Sunday, September 25, 2016

American Bible Challenge

I have been watching Netflix quite a bit the last few months and have watched all available seasons for a couple of shows. After I finished another series, a suggestion came up for a show called the "American Bible Challenge." It sounded interesting, so I started watching it.

The show starts out with three teams of three members each. They are asked questions along the way and earn points for correct answers. Eventually, the teams go down to one player and the two top scoring teams go on to the final challenge.

In this last contest, the players are given a subject followed by ten minutes of "good old fashioned Bible study." Finally, the teams are asked questions, one player at a time, and they see who can get the most correct answers in one minute. The winning team receives $20,000 for a charity and return for the semi-finals. If this is won, the charity receives an additional $20,000 and a chance in the finals. Winning everything grants another $100,000 to the team's charity.

Over about two weeks, I watched both seasons available on Netflix. For most questions, I could get the right answer before the team replied, especially in multiple choice. The second season added a few physical challenges as well, but I still got most questions. My main day helper got most of the answers as well, so we just need a third team member and we're ready to play.

The stage didn't look very wheelchair friendly, but I imagine it could be adjusted. I think it would be fun to play something that is great to study. Choosing a charity could be difficult since I can easily think of five I would love to see the money go toward.

Unfortunately, with the challenges of the quad life and reality getting in the way, I doubt it will ever happen. In any case, it was fun to test my knowledge and see the contestants succeed. Maybe sometime I'll get to try it, but until then life goes along as God has planned.

Monday, September 19, 2016


School is in full swing and last Thursday I had my first visit of the year. I started off with a combined 3rd and 4th grade consisting of just nine students. Their teacher is also a former high school classmate of mine, so she gave the class a few Joel tips.

The first presentation of the year is usually a bit rusty, but I think I got mostly everything included. One boy loves trains, and LEGO, and was excited to hear that I do as well. I'm a railfan that hasn't been track side much at all these past few months, but he didn't mind.

When I asked what they thought I did for work, most guesses were in the railroad industry. I could be a train conductor, dispatcher, or the guy that gives out tickets. Kids come up with some interesting careers for me, but I think I'll stick with what I'm currently doing.

This class had a first for me, they wanted to see how fast I could go. Therefore, after we were done, I followed the students out to the playground for a demonstration. A couple boys ran beside me for a race to test my speed claims.

I always enjoy doing these talks and working with the students. I never know quite what to expect, but God has given me experience to usually come up with an answer. By the end of the school year, I'm sure most of my teaching has been forgotten, but I hope some remains.

When I have small classes like this, I sometimes imagine them taking a field trip to my house and really showing them how I do things. However, I think trying to come up with a better video or mobile demonstration would be better.

Another school is scheduled for later this month, so I'll see what questions and job possibilities arise. I would love the job of raising a few of these kids myself, but that is not part of this quad life. I'm thankful God has allowed me to work with so many kids already though and hope it will continue.

Monday, September 12, 2016

3 in 1

My parents are on vacation this week, so I have my bachelor pad to maintain. It's just me, and caregivers around the clock, some of whom are my grandmothers. With that crew, I have a real party time.

Yesterday, my regular day helper covered the day shift. We went to her church in the morning so her husband could join us and still have family time. Unfortunately, he forgot and didn't come and it ended being just the two of us.

Every year, my church has an outdoor picnic followed by an afternoon service. This happened yesterday, so I had one less meal to plan and was able to fellowship with my regular church.

In the evening, my mom's mother and older sister came to help cover time. During supper, we watched their church live online, and I had my third church service from the third church in one day.

After a day of hearing the gospel from different perspectives, it was good to reflect on everything I had been given. One of the sermons was from the book of Ecclesiastes and being content with what we have. He gave statistics that the U.S. has about 5% of the world's population, but we own 20% of the wealth. The average American family spends more on trash bags every year, to throw out stuff, than some families spend on food.

It's hard to be content with what we have, but I'm trying to remember this in my daily life. Things may not seem great to me, but I live in a country that I can freely attend as many Christian services as I want. I can also freely speak about life in Christ without fear of being jailed, or worse.

Next week will likely be back to normal with attending two church services both at the same place. Until then, I'll see what God has in store for this quad life I've been given.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer Sounds

This past Friday and Saturday night, I did not have a night nurse. That meant again staying up until early morning to help my parents stay awake. Saturday was also a cool day that allowed for us to open the windows. The combination of the two allowed for a symphony provide by God's creation.

As the clock ticked on, the serenade of night creatures made my mind wonder to the few nights I've spent outside. The subtle sounds and seeing the stars make a great end to summer and allow it to last a little longer. Friday was also filled with sounds of nature, but from a different source.

When I finished biking last week, an updated computer system was being installed on it. Friday was my first time using it. For over the last year, my view while on the bike was a stationary person on a bicycle going toward a city that never came closer. The update allows for a different experience.

I now watch as an animated man bikes down a road with curves, hills, and trees. As you progress in miles, he eventually goes through a small town and then back into the country. Along the way, you hear birds chirping in the trees and cars driving in town. If any of the other patients at the rehab center could hear my sounds, I'm sure they were wondering what was happening in my area.

My assistant and I decided that the biker on the screen was not a good representation of me. First, he was going down the center of the road, I would be courteous enough to go to the side of the road. The character also did not have on a helmet, but did have on shoes. Neither of these two items would be me on a bike in real life. However, I think my avatar should have a helmet on for my next adventure.

On this last unofficial day of summer, make sure to stop your labor and enjoy the subtle parts of the world around you. Some days in the quad life make it happen more than others, but it's something that should never be taken for granted.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day Dreaming

Yesterday while laying flat I had random thoughts floating through my head while planting virtual grain fields. I first wondered what it would be like to be in my 70's to 80's and show my grand kids what it was like to program web sites "back in my day." Granted, things would need to drastically in the near future for me to have actual grand kids, but it was still the idea.

Thinking of the coding for starting a basic page, I actually had to think a bit how to begin. It has been quite a while now since I've done actual coding it's starting to get rusty. Most of my work in the past year has just been updating various files and text for clients, hardly earning the title of web developer.

Ironically, just as I finished that last sentence, I received a message from a client to go ahead and start remaking their site. I guess I better dust out the cobwebs and see what new tricks this old quad can learn.

When I went biking last Thursday, I was met with a company rep shortly I started getting hooked up. She was there to install upgraded equipment and wondered how long I would take to ride. My caregiver got everything going as quickly as she could and I got off to pedaling. While I was doing my time, the rep continued to try to loosen various screws, but wasn't able to make them budge. After further assistance, parts started coming off and my caregiver had to hold pieces until my time was done. Thankfully, my regular time ended just as they needed me out and the rep could continue to work. My question, that nobody answered, is what were they going to do with the old system? Could I help by taking it off their hands?

On Friday, I was interviewed for the local newspaper for my work at the Ark Encounter. I couldn't tell what the reporter was thinking of my recap, so I have no idea what to expect. I'm hoping she gives accurate information about the ark and the gospel outreach, which is why I agreed to do it. Just reporting on what I regularly do anyway isn't all that exciting, definitely not newsworthy. I guess I prefer writing my own articles for papers instead of leaving it up to others.

Every week is different, even when just regular activities are planned. I'll wait to see if I get questions about the ark, or shunned from the church when the article comes out. God knows what He has in store.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August Reflections

The second and third days at the fair went well last week. I didn't get into any long conversations and still heard "What?" quite often, but it was still a great opportunity. My lungs and voice got used to trying to speak louder and didn't hurt nearly as much as the first day.

My assistant decided if I do this again, I need to try to come up with some sort of portable speaker system to be heard better. Also to only do two days and take a third to actually see the fair. We toured a little after my shifts, but still missed most of it. After biking yesterday, we got lunch from Subway and parked at the fairgrounds as we often do. Two days after its closing the grounds were still busy with cleanup work, but a lot had already been done.

Next week, my dad is planning to take a trip out west for some hiking and train watching. He loves to hike and talks about it constantly the weeks prior to leaving and after his return. Dad doesn't get to go out on his own very often, so I'm glad when he's able to get away. Unfortunately, I received an email today that next Friday and Saturday nights are not covered for my nursing.

That usually means both my parents split the night, but it doesn't work if dad is gone. I feel bad for possibly cutting his much needed vacation short. Hopefully something will work out, but these are times I wonder if I'm being selfish for trying to stay home yet. God has allowed me to do a lot over the years and I know He has a plan in everything.

School started this week in the area, so that means speaking time is coming as well. Last school year I visited seven grade schools and three classes at one college. Hopefully scheduling class visits this fall will go well and I'll have night, and day, caregivers so I can do them.

This week in the quad life is busy with doctors and biking, but next week look a bit calmer again. Summer is nearing an end and busy season starts again, I will see what God has in store this year.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Quietly Outspoken

In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Unfortunately, many churches and individuals do "check preaching" as I say. They help to financially support missionaries to go and preach the gospel, but stop there. It's great to help support missionaries, and we should do so, but looking at the verse again you'll notice it doesn't say certain people only.

I'm not any different, I am quick to help support or encourage others to preach, but am slow to do so myself. In May, I received a message asking for volunteers to help serve at the Answers in Genesis gospel outreach booth at the Iowa State Fair. I put my name in for a few shifts, the first of which was
Friday morning.

The booth has a hand built model of Noah's Ark along with different displays asking questions about how Noah did things, evolution, and knowing Christ. I sat near one of the TV's showing a short movie about the new Ark Encounter in Kentucky. Other volunteers were handing out ark themed gospel tracts and we did sticker tattoos for kids.

While parents waited in line I would ask them about the ark and talk with them as they allowed. I saw one passer-by reading a question, so I asked him his thoughts. He gave them quite loudly and walked off. The question I heard the most though was, "What?"

When using mechanical ventilation in the quad life, you have a quiet voice. It works fine in classrooms where I'm the only one speaking, but not when there is a lot of background noise. Therefore, I kept trying to take deeper breaths and talk louder so people could hear. By the end of my three-hour shift, my lungs were sore and my throat was still sore 11 hours later.

I was able to hand out a number of tracts at least and did have short conversations with people. I'm scheduled to go two more times this week and I am looking forward to them again. I don't know how much this will make me into a preacher, but it is fun to spread the gospel. Hopefully by my next post I'll still have a voice!