Rap Sheet

Hello friends. I have always tried to be open and honest about my health journey. I have never wanted or allowed my health to define who I am. I am a child of God’s. Wonderfully created in His image. A lot of people have reached out to me since my stroke to see what was going on with my health overall. So after praying about it, I have decided to share my medical rap sheet (HaHa). Once again, none of these conditions define who I am. I share this to encourage anyone walking through a storm to stay positive and use their story to encourage others. Please do me a favor. Do not fill my comment section with home remedies or ways to fight these conditions. I have a great medical team taking care of me. Thanks. Here we go….

  • I am only the 28th person in the world to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Myasthenia Gravis at the same time. Yeah me!

*Covid Long Haulers.

*Still recovering from a stroke.

*Based on being so many medications over the years, the doctor shared my pancreas is fried. So I have been diagnosed with Diabetes. Currently taking insulin.

As you can see, I am in a real fight. But I am not walking this journey alone. God is walking right by my side. Holding me up when I cannot stand myself. I am blessed with a beautiful bride Laura West Shoemaker, who is an incredible caregiver. I have a wonderful circle of friends standing in the gap. I am blessed with a great medical team. I am thankful I have great insurance. I will continue to fight and share the story God has given me. I am far from giving up. I am excited about the wonderful plans God has for me. Living a blessed life. ~OC

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

Your Inner Circle

Today’s a new day! We are influenced by the people we spend time with. We also influence those we hang around regularly. Scripture tells us to guard our hearts. Be careful who you bring into your inner circle. Each person will have an impact on who you are, how you live and what you believe. ~OC

Conversation With God

Hello. As I walk through this crazy beautiful health journey, God has been sharing and teaching me a lot. I thought I would share some of the lessons and conversations with God.

*I will not experience healing on this side of heaven. Yes, God clearly shared that with me during one of our morning conversations. I am at such peace. There is no fear, worry or anger. Just the sweet peace of God flowing through my life. Do you have that kind of peace?

*Healing comes in many different forms. We get caught up in the miracles we can see with our eyes. Those are beautiful! But God is performing miracles daily that we cannot see with our eyes. Those healings and miracles are just as real as the ones we can see.

*Keep sharing the story God has given me. The thorn in my side is health issues. Still God is using my health issues to minister to a broken world. A broken world that needs the beautiful light of God. A world that needs encouragement.

*Be bold in sharing the true gospel. A lot of false theology being pushed in the Christian community.

*I did nothing to lose my miracle from 2019. My current health battle is not from sin in my life or an evil spirit living in me. That healing from 2019 was real and from God.

*God shared he owes us nothing. Everything He does in our lives is a beautiful gift. A gift of love, forgiveness and grace.

*God will not always answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered, but He will always walk with us through the journey. We have to learn to be okay with His plans for our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Also every trial will produce lessons. We learn more in the valley than on the mountaintop.

*Then Jesus asked me a question. I did not hear the audible voice of Jesus. He asked me “Who has suffered more than me?” Jesus shared he suffered most of his life. Suffering is part of the journey. But as Christians we never want to walk that journey. But by choosing not to embrace the journey of suffering, we are missing out on some incredible lessons Jesus has for us and others.

I pray these words bring you comfort today. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Stay Focused. Finish Strong. ~OC

Stop Gossiping

Have you ever been outside watering your lawn and a neighbor comes rushing a across the street to share the latest neighborhood gossip? Or worse, you are in church and a group of folks call you over to share the latest church gossip. We have all been there. How do you react when someone wants to share the latest 411 on somebody. Here are some tips I hope help in the fight against gossip.

* Confront the person sharing the gossip. This can be difficult, but is necessary to stop hurtful gossip.

*Shut it down. Do not even let the person get the words out of their mouth. Once again, not easy but necessary.

*Totally surprise the gossiper and say something positive about the person they are sharing dirt on. You may have to pick them off the floor.

*Remind them that somebody is probably gossiping about them. Check out the look on their face with that one.

*Share true facts about the situation if you have been given permission to do so. Sadly, a gossiper really doesn’t want to hear the truth. Where’s the fun in that? I am kidding of course.

*Turn gossip into a time of prayer. Instead of getting caught up in the gossip, take time to pray for the person or situation.

This is just a small list. Take a moment and come up with additional ways to shut down gossip. ~OC

A Good Friend

Having good friends who love and support you makes life more happy. Making memories with friends is amazing. Having friends who stick with you during your biggest storms is priceless. So my question for everyone is “What makes a good friend?”

  • A good friend is with you during the good times and bad times. If you are walking through a storm keep an eye on those that walk with you and those that bail.
  • A good friend will never judge you. They may speak truth in your life, but it will be done with no judgment.
  • A good friend will never deliberately hurt you.
  • A good friend will always show respect and kindness.
  • A good friend is someone who will support your wildest dreams.
  • A good friend will never gossip about you.
  • A good friend will always be honest with you. Even when the truth hurts.
  • A true friend will cry and laugh with you.
  • A good friend will pick up the phone just to check on you.
  • A good friend will always listen.

This is just a short list qualities to look for in a friend. I encourage you to spend some time making your own list. ~OC

Lessons Along The Journey

I have been dealing with multiple life threatening health issues for 20 years. I have had ups and downs during this journey. Throughout the years, people have said some crazy things to Laura and I. I am sure most meant well, but that’s not the way it always came across. Here is a list to help you have positive conversations with someone dealing with serious medical issues. I will expound on some and some do not need any explanation.

*Well, Todd lasted this long. Yes, someone said that to Laura. Please do not say that to her or me.

*How are doing/How’s your health? I know people mean well, but I am more than my health. I really do not care to spend the whole visit discussing my health. Some days I am not even sure how I am feeling. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. (Hear is a free suggestion: Asked how Laura is doing? As a caregiver, her job is much tougher than mine).

*Do not hug me unless I move in for a hug. Let me initiate all physical contact. Not being mean, but my immune system is compromised.

*If I choose to wear a mask that’s my decision. Please do not make it a political or religious issue. It’s my life.

*If I choose to take a flu shot or some other vaccination that’s my business. Once again, do not make it a political or religious issue.

*Do not just show up for a visit. I could be resting or visiting with other guest. Please call first. Also do not stay all day.

*Do not say, I hate seeing you go through this. My current situation is what it is. I know people mean well, but I do not need a reminder I am sick. My body does a good job of reminding me.

*Do not say, Let me know if I can do anything for you if you do not mean it. I know that might sound harsh, but a lot of people say that just to be kind.

*Do not make my health journey about you. I am sorry if you lost a loved one to an illness I am dealing with, but it does not help if that is that’s all you talk about. Sorry.

*Do not tell me my health issues are caused by some spirit or sin in my life. Laura and I will shut you down. We do not need your poor theology in our lives.

*Do not tell me how I should handle my health issues. This journey is not yours. Laura and I will continue to look to God for His guidance and wisdom.

*Do not say how brave I am. Thanks for the compliment, but I do not always feel brave. Also I did not choose my health issues. It’s just life. I will continue to live a life that hopefully encourages others, but there will be days I do not want or feel like an inspiration.

I share these tips to help educate not to criticize. There is not a playbook on how to walk through a health journey. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions. ~OC

At The Table

Today’s a new day! Let me say this loud and clear. God is not affiliated with any political party. If that statement surprises you, you might need to check your heart. Once again, God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He should never be used as a prop or weapon in political arguments. Sadly, God is often dragged into the political arena. His primary concern is not who’s in the White House or any political position. Obviously, Jesus cares for the needs of America, but he also cares for the needs of every country. Whether they love Him or not. It breaks God’s heart, when his people worship a political party or political figure. That seems to be a major issue among so many Christians today. If you call yourself a Christian, God should be the King of your life. Period!

Please hear me, I am not saying you cannot support your candidate, political party or country. That is your right. Please go vote. But your allegiance cannot be to a political candidate, flag or country. As a Christian, your allegiance should be to God. There will be moments in our lives where what seems to be in the best interest of America, or your political party will go against what God says is true. In those pivotal moments, you will have to choose who’s first in your life. Who reigns over your life?

This is not me pointing my finger at anyone or casting judgement. These are the types of questions we need to asking ourselves. These are the type of discussions we need to be having with each other. Even if we have disagreements. This is an invitation for all of us to sit down at the table. ~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

The Dance

As I travel this journey, my life has been blessed with meeting people walking through the same dance. A dance no one ever wants to experience. A dance filled with pain and many days sitting in a chair while you experience the drip, drip from your IV. Days filled with tears, but also filled with sweet memories as you laugh with other conquerors doing the same dance. Oh the memories we shared. Our bodies fighting to enjoy another dance. How could we have known the music would end for some and they would say their goodbyes. Oh the memories of the dance. We never thought we would say goodbye. As I continue to walk through this journey, I will think about those that have taken a bow and completed their dance. I will embrace the memories we shared and continue to dance. ~OC

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