Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pre-Christmas Truckiing

It's not a secret that I don't get out much and interact with friends or the public in general. I have a few times a year I specifically go for gospel outreach and of course preaching. Beyond that, my social life is pretty limited. That's not uncommon for quadriplegics, but it also leads to unique interactions with people.

Starting in high school, my friend John and I played games together online. Sometimes we were in the same room and other times half a country apart. We had fun no matter the location and could chat together as friends do. When John's kids arrived, his family responsibilities took precedence and we have only played online games together a few times since. However, I haven't completely stopped socializing this way.

At least 4-5 times a week, I watch a gamer on Twitch that goes by DerTebbers. I have talked about him before as I usually enjoy what he, or his wife DasTebbers, are playing. He also has a number of other gamers that are friends and play similar content. One of the games they play is American Truck Simulator, a game I also enjoy.

Taking a rest for real world needs
Recent updates to the simulator have made it possible to join with other truckers and have a convoy. On Christmas Eve, Der invited fans to truck with him and his friends delivering virtual Christmas presents. I joined in on the convoy and drove along with them.

This was the third time I have joined a convoy with Der and his friends. They are aware I drive with a mouth stick and are patient when my truck gets behind the group. However, the friends are able to chat together through another program I don't use, so it isn't quite as social as John and I used to be.

I am the only Christian in the group, which makes me both hesitant and excited for opportunities to join. For one, I look for opportunity to share the Bible and the gospel where possible. The majority of the conversations are clean, but they sometimes use God's name in vain. It gives an opportunity to speak, but also to be careful not to get influenced incorrectly. Even though I don't much chance to talk in the group, I also try to observe speed limits and traffic signs as an example.

Living the quad life does make for unique interaction with the public. I'm thankful for what I can do and try to use the opportunities for good. As we head into a new year, I pray I can continue to be active and be used for positive influence.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

It's almost Christmas?

It isn't very often I let time get away from me. I live a very scheduled life with certain needs happening at basically the same time every day. My sitting and laying schedule revolves around the medical cares and I know about how much I can do in a certain time period. I try to plan ahead days, or weeks, at a time and pay attention to special events.  Even with this, it doesn't seem like Christmas is less than a week away.

This past Wednesday, Iowa had new record highs in the low 70's. With the warm weather, several tornadoes formed along with high winds throughout the day. This sounds more like a typical day in late spring, not the final week of fall. In general, December has been a relatively warm month and doesn't feel like it should be Christmas. I think I could easily adapt to living further south where high temps are normal for this time of year, but I don't. I think that's part of why it doesn't feel like Christmas, but not all.

With my parents already doing extra work in helping me, they didn't do much for Christmas decorations. I have my regular train tree and lights in my windows, but that's about it. My parents and I are also at the stage of life that we have minimal, if any, Christmas list. It's more often the case of saying, "Here is a link, this would be good for Christmas." It's also the case that if we need something, we usually just get it and not wait.

Sara and I usually listen to a Christian radio station in the morning while she gets me ready. With her gone, I haven't been doing that often. However, I have started to some and have some of my own Christmas library playing while I type this entry.

Ready or not, Christmas will be here in just a few days. In the same way, Jesus will return again before some people expect, whether we are ready or not. Whatever is going on in life at any time of year, let us never forget to always be prepared and to come to God with sincere repentance while we can. The true gift of Christmas doesn't come in a wrapped box, but as a baby in a manger.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Nose Job

For nearly two years, I have had trouble at night with my nose getting clogged and having a hard time breathing. My Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT) said it would take extensive surgery to correct the problem. Therefore, I have been using nose strips and just trying to deal with it. Unfortunately, I started getting allergic reactions to the strips' adhesive and had to stop using it.

My long-time ENT also left his practice and went on to do volunteer work in other countries. When I met my new doctor, I talked with him about the problem and he said it was a simple procedure done in the office. Since I can actually feel my nose, I hesitated about getting work done, but was tired of not sleeping at night. Therefore, I made an appointment for the last Monday in November.

Dad took me to Des Moines and after getting to the procedure room, two bad tasting and smelling liquids were squirted up my nose to numb it. Sponges were also shoved in to provide further numbing and I was left to sit and wait. As the liquids did their job, I increasingly lost feeling from my sinuses on down my throat. I then remembered I had yet to take my noon medications and quick tried to before I couldn't swallow. The attempt resulted in a lot of choking and wondering what I was doing to myself, but it worked.

One final shot, via needle inside my nose, was given for full numbing before the procedure began. As this liquid reached my stomach, my chest started quivering and shaking as the doctor said, "Ready?" I had him wait until the pulsating stopped, but then he put various instruments up my nostrils explaining as he went. At one point, as he warned, I heard the cartilage in my nose popping as he applied pressure. However, it was finally finished.

Tomorrow will be two weeks since I had this done and my breathing is almost worse than before. For several days last week, I was very stuffy and needed suctioning several times a day. My throat was also sore from the irritation and I had trouble talking. It has thankfully improved, but I'm still wondering if I made the right choice.

The doctor said it will take a few weeks for swelling to decrease and notice improvement. I hope he's right. Just when I think I've experienced everything in the quad life, something new comes up. I look forward to easier breathing at night eventually, but hope I don't need to wait until Christmas.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Needing a Break

This has been a record year for preaching. After the past two weeks, I presented God's Word 11 times at two congregations. Last week's service was definitely not my best and I could tell I was not as prepared as I should have been. I enjoy getting to present Scripture to a congregation, but I'm ready for a break.

Sara's brain surgery went very well and she returned home earlier than expected. She also does not need cancer treatments, but can't return to work until she sees her doctor in early January. Therefore, just as November had very few day hours covered, December will be the same. In addition to few days, three nights are also open this month. Two of the three were Friday and Saturday night. It meant my family and I will have gone from 7:00 Friday morning to 10:00 tonight without any help.

I asked my DHS worker for any tips to find help, and she and her superiors gave a few suggestions. One was a website that caregivers and people needing help can advertise. I filled out an advertisement, but the function to message people hasn't been working since I signed up. Another area to search was through church networks. I did message a nurse that belongs to my home church, but not sure where to go next. We used to have regular contact from the church governing body to bring up concerns, but that hasn't happened in years.

In my town, a good-size organization helps people with cognitive challenges get living support and find work. A few days ago, mom read that due to lack of caregivers, several of their residential houses are likely going to close. Another small house that supported four individuals is also closing due to staffing. The odds don't look good for trying to find further help.

When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul talked about a problem he had, a thorn in his flesh. God's reply in 2 Corinthians 12:9 says in part, "my grace is sufficient for you." In my memory, this is the longest lasting major caregiver shortage I have had in the quad life. Seeing my parents getting more run down and tired by the week is hard. However, I continue to pray a solution is found and to remember God knows what we need. Hopefully this week will show some improvements toward getting a break.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

When is Half?

As happens every year, I recently had a birthday. I have now left my third decade of life and am starting the fourth. When some men, or women, turn 40, they go through a mid-life crisis and often purchase expensive cars or other items. However, how do we really know when we are halfway through life? Who on earth gets to decide?

A quick search said the the global average lifespan for men is 70 and American men live slightly longer to 77. Therefore, looking at statistics, the mid-point for men would be around 35-38. Judging by those numbers, I'm already past the halfway point. Family genetics also plays a part in longevity and both of my grandfathers lived to their mid 80's. They were also completely independent and active their entire life. A big contribution to an individual's lifespan though is health.

I could very easily say my midpoint in life was around the summer I was six-years-old. At that time, I had spent half my life without a spinal cord injury and half with. At the time of my injury, my parents were told my life expectancy would be around age ten. Both of these numbers say my mid-life crisis should have happened in Kindergarten. Current statistics on longevity for spinal cord injuries are harder to find. The last I saw, my injury level would have put me to my early 30's.

Studying statistics and trends can lead to endless speculation and guessing with nothing gained. The One who knows our lifespan, from conception to death, is God. He has told us that this life is like a vapor or a blink of an eye. No matter how many years we are given, it's nothing compared to eternity. That was even true for Methuselah, who lived 969 years.

No matter how many more birthdays I celebrate, I know God has tremendously blessed me and given me a much longer life than others in my situation. I try to spend the time I'm given to serve God however I can and always be aware how quickly time progresses. It's something best learned at an early age and remembered every day.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Where to Search?

A couple weeks ago, I posted that my main daytime caregiver was gone for a while due to medical concerns. That break has continued and my parents have had to cover the extra time. I went with them Friday for another date day for lunch and to a larger Walmart in a neighboring town.

It was a chilly, windy day for an outing, but I still continued my 19-month record streak of going barefoot. While dad loaded the van and moved it to a better location out of the wind, mom and I waited inside. The greeter was gone and I noticed a space heater where they usually stand. I parked nearby to keep my feet warm and smiled as people walked past wondering if I was the new Walmart greeter. It was an interesting excursion, and one that may repeat more often.

Sara was scheduled to return last week after resting her back. However, she had an unexpected problem occur at home last Sunday. After testing, it was discovered she has a tumor on the front of her brain. Sara is scheduled for surgery early tomorrow morning and would appreciate prayers from readers. If everything goes well, she'll be off for a month.

My other daytime caregiver does two days a week, but is also having health concerns. She is unable to take more time and wants to completely retire. Therefore, I need to find a permanent replacement for her and temporary help until Sara can return. Unfortunately, caregivers are hard to find for anyone and especially for situations like mine.

Day hours are covered through the state by a program called CDAC. The pay is low and it takes a month, or more, to get paid. It doesn't require any nurse's licenses, but not many people are willing to take it. My thinking is it's ideal for someone that wants a supplemental income with regular hours a few days a week. I have contacted a few nurse friends for ideas, but not sure where to start looking.

Whatever comes, I will trust God's plan as He knows what my family and I need. After decades in the quad life, I have learned this lesson well. I will see what comes this week and take each day on its own.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Attempting New Reading

In high school, I started reading the Bible every night. In the over two decades since, I have increased the amount I read at night, but always went straight through from Genesis to Revelation. On November 13, 2020, I started again with Genesis 1. I finished Revelation a few weeks ago, but I did not put my marker back to the beginning.

Every morning, I also start the day with an online Bible reading plan that also goes from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, I have been reading the entire Bible twice a year for at least a decade. Regular readers likely remember hearing about this before. It's a great habit to get into and one I don't want to stop. Therefore, why make a change?

In every type of reading, their are two primary styles to approach a text, casual and study. My morning reading is definitely casual as I'm usually reading while drinking my protein shake for breakfast. Evening isn't much different with winding down for the day and looking forward to sleep. Nothing is wrong with this type of reading and you can learn from it, but I want to try to get into more in-depth study.

At night, I read from The Evidence Bible that has commentary by Ray Comfort of Living Waters. I have read all the commentary provided, but also not with much thought. Therefore, I went back a few books in the New Testament and am reading one book, or several chapters, for an entire week. I first start by just reading the Scripture one night, the next will include reading comments, then reading again.

So far, I've gone through part of Romans as well as Galatians and Ephesians. I think it's a good plan, but my mind tends to wonder off into other subjects and I read more than I'm actually processing. At some point in the next several weeks, or months, I hope to get the study Bible by John MacArthur. I have seen parts of it and heard many people say it's an excellent resource, better than many seminaries even.

If I do eventually get one, then my hope is to be in more of a study mindset for my evening reading. I never know what will happen from week to week in the quad life, but it's sometimes nice to set goals. Winter is rapidly approaching and much time at home to read and study. This week could give an indication of what I can do for the next few months ahead as well.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Making do with few

As long as I can remember, it has been a challenge finding caregivers. However, it has become steadily worse as time has passed and it is now very difficult. Thankfully, I have been very blessed to have four caregivers that cover most of my hours. However, when one is gone for an extended period, it makes life more challenging.

I have two caregivers that cover day time hours. One generally works two days a week and the other three to four. Sara has been my primary day nurse for several years and has been mentioned on here in previous entries. Unfortunately, she has been having increasing medical problems and has not always been able to come. Her doctor recently recommended taking a few weeks off work to try to give more time for rest and recouping.

Sara objected saying that I don't have anyone to cover her hours when she's gone, especially for that long. My assistants help me with everything and I'm grateful for all they do, but I don't want to overwork them either. Therefore, my parents said we could make do and let her have the time off. If she has time to rest and get back to regular activities, it would be the best outcome for everybody.

This past week was the first with Sara gone all of her three days. On Fridays, my parents try to have their "date days" and go out and do their own thing and don't have to be responsible for me. Part of their outings often consist of getting groceries and household supplies. They have not been able to have such a date day for several weeks now, so I went along this Friday.

The three of us left the house around 10:00 A.M. and didn't get back until nearly 8:00. It was fun going up to northern Iowa trying to find any trees with remaining leaves and think of watching trains. Going back toward home, we made stops for groceries and other items at stores I normally don't get to venture to.

I'm looking forward to when Sara can return and my parents are able to get away independent of me again. Times like these in the quad life also make us much more appreciative of the gift of caregivers I have been given. The days may come soon when my other day assistant is ready to fully retire and will need replaced. When that happens, I'll continue to trust in God's leading wherever it may go.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

What's a Church?

When someone drives past certain buildings, they may say "that's a church." While it's commonly said, and thought, it isn't necessarily accurate.

The Christian church is made up of people that are spread across the globe. Groups, or congregations, from small to large form local congregations that often meet in a certain building. The structure could be a shack with a dirt floor, a house, or an ornate cathedral that is hundreds of years old. Many congregations grow attached to the place they meet as it is used, hopefully, many times a week for worship, praise, and studying God.

For my entire life, I have been part of one congregation that has used one structure for most activities. I remember for many years dad pulled me in my manual wheelchair up the long flight of stairs into the sanctuary, twice every Sunday. Around junior high, an elevator was installed that allowed me to get in with my power wheelchair and easily access the main floor and basement. It was small, but it worked for me as well as elderly members using walkers or other mobility aides.

Subsequent wheelchairs were a challenge to get though as many were too large for the church elevator. The current chair I now use took eight years to get partly due to difficulty in getting one small enough for church. Some weeks, the elevator wasn't working and I couldn't attend. I even got stuck in the building once due to an elevator problem and had to be carried out, chair and all.

Even with its challenges, I grew to love our church building, the choir singing in the sanctuary, and my designated bench. For several years, a waiting line has existed by the elevator for people waiting to leave. This has been a time I talked with people regularly and got to fellowship.

Last week Sunday was our final week in our facility, today my congregation met for the first time in our new building. I preached for another church and wasn't in attendance, but will have to work on new routines. I will no longer have an end of a pew that has been my spot for 36 years and can sit anywhere. I also won't have my regular group of people milling around for the elevator to catch-up with every week.

I have already given my thoughts on building types, but will see how the change adjusts the congregation. This week ahead will be interesting, but that will be another post.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Disability Day

My church denomination, Christian Reformed Church, designates certain Sundays to recognize historical events or an aspect of the denomination. Last week was officially Disability Concerns Sunday, placing emphasis on making church buildings and worship available to everyone. I'm a week late, but it was my theme or main topic for preaching today.

Thankfully, many churches are wheelchair accessible, but it's still something I need to ask when visiting at a new facility. One of the larger challenges is getting around people's thoughts about disabilities and how someone can contribute to society.

In Jesus' time, it was thought that disability was a result of someone's sin (see John 9) and they were being punished. It is true that sinful choices may result in an injury, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted driving. However, a deformity is often not due to a particular choice someone made and shouldn't be treated as such. Another regular comment is that if a person just "has enough faith," they will be cured of any ailment.

Cleaning wheels in gravel
Yes, it's true that God can, and has, cured all types of disabilities and problems (Jesus' miracles and Mark 5:25-34 are examples). However, God also uses them for His purposes, even though we may not understand. Many people make-up several excuses of why they can't share the gospel until they see me doing it. As I say when I give evangelism sermons, not being able to move or breathe independently is no reason why you can't share the gospel. Therefore, I can use the life God has given me to help others.

That doesn't mean life is always easy, the past two days have shown that. My planned to go on a fall drive Saturday to see colorful trees in northern Iowa. However, my day nurse called off sick on Friday and Saturday, making it so they couldn't go. Therefore, the three of us spent a few hours in our local area getting pictures.

Mom saw a few areas for good family photos, but they weren't always near cement. After one photo stop, I got stuck in gravel and had a challenge getting back in the van. For the second stop, I ended up spinning my wheels in mud and spent the next several minutes trying to drive around to clean off my tires. This is part of the quad life sometimes, but we were able to get good pictures for the occasion.

Hopefully this week will have all my caregivers healthy and able to come, but I'll work with whatever God gives me.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Virtual Interviews

Two years ago, I was selected to be on an advocacy group called the Olmstead Group. They work to make sure people living with disabilities in Iowa are as independent as possible. At our last meeting, one of the new members said they were doing a podcast that interviewed persons with disabilities. It sounded like something I would qualify to do and volunteered to help. This past Thursday was my day to be interviewed.

Prior to my time of being questioned, mom wondered if I had listened to the podcast before, what was it called, and what was I expected to talk about. All of these were good inquiries, but none of which I could answer. The person I had been corresponding with said they just "go with the flow" and don't really have planned topics. I also didn't receive information on where to find anything to preview.

Therefore, when my scheduled time arrived, I had no firm idea what to expect. I was fairly certain I knew my own life well enough to talk about it though. My caregiver also called off sick for the day, which meant mom was with me while I was questioned.

For nearly an hour, I talked about my history and why I'm too lazy to lift a finger. I also went over my experiences in school, looking for work after college, and what I do now. However, I did receive a question I prayed would come and had somewhat planned a response. When asked about how I stay positive (or something similar, it was a few days ago), I got to share about being a Christian and looking to God for everything. Yes, some days are worse than others, but I know that as someone that has broken God's commands, I deserve nothing other than eternal punishment in hell. However, I have been extremely blessed instead.

I will be allowed to preview the podcast in about a month and was told it should come out around January. I thought the experience went okay, but mom said I did a fantastic job. I was glad to hear she thought it went well. Later this week, I'm also scheduled to be part of a webinar talking about the diaphragm pacemaker system. The busy quad life continues, but I'm thankful for another and hopefully being able to help others from the experiences God has given me.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Lemonade from videos?

My nickname in many places online is some variation of trainman. However, it's becoming very rare that I get opportunity to go and just watch trains. Last Saturday, dad and I got to a small town in southeast Iowa to watch trains. To document the trip, I like to make sure to get trains on video and then put it on my YouTube channel.

After lunch, we checked out a model train display from Scale Trains and could then finally record the trains we were seeing. Dad isn't very familiar with my camera, so I try to make it as easy as possible to use. Instead of going through settings to select video type, I had him hit one button that would just record from whatever was set previously. 

Dad very nicely setup his tripod and made sure to have the shots framed well to see the trains, or barges, perfectly. We caught several trains on the busy main line and even two trains that met perfectly in front of my camera. On the three-hour drive home, I looked forward to seeing what we captured and getting them put together into a long video. However, when I transferred the content from the camera to my computer, I noticed the files seemed much smaller than I expected.

When I looked at the videos, I realized they were all taken in high-speed time lapse without any sound. Therefore, instead of nearly 30 minutes of train videos, they were less than three-minutes total. Looking at them, I could see they were all perfectly framed and looked great, except in high-speed. I felt horrible that dad went to all the work to capture the videos and they wouldn't be useful. If I had him use the slow method to setup video type, it would have been fine. However, in trying to make things easier, it ended up being worse.

I thought and slept about it Saturday night and Sunday and wondered what I could do in editing. I tried slowing the videos down, but they looked jerky. Therefore, I found a music site for YouTube, put the videos together, and did a high-speed review. It wasn't what I had planned, but it still worked out. Next time though, I'll go through the slow setup method at least once.



Sunday, October 3, 2021

Fourth Visit in 28 Years

In June 1993, I went to my first week of CHAMP Camp. It has been 28 years since my first encounter with what would become a life-long commitment. I attended camp for seven years as a camper and have been a counselor 15 years in person and this year virtually. In 2018, I also went to the Louisville area to preach for a camp friend and a few others came to hear me. The summers I was not active at camp, I have visited at least twice and promote camp any chance I get.

With nearly three decades of involvement, I have made several friends of fellow long-term counselors as well as current and alumni campers. However, camp is based in Indianapolis and many of the people involved are from that area or further east. Therefore, I normally only see camp friends in person during camp week. However, that does change on some rare occasions.

This past Tuesday, a counselor friend came to visit for the day. Cayla and I had talked about her visiting a few years ago at camp. She would stop over during a trip she had planned to Nebraska with her family. However, this pandemic thing kind of changed plans. Therefore, we got it worked to reschedule before winter arrived and another year has passed.

Cayla's visit makes the fourth time someone from camp has come to visit me, with two of them during my camper years. It was fun getting to show her my little town and areas I like to go for entertainment. Camp also gets very busy with many people around and it's hard to find time to just talk with friends and get caught up. I enjoyed getting to just talk and actually get caught up with her, even with my parents or caregiver also with us.

She started driving early Tuesday morning from the Indianapolis area and arrived around noon. By 9:00 that evening, Cayla was ready to head to the hotel and then returned home Wednesday. Therefore, she drove about 14 hours and had an overnight stay for a nine-hour visit. I have done the same drive and stay for a three-hour visit to camp. I'm thankful it worked out and that I was able to spend time with friends twice in September.

As changes in the country and my physical needs continue, I doubt I will be returning to volunteer at CHAMP Camp. I hope this won't be the last time I see any of my camp friends in person, but I enjoyed this one as a rare treat.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Returning to Study

In July and August, I got used to working a lot while preaching several weeks in a row. When I was finished, I enjoyed the break, but missed having goals to work toward. Therefore, last week I returned to something I haven't touched in several years, Spanish.

When I received my diaphragm pacemaker in late 2010, I had to relearn how to speak. A few months later, I purchased a language learning program called Rosetta Stone and picked Spanish. I took over three years of it in high school, but never did very well. As the number of Spanish speaking people increase in the U.S., including in healthcare, I thought it would be a good language to learn.

The program works by showing pictures and associating words or phrases with them. Depending on the activity, you either speak, write, or choose the correct picture. As you progress through the program, it increases your vocabulary, but also continues to review what has already been learned.

My first time through the software, I got through the first major section and was somehow suddenly propelled to the most advanced learning. I struggled through this for a while an couldn't return to where I should be, and eventually stopped.

A few years later, I took it up again and started from the beginning with the hardest course possible, reading, writing, and speaking. Once again, I got through part of the opening level, but then started struggling with it, especially the writing. I figured I have enough trouble with writing English, Spanish was going to be any better. I pushed through for a while, but eventually quit in frustration again.

Now, I have been working on it again for less than two weeks and it has been going quite well. The program has five main sections, each divided into four subsections. Those also have different goalposts of gradually increasing vocabulary and reviewing new terms. This round, I'm only doing speech and not typing. However, I also started making my own Spanish dictionary. I know I can likely purchase one for very little, but it has been helpful to review and do it on my own.

So far, I haven't progressed past my previous attempts. I do feel much more motivated this time though and am enjoying it. Unfortunately, I have very little need to use Spanish or opportunity to practice, but I never know what God has planned for me next. Maybe I will get to speak with people who do not speak English well and I can help, I pray I will keep at it no matter what comes.

I am scheduled to preach again the last two weeks of October and have started work on sermon planning as well. It feels good to have an active quad life again, but not too much.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Freedom for Each

I have posted before that my parents enjoy going out on trips, but rarely get to as it's hard to find people to help me when they're gone. They both did get away in early June and are now in the midst of individual vacations.

A few days ago, mom and a friend left on a trip to a neighboring state. They had fun exploring different areas and seeing some sights. Dad and I had several days of just us in the house. I joined him outside with yard work one evening when my caregiver was due to leave, but he wasn't finished. It worked out well and we haven't starved.

Mom is scheduled to return later today and dad plans to take off tomorrow for a few days. He has had various ideas on what to do, but I'm sure watching trains at some location in the continental U.S. will be a big part of dad's plans.

Knowing other families that have a child, of any age, with a high-level spinal cord injury, it is very hard for parents to get away. Some can't go away at all for more than a few hours, and it often results in family problems. I'm very well aware that God has immensely blessed my parents and I with funding for caregivers and people to fill every night and 5-6 days a week. This is very rare and an extreme luxury in the world of spinal cord injury.

Even with this, I still sometimes feel like a burden to my family. They can't fully retire with me using dad's insurance and can't get out as often, or as long, as they would like. This has been the case for over 36 years, but it has become worse in about the last seven with no change in sight.

For now at least, I'm thankful for the times my parents can go and do their own thing. I also am thankful for the blessing God has given me with them and all that He has allowed me to do. Many changes are happening rapidly in America and around the world. I don't know what will impact living situations, but I can give thanks for what we currently have and know God has the future in His hands.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Have Friends, Will Experiment

Over Labor Day weekend, my best friend John came to visit, along with his two boys. Due to last year having travel restrictions, I haven't seen them in person since summer of 2019. In two years, children change quite a lot. It was fun seeing how the kids had grown and having an active house for a few days. John and I have not qualified as children for a few decades now, and some things never change.

On Saturday, the two of us were talking, watching the boys play, and just hanging out in the house. Mom was also talking with us and said she remembered when we were in high school and she would come home to find us grinning with computer parts strewn around my room. That reminded me that my parents found my old Toshiba laptop early last year and I kept it for just such an occasion.

Digging through my collection of outdated computers, we soon found the machine that I  received around 1991. At that time, it was very useful and I utilized it in the last years of grade and junior high school. Now, it is completely useless and unable to do anything modern technology does. I always wanted to see what was inside, and that's what we did.

It took some searching, but John kept finding screws hidden in various locations. Removing them slowly pealed the plastic case away from the electronics. After a few pops that sounded curious, we were soon inside. One of the first items removed from the interior was a long, thin, battery pack. Originally, it would have helped to turn the machine on. Now, corrosion had claimed the power cell, meaning the computer could not start if we wanted it to.

Through the next several minutes, John continued to take out screws and unplug wires until the kitchen counter was covered with what used to be cutting edge technology. The keyboard and screen would not yield to further destruction. However, John's oldest son quickly latched onto the bones of the computer. The screen worked well to prop his iPad and the keyboard functioned as a tool to help with typing practice. He didn't seem to mind that punching the keys had no results, it was fine for his imagined document.

Our previous computer escapades always resulted in an upgraded, functioning machine. This time, the parts went to the curb and the bones went home with a happy boy. Living the quad life often means few close friends, but I'm thankful for when we can get to be together and enjoy mutual destruction, I mean exploring.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Day of Remembrance

Twenty years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes. Two of them were flown into the Twin Towers of New York, one into the Pentagon, and one crashed in Pennsylvania. Anyone over thirty very likely remembers where they were on that day and can play out the day's activities by heart.

Photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash
The following days, everyone was glued to their television to not miss any updates. American flags were up on houses all over the country and we vowed never to forget the heroes who died trying to help save others. Not long after the attack, President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism and sent troops to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, much of America has forgotten and gone full circle.

A few weeks ago, President Biden declared that American troops would be completely pulled out of Afghanistan and set a date. Unfortunately, many have said it was the worst possible way to remove our troops. Thirteen were killed trying to protect the airport so people could evacuate. Many civilians that helped the U.S. soldiers were left behind, as well as $85 billion worth of military equipment.

In less than two days, the Taliban took over the country and have been killing those who helped the army as well as any Christians. The terrorist organization now has more black hawk helicopters and equipment than many countries. While this happens, the leaders of the U.S. have been promoting social issues in places like Vietnam, where we also had horrible war results. Watching news from countries like Australia, America has become the laughing stock of the world with allies unsure if they would receive military aid if, or when, needed.

For the last several days, my morning reading has been in the book of Ezekiel. The prophet warned of coming disaster due to Israel forsaking God. In many ways, it echoes what I see happening in much of the developed world.

Today, remember those that died twenty years ago in the attacks as well as soldiers who have been killed fighting for freedom. Also pray the past is not repeated and the country will return to Christ before it's too late.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Labor or Resignation

The unofficial end to summer has arrived again. Labor Day is a full three months after Memorial Day, but it seems to be the time of year that passes most quickly. Busy activities during warm months attribute to the speed, but I only wish the cold months of winter went as swiftly.

As the country takes an extra day of rest from work, it reminds me of 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12. The apostle Paul was writing to the church and heard that some people were not working and had become busybodies. Verse 10 says in part, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." This is something I always try to remember myself.

In August, I officially worked 3.5 hours at my actual job of web development. For the same 31 days I also preached four Sundays in a row and also volunteered at the Iowa State Fair three mornings. It felt very good to be active and contributing to society, but I still regular feel like I'm lazy and don't do as much as I should.

Most people my age are working 40, or more, hours a week and then have family responsibilities at home. I look at my dad as an example who works over full-time most weeks and then has a lot to do at home to help mom and I. For me, I lay flat large portions of the day and try to spend time wisely by learning something, work of some fashion, or at least just maintaining the body I've been given. However, I'm quick to turn to a game instead of doing something more productive.

I again heard a recent study of people in their 20's that called this generation the "resignation generation." It found that many in this age group were planning to resign from their current job within a year, didn't like their career, or were content to stay home and live on government subsidies. This is evident looking at current job openings.

Two years ago, I posted about jobs being available due to not enough workers available. Now, workers do exist, but due to measures taken during the pandemic, they can make more staying at home than getting a job. A country in this situation can't survive for very long and have any resources available.

Yes, situations do exist where people absolutely are unable to work due to disability or other circumstances. I'm thankful programs are in place for this, I use a few of them. However, I still believe everyone should do as much as they are able, and just not being able to breath or use your limbs isn't an excuse.

Hopefully, I can try to be an example through the quad life. I try to keep that in mind as part of my activities and writing this blog. I pray that more young people will also head these verses and learn to earn the bread they eat.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Getting Close to the Mark?

It's not a secret that I have spent a large part of my study on the opening of the Bible and creation apologetics. Much speculation, and books, have been made about the end times, but I don't give it a lot of attention. I know on average that more than 150,000 people die every 24 hours. End times speculation doesn't matter for these people, but hearing the gospel and coming to Christ does. That is why I prefer spending efforts on reaching out while their is time. However, end times are throughout the Bible and not something to ignore.

Both the Old and New Testament point to times of tribulation to come and an ultimate judgment. The books of Daniel, Matthew, and the gospels come to mind for sources, but especially the book of Revelation. I have long said this is one of the most widely debated and studied book of the Bible, but I think Genesis may beat it for debate. I have heard some churches completely ignore Revelation and end times, but that doesn't sound like a great church that looks at all of Scripture.

What are some of the signs of the end times? A few of them are wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes in various places, pestilences (plagues or viruses), signs in the heavens, and people fearful of the future. Many of these have been around in varying degrees throughout the past thousand years or more with people saying that particular time in history was the end. However, one aspect has been sticking out to me lately that is in the recent news.

In Revelation 13:17, John talks about the mark of the beast. It's something that if you don't have, you cannot buy or sell. I have been seeing in Australia, France, and a growing number of countries that anyone without a vaccine passport aren't allowed in stores. In China, cell phone apps are automatically tracking when a person enters a business and includes health history. This is a first in history due to current technology, but it doesn't quite fit the prediction.

The mark is said to be on the hand or forehead of an individual. The prevalence of cell phones constantly in hands, I could see it being a possibility. However, paper cards wouldn't quite qualify in this detail. I recently watched a video talking about this subject and showed a microchip being implanted in a person's hand that contained all their banking and personal information. To checkout at a store, she just had to bump her hand on a device at the register.

Whether we are near to Christ's return or have hundreds of years remaining, we don't know. In this quad life though, I look forward to His return more anxiously with each passing year and want to be found doing God's will when He comes or calls me home.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

All Finished -What's Next?

My August calendar is full of sticky notes with several activities, but they are quickly finishing. Friday was my third and final day at the Iowa State Fair and today was my last week of preaching after five Sundays in a row. Other than hair cuts and a few regular doctor's appointments, I currently have a fairly open calendar for the rest of 2021. Therefore, I have been wondering what is coming next?

In May, I helped lead a team of people to do gospel outreach during a three-day outdoor event. At the fair these past several days, I had several conversations about the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Kentucky and a number of short gospel talks with mainly other Christians. I prayed to help non-Christians, and all who briefly stopped for gospel tracts also, but didn't really get to until late Friday.

About five minutes before the end of my shift, a man stopped to look at a commercial for the Ark playing on one of the booth's televisions. He was between another volunteer and I, and the other person went up to him to ask any questions or possibly talk about his experiences with the Bible and Christianity. They were close enough that I could hear most of the conversation and I moved closer to see if I could help.

A few seconds after I joined the conversation, the first volunteer departed from us. This man, Larry, was talking about thoughts on psychics, some of the Bible, and various other related topics. For the next several minutes, I let him talk, but also tested him to see if he was a good person according to the Bible. Larry realized within one question he failed the test. I made sure to present the gospel to him multiple times and bring up what the Bible says on various topics he brought up, such as reincarnation.

The entire time, none of the other volunteers joined me to help work with Larry. Later on, my assistant Sara said that one of the volunteers we have worked with several times before, and who I consider more experienced than me, said he wouldn't know how to handle Larry. Sara assured him I could manage him and whatever came up. By the time our conversation finished, I had given him some booklets about the Ark and presented the gospel a number of times. When I went to leave, my wheelchair started having electronic issues and wouldn't let me drive. I wondered if God had another conversation coming for me, but I was able to depart about 20 minutes after my scheduled time.

I feel like I'm definitely still learning evangelism and not an expert at all, but fully rely on God to give me what is needed at the right time. Apparently in that situation and with who was around, my fellow volunteers thought I was the most qualified person.

In my second week of preaching, the man that was my mentor to get my license to exhort, came to hear my message. This pastor has had decades of preaching and life experience and I pray to get close to his quality of presentation. I was thankful he was able to come and I looked forward to getting his critiques or pointers when the service was complete. However, he surprised me and said the message I gave was well given and he took notes on passages I used for his message. The pastor's wife also said he could take a few tips from me!

Whatever I have been given to serve God, I know I can always improve and learn. It is a life-long process of study and practice. With rapid changes in the political climate and my parents at retirement age, I don't how much longer I'll be able to be active. This longer than usual post shows that at least for now, I keep an active quad life. I also just received a message asking for help at a church this fall. Therefore, the calendar is starting to fill again and I look forward to staying busy in God's work.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Fair Day

Last year, the Iowa State Fair was officially "postponed" (canceled) for about 12 months due to virus concerns. I missed volunteering at the Ark Encounter booth and made sure to register for this year. My first shift of three was this past Thursday morning.

This is about my fifth summer working at the booth, handing out gospel tracts, and talking with visitors. Rolling up to the display, I recognized several familiar faces that I have worked with for years. I couldn't remember most of their names, but that doesn't stop me from talking and seeing how they have been.

In previous years, the main question I've received is, "what?" With all the competing noise of the air conditioning and multitude of people, few people could hear me. I did all I could to get bigger breaths and talk louder, but it only helped a little. By the time my three-hour shift was over, my lungs were hurting a lot and my voice was sore. I was glad to spread the gospel, but my body didn't act accordingly.

This year, when the fair looked certain, I ordered a self-contained speaker system. I arrived early to my shift in order to have time to get everything setup. Placement took some testing, as well as volume adjustment, but it seemed to help. I didn't want to sound like a salesman for all to hear, but enough to be heard.

I talked with several people, giving out tracts and discussing the free material, the Ark Encounter, and Christian experiences. I never once had anyone ask me to repeat and I learned how I could adjust my voice to be louder when needed. Other than about 30 minutes, I didn't feel like my lungs were ready to explode or have a sore throat. A few other wheelchair users also turned around after having gone passed so they could come to me for a tract and talk.

With two more days scheduled this week, I'm thankful the initial test went well. Living the quad life requires using a variety of tools for different needs. I never expected to need a microphone, but it has allowed me to share the gospel and be heard.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

What's in a Day?

Today is my third week of preaching in the small rural church outside of Bussey. In some ways, this has been a sermon I have been looking forward to giving. However, it is also the one that has been the most challenging to prepare and making me second-guess myself.

For about 15 years, I have been studying creation science through Answers in Genesis and also the Biblical Science Institute and others. It is a subject that brought me closer to God, His Word, and got me into reading many books, volunteering, witnessing, and improved my speaking topics. I have prayed for opportunity to preach on creation and now that it came, I'm apprehensive.

My own church denomination is like many and has adopted compromise positions with early Genesis and creation science. It is not a topic I can preach on, at least if I want to preach again, within my church denomination, but can today since this church is independent. A friend of mine, who has the same license as me, has had the same desire as me to preach on creation, but has been told not to as it's too controversial.

As I wrote this entry on Saturday afternoon, I don't know what this church's stand is on creation, or that of previous pastors. My parents have been saying, I think somewhat jokingly, that I won't have anybody left in the congregation by the time my tenure is complete.

Therefore, preparing today's message with all this in mind has been a challenge. However, I have prayed and reminded myself several times to be faithful in preaching God's Word. Much compromise has taken place in the early chapters of the Bible with few pastors addressing the topic. I pray what God gave me to say this morning will equip those who hear to trust in the authority of Scripture.

Challenges of living the quad life are familiar and daily routine, so I add more by preaching. If I have not been tarred and feathered, or hidden in a remote corn field, I'll report back next week.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Reading Many Books has No End

Last year, I posted a few times on cleaning out the basement and some of the finds. My parents have been at it again and found a box of books that were meant to go out last year, but I wanted a picture first. I finally got the picture taken, and books out to recycle.

In grade school and high school, I did not enjoy reading at all. It was a challenge to get a book positioned for me to read and then turning pages could sometimes be a battle between stick and paper. The struggle continues today, but I'm used to it and it's just part of what it takes for me to be able to read.

When I started college, the number of books I had to study increased, as well as their thickness and complexity. However, it was a little more enjoyable as the material was generally something I was interested in learning. After college, as I got into more web development work, I had manuals on how to run some of my software and learn more programming skills.

Now, it has been nearly 20 years since I first read some of those books. New software, and manuals, I was once excited to use are now very outdated and not worth more than the dust collected on the pages. Piled up, the stack goes from the floor to higher than my arm rests. I have read all of it at some point, but it's now useless material. While age may make some books useless, that is not the case for everything.

I have read one book more times than I can count, cover to cover, and still learn more each time. It has been nearly 2000 years since it was completed, but is still relevant today. God's Word, as recorded in the Bible, never changes, but is always up to date for every situation. If I still used, or taught, the exact material from my school books today, it wouldn't do any good. Preaching from Scripture will have no expiration date and will always be useful.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says in part, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh." The next two verses give the purpose of continuing to gain knowledge about God. I'm thankful for the experiences, and wisdom, God has given me over the years in this quad life. Today was week two out of five for preaching and, as long as I preach from the text, I will never run out of material.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Answered Prayer or Too Much?

In September of 2017, I received my license to exhort, or preach, in the Christian Reformed Church. Since then, I have averaged preaching 3.5 times per year at both CRC churches and other denominations. The next few weeks will greatly increase that average.

I am scheduled to preach the next five weeks at a small non-denominational church near Bussey, IA. Looking it up on Google Maps, the facility is in the middle of farm fields and a long way out of the town of 400 people. It looks like a fun place to learn and opportunity to preach in a place I probably would have never noticed otherwise.

Since getting my license, I have only stand-alone sermons meant for single visits. I did one stretch of preaching three weeks in a row, but it was three different congregations and I used the same sermon at two of them. I have had a this sermon series in my head for about a year and prayed for an opportunity to use it, and this is it.

Today started with an easy topic, at least for me, using the law in evangelism. I finished writing it a few weeks ago and sent my PowerPoint off to my church contact. Since then, I have been slowly, but regularly, working on the subsequent messages. This past week was working on sermon four and finishing everything for it. Late Friday, it occurred to me I only sent the church information on my first message, and nothing else. Sermon two was just over a week away, so I sent my message titles and Scripture references for all of August.

The next few weeks will rapidly get busy and I pray I keep everything straight and manage time well. I haven't done great on time management and coordinating my sit time the last few days and will need to be careful with weeks ahead.

One of my sayings is that I'd rather be busy than bored. This will be a busy time in the quad life, but I'm thankful for the opportunity and may look forward to another one to come.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Book of Proverbs

Lately, it seems like I keep running out of time to get things done and have to carefully choose what activities get priority. However, I always start and end the day with reading the Bible. It has been a while since I last gave a reading update, but I am currently spending each morning in Proverbs.

King Solomon was given wisdom by God, and was the wisest man to live. This book was written through him in order "to know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding." (Proverbs 1:2) Even though it was written thousands of years ago, it is still very relevant to modern life.

With its 31 chapters, it works well to read a chapter a day every month with 31 days. I have done this practice in January for a few years and start the new year off well. However, many of the proverbs are contained in just one verse and I have seen calendars with daily words of wisdom from this book.

Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." With many people uncertain of the future due to concerns about politics, health, economy, and more, this is good to always remember.

Also in Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom." Around the country, and world, some social groups celebrate pride and flaunt it everywhere. In the book of Job, he was proud of his actions and was certain he did no wrong. However, God used a series of questions to humble Job and subdue his pride. Everyone would be wise to remain humble and not let pride in our heart.

When reading the Bible, we need to remember, "Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Proverbs 30:5) Today, many people and organizations try to put doubt on God's Word and cast hatred toward those who follow it. However, living the quad life or any life, our full trust can be put completely on everything written; in the week ahead and all eternity.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Too Much or Neglected

With mostly everything open this summer, many families have been participating in as many activities as possible. I have been hearing great reports about my pressure wounds and they are nearly closed. Therefore, I have also been getting outside and enjoying summer activities. However, I may have done too much.

A couple weeks ago, dad and I went to Railroad Days in Galesburg, IL. It is always the fourth Saturday in June, but that usually coincided with the week I was returning from camp. Since that didn't happen this year, we took a full day to enjoy our first visit to the festivities. Galesburg is a three-hour drive one way, but the two of us got home about 12 hours after we left.

When dad went to change the bandages on my skin sores, one of them had rolled up in a ball. It likely happened when I got dressed in the morning and I sat on it all day. I had my night nurse get me up early and I forgot to have him check. As a result, the area regressed to where it had been a few months ago.

Last week Sunday, I preached in the morning. That evening, I went out to my uncle's to watch his fireworks' display. Monday evening, I was also up in my chair for several hours with friends celebrating Independence Day. I apparently didn't tilt enough as the area that was irritated at Railroad Days also got deeper.

On Tuesday, my caregiver added more air to my seat cushion since it felt a little low. That should hopefully help, but I still need to be cautious. July is pretty open for me and I had hoped to do a few outings I have been post-ponging. Now, I will delay them another year and likely stay down as much as possible to prepare for a busy August.

Such is the story of the quad life. I let my guard down too much and now pay the consequences. Thankfully, God has shown me over the years how to stay active in any situation. I may not get to do some items in my plans, but I can still serve plans ahead that are a far greater purpose.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Independence Day

It is July 4, 2021, Independence Day in the United States. On this day in 1776, the nation declared its independence from Britain and became a new, free country. As guaranteed by the founding fathers, part of this freedom would include citizens being able to worship God as they wanted and not be forced into one state religion. This morning, I again had the opportunity to preach God's Word in church and focused on this topic.

For over 200 years, much of Western culture (such as the US, Canada, Australia, and more) has enjoyed freedom to attend church, worship God, have easy access to the Bible, and live our faith in every part of life. We have heard about persecution in other countries such as the Middle East and China, but they frequently fade from memory. However, freedom to worship has been changing in the past few decades and especially the last 18 months.

I have been watching a channel called BTWN News that reports on current events related to Christianity. They, and others, have covered much news from Canada as pastors have been jailed for the crime of preaching and their church buildings locked up by officials or, in one case, surrounded by three layers of fencing.

These congregations have been forced to meet in undisclosed locations and taken measures not to be tracked. As of July 1, all restrictions were finally lifted, buildings opened, and pastors released. That is great news to hear, but it also vividly demonstrates a great shift in government and society.

As part of His trial, Jesus told Pilate, "my kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) As Christians, we need to submit to and respect all those in authority, but as long as it doesn't conflict with God's commands. Several examples of this are given in the New Testament of Paul and apostles respecting those in power, but following God first.

Throughout this Independence Day and every day, let us remember we are never independent from God and to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Virtual Camp

In June 2019, I did my regular volunteer week at CHAMP Camp near Indianapolis. It was my 15th year as a counselor and a severe struggle due to the weather. When I got home that year, and even before, I decided it was time for me to retire my camping gear.

When counselor applications came in January 2020, I deleted the email with a very heavy heart. Just after they were due to be submitted in late March, the world collapsed. Another long-term counselor had also retired and said everything turned upside down because of us. This year, applications were distributed after much delay and planning. Again, I deleted my message as I still don't feel I could be much help anymore. A week later, the campgrounds CHAMP Camp used announced overnight camps were cancelled again, so that meant no camp for another summer.

It was quickly decided that CHAMP Camp would be held virtually and new applications were sent out for campers and counselors. Since I didn't want things to turn bad again, and wouldn't have to travel, I signed up to be a virtual counselor. The first meeting was on June 15 for counselors, but last week was the main virtual camp time.

A couple days just consisted of watching a video about an activity or learning something in nature. Three days were meetings with all virtual camp. Not many counselors were off work during the day, so only a few of us could login to join the campers. The first meeting on Monday consisted of following

one counselor as she demonstrated an art project. As campers made their creations and showed them to cameras, I took screen shots and became the virtual camp photographer. Wednesday had another art project with drawing a vase on cardboard, making holes, and inserting flowers that campers found around their home. Between taking pictures, I tried my stick in Photoshop and made my own project along with the kids.

Thursday was the regular dance activity, but virtual. A DJ had been arranged, but was delayed in joining the group. After 28 years of being involved with camp, I'm familiar with some of the songs regular played and have a few in my own collection. Therefore, I started iTunes and had everyone dancing to "YMCA" while waiting for the official DJ. When he joined, he had internet trouble and gave me a link to his playlist on YouTube. I played the list as he adjusted it for camper's requests and became part of a DJ team.

While everyone missed getting together in person, I'm thankful we could at least have camp this way. Living the quad life means learning to adapt, sometimes quickly. I was able to help this way much more than I expected to and allow the campers to enjoy at least some form of entertainment. I don't know what another year will bring, but I am thankful I could participate with camp once again.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Construction Day

The street in front of my house has been slowly deteriorating the last few years and had become rough to drive on. Two weeks ago, equipment started appearing outside tearing up the concrete. A day after work started, a notice was put on the front door advising on street repair beginning in a few days.

Judging by other road work around town, I imagined it would take all summer for the project to be finished. However, watching out the front windows on my bike trips, I have watched concrete get broken up and loaded into dump trucks. The last few days, new cement was laid, cut, and now looks complete. I'm guessing within a day or maybe two, it will be open again.

Watching the work literally outside my front door has been interesting. However, an excavator swinging cement chunks over our yard left a few deposits. Cutting new cement also bathed the yard and sidewalk with a layer of dust. Dad has been diligently cleaning everything so mom and I don't get dirty wheels and he doesn't hit rocks with the lawn mower.

This is the second year in a row dad and I have been home for Father's Day and not out at CHAMP Camp. I would like to be able to give him a day off, but it's not really possible. With no day help on weekends, he is the only one that can do my cares and the day feels pretty similar to any other.

Through all the years, I am thankful for all the blessings God has given me through dad. We have one Father, in heaven, who uses people He has placed in our lives just for the right purpose. Many of the campers, and now adults, with severe medical needs like mine have only one parent that stays around, if any do stay. Most often, it is the dad that leaves and mom gets the full responsibility of caregiver and provider.

On this day designated for dads, I'm thankful for the example mine has given. I know I can depend on him as a one-person mechanic for the van, bed, wheelchair, and pretty well everything I use. However, he also looks to God first and lets me drag him along to different churches I'm asked to preach at and hears some of my recycled sermons I use for first-time visits. I don't know what the week ahead will bring, but I can be sure dad will come home after 10-12 hours at work and continue to be someone mom and I can depend on.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Six Years and Four Minutes

In July 2015, I first used an FES bike for my legs. Since then, I have regularly used the system and written about on here before. In the nearly six years I have biked, my legs have pedaled over 1,450 miles over hundreds of sessions. Those numbers are impressive and I'm very thankful God has allowed me to do it. However, I have been concerned about other results during my times on the bike.

As a review, the bike provides electrical stimulation to my leg muscles through pads that are placed on them. A motor in the bike moves the pedals while giving stimulation. If my muscles react strong enough to the provided pulse, the motor turns off and my own body does the biking on my own.

Early in 2021, I had a number of times during my 30-minute ride that I would go for a full minute or more on off the motor. My legs responded to the stimulation correctly and were able to bike without the motor taking control. It also meant for nearly 29 minutes I was just along for the ride, but it was at least something. Unfortunately, my legs have gone lazy the last several months and only done 7-30 seconds independently each time. Biking is still great for circulation, some muscle building, and bone maintenance, but it's best if my own muscles can put forth effort and also burn calories.

Thinking to my bike history, it has been 3-4 years since any of my stimulation settings were adjusted. On Thursday, I connected with a remote support therapist from Restorative Therapies (the bike manufacturer). The physical therapist took my history, connected to my bike's computer, and made a few changes. She slowed my speed from 40 RPM to 32, increased the power going to the electrodes, and other adjustments.

As I watched my legs slowly go in circles, I noticed the computer recording much more power coming from my muscles. At the end of the 35-minute ride, they had gone for 2:55 without the motor. On Friday, the time increased to 4:04 without assistance. Both of these times are new records for me in the years I've been cycling. I now go about 0.2 miles less per session with the decreased speed, but I would rather have quality than quantity.

Even though we live in a sin cursed world that includes disabilities, God has not abandoned us. I'm thankful He has provided technology like this bike to help with many areas. I look forward to this week's biking and to see what results come. After years of occasionally burning 0.1 calories, I may even double that amount for a full bite of ice cream!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Finally a Week Alone

With the world shut down last year, very few vacations were made by anyone. It has been getting increasingly difficult for my parents to get away anyway, and they weren't able to go on any of their regular trips. The year is half complete, but they were able to leave last week Sunday afternoon and returned yesterday evening.

The challenge for my parents is finding enough coverage for me when they normally are responsible. Five hours every evening and weekend days are hard to fill for several days in a row. However, for this week, one caregiver agreed to do three nights, my aunt and uncle two nights, grandmother and aunt one night, and another occasional helper Saturday evening. It's a precarious house of cards, but the plan allowed them to be free of the house.

Sunday and Monday evenings were my aunt and uncle for three hours, and one of my older, retired, helpers was going to cover the remaining two hours. Unfortunately, she was sick, and unable to come, but my relatives were okay with staying longer and my day helper Sara covered one of the two-hour slots.

It was a great weather week in Iowa. Part of my household chores was watering flowers and tomato plants in various locations. I made sure they had good drinks and monitored the plants on the deck for at least 30 minutes a day. It meant sitting in the sun and enjoying the outdoors, but I was willing to make the effort.

Living as a bachelor, I tried a few new, and old, recipes for supper and found another option I think my parents would also like. Saturday evening came, and the scheduled caregiver didn't come at her expected time. Calling her, I discovered she wasn't aware she had been scheduled and was already busy with something else. Sara had already been with me for ten hours, but my helper that was feeling ill early in the week was well enough to come and sit with me until my parents returned.

In the quad life, some days get challenging and I have to quickly adapt and come up with solutions. I'm thankful my parents could get away again as they enjoy. The caregiver that helped three evenings is scheduled for surgery in a few days and won't be available again for a few months. Therefore, if they didn't go this past week, my parents may not have been able to go at all.

Now that everything has returned to normal, it's time to get back to other projects. However, those will be saved for future entries.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Vacation

Memorial Day weekend has long been the unofficial start to summer. Most kids are off from school, the weather is nice, and families get a long weekend to get away. Last year, everybody was stuck in quarantine at home, so I imagine this weekend is especially busy all around the country. For me, it has been just that.

Yesterday, my parents and I picked up fast food for lunch and had a car picnic. Afterword, we went to my paternal grandfather's grave site to add a flower to the existing decorations. The rest of the day, dad spent running around the house doing yard work, vacuuming, and other household cleaning to prepare for vacation.

A few months ago, mom got it arranged that she and dad could be gone this week to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. They normally go out earlier in the year, but one of my evening assistants was busy with helping at her school job until now. That same caregiver is scheduled to have surgery in a little over a week and won't be available until late summer and then return to school. Therefore, my parent's only option was this week.

Mom officially got off of quarantine a few days ago, but is still feeling the effects of having Covid. Coughing still comes and goes and she gets tired after not much work. I think if they had an option to delay going out a few weeks, they would. However, I'm guessing their trip will consist of much napping beside train tracks near various small towns in the Midwest.

This morning started off early with me preaching at a small church about 45 minutes away. It was my first time leading a full service instead of just giving the sermon. I have wanted the opportunity to take a full service before, but it took more planning time and prep work than I fully anticipated.

In a few hours from when this blog goes live, I'll have the house to myself for the week. Assuming I don't completely fail in my responsibilities, I will report on the experience of the quad life in the next entry. Until then, remember those who have fought and died for the freedoms we do enjoy and don't forget that a time will come when each of us to also leave this world and enter eternity.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

School to Staying Home

Tuesday morning was my final grade school visit for the year. The students were four days away from being done for the year. As usual, I arrived during recess to an empty room and had time to look around a bit. The day's schedule had me in the morning and a class party in the afternoon. Exploring my

surroundings further, I spotted a large bag of M&Ms propped against a bag of microwave popcorn. I started to wonder if I could prolong my segment of the day so I could join in the festivities.

Ten minutes after I came, the combined 3rd and 4th grade class got off from break and I met the new, to me, instructor. The total class size consisted of eight kids, four per grade. With the small class size and basically as much time as I wanted, I tried adding a new lesson. In addition to having the kids write by mouth, like me, I also had them try writing by foot. It helped demonstrate other disabilities, such as not having arms, and was fun for everyone. The students concluded mouth writing was easier than feet, which was opposite my prediction.

When my caregiver and I got home, we were greeted with a note on the door into the house. While away, my parents got tested for Covid, with mom coming back positive and dad negative. She has suspected something was wrong a few days earlier and as a precaution, had stayed away from me. Since the positive test, mom has been in quarantine in the basement until ten days have passed.

Therefore, it has been dad running the house and helping mom and I on his own. Mom has been directing supper items from her post in the basement and giving directions on how to make the dish. It has looked like dad running around like a masked headless chicken. During the day, I have tried to have my caregivers help where they can to decrease the work load.

Thankfully, I have felt fine and not shown any symptoms of having caught it. For precaution, I will be starting to take a couple extra supplements, zinc and vitamin D, that are supposed to help boost the immune system.

I'm thankful for the blessings of health God has given me in the quad life. I look forward to when mom can be released from her quarantine, but am thankful she doesn't appear to have a severe case. This week will primarily be spent at home, but I hope the sun will come out and allow for time on the deck.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Reaching Out in 2021

It almost seems like every week, the world is becoming more hostile, especially toward Christians. In Canada, three pastors are in the public spotlight for being arrested or heavily fined for having church services. Life is also seen as just an accident that arose from evolution, and not something to be cherished as a gift from God. Therefore, funding for abortion is now greatly increasing as well as the availability of euthanasia.

No matter what is happening, Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples of all nation (Matthew 28:18-20). Much of what is going on around us is a symptom of hearts that have turned away from God. Passing laws that restrict evils such as abortion are great, but they can be switched back again in another generation. The only lasting solution is turning hearts, and minds, back to Christ and why life is unique.

A little over a week ago, I worked with a gospel outreach group at an annual Dutch heritage celebration. I have helped with the group every year (except 2020 of course) since they started in 2017. This year, groups were sent to certain sections of town with one person designated as the group leader. For those that were inexperienced at outreach, they could get training with their leader. Since I have been out for several years, and preach on evangelism, I was designated as one of the leaders.

Every morning started with group training about evangelism basics or apologetics. After the hour long session, we then spread out around town. One of the women in my team was normally content with staying at home and avoiding people. However, after some tips on how to approach people and ideas for conversation starters, she did share gospel tracts and prayed with a few people.

I talked with one man who said he was a Buddhist, but believed because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, everyone goes to heaven, even Hitler. I went through a few questions and shared with him, but he wasn't interested in listening. It was still a friendly conversation and I was able to leave a gospel tract with him and I pray he will have a change of mind while he has time.

The quad life doesn't need to be boring with sitting at home all the time. I'm thankful I had this opportunity again this year and hope for more to come.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sleepy Mother's Day

The second Sunday in May has been dedicated to celebrate mother's. This year, I am thankful for all my mom does, while trying to stay awake.

Monday afternoon, I received a message that my primary night nurse was sick. He ended up being gone all week, but will hopefully be back tonight. My other caregiver covered a few nights, but I haven't had anyone for night coverage since Tuesday. Therefore, the last four nights have been mom and I staying up until 1:30 in the morning. After about 4-5 hours of sleep, dad gets up to take over.

We knew Friday and Saturday would not be covered, and that was going to be a challenge already. Now with it doubled, the three of us feel like zombies during the day. I also had two days of helping with an outreach group (upcoming blog) that started with an hour of training. The speakers were interesting and ones I looked forward to hearing, but I kept yawning while they spoke.

Nights like the last four are times I'm even more thankful for the mom God has given me. She has had more responsibilities lately in helping other family members and continues to deal with her own health needs. Every week, mom continues to work with my caregiver's paperwork and keep everything straight so I can live at home. Whatever is happening, she continues to help in every way possible.

I'm most thankful for the instructions mom gave me when growing up. She taught me to read the Bible and trust God's word in everything. Mom also worked to make me as independent as possible and to help me get through school. Some days my independent nature doesn't agree with hers, but we have learned to compromise as needed.

Every day should be one where parents are recognized for what they do. Thank you mom for another year with many unexpected circumstances, but adapting as needed for all of us.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Stuck in the System

When I received my spinal cord injury in 1985, most of my medical expenses were covered by private insurance through my dad's employer. In 2014, due to the Affordable Care Act, I nearly lost that coverage. After a long trial, I ended up with private insurance covering nights and a program through Iowa Medicaid covering my day hours. This is what I have been using since that time, and it appears with no alternative.

In the last few months, my parents have celebrated their birthdays; with both either at or near retirement age. When most people reach this milestone, they look forward to decreasing their hours at work and doing other activities they enjoy. However, that apparently isn't something my parents are allowed to do.

Mom discovered that if my parents go off of private insurance and start taking retirement funds, it would disqualify me for the Medicaid program I use, as well as other consequences. Iowa uses what's called MCOs, or Managed Care Organizations, for all but a few recipients in the state. I'm one of the few that doesn't use an MCO, and it's a good thing. Many stories of problems with Iowa's system have been documented, including receiving less coverage. We can't find anyone to tell us for certain what I could get covered if I switched, and it very likely would be much less than I use. Also, since my private insurance is through dad's employer, he needs to continue working full-time to receive medical benefits.

This has been an upcoming issue my family has known was coming for about a year. We have looked for solutions, but it appears the only guaranteed answer would require an act of congress. I don't have any plans on running for an elected position, so it's very unlikely that anything would change in the next decade, or three.

Seeing all my parents have done for me, it has been hard not feeling responsible for keeping them from enjoying what they have worked decades to achieve. While attempting to sleep, thoughts of going to a care facility to ease their work load have filled many nights. However, I know that moving to a facility would also end everything I do outside of home.

The only comfort in this, and all, situation is diving deeply into God's Word. Just as He cares for the birds of the air, He knows our needs as well. I have had many times in life that looked uncertain, but God has carried me through. The time before a solution comes is hardest, but it does come in God's time. I have no idea what that could be in this situation, but I will continue to pray, wait, and do His will until change comes.