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

Dear Mother Who Puts Herself Last: Guest Writer Angela Jamison

I see you in the grocery store, hurrying along at 9 pm. I can imagine the thoughts running through your head from how you just want to be in bed to how badly your feet hurt because you’re not sure if you’ve sat down all day.

I see you in the doctor’s office massaging your temples, wondering if this headache will ever go away. Wondering if uninterrupted sleep will ever be something you get again.

I see you in the restaurant, trying to enjoy the beauty of not having to cook or clean up, but worried about the mess nonetheless.

I see you. I am you.

I, too, am a mother who puts herself last.

Although it was my deepest desire to be a mother, I didn’t anticipate losing myself in the process. I didn’t anticipate some of my favorite things becoming foreign or dreams disappearing with diapers.

I had no idea my deepest wish would be my greatest joy and my hardest trial in equal parts.

I bet you had no idea either.

I’d imagine your children are your world, the most important piece of your existence, but let me let you in on a powerful truth … you’re important too!

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. When you take care of you, you’re teaching a far more powerful lessons than when you run yourself to empty.

We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. Click To Tweet

Those dreams that disappeared with the diapers, rekindle them. Your children need to see you have a passion and work toward it. Some of the best encouragement in the world comes from children! Allow them to enrich the path to your dreams instead of being a roadblock.

That nap you skipped because there were bottles to wash, laundry to fold and floors to vacuum, take it next time. Your health is imperative to healthy kids. When you are healthy, you are happier and when you are happier, your children are happier. Take the rest and allow your children to see you slow down. In a “go go go” world, our children need to know it’s ok to take a break.

Putting yourself last seems to be in the unwritten motherhood handbook. I’m tearing that page out and so should you! Our children may be our world, but the more powerful truth is – we are theirs.

Take care of your children’s world, you, by moving up in line. As mothers, we’ll never be good at putting ourselves first, but we can happily fall somewhere in the middle.

We are more important than being last.

Sincerely,

A Mother Moving Up in Line

Angela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the director of a Christian preschool. After struggling with infertility, she and her husband entered the world of foster care where they have been overwhelmed exploring the path laid before them by the most perfect Father. When she is not entertaining children, Angela loves to read, write, and connect with mothers and parents to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on earth. To learn more about Angela, visit her webpage at http://www.angelajamison.com or follow her on Twitter, @AngJamison04.

God’s Faithfulness Awaits our Surrender

PixabayDear friends, as you to read this catch up post, I hope you will understand my sporadic posts over the past several months.

One year ago, we listed our home for sale. The sell of our beloved home of fifteen years was necessary since my diagnosis of the rare chronic illness Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.  By May of 2017, we had no offers on our home forcing us to make alternate plans.  Seeking God’s face for what to do next, we advertised our lakefront home on the Vacation Rent by Owners website.  To our surprise, bookings flooded our inbox.

God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.

I cried, no I wailed.

I wailed over my chronic illness, the loss of my job, and our circumstances. I cried over God’s abundant blessings in the form of multiple bookings.

My parents offered for our family to live with them as long as necessary. Our family of four and two Jack Russell terriers moved in with my semi-retired parents and their cat. Oh, the stories I could tell about the cat and dog antics and the kids learning to plant, harvest, and can garden crops.

Our plan was to stay with my parents for the summer and move back into our home before school started. Chris and I calculated God provided enough bookings to pay the mortgage for the next year. God is faithful!

Unbeknownst to us, the Pharisees next door were circling their prey. Our lake neighbors, who we called friends for over fifteen years, were angry with us for renting our home. Not one, but three sets of neighbors whom we had shared many meals together and whom Chris had repaired their homes, cars, and welded numerous items betrayed us during our greatest need for compassion. At the height of our stress, we were mocked, cussed, and utterly double-crossed by people we once respected and admired.

The stress of their Judas kiss flared my illness. I suffered multiple physical attacks of paralysis and severe muscle weakness.  In July, I told Chris, “I cannot move back home. The stress on my body is too much and I can’t live there and face their betrayal.” Chris agreed and he immediately called a realtor. Within twelve days of re-listing our home, God delivered two competing full-price offers.

God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender. Click To Tweet

It was extremely humbling to rent our home to stay afloat. But God sees and He takes care of His children. In September, we sold our home to a family who loved our home from the first time it was on the market. Behind the scenes, they were rearranging their finances to purchase our home. God’s hand was active even when we could not see the movement.  (I have much more to add to this in another post).

In October, we purchased our new home. We moved from the rural countryside to the suburbs. For the first time 2001, we have a flat yard, high-speed internet, curbside trash pick up, and pizza delivery! Our home is one-level with an unfinished basement. Chris is already dreaming what to build next. We are thirty minutes closer to Chris’ work and closer to medical care and assistance for me.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the trail-head to a 3-mile walking trail, which meanders though our neighborhood.  Earlier this week, Chris and I walked a small portion of the trail. Crossing the footbridge over a babbling creek, the trail opens up to a hidden park with two base/softball fields. Turning to Chris, I mentioned, “Rachel will love this!” We continued along the trail, ducking into a tunnel under the main road.  A crimson country convenient store emerged into view as we exited the tunnel. Chris purchased a Dr. Pepper and pastry for himself and a coffee for me. Hand-in-hand we walked home basking in God’s faithfulness.

My unexpected diagnosis shook and disrupted our comfortable life. Like a child shaking her piggy bank, eager to grasp the last quarter, I too tried to hold onto things I called MINE.  With clinched fists, I selfishly tried to hang onto my career (until my illness was too severe), my security (until I no longer brought home a paycheck), my health (until paralysis and muscle weakness mocked me), and my identity. Finally, I surrendered control.

One of my favorite stories from the New Testament is when Jesus caught a multitude of fish. Simon Peter and his fishing companions were out all night and caught nothing. As they were washing their nets, Jesus was preaching to a crowd on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. As the crowd grew, Jesus stepped into Simon Peter’s boat to teach from the water. When Jesus was finished preaching He asked Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:4-5). Simon Peter surrendered control and God’s great faithfulness (in the form of fish) caused the boat to sink. Simon Peter signaled for his fishing companions to come help. This fishing crew was eyewitnesses to the miraculous power and faithfulness of God.  They surrendered their occupation and life to become Jesus’

Pixabay

first disciples.  They “left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).

God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is one of the many character traits that define Him.  Even when we are not faithful to acknowledge Him,

He is faithful and longsuffering towards His children. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul also writes, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Perhaps your life has been turned upside down by unforeseen circumstances, trauma, a prodigal child, broken relationships, and loss. Me too. Trust me when I say, God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.  Pry open your fists and invite God to take control and watch as His faithfulness floods your life.

~April Dawn White

©2017 All Rights Reserved.

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.

Prescriptive Prayer

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous [wo]man avails much.” (James 5:16, NKJV)

This prayer was electronically delivered to my inbox this week. This prayer was purposefully penned for my friend Meg. Meg is fighting a reoccurring battle of cancer, specifically a reoccurring brain tumor.

During trials of life, we need the support of others. This prescriptive prayer is an example of a prayer warrior in action. Meg and the author of this prayer, Anne H., gave permission for me to share this with you.  Meg refers to this prayer as her “prescriptive prayer.” Friends, thank you in advance for taking Meg’s need before God’s throne.~April

 

Prescriptive Prayer by Anne H. 

Lord,
I come worshiping You for who You are, and thanking You for Your amazing love… “You were before all things, and through You all things exist.” (Colossians 1:17)

You, Father, knew Meg before she was ever born, You “fashioned all of her days when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) This brain tumor did not take You by surprise, and You have called Meg by name and have said to her,Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

So, I come Lord, putting the entire burden of this brain tumor on You, and I ask that You defeat it, that You take it apart, that You bring it to nothing, for Your glory and for Meg’s good, and for the good of her children. I know that “the thief (the enemy of our souls) comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but that You came to bring life, and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Fill Meg with Your abundant life, and remove the enemy’s attempt to destroy her. I speak against all fear that would come against her and ask that tormenting fear would leave her, and that Your perfect love would cast out all fear. (1 John 4:18) I ask, “No weapon formed against her would prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)

I ask that You cover her, and her children, this treatment plan, her family, and friends who are supporting her and praying for her, with Your protective shield and Presence. I ask that You watch over every aspect of Meg’s life and journey, and that You and Your name be lifted up throughout this fight of faith! Keep her and her children grounded in You and in Your love, and “when the enemy comes in like a flood, that the Spirit of the Lord would lift up a standard against him!” (Isaiah 59:19)

I thank You and praise You that in this world You never leave us alone and without hope. “You never leave us, nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5) and that You hold our hand (Isaiah 41:13) and walk us through the fire (Isaiah 43:2) so that we might come forth emblazoned by You, with a deeper love and understanding of all that You are and of all that You accomplished at the Cross on our behalf.

Thank You Holy Father. Thank you precious Jesus.Thank You magnificent Spirit.

In Jesus mighty name, we ask and believe all these things!

Amen.

A Go Fund Me account was established for Meg an the family. Click on the link below for more information. 

https://www.gofundme.com/megs-radiation-treatment-fund

A Season of Saturdays: Between the Pain & the Promise

I am stuck in a season of Saturdays.

The last three days of the Holy week, Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday, represent the pain of loss and the hope of the promise we have in Christ. What about Saturday? I understand the purpose of Good Friday and I eagerly anticipate celebrating the risen Savior on Easter Sunday. But what about Saturday? What is the purpose of Saturday?

As I studied the Bible for the events of the Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, I focused primarily on the last three days; Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday. I found it interesting that the gospels recount the various activities of Friday and Sunday morning, but there is little mention about Saturday. What about Saturday? What is the purpose of Saturday?

According to the Bible, the day after Christ’s death was the Sabbath. Jewish law prohibited work on that day. Perhaps each follower was pondering the words Jesus spoke during his three-year ministry. Maybe they were shocked and bewildered thinking, “This wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.” Maybe they felt stuck—stuck not knowing what to do next or how to pick up the broken pieces and move on.

I am stuck in a season of Saturdays. Stuck not knowing what the next step will be or which direction set forth. Like the movie Groundhog Day, I wake up and experience the same day repeatedly.

What is the purpose of Saturday? For weeks, I pondered this question. Slowly two words rose to the surface of my heart: wait and hope.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5).

“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 if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25).

“We wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

My season of Saturdays are filled with confusion and curiosity, grief and loss. I am waiting on God to ease my suffering as I try to make sense of all the life changes. Meanwhile I reach out for the promise of hope that Sunday brings. Scholars tell us the Bible contains over 8,000 promises. If you chose one promise a day, it would take nearly twenty-two years to read all 8,000 promises.

Are you in a season of waiting? As you wait, wait with the promise of hope in Jesus Christ. Together as we wait with hope, let us remember to trust God’s sovereign hand.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

~April Dawn White

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

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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