Artistic Piano Tuning

Artistic Piano Tuning is closed.  I have ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  I am no longer able to tune pianos. I cannot walk or drive.  I am sorry,  I can no longer service your pianos.

Go to PTG.org and then select find a Registered Piano Technician at the top of the page.  Put in your zip code and you will find technician  contact information.  The RPT exams are difficult to pass and typically take years  to finish all the exams and should reflect professional levels of knowledge and ability.

Life has changed a lot for me.  For 71 years I have had good health and was hardly ever sick.  Now I have ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  There are no treatments, medicines, remedies, exercises, diets, or anything that will help with ALS.

David Jeremiah  made this statement.  “It has been said that difficulties don’t determine who we are. Rather, they reveal who we are. Said another way, the same heat that softens butter can make mud hard as a brick. It all depends on how the thing being heated responds. The same is true with the human heart.  Difficulties soften one heart and harden another.”

I remember praying somewhat before this ALS diagnosis that God would use me in some way.  I believe that this ALS is in God’s permissive will, just as the events in Joseph’s and Job’s lives were in theirs.  God did not cause cancer or ALS or any other disease, but God can allow it into our lives for His purpose.  If we hang around this sin cursed world long enough we will all eventually get something.  I feel that this may allow me a path into the hearts of young professionals that we meet downtown during street evangelism. They curse the darkness of this world and at the same time reject the light.  They are all so terrified of death.  However, if one young person makes a decision to believe in Christ, it will have been worth any price I pay.

I am writing this at 3 AM because early in the morning I get the twitches and witches in my arms, legs, back, and pretty much everywhere and sometimes they keep me awake, so I may as well get up instead of just twitching in bed.  Early in the morning can be a great time to pray, read, or watch  YouTube videos.  There are so many good Bible teachers on YouTube. I love to watch messages by David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, Mike Winger, and Alisa Childers.  God can even use the twitches in our lives.  This morning twitches were accompanied by other false sensations I am calling the witches.  One is like a needle stick or a spider bite because that is what it feels like.  The other witch is spasms in muscles that sometimes are a bit painful and when in my arm pull my fingers into funny shapes.  So I have the twitches and the witches. I assume this is all related to the disease. This is all a new road for me. I am so thankful for my faith – knowing this thing that is happening with my body is just temporary and doesn’t reach into my soul.

As I look back over the last several years, I can now see where I think this has been coming on for years.  Twenty years ago I was running 3 miles each morning four or five days a week.  I played tennis 3 or 4 times a week, playing on the 3.0 and 3.5 ladders and in tournaments. I felt as if I could run all day, but suddenly I couldn’t go on, I tried to get back into running with the Run for God class at our church several years ago, but I just couldn’t turn it back on.  When I participated in the Jingle Bell Run a few years ago, I had difficulty even walking the route.  I thought I was just getting old.  I think even back then this was slowly settling in. Six months ago a customer asked me if my knees hurt.  No, they didn’t.  She said the way I was walking reminded her of how she was walking when she was having problems with her knees. I didn’t think I was doing anything unusual in my walking at that time. After several falls flat on my face, where I destroyed a couple of pairs of glasses, I began realizing I wasn’t picking up my feet while walking like I used to and there was a weak feeling in my legs. For the last several years I find myself going to bed very early, often about 8 PM and sometimes feeling as though I could hardly take another step.

Early symptoms were a feeling of weakness in my legs.  Usually leg muscles are the strongest muscles in our body.  It seemed that the calf muscles were always really tight and hurt with every step I took.  One of the first significant falls was in coming up a single step in our basement.  It is a normal reflex to extend our arms a bit when falling so that our head is protected, and I did so, but my head hit on the concrete hard enough to destroy my glasses and cause some cuts and bruises. I thought to myself, “Why did this just happen?  I’ve quickly come up that step thousands of times while living in this for house. What made me trip?  Why didn’t my arms protect my head?” I began to realize my arms have also become significantly weaker. We had a good senior friend die after such fall.  After thinking about it, I realized I was shuffling in my walking.  I was not picking up my feet as I once had done.  Not picking up my feet as I walk is what caused the fall in coming up the step.  Then I had a similar fall several weeks later in our kitchen with similar results and decided it was time to talk with our family doctor about all this.

Doctor Flick, after some routine checks, said, “I want you to walk across the room on your toes”.  Somehow, I knew if I even tried, I would fall flat on my face. I had been walking sort of a flat footed shuffle walk where I felt a bit off balance all the time. I was depending on a cane at this point.  I told him, “I can’t do that”. He then said, “Walk across the room on your heels.”  I had the same thoughts and response. The weakness in my legs would have made doing that impossible.

He told me I needed to go to Raleigh Neurology. It took two or three weeks to get an appointment with Dr. Ferrell.  The only comment I remember is, “This isn’t a normal neurological exam,” and I would be scheduled for a nerve conduction study.  After a wait of two or three more weeks, I met Dr. Tim.  Actually, I met his assistant first.  He connected the EKG type of electrodes around my ankles.  Then while holding another device against my leg, he would press a button which sent electrical shocks through my leg. Then he would move to other points on my leg and repeat the test. The first one or two times my leg was shocked were always the same.  I could feel nothing and my leg wouldn’t move at all.  Later the voltage and or current was increased and my leg moved.  He did quite a bit of testing on my right leg and then started on my left.  After just a little testing there, he stopped and said “Let me ask Dr. Tim if I need to continue.  I thought that was a little unusual.  When he came back he said “No, that’s all we need for now.  Dr. Tim will be in in a moment.”  Dr. Tim did more tests on my arms, neck and back.  After finishing he said, “There is a problem with the way the nerves are sending information or connecting with the muscles.  Dr. Ferrell will tell you more about that.”

Several days later we heard from Dr. Ferrell.  He wanted to see us and had carved out a special appointment time for us.  I thought, “Finally we are going to get an answer.”  We had gone to my sister-in-law’s memorial service in Tennessee and just got back in town in time for the appointment.  It was then that Dr. Ferrell let us know it was ALS (4/19/21).  He didn’t seem to be guessing but quite certain of his diagnosis.  Somehow I was a bit relieved.  I had heard of and knew people who had problems and the doctors could not figure out what was going on for a long time.  Also, I had worried that it was all just my imagination.  I told him, “I was worried you were going to tell me that it was all just something in my head”.  He smiled and said, “No it’s not something in your head, but it is pretty much everywhere else”.  I asked him how long it would be before I couldn’t walk anymore and he said, “It could be 10 years or one year”. In a time of 2 months I went from thinking my health was good to knowing I had ALS. In the United States 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year.  20 to 30,000 people are currently living with ALS in the USA.

On May 13, 2021 I went for a Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap).  I’ll have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about this.  This just seemed awful in my thoughts.  I just couldn’t imagine how this might not really hurt and am so glad I was wrong.  When I got to Raleigh Neurology, it seemed like I waited and waited and then waited some more.  Finally, I was moved to a special rolling table and taken into a operating room.  There were 3 nurses and Dr. Carnes. They gave me some shots to deaden the feeling in that area.  Those shots felt like little pinches.  One nurse moved some very large scanner over my back.  The others seemed to engage me in conversations about my work.  I really did not know when Dr Carnes put the larger needle in my back.  The only difficult thing for me was trying to lie on my back for 24 hours.  I was allowed some breaks (eating and restroom) but it was still a challenge.  They said I might have a headache but the only problem I had was a slightly sore back (1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 10).

On 5/17/21 I had a brain MRI.  I really didn’t enjoy that but was convinced it was necessary.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe for 25 minutes.  I am supposed to go for a swallowing test and am going to try to postpone that – indefinitely if possible.

June 14 Dr IAOYAN LI, from Duke’s ALS clinic confirmed the diagnoses of ALS.

One of the real blessings of my life was a trip to Israel in late December of 2019.  We went with Dr. Allan Moseley from Southeastern Baptist Seminary. At one point while visiting the Holocaust Museum I found myself lost from our group.  How do you lose sight of 50 slow moving people? Be in a crowd of thousands of people.  In Israel at the time there were thousands of tourists everywhere you looked, but by odd coincidence, I was standing right next to our tour guide. His name was Ze’ev, a wonderfully intelligent and personable man.  He was tall and at age 72 could out walk any of us in the tour group.  I think there was a requirement that tour guides be Israeli citizens, and I know he was Jewish.  So this was the perfect moment to strike up a conversation with him.  I said, “You know, this is a real miracle that we see happening right in here in Israel, that people from all over the world would come to Israel just to see where Jesus lived and died.”  I went on, “If the miracles of Jesus were not real, the people of His own time would not have come to see Him. Travel back then was difficult and dangerous and far from convenient or easy, yet they came by the thousands for over 3 years, not just to see Jesus but to be healed by Him.  Because the miracles and stories about Jesus were real, they still come.  Israel is still being blessed because of a poor Jewish carpenter from Nazareth.” Sadly, Ze’ev had nothing to say, but I think he had a lot to think about.  I gave him a Jesus video and some of my bookmarks.  All of us have a lot to think about when it comes to Jesus Christ.

I remember at one point in my life thinking “OK. I am convinced Jesus was a real historic person, that He really did die on a cross and came back to life, but how does that relate to me?  What am I to do with that fact?”  Well, as I said above, I have no doubt I am not worthy of heaven.  No one is.  We all have something in us far more deadly than ALS.  It is a sin nature that first manifests itself when we are very young.  The Bible says, “God has set eternity in our hearts,” and I think for most people they realize from a young age that they need to somehow get ready to see God.  Until some special moment comes up, we have a tendency to forget about it or not want to think about it.  Somehow, even at a young age, we recognize God is holy and I am not and I have to do something – but what?  What can anyone do?

The idea that God is perfectly holy is exactly right.  People see the vast evil and suffering all around us and think, “How can God be good and right and allow all this to happen?”  That is a really good question, and the answer is a little strange but simple. It is because of His love. When the Roman soldiers, Scribes, and Pharisees came to the garden to identify and then crucify Jesus, He did not need to let that happen.  He could have easily sent 10,000 angles and destroyed the world, but then we would have never had a chance to be saved or even exist.  God wants heaven to be full.  In the Bible we learn of God’s plan to one day destroy this planet with fire. That will happen. This world will not continue cursing and rebelling against God.  Maybe that will be in a nuclear war where we destroy our own selves. That would not surprise me.  We think we are so much better and wiser than we really are, but back to the question and answer.  If God decided right now was the time, would you be ready to appear before His judgment?  He really wants to give as many people the chance to find faith as possible.  One day He will see from heaven that it does not matter what further warnings He sends or how much additional preaching is done, no one else is going to repent. Then the earth will be destroyed.  Because of God’s love He allows things to continue a little longer so some might be saved, but it will not always be so.  The end will come.  Now is the time to get serious about seeking faith in Jesus.  This opportunity will not always exist. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life and no one would come to the father except through Him.  No one else in all of history made such a claim.  No one else proved it by their life.

I believe Jesus can save because:   He has the authority to save. He has the power to save.   He has the right to save (earned on Calvary’s cross).  He promised to save.  He paid for our salvation with His own blood and by his stripes we have been healed.  He promised to save whosoever would believe in Him and He cannot lie.  He is not willing that any should perish.  He has the grace, mercy, love, and desire to save.   He understands our weaknesses but, only those with a clean heart and clean hands will ascend to the hill of the Lord.  So He has made a way and rewards those who diligently seek him.  He promised that all, regardless of where they live, or who they are, who seek him will find him.

I want to try, everyday, to find things to be thankful for. Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow” and “Every good thing comes down from the Father of light” (not the government or self). I have always taken the ability to breathe and eat for granted.  Now I am even more grateful for today when I have no problem with breathing or eating.   I am already thankful that this disease will probably not take away my ability to think or read or pray.  Nor will it take my ability to see or to hear or understand.  So I already have lots to be thankful for and, I have so much to look forward to. I am convinced that our eternal home is going to be more beautiful than anything we have ever seen hear on this planet.  Our friendships are going to be deeper, dearer, and more meaningful than any we have had here. Our work and worship is going to be more meaningful and enjoyable than any that could be imagined here.  When the Lord builds the house, when He prepares a place for us, you can bet it’s going to be grander than our imagination.

In heaven there will be no need for doctors, politicians, tax collectors, or armies.  Gone will be slavers and traders.  Cynics and critics will be no more.  God will make everything right.  I really do not know what will become of the trillions of little ones that died as babies.  Maybe they will be children forever but not so dependent on us as they are here as God will be their father.  I know they will be beautiful and a delight to see and know

Sadly, most people will only get a glimpse of heaven.  The Bible says that “It is appointed onto man once to die and after this the judgment” and “Ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord”.  That will take place in a section of heaven.  Those waiting for judgment will be able to see its beauty and light but not enter in until they bow before Christ Jesus who will either say, “Well done” or “Depart from me, I never knew you”.  How can we know that Christ knows us? – by seeking him.  The Bible says “I love those who love me and those who seek me will find me” and by keeping His commandments.  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments”. To repent we turn around and start walking in a different direction.  We no longer depend on our “clever mind” instead we depend on God’s word – Jesus and the authority of the Bible.  We no longer depend on our goodness but Christ’s righteousness and His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross. Our obedience is an expression of our love.  When we make mistakes, we confess that (If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive 1 John 1:9) and get back headed in the right direction.  But the idea that we can repent and then just continue on in the same direction is to not understand God at all. It is to not understand the gospel or the idea of repentance. God does not save us so we can continue playing in sin.

I have become involved with street evangelism over the last year.  It’s something really crazy and interesting.  You really get a knowledge of where America is spiritually that you would not get sitting in a seminary class.  This is the spiritual front lines.  We are sometimes cursed, pushed around, hit, screamed at, or arrested, by fellow “Christians” who have sometimes had a bit too much to drink.  They are absolutely positive we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing which is preaching and handing out gospel literature and Bibles.  Most of the time when I am there things are peaceful but I leave about 10 PM.  I am just not a night person or maybe still needing growth in my faith to stay later.  It is really sad to realize just how un-evangelical  evangelical Christians are.  They are interested in evangelism and missions but it’s just not a gift they have – so they reason.  Friendship evangelism is much more the popular style.  That is where you become a friend and after 4 or 5 years you finally share the gospel if you can remember what that is or even know what that is.

We all love John 3:16  but the popular “American gospel” practically or maybe I should say effectively leaves out one word.  The word “in”.  What is the difference in “believing Jesus” and “believing in Jesus”? I think it is huge and is the difference between life and death.  You can believe Jesus sort of like you can believe George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.  Both George and Abe were great men.  Our country’s history would not have been the same without them but believing about them does not change my life or the direction I am going or what I buy or say or do.  Believing “in Jesus” does and should.

If we said we knew someone who was really into Elvis Presley.  We might imagine someone who wanted to dress like Elvis and talk like him, and act like time, had read books about him, sang like him, and on and on.  There is a huge difference and it is the heart of the problem with the popular say a prayer and go on with your life as usual.  We tell people to have faith without really talking about what faith is. Are we giving people a feeling of false assurance?  Are they really only still trusting in self? Is their confidence in that they have said a prayer, been baptized, joined a church or in the sacrifice and person of Jesus.

I once heard someone talk about “seeker Churches” as though that was a negative thing. I am not understanding what is being meant here.  It seems to me that being a seeker is a good thing.  “I love those who love me and those who diligently seek me will find me”  Prov 8:17.  Of course most people are not seeking God but a few are.  We hope to encounter the few and help them toward seeking faith in Jesus.

If you are someone who prays, pray that God will give me patience, humility, and love for the lost who face or risk an eternity of discomfort far worse than ALS.  Pray I will not miss opportunities to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Pray for Nancy, as this may be harder for her than for me.  Pray I will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Pray I will finish well – always demonstrating God’s love even in difficulty – to the end.  I am not a bit fearful of death.  I need wisdom, understanding, and to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

My confidence is not in myself.  I am absolutely positive that the teachings of Jesus Christ are true and that “in me no good thing dwells.” As Jeremiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips.”  I know that I have missed the mark many times.  I know when the Bible says “all have sinned,” that I am included in the “all” who really don’t deserve to go to heaven and whom God should not allow into His presence, as He is perfectly holy and His standard for entrance into heaven is perfect holiness.  The idea that God will allow “good” people into heaven is wrong.  Jesus said no one is good but God alone.  God will not just overlook sin. He is loving, but He is also just and will not allow heaven to be corrupted as this world has been.   The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  My confidence is not in myself but in God who gave himself for me and died in my place. I am confident in God when He says He is “not willing that any should perish.”  My confidence is in Jesus Christ of Nazareth – his death, burial, and resurrection. He demonstrated his power over death and His power to heal by His life and His power to raise the dead to life eternal by His own resurrection.

God Bless you,

David Mainesmith