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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Intimacy

Parkinson's Disease is a long term condition. It's not something that you can take a pill for and like a headache have it go away. It's a progressive disease.

I was thinking about relationship with God and how it's an ongoing interaction marked with growing intimacy and trust. As I look back over the years, I can see how PD encouraged my relationship with Him and has been the catalyst for a deeper intimacy and growing trust. Once again, I realize it's problems, illnesses and sickness that draw me closer to Him.

Thank you heavenly Father.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From My Suffering to Another's Blessing

My mother - in - law was taken to the hospital last night by ambulance. We think maybe she was having a stroke. She mostly would not speak. But God was soooo there with her in the ER. I felt His Presence.
It's funny, but I know how it feels to be incompacitated because of Parkinson's Disease. I was able to minister to her in a way the others could not. I was so privileged to be a part of our heavenly Father's love for her. This is yet one more blessing for me and others because of Parkinson's Disease!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Autobiography - the Final - Nine

I cannot even begin to describe the joy that rose up in me after the surgery. God had given me the answer to my prayers. Through technology He had done the impossible. Through the doctors that He chose, He worked a miracle in my life! Through the brilliant minds that He gave them, and the hands He instilled with skill, came the dream I had so long hoped and prayed for. I was overwhelmed with a sense of His tender love for me.

God has been with me through every step of my life including the Valley of Parkinson's Disease. He listened to my cries for help and healing. It is through Him that healing has come. Truly He is the God for whom nothing is too hard. I am so grateful. If I had not been living in New York, near to doctors who perform the surgery it wouldn't have happened. My symptoms just "happened" to be the very ones that the surgery corrects. It is not helpful to all people. God had planned my life so that I would be where He wanted me and when so He might be glorified. I rembered the verse He had given me years before: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (John 11:4)

Today, I enjoy moving around without discomfort and going where I choose and when I choose. My body is no longer my prison. Praise to His name!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Autobiography - Eight

I wrote in my journal what it was like:

My Body - the Prison

I am heavy. There is a delay between the thought, "I'll get out of bed," and actually doing it. My mind says, "Do it!" but this body resists the command. Grudgingly and lacking grace - slowly - I arise. Feeling drained of strength, I force my way into the day, but the smallest part of morning ritual becomes exhausting. I am stuck in a fog of frustration, as one by one I give up my ideas of what to do and how.

Today, my body is the boss. I am not free to decide what to do or where to go, or even IF I do go, because my body is the boss. Before this disease I am forced to my knees in a posture of shame.... A rounded back (once straight), slumping shoulders and tremors here and there. I am rudely forced to serve this disease. I hate this disease.

Every gift I possess is challenged. It becomes more costly to give the world what I can. Today I'm having trouble writing and I can't work on art. But it's my heart to teach. Yet, I find it is difficult to speak and breathe, so I'm quieter.

I long to be free...freed from this prison and these chains. To embrace the ordinary - this is what I want. How good it would feel to walk without effort and move as if it were an art... to speak without thinking of how to form each word. to forget the ache in my joints; to be strong and not think about strength.

I want the millions of tiny things most people never think about that make up a day.... There is one thing, however, that still is all mine. It's my will. I choose which thoughts to entertain and I decide I want joy with wisdom and love. I will long for freedom from this terrible disease and hope for healing to come. I believe miracles really do happen and I believe in the Miracle Worker Who loves me.

Please heal me. Come set me free. I grow so weary in the wait.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autobiography - Seven

More and more things became impossible for me to do. I remember one day I was home alone and I lay on the couch singing with my praise music. That was literally all I was able to do. I thought, "I will praise You, Lord, in the only way I can, but I WILL praise You!" Eventually I told God that if this is what He wanted for me in this life, He would have to help me to bear this burden, but I was willing. I held nothing back but accepted His will for me whatever that would be. If it meant suffering in my body, then with His help, I would suffer.

At this time I began pouring through the Bible like never before. I would meditate on it and speak the truth of it to everyone around me even though I could not feel the victory. I felt so useless. I was a burden to my family. In the eyes of the world I had no value. I was a liability. Whatever strength I had left in me had finally drained out of me. I lost the will to live. I began to ask God to just let me come home. I was ready to die. All this was very stressful on my marriage, my children and my friendships. I cried to God continually, being ever aware of His Presence. I knew that He shared my agony, and yet somehow He was using me to His glory.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Autobiography - Six

At about this same time, my mother underwent sudden heart surgery and afterwards suffered a massive stroke. Her death was a blow to me. My father - so dependent on her - died a few weeks later. That year I would face the death of both of my parents, the horror of September 11th, and the increase of responsibility that came with a job promotion in the next year. I worked as long as I could, but eventually it became apparent that the demands and the stress of work were more that this disease would allow.

Parkinson's Disease is a progressive and incurable disease. Without a miracle, my future looked hopeless and horrible. Outside of a miracle from God, I knew there would be nothing more than suffering, loneliness, and darkness ahead of me.

My new husband and I attended church regularly and became a part of the body of believers in a small non denominational church. I attended Bible studies (even facilitating sometimes) and grew to love the women I got to know. But within a few years, my disease had progressed to the point that I could hardly walk. I couldn't attend Bible studies or do my art any more. I was increasingly isolated as I could not drive, or even feed myself without great difficulty. It was hard to sit in a chair and type or hold the phone more than a few minutes to talk. Sometimes it was an effort just to breathe. I couldn't even turn over in bed.

People began to bring meals and send cards. There were so many people praying for me regularly. Some were even people I didn't know. I stubbornly held onto God, believing that He is a God of miracles. As more and more time went on without a healing I began to despair of ever receiving it on this earth. But my belief in God never faltered. I was heartbroken yet still believed in His love.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Autobiography - Five

My marriage of twenty three years ended in divorce when there was nothing left within me to try and pick up the pieces or put them back together. I remarried and moved to New York. I got a job with World Vision. I could still function well enough to hold down this job. God showed His mercy and love for me in many ways. Some days I would be very weak and shakey, not able to write without great effort. I would make my way to work regardless - wondering how I was going to do what I needed to do and invariably those would be the days when the phone wouldn't ring and there would be no assignment from my boss. God's loving presence was ever with me.

Once I was away with World Vision on a staff retreat. We had meetings scheduled for several days. On the first morning I ate beakfast with everyone, then when I rose to go to the first meeting, weakness and trembling set in so I knew I had to return to my room until I felt better. I lay on my bed trying to rise every twenty minutes or so but my strength had not returned. I was so frustrated. I was crying and praying, "Heavenly Father, You gave me this wonderful job, but I can't do it because You have allowed me to have this disease that You do not heal. What do you want me to do?

I saw these words flash across my mind like a neon sign: "Romans 12:1". I said, "OK, Lord. I don't know what that verse says, but I'll look it up". Here is what I read: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."

It was with joy and sadness that I read those words. Joy, because God had heard me and He answered me. Sadness, because He was asking me to keep on enduring. I then asked Him one more question, "What would you have me do, Lord?" The answer came back, "Pray", and do I did.

Autobiography - Four

It was in time, and ever so imperceptably that He healed my emotions and led me back to Him. In retrospect I now see that I had been hanging onto my own dreams, and doing things in my own strength. He knocked those unreliable props right out from under me and replaced them with His strength and a deepening relationship with Him that has grown to satisfy me and impower me to get through whatever comes. In His mercy, He let me fall so that He could help me see that He is really the only thing I cannot live without.

I slowly began to face my utter powerlessness against this disease. I could not wish it away, nor change it one bit. It became apparent to me that it would not adjust to me, but quite the opposite.... My life must change to accomodate this dreadful disease. It would dictate to me what I could and couldn't do. I must learn to exist in the deepening darkness of this prison of disease.

Cruel and heartless, like a hated dictator, this disease would eventually take even my dignity, not allowing me a moment's peace or respite from the pain it imposed. At times my anger flared against God, wanting to know WHY? WHAT HAVE I DONE THAT YOU WOULD LET THIS HAPPEN TO ME? You are taking EVERYTHING from me. It hurts SO bad.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Autobiography - Three

This disease became a constant reality - something to be reckoned with in increasing measure. Its progress in seizing control of my body was slow but relentless. Medication offered periods of time when I could forget, but always the disease stalked me - never giving back the ground it gained.

There were other issues as well, and eventually it all became too much for me. My life had come to a painful halt; and had brought me to a place I did not know. Because of things that happened along the way, my faith in God had been shaken to the very core, leaving me in pain - in confusion - and weary through and through.

I was overwhelmed with the feeling that Jesus - who had been holding me - dropped me.... Everything I had believed was called into question. My faith was challenged. I no longer was sure of who God was.

I could no longer pray or read my Bible. I stopped going to church. I found that the only shred of my former life still within me was some tiny bit of faith that would not let me deny that there was a God. And even that bit of faith was not something I could take credit for: I knew that God had given it - allowed it to remain within me. I had reached the end of my rope and was slipping.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Autobiography - Two

In the beginning it all seemed somewhat distant and disconnected from me. I took the news calmly, and continued my hectic pace in a busy world. My symptoms were held in check with medication. Believing that God is a God who is not the author of evil, but who does bring beauty from the ashes. I began to say, "This is for the glory of God."

I prayed regularly that God would heal me. I recall one morning I got up early, made a fire, and curled up in a big wing-back chair facing the hearth. I began my quiet time with prayer, asking God to heal me, as I so often did. Then I openned my Bible so that I could begin my daily devotion where I had left off the day before. I read, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (John 11:4)

God had spoken to me! I now had the sure hope that God's eye was on me and that He would not leave me sick and broken. I also knew that I must be patient in waiting for Him to heal me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Autobiography - One

Today I thought I would begin to share my story with you in small increments, so let's stop time for a bit and travel backwards. I was thirty-something (I am now 58), and married with four children, living in Texas.

My life being about my family, it was easy not to think of myself or my problems, but it became obvious there was something wrong with me. At first, the slight inconvenience of a body that sometimes and in small ways did not behave as it should, was troublesome, but could quickly be packed up into a thought that I stored at the back of my mind. It was easy to ignore.

The first thing I noticed was a slight clumsiness in my left hand. Also, when I walked, my arm wasn't swinging as it should have. Clapping my hands was an effort. Before long my right hand began to feel clumsy as well. They were small things really that I couldn't do...like picking up a coin, or buttoning my shirt; but things neverless that I should have been able to do without difficulty.

So, I started going to doctors to find out what was wrong. They tested for MS, for copper in my eyes, for pinched nerves in my neck and other things. For a year and a half, no one could diagnose my problem.

Finally, I was sent to a noted neurologist at Columbia University in New York city and I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I took this news in quietly but it all seemed unreal to me. I had always been healthy, strong and physically fit. Now all of that was to change..............

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Making Use of the Quiet Time

I wondered what I should write about. My mind is headed in ten different directions. I'm reading, writing and texting - but probably not doing any of it well.

My husband's band has a gig tonight so it's quiet. It's a good night to pray. When I was younger I worked so hard and there was never an empty moment. I'm glad that now I have time for study, prayer and reflection.

It's through prayer that mountains are moved and courage is found. It's what I do. It's my gift to the world. It's one way of loving the people in my life. That's one thing nothing can take from me. So let the winds blow and anxiety come.... Let my plans fall through and silence arrive. Tomorrow somebody's mountain will be leveled and somewhere courage has replaced a weak heart.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Give God His Due

Do you ever forget to give God His due? Do you find yourself leaving prayer until the very last thing? Do you take you doctor's word about your condition and forget that there is a bigger power at work behind him?

Let's think on this for a minute. I'm a firm believer in healing through doctors, but that's only part of the story. I'm aware that an authority much bigger than a man is behind all my doctor does.

Who made my doctor and gave him the brilliant mind and the skilled hands of a surgeon that knows what to do for me? Who allowed man to discover new technologies and new drugs to treat my condition? Who directed the circumstances in my life so that I was in the right place at the right time and with the right people that healing could come through certain channels?

Do you have insurance to help pay for these medical procedures? Thank God. There are some who do not. Are you in better condition with the doctor's help than you would be without him? Thank God. Is there someone in your life who loves you despite your problems? Thank God. Are you alone and without anyone? Thank God. Wait a minute, did I read that right? Yes, because when there is no human love or help God does not leave us. He still cares for us.

Look at God's provision for the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7:

"Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.' And Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?' And she said, 'Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.' Then he said, 'Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels; and you shall set aside what is full.' So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured. And it came about when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.' And he said to her, 'There is not one vessel more.' And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, 'Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.'"

God is behind every good thing in your life. He can bring good out of every bad thing in your life. Look to His hand for what you need and thank Him however He brings good into your life.