Spiritual Fitness Tracker

Triumphant faith presses on.

Mysterious medical marvels occurred during my fourth decade of life; a genetic illness, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis which had been dormant in my past triggered on. In addition, my estrogen levels and metabolism plummeted while hot flashes and brain fog skyrocketed. Something caused my body to short-circuit. I scrambled to search for the factory default setting, but none existed.

Those of us with a chronic illness can relate to this story. While the period of time and disease name may vary the overall sense of our bodies short-circuiting is universal. We miss our old life “before” our illness and we grieve the person we used to be.  That person is still inside of us, held hostage by an uninvited circumstance or illness.

For me, the good old days prior to my illness, I led a balanced and active life. I enjoyed working three days a week as the neighborhood pharmacist. During my days off, I volunteered at my kid’s school, served as room mom, baked special treats for the teachers, and served in various areas at church. Physical fitness was important to me. I ran three to five days a week, competed in Marine Corp Mud Runs, and hiked the Appalachian Trail. I did not need a fitness tracker to monitor my steps or track my activity level because I was constantly on the move. Now I wear an electronic gadget to monitor my activity level. This pesky device prompts me to move when I linger in one place too long.

If we’re not careful we can allow our minds to be held hostage by our uninvited circumstance or illness. If we are not careful, we can allow our minds to wander off God’s intended path of peace (Luke 1:79) into the thorns and thistles of stinkin’ thinkin’. I pray for my mind. I pray for the Holy Spirit to prompt me like a spiritual fitness tracker to notify me when my mind lingers in stinkin’ thinkin’ too long.

When my mind begins to creep into the stinkin’ thinkin’ and when I begin to grieve my old life for too long, I dwell on the words of wisdom by missionary Paul: 

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Philippians 4:8-9, MSG

We cannot control our unwelcomed illness or life circumstance. However, we can control how we respond. Whether we become bitter or better is our choice to make.  When the Holy Spirit prompts us like a spiritual fitness tracker to move, will we follow the prompt or will we linger? The choice is ours to make. Triumphant faith presses on.

~April Dawn White ©2019

Images courtesy of SnockSnap and Melkhagelslag of Pixabay

P.S. If you like this article, check out the online magazine Broken But Priceless. This faith-based quarterly e-magazine specifically nourishes the soul of the chronically ill and their caregivers. I call it “comfort food for the soul.”

 

Ransomed by Grace: Surviving Pulmonary Embolisms

Innumerable pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in my lungs held my life at ransom. But grace, God’s grace paid the price.

April 14, 2018, I left the Radiant Roanoke Women’s Conference early.  My chest hurt and I found it difficult to breathe. Once home, I slept for three hours and woke with a pounding sensation in my chest. Despite the three-hour rest, my blood pressure skyrocketed and my pulse thumped at a whopping 122 beats per minute.  I swiftly packed an overnight back and my beloved drove me to the ER.

EKG, chest X-rays, CT scan, and blood work all pointed to one cause: “extensive bilateral pulmonary embolisms.” In everyday language, both lungs were full to the brim with blood clots. Physicians later determined the cause as one of the medications used to regulate the flare-ups of my chronic illness, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.

Blood clots in the lungs are fatal, but God’s grace prevailed.

Deep draughts of air expand my lungs to their full measure.  There is no more pain and no more coughing. The pulmonary embolisms are gone. With each breath, I meditate and count inhaling grace, two, three, four then exhaling praise two, three, four. Rather than being angry at the turn of events in my life, I am thankful. Thankful our resurrected King is still in the business resurrecting lives.

Our resurrected King is still in the business resurrecting lives.

This situation taught me the grace of God is more than a spiritual principle; it penetrates on an intracellular level for our good and for His glory. As we continue into Holy Week, let us remember to give God thanks for the resurrected King and grace in our lives.

“Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”Amazing Grace by John Newton (1725-1807)

~April Dawn White

©2019 Red Chair Moments | Image courtesy of Pixabay and Pexels from Pixabay.

5 Facts About St. Patrick

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

-Irish saying

Millions of people will celebrate all things green and Irish on March 17th.   But how much do you really know about St. Patrick? Over the centuries, we have diluted the true meaning of the Christian holiday in a sea of green beer, leprechauns and the elusive pot of gold. How much do you think you know about St. Patrick?

Here 5 facts about St. Patrick:

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 remains debated; experts think his village was in England, Scotland, or Wales.

Patrick (probably not his birth surname) was born into a Christian aristocratic family. At sixteen, Irish raiders kidnapped him 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. Myth: St. Patrick drove out snakes from Ireland.

St. Patrick did not drive out the snakes from the island, because snakes were never indigenous to Ireland.  Scientists consider the chilly waters surrounding the island are too cold for the reptile animals to migrate and survive. Ireland is not the only snake-free country. If you’re searching a premier snake-free vacation destination consider New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica.

 

3. St. Patrick chose the shamrock to symbolize the Holy Trinity.

While serving as a missionary to Ireland, St. Patrick used the shamrock as to symbolize the Holy Trinity. At the time, Ireland was a pagan country. Patrick explained the basis of Christianity and the Holy Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with the shamrock. This readily available three-leaved plant allowed for an excellent visual illustration of the Holy Trinity. Irish Christians placed 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.

King 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 hymn Be Thou My Vision.

Dallen Forgaill, an 8th-century monk, originally penned the renowned hymn Bí Thusa ‘mo Shúile, in the Old Irish Gaelic language. (Click the link to listen in Gaelic.)

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 songwriter, Eleanor H. Hull arranged the lyrics to an ancient Irish folk tune called Slane. (Click the link to listen in English)

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.

 

Whether you are Irish or wish you were (like me), we can celebrate the real life of St. Patrick, by allowing our light for Christ to shine defiantly in a dark world.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

~April Dawn White

©Red Chair Moments 2016, 2019 | Images courtesy of Pixabay

How to Choose a Word for the Year

As I mentioned last post, in 2012, I began choosing a word for each year. This decision has deepened my faith and strengthened my foundation.

Three Ways to Choose a Word for the Year

1. Ask.

There is no special formula for choosing a word for the year.  But, if you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the one thing I struggle with?
  • What is my deepest desire?
  • What do I want to accomplish this year?
  • What character trait do I want to develop?
  • Is there a verse that resonates in this current situation?
  • What do I need the most in my current season of life?
  • What word or topic do I want to explore?
  • Is there a word that repeatedly shows up?

Unshakable: My first word

My first year, I chose a verse that resonated with me.  During that time, my husband’s company was restructuring, relocating employees, and forcing extensive traveling. All of which wreaked havoc in our family dynamics and in my spirit. For an entire year, I read, journaled, pondered, and meditated on this promise within Psalm 16:8:

 “I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)

These pursuits provided a foundation of unshakable faith. Years later, a diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder would test my faith. However, because I had engraved ‘unshakable’ and Psalm 16:8 in my spiritual foundation when the diagnosis came, I swayed a bit but remained steadfast in faith.

2. Pray.

Ask God to guide you in the word choice. By seeking God’s direction, you are relying on His Sovereign nature, and are involving Him in the process. One of the attributes of God is that He is Omniscient. This means God is all knowing–He knows everything there is to know, past, present, and future. By involving God in the process, He is eager to whisper to your heart the area you most need.

Rest: My 2018 Word

Rest was the word God gave me for 2018. To be honest, I didn’t like this word. Rest felt lazy. At the end of 2017, our family had moved to a new town. I wondered how in the world I was going to rest in 2018 when I had a gazillion boxes to unpack. By involving God in my word, He revealed over the course of the year, that He wanted me to enter into His rest–a soul rest. The verse I selected to accompany the word rest was Psalm 46:10, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I AM God.”

My soul was at rest in 2018. My soul was at rest when the scans confirmed my daddy’s cancer. My soul was at rest when the ER doctor told me both of my lungs were full of innumerable blood clots. My soul was at rest when mom had hip, knees, and shoulder surgery. Rest—this type of rest only comes from God. My lungs are now clear and healthy. My dad had surgery and undergoes immunotherapy every three weeks and mom is in physical therapy and doing great.

3. Document

As you pray for the right word, you will notice words begin to catch your attention.  This is where the fun comes in. Document or brain-dump these words onto paper. Grab a journal, sticky note, or index card and jot down each word that rises to the surface of your mind.  For me, this is the fun part. I love to use colorful pens to document each word in a journal.

Even if you don’t like the words that come to mind, jot them down anyways. You are not selecting a word yet, but jotting down ideas. One word will lead to another. Continue to pray for guidance. As you do, your senses will heighten. You’ll notice song lyrics, street signs, and phrases like never before. God will guide you in the process.

Choosing the Right Word

After you have asked yourself the probing questions, prayed involving God’s guidance, and documented words, you’ll notice one word or phrase rises above the rest. This is your word. For me, when one specific word keeps showing up, then I know it is my word. It as if God is giving me a heavenly nod or nudge.

Here my last words:

I hope you find this process as enjoyable and I do.  Please share with me your thoughts or word for this year.

Hugs & Hope,

~April Dawn White 

©2019 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

One Word Focus

Choose one word for the year.

Years ago, a friend introduced the notion of focusing on one word for the year.  Despite being several years younger, my friend possessed a mature faith that I wanted to emulate. She didn’t merely know about God, she understood God, the way He moves and the nuances of His character. Like my friend, I wanted to know God intimately, not know about God from a distance.

An Eight-Year Discovery

Looking back, I smile at each focused word. Some years I understood the reason why the focued word captured my attention. However, other years the reason behind the chosen word remained a mystery for me to solve.

Dwell One Word for the Year
  • 2012: Unshaken (Psalm 16:8)
  • 2013: Provision (Genesis 22:8)
  • 2014: Abundance (Psalm 65:11)
  • 2015: Hope (Hebrews 6:19)
  • 2016: Trust (Romans 15:13)
  • 2017: Refuge (Psalm 73:28)
  • 2018: Rest (Psalm 46:10)
  • 2019: Dwell (Psalm 91:1)

Dwell

This year I will dwell on the word ‘dwell.’ While the layers of this word have yet to unfold, I have an inkling that God intends to teach me to:

  • Dwell in His unfailing love (Exodus 15:13)
  • Dwell in His joy (1 Chronicles 16:27)
  • Dwell is His rest (Psalm 91:1)
  • Dwell in His protection (Psalm 91:9-10)
  • Dwell in His peace (Psalm 4:8)
  • Dwell in His goodness and love (Psalm 23:6)

What is your one focus word for the year?

Perhaps, you’re not sure how to select a word. Next week, I will share ideas on how to choose one word for the year.

~April Dawn White

© 2019 Red Chair Moments | Images courtesy of Pixabay

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