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

He Appeared and the Soul Felt Its Worth

He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The words printed on this Christmas card were familiar, simple, and profound. I recognized the phrase as a song lyric but to which Christmas hymn I was uncertain.

Such pondering was an excuse to brew another pot of liquid mercy. I leaned against the kitchen counter, inhaling the hazelnut aroma, eyes closed and holding the card in my hand. I sang the phrase, “He appeared and the soul felt its worth” and recognized it as a line from O Holy Night.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel which means, God WITH us.” (Matthew 1:23, emphasis mine)

There are no greater reassuring words than the promise of God WITH us.  Immanuel is a name of God often referenced during the Christmas season. However, the promise of God WITH us is for all seasons, in every trial, and through every dark valley.

“Even though I walk thought the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are WITH me.” (Psalms 23:4, emphasis mine)

Let me get this out of the way and say, this has not been an easy year. A disease we had never heard of before, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, turning our world upside down. Suddenly I stepped out of a healthy active life into the world of chronic illness. So many areas of my life has changed,  my health, my income, my abilities, my independence, my priorities, and my perspective.

Through it all, God appeared reminding me of His name, Immanuel. God WITH us never left our side and my soul felt its worth. My soul felt its worth for being me–broken and humbled.  One of the greatest challenges I faced this year was breaking free from the idea of perfection and performance. I have let go of the idols of perfectionism and performance and grasped Immanuel’s hand instead. God loves me because He created me. I am enough.

I am thankful Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, allowing me a year of rest and quiet time with the Lord. While a rare disease hijacked by body, God’s presence hijacked my soul. He appeared and my soul felt its worth.

Merry Christmas 2016

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author & Pixabay  © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Guest Post by Maria Hartman & The Broken Way Giveaway Winner

My friend Maria recently shared this poem with me. Today, Maria’s birthday, I am honored to share this poem with my Red Chair Moments family.

Continue reading below to discover the blessed winner of Ann Voskamp’s book and DVD study guide, The Broken Way.


What If…

by Maria Hartman

What if this Christmas our focus was on

Praising the Lord for the gift of His Son?

 

What if instead of songs about snowmen

Our hearts bowed in wonder at the presence of God-Man?

 

What if instead of the rush to buy more,

We sought out the Giver who holds eternity sure?

 

What if we lived like we knew He was real

And not joined with the throngs who just want to feel?

 

What if this King was our reason for being

Would others take notice that it’s Him they are seeing?

 

What if we wept with repentance and sorrow

That though He is here many wait till ‘tomorrow’?

 

What if we purposed, committed, and vowed

That this Jesus the Christ would be spoken out loud?

 

What if His children with passion anew

Chose not to compromise on what is Holy and True?

 

What if we wanted, more than all else on earth

To know of His suffering and not just His birth?

 

What if instead of just empty traditions

We treasured the Word above all other ambitions?

 

What if we died to the old man each day?

And cried “Holy Spirit, please have Your way!”

 

‘What if’s’ a question with an answer that’s clear

The world would have Hope and no reason to fear.

 

Our Savior HAS come, He’s LORD of all nations

Praise God Almighty, this IS the Christmas celebration.

 

Giveaway Winner

Last week, I posted my review and offered a giveaway of The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.

Congratulations to Noelle A, the winner of a free copy of The Broken Way and DVD study guide! I will be in touch.

Abundant blessings to you!

~April Dawn White

© 2016 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

Martha, Martha

Cease striving boat pictureBy April Dawn White

I am desperately trying to be a Mary in a Martha season.

Mary and Martha were sisters. When Jesus came to visit their home, Mary (not Jesus’ mother, a different Mary) sat at Jesus’ feet and drank in His presence. “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-41, NIV)

We are in a Martha season. A season of business. Thanksgiving through New Year’s is my favorite time of year. For most of us, it is also our most hectic time of year. A quick glance at my December calendar reveal only three, 1-2-3, empty squares on the calendar. (Yes, I’m old school, I prefer a paper calendar over my Google calendar.)

Sometimes, I think I hear God whisper, Martha, Martha. My family probably wishes I was busy in in the kitchen like Martha, but we’ve been dining off leftovers for days. Last week, on a feel-good day, I will busied myself in the kitchen making and freezing an assortment of Christmas cookies. Chris and kids begged to eat the mint Oreo’s but I’ve threatened to return their gifts. The Oreo’s will be made into mint chocolate white chocolate truffles.

Click to enlarge recipe

I don’t know what happened? I purposefully declined from participating in several events this season, yet the days are still full with Christmas programs (school and church), violin recitals, cookie exchange, and family gatherings.

This year I’ve resolved to simplify. To spend less time fussing in the kitchen and more time fussing over Christ. Except for backing cookies, I have resolved to bring store bought items to any Christmas event.

Don’t judge. I’m simply choosing to be a Mary in a Martha season.

~April Dawn White

www.RedChairMoments.com

 

 

Angelic Greetings

 nativity-447767_1920 pixabay“Greetings, Mary, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

Mary was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.

Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call this name Jesus.

He will be great, and called ‘Son of the God Most High’ He will reign on the throne of his father forever.

But how? I’m still a virgin. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the child you will deliver will be called Holy, Son of God.

Mary, did you know that this very moment, your cousin Elizabeth, as old as she is, she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

(Luke 1:26-37, combination of NIV, MSG, and author’s paraphrase)

As I began to prepare my heart for the Christmas God directed me to two different angelic accounts thousands of years apart. One angelic account with Mary when she was told she would give birth to the Messiah. The second angelic account, I was unfamiliar with, Moses and the Israelites just prior to the Red Sea crossing.

The Scriptures is full of angelic greetings. God uses angelic greetings to prepare His people for big challenges—life altering challenges. Here is Moses’ angelic encounter recorded in Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV):

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

I love how God uses past tense grammar for a future victory.  “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to the place I have prepared.” A future promise for a past tense victory. I don’t know about you, but that just resonates well within my soul.

ground Pixabay

Mary and Moses had two distinctly different angelic greetings and challenges. Yet, these greetings possessed the same purpose; to prepare the way for freedom.

Moses led a million man march, a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. They marched on dry ground towards freedom.

Mary, a quiet unassuming girl, became pregnant with the Holy Spirit. (Yeah right, who’s going to believe that, others whispered behind her back). Her dreams of the picture perfect wedding were shattered, because God had other plans for her. Mary would deliver the One who would deliver freedom through salvation in Christ.

Through both thadvent-80125_1920 pixabayese angelic encounters, God reminds us that He has already prepared the way for freedom. There is freedom in Christ, but we have to take possession of it.  We have to be willing to say, “Yes Lord” even when:

  • It is something we don’t want to do.
  • It doesn’t make sense.
  • It changes our plans.

 

 

We must be willing to:

  • Seek His Face.
  • Obey.
  • Take faith steps forward, even when we don’t see the staircase.
  • Grasp the promise of freedom, Christ has already delivered.

I don’t know what Red Sea challenge you are currently facing. Perhaps it’s the need for a job, your health, or a wayward child. Perhaps it is a move to Texas, New Zealand, or to become an Army Ranger. Perhaps you take care of so many loved ones that you don’t have strength for yourself. Or perhaps your Red Sea challenge is your health.

My Red Sea challenge is also my health. When I was asked months ago to share tonight, I did not know then that just two days ago, I would be diagnosed with CIDP,  a rare neuromuscular disease. There is no cure. But when scientific research says ‘there is no cure’, God leans in and whispers, ‘There is HOPE!’ Because of Christ we have hope!

Friends, because of Christ, there is HOPE! But we must be willing to take possession of the hope and freedom that Christ has already delivered. I encourage you today, with the angelic greetings spoken to Moses and Mary:

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.

Don’t worry.

Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Pin It on Pinterest