The Hospitality Hibiscus

The hardy hibiscus plant is a true showstopper with its dinner plate size blossoms. Unlike its tropical cousin, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the hardy hibiscus is a perennial plant, which brings a tropical flare to a non-tropical flower garden.

As a child, my family spent many summer vacations at Myrtle Beach. It was there in coastal South Carolina, that my Mother fell in love with the hibiscus plant.

Tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. However, after returning home from South Carolina, Dad surprised Mom with the hardy hibiscus variety. Forty-four years later, crimson, champagne pink and white blooms with a distinct red eye, add a South Carolina tropical flare to my parent’s back yard.

One day I surveyed the streets surrounding my parent’s house. I was amazed at all the hibiscus plants I observed.

“Mom, I see beautiful flowering hibiscus plants in many of the yards here. Did you have anything to do with that?”

Mom’s laugh lines deepened, her grin served as her response.

“Seriously mom, even several streets away from your house, I see hibiscus plants.”

With a glint in her eye, mom replied, “Your Dad and I share our hibiscus plants with new neighbors, old neighbors, when someone is sick, or anyone who walks by. One day, your Dad saw Miss Helen out walking and asked her is she wanted a hibiscus. Miss Helen said, “Do I want a hot biscuit?” Laughing Dad repeated,  “Do you want a hibiscus plant?”

Miss Helen received a few hibiscus plants and she and Dad still joke about having a hot biscuit.

I counted over twenty yards with the beautiful hardy hibiscus plants, gifted by my parents. Some yards have all three varieties of color.

The Bible describes the use of hospitality in three easy ways: Show, Offer, and Practice.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2, NLT

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 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 4:9-10

Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13

Showing, offering, and practicing hospitality are my parent’s love languages—their gifts. Mom and Dad serve as extra grandparents to the neighboring kids. Dad repairs bikes and scooters and helps to build pine wood derby cars. Meanwhile, Mom is in the kitchen, cooking a meal, restocking the cookie jar or restocking the freezer with popsicles—sharing whatever they have with others.

Show, Offer, & Practice Hospitality. Click To Tweet

Just as the tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Kindness, hospitality, generosity, sympathy, and compassion are also no longer native to our of our culture. By replanting these diminishing character traits we can begin to replenish our communities.

My parents have lived in the same home for forty-four years. They have planted hospitality for decades and have the unique advantage to see how their hospitality has blossomed over the years. 

Sometimes we plants seeds of hospitality, seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and we don’t remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. But whether we stay planted in one neighborhood for a lifetime or move frequently we can practice hospitality right where we’re planted.

How can we show, offer, and practice hospitality with those around us?

~April Dawn White  © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Red Chair Moments, on location at my parents’ house.

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

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

The Sudden Move of God Doesn’t Require a Running Start

“God doesn’t need a running start.”  —Althea Brown

Suddenly I awoke to the sound of bass boats zooming down the lake. The roar of dozens of engines reverberated across the water. If it had been only one bass boat the sound would not have woken me, but today must be a tournament day.

In that early morning semi-sleep state, birds chirped a delightful melody while the bass boats accompanied in a harmonious roar. This symphony welcomed the introduction of springtime on Smith Mountain Lake.

As I awoke, God suddenly reminded me of a recent conversation with counselor, Althea Brown. She said, April, “God doesn’t need a running start.”

God doesn’t need a running start. —Althea Brown Click To Tweet

During my last counseling session, I shared the numerous circumstances that are beyond our control. Each choice, each future decision hinges on one aspect—how God will provide in a few short weeks.

During my counseling session, I was reminded God doesn’t need a running start. When God is ready, He will move. Suddenly a path or opportunity that wasn’t there before will suddenly appear.

Suddenly.

Suddenly, the word ‘suddenly’ was the focus of my Bible study. I began to dig into God’s Word and studied the times when God suddenly moved. When Abraham collected wood for the altar, he prayed for God’s sudden move. He continued the necessary preparations, while he prayed for God’s provision. Then suddenly there was a ram in the thicket.Ram in the Thicket

Moses had tended his father-in-law’s sheep for forty years. He probably wondered what his purpose in life was. Perhaps he questioned why Pharaoh’s daughter, rescued him from the river, to be raised in an Egyptian palace merely to tend sheep. Then suddenly, God appeared to him in a burning bush, giving Moses purpose and provision for the next phase of life.

As my counselor stated, “God doesn’t need a running start.” When God moves, it is a sudden move. Suddenly, the provision will be there. Suddenly what we need for the next step will show up and God doesn’t need a running start. As God told the prophet Isaiah:

“I am making a way in the desert. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19, ESV).

Friend, are you waiting for God’s sudden move? Invite Christ into your life and cast your burdens to him. Then pray and trust in God’s Sovereign timing of provision.

Lace up your running shoes and be ready when God suddenly moves.

~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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