Category Archives: Just a Thought

ENCOURAGEMENT BASKETS

I have been blessed with a request from Tom to put my computer in hand and place another writing on his blog site (aTimeinLife.wordpress.com). I thought about it and came up, with the Lord’s help, this totally true and believable story that took place years ago and still is a number 1 project in my life.

On August 5th, 2004, 17 years ago, almost to the day, my best friend was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A group of us were upset by this news and began searching for ways to pull together to see where she needed help the most. One day as I was thinking about her plight, I was praying for an idea to present to her that she would enjoy and be pleased with and that would take her mind off the shocking diagnosis. I asked the Lord for a unique and different idea to present to her during this difficult time of her life.

During these days, those closest to her, supplied our friend with time, food, laughter, rides, etc. As I was sharing this information with my cousin one day, she brought a project to my attention. She and a friend of hers had started doing Encouragement Baskets for those individuals who were trying to wrap their minds around news they had received from their medical professional about an illness, a family member, or they, themselves, were facing. During this time my cousin and her friend came up with the idea of Encouragement Baskets to distribute to those people being given news of an illness or a disturbing situation.

An Encouragement Basket is described as the following: Items purchased, wrapped, a Bible verse pertaining to the item written and taped to the outside of the item. Each wrapped present, regardless of price, will represent the Bible verse written on its outside.

As I was getting my first basket, for my friend, ready, I wrote a poem to attach to the top of the basket of presents that explains the idea behind the wrapped items:

An “Encouragement Basket” for you today,

Just a few words to help, along the way.

You have 2 choices from which to choose,

Whichever you take, you can’t possibly lose.

Number 1, you can open all these at one time.

Number 2, wait until you’re down and need an

Uphill climb!

It’s up to you, as to what you do

Just remember they will cheer, when you are blue!

They are from the heart and some from my hand,

I’m letting you know you’re the best in the land.

There’s love and respect concealed in this array,

Hoping they bring encouragement to you each day!!

In short, the person who has received the basket can open every gift included at one time or one a day, or one when they are feeling down and need a lift. It’s their choice.

An Encouragement Basket could contain 25 – 30 presents to be opened for one month. WOW, you say, 30 presents?? But, here’s the good fact about the present: The Price!! Here are some examples:

1. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew thy praise. (Psalm 51:15 KJV)

Wrapped package: Lip Gloss

2. For thou will light my candle: the Lord my God will enlightened my darkness. (Psalm 18:28 KJV)

Wrapped package: A candle or flashlight

3. But, his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26 KJV)

Wrapped package: A salt shaker

4. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. (John 19:25 KJV)

Wrapped package: A wooden or porcelain cross

Each present for each verse is left up to the researcher’s imagination.

Each gift is not purchased with an extra high price tag, but, one that is easy on the purchaser’s pocket book! I have made the $1.00 stores the place I shop the most. I have started to stockpile lots of gifts to be able to wrap and place a Bible verse on if I am in a hurry to get a basket done!

After all scriptures are placed on the correct, individual gift package, all gifts are placed in a basket to be delivered to the recipient. If there are too many gifts for one basket, place the balance of the gifts in a second basket!

You will be surprised how these baskets have such an effect on people who are depressed, have been diagnosed with a disease, or had a family member being diagnosed. The uplifting feeling from opening these presents brings a new atmosphere to the lives of the friend or loved one.

The awareness as the basket maker is wonderful as you are putting this basket together, but, 10 times better as you watch your friend become overwhelmed by the love placed into the piece of work done for them.

If you know someone who has just been given some altering news, get busy and begin the structure of An Encouragement Basket. You will not regret one ounce of the time spent putting it together!

Just ask my friend, 17 years later, how she felt when she received hers. She has not forgotten the basket or the items included. I thank the Lord she helped me with the last one we just did!!!

Good Luck on your project!!!!!

Author – Nancy Steele Frazier – 2021

++++++++++

Nancy, I thank you for sharing your thoughts about one of your many ministries, ENCOURAGEMENT BASKETS, on my blog. More importantly, I thank you for providing the heartfelt inspiration and encouragement to help others in such a nice way. You are truly a blessing unto others!

I hope Nancy has inspired each of you to want to help those you know who are in need or facing difficult moments in life. You can be a blessing to them by giving someone in need an Encouragement Basket or something similar! 

Tom Tatum – Author – 2021

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

THE GRAND WALL

“Are you proud of your grandchildren?” This was a question I was asked as part of doing a “story a week” presentation about events in my life from childhood to adulthood. The following is my response, which is story #47 of 50.

++++++++++++++++++++

Yes, I am very proud of my grandchildren. I am so proud of them that I created something to honor them—something that reminds me of each one of them every day. My creation isn’t as awesome as developing a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus or riding on the first American made Spacex rocket that launched two American astronauts to the International Space Station on (5/30/2020), which, by the way, is the first manned launch from American soil in nine years.

My creation is simple, but it symbolizes some of the many blessings God has bestowed upon me throughout my life. The subject matter of the following may not impress anyone who takes time to read it, but I assure you, it means more to me than you can possibly imagine. It represents memories from a past once lived and inspires hope for futures yet to unfold.

++++++ THE GRAND WALL ++++++

I designed and built a perimeter wall in my backyard in 2008. It consists of concrete block and wooden slats. Kathy and I planted Carolina Jasmine on alternating sections of the wall which provides a softness contrast to the harshness of the concrete block and the aging beauty of the wooden slats.

The final touch for The Grand Wall was when I placed a simple-metal-frame figure of each of my five grandchildren on separate panels of the wall. Those figures symbolize that I think each grandchild is a special blessing to me—they are all different and special to me in their own way.

These symbols of my grandchildren greet me each day, which warms my heart tremendously. You see, I spent many wonderful days in my backyard playing with my grandchildren. From our days playing games such as kickball, dodgeball, “tag-you’re it” to practicing baseball, I felt a joy that no words can effectively describe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were creating memories that I would cherish in the final stages of my life—the days when the laughter of children with their smiling faces would no longer physically grace my backyard.

As time passed, my five grandchildren grew up in a flash. They rarely come to my house or play in my backyard anymore. They have moved on with their lives and no longer have time to spend with their Big Tom—me.

It saddens me when I look at THE GRAND WALL and see their images, but no longer hear their laughter or voices filling the air around me. I guess that’s what memories are for—to make you smile as you remember what was, but no longer is. There is no doubt that I enjoyed each grandchild in real-time and feel blessed to have many good memories of what once was. It is the memories that must sustain me and fill the void of their absence in the final days of my life.

Now, allow me to introduce those special grandchildren who brought me great joy and made me smile many times. I’ll present them in the order in which they came into my life.

As each grandchild pursues their dreams in life, I wish them the very best. I pray they find their God-given talents and fulfill His purpose for their lives. That would be a wonderful blessing for each of them. So, my advice to each grandchild is to set your goals high and always give your best. If you choose to do this, you will succeed!

Enjoy every minute of your journey through life. There will be ups and downs, but don’t you ever give up! Pursue your dreams and make them come true!

++++++++++ SIDE NOTE ++++++++++

As I typed this story, I was watching the riots that were taking place in America on 5/30/2020. Looting, burning down buildings that housed businesses of people hurt by the 2020 pandemic filled the screen. I watched the news broadcasts in disbelief. How could Americans be acting this way?! It’s a very sad night and breaks my heart.

I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like for my grandchildren in their future. I pray that God will hold them in the palms of His hands and allow them to live a full and productive life with liberty and justice for all.

May God bless America and bring peace to a nation in turmoil. This I pray from the bottom of my heart… Amen!

++++++++++ END OF STORY ++++++++++

Tom Tatum – Author 2020

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Blog site: http://www.atimeinlife.wordpress.com/

AN ANGEL’S MESSAGE FOR GRANDPA

The day was cold, but not as cold as the heart of an old man sitting alone on a park bench with tears rolling down his cheeks. He didn’t seem bothered by the cold temperature, but something more serious had numbed his senses—his emotions were in distress.

After a few minutes passed, a young boy and man came walking along the path near the park bench. They stopped directly in front of the old man and, without any hesitation, the young boy asked, “Sir, are you okay? I see the tears on your cheek. Are you hurt?”

The old man raised his head slightly until his eyes met the eyes of the young boy. “Young man, today is a very sad day for me. I traveled many miles to come see my grandson in the hospital right down the street there. I had car trouble on the way and waited for twelve hours by the roadside before a kind soul stopped to help me.”

“I’m sorry your car broke down,” said the boy. “Have you seen your grandson yet?”

“No, I didn’t make it to the hospital in time to see him. I wasn’t able to tell him…” said the old man as he lowered his head and looked toward the ground.

“You weren’t able to tell him what?” asked the young boy.

While still looking toward the ground, the old man replied, “To tell him how much I love him and to wish him a Merry Christmas. He passed away three hours before I arrived. I can’t believe he’s gone. I’m so…”

“Sir, are you Joey’s Grandpa—his Grandpa Ben?”

A bit confused, the old man raised his head slightly and replied, “Yes, I am, but why did you ask me that? Do you know Joey?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the young boy. “I’m Zack. Joey is my new friend and he told me all about you.”

“He did what? When?” retorted Grandpa Ben.

“Yes, sir! Just a few minutes ago, Joey asked me to tell you how much he loves you. He wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas. He said to tell you he is fine and in good hands.”

“I don’t understand. What? That’s impossible! How did you talk to Joey?” snapped Grandpa Ben.

“Joey is sitting on a park bench like you are now. He’s talking to Jesus,” replied Zack.

With that, Grandpa Ben lowered his head toward the ground thinking about what Zack just said. He wondered why Zack was talking such nonsense. Without raising his head, he asked, “Zack, how do you know he’s talking to Jesus?”

Several seconds passed without hearing an answer to his question. Grandpa Ben looked around and Zack was nowhere in sight. Instead, the only person standing in front of him was the man who he saw walking with Zack.

The man leaned down toward the old man and said, “Sir, are you alright? I couldn’t understand what you were saying. Can I get some help for you?”

“What? Where did Zack go? He was just standing right there talking to me. The two of you were standing together in front of me. Who are you?” the old man asked.

“Sir, my name is Sam Jones, but no one was with me today. I’m alone just as you are,” said the man with an air of concern for the old man.

“I’m very pleased to meet you, Sam. My name is Ben. Zack was just standing there beside you talking to me,” replied Ben.

His eyes swelling with tears, Sam managed to say, “Ben, I’m not sure what you’re trying to do to me, but my son, Zack, was killed by a drunk driver on this date three years ago. It happened at the intersection right over there. I walk here each year and remember the good times we shared. It’s my way of feeling as if Zack is walking with me. I miss him so much.”

Totally confused, Ben stammered, “I’m so sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean to… I was just… I mean… I… Zack was with…”

++++++ FOOD FOR THOUGHT ++++++

  • Do you have faith and believe in Jesus?
  • Do you think angels are capable of sending messages to us?
  • Do you think angels walk among us?
  • Have you ever experienced the presence of an angel?
  • Have you ever felt the presence of God in your life?

If your answers to the above are no, you should ask Grandpa Ben what he thinks.

Blessings to all who have lost loved ones. I hope this short story helps you feel the warmth of their presence during this Christmas season and that your heart is full of joy and happiness knowing they are nearby.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

WHEN PRAYERS COLLIDE

WHEN PRAYERS COLLIDE is possibly a topic you have never thought about before, but it may actually have an impact on how a prayer is answered—or not answered. It’s definitely something worth considering.

Those of us who have faith and believe in God are prone to pray. It’s how we communicate with Him. Whether our prayers are spoken or unspoken, God knows what’s in our heart. We pray to ask God for help in times of need and to give thanks for the many blessings we have received. Many of us probably have occasions when we pray for God to comfort others who are experiencing difficult times.

Philippians 4:6-7 clearly teaches that we are to pray to God in every situation:

However, I think it is important that we should always be mindful of what we are praying for God to do for us. Let me take a moment to expand on what I mean by prayers colliding.

Hurricane Florence provided a good example when the prayers of many people in North Carolina and South Carolina collided. I’ll be the first to admit that I have more questions than answers regarding our prayers colliding with the prayers of others.

As Hurricane Florence made her way toward the coasts of the Carolinas, many Christians who believe and have faith in God, and maybe even some non-believers, did a lot of praying. I certainly did. My prayers were asking God to send Florence away from land and not harm anyone. With each new weather forecast update, I prayed even harder asking God to turn Florence harmlessly back out into the Atlantic Ocean.

After a few days of increasing anxiety, it became obvious that atmospheric conditions necessary to send the bad girl harmlessly out into the Atlantic were nonexistent. In fact, conditions were perfect for her to make a beeline path toward the Carolinas. The question became, “Where was she going to make landfall—North Carolina and/or South Carolina?”

At this point, the prayers of many likely shifted to, “God please protect my family and friends from harm.” Unfortunately, many folks in North Carolina and South Carolina were also lifting prayers for God to do the same for them. Simply stated, our prayers were creating a situation where we were asking God to do completely opposite things—our prayers were colliding. It became obvious Hurricane Florence was going to make landfall, but not everyone was going to weather her mighty forces safely.

Unfortunately, our prayers were unintentionally asking God to spare “me and mine” by sending the wrath of Hurricane Florence to ravage others. We were asking God to take sides—them or us. This is certainly not the “love thy neighbor” lessons the Bible teaches us to follow.

The subject of prayers colliding made me think of a life-lesson I learned from a baseball coach when I was nine-years old. Please allow me to share my experience with you at this time.

+++ PRAYING BEFORE A BASEBALL GAME +++

We were about to play our second game of the season. As we did before the first game, Coach asked the players to form a circle around him. We removed our caps and took a knee. He then told us we were going to say a team prayer.

As we bowed our heads, Coach said, “Lord, please protect all of the players, coaches, and fans from injuries and help us play our best tonight. Amen.”

Bobby, our shortstop, then asked, “Coach, you said that prayer last game and we lost. Why don’t you ask God to help us win this game?”

I have to admit—I was thinking much the same way as Bobby, but I didn’t have the courage to open my mouth as he did, or maybe I was wise beyond my years—not likely the case!

Coach looked at each of us and replied, “Bobby, see that other team over there—they are our neighbors, and Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors. If we pray for God to help us win, in a way, we are also asking God to make the players on the other team lose. That’s not what Jesus wants us to do—that’s not expressing love for our neighbor.”

“But Coach, if they ask God to help them win and we don’t, we’re gonna lose this game too. God’s gonna help them win,” replied Bobby.

Coach paused, smiled, and replied, “Okay, boys, listen up. If both teams pray for God to help them win, which team do you think God is going to choose to help? Why would He choose our team? Does God love us more than He loves the players on the other team? I want each of you to think about that.”

All the players, including me, just sat there looking at Coach and not one of us said a word.

Coach continued, “You see, God loves the players on both teams. I don’t think He is interested in choosing which team wins a Little League baseball game. God is busy taking care of sick folks and many others who are facing difficult situations. God blessed each of you with the ability and opportunity to play baseball. It’s okay to ask Him to help you play your best because that’s what He wants you to do—give your best in everything you do. God smiles when you give your best. He’s always there to help you if you ask Him, but it’s up to each of you to give your best—on and off the field. Don’t ever pray for God to help you win because, if you do, you’re asking Him to make someone else lose—someone who may have as much faith and belief in God as you do—someone God loves just as much as He loves you.”

Coach then told Bobby to go ask some players on other team if they prayed for God to help them win the game. Bobby wasn’t very thrilled about Coach’s idea, but he did as Coach asked him to do.

Bobby returned and said, “Coach, they asked God to help them win.”

Coach replied, “Okay, guys, I hope you understand what I’ve told you tonight. Now, I want you to go out there and give your best, and we’ll see what happens. Let’s play some baseball guys, give your best, and remember, have fun tonight!”

Guess what—we won that game by playing our best. We didn’t ask God to choose our team to be the winning team. Then again—maybe we won by not praying for the other team to lose—our prayers didn’t collide.

Coach taught me a valuable life-lesson that day and I still do as he said—sixty-one years later. We need to be careful when we pray for God to help us. We should not ask God to choose to support us at the expense of others. Remember, we are to love our neighbors. We may not like some of the things our neighbors do, but we should not wish them harm either.

By the way, Coach—I called him Dad when weren’t on the baseball field. I’m thankful he helped me see the light when it comes to praying.

+++++++++++++

I count my blessings that Hurricane Florence didn’t harm my family or my property. However, the same is not true for many others living in North Carolina and the upper parts of South Carolina. Folks in those areas suffered in many ways—property damage, injuries, and some even died because of the storm. Flooding reached record heights in many areas, yet my family and those who live in the Charleston, SC region were spared—Hurricane Florence “decided” to make landfall near Wilmington, NC.

Now, let’s visit the second part of this topic regarding prayers colliding. What happens to our faith when our prayers collide? As stated earlier, I have more questions than answers about this, so I’m looking to you to help others by sharing your thoughts.

++++++ FOOD FOR THOUGHT ++++++

Consider a few questions that may or may not have answers, but they should help us think about what happens when we pray.

  1. Do you think God creates events such as Hurricane Florence to punish some people while sparing others?
  2. Do you think God spares some people because they prayed and punishes others because they didn’t pray?
  3. Do you think the faith of those spared from harm will grow stronger?
  4. Do you think the faith of those who suffered harm will become weaker?
  5. Do you think anyone blames or praises God for their particular circumstances?
  6. Do you think God sent Florence to punish those who were in her final path for reasons we don’t have the ability to understand?
  7. To your knowledge, have any of your prayers ever collided with the prayers of others?
  8. Do you think God hears the prayers of nonbelievers? If you think He does, do you think He answers their prayers favorably, unfavorably, or does He ignore them?
  9. Are we even supposed to understand the answers to such questions or is that what faith is all about—trusting God to be with us at all times?

If you have thoughts or comments about such questions, please don’t hesitate to share them—some folks, including me, would like to know what you think.

May God’s blessings be upon you each day and may your prayers never collide with those of others! I encourage you to pray often and have the patience to wait for God to answer your prayers—in His perfect timing.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

DRINKING FROM MY SAUCER

My mother died in November 2000 and I have missed her every day since. Her kindness and unconditional love for me were much more than I deserved. I was truly blessed to have had her as my mother. I wish I could spend one more day with her for there are so many things I need to tell her. It is because of her love that my cup has overflowed.

I was going through some boxes today and found one labelled “Mom’s Keepsakes.” When I opened the box I found a sheet of paper she had saved. It was a poem I don’t remember ever having read before, but it reminded me of how she lived her life helping others—especially me.

I was truly blessed today and hope the poem speaks to you also.

DRINKING FROM MY SAUCER

I’ve never made a fortune
and it’s probably too late now.
But I don’t worry about that much,
I’m happy anyhow.

And as I go along life’s way,
I’m reaping better than I sowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
‘Cause my cup has overflowed.

I don’t have a lot of riches,
and sometimes the going’s tough.
But I’ve got loved ones around me,
and that makes me rich enough.

I thank God for his blessings,
and the mercies He’s bestowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
’cause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong,
My faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke,
and the sun peeped through again.

So God, help me not to gripe about
the tough rows that I’ve hoed.
I’m drinking from my saucer,
‘Cause my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage,
when the way grows steep and rough.
I’ll not ask for other blessings,
I’m already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy,
to help others bear their loads.
Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer,
‘Cause my cup has overflowed.

                            – John Paul Moore

I hope the poem touched your heart as it did mine. For it is in helping others that we drink from our saucer ’cause our cup has overflowed.

Blessings to all who understand the message and may you be blessed with someone who gives you unconditional love.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

 

PROMISES

It is not the promises we make that count…

It is the promises we keep that matter most.

Someone is counting on you today. Don’t disappoint them. You can make a difference in their life if you are willing to try!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

TEAR UPON YOUR CHEEK

                                   

TEAR UPON YOUR CHEEK

                                       

I see the tear upon your cheek,

But I know not what made you weep.

I pray that joy is the reason why

Each tear is flowing from your eye.

If sadness is the reason you cry,

Let me dry each tear that I see,

And tell you things that make you smile.

For it is then, my world smiles too.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

A BLESSING FOR YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE

May your dreams be as high as the sky.

May you give your best without a sigh.

May you treat others with great respect.

May friends help you more than you expect.

 

May self-doubt never become your friend.

May willpower sustain you ‘til the end.

May each deep breath you take renew you.

May your path never make you feel blue.

 

May each new day help you grow wiser.

May your thoughts flow forth like a geyser.

May you pause each day to dream awhile.

May all your days end with a warm smile

 

Wishing you the very best each day.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

WHEN DOUBT COMES KNOCKING

Doubt leads to indecision,

which leads to anxiety,

which leads to frustration,

which leads to arguments,

which leads to poor relationships,

which leads to breakups,

which leads to loneliness,

which leads to depression,

which leads to seeking help,

which leads to recovery,

which leads to new beginnings.

DOUBT—it starts a viscous cycle.

So, do yourself a favor—if DOUBT

ever comes knocking at your door,

don’t open it!

You will save yourself many headaches.

Have a great day!

 

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

THEY SAY MY PAIN WILL GO AWAY

 

They say my pain will go away,

but they never knew you at all.

They never felt my heart pound

when you walked into the room.

They never saw the things you

did to help others find their way.

They say my pain will go away,

but I know those are just words.

I will hold you in my heart forever,

and try to make you proud of me.

Blessings to those who have ever lost a loved one. Make them proud of who you become and hold them in your heart forever.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

TIME CHANGES THINGS

TIME CHANGES THINGS

As I reflect on my memories
in life, I find it interesting
that what seemed to be very
bad long ago doesn’t seem as
bad today, and what seemed
so good back then seems even
better now. Time seems to
heal old wounds and enhance
our moments of joy.

May all your memories from the past be a blessing for you and bring you great joy in today’s world!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels