Greetings and Welcome!

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

Read Fran's 9/9/2018 Devotional on ARISE Devos website

Read Fran's 8/26/2018 Devotional on ARISE Daily Devos website

Read Fran's 7/14/2018 Devotional on ARISE Daily Devos website

Click to listen to Fran's interview with Carol Graham's Never Give Up Hope Blogspot

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May God bless you in your journey of faith.

A Soldier’s Gift

By Fran Caffey Sandin

With perspiration dripping from his face, Jim, a dejected young soldier, trudged through deep sand toward his hooch (tropical shelter) as memories of Christmases past raced through his mind. There in Cam Ranh Bay, South Viet Nam, the Christmas of 1966 would certainly be different. No home cooked meals, no family celebrations, no fireplace and hot chocolate, no snuggling with his wife on a cold wintry night. The officer missed his home. In fact, the emptiness left a crater-sized ache in his stomach, and loneliness so severe that he choked back tears.

Then from a distance he began hearing the faint sound of men singing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Instinctively he felt drawn toward the melody and followed it to a rustic, open-air makeshift chapel. When he stepped inside, he discovered men of all colors and religious persuasions sitting shoulder to shoulder, singing about Jesus’ birth. He quietly scooted onto the bench in the back and added his quivering voice to theirs.

He admired a beautiful mural on the far wall, a painting of Jesus with uplifted arms, dressed in a white robe, rising from the nearby South China Sea. In a mysterious way, Jim’s emptiness gave way to an inner glow as he participated in the worship service and listened to the nudge in his heart that whispered, “I have something just for you.” Jim soon recognized and began to appreciate his gift, not one wrapped in colorful paper and ribbons, but a reassuring sense of God’s presence and His provision of a spiritual family to offer encouragement and hope.

As my husband, Jim, related his experience, he remembered Bible verses learned from his youth. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1: 9 NASB). “…He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13: 5 NASB).

The reassuring words helped Jim focus on the real reason for Christmas—Jesus and His gift of sacrificial love. Because He came and paid for our sins with His own blood, we have forgiveness, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to give us peace, comfort, and the strength to stand firm during trials and testing. While Jim’s circumstances had not changed, Jesus brought peace and joy to his soul because he knew that no matter what happened, he was not alone.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the commercialization of Christmas here in the U.S. that we miss the real meaning of the greatest gift. Wherever we may be, at home or abroad, Jesus wants us to know Him through a personal relationship.  Only then can we know the abundant life He gives.

Dear Heavenly Father--bless our men and women in uniform wherever they are serving today. Calm their hearts, protect them, and comfort their families in their absence. Give them the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news that Jesus loves them and He came to give them the gift of forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, a-men.