Sunday, September 17, 2017

Progressive Week

The past few weeks have felt like I keep working toward eventual goals, but never get anywhere. This week was a nice change with a lot of work seeing completion.

In May, I was fitted for a new back rest and in August it still hadn't arrived. Thankfully, after more than three months, I received the new cushion. After getting it fitted, I sat much straighter than before and more comfortably. It will take a while to get adjusted to sitting correctly again, but this is a great step in the right direction. In talking with the technician though, he said his company has changed policies and it usually takes 3-4 months to get anything done. Therefore, I will be very thankful for times of having a working chair.

Speaker Joel
The biggest milestone came yesterday morning. I have thought about getting my license to substitute preach for a few years, but never pursued it. In July, I finally felt led to go ahead and try for my license and get tested. Yesterday morning was finally my time for examination.

It consisted of three parts, first giving a short sermon for devotions, then questions about my spiritual journey, and finally questions on church doctrine. The final section was my most concern as I do not spend any time studying doctrine. After a full hour of talking and answering, the structured section was complete. A few questions were asked by the general audience and I tried my best to get everything answered.

Afterword, I was asked to step (roll) out while the delegation discussed my fate. I barely got out the door and adjusted my seat before I was asked back in. It was a unanimous decision to allow me to have my license to exhort.

At church this afternoon, I barely arrived on time for our annual outdoor picnic. Shortly after getting a place to sit I was told that I would be leading the congregation in prayer for our lunch. Maybe one minute later, it was my time to lead already. I guess I learned to always be prepared to be asked to lead.

I don't know where this new venture will take me, but I will continue to follow God's lead. I'm somewhat excited and nervous about what may come, but I know He will be with me and let it work for His purpose.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Time is Short

Most Sundays during the summer, we grill for lunch. Sometimes it's just meat of some variety and other times it's nearly the entire meal. Whatever the case, dad usually monitors the grill's temp and I keep track of time.

While the minutes tick by, I usually try to multitask and get in some tilting while waiting and sun on my legs. I normally don't change from my dress pants after church and only my feet get sun, but at least it's some vitamin D and tanning.

Our driveway faces north, so I must compete with the shadow from the house in order to get any rays. Today I noticed it's getting late in the year and the sun is really starting to dip south. My quest to find the correct angle while grilling almost put me halfway down the driveway. It does make me wonder what people think when they drive past and see a barefoot guy in a wheelchair staring up in the sky in the middle of nowhere.

Soon enough, grilling will be over again for another year. My weekly tanning sessions will also be over and the time of cold will be upon us. Every year as the seasons change, they seem to start to move more quickly. It's also a reminder to take advantage of time while it is here.

As I write this, Florida is being hit by Hurricane Irma. Just over a week ago, it was barely a notice on the radar, but it is now damaging and destroying communities and changing lives. A lot can happen in a short amount of time, either good or bad.

Since my last entry, five schools have contacted me most have times scheduled. These are generally short 30 minute visits, but I try to cover as much as I can and still have the kids learn. I don't know what my quick visit does for a lasting impact, but I keep praying I use the time God has given me to serve Him. This week of the quad life looks like one that could have lasting changes. It will be exciting to see what all God brings my way.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Virtual Railfan

I enjoy trains, but you wouldn't be able to tell by my activities this summer. With the busyness of life, hobbies tend to get a cut in attention. If I'm remembering correctly, the last time I officially went to watch trains was back in March. That doesn't mean I haven't been watching trains though.

A few months ago, I went to watch something on YouTube and I had a suggested video of a live camera watching railroad tracks. I thought it was pretty cool, so I watched it for a while and saw a few trains. Once you view one video a particular type, more are suggested to watch. Therefore, I now watch trains in Ashland, VA, Horsehoe Curve in Altoona, PA, La Plata, MO, Galesburg, IL, and others. I also have dad watching them through the Apple TV.

Just like railfanning in person, you often have to wait between trains. However, unlike being stuck in the van out in a parking lot somewhere, I can still be active. It's a great time to read a book, study doctrine, or it provides a back drop while doing body maintenance. I still prefer watching trains in real life, but this makes for a great substitute. I think it will be especially nice in winter to watch trains in the snow without ever leaving the warmth of the house.

We live in a time where literally anything we want, or don't want, is available at our mouth stick tip (or finger tips). However, I've been finding lately I'm very quick to complain as well. If something isn't exactly as I want or fast enough, I'm too quick to say something. I've been given more gifts than I can ever use, but still want more or don't appreciate what I have.

Recognizing a problem is the first step to fixing it though. I'm planning to make more of an effort to give thanks before criticizing and being very careful with the latter. Yes, the quad life can be a tad annoying at times, but it's no excuse to look down on everything.

With the unofficial end of summer this weekend, I'm looking forward to opportunity to speak at schools again and even testing for my license to exhort (preach). I'm thankful that while flat in bed, I can still even do things like watch trains. I'll see what this week brings on the rails and regular life.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Crooked Quad

Scoliosis is a common problem when children, and adults, have spinal cord injuries. I followed the trend and as a result had rods put in my back in early high school to help straighten me up. It helped a lot, but I will always have somewhat of a curve to my spine.

When I had my rods placed, the back rest in my chair was custom molded to hold me straight. It worked very well, but it didn't fit on my new system.Before getting the update, my old back was scanned and was supposed to be copied over, but that didn't exactly happen.

My parents and I noticed quickly that my shoulders didn't sit as straight, but I didn't think much of it and wasn't too concerned. Unfortunately, that has quickly been changing the past few months.

2012 vs 2016
As part of my back's curve, I can't turn my head to my right very far. I noticed early this year that my range of motion has been getting worse and we're quite certain it is due to my chair. I was fitted for a new back in late May, but now over three months later I am still waiting to get it. A couple weeks ago, my mom and I took a roll around the neighborhood to enjoy the evening. Halfway through our four block trip, I could hardly even keep my head straight to drive my chair.

I'm already up very little, but now I try to be even less until the new system comes. I am thankful though that I can still get up and out and that different supports are available. In order to try to counteract the twisting, I turn to my right as far as I can and hold when I'm not doing much. It looks kind of odd to be looking the opposite way of the TV or computer I'm watching, but I figure it doesn't hurt.

It has taken two years to get to this point and I know a new back rest won't be an instant fix. Hopefully it will improve with time, but I'll see what God has planned for this part of the quad life.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week Home

One of my typing memory verses is Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Due to this and other teaching, I always try to say I'm planning or scheduled to do something and not to say it will happen. That especially came true this week.

Sunday, my parents and I were getting in the van to head to church. Dad was just putting the lift up and it stopped moving. He tried all the controls every direction, but it wouldn't budge. After about 20
minutes of messing, he was able to get mom and I free of the van, but the lift was far from being functional again.

I was scheduled to volunteer a shift at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday morning, but dad already concluded Sunday that the lift wouldn't be a quick fix. Fortunately, another volunteer I know was able to take my shift.

As the week progressed and dad continued to diagnose the problem and find a solution, the news kept getting worse. The model of lift I use is no longer manufactured and parts are not available. New lifts for full-size vans don't allow me to sit up front like I do now, so that wouldn't be an option either. I was also hoping to head to the fair for a fun day Thursday, but that came and went as the lift saga continued.

Thursday evening, dad ruled out one possible problem and figured out one particular motor was causing the issue. After help taking it apart, he could easily see some electrical contacts had worn away over the years and was the culprit. After retrieving the equivalent part from my old van lift in storage, he had everything working again by Friday evening.

It proved to be a full week of trusting God and what he had planned. I miss not being able to help during my shift, but I'm very thankful that dad has been given the mechanical knowledge and ability to fix pretty well everything I use. We went from possibly needing to look for a new van to simply swapping out parts that were already on hand.

Living the quad life has challenges like this week, but I'm thankful for having reliable transportation once again. Hopefully this week will be a little less eventful, but I'm not the one in charge.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stiff Neck

This past week has been a stiff one in the quad life. I have had more time to sit and take in my surroundings as a result.

On one of my forums recently, someone asked if anyone had noticed muscle stiffness and spasticity increase with age. I am leaning toward yes with the past few months.

After sitting in one place for a while, I expect to be stiff when starting to move again. Sometimes just an arm will twitch, other times my neck will become like cement and I can only move my eyes. The most fun is when legs and arms fly and and then my neck gets stiff afterward. The result is I end up sitting wherever I am and have to wait until everything loosens up.

On Wednesday, I had a few things I needed to get so my assistant and I headed to Walmart. Getting up in my chair, I was a little jumpy, but not bad. After arriving at our destination though, I could tell it would be a long trip. Every tiny bump in the cement or just going down an aisle I would tighten up and have to sit for 30-60 seconds before moving again. My body was acting like it was winter and I was wearing shoes and not liking cold temps. Unfortunately, being barefoot and not sitting on wrinkles wasn't helping.

Thursday was my first day to volunteer at the Iowa State Fair. The first hour went well, but as my morning meds wore off the stiffness started to return. I had gospel tracts under one hand that I had people pull out as I talked with them. Thankfully, nobody got kicked, but I had a few strange looks as to why I was talking strange sometimes and not moving my head.

Hopefully something is just being irritated and this phase will pass. I'm scheduled to be at the fair again this week and it would be great if I could be a little more mobile. Whatever happens, I'm thankful I can still get out and be active. As long as I'm not in the middle of the road, being stuck in one place for a while lets me see more of what's around me. I'll see what this week brings and go with what I'm given.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Alien Invasion

On every July 4, I watch the movie Independence Day during my flat time. It's an older movie, but the world is saved from alien invasion and wins independence. I enjoy some science fiction for entertainment, but I think a few people have been watching too much.

In late July, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said aliens would kill us if we tried to contact them and we should stop trying. Just this week, NASA announced a new position they want to fill for an Earth defense from aliens. The job pays $124,000-$186,000 per year.

I wish I could say I was making this up, but truth is often stranger than fiction. People that are supposed to have the top minds in science are actually believing aliens exist, of which there's no evidence, and are trying to protect us from them. However, they say that believing God created the universe in six ordinary days a few thousand years ago is preposterous.

Ever since I heard these news items, Romans 1:25 has been going through my mind, "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator..." Those that reject God will believe absolutely anything, as long as it does not involve the supernatural. This is what is being taught in schools as well as movies and TV shows.

It's very tempting to wonder why we search for intelligent life in outer space when we can't find it here. The correct thought though is sadness and prayer that they will find the truth while time allows.

This week, I'm scheduled to volunteer a few days at the Iowa State Fair at the Ark Encounter booth. I don't expect to hear much about impending invasion, but I'm praying to get to talk with a number of people. Living the quad life can be a challenge, but I can still work with those that need to hear the good news of salvation. Maybe I should apply for the opening and teach the true defender of all life on earth.