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


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.