Welcome To My Journey

 

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.

  

Everything Came Too Easy

This morning when I woke up, this phrase was running through my head, ” Everything came too easy.”

As I think about the world I live in and all the pain and trouble suffered by most of the people that now live or have lived on this Earth, I can’t help but realize that I am indeed a blessed man. But as I reflect, it seems like everything came too easy.

Who am I to be born in the best and most prosperous country that ever existed?

Who am I to be born to arguably the two best parents that loved me, cared for me and set me on the right path?

Who am I to have been born healthy, and except for a few minor short lived exceptions, have stayed healthy for 63 years?

Who am I to be born with the advantage of being tall?

Who am I to have the privilege of having the best girl in the world say yes to me and mean it?

Who am I to have the privilege of helping create the three best children a mom and dad could ever imagine, raising them and now sharing their lives and families with them?

Who am I to have enjoyed the career I chose and was privileged to work at and loved for 33 years?

Who am I to be able to say that, even with the minor setbacks, the challenges I have encountered are not even worth mentioning in the light of the blest life that has been mine?

And who am I to have the opportunity and privilege of having as the first thing I remember in life be the event that made everything good in my life possible and whatever minuscule obstacle that came into my life fade into insignificance? That is to have the opportunity to accept Jesus.

All these indescribable gifts I received for free, though I am fully aware of their value.

But who am I that all these wonderful gifts I received should have come so easily.

I find myself standing in a place of feeling undeserving.

I now find myself standing in a place of pain. The result of age and Parkinson’s disease.

I find myself looking back on a life I so enjoyed. A life where the possibilities were limitless and all I needed to do was reach out to the right place and find joy.

Now my reach is limited, shaky and unsure about what I will find. The things I have enjoyed and valued so much are starting to fade. My ability to feel the joy of my life is waning.

I don’t feel hopelessness because of my ultimate eternal destination, living forever with the author of all that I have enjoyed. I’m just starting to miss the time when “everything came too easy.” Now I have to work every day to find the joy that previously came without work. The things I still enjoy must be enjoyed through the lens of pain and the limitations caused by this disease in my brain and body. But, I can still find joy. And for that I am so grateful.

I must admit that I am looking towards the end, something I have not done before.

Because I appreciate all the “who am I” gifts that I cherish, as my ability to appreciate them diminishes, the end looks inviting from this vantage point. I’m not looking to hasten the end myself, but I can feel my grip on this life weakening. Because my life has been so good and easy, I don’t look forward to it becoming hard. As the Parkinson’s progresses, I more and more do not want to live with Parkinson’s disease and whatever else bad that comes with age.

I know that sounds selfish, but when all my dreams have come true in this life, and I can only imagine the life of joy that awaits me when I do come to the end, I believe the ones I love will forgive me for being a little selfish.

But, ultimately, it is not up to me. God knew my beginning and He knows my end. My life and my death are in His hands. I would just like to be able to say “everything came too easy ” when I get to heaven.

Qualified For Healing?

Before Jesus died for us, ( all of mankind ), a person needed to be qualified to find favor with God. The qualifications were,

You had to be Jewish.

You were required to obey the law.

After Jesus rose from the dead, a person no longer had to be Jewish and no longer was required to obey the law. Salvation became a free gift available to everyone. The only qualification was to accept that free gift. If a person sincerely accepted that gift, their life would start to reflect that acceptance. That’s what showed true acceptance.

It is said that healing is a part of the free gift that became available to everyone, but it seems there are qualifications that still exist for someone to receive healing. Qualifications that go beyond the free gift of salvation. Qualifications like;

A person needs to have enough faith to be healed, or a person needs to be prayed for by someone that has enough faith, or

A person needs to go to the elders of the church and ask to be anointed with oil and to be prayed for, or

A person can not have any sin in their lives that could block the healing.

So what would be reasons for someone that believes they meet the qualifications to be healed and remains sick;

Sometimes you just have to stand for your healing, or

Healing has happened, it just hasn’t shown up in your body yet, or

The prayers for healing were not prayed with enough faith, or

Something in your life is hindering your healing.

If Jesus death and resurrection paid for our salvation and healing, why does it seem that salvation is available to us free of qualifications and healing is not.

When a person is saved, they are saved in a sinful, lost unworthy condition. They ask God to accept them, sinful, lost and unworthy, because they have no other way to present themselves. They are accepted that way by God.

When a person approaches God for healing, they present themselves before God in the condition if being sick. They ask God to be healed.

The difference between salvation and healing is when someone approaches God for salvation, they walk away saved and everyone assumes it happened. When a person approaches God for healing, most of the time they remain sick and are unable to walk away because they are still sick but everyone hopes the healing happened. If time passes and there is no sign of healing, then everyone starts to question if the qualifications for healing were met, including the person in need of healing.

I know the reason that a person does not experience healing is not God. He is God. He can do anything that doesn’t violate Himself. He would not, not act for a person that belongs to Him.

I believe the reason is with the person that is asking for healing lacking something like faith or belief.

I have Parkinson’s disease. My desire is to not have it. I have asked God for healing. Others have asked on my behalf and are still asking. I believe I meet the qualifications. I have declared that I am healed. I’m not sure my faith is always at it’s strongest all the time. I sometimes discover that I have sinned. I believe when it happens, I confess my sin and ask for forgiveness. I have confessed my sins to my Christian brothers. I have gone to the elders of my church and they have prayed and applied oil on my head.

If there are qualifications for being healed, I believe I have met them. But who am I to know. My view is darkened by the fact that I am the one who’s sick.

Because I am still sick, I think healing is less predictable than salvation. I don’t believe I’m disqualified for healing. I just think there are other factors at work here.

We live in a fallen world, handed over to Satan by us. We invited everything that’s bad and can hurt and kill us into this perfect world God created. We caused a separation to happen between us and God. We no longer had a relationship with God. But God missed us. He missed us so much that he made a way to bridge the gap we created between us and Him. He sacrificed His Son to do it. Now we have a choice to renew our relationship with God. But we still must live in this broken world. A world we broke. A world where there is still sickness and injury, violence and murder, lying and stealing. Unfortunately, Christians remain subject to these awful things. There are times when God reaches down to intervene. Everytime that happens it’s wonderful. There may be things we can do to move His hand, but as much as we would desire to be able to move his hand predictably whenever we have a need, that’s just not the way it works.

So for me, I try to do all I can to stay in His favor. I ask Him for healing from Parkinson’s. I also trust Him to provide for me and mine, whether I am healed or not. I have the assurance that if I live the rest of my life with this disease, I won’t have to live with it in heaven. I hope that belief isn’t a lack of faith on my part.

The Panther

 

Rainer Maria Rilkedid wrote these words. They actually describe what it feels like to live in a body and mind locked in the cell of Parkinson’s disease……..

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,

has grown so weary that it cannot hold

anything else. It seems to him there are

a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,

the movement of his powerful soft strides

is like a ritual dance around a center

in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils

lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,

rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,

plunges into the heart and is gone.

Becoming a Mime Against My Will

As you read these posts, I am inviting you to walk along with me on this Parkinson’s journey. As with all journeys, it is a progression. Depending on what we encounter along the path, the progression is either uplifting and positive, like my discovery of biking, or degenerative and hinders our progress. Something is happening to me that is an example of the latter.

I’m sure everyone has seen a mime. The person that has their face painted white and is trapped inside an invisible box. I am becoming a mime against my will. 

The main tools people use to communicate with each other are speech, body language, hand gestures, facial expressions and writing. The progression of Parkinson’s disease is gradually taking these tools away from me. I am feeling more and more like I’m trapped inside an invisible box. I am constantly flailing about feeling for the walls. I have found the box is getting smaller.

I’m having a lot of trouble talking loud enough and forming my words clear enough so people can understand what I am trying to say.

My body increasingly is not paying any attention to what my brain is telling it to do, (body language).

My hands are also being uncooperative, ( hand gestures ).

A symptom of Parkinson’s is called facial masking. My face muscles also rebel and are losing the ability to show expression.

Writing is becoming more and more difficult, even with technology. If your hands won’t cooperate and voice recognition can’t understand what your are saying, what you become is a mime trapped in an invisible box. Slowly feeling the limits closing in, tediously trying to make some kind of connection with those you see outside the walls of your box.

Despite continually losing more of my ability to communicate, I still have things I want to say. Not just the moment by moment communicating that happens in life with Marcia, my kids and grandkids, family, friends and strangers, but I continue to have thoughts and ideas that may or may not be of some value. My desire is to still be able to express these things and continue to be a contributing member of the human race.

Thankfully, the invisible box travels with me. Also, because it’s invisible, I can see others and they can see me. I have noticed that some people seem hesitant to approach the box. Probably because they are not sure what my abilities are. My desire is that they make the effort to talk to me and I will do my best to talk and respond. I do think I’m a better listener than I was before the box.

Only God knows what lies ahead, but I’m ok with that. As long as my mind keeps coming up with thoughts, I will keep on trying to find ways to express them. I do know that God is not finished with me yet.

God reaches down

 

There are those moments in life that just stand out. Moments when something happens and you know immediately that you just experienced the hand of God. It is undeniable. You are living your normal life and in a flash, you realize that the Creator of the universe just acted on your behalf.

There have been many of these moments throughout my life. I’m sure there are many more moments that I’m not aware of.

There was the time when I was around 9 years old. I was rock climbing with some friends. There was a wall of rocks with a sheer face about 40 ft high. I started to climb. I was making good progress until I reached my hand up to grasp the top edge to pull myself up. But instead of feeling firm, flat stone, I felt loose sand and gravel. My grip did not hold and I found my body falling back with nothing to stop me hurtling down to the rocks below. As I started to fall back, I felt a hand on my back. This invisible hand pushed me back up so I could grab the top of the rock and pull myself to the top.

One Autumn, my dad, my brother and I were in northern Minnesota hunting partridge. We were walking along an old logging trail and came upon a small river. We decided to stop and rest. After a few minutes, my dad got up and wanted to continue the hunt. I was down by the waters edge and my brother was on top of the bank. As I was preparing to go, I heard a loud blast. Immediately, I felt hundreds of projectiles painfully peppering my face. I reached up with my hands to feel if I still had a face. Thankfully, I did. After I had some time to regain my composure, I realized what had just happened. My brother had mistakenly picked up his shotgun by the trigger. The gun was pointed straight at my head. It went off. Fortunately, between the gun barrel and my face was a small pile of dirt. When the gun fired, the shotgun pellets hit the pile of dirt sending the dirt up into my face. Only one pellet hit me and it just grazed my neck.

A number of years ago, I was running across a field and I came upon a 4 ft high chain link fence. It looked like an easy jump so I launched. I almost made it but the toe of my shoe caught the very top of the fence and sent me head first straight into the ground. The top of my head hit the dirt first followed by the full weight of my body. My head bent violently to the side and I heard a loud crack in my neck. When everything came to a stop, I laid there for a minute trying to evaluate my condition. I was concerned I had broken my neck. I started to slowly move, checking if anything hurt. Nothing did. I got up completely, moving my neck back and forth. Everything worked as normal.

One day, I was standing at a stoplight in downtown Orlando, waiting for it to turn so I could go. The little man came on telling me it was time to cross. But before I started, I heard a voice in my head say “WAIT.” Two seconds later, a small sports car flew past me with no intention of even slowing down. It missed my legs by about six inches. If I had stepped into the street, it would have hit me in the knees at 40 mph. Instead, I made it safely across.

I have talked a number of times about how much I love riding my 3 wheel bike. Just the other day I decided to go for a sunset ride. I went to my garage like I always do. I got on the bike like I always do. I started to back out of the garage, but unlike aways, as I backed down the driveway, I lost control. The bike turned sharply and flipped over. Instead of me riding the bike, the bike was now riding me. As I laid there with my face planted in the grass, a number of thoughts went through my mind. Am I hurt? Even though I felt minor pain in a few parts of my body, it seemed like I was ok. Did any of my neighbors witness this spectacle? No one was coming and I didn’t hear any sirens. Did I damage my bike? I couldn’t answer that question until I knew the answer to the next question. Could I get this bike of off me and could I get up by myself. I started to unravel myself from my bike and found I could stand. I took a body inventory and except for some small bruises, everything still worked. Then I was able to flip my bike over, no damage. I realized that instead of flipping and landing on the hard concrete of my driveway, my bike was directed to flip onto the thick soft St. Augustine grass of my front yard.

As I pushed my bike back into the garage, I found myself again feeling the awe of knowing that the Creator of the universe reaches down His hand in a moment and protects my steps and even directs my bike flips.

“He makes every bike flip a dance!”

Abandoning Truth

One of the greatest things a human can do is to believe that something is true, despite what others say to the contrary. Even when their own minds question if it is true.

An example of this is the truth that Jesus lived, was murdered and after 3 days, came back to life. There are many that will tell you it’s a lie. But even though it happened 2000 years ago and I didn’t actually see it happen, I believe it is something that is true. I believe it’s true because I feel it in my heart and see the evidence with my spirit and mind.

One of the most dangerous things a human can do is to be unwilling to abandon “truth”. To believe in something so much, that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we still believe it is true.

An example of this is there are some people that believe it’s true that other people in the world that have different color skin than they have are inferior to them. Their thoughts, words and actions reflect this truth. They even believe that by acting on this truth they are benefiting mankind. An example of this is Adolf Hitler. He believed in a truth that there was a preferred race and for the benefit of mankind, he was obligated to eliminate everyone that was different.

The Apostle Paul is another example. When he was still named Saul, he believed it was true that the elimination of Christians was good and he acted on that “truth”. Fortunately, when Paul was confronted by true truth, he was willing to abandon his truth for real truth.

So many of us hold on to truths because we don’t want to consider even the possibility that we are wrong or that something else is right. We hold on to “truth” we aquire through life experiences and hurts. We also aquire “truths” from other people like parents, teachers, friends and aquaintances. Once we accept a “truth” as true, we begin to build our lives, thoughts and actions based on that truth, even though it is a lie.

All our lives are based on foundations built on what we believe is true. But, if the foundation is a lie, what is built on that foundation is also for the most part untrue. That’s why it’s so difficult to abandon what we believe is true because it involves tearing down whatever has been built on that foundation, building another foundation and starting again. It requires us to change our thoughts and actions. It requires us to abandon longheld beliefs and relationships and whole ways of life. That is so hard, but it is so worth it.

So many people believe that God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care because of bad things that have happened. To them, the fact that there is no God is truth. To others, God is completely different than who He really is. Instead of a loving, caring God, he is a wrathful taskmaster that finds joy in his followers killing other people who refuse to follow his way.

So many of the “truths” we embrace or just believe without really thinking about them must be abandoned…..

People that are different than us are inferior…. Unborn babies are disposable…. God is responsible for all the bad things that happen to us and in the world, or He’s just apathetic…. Marriage is disposable….. All church denominations that are different than our own are wrong and harmful…

These are just a few of the truths we hold on to either actively or passively. To believe these things to be truth is deadly.

So how do we evaluate our truths to make sure they are true truths and not a lie? Think about the things you believe are true. Really think about them. Ask yourself honestly, does my belief feel true in my heart and sound true in my mind. Ask God, even if you’re mad at Him. Let His Spirit talk to your spirit. Get a Bible and read the message He has written to you. All these things will guide you to true truth.

What will happen is a discovery of truth that isn’t true and needs to be abandoned and a joyful discovery of Truth that is worthy to embrace. A Truth we can build our lives on.

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.