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Mission on an {Unexpected} Trip with Author, April Dawn White

Welcome Friends!


In January, I joined a small group of writers known as a Hope*Circle. Every Monday morning, five lovely ladies connect via zoom from their homes in Virginia and North Carolina. We encourage one another in our writing adventures and along our faith journeys. Our meetings begin with updates and end with prayer. We share writing goals, challenges, and accomplishments. Although we meet on a weekly basis, many of us have yet to meet face-to-face.

Last month, I took an unexpected trip to North Carolina with two ladies from the Hope*Circle, April Dawn and Michelle. (We missed you Jennifer!) We went to comfort our friend Briane, whose six-year-old grandson, Aven Moffatt*, died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a pond. (Click here to support Aven's Quest for Amoeba Awareness)

Words were hard to say, yet we showed up anyway. We hugged. We listened. We cried. We prayed. We ate. We attended the funeral and we cried some more.

For some ladies in the group, this was the first time they had met in-person. Although we desired an in-person gathering under different circumstances, such as a writing retreat at a beach house, the Lord led us to a funeral home instead.

The trips we take in our life can be actual or abstract, physical or spiritual, planned or unexpected. I believe that all trips have the potential for mission as we find ways to serve God and love neighbor well.

My friend and fellow Hope*Writer, April Dawn White, experienced an unexpected trip with chronic illness. April Dawn writes about this journey in her new book, Destination Hope; A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart (release date, September 28).

April Dawn’s faith and endurance will inspire you! Continue reading below about her unexpected journey with hope as the final destination.


April Dawn White, Author Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart from Roanoke, Virginia


I walked into the local library and inhaled the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and the earthen mustiness of ink on the written page. With a contented sigh I thought, This is my happy place. While waiting my turn at the circulation desk, I perused a display of travel guides to local, domestic, and international locations.

A copy of the Lonely Planet Scotland travel guide caught my attention. The sweeping lush green meadows and distant eighteenth century castle stirred a longing to see tartan kilts and bagpipes in person. Opening the cover page I read, “Your travel guide to Scotland in four easy sections.” Turning to the back cover I sarcastically questioned, Okay, but how do you plan for a trip you didn’t expect?

I’ve always had a backup plan. But in 2015, I took an unexpected and unwelcomed trip. Like sidewalk chalk art that washes away after a summer rain, so washed away the plans I had for my life and our family. My favorite Grim brothers’ fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time”, and so will my story.

Once upon a time, I was newly married and fresh out of pharmacy school with dreams of a simple life and perfect kids. (Queue the dreamy background music.) Until six years ago, the only thing missing from my idyllic life was a white picket fence and a deer-proof garden. Until one day when I awoke and nerve endings exploded like bottle rockets as I gasped my husband’s name. A heavy oppression overtook my body as, unknown to me; a rare disease crawled through my skeletal muscles. I tried to shake off the electric shocks stinging my legs, but I couldn’t move. The raw tingling pain crept across my face and shoulders.

Like Superman exposed to kryptonite, I was immobile.


My facial muscles would not contort my brow into the question embedded in my mind: what was happening to me? Lyrics to an old hymn by Horatio Spafford, waltzed past the question. A voice, perhaps mine, perhaps God’s, assured me, “It is well; it is well with my soul.” Peace replaced the question lodged in my thoughts. I whispered aloud, “Lord, I don’t know what this is, but I trust You.”


Beginning in fall of 2015, these peculiar and difficult to isolate symptoms occurred without warning. The symptoms waxed and waned, but overall, these times of muscle weakness and random paralysis increased in severity. I continued working as much as I could, and hid my weakening body from my patients and myself. Rather than standing upright, I began to lean against the pharmacy counter or propping an elbow on the adjacent wall when counseling patients. When brain fog (which for me is worse in the morning or evening) clouded my thinking, I’d offer patients my dazzling smile, glance at my watch and remark, “Oh goodness, that’s not what I meant to say. Looks like I need a Starbucks break.” We would all laugh at my expense, but deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right with me. Eventually, I was unable to hold a coffee mug, stand without assistance, or even hold a pen.

In January 2016, only three months after my initial attack of periodic paralysis, I surrendered my medical leave of absence paperwork to human resources and I surrendered my health and provision to the Lord. I called upon the Lord as my Jehovah Jireh to provide and God did not disappoint. At times, I questioned His timing, but He always has plan in place (even when we can’t see it). During this year of waiting (for the Lord to provide finances, for a diagnosis, for clarity on what to do) I learned to trust the Lord like never before. In fact, during this time I created my own acronym for trust.

T ruly

R est in God’s

U nfailing

S overeign

T iming

Waiting is an exercise in trust. I waited for thirteen months for a second opinion from Duke Medical Center to name my illness that hijacked my body. Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis is characterized by severe muscle weakness and episodic paralysis. Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis is one of several Periodic Paralyses, which are rare genetic disorders affecting as few as 1 per 100,000 people or 0.001% percent. The symptoms of Periodic Paralysis include, unexplainable muscle weakness, loss of strength, numbness of limbs, hands, and/or face, and random partial or full-body paralysis. These attacks can last a little as a few hours to days.


Here is a quick biochemistry lesson: Our body’s possess two types of muscles, smooth and skeletal. Smooth muscles are responsible for breathing, blinking, and digesting food. Skeletal muscles are responsible for winking, walking, smiling, and carrying groceries, etc. Potassium is the key mineral responsible for skeletal muscle movement and is stored inside each skeletal muscle cell. Potassium is stored inside the skeletal muscle cells and is kept in place by cellular “gates” also called channels. Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis is a genetic channelopathy disorder resulting from the cellular “gates” or channels malfunctioning. The sodium-potassium gates stay open causing potassium to flow out and too much sodium to flow in. This results in muscle weakness or extreme partial or full-body paralysis.


Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis catapulted me into the world of chronic illness. This rare illness hijacked my body and threatened to derail my sense of worth, security, and identity. Life with a chronic illness is a daily fight, but God grants His strength each day. While this rare illness hijacked my body, cannot hijack my hope.


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, and “retired” pharmacist. 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.


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. I cling to God’s Word. Decades before my illness, I chose Psalm 63:8 as my life verse: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” With the insight of hindsight, I see these perceived setbacks were actually a set-up for God to work in me and through me.

Friend, whatever you battle on a chronic basis, I pray you feel God’s right hand upholding you with His strength.

God bless,


~April Dawn

Preorder April’s book on Amazon, Destination Hope; A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart.

As a former pharmacist, April offers hope and refill reminders of God’s faithfulness through her blog, Prescriptions of Hope. Visit her website, www.AprilDawnWhite.com for a refill of hope and join her on The Back Porch for monthly updates, favorite shows, and books….and of course coffee!

April’s favorites places to serve:

1. Parkway Church on the Mountain, Women’s Ministry Team

2. Orchard Hills Achievement Center, teaching English as a second language (when not in launching a new book)

3. World Vision, child sponsorship


This weekend, take a simple step in mission by TRUSTing God and finding hope in the journey.


Blessings,

Rev. April H. Cranford


*Aven Moffatt died on August 13, 2021 at 6:26 AM from Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) after a brief stay at the UNC Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. In Aven's honor, the family has created a foundation called Amazing Aven's Quest for Amoeba Awareness to promote awareness, early detection, and advance medical treatments for Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM). Donations to the foundation may be made at https://gofund.me/7f56d5e0 Donations may also be made to UNC Children's Hospital in Aven's name to Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at http://www.uncchildrens.org/gift


"When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen." Isaiah 60:22



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