The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Has Been on My Mom’s Bucket List

For a few months in 2011, when I would talk with my mom on the phone, her voice sounded dehydrated … rough, like there was pea gravel in her throat. Diet? Not enough water? At age 59, it didn’t seem possible that it would just be age. So after many doctor’s appointments, it took a savvy speech therapist to point out that her tongue had a tremor.

She was assigned to a local neurologist who conducted a lot of tests, some simpler than others. Tests like, “Hold your arms out to either side and try to press your middle finger and thumb together in rhythm.” My mom couldn’t. Her left hand was half the speed of her right. And there were tremors and/or twitching in her left arm as well. These tests, along with some others, led the doctor to one conclusion: ALS.

I’d be grateful to live with a disease half as well as my mother does with ALS. I could go and on and on about all the things she does incredibly well, but in light of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I think it’s best to highlight that many ALS patients, my mom included, model the need for ALS awareness by giving themselves to those researchers who live to end ALS.

Because there is no cure, there’s really not much any doctor can do for my mom other than provide various levels of care towards her comfort and helping her adjust to the disease’s progression. Ironically, ALS patients end up doing far more for doctors than doctors do for them when they, like my mom, ride in the car for hours to reach specialized hospitals and clinics for a day or two of tests that help those working to find a cure for ALS.

My mom cannot talk, struggles hard to eat, and can walk very short distances and only then great assistance. Her mind, heart and spirit are vibrant, but her body is debilitated. Yet in this condition, she voluntarily has blood drawn, her spine tapped, and experiences a myriad of other very uncomfortable medical procedures, all so she can give a big part of the final years of her life towards ending this disease. 

In other words, ALS patients like my mom go way beyond raising awareness through social media or financial contributions. They give their lives to end the very thing that is taking theirs. 

In the last three years since her diagnosis, my mom has run through quite the bucket list. A Mediterranean cruise; time in Hawaii; time in NYC; time in the south of France; time in the Caribbean; time with family—all of which has been deeply rewarding, but none of which will go as far as her time in Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. The number one thing on her bucket list was the last thing on your mind a few short weeks ago, but our hope is that you will join many others and contribute to help end this disease. 

Thank you to all my friends and family who have participated in this challenge and made contributions, and for all of you who have prayed for my mom!

Dad, Get in the Pool!

Southern Fried Faith:

I had a great time throwing the football with the boys … as well as throwing the boys … in the pool this past weekend. First time all summer I’ve gotten in the pool with them. Reminded me of this post, that I had clearly forgotten.

Originally posted on Southern Fried Faith:

We’re on a family vacation this week, and I got in the pool with the boys for the first time since I can’t remember how long. I recall TAKING them to the pool, but not getting in to the pool with them. We had a great time sliding and getting away with as much as rough-housing as the lifeguards would allow for over an hour, and I remembered several reasons why dads like me just need to get in the pool.

  1. It’s your turn. As you likely work 5 days a week, mom, teachers, and other adults deal far more often with your kids than you do. No one should be more dedicated to being with your kids on weekends when it’s possible and vacations when it’s necessary than you, dad.
  2. Protection against temptation. Every man has an adulterous heart (and every woman too). Eye candy has little or no…

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The Road to the Promised Land

“The road to the promised land runs past Sinai. The moral law may exist to be transcended: but there is no transcending it for those who have not first admitted its claims up on them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Say What? Reflections on Being a Poor Listener

Are you a good listener?

I confess: rarely I am, often I am not.

My most common sin in this regard is presuming upon how a person will finish their sentence. Usually, I finish one’s sentence for himI’ out loud. Nothing says, “You’re not important to me” better than presuming I know what you are saying before you even say it!

I’m revisiting this sin anew in light of studying Jesus’ Parable of the Soils at church Sunday.

“A sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:3-9.

Jesus later explains this parable for us (see the bottom of this post). In brief, there are three ways to listen poorly to the Word of God, and one way to listen well.

First, we can listen carelessly to it. We can come across something that is not already or easily understood (v. 18), so we dismiss it as unnecessary or unimportant. Kind of like me flippantly finishing someone’s sentences.

Second, we can listen conveniently to it. We love the Word at first, but the moment believing it actually costs us something, we dismiss it (v. 20-21).

Third, we can listen conditionally to it. We will love the Word at different times in our life, but the moment it calls us to subject other treasures in our life to it, we reject it (v. 22).

Finally, we can listen comprehensively to it. This is what it means to be “good soil.” This is what it means to be a good listener to the Word. And when we take it in comprehensively, we understand it with our minds and our lives are transformed.

So, what kind of listener are you when it comes to the Word of God? In Jesus’ words, what kind of soil are you when it comes to the Word of God?

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23.

One Possible Reason Why Your Kids Aren’t As Good as Their Kids

No growing (in Christ) occurs without the realization that we cannot progress in our faithfulness to God without the supernatural work of the Spirit. This acknowledgment keeps us from pride in our maturity, or from too hasty judgment of others’ spiritual conditions.

For instance, I can be tempted to take pride in my parenting by virtue of my children’s wonderful record of scholarship and conduct. However, I may learn upon my entry into heaven that the reason God (blessed me in this manner) was that my faith was too weak to have persevered with the more troubled children of other Christian parents (whom I too frequently judge for their apparent failings).

Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace, p. 62.

If I am Crucified with Christ, Then …

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

If this is true …

  1. Then everything that is negative about me … all of my sins and failures … are dead b/c I am crucified with Christ. I can look at all of my mistakes that bring me shame yet not despair that God doesn’t love me.
  2. Then everything that is positive about me … all of my good deeds and works … are dead b/c I am crucified with Christ. I can look at all of my good deeds that bring me joy yet not be prideful in them, thinking that God loves me because of them.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Galatians 6:14-15

Give Your Kids the Credit Card

Bryan Chapell:

If my son needs the car, I can give him my credit card to use at the pump. At his current economy, he usually doesn’t have the means to get what he needs. So he uses the card with my name on it. With my permission and according to my desire, he assumes my identity. Though he cannot fulfill the conditions required for payment, my son has all of my credit available to him. He meets the qualifications requires to use the pump b/c the machine gives him the credit that really is mine. My son, though he could not provide it himself, acts with my identity and, thus, has all the credit that I have earned.

This is what it means to be “in Christ.” Though we cannot provide the perfect righteousness ourselves, in Christ we can act with His identity and have all the credit that He earned for us.