Sunday, February 5, 2023

Editing Again, but Slowly

According to my computer, I started working on writing my autobiography in November 2018. It feels like I started before that, but it maybe just seems longer than I think. At any case, I have been working on writing and editing it for a few years. Early last month, after shopping for self-publishers, I sent my work to a publisher. This week, she gave it back with the first round of edits.

When I started college, I was told I would need to learn to use voice dictation software because my papers would be too long for me to write by stick. I think I attempted using the software for about two weeks before admitting defeat and using my trusty mouth stick. Even though it spanned a few years, I was thankful to be able to write all 300+ pages of this book with my regular tools. Unfortunately, I can see already that editing will be a harder process.

I can use a keyboard for several hours in various positions without having much of an issue. However, operating the mouse takes more pressure and precise movement. These actions make my mouth sore quickly and I avoid as much mouse work as I can. I have learned several keyboard shortcuts for my regular tasks, but it's not always an option. Book editing is one of those times keyboard alone doesn't work.

The copy I received used something called track changes. Word documents any changes someone made to a document and then another person can accept, reject, the adjustments or make more. Unfortunately, every change requires at least one mouse click and often more. Since receiving the edited version three days ago, I have covered 28 of 311 pages and my mouth was telling me to slow down after the first day.

Living the quad life, I have many items I need assistance with. The little I can do independently, like run a computer, I make sure to do on my own. Now I'm debating to take a very slow process to do everything on my own, delaying publication, or ask for some help. I will likely take another week or two decide on some type of hybrid compromise. It's my own fault for not asking for an alternative editing option, but I have no idea what that would be.

I'm used to doing tasks slower than my peers, so this won't be any different. I do look forward to completing this project though, however long it may take.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Scratchy Barefoot Preacher

I have had my YouTube channel, The Quad Life, for a few years. The intention of it was to show life as a quadriplegic and how I do things. For more than a year, that plan worked well and I demonstrated what life is like. However, I sit in bed in my room most of the time and each week isn't much different from the rest. Therefore, without redoing what I have already done, I ran out of material. I still cover changes like returning to a trach, but that kind of thing is thankfully rare.

Therefore, I started a new series on my channel that I call the Barefoot Preacher. So far, I have released three videos that cover an introduction and a few basics of Christianity. It isn't much different from previous preaching series I've done, but I hope for it to be more of a long-term goal.

Unlike previous Bible themed content, I have more of a plan to cover some of the problems going on in society, comparing major world religions and so on. If nothing else, it's good practice to keep my preaching skills active while I'm not visiting churches. However, I am noticing a change in myself I don't like.

Saturday, I was editing a short preaching video and added text for the viewer to read while I read from the Bible. I have done enough videos to be familiar with my own voice and I noticed yesterday I am much scratchier than I have been in the past. I'm also pausing longer when taking a breath which makes it harder to follow what I'm saying, even for me.

Right now, all I have scheduled for spring is speaking at a school's morning chapel service. I sent messages out on Friday to schedule school visits, but don't have anything planned. With every day that passes, it seems like I'm noticing more trouble with breathing and therefore speech. I think I may need to concentrate more on going back to a trach button before doing a lot of public speaking.

No matter what happens in the quad life, I know God is in control. Moses had trouble speaking and God used him to free the Israelites. Paul also spoke with trembling lips, but was used to greatly spread the good news of Christ. I'll pray for an improvement in God's time and maybe learn not to be as particular on how I'm speaking and more to what I'm saying.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Finally Updating

I have heard an old saying that, "the cobbler's children go barefoot." It is implied that the person who made footwear in a town was so busy working for other people, that his own family was ignored. My theory is that the cobbler knew shoes were bad for children's feet and he therefore didn't have his kids wear them. However, that's generally not the point of the saying.

For over two decades, I have worked on websites for a variety of clients. Some major changes are coming this summer in site tracking, so I warned a few of my clients with older designs that we will need to update their sites. While I want my client's sites to be the best they can be, guess which site I neglect. If you guessed my own, you're correct. My personal site, joelvm.com, is fairly current with modern programming. However, my work site is very outdated and needs major work before summer as well.

Last week, I started to work on updating my site and see what I could use from the existing design in the new. In this process, I realized I had pricing listed from 2013 and affiliations with companies I haven't worked with in years. Therefore, I took off some of the irrelevant material and just made it more generic for a temporary fix.

With constructing my new site, I'm also teaching myself different plugins, or software, that allows for more customization. I have used it once before for a client that requested it, but it's still a learning curve. That has slowed down my progress as well as the ever-present up/down cycle that limits my time I can work. I'm hoping to finish my project before a client is ready to start their redesign, but I am not confident that will happen.

Daily health also has been an added challenge. My trach area continues be sore if I lay wrong and my lungs still have a lot more congestion. However, while biking on Friday, my legs pedaled on their own for nearly 10.5 minutes. My record so far is around 11 minutes, so it was a nice surprise to see.

Such is the quad life sometimes. I have many things going on at once and I have to prioritize time to each item. I'll see what the last full week of January brings, but I hope it's more progress and not added projects.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Good Practice or Consuming Thought

I have had a Facebook profile for several years. I used to share a lot of pictures and updates on my activities, but now I rarely do. That is mostly due to privacy violations that have occurred in the platform, but I share plenty of my life on here and YouTube already. Therefore, I primarily only post Scriptures passages on my timeline. This year, I decided to do an extra challenge.

Somewhere around late November to early December, I was unable to sleep and had random thoughts going through my head. This is when I got the idea to post verses whose reference corresponds with the date. Such on January 1, or 1/1, I posted Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. I started planning for the challenge a few weeks before the end of 2022, but only figured out the first week of the year by the time January came.

Since then, I have found myself constantly looking for passages that will work for the year. The chapter has to be 12 or less and verse 31 or lower. Whenever I'm doing my morning or evening reading, I have a type of radar for verse references. It also goes on when doing our family devotions at supper and while listening to preaching at church.

If I'm not by my computer, I continue to review the verse coordinates in my head, have someone write it on a note, or use my Amazon Echo to remind me. I am starting to become so attuned to looking at locations and remembering what months need help, I sometimes miss what is actually being read or taught. When I record a passage to use, I often wonder if something else would be better and keep looking for more. I even have my mother helping with the project and I get emails from her daily devotional as well.

When this endeavor is complete, I think it will have been enjoyable. For now though, I need to remind myself not to get distracted from hearing God's Word while working to share it more with others. Hopefully by the end of January, I will get in a good routine and always rely on God's guidance.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Tiring Week

The first week of the year has started off quite slow with challenges. Unfortunately, I continue having a lot of congestion in my lungs even a full month after returning to a trach. 

I have had to suction more often and try to clear my lungs on my own as much as possible. It's a fine balance of deciding what to try in order not to make my lungs sore. Suctioning is generally faster, but can take several tries to get the correct area. Clearing on my own can take quite a while and a lot of tiring work, if possible at all.

Tuesday, I had planned to ride my bike and record a video. Unfortunately, with lung and stomach issues, I ended up staying in bed all day working on health issues. The change in plans did help me get first of the month billing and paperwork complete at least. Thankfully, by the time my day caregiver left at5:00, I was feeling better.

On Friday, I did get to take a bike ride after more than a week off. For the last several sessions, my legs have been quite active. On my last run of 2022, they pedaled on their own for nearly eight minutes. I was quite impressed that I burned an entire calorie with combining about three rides. On this week's ride though, they didn't get up to three minutes.

It has been 7.5 years since I started using the FES bike. I'm very thankful for the improvements it has given in my muscles, circulation, and pressure sores. However, I have yet to figure out why my legs will do more one time than another. The settings are always the same and my daily routine doesn't really change either. Whatever the cause, it is great seeing my body doing some work with my own muscles.

For 2023, I gave myself a challenge of posting a daily Bible verse on social media that corresponds with the date (such as Genesis 1:1 for 1/1). It has gone well this week and will be a fun exercise that has gone well so far. I'll see what another week brings, but I hope it will be more energetic with easier breathing.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Welcome 2023

Today starts another year, a fresh start for another 365 days. For me, the day started with church and beginning a new annual Bible reading plan. For many, it also is a time to start exercise plans or various other goals that for some reason needed to wait until January 1. In the early chapters of Genesis, people lived 700 to over 900 years old. I somewhat doubt they had hundreds of times they wanted to start something new with each year.

However, a new year is not always a joyous time for everyone. It can be the beginning of a year without a close friend or loved one. I like to take the time to reflect on what God allowed me to do in the previous year and what to repeat, or avoid, for another year.

Virtual foot writing
This was the first year I visited with an elementary school virtually. For various reasons, I don't get to as many grade schools as I used to, and I miss it. I love working with kids and this venture was a fun addition and I was able to teach the students about different abilities. I have breached the possibility of doing it again this year, but I'll have to see if it works out.

In 2022, CHAMP Camp had its first in-person camp since 2019. It had strict restrictions on who could attend, and alumni campers were not on the list. I slightly considered trying it this year, but I recently learned it is requiring some shots that I can't take. Therefore, it looks like my camp retirement will be staying permanent.

Last year also hit a new record for preaching, 12 times in seven months. I have started preparing a couple new sermons, but don't know how many congregations I'll get to visit. A church I visited several times in 2021 never asked me to come in 2022, so I will wait and see.

Whatever happens in this year, I know that God is in control. I can't guess what will occur, but I pray I can serve Him wherever I am. Have a great year ahead and I look forward to continuing to write each week!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas day, one of the few times of year most stores are closed and churches have an influx of people. This is also the day that children anticipate and look forward to opening gifts. Unfortunately, the real significance of this celebration has become obscure.

All throughout the Old Testament, we read foreshadows and prophecies of a coming Messiah. Reading the gospels, especially early chapters of Matthew and Luke, we see the birth of Jesus fulfilled everything that was foretold. He then lived, died, and rose again so that we may have the free gift of salvation. (Romans 6:23)

Receiving gifts at Christmas can be fun, but no toys, books, clothes, or even model trains, can come close to what we have been given in Christ. Objects we receive eventually wear down, break, or become less interesting over time. The birth of our Savior has no expiration date and has eternal blessings that will never fade.

Just like packages under a tree, God's gift doesn't require any amount of works or payment to be received. If we worked or paid for something; it is an obligation, not a gift. We cannot work to cover our sins and attempt pay off our sin debt. God gave us what we could never get on our own as the ultimate gift.

Stores start offering Christmas sales, and decorations, almost in mid-summer. We forget that this day is not about what we can receive, but what we were given 2,000 years ago. All who repent of their sins (lying, theft, adultery, blaspheming, etc.) and trust in Christ alone for salvation have received His ultimate gift.

As we go throughout the year ahead, let us not forget what has been given to us. It isn't just for one day either, but for eternity. Lights and decorations may not be up, but we can celebrate this Christmas gift every day and tell others how to receive it as well. Merry Christmas!