than we have. He knows how things work–He made them! If He created the earth and He created us, then He definitely knows what to do with our lives. Our minds can be calmed by understanding that He holds our lives in His hands and gives us every breath. So when the rains of life come, we can rest safely in His shelter, knowing He is going to bring growth from this downpour.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 193.

No More Tears

“Whew!”  That is about all I can say right now.  How about you?  Is your heart heavy and hurting?  It seems that everywhere I turn, people are in great pain.

I must admit that I have been crying my share of tears this year, even just this month; yes, even just this week.  Difficulties just pile and pile on.  Relentless.  Tears cried in a hospital.  Tears cried at a memorial service.  Tears cried in my home.  Tears cried in anger.  Tears cried in pain.  Tears cried in disappointment, frustration, offense, … .

Well, I have news for you, for us.  For those of us who have Jesus as our Savior, someday there are not going to be any more tears.  No more hospital tears, funeral tears, angry tears, pains-of-all-kinds tears.  Nope.  Not a one.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4 KJV)

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Francee Strain, November 15, 2017

Photo by Francee Strain

Immeasurably More

When you read the words of Ephesians 3:20, you will find an amazing concept about our amazing God.  In short, you will find that God is able to do “immeasurably more” than we can ask, think, or imagine.*

He is able to do this because of His power.

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, and painful.  But through all of this, in spite of all of this, there is immeasurably more.

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.  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.  He is never going to leave me or forsake me.  Ever.

Immeasurably more.  Immeasurably God.

 

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…is from the west.031

 

*I have utilized and paraphrased the words of two Bible versions in this opening paragraph.  The phrase “immeasurably more” and the words “ask” and “imagine” appear in the NIV.  The word “think” is taken from the KJV.

Copyright Francee Strain,  July 29, 2017, all rights reserved

Photos by Francee Strain