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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The Voice of the Enemy: A Lesson from Age of Ultron

The Marvel Comic movie The Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces twin characters with superpowers as a result of scientific experimentation by Wolgang Von Strucker. This sibling duo is simply referred to as, “the twins”. They possess unique ability with lightning speed and the ability to manipulate reality, respectively.
The ability for the sister twin to manipulate minds almost destroys the Avengers. With a wave of her creepy hand, she introduces lies, fear, doubt, and deception into mind of each Avenger. Like ticker-tape reeling in their minds, the Avengers are unable to separate reality from their imagination. The mighty Avengers nearly destroy themselves in an effort to battle the deceptive thoughts in their heads.
Although we are not Marvel warriors with supernatural powers, we too can nearly be defeated by the voice of the Enemy. The Enemy will use lies, fear, intimidation, doubt, and deception to prevent us from reaching our greater purpose.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast in the field.” (Genesis 3:1, KJV).
The Enemy is sly and subtle. He will tell us what is true, but he never tells the truth. For example, perhaps you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping.  The voice of the Enemy will try to fill your mind with lies and fear by saying “You didn’t get the job because you are a loser. No one will ever hire you.” Is it true that you did not get the promotion? Yes.  Is it true that you are an un-hirable loser? No.  What is true is that God has something better planned for you.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)
When the voice of the Enemy tries to mess with my mind, I fight back with Scripture. “So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, NET). How do you fight back?
  
*Images courtesy of Pixabay.com
 
~April Dawn White
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Operation: War on Worry

Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann Pixabay.com

I will trust and NOT be afraid.
(Isaiah 12:2, NIV)
Mutiny! We are staging war against worry. Worry is trying to creep in our home.  As we prepare to return to work and school tomorrow, worry and fear are trying to creep into Andrew’s heart.
Andrew, my first born, is a worrier. He is worried something will happen to daddy, worried about getting hurt on the soccer field, he is worried about things his tender age of twelve should not be worried about. 
Tonight, I told Andrew we are going to stage a war against worry. I told Andrew, for the next twenty-four hours he is only allowed to pray his verse for 2015, “I will trust and NOT be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2, NIV).
Immediately, my perfectionist first born began asking questions. “Can I pray for protection? Can I pray for you and daddy?” My response might surprise you. “Not for the next twenty four hours. Andrew, I want you to only pray Isaiah 12:2.”
I explained to the kids that God knows our heart. He knows our thoughts before we even think them. God knows our fears and worries. Prayer is powerful. The Bible tells us to “cast our cares on Him” (Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7). So many times we cast our cares to God and then turn around and go fishing for them. That is not trust. Fully trusting without fear, like Isaiah teaches, means we need to cast off and walk away, trusting that God can handle the situation.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27, NIV)
Tonight, during our family devotions I talked about the difference between interceding and intercepting. Speaking in a language the kids would understand, I used a soccer analogy. Imagine our prayers are like a soccer ball. The object of praying is to get our prayers (ball) to the throne of God (goal). Our goal is to get our prayers to God. God has sent someone to help us achieve that goal. After Jesus rose from the grave, He sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Helper. The Holy Spirit is on our team. The Holy Spirit intercedes our prayers and rushes them forward to the goal, which is the throne of God.
Image courtesy Michael Krause Pixabay.com

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
(John 14:26, ESV)
This soccer season, Andrew has played the position of mid-fielder. The goal of this position is to pass the ball up the field to his teammates in the forward position. In this analogy, we are the mid-fielders, and the Holy Spirit is the forward. The Holy Spirit can rush our prayers forward to the goal. Romans 8:26 reminds us that even when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf to the throne of God.
From the backseat of the car, I hear: “But mom, what happens when the opposing team intercepts the ball?” Sometimes it can feel as the ball, life and our prayers are being intercepted by the opposing team (the Enemy). But with the Holy Spirit on our team the Holy Spirit can turn the game around and rush our prayers forward to God.
For the next twenty four hours we are implementing Operation WOW: Operation War on Worry. For the next twenty four hours Andrew will only pray these words from Isaiah 12:2 “I will trust and not be afraid.”
My hope is that Andrew learns that God knows his heart and his prayers don’t have to be perfect to be understood. With the Holy Spirit interceding all of Andrew’s unspoken prayers, my prayer for Andrew is that he learns to rest in God.
Andrew: “Mom, it is hard to rest it with God.”
Me:  “I know son, but that’s why we need to ‘trust and not be afraid.”
Andrew: “Mom, will God be mad at me for not praying my normal prayers?”
Me: “No. God loves it when His children come up with big, crazy ideas like this. He wants to prove Himself strong in your life.”
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Andrew: “Mom, I feel a lot better already.”

Me: “Score!”
The throne of God is in sight. Andrew passes his prayers forward to the Holy Spirit. He shoots! He scores!

~April Dawn White

Building Team

           

With buttery fingers and cups of soda, our family spent the last hours of 2014 in the theater watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Typically, I don’t care for movies of this genre, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s work allures me. Beyond the dwarves and elves, I am drawn to the spiritual significance contained within each of Tolkien’s stories. 
As the name implies, this Hobbit film was full of battle scenes. My favorite battle scene (I can’t believe I even have a favorite battle scene) was when Dain II Ironfoot, Thorin Oakenshield’s cousin, led an army of five hundred dwarves from the Iron Hills to aid in the protection of the Lonely Mountain of Erebor. Dain Ironfoot and his armored soldiers arrive for battle prepared to fight. At Dain’s command all the warriors knelt in sequence. Their armored shields formed a solid impenetrable wall of iron. Their iron swords ready to pierce anything fired in their direction.  (Click here to view this online image: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20150109152027/lotr/images/0/0a/BOTFA_HD_-_Dain_arrives.jpg)
We watched this movie during a time of significant spiritual battle for our son. I shared last month in War of Words (click here for that post: http://redchairmoments.blogspot.com/2015/01/war-of-words.html) the spiritual battle Andrew was experiencing. After weeks of keeping this battle between God and our family, I reached out to my prayer warriors. To tell you the truth, I should have reached out to them earlier, but I had no idea his battle would last that long. Six weeks is a long time to see your middle school child struggle with a battle of the mind. I will never forget being pulled aside one Sunday and a dear friend and prayer warrior said, “April, you should have reached out earlier.”

Go to the throne before you go to the phone.
A friend and prayer warrior once told me “make sure you go to the throne before you go to the phone.”  Sometimes, it’s difficult to discern when to keep a burden between you and God and when to invite others in to intercede in prayer. The Bible is full of stories illustrating God’s desire for His people to stand still while He does all the fighting as with Moses. “The Lordwill fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14 NIV). But other times, as in the story of Moses, God uses friends and prayer warriors to aid in the battle. Exodus 17 details a battle against the Amalekite army. Moses’ army was victorious only when his arms were raised. When Moses became tired and his arms dropped, the opposing Amalekite army gained the advantage. Finally, Moses friends Aaron and Hur, stood beside Moses and they physically held up his arms.  “Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset” (Exodus 17:12 NLT).
Last Sunday our pastor spoke on another favorite story of Moses from Numbers chapter eleven. To summarize the chapter, Moses was facing an impossible situation. He cried out to God and the Lord spoke back. The conversation went something like this:
Moses:  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.
(Numbers 11:14 NIV)
 God: “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” (Numbers 11:23 NIV)
Of course the answer to God’s rhetorical question is an emphatic NO! God is the God of the impossible. To prove the point, He gave Moses a team of seventy men who became his prayer warriors in the battle. We all need prayer warriorsGodly people on our side when we are faced with impossible situations. Our pastor reminded us that even Christ Himself had prayer warriors. He had the twelve disciples and his closer friends, Peter, James, and John. If Christ Himself had prayer warriors, we certainly do too!
 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).
            Initially, I wrote this piece last week as an expression of thanks to my prayer warriors who prayed us though a tough battle of the mind with Andrew. However, I had no idea of what was to come. I had to call out to my prayer warriors again this week. A beloved family member is currently hospitalized and unresponsive.  I am comforted in the knowledge that I am not in this alone. Our family is surrounded by a team of prayer warriors going to God’s throne on our behalf. Yesterday, our pastor reminded me of the power of prayer with this quote:
“When man works, man works;
But when man prays, God works.”
-Hans Von Straden, Missionary
The battle scene of Dain Ironfoot and his armored soldiers is forever burned into my mind.  As crazy as it sounds, this image provides me peace. I have peace because I know not only do I have prayer warriors ready to hold up my arms in the midst of a battle, but I also have a God who tells me to stand still and I will fight for you.

~April 

War Of Words

Bedtime has always been a battle around our house. Getting the kids in bed on time with their lunches packed, assignments signed and book bags ready for the next day has always been a struggle.  But for the last month bedtime has taken on a more personal battle, a spiritual battle for Andrew.

It all started the first of December. For reasons I can not explain, Andrew began to have a battle in his mind and it was especially worse at bedtime.  At first, Chris and I thought his “bad thoughts” were due to lack of sleep, but weeks went by and his thoughts were not getting better. Each night, Andrew’s prayers were getting longer and more specific. Andrew prayed “God, thank you for my family and thank you that you love me” and then a voice in his head would say “God doesn’t love you, your family doesn’t love you” etc. Chris and I would pray with Andrew together and separate and yet this pattern of lies verse truth invaded his mind-nonstop!

Andrew chooses to pray out loud so he can himself speak truth, but the bad thoughts continue. One night, Andrew was still awake two and a half hours after bedtime praying. All the while Chris and I were praying too!

It seems that Andrew’s fears far exceed his age. He has always been a sensitive child and sensitive to the plight of others. For example, his bathroom reading material is a World Watch List booklet  by Open Doors about the persecuted Christians. While most boys would be reading car or sport magazines, Andrew chooses read about how to pray for Christians in highly persecuted countries.  I call Andrew my little Nehemiah, because he has began to become a young leader and a young man of great prayer.

Night after night, the bad thoughts continued. One night I mentioned that praying is how we talk to God. But if we want to hear back from God we need to read his word. I suggested the next time he can not sleep, pray and read the bible. That night Andrew took my recommendation and found this comfort: “The righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19 NIV)

Another night Andrew said he was worried God wouldn’t forgive him of his sins. With that insight, I researched what God does with our sin when we ask for forgiveness. Here is a snapshot of  what God does with our sins:

  • Tramples on them and throws them into a sea. (Micah 7:17-18)
  • Washes us white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)
  • Removes our sin as far as east is to the west. (Psalm 103:11-12)
  • If we confess, God is faithful to forgive. (1 John 1:9)
  • As believers our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Rev 20:11)
I also told Andrew that when we call upon the powerful name of Jesus Christ, the evil one must flee (James 4:7-8). I told Andrew that the evil one can not be in the same room when the name of Christ is being proclaimed. I also explained that when he asked God into his heart the Holy Spirit put a seal on him (2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:14) and as our Pastor says that seal states “Property of God Forever!”
Property of God Forever!
This was a break though realization for Andrew.  I further explained that God is quick to forgive as soon as we confess. God doesn’t want us moping around the house, feeling guilty over mistakes. Pray-Confess-Repent-Move On! God wants us doing a happy dance like the Pharrell Williams song Happy. It is that happiness and joy that will attract others to Christ.
Yesterday, I asked a friend to pray for us. She reminded me of the importance of putting on the full armor of God. She identified Andrew’s bad thoughts as fiery arrows from the devil. Tonight, Andrew and I read about putting on the full armor of God. Using Andrew’s Nerf gear as an example, I explained that the evil one will shoot you with all the darts, bullets, and fiery arrows he can fire. This is why we need to always have our armor on, especially the helmet of salvation. The evil one will try more than anything to make you doubt truth! I showed Andrew that helmet of salvation is not like a bike helmet where your ears are exposed. The helmet of salvation is more like a medieval helmet where it completely covers your face and ears. If we can cover our ears and control what we listen to, then we can control what we think.

The Whole Armor of God

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT)
Today, another prayer warrior told me to watch a video series titled “Crash the Chatterbox” from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in NC. Instantly, I knew this was another divine appointment. This series of messages is based on his book with the same title. The subtitle of this book is “Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others”.  Clink on this is a link to view first message on  Crash The Chatterbox. Over the next few weeks our family will be watching this message series. 
Hearing God’s voice above all others is the key. Everyday we are inundated with media, news and nonsense. But if we are walking in our full armor we will be able to tune out the chatter and listen to truth. 
Please pray for Andrew and our family as we continue to fight this battle.
~April 

Stuck On A Page 651

Six hundred and fifty one is the page number I’ve been stuck on for over a week. I had been looking forward to reading this section of this book, but recent circumstances changed that. Just three days prior to our highly anticipated family vacation to Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, my beloved friend of over 20 years sent a shocking message. She wrote: “I need your prayers like never before…my little girl has trisomy 13 which is basically incompatible with life.”

I prayed.

While at the beach I found myself singing the lyrics to the song Oceans (Where My Feet My Fail) by Hillsong. Whether on a morning run, bike ride, collecting shells, or boogie boarding with the kids, I continued to sing this song, the chorus crashing over my heart as the ocean waves crashed over my head. While looking at my perfectly formed children, I prayed for my friend who already has a son in heaven and now this.

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Chorus:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

 


A few days later another, I received another message from my friend giving me an update on her pregnancy. I learned that Trisomy 13 is a genetic disorder which each cell has three copies of chromosone 13 in every cell, instead of two copies. This leads to a variety of birth defects. Due to these life-threatening medical problems, most infants die within the first few days of life.

During vacation, my devotion time had been hit-or-miss…ten family members and not enough space. Quiet time…yeah right! I finally locked myself in the bathroom and turned to where I had left off at page 651. My handwriting in purple, pink, and black ink is all over this page. Phrases circled, underlined, and highlighted. Exclamation marks and arrows all pointing to the importance of these words…God’s truth. Over the years I have added these words in the margins: God is previous…God knows all about me…The value of human life. 

As I read Psalms 139 I cried. Thinking of my friend I struggled as I read:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.
I know that full well.”
Psalms 139:13-14
 
I remember back to Spring Break when another friend tried to teach me to knit/crochet. I fumbled with the needles in my hands as I attempted to make a simple washcloth. I learned first hand, that a pattern can be completely ruined by an extra stitch. An extra stitch. My friend’s daughter has an extra stitch in every cell causing her to be incompatible with life. Incompatible with this life.
 
“When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days of my life are written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalms 139: 15b-16
 
I close the book. This is too much. I walk around the bathroom of our vacation rental. Sand is everywhere even here in the bathroom. The sand, hiding in the grout lines of the cool tile floor, feels gritty under my bare feet. I am angry because there is sand everywhere. No. I am angry at God.
 
 I know better to ask “Why?” but yet I ask. “Why Lord? My friend already a son with you in heaven. Why this?” I sit on the edge of the tub and open the book to page 651 again. I continue to read.
 
“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”
Psalms 139:17-18
 
I close the book unable to continue reading. For the rest of our vacation I open this book to page 651 and reread the words I used to love. But these words do not bring comfort as they once had. Unable to turn the page, unable to comprehend why God is allowing this to happen, I close the book again.
 
I talked with my friend on our drive home. I called to console her, but instead she consoles me. She and her husband are at peace with whatever outcome God allows. I remember how the death of their son four years ago, brought them both closer to the Lord, and to each other. Peace. If she is at peace with this, why can’t I be at peace also?
 
The worship songs on Sunday morning targeted my heart. I continued to pray for my friend and my struggle with God over page 651. At the close of the service a guest singer, a young girl who I remember enjoying before, approached the microphone. Words fill the screen behind her and I immediately recognized the song: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong! I stand. With my eyes closed I sing the song to an audience of One just as I had sang everyday while on vacation. I can feel the tears splashing on my feet (yes, I wear flip-flops to church). Something in me begins to shift.
 
I was awoken at 3:30am Monday morning. My friend was on my mind so I prayed. I send her a message and You-tube link to the Oceans song. Unable to sleep I was stirred to keep praying. I was still awake praying when my 6:00am alarm sounded. I listened to the song Oceans over and over on my morning run. When I stopped to readjust my ponytail I looked at my phone. At 6:51 my friend sent a message their daughter had been born as soon as she arrived at their vacation destination.  I fell to the grass and cried. Later that morning she updated her Facebook status:
 
“Can’t think of a better place to mend a broken heart than at the beach. As we arrived yesterday afternoon we headed straight to the hospital to deliver our baby girl into the arms of our Lord and Savior. We are doing well and this was expected, just didn’t know it would happen this soon…”
 
Later Monday morning, I phoned a prayer warrior and asked her to pray for me. I shared about my struggle over my friend’s circumstance and Psalms 139. She quoted Matthew 11:6 to me and lovingly reminded me to not be offended by God.
 
“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”- Jesus
Matthew 11:6 NIV
 
“If anyone is not offended by me, then they are blessed.” -Jesus
 Matthew 11:6 HCSB
 
“Blessed is the person who does not get uptight about the way I do my business!”
-Jesus
Matthew 11:6 paraphrase
 
I opened the book to page 651 and reread the familiar words this time not stopping.
 
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalms 139: 23
 
This time I turned the page to read:
 
“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ” Psalms 139:24
 
The problem was me not God. The offense was mine. How dare I be uptight by the way God does his business. I wrote in my prayer journal: 
 
“Lord, I realized I’ve been stuck on a page of my friend’s life and in my heart. I’ve been offended by Psalms 139 because of my own selfishness. Lord, you good and your plans are good! Forgive me for wanting to question you. You owe me nothing! Forgive me for thinking you owe me anything. Forgive me for being stuck on a page and lead me in the way of everlasting.”
Amen.
 
“God’ s already written the story of your life in His book–
don’t get stuck on a page!
Psalms 139:16 paraphrased
 
~April
 
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12
 
P.S. These texts and messages were used with permission.
 
 
 
 



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