I have been blessed to travel many places in life, but one thing I have
always wanted to do and haven't yet had the opportunity is to take a Caribbean Cruise. In my dream I have walked the beaches
of St. Thomas a million times and each time I awake with a warm, peaceful feeling of having been to one of the most beautiful
places on earth. Of course, we have no way of knowing what things and places are like until we get there, but in our minds,
we conjure up visions of grandeur and the idea of it all can become overwhelming.
I was told of a gentleman who saved for
several years in order that he could take the cruise he had longed for. He was finally able to purchase the ticket and the
cruise was everything he hoped it would be, but once the fare had been bought and paid for, there was little money left for
anything else. When mealtime came, he wanted so badly to eat in the beautiful banquet hall and enjoy the delicious meals that
were laid out for the guests, but all he could afford was cheese and crackers. So, day after day, while everyone else was
eating in the dining room, he found himself crouched down in the corner, eating his own meager meal, wishing he could be like
the others. He didn't complain; he was just happy to be onboard the ship and be a part of all the beauty he had dreamed of.
One afternoon the ship's Captain approached the gentleman and asked him why he wasn't eating with the others. The Captain
carefully listened while the gentleman explained his situation and then lovingly responded. "Oh, but sir, please come
join the rest of us at the dinner table. Didn't you know? The price of your meals was included in the cost of your ticket."
times, in life we don't take advantage of the things that are available to us. We sell ourselves short because we think we
don't measure up, we tell ourselves we're not worthy and, in our minds, we believe we can never accomplish what we want to.
The gift of life is a precious thing and even though it can be a struggle, the beauty of life itself is far greater. Each
and every day we are given opportunities to enjoy friendships we often avoid, opportunities to enjoy the goodness of God's
creation that we readily take for granted, opportunities to share the many blessings we have been given, yet many times we
hold ourselves back and don't take full advantage of everything God has for us.
God has blessed us with tremendous gifts,
the most wonderful of which is the precious gift of salvation. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we receive a pre-paid
ticket to His glory and everything He has to offer. We become joint heirs with Him, adopted into the Kingdom and everything
that is His becomes ours. His mercy, His grace, His strength, His healing... everything we could ever possibly want, or desire
is available through Him and all we must do is ask, accept and receive it. Please don't ever hold yourself back from the "good
things" in life. Don't allow yourself to become discouraged or downhearted thinking that you aren't good enough or that
you don't belong, and please don't think that when you accepted Christ that's all there was. Jesus has so much more waiting
for you, and the more you love Him and fall into His presence, the more you realize that there is.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's
six years ago. The symptoms came on gradually and were so subtle that I chalked it up to getting older, but when I lost my
sense of smell and then started noticing slight tremors beneath the skin on my right hand, I began to take notice. Nothing
changed much until 2011 when the tremors began to come to the surface and my husband couldn't hold my hand without feeling
The tremors weren't anything major, but were noticeable, so I made an appointment with a local neurologist who told
me it was Essential Tremors and nothing to worry about. As time went by, the tremors became worse and my Pastor's wife told
me I should go to a well-known physician in Pittsburgh, for a second opinion. This doctor was very caring as he told me he
felt it was Parkinson's and not knowing the difference between the two, he told me that Essential Tremors are more of an inconvenience,
whereas Parkinson's Disease effects the nervous system and eventually leads to death.
His nurse set up an appointment for an MRI of the
brain and spinal cord and on the morning, I received the results, I will never forget the feelings I had when the doctor came
into the room and told me it was indeed Parkinson's. After giving me the news, he left the room to bring in a Nurse who would
do some nerve testing. It was then that I fell apart. I had taken a friend with me for moral support and when he saw the fear
in my eyes, he reminded me that "God's got this," but deep down I felt I had been handed a death sentence and my
life was on a down-hill spiral.
Not wanting to believe what I had heard I made a return appointment with the doctor I had seen initially.
After careful examination, he told me that sometimes Essential Tremors can lead into Parkinson's, and that, in my case, it
had. The emotions that followed were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster that
was never going to stop and is it okay to say that I was even mad at God? Here I was, a Minister, working to spread God's
Word, while at the same time facing the staggering truth that one day I would most likely be in a wheelchair, unable to recognize
my family members and unable to live life as I knew it. I went from anger, to denial, to anger again, back and forth
until; although I didn't like it, I finally accepted what appeared to be the cold hard facts, and instead of asking
"Why Me," I began to ask, "Okay, God, how are you going to use me through this."
I mentioned earlier that when we
accept Jesus, we become joint heirs with Him and that He makes everything He has available to us, His Mercy, His Grace and
His Healing. I had already experienced His Mercy and Grace in this situation and the peace that followed as a result. Now
I was asking for healing. The Bible assures us in Isaiah 53:5 that "by His stripes we are healed," and I was claiming
was referred to a Doctor in Pittsburgh who does DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery) to control Parkinson's tremors. The process
sounded scary, but I left feeling confident that this surgery might be the healing I was praying for, but it was not to be.
When they ran my insurances, they found that only one would pay, leaving an astronomical 20% balance that I could never repay
in a lifetime, but I didn't give up. You see, when we pray, God hears our prayers, but His answer isn't always "Yes."
Sometimes it's "No", and in my case it was "Not Yet." I began taking Parkinson's medication, but the symptoms
continued to worsen.
When you trust God's leading, He will direct you the way He wants you to go. One morning as I was reading my devotional,
God put the thought in my mind that I should call Cleveland Clinic. I researched their list of Specialists on-line and when
I called to make an appointment, they didn't even ask for a referral. They had an opening in November 2018 and I felt confident
this was where God was leading me.
During my appointment, I felt at ease and knew in my heart that God had led me to the right place.
The doctor told me he believed my condition was tremor predominant and I didn't appear to have many of the other symptoms
typically associated with Parkinson's. He went on to say that although it appeared to be Parkinson's, an MRI wasn't conclusive,
in and of itself, and he sent me for a DAT Scan, an extensive study of the brain. My hope was restored that maybe it wasn't
Parkinson's after all, but when the results came back positive, I was disappointed, but knew God had me in His hands.
been ineffective in controlling the tremors and after receiving the results of the DAT Scan, my doctor told me that DBS Surgery
would be my best option to alleviate the problem. The surgery would be done in two parts; the first of which they would insert
an electrode into my brain, with a wire attached on one side that would be inserted into the brain at the exact location that
was causing the Parkinson's. The electrode would also have longer wires, on the other end, that would be tied off and secured
in another part of my head, until the second part of the surgery which would be done a week later. The second half of the
procedure would involve weaving the wires down the side of my head and neck and then connecting them to a Brain Pacemaker
which would be placed in the upper left part of my chest. The battery in the Pacemaker would then be turned on and, by sending
signals back and forth to the electrode in my brain, the tremors would cease.
I mentioned earlier that God told me "Not
yet" when I initially inquired about the surgery in Pittsburgh. I know now that this was because He was prepared to take
care of me in every way. You see, by the time He led me to Cleveland, I had retired, was 65 and on Medicare and my secondary
insurance which I kept from my employment would pay whatever Medicare didn't, so I was left with no financial responsibility.
and deciding whether to undertake this journey was still a big decision, one that couldn't be made without a lot of consideration.
If I decided to move forward, I would then have to go back to Cleveland for a two-day battery of tests to see if I was a candidate
for the surgeries.
I, and others, had been praying for my healing for quite some time and as I look back over the past several months
since I first went to Cleveland, I realize that God continually gave me "road signs" to let me know I was on the
right path and that healing was on the way. The first one happened less than a week after I came home from my visit to Cleveland.
I awoke with the tune of "Here I am, Lord," in my heart and as the song played over and over again, I felt the first
inkling that God was leading me in the direction He wanted me to go.
I immediately phoned the Clinic and told them I wanted to move forward with
the Pre-Testing. The Receptionist told me they had quite a waiting list, but that she would get me in as soon as possible.
Then she paused for a minute and said, "We just had a cancellation. Can you come next week?" BUT GOD!!!
Before I knew
it, I was on my way to Cleveland to have the two-day battery of testing. I met with several doctors who reviewed my case;
neurologists, surgical doctors and their staff, as well as two psychiatrists; one of whom wanted to know about me in an attempt
to determine if I was mentally stable to withstand the surgery, and a second one who put me through a four-hour cognitive
test to determine my ability to think and to determine how much memory loss had resulted from the disease. By the time I was
finished, I felt brain dead and unable to think at all. I was sure that I had failed the test and was somewhat disheartened
as we headed back home. I was told they would meet the following Tuesday evening to determine if they felt I was a good candidate
and that I would probably have an answer in a couple of weeks. Before leaving, they told me they have a high success
rate on their DBS Surgeries because the screening process is intense, and they only perform surgery on the patients they feel
they can help. I went over and over that cognitive test in my mind, and although I was hopeful, I had serious doubts that
I would be chosen.
Getting through the days ahead, until I heard back from the Surgeon was not going to be easy, yet
I held to the belief that God was in control. I decided that if they approved me, I would know in my heart it was God's will
and if they didn't, well I believed that would be God's will, also. I had done the testing and now it was in His hands. Either
way, I knew God was working on my behalf and He had my back.
On Monday of the following week, and the day before the surgical team was to
meet, I received a phone call from a gentleman asking me if I could officiate a wedding for him in May 2020. I explained that
I was dealing with some medical issues and hesitated to confirm and commit to his ceremony over a year in advance. The man
did not know me, my condition, or more importantly, my faith; yet before we ended the conversation, he told me "God's
Spirit lives inside you and He will lead the way." Coincidence, I think not!
The doctors at Cleveland were to meet the following
day and even though I had been told it could be a week or two after the meeting until I heard back from them, God didn't make
me wait that long! Early Wednesday morning the Surgeon's Assistant phoned to let me know they felt I would be a perfect candidate
and gave me the first available dates for my pre-surgical testing and the two-part surgery. I checked my schedule to determine
if these dates would conflict with any weddings I had scheduled and it was no surprise that I had weddings leading up to the
surgery dates, but absolutely nothing scheduled for the month during which the surgery was scheduled. I believe that God had
gone before me. He was in this! And, He had me safe in the palm of His hands! And, yes!!! I cried like a blubbering
idiot with the Assistant on the other end of the line as he heard me say repeatedly... "Thank you Jesus."
When I arrived
at the Clinic for my presurgical testing, my first visit was with the Surgeon. I was told that the psychiatrist who did the
cognitive testing wanted to see me. I thought "Oh no! What could she possibly want to say to me?" When she came
in, she was all smiles as she told me I had passed the test with flying colors. So much so, in fact, that they wanted
me to participate in a surgical study to help with Parkinson's Research. She explained that she would have me play a video
game with a hand-held controller before the 1st surgery, that they would wake me up during the surgery to do it
again, and then after the surgery was over, I would play the game a final time. The purpose was to test how sharp my motor
skills were before, during and after they had placed the electrode and wire into my brain. It was completely voluntary, but
I chose to do it because in my mind, I thought, "Wow! God is going to heal me, but at the same time use me to help with
the healing of someone else." Sometimes It just totally amazes me how God works.
It came as no surprise that the pre-surgical testing
went well, even though by the time they finished taking my blood, I had been stuck five times and I looked like a pin cushion.
Giving blood has never been one of my strong points. So, with the testing out of the way
and my surgical clearance authorized, I was ready for the big day. But there was one thing that remained to be done.
had to be cut before the surgeries, and I chose to donate it to Wigs 4 Kids. I wanted a little girl or girls to have the benefit
of a wig made from my long, curly hair and I could almost see them running around with smiles on their faces. I asked a beautician
friend to come to my house the night before I left for Cleveland, because as I'm sure you will agree... We women love our
hair and I wanted to keep mine as long as possible. I also needed the support of my family, because for me, even though my
faith was strong, I was preparing for what was to be the most intense surgical procedure of my life. As I felt her cut each
strand of hair from my head, I cried. It had been a long process, but I knew in my heart I was going to get the healing I
had prayed for, and tears of gratitude fell like rain. I packaged it up for my daughter to mail out the next day and as I
wrote the address on the envelope, I got the surprise of my life. The name of the Organization was "Maggie's Wigs
4 Kids." Maggie was my Grandmother's name. Another coincidence? No, with
God there are only divine appointments. My grandmother and I were extremely close and I knew in my heart that God was letting
me know she was watching over me. It was just one more reminder that He was leading me. And where He was leading me, I was
more than willing to follow.
Since the first surgery was scheduled for April 24th and the second a week later, May 4th,
my husband and I decided to stay at the hotel on campus until after I was totally released from both. The first surgery was
a big success and there wasn't much pain, except for a slight headache. I must admit that I was nervous about the second surgery
because of the intensity of it and because it was during this one that the pacemaker would be attached to the wires that connected
the electrode to the wire that was deep inside my brain. It kind of sounds like a song we learned
in school, "the shin bones connected to the knee bone; the knee bones connected to the leg bone; the leg bones connected
to the hip bone," doesn't it? Only this was my brain bone, and even though I knew God
was with me, He had quite a ball of nerves in His hands.
After signing in for the second procedure, a sweet nurse came to get me. I assumed
she needed to get some more information and her calming voice put me totally at ease. She began talking with me and
I noticed she had attached some crayon colored pictures to the wall behind her desk. I asked if her kids had colored those
for her and then she proceeded to tell me that some of her patients, who were children, had drawn those for her to get their
minds off the surgery they were going to have. She went on to say that she had a box of toys under her desk that she let them
pick from and that instead of fretting about what was going to happen to them, they soon found themselves laughing and having
went on to tell me about a little girl who came in for surgery. Something told her that instead of offering the child a toy,
she should give her a small New Testament that she had on her desk. When she gave the Bible to the little girl, the child
broke out in tears. She had told her mother that she would like to have a Cross Necklace and a Bible before going into surgery.
Her mother had bought her a necklace with a cross on it and now she also had the Bible she had asked for. God is SO good and
He will use anything and anyone to show us His love. But if you think that is good, wait until you hear what God had planned
When I sat down at the Nurse's desk, my tremors were out of control. They had progressed to the point that my arm
was shaking so bad that it was causing the tremors to carry over to my back, shoulders and even the left side of my body.
This was my daily routine, 24/7 and they never stopped, not even while sleeping. Even though I had the first surgery
and would now be having the second, the tremors would continue until after the Pacemaker implant had a chance to heal and
be programmed which would not happen until two months later. She saw my tremors, and without missing a beat she said, "Those
tremors need to go!" She took me by the hands and started praying for me. My husband was sitting in the chair beside
me and I'm sure he was flabbergasted, just as I was. I mean, where can you go to a hospital and find that a nurse openly prays
for you in public with hundreds of people standing around. He placed his hand on mine, which was being held by hers
and I don't know if he was praying silently, or not, all I could hear was the beautiful sound of her voice on my ears and
the sound of God's voice speaking to my heart. Her prayer was so earnest, so sincere as I prayed with her. This went on for
more than just a few minutes, until we all were at peace. She never did get any information from me. Was she supposed
to, or was she there at the right place, at the right time, for God to show me His love and His presence? I must ask myself,
"How many other people were touched that day by her simple act of kindness?" and "How many were transformed
by God's touch."
The nurse then led me down the hall to the room where they would prep me for surgery and the rest
is history. I have been back to Cleveland several times since then to have the battery in the Pacemaker programmed and tweaked.
And the good news is... I am tremor free! Praise God!
Oh, but the best part of all...
As I mentioned earlier, my friend cut my
hair within 1/8 inch the night before I left for Cleveland, but they had to totally shave my head in the OR before doing the
surgeries. One of the doctors told me not to worry because most people look good with bald heads, but I couldn't quite wrap
my head around it. So, what did I do? I'm so glad you asked. Before my first surgery I ordered
a skull cap from Amazon and when I got home after everything was over, I found that it had been delivered and was waiting
for me to open. When I did, I not only found the head wrap, I found a refrigerator magnet that was sent as a gift.
It held a quote from Psalm 16:10 "Be still and know that I am with you." There was no controlling my tears
as I read the words and there is not a doubt in my mind that God orchestrated the entire process, that He was with me through
the journey, and that He is still with me now.
We like to think we are in control of our lives but, really, we control nothing.
God tells us to trust Him and when we walk in faith, He never lets us down. We pray for things to happen, and we know how
we want them to turn out, but the getting there is not always the way we think it will be. God's ways are not our ways, yet
His ways are always perfect. I believe in divine healing and it would have been great if it had happened that way, but in
my case, He used doctors and nurses who were skilled in their profession. And He gave me signs along the way to increase my
faith and remind me of His presence.
I do not know what my future holds or where God is leading me beyond the surgery,
but of one thing I'm certain. When we live with the light of God's love directing our path, He will always lead the way.
ever hold yourself back from the "good things" in life. When life throws you a curveball, don't get discouraged
and don't give up. James 4:8 reminds us to "draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Jesus has so much more
waiting for you, and the more you love Him and fall into His presence, the more you realize that there is.
I believe with
all my heart that God has healed me, and I am claiming the victory over Parkinson's in Jesus Name. I know that one day I will
go home to be with Jesus, but I am believing and trusting that God has much more for me to do before that happens. I also
know that Heaven is a much more beautiful place than St. Thomas or anywhere else I could possibly ever dream of. We are told
that Heaven is a place of endless joy, peace and tranquility. Granted, none of us will ever know what Heaven is like until
we get there, but one thing I do know is that it won't be for a mere visit. I personally dream of walking the shore with my
Savior every day for eternity, listening to the sound of His voice and never tiring of the endless beauty that awaits me.
But, until that time, I can enjoy God's presence on earth because He's right here with me and He lives in my heart, just as
He wants to live in yours.
No matter what happens in the days ahead, I will always be encouraged by God's gentle signs and acts
of love that He has given me. Why did I develop Parkinson's? Maybe it was so I would learn to trust Him more and so that I
could share my story with you today.
Don't just be content with salvation and don't hold back. Step on up to the dinner
table. Feast on ALL His goodness. The Savior says, "Come and Dine" and Psalm 34:8 tells us, "Oh, taste and
see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Sit down, enjoy and may He fill you to overflowing.
Yours is an all-inclusive ticket and the price has been paid in full.
By Pastor Pam Powers Moore