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

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

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