Heart of Wisdom

standard January 3, 2019 2 responses

I always like to start off the new year by asking the Lord to give me a word or phrase to focus on. This year I am asking for a Heart of Wisdom.

Psalm 90 is written by Moses, who was definitely a man of great wisdom. In verse 12 he asks the Lord,

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I hear the urgency in Moses’ request, do you? Contrary to how we may feel, we don’t have all the time in the world. We have only one life on this side of eternity and we must make it count. We are wise to number our days and to live our lives with a sense of urgency. We do this by being a light in the dark, forgiving others even if they don’t ask for it, and telling those we meet of a God who loves us so much that He allowed His Son to die for our sins.

Gaining a heart of wisdom also means that we put aside the petty and selfish things, the things that distract us from being God-centered. And we focus on not just gaining more head knowledge, but letting our hearts be transformed which will result in greater wisdom. This will inevitably start to seep into every aspect of our lives.

Oh Lord, I ask just as Moses did of You. Teach me to number my days this year and to make each one count. Give me a heart of wisdom. Let it seep into every aspect of my life, especially as a wife and mother. May it transform me as I strive to reflect Your Light in 2019.

Be Merry & Filled with Light

standard December 12, 2018 Leave a response

How do you celebrate Christmas?

The spirit of Christmas brings forth the desire to be merry and light-hearted, hence the saying, “Merry Christmas!”  But Christmas is also a time for reflection of the most glorious of days when the Light of the World came down.

It’s easy to get caught up in the activities, but there is something about a Silent Night that also appeals to my soul during this time of year.

I long to take a moment to sit under the stars and contemplate that special night when the Savior of the world made His grand debut as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Can you imagine what it would have been like to hear the angels singing, “Glory to God in the Highest!” heralding the best news that mankind has ever received?

Because Light came down that day, there is now the possibility for peace to exist on a war-stricken earth and the opportunity to extend goodwill towards others. If we seek Him out, then we come to the realization that we were put on this earth not for our own pleasure, but to glorify something bigger than ourselves. Christmas is a time to let our hearts receive the gift of the Messiah and all He represents, such as salvation and eternal life and His Light in our lives.

All of these things require a time of reflection and pondering, just as Mary did on that miraculous night (even though that night probably wasn’t so “silent” for her). Yet amid all the cattle lowing and the shepherds praising, the gospel of Luke tells us, “But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” (Luke 2:19)

So yes, we celebrate the season with friends and family, enjoying all the good food and festivities, letting our hearts be merry. But we also follow Mary’s example and slow down for a time of reflection on the wonder of it all.

May your days be merry and filled with His Light.

When It’s NOT the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

standard December 4, 2018 4 responses

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

Psychology Today reported that up to 45% of Americans tend to dread this festive holiday season. This high percentage is somewhat shocking, but at the same time it’s not.

Life keeps moving along whether it’s Christmas time or not and we all have things that we’re dealing with. For some it may be financial issues, work deadlines, broken relationships, or maybe even the loss of a loved one.  It could be that the thought of spending the holiday season alone is downright unbearable and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, you have a God who knows this ache in your heart. He sees you and is concerned about you. He is there to wrap you in His faithful love and He whispers in your ear that you are not alone.

If this is how you are feeling this holiday season, allow the words of Psalm 36 to come as a healing balm to your aching soul.

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of your wings. In Your light we see light.

While it may not feel like the most wonderful time of the year for some of you in this moment, believe that your God is still faithful. Find refuge in His presence. Turn your face toward the Light.

Hold Fast. Stay True.

standard November 13, 2018 Leave a response

Do you have what it takes to be an “elite achiever?”

Last month I was in Austin, Texas, celebrating my husband as his financial planning practice was recognized as one of the best in the country. While there we had the pleasure of hearing former US Navy Seal Clint Bruce speak on how to be an elite achiever in our everyday lives.

Bruce said that he had written the phrases “HOLD FAST” and “STAY TRUE” on his knuckles so that he would remember what to do in the middle of combat.

HOLD FAST was so that he could brace himself against the onslaught of his enemies, knowing that they were coming for him hot and fast so he needed to be ready to hold his ground. Hold Fast.

STAY TRUE helped him remember the principles that he had been taught while training to be a Seal, knowing that if he deviated from the truth, it could result in death. It also served as a reminder to protect and assist his fellow Seals while in the heat of the battle. Stay True.

These are life-changing principles for us to live by as well.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stay true in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

In this verse Paul is teaching us the same thing that this Navy Seal was taught in his training. There is an enemy that seeks to kill us. It is imperative that we be on our guard and hold fast against his attacks. Paul also instructs us to stay true to our faith, even when it’s hard, even when we’re beyond ready to give up, even when we feel lost.

It’s in those moments that the elite achiever takes hold of the Light and stays on course.

So I ask you the same question that Bruce asked me: do you have what it takes to be an elite achiever? I believe you do.

Be courageous. Be strong. HOLD FAST and STAY TRUE.

No Darkness at All

standard October 22, 2018 2 responses

Have you ever been in an unfamiliar place while it was pitch black dark?

Think about how you felt in that moment. Maybe you were scared, nervous, insecure.

Now think about how it made you feel as soon as light flooded your eyes and you could see your surroundings. Did you exhale a big sigh of relief?  

Now let’s take a moment to link that physical experience to the spiritual side of our lives. Think of a time when you were in a dark place emotionally and spiritually in your life.  Did you feel as if the light had left you?

Were you able to experience the light overcoming the darkness?  How did it feel to have that flicker of light return to your life?  

If you have not yet felt the light in your current situation, offer up a prayer right now for Jesus’ light to enter into your situation.  

1 John 1:5 says,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Believe it, dear friend! Where God is, there is no darkness.  Your situation may seem dark and gray at the moment, but you serve a God who defeated the grave and He will do the same for you.

Where there is light, there is also hope.

And in that place, there is no darkness at all.

Tulip Trees

standard March 13, 2018 Leave a response

I love it when the trees start their initial bud of flowers, especially the Japanese Magnolias, or as my daughters and I like to call them, the “tulip trees.”

These beautiful trees are the first to bud with their tulip like flowers, ranging from white-pink to deep purple petals. They are a reminder that spring is on the way, despite the volatile weather.

And if the weather does cooperate, then usually they will bloom and last for up to four weeks, adding splashes of color that brightly stand out against the brown dormant grass and shrubs. However, if a late frost blows through our area, then the petals can be damaged and they won’t reach their full potential.

Each year these trees remind me of the frailty and brevity of life, but they also show me the beauty of it.

We never know when an unexpected frost is going to blow through and shorten a bud’s life, robbing it of its full life span, as was the case with my brother’s unexpected death at the young age of 17.

But on the flip side, we also may live to our full life expectancy, yet never meet our maximum potential.

Psalm 39 reminds us to make each day count:

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.

Remind me that my days are numbered—

how fleeting my life is.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.

My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;

at best, each of us is but a breath.”

The point is that we must be intentional with the days that God has given us. Each day that the Holy Spirit wakes us up to begin another day, we have an opportunity to share our faith with others.

Yes, life on this earth is short, but those that are always reaching toward the LIGHT are the ones that produce the most gorgeous and enduring flowers.

Not Finished Yet

standard January 3, 2018 Leave a response

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

I do love a shiny new year, with all it’s potential and possibilities. I like seeing the months laid out and the calendar start to fill up with coffee dates, kids’ activities, conferences, and even project deadlines.

I feel such expectant hope at all that God is going to do in 2018 and I can’t wait to get started.

However, I still need to be mindful of the good work that God has already begun in me.

Philippians 1:6 says,
     “We can be confident that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

That simply means that God will be faithful to keep on developing us to our fullest potential in this coming year as well as the ones that follow, if we let Him. Even if we didn’t realize all our goals in 2017, we can rest assured that there is grace for 2018 and move forward with confidence knowing that God will keep working in us.

We’ve got to do our part to keep on shining in this new year. And as we reflect the light of Christ then others will see the good work that is in us and they will give glory to the very one who started it in us – God the Father. Isn’t that beautiful?

This year let’s resolve to be lights that shine brightly and then let’s keep on pointing others to one who started it all: our faithful God.

Dear Teenage Girl, Don’t Believe Everything You Read…Teen Vogue is NOT Your Friend

standard July 21, 2017 4 responses

Dear Teenage Girl,

Yes, you, the eleven to seventeen-year-old girl. How are you doing? I mean, how are you REALLY doing?

It’s hard to know in today’s world, isn’t it? You are constantly being bombarded with pressure to conform…which boots should you wear in order to keep the fashion police off your back, what’s the right makeup to apply in order to make your eyes smolder, what are the most beneficial after-school activities to choose in order to boost your college applications? And now, thanks to an outrageous article by Teen Vogue, you are being encouraged to consider having anal sex as a form of pleasure.

Never mind that fact that your actual body is changing at a rapid rate and now you have these things called hormones that are constantly causing your feelings to take you on a roller coaster ride. You obviously don’t have enough on your plate because Teen Vogue thinks it is necessary that you be educated on the “benefits and positives when it comes to anal [sex],” despite the fact that you will undoubtedly come into contact with fecal matter. But don’t worry, Darling Heart, according to the brilliant writers there, “It’s NOT a big deal. Everyone poops. Everyone has a butt.”

Oh, Sweet Girl, please, please, PLEASE do not believe everything that you read in a magazine that only has one objective in mind: to take your money! They could care less about you and this lovely yet fragile time in your life called adolescence.  The media has long been aware that “sex sells” and for years they have been pulling out all the stops, but I would venture to say that this is taking it to an unprecedented level.

I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be one, but I am smart enough to know that having a penis enter a young girl’s rectum can have serious medical ramifications.  But again, I’m not a doctor.  However, here is a link to the Medical Institute’s take on The Consequences of Heterosexual Anal Sex for Women in case you want to get the hard facts.

But that’s not why I’m writing you this letter, Dear One. I’m writing because I see you and your precious heart.

You see, the enemy (aka Satan or the devil) will do everything in his power to convince you that you are anything but precious. He’ll say things like:
you’re ugly,
you’re fat,
no boy would ever want you,
your daddy hates you,
you better get some while you can, because life is short,
your boyfriend is going to break up with you if you don’t have sex with him,
you’re just a prude,
EVERYONE else is doing it so why shouldn’t you,
haven’t you heard? Anal sex is now vogue!  

Let me be crystal clear: every single word that Satan utters is a LIE. He hates you and he would love nothing more than for you to hate yourself as well.  He knows that if he can get you to buy into the culture of the world and have you slip further and further down that rabbit hole, then the less effective you will be for the Kingdom of Light (which he hates even more than he hates you).  And before you know it, you find your precious heart surrounded by intense darkness.

But hear this, Love: you have a Fighter! There is someone who is willing to stand up for you, to take the enemy out and beat him to a pulp for talking to you like that.  He is furious that you were made to feel insecure and ugly for a single second and He says things like:
you are beautiful,
you are worthy of honor and respect,
you are captivating,
there’s nothing that you can do to separate you from My love,
I have the most amazing plans for your life,
you’re irreplaceable,
I created the wondrous art of sex and I can’t wait for you to experience it with the one I have chosen for you in marriage.
And He does not think these things only because He wants something from you. He thinks this way about you because HE CREATED YOU!

This is not a fairytale that is too good to be true. Your Fighter (unlike your enemy) does not lie.  But he does want you to know that the fact that He has chosen to protect you from harm comes at an enormous cost.  Yet to Him, the cost is worth it. YOU are worth it. You are worth every drop of blood that spilled from His body. You are worth every bruise He incurred. He endured every brutal blow to His body with your life in mind. Do you believe Him?

Dear Teen Girl, you are going to have to make many choices in the years to come. Some will be easy, like which mascara to use. But some will be harder, like how to say no to mind-altering drugs or sexual activity with a boy you think is really hot. You are going to have to learn how to balance fun with homework. You’ll have to figure out who are your true friends versus those who only want to use you for something. You’ll need to discern what is the best use of your time and energy.

But the most important choice that you will ever make is to take your Fighter up on His offer of eternal life and learn how to walk in the light day by day.

Will it be easy? No, my love, I’m afraid it won’t.  There will be parties that you will inevitably be excluded from. There will be boys who will drop you once they figure out you won’t put out. But will it be worth it to live in a constant state of love and acceptance instead of self-loathing and despair? Absolutely, without a doubt.

So, here’s what I want you to do from this moment forward: I want you to first ask your Fighter, Jesus Christ, into your precious heart you if you haven’t already. Next ask Him to lead you as you learn to navigate how to live IN the world without being consumed by its culture. Ask Him to put His beautiful LIGHT inside of you so that you can shine brighter than any vogue model ever could.  And then tell your friends not to believe everything that they read in a self-serving magazine that says that anal sex is awesome. We all know that’s just a load of crap.

With much love,
April Rodgers
Reflecting Light in Everyday Life
The Lord your God
wins victory after victory
    and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
    because of you,
and he will refresh your life
    with his love.
Zephaniah 3:17 (CEV)

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!

Do All Lives Matter?

standard July 17, 2016 5 responses

Recent events have left no doubt that our country is broken and hurting.  We are especially heartbroken in Louisiana today at the news that three police officers have been shot and killed and three additional officers are injured during a senseless ambush attack in Baton Rouge. This attack comes on the heels of the loss of Alton Sterling, an African American man who was shot and killed as he wrestled with two police officers on July 5, and the loss of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack on July 7.  Everyone’s emotions are running high. We respond with posts bearing hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, each with extremely valid reasons of why these particular lives do matter.  The #gaylivesmatter community is saying, “Don’t forget about us…we are hurting too.”  So we come up with an all-inclusive #alllivesmatter.  And, yes, all lives DO matter.

So, what is the solution to all the chaos we are currently facing and how can we do our part to promote healing?  And where is God in all of this?

When Paul was writing the Book of Philippians, he was facing days of uncertainty and dire circumstances (think oppressive Roman imprisonment).  Yet the over-arching theme of this book is for the church at Philippi to have JOY and UNITY despite their circumstances as Paul was striving to do in his own life.  He gives these simple instructions that also applies to our current reality as much as it did to the early church.  The solution lies in these words:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  Philippians 4:5

Could it really be that easy? Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of “easy” is.

Gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit, is used in this verse as an adjective meaning that not only are we to be considerate of others, but we are also to treat people in a manner that is “fitting, right, or equitable.”

The word for all is πᾶς meaning just what you think it does: each, every, whole, ALL.

God is telling us that we are to treat each and every person that we come into contact with on a daily basis with consideration and view them as equitable in God’s eyes.  Whoa! Take a minute and let that soak in.  If we are all equitable in God’s eyes, then why are we still stereotyping each other? And therein lies the rub. We all want to be viewed as if our life matters and we want to be treated in a fair and equitable manner.

But most definitely, killing is not the answer; anger is not the answer; retaliation is not the answer.  Love is the answer; peace is the answer; gentleness is the answer.

But why can’t I just live my life and you live yours? Why do I have to be considerate of others and their feelings?

The answer is this: Because the Lord is near.  This does not mean the Lord is near as in the Holy Spirit is among us (even though He is), but this is better translated as “People get ready! Jesus is coming!” 

If we really believe that all lives matter, then we have an obligation to not only be considerate, but also to be the Light.  Pointing others to Jesus, telling them of a Savior who values their life so much that He gave His own life.  Ultimately, Jesus is the answer.

So, you see, healing is never “easy,” but you and I can do our part to show the world that all lives matter by doing these two things in our everyday lives:

  1. Let your gentleness be evident to all. To the black police officer who took a vow to protect you. To the young white man you pass on the street. To the person bagging your groceries. To your gay coworker. To the waitress serving your food. To your spouse. To your children.  To ALL.
  2. Let your light shine. The world is watching and waiting to see how we will respond. Resist the urge to speak out judgment or condemnation on others who are different than you.  Rather speak the name of Jesus…the Name above all names…the only name that saves.

He is near and He is the original author of life.  His desire is that everyone (all) would come to repentance and know Him as their Savior (2 Peter 3:9).

He is a God who truly believes that ALL LIVES MATTER.