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.

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. 

Do You Trust God?

If you follow my podcast or my blog posts, sometime you may notice I miss a week or two before posting a new episode or a new article. Sometimes, it’s because of my health issues. Sometimes, it’s because life happens. And sometimes, it’s because I seem to get a little bit of writer’s block or writer’s interruption. At times, I might think about writing on a particular topic, but then as the week goes along, God redirects my thoughts to something completely different. And sometimes, I just sit there wondering what to write. Should I finish what I started working on last week? That doesn’t always feel right. And then I sit and wait for inspiration, but sometimes nothing is downloaded into me. Sometimes, possible topics flit across my mind, but again, no, that’s not the right thing to write about either. So then I wonder, should I just repost something or record something from years ago that I have in my files. Well, that isn’t it either. So, I pray, and I ask God what I should write about, what I should speak about. Well, one particular time when I was going through this whole scenario, His answer to me was a question: “Do you trust me?”  I ended up writing a blog post about it. Well, He is asking me that question again in this season I’m going through. I’m facing some difficulties that are not being resolved. 

Off and on throughout life, we are going to have to grapple with whether we truly trust God. Are we fair-weather Christians, or will we trust in Him at all times, in all circumstances? Will we trust Him in the little things as well as the monumental? Will we trust Him through all of life and even to the death? Will we remain faithful, steadfast, and unmoved? Do we actually trust Him like we think we do?

Fear sometimes seems to be a factor. We want to say we trust Him. We’ve demonstrated in the past that we did. But do we now? Will we always? Why would we not? Whose vision are we going to trust? Our shortsighted vision, which is limited to what is right in front of us, or the vision of the One who sees the end from the beginning and everything in between, the One whose vision is eternal?

There is no need to fear trusting in 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. Psalm 27:23–24 tells us the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and God delights in his way. Though this one falls, he won’t be u­tterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand. So, 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.”2

So, are we going to place our trust in people, or in our own limited skills, intellect, ingenuity, strength, and resources; or are we going to place our trust in the One who has proven Himself trustworthy? God 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 the good of those who follow Him and for His glory. The bad and the ugly from this world of sin? It 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. He will handle the details. We don’t need to force our hand; we can just place it in His. He is God.

I know what I will answer Him now. What will your answer be? Do you trust God?

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.3


See Hebrews 11:8.

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

Proverbs 3:5–6 taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, October 11, 2022. This article is adapted from an article I wrote in October 2021 entitled “Do You Trust Me?”

The Comeback Call

When I look into the mirror, or into the lives of friends and family, or into the lives of people I don’t know, sometimes it makes my heart heavy and sad. I’m looking into the eyes of those who have walked away, or are progressively walking away, from the ways of God. This is nothing new, people have been doing it since the garden of Eden, but just because it is tradition does not mean it should continue to be done.

Throughout biblical history, we have been given examples of the walk away, but there’s also always the comeback call to answer it. And here we are in our generation, taking our turn at walking away, and God’s voice ever remains and calls us back to His heart. And now, we have the choice: whether to follow our own prideful hearts, with our prideful thoughts, thinking we know better than God, or humbly repent and confess and get back on the path that is best for us, the one that leads to life. Will we heed the comeback call?

If I asked you if I could speak to your heart today, what would you say? What would you say if God asked you that question? My voice is in these written words, gently speaking to your heart. God is also gently speaking to your heart with His written Word, the Holy Bible. Time after time, His voice calls out to His people to return to Him and to walk in the paths He has designed. They are laid out on paper, accessible to us, where we don’t have to question His plans.

“Have we really left Him?” you may ask. Yes. Some of us are just beginning the departure, others have gone far, far away, but no matter where we are in the process, two truths remain: we are not walking with God, and He is rich in mercy and is calling us back. None of us are too far gone; if we confess, He is faithful and just to forgive.

How are we leaving Him? We leave Him in different ways. We listen to any voice but His. We are prone to wander from Him and take up following after the crowd instead. We try to convince ourselves that what we are doing is right. We try to rationalize and justify behavior that deviates from His way. We might honor Him with our lips but keep our hearts far from Him. We might follow Him for a while and then veer off in another direction. Sometimes, we try to add more words to His words so we can keep a foot in both worlds, but He tells us we cannot be following both; it is one or the other, Him or not Him. We tempt Him, limit Him, and forget Him. We are not steadfast in keeping His ways. We lay up treasure for ourselves and follow after our own hearts instead of laying up spiritual treasure and following after His heart.

We tune Him out, drown Him out, shut Him out, and cut Him out. We close our eyes, plug our ears, stiffen our necks, harden our hearts, and turn our backs on Him. And after we turn our backs on Him, we defiantly walk away, and maybe even run. Despite all these methodologies we might employ, however, His love calls out to us again and again. He wants to have a relationship with each of us that is the best for us, but when our feet are on the wrong paths, they take our ears and hearts with them. We decide not to listen, we decide not to follow His ways, and we decide not to come close to His heart. 

He is a balm for our soul, a healer for our deepest wounds, a help in troubled times, and the hope for always, but we refuse Him. We go instead to the next relationship, self-help book, party, container, store, and screen, trying to fill the void, ease the pain, bury the trauma, and advance our own cause.

What starts this process, and how do we turn it around? We need to know what God’s voice says, and we need to know there is competition for our hearing. Who we allow to speak the loudest into our lives matters. There are voices coming to us from sources such as culture, lust, Satan, false teachers, addiction, friends, family, newscasters, the stage, and our own hearts. Will we listen to and be influenced by these, or will we listen to the One who created us, God Himself? Anyone and anything can compete with His voice—our own hearts can deceive us. And making up our own plans and neglecting or changing His plans will not be what fulfills us or gives us peace. It will ultimately leave us empty, wanting, and restless; and we will start the vicious cycle of trying to fill the void all over again. If we are listening to the voices of the world, we are not listening to the voice of God. We cannot do both. Either we are hearing Him, or we’re not, and we subsequently act on what we hear.

Where are our hearts going? To whom do they belong? We always have a choice. We can always turn away from the dead-end roads and come back to Him. We can make God’s voice the priority. We can leave our contrary behavior behind and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Our behavior no longer needs to alienate us from Him. The hope of the gospel can connect us firmly to Him, and we can continue from this day forward to live our lives in Him—rooted, built up, and strengthened in our faith.1

Is it easy? Not always. People do not want to be told what to do. But there are some things which God says to do, and there are some things which He says to avoid doing. There is right, and there is wrong. God makes a distinction. He has set the standard, and we should not be modifying His design. There is a prescribed order to His world, yet we are often busy trying to unmake it and remake it; and we have created chaos in the process. Some people will try to excuse their behavior by claiming freedom in Christ, but freedom in Christ does not mean the freedom to sin and abuse His grace.2 Some will try to twist His words and take them out of context to make them fit their own desired circumstances. We need to remain aware and vigilant as the words on social media screens, in the newspapers, books, training sessions, and the talk on the street—or even from the pulpit—are more and more often contradicting the ways of God. God told us this would happen, that the days will become more evil as His return for His own draws closer. What do we do about this?

We should seek the things above, putting off our old man and putting on the new one made in the image of Christ.3 Everything we say and do should be done in His name. If we say we are following Him, we need to make sure our actions are not saying otherwise. If our hearts are not right with Him, we are not living in congruence with His teaching; and incongruency is not a good thing—it’s not a good thing for us, and it is not a good thing for the world. How will they see Jesus when we look nothing like Him, when we misrepresent Him, and when we bring shame to His name? We need to do more than hear the words of God, we need to live them. We need to do more than remember who He is with our brains, we need to let Him flow through our hearts and lives.

I’m going to invite us to come back, to listen to the longing of His heart for us. Do we know the urgency of the time? Let’s not be prodigals headed for a far land void of God’s presence. We have a message to share and a short time to do so. We have a finite number of days to hear and heed the word which the Lord has spoken, and we should not spend that precious time following the ways of those who do not believe. We sometimes exchange the truth for a lie, but right now we have the opportunity to exchange the lies for the truth. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but He who does the will of God abides forever.”4 God’s voice is the voice of truth. Will we heed the comeback call?

Listen to counsel and receive instruction,

That you may be wise in your latter days.

There are many plans in a man’s heart,

Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.5


1 See Colossians 1:21–23 and 2:7.

2 See Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16.

3 See Ephesians 4:17–32.

4 First John 2:17

5 Proverbs 19:20–21

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, October 10, 2022

A Moment of Weakness

Do you ever have a moment of weakness? I sure do. All day. Every day.

Journeying through this life is challenging. Moment by moment, decisions have to be made about what we will do or not do in the next moment. And our choices have consequences, some more significant than others, but consequences nonetheless. And bit by bit, these decisions shape who we become. And if we fail to think before we act, develop poor habits, sink into old addictions, and mindlessly while away the hours, we will soon find ourselves in a season of weakness.

We’ve all done it, and we all continue to do it. We experience moments of weakness and do what shouldn’t be done, or don’t do what should be. Our moments of weakness may occur because we make excuses, are afraid, hold stereotypes, and worry about what will happen next. Our moments of weakness may cause us to second-guess what we are supposed to do in a given situation, and then we miss the opportunity to do anything at all. At times, we walk in the flesh and not the Spirit. We rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior. We hold on to selfishness, pride, and our own comfort. And our actions cannot be undone. What we have seen cannot be unseen, what we have heard cannot be unheard, what we have said cannot be unsaid, and the fact that we went somewhere cannot be erased. But, there’s hope because this is a new moment, and we can choose differently for our next actions.

For example, a few days ago (okay, even a few hours ago), I had an inappropriate thought. It seemed minor, inconsequential. I didn’t act on it, I just thought it. No one besides me knew I had thought it, no one that is except for God. But that is what really matters. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.1 It was wrong in His eyes, and so, it was wrong. I was shocked. I gave myself a talking to. But then in the next moment, I was right back where I started. Once again, I realized this thought process was not pleasing to God. I confessed. I repented. I asked for His help with this situation. And the next moment, my thoughts changed to something pleasing to Him. I did not do this in my own strength and power. If it was up to me, my thoughts and I would have continued on down this negative path, adding to the collection as we went along. It was when I called out for help and strength to redirect my thoughts that the next moment became a beautiful one.

As we journey through life, we need to remain aware and present in the moment. A moment becomes a season when we allow it to go past the next moment. And if we are not vigilant, a beautiful season can disappear, and we can be left standing in an ugly one. When we let our guard down or look the other way, we neglect the Spirit. And if we are out of step with God, our steps are going to be out of step. The strength that could be ours will go untapped. But things do not have to be this way. We can allow Him to reorder our steps and set us back on track. His power knows no limits, so whether it is a small thought or a huge, terrible deed, there is help and hope. We will continually have moments of weakness, but God has strength that will never go away. He never grows weary. He will always give power to the faint, and for those who have no might, He will increase their strength. Those who trust in the LORD will mount up with wings like strong eagles. They will run the race like strong athletes. They will walk through life without being done in by it. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, and will also be the author and finisher of our strength. 2

We may have acquired undesirable names and may have developed negative reputations due to our actions, or lack thereof, but our names and our reputations can change to the opposite now because God can change our lives now. We can be made into new creations. We can be forgiven for the things committed and omitted. And there is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Today is a new day. This is a new moment. This is a new moment for grace.3

A moment of weakness need only last for a moment because in the next moment we can call out for God’s strength, and He will give it to us. If we are facing something we ought not be doing, in a moment we can receive His help to turn away and do something else. If our moment has become a season of moments, He can remake our lives, and in a moment, bring us into a new season. His help is available to us before we even ask for it, and while we are yet speaking, He will hear us. Before a word has been formed on our tongues, He knows it altogether.4 His power is exceedingly great toward those who believe. God resurrected Jesus and set Him at His right hand in heaven. He is far above all principality, power, might, and dominion, so we can come to the logical conclusion that He is able to give us strength.5

Walking with God is a moment-by-moment endeavor. Every moment, we have a choice: to continue walking with Him or go our own way. Every moment, we need His strength. Every moment, we need His sustaining power. And when we are weak, we can be strong, if we will allow His strength to pervade us and our situations. His power is incomparable, and it is available at this very moment.


1 See 1 Samuel 16:7.

2 See Isaiah 40:28–31 and Hebrews 12:2.

3 See Romans 8:1–14 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.

4 See Psalm 139:4, Isaiah 65:24, and 1 Corinthians 10:13.

5 See Ephesians 1:19–21.

©Text and photo, Francee Strain, September 27, 2022.

Confronting My Heart

As I prayed about what to write this week, God brought the title of one of my 2020 blog posts to mind—“The Heart of the Matter.” It is a very short article with just three questions and two scripture quotations. The questions are: “Have you done a heart check lately? Does your heart belong to Jesus? Does your heart love like Jesus?”1 In recent weeks, I have had to check my heart. I know my heart belongs to Jesus, so no problems there. The problems come with the next question: “Does your heart love like Jesus?” In answering this question, I have had to confront my heart and its contents.

Spoiler alert: I am not perfect. There are times when I have been known to have some thoughts that are not so nice, to act in ways and say some words that are less than kind. Yes, I have sinned in my thoughts, actions, and heart. And lately, it seems there have been a plethora of opportunities to let the thoughts and actions of my heart depart from love.

Lately, I have been angered, disappointed, and wounded. I have been criticized, ignored, and doubted. I have been disrespected. I have been devastated. And the list goes on. The unkind and inappropriate behaviors of others have put my heart to the test. I have had to make a decision whether to walk in the flesh and respond in kind, or walk in the Spirit and respond in love.

When my thoughts and actions jump on the negative train, I am not traveling with Christ. When I am busy formulating and delivering a retort, I am not letting Him speak through me. When I am obsessing over what I should have done or could have done better, and what I am going to say or do next time I get the chance, I am living in the past and not letting Him help me forgive and move into the future. All in all, when my thoughts are on myself, they are not on Him. And when my heart is wrapped up in myself, it is not wrapped up in love. And thus begin the confrontations. Francee, are you acting right? Is that how you should behave? Do you really want to say that? Would that example Christ? Jesus owns my heart for forever, but am I going to let Him own it for the moment of offense?

So, how did I pass through these recent offenses? I battled through. I poured out my heart to God. I poured out my hurt. I poured out my tears. And I asked Him to help me. To help me love. To help me forgive. To help me move on and live a life that is pleasing to Him rather than pleasing to myself.

The heart of the matter is that the heart matters, and so do the matters of it. What we allow into our hearts is what is going to spill out later. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”2 So, it is wise to confront what tries to enter our hearts, and better yet, to fill them with Christ and His love so there is no room for anything else to enter. 

So, have you done a heart check lately? Does your heart belong to Jesus? Does your heart love like Jesus? Check your heart. Confront it if necessary. Let your heart belong to Jesus, and let it love like Him.

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.

Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.

Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.3


1 You can access this article on my website at https://franceestrain.com.  The scripture verses from the article are: “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) and “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b).

2 Matthew 12:34b

3 Proverbs 4:23–27

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

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 11, 2022

A Season to Bloom

It is our season to bloom.  Not because it is spring, and not because the flowers are blooming, but because we are to bloom in every season of life for our entire lives.  We do not know how long our season will be.  We do not know the number of our days.  But we can know the things to do to cause life to bloom or wither.  We can grow up into Christ and shine forth, or we can shrink back and shrivel.  We can showcase the beauty God has instilled in us, or we can hide it from the world.

Life is not a perfect garden.  Things are often difficult and thorny, the ground dry and rocky; yet, we can let our roots go deep.  We can hold on to Him through the storms, the howling wind, the driving rain, the pounding hail, and the periods of drought.  We can keep pressing on until the harvest.  And when that time comes, we will have produced fruit.  We can be representative of how to survive and thrive, if we abide in the Vine.1  We can bloom when and where we are planted through the strength and the power of God. We can then show the beauty of the finished product and what the world has been needing.   

God has us here for this moment.  And even in difficult times, we can have peace and share peace because Jesus gives peace.  And when it is all said and done, He can bring a glorious harvest from our lives.  So, bloom where you are planted, whether it is in the aisle of a grocery store or the waiting room of a clinic, the deck of a cruise ship or the sand of a beach, the street corner of a bustling city or the counter of a country café; and do it whether you are there for hours, days, weeks, or years.  Every moment of life, every location, is an opportunity to bloom with beauty and spread the fragrance of Christ.2

He has an ultimate purpose for our lives, and every day and every decision moves us either toward that purpose or away from it.  What about when it’s difficult, when we are tired, upset, and everything is going wrong?  Yes, even then.  At all times, and everywhere we go, we are to represent Him.  He is worthy of our praise, at all times and in all circumstances.  So, when the ground is rocky, grow.  When the land is parched, flourish.  When the sun doesn’t shine, reflect His Light.  When this isn’t what you signed up for, complete the mission.  When no one is kind or loving, you be the one to rise to the occasion.  Are we perfect?  Not even close.  But we can always strive to do our best.  He gave His life for us.  Can we, with gratitude, give ours in return?  Can we make His name known, shine His light, show His love, and bring Him glory?  Yes.  Every season is a season to bloom.   


1 See John 15:1–8.

2 See 2 Corinthians 2:1417.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, May 1, 2022

Spring Forward

Hello, and happy spring! It is the season of new life and renewal. New life is appearing for the first time, and life that has been dormant is blooming again to showcase its beauty once more. How is your life?  Are you celebrating spring?  Or are you still living in a dark winter?  Are you being held back by something?  Perhaps even yourself?  Or are you allowing yourself to enter into spring?

There are so many things that can hold us back and tie us down to the old season and prevent us from springing forward into the new. There are difficult circumstances that seem to hold us back, and there are things we cannot or will not let go of, so we hold our own selves back. But God is the giver of life, abundant life on this earth, and eternal life in heaven. Are you moving toward experiencing those? Have you taken the first step to make life a reality?

Jesus gave His life to give us life. And He lived His life to show us the best way to live ours. So, even though our circumstances do not change, our lives can. A new perspective and a different focus will help us through the difficult circumstances. God’s presence can dwell with us—give us hope, comfort, assurance, guidance, and peace. And our souls can also know peace by accepting eternal life through Jesus Christ.

What about those things you are holding on to and struggling to let go of—the disappointments, hurts, anger, and bitterness, for example. Jesus can adjust your perspective to help you focus on the good and see the blessings around you. He can heal your hurts. He can help you overcome your anger. And He can help you to forgive so that the root of bitterness can be burned up in the fire of forgiveness.

When you allow yourself to be set free from the cold winter, a beautiful spring can bloom. Beauty that you have never known or showcased before will appear. You will become someone who radiates life and reflects it onto those around you. You can become an example of the change that Jesus Christ can make in a life. Storms will still come and go, but the cold freeze, the dark days, and the dormancy can come to an end. No matter what the circumstances are, new life awaits you. Spring forward to receive it. 

I have an example for you of someone who was brought from winter into spring: Lazarus.  Lazarus received an invitation that changed him forever.

“Lazarus was not doing anything when his invitation arrived. He was getting nowhere in life. Actually, He was dead! But despite that he no longer lived and breathed, he received an invitation. This was a most extraordinary invitation, and it did not come in the mail! It was personally delivered by Jesus Himself.

John 11:144 gives the account. Jesus had been preaching in another town when word arrived that His good friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus did not immediately depart for the city of Bethany in order to heal Lazarus; instead, He remained where He was for two more days, finishing up what He was there to do. When it was in God’s timing, and after the work had been completed in the place where Jesus was, He then traveled to see Lazarus.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He was greeted with criticism and the accusation that He was arriving too late because Lazarus had already been dead for four days! Count them—four. Four days of being dead. Four days that passed while Jesus worked and traveled somewhere else. But Jesus did not allow this unwelcoming reception to stop Him from delivering His invitation to Lazarus. He went to the tomb where Lazarus was buried, told people to move the stone away from the mouth of the tomb, and then proceeded with His commanding voice to issue an invitation for Lazarus to live again. Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth” (v. 43), and Lazarus came out of the tomb. Here we get a really good look at what Lazarus was doing in life. He was dead in a tomb, sealed behind a stone, and bound in graveclothes. But extraordinary things happened when Jesus showed up on the scene. First of all, an invitation was given to a dead person. Second, God’s resurrection power was seen. Third, a dead man got back to living his life. If this does not prompt us to come when God calls, I do not know what will!

God extends the same invitation to us that He extended to Lazarus. God is calling us to come out from death unto life—from spiritual death unto spiritual life. This is eternal life: to know Jesus Christ (John 17:3). No matter what stones are trapping us in life, no matter what we are wrapped up in and tied up in, no matter what stench we are covered with, no matter what cold darkness we are surrounded by, no matter how alone and laid out flat we are, no matter what others say about us, no matter how hopeless things look—even if it appears that our best days are behind us—He wants to free us from spiritual bondage and restore us to life and relationships. He wants us to be healthy and vibrant again, breathing and glowing, being and doing, loving and being loved. He wants us to live! He has placed the breath of physical life into us, but He also calls us to live with the breath of the Holy Spirit.

But does it ever seem to us, instead, like God is far away—in some other city or some other universe? Does it seem that He is ignoring both our pleas and the pleas of those who are telling Him we need help? Are we surrounded by people who are lamenting our situations? Do we have people in our lives who are like Mary and Martha, who accuse God of letting us suffer? Do they believe that if He was truly in our lives, things like this would not be happening to us? At one point, my son questioned why he should continue to pray for me when God was not giving me physical healing. Several people who are saddened by my chronic illnesses tell me that these illnesses should not be a part of my life. What do all of us honestly think and feel?

Does it seem like God is taking His time in getting to where we are and responding to our needs? Has it been more than four days—a lot more? Are we wondering whether He will ever come? Do we fear that He is too busy taking care of other things in other places to have any time for us? Do we think it is already too late and that the situation has passed beyond His power to help? Have we resigned ourselves to permanently live in our current states? Have we given up the fight? Have we stopped asking for help? Have we almost ceased to breathe? I have news for us—good news. We can change, although our circumstances remain the same. We can have a full and joyfully abundant life now—despite the pain— because Jesus came to give us that abundant life. It seems improbable, impractical, and impossible, yet it is true. But we have to make the choice to come out of the tomb and get out of those graveclothes. We have to come forth from the unpleasantness. We have to respond to His call to leave behind the things He wants us to leave behind, and live.”1

You can live, too.  Spring forward to life.


1 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 28–30.  Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, public domain.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, April 2, 2022.

Available as a podcast episode on Anchor and Spotify.  Please visit the “Eternal Purpose Podcast” by Francee Strain to access it.

Hello, Readers!

This post is a bit different from the usual. I wanted to share some exciting news with you. I have launched a podcast this week! It is entitled “Eternal Purpose Podcast” and is available on Anchor and Spotify. There are currently five episodes posted. I hope you will take a listen and click to follow.

You can learn more about the podcast by visiting the podcast page on my website at https://franceestrain.com.

If you have any feedback or a suggestion for a topic you would like to read about or hear about, please reach out to me through my website contact page.

Feel free to share the news!

Thank you,