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.

Serving Pieces

“Serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

I sat on the kitchen floor, crisscross applesauce style, pulling out rarely used items from the base cabinet. With our home on the market, we need pack away any non-essential pieces. Three piles quickly emerged—store, donate, and toss. I wondered how I acquired this much plastic ware with out matching lids. Toss.

I slid over to the next kitchen base cabinet, and extended by back into a cat stretch, feeling the strain pull across my shoulders and back. This cabinet contained serving pieces. I carefully wrapped the cut glass serving dishes and my “good” Pampered Chef items in bubble wrap before placing them in the storage box. Once the box was full, I taped the lid closed and labeled the box:

KITCHEN: Serving Pieces

I reread the contents of the box “Serving Pieces” and looked down at my hands.

Our hands are built in serving pieces. Click To Tweet

Something was amiss. This level of pondering requires coffee. I opened the refrigerator door and reached for the half-and-half. A 1970’s white plate with avocado green flowers caught my attention. I smiled as I thought, “My mom still has these plates.” Nestled on the forty plus year old plate sat a homemade cheese ball. My daughter requested Grandma’s savory delight for her twelfth birthday.

My mind wanders to author Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. My mom’s language of love is Acts of Service. Mom serves on cooking and cleaning committees at church. Not a week goes by that she is not cooking for someone in the community. While the dining room is full of serving pieces and pink Depression glass, passed down from her mother, mom’s serving pieces are utilitarian and filled with love and prayer. Like mom, I also share in the Acts of Service language . Mom taught me, our hands are our serving pieces to wrap around others in need.

Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need. Click To Tweet

The microwave dings and startles me back to my current task. I sip the reheated liquid mercy, and ponder the significance of serving pieces. Our hands are our built in serving pieces. Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need, to push a grocery cart or a lawn mower for those who cannot. Our serving pieces become gnarled and wrinkled after years of baking meals for the ill,  recently widowed, or neighbor in need.

Questions probe my heart as I ponder, what about us, do we serve others well?

Do I serve God faithfully?

Do I practice hospitality on paper plate days?

Do I wait to plan the perfect meal and perfect moment?

After nibbling my daughter’s cheese ball, I return to packing. Only God knows how long our home will be on the market. However, should that keep me from serving? No. God calls us to serve. Our hands are our serving pieces, to share with those who are in need. From the bottom cabinet I pull out two disposable pans to make a homemade dish for a few shut-ins in my community.

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

 

Mom’s Homemade Cheese ball Recipe

2 bricks of cream cheese

¼cup red or green pepper

2 tablespoons of onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of seasoned salt

8oz can of crushed pineapple (drained well)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix first five ingredients together.

Roll into a ball.

Chill.

Roll cheese ball into in chopped pecans.

Bible Verses about Serving

Serving God by serving others is one of the most important principles in the Christian faith.  Here are some verses to ponder as we joyfully serve others.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7).

“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38).

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

~April Dawn White

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

This article was first published on Inspire a Fire.com.

But as for Me, I Trust in You

As I journey through the book of Psalms, one particular reoccurring phrase whispers hope. The phrase “But as for me” greets me along the trek and encourages me to continue.

The phrase, “But as for me” recognizes I have a choice. I can choose trust or fear, sorrow or joy, rejection or redirection. Despite my feelings (because feelings lie) and despite what the world thinks, this phrase urges me to choose God.

Are you at a crossroads? Is uncertainty looming? I pray that you will read these power packed verses and be encouraged to choose God despite your outlook.

But as for Me Verses:

“But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” (Psalm 40:17, 70:5)

“But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.” (Psalm 49:15, NLT)

”But as for me, I trust in you. (Psalm 55:23)

 “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” (Psalm 59:16, NLT)

 “But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me.”(Psalm 69:29)

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (Psalm 73:28)

”But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 75:9, NLT)

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord.” (Micah 3:8)

”But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7) 

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25, NLT)

“But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts.” (Jeremiah 12:3, NLT)

And as for God…

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (2 Samuel 22:26, Psalm 18:30)

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay  *Scripture is NIV from BibleGateway.com unless otherwise noted.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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