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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

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.”

 

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.

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

DWELL- My Word for 2019

Dwell My Word for 2019

Dwell Is My Word for 2019

Dwell is my word for 2019. I love to study words, understand their context and cultural and historical application.  Each year I choose a word to dwell on (pun intended) for an entire year.

This is my seventh year of intentionally focusing on a word, phrase, and verse. By purposefully studying God’s written voice, the Bible, and focusing on one word, I gain a greater appreciation for God’s character.

I chose to dwell on the word ‘dwell’ for this year. My key verse for the year is Psalm 91:1.  I also chose to study, meditate, and memorize (Lord willing) Psalm 91:1-16.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1)

Friend, do you have a focus word for the year? I’d love to hear what’s simmering on your heart for 2019.

Hugs & Hope,

~April

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