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

Psalm 23 for Chronic Illness

Psalm 23 for Chronic IllnessPsalm 23 for Chronic Illness

Hello friends,

As our family prepares for another grand detour, I seek comfort in these familiar words, “He leads me in the path of righteousness for His namesake” (Psalm 23:3). Today’s blog post is straight from my journal— my heart-felt response to each line to this famous Psalm.  I hope it brings comfort to you.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

God is my shepherd and guide, He will provide for my every need.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

God forces me to rest while the world scurries around.

He leads me beside still waters.

God provides a serene backdrop while quenching my thirsty soul with peace.

He restores my soul;

I surrender my daily chronic pain to my Shepherd. As I listen to my Shepherd’s voice and seek rest in Him, my soul is restored by the promises found in His Word.

Psalm 23 for Chronic Illness

He leads me in the path of righteousness for His namesake.

My Lord and Shepherd knows my final destination. He has carved out a new path through the desert of physical pain, financial loss, and emotional toil. Even through I cannot see the outcome of my illness, I trust my Shepherd to guide me along the narrow and traitorous paths. Detours upon detours, I trust my Guide remembering to walk by faith not by sight.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

The dark valley of chronic illness lurks with pain, regret, grief, and loss (of my career, identity, and friends who don’t know who to respond to my illness.)

I will fear no evil; for You are with me;

You promise to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5) and in Isaiah you claim me “You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 

You fight off the Enemy and You drag me away from the Enemies traps to doubt your love, trust, and provision.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 

You prepare a banquet feast and I am surrounded by joy, hope, faith, mercy, provision, and compassion. The Enemy prowls around my table, waiting for an empty spot at my table, but I refuse to rise from God’s banquet table.  I lean back, praising God for His goodness to me during this difficult time and discover…

You anoint my head with oil;

Liquid blessing drips down my face symbolizing I have been hand chosen by God for this assignment to tell of all His good deeds.


My cup runs over.

As I keep my eyes on You and listen to Your voice, I am continually filled to overflowing with hope, joy, compassion, faith, mercy, and Your provision. I am amply supplied and I can share with others from my excess.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;

Goodness and mercy follow me like a spiritual shadow reminding me I am never alone from God’s presence.


And I will dwell
in the house of the Lord Forever.

When my assignment on earth is complete, I will forever rest in heaven. My chronically ill body will be replaced by a disease free me, full of vitality and praise. Until then, I will seek God’s chronic presence amidst my chronic illness.  Amen.

~April Dawn White © 2017

Psalm 23 NKJV

Prescriptive Prayer

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous [wo]man avails much.” (James 5:16, NKJV)

This prayer was electronically delivered to my inbox this week. This prayer was purposefully penned for my friend Meg. Meg is fighting a reoccurring battle of cancer, specifically a reoccurring brain tumor.

During trials of life, we need the support of others. This prescriptive prayer is an example of a prayer warrior in action. Meg and the author of this prayer, Anne H., gave permission for me to share this with you.  Meg refers to this prayer as her “prescriptive prayer.” Friends, thank you in advance for taking Meg’s need before God’s throne.~April

 

Prescriptive Prayer by Anne H. 

Lord,
I come worshiping You for who You are, and thanking You for Your amazing love… “You were before all things, and through You all things exist.” (Colossians 1:17)

You, Father, knew Meg before she was ever born, You “fashioned all of her days when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) This brain tumor did not take You by surprise, and You have called Meg by name and have said to her,Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

So, I come Lord, putting the entire burden of this brain tumor on You, and I ask that You defeat it, that You take it apart, that You bring it to nothing, for Your glory and for Meg’s good, and for the good of her children. I know that “the thief (the enemy of our souls) comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but that You came to bring life, and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Fill Meg with Your abundant life, and remove the enemy’s attempt to destroy her. I speak against all fear that would come against her and ask that tormenting fear would leave her, and that Your perfect love would cast out all fear. (1 John 4:18) I ask, “No weapon formed against her would prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)

I ask that You cover her, and her children, this treatment plan, her family, and friends who are supporting her and praying for her, with Your protective shield and Presence. I ask that You watch over every aspect of Meg’s life and journey, and that You and Your name be lifted up throughout this fight of faith! Keep her and her children grounded in You and in Your love, and “when the enemy comes in like a flood, that the Spirit of the Lord would lift up a standard against him!” (Isaiah 59:19)

I thank You and praise You that in this world You never leave us alone and without hope. “You never leave us, nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5) and that You hold our hand (Isaiah 41:13) and walk us through the fire (Isaiah 43:2) so that we might come forth emblazoned by You, with a deeper love and understanding of all that You are and of all that You accomplished at the Cross on our behalf.

Thank You Holy Father. Thank you precious Jesus.Thank You magnificent Spirit.

In Jesus mighty name, we ask and believe all these things!

Amen.

A Go Fund Me account was established for Meg an the family. Click on the link below for more information. 

https://www.gofundme.com/megs-radiation-treatment-fund

Serving Pieces

“Serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

I sat on the kitchen floor, crisscross applesauce style, pulling out rarely used items from the base cabinet. With our home on the market, we need pack away any non-essential pieces. Three piles quickly emerged—store, donate, and toss. I wondered how I acquired this much plastic ware with out matching lids. Toss.

I slid over to the next kitchen base cabinet, and extended by back into a cat stretch, feeling the strain pull across my shoulders and back. This cabinet contained serving pieces. I carefully wrapped the cut glass serving dishes and my “good” Pampered Chef items in bubble wrap before placing them in the storage box. Once the box was full, I taped the lid closed and labeled the box:

KITCHEN: Serving Pieces

I reread the contents of the box “Serving Pieces” and looked down at my hands.

Our hands are built in serving pieces. Click To Tweet

Something was amiss. This level of pondering requires coffee. I opened the refrigerator door and reached for the half-and-half. A 1970’s white plate with avocado green flowers caught my attention. I smiled as I thought, “My mom still has these plates.” Nestled on the forty plus year old plate sat a homemade cheese ball. My daughter requested Grandma’s savory delight for her twelfth birthday.

My mind wanders to author Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. My mom’s language of love is Acts of Service. Mom serves on cooking and cleaning committees at church. Not a week goes by that she is not cooking for someone in the community. While the dining room is full of serving pieces and pink Depression glass, passed down from her mother, mom’s serving pieces are utilitarian and filled with love and prayer. Like mom, I also share in the Acts of Service language . Mom taught me, our hands are our serving pieces to wrap around others in need.

Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need. Click To Tweet

The microwave dings and startles me back to my current task. I sip the reheated liquid mercy, and ponder the significance of serving pieces. Our hands are our built in serving pieces. Our serving pieces are extensions of our arms to wrap around others in need, to push a grocery cart or a lawn mower for those who cannot. Our serving pieces become gnarled and wrinkled after years of baking meals for the ill,  recently widowed, or neighbor in need.

Questions probe my heart as I ponder, what about us, do we serve others well?

Do I serve God faithfully?

Do I practice hospitality on paper plate days?

Do I wait to plan the perfect meal and perfect moment?

After nibbling my daughter’s cheese ball, I return to packing. Only God knows how long our home will be on the market. However, should that keep me from serving? No. God calls us to serve. Our hands are our serving pieces, to share with those who are in need. From the bottom cabinet I pull out two disposable pans to make a homemade dish for a few shut-ins in my community.

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

 

Mom’s Homemade Cheese ball Recipe

2 bricks of cream cheese

¼cup red or green pepper

2 tablespoons of onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of seasoned salt

8oz can of crushed pineapple (drained well)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix first five ingredients together.

Roll into a ball.

Chill.

Roll cheese ball into in chopped pecans.

Bible Verses about Serving

Serving God by serving others is one of the most important principles in the Christian faith.  Here are some verses to ponder as we joyfully serve others.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7).

“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38).

How can you use your serving pieces (your hands) to wrap around someone in need today?

~April Dawn White

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

This article was first published on Inspire a Fire.com.

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

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