My Apology – I Was Wrong

Over the last 10 years, I have been subjecting all of you to my writing. It started when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. For whatever reason, I had a need to share what I was feeling. I was a Christian man with a progressive degenerative disease. I discovered that being sick was lonely. I thought if I shared my journey, I could keep whoever would read my posts up to date with me even when I couldn’t leave my house. I also thought I may be able to help someone going through a challenge like this. Up until a few days ago, I thought my desire to write was from God and that I would be able to help others even as my abilities waned. 

I was wrong.

Much of what I wrote was reflecting my growing belief that miracles and healings are a thing of the past. I believed God was limited by Adam and Eve turning the Earth over to Satan when they disobeyed. Jesus came to Earth, died and rose again to bridge the gap between God and man that was created by the fall. God used healing and miracles to certify Jesus and establish the new church. Once the church was established, healings and miracles became rare. Jesus had saved us, but mankind, ( including Christians, ) were still subject to the consequences of the fall and this fallen world. Included in the consequences were sickness and injury. I found a strange comfort in believing even if God was hindered from healing me here on Earth, at least I would be healed when I got to heaven.

Then last Sunday at church, my Pastor said something at the end of his message that made me mad. He said ” If you wait until you get to heaven to get your answer, it’s not on God, it’s on you.” With those few words, I started to question much of what I had written over the last number of years. I told Marcia after the service how that phrase had ticked me off. I tried to think it away, but I couldn’t.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in my man-cave typing on my computer when a new text message came up on my screen. It was from Marcia. I could tell by the title it was a link to a video on healing. She and I have had some pretty strong discussions about healing and our views differed greatly. It had gotten to the point that she was afraid to mention healing to me, fearing my reaction. I had settled the issue in my mind and I didn’t want her reminding me about my not being healed. She had sent me things before and I hadn’t reacted well. But I decided to watch the video this time. An hour later I found myself questioning all my conclusions about healing and miracles. As I reviewed all I had written over the last few years, I was convicted by my easy answers, views and opinions that I had put out there. I was wrong. I had found an escape clause to my having to trust God and having the faith to believe for my healing and acting on that faith. Yes, as I write this, I still feel the Parkinson’s. In fact, in the last couple of days it’s gotten worse. But I think for the first time, I can see myself healed. I don’t know when it will happen, but I believe God has used my Pastor and my wife to plant the seed of healing in my mind and in my spirit. I did believe God could use me with Parkinson’s disease. Now I can see Him using me without it.

In Philippians 3:13 it says,” Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

I have written some stupid things in the past. My prayer is that no one has gone down the wrong path because of something I have said. Please, disregard what I have written in the past regarding healing and miracles. I am looking forward to sharing my journey of healing with you.

I would be honored if you would continue to travel this journey with me. It feels like I have come to a fork in the road. If I were to take one road I would continue down the path where healings and miracles are rare and I would more than likely live the rest of my life with Parkinson’s disease until I reach heaven where I will be healed. If I take the other path, I believe I will find healing and be able to live the rest of my life free of the disease and heaven will still be my destination. This road looks less traveled but I believe it’s the right road. Let’s take it!

I Dream of Movement

Almost every night of my life, I have had dreams. Some I remember only for a few moments. Some I remember for an hour or so. Some I never forget.

I received my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago. I have continued to dream. Most of my dreams are pleasant. Some are strange. I rarely have nightmares. In all my dreams, I have never had Parkinson’s. I always move and function normally. The closest I have come to having a problem moving in a dream is one dream I had when I was a child. I was being chased by a bear and I could only move in slow motion…( reminds me of what it feels like to have Parkinsons ). Other than that, I have always dreamt of movement. One of the insidious aspects of Parkinson’s for me is that when I wake up in the morning, for a few moments I will lay in bed and remember my dream of unincumbered movement. For a few minutes each day, I forget I have this terrible disease. Then I move. That’s when all the realities come flooding back. I remember all the pain, trembling, shuffled steps, slurred speech, choking, pills. I remember all the things I use to do that I am now unable to do. It all comes rushing back into the reality of my life. Then I slowly and painfully go through the arduous task of getting out of bed to confront all of the challenges this life of sickness has in store for me.

But I thank God that despite the normalcy my dreams of movement are keeping alive, I am still able to get up in the morning. Thankful that I can still find joy and fulfillment in discovering new ways of traveling this path neither He or I would have chosen for me. Thankful for the joy of loving and being loved by a great wife, great family and friends, and a great God.

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.

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;

the person needs to have enough faith to be healed,

or the person needs to be prayed for by someone that has enough faith,

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

or the person can not have unconfessed sin in their life that could block the healing.

What would be reasons for someone that believes they meet the qualifications to be healed to remain sick?

Some of the common reasons given are…

the sick person just has 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 the sick persons life is hindering their 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?

The evidence of salvation is a changed life. The evidence of healing is the sick person is no longer sick.

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 of 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 allow a person that belongs to Him to remain sick.

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 man. 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 be healed. I thank Him for healing from Parkinson’s. I also trust Him to provide for me and mine, whether I am healed or not. I know 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

Every person believes in something. We believe in truth. We believe certain things to be 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 we didn’t actually see it happen, we believe it is something that is true. We believe it’s true because we know it in our hearts and spirits and see the evidence with our minds.

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, to still believe it is true.

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. Adolf Hitler believed in a truth that there was a superior race of people and for the benefit of mankind, he was obligated to eliminate everyone that was different. Millions of people died because of what this one man believed was truth.

When the Apostle Paul 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. And because he adandoned what he had believed was true for true truth, millions upon millions of people have found the true truth about Jesus.

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 base our lives, thoughts and actions on that truth, even though it may be a total 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 a lie. 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 about us 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, such as….

People that are different than us are inferior….

Unborn babies are not really babies and therefore disposable….

God is responsible for all the bad things that happen to us and in the world, or He is 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 can be 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.

The fact that God truly loves us is the truest truth.

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