Monday, May 16, 2011

Scatterbrained thoughts on life

Life on this Earth is such a funny thing. We put so much stock in it knowing that it is so fragile and our time could be up at any moment. My mind works in different ways now that I have been diagnosed with a most likely terminal illness. I think back at the first couple of days after Dr. Pleitez told me I had Motor Neuron Disease, or ALS. I felt so defeated, like my life had ended. Now, six months later, I am still here. I am a little weaker, but still going strong. I have really had a spiritual awakening over this same period. I have learned to put things in God's hands and not worry too much about the future. It really has been a great release, a huge load off of my back. My faith in God has become so much stronger. I put my faith in Him and His son Jesus Christ because that is the only constant thing in this life. On the other hand, every other thing on this earth is constantly changing. Tornadoes, miscarriages, fevers, car accidents, wars, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, nuclear meltdowns, hurricanes, floods, droughts and many other things can be on our doorstep at at a moments notice. We have no control over these things, and we must learn to put it all in His hands lest we become overwhelmed. The tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and Southeast have been on my mind lately. I mean, look back at the day I was given my diagnosis. Now think about the young man about my age whose life ended while shielding his wife from injury during the tornado in Joplin, Missouri on this past Sunday evening. I thought my life had ended. He might have been thinking about starting a family with his wife and watching his children grow. Now, fast forward to today. He is no longer here and I am. This is just one example of many. Having Jesus by your side really helps you put life in perspective. He tells us in Scripture to not worry about tomorrow, and to live in the present (Matthew 6: 25-34). I have learned to enjoy life each day, trying to really soak up each moment. Watching my son Jeran grow has been such a blessing. Now it is almost time for #2. Jaylee Faith is scheduled to be here June 7. We are building a house across town and being able to watch it go up has been really exciting. So many blessings in my life right now. I praise the Lord for that. Why would I let a minor nuance like ALS get in the way of all the great things going on in my life right now? Not in the past. Not in the future. Right Now. I would not be able to think this way if it was not for the Lord, an my relationship with Him.

All of this is not to say I don't have my down moments. I still sometimes think of my former life when I was a decent basketball player, when I was pretty good on a wakeboard, when I could toss a football a good 55 yards or so. Sometimes I long to wrestle with Jeran and launch him into a swimming pool with my hands, or maybe even play a round of golf. To get through these moments I go to the Lord and He never fails to get me through, to help me put things in perspective. And all of this is not to say I do not worry sometimes. Last Saturday night, we had to take Jeran to the ER because his fever spiked so high. It scared Jenn and I so we decided to take him in at 12:30 in the morning. Everything turned out ok. There were some moments when the anxiety was almost overwhelming, but Jesus was there with me the whole time, providing reassurance and putting things in perspective. The key to all of this is being able to put things in perspective by putting them in the Lord's hands.

We went to our first ALS Clnic on May 13. It went rather well, and I met some good people who are also dealing with this disease. It gave me a good feeling meeting people who know how I feel. Positive experience all around. One other thing too. I have been selected to participate in an ALS drug trial. This particular drug has more promise than any other before. It is a double-blinded placebo trial, so neither me or the doc will know if I am getting the real thing or not. I have a 2/3 chance of getting the good stuff. My treatments start June 13 so I ask for your prayers that the docs may be on to something here.

That's it for now. It feels good to get some thoughts on paper again.

Carpe Diem

Saturday, May 7, 2011

ALS Awareness Month

I just wanted to let everyone know that I haven't forgotten about my blog. I plan on writing more in the near future. Right now I wanted to let everyone know that May is MDA ALS awareness month. Below is a link to the MDA Anyone's Life Story, which introduces you to a new person living with ALS for everyday in May. I thought some of y'all would maybe like to check it out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

OK. The NCAA Tourney has officially gotten crazy. Butler....ok. But now VCU? The parity in College basketball has become quite apparent.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Letting go

It is coming up on my favorite time of the year. Playoff basketball is right around the corner. Actually the high school girls playoffs start this week. But what I am really interested in is the boys playoffs, which culminates in the State Tournament in Austin. Then, directly after that, NCAA March Madness begins. I love so many things about the game of basketball. There is no other sport like it when it comes to excitement. I do agree that football is better suited for television though. The best way to watch basketball is in the stands. Basketball is an in-the-moment sport. It is fast-paced. If you blink you will miss half of the game. Momentum can swing wildly. I've witnessed many great games in my lifetime and have even been a part of a few. Basketball is just as much mental as physical. I was able to shoot as well as I did because I was confident. I loved taking the big shot. There is no better feeling than the moment the ball rolls off of your fingertips, and you have no doubt where the ball is going to end up- in the bottom of the net. I loved playing the game and love watching it. That is why the month of March is such a great month. Playoff basketball is rightly described as madness. March Madness.

Notice above I said I loved playing basketball. Emphasis on the word loved. I can no longer shoot with my right hand. I can barely get the ball to the rim while standing directly under it. Thus, my playing days are over. I can still shoot left-handed, but essentially I would have to play with one arm. My right arm is almost useless at this point when it comes to basketball, as it is with almost every task requiring fine motor skills, for example: writing, eating, using the tv remote, etc. I can still grasp and lift pretty good so not all is lost just yet. My left hand is still good, so praise the Lord for that.

Needless to say, I've had to give up a lot of stuff over the last year and a half. None have bothered me too much except one. The ability to shoot a basketball. It is very hard to give something up that you were very good at. At least not this soon. I have been rather reluctant to watch or go to a gym until recently. It is hard to explain, but it just makes me kind of sad to stand on that hardwood floor and look up at the rim from behind the arc. It used to come so easy, so effortless. Now I can't even do it anymore. It is hard to explain. Now the allure of playoff basketball is calling me once again, and I want to experience it. I now experience basketball in a different way, but it is still exciting and fulfilling.

I do not know at this point, but this could very well be just the tip of the iceberg. I'll leave the future up to God. I have no idea what the future holds. I do know that I will be just fine, because I choose to put it in His hands, knowing that I have no control over it. My prayer to God each day is to just take it. This disease, my worries, my future. I lay it all in His arms. I do take back one statement, the one where I said we have no idea what the future holds. At some point our lives on this Earth will end. And there is a pretty good chance we will have to let go of a lot of things along the way. Some people choose to cling to things. They fear that giving them up will make them less of a person. Sometimes they hold on to the point that it affects others in a negative way. They become depressed because they lament on the things they used to have. They feel they will be a burden on others. But not letting go creates more of a burden. Having a positive attitude and accepting God's fate for us will be better for everyone. I plan on keeping this positive attitude along my journey as much as I can, and when I run into a tough spot, I will ask for His insight, His strength, His courage that only He can provide. I agree that I will do as much on my own as long as I can, as everyone should, but when it comes time to let go, I will. I will focus on Him and His will for me. I will embrace each day as one more to live out His purpose for me, whatever it may be.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Do you have any regrets? Up until recently I thought I did. I know that sounds weird because everyone has regrets, right? I do believe everyone does have regrets at one time or another during their lifetime. Some more than others, and some for longer periods of time. Let me tell you about some of the regrets I used to have. As I stated in one of my earlier posts, the Good Lord has given me many talents, both in the classroom and on the basketball court. I played a little game with myself when I turned 30. I asked myself what my biggest regrets in life were to that point. My biggest was not pursuing basketball after high school. And that regret was predicated on a sequence of events that took shape about midway through my junior year in high school. Like I stated in an earlier post, I played an integral part on the Santa Fe team that went all the way to Austin. Toward the end of the season, and the end of that year, I started to get what could be called a big head. And I am not talking about my baseball cap size, even though it is rather large. I am talking about the mental big head. I was getting interest from some colleges about playing ball for them. The most notable of these colleges was what is now Texas State University. It used to be called Southwest Texas State. I had other colleges interested, but these guys were who I was interested in. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I was good enough to not have to work as hard at getting better as I should have been. Also, I got into a relationship and "thought" I was in love, and this took my concentration off of school and basketball. I kind of coasted through that summer and the rest of my senior year just thinking that things would be handed to me without me having to work at them. Boy was I wrong. Southwest Texas lost interest in me, and when that happened I sort of got my feelings hurt and shut down. There were still other colleges interested, but I was no longer interested. I was immature and juvenile. I first went to Texas A&M out of high school. I still did not understand the value of hard work at that point. I struggled to maintain a C average, and quickly lost interest in that too. I dropped out of A&M and attended two junior colleges. I regretted not having my stuff together those first few years out of high school. I had squandered my opportunity to continue playing basketball. I had messed up the gift my parents gave me of attending a great university (that is the one and only compliment I will give to A&M, HaHa). I couldn't get those years back. But, lo and behold, the Lord continued to bless me and give me opportunities. My friend, Cliff Owens, opened my eyes to the beauty that was Texas Tech University. Jake and I headed up there in the fall of 2000, again on my parents' dime. By the way, my parents are amazing to me. The loyalty and perseverance they have shown in regards to Jake and I over the years is nothing short of miraculous. It was a great couple of years. I grew up a lot during my time up there. It opened my eyes to the importance of getting away and being sort of independent. I met my wife one month after moving to Lubbock and the rest is history. I finally graduated with a Finance degree in May of 2003. Again, I thought I was equipped and ready for the world, and again I was wrong. I fumbled around between jobs for about a year and a half until one of my mom's friends helped me land a job at The Boeing Company. I worked for Boeing for over five years and am very thankful for that time.

I am starting to ramble and quite possibly starting to bore you with a description of my dull and boring life, haha. So I need to move on to the point of my post. I've made a lot of questionable, and frankly, dumb decisions in my life. And I should regret those decisions, correct? I am not convinced of that today. I mean, if all of those dumb decisions, the collective heap of immaturity that I have displayed during my lifetime, and the utter ignorance of my ways has led me to where I am today then I simply cannot have regrets. You see, that is one of the beauties of life. We get second and third and fourth and fifth chances. And with all of these chances, somehow I have managed to make a couple of good decisions. Looking at my son, I cannot regret any of my decisions if they have led to the creation of him. I mean, if I had decided to go play ball at some of the schools that were interested in me, like UL Monroe, or Texas Lutheran, or Panola Juco, then I almost certainly would not have met my wife. And if I didn't meet my awesome wife then Jeran would not be here. Because of this I have come to the conclusion that the Lord does indeed have a plan for all of us, and everything happens for a reason. God has created us with free will. And with this huge responsibility of the free will to make our own decisions, He knows that we will mess up sometimes. That is why He forgives, and gives us multiple chances to make the right decisions. He gives us the opportunities to right our wrongs, and ultimately discover His infinite love for each one of us. We tend to put so much emphasis on our lives. We want to make the correct decisions. We want to impress people. We want to have fun and be happy. But, as time passes, we find out that something that seems so important to us today loses its importance next week. We find that we cannot go back and correct our faults. We find that in the grand scheme of things, our lives are so minuscule that they don't even begin to put a blip on the radar screen. Or do they? I believe they most certainly do in God's eyes. This is why we must focus on Him, and His will. Now He knows that we are human, and will make mistakes, which is the reason he sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven. Because He loves us that much. So, if you believe in Him you don't have to worry about making the wrong decision. This in no way means we can do whatever we want without regard. It means that if we consult with Him and make the best decision based on what He tells us, or what we feel is in His will, then we can't make a wrong decision. Because we put it in His hands and He will not fail. I challenge you to consult with God before making your next big decision and put it in His hands. Let Him worry about it. Let Him take care of it. I can almost guarantee you will feel the pressure lift off of your shoulders.

In closing, I hope I have at least sort of coherently put my thoughts together in a way you can understand. Let go of the past. Focus on the future, and His will for us. Our lives here are but an incubation period for our destiny into how we will spend our eternity. Because in the end of our lives on Earth, we can only have one true regret, and that is not acknowledging Him as our Lord and Savior before our time is up. We have no idea when our time will be up. So start today, and enjoy the only certainty in this life. The certainty of His love for us. I want to leave you with a verse from Proverbs 3:6. "In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

By the way, we didn't make it to the ALS clinic on Friday due to the icy roads, so I don't have any stories about that. I guess we will see next time.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Awareness. I've heard that word more than a couple of times over the past couple of months. The question of how to create more awareness for ALS has been the one I've seen the most. That is a tough chore considering ALS is what they call an "orphan" disease. At any given point in time there are an estimated 35,000 people living with it. But I have also read and heard that that estimate is much too low due to the fact that the disease is not tracked very well by any databases. I definitely was not aware of ALS before it hit me square in between the eyes. I had heard of the term Lou Gehrig's Disease before, and knew that it was a devastating disease, but that was the extent. I always thought that it was an old person's disease. The fact is, most people diagnosed with ALS are in their mid 50s to early 60s. But there is a somewhat alarming trend of younger and younger people getting diagnosed over the past couple of years. Needless to say, I felt alone when I was first diagnosed. I mean, who in the heck gets ALS in their early thirties? The chances are slim to none given the fact that about 2-3 people per 100,000 will be diagnosed. Add with the fact that typically, only a very small percentage of those 2 or 3 people are diagnosed before the age of 38, and you know what I mean. After some Internet research I quickly found out that I was not alone. There are people like me all over the US and the World with ALS. They are all waging their own battle against this cruel and unrelenting ailment. And many of us are trying to raise awareness. Because not only does having ALS suck, but that suckiness is multiplied 10 - fold when you know the doc can't do anything for you. There is no cure for ALS. Their really isn't any meaningful Therapeutic. The only FDA approved drug for the treatment of ALS is Rilutek, which I am convinced does almost nothing at all. I often heard the term 'throwing a cup of water on a raging inferno' used to describe the stuff. The docs give you a regimen of all sorts of vitamins and antioxidants to take, but they can't tell you if they will work. All very frustrating IMO.

Either way, creating awareness is the only way to raise the necessary capital to actually find SOMETHING to fight ALS. I apologize for the rant. I just get a little frustrated sometimes. Lou Gehrig died from this disease around 70 years ago, and today there is still no cure, or even anything to slow the disease and prolong survival more than a couple of months. Really, when it all comes down to it, the Lord's plan WILL prevail. I know getting frustrated and down is natural. But I feel that if you have full faith in His perfect plan, you don't have to be frustrated. Because it is not about you or me, but Him. I am still working on that complete faith and will continue until I meet Him face to face. I will add some links below of some sites you may want to look at. I do not want to use this blog to promote anything, so visit the sites only if you want to.

I do have a prayer request though. My family and I will be attending our first ALS clinic on Feb. 4. It will be the first time we will meet other PALS or people with ALS. This is a little scary because we will see other people with ALS, many in more advanced stages. This will be a once every three month meeting where we talk to other patients and the docs will track my progression, or as I like to call it, regression. I will probably post something after the clinic about how it went.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Addition

We found out last Thursday that we have a little girl on the way. I don't ever show an outward preference to anyone about what I want the baby to be before we find out. Truth is, I am always more concerned about the pregnancy going well and there being a healthy baby produced at the end of it. Needless to say though, I am feeling a little excited about having a girl. Not to say I would be any less excited if it were a boy. Okay, I'll stop beating around the bush. I was secretly hoping it was a girl. There seems to be some sort of intriguing connection to me between a father and his daughter. The term "Daddy's Little Girl" comes to mind. I do have a good connection with my son Jeran. But just like me, he is a momma's boy. When the serious stuff goes down, he is looking for momma, not daddy. I don't blame him, there is something more comforting about momma. At least I was that way. I don't know what causes this. Maybe it is the gender difference. It always seemed a little weird talking to Z about the mushy stuff. Little boys are only supposed to talk about the serious, manly stuff with their dads. Things like basketball, football, hunting, etc. But when it comes to sissy stuff, you go to mom. Now, I am being facetious about this (sort of). I may be doing a poor job of explaining this, but nonetheless I am excited about experiencing this "Daddy's Little Girl" connection, whatever it may be. As I sit here today in complete admiration of Jeran while he plays with his toys, my iPhone, and whatever else he can get his hands on as the rain falls outside, I want to say one thing to my daughter. We are all waiting in excited anticipation of your arrival. Especially your Daddy.

Monday, January 10, 2011


What is faith? Faith is defined as: A confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. We have faith in many things in our everyday lives. We have faith that the Sun will rise, faith that our families and friends will be there for us in a time of need or when we are in a sticky situation. Faith that our children or spouses will tell us the truth when we ask them tough or uncomfortable questions, Faith in our sports teams that we root for that they will win. We have faith in God. I have always been a skeptic. I like to have reasonable evidence based on research into something. I find it hard to believe something without some real, factual background. To make having faith more difficult, sometimes our sports teams don't pull the big game out. Or our child or husband or wife might lie to us. Or something devastating happens to us. When this happens we begin to lose faith. We lose faith in our favorite team. We lose faith in our family, and faith in our God. But, still, we always find a way to renew our faith. Because that is how we are programmed. Without faith and hope, we have nothing. Despite the number of times our teams lose, our child makes the wrong decision, a young child dies from a seemingly meaningless disease, or someone you love is diagnosed with a fatal illness, we always renew our faith. We renew the faith in our children, in our teams, in God. It may take longer for some, But everyone, albeit however begrudgingly, seems to rekindle that faith at some point. I believe this is due to the fact that somewhere along the path of figuring out this crazy, wonderful thing called life, we must have faith. Regardless of your intellectual capacity, you will not figure everything out on facts alone. Even the smartest scientists in the world, hell-bent on figuring out how to prove a divine creator was not needed to create the universe, cannot explain their goal. The fact is, at some point even these very intelligent minds have to have faith in their hypotheses.

This takes me to the main point of my post, the most important area of faith we will face in our existence on Earth. This is the faith in a creator, a higher being with a divine plan. I mean, I cannot believe in my mind that we are here just by chance. The more I read into areas such as the beginning of the universe, into theories such as the Big Bang, the more evidence I see that there was a beginning. It all began at some point in time. I believe that beginning is God. Further, the more researchers dive into the truth in the happenings and events of the Bible, the more the evidence points to it being accurate. Now, there are many differing opinions out there, but I guarantee those opinions are based on having faith in one thing or another. As for me, my faith lies with God the Creator and His Son Jesus Christ. Through all of my skepticism, my ponderings on the meaning of life, at least in my small mind, I have found the evidence needed to have faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. I have faith in his divine plan for all of us. I have faith that He can perform miracles. I have faith that all who pledge their allegiance with Him have great things in store for them! No matter how hard the situation or circumstance may be, I know that great things are coming for those who believe in Him. That is why my faith lies with Him. Without faith in something we have nothing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I am truly blessed. Last night I was thinking back on my life and all that I have been through. I coudn't help but come to the conclusion that the Lord has blessed me richly in my life. This doesn't mean there haven't been hard times along the way. It just means my blessings have way outweighed the setbacks. You see, I have been blessed with many talents. From a young age, I have always excelled at basketball. I recall a moment when I was in fourth grade and we were in a basketball tournament over in Clear Lake. We were set to play a team that looked to be at least a couple of years older than our scrawny little team. Luckily, they showed up late and we were given a little head start. There were eight players on their team and we were given two free foul shots for each player before the game started. My dad elected me to go and shoot the sixteen freethrows. I made fourteen. Now this isn't a regular occurance with fourth graders. Most kids my age would be lucky to make four. As I got older, although I didn't mature as fast as others (I think I weighed under 100 pounds until I was in high school), I always possessed my knack for shooting the basketball. Slowly my body decided to get with the program and proceed through maturity, and by my junior year in high school I had become a pretty good basketball player. I ranked in the top three in three pointers made in the Houston area both my junior and senior years. I played an integral part in helping my team reach the state semi-finals my junior year (as I look back on that season, I can't help but think we were living in a dream. No responsibilities, no worries. We practically ruled the town.) I was all district three years in high school (first team both my junior and senior years) All county first team both years. I even got my picture taken and put into a magazine for the pre-season all-state team my senior year. I was all-tournament for the 4A classification when we went to Austin. I had my fair share of colleges calling and sending all sorts of stuff. To add to my basketball "stardom" I was pretty popular and was even crowned home-coming king. For reasons unknown to me today, I didn't really pursue basketball after my senior season, but I'll leave that to another blog entry. Even though I really didn't give a full effort to school, I graduated in the top ten percent of my class. Through college I continued playing basketball recreationally, and coninued to excel at it. I was given the gift of basketball. Looking back, I didn't really work that hard at it either. It was a gift. A blessing. Same goes for academics. I never really applied myself, it just came. Today, surrounded by an awesome family, all-star parents, a great wife, and the most perfect kid in the world (with another on the way) I continue to be blessed beyond measure and I am truly grateful.

Now, shifting gears. I wasn't the greatest basketball player or the smartest guy around, but I was talented nonetheless. Thinking back, I can only imagine the number of people in this world who would give anything to have the life I have lived to this point. This disease has made me take a step back and really ponder these things, this crazy thing called life. I know it sounds weird, but I am thankful for that. I can't help but think that God has thrust the weight of ALS on my shoulders for a reason. Maybe it is so I can reach the full potential of who I should be, to understand His purpose for me in this life. Heaven knows I haven't reached it to this point. Maybe it is a lesson to not take things for granted, as I have my whole life without thinking about it. I can convey to you one thing I do believe and know to be true - this is happening to me for the greater good. Because He is Good. It may be for reasons unknown at this time, but for good nonetheless. Pain is not always bad. Sometimes it must be endured for as I have stated - the greater good. As much as we don't like to think about our lives on this earth ending, they will. And either way the number of days we spend here will only be a fraction of a speck in eternity. We must understand that. Working to become closer to God, who we will spend eternity with is the main goal for us when we are here. Maybe this disease will help me to understand that. And for that I am blessed.