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

Forget the Frock This Easter

As a girl, purchasing a new frilly dress, lace embellished socks, and white patent leather shoes, was my favorite part of our Easter tradition. Easter was the one time of year when we had new clothes. The rest of the year, we wore hand-me-downs.

Growing up in the Bible belt in the south, Easter was the one Sunday when the phrase “wearing your Sunday best,” took on a completely new meaning. Boys wore a suit and tie and girls dripped in accessories, even the parents have a new outfit. If you are a woman, you probably have a new handbag and shoes to match.

The memory of my childhood Easters returned to me recently when I came across a video called “Forget the Frock”. As I watched the video, I instantly connected with the mission of this organization. This Easter, forget the frock. Instead of spending money buying new clothes this Easter, spend the money supporting missionaries and feeding orphans.

Forget the Frock this Easter and Feed Orphans instead. Click To Tweet

This Easter, our family will support Serving His Children.
Our family has been ministry partners with Serving His Children for years. I am excited to introduce this organization to you. Serving His Children is a non-profit organization that partners with the Ministry of Health in Uganda to treat the severely malnourished, provides health education, teaches effective agriculture methods, shares the gospel of Christ, and brings communities together.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27, NLT)

Forget the Frock

Forget the Frock, I’m wearing a Serving His Children T-shirt this Easter.

Jesus’ ministry included caring for the sick, the widows, and orphans. This Easter our family will refocus our attention on where Christ spent his attention.  This Easter we will forget the frock and support feeding the malnourished.

Will you join hundreds of others who are also choosing to forget the frock?

~April Dawn White

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Gratitude Is Always In Season

“I want my old life back,” I sobbed to my husband. “Yesterday, I felt good and went on a brief walk. My fifteen-minute walk caused over two hours of muscle weakness and paralysis. Today, my entire body hurts.  This disease sucks.”

My beloved of nearly nineteen years, inched closer to me. He knows I needed a compassionate listening ear.  “I wish I could have my old self back just for one day.”

Sipping his own mug of liquid mercy, my husband asked, “What would you do?”

“I would run. I miss the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest, breath synchronized to rhythm of my pace, and sweat on my face.”

He laughed and said, “I guess I’m lazy because running does not sound fun to me.”

“After running,” I said, wiping my eyes, “I would play soccer with Andrew and softball with Rachel.”

“Now, that sounds fun,” my beloved said and offered a hug.

An hour later, I sat alone in my red chair reading Scripture and praying.  Peace replaced the sadness I felt earlier. It is amazing what time with the Lord can do. “Thank you Lord for the peace, Amen.”

Placing my coffee mug in the sink, I studied the kitchen chalkboard sign. The chalked verse and mini pumpkins have been in place for seven months. It is now spring. These pumpkins are leftovers from two seasons ago. I examined each pumpkin for signs of decay, but the pumpkins are just a firm as the day I received them.

Pushing back the darkness that lingers with chronic illness, I read the verse: “In everything, give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Gratitude is Always in Season Click To Tweet

The mini-pumpkins decorating my kitchen counter are out-of-season along with the candy cane Christmas kitchen towel, but gratitude is always in season.

Friend, are you stuck in one season hoping for another? Me too! As we journey together let us not forget that gratitude is always in season.

~April Dawn White

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

© 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

 

Hobbit Holes and Castles: Refuge My Word for 2017

“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 good deeds” (Psalm 73:28, emphasis mine).

When twenty-seventeen began, I wanted to crawl into Bilbo Baggin’s hobbit hole. I wanted to seek refuge with his books, dishes, and doilies. I had too many unanswered questions and carryover burdens from 2016. I wanted to go into hiding and wait it out while God sorted out my life.

“Tell me when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you?

…The world is not in books or maps, It’s out there!”—Gandall

What I wanted was refuge, a place to go and feel protected and safe.  I wanted a place where I was cared for and did not have to make every decision. I wanted a place of peace and rest. What I wanted, God was willing to provide.

The word refuge is found ninety-eight times in the Bible. Here are a few of my favorite passages on refuge:

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)

 “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19)

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

 “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 59:16)

 “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 good deeds” (Psalm 73:28, emphasis mine).

As I began to mediate on God’s Word and study the meaning of the word refuge, peace began to flood my soul. God revealed to me it wasn’t the items I needed, rather it was whom I needed to seek refuge.

The place I envisioned as my refuge changed from a hobbit hole to a grand castle or fortress surrounded by water, bulkheads, stone towers, and cannons. Perhaps Martin Luther had this in mind when he penned the famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

What do you envision when you hear the word refuge? Have you experienced a time in your life when you felt protected by God’s refuge?  If so, please share.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Rare Disease Day & Alongside Giveaway Winner

Rare Disease DayThis is the day the Lord, has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, HCSB)

Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The goal of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness to the public and lawmakers on rare diseases and their impact on patient (and family) lives.

Last year, I was diagnosed with hypokalemic periodic paralysis, a rare condition that is prevalent in 1/100,000 people.

I celebrated Rare Disease Day, as I celebrate every “good day,” talking with friends. These particular friends are battling their own health crisis. As I set out to encourage them, I was the one who was encouraged.

Do you know someone whose illness is rare or chronic? Perhaps you can come alongside them today, tomorrow, or this week and provide a little extra dose of sunshine and encouragement.

This is the day the Lord, has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, HCSB)

Giveaway winnerAlongside

Earlier this month, I reviewed the new book by Sarah Beckman, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial. Click on this sentence if you missed the book review.

The winner of the new book by Sarah Beckman, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial is Leah L.  I will contact you soon for address information.

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay and Morgan James Publishing

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Alongside by Sarah Beckman Book Review and Giveaway

AlongsideRead to the end to find out how you can win a free copy of this book!

“The friend who loves their neighbor well in trial will continue to come alongside after the initial hardship is over”—Sara Beckham, Alongside

Most of us have experienced the desire to help someone during a time of medical diagnosis, loss, or grief.  What are we to do? Sending over a meal is important, but how can we love others beyond taking them a meal? Alongside, is a practical guide of helpful suggestions complied by personal testimonies of the author and others in their time of crisis.

Author, Sarah Beckman, has been on both the giving and receiving end of help. Within a span of six years, Beckman lived through eleven weeks of bedrest prior the birth of her third child and four back surgeries.  In her book, Alongside, Beckman incorporates her experiences with the advice of others to provide the byline of the book, “A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in the Time of Trial.” Alongside, features three parts, “First Things First, Taking Action, and Special Circumstances.”

Part 1

In the first part Beckman, explains that at the heart of this book is the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40, NLT).  “Reaching out to help others is more than ‘just doing the right thing.’ It is our God-given responsibility” (page 5).

“It’s Not About You” is the title of chapter two and a reoccurring theme throughout the book. In this chapter Beckman, reminds the giver not to focus on their personal feelings, but the feelings of the one they desire to help.  This concept sounds simple, put as Beckman references throughout the book; often people unintentionally make hurtful statements to those they are trying to help.

In chapter three, “In the Know,” Beckman illustrates a tier system of relationship:Sarah Beckman Alongside

Tier 1: caregiver/close friend

Tier 2: friend/neighbor/co-worker/church member/sports team/shared organizations

Tier 3: acquaintance/friend or friend-of-the-family

Tier 4: infrequent interaction

I found this tier system to be golden. “Knowing your place in the life of the person in crisis will help you know how to respond” (page 15).

Part 2

The second part of Alongside, features a variety of ways to love thy neighbor by taking action. I suffer from a chronic illness and I found this section exceptionally valuable. The first year of my diagnosis was the most difficult. Those who reached out, who made themselves present, those who took the time to visit, those who invited me to normal activities and didn’t always talk about my condition, and those who continued to remember my struggle are the ones I appreciate the most.

Part 3

In the third part of Alongside, author Sarah Beckman shares five chapters of special circumstances such as in the case of a terminal illness, a messy situation, or when faith isn’t shared.  Regardless of the difficult situation, being present is the truest gift of friendship. My favorite quote in the entire book is found in Chapter 7 “Be Present.” It reads, “The friend who loves their neighbor well in trial will continue to come alongside after the initial hardship is over” (page 60).

Sarah Beckman AlongsideMost of us have experienced the desire to help someone during a time of medical diagnosis, loss, or grief.  What are we to do? We are to be a present friend who walks alongside them in their journey.

Meet Sarah Beckman

Sarah Beckman shares on her website, “I love coffee and green chile and golf and my Wisconsin Badgers. I love the water, but also the mountains. And I love traveling to Haiti…maybe because they have both.” To learn more about first time author, Sarah Beckman visit SaraBeckman.org.

Book Giveaway

To enter the drawing, subscribe to my blog:

  • Subscribe to Red Chair Moments on the bottom of the home page and  type in your email address.

To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,

  • Share this post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry (up to three).
  • Share this post via email if you don’t have a social media account (notify me to be entered)
  • Let me know in a comment where you’ve shared.
  • Notify me of your name.

Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.

I will announce the winner February 28, 2017.

DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO Morgan James Publisher FOR GIVING ME TWO COPIES of Alongside IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.

P.S. If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on chronic illness and friendship, read Four Lessons Chronic Illness Taught Me about Friendship.

©2017 April Dawn White

Ask, Unless You Never Want to Know

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, my son asked, “Mom, did you draw this card?”

“No,” I replied, setting down the syrup next to his stack of fourteen pancakes.

Examining the card, Andrew asked, “So you stamped and colored this card.”

“Yes.”

“How did you know I’d want a blue truck,” asked the birthday boy.

Smiling, I said, “Because I’m your mom and I know what your favorite color is.”

The stack of fourteen silver dollar pancakes (one cake per year of birth) disappear and the birthday boy exhales, “Mom and Dad, thank you for the best birthday ever. Thank you for letting me invite a few friends to the trampoline park and spending a night. Mom I can’t believe you bought all the junk food I wrote on the list!”

Chuckling, I answered, “Well, you asked.”

Hours later, the sight of Andrew’s birthday card on the kitchen table reminded me of our earlier conversation. Our son was surprised that we would know exactly how to make his fourteenth birthday a blast. God reminded me that even more than I know my son, my Heavenly Father knows me. He knows the details of my heart’s needs and desires.

“Your [heavenly] Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:8)

“Your Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)

A few days before his birthday celebration, Andrew left a grocery list of food items for his sleepover. He was hopeful, but not demanding. To his surprise, we purchased everything on the list.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

I ponder; I am simply guilty of not asking. God’s desire is to give good gifts to his children. I am guilty of praying about the big areas of my life, but leave the smaller issues for myself as if I don’t want to exasperate God. That line of thinking is wrong. Paul, the author of Philippians, encourages us to ask with thanks by prayer and petition.

Taking out a new sheet of paper, I dated the top and listed all my requests.  As God answers each or changes the situation, I will write the date alongside each request.

Moral of Andrew’s fourteenth birthday, just ask.

Ask, unless you never what to know how God will answer. Click To Tweet

Consider:

  • What do you desire that you haven’t bothered asking God for?
  • Consider creating your own list of prayer and petition before God.

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Author & Pixabay. Stamp, “Loads of Love courtesy of Stampin Up.

*Scripture is NIV from BibleGateway.com unless otherwise noted.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Carryover from 2016: Still Waiting on God

Waiting on GodThe Turbo Tax software asks, “Do you have any carryover from 2016?

“You have no idea,” I growl at the computer screen.

It is a New Year but I never had that New Year fresh start feeling.  I have a new word, a new verse, a new promise, and a new song for this year for 2017. All of this is new for 2017, but I am still dealing with same unresolved issues from 2016.

I still have a restless spirit. I was hoping that when the ball dropped at midnight (not that I could stay awake that long to watch it), my purpose in this chronic illness would be revealed. While the house has showed numerous times, we still have had no offers. I still don’t know where we will move and I still don’t know if we will buy or build a home.

These unresolved problems I hoped would remain in 2016. However, these problems have ignored the calendar. What are we to do when it is a New Year, but we have the same old issues?

I went back to my journal and underlined each time I wrote the word ‘still.’ Then God whispered in my spirit.

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

“Cease striving and know that I AM God.” (Psalm 46:10, NASB)

God reminded me that while I might have some carry over issues, that He is Sovereign and in control. I need to quiet my restless spirit and recognize that He is God and I am not and for heaven sake, stop worrying so much.

Consider:

  • Do you have any issues from 2016 (or before) that have carried over into this New Year?
  • How does the reminder that God is in control change your perspective?

~April Dawn White

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

The Praising Tree

The Praising Tree“All the trees of the forest sing for joy.” (Psalm 96:12)

A few weeks ago, I gazed out the window, sipping freshly brewed liquid mercy (my morning coffee). I watched as the earth yawned and stretched as it greeted the morning sunrise. Looking across to the quiet lake, I stared with wonder at the perfect reflections on the water.

Something in my peripheral vision caught my attention.  Changing my focus from the lake to the pine trees closer to the house, was the most peculiar site. A solitary pine bough bobbed up and down.  I glanced around the backyard and saw that no other trees were stirring. All was calm on this early morning except the praise offered by a single pine bough.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

I felt as though I was spying on a holy moment intended for only the Creator. Suddenly I felt small and insignificant as a single bough on the pine tree, planted decades before my arrival, swayed to the rhythm of supernatural praise.

How would you praise if you know God alone was watching? Click To Tweet

I pondered the significance of this moment. Why would God allow me to witness this supernatural praise intended only for Him? The answer was simple. It was a visual reminder that God sees me.

He sees what no one else sees.The Praising Tree

He sees our struggles.

He sees our time spent in prayer and in His Word.

He sees when we push through and smile despite the pain.

He sees the tears no one else sees.

He sees faith anchored to Christ despite our challenging circumstances.

Often the situations we face need a change in perspective. Each day I walk past this massive oak tree in my front yard. The empty branches remind me of the prolonged winter season. Personally I am in a prolonged waiting season. This beautiful image captured by my husband is a great visual reminder to change my perspective. I need to focus on the unchanging character of God rather than the uncertainty of my situation.

Consider:

  • Are you in a prolonged season?
  • How would recognizing God sees you in the midst of your circumstances change your perspective?
  • How would you praise if you knew God alone was watching?

~April

P.S. Today is the 5th birthday of Red Chair Moments! You have my permission to eat cake! 🙂

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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