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.
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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“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.Cortisol, regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory response, immune system, metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and mood.
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.–
Most stress is all in our head.
Untreated chronic stress can also cause:
· Cardiovascular disease
· Type 2 diabetes
· Stomach Ulcers
· Accelerate aging
· Cognitive impairment and dementia
· Immune deficiency (increased risk of pneumonia and flu)
· Sexual dysfunction
· Sleep disorders
· High blood pressure
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. –
“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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Sapolsky R. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2004
|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.”
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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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.