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

 

Hope: The First Candle of Advent

advent-wreath-hope-pixabayIn the New Testament church, an anchor symbolized hope. In 2015, I pursued a yearlong archaeological dig into God’s Word, studying the word anchor, and every angle of hope. As a result, I selected “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”(Hebrews 6:19),  as my verse for 2015.

My 2015 study of hope followed with an unexpected medical diagnosis and struggle to find my identity in 2016. I did not know the studying hope would be future preparation for my faith (and my family’s faith) to be tested. We battened down the hatches, clung to our anchor of hope and prayed for God to calm the raging storm.

Hope is choice.

When we choose to believe God is who He says He; when we choose to believe God can do what He promised; when we choose to have the audacity to praise a thrice-holy God in the face of the fiercest storm, we are choosing to HOPE.

I choose Hope.hope-meme-christmas-wooden-background-pixabay

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote; Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.” (2 Corinthians 10:15)

Paul’s mission in these words is the same mission Christians possess today, to increase our faith, expand our area of influence, and spread the gospel beyond its current borders. One way we can do this is to cling to hope.

Each of us has a sphere of influence. Whether at work, school, or in our neighborhood, those around us are encouraged by watching our faith anchored to Jesus Christ. When we choose to hope in the face of adversity, others are watching, and we are doing exactly what Paul described—expanding the gospel beyond.

Blue anchor pixabayOur family and our extended church family have suffered greatly this year. To be honest, I wanted to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and go straight to January. My grasp on hope was slipping. It took a wresting match with God and a verbal spanking from my daughter to strengthen my grip on hope.

 If your grasp on God’s anchor of hope is slipping, follow the instructions in Hebrews Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12) and cling tightly to the firm and secure hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Hope for Advent:  Week One Readings

  • Day 1: Psalm 62:5-6
  • Day 2: Hebrews 6:18-19
  • Day 3: Psalm 71:5-8, 14, 20
  • Day 4: Psalm 52:8-9
  • Day 5: Psalm 89:15, Psalm 130:5
  • Day 6: Isaiah 46: 3-4, Isaiah 54:7, 10
  • Day 7: 2 Corinthians 10:15

What is Advent?

    Advent is a season to remember that God reached down from heaven and extended Hope in the form of Jesus Christ. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Christ’s birth was “the first Advent” and the anticipation of Christ’s return in “the second Advent.”

When is Advent?

The season of Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas. The four week waiting period during the four Sunday’s of Advent represent the four centuries of waiting between the last recorded Word of God from the prophet Malachi (in the Old Testament) and the arrival of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament). Advent is time of preparing hearts for Christ’s birth, both in celebration, reflection, and repentance.

What the does the Advent wreath and candles symbolize?

          The greenery wreath, a circle, represents God’s never-ending mercy and His eternity. The color green represents the renewal of eternal life in Christ. The candles within the wreath symbolize the light of God coming to the world through the birth of His son, Jesus Christ.

            The lighting of the first candle begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The first candle symbolizes Hope—the anticipation of Hope in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The three remaining candles symbolizing Love, Joy, and Peace are light each Sunday during the season of Advent. Together, each of the four candles tells the part of the Christmas story of Bethlehem, Shepherds, and Angels. The fifth and center candle represents Christ, the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of Pixabay. © 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!

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