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

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

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

Storms

Living in Florida means we deal with a lot of storms. In the summer it can be sunny out, but around 3 or 4 o’clock a storm can come out of nowhere. Some days it can be raining hard in the front yard, but sunny in the backyard. Of course then there’s the hurricanes. Some hurricanes move quickly through, while others just stall over us.

On this crazy beautiful journey called life, we will face many different storms. Sometimes there will be a light rain that comes and goes in a minute.
Then there are storms that blow in, causing havoc for everyone and everything in its path.

We don’t like walking through the storms of life. Who does? We love the sunny beach weather. But unfortunately that is not the world we live in. We will all walk through a storm or two during this life. We will all face days of blowing winds and flooding waters. Stop for a minute and sit still. In that minute, I am sure you can think of one person who is currently walking through a storm. The storms of life are hitting them from every side. Maybe that person is you. I often hear pastors share we are either walking in a storm, just coming out of a storm or about to walk through a storm. How true. If you are currently walking through a storm, I encourage you to take hold of the strong hand of God. He will lift you up as you face the raging seas.

When we walk through a storm, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us or isn’t listening to our prayers. On the contrary, the scriptures tell us in this life we will all face trouble. We like to skip over that part because it isn’t very comforting or encouraging. But that doesn’t change the fact that we will all face troubles in life. When we walk through a storm we can take heart because God has overcome this world. That means He will never leave or forsake us. That should bring peace and comfort to everyone.

I have walked through many storms in my life. I have come to learn these storms have a purpose. That may not always be clear as we are walking through the storm. But if we will take the time to listen, God will reveal the lessons he has for us as we walk through a raging storm. I have learned God never wastes a storm. God can use a storm to show us the purpose for our lives or to reconnect us to our true purpose in life.

Hopefully this will bring you peace as you walk through your storm. Especially if you have walked through this storm for many years. You have been praying and crying out to God, but it appears he is not listening. Believe me I have been there. I’ve walked through a stormy season in life that lasted for almost 18 years. I was hit with one storm after another. So I get it my friend. Life can be hard. But in the mist of my storm, I saw God grow my faith in a life changing way. God allowed me to share the gospel with many as I walked the halls of the hospital or during my weekly treatments and doctor appointments. During the storm, God reminded me that my worth and value are not tied to my career, success or what I achieve in life. No, my value and worth are found in being a child of God. In being chosen by him, called by him, and equipped by him for a purpose.
Sometimes our lives are rocked by the storms of life, so that we can rebuild on a better foundation. On the firm foundation of God. ~OC

Go Rest On High

As I have scrolled through social media the past few weeks, I have been saddened by stories of friends dealing with the death of loved ones. Those stories inspired me to write the following words.

Your mission on earth is now complete. No more pain fills your days. Your journey on earth was filled with ups and downs. But even during the hardest days, you looked up to heaven and gave praise. When the enemy came in the middle of the night, you faced him head on never taking a step back. You reminded the enemy that even on the darkest days, you would continue to praise the one on high.

Now you are looking into the eyes of Jesus rejoicing in praise. He has welcomed you home. No more walking through the pain. Your purpose on earth is now complete. I wish I could have seen your face as the angels led you into the gates of heaven to meet the King. We rejoice as we think about you sitting at the feet of the King of Kings, as he took you by the hand and uttered those beautiful words well done, thou good and faithful servant. I can see the smile on your face as you gazed into his eyes. Go rest on high.

We will continue this journey as we carry your memory in our hearts. We will remember your strength and determination as you faced your darkest days. Some days will be filled with tears, when we pick up the phone to call only to remember you have gone home to the King. We will smile as we recall how you made everyone laugh even during the pain. We will rejoice as we think of the day we join you in heaven and sit at the feet of the King. Go rest on high. ~OC

Dear Running,

Dear Running,

It is very painful to write these words to you. Running, we have been friends since I was a child. Back then, I loved running through the neighborhood. Not a care in the world. I did not get my drivers license until I was 18 years old because I thought I could just run everywhere. My friends had cars. Why did I need to drive? After high school, you and took a break. We reunited a few times in college, but nothing serious. Just a casual short run every once in awhile. After college you and I drifted apart. Life got busy and I abandoned you. Then in 2003, while having open-heart surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, God spoke to me through a vision and said it was time to reunite with you. Not only to start running again, but to start running marathons. I was under heavy anesthesia, so was this real? Yes indeed, it was real. Not only did God say to start running again, but to share the Gospel through running. Four months after surgery, I started running again. Oh, how nice to see you again old friend. It was like old times. We were back together. One year after my surgery, I completed my first marathon. Oh what a wonderful feeling and experience. As I ran, God gave me the chance to share his amazing love. You and I continued to complete one marathon after another. In 2007, we received a scare when I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s. My first question to the doctor was “Can I keep on running?” I was overjoyed when the doctor shared I could indeed keep on running. Oh, we had a fun time the next year and a half. In 2008, God blessed me with the opportunity to run a 1,000 miles in one year. We anticipated a wonderful and exciting year of running in 2009. It started off with me completing the Disney Marathon. But something just wasn’t right. Was Parkinson’s starting to come between me and running? We fought hard to stay together. But once again something just wasn’t right. In March of 2009, my body started to betray me. That month, Myasthenia Gravis joined Parkinson’s to wreck my body. They finally broke us up in mid 2009. For the next ten years, I would fight for my life and daydream about you friend. Funny thing about those ten plus years, God kept directing me to buy a new pair of running shoes each year. Was God planning a reunion? It sure didn’t look like it. My health continued to decline. Funeral arrangements were made. Goodbyes were shared. Then on November 3, 2019, a shell of a man walked into a tent revival and was completely healed by our amazing Savior. A month later, God reunited us. In 2020, after not running for over ten years, God blessed me with the opportunity to complete 1,000 miles in ten months. Oh what a feeling. But during 2020, a pandemic rolled in and changed the world. On Super Bowl Sunday 2021, I was introduced to this strange virus called Covid. Little did I know my life was going to be completely changed. Since that Super Bowl Sunday, my body has never been the same. I have tried on many occasions to run again. We had a little success, but there have been many moments of major disappointments.

So it’s with a broken heart, I say one final goodbye to an old friend. We have made some beautiful memories together. But the effects of Covid and some other health issues have made running difficult and not enjoyable. I always dreamed running would be part of my life until Jesus took me home. So on August 4, 2022, I announce my retirement from running. It has been a beautiful crazy journey. Thanks for the memories my friend.

Hello Fear

Hello Fear, you are not welcome here anymore,
I remember when you were my closest companion
You would control my every moment
Hello fear, I thought I was safe in your arms
You were there every second of the day
I would let myself get lost in your life stealing lies
I tried letting you go on many occasions, but you still came calling
Then came the day, I fully surrendered you to the King of Kings
Oh, you still try to slip into my thoughts, but now I cry out to my King and you flee in fear
Hello fear, you can keep trying to take space in my head,
but I will keep calling on the One who died on the cross
to take away your power over me
Hello fear, you can never win
You can keep trying to come back
Hello fear, you can never break me
You used to own a space in my head
I was yours 24 hours a day
Hello fear, I know you are never far away
Some days, I hear you knocking on the door
In the past, I would open that door
Today, I call on the Lord when I hear you knocking and I watch you flee
Hello fear, you don’t own me anymore
You can never again fill my head with your lies
You can keep trying, but now I have the power to keep you at bay
This power does not come from me, but from the King of Kings who lives in me
Dear fear, you can no longer control me
Those days have come to and end
Today’s a new day and my life has changed
I know I have a target on my back
Fear will always be creeping around ever corner,
You will use every storm as on opportunity to slide back into my life
I might bend, but I will never break
I allowed you to rent space in my life for too long
You passed yourself off as a friend for too long
You always showed up on time
But today, you are not welcome
Hello fear, there are no vacancies inside my head
Fear, you have been replaced
Today, peace, freedom and victory have taken up space in my head thanks to the King of Kings. ~OC

Life Moment Lessons

Today’s a new day! As we walk through life we will all face storms. As we walk through the storms of life, we make the choice what lessons we learn. Here are just a few lessons I have learned during my journey.

Life Moment Lesson 1: I could not do life without my faith. As a 10 year old boy, I gave my life and heart to God. There have been some ups and downs along my faith journey, but God has never left me. As with any relationship, I have taken the time to get to know Him better. I have taken the time to listen to God as he has spoken to me. l have seen God move mountains, perform miracles and heal relationships that people said were dead. I have felt the beautiful peace and presence of God in every area of my life.

Life Moment Lesson 2: Do not take any moment or person for granted. Life can change in a single moment. So share grace and forgiveness. Do not hold onto anger or grudges. Let it go.

Life Moment Lesson 3: Family and friends are a beautiful gift. Hug them often. Never miss a chance to say I love you. Treasure the time together. Cherish the laughter and memories. Be present.

Life Moment Lesson 4: Never make life about you. Make life about serving others. Every experience we encounter, has a beautiful God purpose if we only stop and embrace the moment. Stop rushing through life.

Life Moment Lesson 5: God is in every moment. But we must stop to see God’s beautiful presence. It doesn’t matter what storms we are facing. God is always there. If we look closely, we can see God’s fingerprints on everything. Slow down.

Life Moment Lesson 6: Be thankful and grateful in everything. I have learned when my focus is on God and everything He has brought me through, I can only praise Him and say Thank You. Take time to be thankful.

Of course there have been more lessons learned along the journey, but these are the ones God wanted me to share today. I am Blessed. ~OC

Wake Up

Hello. Here is a little something God put on my heart.

You spend your life running a race not created by God. Cause you live your life in a self created lane you keep running up against hurdles. You keep slipping. Look up and open your eyes, you’ll find a hand reaching down for you.

Wake up grab hold of the hand of God
Wake up and grab the hand of God

You keep running a race that has no purpose. It’s a dead end. It’s a race filled with shiny things, but no substance. No hope. It’s a fantasy. Look up and open your eyes, you’ll find a hand reaching down for you

Wake up grab hold of the hand of God
Wake up and grab the hand of God

Your race is full of money and a big house in the right zip code The world looks at you thinking you’ve got the American Dream. But your life is empty. Full of regrets and broken promises. Void of hope, Void of peace. Oh, if you only had some peace. But peace is not found in the race you chose. Look up and open your eyes you’ll find a hand reaching down for you.

Wake up grab hold of the hand of God
Wake up and grab the hand of God.

The race you run is full of comparisons and false images. Your race is full of lies that leave you empty. Look up and open your eyes, you’ll find a hand reaching down for you.

Wake up grab hold of the hand of God.
Wake up and grab the hand of God

Stop running your own race
Where’s it gotten you? God has a better race for you to run. A race designed just for you. Look up and open your eyes, you’ll find a hand reaching down for you.

Wake up grab hold of the hand of God.
Wake up and grab the hand of God.
(Wake Up Wake Up) ~OC

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