Showing Others the Love of God

My husband and I have an acquaintance whom we have known for many years. Recently, though, this person’s attitude has seemed to take a turn. Long story short, his communications have been vulgar at times. I told my husband he should stop communicating with him. But he hasn’t. When I asked my husband why he still talks to him, he explained that he fears for this person’s soul. He truly believes this person is not saved, and he hopes that his connection with him will help alter that. I must say that I admire my husband’s character to forge ahead, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus walked this earth, we see how He too often associated with people who were not believers.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:15-17

Jesus came so that all might be saved. And as His followers, we are to help bring people to Him.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

In the words of the late writer, teacher, and pastor, Andrew Murray, “What the Church and the world both need is this: men and women full of the Holy Ghost and of love, who, as the living embodiments of the grace and power of Christ, witness for Him, and for His power on behalf of those who believe in Him.”

Yet Jesus also warns us that if we are not accepted, it might be appropriate to move on. When sending out His disciples, He told them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14).

It is also important to not put ourselves in situations that we know are wrong or might tempt us to sin. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” So we have to be careful how we approach people or situations. For example, my husband might still talk to this person, but that doesn’t mean he will spend time with him in undesirable places.

So how can we know when it is right to persist and when we should move on? If we stay in tune to the Lord and listen to His promptings, He will lead us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lay a burden on our hearts for certain people. I believe that is what He has done with my husband in regards to this acquaintance of ours. And whether we continue to associate with certain people or not, we can always keep praying for them.

We can also be a witness to those around us, just by being ourselves. I have a coworker who has told me before that when we witness to others, it is not always with our words. And he is right. Just by being kind, we are showing people the love of Jesus. Eventually it will make an impact. Especially in our world today. When someone is always nice, it stands out.

Like my husband is in this situation, we can keep being nice to those around us. We are called to show others the love of Jesus. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Be Kind to One Another

Due to being in the month of February, I am continuing on the topic of love. Mainly focusing on the love of God and how we can reflect that to those around us.

One of our dogs is prone to itchy ears. We have drops that we put in his ears at times. However, several weeks ago, we were running low. The vet is forty-five minutes away, and it was nearly five o’clock on the day before Christmas Eve. So our only hope was that the vet would be open the following day. I called the vet to see what their Christmas Eve hours would be. And I also wanted to make sure we could pick up these drops. Our dog wasn’t due for a check up yet, so I thought it should be fine.

I called and a young lady answered. Before putting me on hold, she said she wanted to ask the doctor about it first. Hold music … hold music … hold music. After listening to the hold music for a few minutes, the phone was disconnected. So I called back. This time a young man answered. I explained to him that a young lady had put me on hold and that I got disconnected. He too said he wanted to ask the veterinarian about the ear drops, and he put me on hold. Then pretty much the same thing happened. Hold music … hold music … hold music. Then I was disconnected again. I was now under the assumption that after being on hold for a certain length of time, their system automatically hangs up the line. So I called back a third time. Talked to the same young man. Hold music … hold music … hold music. Disconnected again. I called back a fourth time. The same young man said that he was about to pick up the line when it hung up. He told me I could come in to get the medicine. I thanked him for his help. Then click. The guy hung up on me! No “you’re welcome” and no “good-bye.” So I called back a fifth time. Luckily, it was the same boy that hung up on me. I said in the nicest voice I could muster, “Oh we must’ve gotten disconnected again before we were able to say good-bye. I just wanted to make sure I thanked you for your help.” Yup, I really did that! He kind of stammered a little bit and we ended the conversation peacefully.

I have to be honest though, getting hung up on hurt my feelings. He shouldn’t have hung up on me for so many reasons. (1) I was a customer. (2) He knew the phone system had already disconnected me several times. (3) I didn’t do anything wrong or rude to deserve it. (4) It was Christmas!! Those are just a few reasons why it was wrong. I am sure there are more.

But this made me think about how, as Christians, we should spread the love of God to those around us. And one way we can do that is to be kind. We are showing others the grace and love and mercy of God, through our kindness.

And kindness helps us to feel better. I know when I have been short with someone, I walk away feeling badly. But when I am kind, even if they don’t deserve it, it makes me feel lighter.

When we are kind to others, it stands out in this angry world we live in. I can tell you that this is true from my own experience. There have been numerous occasions when my husband and I have been greeted by an exceptionally pleasant person at the drive-thru (or wherever). And when we part ways, we mention to each other how nice the person was, and how nice it was to deal with them. It doesn’t take a lot to treat others the way Jesus would want us to. When we do, this helps the other people to see a tiny piece of the Lord’s love. Could it be that we might be the only piece of Jesus that some will see? Keeping this thought in mind will help us to be kind more often.

When we are kind, we also remember how kind the Lord has been to us. We don’t deserve His kindness, yet He freely gives it to us. Every day.

I pray that we can keep in mind how kind God has been to us. And I pray we can learn to spread that kindness to those around us, as we reflect the love of the Lord.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32 ESV

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Love One Another

Hi Friends! With Valentine’s Day approaching in a couple of weeks, we have officially entered the “love month.” So with that in mind, we are going to talk about love over the next few weeks. Mainly I want to focus on God’s love for us, our love for Him, and how we show that love to those around us.

I want to start with a story that occurred a few months ago when my husband and I celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary. I am thankful to say that my husband and I don’t usually put a lot of hoopla into things like our anniversary, Valentines Day, etc. We usually recognize them. But there are no expectations, which means there are no disappointments. I think our culture often puts too much into these things. Some people (often women) get mad when the day is accidentally forgotten. I used to be that way years ago too. But I am thankful that I am not like that anymore (for the most part).

Anyway, back to the story. My husband wanted to go out to the store the night before our anniversary because he hadn’t yet bought a card. It was late, and I told him not to worry about it. And I jokingly mentioned that he could make a card. A little while later he asked if we had any generic cards around the house. We did have some blank cards, but I had a better idea. I had already bought my husband, not one, but two cards. I knew one was addressed generically, meaning it wasn’t addressed to “my husband.” It was something like “my love.” So it could go either way. Well on closer inspection I discovered that both cards were generically addressed. I really didn’t realize that when I bought them. Since they were in the “husband” area, I didn’t notice that the card didn’t actually say “husband.” Luckily I had not signed the cards yet. So I mentioned to my hubby that I had bought two cards and I could give him one of them to give to me. And that is what we did.

I am giggling as I write this, because it is quite comical to me. But I am sure some of you out there are quite aghast at the atrocity.

Here’s the thing… A card, flowers, or a box of chocolates. Those things are nice and it is fun to be surprised with them at times. But that is not love. Love is seen in the day in and day out of our routines. Love is getting out of bed when you don’t feel like it, to make breakfast. Love is taking out the trash without complaining. Love is saying thank you for the cup of coffee you didn’t have to make yourself.

During the days surrounding Valentine’s Day, many people are focused on worldly love. Unfortunately worldly love doesn’t last. So during this month (and beyond), let’s focus on showing those around us the love of God. It can be displayed in our actions, big and small, every day.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

The Importance of Winter

In the U.S.A. we are currently in our winter season. I know some of you reading this are in summertime. But winter doesn’t necessarily have to mean literal timeframes. Sometimes in our lives we feel like we are in a winter season, no matter what the temperature is outside. I was recently reflecting on the value in winter and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

As you might know, winter is good for nature for several reasons. Plants actually benefit from shorter daylight hours and lower temperatures as they become dormant. This helps the plants to store up energy for new growth. And strong winters also help get rid of bugs, as the severe cold kills them off. (1)

But this made me ponder how our spiritual growth can also benefit from a winter season, whether literal or figurative. We need time to rest and recuperate, especially after a busy season. This helps us to flourish and create new growth in our lives. If we always kept moving at a fast pace, our bodies would eventually burn out. And winter can also be a good time for us to use as a reflection period. If we slow down for a bit, we have the ability to evaluate our lives. What “bugs” need to go? And what do we want to “plant” in the coming months?

This ties in to last week’s post in which I talked about Learning to Let Go. A little over a week ago, my area had a couple of days that were filled with gusty winds. After the windy days were over, I saw many large tree limbs lying on the ground. The weather helped the trees to shake free dead branches that had become a hindrance.

Similarly, in our lives we too can take this time to reflect on the “buried” areas of our lives, and let them go. Or maybe we even might want to resurrect something. It is not just about letting go. During this time, you might also need to rest and restore your soul. Or perhaps you might want to set goals and prepare for new growth in the coming months.

The answers will look different for all of us. And the answers might change for each of us from season to season. But perhaps you’ll want to prayerfully consider these things in your own life.

During this season do you need to take time to rest and remove unnecessary tasks from your plate?

During this season do you need to remove any old habits from your life that are hindering your growth?

During this season do you need to plant new growth in your spiritual life by spending more time with the Lord?

During this season do you need to pull an old dream out of the grave and make it come to life?

These are just a few generic questions you might reflect on. Ask the Lord to guide you and to open your heart to anything He might be asking you to do (or not do) during this season.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him… – Psalm 37:7

Rest in God’s arms
Let your body replenish
Soak up His love
The fruit will flourish

Let go of the past
Don’t be afraid to be bold
The broken pieces float away
As you release the old

New things are coming
Good can be found in change
Hold tightly to the Lord
Open your eyes to all you gain

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Learning to Let Go

Entering into a new year fills us with hope. We think about the things we want to accomplish in our lives, dreams that are in our hearts, or goals we want to work towards. Often times we look at what we can add to our lives, such as exercising more or learning something new. But we can also approach it from another aspect by analyzing what we might let go of.

A few weeks ago I was reading from If We Could Have Coffee which is a devotional by Holley Gerth. I highlighted something that spoke to me. She said, “…life is not meant to be so full of burdens that you can’t enjoy what your heavenly Father wants to give you. When your arms and heart and life are so full, how can you receive from him? Let some of it go. Just lay it down.” (I love this devotional, by the way. Each entry is short, yet full of meaning. It has helped me to draw closer to God and remember how much He loves His children.)

The next day I read a blog post by Caralyn Collar, over at Beauty Beyond Bones. She said something that also jumped out at me. In her post The Liberation of Less, Caralyn talked about one weekend when her mom was visiting her and they tackled the daunting task of cleaning closets. (As a wannabe minimalist, this post immediately pulled me in!) But the line that really jumped out at me was this, “If we’re clenching our fists around things of the past, either out of fear or another unhealthy attachment, it prevents us from living with hands open to receiving what God has to give us.” (And by the way, this blog is one that I always get insight out of. Caralyn has a true gift with words, as she discusses an array of meaningful topics. Best of all, she stands up for TRUTH in our wayward world.)

This was one of those times when I felt that the Lord was nudging me. These two quotes spoke to me and reminded me that we need to let things go in order to receive what God has in store for us.

Letting go will look differently for each of us. And in the changing seasons of our own lives, letting go will have different facets as well. So it’s important to approach this prayerfully. Ask God to reveal to you what you might need to let go of.

Are you clinging too tightly to having control over certain things?
Are you holding onto pride or perfectionism?
Are there any idols in your heart that need to go?
Is your past a roadblock in your life?
Do you hang onto worries instead of handing them to God?

These are just some examples. There are so many things that we might hold onto a bit too tightly. But as noted in the two quotes above, if our hands are wrapped around the wrong things, we can’t grab hold of the things that God wants to hand us. He always has the best in store for us. I hope you will join me and prayerfully seek God’s guidance on anything that you might need to let go of in your life.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

My One Word for 2022

Many of you have heard me talk about this before. But for anyone who is not familiar with this, picking a word for the year is a way to anchor yourself through the days ahead. The word you pick could be something you want to focus on or something you want to keep in mind, as you step into each new day. Just to give you an example, my words from the past three years were: seek, grace, and cultivate.

And in 2022 my one word for the year is … ABIDE!

Some years the word is easy to pick. You just get a feeling inside that this is the word. And that’s how it was for me when I picked Abide. As a matter of fact, I knew in mid-November that my word for this year would be Abide.

According to Merriam-Webster, Abide can mean to remain stable or fixed in a state; to continue in a place. Specifically in 2022, I want to learn to Abide in Jesus. I want to remain stable and fixed in Jesus. I want to continue in the Lord. I want to abide in Him and He in me.

If possible, I also like to have a Bible verse for the year that coincides with my word. And this year my verses will come from John 15:4-5, where Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

In 2019 and in 2021 I loved having the words seek and cultivate, respectively. To me, these two verbs feel very active. And while Abide is also a verb, it feels a bit more passive or peaceful.

One night I was laying in bed thinking about the fact that I have been working for Jesus, learning about Him, writing about Him, seeking Him, cultivating for Him, etc. Yet I feel that I still don’t have the deep connection with Jesus that I should have. I want to know deep down that He loves me and I want to extend a lasting love in return.

I know there is more of Him that I can have in my life. But if I am being honest, then I also know that I am the one who gets in the way. He is always there, waiting for me.

Honestly, I stumble daily. I am far from perfect. There are many things in my life I would like to improve and many things I would like to change. And I feel that if I can truly learn to Abide in Jesus, this could change everything.

What will abiding look like? In January, I never know for sure how the next 12 months will play out. But from here, I plan to lay aside things that distract me from the Lord. And I want choose Him as often as possible. Each moment of each day we are making decisions, whether we realize it or not. When we are turning on the television, we are choosing not to pray. When we are scrolling on our phones, we are choosing not to read our Bibles. Therefore, in an effort to abide, I am going to try to lay aside many of the things that keep me from Jesus.

I also plan to read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) repeatedly throughout the year. When I am done, I will start over. (This doesn’t mean I won’t read any other parts of the Bible in 2022. But the gospels will be my main focus.) I have a new journaling Bible that contains only these four books. I am currently reading a devotional by Andrew Murray called Abide in Christ. And I am also reading Sarah Young’s latest devotional, Jesus Listens. I am excited to see what 2022 holds as I learn to Abide in Jesus.

And if you have a word for 2022, I would love to hear what it is.

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Cultivating My Way Through 2021

As you might recall, my one word for 2021 was cultivate. I loved this word and feel that it really helped me to focus on the right things.

Here on the blog we cultivated prayer, gratitude, time with our Savior, reverence towards God, forgiveness, and so much more.

In my own life, I also cultivated trust in God, a deeper faith, praise, fasting, and walking with God. But on the other hand, I also cultivated a slower pace, time for the little things, and embracing contentment.

There is one habit that I started this year, in relation to my one word. Each time the month changed, I had a “check-in.” Basically I would look at the month that just ended to see how I did. I wrote down the things that went well and what I focused on. But I also wrote down areas where I wanted to improve. This helped keep my one word in mind all year, and it gave me 12 opportunities to make adjustments. I got value out of these check-ins, so I plan to keep it up.

As is often the case in my life – I did not do a perfect job, but God stepped in and helped me out. There were many changes in my life in 2021, and clinging to God was my lifeline.

We had a lizard living in our house for several weeks. He mainly stayed in one particular bedroom, but sometimes ventured out to two other rooms. We don’t know how he lived for weeks without food or water. My husband tried to catch him a couple of times, but the little guy was fast. One day the lizard was just hanging out in the hallway. I spotted him and alerted my husband. My husband slowly made his way to the lizard. The lizard didn’t try to escape this time, so my husband was able to grab him and set him outside. (Ironically, this was Thanksgiving Day. Imagine how thankful the lizard must have been and what a feast he had when he got outdoors!) On the first few attempts to catch the lizard, he didn’t recognize that we were trying to help him. He saw us as a threat. Finally, either he realized we were safe, or perhaps he was just too weak to move. But either way, in the end, we were able to set him free. And perhaps our little friend was able to recognize the blessing.

This incident with the lizard reminds me of my 2021. Many changes in my life seemed like a threat. But as I clung to God and trusted Him, I could see that He was there. God always has a plan and a purpose. Nothing comes into our lives by mistake. We just have to learn to hold tightly to Him through it all. And He will work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

And cultivating my way through the year helped me to stay intentional in my life. This was a strong word and one that has taught me a lot. If you had a word for 2021, I would love to hear how it played a role in your year.

Next week I will reveal my word for 2022!

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Conclusion of the 2021 Gratitude Challenge

Hello, Friends! As you might know, I normally post on Tuesdays. But today is a special day, so I am interrupting the regular schedule. On Tuesday, September 21 we started a 100 day gratitude challenge. And that makes today day 100 of that challenge. Congratulations! You did it! You made it though!

Now what? Should we dismiss gratitude and go on with our lives? Personally, I plan to keep gratitude in my heart, and I hope you do too.

Every day is a gift from God. And gratitude is a decision that we can make every day, as a way of extending our thanks to the Lord. We will always have ups and downs in life, but we can choose how we face them.

I love the quote below by Charles Swindoll. While he talks about our attitude in general, I think we can also apply it to gratitude. After all, as we have learned over the past 100 days, having an attitude of gratitude impacts our overall mood and outlook.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” – Charles Swindoll

I hope that we all continue to embrace gratitude. I hope we see ourselves being more optimistic and joyful. And I hope that gratitude helps us to praise God for His goodness. If you participated in the challenge, please let me know how it went. Even if you missed some days, that’s okay! It’s all about the heart.

And I pray you all have a Happy New Year and a blessed 2022!

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. – Psalm 103:2 NLT

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 24

Read Luke 24 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here. I can’t believe we have reached the end of the book of Luke! I sure hope you have enjoyed going through this journey with me!

A few days after Jesus’ death, some of His friends had the privilege of seeing Him again. Jesus is alive!! While Jesus’ death is important, His resurrection is even more significant. If we do not believe He was raised from the dead, then we do not believe the Gospel.

Why is it so important? For one thing, it proves that Jesus really was the Son of God. If He hadn’t been raised from the dead, then He would have been merely a man who died a cruel death. That happens to others, doesn’t it? Being raised from the dead, Jesus has been set apart.

Also, in His resurrection, Jesus defeated death. And not only did He defeat death for Himself, but He defeated death for you and me and anyone who chooses to believe.

I know this is a lot to wrap your head around. Even the disciples were confused. It says in Luke 24:11 that it seemed like nonsense. They didn’t have any context because what occurred was not normal. But when they saw Him for themselves, everything changed. Their minds were opened (v. 45), they had great joy (v. 52), and they praised God (v. 53).

Jesus couldn’t stay with them forever. But after He left, the disciples were like new creatures. They had a renewed sense of passion and purpose. They preached the Gospel and brought thousands to Christ. And generation after generation, here we are. Children of God. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I am sorry to say that sometimes we forget the magnitude of this. We might take it for granted. But this truly is something that should fill us with joy, every day. I know we all face trials on earth, but this life is so very temporary. And what we have to look forward to is nothing short of paradise.

I pray that as you celebrate Christmas, you are filled with hope, love, joy, and peace, as you remember the gift that Jesus brought to us. And I pray you and your loved ones have a very Merry CHRISTmas!

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 95 of 100. I pray that the Gratitude Challenge and the Luke Bible study have been a blessing to you! Keep going with your gratitude list. Only 5 more days to go!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 23

Read Luke 23 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

There are a couple of things in this chapter that reveal how magnificent God’s grace is. What Jesus did on the cross means we have access to the unmerited favor of God. Although we deserve the worst, we can have the best, if we accept Jesus. The grace of God is the most amazing and precious gift we will ever receive. And in this chapter there are a couple of incidents that show us how big His grace is.

One example is in verse 34 where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus’ mercy is so great. These men had no idea that they were crucifying the Messiah. And we too have done things that we don’t realize how awful they are in the moment. Especially before we gave our lives to the Lord, when we didn’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Now the Holy Spirit helps us to discern right from wrong. But that wasn’t the case before we were saved. We might have followed along and done worldly things, thinking it was okay because that is what everyone else was doing. But now that we have fully committed our lives to Jesus, we can see more clearly the difference between right and wrong. And Jesus willingly erases all of our mistakes in one instant.

And the second example is seen in verses 39-43. There are two criminals being crucified, and they hung on each side of Jesus. One mocks Jesus, but the other says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This man was a thief and didn’t deserve grace. But we don’t deserve grace either. Yet all we need to do is ask for forgiveness, and that’s it. Jesus paid our debt in full. We owe nothing else. And we instantly become a child of God and an heir to the Kingdom.

This gift of Grace is truly … The… Best… News… Ever!

It doesn’t get any better than this. This is bigger than anything we can imagine. We should live each day on cloud nine, knowing that our sins were forgiven and our slate was wiped clean.

Today take some time to thank the Lord for what Jesus did on the cross and for the unparalleled gift of grace.

Dear Lord, words cannot express how glorious Your gift of Grace is. I deserve nothing. I deserve the worst. Yet thanks to Jesus, I have so much. I have eternity in Heaven to look forward to. My sins have been erased. I have been adopted into Your family. This is the best news ever. The magnitude of it is overwhelming. In one instant You turned me into Your beloved child. I thank you for this priceless gift. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 94 of 100. We are so close!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas