Hallelujah Even Here

Hallelujah even here“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:4

You expect me to sing Hallelujah even here? The writer of Psalm 137:4 was an Israelite held captive by a Babylonian enemy. How could the enemy holding the Israelites captive in a foreign, expect them to sing?

I too wondered, how could I sing praise through all the abrupt changes in my life?

All of this feels foreign.

My primary loss was the loss of my health. Secondary losses followed later. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis and the second opinion took over a year. I exhausted my excused medical leave of absence and lost my job of fifteen years. Once terminated and the long-term disability ended, we needed to sell our home. Now the secondary losses included the loss of my independence, my job, my identity, and our home. However, what I initially saw as God derailing our life was actually God’s plan to guide us to the Promised Land. 

The one-level home God chose for us has all the perks we wanted. Our house number is 2911. Every time I arrive home, I look at the brass patina numbers and recite:   

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Pastor and Author of I am Number 8, John Gray, emphasizes, The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise!”

When we experience sudden detours, praise moves the Lord from His throne to inhabit and help His children. The Bible tells us God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise the Lord even when we don’t feel His presence or see His hand moving upon our life. Anticipatory praise during a time of uncertainty moves God to inhabit the praises of His people.

The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise! Pastor John Gray Click To Tweet

No matter the cause of the unexpected detour, let us open the sunroof of our heart, roll the windows down of our cares, and throw our hands up in praise to the Lord. By lifting our hearts in praise, we invite God to join us in our journey.

We too can sing halleluiah even here.

Is your life in transition or taken an unexpected detour?

Do you have questions of uncertainty looming?

Offer God anticipatory praise, thanking God in advance for his provision, faithfulness, and perfect timing. 

~April Dawn White 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

Who Told You That?

Who Told You that?

A ticker tape of negative thoughts scrolls across my mind. I squeeze my eyes shut to “take every thought captive” but the increasing brain fog prevents my ability to focus.  Exasperated, I talk to myself aloud; this stinkin thinkin is not true. Who told you that?

Recently, the battle of self-doubt and my identity has resurfaced. I am two years into my chronic illness. I have learned to accept most of the changes (though this is still a continual process). However, barbed negative thoughts snag my thinking, and scar my identity, self-doubt, and purpose.

Within a few days, I can usually pray and shake off the negativity, but instead of diminishing, this battle has gained strength. I began fighting back with vengeance. Now, each time a negative thought scrolls across my mind, I question myself aloud, “Who told you that?”  Then I rebuke the negative thought and replace it with truth from God’s Word.

Here is a list of I am proclamations of truth:

I am…

  • A valiant warrior (Judges 6:12)Strong shoes for Stony Path Corrie Ten Boom via Pixabay
  • A secret weapon in God’s army (Isaiah 49:2)
  • Unstoppable–Nothing formed against me shall prevail (Isaiah 54:17)
  • Not afraid of evil for God is with me (Psalm 23:4)
  • Taking negative thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  • A marred pot being transformed by the Potter into something He deems best (Jeremiah 18)
  • A child of the Most High King (2 Corinthians 6:18)
  • Clothed in God’s armor (Ephesians 6: 11)
  • More than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
  • Seated in heavenly places with my Father and King (Ephesians 2:6)
  • Actively listening to my Father’s voice each day during my #CoffeeWithJesus (John 10:27)
  • Sustained and strengthened day-by-day though my sword is marred and my shield is dented (Psalm 89:21)
  • Chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Loved by God (John 3:16)
  • Forgiven by God (1 John 1:9)
  • Sustained by God (Psalm 119:116)
  • Strengthen by God (1 Peter 5:10)
  • Led by God (Psalm 23)
  • Guided by God (Isaiah 30:21)
  • Comforted by God (Psalm 119:48-52)
  • Secured by God (Psalm 16:8) *This is my life verse.
  • Belong to God (1 John 4:4, NLT)
  • Unable to hide from His presence (Psalms 139:7-12)
  • The head and not the tail; Above and not below (Deuteronomy 28:13)
  • Blessed when I come and blessed when I go (Deuteronomy 28:6)
  • I am His. (Isaiah 43:1)

 

The enemy is a master deceiver who wants us to keep on believing the lies and negative thoughts in our mind. When those thoughts arise ask, “Who told you that?” if it did not come from God’s Word then it isn’t true.

Do you wrestle with negative thoughts or doubt? If so, who told you that?

Is there anything in your mind that you need to take captive to turn it over to Christ?

Which of these I am proclamations resonate with you the most? Consider writing a prayer on an index card to help you battle the next round of stinkin thinkin.

~April White

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

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The Great Reversal

The Great ReversalReading from Eugene Peterson’s Message version of Matthew, the words, “The Great Reversal” leaped off the page and lodged in my heart.

For reasons I cannot explain, I had an attack of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis that endured all last week. Extreme muscle weakness and random paralysis enwrapped my body. I was thankful for the snow days because my teens were home to help me. Too weak to hold a coffee mug, the kids held the mug for me while I sipped hazelnut liquid mercy.

The Great Reversal. Those words tumbled around in my mind like laundry in the dryer.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Sometimes God will allow a great reversal in our life circumstances, to cause us to stop, to rely on Him, and to allow God’s purpose to prevail.

Since the discovery and diagnosis of my illness, my life and the life of my family has taken on a great reversal. Though we have settled into a new normal, I still grapple with this new assignment in life. I struggle with my identity and my purpose—areas of my life that I never questioned before because life was going according to my plan.

In my personal great reversal, I have changed roles from an active, healthy, able-bodied wife, mother, and pharmacist to a passive, chronically ill wife and mother humbled by my limitations and lack of income. I feel like a butterfly stuffed back into a cocoon.

“The flip side of fear is faith.” —Pastor Steven Furtick Click To Tweet

 

On the flip side of my personal great reversal, I’ve had a front row seat to God’s faithfulness, compassion, and provision. If this statement is too vague, let me supply a few details. When the $1000 bill for my genetic testing arrived, I specifically prayed for God’s provision. I was no longer working and finances were tight. A few hours later, a woman from my Bible study called and asked The Great Reversalto stop by for coffee. We had a delightful visit, just the two of us. Upon her departure, she prayed for me and told me she felt led to do something for me. There on my crayon-marred kitchen table, she penned a check for $1000! Tears erupted from the corners of my eyes. Once I regained composure, I shared with her my earlier prayer and we cried and praised God together.

 

When the time came for us to sell our lakefront home and move me to a one-level home, God took care of us on every side. We accepted an above asking price offer within twelve days of the listing and we closed within the month hassle free.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Perhaps my greatest personal reversal is my daily surrender to God.  I have switched from relying on self to relying on God. I can no longer function without God’s daily strength (and a several cups of coffee). I know I cannot take care of my needs, but I rely daily on the One who does.

Friend, I invite you to ask: 

Have I experienced a recent reversal or set back in my life?

Could this set back could be a set up for God’s greater purpose in my life?

What would happen if I chose to reverse my perspective and ask God to see this new circumstance through His eyes?

What area of God’s character do you think He is trying to reveal to me?

~April 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

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.

Upheld by the Invisible Hand of God

During my morning coffee with Jesus, I read Psalm 59-63. My face broke into a wide grin when I landed on Psalm 63:8.

 “My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)

Ever since I’ve been actively purposefully walking with the Lord (for the past fourteen years or longer) this has been my life verse. The visual concept of God’s mighty right hand holding me up brought comfort in the years I battled depression, parenting a strong-willed child, dealing with prickly relationships, and loss.

More recently, it dawned on me when I chose this verse or it chose me (or however that works) I would end up with an illness that often required my need to be upheld up.

Sometimes I am too weak to hold myself up and I must walk with the the assistance of another person, or cling to the wall and  “cruise the furniture” as my physical therapist calls it. Occasionally, I use a cane.  On the rarest occasions,  if I want to enjoy an amusement park with my children, I surrender to a wheelchair.Upheld the Invisible Hand of God

While I am often being upheld by family, the invisible hand of God is holding me up spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically too.

My soul continues to cling to the Lord and God’s mighty right hand never fails to uphold me.

~April

© 2017 April Dawn White

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