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.”

 

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

The Great Reversal

The Great ReversalReading from Eugene Peterson’s Message version of Matthew, the words, “The Great Reversal” leaped off the page and lodged in my heart.

For reasons I cannot explain, I had an attack of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis that endured all last week. Extreme muscle weakness and random paralysis enwrapped my body. I was thankful for the snow days because my teens were home to help me. Too weak to hold a coffee mug, the kids held the mug for me while I sipped hazelnut liquid mercy.

The Great Reversal. Those words tumbled around in my mind like laundry in the dryer.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Sometimes God will allow a great reversal in our life circumstances, to cause us to stop, to rely on Him, and to allow God’s purpose to prevail.

Since the discovery and diagnosis of my illness, my life and the life of my family has taken on a great reversal. Though we have settled into a new normal, I still grapple with this new assignment in life. I struggle with my identity and my purpose—areas of my life that I never questioned before because life was going according to my plan.

In my personal great reversal, I have changed roles from an active, healthy, able-bodied wife, mother, and pharmacist to a passive, chronically ill wife and mother humbled by my limitations and lack of income. I feel like a butterfly stuffed back into a cocoon.

“The flip side of fear is faith.” —Pastor Steven Furtick Click To Tweet

 

On the flip side of my personal great reversal, I’ve had a front row seat to God’s faithfulness, compassion, and provision. If this statement is too vague, let me supply a few details. When the $1000 bill for my genetic testing arrived, I specifically prayed for God’s provision. I was no longer working and finances were tight. A few hours later, a woman from my Bible study called and asked The Great Reversalto stop by for coffee. We had a delightful visit, just the two of us. Upon her departure, she prayed for me and told me she felt led to do something for me. There on my crayon-marred kitchen table, she penned a check for $1000! Tears erupted from the corners of my eyes. Once I regained composure, I shared with her my earlier prayer and we cried and praised God together.

 

When the time came for us to sell our lakefront home and move me to a one-level home, God took care of us on every side. We accepted an above asking price offer within twelve days of the listing and we closed within the month hassle free.

“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Perhaps my greatest personal reversal is my daily surrender to God.  I have switched from relying on self to relying on God. I can no longer function without God’s daily strength (and a several cups of coffee). I know I cannot take care of my needs, but I rely daily on the One who does.

Friend, I invite you to ask: 

Have I experienced a recent reversal or set back in my life?

Could this set back could be a set up for God’s greater purpose in my life?

What would happen if I chose to reverse my perspective and ask God to see this new circumstance through His eyes?

What area of God’s character do you think He is trying to reveal to me?

~April 

©2018 Red Chair Moments, All Rights Reserved

Finding Peace When All is Lost: Guest Writer Angie Nolen

Finding Peace When All is LostAs part of Advent, our church invited my dear friend, Angie Nolan to share on peace. Angie writes on Finding Peace When All Is Lost.  She knows full well the supernatural peace extended to her during pain and loss. Like the Apostle Paul, who also wrote from prison, Angie’s voice carries the tune of praise and peace in dark circumstances. 

Last week, my friend Sara and I visited Angie in prison, I asked her permission to use this powerful message as a guest writer for Red Chair Moments. Today, Sara and I will read Angie’s message to our church congregation during the Christmas Eve service.

Pour a cup on liquid mercy and settle in for a blessing. ~ April

Finding Peace When All Is Lost by Angie Nolen

My mental image of peace usually involves water—walking beside a tranquil stream, sitting on the dock at the lake, or soaking up the sun by the ocean while wiggling my toes in the sand. It’s easy for me to find peace in those beautiful places…when things are going well and life is good.

How do you find peace when life is the worst it has ever been? How do you find peace in the middle of the storms?How do you find peace when you’ve lost everything—your home, your career, your father, and your freedom? How do you find peace when you can’t be with your child; unable to protect her and guide her as she grows up without you? How do you find peace when people have failed you and you even feel like God has abandoned you?

The answer is you don’t.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet

The reality is there is nothing you can do to find peace. You have to go to the water—the living water. Jesus told the woman at the well “If you only knew the gift that God has for you…you would ask me and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Did you hear that? “I would give.” Jesus gives the water. He IS the living water.  In the 23rd Psalm, David says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” That sounds like peace to me. He leads. He restores. Christ says in John 14:27, “My peace I give to you.”

 There is nothing I can do to find peace. God gives it.

It makes no sense that I am able to put aside my sadness, worry, and fear to sleep through the night on a metal bed in this terrible place but I can. Paul, who also understood prison life, wrote Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 The keywords from Paul’s script are “prayer” and “peace of God.” Every night when I lie down, I pray and recite scriptures until I fall asleep. When I am too overwhelmed by emotions and I can’t seem to pray, I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for me and that Jesus himself is interceding for me, and rest eventually comes. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8).

The world defines peace as a state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. The prison in which I am forced to live for now is not a place of peace. It is a place of self-centeredness, anger, resentment, noise, conflict, disrespect, foul language, and nasty attitudes. It is very hard to feel peaceful here; it is hard to settle your mind and find rest.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the quiet assurance in your soul that God is in control; He’s got you in the palm of His hand, from your first breath to your last—your past, your present, your future, and your eternal home.

So, if you are looking for peace—stop and ask. Finding Peace When All is Lost

The Holy Spirit freely gives us His peace, and we must shoe our feet with that peace so that we can stand firm against the attacks of the enemy and walk forward in faith.

~Angie Nolen

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

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