Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bloat

No, I didn't eat too much Chinese, or Mexican, and look pregnant. Getting spiritual bloat is another problem completely.

With the last few years of being flat, I have been doing a lot more reading. I continue to read book after book, but never do anything with the knowledge I've been given. I do use a little on her sometimes or during school visits, but not very much. As one author put it, I'm getting spiritual bloat. Continually ingesting knowledge but never using the information, or maybe head calories.

My church's denomination, Christian Reformed Church, allows lay people like myself to be examined and get a license to exhort. It would allow me to lead sermons at churches in my area and help fill in when a pastor is gone on vacation or some other reason. The idea of getting my license has been stirring for a long time, but it has finally been poured out.

For the last couple months, I have been talking with my church's pastor and one that leads the governing committee, called classis, in my area. They went over the basic process and what some questions may be asked during examination. This week I put in the formal request to my church for a letter of recommendation to be considered for testing.

Now that I have sent the letter, the seeds of doubt keep running through my head. Would any church actually want me to speak? How many sermons can I come up with? Will churches take a quad speaker seriously? I keep reminding myself that God is in control and if it is His will, then it will happen. With the past several years of speaking in different schools and being given time to study, I feel like I'm being lead toward this direction.

If I make the deadline, testing would be in mid-September. If not, then it won't be until spring sometime and I never know where God will take me by then. I will wait and see if I start the preacher quad life or maybe later. Until then, I will serve in whatever way I am given.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Arm Maintenance

Everyone is likely familiar with heart health. It seems like I at least used to always hear about eating this or that and doing particular exercises for optimum heart health. When you don't use your limbs, they also need maintenance. This week was one for working on my right arm.

In order for my diaphragm pacemaker to work, it connects to a port on the right side of my chest just below my ribs. It has easy access when needed, but it's also a prime location for my right arm to hit
when I'm being moved or have a muscle spasm. In order to keep breathing, I have to be very careful with where my arm moves.

One thing that helps is to keep my hand in a brace or splint. It keeps my fingers from grabbing and also calms muscle spasms. If you look at some of my pictures, you can notice the splint on the arm. After all the time on, it's starting to get very worn out, so I went to get it replaced. Like everything medical, the therapist looked at my current brace for about one minute and ordered a new pad that will hopefully come in a week or so.

The second visit last week was to get a Botox update. Botox is often used to reduce wrinkles, but it can also reduce muscle tightness. It works by blocking nerves and large doses makes it so a muscle won't move. Unfortunately, it wears off and needs updating about every three months. The injections I receive help to deaden the muscles that bring my arm in and reduce the risk of hitting my pacemaker. It also means the arm is free of wrinkles!

From simple to complex, I'm thankful these options exist to help in the quad life. With two visits to Des Moines, it also meant I could do two bike rides and keep my leg muscles built up. Their may come a time I need to do more for preventative work, but these methods work for now. Even living with results of a fallen world, God has given us many ways to overcome.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Material Allocation

This past November, I sat beside my friend Ken as he left this world and went on to his eternal home. As he requested, I received a few of his positions, table, computer, and his nearly new power wheelchair.

Over the winter I contacted several people I work with to see if they know of anybody that was in need of such a chair. Unfortunately, none of these leads worked and my hunt continued. I knew that the organization Joni and Friends took used chairs, but the Iowa affiliates said they don't take power chairs, only manual. Fortunately, one of these contacts gave me a number to someone that may take them.

That connected me with Mission Mobility in eastern Iowa. I found out they are a group that collects power and manual wheelchairs and then brings them to Guatemala. Once their, a group of volunteers, who also use wheelchairs, repair the equipment and distribute it to people that would otherwise not have mobility. On Friday, my parents delivered Ken's chair to the collection point in Iowa and it will be shipped, along with 300 other chairs, in a container next month.

Ken and I talked about what I would do with his equipment if they were given to me. We discussed the need for chairs and agreed donating it would be the best option. I'm disappointed in that it took over seven months to get it to an organization and will likely be close to a year after I received it that someone will start using it. Unfortunately, rules in the U.S. make it very difficult to find individuals with the need and then used personal equipment such as a power chair are often not able to work.

In April, I started on a new insurance plan and worked toward seeing if it would cover an FES bike for me like I use in Des Moines. Unfortunately, in late May I learned that they would not cover the system as it's not deemed necessary. After working to a place for Ken's chair though, it is somewhat of a relief.

I've been using the bike for nearly two years now and travel to Des Moines every time to take my ride. However, scheduling a time is now getting difficult as more people are using it. That means one bike is helping many people and not just sitting in my house serving only me. I've been blessed to have wheelchairs that work very well for me and I currently have my old chair and what I currently use. When my time is up with them, I'm glad to know a resource is available that other people may be able to benefit.

God has given us many blessings, and I'm very happy to see when multiple people can get benefit from just one item. I hope to continue to use what I've been given in the quad life to help those in any way possible.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Meaningless says the Teacher

In my nightly reading, I just started the book of Ecclesiastes. It was written bu king Solomon and goes through how everything in life is basically done for the moment and is meaningless, unless it's done for the Lord.

Every summer I try to see how tan I can get my legs. It has no greater good and I've yet to achieve a golden brown, but it is a way to get out and enjoy God's creation during the warm months of the year and that is a good thing. Reading Ecclesiastes can get a bit depressing, but it also serves as a good reminder that everything in this life is temporary and we need to be working for God at all times.

I come from a Dutch background and anyone who is familiar with the Dutch knows we tend to not like to spend money. I call it being frugal and spending wise, but I guess I can see both points of view. Living on a primarily fixed income, I do need to be careful with expenditures, but I also have long-term needs in mind.

Especially as I get older, I don't like spending money on myself for things that aren't needed. A book I recently finished told about one area the author worked at in Ecuador that a child could go to school for one year for $51. When I think of things like that and other non-profit organizations I work with, like CHAMP Camp, Answers in Genesis, and many others, it gets hard for me to purchase something like game additions that I'll likely only use for a year or two.

When I stop and look at the world around me, there are so many things I could be doing with the quad life, but I don't always take the opportunity. Working at CHAMP Camp a couple weeks ago kind of recharges me in things that are possible to do if I really want to do them.

As we celebrate Independence Day this week, gives thanks for all the freedoms and blessings we enjoy in the US. Then, remember to take advantage of those freedoms and use time and material blessings to the best use possible. I will be trying to make more of an effort at it myself as well in this week. I'll see what God gives me to do and report back soon.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Kid Counselor

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The saying says that time flies when you’re having fun, but fun isn’t a requirement. I just got back from another fun week of camp and it makes see how time is moving.

I remember being in Cadets (boys group) at church and at the end of every year we would have a points auction to buy stuff with the points we earned that year. I always used all my points to purchase fishing lures, bobbers, and other related items. The only time I ever used it was at camp, but I was ready to sit on that dock by Lake Crumb in the hot sun to use my gear.

Now, a few seasons have passed and the lake has changed, but I still have most of that fishing tackle. However, now it’s used to help other kids sit on the dock in the sun to get that first bite. I love seeing their excitement as they real in the catch and remember the thrill I had as well.

My first year as a counselor was full of excitement with a touch of nervousness in how I could help. It seems like just yesterday I was reading bedtime stories to two wide-eyed boys that didn’t want the day to end, but it inevitably did as they drifted off to sleep. Last week, I served as a counselor with one of the boys and he has already celebrated five years of helping.

The week before camp, another counselor was showing pictures on Facebook of back when I was a camper. I quickly recognized everyone in all 16 pictures and had flashbacks to stories with them at camp. However, in at least 12 of the pictures most if not all of the faces have gone on to their eternal home.

This week marked my 20th year at camp, my 13th as a counselor. The boys I worked with in my cabin weren’t even born when I started as a counselor in 2000. It’s very possible that for some, their parents hadn’t even met by that year. My first year as a camper my dad would have been 36 years old. As a now 60 year old man with salt and pepper hair he helped me to serve the campers as a 35 year old counselor.

In Scripture we read that this life is gone in the blink of an eye. The opportunities we take, or miss, today may be gone tomorrow and before we realize it, the kid with wide eyes staring at us will be serving alongside us.

I’m very thankful God has given me good health and has enabled me to serve all these years. Sometimes the work can be tiresome and I still wonder what year will be my last. If you are given a chance to serve to help others, I recommend taking it while you can. We never know when our dot in history will be over and only memories remain.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dia del Padre

Father's Day, or Dia del Padre in Spanish, has come upon us once again. God has not had in the plan for the life He has given me to be a parent. However, that doesn't stop me from wondering what it would be like.

I am not shy to the fact that I enjoy working with children, at least most of the time. When John was here last month it was fun having his boys around. With young children especially, you never know
Acting as a stroller
what to expect. That was made abundantly clear when the five of us went out to lunch at a local fast food chain. Upon getting his kid's meal, TJ promptly bumped his milk over dumping it down my leg and the side of my chair. While that was being cleaned up, Jeremiah grabbed a nearby sandwich and learned how gravity works on food.

In this life I've been given though, I would need to start with older children. During the lunch entertainment above the milk container was two inches from my hand, but I couldn't grab it to set it upright. When Jeremiah woke up screaming in the night, I couldn't hop out of bed and offer to help pace the floors. That's not to say that messes and waking up at night doesn't happen with school-age kids, but they can at least crawl up beside you in bed under their own power.

When I get to speak at grade schools, I love teaching the students about disabilities and how we can all serve God. I could easily see family devotion time and helping my kids learn about God, His creation, and how to live for Him. Family trips out to the tracks would also be a regular activity in the summer and model railroading in the summer.

Even without being a parent, I'm very thankful for the children God has allowed me to work with in different roles. It has been far more than I could raise and hopefully has a lasting influence. I am also thankful that I've been given a father who works very hard to keep funding for me and help me with so many physical needs.

No matter if you have a good or not so good relationship with your earthly father, always look to our Father in heaven. His love is so great for us that He sacrificed His son, Jesus, so that we don't have to take the punishment we deserve. His is the example all earthly parents need to demonstrate in love for the children they've been given.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Word Wobble

For the past few months, I've been watching a few British based shows on Netflix. First, I watched a series on people looking for for homes in the country, then I followed that up with some British baking competitions. Listening to the accents of everyone is interesting, but word usage can be rather odd at times.

When searching for a new home, families often wanted to have space for a "holiday let" and start a business. As near as I can tell, this is basically a bed and breakfast type of situation, but without the breakfast. Their version of country also doesn't coincide with what I would expect. Some homes were in the middle of open country as I would think, but they could also be in the center of a small town, or village as they say. This could easily just be different understandings, but some get even more strange.

I'm very familiar with charged and dead batteries as the difference can mean a day out and about in my chair or stuck in bed while it charges. In the U.K. and other European countries, a battery without charge is flat. I guess that means one with a full charge is bumpy, but I can only guess. In Australia, if you're nursing a baby, it simply means someone is taking care of a baby and is something that men can do. In America nursing a baby means, something entirely different.

Not only do words have different meaning depending on what country you're, they can also change over time. One example is the word unicorn. Today, this word brings up images of a horse with a horn coming out of its head that is used in different fairy-tales. However, an 1811 dictionary has unicorn described as: "An animal with one horn; the monoceros. This name is often applied to the rhinoceros." If you look at the scientific name for a single horn rhinoceros, it is "rhinoceros unicornis." Therefore, if you read a King James Version of the Bible, from 1611, and read unicorn in passages such as Job 39:9-10 and other places, you must consider its meaning at the time it was written.

Modern vocabulary can be very interesting when you get away from your familiar roots. Be careful you don't go flat out like a lizard drinking (Australia) and be too quick to assume a meaning. It could make for confusing encounters at best, and major embarrassment at worst.