The Praising Tree

The Praising Tree“All the trees of the forest sing for joy.” (Psalm 96:12)

A few weeks ago, I gazed out the window, sipping freshly brewed liquid mercy (my morning coffee). I watched as the earth yawned and stretched as it greeted the morning sunrise. Looking across to the quiet lake, I stared with wonder at the perfect reflections on the water.

Something in my peripheral vision caught my attention.  Changing my focus from the lake to the pine trees closer to the house, was the most peculiar site. A solitary pine bough bobbed up and down.  I glanced around the backyard and saw that no other trees were stirring. All was calm on this early morning except the praise offered by a single pine bough.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

I felt as though I was spying on a holy moment intended for only the Creator. Suddenly I felt small and insignificant as a single bough on the pine tree, planted decades before my arrival, swayed to the rhythm of supernatural praise.

How would you praise if you know God alone was watching? Click To Tweet

I pondered the significance of this moment. Why would God allow me to witness this supernatural praise intended only for Him? The answer was simple. It was a visual reminder that God sees me.

He sees what no one else sees.The Praising Tree

He sees our struggles.

He sees our time spent in prayer and in His Word.

He sees when we push through and smile despite the pain.

He sees the tears no one else sees.

He sees faith anchored to Christ despite our challenging circumstances.

Often the situations we face need a change in perspective. Each day I walk past this massive oak tree in my front yard. The empty branches remind me of the prolonged winter season. Personally I am in a prolonged waiting season. This beautiful image captured by my husband is a great visual reminder to change my perspective. I need to focus on the unchanging character of God rather than the uncertainty of my situation.

Consider:

  • Are you in a prolonged season?
  • How would recognizing God sees you in the midst of your circumstances change your perspective?
  • How would you praise if you knew God alone was watching?

~April

P.S. Today is the 5th birthday of Red Chair Moments! You have my permission to eat cake! 🙂

*Images courtesy of Author  *Scripture is NIV from BibleGateway.com unless otherwise noted.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

But as for Me, I Trust in You

As I journey through the book of Psalms, one particular reoccurring phrase whispers hope. The phrase “But as for me” greets me along the trek and encourages me to continue.

The phrase, “But as for me” recognizes I have a choice. I can choose trust or fear, sorrow or joy, rejection or redirection. Despite my feelings (because feelings lie) and despite what the world thinks, this phrase urges me to choose God.

Are you at a crossroads? Is uncertainty looming? I pray that you will read these power packed verses and be encouraged to choose God despite your outlook.

But as for Me Verses:

“But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” (Psalm 40:17, 70:5)

“But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.” (Psalm 49:15, NLT)

”But as for me, I trust in you. (Psalm 55:23)

 “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” (Psalm 59:16, NLT)

 “But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me.”(Psalm 69:29)

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (Psalm 73:28)

”But as for me, I will always proclaim what God has done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 75:9, NLT)

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord.” (Micah 3:8)

”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 as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25, NLT)

“But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts.” (Jeremiah 12:3, NLT)

And as for God…

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (2 Samuel 22:26, Psalm 18:30)

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay  *Scripture is NIV from BibleGateway.com unless otherwise noted.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

One Year Later…God is Still Faithful

Today is the one-year anniversary of my medical leave of absence.

One year later, I have a diagnosis (Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis), six new medications to manage symptoms, and new teammates such as physicians, counselors, and a slew of online friends with this disease.

Over the past year, I’ve wrestled with God over a handful of losses; loss of self, identity, my career, income, and independence.  However, today, I recognize God’s steadfast love and faithfulness was never taken away.

“But I will NOT take my love from you, NOR will I ever betray my faithfulness.” (Psalm 89:33, emphasis and personalization mine)

When it feels you've lost is all, God's love & faithfulness will never be removed. Click To Tweet

One year later, uncertainty still looms as I ask the Lord many questions. I surrender each question to Him knowing I cannot answer when, where, what, and how.  But I know the Who and knowing God is all that matters.

One year later... God is still faithful Click To Tweet

Friend, do you have uncertainty looming over you? I encourage you to write out your questions and anxious thoughts to the Lord. Surrender each question to the one who can replace your uncertainty with His faithfulness. 

~April 

*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

Missing Pieces or Room for Blessings?

alphabet-missing-q-meme“I’m missing Q” stumbled out of my mouth before I realized no one was around to listen. I positioned the rediscovered Kindergarten photograph next to my son’s eight grade school picture.  The rediscovered Kindergarten photo displayed a round face, wide blue eyes, and a crooked smile. The recent eight-grade photograph, of the same child, displayed a confident and mischievous I-know-it-all thirteen-year-old smile. Staring at the two photographs, I pondered at the handiwork of our Creator.

During my son’s Kindergarten year, the dental hygienist noted that our son was missing the tooth labeled as “Q.” He was greatly disturbed to be missing something that everyone else had. It bothered him so much that each time our son saw his school picture from that year he would point to the photograph or his mouth and state, “I’m missing Q.”

I tried to convince him missing “Q” did not matter. I explained it was only a baby tooth and he would eventually loose it anyway. I tried to convince him that the missing tooth would actually provide more space for the future adult teeth. With each explanation, my strong-willed five-year-old peered at me with a look that said, “Mom, you can’t fool me.”

Over dinner one evening, my husband explained that he also had teeth that never grew in. Andrew’s attitude instantly improved when he realized he was just like daddy.

Eight years later, the phrase “I’m missing Q” automatically stumbled out of my mouth when I saw this old photograph. Talking to the image of my five-year-old son, I said, “See you were so worried about this and you didn’t even need it.” Immediately a thought, perhaps the voice of God, downloaded into my brain. These words penetrated my heart, “April, what about you? What are you so worried about missing, that you don’t even need?”

My knees suddenly buckled. Pressing my palms against the refrigerator, I steadied myself. “Oh Lord,” I exclaimed. “Please forgive me!”whats-missing-meme

We spend too much energy fretting over missing pieces. We are afraid these lacking details will cause us to appear different and prevent us from fitting in or worse, prevent us from fulfilling our purpose.  But, what if we changed our perspective? Instead of complaining about the missing aspect of our life, what if we praised God for the extra space it provided. What if what’s missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing?

What if what's missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing? Click To Tweet

Today, I ask you the same question that penetrated my heart.  Dear friend, what are you so worried about missing? Perhaps it is God’s way of making room for a future blessing. 

Last week, I explored the notion of having growing room in our faith in a blog titled, Soccer, Shoes and Faith: Growing Room. If you want to dive deeper into the idea of God making space and growing room for faith, I encourage you to also read this post.

GIVEAWAY WINNERbook-cover

Congratulations to Dana S. for winning a free copy of 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild! Dana, I will be in touch soon.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Staring in the Eyes of a Zebra: Encouragement in Desert Wandering

Confessions of zebraEyes of a zebra penetrated my desert heart and helped me find strength in God.

In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. I first shared about this in the article, Confession of a Zebra. Last week, I sat across another zebra and for the first time, I knew someone truly understood me.

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis affects one per 100,000 people.[1]  It is isolating and lonely to possess a disease so rare that no one around me understands the paralysis, the pain, the impaired cognitive functioning, and sudden muscle weakness.

When I discovered a Texas zebra was attending a meeting in my area, we scheduled an afternoon together before her return flight home.  Over the past year, we have texted and spoken via phone, but I savored this rare moment to spend face time with her.

As she spoke, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast our lives.  She, a Texas zebra, whose diagnosis of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, was confirmed at the young age of six. There was no need for extensive genetic testing, since her father and her sister already possessed this rare neuromuscular disease.  Texas zebra is around my age and our daughters are the same age too. Unfortunately, her daughter (and nephew) was diagnosed this summer.DNA

On the other hand, I was clinically diagnosed at age forty, based on my extensive journaling of symptoms and the adverse effect of certain foods, exercise, stress, etc. Unlike, Texas zebra, I am waiting on the results of genetic testing.

Texas zebra grew up with the rare condition and has assimilated well into adulthood; I was diagnosed as an adult.

I feel like Dorothy, who woke up in Oz, desperately clicking my red heels together to go back home to my previous life.

 

The morning after our meeting, I read these words “Jonathan went to David [in the desert] and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). David was a man on the run, hiding out from the insane King Saul. Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s best friend, came to him in the desert to provide encouragement and strength in God.

This Texas zebra was the Jonathan to my David. She met me in my desert place and provided my weary heart with encouragement and strength in God. We are relational people, not created to live in isolation. This was on Paul’s mind when he wrote, “that you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12).

God doesn’t call us to fix other peoples problems, but to walk with them. Click To Tweet

children-542104_1920 teddy bears friends PixabaySo often, we want to fix other people’s problems and if their problem is too big, we feel overwhelmed by their need. God doesn’t call us to fix other peoples problems, but to walk with them. Notice, Jonathan did not remove David from the desert; rather he spent time with him there and provided strength in God.

Are you in a desert place? God sees you and He cares for you. Seek refuge in Him and find comfort in the words penned by David (perhaps when he was in the desert), “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).

Have you been through the desert? I challenge you to reach out to someone in a desert place. Be their Jonathan and provide encouragement and strength in the Lord during this dry and weary season.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

[1] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview#a6

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