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.

One Little Word

heart_leaf.JPGJust like that. In the blink of an eye. One word can literally change your whole life.

This morning I got a phone call from a friend, telling me that her husband’s doctor told her husband at his follow-up appointment that he has cancer.

Millions of often, dreaded little words with life-changing impacts.

You’ve been there. You’ve sat on that cold, vinyl seat or bed, depending on your bodily position. It’s always wrapped in noisy, white, sterile paper. You sit there, butt-naked except for a thin cotton wrap that never really does wrap you. It’s always too short. It’s always too cold. It’s always too airy. Just about the time you wonder if you should have taken off your socks, the door opens and the doctor walks in wearing a terile white coat. I know that doctors worked extremely hard for those coats. I know they aren’t cheap by any means. But white? Who decided on white? Such a stand off-ish color in the medical community. Cold and uninviting.

The doctor gently closes the door and positions himself onto his rolling stool. At this point he puts down any papers or files he was holding, glanced them once more for good measure and then looks you straight in the eye as he scoots just a little bit closer. He’s about to tell you something that will change your life forever.

You have cancer. Or, maybe he tells you that you have MS. Or maybe you heard the words “Parkinson’s disease.”

It’s just one little word, but it changes your life forever. I know. I’ve sat on that sterile white paper and so did my friend’s husband, just the day before. I suppose it’s comes from experiencing life in other seasons or perhaps thoughts of the unknown that can change the way we now view life, approach life, live life.

But, there is another little ‘word’ I know that has changed lives: Jesus. Many react to that word with much the same fear as when they hear the words cancer or Alzheimer’s. And, for much the same reasons.

When you sit on that vinyl seat and the doctor has just given you news you’d rather have not heard, eventually you begin to wonder how it’s going to affect your life. How will people treat you now? What will I have to change? How is my life, as I’ve know it, going to change? When some of us were approached with the idea of Jesus, similar questions piled up. How will my life change? What do I have to give up? Will my life forever be different?

Jesus doesn’t wait for us to change before he calls us to trust Him. He changes us usually slowly, methodically, with great purpose, after  our realization of our need for a Savior. And our lives become different at the sound of His name, but not despairing. Instead of days filled with fear, they are filled with hope. Joy replaces sadness and sorrow. Trials become triumphs.

All because of one little word: Jesus.

A friend once said someone told her that when she was having difficulty knowing this man called Jesus as anything other than a strict, authoritative judge, condemning and to be feared, to think of who she’d like Him to be.

So, she did. And she thought she’d like Him to be kind and forgiving. Compassionate and protective. A Father for her children and a constant companion for her. Strong and secure. Loving and gentle.

And that’s who He became to her, because that is who He is. Not someone to be feared but Someone to be adored. And it was just one little word that changed her life forever, for good.

The word – the Man . . .


Sometimes Only God’s Word

Roses like Peonies
Roses like Peonies

Sometimes, we despair. Sometimes we lose hope and feel we are withering away.  Sometimes we feel like grieving over things we have lost to a disease that can ravage our body until it seems nothing that is ‘us’ remains any longer.

Sometimes, all we need is a little encouragement. Sometimes hope will and does remedy what is ailing us at the moment. Sometimes hope and encouragement can only come through the truth of God’s word.

And. So, may His truth encourage you this day as you remember that it is He, and only He, that can fill us with joy as we face trials in life that attempt to bring us down and strip us from the heavenly joy which is promised to those who believe.

Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kids, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. …Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
James 1

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests before God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

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