Posts Tagged ‘NBC Nightly News’

Author’s Note:  Penned almost 4 years ago, I still think about this event a lot, considering the controversy that ignited over the events in Florida the lady was referring to, and have really been considering it in the last week.  The Greater Miracle is often the harder road, the road bearing footprints you can see because it’s not paved, but few prints to follow.  When I wrote this the FENX IV wasn’t finished, Carl Sear at NBC hadn’t called yet, I didn’t know pro-life television existed, and I certainly didn’t know who Chris Rush or Zack Arnold were, and wasn’t thinking about articles written in Roll Call.  Almost four years later, some of this path makes more sense than it did in Spring 2008.  How big is God to you?  Is He big enough to NOT do something you want because there is a larger story being written, even in your own life?

Yesterday, before church, an older lady came up to me and asked me a random question: “Do you watch GOD TV?”  Taken aback, I said “no” because I don’t know what that is. (Only after thinking about it did I realize that I think it’s part of the Wendy Alec empire as it were.)  She then started talking about how guests on that TV program/station had been healed of various physical problems and illnesses during a “healing revival” and how I should start watching it.

So, ok, color me a skeptic.  I know that God CAN do such things, and that the Scriptures are filled with Him doing such things in the Old Testament and Jesus in the new (even using the Disciples and Paul).  God is God and the Universe belongs to Him and He can do as He wills. The whole reason this awkward conversation started is because she saw me sitting in the scooter and the synaptic impulse shot across her brain that “something is wrong with this young man and I know God can fix it”.  A noble idea and response to be sure, but is it the right one?

Has anyone ever considered that there is nothing wrong with me? Has anyone ever thought about the fact that I am what I am because the Lord created me to be this way for some purpose unknown to humans but fully known to Him – even though it is revealed to me and to others in small pieces or not at all? I just feel sad for people who see something like this and automatically think something is out of place, when in fact it is not. Sure, I still struggle with this whole situation, the idea of getting older and things getting worse. At times it isn’t fun – like right now when I am home suck because a variety of factors are working together to keep me out of the game for a short time – but it is never as bad as the outside world perceives it to be because my Heavenly Father is here too, grieving and struggling along side, but knowing there is a greater purpose that often I cannot see. (Lest we forget Paul’s example shown to us by the thorn that he was given, but never taken from him though he asked it to be)

What is the greater miracle?

For someone to be healed of a life-long infirmity, the Lord be recognized and praised for it, but soon forgotten by all except the one it happened to – and even then possibly forgotten over time?

Or for someone to go about life striving to accomplish the mission set before them, phase by phase, with a consistent infirmity, a constant reminder of their mortality, that can cause great pain and internal struggle (but also bring them in closer relationship with God than anything else) against impossible odds because the Father planted within that person the seed of perseverance that over time will grow and transform into a massive structure with God engraved all over it, as a symbol and encouragement to many people in many places?

I’ll take door number two, Bob.

Riding Towards Eternity,


Capitol Hill is not an easy place to plant oneself.  The hours can be arduous and the scenarios frustrating.  It is in this nexus of power and ideology that staffers find themselves.  A lot of time can be spent working hard to sow ideas, meet objectives, fix problems, and fight injustices – with no guarantee that a resolution will come or if/when it does you will be there to see the sowing turn to reaping.  It is in this environment that the long view of events must be taken and the long game played, worrying not about who gets the credit or when the victory comes, but just working to ensure that outcome.

However, there are those rare times when the sowing turns to reaping during your time; today was one such day, and there hasn’t been a day like this for awhile.  In October of 2008, a hospital in my Home Congressional District in Michigan came to my boss and I asking for our help.  This hospital was contesting  that they had erred in a Family Medical residency program that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Studies (CMS) had helped them get off the ground in 2004 to serve disadvantaged populations in Michigan.  I didn’t know anything about their plight then, but I learned a lot.   In short, if it was determined that this hospital had erred, the residency program would have to shut down and the funding from CMS paid back (and it wasn’t a small amount of money).  Over the next three years various attempts were made politically and legislatively to persuade CMS to admit there was no error on the part of this hospital; all of these attempts failed.  Late last year, the hospital took their case before a special review board hoping for a favorable decision.  In January of this year the review board ruled in their favor.  It’s important to note that the decision of this review board is non-binding, CMS does not have to comply with this decision if they do not wish to and 85%-90% of the time CMS does not.

Two weeks ago, after being involved in securing some congressional support for a letter being sent to the Acting Director of CMS regarding this issue, I worked to set up a call between my office and the Acting Director so that my boss could talk with the director.  Later that day I was told this call could not take place because of a special legal rule that prevented the Director from talking about the situation with this hospital while CMS was in the process of deciding to review the case or not to; if CMS decides to review the case, then the ruling of the review board is discarded.  A ruling on this case was not expected till early March.  At that point our efforts had reached a dead end and all options were exhausted.  I wrote one of the Sr. Execs at the hospital to let them know what was happening and that I felt there was little option left but to pray for a miracle – knowing full well that miracles are possible because I am a living example of that truth. So we began to pray (as did others, I later was told).

Today, all of that changed when I got a voice-mail to return the call of a individual highly placed within CMS.  I knew it had to be important if this individual was giving me a personal cell phone number to reach them.  During the call, I was told that CMS would NOT pursue the review of the hospital’s case, thus allowing the favorable ruling of the review board to stand.  I couldn’t believe what I had heard.  I was so shocked that my next words were “Are you serious, right now?” to which the answer was yes.  I asked a few more questions to make sure I understood things correctly and didn’t mishear or misinterpret something and hung up the phone.  Then I sat there, overwhelmed, and almost cried.  Did I mention that this was the hospital I was born in?  Almost thirty years ago, when things were dark and much seemed lost someone at this hospital stepped in to fight for me when others didn’t think I had a chance.  Almost 30 years later, I got to return the favor.

What problem are you the solution to?

This isn’t the first crazy thing I’ve prayed for and seen answered in spectacular fashion.  Before now, I’ve not really told the tale on the genesis moment for the FENX appearing on NBC Nightly News in September 2010.  It actually began two nights before I met Sheila Sears and her crew from the BBC.  It began one night in secret inside my apartment. During summer ’09 I was leading a small group of Capitol Hill staffers and interns from my church though a curriculum the church designed. One particular week, the subject of the study was prayer. At one point the study asked it’s readers to think and pray about something that they wanted to see God do in their life and sphere of influence, so I answered the first thing that came to mind “Lord, do something totally awesome with the FENX, you gave my Dad the skills to build it now use it to glorify Yourself”. I can’t tell you that I was serious about what I prayed, I just prayed what came. Sometimes we come up with these ideas and pray about them, wondering if it’s something God is really interested in. What I discovered was that God WAS interested in this idea, seriously, and I didn’t see it coming; I met the BBC crew two days later and was talking with the NBC producer a week after that (and readers of this blog know the rest of the tale).

What prayers of others are you the answer to?

Answer these two questions and you can begin to chase your destiny to a degree you never imagined.

“Now to Him who is able to exceedingly more than we can ask or think…” Eph. 3:20

Riding towards eternity,


Life so far has been full of many crazy (some even fantastic – in the older sense of the word) adventures. As much as this shouldn’t surprise me considering I read things like Dune, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings – and thoroughly enjoy the TRON universe – many times it does. Worth is one of the greatest things humanity struggles with (both internally and externally; self worth and the worth of another) and I sometimes wonder if I am worthy of the adventure I find myself on. From a proper perspective of humility in relation to the Creator and Master of the universe, I’m not – but rather blessed to be on said journey.

Greatest amongst the recent adventures is obviously The FENX Project. I was reminded of this a few nights ago when I had dinner with Carl Sears and his wife Sheila. Carl is the producer behind the NBC News story on Dad, The FENX and I and his wife is the one who helped “discover” us on that late summer night in 2009 when I was driving home from the Capitol and her camera crew spied something coming toward them which they considered to possibly be a UFO, and in a sense the FENX was – in being an unidentifiable object flying past them. (To my friends to who secretly wonder if I’m really from somewhere else, here’s your shot but I am sorry to disappoint.) At dinner we shared memories of that night in July and the surrounding circumstances when it came to working on the NBC project together, such wonderful people. I shared with them a number of unlikely stories involving places like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Capitol Hill, and reactions from Members of Congress. It occurred to me, as it has many times, that I don’t lead a regular life – even if it seems so normal to me. (I’ve the Creator and my family to thank for that.)

Carl and Sheila opened the door for me to something much bigger than I thought, helped me take my first step into a larger world – as a crazy old man once said. The few opportunities I’ve had to tell the saga of my own life and the FENX Project have been amazing. I’ve been fortunate to be able to tell it over radio waves and in front of the camera and I recently went in front of cameras again to tell the whole tale on an Emmy award winning TV show focusing on issues from a pro-life perspective. We talked about quality of life for individuals who from birth have had physical challenges and long term medical conditions and that quality of life is possible. My own story is proof, I am living breathing proof that pre-judgments made by medical professionals are not always accurate, for one cannot medically assess the human spirit and the drive to persevere which resides within. What’s more: when the Master of the Universe enters into such an equation to ignite the path of destiny within someone He took the time to knit together, all bets are off. It’s why every life matters, why those who are perceived to be “less” by society aren’t – because they have been crafted and gifted differently. I had fleeting moments growing up wishing I could play sports like my younger brother did because I wanted the experience, but also because I wanted to be like everyone else. Sometimes it’s hard to lay down the sword and admit a pursuit like that isn’t the best use of the time, talents, and energy you’d been given – in the end I ended up on Capitol Hill and that desire to be like others and not myself has long faded.

A friend of mine – and fellow fan of the Galaxy Far Far Away – recently told me he thinks that my time in front of a camera with Facing Life Head On is something I was destined to do. Don’t know if he’s right or not, but he probably is.

Some inspire others though their actions, others inspire people by their very existence – because the world thinks they shouldn’t, yet they do; shouldn’t be, yet they are.

Riding Towards Eternity,


Although it has been a month since I’ve written in this space it has been a very interesting and adventurous month for The FENX Project. Almost a month ago exactly NBC Nightly News went live with the piece produced by Carl Sears. Since then some very interesting things have happened:

1. Cedarville University has thankfully taken it upon themselves to promote the story in conjunction with a story on me earlier this year.

2. Other opportunities to tell the story of the FENX Project on radio and TV have arisen and right now I’m waiting to see if these opportunities come to fruition

3. I received an e-mail recently from a gentlemen whom I had met on a plane headed to Michigan for Easter this year (and wrote about here) telling me he got to see the FENX piece by NBC and showed it to all his family and friends – making sure they knew he met me on a plane.

4. Finally, one of the greatest FENX related stories yet. It’s no secret that I am a Star Wars Fanboy; some consider me a rolling Star Wars Encyclopedia. Even as I am typing this I’m watching an episode from the new season of the amazing Star Wars: Clone Wars TV show. In the third season opener of this show, which aired a week and a half ago, a new charcter was introduced – a deformed and handicapped clone named Ninety-Nine; a character I identify with. So when my best friend and fellow Fanboy Todd Pugh suggested that I e-mail the minds behind The ForceCast (the premiere podcast concerning ALL thing Star Wars and something I listen to regularly now) I took Todd up on his idea. In doing so I included the story about the FENX and the video from NBC News. The outcome of this is something I’d never have expected – A Star Wars Fan Overcomes the Odds!

Through all these instances I continue to learn that the Master of the Universe does in fact do things beyond what I can ask or imagine, and as a rouge smuggler once said “I can imagine quite a bit

Riding Towards Eternity,


Yesterday morning my brother Seth and I caught a flight at Regan National Airport in DC to Detroit Metro in Michigan. It being a Holiday we have some time off and haven’t seen our parents in a while – perfect time to come home. This flight was probably one of the more interesting ones, as I met a man who was returning home to Minnesota with his family after touring the city with his wife and daughter. We spent some time talking about what he does as a parts supplier with IBM and what I do as a Congressional Staffer and what it’s like to work where I do – mostly in the last few weeks with long days and Health Care.

Eventually we got to talking about Dad and the FENX, which always seems to happen these days. At this point it got interesting as he semi-exclaims “you’re THAT guy, we have pictures of you”. Now I have to admit that the first thing that went though my head was the scene from PCU where John Faverau’s character gets told “don’t be that guy” because he was going to a concert wearing the t-shirt of the band he was going to see. So naturally I asked him what he was referring to and he explained that the day before he and his family were in the office building where I work when the evacuation drill started. (When this happens I get down to the FENX as fast as I can and drive it to the meeting point to check in with security and the rest of my office.) This family must have been ushered out as well. As it turns out, they saw me inside the FENX when the drill was over, waiting to get back into my building, and took pictures of the FENX.

At this point, the rest of the family came in on the story and had a lot of great things to say about Dad and his ability to create things. So I began to share other stories, like the NBC Nightly News Saga – which I am still expectantly waiting to air sometime this Spring/Summer. The whole thing was a unique experence, no doubt, but kind of neat. In the words of Jars of Clay, Crazy Times.

I wish these folks luck in their own adventures, especially their daughter, as she strives after her dream of being a ballerina.

Riding Towards Eternity,