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

 

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

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

The Great Reversal

The Great ReversalReading from Eugene Peterson’s Message version of Matthew, the words, “The Great Reversal” leaped off the page and lodged in my heart.

For reasons I cannot explain, I had an attack of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis that endured all last week. Extreme muscle weakness and random paralysis enwrapped my body. I was thankful for the snow days because my teens were home to help me. Too weak to hold a coffee mug, the kids held the mug for me while I sipped hazelnut liquid mercy.

The Great Reversal. Those words tumbled around in my mind like laundry in the dryer.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Sometimes God will allow a great reversal in our life circumstances, to cause us to stop, to rely on Him, and to allow God’s purpose to prevail.

Since the discovery and diagnosis of my illness, my life and the life of my family has taken on a great reversal. Though we have settled into a new normal, I still grapple with this new assignment in life. I struggle with my identity and my purpose—areas of my life that I never questioned before because life was going according to my plan.

In my personal great reversal, I have changed roles from an active, healthy, able-bodied wife, mother, and pharmacist to a passive, chronically ill wife and mother humbled by my limitations and lack of income. I feel like a butterfly stuffed back into a cocoon.

“The flip side of fear is faith.” —Pastor Steven Furtick Click To Tweet

 

On the flip side of my personal great reversal, I’ve had a front row seat to God’s faithfulness, compassion, and provision. If this statement is too vague, let me supply a few details. When the $1000 bill for my genetic testing arrived, I specifically prayed for God’s provision. I was no longer working and finances were tight. A few hours later, a woman from my Bible study called and asked The Great Reversalto stop by for coffee. We had a delightful visit, just the two of us. Upon her departure, she prayed for me and told me she felt led to do something for me. There on my crayon-marred kitchen table, she penned a check for $1000! Tears erupted from the corners of my eyes. Once I regained composure, I shared with her my earlier prayer and we cried and praised God together.

 

When the time came for us to sell our lakefront home and move me to a one-level home, God took care of us on every side. We accepted an above asking price offer within twelve days of the listing and we closed within the month hassle free.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Perhaps my greatest personal reversal is my daily surrender to God.  I have switched from relying on self to relying on God. I can no longer function without God’s daily strength (and a several cups of coffee). I know I cannot take care of my needs, but I rely daily on the One who does.

Friend, I invite you to ask: 

Have I experienced a recent reversal or set back in my life?

Could this set back could be a set up for God’s greater purpose in my life?

What would happen if I chose to reverse my perspective and ask God to see this new circumstance through His eyes?

What area of God’s character do you think He is trying to reveal to me?

~April 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

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