Angela Thomas is the mother of four children, speaker, teacher, and best-selling author of PRAYERS FOR THE MOTHER TO BE, PRAYERS FOR MOTHERS OF NEWBORNS, TENDER MERCY FOR A MOTHERíS SOUL, DO YOU THINK IíM BEAUTIFUL?, and A BEAUTIFUL OFFERING. Angela has a passion for encouraging women, who are drawn to her because of her honesty, humor, conversational style, and storytelling ability. Angela received her masterís degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. For more information, visit www.AngelaThomas.com.
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In this interview FaithfulReader.com Founder Carol Fitzgerald talks to Angela Thomas, author of A BEAUTIFUL OFFERING and BEAUTIFUL, her new title for teens. Thomas discusses "learning to float for a while" as a method of healing one's soul and the importance of being a nonjudgmental listener. She also expresses her hope that her books will show young people certain truths that have taken her years to discover.
FaithfulReader.com: What made you decide to write A BEAUTIFUL OFFERING?
Angela Thomas: I wanted to know how my life, this imperfect journey with blemishes and scars, can reflect back to God my gratefulness for His love to me. Can this life become a beautiful offering to God?
FR: Do you think people today are more honest about being wounded than previous generations? After all, is there anyone who has not been wounded? Does this honesty help us?
AT: We have become more honest about our wounds, so you'd think there would be a lot more healing going on. Sometimes we have preferred to stay in the wound than do the soul work that brings real healing
FR: Your honesty makes people want to talk to you. You become someone who friends are comfortable confiding in. Do you agree that nonjudgmental listening is one of the most important things that we can offer our friends and colleagues? What else do you feel is critical for a friend to offer?
AT: Life has a way of beating the judgment out of you. After a while, you realize that anything can happen. Be careful what you judge. Jesus said, lay down the judgment, deal with the log in your own eye first and just treat people the way you want to be treated. If we are becoming like Christ, then it's important to bring to our friendships the same measure of mercy that has been extended to us. It's also important for a friend to offer a gracious, "It's time to move on and grow up" every once in a while. In my closest friendship, I have a girlfriend who knows me and stays close while I'm doing the messy work of growing up.
FR: You write about learning to float for a while (page 27). Do you think giving into hurting is the first step towards healing?
AT: Somedays it's all you can do to breathe. You might as well give in to it and just focus on getting air during those suffocating days. There aren't 10 steps to microwaved healing. In God's economy, healing takes time. Time is the balm God uses to repair broken hearts and sew up deep wounds. We have to choose healing and then let time unfold. When the pain is so intense and you're waiting for time to begin its healing work, it's probably better just to roll over, float for a while and just breathe.
FR: As someone whose ministry is both as an author and a speaker, do you ever feel pressure on you being in the public eye? How, besides praying, do you handle this?
AT: Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1 that he was serving God with a clear conscience. I love that. When you're clean before God, the public pressure isn't so intense. You don't have to perform. You aren't trying to cover up what's hiding in the shadows. I feel like a huge part of my responsibility is to stay clean, tell the truth and serve with a clear conscience.
FR: When did you choose Matthew 6:33 as your life verse? ("But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.") At what age will you encourage your children to seek out their own life verses?
AT: My mom wrote that verse to me at the end of a letter when I was in college. I think I was mourning a lost boyfriend and at the very end she reminded me what matters most. I have encouraged my children to be alert and open. Right now my 14-year-old has John 16:33 written all over everything. I'll let you look it up. We'll see if that turns out to be her life verse.
FR: You wrote a very funny anecdote about writing A BEAUTIFUL OFFERING. You realized that there was an electrical outlet at your neighborhood pool so you would get your book turned in on time amidst watching the children and soothing squabbles, dispensing goggles and sunscreen. How do you balance your writing and speaking engagements with being a very involved mom?
AT: I have tried every imaginable way to get it all done. Mostly I fly by the seat of my pants with the writing always running through my head. But since my baby began kindergarten, I have begun a strict schedule of writing while all the kids are in school, turning all the business off in the carpool line at 3pm. Sometimes when I don't fall asleep the minute I hit the pillow, I try to read something that will feed my writing the next day. It's a crazy way to do it, but it's a privilege just the same.
This summer I am trying to write in the mornings to make a deadline. So I wrote toward my deadline this morning and these words are being written in the afternoon, just after one orthodontist appointment, before the other three go to the dentist and another goes to guitar. Totally the seat of my pants.
FR: Your latest book is for teens and is called BEAUTIFUL. What made you decide to write a teen title?
AT: I have two daughters --- one fourteen, the other six --- and two boys in between. I have been speaking at the teenage girls conferences called Girls of Grace and all my early ministry experience was in student ministry. Needless to say, I have such a huge place in my heart for teenage girls. I want them to have a twenty-year head start on me. If they can get these truths now, it could radically transform every choice they make in the future.
FR: While so much has been written about girls and their conflicts with body issues and dating, do you feel that boys suffer from the same issues, albeit more silently?
AT: I have spoken with many men who relate hurts from their teen years and slights from women that had huge impacts on their self-image. You wouldn't believe how many men have read my book and told me their wallflower stories. There is so much silent suffering for men with regard to body and soul image.
FR: Much of the appeal of BEAUTIFUL comes from the "workbook" type features, which are sprinkled throughout its pages. It appears you enjoyed writing these. Can you talk about these segments with us? Have you heard from teens who are reading the book? What are they saying?
AT: There are groups of young girls all over the country going through BEAUTIFUL in their youth group. I just got an email today from a 17-year-old who said she'd never heard about a tender Father who was crazy in love with her until she did the study. We've tried to make the book fun and yet give the girls new ways to "try on" the truths that are being taught.
FR: What are you working on now and when can readers expect to see it?
AT: Right now I am finishing a video/Bible study curriculum based on the last release, A BEAUTIFUL OFFERING. It will release in December 2004 and we're all off the chart excited about it. The next big book is called WHEN WALLFLOWERS DANCE and you can look for it next year.
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