Stuck at 9: Cultivate a Grateful Heart

I ran across this old post from 2012. I polished the writing and sharing it with you today. While over five and a half years have passed since I wrote this article, the message of cultivating a grateful heart is timeless. Our son is now a freshman in high school and only a few months away from turning fifteen. This is a good excuse to brew another pot of coffee and take a moment with me. Enjoy. ~April

February 7, 2012

Today is our son’s 9th birthday! Although he has a small party planned with his friends in a few days, we wanted to do something special for him, on his birthday. Unfortunately, skating, bowling, and even the local arcade were closed. Oh the dilemma of having a birthday, on a Tuesday, in a small town, during the winter.

Fortunately, Dairy Queen was open and we savored our favorite ice cream. To the kids surprise the DQ had a video game corner. The money disappeared as quickly as the ice cream.Taste and see the Lord is god

The birthday boy shifted his weight with excitement and eagerly asked, “Can I have more money?”

“I don’t have anymore more money for games,” replied his father.

Suddenly the eagerness disappeared, the meltdown began, and I’m not referring to my mint chocolate chip ice cream. Instantly, it did not matter to the birthday boy that he already tore open his family gifts at dinner, nor did it matter that a party with his friends is scheduled in a few days.

What mattered was his ungrateful attitude.

 “In everything give thanks, for it is the will of Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In a moment of frustration, the husband blasted, “That’s it you can forget about having a 10th birthday!”

At home, the birthday boy quietly sobbed.  Wrapping my arms around his tiny frame, I whispered, “What’s wrong?”

“Momma, I don’t want to be stuck at 9!”

As I rocked the birthday boy in my arms and my mind wandered.

“Heavenly Father, is this how you feel when we are ungrateful for all you have given us? Does our ungratefulness cause us to be stuck where we are?”

I believe it does.

I continued to rock the birthday boy. I explained if he chooses to be ungrateful, than he chooses to miss the blessings God has to give. We prayed, “Forgive me Lord, if I’ve been unappreciative, ungrateful, or possess a “Me, me, me” attitude. Amen.”

~April Dawn White © 2012

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

Forget the Frock This Easter

As a girl, purchasing a new frilly dress, lace embellished socks, and white patent leather shoes, was my favorite part of our Easter tradition. Easter was the one time of year when we had new clothes. The rest of the year, we wore hand-me-downs.

Growing up in the Bible belt in the south, Easter was the one Sunday when the phrase “wearing your Sunday best,” took on a completely new meaning. Boys wore a suit and tie and girls dripped in accessories, even the parents have a new outfit. If you are a woman, you probably have a new handbag and shoes to match.

The memory of my childhood Easters returned to me recently when I came across a video called “Forget the Frock”. As I watched the video, I instantly connected with the mission of this organization. This Easter, forget the frock. Instead of spending money buying new clothes this Easter, spend the money supporting missionaries and feeding orphans.

Forget the Frock this Easter and Feed Orphans instead. Click To Tweet

This Easter, our family will support Serving His Children.
Our family has been ministry partners with Serving His Children for years. I am excited to introduce this organization to you. Serving His Children is a non-profit organization that partners with the Ministry of Health in Uganda to treat the severely malnourished, provides health education, teaches effective agriculture methods, shares the gospel of Christ, and brings communities together.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27, NLT)

Forget the Frock

Forget the Frock, I’m wearing a Serving His Children T-shirt this Easter.

Jesus’ ministry included caring for the sick, the widows, and orphans. This Easter our family will refocus our attention on where Christ spent his attention.  This Easter we will forget the frock and support feeding the malnourished.

Will you join hundreds of others who are also choosing to forget the frock?

~April Dawn White

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

New Year’s Eve 2016: Crown the Year with Abundance

This morning I awoke with “crown the year with abundance” on my mind. As the coffee brewed, I searched the various translations of Psalm 65:11. I found this New Living Translation and I love it!

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” (Psalm 65:11, NLT)

What I love about this verse is that there is the recognition that God is the One who crowns the year with abundance. There is also the recognition that even in the hard paths, even in the difficult times, even in the rough seasons, God promises an overflow of abundance.

God promises an abundance of Hope in the hard seasons. Click To Tweet

When I wrote this verse in my journal, I drew a rectangle around the word crown, I underlined the words hard pathways, and I circled the word overflow. When I circled ‘overflow’, it connected the dots and I immediately wrote out my verse for 2016 because I saw that the two verses are connected.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

On the eve of a new year, I wrote out a prayer of praise to God. I wrote and recognized that this has been a hard year. But even in the hard times and difficult seasons, God offers a promise of abundance in these hard times.

As I say farewell to 2016, my heart is full of joy and peace. The path for 2017 might still be hard and difficult, but it is overflowing with an abundance of hope.

~April Dawn White

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

He Appeared and the Soul Felt Its Worth

He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The words printed on this Christmas card were familiar, simple, and profound. I recognized the phrase as a song lyric but to which Christmas hymn I was uncertain.

Such pondering was an excuse to brew another pot of liquid mercy. I leaned against the kitchen counter, inhaling the hazelnut aroma, eyes closed and holding the card in my hand. I sang the phrase, “He appeared and the soul felt its worth” and recognized it as a line from O Holy Night.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel which means, God WITH us.” (Matthew 1:23, emphasis mine)

There are no greater reassuring words than the promise of God WITH us.  Immanuel is a name of God often referenced during the Christmas season. However, the promise of God WITH us is for all seasons, in every trial, and through every dark valley.

“Even though I walk thought the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are WITH me.” (Psalms 23:4, emphasis mine)

Let me get this out of the way and say, this has not been an easy year. A disease we had never heard of before, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, turning our world upside down. Suddenly I stepped out of a healthy active life into the world of chronic illness. So many areas of my life has changed,  my health, my income, my abilities, my independence, my priorities, and my perspective.

Through it all, God appeared reminding me of His name, Immanuel. God WITH us never left our side and my soul felt its worth. My soul felt its worth for being me–broken and humbled.  One of the greatest challenges I faced this year was breaking free from the idea of perfection and performance. I have let go of the idols of perfectionism and performance and grasped Immanuel’s hand instead. God loves me because He created me. I am enough.

I am thankful Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, allowing me a year of rest and quiet time with the Lord. While a rare disease hijacked by body, God’s presence hijacked my soul. He appeared and my soul felt its worth.

Merry Christmas 2016

~April Dawn White

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

Hope: The First Candle of Advent

advent-wreath-hope-pixabayIn the New Testament church, an anchor symbolized hope. In 2015, I pursued a yearlong archaeological dig into God’s Word, studying the word anchor, and every angle of hope. As a result, I selected “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”(Hebrews 6:19),  as my verse for 2015.

My 2015 study of hope followed with an unexpected medical diagnosis and struggle to find my identity in 2016. I did not know the studying hope would be future preparation for my faith (and my family’s faith) to be tested. We battened down the hatches, clung to our anchor of hope and prayed for God to calm the raging storm.

Hope is choice.

When we choose to believe God is who He says He; when we choose to believe God can do what He promised; when we choose to have the audacity to praise a thrice-holy God in the face of the fiercest storm, we are choosing to HOPE.

I choose Hope.hope-meme-christmas-wooden-background-pixabay

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote; Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.” (2 Corinthians 10:15)

Paul’s mission in these words is the same mission Christians possess today, to increase our faith, expand our area of influence, and spread the gospel beyond its current borders. One way we can do this is to cling to hope.

Each of us has a sphere of influence. Whether at work, school, or in our neighborhood, those around us are encouraged by watching our faith anchored to Jesus Christ. When we choose to hope in the face of adversity, others are watching, and we are doing exactly what Paul described—expanding the gospel beyond.

Blue anchor pixabayOur family and our extended church family have suffered greatly this year. To be honest, I wanted to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and go straight to January. My grasp on hope was slipping. It took a wresting match with God and a verbal spanking from my daughter to strengthen my grip on hope.

 If your grasp on God’s anchor of hope is slipping, follow the instructions in Hebrews Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12) and cling tightly to the firm and secure hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Hope for Advent:  Week One Readings

  • Day 1: Psalm 62:5-6
  • Day 2: Hebrews 6:18-19
  • Day 3: Psalm 71:5-8, 14, 20
  • Day 4: Psalm 52:8-9
  • Day 5: Psalm 89:15, Psalm 130:5
  • Day 6: Isaiah 46: 3-4, Isaiah 54:7, 10
  • Day 7: 2 Corinthians 10:15

What is Advent?

    Advent is a season to remember that God reached down from heaven and extended Hope in the form of Jesus Christ. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Christ’s birth was “the first Advent” and the anticipation of Christ’s return in “the second Advent.”

When is Advent?

The season of Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas. The four week waiting period during the four Sunday’s of Advent represent the four centuries of waiting between the last recorded Word of God from the prophet Malachi (in the Old Testament) and the arrival of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament). Advent is time of preparing hearts for Christ’s birth, both in celebration, reflection, and repentance.

What the does the Advent wreath and candles symbolize?

          The greenery wreath, a circle, represents God’s never-ending mercy and His eternity. The color green represents the renewal of eternal life in Christ. The candles within the wreath symbolize the light of God coming to the world through the birth of His son, Jesus Christ.

            The lighting of the first candle begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The first candle symbolizes Hope—the anticipation of Hope in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The three remaining candles symbolizing Love, Joy, and Peace are light each Sunday during the season of Advent. Together, each of the four candles tells the part of the Christmas story of Bethlehem, Shepherds, and Angels. The fifth and center candle represents Christ, the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

~April Dawn White

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

Pin It on Pinterest