No Turning Back

Remember when you were young?  As a young girl I used to have so many friends.  I love talking on the phone and having sleep overs.  This morning an old memory popped into my mind.  When I was in middle school – let’s say the summer after 6th grade – I had a really close friend who wasn’t much of a church goer but that summer she went to a church camp for a week.  I remember that phone call very well now that I’m thinking about it.  She was on FIRE for Jesus Christ. 

My friend, we’ll call her Jessica for privacy, could not stop talking about Jesus and all that had happened to her at the camp.  She was going on and on about how she was a new creation and her sins were forgiven.  She was reciting Bible verses and could barely catch her breath from how excited she was.

Eventually… church camp wore off and reality settled back in.  The excitement began to fade and before long I never heard her mention Jesus again.  I knew her for years after that particular summer.  Her life didn’t reflect a born again believer anymore after that summer.

What happened?

That sweet friend of mine believed on the name of Jesus Christ.  She received Him into her heart and was saved, however, once she returned back to her “normal” life, around her normal routines, and her normal friends, her life eventually went back to the way it was – with salvation (which does change your life) but her heart turned back to the old things and she stepped back into the role of who she used to be.

I have learned in my own journey of following Jesus that this life is not easy once you choose to follow Him. Every “friend” I have ever had is no longer there.  I was told by a group of “friends” at dinner one night that I was a “little too much” when it comes to Jesus (and they claim to know Jesus themselves).  I started to see the calling that God has on my life and in order to soar above the mundane I had to stop living among the mundane and believe that He does have more for me.  *Side note*  If you are dealing with people in your life that bring you down, gossip, and make passive comments at you and your dreams – get rid of them!  They are sucking the life out of you.  I held on to some pretty rough friends for a long time thinking that eventually God would use me to help them but instead I stayed plugged in with them, they ripped me to shreds almost daily, and I bruised the image of Christ in their eyes when I “broke up with them” because they could never understand me and felt very judged by me.  Here I was trying to do all this good but really just created a mess because God had called me to walk away from them years prior to when I actually did.  As another *Side note* let me clarify that you don’t ever really hurt the image of Jesus.  People can use that as an excuse as to why they don’t follow Jesus or why they don’t go to church, because of what someone else did, said, etc… we’re human and we do represent incorrectly at times BUT God is God… I’m confident He can and WILL restore anything that you, in your flesh, have jacked up! So stop beating yourself up, repent, accept His forgiveness, and move on.  Life is too short on this earth to stay wrapped up in this type of silliness****

Anyway – back to what I was originally saying.  My whole point of that thought and this blog is to ask myself and you, where are we right now in our walks?  Have we burned out?  Are we lukewarm? And if so, why do you think that is?  Where is our time going, who are we spending time with?  What are we watching, listening to, and reading?  I’ll just tell you, reading scripture from someone’s Facebook or Twitter status doesn’t count as spending time with the Lord.  Yes! God can totally speak to your heart through those tools but it should never substitute for your time with The Father.

I think we all need to have those ‘heart check’ moments where we test ourselves and take accountability for our lives.  A lot of times we’re not consumed with ‘bad’ things but we’re just too busy.

When we’re isolated with “church folks” all of a sudden we are different.  The distractions of this world seem minute.  For instance, I was on a women’s retreat this spring for a weekend.  The time away was so refreshing.  I was surrounded by women who love the Lord, surrounded by Bible study and teachings, quiet time at the lake with just the fresh air, nature, and The Father.  Everything was clearer.  When I returned home to reality I was still very much in love with Jesus but all of a sudden the internet had my attention, T.V., a child needing help at the potty, laundry, dishes, cooking, errands, etc… you know – real life stuff. Some nights my head would hit the pillow; I would mumble a halfhearted prayer and drift into the sleep that I was so desperately seeking 3 hour prior to when my head actually touched the pillow.

Life.

I pray that you would stand with me in taking responsibility for this life that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are called to lead.  This consists of spending time in the Word, speaking to God, listening to God, praying for others, helping others, and growing our generation up to be the leaders and examples that God has called us to be.   

No turning back.  Jesus could have gotten to that cross, just about to get nailed and decided that He wanted to turn back.  He didn’t.  He went through with it all.  He was called to reconcile this broken world to His Father… and He did – For you.  Don’t just read right over that as if you have heard it a thousand times.  Jesus went to the cross and died a sinner’s death for YOU.  It doesn’t matter how jacked up you are – He came for everyone, regardless of what you’ve been told by other “Christians”, regardless of how you’ve been treated by other “Christians.” 

Get to know Him for yourself and I hope that you seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

I pray there is no turning back.

Shine,

A

Restored

Today I sat down to write a song.  It was the FIRST time in 8 years that I have really tried to write a song… and not just any song but a love song to my Redeemer.  The words came easy.  I guess when you’re in love with Jesus and you realize what all He has done for you and how much He loves you, it’s a little easier to let the words just flow.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to sing.  When I was in 8th grade I was the lead vocalist for the 8th Grade Rock Band (ha!).  The gig didn’t last long, scheduling and such… but I did get to practice with the band a few times and even visited my first recording studio to record tracks such as Wild Thing and You’ve Really Got Me.  I had to sing in SUCH a low and uncomfortable range to make the vocals work and eventually I just didn’t seem to fit.  I may be wrong – BUT – I think the band leader wanted it to be an all boy band but to his surprise only ONE person tried out and it wasn’t a boy, it was me.  They got stuck with me.

When I was in high school I started working with a label called YE Records.  I started to record R&B tracks and featured on some rap songs as well.  I took on the name “April Dextrous … The Talented One”  <— That cracks me up.  I even rapped once.  Shout out to P3 who also represented YE Records and Randy who represented BLACK OUT! LOL!  (inside stuff)  If some of y’all still have those CD’s DO NOT embarrass me!! LOL!  I worked with YE Records for a few years and then it just eventually fell apart.

In 2005, I dedicated my life to the Lord, Jesus Christ.  One of my first transformations had to do with singing and music.  I was not very humble when I was singing main stream music.  When I gave my life to Jesus, I realized my singing would have to go on the back burner because I wasn’t very humble and craved too much attention for myself.  I hid that gift for 8 years.  I joined a choir so that I could still exercise the gift but for the most part I just stopped singing.

After an amazing and convicting conversation with a friend and then wrestling with the Lord for a few weeks, I am ‘faith walking’ a journey of me singing again.  So many things have lined up already and it’s really freakin’ me out!  This is a whole new life of music for me.  Brand NEW.  Over the past 8 years so much has happened.  I have destroyed, God has built up.  I have grown and stretched and bent to the point of almost breaking but instead have been restored and made whole.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, first of all – I need your prayers.  If you are a prayer warrior or just say a prayer every now and then, I would be so grateful if you would pray for me.  I don’t know what the road holds ahead, I really have no expectations but I just pray wholeheartedly that my life, my music, my story will bring God so much glory.  I pray for discernment and provision also.

Second – Look at my life!!! If you have kept up with my journey – how can you NOT worship God?!!?!  On this day last year I was just speaking out about the bondage I was in.  Fear, anxiety, panic, and depression.  I was in a pit so deep I could see NO way out.  I had hope but I was definitely in a different place.  God made beauty from the ashes.  He promises that He has a plan for our lives.  A plan to prosper us!  Jeremiah 29:11-14 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  These are my life verses for sure.  Most people stop right after verse 11 but for me, verse 14 sets my soul on fire – ‘I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you … and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  8 years ago music and singing was banished from my life.  God knows best, so I believe I had to put it all down to keep myself out of trouble but here I am years later and everything is being restored.  We serve an awesome God!

It’s nice to know that your friends are standing behind you as you embark on a new journey so thank you for your prayers and support!

I’ll keep you posted.

Ready, Set, Go –

April

ISAIAH 38:10-20

ISAIAH 38:10-20 NIV

10 I said, “In the prime of my life
must I go through the gates of death
and be robbed of the rest of my years? ”
11 I said, “I will not again see the Lord himself
in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on my fellow man,
or be with those who now dwell in this world.
12 Like a shepherd’s tent my house
has been pulled down and taken from me.
Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,
and he has cut me off from the loom;
day and night you made an end of me.
13 I waited patiently till dawn,
but like a lion he broke all my bones;
day and night you made an end of me.
14 I cried like a swift or thrush,
I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!”

15 But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.
16 Lord, by such things people live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.
17 Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
18 For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.

20 The Lord will save me,
and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
in the templeof the Lord.

I WISH I WERE BRAVE ENOUGH TO DO THAT.

I have been known to ‘all of a sudden’ cut my hair.  Ever since I was old enough to have permission to do so, I have always just decided at the most spontaneous moment that it was time to chop the hair or color it really funky.  This familiar action took place again this past Wednesday.  One of the main things that women say to me when they see me and my new do is “I wish I were brave enough to do that!”

I have shaken this phrase off because I hear it so often but something was different about hearing it this past week.  I wish I were brave enough to do that.  My question back is “Why aren’t you?!?!”  Now you know this is about to go in a total different direction than just talking about hair.

There are things that people do all the time where I find myself saying, “I wish I were brave enough to do that.”  Their question back to me would mostly be, “Why aren’t you?”  The answer is — I don’t know. 

I think we build these ideas in our heads of how it should be or what needs to be in place before we actually step out and do something brave.  What are we waiting for?  Who are we waiting on?

In my situation, it’s just hair.  It will grow back (hopefully).  So even if you step out to get it chopped off, so what if it gets messed up?!?!  Some of you may not know that I actually attempted this same hair style last summer and it did get messed up.  A miscommunication during a salon visit can be traumatic!  I got lots of compliments during that awkward hair phase (I think they were genuine) and I got through it. 

I know for myself that I am pretty quick to get my hair chopped off but at the same time TERRIFIED to step out into something challenging yet fulfilling.  I use the excuse “I don’t want to make a move out of God’s will” or “I’m just waiting on God”

I am afraid of failure, shoot… I’m afraid of success.  I’m afraid of starting something just to quit.  Funny, huh?  Actually it’s pretty sad.

Lately I have been challenged with the question (and I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions on this one) what’s the difference between waiting on God vs Stepping out to tackle your dream?  I’m told by wonderful people/mentors, “You just have to  be praying fervently, reading the Word, and waiting on God.”  Then I’m told by other wonderful people/mentors, “Honey, you need to get up and MOVE.  God has great things for you but you need to step out to seek them.”  I have found myself very conflicted with this lately.  I’m confused.  Very.

You guys KNOW that I KNOW fear.  Fear moved in and hung out with me for over a year of my life along with her cousins Paralyzing Fear, Anxiety, Panic, and Depression.  Talk about guests wearing out their welcome.  I have noticed that the memory of fear still hangs around though – luckily for me I know Jesus Christ and I know that the God has not given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) and that PERFECT LOVE casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).  I am so thankful for God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. 

It has really been on my heart to write about this bravery thing.  Why are we so afraid?  Why am I so afraid? 

I pray that the Spirit stirs our hearts so aggressively that we can’t hold back any longer! 

Acts 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

LIVE ABUNDANTLY!!!!!!! **yelling in the mirror**

Shine,

April

“You Will Lead Me On” – Tiffany Wisecarver

 

Tiffany Wisecarver

Hey hey!

I HAVE to share this song with you.  I recently met an amazing new friend.  Tiffany Wisecarver and her family recently moved to my home town to pursue a call on her life – worship music.  This chick has got some SERIOUS annointing on her!  Below are the lyrics to her song “You Will Lead Me On”.  Ugh!  This song speaks to my heart so much.  Most of you know the DARK journey I traveled last year.  Bless yourself by listening to this song and visiting and “Liking” Tiffany’s page! 

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Tiffany-Wisecarver/156282247807482?sk=app_204974879526524

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1775515424/tiffany-wisecarvers-first-album-just-the-way-i-am

 

Love to you!

A

NO I DON’T WANNA GIVE UP NOW
I’VE COME SUCH A LONG LONG WAY
FROM WHERE I’VE BEEN
ALTHOUGH THE ENEMIES CLOSING IN
I CAN FEEL YOUR PRESENCE LORD
YOU TAKE ME BACK AGAIN AND I AM YOURS I AM YOURSTHAT’S WHY I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON YES
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON

NO I DON’T WANNA GIVE UP NOW
ALTHOUGH IT WOULD BE EASIER FOR SURE
AND NO I’M NOT GONNA TAKE
THE EASY WAY OUT
BECAUSE YOU’RE RIGHT HERE WITH ME

THAT’S WHY I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON YES
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON YES
YOU WILL LEAD ME ON

NO I’M NOT GONNA GIVE UP NOW
NO I’M NOT GONNA GIVE UP NOW
AND I WILL CARRY ON UNTIL THE END
I WILL BE STRONG

DON’T GIVE UP HE’S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU
EVERY STEP HE’LL GUIDE YOU THROUGH

DON’T GIVE IN WITH HIM ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING

DON’T GIVE UP HE’S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU
EVERY STEP HE’LL GUIDE YOU THROUGH

credits

from Just The Way I Am, released 20 December 2011
Music & Words: Tiffany Wisecarver
All vocals, piano, and string arrangements by Tiffany Wisecarver.
Jared Throop – All electric and acoustic guitars
Bass Guitar – Marcus Phelps
Drums – Scott Wisecarver
Recorded, mixed and programming by Larry Wardlaw
Produced by Larry Wardlaw
Executive Producer – Scott Wisecarver