Guess what? My first book, Every Day is a Gift, is a year old! I can’t believe it has been a year already. For more info on both of my books, go to bridgetathomas.com/books/. Below is an excerpt from Every Day is a Gift. Enjoy!
“Every day is a gift!” Since 2012 I have had that phrase as part of my email signature. That was the year when a friend from college died of sarcoma. It was only one week after Jennifer’s thirty-fourth birthday. She left behind a husband, a two-year-old daughter, loving parents, and countless friends. Jennifer had such a beautiful heart. She was always smiling, and always thinking of others.
I’ve often asked God why this had to happen. Why do some get to live and others die? Why would someone so young lose the battle? Why did a toddler have to lose her mom? Why would such a sweet spirit be chosen? This side of heaven, I might never know the answers to these questions.
Piercing moments in life like this can change us. Sometimes they will make us more resentful. But they don’t have to. We can choose to use these moments to cling to God, and ultimately to make us stronger.
When my friend died, this made me more thankful for Jesus. Why? Because Jesus gives me hope that I will see my friend again one day. And in the meantime, I want to cherish what she didn’t get – extra time on this earth. Extra time to love my family. Extra time to be a blessing to others. I want to remember that every day is a gift from God.
I have been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! What an honor!
“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for those who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma
Many thanks to Donny for nominating me. You will find many interesting travel stories and pictures at his bog – travelingpersecond.com.
Rules for the Mystery Blogger Award :
1. Put the award image in your post.
2. List the rules.
3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
5. Answer the questions you were asked.
6. Nominate at least 6-7 bloggers you want to nominate.
7. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice.
Three things about me:
1- I love Jesus!
2- My husband and I like looking for black bears in the Smoky Mountains.
3- We also enjoy watching college baseball (particularly the Florida Gators and the East Carolina Pirates).
QUESTIONS GIVEN TO ME:
1. What do you usually do after work? Spend time with my husband and two dogs.
2. What things do you like when you are traveling alone? A good book to read.
3. If you want to write a book, what will you write about in your last book? My most recent book, You Are Redeemed, was about finding our true identity in Jesus.
4. When do you like to write? Usually on the weekends.
5. If you become a tourism minister in your country, what important things will you do? Encourage people to take better care of the world that the Lord gave us.
MY QUESTION TO THE NOMINEES:
1 – What is one of your hobbies?
2 – Do you like to play or watch any sports?
3 – What good habit has helped you reach your goals?
4 – What is your favorite book?
5 – What is on the top of your bucket list?
If we don’t seek God, then we will seek other things to replace Him.
You might recall a story from the Old Testament. Moses went up to the top of Mount Sinai where God gave him the Ten Commandments, as well as other numerous rules and regulations. Well, Moses was on top of the mountain for a long time, and the Israelites down below got restless. When Moses finally came back down, he discovered that they had made an idol out of gold and were worshipping it. Of course this made the Lord angry.
Every time I read this passage, it makes me feel irritated with the Israelites too. But then I have to wonder, am I any better? Aren’t people today just as shortsighted as they were back then? You might think since we don’t have traditional idols like they did back then, we are not committing idolatry.
Unfortunately, that is a lie and a trap from the enemy. Anything that we put above God is an idol. This means money, other people, ourselves, success, status, relationships, alcohol, drugs, video games, television, food, social media, what other people think of us, selfishness, our job, shopping, our car, marriage, children, our home – all these things and more can become an idol to us. Most people don’t even realize how deeply in their heart they treasure these other things.
That is why it is especially important to keep our eyes on the Lord. He should be included in every area of our lives. He will help us to stay on course. He will keep our hearts in check. He will satisfy our needs.
In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Have you seen Pirates of the Caribbean? Particularly the first movie in the series, the Curse of the Black Pearl? Do you remember the scene when Elizabeth is on the ship with Captain Barbossa and the crew, and the captain explains the curse to her? It reminds me of that. Barbossa says, “The drink would not satisfy. The food turned to ash in our mouths.” If I turn to worldly things, I will never quench my thirst. I will continue to feel hunger pains. I will never be satisfied. Nothing in this world can make my heart content.
But Jesus provided a beautiful promise. When I turn to the Lord, I will find true contentment in life.
Have you ever played the board game Sorry? In case you’re not familiar, here’s a quick overview. Each player gets four pawns. They are all placed on the player’s own “start” position. The object is to be the first player to get all four pawns to their “home” position. Throughout the game you draw cards. You need certain cards to even move out of your starting position. Then the cards will tell you how many spots you can move on the board or if you’re eligible for any other type of moves (such as switching places with an opponent). A lot of it is luck. But some strategy and ruthlessness are involved as well. The name of the game – Sorry – is derived from the fact that at times you might tell your opponent you are sorry as you bump him back to “start.”
My husband and I were playing this game recently. It was my turn and I drew a 7 card. With this particular card, you can choose to either move one pawn seven spaces. Or you can split it up between two pawns (3 and 4, 6 and 1, etc). One of my pawns was very close to my “safe zone.” Each player has a “safe zone” on route to their “home.” The other players can’t touch you there, meaning they can’t bump you back to start. So I was going to move that pawn the seven spaces to get it into the safe zone.
My husband disagreed with this plan of action. One of his pawns was sitting nearby the same pawn of mine that I planned to move. He felt I should split the seven moves between two pawns, and move the one pawn in question just enough spaces to make it land where his pawn was. This would force his pawn to go back to “start.”
As you can see, my husband and I have two different thought processes when playing this game. My husband prefers the more assertive route, bumping other players out of the way. I, on the other hand, would rather play it safe.
This made me think about my life, where I often play it safe there as well. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a good thing. If we are going to make any progress in life, we need a bit of grit. If we want to see our dreams come to pass, we have to take chances. If we want to walk on water, we need to get out of the boat. If we want to win the game, we have to take a shot.
Take some time to think about the next move in your life. Is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone? Pray boldly and courageously. Then take a step of faith and make your next move.
Over the next several posts I am going to talk about why seeking God is important.
Today I want to talk about a story in the book of Joshua, chapter 9. Let’s start off with a little back story first. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. But centuries before, God had promised them that they would have land of their own. So God delivered them for slavery and brought them out of Egypt. Unfortunately on their way to the promised land they did many things that angered the Lord. So they didn’t make it to their new home right away.
But finally when the time came for them to capture the land, God helped them and commanded them to remove the other people who lived in that land. They did so, region by region. First they defeated Jericho and then they destroyed Ai.
Some of the people living in the area heard the stories about the Israelites and how God performed miracles on their behalf. This made some of them scared. They knew the Lord was with the Israelites and would help them defeat their enemies.
One day the Gibeonites (also called the Hivites) traveled to see Joshua and the Israelites. They said that they were from a far away land and came to make a treaty. Joshua asked them where they were from. They said they were from a distant land. Then to prove it, they showed them how their bread had molded along their journey, how their wineskins had become cracked over time as they traveled, and they showed them that their clothing and sandals had a lot of wear.
So Joshua and the Israelites made a peace treaty with them. Unfortunately, they did not seek God before doing so. A few days later they found out that these people actually lived nearby. The whole thing had been a set up. The people feared that the Israelites would kill them, so they lied about being from a far away country. They purposely carried moldy bread, old wineskins, and beat up clothing.
We might think, “Oh well. What’s the big deal?” For one thing, they made an oath in the name of the Lord. If they broke that oath, they would have made themselves look bad and made God look bad as well. Also, it had been a command that they run off the other people who lived in that land. This was because many of them worshipped other gods and performed sinful acts. God knew that they would be a bad influence on His children.
God always has our best interest in mind. When He tells us to do something, He has good reason. And when we neglect to seek His guidance on important decisions, we might miss God’s best for us.
Hi Friends! It has been awhile since I touched base with you. I hope you all have been well!
I had some issues with my website, so I was waiting until all was resolved before I wrote again. I felt God telling me that I was paying too much money for my website each year. It might have been worth it, if I used all the included features. But I wasn’t using them, so I spoke to the company about downgrading my plan.
Unfortunately, when they switched me over, much of my content and media files were gone. So the company spent several days restoring everything. Small things like this can be frustrating. But I learned a few nuggets along the way.
1 – When we are obedient to God, it doesn’t necessarily mean the road will be smooth.
2 – Sometimes potholes in the road are a test to see if we will turn around and go back the other way, or keep forging ahead on the more difficult route.
3 – When we encounter potholes, and if we are on the path that God sent us down, we can trust God to fix the potholes that appear.
4 – In the end, when we are obedient, it is well worth it! God’s ways are always better than our ways!
Hi Friends! 2019 is already over a week old! Are you making progress on your goals or resolutions? If not, it’s ok! I always think that when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, some miracle is going to happen and everything will be perfect. All my goals will come to pass. I will miraculously eat healthy and exercise every day.
Well the truth is that never happens. So far this year I have not exercised once. And we are still trying to get rid of the holiday leftovers. But sometimes the best changes in life are found in baby steps, rather than giant leaps.
As you might know, I chose to focus on the word SEEK for 2019, mainly because I want to Seek God more. I also chose a Bible verse to go along with it. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13.
With this in mind, my intent was to start spending more time with God each morning, slow down, eliminate trivial things in my day that hold me back, etc. But there was no lightening strike when we stepped into the new year. So not much changed. I did manage to squeeze a tiny bit of Bible reading each morning. I also avoided getting on my phone on my lunch break to play Words With Friends. But that was about it so far. However, the funny thing is that I still feel as though I have been hearing more from the Lord this past week.
So what am I getting at with this post?
1 – We have to be intentional about our goals, resolutions, progress, and path. We can’t just expect things to change on their own.
2 – But don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t quite there yet. Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh.
3 – Remember that baby steps will get us further than giant leaps, if we are more consistent with those baby steps.
4 – And last but not least, remember that God is faithful, even when we are not. Ask for His help! He will gladly oblige!
(Photo by Neil Vannett)
Happy New Year! I can’t believe it is 2019. I always love starting a new year. It feels like a clean slate, a blank page, a fresh start. I believe this is a great opportunity to make changes in your life, and paint a beautiful future for yourself.
Many people like making New Year’s resolutions. But on the other hand, most resolutions fizzle out before we make it to February. But there are other people who like to pick a word to get them through the year. They pick one word on something they would like to focus on for the year. And they keep this word in the forefront of their mind each day.
Some example words are: Peace, Strength, Healing, Brave, Love, Jesus, etc.
This is something I have enjoyed doing myself many times. And this year I am choosing to do it again. My word for 2019 is Seek because I would like to Seek the Lord.
I have many distractions in my life that keep me from growing in God as much as I would like. I admit that some of these distractions were put there by myself. So that is one reason why I feel this word will help me in 2019. I hope it will help me to remember to lay aside any unnecessary obstacles that are in my way.
I will also use this word to help me to keep my priorities in order. For example, I want to consistently get up early to read my Bible before heading to work. I believe if I start the day on the right foot each morning, this will bring me closer to God.
So I would like to encourage you to think of one word that you would like to focus on this year. Take some time today to sit quietly with God and ask Him if there is a word that He has in mind for you. Once you come up with a word, you can make sticky notes with the word on it, and put them where you will see them each day. Some great places might be your bathroom mirror, your computer screen, your coffee pot, your steering wheel, etc.
I would love to hear from you, so please share in the comments what word you picked for this year!
Christmas is a magical time of year. The music and the lights. The fellowship and the food. The decorations and the parties. Everyone loves Christmas. It brings people together. Family members who haven’t seen each other in years gather round the table. Those who were foes now find themselves as friends.
I love Christmas too. Like many, it is my favorite time of year. The only thing I don’t like? It comes and goes so fast. It feels like you blink, and December has flown by. Wait! Put on the breaks! I want a do over!
Too often we don’t get to enjoy the season because we are so busy rushing around trying to get the cards in the mail, gifts bought and wrapped, pies baked, and decorations up. We want everything to be wonderful. But we miss it all in the whirlwind of perfection.
Sometimes we even forget the whole reason for the season. Jesus. No matter what gifts we get, Jesus is the best gift of all. No matter how Christmas dinner turned out, having Jesus is what matters most. No matter how stressful the season can be, Jesus is still there by our side.
And once the hustle and bustle is over, we can still keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. We might not be able to keep our tree up or the stockings hung, but we can still remember this season and what it represents.
When I was growing up, we went to a Methodist church which celebrated Advent. Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. Many who observe Advent have a big wreath laying on a table with twenty-five candles in it. They light a new candle each day throughout the month of December. And the four Sundays prior to Christmas get a special candle representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Or you can also just focus on the four candles and skip the other candles throughout the month. (If I remember right, I believe this is what my church did, which makes sense since the congregation met on Sunday.)
I suppose all of us who celebrate Christmas are inadvertently observing Advent. However, the key is to be intentional about it. When we slow down each day throughout the month to focus on Jesus and His birth, this makes the Christmas season so much more meaningful. Let’s take a close look at what each of those four candles represent.
Hope – The birth of Jesus gives us hope. In this crazy and fallen world we live in, what else do we have, if not hope? Hope that God will forgive our sins. Hope that we will spend eternity in Heaven. Hope that the Lord will walk with us each day while we are on this earth. And hope that Jesus will come again.
Peace – Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But what is so amazing is that He left peace for us as a gift. There is a lot of turmoil in this world. But we can choose to hold onto peace in the midst of it all. It doesn’t mean we won’t have difficulties. But we can rest in Jesus’s peace, knowing that our Father is on the throne, working things out in our favor.
Joy – God wants us to have joy. But the enemy is eager to steal this away from us. He will do whatever it takes to make sure we do not have joy. We have to make an effort to hold onto our joy each day. Don’t allow small things to bring you down. Don’t let tiny annoyances come between you and your family. Many of these battles are spiritual. So we have to hold onto the joy of the Lord and defeat the enemy.
Love – What speaks love greater than God wrapping himself in skin as a tiny, vulnerable baby in order to save His children? How amazing and awesome that He did this for us. The meaning of Emmanuel is “God with us.” I am in awe when I think about that. God with us. This love that He has displayed for us bubbles in my heart whenever I ponder the fact that God loves us THAT much.
I pray that you all have a very blessed Christmas. I hope that you enjoy the fellowship with your family and friends. Take a moment to thank the Lord for this glorious day. But on December 26th and beyond, I pray that we all can keep Christmas in our hearts!
(Photo credit: huhu)