Monday, November 5, 2012


"Don't let your well-being depend on your circumstances. Instead, connect your joy to God's precious promises." This passage was found in my Jesus Calling devotion book this morning. It is a theme that has been going through my head for a couple of weeks now. My daughter-in-law covered the subject well a couple weeks ago in her blog called, “A Pilgrimage to a Promise”.  I encourage you to read it. Since the subject is still rolling around in my head, I will proceed to share some of my thoughts as well.

Happiness is a result of our circumstances; however joy is a choice we make in spite of our circumstances. When adverse circumstances hit us in the face every day, it's difficult to keep it from affecting our well-being. My body fights back at every attempt at productivity whether it is laundry, cooking, washing my hair, or anything else that uses my hands. However, it's exactly in those circumstances that God calls us to choose joy… to connect our joy to His promises. James 1:2-4 states, "consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything."  The Message version says, “Consider it a sheer gift when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed not deficient in any way." It's God's promise that if we persevere through adverse circumstances we become mature and well developed. And this is not without His help. He also promises to never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) He promises to meet all our needs according to his glorious riches. (Philippians 4:19) He promises that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from his love. (Romans 8:38-39) And with God's promises comes contentment and ultimately peace. This is pure joy… so much deeper and more fulfilling than mere happiness. The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Blessing of Family

I have a wonderful family and I wonder sometimes if I don't take them for granted. I have a large family and we don't all see eye to eye on everything, but somehow the love shines through. The last few weeks have been full of family pictures, discussions about the genealogy, and visits from family who live far away. This has caused me to pause and realize how blessed I am with the family I have. We have a lot of differences. We have introverts and extroverts. We have people who love to play games and those who don't. We have animal lovers and those who are not so in love with their pets. We have many sports fans but don't agree on who our team is. We have Kansas City Chiefs fans, St. Louis Cardinals fans, Sporting Kansas City fans, Kansas Jayhawks fans, Missouri Tigers fans, Iowa State Cyclones fans, Florida State Seminoles fans, Oregon State Beavers fans, Ohio State Buckeyes fans and on and on. There can be some pretty heated discussions on game days. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. J
We also disagree on bigger topics such as politics and religion. I sometimes avoid those topics because I don't want anything to come between me and a family member. I guess that's the peacemaker in me. When there is conflict within my family, it hurts. Family is a blessing and I don't want anything to drive a wedge between us. My family has been supporting me since childhood. During the tough times of my childhood, there was always one or more family members available to support me, encourage me and teach me. It's been like a tag team all my life. God always placed someone in my family near me to encourage me and keep me on the straight and narrow. I'm so thankful for each one of you! 

Now it's my turn. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." I pray that I can be a blessing to my kids, their wives, my grandkids and my extended family. This is one of the things that gives my life purpose.

You may not have a big family like mine. But family comes in lots of different forms. You can have a church family, a family of friends or an adoptive family.  One definition from the Webster dictionary for family is: “a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: Fellowship”. I would add that a common trait in families is love. (Or rather a common trait that should be in all families is love). Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”1 Peter 4:8  Lord knows none of us are perfect. Let's do our best to love one another and appreciate the families we have!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Internet: Blessing or Curse?

In this fast paced, technology laden world we live in, a week without Internet access can be a shock to one’s system. 

Our wireless router modem stopped working a week ago and gave us a sudden flashback to the 1990s!  It seemed like everything we tried to do required a working router modem. I couldn't use my online Bible for my Bible study. I couldn't listen to Pandora on my Internet ready TV while doing my exercises. I couldn't Skype with my mom who lives across the country. I couldn't print any document using my wireless printer. Even the data connection on my phone was limited due to the fact that we live in the country and use a 3G microcell booster (connected to the modem)  for phone connection. No Internet access also meant that I couldn't pick up a quick recipe or get an update on my family through Facebook or use Netflix. I felt completely out of touch.
So what did I do? How did I survive? I did a lot of reading. I read my Bible and a new John Grisham book. I spent some time on the gazebo and reflected on my dependence on all this technology. Was it such a good thing? Or did I just need to be more balanced with my use of it? Being somewhat of an introvert, I like the feeling of connectedness while enjoying the solitude of my home in the country. I also like how through the Internet we can stay connected with family members who live miles away. I like the convenience of an Internet Bible program. Its different Bible versions and dictionaries are available with a simple click of the mouse. I like accessing new recipes from the Internet. I love how Skype offers a special connectedness that the telephone could never achieve. I love being able to research topics of interest or trivia with a mouse click. I love learning from other people's blogs. I love accessing maps that take me around the world. I love the entertainment that the Internet offers such as watching old Lucy shows on YouTube. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that the Internet is a blessing in many ways. But because of the vast amount of information available through the Internet, the use of it also requires that we set boundaries. As I stated in a previous blog post, it’s important that we set positive things in front of our eyes. This is especially true when using the Internet. If we are not careful, unguarded surfing can lead us to some pretty unsavory sites. Then there's the time factor. I can spend hours on the Internet or using Internet ready devices without realizing how much time has passed. It's all about balance. And isn't that true about life itself?
So even though my week without Internet was painful in many ways, it afforded me time to reflect on my use of it. I think I came away with some useful boundaries that I intend to put in place. Happy balanced surfing everyone!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lessons in Life’s Little Mishaps

I was preparing a pizza for my lunch today. It was looking good! It had green and red peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and sauce. I couldn't wait to get it into the oven! Unfortunately, as I was placing it carefully into the oven, my arm grazed the edge of the oven causing me to flinch. Well, you can guess what happened! The entire pizza turned upside down and fell  to the bottom of the 400° preheated oven. Wow! I was so looking forward to that pizza! So many emotions raised up in me in the split second after dropping the pizza. Disappointment, anger, frustration. But remembering the number of times we laughed when I dropped my entire flour canister on the floor years ago, I reached for the camera. I might as well create a laugh for the future. (I wasn't laughing yet.)  After taking my picture, I decided to try to clean up. I reached in the sink for a bowl to help collect the mess and promptly dropped it in the sink breaking it. More frustration! At that point I dropped to the floor for a good cry. So where's the lesson in all of this? Accidents happen to all of us. I think the lesson is in how we react. Anger might be the first reaction. But as much as I wanted to give into anger, I knew it would accomplish nothing positive. Instead, I chose to write about it. As I look at my oven cooling down, I am no longer angry. I'm not looking forward to cleaning up, mind you. But I'm not angry. And I am looking forward to sharing the story when I'm ready to laugh about it! Now what's for lunch?

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have been known to say that a good day is one in which I forget that I have Parkinson's disease. However, a close second is a day spent with good friends. True friends lift you up when you're down, don't judge you when you make mistakes and inspire you to be a better person.  As a person with Parkinson’s disease, I recognize the fine balance that exists in how people interpret the best method for treating someone with a disability. The balance between what to do and what not to do is so tricky that it almost contradicts itself.  I want people to see my disability to the degree that they don’t ask more of me than I can handle.  On the other hand, I want to appear normal.  I want you to be understanding, but not condescending. I realize that’s a tall order and nearly impossible to fulfill.  Amazingly though, I have some friends who accomplish this and more!  They recognize my disability without putting a spotlight on it.  They accommodate me without making me feel like I’ve been treated any different.  And when I leave their house, they thank me for coming as if I did them a favor.  They inspire me to want to extend that kind of love and kindness to others –especially those with disabilities.  You see, those with disabilities, especially the newly diagnosed, often struggle with feelings of uselessness.  When your body no longer functions as it once did, you find yourself in an identity crisis. It’s our job as friends and family members to help them through this transition.  We need to convince them that “disabled” is not synonymous with ”useless”.  We need to believe that our life still has purpose. Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose.”  Sometimes we just need a little help figuring out our new purpose.  I have many friends and family members who have done just that for me! I challenge you to do the same for someone in your life!

Monday, September 10, 2012


In this crazy fast paced world where do you find peace? Peace is essential for our well-being. But how do you find it? Where do you find it?
When I awakened today, I didn't feel well. I felt unbalanced, weak and had an upset stomach. Not a good way to start the day. So I proceeded to find peace to balance my day.  I made a smoothie and carried it with my Bible devotion book outside to the gazebo. The gazebo on a nice day is my quiet, comfortable place.  I added some music and was on my way.  In Philippians 4, Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This verse that I memorized years ago has brought me much comfort.  However, since I've been fighting Parkinson's disease, the anxiety has raised its ugly head. I found myself asking how? How do you NOT be anxious about anything? How do you trust when everything around you is screaming pain? I found my answer in the next verse. Philippians 4:8 says, " Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  That's the key! When you are anxious, put your mind on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. My grandma used to say, "Count your blessings. Name them one by one." When you do that, before you know it, the anxiety has slipped away.

I'm reading a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf entitled , "Who's Switched off My Brain". She states, "toxic thoughts are like poison, but the good news is you can break the cycle of toxic thinking. You can reverse the effects of toxic thoughts and once that cycle of toxic thinking has been broken, your thoughts can actually start to improve every area of your life—your relationships, your health and even your success”.

A friend once gave me an easy reminder to help me control my thoughts. She called it the “TAB” method.  Thinking affects attitude which affects our behavior. How do we control our thinking? We go back to Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy…and think about THOSE things.  It’s a choice we make.

So find your quite comfortable place. Think about “those” things and let His peace prevail!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Accept each day

Accept each day exactly as it comes to you.
Those were the words beginning today’s devotion from "Jesus Calling", by Sarah Young. For those of you not familiar with the book, this devotion is written as if Jesus himself were speaking to you.
The entry goes on to say, "By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body. Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in My sovereignty and faithfulness." I could say that's easier said than done while living in a Parkinson's ridden body, but that would be an excuse that would rob me of an opportunity to change my outlook. As Howard Shifke would say from, acceptance is the first step to dealing with the issue and working towards a solution.
This seemed a fitting place to start a blog chronicling my journey. I invite you to join me as I learn and grow throughout this experience.  I invite your encouragement and “constructive” criticism.  (Be nice!)
Since this is my first post, I will give you a quick background. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in May 2009. I was told it is an incurable disease for which there is no known cause. I was told the only solution is to take anti-Parkinson's drugs to treat the symptoms and to expect the disease to progress to the point where I can no longer function independently. I don't know anyone who wouldn’t be depressed by that prognosis. After spending roughly 2 years following the regimen of drugs prescribed by my neurologist, I began to wonder if there was some alternative path to the treatment of this disease. I began researching the Internet and stumbled upon the blog written by Howard Shifke called, Howard had Parkinson's disease, but after following his own" recipe" for recovery, he recovered from Parkinson's disease two years ago. Since then, two others have recovered as well. When I read his story, I decided this was my best chance for recovery. His "recipe" called for methods I had never heard of or used before, but I felt it was the path for me. I have been following Howard's "recipe" since November 2011. I am fighting Parkinson's drug free!
 My faith is tested regularly on this journey. As I feel my body deteriorate, questions of doubt come to mind. "Will I be living "half dead" after this disease progresses? “ "How long before I can no longer care for myself?" But instead of letting fear drive me, I rely on my faith. I am learning that the testing of my faith produces perseverance. The Bible tells us in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Reading this passage reminds me that this journey is not without purpose. I'm learning a lot about myself. I'm learning to trust God more. Through His faithfulness, God has surrounded me with a wonderful support team of people to keep me looking up! 
Today's devotion ends by saying, "Trust Me, by relying on My empowering presence". Jeremiah 31:25  states,  For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.” Trusting in God is like receiving an infusion of strength. I depend on His strength to get through each day. Thanks for taking this journey with me.