Confessions of a Zebra

Confessions of a Zebra“Mom, since you’re a zebra” Rachel says tossing a zebra printed tank top in my direction. “You can wear this shirt to your doctor’s appointment today.”

“When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.” Dr. Theodore Woodward

In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. He taught his University of Maryland medical students common conditions are commonly seen and not to expect to see a zebra. While exotic illnesses exist, these are highly unlikely and the simplest explanation is usually the best. However, rare conditions, like exotic zebras do exhibit. I am a zebra.

In February 2016, my neurologist diagnosed me with Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, a rare neuromuscular “zebra” condition that causes episodes of paralysis or severe muscle weakness. These attacks occur suddenly with little warning and may last for hours or days.[1] Periodic Paralysis has a prevalence of 1 case per 100,000 population. [2]   By the grace of God, multiple medications, physical therapy, and avoidance of triggers (which is not always possible) my attacks have lessened in duration and severity.Confessions of zebra, biochemistry

Dusting off the cobwebs in biochemistry, I’ve studied the Krebs cycle, action potentials, skeletal muscle movement, and dabbled in genetics. Taking a break from genetic mutations, I veered into zoology and began to study zebras.

Zebra fact: A zebra possess a unique stripe pattern similar to the unique fingerprint pattern in humans.

Zebra fact: Immediately after birth, the mother zebra will separate the foal from the herd for two or three days. During this time, the baby zebra studies the mother’s scent, the sound of her call, and memorizes the mother’s stripe pattern.[3]

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)

Confession of a zebraSeparated from the herd, my Heavenly Father set me apart for this season, to memorize His patterns, to examine His character traits, to recognize His voice over the chatter of the world, and to study His chronic presence in my periodic paralysis.

Staring down on at the zebra printed tank top; a familiar verse rises to the surface of my mind: “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).

Staring at the stripes Christ bore for me on the cross, I am thankful my medical zebra status, is only temporary.  “By His stripes we are healed” for all eternity, and it is well with my soul.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV and NKJV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay.

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

References:

[1] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/hypokalemic-periodic-paralysis

[2] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview

[3] http://animals.mom.me/zebra-foals-born-striped-9564.html

Everything Beautiful in His Time

For the first time in fourteen years, these irises bloomed!

I transplanted my favorite flowers from one house to another. Over the years, most of the irises, which blossomed majestically in my old yard, have only sporadically bloomed here. In fact, this particular cluster of irises have never bloomed in the fourteen years.

God makes everything beautiful in His time.(Ecclesiastes 3:11) Click To Tweet

In His time, those words, watered by my daily tears, germinate a seed of hope. Knowing God will make all this beautiful in His time makes “it well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of author.  © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

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In Time of Trouble Say

feather and Ink PixabayToday, I read a piece of writing approximately one hundred and twenty-one years old. I love the way God uses the Bible and the powerful words of those before us to speak directly to our lives.

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a prominent Christian speaker and preacher in Europe and America. He was a minister to the missionaries. One day in 1895 while suffering from back pain, (the result from thrown from a cart in South Africa) Murray penned these words of encouragement in his journal:

In Time of Trouble Say:

By Andrew Murray

First, He brought me here;

It is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.

Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.

Then, He will make the trial a blessing,

Teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace

He means to bestow.

Last, In His good time He can bring me out again – how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here,

(1) By God’s appointment.

(2) In his keeping.

(3) Under His training.

(4) For His time.

 

 

Words spoken or written, today or centuries ago hold power. The story goes on to say that Andrew Murray had a visitor desiring a word. Bedridden, Murray tore out the freshly penned words from his journal and offered it as encouragement.

Are you at home recovering? What method of communication can you use to encourage someone today?

While facing many struggles, I remember the four-point message by Andrew Murray. I am here by God’s appointment; in His keeping; under His training; for His time and “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

I Will Protect You: Lesson Learned on the Ball Field

Written by April Dawn White

softball pixabayCheers and chatter erupts from the dugout as a passel of ten and eleven-year-old-girls chant, “If I were you and you were me, I’d scoot your bootie back. I’d scoot your bootie back.”

Over the chatter of the opposing team, my daughter overhears the coach call her name. Rachel jogs from left field to receive instruction. Although, I cannot hear the conversation, I can see his action. The coach has called Rachel in as the relief pitcher.

Rachel approaches the mound and throws a few warm up pitches. Andrew, her brother, runs to the mound to deliver her face mask (a required piece of equipment). Rachel shakes her head from side to side, refusing to wear it for the warm up.

Pacing behind the bleachers, I holler, “Wear the mask! I made that face and I will protect that face!” The other parents and the umpire turn to me and we all laugh.

The umpire turns back to Rachel and says, “Pitcher, bases are loaded and you have zero outs.” My pacing continues as I sarcastically murmur under my breath, “Great, just great.”

As the game continues, the words I yelled across the ball field echo in my mind. “I made that face. I will protect that face.” God reminds me of a similar statement found in the Old Testament:

“I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

On the ball field today, God spoke to my heart. He reminded me:

  • When a health crisis comes out of left field or when life throws you a curve ball, remember that the same God who made you will protect you.softball-pixabay

  • Be ready, watch, and listen for the coach’s voice. We never know when God will call our name for our next assignment, but we need to be listening intently to His voice over the chatter of this world.

Even though a neuromuscular disease struck me out of left field, today God reminded me that the same God who made me will protect me. I am listening to His voice and “It is well with my soul.”

Hidden in Plain View

Today God spowrapped box from Susanke while I was cleaning the bathroom. Wait, don’t go. I promise this gets better.

In January 2015, I was given a tiny gift wrapped box as part of our Sunday school lesson. I placed the decorative box in our bathroom next to an orchid (I’m surprised is still living).

Recently, Andrew discovered the box. Shaking it he asked, “Mom, what’s in this?”

“Nothing, it’s just for decoration.” I replied.

“Why would someone wrap nothing?” he inquired.

I muttered something to him about it being part of a lesson and now I can’t remember what the lesson is about, but it reminds me of my friend, it’s pretty and I like it.

“Mom, if it’s wrapped it’s meant to be opened. I think you should open the box.”

I perched on the edge of the tub and examined the beautiful light weight box. Shaking it, I could hear something scrap the interior. Curious, I opened the box to find this note with words penned on three of the four corners.  April with a drawn heart in one corner, John 8:36 in second corner, and the words “Victory in Jesus!” in the third corner.

 “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36, NIV)wireless-antenae

Now I remember, this message was part of our “Freedom in Christ” study. What I didn’t know in January 2015, is that later that year I would develop odd symptoms and later be diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease.

Today I was praising God for the strength to clean the bathroom. This is why I need begin each day with my spiritual antenna switched to the ‘ON’ position. I believe our spiritual antennae are attached to the ‘helmet of salvation’ as described in the ‘full armor of God’ in Ephesians chapter six.

Sometimes God speaks through a pastor, a retreat, or in the quiet moments of life, but often God speaks to me in the everyday and mundane.

Even though my strength is weak, even though I am not as productive as before, I am thankful God meets me where I am, even in a mundane place. In my bathroom, hidden in plain view was a reminder that there is victory in Jesus and “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of author and Pixabay

There’s No Crying in Softball

Me and Rachel softball 2016 CROPPED“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:19, NIV)

I pull on my favorite JMU sweatshirt, elbowing the tiny faucets at the corners of my eyes. Tears trickle down my face.  Eager to pitch, Rachel pounds her fist in her mitt.  Wearing a determined game face, she appears older than ten and a half.

Rachel tosses a glove in my direction. This is my glove, the one I’ve owned since I was a teen. I stare at soft leather glove as if it is a foreign object.  Slipping it onto my left hand I examine the look. Rachel counts out thirty paces and asks, “Are you sure you can do this Mom?”

“Let’s give it a try.” I respond.

I stand amazed at what is about to take place. I lift my eyes to the sky and say a prayer of thanks. I’m about to play catch with my daughter, a feat I’ve lacked strength for over four months.  The faucets creek more and I turn so she doesn’t see the tears.

Every pitcher needs a catcher so I squat down, just a little. Rachel winds up and releases the ball.

“Steeeriiiike!” I yell out.home plate CROPPED

A slow grin spreads across her face and mine too.  She throws a few more over our chalk drawn plate. The faucets are creek more and I am weeping in my middle of our street. I weep for lost moments with my children. I weep because I didn’t think I’d be able to do this again.

I weep because this feels like an old self activity and I thought that old self had vanished.

Rachel understands my concern. “Mom, are you okay?”

I nod, “I’m fine, I’m fine” running the arm of my sweatshirt across my face.

20150520_175828-1In her best Tom Hanks impression from the movie “A League of Their Own” Rachel playfully jabs, “There’s no crying in softball!”

I release a full body belly laugh. This too feels like an old self activity.

Rachel continues to throw strikes and balls across our imaginary plate. With the strength given by God and new medication, I am able to pick the ball up and throw it back.

Even in these times of uncertainty. I take joy in finding God’s goodness in the land of the living. I will soak up every good day I have because “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of Author

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