When Your Heart Needs a Friend

Where do you turn when your heart needs a friend? I’m not talking about the gym friend or the book club friend. Instead, a friend who’s walked through hell and still has a hallelujah in their heart.

When your heart needs a friend, you need someone who’s been where you are, fought similar battles, and survived with joy? Do you have such a friend?

I Woke Up in the Land of Oz in Need of a Friend

I know what it’s like to wake up in an unknown place or circumstance. Like, Dorothy, I also woke up in the Land of Oz. One day, in 2015, I woke up totally paralyzed. Sporadic muscle weakness, which occurred for months, one day led to paralysis. What’s happening to me? How long will I be here? An explosion of unknown experiences surrounded me, like Dorothy in a Technicolor™ new and confusing land.  

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis

Thirteen months after experiencing debilitating symptoms, doctors renamed the Land of Oz, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis affects one per 100,000 people. [1] It is lonely to possess a rare disease. Daily, I battle emotional isolation. No one around me understands the random paralysis, fluctuating weakness, daily pain, and embarrassing impaired cognitive functioning.

My Heart Needed a Friend

My heart needed a friend who shared the same rare illness. God sent Nancy. Mutual friends introduced us via email and we formed an instant connection. (Only God could arrange mutual friends to know two people with our odd illness.) You could imagine my delight when I discovered she had a meeting near my town. Prior to her return flight, we shared a table at Panera. I sat across the table from someone with my illness. I sought comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only Dorothy in the Land of Oz. For the first time, I knew someone truly understood me.

I peppered her with questions about the illness, her treatment, knowledge of doctors, counseling, etc. But most importantly, her friendship filled me with hope. Hope that I’m not alone on this journey. Hope that I have another person who understands this chronic illness. Better than an aromatherapy (which I use) she infused me with hope through prayer and power in Christ’s name. Nancy’s friendship penetrated my weary heart and helped me renew my faith in God.

God doesn’t call us to fix other people’s problems but to walk with them.

A true friend is someone who will listen without jumping in with a “fix-it” mentality. But rather, someone who is “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19).

We are relational people, not created to live in isolation. This was on Paul’s mind when he wrote, “that you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12).

You Are Not Alone on this Journey

Friend, whatever battle you are facing, know you are not alone. God sees you and He cares for you. Seek refuge in Him and find comfort in the words penned by David (perhaps when he was in the desert), “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).

Singer, songwriter Cody Carnes wrote a beautiful song that captures the essence of this message. I suggest you listen to “Run to the Father” and allow the words and melody to saturate your soul.

If your heart needs a friend, please allow me to be that friend to you. You can reach out to me on my website, subscribe to AprilDawnWhite.com, on Instagram @ aprildawnwhite_author, or on Facebook @AprilDawnWhiteAuthor. Thank you for your patience if I take a few days to respond.

~April Dawn White

© 2016, 2021 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Photos by Tom Wheatley, Gabor Szuts, & Takahiro Sakamo Unsplash.com

[1] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview#a6

One-Step Towards Progress

 

What one-step could propel you towards progress?

One-Step Towards Progress

This week I ordered a catalog for a European riverboat cruise. Exploring the enchanting Danube River or gazing at castles along the Rhine River is a long-time dream.  Ordering this catalog was my small one-step of progress towards the goal of future European travel.

No one in my family knew I ordered this catalog. Later in the day, my son, a high school senior, said he would love it if we could take a trip to Europe for his graduation gift. “Well….funny you should mention that,” I told him of my catalog I ordered. The baseball hat moved up as his eyebrows registered an expression of shock. There are many details to sort out, but none of which could begin until I took the first step.

Small Beginnings

“Do not despise these small beginnings, because the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” (Zechariah: 4:10 NLT)          

One-step toward progress starts with a small beginning. Often the details involving a decision render us paralyzed. Psychologies call this effect, decision paralysis. Decision paralysis results when we overthink our choices. I experience decision paralysis while viewing the Cheesecake Factory menu.

 

Your One-Step

What one-step could pivot your life towards progress?  Perhaps your one-step process includes:

  • A daily walk with a neighbor
  • Browse the craft store for ideas
  • Schedule the luncheon
  • Write the book proposal
  • Plan a trip

One-step might be all it takes to rekindle a dream, spark creativity, or reevaluate shelved goals. Once you take the first step, don’t forget to Celebrate the Grunt Work!

Happy planning!

April Dawn White ©2020

Photos by Jelleke Vanooteghem  and Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

 

One Step Towards Progress

God Does Not Change

God does not change

“I the Lord do not change.” -God  (Malachi 3:6)

God Does Not Change

During this time of quarantine, isolation, and abundant change, the words from Malachi 3:6 are a balm for my aching soul: I the Lord do not change.”

My favorite attribute of God is His immutability. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).  This attribute provides comfort for both the caregiver and the chronic illness warrior.

Life in Uncertainty is Not New {For Some}                           

The current Covid19 pandemic forced everyone into isolation. Otherwise, healthy and abled-bodied individuals are in quarantine. For those of us with a chronic illness, staying at home, unable to participate in outside events is our normal. As Barbara Mandrell sang of being country when it wasn’t cool. Illness forced us to isolation. Many forced to abandon their careers because the companies refused to allow us to work from home. While the majority of the US moans of their lack of freedom, I want to sneer, (and I doubt I’m the only one) and say, “Welcome to my world.”

Living in uncertainty is nothing new for chronic illness warriors and caregivers. However, there are days when changes and uncertainty are overbearing.

Our Circumstances May Change, But God Does Not

Change is hard to process. Our questions dangle unanswered and become more tangled as new challenges arrive. Many of us can recall when our health changes began. Whether suddenly or subtlety, our healthy and active lives morphed into one of chronic illness and dependence on others. For me, my quirky symptoms shifted into overdrive in my forth decade. While somewhere in my genetic code a mutation occurred in my DNA, I take solace in remembering God does not change.

God Does Not Change

An Honest Prayer for Uncertain Times

Dear Heavenly Father

I thank you for the promise that You do not change (Malachi 3:6). God, I can rest knowing You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).  Lord, so much of my life has changed and I need you. I desperately need the reminder today that You do not change nor cast shifting shadows (James 1:17).

My health has changed: from healthy to chronically ill. My mood has changed: from happy to bouts of depression and anger. Simple abilities have changed; someday I lack the strength to walk without help or get out of bed. Lord, You are my refuge and my strength, ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Whether or not I am abled-bodied, Lord, I take comfort in knowing I cannot escape your presence (Psalm 139:7-12).

Lord, my career and finances have changed, but you are my Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Who Provides (Genesis 22:14).  My priorities have changed; rest and recovery are on my daily to-do list. My soul finds rest in God, and my hope comes from Him (Psalm 65:2). My posture has changed; some days my head droops and silent tears fall freely, but you Lord are the Lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3) Lord, I am grateful you do not change (Malachi 3:6).

Thank you in advance for answering my prayers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God never wakes up grumpy

God Never Wakes Up Grumpy

Unlike us, God never changes. He never has an off day. His mood never fluctuates. He never wakes up on the grumpy side of the bed, because He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121: 3-4). He does not have bad days, dreadful weeks, or hormonal changes. God never takes a day off. God is always good, constantly kind, and loving. He is long-suffering towards His children and full of tender compassion.

With each recent change and uncertainty, we can press on by finding solace in the unchanging character and compassion of God.

What current uncertainty do you need to firmly press into God’s open hands?

April White ©2020

This article was originally published for Broken But Priceless. BBP is a quarterly online magazine for those suffering from chronic illness and caregivers.  You can read excerpts and sign up here.

Photo by Laura Chouette & Ben White on Unsplash Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Jesus, Coffee, & Afternoon Naps

Our world is complicated, uncertain, and harsh. Would you agree? Too many demands morph our Instagram worthy, color-coded weekly schedule, into illegible graffiti. Dare I even mention our own self-imposed (unrealistic) expectations?

It has taken me five years to develop the solution for a complicated life:

I get by each day with Jesus, coffee, and afternoon naps.

At first glance, my solution may seem trite and simple. However, over the past five years, I have walked through hell, uncertainty and pain, yet held a hallelujah in my heart. (For new friends, you can read more about this in Making Sense of Setbacks.)

Jesus:

Before my feet hit the floor, I thank God for another breath and another day. While that may sound cliché, it is true. The current Covid-19 world has taught us not to take a breath for granted.

In 2018, I was hospitalized for innumerable pulmonary emboli. Blood clots filled my lungs and threatened my life. My medical team couldn’t believe I was still alive. But God stepped in and rescued me. It was His hand on my life, holding me up (Psalm 63:8). His hand prevented the blood clots from going too far while the hospital staff pumped me full of clot busters.

So when I returned home from my hospital stay, I return to my morning routine.

Coffee:

After my initial good morning prayers of thanks to God, I pad into the kitchen. Muscles groan and joints pop as I fill my mug. My fresh-brewed morning coffee reminds me of God’s fresh-brewed mercy new each morning.

“The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 GNT)

Cupping the mug, warmth radiates through my hands and arms, reviving my soul. Leaning on the counter, I savor the aroma and offer my second series of prayers. These prayers are the moans of my heart with reoccurring or yet-to-see-an-answer prayers.

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV)

Each morning I consume copious amounts of coffee and copious amount of God’s Word. Coffee perks me up while God’s Word keeps me on the right path. Daily #CoffeewithJesus reminds me, I am a work in progress.

Afternoon Naps:

At one time, I underestimated the value of naps. Back then, my Type-A, gotta-get-stuff-done approach to life left no margin for me or naps. The old me competed with a false identity of the perfect wife, mom, Jesus girl, friend, co-worker, housekeeper, chef, school mom, chauffeur, no-laziness-nap-for me, and tried to stay within fifteen pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight.

My health crisis catapulted my need for rest. My body needed the physical rest to recover from illness and my mind and soul needed to spiritually rest in the Lord. What once seemed like a set back was really a set-up for God displaying his provision, presence, and His rest in my life.

Now, I am a nap enthusiast. I rest my body when it needs it and I rest my mind and soul with the Lord. We serve a God who never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) but He designed rest for us.

Jesus, coffee, and afternoon naps may seem simple and trite, but this method helps me continue to walk in faith in the hard times and keep a hallelujah in my heart.

Friend, what hard time are you walking through? Can you muster the energy to sing a hallelujah?

Spend time reflecting on these verses Psalm 63:8, Psalm 121:4, 2 Chronicles 20:12, and Lamentations 3:22-23 and see how your spirits lift. Share your discoveries in the comments.

Jesus, Coffee, & Afternoon Naps,

April

©2020 April Dawn White.com

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

5 Trustworthy Promises for Hard Times

 

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