The Rainy Season

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‘Tis the season—the season for rain.  But it is also the season for thanksgiving.  Rain can be destructive, but it can also bring beauty.  Rain can wipe away our chalk drawings, but it can also grow our roses.  Take a second look at your rainy season and find a reason to give thanks.

Thankful Thoughts (book excerpt)
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.

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Psalm 135:1-7 (NKJV)

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; Praise Him, O you servants of the Lord!
2 You who stand in the house of the Lord, In the courts of the house of our God,
3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.
5 For I know that the Lord is great, And our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.

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

Photo Credit: Francee Strain

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

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Reading, writing, and arithmetic. In the summer?! Yes, the summer. In the midst of all your busyness, your coming and going, your vacations, camping, and barbecues, remember God.

Remember to spend some time reading His Word.

Remember to spend some time formulating words of praise.

Remember to spend some time counting your blessings and the many ways He shows His love to you.

Commit these things to memory. Don’t forget God like your algebra facts, because the fact is: He loves you and wants to spend some time with you.

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
If  I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.”
(Psalm 139:17-18a NKJV)

Have a joyous summer!

 

Text and photo ©Francee Strain, June 28, 2019

Resolved to Trust

“Resolve to come when you hear Him call. Trust Him with your life, with all that you are.”

… We can come, resolving to trust. There will always be areas where our resolve will be strong and other areas where it will be weak, but this should make no difference or cause any delay in coming to God. We need Him in all areas, and thus, we should make our coming soon, and make it quick. Acting will strengthen our trust, while inaction will weaken it. We can ask Him to increase our faith and to help us with any unbelief that we have. We should be resolved to come to Him for His strength–strength to add to our weakness and more strength to add to our existing strength. We can come even if we are a solitary number. We can stand even if we stand alone. We should be willing to pay the ultimate price for Him because He paid the ultimate price for us. We should come like sheep to the shepherd; they come because they are called by a voice that they know and trust. Resolve to come when you hear Him call. Trust Him with your life, with all that you are.

… It is wise to have a heart that listens for God’s voice so that even during times when life seems dead and dark, it will still be able to hear Him. It is also wise to have a responsive heart that is quick to come when God calls it. We need to have the understanding that a delayed response can fill the void with excuses, and before we know it, we might find ourselves disobedient and ignoring His calls. Life and light are there within our grasp; we just need to come forth to receive them. This is wisdom.

We can come to Him whether we know much about Him or little. We can come with whatever amount of spiritual understanding we have. We can come with our searching and ask Him to reveal Himself to us. We can ask Him to make His will known to us. We can come with our confusion and questioning, our bewilderment and asking “Why me?” He gives wisdom liberally to all who ask for it (James 1:5).

God is a big God who allows us to come to Him no matter what our statuses are. We do not have to be a king to gain the attention of the King. We do not have to be perfect to approach the perfect God. We do not have to be a giant of the faith to approach the One who is the source of all faith. We can come no matter the amount of our faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed. He wants us to be seekers who find Him for the first time. Thereafter, He wants us to be people who continually seek His face. He is there to be found.

When God invited David to seek His face, David decided that his heart would do so (see Ps. 27:8). 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.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 115-116.

Carry Me

When the road is long, carry me.

 

When I’m not strong, carry me.

 

When all is wrong, carry me.

 

Carry me on the road that is short to You.

 

Carry me in strong arms that will pull me through.

 

Carry me in the way that is right and true.

 

Carry me straight to You.

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Copyright text and photo,  Francee Strain November 2017

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

 

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

Strong to the Core

Well, it’s a new year. I have made a new year’s resolution: I am going to work on strengthening my core. Those flabby parts and over-sized sections that ought not to be there–those are my focus. The weakness that resides within me–I am going to replace it with strength. I have a great personal trainer lined up for the task, and I have a willing spirit. Ready. Set. Go to Jesus.

Yes, I am going to be trained by Jesus. I need to work on the core of my spirit. The neglect of the previous year has caused me to grow flabby. Unwanted things like apathy, pride, anger, and fear have grown in size. As I have neglected to deal with these problems, not removing them and replacing them with better things like love, forgiveness, fervency, and boldness, I have grown weak.

I am my own worst enemy. If I do not wake up early enough to go to the gym before heading out the door to work, the slippery slope of neglect begins, because often by the end of the workday and the home tasks, I am too tired. I tell myself I will try and do better tomorrow, but tomorrow usually never finds me doing so. Change takes desire and commitment, time and attention, a want-to and a know-how. I want to. He knows how. So let’s do this!

I look to my trainer, and I ask Him what I need to do. He tells me to approach Him and watch what He does, and then follow His example. I come to Him, trusting in His perfect knowledge and unfailing skill. He is kind, loving, and patient. He forgives me when I fail. He walks right along beside me, offering encouragement and further instructions. I take a step forward, and then another, and then another. And before I know it, I realize this is what I was made to do and I am becoming who I was made to be.

My focus changes.  My tone changes.  My ability changes. I mature as I remain teachable. Soon, I have a passion for rising up to begin my day by being infused with strength. When my day comes to an end, I look forward to more of His presence beside me tomorrow. I close my eyes in sleep, and I know in my core that I am strong because of the strength that has been placed within me by the hand of God.

“[T]hat He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 (NKJV)

By: Francee Strain, January 12, 2018