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!

Make a New Year’s Reflection Instead of a New Year’s Resolution

standard January 4, 2017 4 responses

Happy New Year!

It took willpower but the final crumbs of the cheese straws have been thrown in the trash and all the Christmas candy has been consumed. And praise the Lord the kids are finally back in school!  So now it’s just me and my double chin hanging out, ready to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

But really, what exactly are new year’s resolutions and how did this tradition get started? In 1813 a Boston newspaper ran an article where these three words were first mentioned:

“And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.”

Yeah. I’d say that’s pretty much on target.  Merriam-Webster seems to be in agreement with the above writer and says that the word resolution actually means “the act of determining.”  With all that determining going on, some serious changes are about to be implemented and faults magically erased.

Yet, if you happen to say: Hey Siri! How many people achieve their new year’s resolutions? A disappointing answer of only 8% is given.  What?! How could that be with all that determination we set out with on January 1st?

I am no psychologist, but maybe it has to do with our mindset and the way we go about trying to achieve our goals. Perhaps we should try a little New Year’s Reflection instead.

The word reflection is defined as “consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose.”  Hmmm. This definitely seems a more thoughtful approach of goal-setting.  Reflection allows us to celebrate and continue what is working and implement strategies to improve what isn’t working. Let’s explore some scenarios.

Resolution: I want to lose weight in 2017.

Reflection: It is important to be healthy for myself and for my family and even though I’m not a big fan of sweating, I like how I feel after I work out. I also feel better if I don’t eat large quantities of sugar. Therefore, I am setting a goal of lifting weights every Tuesday and Thursday and adding cardio activity 3 times per week. I will also fast from sugar for 21 days and then eat it in moderation, tweaking it week by week.

Resolution: I want to have more money by the end of 2017.

Reflection: I would really like to have the financial freedom to be able to buy our dream home in the next five years so that our family can enjoy it before the kids are grown. Therefore, I will continue to systematically save a set amount each month. I will download budgeting software and will keep track of areas where we can cut spending, evaluating it on a monthly basis.

Resolution: I want to grow closer to God in 2017.

Reflection: I absolutely love how my relationship with God has flourished this past year by making the commitment to rise early and meet with Him daily.  I know that reading His Word and praying makes me a better wife, mother, friend, employee, and daughter of the King. Therefore, I will continue to practice this discipline, and I will put forth the effort to attend a routine Bible study with other women who seek Him first.

I like the purpose-driven nature and sustainability that a New Year’s Reflection provides rather than a New Year’s Resolution, don’t you? Whatever your goals are in 2017, my friend, I pray the Lord will bless them and that you will resolve to make the only real reflection that matters: to let your life be a reflection of the Light of Christ.

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.

Proverbs 27:19

Giving Thanks with a Happy Heart (ICM Trip to the Philippines)

standard November 2, 2016 Leave a response

As we move into the month of November, our minds naturally start to anticipate the holiday season.  We’re thinking less about our exercise routine and more about pumpkin pie, caramel corn, and the obligatory roasted turkey.  It’s also a time when we are counting our blessings, and as Americans they are many!

I was the recipient of an immeasurable blessing this year when I was asked to attend a mission trip with International Care Ministries (ICM) to the Philippines.  ICM focuses on serving the ultra-poor in the Philippines, meaning men and women that earn $.50 per day or less.  You may be wondering, how is it even possible to support one person on $.50 per day, much less an entire family?  The answer is: it’s not possible. Thus, the extreme poverty.

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However, ICM has developed an ingenious program that they use to treat the serious problem of poverty that ransacks this beautiful land, and they call it Transform.  Transform is a 12-week program that addresses the needs of those in ultra-poverty on three levels:

1. Values: ICM works with a local pastor to find those who need the most help in the community and when they gather weekly the participants are taught the Word of God by the pastor and are presented with a chance to hear the gospel.  (I’m sure by now you know that this is HUGE to me and one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to ICM!)img_3871

(The Pastor bringing the Word out of Matthew 12.)

2. Health: This part of the Transform program focuses on the family’s wellness and sanitation. One of the leading causes of death in the Philippines is diarrhea.  Such an easy illness for us as Americans to remedy, but dangerously lethal for those living in poverty.  ICM gives health solutions and teaches the Transform participant how to guard against such tragedy.  They also administer Manna Packs (a fortified rice and soy blend) which can provide the family with several nutritious meals for the week.

dsc00088(I taught the Health portion on diarrhea prevention. Thank goodness for a good interpreter named Denzel.)

3. Livelihood: You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  This is precisely what the Livelihood portion of the Transform program seeks to do. The goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among the participants so that they can have a sustainable source of income, whether it be by baking banana cakes and selling them in the marketplace or forming and participating in a savings group amongst themselves.

img_3870(A local savings group is being formed with the help of ICM.)dsc00058(ICM helps the Transform participants start and maintain a garden.)

At the end of the 12-week program a graduation celebration is given for those that participated in ICM’s Transform Program and it is a true reason to rejoice.  Not only are the graduates learning to fight poverty, but almost always new friendships have been formed within the group and the once unbearable weight of hopelessness is replaced with feelings of belonging and HOPE for the future.

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Proverbs 14:21 states, “Whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”  

I love this promise in God’s Word for many reasons. One being that our happiness is directly dependent upon ourselves and the kindness that we give to others.  But also because kindness shown to the poor creates a perfect triangle of happiness between us, those that we choose to bless, and our Creator.  

This Thanksgiving it’s all about giving thanks with a happy heart.  We have so much to be thankful for and showing kindness to the poor is one way that we can spread happiness and hope.  Will you join me in partnering with ICM as they work tirelessly to provide serious solutions to serious poverty in the Philippines? If yes, then click below and allow your kindness to make you, others, and God happy!

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Note to my 20-year-old Self

standard October 20, 2016 7 responses

Dear 20-year-old Self,

Happy Birthday, Love!  You look so cute today in your Kappa Delta party shirt strutting around ULM…oops, I mean NLU’s campus.  Isn’t college so much fun? Yeah, I know. Maybe you should pump the brakes on those late nights out though.  Just a suggestion. 😉

You’re a Junior in college now and it feels like you’ve lived a million years already, but I promise these next 20 years will fly by.  Within the next year and a half, you’ll be entering the working world as a career woman.  You’ll have to trade in your jeans and flip-flops for pantyhose and high heels. But hey, there’s good news in the fact that pantyhose will eventually bite the dust…thank God for small miracles, right?

Here’s a few things that I think will be helpful to you as you journey through these next 20 years.  Take them or leave them, but just remember, I’m older and wiser than you.

  1. Accept and love your body.  (Especially your flat stomach!  You will miss it every day once it’s gone.)  I know that as a woman you tend to be concerned with your weight, but here’s the reality: there will always be someone skinnier than you or prettier than you or more athletic than you.  Let them be.  You be exactly who God has called you to be, which is beautiful by the way.  This is so hard to do when comparison is the name of the college game, but let me tell you, Comparison is the Thief of Joy and joy outshines physical beauty any day of the week.
  2. Enjoy your family and friendships. I know it’s easy to get caught up in boys at this stage in your life, but strive to keep your head out of the clouds. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t date or even kiss a few of those frogs before you find your prince.  What I am saying is that the time that you spend with your family and friends will produce much richer memories and will have lasting effects on your life. There will be a time when you go through a drought of having close girlfriends by your side and you will ache to have that camaraderie again in your life.  Don’t lose heart. God will give you another set of close friends and this sisterhood will be one of the biggest blessings in your life.  In the meantime, appreciate your girls.  Equally important is the time that you spend with your family.  Hug them and spend time with them every chance that you get. Trust me, you will thank me on this one.
  3. Learn to have a teachable spirit. Nobody likes a know-it-all.  I’m not saying that you are one, but learning to have a teachable spirit will provide tremendous favorable outcomes for you IF you will embrace it.  Keep your eyes wide open and learn all that you can from the lessons that God is presenting before you.  In order to do this, you need to get back into God’s Word.  Dust off that Bible…yes, I know it’s in a box somewhere…and start to remember the Scriptures that were taught to you in your youth. They will be an enormous source of comfort to you in the future.
  4. Make every day count and always remember that God is faithful!  By the time you reach 40, you will have gone through some pretty significant valleys in your life.  There will be times of questioning God and His goodness, but rest assured that you will make it through to the other side. Within these same years you will also experience mountaintop peaks that will absolutely blow you away. And when you stand on these peaks, take a minute to look around and give God the glory. He is not only able to do immeasurably more than you ever could think or imagine to ask Him for, but He actually WILL do these things in your life (see Eph. 3:20).  Your job is to make every day count as you reflect the light of Christ and also know that never once will you ever walk alone.  Your God is faithful.

That’s all we have time for today, Sweetie Girl.  Believe it or not, your life is pretty busy at 40. I know you’re thinking that you will have achieved all your life goals by the time you’re my age, which makes me chuckle because I’m over here praying that the best is yet to come!

With much love,

Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. One last thing: you might want to pay attention to the cute drummer in your marketing classes.  He’s a keeper. 😉

 

 

Deep: A Bible Study Conference

standard September 23, 2016 5 responses

What a blessing it has been to be a part of Deep: A Bible Study Conference!  Thank you to all those who came out to join us and Heartfelt Ministries for this amazing time in God’s Word. I pray that you left encouraged and empowered to go “Deeper Still” in your walk with the Lord.

Together we examined John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” Below is a recap of the steps you can use to get the most out of your time in God’s Word.

Bible Study Tools for Your Everyday Life:

  1. LOOK ~ What do I see when I answer these questions:
    • Who?  Jesus is praying to God the Father
    • What?  Jesus is praying for His disciples after He has comforted them with His final words of encouragement (ending with John 16:33)
    • When and Where? After the Passover dinner/Before His arrest
    • Why? Because He loves the disciples and He knows what is about to take place (His crucifixion)
  2. LISTEN ~ What is God telling me through His Word?
    • Context: What comes before and after the passage?
      • The disciples have obeyed, accepted, and believed the Word of God.  Jesus asks for protection of the disciples from the evil one. They are not of the world, but they are being sent into the world for the sake of the gospel.
    • Content: Examine each word  
      • “Sanctify” is hagiazo which means “to be set apart” or “to be holy as God is holy”
      • “Truth” is a repeated word relating to the disciples’ sanctification and the Father’s Word
      • “Word” is given by the Father and spoken by Jesus
    • Compare to other Scriptures
      • John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the Truth!
      • John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word!
    • Culture: Then vs. Now
      • Jesus (the Word) was physically with the disciples
      • Today we have God’s written Word, the Bible
    • Commentary
      • New American Commentary on John 17:17, “Truth is here related to the word (logos) of God.  But truth and the word in John are not merely ideas. They are to be embodied in people the same way that the word became flesh. Since God is holy, God’s people are to be holy.”
  3. LIVE IT! 
    • How does this truth apply to my everyday life? 
      • I must accept God’s Word as the ultimate truth in my life
      • I need to have the discipline to set apart time to read God’s Word daily
      • I should allow His Word to sanctify me (to make me holy as He is holy)
    • What one thing can I implement today in order to shine the light of Christ?
      • Facilitate a Bible Study
      • Start a Scripture memorization group
      • Host a worship night in my home

Online Bible Study Tools:

My favorite apps that I mentioned are The Holy Bible app by YouVersion, She Reads Truth, and Superbook for kids.

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What are your favorite Bible study tools? Please comment below.