Soccer, Shoes, and Faith: Growing Room

Growing room

Image Courtesy of Morguefile

I never had shoes that fit.  Mama would stuff the toes of our shoes with tissue paper. “Growing room” mama called it. As a child, I had two pair of dress shoes; black patent worn after Labor Day and white patent worn after Easter.  My sister and I wiggled our toes, and tried to make the awkward feeling of the crumbled tissue paper more comfortable. Peering across the pews at church, I wondered if the girls with fancy hair bows had growing room in their shoes too.

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Image Courtesy of Pixabay

These memories from over thirty-five years ago flood my mind as I pull Andrew’s much-to-big JV soccer uniform from the dryer.  His uniform swallows him and his socks are enormous. Growing room, I chuckle to myself. Our son plays on the middle school soccer team; however, the JV coach invited to Andrew “play up” on five JV soccer games this season.   We agreed understanding the benefits and challenges of playing against more experienced athletes.   

I watch Andrew proudly walk on the JV field, he looks like David surrounded by a team of Goliath’s. The night before, he tried on his uniform. Aggravated by the much-too-big-size, I whispered, “Don’t worry, you’ll grow into it. You’ve got growing room.”

Days later, the phrase growing room resurfaces. While shoe shopping with Rachel she said, “Mom, I think I’ll choose a half size bigger, ya know for growing room.” I retold the story of mama stuffing tissue paper in the toes of our shoes. Seated on the bench she removed her shoes and asked, “Was it uncomfortable to walk in those shoes stuffed with tissue paper?” Scanning the shelves for her size I reply, “Very uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it.” Handing her a pair of boots off the clearance rack, I said, “Rachel, sometimes God hands us situations bigger than we can handle. Just like the shoes with growing room, our faith requires growing room too.”

Like oversized shoes, our faith requires growing room too. Click To Tweet

God often gives His children situations too big to handle. Recently, I wrote about Moses and his motley crew of Israelites stuck between the enemy and a sea too big to cross. I titled this article, Why Would God Induce an Attack on His Children.  The abbreviated answer from last week is for God to get the glory and for His name prove that I AM LORD. (Exodus 14:4)

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Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Another reason God places His children in situations too big to handle is for our faith to grow. Just as I had to grow into my shoes and Andrew needs to grow into his uniform, challenging circumstances allows our tears to water the small mustard seed of faith. God’s word tells us “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Do you feel overwhelmed by your current circumstance? Are you facing a situation too big for you? Remember God places His children in situations too big to handle for our faith to grow. Your faith has growing room.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. 

© 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

Would You Like Garlic Bread? Learning to Serve While Waiting on God

butler waiter server Pixabay“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:27,NIV)

Recently I shared about having Faith While Waiting for Answers. A friend reminded me that in restaurant industry waiters are also called servers. She commented that we should be seeking ways to serve while we wait.

This notion of serving while waiting presented itself to me in a unique way this week. Our church youth group participated in a progressive dinner. When I learned the theme for the evening was Italian, I dropped off our son and left. I love pasta and bread, but unfortunately, this food combination will trigger an attack of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.pasta Italian Pixabay

Driving home a gnawing feeling rose in the pit of my stomach. What Lord? I prayed. Is this really how you’ve been taught, if you can’t get benefit from an activity than you leave? Go to the preacher’s house. These words downloaded into my brain. I did not hear them audibly but the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me. I answered back, Okay I’ll go to the preacher’s house (the third stop on the progressive dinner), but Lord if it is okay with you, I’m going to grab a bite to eat at home first.

Beating the youth group bus, I knocked on the front window and waved at the pastor’s wife Sandy, standing in the kitchen. Wiping her hands on a kitchen towel she said, “What are you doing here?” I explained the situation and she grinned. pasta Italian 2 PixabayLess than an hour earlier, she prayed, “Lord, how am I going to serve forty people spaghetti and bread by myself?”

We worked swiftly in the kitchen stirring noodles and sauce and sharing life. It did not matter that I could not eat the meal I was serving or that I lacked the strength to participate in the entire progressive dinner. What mattered was that I responded when I felt the Lord’s prompting.

God will test our obedience in small areas before he will give us grander opportunities Click To Tweet

God will test our obedience in small areas before he will give us grander opportunities. In Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect, she describes “God’s love language is obedience.” This is a lesson I often remind my middle school children, but this week, it was a lesson God taught me himself.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10, NLT)

What unexpected blessing has God given you, while responding in obedience, when called to serve in your season of waiting?

~April Dawn White

*Scripture is NIV or NLT from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay. © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Faith While Waiting for Answers

Faith Waitng on God“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, NIV).

The earth has twirled on its axis for one hundred and four days since the genetic lab received my sample.  As a biology major and pharmacist, I am curious to discover the hidden wonders revealed from unraveling the double helix DNA structure that God so intricately wove together. Sequencing my entire genome will show the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will know if I am a carrier for the periodic paralysis gene, breast cancer gene, and the Alzheimer’s gene. I will also know if I am the milkman’s daughter (just kidding Dad). These test results will aid my team of specialists to rule out suspicious conditions and provide greater clarity for my future treatment.  I’ve waited for fifteen weeks.

The waiting is driving me crazy.

To tell you the truth, I’ve wrestled with God over these test results. Why is it taking so long? I thought that once I finally cycled through the stages of grief and accepted this neuromuscular disease as my “new normal” that somehow <poof!> all the answers would come flooding in, but I was wrong.DNA

I’m still waiting.

Days before my highly anticipated second opinion at Duke Medical Center I read these words penned from David, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, NIV). What I thought I needed was answers, but God knew my heart needed a word from the Lord. “Wait for the Lord” repeated twice in verse fourteen.

While my mind wrestles for understanding, my soul searches for peace. Click To Tweet

While at Duke, the neurologist eased my mind when she stated, “I’d be surprised if you had genetic results this early.” What seemed like an eternity to me, she considered early. Then the doctor asked me to return next month for further testing. We agreed with the idea to return, but that meant one concern–more waiting.

I’ve lost count at the number time I’ve sat in a waiting room. When the explanation of benefits statement arrives before the medial diagnosis…have faith and wait on the Lord. Maybe your waiting room isn’t in a medical center, but in the interior room of your heart.

Faith to Wait for the LordWhat are you waiting on? How can David’s command to “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, NIV) bring you peace in the waiting room of your heart?

Waiting in faith alongside you,

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Ponderize: The Kind but Firm Leading Hand of God

hands-407389_1280 (1)pixabayMaking the most of a mundane task of washing dishes, I listened to “The Grit Factor” podcast by Lisa Bereve. I replayed the video multiple times as I towel dried my hands to scribble down this nugget of truth: “God is kind but He is not soft. In kindness, He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life change.” –Lisa Bevere

I pondered her words in my mind, swirling the truth the way I savor my last sip of coffee. The message of God’s kindness, firm hand, a radical life, and His leading all resonate with my current circumstances.

God's leading hand is firm, but kind. Click To Tweet

I need God’s secure and steady arm to cling to in moments of physical weakness.  I need His firm hand to lift my chin and infuse encouragement into my heart and mind with each cycle of pain and despair. I need His everlasting arms to wrap around our family as we continue navigate the uncharted waters of this intruder called chronic illness, the financial strain of me not working, the hormones and drama with two kids in middle school, and the additional burden placed on my husband.

Ponderize = [Ponder + Memorize]

Ponderize is a word I learned from my west coast friend Mary Black, co-founder of Parsnips and Paisley dot com. She credits the word ponderize from Devin Durant who explains to ponderize is to ponder on and memorize Biblical scriptures.

During the past several weeks, I have ponderized the firm grip of God’s leading hand and my desperate need to hold on tight.

If you need a new grip of faith, I implore you to ponderize these verses:Ponderize

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24, NIV)

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. (Hebrews 12:12, NLT)

Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:13, Message)

Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. (Hebrews 10:23, Message)

Your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:10, NIV)

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. (Psalm 73:23, NIV)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Hebrews 4:14, NIV)

Blue anchor pixabayWe have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19, NIV) * My verse for 2015

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. (Hebrews 3:6, NIV)

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9, NIV)

If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. (Colossians 1:23, NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave mNew Grip Ponderizee a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2, NIV)

Today’s Red Chair Moments is on location at Duke Medical Center.  Please join me in praying for clarity, direction, insight, and possibly new treatment options. My tired hands are taking a new grip in faith. I know God’s firm hand will steady me and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Hope in Christ: My Oasis in the Desert

“I cared for you in the desert.” (Hosea 13:5)

I feel as if I’ve been banished to exile in the desert. Periodic Paralysis, the rare neuromuscular disease that hijacked my body less than a year ago, forces me to live with restricted food choices and limited activities. My once active self bucks and strains against these new constraints.

During my quiet time with the Lord, I studied the Hebrew word for desert: ‘midbar’, which also means the place of the word. I am reminded of another time when Christ referred to himself as the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2, NIV)

Hope in Christ my Oasis in the Desert

Today, I sipped my coffee, sat in my red chair, and pondered these things in my heart. My situation has not changed. I am still waiting for genetic test results, still waiting for an upcoming appointment to Duke Medical Center, still wondering what my future will hold.

 

Hope in Christ is my oasis in the desert. Click To Tweet

The One who holds my future is the One spoke the world into existence with a word (Genesis 1:3) and is with me in the desert. Hope in Christ is my oasis in the desert and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

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

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