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

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

Finding Peace When All is Lost: Guest Writer Angie Nolen

Finding Peace When All is LostAs part of Advent, our church invited my dear friend, Angie Nolan to share on peace. Angie writes on Finding Peace When All Is Lost.  She knows full well the supernatural peace extended to her during pain and loss. Like the Apostle Paul, who also wrote from prison, Angie’s voice carries the tune of praise and peace in dark circumstances. 

Last week, my friend Sara and I visited Angie in prison, I asked her permission to use this powerful message as a guest writer for Red Chair Moments. Today, Sara and I will read Angie’s message to our church congregation during the Christmas Eve service.

Pour a cup on liquid mercy and settle in for a blessing. ~ April

Finding Peace When All Is Lost by Angie Nolen

My mental image of peace usually involves water—walking beside a tranquil stream, sitting on the dock at the lake, or soaking up the sun by the ocean while wiggling my toes in the sand. It’s easy for me to find peace in those beautiful places…when things are going well and life is good.

How do you find peace when life is the worst it has ever been? How do you find peace in the middle of the storms?How do you find peace when you’ve lost everything—your home, your career, your father, and your freedom? How do you find peace when you can’t be with your child; unable to protect her and guide her as she grows up without you? How do you find peace when people have failed you and you even feel like God has abandoned you?

The answer is you don’t.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet

The reality is there is nothing you can do to find peace. You have to go to the water—the living water. Jesus told the woman at the well “If you only knew the gift that God has for you…you would ask me and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Did you hear that? “I would give.” Jesus gives the water. He IS the living water.  In the 23rd Psalm, David says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” That sounds like peace to me. He leads. He restores. Christ says in John 14:27, “My peace I give to you.”

 There is nothing I can do to find peace. God gives it.

It makes no sense that I am able to put aside my sadness, worry, and fear to sleep through the night on a metal bed in this terrible place but I can. Paul, who also understood prison life, wrote Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 The keywords from Paul’s script are “prayer” and “peace of God.” Every night when I lie down, I pray and recite scriptures until I fall asleep. When I am too overwhelmed by emotions and I can’t seem to pray, I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for me and that Jesus himself is interceding for me, and rest eventually comes. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8).

The world defines peace as a state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. The prison in which I am forced to live for now is not a place of peace. It is a place of self-centeredness, anger, resentment, noise, conflict, disrespect, foul language, and nasty attitudes. It is very hard to feel peaceful here; it is hard to settle your mind and find rest.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the quiet assurance in your soul that God is in control; He’s got you in the palm of His hand, from your first breath to your last—your past, your present, your future, and your eternal home.

So, if you are looking for peace—stop and ask. Finding Peace When All is Lost

The Holy Spirit freely gives us His peace, and we must shoe our feet with that peace so that we can stand firm against the attacks of the enemy and walk forward in faith.

~Angie Nolen

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

Life is Hard, but God is Good

Is God good?

I don’t know what prompted my husband to ask the question. It was an ordinary day. We were zooming down the road to Rachel’s (aka Pop Fly) softball game. Shifting into fifth gear, my husband turned toward the backseat and asked, “Is God Good?”

Rachel, our twelve-year-old, immediately answered, “Yes.”

Non-verbal sounds emanated from Andrew’s throat with a not-no-sure moan.

Chris asked again, “Andrew, Is God good?”

“Well….um…” He began.

Panic raced through my veins. Have I failed as a mother? I wonder.  I pray, “Lord, why isn’t he answering this question? Lord, help him to know the truth.”

“It’s just that…” He continued struggling to form his thoughts.

Memories flash through my mind of all the bedtime prayers, family devotions, long discussions about hard topics, vacation Bible schools, and even private Christian school. Yet my fourteen-year-old son struggles with this three-word question.

Sighing, Andrew spoke, “God is good, it’s just that life is hard right now.”

Continuing he said, “Mom has an illness and is unable to work. Dad has all the weight on him right now. I broke my ankle and we need to sell our house.”

Keeping his eyes on the road, Chris nodded, “You’re right Andrew, God is good and life is hard right now.”

Turing to look at him in the back seat, “Andrew, both of those statements are true. The reality of our current situation does not change the fact that God is good.”

I realized the delay in Andrew’s response was not due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a crisis of faith. Deep down he knew the right answer taught by his parents, the church, and even his school. However, his teenage brain had developed deeper thought processes. Truth and reality wrestled in his mind.

Life is Hard, but God is Good. Click To Tweet

There will come a time in everyone’s life when there is a crisis of faith.Surrounded on every side Truth and reality will wrestle in our minds.  Which one will win? Much of the outcome depends on our perception of God. Do you perceive God as good? If you struggle in this area, try this this exercise in faith: for one-week jot down everything, you are thankful. Big or small, write them down and give God praise for His faithful provision.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Silence the Temper Tantrums Surrounding the Holidays

PixabayMy inner two-year-old is throwing a temper tantrum. She is screaming, “I don’t want to move! I don’t want this chronic illness! I want to go back to work!” My inner two-year-old can huff and stomp all she wants, but it doesn’t change the facts, that I do have a rare chronic illness, returning to work is in God’s hands, and so is the sell of our home.

A few weeks ago, I admitted to my husband that I wanted to skip past the holidays and go straight to January. The sting in my heart surrounding this Thanksgiving and Christmas was so severe, I felt like avoiding these cherished holidays rather than celebrating them.

My eleven-year-old daughter recently gave my two-year-old inner child a verbal spanking. At our rented storage unit, I pointed to which Christmas boxes to take and said, “We’ll take only the snowmen decorations and Christmas tress ornaments. Since our house is on the market, I’m not going to decorate as much this year.” Rachel, stomped the floor, and threw both fists onto her hips, and commanded, “No mom! We are celebrating Christmas! Christ’s birth! Your Savior’s birthday!” My inner two-year-old was stunned and responded, “Yes ma’am.”

Giving thanks is an act of spiritual obedience. Click To Tweet

This morning, Thanksgiving morning, my body does not want to cooperate. Pain and discomfort seized skeletal muscles and I document the pain as 8 out of 10 in my medical journal.            in-everything-give-thanks-chalkboard-meme

In the kitchen, I cup the freshly brewed liquid mercy with both hands enjoying the heat and the aroma. I ponder the kitchen chalkboard verse, “In everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

“Thanksgiving takes the sting out of adversity” Sara Young author of Jesus Calling

Giving thanks is an act of spiritual obedience. I force myself to give God praise and thanks. Some days it doesn’t come natural and isn’t easy. As I offer praise and thanks, God shifts my perspective. Rather than focusing on the negative side, I choose to celebrate this being our last Thanksgiving and Christmas in this house! Rachel assists me in adding extra sparkle to the wooden banister and we lite sugar cookie scented candles and play Christmas music.

count-your-blessings-imageMy broken heart will be thankful.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim [praise, give thanks to] you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” (Psalm 89; 15, NIV, emphasis mine)

Ever thankful, 

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of author & Pixabay. © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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