Friday, July 26, 2013

Almost two full years of miracles

Please forgive me for taking so long to update this blog!  I can't plead a busy work schedule since school's out for the summer, but I still cling to the "I'm a mother of five" excuse for not being more diligent about updating everyone who still follows Dale's progress. Not that that really holds water either since my youngest is seven and all my children are old enough to fend for themselves---to a certain extent!  Emily (seven year old) is still too short to reach the upper cabinets in the kitchen or hold the tea jug steady to pour herself a drink, but the rest of them have no excuse!  Even Dale, bless his heart, is able to get himself a drink or snack whenever he wants to........and he's had to remind me often that he can do it just fine.  I tend to think that, because he needs supervision walking up or down stairs and still needs a hand when walking in a crowded or unfamiliar place, he can't do anything for himself.  Then I start smothering him instead of mothering him!

As for Dale's progress, he's doing okay.  I don't grade him as great because he still has a ways to go, but he's definitely better than right after his accident.  Summertime is always hard for him because it's just too easy to sit on the couch and vegetate!  During the school year he has to be up and moving at regular intervals, but  on summer break he feels it's his constitutional right to play video games all day.  Chad has instituted a mandatory reading time each day to keep his mind active, and we are trying to get Dale exercising each day (simple sit-ups, stretches, and balance work) to keep his brain from forgetting how to move his body.  A year ago, when we stopped physical therapy (insurance difficulties), Dale was walking pretty well and only had real struggles with falling.  Once he loses his balance, there's no stopping till he hits the ground!  Somehow, his brain has no ability to think fast enough to put his arms out to catch himself.  Now, though, Dale thinks too much about falling and so precipitates the accidents instead of avoiding them.  He literally puts his body in a position to fall instead of straightening up and walking correctly.  He has also formed the habit of moseying along like a cowboy---hips forward, long lunges, with the addition of hunched shoulders and stationary arms.  When he is reminded, he will pull his shoulders back, pull his hips back, and swing his arms, giving him a much more natural gait.  Lots of progress still to be made!

Dale's speech is still slowed, causing no end of frustration on the part of his listeners whenever he wants to say something.  He talks as if he's just learned the English language and must phrase each sentence absolutely perfectly or he will be reprimanded.  This causes him to start and re-start and re-start a sentence until he gets all the words in place that he desires before finishing the thought that he began a couple of minutes ago!  It's kind of like having to wait patiently while a stutterer speaks; you don't want to be rude and hurry them along or finish their sentence for them, but you don't want to be stuck there all day waiting for them to speak their mind.  (Any stutterers:  I am not talking about you personally, and I am deeply sorry if I have offended you.)  However, Dale is able to speak well; he can read well; he understands just fine.  It's so easy, isn't it, when you see someone obviously handicapped like Dale, to assume that they can't understand normal speech, right?  Folks who don't know Dale very well still talk to him like he's four years old.  "Well, Dale, how are you today?" and then look at me and say, "He's doing really well, isn't he?"  Dale doesn't help matters either by taking at least five seconds to respond to their simple question.  If you're around Dale for any length of time, you soon realize that he isn't retarded, just weird!!!

One major improvement that I'm not sure I've mentioned is that Dale is able to release things from his hands much easier than during his stay at the hospital.  He used to have such trouble throwing a ball or rolling dice; his brain wouldn't let his fingers let go of the object.  We were playing a board game recently, and Dale was rolling the dice and moving his piece quite easily.  When he throws something, his aim might be off but his release is wonderful to see.  (I'm not sure how this ability will help him in life unless he becomes a professional baseball player---doubtful---or a professional gambler---over my dead body!)

We're approaching the two-year anniversary of God's wonderful miracle in our boy and the aftermath of God's people praying.  If you could have told me two years ago that God was going to use an terrifying accident to lead people across the world to unite in prayer, I would have been rather puzzled.  After all, things like that just don't happen nowadays.  If you had told me that God would perform such a drastic change in our family, I would have begged it not to be.  I'd always prayed for God to use our family, but I never imagined it would be this way.  If you had told me then that two years later, people would still be reading this blog and following God's miracle in Dale, I would have been disbelieving.  Isn't it a good thing God doesn't act on our unbelief but rather on the infinitesimal belief we do have?  Isn't it wonderful that our God's size is not based on our thinking but on His ability?  Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on us, our family, our son, our daughters, our friends, our church, our prayer partners whom we've never met.  Our God still lives and works today.  If you have any doubts about that, just page back a year or two and read all about it!  God bless you.

Romans 8: 28  "And we know that all things work together for  good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Visiting Grandparents!

Our family is all excited and going crazy because we have my folks visiting from Ohio for just over a week.  Amanda and I picked them up from Sea-Tac Airport Monday evening and don't have to take them back until next Tuesday morning.  Fun-filled days have followed since; we have been to an antique store, Mt. Rainier, the outlet stores in Centralia, church (!), and are now planning a thrift store trip.  Ashley and Emily have enjoyed walking down to our neighborhood playground with Grandpa, and I have loved having my mom here.  I have no idea what is planned for Saturday, but there is already a Dragon Buffet lunch scheduled after church Sunday.  *sigh*  I love having my parents come visit!

I am notorious for getting lost super easily.  I have no sense of direction and must have detailed instructions in order to arrive anywhere without a complete breakdown.  Needless to say, MapQuest has become my closest companion on trips!  I made sure to look up directions to the airport and write them down carefully before Mandie and I left so I wouldn't get lost getting there or back.  Mandie brought along her laptop in case the airport cell phone parking lot had wifi, and we planned to stop at a McDonald's to get something to drink on the way.  In an effort to save gas, we didn't turn on the air conditioner, opting instead to roll down the windows and enjoy the breeze.  Not ten minutes down the road, Amanda leaned down the grab a new CD and momentarily took her hand off the directions lying on her lap.  You can guess what happened next!  Mandie yelped, snatched at the air helplessly, and then sat back, chagrined.  It all happened so fast that I didn't catch on for a few seconds.  By the time my brain figured out what just occurred, the directions were just a speck of paper tumbling in my rear view mirror.  Thankfully, McDonald's has wifi, so Mandie used her laptop to pull up the directions again so we could get to the airport on time!

Dale has been taking things in stride (pun intended) with our activities.  He's not been sticking to a strict sleep schedule which affects his stamina and balance.  Plus, he's not familiar with these places we've been going so he's hesitant to sally forth and conquer.  I mean, at home he walks pretty well; at church and school, he's getting better.  Even in Wal-Mart, Dale will eventually relax and walk somewhat normally.  But take him to a new place and he automatically thinks there will be problems---which make him slow down, over think his actions, and shake a great deal more.  Still, he's enjoyed each place we've been, doing what he can and not fretting over what he can't.........which is more than I can say about myself!  We continue to pray for God's full healing and for Dale to listen when we give helpful hints.

I'll close now; we've got a lot to do!  Enjoy your weekend!

Psalm 23: 4  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

Thursday, July 4, 2013

God just keeps blessing us!

It would be so easy to look at our lives and constantly complain---and sometimes I do!  Life is not perfect nor are we, and, as a result, things happen that we wish would have happened to someone our worst enemy.  Not that we have any of those, mind you!  But, you know what I mean.  Every day brings disappointments, arguments, selfishness, tears, whining, griping, and pain.  However, it doesn't do anyone any good to dwell on those things.  Steeping in misery never improves anyone's outlook. So, let's look at the positive instead---and it's amazing how much good stuff there is to thank God for!

1.)  Chad has been getting good hours at work which naturally brings in more money.  This is obviously helpful in a family of seven with one child preparing to go off to college and the rest of the kids trying their best to grow out of every stitch of clothing they own.  Thank You, Lord!

2.)  The gym membership that Chad signed us up for is paying off. Chad goes nearly every day, and the results are obvious.  Katie and I go twice a week and have noticed a difference in our shapes and fitness levels, so we are getting ready to step up to going three times a week.  Thank You, Lord!

3.)  Dale and I have recently joined the bus route that Amanda, Katie, and Ashley already work on.  The single ladies that used to drive them around visiting on Saturdays recently moved to Texas, leaving them without transportation.  This was the first real chance to rejoin a ministry for both Dale and I since Dale's accident.  He hasn't been able to go out on a bus route or teen soul winning because of his physical difficulties, and I had to stop going out with Children's Challenge to stay home with him.  So, this opportunity is (pardon the pun) heaven-sent!  Right now, I'm learning the route (since I'm the driver AND since Amanda is leaving soon for college), so Dale and I just stay in the car while the girls do the actual visiting.  But soon I'll make sure Dale and I get in some visiting and soul winning time as well.  Thank You, Lord!

4.)  I got to talk to a young lady last night after church for a while. She was visiting for the first time, and someone had asked her if she knew for sure she were on her way to Heaven.  They then collared me and asked if I would talk with her about salvation.  As I said in the previous point, I haven't been able to go out soul winning for some time; I felt a little rusty which only made me pray the more desperately for the Holy Spirit's guidance.  It's a wonderful thing to know that not one word coming out of your mouth is yours; it's all God's!  She and I talked for some time, and it was apparent to me that she really just needed a shoulder to cry on.  Life has not been easy for her; she needs God but is afraid to let Him in.  I was able to at least give her a tract and tell her that the verses printed thereon are straight from the Bible about Heaven and leave her with the impression that I am someone who will listen when she talks, not just shove verses down her throat and demand she repeat some words.  I know not all soul winners are like that, but I'm sure there are some who think I should have made her stop talking so that I could take her through the Romans Road and make her pray with me.  Like I said, I was asking the Holy Spirit the whole time to guide my tongue, and I truly feel that the seeds of love and truth were planted last night.  Someone else may water them or reap the harvest, but I got to be a part.  Thank You, Lord!

5.)  I saved the best for last.  As you know, Amanda, our oldest, has graduated from high school and is preparing to attend Golden State Baptist College this fall.  She has been working hard and saving money to have, hopefully, her first month's tuition and room/board by the time college starts.  She will be getting a job once she gets there to earn the money to continue to pay her way through college.  Last night, our youth pastor, Bro. Jon, called Mandie into his office and handed her a certificate from Golden State with her name on it.  (I think he was given this certificate at the recent Youth Conference and instructed to award it to someone whom he felt could use it.)  Bro. Jon said he'd been looking for someone who had attended Youth Conference with the teens and was planning to attend Golden State in the fall.  He said, "I'm not sure if you'll want this or not........" and let the statement trail off questioningly.  At this point, Amanda could only see the back of the certificate, which is blank.  When he turned it around, she nearly gasped.  The certificate awards the recipient $1,000.00 towards their first semester's tuition at Golden State Baptist College!!!  Can you believe it?!  Mandie said breathlessly, "Yes, I'll want that!" and then began crying.  Praise the Lord!  What an answer to prayer this is!  She now can breathe a good bit easier as she feverishly readies herself for college.  THANK YOU, LORD!

Our God just never stops blessing us.  And our family is just like any other........we have good days and bad days; we get mad at each other and kiss and make up; we set good examples and bad examples; we love God and forget to pray.  Why God chooses to bless us so abundantly is beyond me.  I mean that---why would God pour out His blessings so richly on sinners like us?  The only answer I can come up with is.......because He is wonderful.  He doesn't bless us because we are something special; He blesses us because He is.  Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on us!

Have a great Independence Day, everyone!  Thank God for our country and those who fight to keep it free.  Eat lots of watermelon and hot dogs and potato salad.  Be careful with fireworks though; don't become a statistic.  God bless y'all!

Philippians 4: 19  "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."