Sunday, August 14, 2022

Cell phone trip?

Friday was my first of two mornings volunteering at the Iowa State Fair in the Ark Encounter booth. I have been at the booth for several years, but I noticed something more this time than any time before.

At 9:00, a plethora of volunteers were at the booth and we all took different locations to park. As everyone moved around during conversations and leaving for breaks, I eventually migrated to my favorite corner and continued watching people stream by and who I could reach out to. Watching a sea of faces, I saw a very high number only looking down at their cell phone and texting.

Granted, the building I am in primarily has sales persons pedaling anything under the sun. After so many hot tubs, cookware, and other items you can't live without, it's easy to zone out and just walk along. However, you can at least look up and see where you're walking and enjoy being out of your regular environment.

Last year, I'm sure some of the same was happening, but I don't remember it as much. After missing the fair in 2020, I think everybody was glad to be out and wanted to fully experience the fair fun again. Unfortunately, society quickly forgets the past and to not take anything for granted.

After my shift, I found an easy place for lunch and saw more heads pointed down at phones while sitting and eating fair food. It was then my time to explore the fair, but I only had about an hour to do so before I needed to leave. Sara was also having trouble walking, so we didn't look around very much. For the time I had, I did not look at any electronic device while I did meander.

Whatever you have going on this week, make sure to take the time and enjoy what you get to do. No matter if it's in the quad life or not, it can quickly be taken away and we can seriously miss what we chose not to see.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

What space is used?

A few nights ago, I was in my usual position of laying flat in bed and watching something on my computer. Looking off to my right, seeing the rest of my room, my mind started to wonder. I have all this space, but how much is actually utilized most of the time?

My bedroom is about 20x12, or 240 square feet. Part of that is taken up by the closet, but I have seven pieces of furniture and an office chair that consume floor space. When I'm in my chair, I do need room to get around as well as space to park so the lift, suspended from the ceiling, can be used to get me in and out of bed. The majority of the time though, my full concentration is on a 27" screen. Therefore, a lot of extra space is only used for short periods of time.

If everyone truly takes the time to consider this same scenario, many likely have a similar situation. Of course space is needed to get around and access whatever we use, but how often is it all needed? I'm just looking at indoor space in this scenario, outdoors is even more space.

Living in Iowa, I can easily see endless acres used for fields, which are used to feed people, livestock, and various other applications. That is a good use of land, but many other areas of the country, and world, sit open and are available for use (Montana, Wyoming, etc).

These are interesting things to ponder, but what's the lesson in it? God has given us a vast creation to enjoy His handiwork and study what He has created. We have also been commanded to fill the earth and subdue it. Many people try to say the earth is overpopulated and we can't support everyone, but it's not the case.

For those that live in large population centers, like New York, Las Angeles, Mexico City, Beijing, and others, I can understand their thinking. If you only see large buildings with small apartments stuffed into every space, it would seem over-crowded. However, the majority of the world is not like this and is quite open.

Therefore, the item to remember is that God knows what He has commanded and we have far to go to fill the earth. As you go throughout the week ahead, take time to see what area you actually use, and remember God has given it all for His glory and to serve His purposes.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Preaching to Self

When I'm witnessing to someone one-on-one, leading a church service, or making a video, it is easy to cover the Ten Commandments to show a need for salvation. However, some habits or personal actions also break the commands in ways we don't recognize as easily. Tonight, I'm scheduled to lead a church service and will be preaching on one of these common problems. With this message, I'm also preaching to myself as well as those listening.

James 3:1-12 (and more passages) talks about taming the tongue; that it is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue, we praise God as well as curse men who have been made in God's image (anyone). Directly or indirectly, we break at least six of the Ten Commandments by not holding our tongue. It is something a lot of people struggle with, and I'm not any better.

I know that when an accusation is directed toward me, or a blatantly false statement is made against God's Word, I am quick to respond. Instead of being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), I answer without always giving thought and may sin in my anger (Ephesians 4:26). It is a trait that I, and many people, need to constantly work on and continue to fight against.

Another item that is similar is the sin of pride. As I said earlier, when someone talks against me, pride in my heart want to lash out. A few nights ago, I finished reading the book of Job. Every time I read this part of the Bible, it reminds me of how pride can dwell within us. God said Job was a righteous man, but allowed him to be tested. As Job's friends talked with him, he demanded to speak with God and have Him answer Job's accusations. When God did speak with Job, he humbled himself and repented in dust an ashes.

As part of avoiding pride, I try not to promote myself as doing anything special. In truth, I'm not doing anything beyond what God has commanded all Christians. Therefore, it doesn't deserve to be mentioned or given special recognition for all to see. That's why I do very little advertising of my channels and some are surprised they even exist.

Throughout this week, and new month, I will try to follow what I have been given to preach. It is a part to learn in the quad life, but something I need to continue to work on.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Black Button

For the last few months, I have been having trouble with my trach button putting out a lot of junk. I have written about it earlier, but once again had it looked at this week.

Tuesday afternoon, I went to see my ENT in Des Moines. Even though testing said I didn't have an infection in the area, I still wondered if that was the problem. When I saw the doctor and repeated what has been happening and my thoughts, he was certain the issue is coming from granulation tissue. That is small skin growth, or skin tags, around the button trying to close the hole and response to the plastic button.

I eat a lot of protein and take medication to promote skin growth in order to heal my pressure sores. Unfortunately, it appears a necessary hole in my skin is quicker to repair than the area I want to target.

This doctor is also knew to me, replacing my previous ENT who left to work over seas in 2021. Therefore, I try to emphasize my history and previous trouble with infection in the area. No matter my concerns, he took several swabs of silver nitrate to zap all skin tags, just as he did in May. This resulted in a black ring around my button that I was told not to touch for a few days. I would post a picture, but it wasn't a pleasant sight.

Returning home, I made sure to pass along the instructions to my next caregiver and wear a shirt with a very low neck. The treatment also made my neck, and throat, sore which made me try to minimize movement and speech as much as possible.

By Thursday, I allowed my button to gently be cleaned and remove the blackness. The area was still sore, but it looked better at least. It is now Saturday afternoon as I write this and it appears the treatment has helped some, but still not as much as I had hoped. I am scheduled to preach next Sunday and hope to wear one of my new shirts I recently purchased. However, I don't want neck gunk on it the first time it's worn.

Thankfully, I have been blessed with a very healthy quad life and have had relatively few problems. I know this is an issue other quadriplegics regular deal with, but I'm praying it will not become something that's a regular battle. I will see what God has planned and look to Him for whatever comes.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Job Prospect

Sometimes, I look around and dream of possibilities of how life could be different. Last week, I had a few minutes to fill between other activities and started looking around. I wish I hadn't, but the results did get my mind spinning in realms of "what if."

While on Facebook, I saw an advertisement from Answers in Genesis talking about job openings. If I ever was able to work anywhere again, this would be high on the list of organizations I would consider. I scrolled through the list of 102 openings and browsed the headlines. Most of them were seasonal needs for summer, but some were permanent positions in various departments. One opening near the end of the list caught my eye.

The title said it was an entry position for a content manager for the company's web presence. Clicking on it for further detail, it was like I was reading my own qualifications. Required education was a 2-year degree, which I have, and experience with HTML and CSS. The person would work with a content management system to get videos, pictures, and text on websites, social media, and various electronic platforms. In short, the exact thing I do for my clients already. However, the position is for full-time work, including some weekends, in northern Kentucky.

It has been nearly 20 years since I last worked full-time in a regular office environment. With the trouble I have with pressure sores and other issues, I know I can't physically work that much anymore. Also, due to using my dad's employer's insurance as well as Medicaid through Iowa, I am extremely limited in what I can earn. For example, if I lost my caregiver funding through Medicaid, that cost alone would be around $200 per day ($6,000/month).

I would love the opportunity to allow my parents to be free from having to provide so much for me, and be less reliant on government support. Unfortunately, the system basically requires me to stay just as I am with doing very little paid work. 

In any case, it's sometimes fun to dream and wonder. God has given me the quad life right where I am and I will serve Him wherever He leads me.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Double Preaching

Last week, I preached twice on the same day. In the morning, I was at a small church I served several times last year in Bussey, Iowa. For evening, I served a larger local church that had a small crowd due to the holiday.

When I was approached by these congregations, I was hesitant to agree to do both as I wondered if my voice could handle it and time commitment. However, I concluded I could use the same message at both churches and, from past experience, I only needed to handle the sermon. Therefore, I agreed to serve both congregations on July 3.

As I finished final preparations, I coordinated with the secretary of the local church on my material and presentation. When she gave me the bulletin preview the Monday before I preached, I noticed several blank spots. Asking about them, I then learned I was expected to do the entire service. I was thankful I had a few days to prepare, but wasn't sure if I could do it all. I adjusted my PowerPoint to include the welcome message and further notes and prayed it would go well. Emails late Saturday evening added further changes, but nothing too major.

Sunday morning, I woke up with a dry, slightly sore throat. I tried to stay as quiet as possible to save my voice, but soon sat in the now familiar congregation with a relaxed style of worship. I presented the message, "One Nation Under God," and thought it went pretty well. After lunch, I didn't do much more than watch YouTube and not use my voice.

After a few hours at home, I was again up in my chair and off to my next church. My throat was still sore, but thankfully not bad. As I sat waiting for the pianist to finish the prelude for me to start, I noticed the welcome message I provided wasn't on the screen. As I introduced myself after more than two years away, I still noticed my opening verses were not on the screen. Thankfully, I had written them in my notes, but I didn't have all my text recorded and needed the screen for my message.

I progressed through the first songs while wondering in my head how to manage if my passages didn't appear. Thankfully, as I started the message for the second time that day, the text came up on the screen. I briefly looked at my watch as I began preaching, and when I looked again another 20 minutes had elapsed. I ended up going about 13 minutes longer than the planned hour-long service, but nobody said anything to me.

All week, my throat has been a little sore in the morning, but has thankfully improved. I'm not sure I will agree to do two services in a day again, but it did okay. Currently, I only have one more church scheduled this month and one in late August. I'm thankful to get to be used for God's glory, but need to ease into doing more.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Juggling Week

This blog's tagline is about dealing with the unexpected. While that doesn't happen frequently anymore, this past week was full of unexpected events that needed to be handled in their own way.

Early Tuesday morning, my day nurse Sara called to say that she wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be able to come until later. Therefore, my night nurse got me up at 6:30 before he left. Getting up an hour earlier than usual, I slightly dozed through some YouTube while mom and I waited on Sara. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to come at all and dad stayed with me all day.

The caregiver switch went well though, as I put my legs in the sun while watching dad wash my van. We then ran the errands I had hoped to do that day and had a pleasant afternoon. Around 4:30, the phone rang again with my other day-time caregiver, Leah, on the line. She had an unexpected death in the family and wouldn't be able to work on Wednesday.

For the second day in a row, I got up early and had the day with mom. Dad came home from work as needed to help with my cares, but wasn't able to stay home again. Thankfully, a family friend was able to stay with me in the afternoon so mom could work in the basement. It was interesting spending time with a 15-year-old, but he did well.

Thursday, Sara worked a few hours as normally scheduled, but it still meant I had to get up early. I was thankful to see she was improving and looked forward to a regular day on Friday. Finally, the last day of the work week, I could sleep to my normal time. However, after three days of getting up early, I was still awake early.

As I went to take my first bike ride of the week, the tablet that controls the system needed to do an update. While waiting, I called my doctor about an issue I've been having and then had an early lunch. Two hours later, the bike was still updating, so I started getting setup to record a video for my YouTube channel. Just as we were finishing setup, my doctor called back and wondered if I could come in immediately as he could work me in the schedule. Sara put away my camera and we headed to the doctor.

By the time we returned, my bike had finally completed updates, but it was too late in the day to get on it. What I had hoped to get accomplished didn't happen and it turned into a very busy day of waiting and guessing.

The Bible says to not boast about tomorrow as you don't know what may come. In this week's quad life, the was very true. I'm hopeful that tomorrow's holiday and the remainder of the week goes well. However, I will wait to say plans until after they happen!