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.

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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

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.

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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

My Top 5 Christian Parenting Books

My bookcase is full of books I’ve read on parenting. With each new book, I not only came away with a fuller understanding of how to parent these kids who eat all the cereal in one day blessings from above, but also a deeper understanding of myself.Hands-by-Dami-Wurtz-Pixabay

Currently my children are eleven and thirteen. I’m sure my list of favorite books will change as the kids age, but for now here are my top five parenting books.

My top five parenting books:

  1. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman
  2. Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson
  3. Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh
  4. You Can’t Make Me, (But I Can be Persuaded) by Cynthia Tobias
  5. Middle School: The Inside Story by Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuna
  6. The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian*

I cheated an added The Power of a Praying Parent to this list. Storie Omartian’s book is a timeless read for any parent regardless of the child’s age.

 

Parenting: General:

Parenting Girls:

Parenting Boys:

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child:

Favorite Parenting Sites:

Let’s keep this list growing. What is your favorite parenting book? Please share below.

~April Dawn White

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

I Will Protect You: Lesson Learned on the Ball Field

Written by April Dawn White

softball pixabayCheers and chatter erupts from the dugout as a passel of ten and eleven-year-old-girls chant, “If I were you and you were me, I’d scoot your bootie back. I’d scoot your bootie back.”

Over the chatter of the opposing team, my daughter overhears the coach call her name. Rachel jogs from left field to receive instruction. Although, I cannot hear the conversation, I can see his action. The coach has called Rachel in as the relief pitcher.

Rachel approaches the mound and throws a few warm up pitches. Andrew, her brother, runs to the mound to deliver her face mask (a required piece of equipment). Rachel shakes her head from side to side, refusing to wear it for the warm up.

Pacing behind the bleachers, I holler, “Wear the mask! I made that face and I will protect that face!” The other parents and the umpire turn to me and we all laugh.

The umpire turns back to Rachel and says, “Pitcher, bases are loaded and you have zero outs.” My pacing continues as I sarcastically murmur under my breath, “Great, just great.”

As the game continues, the words I yelled across the ball field echo in my mind. “I made that face. I will protect that face.” God reminds me of a similar statement found in the Old Testament:

“I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

On the ball field today, God spoke to my heart. He reminded me:

  • When a health crisis comes out of left field or when life throws you a curve ball, remember that the same God who made you will protect you.softball-pixabay

  • Be ready, watch, and listen for the coach’s voice. We never know when God will call our name for our next assignment, but we need to be listening intently to His voice over the chatter of this world.

Even though a neuromuscular disease struck me out of left field, today God reminded me that the same God who made me will protect me. I am listening to His voice and “It is well with my soul.”

There’s No Crying in Softball

Me and Rachel softball 2016 CROPPED“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:19, NIV)

I pull on my favorite JMU sweatshirt, elbowing the tiny faucets at the corners of my eyes. Tears trickle down my face.  Eager to pitch, Rachel pounds her fist in her mitt.  Wearing a determined game face, she appears older than ten and a half.

Rachel tosses a glove in my direction. This is my glove, the one I’ve owned since I was a teen. I stare at soft leather glove as if it is a foreign object.  Slipping it onto my left hand I examine the look. Rachel counts out thirty paces and asks, “Are you sure you can do this Mom?”

“Let’s give it a try.” I respond.

I stand amazed at what is about to take place. I lift my eyes to the sky and say a prayer of thanks. I’m about to play catch with my daughter, a feat I’ve lacked strength for over four months.  The faucets creek more and I turn so she doesn’t see the tears.

Every pitcher needs a catcher so I squat down, just a little. Rachel winds up and releases the ball.

“Steeeriiiike!” I yell out.home plate CROPPED

A slow grin spreads across her face and mine too.  She throws a few more over our chalk drawn plate. The faucets are creek more and I am weeping in my middle of our street. I weep for lost moments with my children. I weep because I didn’t think I’d be able to do this again.

I weep because this feels like an old self activity and I thought that old self had vanished.

Rachel understands my concern. “Mom, are you okay?”

I nod, “I’m fine, I’m fine” running the arm of my sweatshirt across my face.

20150520_175828-1In her best Tom Hanks impression from the movie “A League of Their Own” Rachel playfully jabs, “There’s no crying in softball!”

I release a full body belly laugh. This too feels like an old self activity.

Rachel continues to throw strikes and balls across our imaginary plate. With the strength given by God and new medication, I am able to pick the ball up and throw it back.

Even in these times of uncertainty. I take joy in finding God’s goodness in the land of the living. I will soak up every good day I have because “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of Author

Bus Stop of Blessings

Written by April Dawn White
Is it just me, or do you ever have feelings of inadequacy?
It was one of those blah days. I had no reason to possess this temporary humdrum emotional state. Yet, I could not shake feelings of inadequacy in every aspect of my life: writing, marriage, parenting, career, and friendships.
“Lord, change my perspective. Bless my perspective. Amen.”
I prayed those words as I drove to my parents’ house. Meeting the school bus head on, I slowed to a stop a few feet from my parent’s driveway. Bouncing off the bus and waving enthusiastically, six-year-old Ethan yelled, “Hi, Mrs. White!”
Two more balls of energy jumped off the bus, waving and hollering “Hi!” This brother duo was hard to miss in their neon yellow shirts.  It wasn’t until Finn and Ramsey turned to hug their dad that I recognized the writing on the back of the shirts:
Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love, faithfulness, and purity. ” (1 Timothy 4:12, ISV)
Tears spilled down my cheeks as the full weight of what I had just witnessed crossed before me.
This past summer, Andrew and Rachel hosted backyard Bible Club every Wednesday. This K2K Club was complete with lesson, games, crafts, and snack. This was completely kid run. The theme for K2K Club was “Little kids learning about a big God.” Between seven and nine kids attended each week.  God abundantly blessed K2K as Andrew and Rachel led three boys, Ethan, Finn, and Ramsey to the Lord.
On the last day of K2K, Andrew and Rachel surprised the kids with neon T-shirts they helped to design. 
On this particular day, I prayed for God to change and bless my perspective. As the three young boys, Andrew and Rachel led to the Lord bounced off the bus, I realized the answer to my prayer, crossed in front of my car. 
 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
(Hebrews 10:35-36, NIV)
Within a matter of seconds, those feelings of inadequacy vanished. I had a front row seat to God’s abundant blessings.
What front row blessing have you recently received?
~April Dawn White

 

 

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