6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

Life is Hard, but God is Good

Is God good?

I don’t know what prompted my husband to ask the question. It was an ordinary day. We were zooming down the road to Rachel’s (aka Pop Fly) softball game. Shifting into fifth gear, my husband turned toward the backseat and asked, “Is God Good?”

Rachel, our twelve-year-old, immediately answered, “Yes.”

Non-verbal sounds emanated from Andrew’s throat with a not-no-sure moan.

Chris asked again, “Andrew, Is God good?”

“Well….um…” He began.

Panic raced through my veins. Have I failed as a mother? I wonder.  I pray, “Lord, why isn’t he answering this question? Lord, help him to know the truth.”

“It’s just that…” He continued struggling to form his thoughts.

Memories flash through my mind of all the bedtime prayers, family devotions, long discussions about hard topics, vacation Bible schools, and even private Christian school. Yet my fourteen-year-old son struggles with this three-word question.

Sighing, Andrew spoke, “God is good, it’s just that life is hard right now.”

Continuing he said, “Mom has an illness and is unable to work. Dad has all the weight on him right now. I broke my ankle and we need to sell our house.”

Keeping his eyes on the road, Chris nodded, “You’re right Andrew, God is good and life is hard right now.”

Turing to look at him in the back seat, “Andrew, both of those statements are true. The reality of our current situation does not change the fact that God is good.”

I realized the delay in Andrew’s response was not due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a crisis of faith. Deep down he knew the right answer taught by his parents, the church, and even his school. However, his teenage brain had developed deeper thought processes. Truth and reality wrestled in his mind.

Life is Hard, but God is Good. Click To Tweet

There will come a time in everyone’s life when there is a crisis of faith.Surrounded on every side Truth and reality will wrestle in our minds.  Which one will win? Much of the outcome depends on our perception of God. Do you perceive God as good? If you struggle in this area, try this this exercise in faith: for one-week jot down everything, you are thankful. Big or small, write them down and give God praise for His faithful provision.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Silence the Temper Tantrums Surrounding the Holidays

PixabayMy inner two-year-old is throwing a temper tantrum. She is screaming, “I don’t want to move! I don’t want this chronic illness! I want to go back to work!” My inner two-year-old can huff and stomp all she wants, but it doesn’t change the facts, that I do have a rare chronic illness, returning to work is in God’s hands, and so is the sell of our home.

A few weeks ago, I admitted to my husband that I wanted to skip past the holidays and go straight to January. The sting in my heart surrounding this Thanksgiving and Christmas was so severe, I felt like avoiding these cherished holidays rather than celebrating them.

My eleven-year-old daughter recently gave my two-year-old inner child a verbal spanking. At our rented storage unit, I pointed to which Christmas boxes to take and said, “We’ll take only the snowmen decorations and Christmas tress ornaments. Since our house is on the market, I’m not going to decorate as much this year.” Rachel, stomped the floor, and threw both fists onto her hips, and commanded, “No mom! We are celebrating Christmas! Christ’s birth! Your Savior’s birthday!” My inner two-year-old was stunned and responded, “Yes ma’am.”

Giving thanks is an act of spiritual obedience. Click To Tweet

This morning, Thanksgiving morning, my body does not want to cooperate. Pain and discomfort seized skeletal muscles and I document the pain as 8 out of 10 in my medical journal.            in-everything-give-thanks-chalkboard-meme

In the kitchen, I cup the freshly brewed liquid mercy with both hands enjoying the heat and the aroma. I ponder the kitchen chalkboard verse, “In everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

“Thanksgiving takes the sting out of adversity” Sara Young author of Jesus Calling

Giving thanks is an act of spiritual obedience. I force myself to give God praise and thanks. Some days it doesn’t come natural and isn’t easy. As I offer praise and thanks, God shifts my perspective. Rather than focusing on the negative side, I choose to celebrate this being our last Thanksgiving and Christmas in this house! Rachel assists me in adding extra sparkle to the wooden banister and we lite sugar cookie scented candles and play Christmas music.

count-your-blessings-imageMy broken heart will be thankful.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim [praise, give thanks to] you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” (Psalm 89; 15, NIV, emphasis mine)

Ever thankful, 

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of author & Pixabay. © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Staring in the Eyes of a Zebra: Encouragement in Desert Wandering

Confessions of zebraEyes of a zebra penetrated my desert heart and helped me find strength in God.

In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. I first shared about this in the article, Confession of a Zebra. Last week, I sat across another zebra and for the first time, I knew someone truly understood me.

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis affects one per 100,000 people.[1]  It is isolating and lonely to possess a disease so rare that no one around me understands the paralysis, the pain, the impaired cognitive functioning, and sudden muscle weakness.

When I discovered a Texas zebra was attending a meeting in my area, we scheduled an afternoon together before her return flight home.  Over the past year, we have texted and spoken via phone, but I savored this rare moment to spend face time with her.

As she spoke, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast our lives.  She, a Texas zebra, whose diagnosis of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, was confirmed at the young age of six. There was no need for extensive genetic testing, since her father and her sister already possessed this rare neuromuscular disease.  Texas zebra is around my age and our daughters are the same age too. Unfortunately, her daughter (and nephew) was diagnosed this summer.DNA

On the other hand, I was clinically diagnosed at age forty, based on my extensive journaling of symptoms and the adverse effect of certain foods, exercise, stress, etc. Unlike, Texas zebra, I am waiting on the results of genetic testing.

Texas zebra grew up with the rare condition and has assimilated well into adulthood; I was diagnosed as an adult.

I feel like Dorothy, who woke up in Oz, desperately clicking my red heels together to go back home to my previous life.

 

The morning after our meeting, I read these words “Jonathan went to David [in the desert] and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). David was a man on the run, hiding out from the insane King Saul. Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s best friend, came to him in the desert to provide encouragement and strength in God.

This Texas zebra was the Jonathan to my David. She met me in my desert place and provided my weary heart with encouragement and strength in God. We are relational people, not created to live in isolation. This was on Paul’s mind when he wrote, “that you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12).

God doesn’t call us to fix other peoples problems, but to walk with them. Click To Tweet

children-542104_1920 teddy bears friends PixabaySo often, we want to fix other people’s problems and if their problem is too big, we feel overwhelmed by their need. God doesn’t call us to fix other peoples problems, but to walk with them. Notice, Jonathan did not remove David from the desert; rather he spent time with him there and provided strength in God.

Are you in a desert place? God sees you and He cares for you. Seek refuge in Him and find comfort in the words penned by David (perhaps when he was in the desert), “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).

Have you been through the desert? I challenge you to reach out to someone in a desert place. Be their Jonathan and provide encouragement and strength in the Lord during this dry and weary season.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

[1] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview#a6

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

Look Who Moved In

“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message)

I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrases this passage of scripture. As a long time follower of Christ, I have experienced seasons when I followed Him at a distance or so closely the dust of the Rabbi, gathered on my clothing.

Jesus being fully God and fully man (Colossians 2:9) allows me to understand that He knows what it is like to suffer and better yet, He can do something about it. Just as we share in Christ sufferings we can also share in His comfort:

” All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, The Message). 

Jesus, Would you move into the neighborhood of my heart transforming my situation for your glory. Amen.

~April Dawn White

*Image courtesy of Pixabay. © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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