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My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

Read Fran's 10/15/2018 Interview with Helene T. Steilian

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Antonia’s Thanks-Giving Lessons

By Fran Caffey Sandin

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 NIV).

I met Antonia, a quiet Hispanic woman, in the ICU waiting room of Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. My son was dying of bacterial meningitis and her son from a congenital heart defect. As grieving mothers, we had a common bond but almost nothing else alike.

Antonia sat alone and watched as our church friends came to pray with us. We stood in a circle, holding hands, with heads bowed, and tearful requests. Antonia and her husband had two preschool girls, and desperately wanted a son. Her heart was broken. I introduced Antonia to my friends who spoke loving words to her and gave her a Spanish New Testament which she read.

Within minutes after our son’s death, Antonia spoke with me privately. In hesitant English, she said: “I see that you give your baby to the Lord. I want you to know that today, I give my baby to the Lord, too. Jesse will never be well. He is so sick. I been watching you. I know God take care of you. I know your baby will be with the Lord. He will be O.K.”

This little stranger and I hugged and wept together. I prayed for her son; and two weeks later she called to say Jesse had joined our Jeffrey in Heaven. I attended her baby’s memorial service and asked Antonia to stay in touch. After several months, she called to say that she had accepted Christ as her personal Savior and joined a church. I felt overjoyed at her wonderful news.

Then I received a thank-you card where she wrote in her own words, “My baby was born with birth defects, but he was the beautiful baby I asked of God. And He showed me that He can give and that He can take him away. But thanks to our Father for his love and thanks for you all.”

Antonia moved to the Rio Grande valley where she and her husband were awaiting his job, but they were temporarily living in their old used station wagon. She wrote to say how God blessed them because they parked beneath an orange tree and had plenty to eat. She was thanking God.

In another letter she explained that one day she didn’t have enough food to prepare a lunch for her husband. She prayed to God for help. Later that day, a strange man knocked on her cabin door and said, “Ma’am, I went fishing today and have this string of fish. Could you use some?”  Antonia was so happy she exclaimed, “Yes!” and “Thanks to God, I fixed my husband’s lunch.”

She later reported that she did not have the money when her rent was due, but the landlord agreed to wait a few days. Antonia prayed. Two days later, an unexpected check arrived in the mailbox that paid their rent. Because the Holy Spirit indwelled Antonia’s heart, she kept a thankful spirit. She passed away at age 55, but her example continues to instruct and inspire.

Dear Heavenly Father teach us to be thankful each day for every provision you have made. Help us to obey your Word, and to always be joyful, prayerful, and thankful like Antonia. In Jesus name, Amen.