Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quick Visit

Last September I helped with my friend's wedding in northern Indiana. While there, I met many of his friends, including the bride's maid. Robin and started chatting via social media not long after that and started to officially date in October. Pretty well every night since then we have spent a couple hours every evening talking about everything in God's creation.

However, we still only saw each other in person the one time last fall. Robin also lives in northern Indiana and with both of us having challenges that require assistance from others, travel isn't easy. Winter is especially not a good time to try to be out from home, so we waited for a time that we could see each other again. That finally happened this weekend.

We looked at possible days back in January and decided May was a good likelihood for nice weather and easy travel. Coordinating, and finding, a caregiver took some work as well, but we were thankful to be able to get this weekend for her to come.

It was a short visit with only having yesterday and this morning together, but we tried to make the most of it. Iowa finally had a sunny and dry few days, so we were able to go in and out easily, tour the town, and even spend some time in the park. We also spent plenty of time at my house meeting my parents and just spending time together.

Today we got to go to church together and have Sunday lunch before Robin and her helper had to go. It felt being in church with Robin and listening to God's Word together and singing Him praise. Hopefully we will get to experience it again, but time will tell.

This weekend was a different one for the quad life with many new memories. I don't know when we'll get to meet in person again, but this was at least a great start.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Stepping Down

Most Sundays are very routine for me. My dad gets me up, does my morning routine, then gets me in my chair. After he and mom are ready, we maybe have a few extra minutes and then head off to church. Today started off like most other weeks, but it did not continue.

After morning church service, there was a monthly update from the church council that we wanted to stay and hear. About half the congregation stayed for the meeting and then everyone left after it was complete. My church has a small elevator that I and a some of our elderly members must use to get in or out. It can only take a few walkers, or one wheelchair, at a time and causes a bit of a traffic jam of people waiting to use it.

The first load went without any trouble and a lady with her walker got on next. Shortly after starting her descent, the elevator started making a loud noise. Some searching found that the ride went all the way to the basement, instead of outside, and the car wouldn't move. This has happened before, so it's not a big concern. The woman was helped up the stairs from the basement and could then go on her way. I was the only one left that needed it, so I watched as the routine of resetting the lift was underway.

After a few minutes and a bit of grunting from the people working on the mechanism, everything was lined up again. Unfortunately, the same noise returned and it was determined that it was a more serious issue than usual. This meant we would need to figure out a way to get me out. Every entrance has a flight of stairs, so it wouldn't be an easy task.

I drove over to the shortest stairway while dad and a couple guys talked strategy. Dad thought it would be best to reduce the chair's weight, so he laid me on a nearby couch. Staring up at the ceiling, I could hear my chair make a loud thump with every step they got it down. I didn't hear any crashes, but still wondered what the scene looked like.

A short time after the last thud, dad came to carry me down the steps and back to my wheels. I was glad to see everything in one piece and working properly. Today was one in the quad life of unexpected times and going with the flow.

I'm thankful that a few people were still available after the meeting and everything went well. God continues to show His plan, even when we don't know it's coming.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May Flowers

Every May, my town puts on a three-day celebration of its Dutch heritage and has thousands of tulips planted all over town. With the warm winter and spring we had, that meant most of the tulips bloomed early and were down to stems. However, a few flower beds were still in full bloom.

The weather was good for most of the festival, so I was able to get out for at least a short while every day. I did the tourist thing and noticed what flowers were still up and looked at the row of antique tractors on display. There were a couple that would maybe fit on my farm simulator, but one looked like I could almost drive right on and fit perfectly.

With any large event, you have to have plenty of food. I did my share of supporting local organizations by eating from a few of them and finding some new favorites. The real challenge, as with most years, was navigating around all the people.

Using a wheelchair means I take up a larger piece of real estate than most of the other visitors. It always seems that people notice me around, until they're blocking the path I'm trying to get through. Then they just stand and rarely hear me when I try to say "excuse me." To my knowledge, I didn't hit any tourists, just the back of my dad's leg once when he stopped faster than expected.

For the last few weeks, I have been looking forward to this time in hopes of being able to use my new evangelism training. I did hand out some gospel tracts to people, but never felt the opportunity to say much. I'm disappointed in myself that I maybe should have tried harder, but not sure how. If it's God's will, maybe a few opportunities will come this summer.

My assistant and I did learn one thing, remember sunscreen on my neck. With this as my first summer without trach ties, it's something we forgot and I have a small red spot to show for it. You can always learn something new in the quad life. It was nice to get out and enjoy God's creation and I look forward to more days like this to come.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Power

My Bible reading lately has been in the books of 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles. Both sets are the pretty much the same account of the history of Judah and Israel. Some kings followed God's commands and the country flourished with the king having a long rein.

Other rulers did not govern according to the rules given them. Some started out well, but then let power get to their head and did whatever they wanted. This cycle continued until God ultimately destroyed both kingdoms, but maintained a remnant that later came back to restart from scratch.

For the last several months, we have been seeing political news in the U.S. news. It has also been all over social media of people strongly supporting this or that candidate. Last night, with a popular candidate dropping out, Facebook has again been active with opinions. Some are vowing not to vote, others for an independent candidate, and all mixtures in between.

From what I've seen, no candidate is perfect and never will be as long as sin is in the world. As we have seen in history of God's chosen nation, the Israelites, He allowed both righteous and unrighteous rulers to lead for a time.

No matter what political landscapes look like, God's plan is what will happen. As a Christian, I will do what I can to see that we live according to the commands given. However, the quad life is short in this kingdom, with much more to come.

As time continues to pass and the world change around us, look at the many gifts we've been given and give thanks for all that we have. No matter what the future may bring.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Upgrade

While my parents were gone last week, my best friend, John, came for a few days with his son TJ. They came last September as well and it was good to see how TJ has grown. While sitting here chatting on Wednesday afternoon, we talked about some upgrades John had done for his dad's computer. After a little more discussion, we thought my 5.5 year old machine could do the same.

Of course, we didn't have the parts or tools we needed to do the job. However, that was fixed by an online purchase and overnight shipping. Less than a day after contemplating the task, the tools were in hand and ready to begin.

After lunch, TJ took a well timed nap and John started to take everything apart to add a new hard drive. He and I remembered our high school years of adding new, or fixed, components to my computer. Mom would come home from work and find what looked like an explosion in an electronics store, and two grinning teens. John considered waiting until they returned so we could get the same reaction, but figured pictures would work.

About two hours after starting, and a trip to the hardware store, the new drive was added to my machine and all parts put back in place. The next step was getting the software loaded again and everything working with the new drive. This part of the job started at about 5:00 in the afternoon.

By 2:30 in the morning, we had tried a few attempts unsuccessfully to get everything loaded. At that point, we went with the easy solution. It thankfully worked, and another nine hours later while I was at a doctor's appointment, everything completed and the upgrade was a success. I don't notice a big change in most tasks, but it generally runs much better.

The best part was spending time with John again and catching up on the last few months and future plans. It will most likely be a couple years before he can come again, but it was a great time in the quad life. I'm thankful for these times and look forward to what may come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Fling

Trees are showing early leaves and flowers are blooming. It's a beautiful time of year in Iowa with warm temps and bright sunny days. I've enjoyed spending time outside these past few days enjoying the change, along with some pink skin to show for it.

This is my first spring without my trach and associated trach ties. Feeling the sun on my neck is a new experience and it feels very good. It's almost like a warm hug around my neck, instead of ties. I'm looking forward to more time in the sun as weather allows.

My parents left last week on vacation and don't get back until the end of this week. Therefore, I have the house to myself for nearly two weeks. That means I'm responsible for covering all my own meals, and getting groceries. So far, I have tried four new recipes and they are all keepers in my opinion.

Of course, we sometimes find an ingredient in a recipe that isn't on hand and need to make a substitution. Using a different kind of cracker for breading on a chicken breast isn't a big change though. The staff at the grocery store are starting to recognize me as well.

I stopped in for a few things before my parents left and then again last week. For some reason, my family doesn't own a cow, so things like milk don't last for more than several days. Rolling up to the meat counter, a man packaging meat gives me a look and says in a friendly tone, "Back again huh?" For some reason, he apparently remembered me.

It's too rare that my parents get to go on extended trips. We all enjoy breaks and I like being the man of the house again. For just a brief time, I get to remember what it was like the three years I lived on my own in college. Small perks in the quad life make me more thankful for all the gifts God has given me and to be appreciative when they come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Creative Scheming

Work has been pretty slow this year and I learned last week I am losing two more clients. Neither one were very busy, but they were some work in any case. With warm temps and nice days almost upon us, my mind has been contemplating things to keep busy.

I really can't do anything that would require extra sitting, so that eliminates long-term volunteering with anything. With only being upright for 5-6 hours a day, it also limits what I can commit to for activities. Keeping these in mind, I have been praying and brain storming for ideas.

Ideas so far have been getting back into more writing. I did the school newspaper for two years in high school and worked for a local newspaper for a year as well. A few years ago, I also wrote an article for my church denomination's disability newsletter that received several good comments. It's likely that it wouldn't go out anywhere, but it's a possibility.

For the next several months, a slow schedule will allow for easier troops to Des Moines for riding bike and possibly a few Saturday train watching trips. With my new chair, I need to remake parts of the video I use when I speak at classes. I think having one specifically made for that purpose will be helpful in explaining life with a disability. Maybe I could get real ambitious and make a video that can be viewed independent of my presentation and go to more schools than I can visit.

Whatever God has in plan for me, it definitely feels like I'm beginning a transition of some sort. I can't imagine getting completely out of web development, but I may just not be seeing God's plan. As I tell school kids, the quad life can do a variety of jobs. Probably not making pizzas or selling food door to door as some suggest, but not only one career choice.

This week is already shaping up to be an interesting one. Next week's post will see how it continues through the next few days.