Yesterday I had my first book signing! What an exciting event, especially for a newbie like me. This is something that I looked forward to for nearly six months. Our friend, Matt, is owner and farm manager of the Blu By U blueberry farm in Jacksonville. At this farm, patrons are invited to come out and pick their own blueberries. Back in the beginning of November, Matt mentioned having a book signing when the farm opened for the season. At the time, Matt projected that the blueberry farm would open for the season in late April. So that’s what we were shooting for. But he said we’d have to play it by ear, as the blueberries began to ripen.
As time moved on, I began to prepare. I ordered copies of my books for folks to purchase if they didn’t already have one. And I ordered bookmarks to hand out as a free gift to those who stopped by. I also made a list of the things we would need – Table, Chairs, Books, Bookmarks, Pens to sign with, Sun screen, Sunglasses, Water, etc. And I created a Facebook event, inviting everyone I knew who lived in the area.
Finally in the beginning of April, Matt confirmed that the farm would open for the season on the twenty-seventh of April. It would be a fun day for the whole family. Not only would there be blueberry picking, but they also would have a butterfly exhibit, a petting zoo, corn hole, a sandbox for the kids, a food truck, and much more.
After much planning, the day finally arrived! And it was a fabulous day. If you read my first book, then you know that I find gratitude to be an important part of life. So last night, as the day was winding down, I wrote down all the things I was thankful for throughout the events of the day.
I was truly thankful for our friend, Matt, who coordinated the event, and invited me to participate in a book signing.
I was especially thankful for my husband, Mickey, my sister, Stacey, and my brother-in-law, Joe, who were by my side throughout the day. They helped load and unload the vehicle, get the table set up, greet guests, take pictures, and much more.
I was thankful that my sister has much more decorating talent than me. My table looked a bit drab under my own efforts. But my sister came along and magically transformed it into an elegant display.
I was thankful to the friends and family who came out yesterday. My nephew, his kids, and his girlfriend were among the visitors. The kids had a lot of fun playing and taking in all the attractions. I was especially appreciative considering it was my nephew’s birthday and he could’ve been doing a number of other things with his day.
Also, my husband and I were truly thankful to see some of our friends and their families, who we had not seen in many months. What a blessing to have friends who took time out of their weekend to visit with us!
The night before the event, my mother mentioned that it would be nice if I had a poster board to display the description of my books. I was thankful for the idea and for the fact that I was able to quickly put something together. I printed out the cover of each book, as well as the book descriptions found on Amazon. And my husband and I just so happened to have a poster board that we use for putting jigsaw puzzles together.
Matt also invited two other author friends of his. So I was thankful to make new friends yesterday.
I was thankful to the family member who babysat our pets. One of our dogs gets anxiety if we leave him alone for too long.
I was thankful for the beautiful weather. In Florida, there is often a chance of high temperatures and/or thunderstorms. But yesterday we had clear skies and started the morning off in the sixties. It was a beautiful day!
There were also a few prayer warriors on my side yesterday. My parents, my friend, Lorraine, and others were praying that all went well. And it did. Overall, it was a blessed day! With the Lord, my family, and my friends by my side, the day turned out to be a treasure!
Here are a few pictures from the day…
Jesus was arrested with no cause. One of His own disciples betrayed Him. They called false witnesses to testify against Him. They put a robe and a crown of thorns on His head, while mocking Him. They demanded a murderer be set free, and that Jesus be executed. They beat Him and made Him drag His own cross. They nailed His hands and His feet to the wood. They put Him up in the air so that all could ridicule Him. He face became distorted as He took on the sin of the world. He paid the penalty for every one of us.
The moment when Jesus died, the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The curtain in the temple separated the most Holy Place and the presence of God from man. The high priest was the only one who could go beyond the curtain, and that was only once a year. Jesus’ death on the cross meant that we could now meet with God at anytime. The door was open to all who would accept the invitation.
They placed Jesus’ body in a tomb and rolled a heavy stone in front of it. But on the third day, the stone had been moved. And the tomb was empty. Jesus’ had risen from the grave. Death could not hold Him. He defeated sin, He defeated death, He saved the world. He who knew no sin, erased our sin. He did that for you, for me, and for every single human being.
Centuries before you were born, God mapped out a plan to save you. He loves you that much. He knew you would make mistakes. But He gave His one and only Son to pay the debt that you owed. I hope and pray that you have accepted Jesus into your life. If you haven’t, please go HERE. This will be the most important decision you ever make.
On the interstate the other day, I saw a big rig with mud flaps that said, “Do you follow Jesus this close?” While I got a chuckle out of it, I also thought it was a good question. Do I follow Jesus as closely as I should? I certainly try.
But do I fall short in any areas? Definitely. Every day I can find something I did “wrong.” Maybe I said something I regret. Or maybe just the opposite – I didn’t speak up when I should have. Maybe I made a hasty decision. Or maybe I didn’t make a move when I should have. I am constantly second guessing everything I do. In all honesty, it can be very exhausting living this way. Am I too hard on myself? Perhaps. But I think I would rather be this way, as opposed to someone who flippantly feels they do no wrong.
This makes me think of David in the Bible. He was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). David always tried to please the Lord, his faith was unshakably strong, and he openly praised God even when others criticized him for it. However, David was human and he did make mistakes. But he was quick to turn around when he knew he was wrong.
The bottom line comes down to our hearts. We need to allow the Lord to examine our hearts, and point out any areas that need adjusting. Handing over each day to God will ensure we are on the right path. Honoring God with our lives and actions will always lead to success. Ask yourself, do you follow Jesus this close?
I will leave you with some words written by David, found in Psalm 139…
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
This morning I had to attend a meeting across town, so I planned to go through a drive thru for some much needed caffeine. I also planned to pay for the bill of the car in line behind me, because it is fun to anonymously bless someone.
As I turned into the parking lot, a couple of other cars hurried to be the next one in line. They thought they were getting ahead, by getting in front of me. I shook my head because I knew that they really would have benefitted to be behind me, because I would have paid for their bill.
It made me think of the Bible verse, “So those who are last will be first and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
And then I realized it is the same way with God and people. He wants to bless us and He wants the best for us. Unfortunately we tend to run ahead because we are impatient. We want what we think is the best thing. And we want it now. But God can see that we have missed out on a blessing, by not waiting for Him to work things out.
I know I personally have a bad habit in this area. I jump and think later. I know I should prayerfully seek God, His plan, and His timing first. But too often, I don’t do it. I see something shiny and I grab it.
This fast paced world we live in plays a big role in why we are this way. We have everything at our fingertips. We don’t have to wait until the weekend to go to the bookstore to buy the book we want. Instead we can download it on our tablet right now. Need something from Amazon? You can have it delivered tomorrow. Drive down any road and you will see someone who is in too big of a hurry. In our small town, my husband and I often see vehicles pass on a double yellow line, and the car they are passing isn’t going slow. We have too much on our plates and we need everything on our to-do lists done yesterday. We have too much to do at our jobs, and not enough time to do it. We run from work to home with barely enough time to throw dinner on the table before we go to bed and do it all over again the next day.
But we don’t have to fall victim to this world and its ways. And we don’t have to settle for second best. The key is to trust God and His timing. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. But it all comes down to a choice. Either we believe that God has our best interest in mind or we don’t.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14
My husband and I enjoy seeing and taking pictures of wildlife in the mountains – bears, deer, turkey, horses, and even coyotes at times. But one of my favorite pictures is of a bird, just sitting on a fence. I think I like it so much because he seems to have it all together. He is not worried or stressed. He is confident and at peace. (See pic below.)
We can be like that too. In fact, there is even a Bible verse about this. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26)
From now let’s try to wait on God and His timing. Instead of running ahead towards something that we think we can’t live without, let’s wait and allow God to give us His very best.
(Picture by Bridget A. Thomas 😉)
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.