Sunday, June 28, 2020

June's End in 2020

For the last few days, I have been wondering what to blog about this week. I biked three times, got a hair cut, and made another video for my vlog. However, nothing seemed very notable or out of the ordinary, until Saturday. I watched another conference through the organization of Living Waters called Evolution Exposed.

Over the afternoon, several speakers gave 15-minute long presentations covering different aspects of evolution and creation. One of the presenters, Mark Spence, was sitting in his car, parked at Huntington Beach, California. A small memorial was taking place for a surfer who recently died and that was being followed by a rally for Black Lives Matter. After his session, Mark planned to go out with others giving gospel tracts and talking with people.

As the session went, he took the subject of why any life matters. It doesn't matter what shade of skin someone has, what sins they struggle with, age, or any other category. Mankind is made in the image of God, and therefore all have God-given value and needs to be respected.

From the evolutionary standpoint, life is just an accident and isn't anything special. A person doesn't have any more value than a dog as the two just developed differently. In Darwin's book, The Descent of Man, he said that different races existed on earth. His thought was that as mankind developed from primates, some are more evolved than others. The most modern, and civilized race was represented by the caucasians of Europe and America. The lower races, such as Australians and African tribes, were less advanced and further down the evolutionary tree.

Many publications, such as Little House on the Prairie, have been removed from schools and libraries for being to racist. However, the teachings of Darwin still continue to be heard in classrooms throughout the country.

The only answer to the problems we now experience is to return to God and His word. I'm thankful for the freedom to study Scripture and apply it to this quad life. I hope to help others in the coming week to see the source of truth as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day 2020

In May, we observed Mother's Day while being quarantined at home. Restrictions have mostly been lifted since then, at least in Iowa, but we will still be staying at the house for this holiday.

Most years, I am at camp on Father's Day and it goes by with little notice. At camp, and weekend days, dad is responsible for doing most of my daily cares. This year, we are at least in the state, but I can't really give him much of a break unfortunately.

For all my life, and especially since starting the quad life, I have been very dependent on dad for help. Through his employer, he has given insurance that allows me to stay home as well as provide financial support for my family. When a nurse calls off sick or due to weather, he is the one that does whatever physical care I need and gets little sleep, along with mom. The last few months have added extra tasks to him as well.

Normally, I track my own needs for basic supplies such as toothpaste, paper towels, etc. When I'm getting low, or run out of something, my caregiver and I go to the store and purchase what I need. However, I haven't been shopping since at least February, if not earlier. Mom also regularly gets groceries and similar items on her own, although dad does sometimes help with this. Now, with the pandemic, dad has been the one to brave the stores for all of us. I give my list along with my parents and he goes out, with a mask, attempting to avoid close contact with other people. It has become part of the routine now, and one I don't see changing soon unfortunately.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:9 to not call anyone on earth father, for we have one Father who is in heaven. A full explanation could take another post, but that is why I generally just use the term dad. No matter the name, I easily see an example of our heavenly Father in my dad. Just as God provides for us all our needs, dad does all he can to provide for mom and I. It hasn't always been easy, especially the last few months, but dad keeps working as he can.

This week, be sure to thank our earthly parents for all they have done, either passed or present. Also remember look to our Father in heaven who has provided us a way to be reconciled to Him through His son, Jesus.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Non Camp Week

In 1993, I started going to CHAMP Camp. I had seven years as a camper and 2019 was my 15th year as a counselor. The last two summers have been physically very hard on me. Therefore, this is the first year since 2003 I didn't apply to be a counselor. Today, I normally would have been in Indianapolis welcoming campers, but things changed.

When you have been involved with an organization for a large chunk of your life, it becomes part of your regular life. I knew that this week would be hard with seeing pictures from my friends doing what I enjoy, helping kids. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, camp was cancelled. In some ways, it was almost a relief knowing I wouldn't be missing out, but I knew how devastating it would be for the campers and fellow counselors.

One of the older campers is a friend on Facebook, as well as several other counselors. When cancellation was announced, he started sharing how much it would be missed and ideas to beat the virus and save camp. While nobody will be physically together, several online events have been planned this week. Best yet, everybody can join in with the virtual camp. I won't get the camp t-shirt, but I can at least participate even though I didn't think I could this year.

For many of the kids, they frequently hear that they can't participate in an activity with their peers due to their medical needs. CHAMP Camp is the one week of the year that everything is available and you're not the only kid with a trach, wheelchair, and ventilator. That feeling will be different this week, but we still get to see kids actually interact with each other more than usual.

A few days ago, my pressure wounds received their 60-day status check. One was about the same, one bigger, and the third is basically healed. This has been part of what gave me trouble in previous years. I somewhat hope that I can return in 2021, but also know it would be a major challenge.

No matter what happens in the future, I'm thankful I can participate this year and give my dad a break from helping and taking me. I look forward to observing his day next week as well, but that will be the next topic.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Getting Distracted

In high school, and especially in college, I could read a few paragraphs in a text book, look up from it, and not remember what I read. My mind would wonder somewhere else, if I stayed awake, while my eyes continued reading. I would like to say it has improved as I have gotten older, but I'm not much better.

For many years, I never read unless I had to as part of an assignment or my nightly Bible reading. It takes work to setup a book for me to read and some books can be a battle to keep pages open. However, in about the last ten years, I have increased reading via computer. I also now regularly read books on creation and confirming the accuracy of Scripture. It's a topic I enjoy and helps pass time while I'm flat in bed.

It's easier to keep my concentration on the books I read during the day, at least by not letting my head drift away (drifting asleep is still an issue). However, my caregiver that I normally have set me up with a book loves to talk, about anything. So that can make it challenging, but I still learn.

The biggest struggle is at night when reading the Bible. I want to concentrate on God's Word, but that's when my head goes off to other topics. I may start to think of what the tabernacle looked like and end up thinking of what to say during a school talk, sermon, or even on here. What is pictured in my head usually has nothing to do with the text.

Before long, I can be half a column away from where I last remembered and have to go back and read again. It can frustrating, especially when it continues on to when I should be sleeping. I always come up with my best writing or talking points at odd hours in the night, away from my computer.

A lot of distraction has also been happening in the world the last few months. First, the news primarily only talked about virus updates and statistics. Just as that was starting to clear up, now the main focus is on riots and who is doing what against someone else. If I hadn't watched it live on YouTube, I don't think I would have heard anything about the first maned rocket to space from the U.S. in nine years last week.

It can be difficult, but be careful not to get distracted from God's saving work on the cross. It is what the world needs the most, but will focus on anything else. It's not just a problem in the quad life, but something everyone can spend time on this week.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Short Soggy Hair

After 12 weeks of waiting, I finally was able to get my hair cut this week. It felt good to finally get it cut, but the outing ended up being more of a challenge than expected.

The last few weeks have been wet in central Iowa with storms and rain a nearly daily event. I was concerned it would require me to reschedule, but Thursday morning looked okay. Therefore, my caregiver Sara and I arrived at my barber a few minutes before my scheduled time. We observed all the requirements of mask wearing and everything else and got the job finished.

When we were done, it wasn't raining and although overcast, the sky didn't look very threatening. Directly across the street from where I get me hair done is a small bakery that has treats my mother enjoys. Since she has been extra busy helping me these last few months, I thought I would stop in and get some for her, and me as well.

Sara and I were the only customers in the store, so it was easy to social distance. As we headed to the door with fresh bakery items, we saw it had started raining. The umbrella was across the street in the van though and the rain was too much for me to try to drive through. Sara went to go get the rain protector and return to get me.

She was maybe gone for a minute, but in that time the steady rain increased to a heavy torrent with strong wind. Sara returned holding the umbrella sideways and wearing a very damp shirt. Even though signs said we weren't allowed to use the bakery's seating, we sat and waited for the rain to decrease.

Several minutes later, it looked like we had a break and the downpour relented enough to allow me to get in the van. As we left, strolled 20 feet, and crossed the street, the small monsoon returned and we abandoned the idea of trying to get loaded and took shelter under a small overhang eight feet away from our destination.

More time passed, and Sara managed to get me in the van during a small decrease in the torrent. However, I was now fairly wet and Sara looked like she took a shower fully dressed. Driving the mile toward home, the rain completely stopped about halfway in the trip. Looking at the streets, we could see little evidence of the tropical storm we had just left.

Sometimes, living the quad life leads to interesting experiences that most people hardly notice. Sara spent quite a bit of time drying out the van, my wheelchair, me, and finally changing herself into dry clothes. This has been a year of unforgettable experiences, but I hope my next hair appointment is more subdued.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Venturing Out

For the past three months, I have been quarantined in my house. I went out watching trains a few times, but stayed in the van and didn't interact with anyone. This week I went out in public for the first time since the start of the virus scare.

My last doctor's appointment was with my regular checkup with my urologist. It had been a while since I last had my kidneys checked, so wanted me to get an ultrasound. With everything going on, I delayed the test twice, but decided to go ahead and try this week's appointment.

I rarely do anything at my local hospital, but thought I would try them for a simple scan. However, they require all visitors to wear a mask. I couldn't think of how to make one with a hole for my chin so I could drive, so thought it could just be pushed up. When my caregiver Sara and I got to the hospital parking lot and exited the van, she put my mask on. I attempted to drive with it on my chin, but it didn't work. Making room to drive though pushed the face cover closer to my eyes. It became a constant battle to have it just high enough, but not too much. Once we got to the procedure room, the fun continued.

The technician let me stay in my chair for the procedure, but that required some gymnastics from Sara. She had to hold my arm rests up and out of the way, while still giving space for the x-ray tech to get me. It worked for the right side, but my left kidney wasn't showing up where it should.

I've been through many medical procedures, but I don't recall anyone stealing any organs, at least not yet. The next place to search was from my back, but this made for more fun. Sara pulled me forward so I leaned on her arm while the hunt continued for my missing part. This meant my mask pushed on my face, attempting to enter my eyes again, and adding to the circus that can be the quad life.

After a few minutes, everything was found and scanned and I was returned to my regular position. I was very thankful to get back out toward the van to again have a free face. Two days later, my doctor called to report all is well. That was good to hear, but I will need to attempt annual checks. I'm glad to give wheelchair experience to small-town medical staff, but may do my next one in Des Moines.

Later this week, I'm scheduled to finally get a hair cut, but with the same mask requirements. I am glad to see everything starting to get back toward normal. I pray that it will continue, and drop the required face covering.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Opening Up, Maybe

We have reached the middle of May along with mid spring and warmer weather. People are getting out and enjoying the outdoors again, somewhat anyway. It has been two months since lock downs started due to COVID-19 and now Iowa and some other states are reducing restrictions, but not completely.

For the first time since March 8, my home church held the morning service in the building with a congregation. However, only alternating benches could be used and family groups had to stay six feet apart from each other. That limited seating capacity to about 85 and not everybody could come. My family did not venture out and instead did online service again.

Restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses are also allowed to be open, but with restrictions. Therefore, the state is starting to reopen, but not anywhere close to what we knew prior to the virus. This past week, I scheduled two upcoming meetings, but both will be conducted through Zoom instead of in person as normal.

Conference Watching Mode
Yesterday, I watched an all-day conference (seven hours at least) that featured five different Christian speakers. They gave practical messages on responding to this world that has gone Bonkers (the conference title) and every lesson was followed by a question and answer session from the audience in 37 different countries. The world rapidly switching to digital interaction has made such a meeting possible and more common.

One of the speakers used the book of Daniel in his sermon. He pointed out our trust in God is determined before a situation, not at the moment of testing. I haven't faced a fiery furnace, but these last two months have been stark reminders that everything can change quickly, and to fully trust in God alone.

I've had times of testing trust before in the quad life and I'm sure will again. Each time though can serve to strengthen my trust or cause it to shake. I hope that more people experience the first result and not the second. As life begins to return to some sense of normalcy, let us not forget to hold on to trust in God for everything.