Welcome To My Journey

I have tried many times to select a blog to “stick” to the front page and act as an introduction to my blog and the reason I started it. ( stick refers to the post that is seen first when someone goes to the blog site. All the other posts fall in line based on date posted. The sticky one stays first ). I never felt I had the right one. So I thought that I would write one just for that purpose. 

Some time after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I felt a desire to write. I had never felt the desire before, so it took me by surprise. My first thought was, what will I write about? At that moment, there were two primary thoughts in the front of my brain. The first has been my primary thought ever since I was 6 years old. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The second thought was new. I have Parkinson’s disease. So I started thinking about what it will be like being a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. I knew it would be a journey. Everyones life is a journey. My life had been a journey up to that point. Making choices and living with the consequences, good and bad. Having things happen to me, good and bad. But this was big. This one would impact every facet of my life for the rest of my life. I had no map for this journey. Something had happened in my brain that would alter how my body moves. It was permanent and it would continue to get worse as the years went by. I decided I would write about this journey so anyone that was interested could travel along with me down this new road. My hope was that I could write about how God enabled me to deal with the challenges I encountered along the way and that could help someone else deal with their challenges. 

Parkinson’s affects every person differently. There are many common challenges but there are thousands of variations and combinations of symptoms. I try to be clear about what I am feeling and about the tools I use to make the journey less hard.

One of the key tools I use to cope with this Parkinson’s life and all the other aspects of life is my Bible. I rely on what it says in the Bible to direct me in every area of my life and my dealing with Parkinson’s would be no different. 

The Bible is not an easy read. We need the Holy Spirit to help us correctly understand what God wants to say to us. We also must use our intelligence and common sense. The word for what we do when we read and decide what the Bible says is interpretation.                For thousands of years, there have been people that believed the common man did not have the capacity to understand what the Bible says. They thought only they were qualified to tell us what God wanted us to know. They kept the Bible from us. They kept it hidden from view. They hid it by language. They kept it from being translated. They knew that if the Bible ever became available to everyone, they would lose their power. Many people suffered and died making the Bible available and understandable to everyone. 

When I think about Bible interpretation, pictures of old scholars and monks laboring over large tables comes to my mind. It was their job to look at each word and letter and determine what the writer of the original words intended to say when he wrote it. The truth is that everyone that reads the Bible is automatically an interpreter. When a person reads anything, they must interpret what the writer wanted to say when they wrote it.

The difference with reading the Bible is that when a Christian reads it, they have the Holy Spirit to help them understand what is being said. The Spirit is never wrong, but sometimes the person reading the Word misinterprets what they are reading and gets it wrong. It is important to consider everything we read in it’s correct context and how it fits with the rest of Scripture. It is also important to be sensitive to the Spirit to correct us if necessary. The correction may come directly from the Spirit or through a spiritual brother or sister.  

The posts I have written in this blog were written by a man that reads the Bible. I have read it cover to cover twice. I have read portions of it regularly ever since I learned to read. Everything I have written, wether it’s a writing about Parkinson’s or a retelling of a Bible story from a different perspective or something that is important to me, I write what I think is true. I would not write something I thought was false. But I am human. I could be wrong. I could have written something that is totally not true. I have really tried hard to follow the Spirit, my spirit and my heart. I must rely on the Lord to correct me. I also must rely on those that read the posts I write to tell me if they think I am wrong on some point and show me how I am wrong. The alternative is to not write at all. I don’t think that would be the Lord’s choice. I think his desire and intention when He wrote the Bible was for me to read it, understand it and live my life by what I think it says. That’s what I have tried to do. I think that’s what He wants everyone to do.

As you read my blog posts, please remember, they were written by a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. It’s an account of my journey, trying to always apply what the Lord is telling me as I seek what is true for a man living in this day and age, trusting in God and the Holy Spirit.

Welcome to my journey.

  

Yesterday I Cried, Twice

Before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, there were days I would find that my emotions were almost out of my control. One moment I would be laughing over something that wasn’t really that funny. Another moment I would be literally sobbing over something insignificant. My family found it entertaining to do and say things that would prolong these episodes. Making me laugh so hard that tears would pour down my face and I would have trouble breathing. Or when I would start to cry for no apparent reason, they would egg me on so I would cry even harder. They knew that I was not crying because I was sad or hurt or depressed. Some little thing would set me off and they knew nothing was wrong. Most of the time, in the midst of crying, they would make me laugh, so I found myself crying and laughing at the same time.

It must have been a “non-motor” symptom of Parkinson’s. That is a symptom that doesn’t relate to movement. Like losing my sense of smell or having a constantly drippy nose. I think this is true because when I started taking the Parkinson’s medication, the crying and laughing stopped…for the most part.

I believe I have, for the lack of a better phrase, a soft heart. I think I view the world more from an emotional perspective than a lot of men do. I think that’s why I have always preferred having conversations with women rather than men. I would much rather talk about relationships and feelings than about sports or hunting or cars. I prefer watching mushy movies over shoot-em-up, blow-em-up movies. I have always been known to tear up easily during a moving part in a movie or many times a movie trailer will get me. But it seems that the tears have flowed much less frequently in the last number of years. Yesterday was an exception to that.

Yesterday, I cried twice. And I don’t mean little tears trickling down my cheeks. I’m talking full-out water pouring from my eyes, nose running, unable to talk crying. Marcia looking over at this sobbing waterworks and my not being able to talk and tell her why I was crying. Both times were the result of a movie we were watching.

The first movie was about a 12 year old boy whose father is killed on 9-11.

The second is a new movie about the Apostle Paul. In the movie it shows Saul killing Christians, including a beautiful little 7 year old girl. As we know, Saul is saved by Jesus and Jesus changes his name to Paul and then Paul spends the rest of his life” running the race” for God. At the end of his race, Paul is executed by the Romans. ( Spoiler Alert! ) The last scene shows Paul walking towards a group of people in heaven. A little girl breaks away from the group and with a smile on her face, runs and embraces Paul. Yes, it’s the little girl Saul had killed.

That’s when I lost it. I couldn’t talk to Marcia until this morning.

The redemptive power of God is limitless. And it makes me cry.

A Letter To My Grand-Babies

To my precious ones,

At the moment I am writing this letter, there are two of you, Ryder and Nolan. This is to you and all my Grand-Babies that will arrive in the future. Because I am writing this when you are babies, you wont read it until you are older and are able to understand what your Pop-Pop wants to say to you.

First, I want you to know how blessed you are to have the Mommies and Daddies you have. They are the greatest gifts your Mi-Mi and Pop-Pop ever received. God gave us the privilege of raising three of the best people we have ever known. When they were old enough, God gave them the best people to marry we could ever wish for. And then they had you, the best Grand-Babies we could ever wish for.

Being able to be there and watch your parents and then you come into this world is the greatest joy we could ever imagine. And then to experience you all going from babies into the people you have become brings us a joy that goes beyond words. Pop-Pop and Mi-Mi are so proud of you.

You, my Grand-Babies, know now that Pop-Pop acted a little different than most of the other Grandfathers you have seen. This is because before any of you were born, Pop-Pop got a disease called Parkinson’s disease. It’s the reason I could not do so many of the things I so wanted to do with you. It’s the reason I couldn’t pick you up when you reached up for me. It’s the reason I couldn’t get down on the floor and play with you. It’s the reason Pop-Pop had to go in the other room and close the door many times when you came to visit Mi-Mi and Me. And it’s the reason much of the time you had trouble understanding what Pop-Pop was saying.

I am writing this letter to you to make sure you know how much I love all of you. How much I will always love you, even though I haven’t been able to show it very well. How much I wanted to do all the Grandpa things with you. It is my hope that you have grown to love me, despite all that I couldn’t do with you and for you. I hope I was able to still show you how much I love you.

There is something I would always do with your Mom’s and Dad’s when they were small.
They would tell me they love me. Then I would say, “I love you more!” And they would say back, “ I love YOU more!” I would say back, “I love YOU More!, and on and on it would go.

So, I say to you all, I Love YOU More!

Pop-Pop

The Sick Christian

 

One of the things I continually deal with is self condemnation at being a Christian that is sick. In 2009, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s a disease that continues to get worse and it doesn’t go away until you die. I think I reacted like most Christians when confronted with an illness. I went after healing through seeking God by prayer, ( mine and others ), faith, the Bible and standing on what I knew was true. 

That was 9 years ago. As of this writing, I still have the symptoms of Parkinson’s. The symptoms are progressively getting worse. I continue to stand for healing, but the things I thought were true at first have changed somewhat over those 9 years. I wish that wasn’t the case, but to continue to live a productive, fulfilling and happy life for whatever time remains, I have had to accept the possibility that I may not be healed until heaven. 

That acceptance doesn’t sit well with many of the people I know and meet. I have regularly been approached by someone that wants to “fix” me. I’m sure that most of them have good hearts and the best intentions for me and God’s reputation. Unfortunately, I felt some of them really were not that concerned with me but were more concerned with what they believe is true or to prove what they believe is true. If I would just cooperate, I could be the instrument by which they can do this. I asked one man who was pushing me pretty hard to receive my healing if he loved me. He told me he didn’t know me, but he loved my wife and was doing this for her.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been told about a cure someone has discovered for Parkinson’s. It usually involves some form of diet, ancient herbs, meditation or some combination of things. I have also been told that having someone crack my already painful and rigid body a number of times a week was the answer.

Many people consider acceptance surrender. I have not surrendered. I continue to seek. I think the difference for me now is that I am seeking God more than healing. I am also seeking joy more than concentrating on the sickness and the constant challenges I am confronted with continually.

But in the back of my mind, there is a splinter that continues to irritate me. What if I am wrong. What if acceptence is surrender. What if I live my life with this sickness and when I arrive in heaven, I am told I didn’t need to. There was something I did or didn’t do that caused me to  live a good portion of my life hindered by something that could have been removed.

The truth is that when I am confronted by someone that wants to pray a prayer of healing over me, I’m faced with the fact that up to now, those prayers by me and others have not provided healing. So, again, if I am not healed it is due to a lack on my part. It causes me to once again have to deal with self condemnation.

My life is a happy one. I am blessed beyond measure. As with everyone, I have a challenge. Mine may be a little easier to see because others can see it in the way I move or when I use a cane or wheelchair. God has more than provided for me and my family beyond the limitations of this disease. I will continue to seek Him and love Him no matter what rears it’s ugly head. 

The fact is, if I find out when I pass from this life to heaven that I missed my healing while on earth, what will it matter in a million years.

Navigating Marriage

 

Marriage is wonderful. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than to find someone to love and that loves you back. God made humans for marriage. He meant for us to find each other and to make a life together.  God made us different, man and woman. He created us with bodies that physically connect and parts that fit together. Souls that spiritually connect. His ideal is that one man and one woman find each other and stay with each other for life. Two spirits coming together to love each other, intentionally and exclusively. To have children. To love and encourage each other until their spirits are taken from this world.

Marriage is beautiful. Christian marriage is the ideal. Christian marriage is Gods intention and direction for a man and a woman. Unfortunately, because of the fall of man, Gods intention is the rarity rather than the rule. Marriage is still beautiful, but if it’s not a Christian marriage, the married couple are navigating across this ocean of life without a compass or charts or even stars to guide them and their voyage is in total darkness. The Christian couple have a compass and navigational charts, the Bible. They also have the light of the Spirit to guide them and to illuminate their way. 

Sadly, even though God has provided the tools, many Christian couples try to navigate without them. They try to live the married life having committed themselves to each other and to God, but rarely or never open the charts or ask the Spirit of light to shine on their course. This very often leads to sailing the wrong course and ending up in a place they had no intention of going. They may even find themselves shipwrecked on the same rocks non-Christian families crash into.

So if the Christian couple is wise, they will continually use the tools God has provided to stay on the right course.

When a man and a woman get married, they are no longer two separate people. They have now become one person in body and soul. Their two spirits have agreed and vowed this to be true. They no longer live life alone and for themselves. They now face all future events on this earth as one person, the good things and the bad. All of their romantic affection and attention is to be exclusively towards each other. They no longer have the choice to be selfish. Their primary focus in all things is on each other. Their responsibility to love God with all their heart and to love those around them is lived out together.

It is also the privilege of the couple to be a participant in the spiritual growth and character growth of each other. As they learn to live the life God intends for them to live, raising children…getting along with each other and others… how to generously manage their finances, they will learn the correct way to live these things out with the Bible (charts) and the Spirit showing them the way. 

As the married couple study the charts, the following is some of the navigational information they will discover that will help them complete their voyage successfully and arrive at the destination they have planned on reaching together…

Mark 10: 7-8  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Ephesians 5: 32-33  This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Mark 22: 37-40  Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Galatians 5: 19-23  The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

You will notice that on a navigational chart there is information regarding the correct way to go and also information regarding dangers that need to be avoided. 

One of the benefits of traveling life’s voyage together is it gives us the opportunity to encourage each other towards good and warn each other of danger. If both partners are checking the charts and keeping their watch, the voyage will be completed successfully. But if one or the other neglects their duty, they can end up in the wrong place or smashed up on the rocks.

Even though the two have become one, there is still the possibility that one will remain steady at the helm, while the other is neglecting some of their duties. This will put the voyage in danger. The steady partner tries to make the other aware of what they are doing or not doing. The one partner will show the other their error but will do it harshly and with condemnation, without love. This usually causes the partner that needs to change to become offended and refuse to change. In another case, one partner will voice a need for the other to change and do it with love and patience. Rather than accepting the correction, the one in error resents being questioned and they ignore what in reality is Gods gift of correction and takes offense. They refuse to change and jeopardize their life together. 

An example of this is when one member of the marriage notices the other is not loving a certain group of people because of some unimportant, exterior attribute. The other member tries to point out that to love everyone is Gods desire. The unloving person can either consider what their partner is saying and change their way. They can also consider it and decide not to change or not even consider it at all and stay unloving. For the one not to change puts the whole voyage (marriage) in danger. This is true with participation in“acts of the flesh” and the refusal to exercise the “ fruits of the Spirit.” If one partner chooses not to stop participating in the the acts of the flesh or decides to ignore exercising the fruit of the Spirit, the other partner of the marriage has no other option than to stay at the helm and pray, keep studying the charts ( The Bible ) and continue to love their mate. 

Marcia and I have been married for 33 years. It has been a fantastic voyage. We have referred to the navigational charts and allowed the Spirit to light our way. We have raised our kids and made a life with and for each other and those around us. Yes, there were moments when we misread or ignored the charts. We have run aground a few times. When that happened, we have opened the charts, adjusted our course and continued on our voyage together. 

There have also been times when one of us dropped the tiller. I believe we have always listened to each other’s wisdom and correction and made the changes we needed to make. 

We have now encountered some rough seas on our voyage. We must navigate with half of our crew struggling with the limitations of Parkinson’s disease. But despite these rough seas that we did not see on our charts, we will travel on.

With the light of God, His word and the Spirit, this “one flesh” that is Mark and Marcia will complete our voyage successfully. 

It is my true hope and desire that when Marcia and I discard this one flesh we now occupy and put on our new bodies, we will continue our voyage over the horizon and into the sunset of eternity.

  

As Through A Glass Darkly

                                                  

At the end of all things, we will know everything. And we will be known by everyone. There will be no secret places in our lives anymore; No secret places in anyone’s life. Everything will be known by everyone. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, ” For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 

That says that everything about us is known by someone. That someone is God. Matthew 10:30 tells us that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Everything we are made of, everything we are and everything we have ever done is know by Him. One day, all these things about us will be known by everyone. And everything about everyone will be known by us…. Good and bad. 

Why does this matter? At the end of all things, there will be a separation. There will be the followers of Jesus on one side and everyone else on the other side. The people in both groups will have done both bad and good things. The difference will be that the bad things the ones that followed Jesus did will be covered by the blood of Jesus and will not be held against them. The bad things the other group did will not be covered and they will be held responsible and will suffer the consequences. The consequences is referred to as Hell. Hell is described as eternal fire and burning. I believe one of the reasons hell will be so bad is that everyone that ends up there will have tasted the joy of heaven… the wonder and beauty and love of God. They will then have it ripped from them and now be forced to live an eternity separated from God. 

Separation from the love of God is not all they will be required to suffer. I believe justice will demand that whatever pain and cruelty that a person inflicts during their time on earth will follow them to hell. When Corinthians says we shall know fully, that means that the people in hell will fully know the full ramifications of the evil things they did on earth. The man that beat his wife will know her pain fully. The drug dealer will know fully each shattered life his deeds created. The man that cheated on his wife will fully feel the pain and betrayal his actions caused his family. Adolf Hitler will forever feel the pain of the millions of people that suffered and died at his hands in the war and the concentration camps.

When everyone in hell fully knows the degree of pain and suffering they caused each person and carries that knowledge for eternity, they will truly be in hell.

Reflections On Friendships

One of the bittersweet aspects of getting older is remembering close friendships that have faded. Faded because of life. Events conspire to separate us from certain people. People that, for a time, were closer than friends. They were family.

As I look back, I have had the privilege to have a few of these people in my life. Men that I still call brothers. Our friendship lives on in my heart, even though our life connection stopped many years ago. One of these faded brothers in my life is Randy Pritchard. I met Randy at church after I moved here to Florida from Minnesota. I had left Minnesota due to a broken heart. My wife had left me for another man. I came to Florida to escape the pain and reminders of our failed life together for a while. But the siren song of Florida captured me and I never returned to Minnesota.

I don’t recall when Randy and I met, but I soon became aware that we had a bond that transcended normal friendships. Our lives began to intertwine on purpose. Not forced, but naturally. Like a sibling. Our friendship was a friendship of mutual pursuit.

I met Marcia, the true love of my life and we married and started our family. Randy and his family became part of our family. Randy’s and my friendship continued to grow through shared experiences. Again, on purpose. I just simply enjoyed his company. Through a love of sailing that he introduced to me, we continued to create adventures that strengthened our friendship even more.

But, as happens so often, life changed. As strong as our friendship was, life conspired and forced us to slowly lose our connection to each other. And then it stopped. Not our friendship, but our life connection. Randy’s friendship means as much to me today as it ever has. We simply have lost the shared life that would have allowed our brotherhood to continue to grow.

Randy, I just wanted you to know that I miss our friendship and you will always remain in my heart.

Your brother from different parents.

Mark

I’m Not Gonna Miss You

(My post yesterday was about setting short term goals. After thinking about it for a while, I believe I tried making a point that could have been made with a lot less words. Here is what I wanted to say )….

Being in my 60’s and having Parkinson’s disease, it seems to me that short term goals make more sense than long term goals. Mainly because at this point in my life, I am probably short term. There is much more time behind me than there is ahead of me.

 

The first goal is the result of a question I asked myself. Will anyone miss me when I’m gone?

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, at the end, the Wizard is giving out the rewards to the group for the successful completion of their task. He approaches the Tinman. He had asked for a heart. The Wizard presents him with a clock in the shape of a heart. He tells the Tinman, “A heart is shown not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

God tells us to consider others more than we consider ourselves. The reason I am asking myself if anyone will miss me is because I have not done what God asked me to do. I have not put others needs before my own.
I have now made it my goal to think about others more than I think about me. Worrying if anyone will miss me sounds rather selfish.

 

My second goal is the result of a second question I asked myself. Will I miss anyone when I’m gone?

When I go, I’m going to heaven. I know this because I have accepted God’s free gift of salvation He offered and made available by sending His son, Jesus, to die for my sins. It’s a gift He offers everyone. All anyone needs to do is accept Gods free gift.

 

The last song Glen Campbell recorded before he died is titled, “ I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” The song was written because he had Alzheimer’s disease and they knew he would forget everyone he had ever known.

It is my desire to be able to sing that phrase to everyone I know. Not because I will forget you. I’m not gonna miss you because you will be in heaven with me.

Please don’t make me miss you.

Short Term Goals

I think it’s important when a person gets older to have short term goals, seeing the time they have left on this Earth is probably short term. I think one of my best short term goals is to be missed when I’m gone. It’s probably more important for me than for most people. There are a number of reasons why I may not be missed when I’m gone.

1. I haven’t done the work required to cultivate very many friends. I can probably count on one hand the people that would consider me a good friend. I think I have had three people, not related to me, that I would call my best friend and they would call me the same. Three people in 63 years. Not a very big number. I have had many people that have crossed my path over my lifetime. Some I think may have liked me. Some I have liked. But didn’t like enough to go beyond the reasons that we knew each other. Not enough for either of us to pursue the other for deeper connection that work or church or the fact that we lived close to each other. Don’t get me wrong, casual acquaintances are good and important, but they don’t usually go beyond the reason for the connection. Those relationship don’t lend themselves to missing me when I’m gone.

2. I’m not sure I am really that likable. I married my high school sweetheart. I call her that because when we met, I was still in high school and she was 2 years older than me. We were married for 9 years and I loved her with all my heart. Then one day, I found out she wanted someone else. She didn’t love me anymore. She did not really know if she had ever loved me. She left me and married someone else. It caused me to think that there was something unlikeable about me. I’m sure I won’t be missed by her when I’m gone.

3. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease around 9 years ago. Since then it has been a journey of discovery and change for me. Most of it not very pleasant. There have been many changes in my physical ability to do the things I would normally have done. There are also mental changes that have occurred due to this illness. I have discovered that many of these changes are affecting my ability to have normal relationships and friendships. Add this to my natural inability to cultivate friendships, it creates a perfect storm.
One result of my having Parkinson’s disease is that I needed to retire. Most of my personal interaction with people was my work relationships. Ever since I left my career, most of my involvement with people has abruptly ceased. There are one or two shining exceptions that have maintained a degree of connection with me, but that says more about them than about me. For the most part I am probably already unmissed.

Beyond my natural inability to find and maintain strong friendships, Parkinson’s disease symptoms make it even harder. Harder to maintain strong relationships with my family. One of my concerns is my ability to maintain a strong marriage relationship with my wife. Parkinson’s has taken away much of my ability to communicate my deep love for her. My face can no longer show my expressions of love and the subtle wordless statements of love I feel for her. The rigidity and pain in my body does not allow me to express my never ceasing desire to communicate my love through the gentle touch of my hands. PD has taken away my ability to physically and passionately maintain our oneness of body. Because Parkinson’s has robbed me of my ability to speak loudly and clearly, it is difficult to tell her of my never-ending love and affection for her and tell her adequately how beautiful she is.
Like friendships, marriages must be maintained by pursuit and acts that keep them strong. Our marriage has been pursued and cared for in the many years that went before Parkinson’s showed it’s ugly self. My prayer is that we have built a strong enough foundation in those years to carry us through, so my wife will miss me more than be relieved I’m gone.

I am thankful that PD waited to show itself until after my kids were grown and married. Unlike my wife, they were spared the challenges of living with a man that was encumbered by an illness. From what they say and by what I remember, they had a great childhood. We absolutely loved being their parents and I believe they loved being our children. The challenge now is for me to be there for them as adults. I want to continue to be a help to them as they live life and raise their families. I want to experience their lives as they live them and to be able to give them advise if they ask for it. But that is more selfishness on my part. I love and like them all and I want to be engaged with them and I want them to continue to want to be involved with me. I’m not too concerned about my kids. I believe they will miss me when I’m gone.

My grandchildren are another story. At this writing, I have two adorable grandsons. One is 4 years old and the other is 1. They arrived just in time to only know their Pop Pop challenged with Parkinson’s disease. One of the many symptoms I have to deal with is an intolerance to noise. Grandson’s are noisy. I find myself having to escape to the quietness of my room much of the time when they come to visit. Something I miss terribly and I think is a big factor in my grandsons not being able to bond with me is I can’t pick them up or hold them. The rigidity, pain and lack of strength in my wrists, hands and body just make it too dangerous and painful. The younger one is still pretty much oblivious to the lack in his grandfather but I can tell it is affecting the older one and how we relate to each other. He feels the lack. My hope is as they get older and start to understand the reasons for the lack in Pop Pop, we can build a relationship based on other things than physical touch. And I believe as they get older, they get quieter. So one of my short term goals is that my grandchildren miss me when I’m gone.

My mom and dad live in Northern Minnesota. My two sisters and my brother also live there. We all have a good relationship. When I left Minnesota and moved to Florida. I lost contact with them for a number of years. Fortunately, we have reconnected. With the invention of Facetime, we have grown closer as a family than we were before. Because of our rediscovered love we have for each other, I am confident they will miss me when I’m gone. My parents are in their 80’s, so the chances are they won’t miss me because they will probably go before I will. They will just miss me in heaven until I meet them there.

I believe that the main reason I don’t have many friends is me. So, in spite of my natural inability to make and keep friends, I will try harder to do so. I will try to look for opportunities to consider others more than I consider myself. When I meet someone new, I will consider it a opportunity for a new friend. When I encounter someone from my past, I will consider it a possibility to recover a friendship I may have squandered.

I will work at finding new ways to strengthen my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I will work hard to maintain a strong connection with my children. I will work at being more tolerant with the noise and messiness of being a grandparent.

I consider it a worthy short term goal to work at doing the things that will allow people to miss me when I’m gone. That will require that they like me while I am still here. I want to be missed because I had a positive place in someones life.

Of course a more important short term goal I have adopted is to try to do what I can to make sure no one misses me after I’m gone because when I go, I’ll be in heaven and when they go, they will not. My prayer is that those I come in contact with from now until I go will accept the free gift that is available to everyone while we are still here. The gift of forgiveness God has provided through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus. More than not being missed is my desire that no one is missed.

Blaming God

Once there was a father and a son. One day, the son came to his father and said, I want you to give me my inheritance now. The father granted the sons request. The son took his inheritance and traveled to a far off land. There he started to live contrary to how his father had taught him to live. He took his inheritance and squandered it until he had spent it all and was left with nothing. He began to starve.
In this story, would you blame the father for his sons starving?

Once, there was a Father and a son. One day, the Father pointed out a tree to the son. He said, son, you can eat the fruit from any tree you want, except that tree. Never eat its fruit, because if you do, you will die. The son ignored his Fathers instruction and ate the fruit of that tree.
In this story, would you blame the Father for the sons death?

A good father instructs his son how to live a right life. A wise son applies his fathers instructions when he becomes a man and benefits from doing so. An unwise son ignores his fathers instructions and suffers the consequences. Not only does the unwise son suffer, but every life the unwise son’s life touches suffers from generation to generation. Would you blame the original father or his son for the suffering? The only hope is for someone to choose to break this chain of suffering by applying the original fathers instructions.

Bad things happen all the time to everyone. Most of the time, the first question that is asked is “ Why would God allow this to happen?” I believe the correct question is, “Why would man allow this to happen?”

God made man and the universe perfect and told him how to keep it that way. “ Do not eat the fruit from that one tree.” The man ate it anyway. That act of man caused him and all of mankind that would come after him to suffer every pain of sickness, every heartbreak imaginable and every evil from starving nations to hurricanes and floods. That one act of that first man altered the earth and the universe and everything in it. If not for that one act of disobedience, we would still live in a perfect world. Would you blame God or the man?

Once, there was a Father and a Son. The Father had made a world where he had many sons that were lost and were in need of someone to break the chain of disobedience and provide them with a way back to Him. The Son obeyed His Father’s instructions and came to earth and allowed Himself to be sacrificed and killed by the disobedient sons. He then again followed His Fathers instructions and came back to life, making a way for any of the disobedient sons that believe Him to be free from death once again.

In the first story, the son realizes that the answer to his starving is to go back home to his father and ask him to accept him back as a servant. What the son does not realize is that all the time he has been away, his father has been watching for his return. As the son approaches his fathers house, the father sees him a long way off. When the father sees him, he immediately begins to run. When he reaches his son, he embraces him as only a father who loves his son can. The son’s appearance is terrible because of what he has put himself through. The father places a robe on his body, shoes on his feet and a ring on his finger. He welcomes him back home, his face soaked in tears. He welcomes him back not as a servant, but as his son.

When bad things happen, instead of blaming God, we need to understand it’s the fault of mankind.

God deserves our eternal thanks for what He has done to offer us a way back from a situation we created.

God is good. Always has been, always will be!

I Have Seen Butterflies

Being a follower of Jesus and living with a chronic disease like Parkinson’s disease, I am confronted with a dilemma. Do I accept the fact that I have this disease and live life the best I can, believing that I have it because of mankind’s fall at creation and I will be set free from it when I die, or am I supposed to be healed now. 

I have written about this question before and what seemed to be the answer based on what I read in the Bible and what I see in life and my personal experience, the answer is I have this disease because of the fall and I will more than likely need to deal with it until heaven. 

God made the universe and man perfect. But Satan had access to the perfect world and was able to convince perfect man to give up perfection and allow imperfection or sin to come in. That act of man allowed everything bad to enter this perfect universe, including Parkinson’s disease. It also put a separation between God and man. But God loved man enough that He gave His son Jesus to pay the price required to remove the separation. All man had to do is to accept the sacrifice Jesus paid to restore his relationship with God. Man still had to live his life out in this imperfect world with all the evil and sickness and sinful men that refused to accept the gift Jesus offers, but along with the restoration God also offered the free gift of the Holy Spirit to help the restored ones make it through this evil life. 

Many say that part of the gift Jesus provided by His sacrifice was freedom and healing of all sickness and disease. That may be true. The Old Testament has a few examples of healing. The Gospels records many acts of healing at the hands of Jesus and those with Him. The remainder of the New Testament records a lesser number of healings. From the end of the New Testament until now, apart from short periods of time involving certain individual people, healing has become less understood and less experienced. 

I do believe miracle healing still takes place. I don’t think I have ever seen one take place. I know thats not important. I haven’t ever actually seen a caterpillar become a butterfly either, but I do believe it happens. It’s just that I have seen hundreds of butterflies and I haven’t seen any healings.

I spent the first part of my life as a evangelical Christian. In the circles I moved in, we said we believed in healing, we just never did it. In the second part of my life, I guess I would call myself a charismatic Christian. We say we believe in healing and even lay hands on people to do it. We just never see it either. We talk about it a lot and hear some interesting stories, but I haven’t seen any butterflies.

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And byHisstripes we are healed.”

And 1 Peter 2:24 says, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

I believe what the Bible says, I’m just not sure what it actually means when it says we are healed or you were healed.

Acts 2:22 says, “ “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.”

God proved Jesus was who He said He was by doing miracles through Him. I guess God could prove we are who we say we are, ( Followers of Jesus ), but that doesn’t seem to be what He wants to do. At least not on a regular and predictable basis.

So what conclusion should I come too. I have asked for healing many times. I have been prayed for by others many times. I still feel the symptoms and they are getting worse.

But I am happy. I still love my life. I love God more than ever. My life has adapted to living with this disease. I don’t think God thinks less of me or that he is displeased with me because I haven’t found healing.

I know I could be completely off base on the healing thing, I also know God will either protect my joy as I live with this disease or heal me. 

God is Great, All the time!