No Greater Joy

standard March 25, 2017 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is brought to you by my very special friend, Lesli Thomas. Lesli is an AMAZING wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, and much more. She makes God’s Word a priority in her everyday life and it shows up in everything that she does, especially in raising her handsome boys. I know you will enjoy her wisdom!

Two years ago I chose to adopt a word for the year – JOY – to dig deep into and find out how God desired that in my life.  Joy means so much to me as I have seen it bless my life by the reality that it is a daily choice… sure there are times that someone blesses my life which brings joy but most days it is a choice to find joy in my circumstances.  Fast forward two years to 2017 and the word of the year became TRUTH.  Then this scripture jumped off the wall at me…   “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4

My husband and I have two little sports loving, outside playing, lego building, bayou fishing, dirt covered boys.  Most days as parents seem so full with school, sports, homework, playtime, laundry, cooking, baths, bedtime, repeat.  It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of “life” and wake up days, months, or even years later and feel like what just happened?  How are they already 6 and 8 years old?

This verse speaks such life to me… and so much intentionality!  I desire to experience a life full of joy, don’t you?  And I desire even more for my children to “walk in the truth.”  Then this got me thinking about 2 things: 1) What is truth? And 2) How will my children know truth?

In an effort to answer the question of “what is truth,” here are a few truths found in God’s Word.

Truths about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God is our strength and our shield, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Psalm 28:7-8

God is with us wherever we go.  Joshua 1:9

God is our deliverer from all fears.  Psalm 34:4

God is our consoler, the bringer of joy.  Psalm 94:19

God is my helper.  Hebrews 13:6

God cares for me and lifts me with His mighty hand.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  John 14:6

Jesus is our advocate who speaks to God in our defense. 1 John 2:1

The Spirit of God gives us power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit comforts us, teaches us, and reminds us of Jesus’ teachings.  John 14:26

The Spirit guides us in all truth.  John 16:13

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26

Truths about us:

I along with my children must know Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – to come to the Father.  John 14:6

To have fellowship with one another and be purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in the light.  1 John 1:7

We must love God and love one another.  1 John 4:21

We are known as children of God when we do what is right, obey his commands, love one another, and bear fruit.  1 John 2:3-6, 3:1, 3:10

We are His hands and feet, the body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27

We are children of the Most High.  Psalm 82:6

We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20

We are adopted to the sonship.  Romans 8:15

We are strong and courageous.  1 Corinthians 16:13

We are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

We are created by the Lord, His masterpiece, to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10

We are redeemed, summoned by name, the Lords.  Isaiah 43:1

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13

We are given strength when we are weary and increased power when we are weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.   Ephesians 6:10

We will soar on wings of eagles, run and not grow weary.  We will walk and not be faint when we hope in the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31

We cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus.  Romans 8:38-39

Truths about Salvation:

By the gospel you are saved… for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then appeared to many.  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

In an effort to answer the question of “how will my children know the truth,” here is where I as a parent find such conviction.  One of my God-given responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children His Word – the absolute truth.  Take a minute and soak that in… that is heavy!  I must be intentional!  I play a part in experiencing “no greater joy.” 

And if 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 holds true, then of first importance is that I teach my sons about Christ and the gospel that saves.  Judges 2:10 is a stark warning to us as parents.  It states that “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  The Israelites had been rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt yet it only took ONE generation not teaching their children of what the Lord had done for them to not know the Lord.

So, let’s make this practical for our everyday lives.  How can we as moms do our part to make sure that our children know the truth and bless us with the greatest earthly joy?

  • We as moms must be in God’s Word… seeking His absolute truth so that we may know it, talk about it, teach it, answer questions about it, and be confident in His promises. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Talk about God’s Word and promises around the dinner table, in the car driving to practice, when you tuck your kids into bed, and when you send them out the door to school.
  • Make God’s word tangible for your kids, your husband, yourself, and your house guests. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 states, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Scatter the truth of the Lord around your home… notes on the bathroom mirrors, index cards by their beds, canvas scriptures on your walls… fill your hearts and minds with God’s Word.

If we are willing to seize this awesome opportunity to leave a legacy for our families by patterning a life lived in the light and truth of God, then we are raising up children who will walk in this truth that gives eternal life. There truly is no greater joy!

Thank you, Donald Trump, for reminding us that “Words Are Spirits”

standard October 12, 2016 3 responses

My mother always told my siblings and me that we better watch what we say to one another because “words are spirits.” She said it so often that I grew up believing that this exact phrase could be found word-for-word in the Bible and I was shocked when it produced no search results.

Yet the spiritual principle of our words carrying power remains.  And not just any power, but the power to invoke life or death.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

I am sure that when Donald Trump spoke those extremely vulgar and sexist words eleven years ago, he was not thinking that they would bear the consequences that they have in October of 2016.  He saw himself as a reality star with such popularity and fame that whatever derogatory statements he said against women in general was perfectly fine and acceptable. After all, it’s just “locker room talk.” Right?

Well, not exactly, Donald.

You see, when we allow our tongue to boast, we are not only considered immature, but also filled with corruption setting “the whole course of one’s life on fire,” (see James 3:6).  Please hear me. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is going to hell for what he said eleven years ago, but I bet that he is feeling like his life has been set on fire right about now due to his lewd and loose tongue. The comments that he so carelessly spoke concerning women will have eternal implications for him, as they should. Women are not objects to be used and thrown away. They are precious in the sight of their Creator.  But please also hear this: if we want the respect we deserve, we as women have a responsibility to carry our body in a manner worthy of respect. The halt of the vicious cycle of the objectification of women starts with us!

And therein lies the lesson for those of us who wish to reflect the light of Christ in our everyday lives.  We must aim to control the things that we say and do. Will we get it right 100% of the time? No, not at all.  In fact, James also said that we all stumble, but it is the mature woman who keeps her body in check in action and in speech.

That means that when we are tempted to want to speak that ugly word to our sister/friend we remember how just last week she played with our children so that we could go grocery shopping or listen to the sermon at church.  It could also be that when we are arguing with our spouse, we take the high road and resist the urge to want to retaliate with hurtful words.  Or if we have children and we are trying to get their attention on a certain matter, we speak words of life and encouragement over them instead of words of manipulation.

It’s a choice we are making to see that person as not only a human being, but as someone who has been made in God’s likeness.  We treat him/her with respect and dignity.  It does not mean that we are a doormat or that we accept abusive behavior.  It simply means that we recognize that “words are spirits” and we attempt to speak life over those that we come into contact with, not death.  We strive to let them be filled with fruit, such as kindness and gentleness, so that when we bear the consequences of the things that we have said, it will be a sweet taste in our mouth.

This is not intended to be a political post with a nod for or against Trump as the next United States President.  It is simply a chance for us to learn from a man who allowed his tongue to get the best of him and resolve to not let that same mistake to happen to us.  We will choose to remember that each and every word we utter holds the power of life and death. Words Are Spirits.  

Keep Shining

standard December 31, 2015 Leave a response

Can you believe that another year has passed us by? Wow! That went quick.

It feels like just yesterday I was nervously hitting the “publish” button on my very first blog post here at Reflecting Light waiting to see if anyone other than my family and besties would read it.  But you did and I am beyond grateful for each and every word that you read!  You will never know how much your comments and encouragement and shares have blessed me.  Each one touched my heart and I do not take your kindness for granted.  It is a true gift.

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Looking back, we tackled some controversial topics such as True Love Is Not Grey and America the Broken, but we also had a lot of fun with Back to School Blues, Southern Snow Days, and Shrimp & Grits.  We explored different theological truths such as Joy, Peace, Forgiveness and How to Pray.  To be sure, there were plenty of technological challenges to overcome (i.e. upside down pics, unattached media, etc.), but for the most part I had so much fun putting the posts together and I learned to give myself lots of grace (which is hard for a first-born perfectionist to do).

But most importantly, I hope you saw the LIGHT of Christ in every post that you read.  It is only because of Him that we exist and have our being and I pray that He was glorified.

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Looking ahead, our future looks bright! Each one of us has an opportunity to reflect Christ’s light in a way that is unique and will touch the lives of others.  The way that you reflect His light in your everyday life is different from the way that I do and that’s what makes each one of us valuable and beautiful in His eyes.

What do you say we take hold of 2016 and use it as an opportunity to continue REFLECTING LIGHT in our everyday lives?  Keep Shining, Beautiful One. This world needs YOUR LIGHT.

El Salvador: Land of Physical Poverty Yet Spiritual Wealth

standard September 30, 2015 5 responses

Last week I testified to God’s faithfulness to allow me to participate in a Mission/Vision trip to El Salvador with Compassion International.  I had mentioned that it was a trip of a lifetime, and it was! Just knowing that I almost didn’t get to go made the whole experience extra sweet and special for me.  I soaked in every moment.

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.”

Psalm 103:1-6 (NIV)

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El Salvador is a beautiful land with rolling hills and lush landscape, and it is sometimes referred to as the “Ireland of Central America.” But despite its geographical beauty, it is a place where poverty runs rampant as do the gang members.  The problem seems to lie in the educational system: public grade schools are conveniently located to the students, but the high schools are sparse, requiring extra transportation costs.  Many of the families cannot afford this extra cost so the child drops out of school making them an easy target for the gangs to pick up as a new initiate.

Our group of women could feel the oppression as we drove through the littered streets.  Gang signs were present on poles, marking their territory lest anyone else try to lay claim.  We were told to put our cell phones out of sight or else they would most likely end up on the black market.  An armed guard or police officer was stationed at most of the establishments we visited.  The average family monthly income in the rural areas of El Salvador is $120.  Let that sink in for a moment. That’s only $1,440 per year to support an entire family.  Yet even through all the impoverishment, I saw a land of hope.  And that hope lies in the faces of the children.

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The first Compassion center we visited was extremely new, only a few months old.  Casa de Pan (House of Bread) is run by Carlos and Candy who have a passion for the children and love them with an agape love.  You could see the gratitude that Candy had for the Compassion sponsors and she teared up several times when describing how much this center means to each child that visits it. It is a place where they can come twice a week to receive a meal (of which they usually save as much as possible to take back to share with their families), tutoring for school, and a chance to hear about how much Jesus loves them.  Most of them do not hear from their parents that they are loved, much less that they are smart or valuable. The center tries to teach them that they have a hope and a future in Christ.

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(The children sang “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” in English.)

After we visited with different families in the community, we returned to Casa de Pan to pray over those running the center.  But oh my were we in for a treat when Candy started praying over us with the rest of the center members praying out loud at the same time. The Compassion interpreter did an excellent job of translating, but it didn’t really matter. The Holy Spirit’s presence was so strong that it was all we could do to try to keep it together.  We had been to church…in the purest way! Praying for one another, lifting each other up to Jesus, knowing that He will supply every need.  These people are desperate for the Lord and it spills out into their everyday life.  It was a rich moment that I hope never to forget.

The Prayer at Casa de Pan

As I was leaving, I slipped Candy a $20 bill and told her that it was for the offering plate.  She was crying and telling me “Gracias, gracias, gracias!”  It struck me that I had spent more than that on a pedicure before I left, of which the paint was already chipping off.  I am sure that the twenty dollars I gave her went a lot further and will have a much more lasting effect than a pedicure ever could.  Candy had told me that through the church she and Carlos feed the entire community on Christmas Eve.  When I asked her where the funds for that came from she said, “The Lord always provides.”   That’s what I would call being “spiritually wealthy,” wouldn’t you?

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If you are interested in sponsoring a child from El Salvador, please contact me or visit compassion.com/elsalvador.  Release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

standard June 3, 2015 3 responses

Summertime is upon us and I, for one, am extremely grateful for the slower pace and a chance to sit in the sunshine with a book in hand.  However, with the change in season comes the trap of comparison.  A trap that every woman knows all too well.

If you would, please consider the following scenarios with me:

Scenario 1: While at the neighborhood pool you see an acquaintance that you know recently had a baby, but there she is looking oh, so thin in her two-piece swimsuit.  No belly fat whatsoever.  And here you are (having had your last baby five years ago…but hey, who’s counting?) feeling like the roll around your midriff could quite possibly be misrepresented as a built-in inner tube, lest you need an immediate floatation device.  You could have sworn that the mail catalog swimsuit model did not have this inner tube you are sporting, and you can’t for the life of you imagine why it is presenting itself now.

But then you hear that still, small voice whisper in your ear: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) and you are precious to Me (1 Peter 2:4). I take great delight in you and I will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Scenario 2: You are having a pretty good day.  Grilled cheese sandwiches have been served, the kids are behaving themselves (for the most part), and you have told them that after naps you’ll take a trip to the local library for their summer reading activity.  As your angels are sleeping you begin scrolling through Facebook.  “Oh look, Jill is on a trip to beach with her family and nanny….How nice, Jessica is on a get-away with her husband in Seattle….Is that Jacqueline zip-lining through the tropics???  Ok, now I’m just bummed.” All the while forgetting that you and your family have had plenty of fun trips that you have enjoyed.

And then you recall the words from Lesli’s post on JOY: A Choice; Not A Feeling: Don’t compare…just don’t!!  Don’t let others “highlight reels” on Facebook steal your JOY as you live in the real-life, behind-the-scenes with your precious family.

Scenario 3: You sit at your desk working furiously toward a 3:00 pm deadline for a major proposal your team has been competing to win.  Your phone keeps buzzing every three seconds showing the GroupMe texting app that you use to communicate with a group of friends. They are texting about how they are going to the pool, or the Children’s Museum, or Art Camp, etc. And while in capable hands, your kids are spending their days with a babysitter so that you can work.  You try to stay focused, but you begin to feel doubt creep in.

Until you remember that God told you: Commit your work to Me and I will establish your plans (Proverbs 6:3) because I have put you here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).

You see, Friends, comparison is a lonely place to be and it only leads to a lack of joy.  There is always the possibility that someone is going to have a better body than you, a better vacation than you, a better (insert your own scenario here) than you, but thank God, you are made to be YOU and I am made to be ME!

So, what is the antidote to comparison? I submit to you that it is a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessings that we do have and a confidence that God will fulfill His purpose in our lives.  And just as David gave thanks in Psalm 138, we also have the ability to choose joy and say:

I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart….The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

 

 

An Easter Hangover

standard April 8, 2015 Leave a response

This Easter weekend was a whirlwind of activity for the Rodgers family. We had two different sets of company staying with us Thursday through Monday, one set being a family with four children under the age of eight (Lord, bless them)! There were multiple Easter egg hunts to attend, dinners to cook, a visit from the Easter bunny to prepare for, dresses to press and matching shoes to be located, and not to mention a Greek passage to translate.

(I would also like to add that I attempted the popular Resurrection Rolls.  A recipe of buttery crescent rolls and sugary marshmallows with a spiritual application in that when the rolls are baked the marshmallow disappears and it represents the empty tomb/resurrection of Jesus. Well, I must not have wrapped the rolls properly around the marshmallows and “Jesus’ body” ended up oozing out and being a sticky mess in the bottom of the pan and the spiritual principle was completely lost on the kids. It was an epic Pinterest fail to say the least.)

Normally I enjoy a jam-packed schedule, but this weekend I found myself a little overwhelmed and disappointed that I only thought of our risen Lord maybe once or twice during the whole hoopla.

Suddenly the weekend was over and I was sitting in my New Testament class on Monday with a dazed look on my face while the professor asked a deep theological question pertaining to the book of 1st or 2nd Corinthians…I really can’t remember which one. When no one answered, he looked around the room and asked us, “What’s wrong? Y’all have an Easter hangover?”

Now there was a question that I could answer.

“Yes, Prof, I do have an Easter hangover. A major one. And my five-year old has a belly ache because she ate too many dyed boiled eggs, and I thought it was our turn for snack week at school, so I ran to the Neighborhood Wal-Mart on my break and bought Cheetos in mass quantities only to find out it’s our turn next week, and I’m pretty sure I managed to get four hours of sleep last night in between being woken up twice in the night, and I’m refusing to think of the state of my home at the present moment or the mountain of laundry that needs attention. I’m sorry. What was the theological question again?”

But, thankfully, as this week progresses and the sugar high subsides, the pounding in my head becomes less prominent. I take deep breaths and realize that none of this matters. What does matter is that our home was used as a blessing to others, we had plenty of food to eat and friends to share it with, and the name of Jesus was spoken freely and reverently throughout the weekend.

So as I sit here today in my backyard, gazing at the beautiful azaleas beginning to bloom, enjoying a hot sip of coffee in the peace and quiet, I am humbled and thankful for the life that God has given me. And even though my faith is far from perfect, I am reminded that my walk with the Lord is not limited to one Easter weekend out of the year. No, I live a privileged life. I get to walk with the Lord daily and His mercies are new every morning.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

I Won’t Worry My Life Away

standard March 25, 2015 Leave a response

I recently watched an episode of Storytellers with Jason Mraz as the featured artist. He had written a hit pop song, “The Remedy,” which was inspired by his best friend Charlie’s life. Charlie was diagnosed with bone cancer in his collar bone and the doctors told him that he would have to have his collar bone removed and would need to undergo chemotherapy.

Charlie had such a positive outlook on life that he said to Jason, “Man, I ain’t gonna worry my life away. I’m gonna do what they tell me to do and I’m gonna be in and out. Just like that.” (Source: Storytellers: “Jason Mraz” first aired 6/1/12)

Wow! What an awesome message. This encouraged me to take a look at my own life. How much time do I spend worrying? Too much of it, I am sure.

When Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, He mentioned some of the seeds that were sown fell among the thorns and the thorns grew up and choked them out. Jesus then explained the meaning of the parable and that the seed which is sown represents the Word of God. He said, “Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful,” (Matthew 13:22, HCSB).

Now, that is a tragedy! If we insist on “spending the rest of our nights with the light on” staying up worrying about things beyond our control, then we are undoubtedly in danger of letting the worries of the world choke us out of our fruitfulness.

Please hear my heart. I am not trying to downplay the circumstances that some of you are going through right now. Life is sometimes filled with serious and heart-wrenching experiences that require our attention and focus. The message that I am trying to convey is that we need not worry about every little thing that comes our way. We serve a big God and He is mighty to save.

Jesus asks us to consider these things in Matthew 6:25-27 (NLT):

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 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? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

Hmmm, let me think about it. No, Lord, I don’t believe that worrying can add a single moment to my life. Therefore, I’m going to trust You and believe that You’ve got my everyday life covered.

We have a choice to make today, Friend. What do you say we take the advice of Jesus (and Charlie, who, by the way, is doing great and has been in remission for over 10 years now) and not worry our lives away?

Instead, we can shine THE LIGHT on all of our friends, knowing that our worries amount to nothing in the end.

 

 

Welcome to Reflecting Light

standard January 1, 2015 7 responses

Happy New Year! And welcome to the very first blog at Reflecting Light! I just know you’re going to love it.

Reflecting Light is a place for women to share how Christ’s light is being reflected to the world in their everyday life.

Are you a working woman who feels the pressure to meet stringent deadlines while producing excellent work?  Or are you a young woman trying to live out your faith to your classmates on a secular campus?  Maybe you are a single mom trying to juggle the constant demands thrown at you on a daily basis with very little help from anyone at all.  How about those stay-at-home moms of young children who are sleep deprived and living off of Diet Coke and their kid’s leftover PB&J? Whatever season of life you are currently experiencing, you will find encouragement here at Reflecting Light.

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:2 via The Message

Each of us has ordinary things that we do in our everyday life, but if we strive to live set-apart lives in the midst of worldly pressures, then we can glorify God and become mature women in the faith.

In the coming year we are also going to “talk” about all sorts of things that interest us as women: fashion, food, family and friends! That’s what reflecting light in our everyday lives is all about!

Furthermore, we all have a story to tell. Some are messier than others, some are simple, and some are in the middle of their stories. My hope is that you and other women across this world will share your stories of how Christ has changed you, how He has been faithful to you, and how you are able to reflect Christ’s light in your everyday life.  Here is my story, and I hope after reading it you will share yours.

Join me as we aim to live so that God would be glorified in this new year!