Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Claudia's Blog: Reality Check

Claudia's Blog: Reality Check

Reality Check

Yesterday, my dear friend and fellow PALS (Person with ALS), Kent (and his mom, Nancy) drove 160 miles round trip to visit us. It was absolutely wonderful to see them!!Kent and I had a little time alone at Starbucks to just sit and sip (with straws!) coffee and just share our hearts. We have perspective that few people can share. We both have ALS and we both are watching someone we love (each other) fight this beast.

Neither of us would have chosen this route (nor would any of you) but it has chosen us. God has allowed this to enter our lives. I can't say either of us know why He allowed it, but I can say that if it meant never meeting Kent, or missing the blessings that I've seen as a result of my ALS I don't think I'd change a thing. Life, turned on it's head, and accepted as such, can become a beautiful thing. The key word is acceptance.

Kent is a special man. I didn't know him before we were diagnosed with ALS. We met as a direct result. But the man I have come to know is one with an indomitable spirit and an infectious smile. His family and friends have welcomed me and cared for me with open arms.

Kent has a special relationship with Christopher, too. Kent is a "man's man" and he has a way of being concurrently tough but loving and tender. Kent's ALS is progressing faster than mine and his progression is allowing Christopher to see and talk about (as best he is able) what lies ahead for me. This is a huge blessing, although painful for all of us, just the same.

Kent, you're not only Christopher's're mine. Thank you for being my friend and for loving me. You've been "Jesus with skin on" in our lives.

Love, Claudia

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Food for Thought

Received this devotional in my email today from Ephesians Four Mininstries and just wanted to share with you all. It is food for thought for ME...

Today's Prayer
God, You are so good. Your plans are bigger than I could ever imagine. You always honor Your promises. You know all about parenting and prodigal children, so you well know what parents go through. Your love knows no bounds, and You always look at my heart, not necessarily my appearance (although I know I must abstain from "the appearance of evil"). Because You love me, You will discipline me and Your Holy Spirit will convict my heart and speak to my mind to keep me in line. That's how I know I'm Your child. I know that You can change me and make me more like Jesus, if I will agree and not fight against Your will. I am willing Lord. Mold me and make me into that precious child and Christian light that You would have me be. In Jesus' name, amen.

Two Types of PeopleTGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman03-18-2008
"O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life" (Ps 17:14).
There are two types of people in the world. There are those whose activities are designed to generate a reward in this lifetime. And there are those who live to generate a reward when they meet our Lord in Heaven.

Not every Christian models the latter. How does one judge whether they are living for the future reward versus the earthly reward? There are several key indicators.

Future reward people tend to be givers. They make their time and resources available to be channeled for Kingdom purposes. They realize their sowing will ultimately be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ where what they have done on earth will be judged and rewarded by God (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Future reward people live a life based upon obedience-based decisions. They don't make decisions based on their perceived outcome. They realize a decision based on obedience alone may not result in an immediate outcome. Jesus was obedient to the cross, but the immediate outcome was His own death on the cross.

Future reward situations show up in daily life in a number of ways. Perhaps a person has wronged you and God calls you to forgive and even bless that person without expectation of their response. Perhaps God calls you to sow money into a ministry or another person's life without expectation of return from them. Perhaps you are called to serve another person without expectation of any earthly reward. The situations we might encounter are unlimited.
Are you living a life based on a future reward, or short term reward? Today, evaluate how you make decisions and how you allocate resources. This will reveal whether you are a future reward Christian.

Love, Claudia

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How bad is it?

Let's just say I traded 3 (nice) shirts of mine for $12.00 worth of groceries ...

THAT sucks.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Just Running an Errand

"Hey, I think I'll run to Aldi," I say, nonchalantly. We only need a gallon of milk, some half-and-half, bread and some sliced cheese. I can handle this. I can still drive, and Aldi is less than 1/2 mile from the house. I pick up my purse (thinking it feels like a small child is inside...although I have only my wallet, Amy's cell phone and a few other small items) and head for the door. Lifting my heavy feet I think to myself, "Man, I hope it isn't busy at Aldi. At least it is a super-small store and I'll have a cart to lean on when I get there." Walking down the ramp, I notice that the right rear tire on the van is nearly flat. I groan. Up the ramp again, I open the door and announce "I may be gone a few extra minutes. I have to find a gas station to put air in the tire." Amy peeks around me out the door and, seeing the tire, says, "We'll go with you and I can put the air in the tire....(implied: "since it will be hard for you to manage the fine motor part of things"). Gratefully, I say "that would be great" and head to the van to start it to warm it up. The ice and snow -- now slush -- from the "blizzard" we had 3 days ago still lingers despite today's temperatures in the mid-40s.

Amy, Christopher and I set out on our errands. No biggie. The gas station is around the corner and we pull up to the "Air" station only to realize that we have no quarters. I send Amy into the store with some one-dollar bills (not knowing how many "doses" of air the tire will take at $0.75 each), while I pull around to get 6 gallons of gas for over $20.00! Pumping gas is no fast-feat for me anymore, but I'm successful and Christopher is cooperative and calm while he waits. We pull back around to the "Air" station and Amy fills the tire. A belt squeals on the van, but we are so happy that it is running we don't even care!

A few blocks down the street we pull in to Aldi and, after a brief "conference" Amy and I decide that it will be easier for me to go in alone than for all of us to go (or for me to be left in the car with the "chatty one" who will tire me out making me talk....try telling an autistic kid to be quiet when their world revolves around repeating the same phrase over and over and over until you FINALLY repeat it back -- so they can move on to the next cycle). Aldi goes well and Christopher waited so patiently that Amy asks, "Christopher, would you like to use your McDonald's gift card that Sarah sent you?" (as if she didn't know the answer to THAT question!). By now I'm getting tired. Stupid muscles. I haven't done anything! Why am I getting tired?!

As we approach McD's Amy asks, "Christopher, would you like to eat in?" This is followed by squeals of glee, as if the cacophony of sounds in McDonald's, enough to drive an adult mad, are somehow tolerable to an autistic 10 year old who can only see and smell a double cheeseburger (plain) and french fries.

We pull into the parking place closest to the door and, as ALWAYS, on the row nearest the building (NO ONE in their right mind would take an autistic kid to McDonald's and park where the enticing cheeseburger on the other side of the drive-thru lane is more important than the vehicle racing to get their "fast food"). Amy opens the sliding van door and Christopher falls out onto his hands and knees on the pavement between the two adjacent vehicles. The meltdown-to-be is short circuited by the amazing discovery of a crushed plastic pop bottle, complete with syrupy residue, on the pavement under the van. "PUT THAT DOWN!" is out of Amy's mouth before I even know what has happened. But the drama has begun. Although a meltdown has been avoided by the fortuitous find under the van, the temptation is just too great, and as soon as he has stepped onto the sidewalk, Christopher once again drops to his hands and knees. People are noticing now. The girl on her smoke-break from inside Mc D's, crouches on the sidewalk with a look of puzzlement. A young woman in a vehicle is so focused on the spectacle that she forgets to look as she starts to back out of her parking space and nearly hits one of those "fast food" fast-drivers racing for the drive-thru.

Somehow, we manage to survive our 15 minutes of fame and the beeping and yelling inside this "restaurant" (I think that is stretching the definition of the term just a tad). My comment about the depth of the gene pool inside Mickey D's on this particular visit will go undocumented.

Three simple errands. I feel as if I have just run the stairs at the RCA dome 50 times as fast as I can. My feet flop as I walk, feeling like "flippers" at the ends of my legs. I hold on to things as I move to get back into the car and when I get out once we get home. Now it is time to take the groceries into the house. Amy carries them while I watch Christopher stomping happily in the slush in the driveway. Amy returns, announcing "I sat the groceries on the table and I'll take the stuff to the freezer (in the detached garage) in a second. I'm gonna let him play until he gets cold and gets it out of his system." In my stubbornness, I decide that I can take the bread to the freezer while they play, so I get the key to the garage, carefully walk to the door and unlock it. Just as I'm placing the bread in the freezer I hear, "Do you have a house key?!" "No.....the door is unlocked," I reply. "Not anymore!" is all I hear Amy reply. Christopher, in 0.16 seconds has managed to reach inside the door, lock it and slam it shut. Great. I'm tired. He's now wet from slush and we're locked out of the house and the sun is setting.

"Sharyll, do you think you could come over and bring your spare house key. Christopher's locked us out," Amy says, as I thank GOD for cell phones. So, now it's time to entertain the autistic kid until we can get back in the house. I know... let's shovel slush! Great fun....or not so much. Mostly, Christopher watches Amy shovel while he throws ice chunks, getting colder and wetter by the minute. After what seems like years, I venture to ask the question on both Amy and my mind "Hey, Amy. Sharyll knows that we're locked OUTside, right?" Amy, in her ever-quick wit answers, "I have a vision of her knocking on the front door" We laugh, but we're all getting colder and Christopher is now wet from head to toe, his jeans, coat and mittens soaked. He is no longer enjoying this little "adventure". Just as Sharyll arrives, Christopher can take no more and the meltdown ensues. All 110 pounds of him falls to the ground as his wet limbs flail and he tries to kick, hit and bite Amy (all for trying to help him get up!). Sharyll unlocks the door while I try to stay out of harms way and we all go inside. Christopher is stripped of his soaked-to-the-skin clothing and we start a load of laundry. I can finally put the milk away.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring...where are you!?

The birds are coming back. The past few days we've been blessed to see a female and two male cardinals just off our front porch. Christopher is so excited and so am I! I love watching the birds and they help me remember that God watches over me because "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"! Yes, the world outside still looks cold and grey (bah, humbug) but I keep reminding myself that spring IS coming!
Love, Claudia

Prayer Request

Due to some MAJOR bureaucratic mess-ups, our already tight "fixed-income" is really problematic right now. Please join me in praying that God meets the gaps.

I know He can..... he has before....

But I didn't want you all to think I was some perfecto person of faith...I get scared, anxious, worried, overwhelmed and (yes) FREAKED OUT sometimes too. Today is one of those days!!!

Thanks for praying with me. I know God can move mountains, but I'm not so sure about bureaucratic FUBARs! LOL!!!

Love, Claudia

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What if His People Prayed?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Do you believe that God answers prayer? I do. Since I've been diagnosed with ALS I've seen Him answer prayers in truly MIRACULOUS ways. Some people might say that all of them are "coincidences", but I know better. Here's just one example....I got an email 2 days ago from a person who lives out of state (formerly a Muncie resident), saying they had read about our service dog project (on the web) and had been praying for us and for the project. They then told me that they had "called home" and in the course of the discussion "coincidentally" found out that a family member (still living here in Muncie) had "donated toward a family raising funds for a service dog". Now, you might be thinking, "Wow, that's kinda cool...they prayed and their family acted" but that's only part of the story. Their "family member" is one of the two people who was moved to donate $5000.00 to 4 Paws in Christopher's honor! They had NOT discussed this before... but God moved in response to prayer.

What if God's People Prayed? I hope as you read the lyrics to the song by "Casting Crowns" (below) you'll think about the power YOUR prayers can have in your life, the lives of others, in our nation, world and in God's kingdom!

PRAY! Your daddy wants to hear your voice. He doesn't care if you follow any particular format or that you aren't perfect...HE LOVES YOU and he just wants to hear your voice! If you're a parent, remember the first time you heard your child's voice on the phone? Do you remember how wonderful and magical that little voice was? Did you even care what they said? NO! It made you smile just to hear their voice. God, our Abba ("daddy"), just wants us to TALK to him! Try it. He WILL smile just to hear your voice!

Love, Claudia

What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captive free
And not let satan have one more

What if the Church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates

Chorus I:
What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His faith, yeah
And turn from their old ways

And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day

What if the life that we pursue
Came from a hunger for the truth
What if the family turned to Jesus
Stopped asking Oprah what to do

Chorus I:
What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His face yeah
And turn from their own way
Chorus II:
He said that He would hear
His promise has been made
He'll answer loud and clear, yeah
If only we would pray

If My people call by My name
If they'll humble themselves and pray
If My people call by My name
If they'll humble themselves and pray

What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His face, yeah
And turn from their old ways
He said that He would hear
His promise has been made
He'll answer loud and clear yeaah
If only we would pray

(Choruses and bridge ad lib)

Monday, March 3, 2008


It's OFFICIAL! We have met our fundraising goal for 4 Paws For Ability and are scheduled for the two week training in December 2008. We are getting a service dog!!! (happy dance! happy dance!). Start to finish will have been less than a year...remarkably fast in the service dog world, but excruciatingly slow in this house! But, WHATEVER you do, DON'T PRAY for PATIENCE for us (puhleeze.... I know how God answers that prayer!!!! LOL!!).
Thank you SO much to all of you who donation was too small and every dollar made a difference!! Your love and prayers have moved mountains! Love, Claudia

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Praying for Official Word that We're DONE!

Well, today is March 1st, so we're praying for that special email that says that we've OFFICIALLY (as in "the checks have cleared the bank") done fundraising for 4 Paws! This has got to be the longest day of my life so far!

Christopher asked if his dog could pray with him and I immediately thought of this picture! We told him that, yes, his dog could probably pray with him!

I'll post again as soon as I get any information from Karen (Shirk) at 4 Paws. Hopefully, when we find out we're DONE we'll get dates for our training class as well. I've heard rumors that the next class that has openings (for dogs that will do tracking, like Christopher's) is DECEMBER 2008. I know there is another tracking class in September but rumor is that it is FULL :(

So pray extra hard today for us.... and I'll post again later. Love to all of you who have so graciously supported us along the way with donations and most of all PRAYERS! Hugs, Claudia