Weakness and Strength

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m sure most of you have experienced the occasional muscle spasm or cramp after a hard work out;  Or you have felt that annoying twitch in your eye or lip when you are in tense situations.  What’s your reaction?  You want it to stop, right?  You think everyone around can see it.  You find it hard to concentrate on anything else until that painless, but extremely annoying, twitch disappears!

One of the symptoms of ALS that I now live with is that my entire upper body is constantly experiencing these tremors…except the doctors don’t call them tremors or twitches – they call them fasciculations.  The medical definition is “involuntary movements or twitchings of groups of muscle fibers.”

If I could emphasize anything from the definition, it would be the word “involuntary.”  If I could stop it, I certainly would!  Rest your hand anywhere on my arm, shoulder or chest for more than a few seconds,  and you would think there were electrical currents going on inside of me.  It’s constant contractions;   I feel like my muscles are bouncing off the walls; it is crazy madness.

In fact, the first neurologist whom I met a few days after Thanksgiving, knew immediately that I held ALS by looking at my tongue.  Apparently, ALS is the only disease where fasciculations occur on a resting tongue.  I couldn’t figure out why she stared in my mouth so long until later when she shared that fact with us.  Even neurologists don’t like to have to diagnosis a fatal disease to a patient;  She was trying to convince herself that it wasn’t true.

Before my disease, I rarely gave thought to my muscles throughout any given day.  Sometimes after a hard workout, I might get a leg cramp and eat a few bananas.  Now I am aware of my muscles every waking second.

As my physical weakness increases, so does my acute awareness of my need for God.  Daily I need his Word or I quickly fade into negative thoughts and sadness.  Satan attempts to poison my mind with his lies which would lead me to doubt God’s truth.  This battle is not fixed by a simple read my Bible to check it off my to do list;  It requires vigilance and a discplined choice of my will;  Then the Holy Spirit aids me in believing His Word and being faithful to it.

Included in this weakness comes the fact that I should no longer shake hands.  My fingers are curled and a firm grip is painful; Raising my arm too high or shaking it is also uncomfortable.  My right hand and arm are much worse than my left.  So I need to make a change and I need your help. I am going to attempt to reach out to greet you with my left hand, but I prefer to do a gentle “fist pump.”  As for hugs, they need to be loose and soft. My shoulders can not take squeezes or pats on the back.  This is hard for me to say, because I love greeting others and have always taught the teens to have a firm hand shake.  But there are exceptions to every rule, right?

Speaking on the phone and texting have both becoming increasingly difficult; so these too are limited.  Dena returns the necessary phone calls and the kids help me text or send emails when I am too tired to attempt it.  Please know that I read your facebook entries and comments on my blog, but I can not respond to them.  I appreciate all the support and love you continually show.  Thank you for understanding.

James 5:11  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

  1. Alan Bonjour says:

    Thanks Brother for filling us in on a life that is foreign to us unless we were to experience it as well. I know it is difficult to describe something that only a short while ago was foreign to your own experience. This was so clearly written I believe it has given me far greater understanding than I have ever known before of ALS.

    Thank you for opening that window for us, it is easy to go shy from the unknown.
    We do really care to help carry you along with us.


    p.s., The James 5:11 reference strengthens my feeble knees. I think I needed that one today.

  2. Russ Arbuckle says:

    A simple smile or nod of the head is all anyone really needs. Continue your mighty strength in the
    Lord and we continue to pray for you and your family. Russ & Karin

  3. Mary Alice Stahl says:

    Hey if you can do anything I want to see you smile that smile is a complete Patrick that I will always know that you are just what God wants right now I love ya and will always pray that he holds you in the palm of his hand. You are amazing not just to members here but to the kids. love ya Mary Stahl

  4. Kathi Sherrill says:

    Patrick we continue to pray for you daily. Even Kalli, in her nightly prayers, remembers you. Praising the Lord that He surrounds you with His love shown through his children. We all love you.

  5. lorie smith says:

    YUP, thank you for speaking truth, similar with the ms, involuntary and annoying muscle movement especially when you need to sleep, but God knows and HE is faithful, pressing on, lorie

  6. Joe and Becky Blackwell says:

    Patrick and Dena- thank you for sharing with us. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers! Sending soft and tender hugs your way today!
    Warmly-Becky and Joe

  7. Joe & Gail Asaro says:

    Just seeing your smile says so much more than just “Hi”, it says everything. We love you brother and pray for your family’s strength and focus in these days of training as well.

    Because he cares for you,
    Joe & Gail

  8. Carl & Lori Reichanadter says:

    Patrick, our friend, thanks for your continued transparency. It really helps us know how to pray for you. As you read this, please feel a gentle hug from both of us. We are blessed to know you and Dena. Much love, Carl & Lori

  9. ladyangora says:

    i sincerely admire your honesty and courage in discussing your physical and spiritual experiences with ALS. i am continuing to pray for you and your family. we know that God has you firmly in his loving care… praying that satan’s attacks bounce away harmless.

  10. Patrick & Dena, Thank you so much for sharing so honestly where you are right now. I can’t begin to imagine how challenging this must be on a daily basis. Praying for continued and increasing vigilance as you choose to fix your mind on God’s truth. May His strength continue to carry you through all that is to come. Praying always and grateful for the knowledge of God’s grace and insights of this disease your journey is providing to so many.

  11. I find inspiration in your story and am so blessed by you having the courage to share it. Thank you!

  12. Colleen Rose says:

    Patrick and Dena,

    Just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you both and for your family. I will pray that God’s grace is evidenced to you daily. Colleen Rose

  13. Patty Ruszkiewicz says:

    Ok Patrick no big hugs although that’s one of my favorite things to do – know that when I’m smiling at you I’m thinking “hugs” -thanks for the encouragement from James


  14. You and your family are
    in our prayers always!!

  15. Jana Braden says:

    Thanks for the update, Patrick. We love you all and pray for you daily, and now we will know how to pray more specifically.

  16. Leni Young says:

    When I first met your son, Parker, he told Dena, “She has a strong handshake.” I thought that was very nice compliment coming from a teenage boy. You taught him well!

    Praying for you and your family.
    Leni Young(former colleague of your lovely wife)

  17. Keith and Marilyn Kaynor says:

    Pastor Golden,
    We pray for you often. You are free to be honest about what you can and can’t do. We understand.
    Love in Christ, K & M

  18. jaredsayers says:

    Your words are a blessing to me in Chile. Although I’d love to spend time with you and the rest of my Cornerstone family you have helped teach me that this trip is what I need to do, not just for my career, but for my spiritual well-being. Thank you for being a true, Godly mentor in the lives of us all. I hope to be able to share some of your words (translated in Spanish) o some of the kids and peers I am working with in Santiago. Let me know if that is alright, please?!

    Gracias a Dios for su gracia y protección (thank God for his grace & protection). For it is His will not ours!

    Much love brother,

  19. Lisa Moen says:

    A bump and a wink it is! Love and Prayers, Lisa

  20. Jeff Keady says:

    Pat, so we can text and email you whatever we want, and you can’t reply right? Some old college friends might take advantage of that to tell old dorm tales? Weren’t you in Ridley?? 🙂

    Hey Pal, thanks for sharing your story. Those of us who are your contemporaries in ministry need to hear it! We need to number our days too, to be grateful, to be purposeful, and to make every day count. I wish you could learn what you’re learning without having to deal with ALS, but as you share your journey, we have the opportunity to learn something from you. Thank you Patrick.

  21. Bea Lovins says:

    praying for you guys, love you all.

  22. Lisa Kotal says:

    You’re my hero.. I love you Patrick!

  23. Jeremy Pearson says:


    and Dena, and Paige and Parker.
    I love you all so much. I cannot wait to see you all. I will be praying for all of you guys. I’m excited to be home soon.

    Be encouraged because the Lord hears and answers our prayers. We can trust in Him.

    “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
    Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices: my body also shall dwell secure.”
    Psalm 16:8-9

    “But [The LORD] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    Brother, be encouraged daily of God’s graciousness to you. He is so good.Pray daily for his grace. I will be praying for you to fight the temptations of the evil one. As I pray for myself, i will pray for you:

    “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
    Psalm 19:14

    I love you all so much.

  24. Michele Binienda says:

    “This battle is not fixed by a simple read my Bible to check it off my to do list; It requires vigilance and a discplined choice of my will; Then the Holy Spirit aids me in believing His Word and being faithful to it.”
    These words are an encouragement to me as I struggle with my Crohn’s disease. You are an encouragement to me in your faithfulness to God as you deal with all of the changes that ALS is doing to your body. I realize our diseases are completely different and finding the right meds for me can put mine into remission for a time. Yet when my Crohn’s symptoms are active and cause distress, there are times I can fall into a “black hole” emotionally. As I watch you “press on pilgrim” I gain the encouragement I need to press on too.
    I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  25. Michelle says:

    Praying for you always knowing that this season of life is not an easy one for you and your family. May his grace carry you moment by moment. Please me know if you guys need any thing! I would be happy to help. Love in Christ.

  26. Phyllis Epperson says:

    Pastor Pat,
    You had a great impact on my daughter Kelly Epperson as you ministered at Calvary. We are praying for you and your family. I listened to your last sermon and was touched by your acceptance of what God is doing in your life. I’m reminded to the song we closed our service with this morning, Blessed be the name of the Lord. I’m sure you are familiar with the lyrics as it talks about blessed be his name when all is right in the world or when it’s filled with suffering. I’m praying for you and with you that God will use this for His glory.

  27. Mel Stull says:

    Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening Series

    The Kaleidoscope of Christ’s Beauty

    Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved.
    Song of Songs 1:16

    From every angle our Well-beloved is most fair. Our various experiences are meant by our heavenly Father to provide new vantage points from which we may view the loveliness of Jesus. How friendly are our trials when they allow us a clearer view of Jesus than ordinary life could afford us! We have seen Him from the mountain peaks, and He has shone upon us as the sun in His strength; but we have seen Him also from the lions’ dens, and even there He has lost none of His loveliness. In the experience of suffering and pain, from the borders of the grave, we have turned our eyes to our soul’s spouse, and He has never been other than “beautiful.”

    Many of His saints looked upon Him from the gloom of dungeons and from the martyr’s flames; yet they never uttered an ill word of Him, but died extolling His surpassing charms. To keep our gaze on the Lord Jesus is noble and pleasant employment. Is it not unspeakably delightful to view the Savior in all His works and to perceive Him matchless in each? To shift the kaleidoscope, as it were, and to find fresh combinations of matchless grace? In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on His throne, in the garden and in His kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, He is everywhere glorious in His beauty.

    Examine carefully every little act of His life and every trait of His character, and He is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge Him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh Him as you please, and He will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather as ages revolve, His hidden glories will shine with even more inconceivable splendor, and His unutterable loveliness will continually ravish all celestial minds.

  28. Mel Stull says:

    Hey Mc Goldricks, very good song for each of you: The Proof Of Your Love!

    If I sing but don’t have love
    I waste my breathe with every song
    I bring, an empty voice
    A hollow noise

    If I speak with a silver tongue
    Convince a crowd but don’t have love
    I leave a bitter taste
    With every word I say

    So let my life be the proof
    The proof of Your love
    Let my love look like You
    And what You’re made of
    How you lived, how You died
    Love is sacrifice
    So let my life be the proof
    The proof of Your love

    If I give to a needy soul
    But don’t have love then who is poor
    It seems all the poverty
    Is found in me


    Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
    When it’s all said and done
    Ooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
    When we sing our final song

    Only love remains
    Only love remains


  29. HI Patrick,
    just letting you know that you,Dena and THE children are in my thought an prayer daily. know He is holding you in the palm of His hand. an it is in your weakest moment His strength is perfect.
    Isa 41:9-10 I have taken you from the ends of the earth and called you from its most distant places. I said to you, ‘You are my servant. I’ve chosen you; I haven’t rejected you.’
    Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.

  30. Rose Harla says:

    Patrick…What an encouraging and uplifting post. You are ministering to us in your weakness. I am praying that God will keep your faith strong and give you courage today. You are teaching us…we are learning from you.

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