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.

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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.

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

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

How to Expose Shadowed JOY

Shadowed JOYIn less time than it took to prepare the morning coffee, the sun’s light traveled 92.96 million miles in eight minutes and twenty seconds. When I returned to my red chair, my favorite spot of reading and conversation with God, I noticed the early morning sunrays cast long shadows through the window.

Darkness and long shadows obscured the hand embroidered JOY on the mini quilt. I cupped my mug of liquid mercy and watched as shadows surrounded the word JOY.  I peered with strange fascination as light and shadows danced across the 16x16-wall quilt. The sun stretched higher and the waltz changed patterns. Will the JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness? I pondered. However, what I truly wondered was if my JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness.

Will my JOY be completely overshadowed by darkness?

This mini wall quilt is one of my favorite quilting projects. Utilizing scraps from left over previous sewing projects, I pieced together this simple mini quilt and hand embroidered JOY in red to accent my favorite color.

My heart has been exceedingly heavy this week.  When the Realtor plunged the FOR SALE sign into the dry earth, I felt the sign puncture my already broken heart. I’d been expecting and preparing for this day for over six months, but nothing could prepare me for the surge of emotions.  I thanked the Realtor, walked into the house, threw myself on my son’s bed and wailed.

 

JOY. Sometimes darkness casts long shadows in an attempt to hide our joy, but God’s light and our praise helps to expose JOY! - April White Click To Tweet

“Worship like the things you’ve been believing God for are on the other side of your praise.”- Pastor John Gray.

 

JOYMy heart is still heavy, but it is saturated in praise.  God is slowly pushing back the grief and darkness and exposing the JOY.

Dear friends, is something shadowing your joy? I pray for Christ to give you the strength to hold on and praise Him, while He pushes back the darkness to expose your joy.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”(Nehemiah 8:10)

Blessings to you,

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of author.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Take a Nap

dog_nap_pixabaySometimes the most spiritual thing we can do for our own mental health is take a nap.

Today is the one year anniversary of my first full body paralysis attack.  One year ago today, my plans were hijacked. I know that if my plans were hijacked it is because God has something better. However, better, does not equate to easy or pain free.

Sorrow like sea billows roll. Wave after wave crashes into me, tumbling my weaken body.

On the kitchen counter, I read a note left by my sixth-grade daughter. The note reads, “Don’t forget to smile.” How did she know? dont-forget-to-smile-memeGlancing at countertop chalkboard verse I read aloud, “In everything, give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  I bow my head and offer a humble prayer of surrender and thanks. Remembering Rae’s words, I try to smile, but the ability is lost in sorrow.

Today, I ran out of ideas.  In the past when sorrow pounds and depression looms, I pray, read God’s word, listen to my favorite songs; recite my favorite verses and personal declarations. Today, I did those things and talked with a few friends, but nothing helped.

I finally surrendered and laid down for an afternoon nap. Two hours later, the dark clouds appeared less ominous and fatigue a  tad lighter.

Today, God taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do for our own mental health is take a nap.

Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do for our own mental health is take a nap. Click To Tweet

Friend, I don’t know what wave is continually pounding against you. When you have prayed all you can pray, and read all you can read, may I suggest you take a nap and leave the outcome in God’s capable hands.

dog_nap_lab_pixabay“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3)

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of author and  Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Personal Declarations and Self-Encouragement

alarm-clock-pixabayDoes your morning routine include encouraging yourself? We each have a morning routine and today I will share with you a glimpse into mine. Before my feet hit the floor, I recite this personal declaration and prayer:

 

Lord, I love you.

Lord, I trust you.

Lord, I trust your plan.

Lord, I trust your provision.

Lord, I trust your unfailing Sovereign timing.

Amen.

 

When my heart is  heavy with discouragement I encourage myself by reciting these truths aloud:

Lord, you are a good, good Father.

Lord, I am loved by you.

You are faithful and able to complete to good work you started in me.

You have chosen me and will not reject me.

You call me by name.

You are jealous for me.

I am yours Lord, now do as you promised.

Amen.

God does not have grandchildren. Some things you need to learn for yourself. Click To Tweet

Going Deeper

My personal declarations and self-encouragement truths are directly from Scripture. I encourage you today to dig a little deeper and read these passages:

Proverbs 3:5-6Do as you Promised Verse

Psalm 143:8

Genesis 22 (emphasis on verses 13-14)

Jeremiah 29:11

Lamentations 3:25-26

Philippians 1:6

Isaiah 41:9-10

Isaiah 43:1

Exodus 34:14

1 Chronicles 17:23

Years ago, I was thrilled to watch my favorite woman of God, Priscilla Shirer speak at Thomas Road Baptist Church. From the third row, I clearly recall her saying, “God does not have grandchildren, only children. Some things you need to learn for yourself.”

TRUST with bench 2016I challenge you seek God’s Word for yourself and create your own personal declarations. We all have bad days which is why it’s crucial to encourage one another daily. But, sometimes we need to encourage our self in the Lord.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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