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

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

Victory Perspective

What if you approached your battle from the stance of victory? Click To Tweet

Photo courtesy of 88.5 Lite FMThe biggest battle I face is not wondering about direction in my current season. The biggest battle I face is trusting God has already won the battle on my behalf.

I love to highlight passages of scripture where God uses past tense grammar to describe a current or future victory. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Joshua and Jericho

“See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” (Joshua 6:2, NIV)

Joshua stands before a small city fortified with tall walls. Assessing the giant walls, God said, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” I wish I could see the look on Joshua’s face at that moment. Queue the climatic music. Staring up at the walls, did he have a look of skepticism or determination? Before God offers an unusual battle plan, He assured Joshua, “I have delivered” this city into your hands.boots PIxabay

Joshua entered into battle from the stance of victory.

Moses’ Commission

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV)

Moses led a million march–a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. Before the split, God assured Moses, “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to a place I have prepared.”

With Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army closing in behind, Moses walked in a stance of victory on dry ground as he crossed the Red Sea.

Gideon’s Call

“Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” (Judges 7:15, NIV)

A chapter before, the Lord finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Now God has called him to fight. Before God issues an unusual battle plan (by the way, most of God’s battle strategies are unusual) He assures Gideon, “The Lord has given” the enemy into your hands.

Gideon enters into battle from a stance of victory.

The victory is yours. Go get it! Click To Tweet

sword-790815_1920 pixabayWe can learn from Joshua, Moses, and Gideon. These men faced insurmountable circumstances, yet they entered into battle from a stance of victory.

Before God issues an unusual battle plan, for our lives we can rest assure He has already prepared our future and delivered the victory.

What battle are you facing?  The victory is already yours. Go get it.

If you need musical motivation, I recommend listening to Go Get It by Mary Mary.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay and 88.5 Lite FM

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Pin It on Pinterest