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.

Falling into Step

standard November 6, 2018 1 response

Well, we thought fall would never come, but here we are in November and it finally arrived!

This is my absolute favorite time of year and I love to take long walks and let the leaves crunch under my shoes as I move my feet. Most of the time I’ve got a sermon playing in my headphones as I’m clipping along at a good pace, but sometimes I’ll slow down, put on some praise and worship, and attempt to take in the beauty of the trees with their changing color.

The other day I was doing just that when a new song came on that I had never heard before called “Come Holy Spirit” by Vertical Worship. It brought me into such a state of worship as the artist sang “fall afresh on me…Holy Spirit come…Holy Spirit move…do what only You can do.” And in that moment I was truly desperate for His presence.

It was as if I was walking in perfect step with the Spirit of the Living God and it was breathtaking.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

I’m the first to admit that I don’t always get this verse right in my walk with the Lord, but when I do allow myself to live by the Spirit, oh what a difference it makes!

Holy Spirit come. Help me keep in step with You. Fall afresh on me.

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.

Take Up Your Cross

standard March 29, 2018 Leave a response

The old rugged cross.
Calvary’s tree.
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light.

These familiar words found in our beloved hymnals bring comfort to those of us who are Christians. But I wonder, can the familiarity of these words cause us to forget the magnitude of what happened on that Good Friday? And more importantly, does it inadvertently cause us to downplay what our role as a follower of Christ actually entails?

Jesus told his disciples that in order to be a true disciple they must be willing to do three things: deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24)

Again, all of this feels very familiar and comfortable to us as 21st century Christians, but imagine living in the 1st century as a disciple. You have left EVERYTHING (your family, your fishing business, your comfortable bed) to follow this controversial Jesus from town to town. So far, it’s all working out pretty well because He’s healing the sick, turning a boy’s lunchbox into a catered party for 5000, and don’t forget that time at the wedding when water was turned into the best wine anyone had ever tasted.

However, now Jesus is giving some radical instructions, first being to deny ourselves. Which is okay with us because we’ve already stepped out in faith, leaving the comforts of our homes.

But the music stops when we hear “take up our cross.” Wait a minute. The cross is for criminals and we are not criminals, nor is Jesus. He is the long-awaited Messiah; the Anointed One who has come to reign on David’s throne. Why in the world is He talking about taking up a cross??

And that, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road. Remember, at this point Jesus had not died on the cross nor had He been resurrected and defeated death. Yet when we read these instructions from Jesus, it’s easy for us to forget the magnitude of what is involved simply because the word “cross” is so familiar to us. It would be like Jesus telling us to pick out our own electric chair and follow Him! Now who’s game?

However, that is exactly what the disciples did. They did pick up their criminal’s cross, and they did deny themselves, and they did follow Him. Did they do it perfectly? No, but they were obedient to follow Him, even to death. And aren’t we so thankful that they did? Because had they not, you and I would not know of the Wonderful Cross and all that it represents.

The question is, are we willing as Christ-followers to do the same in our everyday lives?

Will it be uncomfortable to deny ourselves of some things in life? Absolutely. Will we be ridiculed for carrying around our cross when the rest of the world is seemingly footloose and fancy free? You bet. But will it be worth it in the end to follow the one true Messiah? Oh, a thousand times YES, it most certainly will be.

Similar to the disciples, we won’t get it right 100% of the time, but if we are faithful and obedient, the rewards will be eternal. And perhaps it is that someone else’s eternity depends upon if we are willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him!

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light. Now it is time to REFLECT THE LIGHT.

Jesus, thank You for the magnitude of what You accomplished on the cross on that Good Friday. It is a gift that I don’t deserve and it is hard to understand why You would die for a sinner such as me. Yet You did and now I will pick up my cross and follow You. Help me when I fail, Lord. Extend Your mercy and grace as I attempt to point others to the cross.

Top 5 Reasons to Love “The Greatest Showman”

standard January 31, 2018 Leave a response

Have you had a chance to see The Greatest Showman yet? If not, drop what you’re doing and get thyself to the nearest theatre, thus sayeth the Lord. For time’s sake I won’t summarize the whole movie (that would be a full post in itself), but rather I’d like to pull out some of the themes of the movie that I believe can apply to our everyday lives.

Presenting the Top 5 Reasons to Love The Greatest Showman:

  1. Don’t be afraid to dream impossible dreams. T. Barnum has a dream in his heart to start a magical show like none other, but he gets sidetracked by life. When he loses his corporate job, he takes a chance on his dream. At first no one comes to the circus, but with ingenuity and hard work, Barnum finally makes his dream a reality and the circus becomes a huge success. God has put a dream in your heart too! It may seem impossible and you don’t have a clue how it will ever be realized; you may have been sidetracked by life and feeling like that dream was just that…a pipe dream. But Jesus says, “All things are possible for one who believes,” (Mark 9:23). Put your faith in the One who can make your dreams come true and be willing to work hard to achieve them. For with great risk comes great reward!

 

  1. Come alive to experience all that life has in store for you. Barnum first fills his museum with wax statues and stuffed animals until his little girls suggest that he needs things that are alive, not dead, to attract the people. So, Barnum searches for “unusual persons,” enticing them to come alive and start dreamin’ with their eyes wide open. At first they are reticent because for years they have hidden themselves from the public, but Barnum’s joy is contagious and they truly do come alive. The same can be true of you and me. If we feel as if we’re sleepwalking through this life, we start to feel spiritually dead. But God’s plan is that we live a FULL life, filled with abundant joy. Jesus also said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, a better life than they ever dreamed of,” (John 10:10). Come one, come all. You hear the call; for anyone who is searching for a way to break free. Come Alive!

 

  1. Even if the world rejects you, know that you are glorious. As the acts of the show do come alive they start to speak out against how they have always been treated. They’ve been told to hide away; run away; no one’ll love you as you are. But they have had enough! And they declare that they are brave, they are bruised, this is who they are meant to be. In this lifetime we will be cut by the sharpest of words of others. They will threaten to break us down to dust, but we must listen to the voice of the One who speaks life into us. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love and have continued my faithfulness to you,” (Jeremiah 31:3). Believe that and sing with passion like the bearded woman: I know that I deserve your love. There’s nothing I’m not worthy of. This is me!

 

  1. It is possible to rewrite the stars, but the change starts with us. Within the story a handsome, white aristocrat named Phillip begins to fall for a beautiful, black trapeze artist. Of course, their love is forbidden due to their racial differences and Phillip is met with severe opposition from his parents. Phillip protests, “Father, the world is changing.” Fast forward to 2018 and we need to ask ourselves: has the world really changed that much in the last 180 years? If so, why are we still harboring prejudices against people who have a different skin color than we do? This is not how Jesus wants us to live. “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” (Acts 17:26). It’s time to rewrite the stars and love others with different skin color than us as we love ourselves. What if we rewrite the stars? Is it impossible? Say that it’s possible!

 

  1. When you lose your way, remember your first love and come back home. When all the fortune and fame of P.T. Barnum’s success sets in, he begins to lose his way. He doesn’t do anything immoral per se, but he neglects his family to spend time with a very talented and beautiful woman and he also treats the acts of his circus with disrespect. Through a series of unfortunate events he loses everything and he eventually realizes what truly matters is his family and friends, and he resolves to not be blinded by the lights of fame any longer. Sometimes this happens to us in our everyday lives as well. We aren’t necessarily doing anything harmful to others, but before we know it our selfish desires have crept in and we are no longer walking in the light. But then, we remember our first love and we resolve to return to Him and He welcomes us with open arms. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7). From now on…Stop and remember your first love. Come back home.

 

In the end, The Greatest Showman is a beautiful story of inclusion and acceptance of all people, something that Jesus Christ Himself taught. And if it’s crazy, then live a little crazy, because as P.T. Barnum said, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

Be. The. LIGHT!

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

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. 😉

 

 

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.

No Rain No Rainbow

standard April 15, 2015 Leave a response

Spring is in full swing and so are the rainstorms.  It feels like it’s been raining for weeks now, or at least there is a constant threat of it.  But as Dolly Parton once said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  So true, Dolly.  So true.

The very first rainbow was seen by Noah and his family after the great flood.  The rainbow became a symbol to the nation of Israel to remind her of God and His covenant to never flood the earth again  (see Genesis 9:8-17).  The rainbow was said to encompass the majesty and beauty of God and gazing at one could cause potential injury as it was a reflection of the glory of the Lord  (Source: Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible).

Elsewhere in the Bible, a rainbow is mentioned when Ezekiel has a vision of the glory of the Lord.  He records, “There was a brilliant light all around Him. The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the form of the LORD’s glory.” (Ezekiel 1:27-29, HCSB)

Is that not just beautiful?

But I wonder: what if Ezekiel had never been through a rainy day?  What if his days were only filled with copious amounts of sunshine and no dark clouds ever graced the sky? Would the light have shown up so brilliantly if it were not contrasted against a cloudy, rainy day?  Probably not.

The same is true for us, Friends.  What if we never experienced troubles or heartache?  Do you think that if we lived a life filled only with sweet times and memories that we would be able to recognize them for how sweet they truly are?  Would the light of Christ shine as brightly through us if we never had to go through hard times? Probably not.

Dolly had it right after all.  What’s a little rain when the outcome is REFLECTING LIGHT?