Count Your Blessings| Recounts Are OK

Count Your Blessings Recounts are OKI adore birthdays and celebrating, yet this year dread threatened to detach my joy.  I am naturally an optimistic person. Birthdays are reasons to refill one’s glass and toast to life, love, and God’s amazing grace. So why was I feeling glum about this birthday? I don’t know.

Taking a cue from the sign in my kitchen I decided to count my blessings.

Research proves gratitude is a powerful influence on mental health.  I decided to list forty-three things for which I am grateful.  At first, the list lurched and stopped, like someone learning to drive a manual transmission. Then, the blessings flowed faster than I could write.

 

Gratitude is a powerful influence on mental health. Click To Tweet

Count Your Blessings

Here is my list:

Taste and see the Lord is god

Today I woke
Able to walk today
Being able to smile
Faith anchored in Christ
God’s amazing grace
God’s provision
God’s chronic presence in my chronic illness

Quiet mornings and #CoffeeWithJesus
Chris, my beloved and rock
Rachel, the compassionate “noticer”
Andrew’s strong-willed analytical mind
I’ve never missed a soccer or softball game in three years.
My family
True friends

JOY

Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Our one-level home
Finding Joy
Laugher
Coffee
Daisies
Fiddle Tunes & Irish music

Travel memories to Ireland, Hawaii, Canada, Eh!
The sound of wooden roller coasters
The crunch of walking on leaves
Beachcombing
Waterfalls
Strolling on cobblestone paths
Tiramisu

80’s music and Flip Flops

Encouraging words
Chocolate
Journals
Books
Colored Pens

Sewing
Stained glass
Hammock naps
Handmade anything
Hydrangeas
Chris’ garden
Grandma’s quilts
Mama’s pickles

Join me in counting our blessings. Recounts are okay.

~April White

Copyright 2018 April Dawn White| Images by author & Pixabay

Identity Theft: Repossess Our Identity With Truth

I was recently the victim of identify theft.  No, not through an online transaction or a lost checkbook. The unlikely location for identity theft was the high school guidance counselor’s office.

My son, a rising tenth grader, and I visited the high school guidance counselor. While he discussed course schedules, I filled out the necessary paperwork:

  • Parent Name
  • Address (Check box if same as the student)
  • Phone number
  • Occupation

Occupation. This word haunts me. For over fifteen years, I wore a lab coat to work and displayed my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in a prominent place in our home. Today, the lab coat hangs in the back of the closet. My diploma is stacked in the corner of the basement collecting dust and cobwebs—much like my mind during severe moments of brain fog.

Occupation: _________________. The word and preceding blank mocked me. It demanded an answer.

I left it blank.

What was I supposed to write?

  • Pharmacist with rare illness unable to work.
  • Medically retired
  • Full-time patient
  • Professional paper filler-outer
  • CEO of the family
  • First lady of the White House (My last name <wink wink>)
  • Chauffer
  • Home management expert
  • Writer

The identity thief slipped in without notice. Perhaps he hid behind the motivational posters decorating the office. Or was it the letters that used to follow my name?  That thief stole my identity.

I was proud of myself for not crying. Instead, I moved onto the remaining pages and noted emergency contact information. I returned to the occupation question and continued to contemplate what to write in the blank. However, I was distracted when my son and the counselor discussed his foreign language options.

Pausing, I lifted the pen toward them and said, “You’ve had two years of Spanish. Didn’t you say you wanted to learn German?”

My son was excited to learn a new language. He thought since he had two years of Spanish, he would be stuck taking Spanish III. I too have a new language to learn. I must learn to listen to the truth of who GOD says I am.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

Identity Theft: Repossess with the Truth

Listening for the voice of God is like learning a foreign language. I must listen, read, and practice reciting the words aloud. I need to be so familiar with His words that they are automatic and roll off my tongue with the correct inflection and accent.

The identity thief lurks in the shadows of our lives, but we can take back what he has stolen from us. Just as my son learned Spanish and can recite words and phrases by rote, we can repeat the truth of who we are in Christ.

In Christ we are:

  • A child of God
  • Accepted
  • Blessed
  • An Overcomer
  • Chosen
  • Forgiven
  • Seated in Heavenly places with God
  • Delivered from sin and darkness
  • A valiant warrior
  • Loved
  • Given grace upon grace
  • Son and Daughters of the King

Listening for the voice of God is like learning a foreign language. Click To Tweet

While the Enemy temporally stole my identity, I took it back by reminding myself of who I am in Christ. Deborah Haddix wrote an article, Who I am? My Identity in Christ, with an A to Z reminder of who we are in Christ. I encourage you to click the above link. Read her list and speak it to yourself.

Take back your identity.

Here are a few of my favorite some musical motivations. Enjoy!

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Darwin Laganzon|Pixabay.com

Rest is the Treatment

Despite my daughters resting position, white enamel drums chattered as I checked her temperature, 103.1°F. My fingers gently swept the hair away from her crimson face as I whispered, “Honey, brush your teeth. We’re going to the doctor,”

Guttural moans escaped her petite frame.

I am thankful the pediatrician’s office offer walk-in sick appointments.  Less than an hour later, we answered the obligatory questions from the nurse and physician.

“Based on your symptoms, I am going to test you for Strep and Mono,” the pediatrician offered gently.

Both tests returned negative. My daughter has a mystery virus.

Rest is the TreatmentThe doctor instructed us to “treat the symptoms with fluids, fever medications, and most importantly, rest.”

REST is the Treatment. 

Rest is a short word which when used wields incredible power.

Why is rest always last on my list?

I am no longer talking about my daughter being sick. I mean living in a state of rest.

Why do I try to fix small things on my own, like scheduling conflicts or car repairs, while leaving the big-ticket issues for God? God doesn’t say to bring him only the big problems in life, but instead, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NLT).

Rest shouldn’t be our last resort. Click To Tweet

Rest is first on God’s list.  When God gave Moses the Ten Commandants, rest was implied in the first two commandments.  “You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” (Exodus 20:3-4, NLT).

I am weary of managing small problems on my own rather than resting everyday concerns with God. I am guilty of creating an idol of self-reliance. By categorizing what I think I can handle versus what I should hand over to God, my personal, I-can-handle-this-To-Do-list has become my god.

Over time, my stubborn, strong-willed, nature created an invisible idol called the god of self-reliance. Instead of the rest and peace, God Almighty offers, my false self-reliance god left me feeling weary and drained.

The path to restful living contains stepping-stones of surrender and a stone of contentment with where I am with what I have for right now.

Friend, are you like me?

Ask yourself if you are weary of managing life on your own instead of resting everyday concerns with God.  Like me, have you unknowingly formed an idol of self-reliance? If so, pray with me.

Dear Lord, help me to live out your plan for peace and rest in my life. I release all my concerns big and small into your Sovereign capable hands. Tear down any idol(s)I unknowingly formed. Teach me to rest in You day-by-day. Jesus, I thank you for your saving and sustaining grace. In your name, I pray. Amen.

I leave you with the same prescription for treatment as my daughter–rest.

If you liked this post check out these related articles: Take a Nap, Winter: A Season to Rest, and Rest and Praise: The Underutilized Weapons of Faith, 

~April Dawn White

©2018 Red Chair Moments

Courageous Women of the Bible: Book Review

In her newest book, Courageous Women of the Bible: Leaving Behind Fear & Insecurity for a Life of Confidence and Freedom, author LaTan Roland Murphy unfolds a fresh insight of courage.

I met LaTan Roland Murphy at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in February 2016. As a native Virginian G.R.I.T. S. girl (Girl Raised in the South), I felt an instant connection to this Georgian peach. LaTan inspired me to take bold and courageous steps forward in my personal life and in writing.

Through the stories of eleven heroic women of the Bible, LaTan Roland Murphy illustrates their diverse forms of courage in the soft-spoken and the bold. Woven into each chapter, LaTan Roland Murphy shares her personal struggles and insecurities. Murphy’s ability to balance the weightiness of the loss of her brother with the humor of her fear of snakes exemplifies her transparent overlay of warmth and wit throughout the book.

Courageous Women of the Bible is a book is for real women facing current culturally relevant topics. If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this book is for you.

  • Do I struggle with finding the courage to lead my family or surrender my loved ones to God?
  • Am I fearful of rejection?
  • Do I desire to live generously, but struggle with limited resources?
  • Have I ever struggled with doing the right thing even when my spouse or others do not?
  • Do I question if I have the courage required to have a baby amidst great odds, pressure, and uncertain times?

Courageous Women of the Bible: Leaving Behind Fear & Insecurity for a Life of Confidence and Freedom, is a treasured book to draw closer to Jesus and step out in faith with bold courage LaTan taught me several years ago.

LaTan Roland Murphy is an award-winning author and speaker and has been featured in WHOA women’s magazine and numerous other publications. She is the author of Becoming a Woman of Interior Elegance and co-author of God’s Provision in Tough Times. She is also the founder of The Colors of His Love Women’s Conference. She and her husband, Joe, have three adult children and two delightful grandchildren. They live in Raleigh, North Carolina. She would love for you to stop by and visit her on her website at LatanMurphy.com

Courageously writing, 

~Apri Dawn White

Summer Goals

The campfire curled and crackled sending dancing warm gusts around the teens and leaders encircled around the fire.  This was the final Wednesday night youth gathering before everyone separated for the summer.  A buzz of excitement and anticipation rippled through the crowd as several seniors were preparing to graduate and move on to college. The youth pastor asked, “What summer goals do you have this year?” 

A stray voice behind me hollered, “Help with vacation Bible school. Another teen evoked roars of laughter when he grumbled, “My parents are making me get a job.”

I pondered the youth pastor’s question. Like the students, some of us will have ten weeks with a lighter, less rigid schedule this summer. Ten weeks without the burden of packing school lunches, chauffeuring kids to music lessons, and sporting events.  If we’re not careful, our summer will erode away with nothing to show for it but a sunburn.  Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar coined the phrase, “If you aim at nothing you hit it every time.”

Why is having a goal important?

Goals keep an endpoint in mind, allowing us to determine our progress toward the goal. Goals provide direction and purpose and prevent aimless wandering.

How can I apply a summer goal?

Unlike the tedious chore of saving decades for retirement, a summer goal is possible to accomplish in a short season.  What summer goals do you desire?  Do you want to shed those stubborn five pounds? Is there a concert you’d like to see, or a new area in your city you’d like to explore? If so, make it a goal, grab a friend, and go!

Is there a book you desire to read or a new skill you’re eager to learn? Check out your local library. Many area offer classes for adults who want to learn to quilt, sew, or throw pottery.  Maybe your goal is to spray paint the patio furniture or power wash the house. Whatever you’ve wanted to do, but never make the time, do it this summer!

Here are a few of my summer goals:

  • Reconnect with an old friend once a week either by phone or face to face.
  • Drop off the items I’ve stored for months to rescue mission donation center.
  • Finish the three partially read books I’m reading.
  • Drop (for good) five pounds.

What goals do you have in mind? List a few reasonable goals in a place that you will view daily, such as the bathroom mirror or kitchen, and get started.

I’d love to hear from you. What goals do you have this summer?

~April 

Lies Moms Believe Giveaway Winner

Earlier this month, I posted my review of Lies Moms Believe and How the Gospel Refutes Them by Rebekah Hargraves.  When I posted the article, I offered a free giveaway to anyone who subscribed and/or shared. 

The winner of a free copy of Lies Moms Believe is Amy A. Amy, I will be in touch. 

Thank you to all who entered the drawing. Stay tuned to Red Chair Moments for more encouragement.

Hugs & Hope,

~April

Lies Moms Believe by Rebekah Hargraves: Book Review & Giveaway

I am excited I get to give away one free copy of the book and study guide Lies Moms Believe and How the Gospel Refutes Them by Rebekah Hargraves. (Read to the end for detailed instructions.)

Lies Moms Believe is the inaugural book by Rebekah Hargraves, birthed from personal experience of raising two littles and sharing these thoughts on her blog, podcast, and website.

Rebekah Hargraves wrote, Lies Moms Believe to help moms battle the lies and find the freedom intended for motherhood.  Hargraves writes, “It all started way back in the Garden of Eden, this age-old ploy of Satan. It was the very tactic he first implemented in order that he might drive a wedge between God and Eve, and it is what Satan still uses today in his attempts to produce the very same outcome of division in our own relationships with God. What is that tactic, you ask? It is getting God’s people to believe a lie.”

Lies Moms Believe debunks thirty-two lies moms commonly believe. Lies Moms Believe, uncovers the distorted view of motherhood and womanhood forged by culture and warped legalistic thinking. Lies Moms Believe, refutes the myths and misconceptions women accept as true with the absolute truth of the gospel of God’s Word.

Hargraves gathered information from personal experience and via social media polls to detail thirty-two lies most commonly battled in motherhood.  These lies are broken down into five areas in which Satan seeks to lie to mothers.  These five main areas are:

Part I: Lies About Motherhood

Part II: Lies About How God View Us as Moms

Part III: Lies About How We View Ourselves as Moms

Part IV: Lies About Our Children

Part V: Lies About Our Parenting Choices

As a mom of two-teens, (a son and a daughter), I understand the internal struggle of motherhood in a Pinterest perfect world. Even among Christian influences, the battles of lies, debunking myths, and finding freedom in our unique calling continues past the diaper stage. I never felt cut out for motherhood. When our children were younger, I often shared obtaining a doctorate degree in pharmacy was much easier than raising our children. Lies Moms Believe unearth nuggets of wisdom and truth and offer encouragement to moms regardless of the stage of motherhood. Lies Moms Believe is an excellent Mother’s Day gift. 

Rebekah Hargraves invites the reader to continue the conversation with the supplementary Bible study and joining the private Facebook group Moms Living Free. Lies Moms Believe is available as a print and e-book. 

You may find Rebekah Hargraves online at https://www.hargraveshomeandhearth.com/, on Instagram @RebekahHargraves on Facebook @HargravesHomeandHearth, on Twitter @HHomeandHearth  Follow Rebekah Hargraves and Lies Moms Believe using these hashtags: #liesmomsbelieve #lmbcompanionstudy #authorrebekahhargraves #gospelformoms #livingintruth. 

Lies Moms Believe Book & Study Guide GIVEAWAY!

There are several ways to enter this giveaway:

  • Subscribe to my blog. Scroll down on the homepage of RedChairMoments.com and type in your name and email address.

To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,

  • Share this book review post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry. Tag me or leave me a comment so I know you’ve shared.
  • Share via email. Notify me of your name and the number of shares.

Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.

I will announce the winner via blog post next Friday, May 4th. Thank you!

DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO THE BLOGABOUT NETWORK FOR GIVING ME A COPY OF Lies Moms Believe IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.”

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Rebekah Hargraves and The BlogAbout Network.

© 2018 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation: Part II

Welcome to Part II of the story “God Works on Both Sides of the Equation.” (Click here, if you missed Part I.) 

When my pastor pronounced, “God works on both sides of the equation,” images of algebraic equations filled my mind. Normally, I enjoy the delicate balancing act of solving an equation and getting ‘x’ all by itself. However, the sudden shift caused the algebraic equation in our life off balance.  However, the  It aligns with my personality where balance, order, and control are essential.

When a health crisis in 2016 cascaded to a job loss, and the need to sell our home in 2017, I wondered if this equation was unsolvable.  But I held on to the truth I heard repeatedly, “God Works on Both Sides of the Equation.”

Months later, I sat on the deck and shaded my eyes from the afternoon sun. “Refuge is my word for 2017,” I shared with my friend Lauri. Over hazelnut liquid mercy (aka coffee), I shared with her the plan to rent our home on the Vacation Rental by Owner site, if our home did not sell by May 2017.

Lauri’s response was surprising, “How awesome April, God needs your house!”

Her response was unlike everyone else’s.  Most people nodded their head feeling the gravity of our situation.

“What?” I questioned.

“God needs your house! God is going to use your house as a place of refuge for someone else this summer,” she explained.

Our afternoon conversation continued, but her response lingered in my mind. Could it be true? Could the word ‘refuge’ have a wider scope than my heart? God can do anything, why would he want to use my house, I pondered?

The notion that God needed our home changed the trajectory of my prayers. Instead of praying, “Lord, sell our home.” I prayed, “Lord use this home as a refuge for others. Whoever enters through the doors, whether as a summer vacationer or as a prospective homebuyer, may this house be a place of quiet refuge and peace. Amen.”  

I walked through each room of our home praying for the future residents. I prayed for the restoration of family relationships, renewed faith, peace, and reconciliation. If someone else was going to sit in my red chair, I wanted him or her to feel the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Our home did not sell by May so we removed it from the market and listed our home on the VRBO.com website and within weeks, our home was booked for the entire summer! (Thank the Lord for my parents who offered for us to stay with them for the summer).

How could we know a family in Northern Virginia was interested in purchasing our home and they were in the process of getting things in order before making contact?  To their disappointment, the house was removed from the market in May. 

How were we to know that same Northern VA family was vacationing at Smith Mountain Lake in July? While on vacation the family spent a day house hunting. They asked the realtor to drive past our home. Later, Denise told me, “I wanted to see the house in person. Even if it was no longer for sale, I wanted closure.”

Denise continued, “April, you have no idea how many times I’ve stalked your home online. I had the entire house mapped out in my mind. I had prayed for God to open doors for us and close doors not intended for us. When your house went off the market I thought, ‘Ok, God that is a closed door.’  When the realtor drove us to your home and we saw that it was back on the market, I had to see it before we left. When my husband and I walked in, we knew this was the place.”

God works on both sides of the equation. Click To Tweet

Only God could allow our home to close without a hitch in record-breaking time. Chris and I had to opportunity to meet the homebuyers a couple of times. Once, when we stopped by to drop off paperwork, Denise invited us in to tell us a story.

“We have to tell you, the presence of the Lord is strong in this home, especially here,” pointing to an area surrounding my red chair.

The homebuyers also purchased most of our furniture including one of my red chairs. I shared with Denise, my blog, Red Chair Moments. “The area you’re pointing to is where I have spent hours reading God’s Word and in prayer. I can think of no greater compliment than to be told the presence of the Lord is felt in this place.”

I went on to explain my significance of the word ‘refuge’, how my friend said God needed this house, and how I prayed through every room. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears and she told me their family had a rough few years. “Restoration and refuge are what we need.”

Denise and I shared more stories of God’s faithfulness, while our husbands talked over home mechanics etc. There are many more stories of God’s amazing grace that she shared with me involving specific ways our home was a refuge for their family but will remain in confidence. Trust me when I say, God works on both sides of the equation.

Have you considered God wanting to use your crisis for a greater purpose? Consider changing the perspective and trajectory of your prayers. You might not see immediate answers, but know God works on both sides of the equation.

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation: Part I

 

From the pulpit, our pastor pronounced, “God works on both sides of the equation.” I scribbled down the phrase in my journal, pondering the significance. This eight-word statement befuddled and encouraged me.

 

Images of algebraic equations filled my mind. Solve for x. If 2x = 12, then x = 6. As a science major, math saturated my college years. Algebra was my favorite over Calculus and Physics, not because it was easier, but because it made sense. I enjoyed the delicate balancing act of solving an equation and getting ‘x’ all by itself. It aligns with my type-A personality where balance and order are essential.

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation Click To Tweet

Like my kid’s rock collection that crashed and fell in the rock tumbler for months, this phrase continuously tumbled in my mind. Unlike the simpler algebraic equations in life that I could solve, life had abruptly changed. A domino effect beginning with a health crisis in 2016 cascaded to a job loss and the need to sell our home in 2017. The sudden shift caused the algebraic equation of our life off balance. Worse yet, I wondered if it was unsolvable.

 

No longer was our life simple, clearly defined, and controllable. Our life was much more complicated and beyond my control. The simple equation of 2x = 12, then x = 6 was gone, replaced by a much more complicated equation that I could not solve on my own. 

But God continued to whisper our pastor’s phrase, “God works on both sides of the equation.”

One of the first steps in solving an algebraic equation is to get ‘x’ by itself.  During this period of abrupt change and insurmountable challenges, God reminded me to get alone with Him and to seek His face. When life is beyond our ability to comprehend, we need to get ‘x’ by itself—and get alone with God.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  (Psalm 91:1)

Alone with God, we can surrender our overwhelming circumstances. Alone with God, we can surrender our doubt.  

God invites us to trade our sorrows for joy, ashes for beauty, our weakness for His strength, and trust for control. (Isaiah 61:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Is there a complicated circumstance in your life?

Knowing God works on both sides of the equation, what would happen if you got alone with God and surrendered to the One who can solve any equation. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know can solve any complicated circumstance for our good and for His glory, because “God works on both sides of the equation,”

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28, AMP)

Please join me next week for Part II of this story. I will share how God worked on both sides of the equation for our family and our homebuyers.

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Hallelujah Even Here

Hallelujah even here“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:4

You expect me to sing Hallelujah even here? The writer of Psalm 137:4 was an Israelite held captive by a Babylonian enemy. How could the enemy holding the Israelites captive in a foreign, expect them to sing?

I too wondered, how could I sing praise through all the abrupt changes in my life?

All of this feels foreign.

My primary loss was the loss of my health. Secondary losses followed later. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis and the second opinion took over a year. I exhausted my excused medical leave of absence and lost my job of fifteen years. Once terminated and the long-term disability ended, we needed to sell our home. Now the secondary losses included the loss of my independence, my job, my identity, and our home. However, what I initially saw as God derailing our life was actually God’s plan to guide us to the Promised Land. 

The one-level home God chose for us has all the perks we wanted. Our house number is 2911. Every time I arrive home, I look at the brass patina numbers and recite:   

“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” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Pastor and Author of I am Number 8, John Gray, emphasizes, The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise!”

When we experience sudden detours, praise moves the Lord from His throne to inhabit and help His children. The Bible tells us God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise the Lord even when we don’t feel His presence or see His hand moving upon our life. Anticipatory praise during a time of uncertainty moves God to inhabit the praises of His people.

The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise! Pastor John Gray Click To Tweet

No matter the cause of the unexpected detour, let us open the sunroof of our heart, roll the windows down of our cares, and throw our hands up in praise to the Lord. By lifting our hearts in praise, we invite God to join us in our journey.

We too can sing halleluiah even here.

Is your life in transition or taken an unexpected detour?

Do you have questions of uncertainty looming?

Offer God anticipatory praise, thanking God in advance for his provision, faithfulness, and perfect timing. 

~April Dawn White 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

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