Avoiding the Comparison Trap

I’m learning to avoid the comparison trap.

 

I am still adjusting to this stay-at-home-mom gig. This wasn’t part of my plan. Nor was the unexpected illness that put me here. It’s been thirty-four months and eleven days since I was medically forced to walk away from my career as a pharmacist. One would think by now, I would be adjusted to my new role, but I still struggle.

Finding contentment in this new realm is my struggle.

This summer, my neighbor had her backyard excavated to make way for an in-ground pool. Meanwhile, God excavated my heart to make room for contentment.

Per instructions by Priscilla Shirer in her book, The Resolution for Women, I scribed these words on an index card and attached it to the front of my fridge.

In my desire to find contentment, I began with a simple prayer: “Lord whatever my hands find to do today, may you look upon your servant and find me faithful. Amen.” 

Later, I simplified this to a four-sentence prayer: “Lord, find me faithful.”

This prayer is based on these verses in the Old and New Testament:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

When I pray, “Lord find me faithful,” it helps me put on spiritual blinders. Keeping the simple prayer on the forefront of my mind repels my desire for comparison to others. It allows me to remain faithful in my role, where I am, and with what God has provided for me.

The death of contentment is comparison.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

During God’s summer excavation of my heart, He showed me two passages in the Bible where the main characters felt unequipped and unqualified in their role because they were comparing themselves to those around them.

Gideon the weakest in his clan hid from the enemy. God finds him, calls him a “valiant warrior” and tells him to fight the enemy. “Go in the strength that you have.” (Judges 6:12, 14). Reluctantly obedient, Gideon and his motley crew of a few defeat the enemy in an unexpected way.

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we meet an unnamed woman who is a recent widow. Left with debts she cannot repay, the debt collectors threatened to take away her two sons. Desperate, she pleads to the prophet Elisha for help. Instead of helping, he asks, “What’s in your house?” She confesses to having only a little oil. Elisha instructs her to gather as many jars as she can from the neighbors. (Can you imagine the humility of having to ask the neighbors for help?) Elisha blessed what little oil she had and the oil miraculously continued to pour until all the jars were full. She was able to pay off all her debt and keep her sons.

What’s in your house?

How can you go in the strength you have to bless others?

In my realm of a stay-at-home-mom, I have the margin of time and rest in my day. This week, God found me faithful packing lunches for my friend and me. In my house, I already had all the fixings for Meg’s favorite snacks and lunch. Going in the strength I had, God found me faithful as I drove my friend to her chemotherapy infusion. We enjoyed our day together as we laughed, cupped mugs of piping hot Starbucks, and shared stories of God’s faithfulness.

Reflecting on the stories of Gideon and the widow woman, ask yourself:

How can you use what you already have to bless others?

What is God calling you to do?

~April Dawn White ©2018

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We Never Walk Alone

This year, I told my kids if they missed the bus they would walk to school. Situated on the outskirts of our neighborhood the middle and high school buildings are a twenty-minute walk from our home.

Today, Rachel missed the bus. Because it is picture day, I offered to drive her to school.  Visibly relieved, she sighed and her shoulders relaxed.  As I pulled out of the driveway, Rachel chattered about being caught up in the bus traffic, late to school, and possibly sent to the principle’s office.

I sipped the dark brew of liquid mercy and smiled to myself. She did not know I was taking her on a different route. Dropping her off at the front of the school would require me sitting in traffic and the carpool line for over thirty minutes.  Instead, I pulled over at the walking trail that meanders behind the school.

Rachel turned in her seat, “Hey, there’s Marcus.”

“Oh good, you know him?”

“Yeah.”

Turning back to Rachel, I offered my confident parental grin. “Good. Now you don’t have to walk alone.”

“What? You’re not driving me to school?” She questioned.

“This is the trail behind the school. Go ahead and get out and walk with Marcus.”

She was stunned.  I drove her to school as promised, but I didn’t drop her off at the front door. I dropped her off behind the school. She would have to walk between the softball and soccer fields and around to the side of the building. But, she would not walk alone.

We never walk alone.

Sometimes God will interrupt your progress in order to get your attention. Sometimes he does that as an act of grace because he sees you expending effort in the wrong direction.  What you are calling progress is actually paralysis from heaven’s perspective.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

In the course of life, we all find ourselves walking an unexpected path. Yet, we never walk alone.

When the path we planned shuts down, God provides another way. We set goals to move from point A to point B, with a straight and logical plan of action. But God prefers the scenic route.

When I think back over my unexpected journey of illness, job loss, move, and betrayal of friends, I can point to precise moments along the path when God provided a friend when I needed one the most. Sometimes the companions who linked arms with me were cherished old friends. Other times, they were new friends who understood the isolation and struggle of suffering.

However, in the dark moments, when my brokenness overwhelms me, I cry alone. These are the days when my social media activity and text messages are silent.  I cry for myself and I cry out for God to help. God is the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3). His Word reminds me He will never leave us nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Friend, have you found yourself on an unexpected path? If so, you can rest assured, you will never walk alone. 

~April White

P.S. In the seven-plus years, I’ve been writing Red Chair Moments, this is the first time there has been over a month between posts.  While I’ve been absent on-screen, I’ve been present before the Lord. God is cultivating in me a renewed mind and spirit of contentment. He is teaching me accepting my circumstances is not the same as contentment. As the band, Rascal Flats sings, God is teaching me He blesses and walks with me on the broken road. Dear friend, I’ve broken my on-screen silence to remind myself and all of us, we never walk alone. Hugs & Hope ~April

©2018 April White| Images courtesy of Pixabay

 

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

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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