One of the things that has been most impacted by having Parkinson’s is my sense of balance. Falling is a constant problem in my life now, and I am working at being aware of this danger so that I am always looking for a handhold or way of compensating so that I can maintain a normal life in spite of this problem. Physical balance is important as we walk, ride a bicycle, and stand up. But a greater challenge is mental balance, and vastly more important to our success in life. Mental balance is the ability to hold two opposing ideas, views, disciplines, or truths at the same time without moving to one over the other. There are many examples of this mental balance, but let me zero in on one. I want to be a person who totally accepts himself, that I like who I am, that I am comfortable with myself so that I am not competing with others around me, that I am not eaten up with self critism, that I don’t get defensive when corrected or criticized, that I can make mistakes and grow from them and not be paralyzed by fear of doing it again or something worse, that I don’t feel the need to prove myself or defend myself.
On the other hand I want to be constantly evaluating my behavior and performance so I can improve and grow rapidly, I want to press on to rapid character growth, I want to learn more, I want to do more, I want to succeed more. I live in a constant state of discontent with who I am and what I have accomplished and am always striving for more. Mental balance is being comfortable with who I am but being discontent with who I am at the same time. Physical balance is getting my two legs to work together in unity so I can move, walk, run from place to place with ease and rapidly. Mental balance is a key to feeling joy all the time, to having great relationships, to accomplishing a lot, being attractive to other people, and having a great relationship with God.
One of my personal mission statements is, “Never stop learning”. In order to be a life long learner, one that learns much, not a little, you have to have some clear guidelines that counteract the natural pull of our flesh. We are hard wired to survive and many things that we do are a result of this natural bent to survival. One of the major things we do to survive is to always be right. Our brains are hardwired for self-preservation—we are constantly seeking to protect not only our physical well-being but our ego as well. The issue isn’t “being right” but rather “wanting to be right” and “fighting to be right” and “proving we are right.” People who are always wanting to be right cannot learn. A requirement for rapid learning is humility in regards to what I already know. So a guideline that I am working hard to implement in my life is “in any conversation about anything, with anybody don’t argue, or debate, not even a little bit. In college,there was a group,of us who would sit and argue, debate, and discuss passionately our various theological bents, opinions, and ideas. I learned how to hold my own in the most heated discussions and in the process cemented an attitude that would guarantee that I would not learn much the rest of my life. So it has not been an easy change to make on my part. The key motivatIon has been regularly reciting my mission statement, “Never Stop Learning”.
To be naive is to be a person who doesn’t think enough. A naive person is low on the character trait of curiosity. A naive person prefers not knowing because knowing information might disappoint, or cause fear and anxiety, or cause sadness. A naive person prefers not thinking about the future, because the future might be painful, or depressing. A naive person believes they have no influence or control over the future so it is better to just hope for the best instead of trying to change anything or possibly make the future better.
Choosing to be naive is a self protective move. It doesn’t really protect but it does take away much anxiety. In our day when everything is changing as rapidly as it is the future is scary and intimidating, so naive people choose to not think about the future, or plan for it, or try to change it. Our life after we die will be really, really good or it will be really, really bad. Because it is forever it is not very wise to ignore thinking about our eternal destiny or not thinking seriously about how to make it much better.
I ponder about my future every day. We were created by God as teleological beings, because He is, that is we can think about the future, we can plan for the future, and we can change our future. I want a very joy filled, rewarding, positive, and productive future, so I am making choices that will make those dreams reality.
My greatest desire in life now is to somehow be a strong influence in the lives of many people so that they will move away from being naive, to becoming a genuine seeker of answers, always wanting to know more and more, and influencing them to be a genuine seeker for Jesus. God says that if we seek Him, we will find Him, He will see to it.
(1) I change my life radically and rapidly by making and remaking commitments that are a statement of who and what I want to be. (2) All life change takes place at the point of commitment. (3) God’s power flows to our commitments made to Him as an act of submission. (4) Our natural self avoids commitment like the plaque. (5) we stupidly think that commitments limit our freedom. (6) The most effective way to help others is help them identify and make commitments. (7) The power of making commitments doubles when we share them with others. (8) They go up exponentially when we give others permission to encourage us and hold us accountable for our commitments. (9) Faithfully writing down and reviewing often a growing list of commitments is the single most powerful key to self-control. (10) A wise and Godly person is always looking for new commitments to make and review.
A few of my Favorite personal COMMITMENTS
(1) I wIll read the Bible everyday. (2) I will have a date with God everyday and spend time with Him in prayer. 3. I will love any person God sovereignly brings into my life no matter how difficult they might be to love. (4) I will not get angry, not even a little bit irritated at anybody, ever, no matter what they do and no matter how many times they do it. (5) I will not grumble or complain about anything no matter how bad it is. (6). I will never gossip or slander or give a bad report of anybody no matter what they have done. (7) I will love my wife the way Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. (8) I will be the kind of father to my children and grandchildren that God is to me. (9) I will forgive anybody of anything no matter how bad it is. (10) I will live every day as if it is my last before standing before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Probably the most irritating consequence of having Parkinson’s is that I have these times of extreme sleepiness. I am not really tired, I just can’t stay awake. It comes out of nowhere and for no reason. It usually lasts for about an hour, and the only thing that will work to keep me awake is to be doing something on my feet and moving. When I fall asleep I usually only stay asleep for about 5 minutes and then I wake up but still sleepy and struggling. So it goes like this, I fall asleep for 5 minutes than I wake up and go back to reading, writing, or whatever I was doing and then about 10 minutes later I fall asleep again, and on and on for about an hour. Then it passes and I am good to do whatever with good alertness for awhile, nobody knows for how long. Sometimes I am super alert for 4 or 5 hours and other times it is only an hour. The best thing for me to do is not fight it and lay down on my bed or in my recliner and sleep for 15 minutes, but it seems to happen at the most inconvenient of times. The worst time is when I am in a meeting of some sort with people, that can be embarrassing. So basically the present rule of my life now is, when I fall asleep and then wake up I take a 15 minute nap if I am in a place that I can do that conveniently, if not I get up and do something standing and walking. I have lots of projects around the house that I can go and do, and if I am in my office I get up and walk to someone else’s office and bug them or go over to the shop and work on my boat for 30 minutes.
l pray every morning that God will bless me in such a way that I can bear more fruit in the next ten years than I did in the first 40 years of ministry. That will require some good time management and given the challenge of my physical condition some major creativity and flexibility. In my list of 26 character traits that I am pursuing in my life one of them is creativity and another is flexibility. One of the things that I am going to do is build a small desk that I stand at instead of sit at, and use it to write and type on my laptop computer.
One of my other solutions is to tell people that I am praying when they walk into my office while I am asleep. Just kidding 🙂 .
About 2 or 3 times a week someone will send me an email, text, or message me about a new cure for Parkinson’s. I read each one I get and usually do a little internet research of my own on the information that I received. I don’t usually make any changes in my present routine or diet mostly because it seems like what I am presently doing is working fairly well. I always appreciate the time and effort those make who send me stuff, but mostly I appreciate the fact that they obviously care about me and my health. I don’t get irritated because of the time it takes to check out the information, I don’t consider people rude because they stuck their nose into my life and health, I don’t get defensive because they are trying to tell me what to do with my life, I don’t call people dogmatic because they are so convinced that this particular thing works and probably better than anything I am presently doing, and I certainly wouldn’t call them hypocrites because they have some health issues themselves so maybe they ought to just heal themselves first before they start messing in my life. Why would I do that or act that way? I would never think, talk or act that way because I am honored by people’s concern for me and my health.
I often share with people what I believe about how to live for eternity with God, with a glorified body, and in a perfect invironment. What I share with people I believe with every fiber in my being. Over the years as I have thought repeatedly about what happens when a person dies I have come to some rock solid convictions. Many times when I share these convictions people get irritated, consider me rude, they get very defensive, call me dogmatic, and a hypocrite. I share because I truly care, and the thought of people being separated from God forever paying for their own sins truly grieves me. If I am right and they are wrong the price they will pay is incomprehensible. It seems strange to me that with such a huge consequence staring them in the face if they are simply being stubborn rather than intellectual they wouldn’t at least consider and think seriously about my simple message on how to live forever with God. My convictions really aren’t that offensive and hard to believe to be true. (1) We don’t just turn to dirt and cease to exist when we die. There is in every person’s heart a sense of living on beyond death, it is just that most are content to wait and see what happens. Waiting until it is to late to do anything is foolish. (2) if I truly do live beyond death it is only because there is a God who makes it so. (3) A God big enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to make all that we see most assuredly makes the rules on how to live with Him, not me. Any person who thinks they can dictate to God how it ought to be is amazingly conceited and stupid. I need to find out what those rules are and follow them because I desperately want to live with total, unimaginable joy forever and ever and ever and ever…..(4) if God has a fairly narrow gate into heaven, which He does, He would surely make that way known clearly, I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and gives us very clear instructions on how to live forever with Him.
I fairly often do or say something that is a mistake. It wasn’t what I intended to do or say, but it is still a mistake. I recently bought some airplane tickets for my son and grandson to Kenai, Alaska so they could go salmon fishing with me. They were round trip tickets, and were supposed to be from July 19th to July 26th. Seth recently asked me what the dates were because he had forgotten so I picked up the tickets to look because I had forgotten as well, and read July 19th to September 26th. He responded by saying “I thought this was a one week fishing trip, not two months”! Oops, how did that happen? I immediately got on the phone and called Alaska Airlines and explained my mistake, and they very graciously changed the dates. Whooooeeee, I am glad Seth asked, it would have been a bummer to get ready to come home and find out then. Sometimes my mistakes are little and funny and other times they are big and expensive. Sometimes my mistakes can be fixed and other times they can’t be fixed. Mistakes are inevitable, part of life. The problem for most of us is that our mistakes often cause inconvenience for others as well as for ourselves, and often are embarrassing and make us feel stupid or incompetent. I once called a couple by the wrong names as I performed their wedding, preached with my zipper down, once while on the dairy I forgot to put the cap on the milk tank after washing it, and 300 gallons of milk ran in the tank and out the drain.
The main question is what do you do after the mistake, especially if it is big, expensive, and embarrassing? I wrote out my response several years ago, because I found that if I wrote out what to do I got over it quick, but if I didn’t have a pre-meditated plan I could fret about it for days and even longer as I replayed the stupid move over and over in my head. (1) Yep, that was a mistake, admit it, don’t excuse, justify, or blame. It may have been a typo, I might have been tired, it doesn’t really change anything, so don’t don’t make excuses, it just makes me look like a wimp. (2) Laugh! Laugh at myself! Most mistakes are funny if I can just relax and recognize that it was a mistake. (3) Learn whatever there is to learn if the mistake was a result of not knowing or understanding something. (4) Fix whatever I can fix, if I can’t fix it, be humble enough to try and find someone who can, if it isn’t fixable, admit it, and don’t keep trying to resuscitate a dead horse. (5) Apologize quickly to anybody that is impacted by my mistake, again without excuses, blaming, or justifying. (6) Offer to make restitution to anybody that experiences financial loss because of my mistake. (7) Write the details of the mistake in my journal so I don’t forget the experience and can use it as an illustration in a sermon or a blog, a good illustration or story is worth a lot. (8) Make a resolution. “I will work hard at not doing that again”!! and (9) once I have done the above eliminate all self-scolding and negative self-talk, it doesn’t change anything.
Road my bicycle outside on the road for the first time in a year. Doesn’t seem that long ago when we road from San Diego to St Augustine, Florida, but it has been over a year. I ride my stationary bike an hour almost every day so my legs didn’t bother me today on my 9 mile ride, but my neck and hands killed me, and my butt was screaming pretty good as well. I leave on August 1st for a 30 day, 2,000 mile bike ride around the circumference of Oregon. Patty will be coming on this trip and will be driving our Kia pulling a little trailer. It will be fun camping with her each evening. Because we will be less than 6 hours drive from Jefferson at any point on the trip a number are going to bike with me at various places along the route for anywhere from 2 days to a week depending on their schedule. Anybody who wants to go one day up to the entire trip is welcome. Every year when I go on one of these trips I have a project to work on, usually sermons. This year I am going to update and improve my leadership class material. I will work on it each evening in camp. The Leadership class is my most rewarding ministry that I do, and I am praying that the gays that join this year are hot and really want to learn.
I have some poison that kills ants, and it kills the baby ants when the adult ants take it into their nest. I kill ants and lots of people kill ants. I trap gophers and moles who make a mess of my lawn. I shoot starlings who eat my cherries. I have mouse traps in my shop and I put out poison to kill the little rascals. We shot a possum the other night that was eating our chicken eggs. So far not much of a problem with most. Several years ago I went on a mountain lion hunt in Wyoming and was able to kill one. Quite a few people expressed various levels of critism and destain for my murdering the poor creature. Is it the size that makes the difference between an ant and a mountain lion, or the beauty, or the intelligence? Sage rats are ground squirrels that make nests in the ground in alfalfa fields and cause thousands of dollars of damage. The owners of these fields love it when people like me come and spend all day shooting them.
People have a distinct difference from animals, we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are created by God with the amazing purpose of living with Him forever and being His friend and companion. Honoring people is important to God because people are important to God, they are His possession, they are His family. One of my goals in life is to please the Lord in all that I do, therefore I honor people. I choose not to be rude to people, even if they are rude to me and even if I don’t know them, because God is watching.