Growth

Today’s a new day! Life can be filled with lots of trials and tribulations. As we walk through these trials, we must learn how to endure and overcome those storms. As we endure, we grow in character. As we grow in character, we grow in hope. This hope comes from God, who walks with us through every trial. Our pain and trials bears evidence of the life changing spirit of God living in and through us.

Some days, I have no strength or desire to go for my morning walk. But when I put my shoes on and get out the door, I see the beauty of God’s creation. I realize God has called me to live in his strength.

Some days I wrestle with questions and emotions about why God has me on this crazy beautiful health journey. I am thankful God is patient with me during these moments. He patiently and lovingly reminds me of my purpose during this journey. So I shake off the negative thoughts and take another step forward. Trusting and believing God will continue to bless and meet my needs.

Dear Friends, I pray your hope is not based on your own strength and ability to walk through the trials of life on your own. God is bigger than any trial we will endure. He is waiting for us to lean into his loving strong embrace. God does not want us walking this journey alone. He is using these trials to grow us and teach us life changing lessons. I know that is not always easy. But our aim is not perfection (on this side of heaven), but it’s growth. So continue to keep growing where God has you planted. ~OC

Be Kind Always

Today’s a new day! I mostly write about life and the lessons God continues to teach me. Some lessons can be tough to walk through. Being open and honest about my crazy, beautiful journey on social media can be challenging. I choose to share some of my toughest moments because I truly believe sharing our stories can help others. Even if it’s just one person. Remember, everyone is going through something in life.

The point is, you never know what storms people are dealing with inside, nor what they’ve had to face in life. As I have been open about health journey the last 20 years, many people have shared their own life experiences with me. I have been uplifted and heartbroken at what some friends and strangers have shared with me in confidence. They have not shared these thoughts and feelings with their own family. You just never know the struggles people are walking through.

That is why we need to show love and grace to everyone we encounter. Everyone is walking though a storm we know nothing about. I encourage everyone, including myself to stop and listen to our loved ones and the stranger at the coffee shop. You might be the one God has chosen to walk with that person through the storm they are facing. Do not miss out on a beautiful interruption. Be kind always. ~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

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

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

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

This Journey

Today’s a new day! This journey is not about us. It’s not to show people how strong we are, for our strength comes from God. It’s not to show others how great our faith is, for our faith is a gift from God. It’s not to show people how courageous we are, for our courage comes from God…exactly at the time we need it. Anything people see in us that is good is not of our doing… it’s from Heaven. ~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

Prayer

Today’s a new day! In the past as I prayed for people and their needs, I would often find myself looking at my clock or thinking about other things. Rather than truly talking with Jesus or listening for his voice, I would find myself talking at Jesus. Those times of prayer often felt burdensome, empty and tiring.

Over the years, my prayer habits have thankfully changed. I have come to see prayer as a chance to embrace those beautiful moments with Jesus. Now my time with Jesus is my favorite part of the day. A sweet time I approach with beautiful anticipation. ~OC

#RelationshipOverReligion

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