Saturday, August 22, 2009

Final Post

From Tim Hodge:

I am deeply saddened to make this entry for my Dad. Early this morning, just after midnight, he breathed his last and made his final journey. He is Home.

Thank you for your love and support. If you would like to find more recent information, please visit

If you are one of the regular followers of this blog, you have already noticed that may Dad hasn't posted an update in many months. Since the spring, he hadn't felt much like writing. We are al the poorer for that because he still had so much to say.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Heart, Head, & Hands

At age seventy-five, I frequently have thoughts and aspirations to erupt in my heart and mind that clamor for development and/or expression. One such incident happened today (15 February 2009).

A few months back, I was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease). The debilitating disease has confined me to a wheel chair. Consequently, I don't get around much any more. In addition, the disease has virtually paralyzed my tongue, rendering my speech difficult to understand.

Against this backdrop, a friend stayed with me today while my lovely wife Margaret attended church. After Margaret returned home and before the friend left, I asked him to help me get my 120-bass piano accordion strapped onto my shoulders. A song was in my heart and I wanted to express it, as I had done on hundreds – probably thousands – of occasions over the past sixty-four years.

After I was harnessed into the accordion straps, a distressing emotional crisis erupted. Music was in my heart, and my mind was visualizing exactly what my fingers should do, but my fingers simply would not make the needed movements. What did happen was a gusher of tears, punctuated by heaving sobs.

Even now – hours later – as I keystroke these thoughts into my computer’s word processing software, it is all I can to restrain the tears.

Even though songs were in my soul, and my mind was sending signals to give them life, my fingers could not respond.

After removing the accordion from my shoulders and settling my emotions, I had to face reality and ask my inner self, “Where do I go from here.”

Simply put, I can either bewail the loss of musical proficiency – and the other agonies caused by ALS – or, I can chart a course for the future based on my abilities and opportunities.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But translating that simple solution into living reality is not uncomplicated.

Emotions heal slowly – very slowly. And the emotional crisis just narrated is but one of and ever increasing number as I travel an elongating trail of traumatic tribulations.

Against this backdrop, I choose to remind myself of specific biblical wisdom – as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7).

Wrapping my mind around those words, I understand that it is my self image – not the events in my life or condition of my body – that determines who I am. While I understand that, getting my self image beyond the debilitating disease is not as easy as it sounds.

The answer, it seems, is in these words of Scripture – "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

How do I do that when my soul is sobbing?

The key seems to be in the sentence structure of Philippians 4:8 (quoted above). It is a matter of my choice to think about the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, the excellent and praiseworthy. And the punch line is that Scripture doesn’t tell me to pray – it instructs me about what to think.

To think about these things, or not to think about them – that is the question I must answer for myself.

The bottom line then is this: It is up to me to avoid thinking about the things that move me to tears and despair, and to purposefully think about the things that give me hope and strength.

The choice is mine.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Body of Christ is Where You Find It

Yesterday, I looked out my living room windows and saw Reid, Evan, Cole, and Dakota – middle school aged boys who live in our neighborhood -- shoveling the sleet, frozen rain and snow off our North sidewalk at the front of our house, and the serpentine sidewalk connecting the main sidewalk to the driveway at the East end of the house.

I maneuvered my motorized wheel chair to the front door, struggled to get it unlocked and opened, and offered a gratuity to each of the lads for their helpfulness. They politely declined. They were helping simply because they wanted to do something for a neighboring senior couple, both of whom are infirmed – me by ALS, and Margaret by a less than perfect knee replacement.

I shot off an email to the father of one of the boys. It was intercepted and responded to by Reid. Here is his response just as I received it – except for the crossed-out phone number.

"it's me reid it was not a problem.Evan,Cole,Dakota and me thaught it was fun i have only a short time to tiype because i'm going to church.Let me know if you need any thing else.My number is xxxxxxx I'd like to visit you anytime gust call if you want. Ok i half to go i'm shure i'll see you soon. love.reid"

The grammar may not have been perfect, but it was an expression of love that brought tears of joyful gratitude to my eyes. They were intervening to help fellow human beings – expecting nothing in return.

A few days before, the pastor of a church other than the one we attend, stopped by and ran some errands for us. He lives in our neighborhood, and we had met briefly a few years ago during a water aerobics session at a nearby Salvation Army swimming pool.

These happenings – and others – taught me something about the Body of Christ. It isn’t always confined within the walls of a church building – it is where you find it. It can be within your own neighborhood – even in your front yard after a day of freezing rain.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Forever Friend

Of the 5,521 music files in my laptop computer, one ministers to me with special meaning. Entitled My Forever Friend, the song was composed by Charlie Landsborough and is sung by “The Irish Tenors” – Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns, and Karl Scully. Like the tenors, composer Landsborough is Irish.

The lyrics need no comment or explanation. They speak clearly, precisely, and straight to the hearts of all who follow of Jesus. As I internalize them, they express my heartfelt worship of My Forever Friend.

Everybody needs a

little help sometime
No one stands alone
Makes no difference if
you're just a child
like me
Or a king upon a throne
For there are no exceptions
We all stand in the line
Everybody needs a friend
Let me tell you of mine
He's my forever friend
My leave-me-never friend
From darkest night to rainbow's end
He's my forever friend
Even when I turn away
He cares for me
His love no one can shake
Even as I walk away He's by my side
With every breath I take
And sometimes I forget Him
My halo fails to shine
Sometimes I'm not His friend
But He is always mine


If you still don't know the
one I'm talking of
I think it's time you knew
Long ago and far away upon a cross
My friend died for you
So if you'd like to meet Him
And don't know what to do
Ask my friend into you heart
And He'll be your friend too


He's my forever friend
My leave-me-never friend
From darkest night to rainbow's end
He's my forever friend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Language of the Soul

Music is the "language of the soul."

Some people write music to express what is in their souls -- others listen so that it can minister to their souls. Both of these factors were probably true for David -- known as "The Sweet Psalmist of Israel." Many of the 150 Psalms (or songs) in the Old Testament were written by him.

Today, while browsing the files in my notebook computer, I was startled to discover that I have saved 3,696 music files on its hard drive -- 2,381 of which are in folders I have labeled "Praise & Worship."

Why have I copied so much music to my computer for ready listening? Simply because music IS the language of MY soul. Many of these music files express my reasons for praising God -- others are vehicles of communion as I worship my Lord.

Scripture teaches us that men ought to always praise God. The music files in my laptop help me to obey that biblical admonition. Indeed, most of the music I listen to is an effective means of praise and worship.

Now that ALS has compromised my speech, music that expresses praise and worship has become an increasingly important means of fellowship with my Heavenly Father.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Leap of Faith

About fifty years ago, as a seminary student, I was exposed to a phrase coined by a theologian. The phrase is "the leap of faith." When it comes to believing to be healed of ALS. it seems like a pretty big leap.

It is, however, a faith-building encouragement to read stories like the one posted on YouTube in April of last year. It is a TV news report about a lady having been healed of ALS. To read the report, please go to:

The Word of the Lord is that God is not a respecter of persons -- meaning that his grace and favor are available to anyone and everyone.

Would you do me a favor -- please? Agree with me in prayer that I, too, will be healed of this debilitating disease. Historically, ALS leads to death in two to five years. BUT, according to the Word of the Lord -- and the YouTube report cited above -- healing is available.

That's what I want and what I'm believing for. Please add your faith to mine in this quest.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Body of Christ -- In Action

Our front doorbell rang. When we answered, one of our neighbors – a retired police officer – asked if he could mow our yard for us. We delightfully agreed. He proceeded – and did a professional quality job. A few hours later, as I was sitting out in our front yard patio making notes in my laptop computer for posting to my blog, he drove by with the top down on his cute personal sports convertible. It must have warmed his heart to see Margaret (my wife) and me enjoying the beauty and freshness of his kind gesture.

As I was getting my thoughts together for this blog entry, a couple called asking if they could bring our dinner in a few hours.

A young man whom I have known for several years volunteers to drop by on a regular basis and help me when I need to transfer from my wheelchair into the shower.

A neighbor who pastors a church other than the one I attend stopped by and asked how he could help. I mentioned a limb that had fallen and was scraping against the galvanized flu extending above the chimney, causing a disturbing sound in the fireplace beside my recliner. He retrieved a ladder from my garage and removed the fallen limb. Now, my naps in the recliner are undisturbed.

Just being friendly? Just being good neighbors? Interpret it how you will. I see it as the Body of Christ in action.

I recall that when Jesus’ disciples got uptight because they saw people who were not a part of their little circle doing the works of Christ, Jesus corrected them and assured them that He had others who were on his team.

One of many things I am learning from my wheelchair of ALS confinement is the breadth of brotherly love and vastness of presence there is within the Body of Christ.