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

Celebrate Goals: Making Progress

Celebrate Goals of Making ProgressJune 2, 2016: Hey, I’m making progress! This thought occurred to me while pushing the grocery cart to my car, alone. This was a minor shopping trip consisting of Gala apples, bread, and juice. To most, this was a minor trip; however, this was my monumental day.

June 13, 2016: Facebook entry: “I cooked today. One person’s chore is another’s progress.”

Since this neuromuscular disease hijacked by body eight months ago, activities previously dreaded have now become a sign of progress. I no longer take health and ability for granted.  I consider it joy to have the strength to purchase apples and push a cart alone.

One person’s chore is another’s progress Click To Tweet

My body easily deceives me into thinking I can do more without suffering consequences.  Unfortunately, my strength is short lived. In both instances, light grocery shopping and cooking dinner,  my energy (or spoons*) was quicklCelebrate Goals Making Progress Snail quote Charles Spurgeony depleted. I am thankful for my children who hauled in the groceries and cleaned up the kitchen.

The above mention of spoons refers to the Spoon Theory, a highly popular article written by Christine Miserandino (www.butyoudon’tlooksick.com) who succinctly shares life with a chronic illness.

Each of us face a chronic battle. Maybe you’re trying to be more thankful, take more steps, or drink more water. Perhaps you’re battling a chronic illness, anxiety, fear, depression, or addiction.

Whatever goals you have set, celebrate each time you catch yourself #MAKING PROGRESS 

Are you racing snails? What recent goals are you celebrating? Please share!

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. Charles Spurgeon. Click To Tweet

~April Dawn White

*Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Marred Sword, Yet I Stand Firm

“It is by faith you stand firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:24)

My shield has dents, my sword is marred, but my armor is on. Some days the greatest battle I face is the moment-by-moment battle to stand firm.

Here is a collection of my favorite verses to mediate while standing firm:

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm. ” (Ephesians 6:13-14)

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13)

“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” (2 Chronicles 2:17)

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)

The greatest battle I often face is the battle to stand firm in faith. Click To Tweet

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

{My graphics are free goodies for you to share. Please retain the Red Chair Moments web address.}

Confessions of a Zebra

Confessions of a Zebra“Mom, since you’re a zebra” Rachel says tossing a zebra printed tank top in my direction. “You can wear this shirt to your doctor’s appointment today.”

“When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.” Dr. Theodore Woodward

In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. He taught his University of Maryland medical students common conditions are commonly seen and not to expect to see a zebra. While exotic illnesses exist, these are highly unlikely and the simplest explanation is usually the best. However, rare conditions, like exotic zebras do exhibit. I am a zebra.

In February 2016, my neurologist diagnosed me with Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, a rare neuromuscular “zebra” condition that causes episodes of paralysis or severe muscle weakness. These attacks occur suddenly with little warning and may last for hours or days.[1] Periodic Paralysis has a prevalence of 1 case per 100,000 population. [2]   By the grace of God, multiple medications, physical therapy, and avoidance of triggers (which is not always possible) my attacks have lessened in duration and severity.Confessions of zebra, biochemistry

Dusting off the cobwebs in biochemistry, I’ve studied the Krebs cycle, action potentials, skeletal muscle movement, and dabbled in genetics. Taking a break from genetic mutations, I veered into zoology and began to study zebras.

Zebra fact: A zebra possess a unique stripe pattern similar to the unique fingerprint pattern in humans.

Zebra fact: Immediately after birth, the mother zebra will separate the foal from the herd for two or three days. During this time, the baby zebra studies the mother’s scent, the sound of her call, and memorizes the mother’s stripe pattern.[3]

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

Confession of a zebraSeparated from the herd, my Heavenly Father set me apart for this season, to memorize His patterns, to examine His character traits, to recognize His voice over the chatter of the world, and to study His chronic presence in my periodic paralysis.

Staring down on at the zebra printed tank top; a familiar verse rises to the surface of my mind: “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).

Staring at the stripes Christ bore for me on the cross, I am thankful my medical zebra status, is only temporary.  “By His stripes we are healed” for all eternity, and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

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

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

References:

[1] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/hypokalemic-periodic-paralysis

[2] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview

[3] http://animals.mom.me/zebra-foals-born-striped-9564.html

Pin It on Pinterest