Season of Brokenness

Written by April Dawn White

Walking into church, my unmasked face revealed swollen eyes and a battered spirit. I realize brokenness is not a word, but that word aptly describes my season. 
Over the past six weeks I have been sick multiple times. I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy in my parenting, writing, my career as a pharmacist, and in my friendships. I’ve suffered the blow of three friends announcing their move to distant places. (This makes eight friends who have moved in 2 and ½ years.) And most recently I was in a car accident.
I felt attacked; spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
“Lord Help!”
There was a spiritual war raging around me. God was allowing the Enemy to attack several areas of my life. Even my dreams were under attack. But I fought back quoting:
“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.”
(James 4:7, author paraphrased)

Walking into church, my unmasked face revealed swollen eyes and a battered spirit. I couldn’t even face my prayer warriors. I skipped Sunday school and arrived at church just in time for the service.  My emotions were too raw and close to the surface. My shield of faith was dinged and my sword was marred.
Earlier that morning I spent time with the Lord meditating on my verse for 2015:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
(Hebrews 6:19, NIV)
This year I’ve focused on the first part of Hebrews 6:19. But on this particular day I meditated on the second portion of verse and the following verse:
“And which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.” (Hebrews 6:19-20, NASB)
 
I had been doing a fairly good job at masking my brokenness. Only my family and my closest of friends knew of my pain. In my red chair Sunday morning, God reminded me that I was not alone in this veiled place. Jesus had already entered behind the veil before me. According to Hebrews 6:19-20, Jesus was already there waiting for me.
At church that morning, the praise team led the congregation in singing “Cornerstone” by Hillsong. When I heard the chorus referencing my anchor and the veil I fell to pieces. This song was followed by a time of meet and greet with one another. Nicki, one of my friends who is moving, hugged me. Again, I fell apart.
I returned to the pew, wiping away tears and smeared mascara. Then I heard the familiar chords on the electric guitar. “No. No. Not that song”, I prayed. By God’s divine planning, the praise team played my favorite song, “How He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band.
I was a hot mess. Sinking into the pew, feelings of abandonment eased as the church serenaded me “How He Loves Us.”  

God continued to soothe my battered heart by Pastor Rich Hart’s sermon. He spoke of Christ being our Good Shepherd leading us to green pastures. (I will share more on this in another article.)
The beauty of broken is that God can restore anything broken. The Lord doesn’t place an elastic bandage over the problem. Instead, God binds up the wounds and heals from within.
I am beginning to heal from within.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
(Psalm 147:3, NIV)
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Mindfulness Meditation and Mood: What You Think Influences How You Feel

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4, NIV)
In the 1965 production of The Sound of Music, Fraulein Maria brings fun and joy to the Von Trapp family by song and dance. Her cheerful demeanor wins the heart of seven mischievous children and their heartbroken father.
Maria lifts the spirits of the children by encouraging them to sing a list their favorite things. As I type these words, images of Fraulein Maria jumping on the bed and dancing in the curtains waltz through my mind, as she sings “My Favorite Things” (Go ahead and sing.)
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s song has scientific evidence to support the notion of what you think can influence how you feel.
What you think can influence how you feel.
I recently attended a continuing education seminar titled PTSD, Trauma, and Anxiety Disorders. I won’t bore you with the details of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary- Adrenal Stress Axis (HPA). However, I want you to understand a key component of stress is the stress hormone cortisol.[1]Cortisol, regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory response, immune system, metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and mood.[2]
 
Research shows chronic stress causes an imbalance of cortisol levels and is a major cause of anxiety disorders, trauma disorders (like PTSD), and depression. In our information age the most common cause of chronic stress is physiological stress caused by our thoughts of imaginary thoughts not actual physical problems.[3][4]
Most stress is all in our head.
Untreated chronic stress can also cause:
·         Cardiovascular disease
·         Type 2 diabetes
·         Obesity
·         Stomach Ulcers
·         Accelerate aging
·         Cognitive impairment and dementia
·         Immune deficiency (increased risk of pneumonia and flu)
·         Sexual dysfunction
·         Sleep disorders
·         High blood pressure
·         Anxiety
·         Depression[5][6][7]
Combat stress with prayer and meditation.

 

We live in a world of constant information and multitasking. Studies show mindfulness meditation reduces cortisol levels, thereby reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Meditation improves cognitive function, ability to focus, memory, and mood. As a result meditation reduces all the factors listed above. [8][9]


“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10, NIV)

Thousands of scientific research dollars have been spent determining what the Psalmist wrote thousands of years ago. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).
I personally prefer the New American Standard Version: “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB).  Cease striving.
Friend, no matter what situation you’re facing, “God is seated on His holy throne” (Psalm 47:8). He can’t be dethroned, voted out, or impeached. He is a thrice holy God who invites you to enter a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Now that is worthy of meditation.
Peace be with you.
~Dr. April Dawn White, B.S. Pharm.D.

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[1] http://www.integrativepro.com/Resources/Integrative-Blog/2014/The-HPA-Axis
[2] https://www.adrenalfatigue.org/cortisol-adrenal-function
[3]Sapolsky R. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2004
[4] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247216.php
[5] http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v12/n8/abs/nm1447.html
[6] http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/23/1760.full
[7] http://elibrary.pks.mpg.de/Record/1702258319
[8] http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0018555
[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23527522

Seek Me First

From my kitchen.
The past week I’ve been part of a several conversations in which Jeremiah 29:11 was quoted. This timeless verse, written by the prophet Jeremiah thousands of years ago, assures followers that God has something good up His holy sleeve.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
I’ve noticed each time someone quoted this passage, they ended on verse eleven. But in order for God to reveal His promised plan for us from verse eleven, we must respond as recorded in verse twelve and thirteen:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13, NIV)
Pray and seek first.  
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)
Lord, help me to live each day with a growing awareness of you. Help me to seek you first in all circumstances.  Lord, prevent me from becoming immune to your presence and your whispers. Amen.
Photo courtesy of Condesign at Pixabay.


“We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.”
–Lysa TerKeurst.
Yes, God desires to provide the promise of hope and a future free from captivity. But first we must pray and seek him first.  If you need musical motivation, I suggest this beautiful song Firstby Lauren Daigle.
Each morning, before my feet hit the floor, I whisper “Good morning Lord. I love you too.” How do you seek God first?
~April Dawn White
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Earthquake Miracle and Answered Prayers

I’ve never made headline news. I prefer to lead a quiet and simple life below the radar. However, today we celebrated the fourth anniversary of the day God catapulted my bold prayer request from the quiet pages of my prayer journal to headline news.
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Virginia on August 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm.  Read more about this historic event on the US Geological Survey  and Roanoke Times websites.
Prior to August 2011 my daily prayers had been general, safe, possible, and to be honest— boring. I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that “general” and “possible” prayers don’t stir God to action. I’m not suggesting we skip blessing the food we eat or praying for the safety of our family. But I am suggesting if we only confine our prayers to what we think is realistic, we shrug off the belief of God’s ability to perform the unimaginable in our lives.
In August 2011, my husband’s company went on strike. During the beginning of the 14 day strike my prayers were what you might expect, “Lord, please provide a quick resolution. Lord help with attitudes. Lord we need help with the bills. Lord, please let the strike end in time for the kids to start back to school.”  My prayers consisted of begging and pleading. I even went so far as to try to help God out, giving Him some ideas, as if he needed my help. (Oh, I have so much to learn.)
On day eleven of the strike I changed my approach. Rather than telling my God the size of my circumstance. I reminded myself of the enormity of my God. I recited Scripture and thanked God in advance for who He is and what He will do.  Below is a copy of my journal entry for August 17, 2011 at 11pm:
Day 11 of strike.  Today Lord, I’ve taken a new approach on praying for the strike. David didn’t say “Oh I’m scared look how big Goliath is.” Nope, he said “Look how BIG my GOD is!” Lord, I know you hold it all in the palm of your hand. Nothing…nothing…nothing happens without it first being filtered through your fingers.
·         The earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Your kingdom rules over all -Psalms 103:19
·         Lord, do not be silent, do not sit still- Psalms 83:1
·         Evening, morning, noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice     -Psalms 55:17
·         Cast my cares on the Lord – Psalms 55:22
·         But as for me, I trust in you- Psalms 55:24
·         I know my God is for me- Psalms 56:9
·         Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor me – Psalms 50:15
·         Be still and know that I am God – Psalms 46:10
After eleven days of praying logical prayers, I changed my approach. I dreamed and prayed beyond the boundaries of the possible into the realm of the impossible—the realm where God resides.  Adrenaline raced through my veins, jumping synapses and connecting axons and neurons in lightning speed.  From my red chair I special ordered the impossible as I prayed for a natural disaster, specifically an earthquake.
“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.”
– Mark Batterson author of The Circle Maker
Hebrews 4:16 tells us to approach the throne of grace boldly with confidence to find the grace we need in time of help. I believe when I changed how I approached the throne of grace, and boldly requested the impossible, God was stirred to action. When we circle unimaginable prayers, God is inclined to respond. Why? When there is no way on earth, the answer to our prayers may occur, God steps out of heaven to answer.  God does not share the glory with another.   
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11, NASB)
My life was forever changed on August 23, 2011. My daily devotion time with God had been pushed back to a lunch date at Panera. Surrounding the Fuji apple chicken salad was my Bible and prayer journal. I ate in silence scribbling in my prayer journal the ways God had answered each specific need while my husband was on strike.
After I changed my approach to prayer from begging to praising, we began to see prayers answered and attitudes improve. We continued to tithe to church although as the strike continued it became increasingly tempting to keep the money. Each Sunday when we wrote the check, I prayed “Lord, I know you will provide, because we cannot out give you.”  God did not let us down. Over the fourteen day strike we instead of receiving bills, we were mailed statements of credit of overpayment several times. God is so good!
The strike was declared over on August 20, 2011. Even the timing of when my husband was to return to work was God ordained.  Normally, he doesn’t have the opportunity to participate in the first day of school excitement. But since he was to return to work on the second days of school, he was able to walk the kids to the classroom on the first day. Again, another answered prayer!
I was eating and writing prayers of thanks when my phone chirped interrupting my thoughts.  The text message from a friend read:
“If you need to reach me call my cell. The home phone is out from the earthquake.”
What earthquake? Suddenly the other outdoor tables buzzed with excited talk and I could overhear snippets of conversations about a Virginian earthquake and no injuries.  Virginia had experienced its first significant earthquake since the 1800’s. Apparently, because I was driving at the time of quake I did not feel the earth move.
Stunned, I sat motionless unable to comprehend magnitude of my bold impossible prayer. While my husband was on strike, I had prayed three different times for an earthquake. Three different times I prayed for a natural disaster where no one was injured. I thought if a natural disaster occurred it might force the company to end the strike sooner.
The magnitude of my God quaked within my heart and I began to cry. God had already answered my prayers regarding the strike and now He was showing off. God chose to answer my bold specific prayer with a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Thousands of people along the East coast felt the tectonic plates shift. God’s word says He can move mountains, but I get to take it personally. 
“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, NIV)

I boldly prayed for an earthquake with no injuries and God replied “Yes, April I hear your prayers! And this is what I can do because I AM GOD!”
Humbly,
April Dawn White

The Invisible Mom: From Mundane to Miracle

PB&J and iconI loathe packing lunches. “Mom, pack me extra snacks so I can share” my son requests. So I can share . . . My mind wanders to the story of five loaves and two fish, a miracle that occurred because a little boy shared his lunch.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).

Invisible Mom Note

Do you know who the story doesn’t mention? The one whose hands are invisible and remains unknown—the mother who packed that lunch.

As I pack lunches, I begin to weep. I cry for all the times we as parents, particularly mothers, perform all the mundane tasks that go unnoticed. Standing in my kitchen, spreading peanut butter onto wheat bread, God whispers to me, It might appear mundane, but I can turn the mundane into a miracle.

Your mundane task might be the foundation for God's future miracle! Click To Tweet

All four Gospels record the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (a number probably closer to 15,000 people when women and children are included). Only John’s Gospel explains that the food offered came from a little boy’s lunch. Jesus multiplied what the boy shared and fed a multitude (John 6:1-15).

We know little about this boy and his mama. Was she among the women in the crowd or did she stay at home tending to younger children? This invisible mom played a part in Jesus’ miracle, even though she was unseen. God blessed not only the meal, but also her mundane task.

Her story reminds me that God sees my work and effort, too. He sees the mundane lunches I pack and the endless pile of laundry I wash. He sees the dirty floors I sweep and the runny noses I wipe. What if I knew God was going to turn one of my everyday tasks into a miracle? How would God’s touch change my outlook? Who knows, God might be using our mundane tasks to lay the foundation for a future miracle.

With this in mind, would you like grape or strawberry jelly on your peanut butter sandwich?

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work or our hand for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay

© 2015 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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

Leaving A Legacy

 

Grandpa Andrew sat hunched over, bible resting in lap. The crisp white shirt sleeves rolled to his forearm.  Denim Pointer coveralls, covered his lanky frame. Deep creases cover his leathered face, evidence of a hard farming life. His hands, gnarled with arthritis, rest on the back of his head while he read and prayed.  At every visit, I would find my grandpa in this posture of prayer.
With each visit Grandpa would ask “Have you told someone about Jesus today?” Often, I would be ashamed to see my Grandpa because I knew the question he would ask and my answer would be No. As a child, I was unaware of my Grandpa’s previous battle with depression; a taboo topic for someone of his generation. God had mercifully delivered him from depression, thus he continually shared the goodness of the Lord with all who entered his door.
My grandparents have long passed away, but their memory is still fresh in my mind. I remember the narrow rutted out road to their farm. My sister and I would argue over who was going to open the cattle gate as we approached the house. I recall Grandma’s beautiful gardens and the peonies that drooped with the weight of their blooms. The aroma of coffee and fresh biscuits wafted through her kitchen no matter the hour. I can remember the earthy smell of the barn, where Grandpa taught me to shuck corn and peel apples in one long peel.
“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders He has done… So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and not forget His deeds” (Psalm 78:2-3,6-7, NIV).
Prayers are eternal and are not limited to our natural laws of time and space. Unlike a milk carton, prayers have no expiration date. In his book The Circle Maker, author Mark Batterson explains “Prayer is the inheritance we receive and the legacy we leave.” He also says “God’s faithfulness to answer our prayers continue after we are gone.
I know that my life have been shaped by the consistent prayers of my Grandpa Andrew. His posture of prayer embedded into my heart a legacy of faith to the next generation and the generation yet to come. 

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