God’s Faithfulness Awaits our Surrender

PixabayDear friends, as you to read this catch up post, I hope you will understand my sporadic posts over the past several months.

One year ago, we listed our home for sale. The sell of our beloved home of fifteen years was necessary since my diagnosis of the rare chronic illness Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.  By May of 2017, we had no offers on our home forcing us to make alternate plans.  Seeking God’s face for what to do next, we advertised our lakefront home on the Vacation Rent by Owners website.  To our surprise, bookings flooded our inbox.

God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.

I cried, no I wailed.

I wailed over my chronic illness, the loss of my job, and our circumstances. I cried over God’s abundant blessings in the form of multiple bookings.

My parents offered for our family to live with them as long as necessary. Our family of four and two Jack Russell terriers moved in with my semi-retired parents and their cat. Oh, the stories I could tell about the cat and dog antics and the kids learning to plant, harvest, and can garden crops.

Our plan was to stay with my parents for the summer and move back into our home before school started. Chris and I calculated God provided enough bookings to pay the mortgage for the next year. God is faithful!

Unbeknownst to us, the Pharisees next door were circling their prey. Our lake neighbors, who we called friends for over fifteen years, were angry with us for renting our home. Not one, but three sets of neighbors whom we had shared many meals together and whom Chris had repaired their homes, cars, and welded numerous items betrayed us during our greatest need for compassion. At the height of our stress, we were mocked, cussed, and utterly double-crossed by people we once respected and admired.

The stress of their Judas kiss flared my illness. I suffered multiple physical attacks of paralysis and severe muscle weakness.  In July, I told Chris, “I cannot move back home. The stress on my body is too much and I can’t live there and face their betrayal.” Chris agreed and he immediately called a realtor. Within twelve days of re-listing our home, God delivered two competing full-price offers.

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It was extremely humbling to rent our home to stay afloat. But God sees and He takes care of His children. In September, we sold our home to a family who loved our home from the first time it was on the market. Behind the scenes, they were rearranging their finances to purchase our home. God’s hand was active even when we could not see the movement.  (I have much more to add to this in another post).

In October, we purchased our new home. We moved from the rural countryside to the suburbs. For the first time 2001, we have a flat yard, high-speed internet, curbside trash pick up, and pizza delivery! Our home is one-level with an unfinished basement. Chris is already dreaming what to build next. We are thirty minutes closer to Chris’ work and closer to medical care and assistance for me.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the trail-head to a 3-mile walking trail, which meanders though our neighborhood.  Earlier this week, Chris and I walked a small portion of the trail. Crossing the footbridge over a babbling creek, the trail opens up to a hidden park with two base/softball fields. Turning to Chris, I mentioned, “Rachel will love this!” We continued along the trail, ducking into a tunnel under the main road.  A crimson country convenient store emerged into view as we exited the tunnel. Chris purchased a Dr. Pepper and pastry for himself and a coffee for me. Hand-in-hand we walked home basking in God’s faithfulness.

My unexpected diagnosis shook and disrupted our comfortable life. Like a child shaking her piggy bank, eager to grasp the last quarter, I too tried to hold onto things I called MINE.  With clinched fists, I selfishly tried to hang onto my career (until my illness was too severe), my security (until I no longer brought home a paycheck), my health (until paralysis and muscle weakness mocked me), and my identity. Finally, I surrendered control.

One of my favorite stories from the New Testament is when Jesus caught a multitude of fish. Simon Peter and his fishing companions were out all night and caught nothing. As they were washing their nets, Jesus was preaching to a crowd on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. As the crowd grew, Jesus stepped into Simon Peter’s boat to teach from the water. When Jesus was finished preaching He asked Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:4-5). Simon Peter surrendered control and God’s great faithfulness (in the form of fish) caused the boat to sink. Simon Peter signaled for his fishing companions to come help. This fishing crew was eyewitnesses to the miraculous power and faithfulness of God.  They surrendered their occupation and life to become Jesus’

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first disciples.  They “left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).

God is faithful. God’s faithfulness is one of the many character traits that define Him.  Even when we are not faithful to acknowledge Him,

He is faithful and longsuffering towards His children. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul also writes, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Perhaps your life has been turned upside down by unforeseen circumstances, trauma, a prodigal child, broken relationships, and loss. Me too. Trust me when I say, God’s faithfulness awaits our surrender.  Pry open your fists and invite God to take control and watch as His faithfulness floods your life.

~April Dawn White

©2017 All Rights Reserved.

Prescriptive Prayer

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous [wo]man avails much.” (James 5:16, NKJV)

This prayer was electronically delivered to my inbox this week. This prayer was purposefully penned for my friend Meg. Meg is fighting a reoccurring battle of cancer, specifically a reoccurring brain tumor.

During trials of life, we need the support of others. This prescriptive prayer is an example of a prayer warrior in action. Meg and the author of this prayer, Anne H., gave permission for me to share this with you.  Meg refers to this prayer as her “prescriptive prayer.” Friends, thank you in advance for taking Meg’s need before God’s throne.~April

 

Prescriptive Prayer by Anne H. 

Lord,
I come worshiping You for who You are, and thanking You for Your amazing love… “You were before all things, and through You all things exist.” (Colossians 1:17)

You, Father, knew Meg before she was ever born, You “fashioned all of her days when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) This brain tumor did not take You by surprise, and You have called Meg by name and have said to her,Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

So, I come Lord, putting the entire burden of this brain tumor on You, and I ask that You defeat it, that You take it apart, that You bring it to nothing, for Your glory and for Meg’s good, and for the good of her children. I know that “the thief (the enemy of our souls) comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but that You came to bring life, and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Fill Meg with Your abundant life, and remove the enemy’s attempt to destroy her. I speak against all fear that would come against her and ask that tormenting fear would leave her, and that Your perfect love would cast out all fear. (1 John 4:18) I ask, “No weapon formed against her would prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)

I ask that You cover her, and her children, this treatment plan, her family, and friends who are supporting her and praying for her, with Your protective shield and Presence. I ask that You watch over every aspect of Meg’s life and journey, and that You and Your name be lifted up throughout this fight of faith! Keep her and her children grounded in You and in Your love, and “when the enemy comes in like a flood, that the Spirit of the Lord would lift up a standard against him!” (Isaiah 59:19)

I thank You and praise You that in this world You never leave us alone and without hope. “You never leave us, nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5) and that You hold our hand (Isaiah 41:13) and walk us through the fire (Isaiah 43:2) so that we might come forth emblazoned by You, with a deeper love and understanding of all that You are and of all that You accomplished at the Cross on our behalf.

Thank You Holy Father. Thank you precious Jesus.Thank You magnificent Spirit.

In Jesus mighty name, we ask and believe all these things!

Amen.

A Go Fund Me account was established for Meg an the family. Click on the link below for more information. 

https://www.gofundme.com/megs-radiation-treatment-fund

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

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

Happy Birthday Dad!

birthday-cake 1008396_1280 pixabay“Happy birthday” I exclaim a little too loudly over the clinking coffee mugs. Dad shuffles towards table. Even after total knee replacement surgery, his knee still lacks range of motion. He gestures to his leg and shrugs his shoulder in an “Oh well. What can you do?” motion.

Dad collapses into the chair and repositions his bum knee. Handing him the breakfast menu, I kiss him on his cheek and repeat quieter this time, “Happy 70th birthday dad!”

Dad's 70th birthday selfie!

Dad’s 70th birthday selfie!

He grunts, “Seventy makes me sound like an old man,” and grunts again. We stifle our giggle as the server refills my coffee and takes dad’s drink order.

For the following two hours, we share life.  We talk over endless cups of coffee about everything.  I watch my father tell a story by repositioning the salt and peppershaker and jelly packets. I follow his hands in giant gestures. I joke that dad likes to tell the long story long, sparing no details.

As dad speaks, I realize I inherited much more than his facial features; I also inherited his gift of story telling.  Dad moves the jelly packets to detail another story and my mind wanders to my little red chair. The iconic metal red chair on the website, Red Chair Moments (dot) com, was my dad’s chair when he was a child. This little red chair now resides on our front porch and is a conversation piece, welcoming all that enter our home.Red Chair Moments Theme Photo

While showing dad our house listing online, we exchange a sorrowful glance. Wordlessly, dad is sharing my thoughts, “I can’t believe I have to sell my home because of a rare illness.”  “Is there a long-suffering gene,” I wonder as my dad holds my smart phone and watches the online virtual tour of our home. My dad is no stranger to hard times and long-suffering.

Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

Is my ability to suffer long a result of nature or nurture, or is it totally faith based? Like thousands of Americans, dad was laid-off during the economic recession in the 1980’s. He picked up several part time jobs and eventually returned to work for the original employer. As a child, my parents shielded us from their financial struggles.  During those hard times, I recall overhearing my mom ask, “Can we afford to tithe?” Dad responded, “We can’t afford not too.”

Dad and I share an enormous sweet tooth, the same eyes, nose, and laugh lines. We love to tell stories to anyone willing to sit long enough to listen. My faith began by the foundation established by my parents. Dad taught me that I could never out give God.  We serve and share in the community of long-suffering. Through many hard times, dad anchored his hope to the Word of God and I never witnessed wavering faith. 

Happy birthday dad! I love you!

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author and 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

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