Something Good

Parkie the WPC Mascot
Parkie the WPC Mascot

What is the WPC, some of you may ask.

WPC stands for Wilma’s Personal Computer, Wisconsin’s Pretty Cats and a score of other off the wall, made up, random stuff, but in this case, WPC stands for World Parkinson Congress.

The WPC began roughly fourteen years ago when Dr. Elias Zerhouni had a vision to see those who had been touched by PD – caregivers, patients, professionals including physicians, nursing staff, pharmaceuticals and more – come together to discuss the latest research, treatments, programs, etc., all for the cause of not only expediting a cure for PD, but how to live well with PD in the meantime.

Zerhouni (the then head of the National Institutes of Health) shared his idea with Robin Elliott (President of the US-based Parkinson’s Disease Foundation [PDF]), who asked Dr. Stanley Fahn, one of the most recognized Parkinsonologists in the world, to help launch the World Parkinson Congresses. Dr. Fahd. agreed and in 2004 the World Parkinson Coalition Inc, the organization behind each Congress was established. The first WPC was held in 2006 in Washington, DC., followed by the WPC 2010 in Glasgow, UK, the WPC 2013 in Montreal, Canada and now the fourth WPC is currently being held in Portland, OR (September 20-23).

Which all brings me to…

Tuesday night, last night, and the opening ceremonies. But let me back up a tad bit.

I was reluctant to go. It’s a six hour drive. Who would watch Finn? It’s expensive.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

But you know what the biggest reason I was dragging my feet? The conference was about Parkinson’s disease. Yes, that’s right. But, you may ask – Isn’t that what you have?

Well, yes. But I don’t want it. And I get so tired of thinking about it. So – why would I want to go away for four days and hear nothing but Parkinson’s related subject matter?

And then…

I was offered a scholarship (from Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon via Holly Chaimov, their director) to go (which got rid of excuse #2). I was offered hotel accommodations (see excuse #2). Four people stepped up to watch Finn (excuse #3).

I accepted the scholarship, in hopes of the conference rejuvenating my spirit in regards to this little monster, especially in regards to my blog and so, here I sit, in rainy Portland, the morning after the opening ceremonies at the WPC.

Well, the rain is a welcome sight and the conference? So much more than I could have imagined.

This is now the fourth World Parkinson’s Congress. It seems this year is the year that the Congress has hit an exponential curve of growth. This year’s event boasts over 4,500 attendees and the synergy is the conversation of all present.

The goal for the evening was obvious: to make all atrendies feel welcome.

The evening opened up with a choir comprised of people with Parkinson’s disease. There was an award given for the best video presented to the WPC’s video contest. Some history of the WPC was given. Several speakers encouraged those attending but my favorites were Brian Grant, who touched on how it takes a village to deal with Parkinson’s disease, you, the person with PD, your caregiver(s), your support team, doctors, etc. And then he paused and looked out at those sitting in front of him. After a moment he added, “And you guys right here – you’re my village.”

At that moment, I realized I am a part of something bigger than myself. I may not like that I have this little monster I call PD, but the things it has taught me are invaluable. The people I have come to meet and have gotten to know because of it are a blessing beyond words. And I have a village that understands and is there for me. Thanks, Brian.

It reminds me of the verse in Genesis 50:20, where Joseph tells his brothers when they fear he will do unto them what they did unto him, “…you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid.”

Holly Chaimov, PRO Dorector
Holly Chaimov, PRO Dorector

I can now see some light again after going through a period of darkness over this little PD monster. Because I can see the good in the bad. I can see much good. And while I’ll report back on the conference some more later, I just want to thank Holly Chaimov, a part of my village, for thinking of me and encouraging me and being there.

Thanks, Holly. I hope you got your ice cream bar.

Bring It On

Photo credit: Unknown
Photo credit: Unknown

If you are a Christian, you’ve got God on your side and life will be easy. Right? After all, if we’re doing what we believe God has called us to do, and if we are making decisions after seeking His heart and His wisdom, everything is going to fall into picture perfect place. Right? I guess we don’t have to be a Christian too awful long to not fall for that lie.

Life is a battle – a battle for our very lives. A battle between forces we often forget exist as we become distracted with the very things God has already given us victory over. Yet, we wake up, scrub our faces, and walk into our day hoping, expecting, believing that today will be better. After all, we’ve got God on our side of this battle.

However, while we can rest in the truth that He is fighting for us, we still have our part to do in this unseen fight. Without doing our part, we will constantly be falling in the muck, feeling defeated, wondering why this life we’re living is so hard.

What can aide us in stepping over, instead of into, the muck of life? What can sustain us instead of defeat us? What can set our thinking on truth instead of lies?

God, who created the heavens and the earth also led the people of Israel over a parted Red Sea. He took back Jericho, and raised a dead man from the grave. He made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and extends a loving hand to sinners. This God… He is still in control! When planes crash into buildings, when millions of people are losing their jobs, when loved ones are suddenly and confusingly taken from us, when illnesses with no cure claim our bodies, when disasters strike across the earth and leave no one untouched in some way, He still remains in control!

In the midst of trials, it is imperative to remember that our enemy has already been defeat. Chip Ingram, former pastor of Santa Cruz Bible Church, once said, “His goal is to destroy your life on earth and to discredit the cause of Christ through you. Be alert. Be aware. Satan plays for keeps. He wants to mess with your mind. He wants you to start thinking wrongly about God, wrongly about yourself, and wrongly about others. If he can do that, he knows you’ll make destructive choices for yourself and for those you love.”

It is essential to discover his tactics and where you are vulnerable. Again, we must be alert and be aware. Remember that in Christ’s power, you are invincible if we do not neglect (as we can so often do!) to put on His armor.

Ephesians 6:10-18 states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

  • Put on the belt of truth. Hide His word, His truth in your heart. Stand firm in what you KNOW to be true and dwell in that truth, not in how you are feeling.
  • Put on His breastplate of righteousness. Know you are His! What greater joy than to know you have been cleansed from sin and are the apple of His eye! That He now sees you through Jesus Christ His son—beautiful, clean and pure. Live accordingly in righteousness. His righteousness!
  • Put on the helmet of salvation and remember that you are saved and sealed!
  • Put your feet in the boots of peace and BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD! Then go and take the peace of God with you, entering into every situation with that peace that only comes from above. Tighten those laces and carry His good news to those who are struggling alongside of you. Take it to those in need of encouragement and hope.
  • Take up your shield. The shield of faith that deflects what is intended to destroy. Remember that when all around you seems confusing and when nothing makes sense, God is working it together for your good. Have faith and trust Him to do just that.
  • Now, with all your armor cinched tightly and in place, pick up your sword. How often we prepare for battle and then forget the one weapon that is our strongest defense: the Word of God. Hide it in your heart. Make it the light for your darkened path. When the battle rages, trust His truth. It is His truth which sets us free.
  • Don’t forget to pray. Pray without ceasing. God says that the prayers of his people are like sweet smelling incense to Him. Oh what a joy to smell sweet to the Lord because of prayer. And, what power when we release to Him what binds us up from being free.

There is a song that Steven Curtis Chapman sings called, “Bring It On”. It talks about how we have an enemy who is waiting to bring us pain, but he seems to forget that what he means for evil, God works for good.

I encourage you as God has encouraged me this last week: Let us not retreat or surrender, for that is exactly what the enemy is hoping for – to bring us down and leave us feeling defeated. Instead, let us say with confidence,

Bring it on!
Let the lightning flash,
let the thunder roll,
let the storm winds blow,
let the trouble come,
let the hard rain fall,
let it make me strong…
Bring it on
!”
(Steven Curtis Chapman)

Another Day on the Journey with Parkinson’s

another day
another handful of pills
another day masked with pain

shaking
tripping over my own two feet
choking on nothing
being told to speak up
being told to ‘Smile!’
wanting to scream,
“I am yelling! I am smiling!”
but they think I can do better
they think I am not trying hard enough
they’re wrong

I am
doing my best

trying so hard to maintain
to hang in there
but some days
are so
hard

the shadows of despair
cling to my heels
darkness clamors for my joy
and seeks to destroy
my happiness
it beckons me to come
to give up
to give in
to the pain
that wreaks havoc within soul

oh soul,
disheartened heart,
despairing spirit

I will
rest in His arms
and wait patiently for Him
that I might
boast in Him
boast of His goodness
His faithfulness

the afflicted will hear
the afflicted will be delivered from
all
their fears

happy is the one
who makes You
their refuge

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