Sunday, September 17, 2023

Message Review

Last week, I spoke at a church in Sully, IA. Speaking at church isn't new, but this was a special rededication service that combined two congregations into one. It was a unique experience that I wasn't sure what to expect.

I was initially asked to give the message for this service in early spring. I wasn't very sure what speakers usually covered, but I immediately had half a sermon come to mind. Instead of going to bed at my regular time, I took about 20 minutes to write what was in my head so I may remember later.

As the months passed, different ideas came to mind, but usually in the middle of the night. In August, I got serious about preparing and started writing my message. When I got to page four and wasn't finished, I knew I had to restart. I began from scratch and did get a shorter message, but it still wasn't right. With advice from my mentor who helped me get my license, I did something new. Instead of completely writing what I would say, I just wrote my verse references and some notes for ideas and left it general.

While starting to review, I was also asked to do the children's service. I remembered a message I had given where I talked about Moses and had kids leave their shoes on stage. It would help supplement the service, so that is what I used.

On the day of the service, I navigated to the council room for a quick meeting and pray for guidance. Heading back to the main worship area, I passed an overflow seating area that looked pretty full. Sitting on the stage, I had a full main seating area looking at me as well as a side wing. Guessing by the gospel tracts distributed, there were around 500 people in attendance.

The message went well, looking at dedicating ourselves to God no matter the circumstances. I went over my allotted time, but I had good feedback from several people. It was a unique service, but I'm thankful God used me to give His Word at this service. Currently, I have three more services scheduled for this year, but don't have time for many more before winter.

As for quad life items, minor health challenges continue. I have two doctor's appointments scheduled this week and will need to have a small surgery soon as well. Thankfully, work is slow and I can concentrate on health needs. I will see what another week brings!

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Completed Book Project

Over the years, I've had many different projects. In school, I always had assignments that increased in complexity as the years progressed. After college and starting work, I had new projects of web development that continue through today. I also have continuous work of sermon preparation (such as today) and life needs. However, one that has taken a lifetime of research is now complete.

I don't exactly remember when I started my autobiography, but I believe it was around 2018. Since then, I have been writing as I had time and jogging my memory through pictures, interviews, journals, and just thinking back. Some memories have been pleasant to recall, but others were very hard and I struggled to even write them. However, I thought my times of extreme struggle and wondering why I was still around may help others.

Since January, I have been working with an editor to make text changes as well as various suggestions to keep interest. As it progressed, we worked on cover design, wording for different aspects, and interior design. Each step also required approval along with adjustments of pictures and other points.

After nearly five year's of work, it is finally finished. This past Friday, it went available on Amazon for purchase. The paperback version came first, followed by electronic, and hard cover will be coming soon. I like that I can make small text edits any time I want and they can be uploaded to correct future purchases.

Part of me is excited to be finished, but I'm also unsure. I keep questioning if it was worth the effort or if only a few family and friends will find it interesting. Time will tell how it will go and promotion is completely up to me. After all versions are available, I may promote it further, but not sure.

My new question is; now what? I don't want to waste free time on superfluous activities like games or YouTube. I have had another writing project in mind, but not sure if I want to start it immediately. I'm thankful for the quad life God has given me and that I will continue to live remembering to trust in Him.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Toys Collection and Moving

It is Labor Day weekend, a time when families take one last trip before fully diving into school and the unofficial end to summer. Many people look forward to a break from labor, but my family has been laboring to get ready for this weekend.

My paternal grandfather died in 2019, just before Thanksgiving. Since then, grandma has remained living in their house out in the country. Recently, she looked at an apartment at a retirement home in town and decided it was time to move on Labor Day. Therefore, my family has been helping her go through the house she has lived in for nearly 60 years and decide what to take. Part of the process has also meant going through grandpa's things, including his toy collection.

Like most boys growing up in rural Iowa, I played with toy farm equipment and semis. Up through high school, I was in a competition with grandpa on who had what trucks. I had a few he didn't, but he also made sure I got a few special ones while they were still available. Of course, grandpa's collection far exceeded mine and nearly filled an entire room of their house. That room has hardly been touched since 2019, until now.

Dad and I looked through the expansive number of trucks and tractors that were on display. Several of them invoking memories of grandpa and our light-hearted competition. My uncles and cousins had taken a couple items already, and I picked about a dozen trucks to take. However, it hardly made a dent in the number that remain. I would gladly take any my family didn't want, but why?

Sometimes reality hits hard, and different seasons of life often do that. Since I don't have a family, I don't have children to pass memories down to. I am also limited on what funds I can have, so working on selling some items also wouldn't be good. However, the house itself is also a memory and reminder.

Just a few miles out of town, and a nice distance from the main road, it's an ideal location. I would love to be able to move in, live in the country, and help at the farm. Next weekend, grandma's neighbor is auctioning off his farm equipment and many acres of land. In my dreams, I imagine buying the land and operating my own farm, along with my family's adjoining fields.

God's plan for my life is a completely different path. I am thankful for what I have been given, even when reality is hard. I will continue to have memories, and see what my cousins do with the house and land going forward. Now, I need to finalize everything for preaching next week, and the tasks God has given me.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Hot Week, Outside and Inside

I'm not sure if it's age, or just part of being a long-term quadriplegic, but this summer has seemed to be full of health challenges. My trach button has been an ongoing issue since early July. It's doing okay, but I think I will be revisiting further options. However, that's not the area I'm watching.

July 13 was the day I returned to a trach button, but the morning started with an ultrasound of my kidneys and bladder. This isn't an unusual check, but one I haven't had since 2019. It's usually fine, but this time showed bladder stones as well as possible swelling of one kidney and a nick (or something) on the other.

One test therefore leads to another test for better pictures. Unfortunately, paperwork confusion and insurance approvals delayed testing until this coming Thursday, August 31. After that, it will be a procedure, more tests, or both! While I wait on testing, my body gets annoyed. Stones are a good source of infection as well as irritation.

I took in a test last Monday, to the hospital's confusion, and finally got results Friday and started an antibiotic that night. All week I have felt like I'm a small furnace as well as being tired and having no appetite. In addition, I had a rash start under one leg that spread to the top and continued up my back.

The skin problem was familiar to a previous time, so I used medicine I had on hand and it has nearly cleared up. My night nurse noticed the antibiotic is related to one I'm allergic to, but hope it will work. A few hours after my second dose Saturday morning, I noticed I was having trouble concentrating or forming sentences. That was a side effect and big problem with a med marked as an allergy, so I hope it passes.

Thankfully, I could stay home most of this past week. A few days had temps over 100 with heat indexes even higher. It was an interesting week in the quad life and I hope for calmness ahead.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

A Fair Visit for 2023

Since 2016, I have been volunteering at the Ark Encounter Gospel Outreach booth at the Iowa State Fair. Each year has different experiences, and this one did not miss out.

My first day was Friday, August 11. Weather in Iowa in August varies, but it was a hot day with temps predicted to be around 90°. My caregiver and I got setup with my self-contained microphone, gospel tracts, and I parked in my favorite corner.

The day started out well with a child taking my first tract of the day. I somewhat turn into a salesman mode and I call out to people who have unique shirts. A few guys had Jurassic Park shirts and I called them out as needing a dinosaur. I directed them to the dinosaur tracts under my hand and got a smile from each.

One longer encounter was with a couple who had visited the Ark Encounter once before. We talked about the ark being to the biblical dimensions and really affirming the historicity of the Bible, and that Noah had plenty of room for the animal kinds. It was a pleasant conversation and represented most of what the day was like.

Going home, the van was very hot after sitting in the parking lot. It doesn't cool off very well and stayed hot the full hour home. I was overheated and had a temp of 102.4° when I got out of my chair. Thankfully, cold washcloths and fans cooled me off quickly.

My next fair day was Thursday, August 17. It was a gorgeous day outside and traffic by the booth wasn't very busy. It was nearly 30 minutes before I gave out my first tract, but the challenge of the day would come later.

Just before 11:00, an older man with a green shirt approached and briefly looked at the television near me. I asked my common question, "Have you heard about the ark?" My quandary received a response that the ark was structurally impossible to build. For the next 20 minutes, at least, he and I went back and forth on several lines of topics.

Part of the challenge was defining a word. I asked if he was a good person, and the response was what does good mean? I gave the second dictionary definition of morally perfect, but his answer was that the meaning of words are always changing and I couldn't say what it really meant.

Even with his unwillingness to agree to much of anything, I got in twice that we need to repent of sins and turn to Jesus alone for forgiveness. Even though he denied Jesus' existence, I kept providing evidences from various sources. Thankfully, conversation was cordial the entire time and he said he respected my opinion.

One of the other volunteers talked with me later and said this is the third year this same person has visited the booth. The first year, he had been very vocal with inappropriate language, he was calmer last year, and came to me this time. At least he has had three year's of the gospel being given him and I pray he softens his heart and comes to Jesus for forgiveness while he has time.

This was the last year that Answers in Genesis will sponsor the booth. It has now moved to a local group that I have worked with, but will need to raise a lot of funds to keep going to the fair. I also pray this ministry will be able to continue.

After my shifts, I didn't have much time to explore the fairgrounds. With my caregiver's schedule and health, I had about one hour remaining each day. I didn't see much, but was still thankful for the opportunity. Hopefully I can return again, but I'll see what happens in the quad life.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

So Much with So Little

Those who are self-employed talk frequently about times of feast or famine. In other words, times of plenty of work vs. times with little work. Technically, I work for mother's business, but it's basically the same thing. The last few months have been blessed with a lot of work, and falling behind.

I advertise my web development services very little. The only promoting I do is listing the business name at the bottom of my client's sites. It's a practice most web developers do and I just follow the trend. Formal advertising is also expensive, plus I'm not allowed to have much income. Therefore, I am thankful for what work I have been provided.

With all that said, this has been a busy summer for site work. A few of my existing clients have had their sites redesigned and I also gained a new client. The new client has an existing site with different functions and it took time to see who had access to everything. After I started building the new look, it went well. The largest part of the project is nearly complete and I hope the site will be live to the public by the end of August. Once this site is complete, I have at least one more that needs to be made completely from scratch.

For most people, the projects I'm working on would go quickly and be done in a few weeks. However, I continue to only sit for 60-90 minutes and then be flat for 1.5-2 hours. This is better than I used to do, but it is still a short time period. In addition to web work, I have also had sermon preparation, work on my autobiography, health maintenance, and several meetings with a disability advocacy group.

Friday was my first of two times at the Iowa State Fair (next week's topic). It was a hard day and I was glad to get home. However, when dad changed my wound dressing Saturday, my skin had a large tear in the area. Therefore, I really need to decrease my time sitting and stay flat even more. This has also been a recurring them this summer.

It can easily get frustrating with setbacks and not being able to do everything I would like. Unfortunately, it's part of the quad life and I know that God allows good times as well as testing. This week's fair trip may be even shorter than my first, but I still can serve God and speak to others.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Reading, Writing, and Watering

Once again, I had the house to myself this week. Unlike last time, I didn't have any appointments and could actually enjoy the at-home vacation. However, that didn't mean I wasn't busy with something.

For household chores, I needed to make sure to get the mail and water plants every day. It became a routine that my evening caregiver would start the shift by getting me in my chair. We then did our chores before biking and having supper. The schedule adjusted depending on day-time help, but it worked pretty well.

Biking continued to be odd early in the week. Tuesday morning, I was half asleep while my regular morning exercises were done. Working with my left leg, my caregiver and I heard a small pop, likely around the hip. We were concerned, but everything felt and moved fine. Later in the day, biking went much better than it had been. At the end of the week, after ten sessions in a row, my legs did very well with pedaling over seven minutes. We guessed my hip may have been slightly out of joint and caused the earlier reactions, but we don't know for certain.

Sermon text notes
Sermon Notes
My book that has been in progress for several years is very close to completion. I recently received it in PDF format with the internal layout complete. Since this is the final phase before printing, I was told to proof everything again and to have someone new read as well. Even with editing multiple times, both my publisher and I, several errors have come up. I don't know how they have been missed, but I have noted each one and what needs changed. I am about 25% of the way through and am finding fewer as I go. I'm hoping to have it out by early September, but I'm starting to doubt it will happen.

Also this week, I got to prepare for the sermon I gave this morning. It was a recycled message, but in a different environment from the previous presentation. My "notes" consisted of the Scripture I was reading and very little else. I may have had half a line available for text in a few spots without going to a third page of notes which would no longer fit on a music stand.

I was very thankful for the calm week while working on different projects. Having a busy quad life is fun, but it's also good to adjust and take on different responsibilities for a short time.