Finding Your Pearl

standard September 28, 2017 Leave a response

Reposted from LifeWay Women’s Blog

A Note from Kelly King: We continue to hear about the impact of Deb Douglas, one of our LifeWay Women’s trainers, who suddenly passed away on Friday, September 15. One of those women impacted by Deb was April Rodgers. I’m grateful for her encouraging words today. As leaders, it’s a good reminder of our need to have mentors in our lives.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly knew your life would forever be changed? That is precisely the feeling that I had when I met Dr. Debra Douglas, affectionately known as “Pearl,” exactly one year ago.

I remember that I had just returned from a trip to the Philippines and the travel had left me exhausted and feeling a little under the weather. However, my best friend’s sister was getting married that weekend, and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to celebrate with good friends! So, I strapped on my dancing shoes and to my delight Deb was there officiating the ceremony.

Deb had commented in an endearing way on one of my blog posts after discovering that we had a commonality of both graduating from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. So naturally I knew we were destined to be friends. At the reception, I made a beeline for her table and I introduced myself, not really thinking through what I would say, only knowing that I wanted to meet this special woman.

And oh my, was she special! Her ministry work reached far and wide from counseling families to women’s ministry for her church to rescuing countless women from the claws of sex trafficking. She told me that she wrote a weekly article for LifeWay Women on the theme of Ministering in the Messy and that I was welcome to write a guest post for her. I tried to control my excitement as we exchanged numbers, but obviously this was a huge answer to prayer for me. However, what God had in store was more than just a blog post; it was a chance to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a woman who had been in my shoes not so long ago. It was a chance to glean some pearls of wisdom.

At the time, I was leading Beth Moore’s Bible study Entrusted, and I had been longing for a mentor like Timothy had in Paul. The more I prayed about it, the more God kept bringing Deb to mind. I boldly asked Deb if she would mentor me and without hesitation she agreed. This sparked a monthly visit to Bossier City to sit over chips and salsa and soak up every word that she was willing to pour into me. Sometimes the conversation was more serious, filled with opportunities for my improvement. Oftentimes it consisted of how she had ministered in the messy that week. But ALWAYS it included stories of her beloved family, especially her grandchildren.

I knew that Deb had not been feeling well over the summer, but still she would text me to tell me that she was praying for me. The week before she died she suggested that we get together for our monthly lunch saying that we had “much to discuss.” I told her we could wait until she was feeling better, but she insisted that she felt good enough to listen. She bought my lunch and told me that I could pay for her meal next time. And we talked and talked and talked, until it was just the two of us left in the restaurant.

As I was leaving she hugged me and said, “I’m proud of you.” Then she looked into my eyes and said, “And I’m proud of what God’s going to do through you.” I never would have thought those would be the last words that I would hear from her, but how precious to have been given that gift! Words of life.

What had started off as a pearl of wisdom here and a pearl of encouragement there was added with a pearl of prayer, and a pearl of accountability, and a pearl of love…until eventually there was enough to string a short pearl necklace.

Today I proudly wear my beautiful pearls that Deb gave to me. And even though I would have loved to have had a longer strand of them, I am so very grateful for each and every pearl the Lord allowed me to have. They are truly priceless.

In Titus 2, Paul urges the older women to teach the younger women “what is good.”

If you are a younger woman who desires a mentor:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a woman to you that will teach you what is good, keeping in mind that you may meet her in an unlikely place (e.g., your best friend’s sister’s wedding).
  • Be bold and ask her to mentor you, offering to drive to where she is and buy her lunch (if she will let you!).
  • Take the initiative to make the meetings consistent, yet be flexible when life happens.
  • Start stringing all the different pearls together.

If you are an older woman with the ability to mentor:

  • Always point her to what is good and ask about her true relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to get messy.
  • Have equal parts of listening, encouraging, and pushing her to get out of her comfort zone and then hold her accountable to the meeting time and topics discussed.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact that you can have on her ministry and her life (even in a short period of time).
  • Freely give your pearls away.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.” —Matthew 13:45-46 (CSB)


April Rodgers is a Christian author and speaker with a passion for encouraging women in their daily walk with Christ. Her involvement in women’s ministry initiated her obtaining a Master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is happily married to Adams and the Lord has blessed them with two daughters, Adelene, age 10, and Ellanora, age 8. April loves coffee, group texts, Wednesday Bible Studies, and Sunday afternoon naps. You can follow April and her blog Reflecting Light in Everyday Life at AprilRodgers.com.

An Anchor for the Soul

standard August 8, 2017 2 responses

Summertime is in full swing, as is the air conditioning and the consumption of sweet iced tea.  Here in the deep south, one of our favorite summer pastimes is to take long boat rides down the river, sometimes water skiing for hours on end, and other times fishing until our heart’s content. It is always great fun to slather on the sunscreen and fellowship with friends and family, enjoying the day without a care in the world.

However, I know firsthand that in an instant the weather can change and a severe thunderstorm can appear out of nowhere.  This exact thing happened when I was on a family redfishing trip in the deep marsh off the coast of New Orleans.  One moment we were soaking in the warmth of the sun, and the next we were fleeing to find shelter from the pelting rain.

We raced to the nearest boat dock and hurriedly put our anchor down to keep us from slamming into danger.  And as we huddled together waiting for the storm to pass, we were thankful for the sense of security that the anchor provided us with while we waited and hoped for the sun’s return.

This situation reminded me of the imagery of a sure and firm anchor that the writer of Hebrews gives to illustrate the promises of our faithful God.

“So that…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope – like a sure and firm anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews 6:18-19)

He lets us know that when the storm rages, it requires more of us than simply to remember the promises of our unchangeable God, but we must also “seize the hope set before us.”  We reach out our hand and take hold of something sure and firm.  Something that is bigger than the wind and the waves. It is hope.

It is hope that centers us.  Hope that keeps us from crashing into the bank.  Hope that keeps our eyes on Jesus instead of our circumstances.  Hope as an anchor for our frightened soul.

The storms of life will undoubtedly come our way, usually when things are moving along just fine.  We may be caught off guard at first, wondering where is God in our time of need.  But then we remember that He has given us His promises as something firm and sure to keep us centered.

He has given us hope to seize.  He has given us Jesus as an anchor for our soul. 

God, You are my refuge when the storm rages. Help me to seize the hope that You have given me and to look to Jesus as the sure and firm anchor for my soul. Amen.

To Be Known

standard May 31, 2017 8 responses

I recently visited my favorite coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee and work on some writing for a few hours.  I remember feeling adventurous that particular day, so I decided that I would try something new off the menu.  When I reached the counter I had made my decision and thus confidently placed my order, not realizing that I had ordered off the Frappuccino side.  The friendly barista looked sideways at me and asked, “Is this for you, Honey, or are you ordering for someone else?”

I was a little taken aback, but I replied, “It’s for me.”

To which she said, “Oh no, Sweetie.  That’s a frozen coffee, and you like your coffee hot.  How about I make you a Flat White.”  It was a statement, not a question.

Dumbfounded, I replied, “Okay. Let’s do that.”

Moments later, she carefully handed me the steaming mug of coffee sprinkled with raw sugar. I took sip of the velvety coffee and then looked up at her and said, “It’s just right.”  She nodded and moved on to the next customer, obviously pleased with her work.

I sat down at the table thinking how nice it felt to be KNOWN. It reminded me of the psalm that King David wrote about how wonderful it is to be known by the Creator of the earth.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

Psalm 139: 1-5 (NKJV)

The phrase “to be known” signifies how a friend or companion would know us, meaning that “God is not confined to heaven…indifferent to human concerns.” [1] Isn’t that an amazing thought?  God knows us intricately, and not just because He formed us, but also because He is our friend.  He knows what makes us feel happy or sad, excited or scared, loved or rejected.  He truly cares about these things, and He wants us to bring our victories as well as our fears or failures to Him.

Which brings us to the next point: God wants us to KNOW Him! You may be familiar with the verse Jeremiah 29:11, but let’s explore verses 12 and 13 as well.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

But wait! It gets even better. The Lord says to Jeremiah in Chapter 33:3:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Wow! How is that for an incentive to get to know God better?

Somehow it is easier to comprehend that the God who created all things knows who we are, but it’s a little more difficult to grasp that He wants us to know Him as well. But He does and that’s part of what makes the Gospel so beautiful. The more we know Jesus, the better we know the Father and have access to the Holy Spirit.

So how do we go about knowing God better? Jesus tells us that we only need to ask, seek, and knock, and the door will be opened for us to find Him (see Matthew 7:7-8). Engaging in prayer and reading God’s Word are two ways that we can form and sustain a relationship with Him.

What a precious gift that we get to be friends with the Almighty! It is a divine feeling to not only KNOW Him and receive deeper insight, but also to feel that we are truly KNOWN.

Oh Lord, I call out to You like David did: search me and know my heart! You know my hopes and dreams, fears and failures, and You love me the same. Help me to remember to call on You, knowing that You will listen and answer me. What a reward it will be to gain knowledge of great and unsearchable things! I want to know You better, Lord. Amen.

[1] Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. 5, 208.

 

The Next Step

standard June 22, 2016 4 responses

Now that I have made it through three years of seminary and have graduated with my Masters in Theological Studies, many of you have been asking me what my next step will be.  It’s a valid question and one that my husband would like the answer to as well!

The spiritual answer is: I’ll do whatever the Lord tells me to do.  But the more accurate answer is: I don’t exactly know yet.

When I began this journey several years ago, I felt a calling on my life to be a Bible teacher to women.  That call was confirmed by the Lord through people who I respect in the faith.  I had already been leading a Women’s Bible Study at my church, but I felt the Lord calling me to go deeper.  I felt that I needed to be better equipped if I was going to be a professional Bible teacher, which led to seminary training.

And now that I am trained and equipped, I am ready to hit the ground running and produce a little ROI (that’s a financial term meaning Return On Investment) for all those tuition expenses I incurred for our family.  Yet, there is no job waiting for me.

Instead, my future is a wide open space with several different paths that could be taken.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time.  There are endless possibilities and opportunities, but knowing when and how to start is a little daunting.

It’s going to require (dare I say it?!) FAITH.

But isn’t that what walking with the Lord is all about?  Taking that next step in faith, and then another, and then another.  Sometimes we’ll stumble a bit, and other times we may fall flat on our face, but we’ll let our Savior pick us back up, dust us off, and set us back on the right path.  And other times we will see so clearly the victories He has supplied us with and we will rejoice and celebrate.  Step by step we’ll just keep exercising our faith until we’ve done all we can in this lifetime and then we’ll walk straight into His loving arms.

So for now, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other by writing that next blog post for Reflecting Light, sending devotionals to Lifeway Women and other venues for publication consideration, speaking at Women’s Conferences (contact me!), asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate the path I’m supposed to take.  Knowing that with each step taken I can stand on His promise with confidence that He who began this good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

What next step is the Lord asking you to take in faith?  I’d love for us to walk together.  We can encourage each other to press on in this walk of faith knowing that there is strength in numbers and that our faith is grown when we step out of our comfort zone.

Will you join me?  Yes?! Then let’s go!

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Do it, Lord.  Illuminate the path You would have us take today.  Keep us moving ahead, taking those next steps in FAITH knowing that You are faithful to complete that good work in us that You began all those years ago.  Let us reflect Your light to the world and may You always be glorified with each step we take.  Amen.d1ebd3d4457ed37c130ef2fa090d4542