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.