New Year’s Eve 2016: Crown the Year with Abundance

This morning I awoke with “crown the year with abundance” on my mind. As the coffee brewed, I searched the various translations of Psalm 65:11. I found this New Living Translation and I love it!

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” (Psalm 65:11, NLT)

What I love about this verse is that there is the recognition that God is the One who crowns the year with abundance. There is also the recognition that even in the hard paths, even in the difficult times, even in the rough seasons, God promises an overflow of abundance.

God promises an abundance of Hope in the hard seasons. Click To Tweet

When I wrote this verse in my journal, I drew a rectangle around the word crown, I underlined the words hard pathways, and I circled the word overflow. When I circled ‘overflow’, it connected the dots and I immediately wrote out my verse for 2016 because I saw that the two verses are connected.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

On the eve of a new year, I wrote out a prayer of praise to God. I wrote and recognized that this has been a hard year. But even in the hard times and difficult seasons, God offers a promise of abundance in these hard times.

As I say farewell to 2016, my heart is full of joy and peace. The path for 2017 might still be hard and difficult, but it is overflowing with an abundance of hope.

~April Dawn White

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

He Appeared and the Soul Felt Its Worth

He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The words printed on this Christmas card were familiar, simple, and profound. I recognized the phrase as a song lyric but to which Christmas hymn I was uncertain.

Such pondering was an excuse to brew another pot of liquid mercy. I leaned against the kitchen counter, inhaling the hazelnut aroma, eyes closed and holding the card in my hand. I sang the phrase, “He appeared and the soul felt its worth” and recognized it as a line from O Holy Night.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel which means, God WITH us.” (Matthew 1:23, emphasis mine)

There are no greater reassuring words than the promise of God WITH us.  Immanuel is a name of God often referenced during the Christmas season. However, the promise of God WITH us is for all seasons, in every trial, and through every dark valley.

“Even though I walk thought the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are WITH me.” (Psalms 23:4, emphasis mine)

Let me get this out of the way and say, this has not been an easy year. A disease we had never heard of before, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, turning our world upside down. Suddenly I stepped out of a healthy active life into the world of chronic illness. So many areas of my life has changed,  my health, my income, my abilities, my independence, my priorities, and my perspective.

Through it all, God appeared reminding me of His name, Immanuel. God WITH us never left our side and my soul felt its worth. My soul felt its worth for being me–broken and humbled.  One of the greatest challenges I faced this year was breaking free from the idea of perfection and performance. I have let go of the idols of perfectionism and performance and grasped Immanuel’s hand instead. God loves me because He created me. I am enough.

I am thankful Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis hijacked my body, allowing me a year of rest and quiet time with the Lord. While a rare disease hijacked by body, God’s presence hijacked my soul. He appeared and my soul felt its worth.

Merry Christmas 2016

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author & Pixabay  © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Hope: The First Candle of Advent

advent-wreath-hope-pixabayIn the New Testament church, an anchor symbolized hope. In 2015, I pursued a yearlong archaeological dig into God’s Word, studying the word anchor, and every angle of hope. As a result, I selected “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”(Hebrews 6:19),  as my verse for 2015.

My 2015 study of hope followed with an unexpected medical diagnosis and struggle to find my identity in 2016. I did not know the studying hope would be future preparation for my faith (and my family’s faith) to be tested. We battened down the hatches, clung to our anchor of hope and prayed for God to calm the raging storm.

Hope is choice.

When we choose to believe God is who He says He; when we choose to believe God can do what He promised; when we choose to have the audacity to praise a thrice-holy God in the face of the fiercest storm, we are choosing to HOPE.

I choose Hope.hope-meme-christmas-wooden-background-pixabay

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote; Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.” (2 Corinthians 10:15)

Paul’s mission in these words is the same mission Christians possess today, to increase our faith, expand our area of influence, and spread the gospel beyond its current borders. One way we can do this is to cling to hope.

Each of us has a sphere of influence. Whether at work, school, or in our neighborhood, those around us are encouraged by watching our faith anchored to Jesus Christ. When we choose to hope in the face of adversity, others are watching, and we are doing exactly what Paul described—expanding the gospel beyond.

Blue anchor pixabayOur family and our extended church family have suffered greatly this year. To be honest, I wanted to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and go straight to January. My grasp on hope was slipping. It took a wresting match with God and a verbal spanking from my daughter to strengthen my grip on hope.

 If your grasp on God’s anchor of hope is slipping, follow the instructions in Hebrews Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12) and cling tightly to the firm and secure hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Hope for Advent:  Week One Readings

  • Day 1: Psalm 62:5-6
  • Day 2: Hebrews 6:18-19
  • Day 3: Psalm 71:5-8, 14, 20
  • Day 4: Psalm 52:8-9
  • Day 5: Psalm 89:15, Psalm 130:5
  • Day 6: Isaiah 46: 3-4, Isaiah 54:7, 10
  • Day 7: 2 Corinthians 10:15

What is Advent?

    Advent is a season to remember that God reached down from heaven and extended Hope in the form of Jesus Christ. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” Christ’s birth was “the first Advent” and the anticipation of Christ’s return in “the second Advent.”

When is Advent?

The season of Advent begins four Sunday’s before Christmas. The four week waiting period during the four Sunday’s of Advent represent the four centuries of waiting between the last recorded Word of God from the prophet Malachi (in the Old Testament) and the arrival of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament). Advent is time of preparing hearts for Christ’s birth, both in celebration, reflection, and repentance.

What the does the Advent wreath and candles symbolize?

          The greenery wreath, a circle, represents God’s never-ending mercy and His eternity. The color green represents the renewal of eternal life in Christ. The candles within the wreath symbolize the light of God coming to the world through the birth of His son, Jesus Christ.

            The lighting of the first candle begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The first candle symbolizes Hope—the anticipation of Hope in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The three remaining candles symbolizing Love, Joy, and Peace are light each Sunday during the season of Advent. Together, each of the four candles tells the part of the Christmas story of Bethlehem, Shepherds, and Angels. The fifth and center candle represents Christ, the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is from Bible Gateway.  *Images courtesy of Pixabay. © 2016 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

Eat Cake: Remembering & Celebrating Answered Prayers

Celebrate “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11)

Cheerful sunflowers in decorated Mason jars serve as the centerpiece for today’s anniversary dinner.  A chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter frosting begs my attention.  I scrape the side of the baking dish, and savor the flavor.

Four years ago, I prayed a big audacious impossible prayer. Four year ago today, God answered that prayer.  Today is my day to celebrate this monumental occasion with my God, a special day just between him and me.

I am anxiously awaiting my family to return home from school and soccer practice so we can dive into dinner and this cake!

 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, KJV)Celebrate Eat Cake

As Christ followers, we celebrate the obvious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Do we remember to celebrate the personal days of answered prayers? August 23rd is my own personal day of celebration. Today is a day to celebrate! Today is a day to eat cake!

How do you celebrate the anniversaries of answered prayers? Do you have a special date that you celebrate? If so please share.

~April Dawn White

* All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway unless otherwise noted. *Images courtesy of author.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

 

5 Things to Know About St. Patrick

Ireland Flag Pixabay“There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were.” -Irish saying

Millions of people will be celebrating all things green and Irish on March 17th.  Over the centuries the true meaning of the Christian holiday honoring the patron saint of Ireland has been diluted in a sea of green beer, leprechauns and the illusive pot of gold.

Did you know that…

1. St. Patrick was not Irish.

In St. Patrick’s book Three leaves of the Clover the Saint Patrick Story, St. Patrick describes being born in the village of Bannavem Taberniae in circa 385. The exact location of Patrick’s village is still debated; experts believe his village was in England, Scotland, or Wales.

Patrick (probably not his birth surname) was born into a Christian aristocratic family. At sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and forced into slavery for six years. The Christian faith instilled in him as a child, carried him through his captivity. As a slave he served as a shepherd and believed to have heard God telling him to escape. Patrick walked over two hundred miles to the east coast of Ireland and escaped on a ship bound for England.

Upon his return home, Patrick became a priest. Yet, the pagan people of Ireland were never far from his mind. He returned to Ireland to spread the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  St. Patrick served as a missionary to Ireland for over forty years, converting the Celtic pagan country to Christianity.

2. St. Patrick drove out snakes from Ireland is a myth.Shamrock

St. Patrick did not drive out the snakes from Ireland because snakes were never indigenous to Ireland. Scientists believe the chilly waters surrounding the island are too cold for the reptile animals to migrate and survive. (It is interesting to note other snake free locations include New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica).

3. The shamrock symbolizes the Holy Trinity

While serving as missionary to Ireland, St. Patrick would reach down and pluck a clover plant (shamrock) to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Christians believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Whether St. Patrick was teaching new converts, children, or pagan followers, the simple three leaved plant allowed for a visual explanation of God in three persons. Irish Christians began placing a sprig of clover in the lapel jacket as an outward symbol of their belief in Christ and the Holy Trinity and in honor of St. Patrick the missionary who converted the Emerald Island.

4. St. Patrick defied the king

Candle PixabayKing Laoghaire of Tara lit a fire each spring symbolizing the beginning of the pagan festival.  King Laoghaire ordered no one to light a fire before him. One night before Easter St. Patrick defied the king and lit his prayer candles anyway. St. Patrick was passionate about God and wanted his light to shine in the face of pagan darkness. King Laoghaire was so impressed by Patrick’s brave defiance he continued to let St. Patrick’s light shine.

5. St. Patrick was the inspiration behind the song Be Thou My Vision

The famous hymn, Be Thou My Vision was originally penned in the Old Irish Gaelic language as an 8th century prayer by monk Dallan Forgaill.

Bí Thusa ‘mo Shúile,

Rob tu mo bhoile,
a Comdi cride.
Ni ni nech aile,
acht ri secht nime …

 In 1905 Mary Elizabeth Byrne, an educator and linguist, translated the prayer, Bí Thusa ‘mo Shúile, to the English prose we know as Be Thou my Vision. In 1912 song writer Eleanor H. Hull arranged the lyrics to an ancient Irish folk tune called Slane.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;St. Patrick's Day
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Like St. Patrick, I want my light for Christ to shine defiantly in a world of darkness.  

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

~April Dawn White

 

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