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

Preserving Fruit

Written by April Dawn White
 I tightened the apron around my waist waiting for my assignment. Mom peered through her glasses perched at the end of her nose, thumbing through the vintage Ball Canning Guide. The sheer sight of the pressure cooker intimidated me; the stainless steel pot, pressure regulator and steam vents reminded me of contraption from science lab.
Learning to can was on my list of forty new things I wanted to accomplish this year. I turned forty years old in July, and I decided to celebrate this rite of passage by trying forty new things. Canning was number 39 on my list.
In addition to canning green beans, my mom and I froze or in her words “put up” zucchini, broccoli, kale, and tomatoes.
Images of me and mom canning, freezing, and making strawberry preserves flashed through my mind as I read James 1:12:
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
My brain accidentally swapped the letters ‘r’ and ‘e’ causing me to misread the verse as “Blessed is the one who preserves under trial.”
Preserve verses persevere

Neurons fired electrical impulses in rapid succession as I pondered the oversight. Diving into God’s Word, I researched each reference to the words preserves, persevere, fruit, and harvest and found these treasures:
“The Lord preserves the faithful.” (Psalm 31:23, NIV)
“You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is thing: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50, NIV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
Planting and Harvesting

Unlike the four distinct seasons in Virginia, our lives consist of a cyclical pattern of two seasons: planting and harvesting. Seeds sown in one season are in reaped in another. Our faithfulness in one season will produce fruit in another season.
Faithfulness in one season will produce a fruitful harvest. This harvest can be stored and preserved for lean season, a season of perseverance.
My parents can weather the winter season by dining on what was canned during the harvest. We too can persevere in a difficult season by dining on the faithful preserves of God’s promises stored up if we don’t give up.
~April Dawn White
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Additional verses for your recipe box:
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  (James 1:3, NIV)

“Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure…full of mercy and good fruit.” (James 4:17, NIV)
“We consider blessed those who have preserved.”(James 5:11, NIV)
“This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit showing yourself to be my disciples.” (John 15:8, NIV)
“A time to plant and a time to harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2, NLT)

Keep Marching!

By April Dawn White
 
What do you do when you don’t see any results? Keep marching!
Obedience is my responsibility.
Outcomes are God’s responsibility.
—Steven Furtick
When doubt and inadequacy creeps in; when I see no progress being made, I return to the story of Joshua and Jericho.
My summary of Joshua and Jericho in Joshua Chapter Six:
The Lord tells Joshua “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” As instructed by God, Joshua and his men marched around the city once a day for six days. They kept marching, but it appeared nothing was happening. On the seventh day the army marched around the city seven times and the walls fell down.
If it were up to me, pieces of the wall would fall with each march around the city. Therefore, the army would see the plan working and be encouraged to keep going. But that’s not how God works.
“We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Faith is when you keep marching without seeing results.
As I reread the outlandish battle strategy in Joshua 6:1-21, two things were revealed:
1.   God spoke in past tense grammar for a future victory.
“See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands…”
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell after the army marched around them for seven days.” (Hebrews 11:30)
2.   The word march stomped around the page seven times.
Seven is God’s number for perfection and completion.
 
God reminded me to keep marching until my present tense obedience becomes God’s past tense victory. 
When I need extra motivation, I listen to the sermon Don’t Stop on Six by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church.
What area do you need to keep marching? Please share below!
Keep Marching!
 
 
~April Dawn White
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The Invisible Mom: From Mundane to Miracle

PB&J and iconI loathe packing lunches. “Mom, pack me extra snacks so I can share” my son requests. So I can share . . . My mind wanders to the story of five loaves and two fish, a miracle that occurred because a little boy shared his lunch.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).

Invisible Mom Note

Do you know who the story doesn’t mention? The one whose hands are invisible and remains unknown—the mother who packed that lunch.

As I pack lunches, I begin to weep. I cry for all the times we as parents, particularly mothers, perform all the mundane tasks that go unnoticed. Standing in my kitchen, spreading peanut butter onto wheat bread, God whispers to me, It might appear mundane, but I can turn the mundane into a miracle.

Your mundane task might be the foundation for God's future miracle! Click To Tweet

All four Gospels record the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (a number probably closer to 15,000 people when women and children are included). Only John’s Gospel explains that the food offered came from a little boy’s lunch. Jesus multiplied what the boy shared and fed a multitude (John 6:1-15).

We know little about this boy and his mama. Was she among the women in the crowd or did she stay at home tending to younger children? This invisible mom played a part in Jesus’ miracle, even though she was unseen. God blessed not only the meal, but also her mundane task.

Her story reminds me that God sees my work and effort, too. He sees the mundane lunches I pack and the endless pile of laundry I wash. He sees the dirty floors I sweep and the runny noses I wipe. What if I knew God was going to turn one of my everyday tasks into a miracle? How would God’s touch change my outlook? Who knows, God might be using our mundane tasks to lay the foundation for a future miracle.

With this in mind, would you like grape or strawberry jelly on your peanut butter sandwich?

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work or our hand for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of author and Pixabay

© 2015 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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

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

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