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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Have Everything I Need to Finish the Day

We cannot escape it - heartbreak, danger, unexpected disaster, extreme fatigue....  But we CAN overcome these obstacles that would drag us down, slow our forward movement and drain the courage right out of our hearts.  We cannot avoid that which would call forth every fiber of strength we can muster to get through, but we CAN choose to walk through it all - in step with our Helper who is the Spirit of God.  Stop for a moment and think about this:  It is the Spirit of the living God - the Comforter that Jesus left for us when He rose to heaven - the teacher and guide that can never steer us in the wrong direction - that walks us through every difficulty that threatens to render us useless or unable to go on living.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your Holy Spirit.  It is enough.  I will encounter difficulties today, but not alone, and not without guidance and instruction.  Help me today not to forget that I have everything I need to finish the day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

He is to be Trusted

Do you know the story - from the Bible - about God telling the Israelites - through Moses - to send spies into the land of Canaan (the Promised Land) to check it out?  They were told to see what the land was like and to bring back a report about whether the inhabitants were weak or strong.  You can read it for yourself in Numbers 13 -14.

They went and brought back a report saying the land was very productive, but the people who inhabited Canaan were powerful and the cities were fortified.  They had forgotten all that God had done for them, and the proof of His love of them.  They did not remember His power to deliver.  They said, "We can't attack these people; they are stronger than we are."  Only Joshua and Caleb spoke of God's protection, saying that they could surely defeat these giants and urged the people not to be afraid.

But the people would not listen.  They refused to take possession of the land God was giving them.  Instead of moving forward they hung back in fear and doubt.  As a result, the people who doubted were never allowed to enter the Promised Land.  The only ones allowed this privilege were Joshua and Caleb.

Have you stopped moving forward because you doubt that God can deliver you from the ravages of Parkinson's Disease?  Are you miserable because you have forgotten that God is sovereign and has given you many reasons to hope in Him?  Do you see only giants and know you are unable to fight the loss of courage?

God wants you to keep advancing, and wants you to fear not because He is in control.  Yes, you have a disease.  But when God's purpose is accomplished and your faith has endured testing, you are that much closer to the Promised Land!

Is your faith weak and you fear you cannot endure one more minute of this burden?  Then pray....   God will strengthen you.  He wants you to come forth  beautiful and whole.  He is asking you to trust Him to apply only the right amount of pressure to your soul, and only for the exact amount of time it takes to bring you forth as pure gold.  You are given a heartbreaking condition.  but trust Him to know what He's doing.

I don't know why you and I have Parkinson's Disease. What could I do about it if I did know?  I don't have to know.  Join me with Joshua and Caleb.  This is part of our journey.  One day it will all be clear.  But today, when I have no answers,  I will trust that He loves me.

Oh, Jesus, You are the good shepherd.  Your voice is well known to me, and I will follow it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Memories Allowed

How much time in a day do we spend on memories?  Dwelling on our memories can catapult a person into a mire of sadness and halt all forward progress we might look forward to in a day.  Sometimes focusing on certain memories can trigger a downward spiral into depression which can lead to even more problems. 

But the right kinds of memories can encourage, lift up, and increase faith.  Many times I have heard it said, "The mind is the battlefield".  I believe it.  We must choose carefully what we allow to linger in our minds. 

Scripture often tells us to remember the things God has done for us.  When I meditate on times in the past when God has clearly spoken to me, or definitely acted on my behalf, my faith is easily strengthened and actually grows.  In this way, I am responsible for the condition of my faith (even though I know that it is a gift from God).  It becomes easier to detect the whispers of doubt that come from my spiritual enemies, and reject them as lies. 

If you have Parkinson's Disease, you are limited in what you can do, and you are not as physically active as you once were.  In my case, this leads to an ever more active mind, so I must take charge of my mind and be careful not to allow the wrong kinds of thoughts in.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us about man:  "For as he thinks within himself, so he is."

Don't let your mind wander without direction.  No matter the condition of your body - no matter what you are not able to do - THIS you CAN do:  discern whether your thoughts are good or bad and allow only memories that will increase your faith and move you forward. 

The choice is yours.  Do you want to have a healthy faith?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Works, Walking and Worthiness

How many small and seemingly insignificant decisions do you make every day?  How important do they seem?  As a person living with Parkinson's Disease, I am confronted with many choices in my day, just like everyone else, but the choices I am given will be different than another person's choices.  It may be a decision to not complain for the day, even though there may be alot to complain about.  Or it could be something like putting someone else's need in front of mine......all day.

There are some choices that seem more important than others, yet along with it, comes a temptation.  My heart knows the right thing to do, but from somewhere comes the idea that just this once, I could cut corners and take the easy way and no one would know....  There are also those choices where I could take the easier route, and no one would blame me.  God would understand....

I submit that every choice we are given is an opportunity to live for Christ AND make Him known.  The world, and even our families, watch us - observing our reactions, asking us questions, noticing if our words stand true in light of our actions.  Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - "that we should walk in them"....  Think about this for a minute.

As a peculiar people - one who is a member of the elite group of people with PD - God has prepared special work for me, that the world may see Jesus in my daily life through the decisions I make.  We may or may not be able to walk across a room, but we can certainly "walk" in the good works that God prepared beforehand for each one of us!

I am thinking of the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.... (Daniel 3:12-30)  In a large assembly of people, they were told to bow down and worship the statue of the king - Nebuchadnezer.  Everyone else did, but they did not. They could have chosen to bow like everyone else, and blend with the large group of people (who would blame them?), but this day they chose to walk in the works that God chose for them beforehand (which was to walk in the fire).

When they were noticed standing instead of bowing, they were brought before the king.  They told the king that their God could save them from him, but even if He did not, they would not to bow before the statue.  Enraged at their choice to not bow, he had them thrown into the fiery furnace.  In amazement, the king declared that he saw FOUR people walking around in the fire - not just THREE. The fourth person was God who would not leave them to face the fire alone.   As a result, the king called them  to come out of the fire (they were unhurt without even the smell of smoke on them).  The king then blessed God and glorified Him.

This is the point of the works God has prepared for you to walk in.  You have the unique opportunity to walk through the fire of Parkinson's Disease to the glory of God, but never by yourself. The choice is yours - to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of God - with Him leading the way, or bow down to your idol (pride, untruth, fear of death, selfishness, failure to love those around you, etc.).  Where will you walk today?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Simple Prayer and a Small Thought

Today, I have a doctor's appointment.  It is a DBS adjustment.  It seems that I need more "juice" because I'm experiencing some minor symptoms that until recently were a thing of the past.  The only problem is that whenever I go in for an appointment, I seem to be having a great day with no problems, so my doctor can't really make much of an adjustment.  I'm grateful for good days, but I do hope this morning, he will be able to see what's going on.

Maybe I've just gotten used to the absence of symptoms and the beauty of a life that is without the debilitating symptoms that used to be a constant agony.  I don't know.

In any case, Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that You know best, and that I am not left alone to cope with my problems.  I trust you.  I am grateful for the beautiful gifts You have showered on me.  Help me to honor You in all that I do and say and think today.

"God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Thy way may be known on the earth."   Psalms 67:1,2

Saturday, August 4, 2012

On the Cross With Jesus

This world we live in is a stressful place. There is evil, greed, and every kind of selfishness. Danger is always present.  But we can also find light, kindness, goodness, and people who are willing to share.

We have no control over the actions of other people, so we can't control the amount of stress around us that we have to deal with. I find that trying to find that place where stress is non-existant is a waste of time.  A better thing to concentrate on is facing my problems, my fears, and my insufficiency and learning what to do with them. 

I don't think I'll ever reach the place where there is no fear.  At least not on this earth.  Having Parkinson's Disease brings up all kinds of fears.  I can't help that.  But rather than trying to battle them in my own humaness, hoping against hope for a reprieve, I can put those fears where they belong - at the feet of Jesus. 

To do this, I must first identify and face these fears.  It won't help to try and forget them or pretend they are not there.  Running from them will only wear you out.  Once I have identified them, then I mourn, and cry and grieve in the presence of God.  Tell Him all about your agony.  You can even go to God with your anger.  Then admit your powerlessness over these things you fear.  Our struggle to maintain control is nothing more than a mirage. 

It actually gets simple at this point.  I didn't say "easy".  But we now trust God to do as He pleases, believing that He is a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God who works out His purposes in every day He gives us.

I remember as I struggled through this process (it will take longer for some than others), giving up my own hopes and dreams for this life, I told Him in all sincerity, that if there were any other place in the world I could go, that's where I would be.  But I had exhausted all other possibilities.  I found myself on the cross with Jesus.  My old self had to die with all of my old dreams, desires, and plans.  I did not choose it to be so, but this is where I found myself.

It was agonizing - letting go of my cherished hopes and dreams.  But Jesus knew exactly what I was going through.  In the Garden of Gethsemene, He too struggled with the impending reality of the cross.  He asked the Father 3 times to "let this cup pass" yet when He did not receive the answer He so desperately desired,  with resignation He faced death.....death on a cross.

When the diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease comes, recognize the dread of not knowing how your life will play out or how you will die.  Consider that you may lose loved ones because they can't deal with your tragedy.  But do it all in light of the wonderful reality that He will never leave you or forsake you ("He Himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."  -  Hebrews 13:5).  He will never ask you to do what He hasn't done before.  And know that your life will be what He has planned it will be ahead of time.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

Now I can truly say with Paul and Timothy in Philippians 3:8 - "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."  Trust Him, dear ones.  You will not be disappointed.  Trust and wait.........