Mercy for Meh Days

Have you ever felt meh? Meh is the verbal
expression equivalent to a shrug of the shoulders.

Meh days can result from physical, emotional, or spiritual battles. For those of us suffering a chronic illness, meh days are usually a combination of two or more of these factors.

I am writing this article on a meh day. I had a flare-up of my illness last night and today is a day of rest and recovery day.

My body is weak. I forced myself out of pajamas only to pull on yoga pants and t-shirt. I gave myself an imaginary gold star for changing clothes, even if I traded one set of comfortable clothes for another. Because conservation of strength is my primary goal, showers are optional these days. Showers require too much energy.

 

My favorite coffee mug is too heavy, so I traded it for a lighter mug. My thought processes are as slow as Eeyore’s trot. Between sips of liquid mercy (AKA coffee) I hurry to type before the fog completely enveloped my brain.

As I refilled my mug with liquid mercy, the phone buzzed with a text from my friend and spiritual accountability partner. The text reads:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)

I smiled at God’s timing. He knew I was having a meh day. He knew I needed an extra dose of encouragement. I sensed God nudging past the brain fog,

“My mercy is for meh days too!”

God met me in the kitchen, wearing my yoga pants and holding my I-feel-weak-today coffee mug. God knew my struggle. He knew I wanted to cry, but that would only make my body hurt more. He knew the true number on my pain scale, even if I tried to fake feeling better than I was so my family wouldn’t worry (again). He knew the brain fog blanketed my thoughts and that today I should not drive nor pay bills.

I began to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness:”[1]

 

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Dear friend, God knows your struggle. His compassion and mercy are new every day. Every morning we brew our coffee with fresh coffee grounds, so is God’s mercy. We never have to live today on yesterday’s compassion or mercy. Whether you are a chronic illness warrior or a supportive caregiver, God’s mercies are new every day. His mercies are for the meh days too!

© 2019 April Dawn White |Images courtesy of Canva

[1] Written by Thomas Chisholm, Composed by William Runyan, Public Domain

I originally published this article in the “Pressing On” column for the Broken But Priceless Magazine. Broken But Priceless, is an online quarterly magazine, which addresses the heartfelt needs of those battling chronic illness and their caregivers. If you or someone you know, would benefit from such encouragement, please share this article and/or link.

Hugs & Hope, April 

 

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.”

 

Avoiding the Comparison Trap

I’m learning to avoid the comparison trap.

 

I am still adjusting to this stay-at-home-mom gig. This wasn’t part of my plan. Nor was the unexpected illness that put me here. It’s been thirty-four months and eleven days since I was medically forced to walk away from my career as a pharmacist. One would think by now, I would be adjusted to my new role, but I still struggle.

Finding contentment in this new realm is my struggle.

This summer, my neighbor had her backyard excavated to make way for an in-ground pool. Meanwhile, God excavated my heart to make room for contentment.

Per instructions by Priscilla Shirer in her book, The Resolution for Women, I scribed these words on an index card and attached it to the front of my fridge.

In my desire to find contentment, I began with a simple prayer: “Lord whatever my hands find to do today, may you look upon your servant and find me faithful. Amen.” 

Later, I simplified this to a four-sentence prayer: “Lord, find me faithful.”

This prayer is based on these verses in the Old and New Testament:

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

When I pray, “Lord find me faithful,” it helps me put on spiritual blinders. Keeping the simple prayer on the forefront of my mind repels my desire for comparison to others. It allows me to remain faithful in my role, where I am, and with what God has provided for me.

The death of contentment is comparison.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

During God’s summer excavation of my heart, He showed me two passages in the Bible where the main characters felt unequipped and unqualified in their role because they were comparing themselves to those around them.

Gideon the weakest in his clan hid from the enemy. God finds him, calls him a “valiant warrior” and tells him to fight the enemy. “Go in the strength that you have.” (Judges 6:12, 14). Reluctantly obedient, Gideon and his motley crew of a few defeat the enemy in an unexpected way.

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we meet an unnamed woman who is a recent widow. Left with debts she cannot repay, the debt collectors threatened to take away her two sons. Desperate, she pleads to the prophet Elisha for help. Instead of helping, he asks, “What’s in your house?” She confesses to having only a little oil. Elisha instructs her to gather as many jars as she can from the neighbors. (Can you imagine the humility of having to ask the neighbors for help?) Elisha blessed what little oil she had and the oil miraculously continued to pour until all the jars were full. She was able to pay off all her debt and keep her sons.

What’s in your house?

How can you go in the strength you have to bless others?

In my realm of a stay-at-home-mom, I have the margin of time and rest in my day. This week, God found me faithful packing lunches for my friend and me. In my house, I already had all the fixings for Meg’s favorite snacks and lunch. Going in the strength I had, God found me faithful as I drove my friend to her chemotherapy infusion. We enjoyed our day together as we laughed, cupped mugs of piping hot Starbucks, and shared stories of God’s faithfulness.

Reflecting on the stories of Gideon and the widow woman, ask yourself:

How can you use what you already have to bless others?

What is God calling you to do?

~April Dawn White ©2018

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We Never Walk Alone

This year, I told my kids if they missed the bus they would walk to school. Situated on the outskirts of our neighborhood the middle and high school buildings are a twenty-minute walk from our home.

Today, Rachel missed the bus. Because it is picture day, I offered to drive her to school.  Visibly relieved, she sighed and her shoulders relaxed.  As I pulled out of the driveway, Rachel chattered about being caught up in the bus traffic, late to school, and possibly sent to the principle’s office.

I sipped the dark brew of liquid mercy and smiled to myself. She did not know I was taking her on a different route. Dropping her off at the front of the school would require me sitting in traffic and the carpool line for over thirty minutes.  Instead, I pulled over at the walking trail that meanders behind the school.

Rachel turned in her seat, “Hey, there’s Marcus.”

“Oh good, you know him?”

“Yeah.”

Turning back to Rachel, I offered my confident parental grin. “Good. Now you don’t have to walk alone.”

“What? You’re not driving me to school?” She questioned.

“This is the trail behind the school. Go ahead and get out and walk with Marcus.”

She was stunned.  I drove her to school as promised, but I didn’t drop her off at the front door. I dropped her off behind the school. She would have to walk between the softball and soccer fields and around to the side of the building. But, she would not walk alone.

We never walk alone.

Sometimes God will interrupt your progress in order to get your attention. Sometimes he does that as an act of grace because he sees you expending effort in the wrong direction.  What you are calling progress is actually paralysis from heaven’s perspective.

Steven Furtick

Pastor , Elevation Church

In the course of life, we all find ourselves walking an unexpected path. Yet, we never walk alone.

When the path we planned shuts down, God provides another way. We set goals to move from point A to point B, with a straight and logical plan of action. But God prefers the scenic route.

When I think back over my unexpected journey of illness, job loss, move, and betrayal of friends, I can point to precise moments along the path when God provided a friend when I needed one the most. Sometimes the companions who linked arms with me were cherished old friends. Other times, they were new friends who understood the isolation and struggle of suffering.

However, in the dark moments, when my brokenness overwhelms me, I cry alone. These are the days when my social media activity and text messages are silent.  I cry for myself and I cry out for God to help. God is the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3). His Word reminds me He will never leave us nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Friend, have you found yourself on an unexpected path? If so, you can rest assured, you will never walk alone. 

~April White

P.S. In the seven-plus years, I’ve been writing Red Chair Moments, this is the first time there has been over a month between posts.  While I’ve been absent on-screen, I’ve been present before the Lord. God is cultivating in me a renewed mind and spirit of contentment. He is teaching me accepting my circumstances is not the same as contentment. As the band, Rascal Flats sings, God is teaching me He blesses and walks with me on the broken road. Dear friend, I’ve broken my on-screen silence to remind myself and all of us, we never walk alone. Hugs & Hope ~April

©2018 April White| Images courtesy of Pixabay

 

Count Your Blessings| Recounts Are OK

Count Your Blessings Recounts are OKI adore birthdays and celebrating, yet this year dread threatened to detach my joy.  I am naturally an optimistic person. Birthdays are reasons to refill one’s glass and toast to life, love, and God’s amazing grace. So why was I feeling glum about this birthday? I don’t know.

Taking a cue from the sign in my kitchen I decided to count my blessings.

Research proves gratitude is a powerful influence on mental health.  I decided to list forty-three things for which I am grateful.  At first, the list lurched and stopped, like someone learning to drive a manual transmission. Then, the blessings flowed faster than I could write.

 

Gratitude is a powerful influence on mental health. Click To Tweet

Count Your Blessings

Here is my list:

Taste and see the Lord is god

Today I woke
Able to walk today
Being able to smile
Faith anchored in Christ
God’s amazing grace
God’s provision
God’s chronic presence in my chronic illness

Quiet mornings and #CoffeeWithJesus
Chris, my beloved and rock
Rachel, the compassionate “noticer”
Andrew’s strong-willed analytical mind
I’ve never missed a soccer or softball game in three years.
My family
True friends

JOY

Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Our one-level home
Finding Joy
Laugher
Coffee
Daisies
Fiddle Tunes & Irish music

Travel memories to Ireland, Hawaii, Canada, Eh!
The sound of wooden roller coasters
The crunch of walking on leaves
Beachcombing
Waterfalls
Strolling on cobblestone paths
Tiramisu

80’s music and Flip Flops

Encouraging words
Chocolate
Journals
Books
Colored Pens

Sewing
Stained glass
Hammock naps
Handmade anything
Hydrangeas
Chris’ garden
Grandma’s quilts
Mama’s pickles

Join me in counting our blessings. Recounts are okay.

~April White

Copyright 2018 April Dawn White| Images by author & Pixabay

Identity Theft: Repossess Our Identity With Truth

I was recently the victim of identify theft.  No, not through an online transaction or a lost checkbook. The unlikely location for identity theft was the high school guidance counselor’s office.

My son, a rising tenth grader, and I visited the high school guidance counselor. While he discussed course schedules, I filled out the necessary paperwork:

  • Parent Name
  • Address (Check box if same as the student)
  • Phone number
  • Occupation

Occupation. This word haunts me. For over fifteen years, I wore a lab coat to work and displayed my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in a prominent place in our home. Today, the lab coat hangs in the back of the closet. My diploma is stacked in the corner of the basement collecting dust and cobwebs—much like my mind during severe moments of brain fog.

Occupation: _________________. The word and preceding blank mocked me. It demanded an answer.

I left it blank.

What was I supposed to write?

  • Pharmacist with rare illness unable to work.
  • Medically retired
  • Full-time patient
  • Professional paper filler-outer
  • CEO of the family
  • First lady of the White House (My last name <wink wink>)
  • Chauffer
  • Home management expert
  • Writer

The identity thief slipped in without notice. Perhaps he hid behind the motivational posters decorating the office. Or was it the letters that used to follow my name?  That thief stole my identity.

I was proud of myself for not crying. Instead, I moved onto the remaining pages and noted emergency contact information. I returned to the occupation question and continued to contemplate what to write in the blank. However, I was distracted when my son and the counselor discussed his foreign language options.

Pausing, I lifted the pen toward them and said, “You’ve had two years of Spanish. Didn’t you say you wanted to learn German?”

My son was excited to learn a new language. He thought since he had two years of Spanish, he would be stuck taking Spanish III. I too have a new language to learn. I must learn to listen to the truth of who GOD says I am.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

Identity Theft: Repossess with the Truth

Listening for the voice of God is like learning a foreign language. I must listen, read, and practice reciting the words aloud. I need to be so familiar with His words that they are automatic and roll off my tongue with the correct inflection and accent.

The identity thief lurks in the shadows of our lives, but we can take back what he has stolen from us. Just as my son learned Spanish and can recite words and phrases by rote, we can repeat the truth of who we are in Christ.

In Christ we are:

  • A child of God
  • Accepted
  • Blessed
  • An Overcomer
  • Chosen
  • Forgiven
  • Seated in Heavenly places with God
  • Delivered from sin and darkness
  • A valiant warrior
  • Loved
  • Given grace upon grace
  • Son and Daughters of the King

Listening for the voice of God is like learning a foreign language. Click To Tweet

While the Enemy temporally stole my identity, I took it back by reminding myself of who I am in Christ. Deborah Haddix wrote an article, Who I am? My Identity in Christ, with an A to Z reminder of who we are in Christ. I encourage you to click the above link. Read her list and speak it to yourself.

Take back your identity.

Here are a few of my favorite some musical motivations. Enjoy!

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Darwin Laganzon|Pixabay.com

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