The Boat

Today’s a new day! At one point during my beautiful life, my friendship list looked like a big cruise ship. Many people laughing and having fun. Life was great. Then I got sick and the boat began to get smaller. Of course that was rough to endure, but God gave me peace.

Then I experienced a beautiful miracle and all of the sudden the boat started getting bigger, but most of the relationships were not real. They were based on what God had done in my life. People cared more about the miracle than they did about me. Once again tough to endure, but God guided me through this storm. He even told me on a walk one early August morning, that my inner circle would get smaller. There would be fewer people on the boat. This did not scare me, it actually gave me peace.

Then I had a stroke a few weeks ago and more friends jumped off the boat. This time I was prepared for it. Less phone calls checking in or returning my calls or text. God had clearly prepared me for this time. That doesn’t mean there was not some pain and disappointment.

But as I continue to walk through this new crazy beautiful health journey, I cling to the friends who have decided to stay in the boat with me. The ones who actually reach out to me without any prompting and reassure me they are not leaving the boat regardless of how big the waves get. We will endure together. How blessed to have people in the boat who reassure me they are not abandoning me. Who tell me they don’t care how small the boat gets. No matter how rough the waves become. “Todd, I am not leaving the boat.” How encouraging those words are as Laura and I move through this new storm.

As I wrote the words above, I realized I have never needed rescuing from the boat. God has always been and always will be in the boat with me. He has never thought about abandoning me. I am thankful for those God chooses stay in the boat with me. But my hope and peace comes from God who created the boat and me. The One who can calm the raging seas with just a whisper.

If you are dealing with a storm in your life, look around and see who’s in your boat. When you find them cherish them. During the storms of life, learn to sit in the boat with others. Embrace those in the boat. Encourage those in the boat. Empower those in the boat. ~OC

Seasons

I know what it’s like to have your world come crashing down in a life changing way. In 2002, I entered a season of health issues that would effect my life in one way or another for next 20 years.

My career and love of running were taken away, and I have been fighting for my life for the last 20 years. I have been pushed to the brink in every area of my life. I would never want anyone to endure the journey I am traveling. Yet, in this season I have learned how to find and spread deep and authentic hope, love and encouragement.

During this season, which continues today with the diagnosis of covid long haulers, God has blessed me with the opportunity to share his love in many different circles. To share hope with many who feel hope has slipped away. I have been blessed with the opportunity to encourage others as they walk through their own crazy beautiful journey. This season has not been easy, but I would not change a step. This season has been filled with amazing lessons and memories. A season of beautiful interruptions. ~OC

Whisper from God

Today’s a new day! The same fight from when I was a walking through my almost 18 year crazy beautiful health journey continues today. The devil wanted me gone then and he still wants me gone today. And he continues to do everything he can to try to stop me from getting where God wants me today. There has been a lot of heartbreak, a lot of sicknesses, and a lot of struggles from my first health battle in 2002 until my healing miracle in 2019. The enemy tries to put doubt in my mind that my healing is real. Did I really deserve my healing? Of course I rebuke those thoughts, but that doesn’t stop the enemy from trying. But, that doesn’t change my mindset about God. God is still God. He is still the King of Kings. God continues to give me His strength. I can overcome all through Him. One thing that I’ve come to learn is that the enemy is going to continue to try and take me out. The enemy sees what God has done and continues to do in my life. The enemy fears me because he knows I am an Ambassador for Christ. The enemy cowers knowing that my strength comes from God, who is so much stronger than him. The enemy is going to continue fighting for me, but God continues to whisper to me, “I have you; together we can change the world.” ~OC

Godly Friendships

Today’s a new day! As we walk through life we need true friendships with no secrets or hidden agendas. We need Godly friendships filled not with condemnation; but instead filled with grace. Godly friendships filled with forgiveness when one of our friends let’s us down. Godly friendships so strong we do not run away at the first sign of trouble. Godly friendships were we can tell our complete stories. Stories filled with failures, struggles, heartbreak and temptations. But also share stories filled with success and adventure. Godly friendships where we can freely share our deepest hopes, fears and dreams. Godly friendships where we will still be deeply loved and accepted even when the mask is taken off. Godly friendships where our true friends believe in us. God created each of us with a desire for relationships. It’s part of our DNA. We cannot escape it. We were created to be in deep meaningful friendships. God did not create us to be alone. If we try walking this journey alone, we are missing out on one of God’s greatest gifts. The gift of true friendship. So stop making excuses. Stop allowing past hurts to keep you from finding true Godly friendships. Step up and step into Godly Friendships. ~OC

Make Life About Living

As I walked through my crazy beautiful health journey, I was blessed to learn many amazing lessons. Here are just a few of those lessons:

*Try Something New: Go skydiving, snorkeling, do a road trip with friends, or feed the hungry. It doesn’t matter what you do, just take a step outside of your comfort zone.

*Time With Family and Friends: I know during this pandemic that can be difficult. Maybe you cannot meet in person, but you can utilize Zoom or FaceTime. During that time put away all distractions. You might find out how amazing your family and friends really are.

*Capture Memories: I know everyone wants to document their adventures with pictures and videos, but don’t forget to truly experience the moment.

*Say No: Stop adding things to your plate. If you continuously say yes, you are going to miss out on life. Plus burn yourself out.

*Take Time For Yourself: It might only be for a few minutes, but do it. Spend time in prayer. Go for a walk. Read a book. Do something just for you.

*Encourage Someone: Everyone needs some uplifting words. It takes just a minute, but can change a life.

*Call or Text: Take time to call or text a loved one. This simple act could make their day.

*Say I Love You: Don’t miss the chance to tell your loved ones how you feel about them. Life is too short. ~OC

Memories

Memories. They can make you smile, laugh and cry. Sometimes memories just make you sit back and reflect. That happened to me this morning, as I scrolled through my Facebook page and a memory from May 13, 2009 jumped out at me. It took me back. On this date in 2009, I went back to work after a month in the hospital and recovery at home. I did not realize at the time that life would never be the same.

As I went back to work that Wednesday morning, I thought things would go back to normal. Little did I realize that my life would never be normal again. Several days after going back to work, I would end up back in the hospital. This scene would play out many times over the next few months. I would work a few days and end up in the hospital for a few weeks. Finally after seeing this Groundhog Day moment several times (Google the movie Groundhog Day), my medical team shared it was time for me to retire and go on disability. Retire? Disability? I was only in my early 40’s. I was not real excited about this new normal. But this new normal was now part of my life. Little did I realize what a crazy beautiful journey God would allow me to experience.

As I have walked this new normal since 2009, I have become a full time Abolitionist, a Missionary and a published Author. I doubt any of my teachers or professors would have ever guessed I would write a book. During this new normal, my faith became so much stronger. My wife Laura and I have experienced so many amazing adventures. I definitely would not have chosen this new normal, but I would not change a thing. My new normal has become a beautiful gift. Thanks Facebook for the memory. ~OC

Living Beyond My Limitations

Some days, I spend too much time focusing on my limitations. The things I can no longer do. I can no longer work. I have to depend on other people for rides. These days, I need other people to fill out my paperwork. I use a stamp to sign my name. These days, I need a voice amplifier to help me speak. I can no longer try and hit those Steven Tyler notes on Dream On. I realize, I will probably deal with more limitations as my crazy beautiful journey continues.

It would be very easy for me to get caught up in my present limitations. To focus on all that this health journey has taken from me. But what kind of life would that be? No, instead I choose to focus on all this journey has given me. What I can still do. Here are just a few things I can still do.

More Time for Prayer. Since I do not sleep much these days, I have so much time to pray for the needs of loved ones and complete strangers. I love praying.

Embrace Beautiful Interruptions. If you have been around me for a minute, you know I love beautiful interruptions. Those moments God blesses us with unexpected opportunities to encourage others. To listen to others. To help others. In the past, I may have been too busy to stop and notice those beautiful interruptions God was putting right in front of me.

Read. I have more time to read or listen to books these days. Most days, you will find me sitting in my recliner enjoying a good book. I love a good book.

Listening to Your Stories. Oh, how I love listening to other peoples stories. Finding out what amazing and sometimes not so amazing things they are facing. I just listen. Not to respond or fix. Just to listen. What an amazing honor that is for me.

Living A Life of Adventure. Today, I more time for adventure. Taking that last minute cruise. Jumping in the car with my wife and just driving until we find a place to stop. Making beautiful memories.

Encouraging Other. I can no longer go skydiving, but I can encourage someone else to take that adventure. I can no longer run, but I can help coach and encourage someone else to run their race.

I am sure there will be more days of dwelling on my limitations, but those days are becoming less and less. Today, I spend more time focusing on how much I can still do. ~OC

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