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
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. My health was declining. Was Parkinson’s starting to come between me and running? We fought hard to stay together. From January through March we completed several 5k’s. 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, when the doctors stated I would never run again. 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. We were back! 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. To reunite with you. We had a little success, but there have been many moments of major disappointments and setbacks.
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 never wanted to see this moment come. I always dreamed running would be part of my life until Jesus took me home. Maybe it will in a different way. So on August 4, 2022, I announce my retirement from running. It has been a beautiful crazy journey. Thanks for the memories. I will never forget you. ~OC
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
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
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
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
I want to tell you about a Hope Dealer. A Difference Maker. His name is Ricky Aiken. My amazing godson.
I met Ricky when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He was a inner-city kid trying to find his way in life. I was a white guy from the suburbs trying to make a difference. A unlikely pair, but we just clicked. Fast forward a lot of years and Ricky has more than found his way and is making a major difference in his community. Ricky founded Inner City Innovators and is a leader of change in his community. I believe what Ricky is doing will go beyond West Palm Beach and Florida. Ricky is changing the culture of the inner-city. He is showing people that the inner-city is more than what they see on the news. Laura West Shoemaker and I are so proud of Ricky. We think of Ricky as our son. We are excited to see what he is going to do next. Ricky is truly a Difference Maker. A Hope Dealer. ~OC
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
Today’s a new day! The presence of a storm does not mean Jesus has left the boat. ~OC
Today’s a new day! Jesus might be using the current crisis and unrest to help us look more like Him. ~OC