Scott Burrows Paralyzed Kickboxer Walks at FVMA

Scott Burrows on dogtorbill.wordpress.com

Scott Burrows on dogtorbill.wordpress.com

What if the measure of your success is determined by how you react and change from catastrophe in your life? What belief system must you possess to conquer those challenges? Only rare events force people to change. Even more rare are those individuals who can inspire people to the core and move them to action.

The Florida Department of Professional Regulation mandates that veterinarians participate in 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain an active license.  This is a good thing.  But honestly, sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of other veterinarians hasn’t been at the top of my bucket-list these last two years.  Frankly, I’ve been working on me.

But May 30 is the deadline, and I do love what I do, so I “enthusiastically” attended the 85th Annual Florida Veterinary Medical Association Convention this last weekend, just a month before the deadline for my remaining required CE hours.  If the likes of:  Immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia: Pathophysiology & Diagnosis, Icteric Cats – More Than Just Hepatic Lipidosis, Cyclosporine/Apoquel Versus Glucocorticoids, and Resection and Reconstruction Techniques for Soft Tissue Sarcoma in Dogs sound like three riveting days, you would have been captivated.  And, believe it or not, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these.  But, me being me, what made me want to get up at 5:30 to drive two hours was a keynote speaker named Scott Burrows.

Scott played college football at Florida State University under legendary coach Bobby Bowden and was a top-ranked kick boxing champion, having his Last fight broadcast by ESPN. Later that year, his life took a dramatic turn when the car he was a passenger in lost control in a serious accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down and diagnosed a quadriplegic.

After years of frustrating and painful therapy, and a phenomenal will to succeed, Scott is now a best-selling author and in-demand speaker.  He employed his paralysis as a visual metaphor, as he rolls himself out on stage in a wheelchair, obviously able to pretty effectively use his upper body now.  With dramatic  arm gestures, he explained how he personally utilized his three principles: Vision, Mindset, and Grit, that are now the focus of his motivational/inspirational addresses.  He encouraged us to “stand up” when we are “paralyzed” by life’s challenges—regardless of circumstances—and achieve our best.

Clearly aimed at a secular audience, Scott used a Tony Robbins” style “You can do it,” positive motivation that we can accomplish anything we set our minds on.

Scott Burrows 2 on dogtorbill.wordpress.com

Scott Burrows 2 on dogtorbill.wordpress.com

Scott has keynote addressed hundreds of multinational corporations all over the world.  That’s how I had heard of him.  In doing so, he is ambiguous as to the source of his immense inner strength.  But I did a bit of digging on his website and some of his other addresses, and discovered his faith in Christ, and the use of his suffering as part of an offering up from which to be lifted out of his tragedy.

So, why not tell the whole story?  Why not “give Him all the glory?”  No doubt a “You can do it yourself style Motivational Speaker,” has an easier time paying the bills and is in less demand at PepsiCo, GE, and Polaris than a Christian inspirational speaker.

Far be it from me to know someone’s heart, but I tend to give folks a pass.  Scott let us fill in the blanks with our own hearts and minds.  If we look inside and don’t really have such a source, it’s likely we’ll dig deeper until we find Him.  I thinks this is an example of “God meets us where we are.”

Scott held a gold club (9 iron?) and raised it, and waved it and twirled it for dramatic effect several times during the talk.  He shared a story of golfing with someone and showed how he swung the club from the chair.

Towards the end of his keynote presentation, to demonstrate that his are not just words, that we really can do whatever we really are determined to do, he scooted himself to the edge of his seat, and with his hands, lifted one foot out of the chair, then the other.  He flipped the golf club around and, pressing it to the ground as support, lifted his body weight and walked across the stage.

Of course, this was met with applause and a standing ovation.  Indeed, with a true faith, we can certainly move mountains.

Much Love.

 

Scott Burrows 3 on dogtorbill.wordpress.comScott Burrows 4 on dogtorbill.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Road to Emmaus

I first posted this here exactly a year ago today, and it just feels fitting today to do so again

dogtorbill

behindme4

Everyone who knows me, knows that I have a horrible memory.  Not just, “Where did I put my car keys?” or “Crap, I forgot why I came in here” type of bad memory, rather more like, “I could hide my own Easter eggs!”  I could watch the same movie ten times and be shocked each time at the ending!

So, I dread seeing clients in public.  As a veterinarian, I form personal relationships with my clients, and get to know them, their children, and their pets – often a very real part of their family.  People appreciate when you connect with them, and I do genuinely love my job and (most of) my clients and their “families.”  So when I greet them by name and remember their kids, and that their cat purrs on Grandpa’s lap and the dog digs up the daffodils and enjoys leg humping Uncle Donnie, and never left…

View original post 500 more words

A Father’s Love

van der woude 2cvan der woude1c

Although Josie has Down’s Syndrome, he had been such  a “big help” that day to his dad. After a summer of fun with all his brothers and their children at their pool, 20 year old Josie Vander Woude, living with his parents, was helping get the pool ready for winter. They did this together every year, and he was really good at holding one corner of the pool cover while his dad tied the other in place. While 66 year old Tom Vander Woude secured the final knot, Josie wandered over the small berm towards the horses. He never noticed the metal cover because he’d walked this way every day his entire life.

On September 8, 2008, Joseph Vander Woude stepped onto an old sewer cover, which broke through, sending him splashing to the bottom. He was confused, cold, and scared; he screamed and cried. Joseph’s father quickly came running.

The father of seven grown sons had recently settled into retirement from decades as a commercial pilot, and filled his days with service to his church and community.  His other sons and their families had spent much time that summer at their home there with them in the country.

Tom looked into the dark sewer but was unable to recognize his child, in the dark tank and covered with filth, he saw movement and heard the gasping, “Daddy, Daddy!”

Without hesitation he jumped in to help his son.  This was not simply a sewer that we might think of, containing storm water.  This was a septic tank, filled with months of feces and human waste from the farmhouse.  Josie embraced and climbed upon this man who had always been there for him. Tom struggled to get underneath his much smaller son to hold him up, his head above the disgusting muck. Still, Josie struggled to breathe the noxious methane gas that had replaced the oxygen in the air.

When the firemen finally arrived, Josie’s brother ran them over to the cistern.  They were relieved to see Josie alive, although unconscious from the fumes.  One of them remarked how lucky the boy was that the level wasn’t much deeper.  He was just a few feet down, so the workers reached down and pulled him from the disgusting pit.

Tom Jr., and his mother frantically tried to get the words out, explaining to the firemen that Tom had jumped in, and was still down in the sewer.  The tank hadn’t been so shallow after all, rather Josie’s unconscious head had been held up by his loving father.  As he lifted Joseph up, his eyes closed, and he collapsed into the tank.

The firemen and the EMT that had now arrived had all been friends with Tom for years, small towns were like that.  The flashlight search and frantic shouts were immediately answered with the splashes of two men into the darkness.

The grim task of securing a rope around their friend and lifting him out of the waste was performed quickly in complete silence.  Unresponsive to their best efforts, Tom Vander Woude had left this world.

“It’s so right that he died saving one of us,” commented one of his sons.  That’s just how he lived his life.

In fact every man is called upon to give himself to God and his neighbor.  A boy learns this lesson of “self gift” in the family, particularly from his father.  Even more important than a father’s words to his sons, is his example.  When a father speaks of sacrifice through his actions, a boy learns the essence of manhood.  Even in our skeptical, self-centered culture, something is compelling about the story of a father giving up his life for his son.  It affirms everything we know to be right, and echoes the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

As I read this beautifully tragic story of the Van der Woude family on Good Friday, I was so moved by the metaphor.  We see the Lord, who lays down his life for us.  And we’ve heard this message repeated until perhaps it loses some of its impact, until it hits closer to home.

Because our grief is not the “end of the story” when we encounter tragedy.

Psalm 30:  At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with joy rejoicing.  You preserved me from those going down into the pit.  You changed my mourning into dancing.  Oh Lord my God, forever I will praise you!

Do we have any grasp of what this means?  Perhaps the Van der Woude story can show us more than we had considered.

Truly, the God of the universe became one of us.  That sounds incredible, because it is.  And when I look into the mirror, it is humbling to know that the “Creator of the Universe” cares enough about us, about me, that he would enter into this septic tank of a world to save me.  Because of His love.

That He enters into the “muck,” and that He pushes us out of that “muck.”  Each and every one of us are sinners, because we live in a sinful world, and that sin is deadly.  It will lead to our death.  But Jesus jumps into that muck, immerses Himself in it, in order that He can push us up out of the filth, that we might have salvation.  That’s the story of salvation.  That’s the story of His love for us.  As St. Paul said in a phrase I’ve always had a hard time understanding, “He became sin for us.  He takes on for us our failings.  He enters into the muck of this world, so that we may be pushed out of it.

This story reminds us that love is so much stronger than death.  Our life, in this fallen world, is but a journey, not just to God, but with God.  We walk together to that life eternal, where there is no more weeping and tearing or anguishing over the past.  Saint John Paul II, in his commentary on Psalm 30, states, “Nor should we fall into the illusion that we can save ourselves.”  We need some one, if you will, to jump in and save us from our sins.  And the good news is that Jesus is that one who we can climb upon, in order to be brought out, pushed up from this place.

Much Love

van der woude 2c

All Dogs go to Heaven?

Image

The thud of bumper against flesh makes a nauseating sound that tears a family apart.  As we sat together enjoying dinner after a long day of work, school, swim practice and homework, going around the table with our “high point of the day,” we barely took note of the sound of impact outside.  We all heard it, but just didn’t realize that sound, was to be forever part of the horrible memory.

People often find a veterinarian’s compassion remarkable.  You have so much empathy, I’m told.  “You’d think after dealing with this time after time, it would make you numb to it all, but when we brought Callie in last week, you acted like she was your own!”

Whether a body is brought in from a passing at home the night before, a tragic accident, or a humane euthanasia in the office, I know a family will never be the same.  The sweet memories fade into forever ago when confronted with a sudden loss of a beloved pet.

Somehow people often just seem to know that I take my faith seriously.  The cross I wear is tucked under my shirt, and the Third Day silk screen is covered by my scrubs, but I find myself often responding to complicated questions;  Philosophy and theology discussions that my veterinary training ill-equipped me for.  “I know you’re a believer, but why?  There’s so much suffering in the world – if He’s actually up there, why doesn’t He care?”  Often I force myself simply to sigh and remark something about there being so many mysteries.  And all this is true, but I thoroughly enjoy sharing and discussing my evolving theologies with others who are curious, or want to spar with our respective apologetics.

But I simply can’t typically do this at enough length for justice in a 15 minute office visit, so I mainly just sigh, and smile, and agree that it’s a mystery.  But sometimes I’m asked, especially by children, what used to be considered a softball question with a reflex quickie answer.  But now lots of adults also ask me, and I know some of them well enough to realize they want an honest, scripture based answer.

“Dr. Bill, do our pets go to heaven?” or specifically, “Will I see my dear Killian in Heaven?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to kneel down by the child and say with consoling confidence, “Of course!”  I’d never give it a second thought, but I find myself questioning the reason and logic for pretty much everything I do anymore.  And it began to bother me a little bit.

In simplest terms, Christians believe entrance to God’s kingdom is based on our choosing to accept Jesus as Savior and applying His message as the way to live our lives and interact.  As a pretty serious Christian, I do believe this.  Well then, how on earth could we possibly think animals could get to Heaven, since they have no ability to even make rational choice?  Besides, they don’t even have souls … do they?  So I’m supposed to look down and lie to a child so everyone is happy?  Or say callously with a pat on their head, “No Susie, cats don’t have souls!”  Or pretend that I believe the New-Age Gobbletygoop, “Susie, Heaven will be everything you want it to be, and if you love Callie, she will certainly be there.”  Because we’ll all have our own little heaven of anything we want it to be.  (Although this may indeed be true, for so many members of the “church of me,” where you get to pick and choose what you think should be right and wrong.)

Or maybe I should simply shrug with a smile, and say, “It’s all a mystery!”None of that really works for me.  However I do have two thoughts on the subject.

First of all, I’m certainly no theologian, I’m not even particularly intelligent.  So on a plethora of topics, I choose to yield to others in history who have devoted entire lives to research on philosophy, meaning, and of course theology.  I have many favorites, but at the top of the list is St. Augustine (also know as Augustine of Hippo).

Saint Augustine clearly wrote “that all the beautiful and enjoyable things of nature … including animals … and all the delights that image God and lead us to him in this life will do so even more perfectly in the next. (Sermon 242).

St. Francis of Assisi wrote in “Canticle to Brother Sun,” about what he had discovered in scripture , such as Psalm 148, and he added a personal touch, giving the title of “Brother” and “Sister” to the various creatures. Francis seems to emphasize all the more the viewpoint that all creatures make up one family of creation under one loving Creator in heaven. We are to form one community—one symphony of praise—with our brother and sister creatures.

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes a woman arriving in heaven surrounded by her pets, and he notes, “Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love… And now the abundance of life she has in Christ… flows over into them.”

Lewis believes that animals receive a sense of self or personality from association with their human masters. We give our pets names and they answer to those names (hopefully), and perhaps recognize themselves by them. “If a good sheepdog seems ‘almost human’ that is because a good shepherd has made it so,” says Lewis. “And in this sense,” suggests Lewis, “it seems to me that certain animals may have an immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.”

Secondly, Scripture itself seems to support this premise.

Consider the story of Adam and Eve before their disobedience as well as the story of the animals, the birds, the trees and plants in the Garden of Eden. Not only Adam and Eve, but the other creatures as well seemed to find peace and happiness in that first paradise. Why then would God want to exclude them from the paradise that is yet to come? (Even if it has nothing to do with their merit, but simply for us.)  Thus, I would have no argument with Christians who believe that the animals and other creatures are with God in heaven, just as they were in the story of the original paradise.

In the New Testament we are told God sees every sparrow that falls, which means he takes notice of each little life. In the Old Testament, we read about a future kingdom where the wolf will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the goat.

And finally, in the Book of Revelation, John describes a heavenly vision of all creatures before the throne of God. In that glorious gathering, he sees more than saved humanity: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever ” (Rev. 5:11-14).

Claire was my 14-year-old daughter’s very best friend.  She came one year for Christmas to chew on the piano bench, and grab the roast from the table, and teach my daughter about unconditional love.  And that she could lean on her Heavenly Father when strength was no-where to be found.

This was the first of many horrific losses my family would face in 2012.  Another death to confront.  Another opportunity to ask, “Why?”  Another reminder to cherish every loved one, and welcome every opportunity to embrace as if it’s the last one.

We believe in a God who understands loss and grief, pain and anguish.  He’s been here, and walked in our shoes, and fills our hearts with hope and joy, confidence and consolation.

Of course dogs can go to heaven.  So many things to look forward to.

Blessings for this Holy Week 2014

Much Love

claire1a