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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Know Your Tools

I'm an artist. To get satisfactory results when I attempt to render something, I  have to know and be familiar with my media, whether it be watercolor, pastels, colored pencil, graphite, pen and ink or charcoal. 
Let's take watercolor, for example:  it's very unpredictable and also very unforgiving.  On top of that, when your colors on your paper are wet they look deeper or more vibrant than when they are dry.  There are many different kinds of paper, and when the paint is applied, the color will spread differently according to the weight and how it is pressed.  You have to understand how to mix colors so that you don't wind up with a muddy mess.  There are different grades of paint.....; many different types of brushes; and there are other tools to apply the paints with like a sponge or sprinkled salt.  Then if you make a mistake, you have to get creative according to trial and error to see if it can be corrected so that you don't have to trash it.  To get good at painting I have to spend time practicing what  I know and I work to improve.  You get the picture. 
So what does this have to do with PD?  Well this is what I'm thinking:  As time goes on and our disease progresses, we are able to do fewer and fewer of the same things like we have always done.  We can be inclined to brood over our losses.  We might give in to depression and self-pity as the losses mount up.   Our hearts can break over this dreadful state of affairs.  But, wait a minute......  Are we bypassing the good news that no disease or state of affairs can steal?
God gives us all of the tools we will ever need to deal with this disease and our heartaches.  He gives us the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23 - "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance....")  He also gives us armor so that we stand and do not fall.  (read Ephesians 6:11-18) If you are a Believer, God has given you the tools to create a masterpiece.  And you need to be familiar with these tools He gives you.  Practice love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance!  You become proficient with these tools only if you practice.  And, it won't be easy at first, but keep on, and you will see a change.  Don't focus on your loss, but go forward into the life that you have, and don't look back.  Nobody can ever go back to the way things were, but we are all given this new day. 
I don't know about you, but I suspect you would agree with me that your day is packed full of circumstances and opportunities to test your skill in handling these tools.  "This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Parkinson's Disease: The Bomb

Today we are watching and listening to the unfolding of the terrorist bombing in Boston as police leave no stone unturned in the hunt for those responsible. 
Today, those of us with PD are also watching the unfolding of our lives with this infirmity that exploded upon our lives not unlike the bomb that literally rocked Boston. 
Where did it come from?  Why am I the site chosen for this unthinkable devastation?  Did God do this to me?
I don't believe He did.  It would be unthinkable to presume a spouse or a friend or sibling or my child (someone who loves me) could infect me with this disease, leaving me striken with no hope of living again.  In the same way, it is unthinkable to presume that God could or would bring the dark storm of PD into my life leaving me with the shrapnel of tremors, inability to move, facial masking, loss of smell, decreasing ability to speak correctly, depression and such things.  God is not the author of evil, nor is there any darkness in Him at all.
So where did this bomb come from?  I think we could all agree that it is the product of evil.  There are realities in this world that are not visible to our earthly eyes, but whose existence can be verified by the thoughts and deeds it inspires.  It is loveless and dark.  The spirit of the terrorist is as senseless as disease.  It exists only to destroy.
The terrorist will be tracked down.  Judgement will come.  And so it is with evil....  It will not prevail. 
We live in a broken world, but take heart and cling to the hope that God gives.  Forsake any thought of darkness and resist evil.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Stand with the psalmist who writes:  "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage.  Yes, wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:13-14

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Think We are all Looking for a Safe Place

Today, we are faced with fear, confusion, and turmoil.  We are trying to cope with the bombings in Boston and wondering what kind of a person could or would send letters to ANYBODY that were laced with a deadly poison.  We watch the news as the story of a fertilizer plant that caught fire and blew up in Texas unfolds.  Chicago is flooding badly.  As I sit here typing this, the thunder has begun to roll along with wind and  a steady downpour of rain.  We are warned that hail might be on the way....
I think we are all looking for a safe place to shelter us from the evil all around us.  We feel that it's getting closer to us, yet we have no idea where to hide.
Let me remind you that though this world is run by the evil one, God has the last say-so over it all.  Run to Him.  Let Him gather you to His bosom and like a hen with chicks, allow Him to cover you with His wings.
We don't always understand why things happen, but we can be sure of this:  God loves everyone and does not want anyone to perish.  If we will let Him, He will guard us just like the diligent shepherd guards his sheep.  That shepherd is always on the lookout for lions, bears and wild dogs.  He will fight them off of the sheep with his staff.  He will lead them through the valleys to rich pastures and calm waters.  He will annoint their heads with oil that repels flies and gnats and prevents the egg laying pests that gain access through the nose and eyes.  He goes looking for the one that strays.  And when the sheep are troubled due to bullying among themselves He takes charge.
Things are going to get worse.  God tells us this in His Word.  But His love never dies, and if we will accept that He knows the way in which we should go, pay attention to it,  seeking His will, and letting Him lead us, then we will not ever be without Him.

Psalm 91

1 He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rejoicing

"Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter varioous trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."   James 1:2-4

I read that the deeper meaning of the word "joy" is to be satisfied.  I want to ask you if you are content or satisfied with your lot in life.  James says that we should be.  In fact, he says that when we encounter rough waters - when we encounter various trials - we are to meet those trials with contentment.
By definition "trials" are suffferings that put strength, patience or faith to the test.
When James wrote these words, he was  talking to fellow BELIEVERS.  That's US. 
How can we rejoice or be content when we are suffering a trial of some sort?  We are not glad to be unhappy - but we celebrate the fact that in the midst of painful, hurtful circumstances - God is THERE - with us - meeting our needs (not necessarily our wants).  The God of the universe has made Himself small enough that He has concerned Himself with and acquainted Himself with MY problems! 
It's not problems that matter so much (problems come and go) but with a sense of wonder, I am transported far beyond my trial, and I "see" God holding me up, bending over me, attending me, expressing His tender love for me....
When I say that I "see" it, it is through the lens of faith.  I am believing that God IS who He says He is, and that He does love me the way He says He does.  To do this I have to know what the Bible tells me about Him.  So prepare NOW for the testing of your strength, faith and patience that will surely come, by READING the Word. 
We must first KNOW the Word.  Then we BELIEVE that Word.  Then we ACT on the truth of the Word.
It will feel bad at first.  But push through that pain.  Like giving birth, there is joy unspeakable on the other side of that trial.
As I write this I am reminded of my childhood.  Whenever I got sick, my mother would take care of me.  She would feed me delicious meals, prepare tasty treats, medicate me, see that I rested in bed, freshen my sheets every day, and so on.  I loved the attention.  I didn't like being sick, but I loved the TLC.
I think James is telling us this same thing:  You don't have to like the trial, but rejoice in your heavenly Father's tender loving care over you.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thank you

In my previous post, I asked you to pray for someone.  Thank you for these prayers.  He has left this earth shortly after noon.

Please Pray for him

Someone that I have known a long time is even now as I write, slipping away from this world.  There are perhaps only hours left before he is gone completely.  Please pray for this person, who has never professed a belief in his Creator, but who has in fact denied His existence.  Please pray that God will somehow reach him and like the thief on the cross next to Jesus, He will receive eternal life.  Even at this last hour, this is possible.
To those of you who have life, please pray.  And be thankful that He has removed the scales from your eyes, and that He has given you one more day..............

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Law Can't Make You do it!

Since when has KNOWING the right thing to do made you faithful to do it?  Knowing what you should do is not a guarantee that you will do it.
Knowing what's right does not empower you to act accordingly.  It only reveals were you have failed to do it.  For ex:  Knowing that I shouldn't lie will not always stop me from lying but it will show me where I have sinned - where I have broken the law and lied.  It cannot change my heart.  But Jesus can.
Every day I awaken to the knowledge that yesterday I failed in one point or many, but today my Saviour's love for me will make possible my love for others.
Being in love is so wonderful you just WANT to do the right thing where others are concerned.  I won't envy or be jealous - I won't do harm to another because my cup is FULL.  I am loved.  My needs are met, therefore, I can begin to meet your needs.
Run into the arms of Jesus and there receive ALL you will need to get through your day, and receive His love for the others in your life.
If you are feeling uncharitable or unkind to someone else, then know that you are running low - YOUR cup needs more filling.  Go to Him and receive from Him what He freely gives.  He gives generously and without reproach to ALL.  If you understand the length, breadth, heighth and depth of His love for you then you w ill not feel the want of anything and your love for others will abound.  Your duty towards them will be automatically fulfilled.
I think it's always a challenge for people to see past themselves and truly love others - especially for those of us who have a disease.  It's hard for us to see past ourselves.  But if the truth be known, the others in our lives give so much and sacrifice daily so that we might be blessed.  What better way to thank them, than to love them. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Does God Ever Say No?

So, you have a disease..............  Me too.  Have you tried different "remedies" hoping that by some miracle you will discover healing?  Have you deepened your thoughts and considered possibilities for healing that you never really thought of before?  Have you prayed for God to remove this mountain?  And has He?
I have heard it said many times, that God wills that every person be healed.  I believe that is true when looking at the big picture.  But God often shows us the ultimate result hoped for alongside of the daily realities between where we are now and where we will be then.  He may not manifest that healing immediately.  Why?
Because He may be able to reach more people in this world at the present time, by showing His power, and immense provision for us and in us who are so weak.  It may be for others who need to see a weak, fallen, disillusioned sick person, rising above every heartache, dealing with every dream dashed, somehow standing tall when it just isn't possible...... How can the world know of His great power and infinite love, unless they see it in action?  How can they know He is Saviour unless they see Him SAVE?
Oh, they could read about it in the Bible, but unless they SEE it in the lives of the hopeless, and unless they SEE the resurrection of hope long dead; unless they SEE God carry a person through the fire, they will not believe.
God sees you as healed if you belong to Him.  There may be some miles you have to travel before YOU see it, but healing will certainly come for His people.  Nowhere does God say that He will give what we ask, exactly WHEN we ask, in the way and measure we EXPECT it to come. He encourages us to ask, but in fact, He often says, "WAIT" for Me to give you your heart's desire.
If you are a parent, you have surely heard your child's request for something, and said, "OK", but you continue what you are doing until you get to a good stopping point, and THEN you set about the business of fulfilling the request. It's the same with God. God will not leave a single stone unturned, when it comes to loving people and saving them.
When the request came to Jesus to go to His friend, Lazarus and heal him, He tarried 2 more days.  Was He refusing to heal?  Did He heal in HIS time?  Did others believe in the Saviour because of this sickness that Lazarus endured and was ultimately healed from?
Look back over your life and remember.........  Who had to suffer so that you could be redeemed?  Who walked a slippery path while you watched and learned that there is a God?  Did you watch as someone worked their way through troubles you could only imagine?  Someone had to suffer for the lessons you learned.  And if you belong to Him, He will lead someone else to the Truth as they watch you walk the path before you.
Healing will come.  Know that there is purpose in the wait.  Be joyful that healing will come.  He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should have life, and have it more abundantly!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Love or Knowledge?

The world is a difficult place to be.  We can't be sure of anything.  Bad things happen and safety seems only an illusion.  If I dwell on life's uncertainties and entertain my fears I will lose heart.  If I focus on doing the right things, I will eventually bear resentment, and come to the end of  my strength.  There are so many unanswered questions about everything, that it can drive me crazy not knowing the answers. 
Religion attempts to answer some of our questions, and does simplify things by making lists and having rules.  But that too can become tiresome and ungratifying. 
Seeking God - making Him my first priority - simplifies everything, and is so satisfying.  Good behavior and right thoughts and actions automatically follow when I have a love relationship with Him.
Does relationship with Him make things any more predictable?  Can you be sure of certain outcomes?  Are things safer with Him? 
Answers are important to people with PD.  But will answers really give us the peace that we long for, and will I have any more control over things than I do now?  Can knowing more really lessen the stress of living?
I propose that the answer to those questions is no.  Then, what is the answer?  How can I simplify my life and calm my fears?  How can I get rid of anxiety?  It's all so damaging to our bodies.
I think we are looking for all the answers in the wrong places. 
Let me try to explain:  Do you remember your first love?  All you wanted to do was spend time with that person.  Then, problems just seemed to fade away.  As long as you could be with that person, you felt like you could face anything.  You felt like no problem was so big that it couldn't  be solved.  There was a peace and a confidence that pervaded your soul when with this person.  You didn't spend much time (if any) worrying about things.  You just knew that everything would be allright because you were not alone, and you were loved.
It's the same thing with God.  He is there with you - loving you, tending  to your problems, always having your best interest at heart....  Do you have any more answers than before?  Maybe not.  But that's not what is important.  It's not WHAT you know....  It's WHO you know.
I'm never going to have all of the answers, but I can totally belong to the One who does, and that's what's important.
I am loved therefore I love, and that is all I really want.  Then I can rest despite not having all the answers, because I know He does. 
Thank you, heavenly Father that you love me and I take comfort knowing that You know everything about me.  I trust You to know all of the answers to my troubling questions.  I love You.