Monday, December 26, 2016

Post Christmas

Christmas 2016 has come and gone and in a few hours the observed holiday will be over and everything returns to normal. For a few days anyway, then the new year celebration begins.

I notice every year that the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, seem to all clumped together. Three holidays in a five week time span during a time of year that is not always favorable for going out and traveling. During the summer months, the three U.S. celebrations of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, are spread out over three months. They are during the time of year when it's great to get out as well.

It would be fun to live n the southern hemisphere and have the scrunched holiday schedule during summer. Spending Christmas and New Year's on the beach in New Zealand with school out for the summer would be great. Families can travel to relatives' houses and not have to be concerned about getting home before school resumes.

The southern U.S. experiences part of this though. Yesterday I saw friends from Florida hanging out in the pool on Christmas day. I hear several people say they like a white Christmas, but I think I could get used to a green one very quickly.

No matter my varied thoughts, it was good to celebrate Christmas again with both sides of my family. When I only see some of my cousins' kids once a year, it's a challenge to identify who goes with who. A child who used my chair to help steady himself to walk last year is now running circles around everyone and talking.

Yesterday at church was also great to celebrate the birth of Christ. The official celebration is over and I'm sure some gifts have already been returned, but the gift that was celebrated never ends and has no boundaries. It has been a full year in the quad life and I look forward to what God has in store for 2017.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cold Snap

November was one of the warmest Iowa has had on record. Mostly everyone I know enjoyed the extended fall temperatures and wanted it to stay. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and reality has returned.

December started off pretty well, but the last ten days haven't gone above the freezing point. This weekend has been a large shock to the system for cold. My dad's side of the family had our combined Thanksgiving and Christmas last night. When we left the house, it was a balmy 6° outside, before wind chill. Getting in and out of the van at my grandparent's house in the country felt like rolling into a deep freeze. However, I think a deep freeze is set warmer than the temp was.

This morning I woke up to my outdoor thermometer reading -13°, but with very little wind. As a result of the cold and yesterday's snow and ice, almost all churches in town cancelled their services. I missed last week's morning service due to no night nurse, so today was an excellent time to listen to what I missed. I was surprised to hear my name mentioned during the sermon, so likely a good thing to know.

As I write this, my thermostats are averaging at 0° outside, too cold to go out. However, this is Iowa and conditions change quickly. Tuesday is forecast to be in the upper 30's with most of the week having similar readings. After a month off, I'm hoping to finally bike again and try my new breakaway sweatpants made just for the occasion.

The warm to cold happens every year, so I knew it was coming. I think when living the quad life and moving very little, the chill seems to have more of a sting. No matter what, I'll live with what God has given me, and be thankful for a warm house, stacking caps, jackets, and everything else to ward off this fallen world.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Fun

A regular part of Christmas is putting up decorations. Some people go very extravagant with lights timed to music while others keep it more simple. My family does more toward the easier end.

For the first week of December, my primary day assistant was ill and couldn't come. Dad stayed home with me three of the four days she missed, so he had plenty of time to decorate. I did my usual train
tree in my room, but we added another train this year. A friend gave me a small set to go around the tree as well, so we have two train trees this year.

Decorating is one of the fun activities to help celebrate the season, and spend time with family. I saw a Christmas quiz that this week that had a few fun facts as well.

True or false: The Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year.

Which U.S. state was the first to recognize Christmas as an official holiday? New York, Florida, Alabama, or Texas

What unusual thing do the lyrics of these three Christmas songs have in common: “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Sleigh Ride”?

For the answers, and more questions to stump your friends, download this free PDF from LivingWaters.com.

While we celebrate Christmas one day a year, remember the real reason to celebrate. It isn't to receive, or return, packages from people, but the gift of the babe in a manger that we may receive everlasting life.

With winter cold, I haven't had a very active quad life this month. I'll see what another week will bring!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Word Roles

I don't know how many people do this, but I often find common phrases somewhat amusing. I sometimes wonder if the person realizes what they're saying. I've made such errors and laughed when I realize what I actually said.

One area I often hear fun phrases is announcing a new pregnancy or birth. You will often hear, "Mr. and Mrs. Jones are expecting a child!" I'm glad they clarify, otherwise I may have mistaken the excitement, and increase in belly, with a kitten coming. A few months later you're told they had a little boy. Good to know he didn't come out as a teenager, the couple may have sent him back.

Other phrases I love to play are simple questions like, "What's up?" This leaves a wide range of responses available, the opposite of down, the ceiling, clouds, gas prices, your time, and many others. The list goes on.

"Be careful, that just came out of the oven, it's hot." I would hope so, if something just came from the oven and was frozen, it's time to get it fixed.

"It's always in the last place I look." It could be the first place you look as well. Unless you continue to look for an item after you found it, you'll always find it in the last place you look.

We park in driveways and drive on parkways, and then wonder why English is a difficult language to learn.

We've been given the gift of communication that we can help build each other up, entertain, and also spread gossip and slander. If used correctly, it can be a great tool. As you meet with friends and family in the coming weeks, pay attention to both funny moments, as well as serious. Both in and out of the quad life, every word needs to be considered and used wisely.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Packaging

I don't ever remember being accused of being normal, which I think is a good thing. With black Friday and cyber Monday past us, Americans have started the purchasing frenzy toward Christmas. The thing I wonder about, is the packaging for all of it.

In modern society, almost everything we purchase comes in a package of some sort. It can be a box of various sizes, plastic wrap, or a combination of items. For those that shop online and have everything shipped, like me, it adds another box and packing material to the already packaged item. With Christmas presents, we adorn these outside coverings with printed paper, bows, and cards.

What's the first thing that we do after receiving our item? We dig through the protective packaging to get to the adorned object and discard the container it came in. Much of it goes to trash or recycling never to be seen again. However, some items pause before their final departure from our houses and businesses.

No matter what toy a child receives, they favorite item is often the box it came in. As imagination takes hold, it can turn into a car, plane, train, tunnel, fort, or anything else that can be imagined. Kids aren't the only ones that find joy in these items, adults can as well. I have often heard protective bubble wrap popped in my house by various people around me. Alas, after the fun is gone though, the fate of a lowly package is out to trash bin.

Not all packages contain items to be given though. Our bodies are also temporary containers for our souls that will one day release its contents. Just as every item has its purpose and container, so do the lives we have been given.

As you go throughout the next few weeks, likely giving and receiving, pay attention to every container of every sort. They may be something handy in the quad life, or in the one to come.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Three Seconds

Since February, I have been going to Des Moines almost every week to use the FES bike. My caregiver and I know the routine very well after so many sessions. The bike does a warm up for two minutes, then for the next 25 it's a combination of the bike's motor and my leg muscles. After this, it's just up to my legs to do the work. They go for 24 seconds before the speed drops too much and I'm just along for the ride, except once.

A few weeks ago the routine was broken, my muscles decided to add a bit of effort and went another three seconds longer. Granted, this is a pretty minor amount of time, but it is an improvement. I've wondered how long my legs would go if I had my own bike and did it more often, but I am thankful for the ability to get to use it as much as I can.

Ken and I after his baptism
Several times the past few months, I have visited my friend Ken in the hospital after my bike session. He has been in and out of the hospital all year and I'm one of the few people that visit him. I did again this past Friday and was glad to see an improvement in that he recognized me and responded correctly to my bad jokes. The previous week, I didn't get the same response as he was having more problems. I visited him again this afternoon, but not after biking.

I received a message when I sat up after lunch that Ken wasn't doing well and I was the closest one to try to get to him. After a few phone calls, my dad and I were on our way to Des Moines. We found his room and was thankful to see a handful of his cousins were there. About half-an-hour later, the order was given to stop artificial breathing, and Ken passed on from this earth.

Three seconds is a small amount of time, but it's enough to thank those around you. You can thank God for the life He has given you, no matter the circumstances. I'm thankful for the times I was able to help celebrate Ken's birthday and witness his baptism almost exactly one year ago.

As we head into Thanksgiving, remember to take a few seconds even to look at the gifts, and people, around you. In another three seconds, they could be gone from this life and on to the next.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Presentation Prep

Today was my last scheduled school talk for 2016. For this school year, I went to four grade schools, one college, and today a high school.

Speaking at a high school chapel service is something I haven't done in several years, so I wasn't sure how it would go. My voice drys out quickly and I have drink breaks worked into my regular presentation. With only 15 minutes to present and not having regular audience input, I didn't have my routine stops.

As I usually do, the first time I did my talk verbally was when I was with my audience. Reviewing in my head the past few weeks, I had several different directions I could have taken and couldn't fully decide on which one to take.

Of course, my night nurse was out Monday night due to an illness, so mom and I stayed up until 2:00. Thankfully, I didn't yawn my way through the presentation and it went pretty well. One student tracked me down afterward and said I was an inspiration for her. A few of the instructors, some of whom were my teachers, thought it went well also. They were happy to see I was able to keep the students' attention!

After I got home, I opened a package from one of the grade schools filled with thank you notes. Many of them said they were glad I came to class, I'm fun, and God loves each of us. Since that is part of what I teach, I love to see they were listening.

Some days are a challenge and I wonder if I should still be trying to live at home. However, days like this when I can fully work to help others make a good argument for keeping on as we are. Another week will come in serving as I am given opportunity.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time for Pause

A post I put on Facebook four years ago popped up this weekend as a memory. In it, I listed 1 Timothy 2:1-2 "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

Last week, two police officers were killed in Des Moines just while sitting in their cars. Unfortunately, this is not a new occurrence as it has been happening all over the country. We have gone away from praying for those in authority, or even respecting them.

With elections tomorrow, we need to be praying that godly men and women are elected in every position. Whoever does win, those persons still need prayers to faithfully serve in their office. Normally, I often think of federal and state officials, but church yesterday also reminded us to pray for those serving in the county and city levels.

It gets very difficult to remember to pray encouragingly when our leaders make decisions that go against God's Word. I think these times are when it's needed the most, that errors would be overturned and the person who made the ruling return to God's direction for his or her own life.

Tomorrow night, I don't think I'm planning to watch the news much if at all. Polls won't be completely in until after I want to be asleep, so I'll learn Wednesday morning who our new leaders will be. At this point, I can be thankful for the freedom to vote, and pray all votes are counted accurately and recorded honestly.

This next week in the quad life will continue to be busy and require prayer. I will see what direction God not only takes our country, but the state and local area as well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Talkative November

Blogging late on a Wednesday means one thing, another busy week. It seems like I just keep getting further behind the more time passes.

Monday was Reformation Day, better know as Halloween. It was a slow year this time with only handing out 35 packages of goods. I gave out 3-4 pieces of candy with a gospel tract geared for kids. One beggar said he remembered the tract from last year, so I guess they are looking at them!

Both yesterday and today had talks at different schools. Yesterday was three classes of second graders and today was EMS college students. Each class was unique and I love getting to talk with them. One boy wanted to know where I live so he could come visit. That was a first, but I said he needed to ask his parents first. Maybe I should expect a ring at the door after school someday.

Going from eight-year-olds to adults is a bit of a change, but I think I managed. The class seemed to pick up on everything pretty well and were comfortable in asking questions. One wondered if I have trouble with blood clots since I don't move. Thankfully I don't, but I can't say it's one I've thought of before. I haven't heard of it from other quads, but I should maybe ask around and see.

Along with speaking schedules, it's also a new month, which means getting billing out to my clients and making new paperwork. I finally finished this evening, about a day later than usual. My hours for last month were double what I had earlier this year, so it was a very nice change. This month will likely be the same with an ongoing project in progress.

I'm always thankful to be busy, I've had a lot of slow times that I know to appreciate it. I never know quite what God has planned, but it makes for some interesting times. Next week doesn't look as full for outings and the quad life should be updated earlier. More projects await, and little up time to get them accomplished.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Movie Debut

This weekend I watched the public debut of the movie "The Atheist Delusion" by Ray Comfort. He has made several Christian evangelism movies before and this is another one I highly recommend.

In this latest movie, Ray talks with with atheists at a college campus and reasons with them for the existence of God. Throughout the hour-long program, he works with several people and by the end many of them are no longer certain about their belief of God not existing.

Unfortunately, we keep seeing atheism on the rise and people not making God first in their lives. This is true both out and inside the church. In 2007 and 2008, my church averaged 198 people for morning service, now it's 181. The biggest difference is with evening service, going from 135 down to 64.

People are maybe willing to give God one hour of their Sunday, but not two. This is only one day a week, one set aside to worship and further learn God's Word. Unfortunately, we often put our own pleasures first before we are willing to serve our creator. Some countries have Christians meeting secretly for fear of being arrested, and we can't even get people to come when they can freely worship.

I've heard comments that Sunday is for family time, that evening service doesn't have the right kind of music, or just didn't feel like going. Isn't the family unit meant to teach about God and His requirements for living? What better place to do so than in church. If a particular music type is your reason for going, then you merely want to be entertained for an hour, not actually hear the Word.

If the Democratic nominee for president is elected, I'm afraid we'll being seeing further persecution of Christian values. Just like Kim Davis was arrested last year for standing up for her Christian morals, it likely will increase. I'm afraid America will have an awakening like hasn't been seen before, but too late.

God's will happens no matter what government persecution or Christian participation occurs. I pray that this portion of the quad life can stay free at least in my lifetime.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hours and Hours

During my flat time, one of my activities is playing Farming Simulator 15. The primary function is to prepare a field for planting, plant the crop, harvest, and repeat for infinity. Adding in livestock or different crops increases the activity, but it's still basically a series of repetition. Somehow though, I still enjoy it.

Planting Wheat
Next week, an updated version is being released, Farm Sim 17. Yes, 17 is being released in 2016, but programmers don't pay much attention to calendars. I've been watching as information is released and reading reviews from various sources. One reviewer started his commentary by saying he has over 600 hours playing the current version of the game and is an expert. I was mildly impressed, until I looked at my own numbers.

In the two years since starting the game, I have played on four different farms. With these four combined, I have accumulated over 800 hours. Half of that is from just one map alone. Thinking further, that is over an hour of game time per day. I'm also thinking the time has been increasing more rapidly in the past six months or so than the previous 18. Averaging over an hour a day for a game is okay, but where else is time better spent?

I don't have an automatically recorded time for anything else I do, so it's just estimating from observation. Reading Scripture twice a day takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on chapter length. I try to read during some of my down time, but it only ends up being a couple hours per week. The remainder of the day is taken in sleep (or attempting), every day needs, and various activities such as work and chatting.

Looking at how I spend time in the quad life isn't anything new. I'll see what God has planned for the time He has given me this coming week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Herb Gardening

This past spring I had the urge to try growing herbs in pots on the deck. I have done it before with mild success and it was fun. Therefore, I tried it again this year.

My mom found a bag online meant for use as a pot, and one in particular was deep enough to use for that purpose. So, I gave it a try instead of leftover flower pots from the basement. I planted, dill weed, sage, parsley, and chives.

Everything grew quite well and it was nice to be able to use fresh ingredients in our family meals. We mainly just used the chives and dill weed, but everything grew to good size. Unfortunately, I'm still learning what to do.

After cutting off part of the stalk for dill, my caregiver said it's best to just get the spice instead as cutting kills the plant. Sure enough, the one my family uses the most died off prematurely, but it was great while it lasting.

The fragrance after retrieving an item from the deck was very strong as well. If I wasn't hungry before, I was after smelling the aroma.

Unfortunately, I live in Iowa and colder temps have arrived. The remaining plants started to whither a few weeks ago and it was time to put away my green mouth stick. I think next year will see the grow bag in use again. Next time will be more items that I use and trying to keep everything growing all summer.

No matter the outcome, it was a good opportunity to get outside more and witness one of God's creations of simply growing plants. It's yet another reminder of how we depend on His creation to sustain us, even if just for flavoring the quad life lunch.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Politics in 2016

It's that time once again where we vote for the next commander of the country. Four years ago I thought we had bad options, but I didn't imagine it would get worse.

I've read several commentaries that the nation is in a very poor state to even have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as our main two choices for the office. I've always said I vote for the least of the evils, but it's getting to be a harder decision on which is the least.

One option would completely throw out the bit of remaining Christian influence remaining in this country. Having abortion allowed at any point of pregnancy, and continuing to expand the LGBTQ agenda.

The other option is a man who regularly changes his mind and has had several bankruptcies in his past. He also wants to end the Affordable Care Act, which I somewhat agree with, but doesn't say what to replace it with. Taking over a country that is already very far in debt and needs extreme help isn't an easy task.

If you state you are for one side or the other, be prepared to get cursed at from the other side. I've seen it on social media and local news has had several instances of political signs being taken out of yards, shredded, and destroyed. Not only are we a country choosing questionable leaders, we can't act civil to each other.

Last week, I read a piece by Dr. Daniel Howell that I can say aligns with my thoughts pretty well. Neither choice is easy, but which one would be the worst?

No matter what happens next month, I'm consoled by remembering God is in control at all times. Israel and Judah had many bad leaders before destroyed, so I'm hoping we have a few to go yet. The quad life will continue as God planned, whatever the country around me dissolves into.

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

Kids

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!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Habits

One of my day nurses is quite chatty, whether I'm listening or not. Yesterday she came up with a question of wondering about any bad habits I had. She came up with one of her own and I thought about offering more, but decided to keep them to myself. i said one of mine and thought up several more as well, but kept them in my head as well.

A habit that I've been getting into with all my flat time is watching more shows on Netflix and YouTube. I'll just lay here and watch show after show until my time is gone and I can sit up again. Sitting here doing absolutely nothing is okay sometimes, but I don't like the habit it's starting to become. Playing farming simulator isn't much better, but at least with it I'm moving a little and actually doing something.

For a while, I was getting in the habit of reading while I was down. I still do it some, but not like I was for a while. When the busyness of summer slows down, if not before, I need to work on changing this routine. When I have nurses during the day, use my first down time for farming or videos and the second one for reading. It sounds like a good idea at least, we'll see if it actually happens.

Last week a friend said he liked my habit of twice daily Bible reading. Trying to offer advice on how to get into it, I had to think again how I did. This is a habit I enjoy as well, and don't plan on changing. Some nights get difficult as I want to get to sleep, but I usually make it through my three chapters.

Habits, both good and bad, become regular parts of our lives even if we don't realize it. Stepping back and looking at them is a good practice and adjust what's needed. My habit of late posts is becoming regular, but I still get one per calendar week. Until the next one, have a great week readers!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tuesday Travels

It has been a busy day in the quad life with regular and irregular activities.

Every other year I get a regular eye exam and today was the day. Just after finding a parking spot wide enough for my lift, it started to rain. I rolled to an overhang by the door as it started to pour as my caregiver finished with the van. I stayed fairly dry, but she got rather soaked. We always look like an interesting pair heading into doctor's offices, but today was a bit more than usual.

Using a wheelchair makes eye exams a challenge since all the equipment is setup for the patient to use their seats. At one point, the doctor was straddling my footrests with his legs while holding a device directly up to my face. It would have been a really bad time for my legs to jump as he would have, let's see, noticed the bump very quickly. Thankfully, everything stayed in place and my eyes haven't changed in two years. Hopefully that will continue through to the next visit.

Next up was a hair cut at my local barber. This again is a place where patrons normally use the included seats. For me, the process is to park where the seat had been placed, then remove my chair's head rest so the back of my head can be reached. I also use two capes, one forward and one backward, to cover me and my chair's electronics. I have been going to the same place for several years, so they are used to the routine, but it's always a challenge to get everything setup and then put back together again.

After a quick stop for a few items at the grocery store, it was back home for a quick lunch, some personal care, and out again. However, the last outing of the day wasn't routine.

Two years ago, a teenager in a neighboring town was in an ATV accident and received a spinal cord injury. His injury was a little lower than mine and he was able to breathe and had some arm use, but was still classified as a quadriplegic. Unfortunately, Tyler passed away Saturday at the age of 17, just before his senior year of high school. Therefore, the last outing today was a short trip east to his visitation. I only met him once in person, but still tried to offer help via email and social media where I could.

Most days are very routine for all of us, just going about our regular activities. Sometimes, something outside the routine makes us remember why we're put in this creation. As you go through your week, remember to take time to be with the giver of life, and that routine is working for His glory.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flat and Stiff

Muscle spasms are a regular part of living with a spinal cord injury, and other disabilities. Mine are usually pretty well controlled through medication, regular stretching, and just general body management. The last few days have been hopping though.

Some spasms are good in that they help to maintain muscle mass, improve circulation, and help with bone density. However, they can make regular daily activities a challenge if not nearly impossible sometimes. This weekend, my legs wouldn't cooperate for anything despite having good stretching exercises and foregoing footwear. These two usually are all I need, but they didn't stem the jumping. Today when sitting in bed I was still resembling a jumping frog, but it has thankfully improved this evening.

My routine of sitting for 90 minutes and going flat for three hours has been going on for over a month now and is starting to get to me. Spending so much time flat, just playing games or watching YouTube or Netflix, is really starting to get boring. It makes me feel like I'm being lazy and not contributing anything to society, and it's true.

Trying to write while flat though is very hard to do, especially if I want to see what I'm writing! Making the most of my short sitting periods is becoming more important, but gets hard when I get stiff and need frequent re-positioning.

I have become very familiar with eating my meals when flat and it almost seems strange to eat while sitting! From what I'm hearing, the increased down time helped immediately after returning from camp, but doesn't seem to be making a big difference now. In order to keep some remnants of sanity, I think I'll be returning to two hours up and two hours down routine soon.

At least with plenty of down time, I have opportunity to think and do some reading. The quad life has its ups and downs in many forms, but I can remain thankful for the time I do have and look forward to what's ahead. Whether it's less spasticity, the next up time, or whatever God has planned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Upgrade or Downgrade?

When I received my spinal cord injury in 1985, portable ventilators were not very common. Fortunately, two options existed at the time and my parents chose a model called the PLV-100 by
Respironics. It ran quieter than the other type and seemed to work well.

For the next couple decades, this is what I used to get every breathe. I had one vent on my chair and another by my bed equipped with a humidifier. In college, my original machines were replaced with new ones of the same model and the same company, completely covered by insurance.

When I received my diaphragm pacemaker in late 2010, I continued to use my green box while I transitioned to the new system and kept them available for backup. They remained close by at all times, until last month.

With the beginning of the year, my insurance decided it would be like Medicaid and start renting vents instead of paying for them. Even though my machines were purchased around 2002, my equipment provider started receiving rental checks for both machines every month. This increased monthly maintenance fees by a factor of 12 and meant I had to update to newer models, even if I
New vent alongside suction machine
didn't want to change.

Therefore, I have now have two new vents still by Respironics, but this time a Trilogy. The large green machines are now smaller and blue, but also much noisier when operating. In talking with my respiratory therapist that does regular maintenance checks, the new machines are also not as reliable as the old.

Fortunately, it has been a few years since I have used a traditional vent for any length of time. If I did have to go back on it, this system should also be able to go on the back of my chair if needed. I wouldn't be able to make people hear me, but I would be breathing at least.

Some days in the quad life make me wonder if people who make these machines actually know someone who uses them or just looks at statistics and cost. In any case, I'm thankful that this technology exists and has worked well for so many years. I was told that some of the old vents are being taken for use in third world countries, so they will get used by people that need them. We'll see what another week will bring.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

One Year of Working Legs

One year has now passed since I first wrote about my working legs and using the FES bike. In the year, I have had 26 sessions (24 visits) and biked nearly 55 miles with my own legs. I have also put about 1,900 miles on the van in traveling to and from Des Moines to go biking.

In this time I have seen my leg muscles increase in size and generally stay much less spastic for about a day after a session. One nurse has noticed the start of improved circulation in my legs and my skin doctor has also seen circulation increased to help wound healing.

I no longer grin like a child when biking, but it is still a very great feeling. Seeing my legs actually moving on their own, and getting exercise is not like anything else I do. The sensation I get from feeling them move in a regular cycle is a wonderful change to just usually having no movement. A change was made to my stimulation settings a few weeks ago and I was beginning to feel what I think was pain in my one leg. I didn't think this was good though, so yesterday they were adjusted back a little.

After missing a few months this winter, I have mainly been going weekly since late February. The increase in frequency has been a good change in decreasing muscle spasms. When I have been able to go twice a week it's even better. I can only guess how 3-4 days a week would go, but it would certainly be great to have calm muscles that still get good exercise.

At this point, it looks like I will continue to travel to Des Moines to use the system. Unfortunately, policies for insurance and the bike company don't exactly work well together. This has been a busy part of the quad life this year in coordinating time to get to the bike and get a session in, but it is one I'm very thankful I can do. This video from last week is what each time looks like, just with better audio in real life. Until next week, we'll see what comes!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Playing Catch-Up

I have always heard people say they need a vacation after a vacation. I can especially understand that when the occasion is spent keeping busy at volunteer work. For me, I wouldn't have time for another trip. It feels like I have been busy and trying to get caught up since returning over a week ago.

With web work being slow this year, I didn't have a lot waiting for me when I returned. There were over 500 messages in my inbox, but several were from Facebook and did not acquire my attention. They were all cleaned out within two days and backed up work completed on late Monday. The main culprit has been medical needs.

At camp I was able to tilt a lot of the time and not give pressure directly on my skin sores. Two of the areas had very little if any change, but the third did worsen a little. Therefore, instead of sitting in bed for two hours and then laying flat for two, I'm doing 90 minutes up and three hours down. This has already helped, but it makes it difficult to accomplish much.

Since returning, I have also had regular appointments, trips to Des Moines, getting a new vent (maybe a later post), and had more work come due to a new month. I had originally planned on doing this post a few days ago, but finally was able to take time for it.

Monday my family and I celebrated Independence Day with some friends at their house. It was good to get out again and enjoy fresh air while watching fireworks. The display was good, but I kept getting distracted by the surrounding stars. I'm not in my chair and outside very often when the stars are out, so it was fun seeing God's creation displayed while celebrating our independence to serve Him.

This afternoon had a break from the busyness of summer, but I don't expect it to last. A busy quad life is a good challenge to have, but so is taking time to stop and gauze up for a few minutes.

Monday, June 27, 2016

One Dozen Years

Once again CHAMP Camp came for another year. However, unlike the last two years of just visiting, I was able to finally go as a counselor. This year was my twelfth as a counselor and 19th total years of attending.

Counselors arrived the day before campers in order to get to know the kids' cares and how to work with them. It felt a bit strange to have some counselors in their third year and I haven't met them before. It was even more the case when campers came Sunday afternoon. I had a good learning curve in new names and was thankful for name tags.

I was with a cabin of five younger boys. Only one was new this year, but I only knew one of them from my previous weeks. I loved getting to work with the kids again and see them accomplish new goals. One had the impression I was a chopping board as he would park right beside me and make his hand do a chopping motion on my arms. If I had my mouth stick, I would have chopped back, but he was fun to play with.

Due to space constraints, I slept in another building from the campers, along with dad and my night help. It was nice having our own space, but it still means you miss out on some time with the kids. Dad and I were also in charge of fishing, so that took up our morning in both running the poles and cleaning up afterward. It was a warm week in Indiana, so part of clean up included dad getting a new shirt and washing up.

Outdoor activities were rearranged Wednesday due to rain, so it was good cabin time with our campers. The zip line opened up in the afternoon and after the kids went, I was able to make a run. I didn't get video this time. but it was just as much, if not more, fun than last time.

It was a good week and I'm very thankful I was able to go. Unfortunately, I really noticed the quad life challenges this time. With fishing and going back and forth between cabins, it was a lot of work for my dad. My night assistant was also only able to get a few hours of sleep during the day. Also, on the way up, I didn't do well with traveling tilted for so long and rough roads.

I don't know what God has in store for the next year, but this one did at least come together. Right now, I'm uncertain about trying again, but I will see what comes.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Father's Day for my family unfortunately doesn't get much attention. If I'm able to go CHAMP Camp, it usually means dad and I are gone for the week. I would like to find a way around it, but I don't see it happening unless camp changes schedules or I no longer, which is possible. However, that's not the case this year.

I rely on my dad for a lot of my medical care when I don't have a nurse. Mom can't do large physical work like move or turn me, so it falls on him. Over the decades, I have met many families that the son or daughter is like me and requires a lot of help for daily living. Unfortunately, most end up in a single parent household with the father not involved.

We have our tough times and struggles, but thankfully through God's leading my family hasn't followed the norm. There are more things than I can begin to list that I do with my dad that not everyone can relate. We both enjoy watching trains together and I'm told we act a lot alike. However, I'm not so sure the last point is always a good thing.

With working many hours at work every week, then doing things around the house, I would love to see dad's responsibilities decrease. That likely won't happen soon either, but time will tell. Hopefully his duties at work can be shared with others and I continue to have caregivers that can cover my needs.

The thing I'm most thankful for is that dad is an example of what it is like to follow our Father in heaven. He doesn't get everything right, but demonstrates what it is to love your family as Christ loves the church. Also showing that trusting in God's plan is what we all need to do.

This quad life has been greatly enhanced by the care and love God has given me through dad. I'm thankful to have him and even if I can't give a break on his day, I can at least share our story with you.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Storm

About 5:30 Saturday morning I was laying in bed awake wishing I was asleep. As I reminded myself of the long day I had coming, I heard a sound in the distance. Far off I could a faint roll of thunder through the early morning sounds. As my self argument continued, I could hear the approaching storm, but it never came close.

Several minutes later, the welcome sound of rain hitting the roof came, but it lasted a brief moment until it was gone. The rolling thunder made its presence known a few more times, but never coming near. When day came, the sun revealed a landscape showing little notice of the drink and still parched.

In many ways, this is how I feel life has been for me lately. All of 2016 has been slow with work and I keep feeling like a transition is coming. I contacted more schools this spring in anticipation of increasing talks, but not as much came as I expected. Two new grade schools were added to the schedule, but not any colleges. Now I have been approached for two potential web site redesigns this summer. Like Saturday's thunder, will these amount to work or just go off in the distance?

May was the first month this year that had every night covered by the nursing agency allowing my parents to sleep and be active during the day. We had high hopes it would continue, but both Saturday nights this month have not been covered and another time is coming that only part of the time is filled.

The ebb and flow of this life is hard to tell what is coming. A steady, set routine for more aspects would often be nice, but it depends on what routine rules out. However, I'm well aware that's something unknown in the quad life, or anyone else.

Anticipation for possible things to come is good, however keeping an eye on what you currently have and can do is even better.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Busy Day of Rest

Why is it that sometimes days that are meant to be for resting and recouping can end up busier than regular days? Saturday night, I once again did not have a night nurse. We did the normal routine of mom and I staying up until nearly 2:00 and dad takes over.

For me, I actually slept fairly well and was awake enough to do my morning routine and get to church. After some singing, it was the normal time to settle down and hear the sermon. However, God must have wanted to wake us up as a bat started flying around the sanctuary. The Pastor tried to continue, but couldn't keep everyone's attention.

After several loops from the bat, and odd sounds and movements from everyone, the distraction was removed. The comment was made that it took six people to get one bat, but it worked. The service resumed as usual and we can now add another critter to the list that has been in our services (miniature horse, dog, sheep, and now bat). Yes, this is rural Iowa and animals are easily obtained for helpful teaching points.

With church a little later than usual, we got home, changed clothes, and then met with my mom's side of the family for lunch. Everyone enjoyed great food, talked a while, and watched the great-grand-kids play. A few hours later, it was time to head back home for my afternoon cares. Just after getting home, I was greeted by two emails for urgent updates on a client's web site.

Everything together can make for a busy day, but I do enjoy them when they come. I saw some of my cousins' kids that I haven't seen since Christmas and get caught up again with them. As the surprise church visitor showed us, anything can happen at any time.

Keeping focus on where it needs to be is sometimes very difficult at times, including in the quad life. This week looks to remain busy as well, but I'll see if any surprises are included.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Marker

It is the unofficial start to summer, a day that most people have off work and enjoy an extended weekend. I'm in that group, most of my day has been spent playing Farming Simulator 15 and Minecraft. It has been fun, but also need to remember the reason for the day.

On Saturday a small group from my side of the family went to the cemetery where my uncle is buried. For some reason, cemeteries don't have handicapped parking that I can use to get out of the van. Grass isn't easy to drive on either, so dad parked the van close by and everyone got out, put some flowers up, and talked and remembered.

As I sit in the van looking out, I see a sea of grave stones ahead of me row after row. One was a recent addition that I remember putting the funeral service online. Every stone marked at least one if not two lives gone. Everyone has a story with it, relatives left behind, and some past connection to the area.

Hearing about each individual's life could take a lifetime in itself, while your own story is being lived. While we were there, a few cars drove by slowly looking at names of either close relatives, friends, or people they only knew by association. The birds continued to sing in the trees while tales of times gone drifted through the air.

Everyone is part of the ultimate statistic, ten out of ten people die. Some died while fighting for this country while others simply pass during the night. At some point, my story will be complete, as well as you the reader. Days like this are when we remember those that have gone, and others will do the same for me (at least I hope).

As your story unfolds, make sure to stay with God's rules for the life you've been given. When the quad life is over, it will start anew in eternity. Enjoy the freedoms we have to be thankful for and stop to remember those that have gone before and have yet to go.

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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Illness

It's never fun being sick, and that has been made clear once again these past few days.

I was diagnosed with a mild infection last Friday and started taking an antibiotic. Friday night, I had an extremely congested nose and was having a very hard time breathing. My pacemaker gave it's pulse every four seconds as usual, but I could barely pull in air through my nose. Breathing my mouth helped some, but it quickly dried me out and was also difficult.

The nursing agency was also unable to cover the shift, so it meant dad was up with me. He has been having trouble of his own that it's painful to move, so I didn't like to bother him. The only relief I found was to trigger a muscle spasm so I would take a deeper breath. Of course my muscles were quite lose, so they didn't come very easily.

Fortunately, it cleared up some and I was able to get a little sleep. If it was easier to connect to the vent with the trach button, I would have taken the option. I tried my usual tricks for clearing everything up, but they didn't help.

Saturday during the day still had major congestion and the night was a near repeat of Friday. Sunday and Monday thankfully started to have some relief, but breathing was still a challenge at times. Laying on my side was the hardest position and I have spent more time on my back than I should these few days.

Today has had a few difficult times and exhaustion, but not nearly as bad as it was over the weekend. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, but will likely cancel if tonight goes well.

We take things like breathing easily for granted when we're used to it. Even in the quad life when it depends on a machine. Thankfully God has given us bodies with ability to heal, and we can be thankful when health returns.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tools

Yesterday, I spoke at a grade school in Des Moines. This isn't a new event, but it was my first time at this particular school and it had a few new challenges. Due to me not understanding correctly, I had a few surprises.

My calendar said that I was first speaking to 4th through 8th grade students at their morning chapel. Chapel in Christian school is generally a time of singing praise songs and listening to a speaker for a short while before starting classes. After I spoke, the younger grades would have their chapel time and then I would do my regular presentation for the 3rd grade students. That's partially what happened.

For the last several weeks I have been putting together a presentation for this chapel that would work in the allotted time and not require student participation, unlike my usual presentations. I went with the topic of using tools. We all use tools for every task God has given us, be it legs, voice, pen and paper, or wheelchair and mouth stick. The ultimate tools we have been given are God's Word, the Bible, and the door of salvation, Jesus. I only had to add one story in to get to the right time and it went well.

Just after I finished, I learned I would be the presenter for the younger kids as well. I started to think of what to say, and not say, so I would still have something to cover with the 3rd graders. I then did a similar presentation as with the older grades, but didn't cover as much and tried keeping it more interactive. I still had items left for the last class and everything seemed to go well.

I'm very thankful I was allowed to speak with these kids and the impromptu talks were a fun challenge. Looking back, I would have done some things differently, but that means I will know for another time.

Unexpected times in the quad life aren't always a bad thing. I'm thankful God gave me the words to say and that He allows me to teach in this way. I look forward to the next time, in two days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring

Spring Chicken
Sunday marked the official start of spring. The weather the past few weeks has been much warmer than the average and the change should mean more warmth to come. However, it snowed Saturday and tonight through tomorrow may be close to a blizzard again. It has been said if you don't like weather in Iowa to just wait a few minutes. It works the opposite way as well.

With the new season, it means my calendar is filling up again after a few months of hibernation. Yesterday was my first doctor's appointment of the year with another one coming up in a few days. Other than that, not much has been going this week. I am nearing completion on studying in the School of Biblical Evangelism and continue my up and down routine every two hours.

I'm glad to say that my girlfriend and I have now celebrated six months of being together. We don't know what God has in store for us, but will continue to follow His lead.

With this past Sunday as Palm Sunday, Good Friday is coming followed by Easter. Be sure to remember the sacrifice and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ. We fall short of following His commands, but He payed the price for us.

Just a quick update in the quad life this week. Next week about this time may have more to report.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Observations

I'm thankful to report that my friend Ken returned home from the hospital. I got to the hospital Friday just as he was about to be rolled out the door to start the trip back. Over his stay, I was able to visit three times. Looking back, I've noticed a few things.

When I'm in the hospital, the nurses have always been careful when visitors are around. They don't discuss any medical information unless prompted and try to be as scarce as possible. Even when I have someone assigned to stay with me they will often excuse themselves while my parents come. That didn't happen when I visited.

Hospital rooms are small, so I wasn't always able to get all the way in the door with other medical equipment around. However, nurses freely come in and out when my assistant and I were there and discussed medical information freely. It was rather surprising to see this change.

No, I'm probably not the most regular looking visitor. When nurses see me, they likely presume, correctly, that I'm very familiar with the hospital system and not easily surprised by what's happening. Nothing too detailed was said, but still more than I should have been hearing.

Fortunately, it has been about four years since I have had a hospital stay and the staff has all changed. Staff changes aside, I would still hope privacy concerns would be a hospital regulation. Maybe I'm just picky too and pick up on things faster than some people.

It will hopefully be quite a while until I see hospital patient interactions again. This was an observation of the quad life from the outside that I hope isn't repeated.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Visits

Last week, my friend Ken called that he was in the hospital and being transferred to Des Moines. Therefore, I went up to see him Friday and Tuesday and keep up to date on improvements.

He is at a hospital I've been a patient in several times. However, I had to find it ironic I wasn't sure how to get to the rooms from the parking lot. Whenever I've been in the hospital, I get to the room by getting pushed on a bed. Looking up in the elevator did reveal a very familiar ceiling.

I never know quite what to say when visiting in the hospital. As the patient, it's nice just to see people from the outside. I like hearing about what they have been doing, but not sure everyone does. Fitting into a hospital room with a bed and my chair is a challenge as well.

Thankfully, Ken is improving and it's good to see him be his regular self again. The place I ride bike is just a few floors away, so I have been making dual purpose visits in visiting and biking. These last two times are the closest I have had sessions together. My legs didn't complain at all and the calm seems to be lasting longer. I could get used to doing it multiple times a week, but going to Des Moines for a different reason would be preferred.

Last week's internet problems have continued. After Thursday's work, everything has still been very slow and sporadic. Monday, it took me all day to do an update that usually takes 15 minutes. This morning wasn't any better, so I called my provider and they are sending out another technician. Ironically, it has been working well since I called.

It seems some weeks blend together in the quad life, but you sometimes wish things were different. I'm praying for Ken's health to return and his routine get back in place. Until then, we'll see what a few more days has in store.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Late Week Post

This has ended up being a busy week, so I'm writing here much later than usual. The main two events have been weather changes and internet trouble.

Last week Saturday was very warm for February in Iowa. We set a new record of 71° for what felt like spring. I took a long lunch and got out on the deck in t-shirt and shorts. My eyes weren't used to being out in the sun, but it felt very good. My white legs almost glowed in the bright light, but stayed warm even with a little breeze.

Unfortunately, weather can change quickly in the state. Tuesday didn't get above freezing and today wasn't much better. I was back in my sweatshirt, jeans, and coat for running errands. Tomorrow is forecast to be in the upper 40's again though with mid 60's at the start of the week. Early signs of the new season are very welcome and I hope they continue.

During Tuesday's chill, we also received an increase in internet speed, at least in theory. Watching progress bars for large files going online has worsened the past several months, so it was time to change. For a good portion of the day, we didn't have phone or internet, so I was a little nervous about someone trying to reach me.

After the technicians finished everything, the new speed was slower than the previous. An extensive time on the phone yesterday didn't help and required another visit today. The second visit has helped, but the upgrade has seemed more like a downgrade so far. Hopefully it will get better so I can help clients more quickly.

That has been about it for this week in the quad life. Hopefully next week will be earlier, and warmer.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wanting More

In my Bible reading this week, I have been reading about the Israelites' time between Egypt and Canaan. They had seen God's hand in getting them out of Egypt and every day gathered manna from the desert floor that was provided by God. They also saw His leading by a pillar of fire at night and cloud during the day. With all this, they still complained that they wanted more.

I can look at them and wonder how they could dare ask for more. However, I can also see myself acting exactly the same. I ave been given so much in this life, but yet I'm still not happy and always ask for more. We say it is the American way to always want more possessions, but the Israelites had us beat.

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of starting the quad life. In these years, I've been given more caregivers than I can remember. They have helped my family and I through every aspect of daily living and continue to do so. I know several other people living the quad life that don't have anywhere near as much.

My parents do more than I could ever ask for to help me and get me healthy and active. I am very thankful they were given to me and I don't deserve all they do from working to keep insurance coverage, staying up all night, and much more. Parents don't always stay around in situations like ours, especially not both.

First bike ride of 2016
The list continues with being able to work, talk at schools, have reliable transportation that I can use, good health, live outside of a nursing home, and more. I have been immensely blessed and cared for by God's providing all this life, and I still dare to always want more.

Last year's opportunity to use the bike in Des Moines was more than I could have imagined, but yet I want my own instead of traveling an hour to use it. I covet other people's lives that don't have to deal with so much of a physical disability and get to live on their own. Despite having clients and schools I regular speak at, I'm always wanting more and trying to increase the numbers.

Being content with what we have been given is a rarity and I am just the same as people and nations of ancient times. I know that all that I've been given can also be taken away just as quickly as my ability to use my body was these decades ago. As you go throughout this week, let's try to learn to be satisfied with what has been given, and thankful that we already have what is needed.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Special Inclusion

Last week, there was a short segment on the news (sorry, can't find a link) about a special needs prom. It was organized be different businesses and volunteers and a typical high school prom night for people with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. A friend on Facebook (disability advocate) wrote yesterday how she would like to see these activities stop and allow better inclusiveness in regular events. I can see arguments for both sides of the debate.

I was fortunate in high school that I could do pretty well every activity the school sponsored. In my last half of school I went to the Junior/Senior Banquet (our school's prom) both years my class attended. My group of friends just happened to be five girls, so we just dressed up, got a table for us and had a fun time. We didn't think anything of it, I was just part of the class and went along with the flow. For me, it was easy.

For some people though, I know they are uncomfortable being the only wheelchair user in a group, especially if it's a recent addition. Others may not like crowds or have trouble interacting in social situations. In these cases, I can see why something separate may be more comfortable.

Making an effort to include everyone, with or without a disability, should always be done. In most cases, this isn't too much of a challenge. Making sure events are held in accessible buildings and table layout allows room for a wheelchair takes some planning, but not much. If someone doesn't care for crowds, have them near a door where they can step out for a break and join the activities again later. No, I don't expect every game or activity to be accessible by mouth stick, although that be great, their should be a variety of options available for all.

One point was made though that businesses love sponsoring these events and telling the world. Advertising is great, but it can sometimes feel like it's being done just to say "look at what we did," instead of just wanting to help.

No matter if you're living the quad life or not, it's great to feel included in society. There are many opportunities to be had, but only if you go for them. That can sometimes be the hardest, but a source of strength is just a prayer away.