Making Sense of Setbacks

I am in a reflective mood. I’m making sense of setbacks, praising God for my present messy life, and pondering His plans for my future.

Four years ago today, I stepped away from my full time pharmacist gig for what I thought was a temporary medical leave of absence.

When I climbed over the guardrail of security (my plan) and stepped off the cliff (into God’s plan) I  free fall into grace.

When I stepped away from work for medical testing, my plan was to name the painful debilitating symptoms, seek treatment and return to work. However, days merged into months with no answer while my condition worsened. Without a diagnosis and title, my medical team was reluctant to treat my symptoms. Little did I know it would take over a year of testing to determine the nature of bizarre symptoms.

 

Making Sense of Setbacks

am thankful God placed a chronically ill woman in the Gospels. Like the woman with the issue of blood in the book of Mark, I can relate to desperately seeking medical help without relief. By faith, the unnamed woman battling an isolating illness stretched out her hand and touched Jesus’ robe. She knew with one touch she could be healed. At this account, Jesus called her, “Daughter.” This is the only biblical account of Christ calling a woman, “Daughter.” Her faith healed her illness. His title relabeled her identity.

I’d like to say I’ve overcome all my hang-ups, but I haven’t. I still struggle with my identity as a forced stay-at-home-mom, rare illness warrior, writer, “retired” pharmacist and daughter. I wish I could tell you I no longer struggle with my current situation or my illness. But I can’t. Most days I feel like a stalled racehorse eager to run a race, only to discover my batteries are too low to get out of the gate.

Jesus, Coffee, & Afternoon Naps

This illness forces me to rest daily. I get by every day with Jesus, coffee, and afternoon naps. 

God continues to teach me how to be productive for His Kingdom, His Plans, and His Purpose, which no longer includes me serving as the local pharmacist. With the insight of hindsight, I see these perceived setbacks were actually a set-up for God to work in me and through me.

Now pardon me, but I need to take a nap.

 

©2020 April Dawn White

Image via Maria Shanina Unsplash

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

Rest is the Treatment

Despite my daughters resting position, white enamel drums chattered as I checked her temperature, 103.1°F. My fingers gently swept the hair away from her crimson face as I whispered, “Honey, brush your teeth. We’re going to the doctor,”

Guttural moans escaped her petite frame.

I am thankful the pediatrician’s office offer walk-in sick appointments.  Less than an hour later, we answered the obligatory questions from the nurse and physician.

“Based on your symptoms, I am going to test you for Strep and Mono,” the pediatrician offered gently.

Both tests returned negative. My daughter has a mystery virus.

Rest is the TreatmentThe doctor instructed us to “treat the symptoms with fluids, fever medications, and most importantly, rest.”

REST is the Treatment. 

Rest is a short word which when used wields incredible power.

Why is rest always last on my list?

I am no longer talking about my daughter being sick. I mean living in a state of rest.

Why do I try to fix small things on my own, like scheduling conflicts or car repairs, while leaving the big-ticket issues for God? God doesn’t say to bring him only the big problems in life, but instead, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NLT).

Rest shouldn’t be our last resort. Click To Tweet

Rest is first on God’s list.  When God gave Moses the Ten Commandants, rest was implied in the first two commandments.  “You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” (Exodus 20:3-4, NLT).

I am weary of managing small problems on my own rather than resting everyday concerns with God. I am guilty of creating an idol of self-reliance. By categorizing what I think I can handle versus what I should hand over to God, my personal, I-can-handle-this-To-Do-list has become my god.

Over time, my stubborn, strong-willed, nature created an invisible idol called the god of self-reliance. Instead of the rest and peace, God Almighty offers, my false self-reliance god left me feeling weary and drained.

The path to restful living contains stepping-stones of surrender and a stone of contentment with where I am with what I have for right now.

Friend, are you like me?

Ask yourself if you are weary of managing life on your own instead of resting everyday concerns with God.  Like me, have you unknowingly formed an idol of self-reliance? If so, pray with me.

Dear Lord, help me to live out your plan for peace and rest in my life. I release all my concerns big and small into your Sovereign capable hands. Tear down any idol(s)I unknowingly formed. Teach me to rest in You day-by-day. Jesus, I thank you for your saving and sustaining grace. In your name, I pray. Amen.

I leave you with the same prescription for treatment as my daughter–rest.

If you liked this post check out these related articles: Take a Nap, Winter: A Season to Rest, and Rest and Praise: The Underutilized Weapons of Faith, 

~April Dawn White

©2018 Red Chair Moments

Courageous Women of the Bible: Book Review

In her newest book, Courageous Women of the Bible: Leaving Behind Fear & Insecurity for a Life of Confidence and Freedom, author LaTan Roland Murphy unfolds a fresh insight of courage.

I met LaTan Roland Murphy at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in February 2016. As a native Virginian G.R.I.T. S. girl (Girl Raised in the South), I felt an instant connection to this Georgian peach. LaTan inspired me to take bold and courageous steps forward in my personal life and in writing.

Through the stories of eleven heroic women of the Bible, LaTan Roland Murphy illustrates their diverse forms of courage in the soft-spoken and the bold. Woven into each chapter, LaTan Roland Murphy shares her personal struggles and insecurities. Murphy’s ability to balance the weightiness of the loss of her brother with the humor of her fear of snakes exemplifies her transparent overlay of warmth and wit throughout the book.

Courageous Women of the Bible is a book is for real women facing current culturally relevant topics. If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this book is for you.

  • Do I struggle with finding the courage to lead my family or surrender my loved ones to God?
  • Am I fearful of rejection?
  • Do I desire to live generously, but struggle with limited resources?
  • Have I ever struggled with doing the right thing even when my spouse or others do not?
  • Do I question if I have the courage required to have a baby amidst great odds, pressure, and uncertain times?

Courageous Women of the Bible: Leaving Behind Fear & Insecurity for a Life of Confidence and Freedom, is a treasured book to draw closer to Jesus and step out in faith with bold courage LaTan taught me several years ago.

LaTan Roland Murphy is an award-winning author and speaker and has been featured in WHOA women’s magazine and numerous other publications. She is the author of Becoming a Woman of Interior Elegance and co-author of God’s Provision in Tough Times. She is also the founder of The Colors of His Love Women’s Conference. She and her husband, Joe, have three adult children and two delightful grandchildren. They live in Raleigh, North Carolina. She would love for you to stop by and visit her on her website at LatanMurphy.com

Courageously writing, 

~Apri Dawn White

Hallelujah Even Here

Hallelujah even here“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:4

You expect me to sing Hallelujah even here? The writer of Psalm 137:4 was an Israelite held captive by a Babylonian enemy. How could the enemy holding the Israelites captive in a foreign, expect them to sing?

I too wondered, how could I sing praise through all the abrupt changes in my life?

All of this feels foreign.

My primary loss was the loss of my health. Secondary losses followed later. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis and the second opinion took over a year. I exhausted my excused medical leave of absence and lost my job of fifteen years. Once terminated and the long-term disability ended, we needed to sell our home. Now the secondary losses included the loss of my independence, my job, my identity, and our home. However, what I initially saw as God derailing our life was actually God’s plan to guide us to the Promised Land. 

The one-level home God chose for us has all the perks we wanted. Our house number is 2911. Every time I arrive home, I look at the brass patina numbers and recite:   

“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” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Pastor and Author of I am Number 8, John Gray, emphasizes, The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise!”

When we experience sudden detours, praise moves the Lord from His throne to inhabit and help His children. The Bible tells us God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise the Lord even when we don’t feel His presence or see His hand moving upon our life. Anticipatory praise during a time of uncertainty moves God to inhabit the praises of His people.

The password to your miracle is the sound of your praise! Pastor John Gray Click To Tweet

No matter the cause of the unexpected detour, let us open the sunroof of our heart, roll the windows down of our cares, and throw our hands up in praise to the Lord. By lifting our hearts in praise, we invite God to join us in our journey.

We too can sing halleluiah even here.

Is your life in transition or taken an unexpected detour?

Do you have questions of uncertainty looming?

Offer God anticipatory praise, thanking God in advance for his provision, faithfulness, and perfect timing. 

~April Dawn White 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

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