Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back and Ahead

Today we officially say farewell to 2017 and welcome in 2018. For me, this year has been one of unique experiences and new possibilities.

In May I helped with a new outreach booth had opportunity to work with more people. I have heard some talk about it coming again in 2018 and hope to be able to volunteer again. I had planned on a few days at the Iowa State Fair this year as well, but van trouble limited it to one.

March had a new speaking opportunity with RT students. After talking with the organizer at the outreach booth in May, I worked on getting my license to exhort. Testing was successful and I preached my first sermon in November. When spring comes, I hope to speak at more churches, but
time will tell what is in God's plan.

Along with speaking, I was able to volunteer another year at camp and work with the campers. I look forward to volunteering with the kids, but the drive out continues to be challenging. I also don't like taking away a week of dad's vacation and am unsure if camp will happen for me in the new year.

After a five-year break, this year saw my first return to the hospital as well. This is something I pray does not repeat in the coming year, but as with everything I can only do as God has in my plan.

Throughout the year I was also able to have time with friends and family. I got to spend almost every night with those closest to me and have a visit from one. I'm thankful this year my family didn't have any major health problems and I pray that 2018 will continue in this trend.

I don't know what to expect in the coming weeks and months for the quad life, but I can see the blessings I've been given these past 12 months. I was able to get one entry here every week and hope to continue for my few regular readers.

Have a blessed year everyone and be sure to take time to look back and see all that has been done!

Monday, December 25, 2017

One Person

Normally every day, I read Scripture in the morning through an online plan that takes you through the Bible in a year. At night, I read my physical Bible as well at a pace similar to the morning reading plan. Therefore, I typically read the Bible from front to back twice a year.

This past Tuesday, my night reading finished the end of Revelation and I was able to move my marker back to Genesis to begin again. I'm not certain how many times I have gone from cover to cover in my life, but I'm guessing it's between 25-30. In these readings, I come to agree with other commentators that the Bible talks about one person, Jesus.

Starting at the beginning in Genesis, God promised that someone would crush the head of the serpent. So already in Genesis 3, we see a foreshadow of the coming Savior. A few chapters later in Genesis 6-9 in Noah's flood. All the people of that time died in the waters, except those who went through the door of the ark. In John 10 Jesus said "I am the door..." Today, those who don't go through the door of Jesus will also perish.

Today we celebrate the birth of that Savior. The kings of kings and Lord of lords, the creator of heaven and earth who came as a baby. The one that spoke creation into existence and commanded angels could only utter a cry for His needs.

Modern Christmas celebrations in the U.S. often do everything to take Christ out of the picture. He is the real reason to celebrate, not the best bargains or gift you receive. The true gift is free, and available to all who repent of their sins and fully trust in Jesus Christ.

I wish my readers a very Merry Christmas and encourage getting in to reading the Bible for this coming year and looking for the one story throughout.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sanctity of Life

Watching the news and having some awareness of international news is something I think is important for everyone. However, it can be very depressing at times and especially as a Christian, makes me see how bad the world is getting.

Recently, Iceland has declared that they have eliminated Down syndrome in their country. In order to achieve this goal, any pregnancy that tests show to have this syndrome are automatically aborted. Reasoning is given that this children would not have a good quality of life and should therefore be killed prior to birth.

In October, Frank Stephens, a man with Down syndrome, addressed the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee. During his presentation, Stephens told how he has a good and active life and is very much worth living. He then went on to address the trend in some areas of curing disease by killing the patient. I highly recommend listening to his entire presentation, Stephens makes good points on a serious topic and still gets a few laughs.


As I have gone to schools, colleges, and just out in public, I find that a lot of people just aren't familiar with disabilities. Most just haven't had any exposure and therefore are unaware, but others don't care either. When a government entity comes along and says this population struggles with life and abortion is the "kind" option, they blindly follow along. Somehow that sounds very similar to Germany in the 1940's.

By this same reasoning, I could easily see the practice expanded to other types of disabilities, such as those of us living the quad life. We often can't breathe on our own, require assistance for absolutely everything, and some live in care facilities or just stay home most of the time. It sounds harsh, but I don't think it's long before countries like Ireland make this line of argument as well.

No matter what a person's abilities, we must remember that ALL life is precious in God's eyes and we are the pinnacle of His creation. Life is so sacred that He sent His son to die for our sins and was raised to life again so that we may have eternal life with Him. As we start the last week before Christmas, remember this is the reason we celebrate and to cherish every life He has put on this earth.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Eating Self

It hasn't been completely back to normal this week, but it gets closer every day. I had dentist, hair cut, and biking in Des Moines once again. Everything went well, except for some news from the dentist.

First, I had a a new dental hygienist to break in. I normally stay in my chair for appointments, so he was having a challenge finding the best angle to get to me and see everything. At one point, the suction device ended up on my eye and I was thankful I had them closed. He did say my teeth looked a little worn for my age which resulted in explaining how I use my mouth stick to type and do anything.

After the hygienist finished, my dentist poked around and didn't like the feel of one of my teeth. It's the same tooth he did a root canal on a couple years ago and he was curious if problems were happening again. This meant going back to the new guy and figuring out how to x-rays. Since he's new to my dentist, the hygienist also doesn't have his own room. Therefore, we ended up putting the x-ray machine in the hall for my picture while another patient was getting worked on a few feet away.

The image showed the tooth is having absorption just below the jaw line, or basically eating itself. My previous root canal was done to stop the same process, but it didn't last very long. In further discussion, my dentist said the only solution is to pull the tooth. It's in the front right of my mouth, so his suggestion is to then get an implant so I can continue to use my stick and drive my chair as I do now. However, the entire process takes about six months.

Of course it's also considered cosmetic, so my insurance likely won't cover it. Ever since the diagnosis, I've been paying closer attention of how I hold my stick in relation to the tooth. For now, we're not doing anything, but he said at some point it will likely break off if not taken care of soon.

I'm thankful I have access to good dental care and a solution is possible. I know when I was a kid I managed my mouth stick through losing baby teeth and waiting for the new one to return. Whatever God has in store for this quad life, I will be carried through.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Quad Oddities

Anyone with high spinal cord injuries has a condition called autonomic dysreflexia, or AD for short. Whenever something is going on in the body, such as needing to use the bathroom, the person's blood pressure will go up. In my case, it happens for something as simple as passing gas and will cause my blood pressure to go up or down for a few minutes. It's very common and those who know me hardly notice it.

While in the hospital last week, it was part of their routine to take my blood pressure (BP) every four hours. On Monday, the nurses noticed my I.V. wasn't working anymore, so it was removed. They couldn't find another place to put one, so we chose to leave it out as I wasn't using it much anyway. Early that evening, it was time to take my BP, except it happened to be while I was having minor AD. My pressure came back low, at about 78/50. This is a little down from my usual, but not a lot. However, it's apparently very low for most people.

Within about two minutes, I had at least five nurses in my room all wondering what to do and retaking my BP via different methods. I tried saying this wasn't unusual and shouldn't be a concern, but my comments didn't get anywhere. My parents were also visiting at the time and tried to say the same. The nurses concluded I needed to quickly get some fluids by I.V. to help bring everything up, but I no longer had one. Therefore, I ended up having one placed via a type of ultrasound and getting the needle in a larger vein.

After the fluids, everything was good again, and was long before due to no longer in AD. I'm very glad the nurses were responsive and worked to solve the problem. I almost find it comical though that a dangerously high BP received no response a few days earlier and a not very unusual result had a large response.

On Tuesday, my doctor wanted to keep me a little longer in order to monitor everything further. Thankfully, she was willing to listen and I was able to help teach her about normal responses with SCI. The explanation satisfied her enough that I was released a few hours earlier than originally planned.

Since returning home, I have been very tired when doing much of any activity. Thankfully, yesterday I was finally feeling back to normal and have been today as well. Like it or not, I've been living the quad life for over three decades and I should expect longer recovery times for these situations. I'm thankful for God's continued care through so many people and look forward to a regular week again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Finally Home

Last week's illness continued to persist and get worse. Finally, on Tuesday morning I went up to the ER in Des Moines. Even after a rough ride, my belly still looked like I was pregnant. Initial x-rays showed a sluggish bowel and possible treatment would be surgery and/or a tube to pump out my stomach.

This wasn't my first experience with this situation, I had it in 2010 while working at CHAMP Camp and again in 2012. Both times involved long stents with an NG tube. However, I was on the vent both of those times. This time, I was concerned about how well I could breathe with my diaphragm pacemaker and half my nose plugged. Therefore, we decided to wait and try other treatment options.

The next few days consisted of a liquid diet and multiple med additions to get everything working. Friday night into Saturday morning is when it really hit hard. As I lay flat in bed, my belly looked like I was ready to give birth. Everything I could feel was in extreme pain. I requested a blood pressure check and found out it was 184/147 (my normal is around 90/50). My doctor thought it was helpful and chose not to treat the pressure, so I waited with every fast and hard heart beat for the subsequent stroke, but it never came.

By morning, it was decided to place the tube. If I had trouble breathing, then it could be removed after a couple hours. The nurse first tried a large tube just like my previous times, but it wouldn't go in. After some supply hunting, she tried a much smaller tube and it went in without any trouble. For the first hour, I was very concentrated on my breathing, but everything went well.

Over the weekend, more than four litters of junk was suctioned out and I finally started to improve. On Monday, the tube was removed and I had a free nose again. The liquid diet of beef broth tasted good in some way. Unfortunately, I don't think anything could have made the strained chicken noodle soup tasty. Tuesday was back to regular food, just slowly, as well as to home.

During this week I missed Thanksgiving, two family Thanksgiving parties, and my birthday. Had I trusted in God's care completely and done the NG tube Tuesday already, I could have likely saved a lot of time and discomfort. When I look at my daily reading schedule and how much I missed, it's a visual reminder as well. Friday night's experience also reinforced what I know that suffering in this world can be extreme, but is nothing compared to what is to come for those who ignore God's saving grace.

Yesterday and today have been a light-headed quad life and I can tell it has been a rough week. My next entry will hopefully continue to show improvement and God's continued grace.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dragging On

In last week's post, I was having issues with congestion and suctioning. I would like to give a great progress report today, but it has still been hanging around.

On Wednesday, my doctor contacted me that lab test results showed I was on the wrong antibiotic and that was why I wasn't improving. Unfortunately, the new one he prescribed had possible interactions with another med I use. After several phone calls, I finally got it Thursday night and am hoping it starts working soon. That wasn't my main concern though for the night.

I do passive range of motion (PROM) exercises four times a day to keep everything mobile. On Thursday afternoon, my caregiver was doing my PROM while we watched a webinar on osteoporosis
Stretching hip and knee
and SCI. When she was stretching my leg up, we both heard a small pop. My knees and hips like to pop on occasion and my caregiver thought it was her thumb we heard. My leg moved fine and everything around my hip felt normal to her, so we assumed everything was fine.

Later in the evening, I was up in my chair for a meeting for church. However, I noticed I hadn't had one muscle spasm since doing PROM. It was too cold to go barefoot as I usually do, and when my shoes were put on, I also had no reaction whatsoever. Normally, my legs jump and kick a lot when putting anything on my feet, but nothing. The trend continued all evening during my meeting.

When my night nurse came and got me undressed for the night, I still had no reaction. This was exactly how my body reacted both times I broke my femurs and it was beginning to concern me. She felt further and did find swelling on my inner leg. After a family consultation at 11:30 at night, we decided to be careful during the night and get checked at the hospital in the morning. Living in small town Iowa, I would get better care at home than overnight in the hospital anyway.

Friday morning x-rays revealed that everything was intact. The doctor could see where the bone was broke and not fixed properly in 2001 (another long story), but nothing this time. So we're guessing it is a pulled muscle and I'm just staying in bed for a few days and doing ice packs a few times a day.

After preaching on how to respond during times of trial and watching about osteoporosis (which I do have), my mind was wondering what was next. I'm thankful everything is intact and it will hopefully be a quick fix. Twelve hours of no spasms was an odd time for the quad life and I'm somewhat thankful they returned. Hopefully this week will be much less eventful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Busy November Illness

This past week has been full of experiences and busyness and one I would only partially want to repeat.

I'm thankfully very rarely ill, but the past 10 days has seemed like all I do is suction. My nose has been full, making breathing uneasy, and then requiring my lungs to be cleared out. I have been fortunate that I haven't had much pain, but it has been coming on occasion as well. Even with a full week on an antibiotic, I can't tell any difference.

On top of being sick, I was gone to Des Moines nearly two full days for doctors' appointments, biking, and picking up new equipment. When I was home, work seemed to keep piling up without making much progress.

Preacher Joel
Saturday saw the completion of a site I've been rebuilding for a couple months. Everything was ready to go live to the public, but then I couldn't get it to transfer correctly from my test location to the client's site. I spent most of Saturday afternoon and evening and almost all of Monday working on it. I'm very pleased to be able to say that it is now up and running for all to see.

This Sunday was my preaching debut as well. With having trouble breathing and a sore throat, I was really wondering if I would be able to do it. Sunday afternoon was about one of the worst days I had as well, but thankfully cleared up well by time for church.

During the sermon, I could feel my throat getting more sore and dry as I went, but was able to get mostly everything included. If I get another opportunity to preach, I pray it will be with better health and voice.

I hope my next entry will be closer to usual time and have better health report. The remainder of this week looks like a calm quad life at least.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Handyman

This week, my teeth have been yelling at me more than usual for some reason. When I try to do much while flat, they start to complain. So instead of my usual farming simulator while down, I have been watching more videos.

A friend suggested a few series on Netflix that I started watching Wednesday. One is "Zumbo's Just Desserts" and is a competition for amateur bakers to make different desserts. They come up with some very tasty looking creations during the show. The only problem is that I then get hungry for chocolate. Fortunately I don't have much candy leftover from Halloween, and I shouldn't eat too much.

The second show I started watching is "Canada's Worst Handyman." Netflix seems to like showing how bad Canadian's are at simple tasks, but I like watching them as well. One of the handymen consistently uses a hammer to put in screws and another has electrocuted himself multiple times. I know some people have no mechanical skills at all, but these people make it much more entertaining.

Yesterday I was able to observe the opposite of a bad handyman. When my friend Ken died last year, he left me his old computer. It took some work from John to get around the password and upgrade it, but it has now been sitting in my house waiting to use. My parents and I thought it be good to use for my caregivers to use, but it didn't fit on our computer desk.

Dad spent most of the day taking the stand apart, cutting notches out of some boards, and putting it back together again. The computer now fits on the stand perfectly and you have to look close to notice the changes. At least until I said it on here.

I'm thankful that dad was given good mechanical skills in a variety of areas. They have come in handy on many occasions and allowed me to have a more active quad life. Whatever gifts God has given you, make sure to use them to their full potential. The body of Christ has many members fulfilling different needs. I pray I will continue to be useful and active in all the ways I've been given.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reformation Day

This Tuesday, most people will be celebrating Halloween with kids going around collecting candy and adults watching scary movies. Before the commercialization we know today, October 31 was reformation day. This year marks an anniversary for the reformation that is unlikely to be in the news.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This started what we now know as the protestant reformation. Luther saw how the Roman Catholic church was not following God's Word and boldly declared his work on the church door.

In the 500 years since the reformation, many denominations have started and are now based on God's word. The other reformers such as John Calvin, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, and others worked to get the Bible into a language that everybody understood and made it possible for all to read. Some paid with their lives and we see the results of their efforts today with Bibles freely available in most countries and languages. However, we're getting close to needing another reformation.

In many of today's churches, we water down areas that talk about a need for repentance from sin. People sitting in church pews (or chairs more often) are often just their for an hour of entertainment and anything that just feels good. It's also common for churches to abandon early parts of Genesis to secular interpretation with evolution and just say to trust in Jesus.

As in Luther's day, the church is following man's ideas and not scripture. Modern evangelism touts God as love and will fill a God shaped hole in your heart. The hearers then just add on Christian to their title and don't lead a changed life.

The world has now invaded the church instead of the church influencing the world around us. I pray that the 500 year anniversary of the reformation will help to remind the Christian church about its roots and start digging back to them. I'll see what opportunities I get in this coming week of the quad life.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Perspective

Everyone is familiar with your own point of view. Certain activities, phrases, and actions are normal in your own view and those around you. When you experience an outside perspective, some items that you're familiar with may look odd.

This week, I received an email version of the New Mobility magazine. One of the articles was about a quadriplegic who has made a living with assistive technology. The opening picture is of him using a wireless head set for his phone and chin controlled wheelchair. My first reaction was curiosity in what he was using and that it looked cool. Thinking for a second, that's what I look like with my phone.

Looking through my eyes, I don't see the stuff I use or how it looks like when I'm using various devices. In my early years as a camp counselor, one of the campers was also a high level quad. As I rolled by his bed one morning, I looked down and saw he wasn't moving and thought he had fallen asleep again. I commented to another counselor and she corrected me that he was actually dancing to the music. Looking again, yes his head was bopping around to the stereo that was running, exactly the same as I do.

The problem was I looked at his chest and arms for movement and didn't look up to his head. I have seen others using a mouth stick for various activities and think it looks challenging. Once again, I only need to look in the mirror to see the exact same scene.

Getting outside of our own viewpoint can sometimes be very helpful to better understand a topic. It's what I try to do in classes and when I study apologetics. Seeing it from multiple angles helps to work with someone that has a different point of view.

As you go throughout this week, try to look at problems from a different perspective. It is interesting in the quad life and helps to better understand the world God has given.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Teacher Hunt

As is pretty normal, last week was a fairly busy week again. Tuesday was my regular biking in Des Moines, Thursday had a meeting for Medicaid renewal and a church meeting, and Friday was speaking at school.

This was my last scheduled school for the year, but I'm hoping to get a few more for spring. If I do, I hope they are a bit calmer. My last visit for the year was with my biggest school, three classes of second graders back to back. By the end of the day, I was having trouble remembering what I had said where, but each class was unique.

During my presentation, I show the students how I write with my mouth and then let them try it on there own. When older kids see me, this is usually the part they remember the most and it's a fun activity. The first class went as usual, but the second group had a bit of a difference.

After I did my demo, the kids started to give it a try. However, just as one girl got the marker near her mouth, she put her hand over her mouth, ran to the trash can, and threw up. The teacher was helping another fidgety student, so I got her attention and she quickly ushered the student, with trash can, out of the room.

Thankfully, the rest of the class didn't seem to notice and I just continued on as usual. During the remainder of my presentation, the teacher kept busy wiping down the door knob, student's desk, and area where the trash can had been. I pray the young lady is feeling well again and won't have memories of a different kind if we get to meet again.

My church's pastor search team started up again, so I'm back to listening to sermons during my flat time. I was also asked this week to preach at a church next month, so I started writing my own sermon to present. With ideas running through my head and listening to multiple preachers, I'm not sure which thoughts are original anymore.

As I continue to learn in the quad life, I never what to expect in any situation. My only scheduled activity this coming week is biking again, so hopefully it will be just the routine. God is in control of it all, even sudden illnesses.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

No longer very good

A week ago today was another mass shooting in the U.S., this time in Las Vegas. The conspiracy theories abound on what took place, but the fact remains that another 58 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured.

In Genesis 1:31, God looked at creation, everything in the universe, and called it very good. If you look to the original wording, He said it was exceedingly good, or perfect. It doesn't take much observation to see the world we live in today is not perfect by any means.

Large massacres of people by gunmen is almost starting to become common. However, smaller sometimes more personal tragedies such as cancer, suicide, and young children sustaining life altering injuries in car accidents are things we experience almost daily. Even when Jesus was on earth, we read in Luke 13 about people being killed by the governor and when a tower fell on them.

The question most people ask is why do these things happen? What is wrong with this once perfect world? The answer goes back to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve, the head of all people, sinned against God. They said by their actions they wanted to do things their way and to leave God out of it, and the consequences were given.

As a result, God withdrew some of His sustaining power and allows some sins to occur. Now, all of creation groans as in childbirth until the present time (Romans 8). As the world continues to go against God's will, we continue to see sin and its results increase.

What should be our reaction when these events occur? As a consequence of sin, death entered the world and it is appointed once for every person to die, and then the judgment. Jesus' response to the tragedies He was asked about was to repent, or you will likewise perish. Therefore, these events should be a reminder that our time will come, most likely when we least expect it.

As I tell grade school students, living the quad life is not part of the original very good creation. However, God has not left us as orphans and we can still serve Him and follow His commands. May everyone continue to do this in the week to come as well as whatever time we have been given.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Transition

At the end of every month, I do an activity that I somewhat dread, billing. Looking through how much work was done for each client and sending out invoices as appropriate is a task I quickly get tired of doing. I did originally start college in an accounting field, but I'm thankful every month that I did not continue.

I find it somewhat odd that the monthly fun, as I'll say, is still referred to as doing paperwork. However, paper is rarely involved in any of it. Everything is tracked electronically and emailed to each client. I wonder if some day we will transition away from the term paperwork to something more specific such as invoicing, or another term as yet to be invented.

With the beginning of October, it signals the end of my time with one of my long-term, and busier, clients. I worked with them through another company (I was the middle quad) and they are now moving to another web developer. We may still work together some, but still not sure what that will become. When you only average about six to eight hours of work a month, any decrease is noticed.

For a long time now, I keep having a feeling that a major transition is coming. With my very limited time upright, decreasing web development work likely isn't a bad thing, at least temporarily. However, the question keeps running through my head of changing to what? I had one new college class ask me to come, but it was on a day that didn't work. Since that initial contact, I haven't heard back from them.

Speaking more would be great during the warm months, but I couldn't do too much and increase my time sitting. Do to weather concerns, I don't schedule anything from Thanksgiving through about St. Patrick's Day. It's only about three months, but that's still a long time period not to be productive.

If a transition comes some day, I know God has it all in His hands according to His time. I'm not one that just live the quad life and sit or lay around all day and not do anything. As always, I will wait and see what the weeks and months ahead will bring. Fall is starting to become more evident in Iowa, so time of hibernation will soon be upon me. For now, another week and more scheduled activities are ahead!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Return to Normal

Normal is a very relative term that is different for every person. My normal day is very different from most people, but it is my version at last. This week felt more like a return to normal.

After completing my exam, it was a relief not trying to study every free moment. Not long ago, a new web client approached me about moving their site to a new location and making some updates. It felt good to make progress on the site and get back to doing some actual web work.

On Friday, I had my first grade school visit for the year. Doing my regular presentation and hearing the kids' questions and reactions was somehow calming. It has been nearly a year since my last school, but my presentation is almost permanently in my memory and it doesn't take much review. However, the week was also a bit abnormal as well.

My parents were able to go on their annual fall trip and returned Friday evening after ten days away. Watering flowers and taking care of the house isn't my regular routine, but it developed fairly quickly. Whenever I get the house to myself it feels like when I lived on my own in Des Moines. Getting groceries and planning meals is the normal thing to do for most people and one I enjoy for short periods. Now that they have returned, everything seems back to the regular routine.

The bad part about a return to normalcy is that I have trouble getting out of it. There are times when a change can be good and break up daily routines and may be helpful to someone else. The remainder of September and most of October look to be pretty busy in going to schools and web work, so I don't think it will be an issue.

For nearly the past year, my church has been looking at merging with two other congregations in town. The final vote whether to merge or not is scheduled for tomorrow evening. My prayer is that everything will stay as we are familiar with, but it may be getting used to a new normal as well. The quad life continues on and I will see what God has in store for another week.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Progressive Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Time is Short

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Virtual Railfan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Crooked Quad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stiff Neck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Alien Invasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Testing Week

I purchased a pre-release of a movie called Exit and as a bonus, I received a digital copy of a book called Stressed Out by Todd Friel. It's a book I had on my list to get later this year, so I was happy to see it included. The main subject is dealing with stress and anxiety biblically and that God is in control. I started reading it over a week ago and this past week has been a good test.

On Monday, I received a call that my night nurse was having a family situation and nobody would be able to come. The routine of staying up until 2:00 A.M. is quite familiar, but still never much fun. On Tuesday evening, another nurse was scheduled to work, but she was ill and couldn't work and neither could anyone else. That made two nights in a row for late night slumber parties. Thankfully Wednesday night was covered, and I fell asleep even before my night routine was complete.

Thursday, I was scheduled for a bone density test at my local small town hospital. I have done them before, but this time didn't go well. It's common to get help and have two people transfer me from my chair to the x-ray table, but I needed to be laying the opposite way on the table than how I get out of my chair. This resulted in being held in a sitting position on a hard table and pivoting around, twice. In order to get a one of the tests, I was moved halfway off the table and my caregiver had to hold me so I wouldn't fall on the floor. With all this ordeal and not feeling well, she had to call in sick Friday making for another missed shift.

In the 32 years I have been given in the quad life, these kinds of circumstances aren't too uncommon. With a nursing shortage continue to grow, I'm very certain open shifts will increase. It is very tempting to get stressed out and sometimes anxious during tough times, but that only serves to make a situation worse.

I'm very thankful in knowing God is in control of all things. With so many open times and making my parents do more, it's hard to remember or understand how it will work out for good. I pray this week is calmer than last, but I take what God gives me. If you regularly read God's Word, but are like me and find some days challenging, I highly recommend getting the book above.

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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Impact

Summer is when I like to be active, and one of my regular activities is volunteering at CHAMP Camp. It is coming up in a few weeks and will mark my 20th year, 13th as a counselor. Unfortunately, I've been letting doubts start to sink in lately about the work I do.

Every camper has some sort of need for mechanical ventilation. Some require complete hands on care for everything and others just need some direction and can primarily help themselves. Without the use of my limbs, I obviously can't help with any of the physical needs of the kids. I can sit and watch, but that's pretty much it.

In order for me to go, it takes a lot of work from my caregivers and dad to help at camp as well as preparation in packing and planning. I have therefore been wondering if I really should be putting them through all the trouble and being up so much that my pressure sores will very likely get worse. The question is am I going just for something to do and catch up with friends or do I actually help?

One of the founders of camp, Dr. Chuck Dietzen, recently wrote a book called Pint-sized Prophets and I just finished reading it a few days ago. Dr. Chuck talks a little about camp, but the main subject is on the children he has worked with in his career in the U.S. as well as several developing nations. He describes how he helps these patients with their physical needs, but also remembers to treat them as children with goals and dreams. I know from experience this isn't always the case in the medical field.

It is commonly known that in Matthew 25 Jesus said that by serving others as His disciples, you are serving Christ. Throughout my years of being a counselor, I have seen kids accomplish more than they ever thought possible, and it brings back my own memories from too long ago. No, I can't help to feed someone or clear an airway, but I can be a listening ear. I have been in school where I'm the only student with apparent physical disabilities and remember what it's like. If nothing else, I can be someone that knows what life is like and can offer help from my experiences.

Yes, my body will likely be mad at me when I get home, but I will continue with my extended flat times. At least I can help work with these campers while God gives me the ability and be extra thankful for the people He has put around me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Office Life

In my weekly commute to go biking, random thoughts run through my head. Recently, my caregiver and I took our normal of taking I-235 into town and turned off on the main road through downtown. This time, the Des Moines skyline caught my attention more than usual and a thought came to me, "how boring."

As I looked at the towers thrusting up from the ground, I thought of all the people working in them. For the most part, they would be in their office cubicles for eight or more hours a day with only a short break during lunch.

I realize my degree is in Information Technology with an emphasis on web development. The typical type of place I should be working is most likely in one of those cubicles. A couple months after I graduated from college, I had a temp job helping employees of an airline sign up for insurance. During this three-month period, I had a desk in one of those boxes.

All I could see were three gray walls around me, my computer screen, and a phone. I had a few papers pinned to a wall for reference, but that was it for decoration. I didn't think much of it at the time, but looking back I wondered how I did it.

My home "office" at least allows me to see outside just by simply turning my head. If it's nice outside, I can have my lunch on the deck and enjoy God's creation further. Going back to nothing but three walls for a view I think would be rather torturous.

However, I'm very thankful that there are a lot of people that do well in such a work environment. Without these positions we wouldn't things like insurance, banks, or telemarketers. In whatever position I'm in, I'm thankful we have the freedom in the United States to work and do whatever we like.

This Memorial Day weekend, remember those whose work was outside in war zones that helped keep us free. God has granted much prosperity to this country and it should never be forgotten.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Odd Quad Bod

I'm very familiar with the peculiarities of living as a quadriplegic. Having warm legs with ice cold knees and feet isn't unusual. Muscle spasms are another aspect of life that are very familiar. If I hit a bump or a stray air current breezes past, I go stiff as a board or have flying arms and legs. I thought I had this well known, until this week.

My parents managed to get away all of last week and I had my own house again for a few days. My best friend John's wife was also gone so he came down for a quick two day visit. John also brought along his two sons, TJ (3.5 years old) and Jeremiah (9 months old).

It isn't a secret that I love kids and I have been looking forward to them coming. Unlike John's last visit, we didn't take on any major computer projects. This round was just catching up and keeping the
kids happy. Jeremiah just started crawling a few weeks ago and happily explored all over the house. I quickly learned that our baby proofing was nowhere near adequate, but he survived without any lasting injuries.

One of Jeremiah's favorite activities was pulling himself up on the side of my chair. This is pretty typical of kids his age around me and I'm happy to be a jungle gym. However, Jeremiah moved on around and decided to also use my feet and legs as climbing posts.

The first few times he did this I was certain my legs would kick from the touching and send him back to the floor. Much to my thankful surprise, they never even twitched. The next dozen or more times this happened, I never had any spasms at all. Normally, with him grabbing on and pulling himself up on my legs, they would jump all over. Thankfully, they were fine every single time. This also included him crawling over me when I was sitting in bed showing off fancy toys like my mouth stick and floss pick.

Times like these show that just when I think I know how my body will react to certain situations, it proves me wrong. The next time I'm around a crawling critter that takes interest in my legs could be completely different, but I'm thankful for the results this time and look forward to another visit.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Every year we set aside a special day to celebrate mothers. It is an important role that God has allowed millions of women to hold over the centuries and it can't be honored enough.

I'm very fortunate to have been given my mom. Even though she was injured in the same accident as I was, she still does so much. Despite near constant pain in various joints in her legs, mom cares for dad and I every day.

My current funding for nurses requires very careful paperwork in keeping track of everyone's hours for each day, week, and month. Mom spends multiple days a week working on it as well as regular house finances.

Most important though, is mom's love for God. I remember late nights when I was little of mom and I reading from my children's Bible before bed. Sometimes vent tubes and all for time on her lap even. It is through the early years of learning about God and His love for me that have lasted my life. I sometimes think I see a little of God's love reflected in mom's actions toward those around her. Especially when we stay up until very early morning hours with no nurse.

Unfortunately, I know not every family is like mine and think of Mother's Day as just something to get through. If a person's mother has passed on, this is a day that can have a flood of emotions in all directions.

There are times I wish I could make my mom a grandmother. I know she would do well with grand kids and help train them up in the Lord. That hasn't been God's plan for our lives though, so we continue to serve as we can.

Give thanks for all mom's in your life today. They have a difficult job that sometimes is harder than it appears. The years I've been given with my mother are greatly cherished and I thank God for yet another blessing He has given me.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Outreach Burn

This past weekend was perfect weather in Iowa with sunny skies and temps topping out in the upper 60's and low 70's. It's the kind of day that feels cool in the shade, but great in the sun. It was also a great opportunity to meet and talk with people.

Thursday through Saturday was Tulip Time in Pella. The excellent weather and several beds of tulips made for large crowds attending the Dutch festival. On Thursday and Friday I volunteered a few hours at a new gospel outreach stand. It wasn't nearly as busy as being at the fair last summer, but there were still plenty of opportunities to share.

The first day was a short shift to kind of get a feel for how the stand worked and how I could best help. My assistant and I mainly handed out gospel tracts and little information sheets as people walked past. Several kids were thrilled to receive a million dollar bill and show off to their friends.

Friday was a longer stent and with my regular day help out ill, I had dad as my backup. It took a bit of training, but he was catching on to what to do by the time my shift was up. I talked with a few missionaries that were glad to see me out active. A retired couple from Missouri had just started reading through the Bible for the first time and were glad they started. Everyone I had was eager to talk and glad to see the new booth being active.

Unfortunately, I didn't watch out enough for my own needs. After Thursday, we noticed strips of red on my arms where they were exposed to the sun. On Friday and Saturday, I was glowing with sunscreen on my face, arms, and legs, but I forgot about one spot. When washing my hair Sunday morning I realized my scalp received more sun than I thought in a few spots and is now sore to touch. Living the quad life doesn't make me immune to thinning hair lines apparently.

I'm thankful that I was able to get out and I pray that the contacts that were made will have eternal benefit for everyone. This week looks to be a busy one again with doctors and, unfortunately, a hair cut that could be interesting.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monthly Emergency

A few years ago I saw several advertisements for a cell phone service called Safe Link. It was advertised as free for people that have state sponsored health insurance (like me) and could be used in an emergency.

At that time I would maybe borrow my nurse's cell phone once every couple months when we were out somewhere, but that's all I ever needed. There was no reason I would need to get a cell phone plan and have monthly expenses, so I thought it sounded like a good deal for my needs.

The phone came and as I expected, it was a very basic older generation phone with capabilities of just voice and text. Unfortunately, it didn't have a place to attach a head set, so I had to have someone hold it or put it on speaker and sit it on my table. For rare usage though, it served the purpose. After about two years the phone upgraded, but it was just the newer version with same capabilities of the old version. It's what should I expect for a free phone though.

Last month I ran into one of the problems with the service. I was notified that I needed to use it more or the phone would be discontinued. The service is advertised as to be used in emergencies, but it has to be used for at least one minute every month. Therefore, I guess I'm supposed to have monthly emergencies that I need to call for assistance.

I'm thankful for this type of service that I can use as needed. If it had a way I could use it hands free, or just with my stick, I think it would get much more use. It is good to use to call for pizza every week at least. Hopefully it will never have to be used for the purpose it was intended. However, I never quite know what to expect in the quad life.

This coming week should be a busy one again. Thankfully today's cold and rain should be stopping soon and make for a good time to be out. Until then, I'll see what calls I can figure out to make!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Be Prepared

I like spring with outdoor temps going up, flowers blooming, and the world turning green again. It's like the world is waking up and preparing for a new year of growth. It also means my schedule starts to fill up more.

Last August, I volunteered at the Iowa State Fair to work in the Ark Encounter booth. I received an email a few weeks ago looking for volunteers again this coming summer. I am currently on for two days, instead of three as last year, and look forward to the opportunity. There will also be a booth at Pella's Tulip Time this year that I hope to also volunteer with.

Tulips in 2016
In preparation for these potential times, I have started reviewing some of my books again. I started with an overview of different common world religions and how to work with these followers. In 2009 I took several online classes through Answers in Genesis. However, one more is required for volunteers at the fair.

Review is always good, especially on items you don't get to use much. Most of everything in the lessons has been very familiar, but I still try to go through the videos and most of the articles. I have been working on it since Wednesday evening and just passed my quiz for lesson five. I'm doubting I'll get all 15 done in a week, but it may be a possibility.

1 Peter 3:15 says to always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks. I can't begin to know everything, and never will, but I can always prepare for common questions. Before August's volunteer time, I will be looking for a small portable microphone to use so people can hear me better.

I will see what this last week of April brings in The Quad Life and try to be prepared for whatever God has in store.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

Last night, thunderstorms rolled through central Iowa. As I laid in bed finishing my night routine, I could see flashes of light through the blinds that lit up the entire sky. A short while later the rain began to fall.

With flashing light, thunder, wind, hail, and rain I could hear the storm beat against the house. One wave ended, then the next began again. Eventually the sky again grew calm and only the dark of night was again outside my window. Spring and summer storms are an excellent display of God's power in His creation. However, this is nothing compared to what happened about 2,000 years ago on Easter Sunday.

After the Crucifixion, Jesus' body was laid in the grave, but it could not hold him. On that first Easter the ground shook as death was conquered. Hardened Roman soldiers who trained killers fainted at the sight of the angels who came to proclaim the news, "He is Risen!"

Unlike the storms we experience today, this awesome power of God did not fade away and leave the world as it was before. Jesus' gift to conquer death is free for all who will take it and are truly repentant of their sins.

Just like a flash of lightening is seen by everyone around, the results of Christ's death and resurrection were shown by those with open eyes. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were added to the church. Following the spread of the gospel through the book of Acts, the numbers grew daily of those who were being saved.

On this Easter Sunday, don't wait too until it's too late to except this gift. Our life is like a flicker of light that is here one instant, then gone. Living in this world has its storms, but they are nothing compared to the joy to come for those who believe.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1/3 of History

April 2017 is the centennial year for the field of occupational therapy (OT). A lot of progress has been made in the last 100 years to help people be able to function in the world around them. The scary part though is that I've been part of OT for nearly a third of its existence.

When I was injured in 1985, there wasn't much technology available for a young child with a high spinal cord injury. I remember very few sessions of being taught how to use a mouth stick. My primary learning technique was just doing something. If I wanted to play, then my only choice was to use the stick. God gave me a mind that is tuned to physics and mechanics, so I tend to pick up quickly how things function. I learned how to manipulate Legos so that I could build multiple levels high with very little, if any, help from my nurses. My dad is also mechanically minded and built a couple great systems for me to play with my farm toys.

School was another area that I felt like a guinea pig. I remember trying out several different devices to indicate I was raising my hand. Ultimately, I went with a flashlight I could activate with a switch on my head rest. After a few years of using though, I just ended up shaking my head or raising my stick if I was using it.

Hand splints have been another area of development. They started out by taking a type of foam and plastic hybrid, heating it until it was pliable, then forming it to my hands. After several months they would start to crack and the Velcro would lose its adhesiveness then the process would start over again. Now, we measure my hand size and order a splint online and it lasts for a few years.

Wheelchair development, exercise equipment and techniques, and new ways of communication are all other parts I've seen the field advance in my lifetime. In another 25-50 years, what we think is advanced today will likely seem very basic and primitive.

We live in a world that is deformed due to sin. As a result, the need for assistance continues to increase. I'm thankful God has given us the tools and knowledge to help with physical challenges that would otherwise make the world inaccessible. If you happen to know anyone involved in this area, please be sure to give thanks for what they do and for the things it has enabled to be done.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

RT Experience

Every day of the quad life, I use different items to do every task. In order to type this, I use a mouth stick. For getting around anywhere other than my bed, I utilize my wheelchair. Finally, every minute of every day, I use mechanical support for breathing.

After more than three decades of using these tools, I have gained a bit of experience with them and everyday life. I have been able to help college students in the fields of physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), emergency management services (EMS), nursing, and now respiratory therapy (RT).

My first RT class was Wednesday. I have been working to speak to this class for a few years and it thankfully worked this year. There were about 30 students from a combined two classes all stuffed into one room. After going over my basic history, I was able to cover my years of using the traditional ventilator as well as now with the diaphragm pacemaker and trach button.

Just like with the other classes, I'm hoping to make this an annual visit. With the OT and PT classes, I feel like I provide them with some useful help, but this class felt like much more. With the other professions, my use of technology is pretty basic compared to what's available in their fields. However, for RT I do now use more diverse options that not everyone gets to experience.

With the insurance uncertainties, I didn't contact very many schools to try to get scheduled this spring. The school I was at this week also offers several other medical degrees that I hope to be able help. However, I didn't want to get scheduled and then have to back out if my availability changed.

Sometimes wanting to do more and being unsure of what I will be able to do gets annoying. Through it all, I'm continuing to learn to step out and be active and trust God's plan will happen no matter what. The start of April looks to be slow for now, but that could always change with a few emails. I will wait to see what another week brings.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

STOP

I don't know about everyone else, but always being a passenger in a vehicle means I get to look around more. However, since I typically just go to the same destinations all the time, I don't see much of anything new. One I do pay particular interest to is stop signs.

Several years ago I read an article that said when you see a stop sign. think of it as saying a Special Time Of Prayer. Therefore, I've been getting into the habit of praying when we get to these signs. When I do my weekly bike rides, we go past two signs on the way in and the same when departing.

When driving around a hospital in downtown Des Moines, it's not too much of a challenge to think of items for prayer. I've been a patient several times and know what it's like, so that is a common concern. Doctors and nurses can't do anything without the great physician's healing hand that He gave everyone, so they are another source for a sign.

As we pull out of the rehab parking lot, the view is directly on to the building of my insurance provider. I'm thankful to report answered prayer in that my nursing should be covered when my policy switches on April 1. They may change that decision after it goes into effect, but I can give thanks for current news at least.

For the past few years that I have been watching for traffic signs, it has really made me think of all the things to bring up in prayer. Some locations turn into blocks and blocks of communication, but I think it's a good habit to get into.

This is something that's easy to do in the quad life, but anyone can get into a S.T.O.P. prayer time. If you're driving though, the cars behind you may start praying you move. As we finish the last week of March, I'm looking forward to spring coming in full force and see what the new month will bring.