Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite Bible verses. The NKJV puts it this way, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The NLT puts it like this, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” What an incredible promise that is. As children of God, we are assured that God will work all things together for good.
Many people like to say that “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t really believe that is true, to be honest. Sadly, we live in a fallen world. That means many cruel and evil things will happen to us and around us. Add on top of that all the mistakes we make as well. I don’t believe initially there is a good reason behind everything. But we often hear people say this as an attempt to bring comfort to a difficult situation. I would like to suggest, however, that instead of saying, “everything happens for a reason,” we turn to God and to the promise found in Romans 8:28.
As Christians, we can trust that God can and will turn things around for good. That promise really gives me comfort when I am facing something difficult that I do not like or do not understand. Or when I look back on my life and I wish I could erase some things from my past. Or when a loved one is struggling with something hard. In difficult times like these, we can find solace in knowing that God will work all things for good.
And, yes, the verse says ALL things or EVERYTHING, depending on the translation. There have been certain things in my life that I didn’t believe could be worked out for good. But one night when I was praying about some of those things, I felt God speak to me. He said, “Yes, even that.” What a simple, yet beautiful, statement.
As a child of God, this promise is true for you too. God can and will work everything in your life for good. Even the worst things in your life. Even the things that have brought you the most pain. He is a loving God and will love you through your suffering, if you allow Him to. The Contemporary English Version puts Romans 8:28 like this, “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose.” That first sentence is so beautiful and truly portrays God’s love for you.
But perhaps there was something in your life which you have not seen anything good come from it. In our human eyes and human understanding, we might not see or comprehend the good that came out of some things. But we have to believe God, trust God, and have faith in God.
Charles Stanley puts it this way, “On this side of heaven we may never understand how all things can work together for good for God’s children. Though not all things we experience are in themselves pleasant or helpful – some of them are very painful – we are promised that God uses everything for our benefit. Therefore, we must have faith that He will turn our failures and hardships into opportunities for spiritual growth.” (The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible)
Our God is trustworthy and faithful. He does not lie and He keeps His promises. So when you are facing something painful in your life, or when you look back on something painful, run to the Lord and hand it over to Him. Pray about the situation and tell Him that you are trusting Him to work it all out for good. This process of surrender will take a weight off your shoulders and you will feel a peace that surpasses understanding.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
Hearing from God can be so special. I don’t hear an audible voice. But there are times when I “hear” something deep inside and I know it’s from God. One particular time when this happened was on February 26th of this year. I know what day it was because it was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
On that day, I asked God to show me anything that might be a roadblock in my relationship with Him. And His answer was, “Negativity.” When I asked the question, an answer came quickly. And I had a feeling deep within that made me know this came from God.
If you know me, perhaps you think I am always a positive person. I do try to be. But I am not perfect by any means. Sometimes I complain and gripe, just like everyone else. I don’t like being that way. And it is something that I try to work on. But when the Lord spoke to me about it, it really hit home! So, this is something I have been working on even more this year.
It can be difficult to stay positive in our culture. And with all the events of 2020, it has been even more difficult. But it is possible. We have to stay rooted to the Lord, remember He is our source of truth and strength, limit time watching the news, express our gratitude towards God, and praise God. Those things have helped me to be more optimistic.
But I have two secrets to share with you that will catapult you into a positive frame of mind. (1) You have a choice. All the thoughts that come into your head, do not have to stay in your head. (2) Feelings are liars. Just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t make it truth. You should take your feelings to God and compare them to Scripture. When we know we are thinking or feeling negatively, we can choose to turn it around.
There are many Bible verses that speak about this topic as well, so it helps to memorize them and recite them when you are tempted to be negative.
Have you been sucked into a bad habit of complaining and negativity? Will you join me in turning it around? I hope so! Let’s start today! Let’s choose joy. And we can be a shining light to the world around us.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
No matter what you are going through today, no matter what you are facing, I just wanted to take a moment to remind you that God is still on the throne. This is wonderful news. This means that we can trust Him with all of our needs. We can rest knowing that He has everything under control. Even if you are dealing with something that you don’t understand, He does. Today, take some time out of your day to praise Him, and to extend gratitude. Tell Him how amazing He is. And tell Him all the things you are thankful for. This is guaranteed to turn your heart around. You will feel more peace inside as you focus on the good, instead of the bad. God blesses us and cares for us. He loves us and protects us. We have so much to be thankful for and we have so much to praise Him for.
I have breath in my lungs
My heart beats steady
I extend love to God
And greet the day
Praise the Lord
I have seen another sunrise
As dawn tells the night goodbye
Displaying God’s artwork
Across the sky
Praise the Lord
I have the gift of salvation
A debt I can never repay
Jesus took my place
On a cross in Calvary
Praise the Lord
I look forward to eternity
Singing to our Savior
Every day with Jesus
Loving Him forevermore
Praise the Lord
(c) 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
We have a million tasks we need to cram into our twenty-four hours. Many people have complained – if only I had more time! I have said this myself on many occasions. So what’s the solution? Multitasking of course. What is multitasking? Multitasking is defined as dealing with more than one thing at a time. In today’s fast-paced world, we pride ourselves on multitasking.
If you are one of those who pride themselves on multitasking, I am here to burst your bubble. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It turns out that our brains really aren’t doing two things at once. Instead our brains are just quickly shifting from one thing to another. One of my techie friends recently told me that computers don’t even do more than one thing at a time. Computers just do things amazingly fast. So if a computer cannot multitask, why do we think we can? What’s more is that research has found negative side effects associated with multitasking.
I feel that sometimes multitasking is okay, if one task does not require brain power. For example, if you are folding laundry while watching television or if you are listening to music while working. Our brains don’t need to focus on the laundry or the music. But I do feel strongly about cutting back on multitasking in general, especially when the things we are doing requires our attention. We all know how dangerous it is to text when driving, for example.
Why do I feel so strongly about cutting out multitasking? Well all the side effects above are a good start. Personally when I try to do too many things, I feel frustrated and fruitless. But there is more. This is similar to my recent post on eliminating distractions. I don’t want to miss the life that is right in front of me. I don’t want to miss out on things God might be trying to reveal to me. I don’t want to miss out on precious moments with my loved ones.
Perhaps you are familiar with the story of the sisters, Martha and Mary, found in Luke 10:38-42. On this particular occasion, Jesus was at their home. Martha was running around tending to preparations while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Martha complained about her sister not helping. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (v 41-42). How sad that Martha missed out on time with the Savior because she was distracted! It even says in verse 40 that “Martha was distracted.” When we have a gathering at our homes, we want to make sure everything is perfect. I have been there and I am sure many of you have too. While it is admirable to put our best hospitality foot forward, we should not allow it to take away from the fellowship.
This is just one example. There are many other times when we are multitasking and miss out on things. We might be intent on listening to our favorite sitcom, but miss something the person right in front of us said. Or maybe we are on the telephone with someone, but we allow our mind to start worrying about a project at work. I am sure you can think up some examples as well. Let me put it to you another way. We don’t like when someone is ignoring us because they are focused on something else. So let’s set a good example and not do the same.
Life is made up of small moments. These moments can hold so much meaning, if we are present. And these meaningful moments can turn into deep conversations, and lasting memories. I want to be able to look back on these moments with joy, not with regret. How about you?
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
A few weeks ago, I shared with you the list of things that I wanted to work on during the month of July. Today I want to share with you some things that I learned about making new positive habits and releasing negative habits.
Monthly Plan. A new month is like a mini New Years. It can be seen as a fresh start and a new beginning. I think using each month to start something new, or lay aside something old, is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated and on track. We tend to like the things in our lives to be tied up in nice, neat packages. And by using a particular month to work on a certain habit, it is a way to make these changes look more appealing and easier to swallow. If you are consistent with making a small, yet powerful change for an entire month, you will feel empowered to continue with that habit. The ultimate goal is to make new good habits, or lack of bad habits, so ingrained that we don’t think about them anymore. They just become second nature and not something we have to struggle with.
Daily reminders. Every morning, remind yourself of your goal. This will help keep it in the front of your mind throughout the day. You could also use sticky notes and place them in key places where you will see them to help motivate yourself.
Set yourself up for success. Try to find ways to “trick” yourself into following through. For example, if you want to exercise first thing in the morning, wear clothing to bed that could work well for both pajamas and workout clothes. Then when you get up, you don’t have to change clothes. Try to make it as simple as possible for yourself. If you have the opportunity to take your eyes off the task at hand, you will quickly run in the wrong direction, like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride.
Accountability. It will help you to stay on track if you are held accountable. You can do this a number of ways. Either tell a trusted person (or several) about your plan. They can check in with you and help encourage you when you are slacking. Or you can hold yourself accountable. In your journal each evening, have a daily “check-in” by writing down how you did. Another option is to blast it on a blog or social media. When you tell the whole world what you are working on, you will not want to fail, and this will push you to keep going.
Don’t beat yourself up. If you fell off the horse, just get right back up and start again. We are human, which means we are not perfect. We simply have to try our best. This might mean some days are not our best days. But that’s okay. We can begin again.
Adjust. It’s okay to adjust and tweak as you go along. For example, perhaps you tried exercising in the evenings, but errands and daily life got in the way. Switch it up and try the mornings instead.
Reward yourself. If you were consistent with your habit, think of a way you can treat yourself. Examples could include going somewhere fun with your family, taking a bubble bath, or getting that new book you have been eyeing. Get creative and do something for yourself that will motivate you to keep going.
What will I be working on in September? My top goals are to clear the clutter in my head so that I can hear the voice of God and to be consistent and concrete with my prayers.
Since today is the 1st day of a new month, this is the perfect time to work on a change in your life too. Take a moment to give it some thought. What is one thing you would like to accomplish this month? As Christians, we have a responsibility to live our lives well. This flows into everything we think, say, and do. We are to be a shining light in this dark world. So living our lives well, will in turn help us to walk out the calling and purpose God has for us. With that being said, what change would you like to see? A better sleep pattern? Daily Bible reading? Praying every day? Exercising? A new hobby? Or you can also lay aside a bad habit, such as not spending so much time on your devices or quitting smoking. If you are stuck and don’t know what to do, ask God to show you something you can work on in your life. If you come up with something, I would love to hear what it is!
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. – James 1:22-25
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
My grandmother was a master crocheter. Crocheting is something she learned as a child, and she never let it go. When I was young I remember her trying to teach my sister and me how to crochet, but it didn’t stick. In my adult years, I decided I wanted to learn. But I didn’t tell my grandmother about it. Instead I bought books to teach myself how to crochet so that I could surprise her. I am so glad I was able to do that before she passed. I am not a master crocheter like she was. Usually I stick with simple things like blankets, scarves, or hats. My grandmother, on the other hand, could create dolls, purses, and many other elaborate items. After learning to crochet, I tried knitting as well. I never stuck with it because it seemed to take a lot longer to complete an item. Then I was introduced to looms, which I enjoy using a lot. But for many months I had not touched any of these things.
Recently in the pandemic, I picked it back up again and I am so glad I did. I forgot how therapeutic it was. When we were riding in the vehicle recently, I brought my latest project along. My husband said to me, “Isn’t that tiring?” And I said, “No, it’s soothing.” He replied, “I should try it.” I agreed and he laughed. He was kidding, but I wasn’t. It really is a great art to learn, especially if you are looking for a stress reliever. It is believed that any kind of yarn-crafting can relieve depression, reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, reduce or postpone dementia, relieve insomnia, help relax, aid prayer, help with grief, and relieve stress.
But crocheting and knitting are not the only creative arts that can improve mental health. Drawing, painting , collage, coloring, and sculpting can help heal emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability.
Crafts can also help us in this area as well. Crafts can help us recover from traumatic life events, relieve stress, build self esteem and find moments of calm.
If you prefer music, playing an instrument can also help with stress, insomnia, and depression. Singing, playing instruments, and dancing are also found in the Bible. Music is definitely a great way to boost your mood, especially if it is praise music. Praising God turns our attention towards Him, and takes our focus off of our worries.
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” – Psalm 105:2
If the events of 2020 have been bringing you down, I want to encourage you to try creative therapy. If you already are gifted in one of the pastimes I mentioned, maybe it’s time to pick it back up. Or if you have never tried any of these hobbies, perhaps now would be a good time to learn.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the past couple of weeks I have talked about Seeking God and my July Challenge. Mainly one thing that I have been working on is eliminating distractions. I strongly believe that distractions are one of the devil’s tactics to get us Christians off course.
In today’s culture we have so many things coming at us – texts, emails, alerts, phone calls, instant messages, social media posts, etc. It can be overwhelming. It is wonderful that we can use technology to stay in touch with loved ones who live hundreds of miles away. But technology has also created a lot of distractions in our lives. You cannot go anywhere without seeing people who are glued to their phones. If you are driving in the car, you will see other drivers scrolling through Instagram posts while at a traffic light. If you go to a restaurant, you will see people at other tables scrolling on their phones as they wait for their food.
The world can distract us in many other ways, as well. Some people use alcohol or drugs to distract themselves from life. Others use shopping to give themselves momentary happiness. We often let other people influence us, which can be a distraction as well. There’s also television, video games, and so much more.
With all these distractions, we have less time to focus on the things that matter – God and our families. Could it be that we missed out on a meaningful conversation with our loved ones because we were too busy looking at Pinterest? Could it be that we missed something that God wanted to tell us because we were too distracted with a Netflix binge?
Some of these things are not necessarily bad things. It is essential to have a little down time in our lives. But I do feel that the world today does too much of these things, and misses out on so much of real life!
This is how Jennie Allen put it: “So if I were your enemy, I would make you numb and distract you from God’s story. Technology, social media, Netflix, travel, food, comfort. I would not tempt you with notably bad things, or you would get suspicious. I would distract you with everyday comforts that slowly feed you a different story and make you forget God. Then you would dismiss the Spirit leading you, loving you, and comforting you. Then you would start to love comfort more than surrender, and obedience and souls.” (Proven by Jennie Allen © 2017.)
I, for one, feel so strongly about this that I often hold fasts from these things. As I talked about in my last post, I tried to cut back significantly on these things during the month of July. It is also a normal practice for me during Lent. And on the Sabbath I try to stay off all of those things completely.
When I get to the end of my life, I would hate it if God showed me how much I missed out on because I was too distracted.
What joy overwhelms everyone who keeps the ways of God, those who seek him as their heart’s passion! – Psalm 119:2 TPT
This reminds me of the Israelites in the desert. They were distracted by a negative report from ten men and missed the positive report from two men. As a result they remained in the desert forty years longer than necessary. And the two men who gave the positive report (Joshua and Caleb) were the only two adults that made it into the Promised Land. Sadly, the rest died in the desert.
Could it be that we too will miss out on a promise or a gift from God because we allowed something else to take our focus?
Now that my July challenge is over, I do not want to forget what I learned. I do not want to fall back into a life of distraction. I want to hold tightly to the Lord and hold everything else loosely in my hands. He should be our number one priority – always. Let us look up, keep our focus on our Lord and Savior, and lay down the things that keep us from His best.
Heavenly Father, I pray that You help us to open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts today. Help us to see the things You want us to see. Help us to hear what You are trying to tell us. And help our hearts to always remain tethered to You. We know that satan wants to keep us distracted from the path You have for us. But we are taking a stand. We will not allow the enemy to get a foothold in our lives. Please give us the strength we need to cling to You – every moment of every day. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
In my last post I mentioned that in the month of July I held a personal challenge. Today I wanted to tell you exactly what that looked like. I started by making myself a list of daily reminders.
I realize this list might seem a bit overwhelming. I am not going to lie. I did not do a great job in all of these areas. Exercise for example. My husband and I might have ridden our bicycles only once in the month of July. But having a list helped me to stay focused on the right things.
Also, some things came into play that were not on the list. For example, the Hallmark channel and the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel held Christmas in July. So, watching Christmas movies almost daily took up a lot of time. But watching these movies with my husband was a nice way for us to spend time together. And this also helped me to just “be” and not “do.”
I also returned to crocheting in July. (More on that in a future post!)
But I must say that one thing which really helped me in July was to have daily check-ins with myself. In my journal, I wrote the following questions each day: How did I do with my July challenge? What did I learn? This truly helped me to stay focused and to keep my distractions limited. If I had a bad day, I could see that right away and this helped me to refocus the following day. Mainly I tried to slow down and eliminate doing too much out of habit. I will be touching more on some of this in the weeks to come, so please be sure to stay tuned!
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:5-6
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
Hello, my friends! Yes, I am officially back. I have missed you and our conversations. I hope you all have had a lovely July. My July was a good one, overall. My husband and I celebrated our 13th anniversary early in the month. That was wonderful. Over a long weekend we took day trips to some local places. We had fun and enjoyed the time together. Also in July I returned to the office after working remotely for three months. Some loved ones moved out of state. I am happy for them, but sad for me! (Please say a prayer for them as they embark on a new journey.) And there was another loved one in the hospital. (He is at home now, but still needs healing and recovery. A prayer for him would be appreciated.)
As you can imagine, July had its ups and downs. But the main thing I wanted to mention today was that in July I held my own challenge to help adjust my focus. Mainly what I needed to do was to draw closer to God. I wanted to take some things off my plate, so that I could spend more time with Him. But this is not something that can be checked off of our lists, because drawing closer to God is something we should do every day of our lives.
In 2019 my one word for the year was “Seek” because I wanted to seek God with all my heart, mind, and soul. As we moved into 2020 and I picked a new word for the year, “seek” moved to the back burner. So I recently picked up the word “seek” once again. But not for a month or a year, it is for life. I have said before that seeking God is a lifelong journey. But this struck me more than ever recently as I reevaluated things in my life. Seeking the Lord needs to be on our minds every moment of every day. So, that is the main reason why I took a break in the month of July. I wanted to spend more time seeking the Lord and adjusting my focus.
Why is seeking God so vital? If we don’t seek God, then our focus could drift to other things that aren’t important. Or it could be that we still go through the motions of working for God, but our motives have faltered. When we seek the Lord, it helps us to stay on the right path. It helps us to stay tethered to Him. It helps us to honor Him with our words and actions. And seeking God helps us to have peace and joy in our hearts because we know the One who holds our days.
Jesus should be our number one priority. We should seek Him diligently and passionately as we would a prized possession that was lost. Jesus is our lifeline. We should cling to Him tightly. Then no matter what we face, we can face it with strength, because we know we have the Lord by our side. We will have peace in our lives when we seek Him wholeheartedly. And having that strong relationship will flow into every area of our lives.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
More to come on my July challenge next week!
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas
Hi Friends! Just a very short note to say that I will be offline over the next few weeks. I have to take some time off to get a few things situated and to refocus. More details to come at a later date! But I am looking forward to connecting with you when I return. Until then, God bless and stay safe!