A New Outlook

A couple of weeks ago, in a prior post, I touched on the fact that when we are asked how we are doing, many of us say we are “good” even when it’s not really true. But I can think of two people who always give me a different answer.

I have a coworker who tells me that she is taking life one blessing at a time. I really love her outlook. She overflows with gratitude and joy. What an amazing way to greet each day. If we could wake up every morning and tell ourselves that we are living one blessing at a time, imagine how much that would transform the day.

While it’s true that life has its ups and downs, it is also true that we have many blessings in our lives. We have a roof over our heads, we have clothes on our backs, we have food to eat, we have family and friends, and so much more. I am preaching to myself when I say that we need to have a better perspective. Instead of focusing on our problems, we can choose to focus on our blessings. It takes effort to retrain our minds. But it is possible. And when we do, the results are greater than we can imagine. We will see that we have so much to be thankful for. We will see a loving God who is beside us and who cares for us. And we will feel contentment and peace as we face each day.

A guy at a local gas station also gives me a unique answer when I ask him how he is. His reply to me is, “Better than I deserve.” Wow! That response always gets me. And I realize that his answer is true for many of us. This helps me to remember the depth of God’s grace and mercy. We have so much, yet we deserve so little. As Christians, and thanks to Jesus, we are heirs of the Kingdom of God. But it is not by our own merit.

This attitude is similar to the one I first mentioned, as they both can help us to live a life of gratitude. When we humble ourselves and realize that we are not entitled (contrary to the mindset in today’s culture), we will walk each day with thanksgiving in our hearts for all that we have.

When we keep both of these perspectives in mind – living life one blessing at a time and doing better than we deserve – this can help us to view life differently. We can greet each day with a thankful heart. Our focus will become brighter and more optimistic. And each new morning will become an adventure.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. – Psalm 16:5

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

As Far As It Depends On Me

There is a Bible verse that stresses the importance of living at peace with other people.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

I love the way this is worded. Often times when it comes to our interactions with other people, if they are hard to deal with, we just give up and walk away. We don’t want to be bothered, so we as humans are quick to cut ties and move on. But this verse will make us think twice. This verse shows us that we need to make every effort to live a life of peace. As far as it depends on us.

The words “as far as it depends on me” have been floating through my head a lot recently. And I began to think about how these words can impact different areas of our lives.

For one thing, our attitudes. Life can hand us some tough things that can leave us feeling bitter, worried, stressed, fearful, and many other negative emotions. But we have a choice. We can choose to stay optimistic and positive. We can choose to keep joy and peace in our hearts. As far as it depends on us.

Another area is our work. I love my job and what I do each day. But sometimes I have things on my plate that I feel inadequate to handle. Maybe you can relate? Or perhaps you have to deal with unfriendly coworkers? Or maybe you don’t work in the best conditions? We can still choose to make every effort to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner. As far it depend on us.

Another area is our health. We all know that we should eat healthy, exercise, take care of ourselves and so on. But do we do it? Most people are terrible in this area. It can be too hard to start a new diet or a new workout plan. We might take care of our loved ones well, but not ourselves. Again, we have a choice. We can attempt to take care of our bodies and our health. As far as it depends on us.

These are just a few examples. But we could also seek God in prayer and ask Him to show us areas of our lives that we can improve, as far as it depends on us. These seven words can drastically influence our lives in a positive way. We can choose how we approach the path ahead. We can approach so many things differently if we remember to make every effort to do our part.

As far as it depends on you. As far as it depends on me. As far as it depends on us.

Dear God, we want to be good stewards of this life you have given us. We are sorry that sometimes we feel discouraged and defeated. We know those feelings can hold us back from living our best life. So please help us to change any areas that we can. Help us to live each day for Your honor and glory. Please reveal to us areas that You would like for us to improve. Lay on our hearts areas where we can choose to approach differently. As far as it depends on us. Thank You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

What’s Lurking Under the Surface?

Once upon a time, my husband and I put an offer on a house that we were interested in buying. Our offer was accepted and the “fun” began. Dealing with the mortgage company, ordering inspections, putting down a deposit, etc.

One of the inspections found that there was some old termite damage. We spoke to the owner and he confirmed that they had found termites at one time. But they had it treated and everything was fine. This initial discovery didn’t bother us. We felt confident the termites we gone at this point.

But the plot thickened. The original place where termite damage was pointed out was on an interior wall. However, on further investigation, it was discovered that there was also damage on the exterior side of the same wall.

Now this made the termite damage scarier. The little critters had eaten away at both sides of the same wall. And this left us with big questions – how much damage was within the wall? How much damage could there possibly be on the studs? How much damage was there in the space that we couldn’t see? There was no way of knowing without opening the wall. The damage should be fixed. But without knowing exactly how much damage there was, there was no way of knowing the cost of the repairs.

The damage that was found took an expert eye to discover it. Just glancing at the walls, I didn’t notice anything until it was pointed out. The walls looked fine initially. But thanks to a deeper inspection, we learned that there could potentially be structural issues.

This story reminds me that there are so many things in life that look good on the surface, but can be a completely different story underneath. Here are some examples:

1 – Sin

The devil has a way of making sin look so appealing. But we have to remind ourselves that although it will be pleasing to the flesh in that moment, there will be costly damages in the long run.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7 NIV

2 – A Person’s Life

When greeting someone, it is common for us to ask, “How are you?” And so often the answer is, “Good.” But is it always try? Often, we don’t truly know what a person is going through. I am the type to say “good” even when I don’t mean it. Partly because I don’t like to complain and partly because I tend to stuff things down. So let us have compassion and remember that many of our acquaintances might be dealing with difficulties we know nothing about.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 NIV

3 – A Person’s Heart

We all take time each morning to bathe, brush our teeth, fix our hair, and so on. Before we walk out the door, we want to look our best. But how much time do we spend on prepping our hearts and our minds? Spending time with the Lord each day should be part of our routine. He will help us remove any unattractive qualities in our hearts.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

These are just a few examples. There are many things in life that we can say might appear quite different on the outside versus the inside. But this leads to a question – how can we navigate life when what we see on the surface might be completely different than what is hidden? Walking with the Holy Spirit helps us to have discernment. He will guide us along the rocky path of life. When we stay anchored to the Lord each day, we will not be led astray.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. – John 16:13 NIV

(In case you were wondering, my husband and I wound up backing out of the contract on that home. And we found another home that suited us better. We are thankful that the Lord helped guide us in that situation!)

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Navigating Difficult Situations Peacefully

Do you ever feel like a ping pong ball? You go to one side of the table to handle a concern, but you are then slapped to the other side of the table. Back and forth you go, until mercy intercedes and you land on the floor.

This is how I felt recently, when trying to get my pets’ monthly prescriptions. I order them through a retailer, who contacts the veterinarian to make sure the dogs are up to date on vaccinations and such. Once approved, then they send the medications in the mail. This normally works out fine without an issue. So I will place the order and go about my business, expecting to receive the meds in the mail.

However, recently things didn’t go as planned. We received an email stating that the order was cancelled because the retail company was unable to contact the vet. I called the vet and they said they never received anything from the retailer. So I called the retailer to see what the issue was. They had all the correct information for the vet and had no idea why it didn’t go through. So while on the phone, we placed the order again.

This time I kept checking on the order and saw once again, via the retailer’s website, that they were unable to contact the vet. For two days I went back and forth between the vet and the retailer. The retailer wanted the vet to call them. The vet said they don’t normally do that and suggested the retailer try emailing instead of faxing. The retailer didn’t want to email them. They said they would keep trying to fax the vet every day. I explained that for weeks no fax made it through, so why did they think it would suddenly work. Finally in the end, the vet did call the retailer to “okay” the medications. I was thankful for the lady in the veterinary office who took time out of her busy day to do me a favor.

But this situation made me feel like a ping pong ball. In our world today, we might often feel like we are being stepped on. And good customer service can be hard to find. But when we do find good customer service, it amazes us. Or at least it does me. I am thankful when someone is nice, friendly, and helpful. But shouldn’t that be how we are treated, and how we treat others, all the time?

In a perfect world, yes. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes we feel stepped on. And sadly sometimes we step on others too.

So how can we handle these situations when they arise? Well I first want to talk about times when we might have stepped on others. I remember on one occasion when I was frustrated with some of the stress in my life. As a result, I had a “tone” when speaking to someone over the phone at the doctor’s office. Thankfully the Holy Spirit convicted me and I called back to apologize. The lady said she understood and we parted ways on good terms. So if you find yourself being short with someone, or stepping on someone, it is not too late to turn things around. We can always try our best to make things right. We can apologize and we can start over.

If you are like me, then more often you feel like you are being stepped on by other people. This can be tricky to navigate.

(Note: I realize that not all situations can end well. And I also realize there might be some people in our lives who are consistent when it comes to stepping on others. Creating boundaries in our lives would be the next step, if possible.)

I believe it is a good thing to speak up and let the other party know that they have bulldozed you. Some people don’t even realize that is how they come across. So this might come as a shock to them, and they might deny their actions. We can speak to them firmly, yet also kindly.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44

Ultimately, as Christians, we are called to walk with the love and peace of Jesus. That is what I attempted to do in the above situation when speaking to various people on the phone regarding my pets’ monthly medicine. And in the end, the situation was resolved peacefully.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

When we face difficult people, our flesh wants to rise and tell the person a thing or two. It is very tempting to do that, I know. But Jesus should be our example. He had many interactions with people who questioned and ridiculed His actions. Jesus always came up with a clever answer, but always proceeded with peace in love.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. – Matthew 5:38-40

We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, so we do have the power to approach difficult circumstances in the same style of peace that Jesus did. Jesus is our anchor. Day by day, let us hold tightly to Him. And when difficulties arise, He will help us navigate them with love and peace.

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Held by God

Help me to lay down every distraction
Show me where I need to start
Too often I let other things crowd You out
I want you to be first place in my heart

I forget that I already have Your grace
I spend my days working for You
But at times the work turns to striving
My vision gets cloudy and I can’t see what’s true

Life can be so overwhelming
As I juggle the many things on my plate
The world tries to pull me in different directions
But what I really need is to enter Your gate

I lay down everything that makes me worry
And I allow You to take each concern
For You alone can handle it all
What a beautiful lesson to learn

I place my trust completely in You
And I feel the stress melt away
You wrap Your loving arms around me
And I thank You for holding me each day

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Tune Your Heart

Do you ever feel like God is nudging you? I am convinced that God nudges each of us often. Yet if we allow life to keep us too distracted, we might miss many of the things God tries to tell us.

Some of God’s nudges might be gentle. Other times, His nudges might need to be a little more forceful, if He really needs to get our attention.

God can nudge us for many different reasons. He might want to stir our hearts, to pull us closer to Himself, or to let us know He loves us. He might want to save us from destruction, to pull us back to the right path, or to help us with something we are facing.

God nudges might come in different forms as well. He might try to speak to us through the Holy Spirit or through His Word. He might even send a challenge our way that forces us to run to Him. I believe one of the ways God attempts to nudge us is by repeating something. And that is something He did with me recently.

One evening I pulled out The Battle Plan for Prayer cards. These are cards with prayers written on them, which are a supplement to The Battle Plan for Prayer book by the Kendrick Brothers. (Sadly, these cards are hard to find now. So a dear friend was kind enough to pass hers along to me.) On one particular evening I read the prayer from Day 25 (which can also be found in the book in chapter 21). Part of the prayer had these words: “… Tune my heart to the desires of your heart …”

A short while later I was reading in a book entitled Cultivate by Lara Casey. In this book, she mentioned an old hymn called “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Some of the words within the hymn which she mentioned were: “… Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise…”

I read the above two mentioned items within an hour of each other. Needless to say, these words really jumped out at me. The words “tune my heart” are not words we hear often. Then I read those words twice in a row, from two different sources.

But it didn’t end there! God really wanted to make sure I was paying attention. The following morning, on my way to work, I was listening to a local Christian radio station. In the mornings they have a short devotional time. On this particular day, the DJ read from Psalm 1 and went on to remind the listeners to: “…Tune your heart to the Word of God…”

This third incident happened within 12 hours of the first two incidents. When things like this happen, I know God is trying to get my attention. So I began to think about the meaning behind the words.

Although the word tune can be used as a noun, in these three examples it is used as a verb. When using it as a verb, two different meanings come to mind. We tune an instrument when the keys or strings do not have the correct pitch. And we can also adjust the frequency when we tune into a certain radio station or television channel.

So when we tune the heart, we could either be changing the pitch, if the heart’s tone is off. Perhaps the heart is playing bitterness, discord, anger, or negativity. If we tune the heart, we can help it play sounds of love, peace, and faith. Or when we tune the heart, we can change the “station.” We might need to turn off the world’s station, our friends’ station, or even our own station. We can adjust the dial and tune into the Lord’s “station.”

Tuning my heart is something I want to hang onto every day. I want to make sure my heart is giving off the correct tone – tones of hope, joy, and contentment. And I also want to make sure I am tuning my heart daily into God and into the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If we take the time to seek how we might tune our hearts, we could see a beautiful shift in our lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, please reveal to us how we might tune our hearts today. Please show us if we have a tone that is off and needs to be tuned. Help us to see if there are any harmful emotions that need to be replaced with Your help. Also, please reveal to us if we need to change the stations we are listening to. Help us to tune into You, every day. Help us to listen to the truth in Your Holy Word, as our minds are transformed. Please give us discernment in this area and help us to have an open mind to anything You would like to share with us today. Thank You. In Jesus’ Holy Name we pray, Amen.

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Making Space for God to Work

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This might be true in some cases. But on the flip side, pictures don’t always tell the whole story. When my sister moved into her home, she sent me a picture of what I like to call a reading nook. There was a chair that looked quite comfortable beside a small book shelf. My sister has a special talent when it comes to decorating, and this area of her home was no exception. To me it looked very cozy and inviting, a lovely place to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee.

However, I later learned that my sister’s house is not quiet, and reading can be difficult. When she told me this, I immediately thought of the picture. And I was reminded that what we see in a picture might be lacking in details.

But there is more to this story. My sister also told me that even though her house is far from quiet or peaceful, she attempts to create peaceful places in her home, and peaceful moments for herself and her family. And this led to the topic of how important it is to make room for God to do His work in our lives.

We will all face an array of blessings and trials in our lives. But if we try to greet each day with an open mind and a willing heart, this can help transform the story we are walking through.

I love the story of Ruth, found in the Bible. Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law had all died. The only members remaining in her household, in the region of Moab, were her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, was from Bethlehem, and she decided to return home. She encouraged her two daughters-in-law to stay behind, as they were originally from Moab. One daughter-in-law, Orpah, did return to her family. But Ruth did not. She wanted to stay with Naomi.

But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’” – Ruth 1:16-17

After arriving in Bethlehem, they lived near a man named Boaz, who was a relative on Naomi’s late husband’s side. Ruth would go to his fields and pick up leftover grain that the workers dropped. One day Boaz saw her doing this. After learning who she was, he encouraged her to continue, and he even told his workers to intentionally leave some stalks of grain for her (Ruth 2:1-16). Well, to make a short story shorter, Boaz and Ruth wound up getting married. They then had a son, who would be King David’s grandfather. (If you are not familiar with the story of Ruth, you can read it all here.)

I find this story to be a beautiful one. The path could not have been easy for Ruth, as she lost her husband and left her homeland. But instead of being bitter, she made space in her life for God to work. And in the end, God transformed her story of heartache into a masterpiece. Not only was Ruth’s son part of David’s family line, but he was part of Jesus’s family line too.

Ruth’s story, and my sister’s situation in her home, both remind me to embrace the things that come my way, whether good or bad. As children of God, we can rest assured knowing that everything that happens in our lives, He allowed. And He has a purpose and a plan for it all. If we live with an open heart, He can take each seemingly ugly situation and turn it into something beautiful. He can turn our stories into works of art, when we decide to allow God to work in our lives.

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Walking With God 2021 Recap

Confession: I have a purse with a monogram on it… but the monogram does not equate to my initials. The letters are WWG. This is a little nudge, and ultimately a comforting reminder, to “Walk With God.” It doesn’t just remind me to walk with God. It also feels like a warm embrace to know that I am walking with God. I can face whatever comes my way each day, with Him by my side.

Over on the Christians Read blog, I had a series on walking with God. I initially wrote one post about walking with God in February. But over the past several weeks I have expanded on it a bit. I looked at walking with God from different angles, using Psalm 23 as a theme. If you are interested in reading those posts, I have the links below.

Walking With God

Wanting With God

Waiting With God

Wandering With God

Worry-Free With God

Watched Over With God

Welcome With God

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Prayer 2021 Recap

Hi Friends! Over the month of July I have been revisiting some of my past posts. Today I am sharing my 2021 posts on prayer. On the surface, prayer seems to be pretty straightforward. But when we dig deeper, we find that there is so much we can say about prayer. Millions of words have been written in countless books about prayer. I have touched on different aspects of prayer over the course of this series. I hope they have provided encouragement to make prayer a part of your life. If you would like to revisit my posts on prayer from this spring, I have compiled that list below. I hope you get some value out of them as you learn to cling to the Lord in prayer.

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own souls, closer than our most secret thoughts.” – A.W. Tozer

Prayer ~ Part 1

Prayer ~ Part 2

Prayer ~ Part 3

Prayer ~ Part 4

Prayer ~ Part 5

Prayer ~ Part 6

Prayer ~ Part 7

Prayer ~ Part 8

Prayer ~ Part 9

Bonus Post: Closer Than a Phone Call Away

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Strong Faith 2020 Recap

Hello! As I mentioned last week, over the month of July, I will be revisiting some of my past posts. Last week I also mentioned that when the pandemic hit, I focused on praising God. But I also spent time focusing on strong faith. I learned some principles that help us in our faith walk. I shared what I was learning over on the Christians Read blog last spring. Below are links to those posts. I hope you find these posts to be encouraging.

“Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” – A.W. Tozer

Strengthening Our Faith

Faith in Action

Faith When Facing a Battle

Strengthening Our Faith in the Good Times

Strong Faith is Selfless

Be Strong and Courageous

An Attitude of Strong Faith

The Secret to Strong Faith

A Faith Boost

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas