Where is your security?

It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks for all of us as we watched Hurricane Katrina and we now await Hurricane Rita. Regardless of what was and wasn’t done and what will or won’t be done in the future, the bottom line for many is that we truly have little control over any of the storms in our lives. Mother Nature, other people, even our government will fail us. But we aren’t left alone to face adversity.

We all have plans, hopes, and dreams and we all should hold fast to them. But, times will come when we must let go of some things and look to new horizons. That can be hard to do when dark skies close in on all sides.

I know I had good intentions of picking up and continuing the commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. But, sometimes life gets in the way.

Of course, for me, it’s been a matter of trying to organize my time between finishing touches on my book and spending time with family and friends while I’m visiting in Arizona. I believe if we follow God’s lead and allow Him to balance the demands on our lives, we will find calm in the midst of the most threatening storms.

It’s not easy, but I can’t help but remember the disciples’ concerns when they were with Jesus in a boat in the throes of a sudden storm. He calmed their fears just about as easily as He calmed the wind and the rain.*

We can find assurance in that scenario because He does the same thing for us if He’s in our lives. The key is to look to Him rather than the tempest raging around us.

I hope to return to the commentaries next week. Until then, my prayers are that, in spite of the impending storms we all face, Jesus gives each of us that perfect calm. If He can control the winds and sea, He can calm our doubts and fears.

Blessings, Francine

*And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Matthew 8:24-27, New American Standard Bible

If only you had told them

I had a rather unpleasant experience at a home improvement store recently that left me upset and, quite honestly, angry. I’m visiting my home in Arizona for a month and planning for much-needed improvements on my permanent return in a few months. The plan was to visit some stores and get remodeling ideas. Since my husband is back in Germany, I was going to take photographs of items we hope to purchase and/or install. I’d visited one small business and decided to check out a huge chain that guarantees customer satisfaction.

I began taking photos and my daughter over heard some rather loud whispering about how customers weren’t allowed to take photos. I approached the supervisors clustered together and asked if there was a problem. I was told I wasn’t allowed to take photos. I explained what I was doing and why and was told they would need to call for approval. I asked them to do so.

As I waited, I heard a request over the PA system for security to call the Home Furnishings section. I was in the Home Furnishings section but decided I’d done nothing wrong and waited.

Ultimately, I was told I could take pictures only of specific items and would apparently need individual approval for each different type of item. It was obvious that I would get no assistance from the supervisors, and I didn’t have hours to spend. I left and immediately called the corporate offices. The person I talked to was apologetic when I told my story and impressed upon her that not only had I been treated rudely, but also that there were no signs posted telling me photography was prohibited. The explanation was that since September 11th, security measures prevented photography. Upon further conversation, I was again told I could take specific photos but there was a concern over proprietary issues.

As I thought about this later, I thought to myself … if only I’d been told.

And then I wondered how many folks might spend eternity separated from God because no one ever told them. That is the reason I do what I do. God, in His gracious mercy and love, has taught me so many things through difficult circumstances. My heart’s desire is to let others know that there is a light in the darkness of adversity.

Of course, I do know that there are times when people are told things and they refuse to listen. Yet, I wonder, do they refuse to listen or are they unequipped to follow the words they’ve heard. I think about the residents of New Orleans. They were told to evacuate. They knew Hurricane Katrina was a powerful storm. In other words, they had the information they needed. Unfortunately, for many, they didn’t have the means by which to follow the warnings to evacuate and many died.

We do have a responsibility to tell others about God’s love for them. But, we must look and see how each of us can help them fully understand. We can show them the path but sometimes, we must take their hands and walk with them.

I think of the millions of people who haven’t heard the truth of God’s words and I don’t want to stand before the Creator and hear Him say, “If only you had told them.

Blessings, Francine

Light a Candle

In the days after September 11, 2001, our nation mourned the unbelievable loss because of the terrorist attacks. Maybe we were even mourning the loss of our sense of innocence. While this country has fought in wars and survived the terrible attack on Pearl Harbor, this was the first time we collectively felt vulnerable.

Homes in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area began putting candles in the windows as a symbol of their compassion and concern for the victims of September 11. While I’m not sure if this was a national trend, I know for those of us so close to the Pentagon, it was comforting.

Each of us could show our support for victims, survivors, and people involved in the tremendous humanitarian effort because of Hurricane Katrina by doing the same. The suffering is really only beginning for many who, now safe, begin the long journey to rebuilding their lives. They need our support and our prayers.

President Bush has declared Friday, September 16 a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance with a call that “the people of the United States and places of worship” mark the day with memorial services and other appropriate observances. The President’s proclamation states: “I also encourage all Americans to remember those who have suffered in the disaster by offering prayers and giving their hearts and homes for those who now, more than ever, need our compassion and support.”

In the past weeks, we’ve discovered a new vulnerability that, while caused by natural disaster, has shown us that we still remain vulnerable. It doesn’t take much to imagine how our enemies could use these weaknesses in their desires to cripple our country.

Can something good come out of something as devastating as Hurricane Katrina? We’ve already seen the people of the United States contribute millions of dollars to aid strangers. Maybe we can use the obvious problems we all saw broadcast around the world to better plan for future disasters.

What better way to support the President’s proclamation and remind us to pray for our country than to light a candle.

Blessings, Francine


I would think that many of us have gone through numerous changes in the last week and a half. Our hearts have been broken – either in suffering the loss or from the compassion we feel when viewing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Our country is exhibiting care for the millions of poor in spirit.

We see people from all walks of life alongside huge corporations and foreign countries putting forth a monstrous effort in donating money, needed items, and services. Around the world, prayers are being lifted up.

To use an often-quoted expression, “Nothing is as constant as change.”

I don’t know of too many people who enjoy change. It’s usually unexpected and, even when it’s planned, it’s fraught with uncertainty. The unknown can be frightening.

Regardless of all the unknowns in this world, we can cling to the assurance God is in control. We may never know all the good that comes from catastrophe, but one thing seems clear – in the midst of destruction, hearts open to those less fortunate. We really do strive to love our neighbor as ourselves – we treat others as we would like to be treated. It’s unfortunate that it often takes tragedy to bring about this kind of transformation. Still, it is a reason for hope.

If we take time to prepare, then neither changes nor the unknown will damage or destroy our spirits.

As I prepare for a trip back to the United States on September 11, I realize that our country never expected to experience something greater than the events of that day. Certainly, there are important differences in that the attacks on September 11 were deliberate and intended to wound and kill. Yet I know many recognize, both as individuals and as a nation, we are vulnerable. Again, I can only find strength and comfort through the awesome power of the great I AM.

I’ve come to understand that those two words imply much more than they appear. God didn’t use the past or future tense when telling Moses who He was. We find the Creator in the here and now. He alone possesses eternal power and unchanging character in a world of constant change. I AM is the security and stability we can cling to.

Blessings, Francine

*Exodus 3:14

Note: Monday’s entry will be delayed a day or two as I adjust to jet lag.

SPECIAL NOTE: I pray that each commentary I write here will bless you but please understand that each is built on previous entries. I’ve tried to build a Biblical basis from which my thoughts are developed. It’s important that you understand “my words” aren’t the end of the story, so to speak. I would encourage you to check out previous entries if you have questions concerning what I’ve written. Also, I’ve included links to several web sites that can provide much more detailed guidance than I’m able to do here. Check out “Running Empty” or “Power to Change” (see list of links to the right). For more in-depth study, you can visit “Now Try God” at http://www.nowtrygod.com or “New Christian Life” at http://newchristian.com as additional resources. The bottom line – don’t accept what I say as gospel. That’s what the Bible is for. As always, I welcome your comments or you can contact me at tenderheartaz@yahool.com


Sometimes God's provision overwhelms me. Even in something as insignificant as the words I post here – He is so involved in my life. Nothing catches Him by surprise. He weaves Himself intricately into the lives of those who love Him and seek to do His will.

It would seem that He couldn’t possibly be concerned with each of us – especially in the wake of tragedies. Yet He is – but only if we let Him. If we refuse His offer to guide and direct us – which comes with our submission and obedience to not just follow but do – then He whispers our name and murmurs the things we need to hear, be it words of comfort or guidance.

Taking a break from the Beatitudes wasn’t an easy decision – from my human perspective. I’m so thankful that a spiritual perspective guides my life because I was available for God to use me in the wake of so much heartache our country is now mired in. Yet, to remain caught up in these things, particularly if we aren’t directly involved in them, hinders God. We can use the compassion He fills us with in so many ways to reach out to others. But we must be prepared.

The spiritual sequence to these most recent posts gives a deeper appreciation for all the blessings and promises of the Beatitudes. No, it’s not a perfect world. And once we understand that Jesus is constantly overcoming the world, we can look at spiritual preparation. Don’t be deceived … there is a spiritual battle in the heavenly realms and it’s a battle for not only your soul, but it is also a battle for your peace. If you aren’t prepared, you will be wounded. (See July 29 entry, Dress for Success).

But how do we prepare for the battles of the heart and spirit? Certainly, we can follow Paul’s words in putting on the Armor of God. However, there is such simple yet powerful meaning in the words Jesus gave prior to His crucifixion.

I wonder what was going through His mind on that last evening with His disciples. He knew what was ahead, yet despite the swift-approaching agony, He took no thought for Himself. Instead, he left words for his disciples*. And if we have accepted him as our savior, then these words are for each of us as well. It’s up to you to find time to allow them to penetrate your spirit.

You can find hope and assurance in Jesus’ words. He’s proved it repeatedly to millions who’ve fallen in love with Him.

Blessings, Francine

*John 16

It's not a perfect world

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33, NAS

As a final note about the devastation and heartache surrounding Hurricane Katrina, I can’t help but think about the words Jesus spoke to his disciples the night before His crucifixion.

As the relief effort pours into the Gulf region, folks are asking many questions, all beginning with the word why. Over the next weeks, months, and probably years, the reactions, both good and bad, to the hurricane will be examined. There is something in human nature that desires to find an answer and place blame. I leave that debate to others.

The truth is that bad things happen. We don’t live in a perfect world. And regardless of all the should’ves, would’ves, and could’ves, tragedies happen. If we look to the things of this world to bring us comfort and security, we will always be disappointed and come up wanting. If we place our trust in things, then when those things are lost, we too seem to be lost. Even if we find security in neighborhoods, friends, or our families, we will come to some point when they won’t meet whatever needs we might have.

Jesus told us we will have tribulation. It’s a truth we sometimes forget when we are caught up in all the pretty things of the world. And it’s something too many people have forgotten. Instead of asking why us, maybe the questions is, why not us? Who are we to think that we are immune to heartache and pain?

We consider ourselves the greatest country in the world but we still must succumb to Mother Nature. Have we become so sanctimonious that we believe we can control nature? Unfortunately, we seem to believe we can control everything. If anything shows us we can’t, it is Hurricane Katrina.

As the world and the rest of America open its arms to survivors, maybe we should re-focus. Jesus has overcome the world but if we begin to understand that this is not a past event, but instead, an ongoing action, then we find something more real and more powerful than any catastrophic event, any army, or any force on earth. I’d much rather trust in the Creator’s control of His universe than anything man or nature can offer.

Please continue to pray for victims, survivors, and everyone reaching out to help.

Blessings, Francine

Biblical Proportions

I’ve joined a tremendous group of bloggers who have connected to blog for victims of Hurricane Katrina. It’s not something I would normally do, but I am so moved by the magnitude of need.

All of us can see what’s happening. Unfortunately, the most news worthy stories are also those showing what I described Wednesday as the diabolical. I truly believe that when we are able to take a retrospective look at this disaster (and disaster seems almost too mild of a description), we will see that the divine will prevail.

It is devastating to watch how some people react in a state of lawlessness. It is shocking to see how society can quickly disintegrate without the normal infrastructure we usually take for granted. It is horrific to look in the face of evil. Yet, we must remember that our society has continued to, or is trying to, take God out of every aspect of our lives.

Thankfully, there are many more stories of normal folks acting heroically to help their neighbors. There are major efforts being made by corporations and organizations. Many humanitarian groups are there now – we just can’t see them. Strangers, friends, family, and even cities and towns are opening their homes and hearts to assist these refugees. These are part of the good that will prevail in the next weeks and months.


I wrote the above words yesterday, intending to post them here. Instead, all I saw, heard, and read overwhelmed me. One person was quoted as saying, “This is a disaster of Biblical proportions.” Since hearing those words, I’ve come to realize that is true and that recovering will encompass the same.

If we look at the situation, we can see only hopelessness. As riveting as the images are that tumble across our screens, we must take our eyes off the circumstances and put them on God.

Pray. Only a recovery of Biblical proportions can solve so much pain, suffering, hunger, homelessness, and grief.

I’ve heard that there have been many requests for Bibles. I ask each of you to pray and then look to how we can put God’s truth in the hands of these who’ve lost everything. We can give them new hope.

But make no mistake – God is in control. He can still transform lives.

Blessings and prayers to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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