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

I Will Protect You: Lesson Learned on the Ball Field

Written by April Dawn White

softball pixabayCheers and chatter erupts from the dugout as a passel of ten and eleven-year-old-girls chant, “If I were you and you were me, I’d scoot your bootie back. I’d scoot your bootie back.”

Over the chatter of the opposing team, my daughter overhears the coach call her name. Rachel jogs from left field to receive instruction. Although, I cannot hear the conversation, I can see his action. The coach has called Rachel in as the relief pitcher.

Rachel approaches the mound and throws a few warm up pitches. Andrew, her brother, runs to the mound to deliver her face mask (a required piece of equipment). Rachel shakes her head from side to side, refusing to wear it for the warm up.

Pacing behind the bleachers, I holler, “Wear the mask! I made that face and I will protect that face!” The other parents and the umpire turn to me and we all laugh.

The umpire turns back to Rachel and says, “Pitcher, bases are loaded and you have zero outs.” My pacing continues as I sarcastically murmur under my breath, “Great, just great.”

As the game continues, the words I yelled across the ball field echo in my mind. “I made that face. I will protect that face.” God reminds me of a similar statement found in the Old Testament:

“I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

On the ball field today, God spoke to my heart. He reminded me:

  • When a health crisis comes out of left field or when life throws you a curve ball, remember that the same God who made you will protect you.softball-pixabay

  • Be ready, watch, and listen for the coach’s voice. We never know when God will call our name for our next assignment, but we need to be listening intently to His voice over the chatter of this world.

Even though a neuromuscular disease struck me out of left field, today God reminded me that the same God who made me will protect me. I am listening to His voice and “It is well with my soul.”

There’s No Crying in Softball

Me and Rachel softball 2016 CROPPED“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:19, NIV)

I pull on my favorite JMU sweatshirt, elbowing the tiny faucets at the corners of my eyes. Tears trickle down my face.  Eager to pitch, Rachel pounds her fist in her mitt.  Wearing a determined game face, she appears older than ten and a half.

Rachel tosses a glove in my direction. This is my glove, the one I’ve owned since I was a teen. I stare at soft leather glove as if it is a foreign object.  Slipping it onto my left hand I examine the look. Rachel counts out thirty paces and asks, “Are you sure you can do this Mom?”

“Let’s give it a try.” I respond.

I stand amazed at what is about to take place. I lift my eyes to the sky and say a prayer of thanks. I’m about to play catch with my daughter, a feat I’ve lacked strength for over four months.  The faucets creek more and I turn so she doesn’t see the tears.

Every pitcher needs a catcher so I squat down, just a little. Rachel winds up and releases the ball.

“Steeeriiiike!” I yell out.home plate CROPPED

A slow grin spreads across her face and mine too.  She throws a few more over our chalk drawn plate. The faucets are creek more and I am weeping in my middle of our street. I weep for lost moments with my children. I weep because I didn’t think I’d be able to do this again.

I weep because this feels like an old self activity and I thought that old self had vanished.

Rachel understands my concern. “Mom, are you okay?”

I nod, “I’m fine, I’m fine” running the arm of my sweatshirt across my face.

20150520_175828-1In her best Tom Hanks impression from the movie “A League of Their Own” Rachel playfully jabs, “There’s no crying in softball!”

I release a full body belly laugh. This too feels like an old self activity.

Rachel continues to throw strikes and balls across our imaginary plate. With the strength given by God and new medication, I am able to pick the ball up and throw it back.

Even in these times of uncertainty. I take joy in finding God’s goodness in the land of the living. I will soak up every good day I have because “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of Author

Me too

Why are you called to create content for the mainstream audience? This question haunted me for days. I stared at the blank screen and blinking cursor. I had no idea how to answer this question. Through, Red Chair Moments, I have been chronicling my walk with the Lord for three years. Yet, I felt completely inept to answer this question.

 
I needed to think. I needed God to speak. I needed to run. I laced up my tennis shoes and started down my usual three mile course. God met me on the pavement and whispered these two words: Me too. 
As a wife and mom, I struggle with balancing life.  I am part of what I call the “Taffy Generation.” I am pulled in the direction of work, raising kids, giving my man the attention he deserves, and helping our aging parents. Can you relate? Me too.
 I don’t have it all together. I am short tempered and yell more than I should. I even yelled at my kids this morning. I smash the snooze button, when I should be praying. I ate three pieces of birthday cake in one day and wonder why my jeans are tight. If I’m not careful social media makes me feel like a loser mom. I drink entirely too much coffee and not enough water. Last night we ate cereal for dinner. I desperately need God’s grace every day.
Those two simple words are my answer. I am qualified to write about God’s grace, because I rely upon it daily. On paper, I am the most unqualified person for God’s assignment to write. I’ve never taken a class in writing. I don’t hold an English degree. As a pharmacist, I am more comfortable discussing the bacteria in a patient’s colon than the semicolons in punctuation.  As a wife and mom, I struggle with balancing life and keeping God’s number one commandment “Have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). God’s grace is the axis for my writing. Everything rotates around His never ending grace.
We each have our struggles. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together, instead I rely on the One who does. Perhaps, someone else is saying, “Me too!”
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart…
not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, MSG)

 

~April 

Pop Fly Rachel

Shoulders slumped, my ten-year-old daughter moped to her place in right fields. Rachel prefers first base, but instead the coach placed her as an outfielder.
 “Hey batter, batter, SWING, batter, batter!”
Crack! The beautiful sound of a bat connecting with the ball echoed against the metal bleachers. Up, up, up, the ball sailed over the first base player directly towards Rachel. My hands flew to over my mouth and I gasped. With a resounding “thud” the ball landed squarely in Rachel’s mitt.
“OUT!” yelled the umpire.
A slow smile spread across Rachel’s face. She did it! Her teammates began to chant, “Pop Fly Rachel, Pop Fly Rachel!”
After the game the coach said, “This is why I have Rachel in the outfield. She has a strong arm and this is where she is best used for the team.” “This is where she is best used for the team.” The spiritual significance is not lost on me.  I know what it feels like to be given an undesirable assignment and want to change positions.
The coach knew my daughter’s strengths and skills and positioned her accordingly. God knows what the future holds and He places His children in strategic positions knowing that is the where we are best suited for His team.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord, rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23-24, HCSB)
~April
Connect with me email redchairmoments@gmail.com

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

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