Storm Survival: Faith Lessons from my Dogs

Faith Lessons from a dog“Where’s Guinness,” my husband asks.

“Hiding I’m sure. He’s scared of storms,” I reply handing him the kid’s lunchboxes. “You know that dog, I’m sure he is hiding under Rachel’s bed.”

Minutes later my husband and kids head out the door to school and work.  I pour a cup of freshly brewed liquid mercy and pad upstairs to my red chair.  Raindrops pelt the windows with fierce intensity. I look out over the lake, but it is too dark to see. In the distance, thunder booms. “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.” (Psalm 29:3) Savoring the hazelnut aroma, I close my eyes and sit in silence before the Lord.

I open my eyes to see a pair of soft brown eyes staring up at me, silently begging to be held. “Oh Kinsey,” I coo in her ear. She curls up close, lets out an exasperated sigh, and drifts to sleep.

I watch her rib cage expand and contract to the rhythm of her breathing. I smile at the thought of our two Jack Russell Terriers with opposite responses to the same storm. Guinness, the stout dog-hence the name, with the brown patch on his eye, hides in isolation and darkness during a storm.  Kinsey, our runt of the litter Jack Russell Terrier, seeks reassurance and refuge next to her master in a storm.

I stood, careful not to disturb Kinsey and padded into the kitchen to refill my mug.  Not wanting to be leave her Master’s side, Kinsey followed. Returning to my red chair, Kinsey sensed her master’s direction, ran ahead of me, and jumped on the cushion. I laughed.

Continuing my quiet time with the Lord (and Kinsey) I pondered these verses:sea storm pier I will not be shaken verse Pixabay

“He guards the lives of his faithful ones” (Psalm 97:10)

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortressmy refuge in times of trouble.”(Psalm 59:16)

Through different surprise storms of life, I have responded in the same manner as Guinness and Kinsey. I hid my face from God and resorted to isolation, when I suffered a miscarriage, and I begged God to hold me up during my battle with post-partum depression.

In my current storm, I have great peace. Waves of uncertainty threaten to crash over me. I am anchored (Hebrews 6:19) to the one who created the sea (Genesis 1:9), and calms the sea with the sound of His voice (Matthew 8:26).

Isolation or refuge in God. How you approach a storm will determine your peace. Click To Tweet

What was the last storm you weathered? How did you respond? When surprised by unexpected storms, we can respond by hiding in isolation and self-sufficiency, or by seeking refuge from our Heavenly Father.  I’ve done both and only one response brings peace.

Seeking refuge in Christ alone,

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Ram in the Thicket

It’s been a brutal week. I’ve wrestled with physical pain, emotional lows, and misplaced hope.

Searching for comfort, I went back to the beginning, back to Genesis. Abraham’s fierce obedience was not overlooked. Better than an ace in His pocket, God had a ram in the thicket for Abraham.

Don't worry faithful one, God has a ram in the thicket for you. Click To Tweet

Like the ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:13), God already has the answer to prayer in place for just the right time.

While my situation has not changed my outlook has, and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

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

P.S.

My brutal week ended with magazine publications for fall of 2016 from Clubhouse and Reach out Columbia magazines! I love when God shows off on my behalf. One thicket, two rams.

Security Found

“God makes her secure forever.” (Psalm 48:18)

This is not a drill imageSecurity is my number one driving factor. Therefore, the loss of security is my largest fear.

My mom drilled security into my mind at an early age. “April Dawn I want you to go to college and get a good job so that you don’t have to rely on a man.” Mom is not an ultra feminist, but a realist. My parents are Baby Boomers whose parents survived the Great Depression by grit and grace. Along with Grandma’s quilts and dishes, my sister and I inherited their desperate need for security.

Mom’s mantra to “go to college, get a good job, so I don’t have to rely on a man” is based on the 1980’s recession. Like thousandsquilt Pixabay of Americans, my father was laid off due to the economic decline. Dad worked various part time jobs in the interim, while Mom continued to work in her hair salon and as a crossing guard. Always optimistic, mom would occasionally smile and say, “Get yourself a good job; you never know what will happen.” The economy turned around and dad returned to his previous employer and eventually retired from the company.

Matching my love of people and science to mom’s advice, I chose Pharmacist as my career. Fourteen years later, I would be forced to step away from that career (temporarily, I pray) due to health issues. We are thankful to rely on my husband’s income and insurance.

Today, the CWA union went on strike.

In case, you missed that. I am not working and my husband is on strike.

This is not a drill.

 Anchor-2BpaintingI spent 2015 studying the verse: “We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

I did not expect this series of events, but I am not terrified either. I am firmly secure, anchored to a thrice-Holy God.

What did I do when we discovered my beloved was on strike today? I poured two cups of liquid mercy, one for him and one for me. Then, I pulled my little red chair up to God’s throne. Touching knees with the Almighty, He reassured me with these Scriptures:

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” (Job 11:18)

 “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. (2 Samuel 22:33, Psalm 18:32)

 “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5)

 “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” (Psalm 16:9)

 “God makes her secure forever.” (Psalm 48:18)

Mom was partially correct. It is important to obtain a good job. However, it is more important to have a secure relationship in Christ. A mature faith is required to carry you when the storms of life crash your little boat. I rely heavily on the one man to whom anchors my faith, Jesus Christ.Boat storm Pixabay

Friend, is the earth beneath your feet giving way? Are the waves crashing in you boat? God makes you secure forever. Resting in the promise of Psalm 48:18 ushers in peace, and “it is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Strong Shoes Traveled on Stony Paths

Stony path and strong shoes quote Corrie tem BoomWhen the path we’re traveling suddenly changes from smooth black top to dirt and gravel. When everything familiar immediately changes to unknown. When the situation staring back in the mirror is not here to visit, but here to stay. Take comfort God will provide.

I know, because I’m there.

As a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, Corrie ten Boom also knew “If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.” God’s provision in desolate times gives my heart reason to hope and “it is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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The Good, Good Father

Written by April Dawn White

Stop! Before you read anymore please click play the song Good, Good Father. Let the song play in the background and please continue reading.

When sorrow like sea billows roll, praise and gratitude move God’s hand to push back the dark clouds.

Good, Good Father, a song written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown of Housefires, soothes the aching soul. This week, this song has helped to push back the swirling clouds of darkness in my mind. 

Each time I sing this song, snippets of Scripture verses rise to the surface of my mind. This morning I chose to annotate this song. Annotate simply means to analyze or dig for deeper meaning. The next several pages explode with Scriptural truth packed within the lyrics to this beautiful song. I choose to share the video featuring Amy Renee of Bethel Church. I love how she sings “He is faithful, faithful, faithful. He is able, able, able” (four minutes into the song). This is not part of the original lyrics, but shew its good stuff!

This blog is overflowing with truth. You may have to return to it again and again to take it all in. My hope is that each time, God will speak to the specific area in your heart.

God is a Good Father:

hands-407389_1280 (1)pixabay“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1, NIV)

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26, NIV)

““What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:12-14, NIV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2, ESV)

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

“Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)

God’s Tender Mercies:hands-918774_1920 pixabay

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)

“Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old.” (Psalms 25:6, KVJ)

“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:11, KJV)

“The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9, KJV)

God Whispers:

“After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12, NET)

“A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it.” (Job 4:12, NET)

“He hushes the storm to calm and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still.” (Psalm 107:29, AM)

God Speaking at Night:

lake-sunset-water pixabay 76900_1920“By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8, ESV)

“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man; he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” (Job 33:14-18, RSV)

“I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” (Psalm 16:7, NKJV)

“You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night” (Psalm 17:3, NKJV)

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.” (Psalm 63:6, NKJV)

“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4, NIV)

Pleasing God:

“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4, NASB)
He brought me out to a spacious place; he delivered me, for in me he takes delight. (Psalm 18:19,ISB)

You’ve Never Alone:michelangelo-pixabay

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV)

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV)

Loved by God:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39, NIV)

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians, 2:4-5, NIV)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV)

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

Searching for Answers Far and Wide:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will Old Bible by Pixabaybe able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6, NIV)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5,NIV)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28,NIV)

“’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, NIV)

God Knows Our Needs Before We Speak:

“Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:8, NLT)

God is Perfect in All of His Ways:fingerprint-150159_1280 pixabay

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30, NIV)

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV)

God’s Fingerprints Are All Over My Life:

“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-6, NIV)

“For you created my inmost beinknit-pixabay1g; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:13-18, NIV)

God is Able to Complete the Good Work He Started in Me:

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Philippians 1:6, MSG)

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)

God is Faithful:praise-1154566_1920 pixabay

“I am faithful, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:12, NIV)

“The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalms 145:13, NIV)

“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.” (Psalm 111:7, NIV)

I know this post was longer than most. I hope you came away feeling a stirring in your heart in a new and fresh way. If so, please reply with your favorite theme or verse.

~April

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

Crown of Beauty

“[The Lord will] bestow on them a crown of beauty
 instead of ashes…for the display of His glory.”
(Isaiah 61:3, NIV)
I padded into Rachel’s room to return her missing hairbrush.  Oh, the drama displayed by my ten-year-old when such items are missing. I keep telling Rachel “I’m a no drama mama” but she continues to test her acting skills on the family. As I laid down her hairbrush (the pink one with a mirror on one side, because how else are you supposed to know what your hair looks like?) I noticed her open jewelry box and something didn’t look right.
Over the summer Grandma Clark, gave Rachel a wooden flatware chest which would normally hold silverware. Rachel repurposed the large walnut box to hold her costume jewelry. Nestled among the plastic bracelets and BFF necklaces was a golden crown made of diamonds and rubies. Yes, something was certainly out of place.
“A crown of beauty instead of ashes.” (Isaiah 61:3)
I lifted the beautiful crown from its hovel and gazed upon its beauty. We won this pendant at a silent auction in 2010 benefitting our friend, Renee Bach and her Ugandan feeding program, Serving His Children. I recall my husband eyeing the piece and suggested we place a bid.  “Diamonds are Rachel’s birthstone and rubies are yours, April we must bid” urged my beloved.  To our surprise we won and gifted Rachel the responsibility of taking care of this precious piece of realjewelry.
I rubbed the piece, admiring the intricate detail and gemstones. I soaked the piece in cleaning solution and polished it to a shine. How could this piece of jewelry be keeping company with the cheap counterfeits from the tween stores at the mall? This deserved special care and attention. Furthermore, it should be worn not stored in a box. This was meant to be displayed.
“…for the display of His glory.” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)
As I held the polished pendant I thought about how God rescued me, not only by salvation through Jesus Christ but also from a two year battle of depression.
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)
I searched through my own jewelry box and found a simple gold chain. I carefully slid the pendant over the clasp and looked in the mirror. “Thank you Lord, for trading my depression for joy and ashes for beauty. Amen.”
Each time I receive a comment on this necklace, I am able to share of God’s ransomed love and His desire to bestow on each of us a crown of beauty instead of ashes.
~Humbly,

 April

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