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

Pile Your Troubles on God’s Shoulders

Learn to Pile Your Troubles on God’s Shoulders.

Burdens lurking at every turn mound quicker than our weary minds can process. These additional burdens are unavoidable and not of our choosing.

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders – he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.” (Psalm 55:22, MSG)

 

What Trouble is Piling up on You?

It is the bitter wrapped in sweet as your firstborn celebrates a monumental occasion?

Is joy wrapped in burden? Is your family stretching the all-too-thin dollar an inch farther for the <ahem> surprise child?

Perhaps tender compassion is wrapped in heartache as you choose to bring mama to live with you instead of a nursing home. A glance in a mirror and you see a middle-aged woman simultaneously caring for her aging mother and raises teenagers. One striving for independence, the other forced to relinquish independence. You pray for strength each day.

God Invites us to Pile our Troubles on His Shoulders.

Moses understood the stress of a sandstorm of burdens. He led the Israelites away from the oppressive former life of slavery under Pharaoh. The great need surrounding Moses overwhelmed him. His motley crew of refugees, though free, complained constantly.

The escaped Israelites had a front-row seat to the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, yet they had short attention spans of God’s mighty hand. God provided a daily Door Dash delivery in the middle of the desert as manna, but they still complained.

In desperation, Moses cried out to God, “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.” (Numbers 11:14)

The Lord replied to Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” (Numbers 11:23)

When burdens pile up, remember the heartfelt plea of Moses and God’s invitation to pile our troubles on His shoulders. God’s arms are not too short to reach, nor His ears too dull to hear.

© 2021 April Dawn White

Images courtesy of Laura Adia and Austin Walker Unsplash

12 Verses About The Lord is Our Keeper

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” (Psalm 121:5, NKJV)

In the midst of my bout of Covid induced isolation, I struck Scriptural gold. More valuable than an precious metal, I unearthed the phrase, “The Lord is your Keeper. (Psalm 121:5).

As a chronic illness warrior, I’m no stranger to feeling below par. But this virus amplified my usual symptoms and added a few more. {By the way, my fever never exceeded 99.7 and I never lost my sense of taste or smell}.

The isolation is the worst part of Covid. As the CEO of the home, who’s going to take care of me if I’m isolated? The answer came in Psalm 121:5, “The Lord is your keeper.”

12 Verses About the Lord as Your Keeper:

 “He will not allow your foot to be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3, NKJV)

“Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4, NKJV)

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” (Psalm 121:5, NKJV)

“Deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:19, NKJV)

 

The Lord is Our Keeper
The Lord is Our Keeper

“You shall keep them, O Lord, you shall preserve them from this generation forever.” (Psalm 12:7, NKJV)

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8, ESV)

“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11, NKJV)

“For the Lord will be your confidence, firm and strong, and will keep your foot from being caught [in a trap].” (Proverbs 3:26, AMP)

Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9, NKJV)

“You shall keep them, O Lord, you shall preserve them from this generation forever.” (Psalm 12:7, NKJV)

Friends, whether your season is full of joy or ambiguity, you may rest in the knowledge that the Lord is Your Keeper.

©2020 April Dawn White

Images courtesy of Canva.com

The Lord is Our Keeper

Did You Know… 

Advent is the season of preparing our hearts for Christmas. The word “Advent’ is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming.’

This year’s Advent season is November 29-December 25, 2020. 

Marilyn and I wrote Christmas Hope: Advent Readings for 2020, as our gift to you. 

 

 

The Lord is Our Keeper

Download your free gift by clicking the button below.fin

 

 

 

 

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

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 

 

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