Walking Another Journey

I have always tried to be open and honest about my health journey. God has given me a story of hope and encouragement to share with the world. He has given each of us a story to share. Here is my current story.

As some of you know, I walked an almost 18 year health journey. I faced death on many occasions. At one point I weighed 112 pounds, was living off a feeding tube and had to use a voice amplifier to speak. On November 3, 2019, with just two weeks to live, I walked into a tent and was healed during an old fashioned prayer and healing service. My life changed completely in a minute. I went from The Man Who Refused to Die, to the Dead Man Running sharing my story around the country. A documentary was even made about incredible journey (www.deadmanrunningmovie.com). Life was good. Then February 7, 2021 happened and my life changed again.

I woke up on Super Bowl Sunday February 7, 2021 excited. You see, my Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing in the Super Bowl. I have been a Bucs fan since the NFL announced Tampa was getting a team in 1974. The Bucs started playing two years later in 1976. Anyone who truly calls themselves a Buccaneers fan knows there have been a lot of ups and downs over the years. But on Sunday February 7, 2021, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would win the Super Bowl. I would only see a few minutes of the game. Life was about to throw me another curveball.

I woke up that Sunday morning a little tired, but nothing major. I went to church that morning feeling excited about the day. After church, I came home and took a small nap. Had to get my rest before cheering for my Bucs. I did not wake up rested. No, I woke up trenched in sweat and a 103.7 fever. So I ended up sleeping through most of the Super Bowl. The next day Monday February 8th, I would be admitted into the hospital with Covid and deal with a 104.4 fever for four straight days. Little did I know that over a year later, I would be still dealing with issues from Covid and be classified as a Long Hauler.

Which brings me to September 2022. I am currently hospitalized and dealing with an uncertain future. I was brought to the hospital a few days ago with stroke life symptoms. Thankfully, the doctors do not believe I had a stroke. So what caused those symptoms? We may never know. Thank you Covid. These days eating and even drinking have become difficult. At this time, I am taking in less than 500 calories a day. My body is being attacked on multiple fronts. A lot of tough decisions will need to be made over the next few days and weeks. Once again, thank you Covid.

With all that said, I am still clinging to the promises of Jesus. I am reaching out, just trying to touch his robe. I still believe in the beautiful miracles of Jesus. None of this is a surprise to the King of Kings. He is still using my beautiful crazy journey to tell a story of hope, love and encouragement. I am at peace.

A little side note. Jesus did not take away my miracle from November 3, 2019. My current health issues are not caused from sin in my life. I do not have some type of evil spirit in my life. The only spirit I have in my body is the Holy Spirit. I share this because these things have been said to me as I am walking this new health journey. I also know other people walking through their own journey that have heard these cruel words. Please do not believe these lies. Remember, Lazarus was raised from the dead, but today he is walking with Jesus in Heaven. So for those walking through a storm, do not walk in these lies. Walk in the beautiful victory, hope, love and peace of Jesus. Stay Focused. Finish Strong. ~OC

Dear God

Dear God, thank you for inviting me to come closer to you and run the race you designed just for me. Thank you for blessing me with purpose. Show me how to stay alert and in top condition as I run the race you have given me to run. Let me run with purpose.
Empower me to help as many people along the race as possible. Guide me to the finish line. In Jesus name I pray. ~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

Overcomer

Today’s a new day. Let’s talk about this crazy beautiful journey called life. Life can be like a roller coaster. We experience ups, downs, twist and turns. Life can be a wild ride. We experience happiness and pain. Life is filled with laughs and tears. This journey called life can be tough. So today, I want to remind you that you’re a strong overcomer. I wholeheartedly believe this to be true. More importantly, I want you to believe this truth. Often we move through life so caught up in the rigors of life, we forget there is a lot of pain and hardship around us. Maybe you are dealing with a health issue that came out of nowhere. Possibly you have lost your job and are wondering how you will take care of your family. The list could go on and one. As I shared above, you are an overcomer. You got this! Stay in the fight. Never give up. We all face difficulties and challenges events during this crazy beautiful journey. Stay focused. Finish strong. ~OC

God Shows Up

In Disappointments God shows up.
In times of Victory God shows up.
In times of Loneliness God shows up.
In times of Happiness God shows up.
In times of Heartbreak God shows up.
In times of great Blessings God shows up.
In times of Sorrow God shows up.
In times of Turmoil God shows up.
In times of Peace God shows up.

You see, God shows up during the storms and during the sunshine.

A Call

God put this on my heart the last few days. I thought I would share it with you. God is sharing a lot with me these days.

Another sunrise, but today it’s not the same.
No, this new day starts with a call.
A Call that changes everything
I have seen the signs in the mirror and my clothes
Have to tighten that belt just a little more
I’ve heard the whispers
Those stolen glances of pity
I know the results before I even answer the call
As the sun was breaking through
I heard the words my time could be over soon
The Call, the call that can change everything
The Call that gives me new purpose
The Call that gives me new perspective
The Call that makes a 9 to 5 seem unappealing
The years running for success now seemed like wasted minutes
In that moment, I was flooded with regrets
Time that was wasted
In that moment, I thought about riding my bike for the first time
In that moment, I thought about my first day of school
In that moment, I thought about the day I said “I do”
A Call can change everything
In that moment, I saw everything I had missed
A Call that shifted my thinking
Saying I love you to my wife meant more
Making memories meant more than a spreadsheet
Breathing in God’s creation
meant more than making a deadline
Time might be short, but maybe I am just beginning to live
Could this be the day, anything is possible
When a Call changes everything
When a Call gives you clarity
When a Call feels you with purpose beyond yourself
Look up, look up, look up
Come on look up, look up
A Call changes everything
A Call changes everything
In a moment, a call can change everything

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 Todd

Some nights, I wanna disappear into the night like a flying star. Maybe I can be like Marty McFly and find a time machine to take me back in time. Maybe I will travel to the year when I was 12. That’s when I remember my body facing its first medical trial. When life changed for awhile. Of course I didn’t know then that at 35, my life would turn into one crazy beautiful health journey. But a miracle would change that at 53. Then a pandemic would hit that changed everything at 55. I would tell that 12 year old, he’s going to take a lot of hits along the way. His life is going to become a medical odyssey. A journey around the world for doctors to see how this dead man walking keeps on overcoming. They whisper to themselves this man just refuses to die. I would share with that 12 year boy, it’s not by his strength that he is surviving the crazy waves. No it’s by the powerful love of God that he’s thriving as the waves come raging in. Remember when you were 10 years old and you asked the King of Kings into your heart? That life changing moment did not make life easy, but that single moment filled you with peace and hope. Those would come in handy in the years ahead. You will make mistakes along the journey, but when you look to your left or right the King of Kings will always be standing by your side. When you have questions or need some insight, God will always be there to direct your ways. You see, God is always listening even when you think he’s asleep. Hey, let’s take a break and return to that young man trying to navigate his way. There are some things you’ll do along the way you wish you could erase. But remember, every slip up will make you the man you will become one day. Far from perfect, but still allowing God to mold him like clay. People will build you up along the way, but will be quick to tear you down when you go astray. But don’t let anybody tell you how to write your story. Along the journey you might need to flip the script even if it scares a few people away. We are all products of our lived experiences. At times along the journey you will feel confused and scared. That’s when you stop and lean into the loving arms of the King of Kings. I hope you’re hearing this. I wish I could tell you life is going to be easy, but that would be a shiny bright lie. Yeah, I wrote about that before you should check it out. Life will be full of mistakes. That’s just part of the race. Do not forget about those lived experiences. But life will also be full of decisions you get right. Both are learning experiences. Don’t miss out on the lessons. When the journey gets hard, remember that Mother’s Day back in the day when you said yes to the Lord. You will often look back on that day when facing those crashing waves. Life is not going to be easy. There will be days you feel like throwing it all away, but then God will suddenly stop everything so you can take it all in and be amazed. Don’t miss one of those days. You see, life is going to go quick. One day you will wake up and wonder what happened to all those days. My prayer for that 12 year old boy, is that you will take it all in. The good and the bad. The memories that bring tears and the ones that bring smiles. Enjoy every minute of this amazing ride. ~OC

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