Winter: A Season to Rest

Winter Rest PixabayFrigid temperatures and biting winds ravage the mid-West and east coast of the United States. There is no doubting what season we are in: Winter.

The name ‘winter’ derives from an old Germanic word meaning “time of water” and refers to the high rain and snowfall that often accompanies this season.

Winter is a time for rest— a time for dormancy of crops and animals. The rest the winter season provides leads up to the next season of new growth.

 

God rewards those who seek Him with rest and peace. Click To Tweet

During this winter season, what would happen if we watered and rested our minds and soul on Christ?  The Apostle Paul wrote, these encouraging words in Philippians 4:4-9:

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What new growth does God have planned for us if we simply rest, cease striving, and “Be still and know, that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)?

The notion of resting and being still is the concept I am embracing for 2018.

Resting and being still before the Lord is active work. It means setting aside a large portion of uninterrupted time to read and marinate in God’s Word. It also means being quiet before the Lord and listening to His voice. The mere act of being still contradicts our Western culture of bombarding noise, distractions, and busyness.

God is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6) and His rewards are rest and peace.

Below are a few Scripture verses to jumpstart your watered rest. In addition, I recommend the book Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson.

Scripture of RestWinter Rest Pixabay

“They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” (2 Chronicles 15:15)

Scripture of Watering

 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.” (2 Samuel 22:17)

“Whoever brings a blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25, ESV)

God is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him. During this winter season, let us water and rest our minds and soul on Christ.

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved

All Scripture NIV unless otherwise specified.

Unpacking God’s Faithfulness

We moved into our new home seven weeks ago. As I unpack our possessions, I also unpack evidence of God’s faithfulness to our family.

Carefully removing the bubble wrap, I lifted the print from the box and fell back on my haunches. Tears pricked my eyes as I remembered the symbolism behind the cow print. Ebbie the cow, represents God’s faithfulness, provision, answered prayers and promised kept.

Meet Ebbie

Ebbie is my nickname for this cow. It is short for Ebenezer.  At the time of purchase in 2014, I had recently read the book, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The author’s fervent prayer life influenced my own prayer life. Batterson prayer walk circled around a crack house in Washington D.C. During one of his walks, God whispered the idea to purchase the property and renovate it from a dilapidated crack house into a coffee shop.

Years and miracles later, God abundantly answered that prayer. The Ebenezers Coffeehouse is named after the marker of the Lord, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12, NKJV).

In January 2014, one substantial expense after another rapidly depleted our savings account. During this time, I read, “I own the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10, NLT).

Taking God at his word, I fasted and prayed a bold prayer shared in The Circle Maker, “Lord would you sell some cattle for us?”

I am convinced God loves bold prayers, especially ones centered on His Word. I also believe that according to Matthew 17:21, some situations are only resolved through prayer and fasting. This simple yet bold prayer during fasting recognized my total dependence on God. It also acknowledged God as Creator, Sustainer, Provider, and His Sovereign.

God answered my simple prayer, “Lord would you sell some cattle for us?” God answered more than five times. The finances arrived in a variety of unexpected ways, each time I stopped and said, “Thank you Lord for selling your cattle for us!”

My goal is to unpack one box a day. More important than unloading a box, I need daily reminders of Gods’ faithfulness. Our recent move was bittersweet. This move, my sudden illness and a new assignment in life was not part of my plan. However, we enjoy the conveniences of suburban life, including high-speed internet, curbside trash pick-up, and pizza delivery, but we miss our lakefront view.

It is important to look back on our lives and realize God’s faithful fingerprints were holding us together.

What memories can you unpack and recognize God’s faithfulness?

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11)

 ~April Dawn White

© 2017 All Rights Reserved

Celebrate Grunt Work

This week we are eating cake—chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

<Gasp> Yes, I said peanut butter. Although taboo in public settings, (due to allergy concerns) peanut butter is a staple in our home and the kids L-O-V-E my homemade peanut butter frosting.

This week we are celebrating the completion of one of my long-range goals: Completing a manuscript and book proposal.

The idea of co-authoring a book began with a conversation with my friend Marilyn Nutter.  Long before we met in person, we met online and respected each other’s writing style. During a writers’ conference, we exchanged ideas over coffee and tea in the comfortable mountain lobby. The more we prayed about the idea, the more similarities God brought to our attention.

Marilyn and I understand grief and stress that accompany a primary loss.  Marilyn’s, primary loss was the unexpected sudden death of her husband and best friend. My primary loss was the rare genetic disorder, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, that hijacked by body in my early forties.

Once Marilyn and I committed to this new endeavor, our days filled with writing, research, editing, and learning the writing craft. Over the next seven to nine months, we would write, edit, and rewrite.

This week, Marilyn and I celebrated these five words: Manuscript complete. Book proposal sent. Marilyn and I live states away; therefore, we were unable to celebrate together. She celebrated with ice cream and I celebrated with cake and a tall glass of milk.

Marilyn and I know that completing the manuscript and sending off the proposal is only the first of several steps in the publication process.  But we are celebrating the grunt work.

In our American culture, we tend to celebrate the triumphant beginnings.

We celebrate the grand finale.  

Do we celebrate the hours of required grunt work?

No.

We fail to celebrate the difficult steps.

Perhaps we fail to celebrate each step between the triumphant start and grand finale because those steps are not glamorous; those steps are tedious and monotonous grunt work.

This week we celebrate grunt work! Click To Tweet

Grunt work is not sexy, but is a necessary part of any process.  Whether you are power washing your house, spray painting patio furniture, saying ‘no’ to the extra serving of macaroni and cheese, or biting your tongue from lashing back at your teen, celebrate the grunt work.

What long-range goals do you have?  How will you celebrate the grunt work?

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

16 Character Traits of God in Psalm 145

Restless, I wandered room to room searching for a place of solitude—finding none. The house was bustling with activity. Dash, the rescue kitty, sneaked a peek at our two Jack Russell terriers. A symphony of chaos erupted when Guinness and Kinsey saw the cat.

“Take the dogs out! The barking is driving me crazy!” I commanded.

 

Heavy footfalls of five grandkids, ranging in age from ten to nineteen, stomped through the house to tend to the barking dogs and a barking Mama.

“Lord help!” I pray.

Opening my Bible, the Lord answered my plea for help with praise from David in Psalm 145. As I studied God’s Word, I underlined each attribute of God contained in this passage. My heart swelled as I read of God’s goodness and His compassion and active care for His children.

In between the barking dogs and kid chaos, God met me and provided the solitude my soul craved. From the ancient Psalm of David God reminded me of these attributes of Himself:

Great

Worthy of Praise

Majestic

Unfathomable Greatness

Gracious

Compassionate

Slow to anger

Rich in love

Faithful to all this promises

Upholds the fallen

Lifts the oppressed

Satisfies with His open hand

Fulfills desires of those who fear Him

Hears our cry

Saves us

Watches, preserves, and guards all who love Him.

God also taught me we cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our response and the direction of our praise.

How does reading these attributes of God change the outlook of your current situation?

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

~April Dawn White

©2017 All rights reserved

Psalm 23 for Chronic Illness

Psalm 23 for Chronic IllnessPsalm 23 for Chronic Illness

Hello friends,

As our family prepares for another grand detour, I seek comfort in these familiar words, “He leads me in the path of righteousness for His namesake” (Psalm 23:3). Today’s blog post is straight from my journal— my heart-felt response to each line to this famous Psalm.  I hope it brings comfort to you.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

God is my shepherd and guide, He will provide for my every need.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

God forces me to rest while the world scurries around.

He leads me beside still waters.

God provides a serene backdrop while quenching my thirsty soul with peace.

He restores my soul;

I surrender my daily chronic pain to my Shepherd. As I listen to my Shepherd’s voice and seek rest in Him, my soul is restored by the promises found in His Word.

Psalm 23 for Chronic Illness

He leads me in the path of righteousness for His namesake.

My Lord and Shepherd knows my final destination. He has carved out a new path through the desert of physical pain, financial loss, and emotional toil. Even through I cannot see the outcome of my illness, I trust my Shepherd to guide me along the narrow and traitorous paths. Detours upon detours, I trust my Guide remembering to walk by faith not by sight.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

The dark valley of chronic illness lurks with pain, regret, grief, and loss (of my career, identity, and friends who don’t know who to respond to my illness.)

I will fear no evil; for You are with me;

You promise to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5) and in Isaiah you claim me “You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 

You fight off the Enemy and You drag me away from the Enemies traps to doubt your love, trust, and provision.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 

You prepare a banquet feast and I am surrounded by joy, hope, faith, mercy, provision, and compassion. The Enemy prowls around my table, waiting for an empty spot at my table, but I refuse to rise from God’s banquet table.  I lean back, praising God for His goodness to me during this difficult time and discover…

You anoint my head with oil;

Liquid blessing drips down my face symbolizing I have been hand chosen by God for this assignment to tell of all His good deeds.


My cup runs over.

As I keep my eyes on You and listen to Your voice, I am continually filled to overflowing with hope, joy, compassion, faith, mercy, and Your provision. I am amply supplied and I can share with others from my excess.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;

Goodness and mercy follow me like a spiritual shadow reminding me I am never alone from God’s presence.


And I will dwell
in the house of the Lord Forever.

When my assignment on earth is complete, I will forever rest in heaven. My chronically ill body will be replaced by a disease free me, full of vitality and praise. Until then, I will seek God’s chronic presence amidst my chronic illness.  Amen.

~April Dawn White © 2017

Psalm 23 NKJV

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles: Guest Post by Amy Ahrens

I am honored to introduce you to my friend, Amy. When she shared this principle with me, I asked her to share it for Red Chair Moments. Enjoy! ~April

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

by Amy Ahrens

Recently, I pulled on a sleeveless dress to wear. Observing myself in the mirror, I realized I needed to start working on toning my arms. At the gym, I asked the physical trainer about toning my upper arms. Once I was taught the exercises, I began to implement them into my routine. If I put on that same dress today, would I miraculously have toned arms? No, it will take several weeks of exercise before I start seeing results of this discipline.

Later that week, I facilitated the Experiencing God, Bible study by Henry Blackaby. The class discussion for the week focused on the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. One of the women raised a great question, “Now, that I’m aware that I’ve been more self-centered, how do I change to be more God-centered?”

I responded, “Just as my upper arms were not toned overnight, in a similar way, becoming more God-centered is not going to happen overnight. Once you become initially aware, ask God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice in your day-to-day life. Ask for the courage to listen and obey.  As you begin to “exercise” this muscle of listening and obeying, the more strengthened and toned this muscle becomes.”

However, the more we ignore and disobey God’s Spirit, the harder our hearts become to hear His voice.  It’s like each time we put another cotton ball in our ears, until there are so many we can’t hear anymore.  The hardest times to listen and obey are in the tense situations, such as an argument where you sense the Spirit cautioning you not to speak hurtful words,  but you are so angry that you find yourself doing it anyway.

Take baby steps. Start exercising your spiritual muscles by obeying in the non-tense situations. This could be when you feel the Spirit nudging you to reach out to someone who is hurting or by praying if God wants you to fast.   Fasting is a spiritual discipline like communion, prayer, and reading your Bible.  It is the act of denying yourself of particular foods, drinks, or a meal, or activity (such as TV or social media).  When you deny yourself, and feel that craving for whatever you are sacrificing, reach out in prayer. Cry out to God in a hunger for Him.  It makes you more aware of what He is doing in your life.  By fasting, your prayers will be more fervent, and it exercises that spiritual muscle of becoming more God-centered.

This year for Lent, my daughter felt led to fast from ice cream and soda. It was difficult for my husband and two teenage boys to remember. However, it was a great learning experience for her. Shed had to stand firm when people around her were eating or drinking those items, and not bring attention to herself. Ultimately, it deepened her relationship with God. Each time she cried out to God during those difficult times of craving ice cream and soda, was reevaluating why she was fasting to begin with.

Sometimes God calls us to fast when He knows we are about to encounter a trial. It strengthens us as we shut out the noises of the world and connect to the Vine (John 15:5) When we remain in Him, we produce His fruit (Gal 5:22-23) in every area of our lives.   Trials would be those “tense” times, and after strengthening those muscles, then we are more likely to be “toned” and to act in God-centered ways in the midst of the hard times.

The more we obey and experience God at work, the more we trust Him.   We see in the Bible how God works in unexpected ways, and as we see Him working in our lives. We also see that He answers in unexpected ways. Trusting in God’s promises when we can’t see His hand will tone our spiritual muscles.

Amy is married to Peter and together they have 3 teens.  She works from home as an administrative professional in addition to owning her own Mary Kay business.  She serves in her church as a middle school small group leader and coaches and mentors moms of young children through a ministry called Moms & More.

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