Year in Review 2021

December 12, 2021

It is again the end of another year and time to reflect on everything in the past 12 months. Was 2021 a year of fun or more ho-hum? I think the answer depends upon when it was asked.

In January and February, I continued to stay home away from crowds and cold Iowa weather. As winter lost its grip, I finally returned to attending church in person in March. For the first time in over a year, I went to Walmart to get my own supplies instead of giving a list to my parents. It felt good getting out in public again and I wanted it to continue.

Foot writingI delayed my fall school visits in 2020 to see what would happen with regulations. Most reports said school was going well, and I visited with my regular grade schools in April and May. In case masks were required, I added an alternative activity of foot writing in case they couldn’t by mouth. None of the schools had masks, but I still tried it with one class anyway. It went well and the kids seemed to enjoy it, the addition may become a regular part of my presentation.

In early May, I volunteered with the Tulip Gospel Outreach. I was thankful I could get out and distribute gospel tracts again. This year, I was also asked to help train new volunteers and give advice on how to interact with people. I was only able to go out during part of the festival, but it was still great to help.

As I left for my final grade school in late May, my parents left for Covid testing. A few days earlier, mom started not feeling well and stayed away from me as a precaution. When my caregiver Joy and I returned from school, we found a note on the door that mom had tested positive, but dad was negative.

She spent the next ten days in the basement with dad delivering food while keeping his distance. Mom had freezer meals prepared for later in the year, but directed dad what to use when and how to make it for us. Thankfully, dad and I stayed free from the virus and mom was able to be released of her basement prison on schedule. It took a long time to regain taste and smell, but she eventually recovered fully.

Joel's virtual flower vaseDespite planning on in-person camp, CHAMP Camp again met virtually this year. I volunteered as a virtual counselor and was able to help with activities. Due to technical issues for other counselors, I became the camp music provider on dance day and took pictures (screen shots) of the campers’ artistic creations. In some ways, I was more active as a virtual counselor than I have been at regular camp for years!

Last year, I feared I wouldn’t get to present God’s Word by preaching anywhere. Thankfully, I did get to preach twice in 2020, but this year ended up with a new record for me. On Memorial Day, I preached at a small church in Cedar, IA. It was my first Joel and PTtime planning and leading the entire service from start to finish. The experience was a challenge, but I was asked back again on July 4. In July and August, I also did a five-week series for another small congregation near Bussey, IA.

I was only responsible for the sermon, but I started preparing for it several weeks before I gave my first message. It was another learning curve, but I got into a routine of planning, preparing notes and PowerPoint, reviewing, and then preaching Sunday morning. I picked a topic I know well, creation apologetics and outreach. I received several comments that people enjoyed it and learned more about God’s Word.

While this series was going on, I also volunteered three mornings at the Ark Encounter booth at the Iowa State Fair. Fair Tractor ShoppingJoy was having some medical challenges and needed to limit how much she moved me. Thankfully, dad was able to take some time off to help get me up in my chair in the morning and, for two days, drive us to Des Moines. August was a busy time with different events, but I was thankful to be very active again.

When the month finished, it felt kind of boring to not be as active as I had been. Therefore, I started studying Spanish again with Rosetta Stone. I have started studying twice before in previous years, but never went very far. Now, I’m over halfway through the program and have been working on it almost daily. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to regularly speak it and am beginning to forget some of the earlier material. I am determined to finish it this time though and hope I can use my new language skills for something.

October and November included preaching two more times each month for a total of 11 messages given in the year. All of them were at the small congregations in Cedar and Bussey. However, two of the services I lead were not given nearly as well as they should have been, with dad wondering if something was wrong with me. November, and now December, have included other challenges than managing activities.

Joy continued having back trouble and reluctantly took off the first two weeks of November. Just as she was ready to return, she had a medical issue happen at home that ended with the discovery of a tumor on her brain. Joy successfully had the tumor removed and will not need cancer treatments. We are very thankful for God’s gift in this and continued recovery. However, she was unable to work in November or December and hopes to return in January. My other day time caregiver is well past retirement age and is unable to take more hours and wants to fully retire.

Therefore, we have started looking for more day time help, but are struggling with where to begin. To cover the open hours, my parents have had to majorly adjust schedules with dad going in to work early in the morning before Computer researchreturning home to help me. Mom also has to carefully plan times when she can do paperwork, run errands, and monitor me. It is taxing on physical and mental health, but God has brought us through this far. If you know someone that may be interested in working a few days a week, please give me their contact information!

On Labor Day weekend, my friend Tom and his boys came for a few nights to visit. It was fun having kids around again and seeing their imagination. Tom and I got to have a few discussions late in the night, as we do, and attempted to appear as responsible adults disassembling an old computer to “show his sons.” In late September, a counselor friend from camp, Karrie, also came out from Indianapolis for a day. It has been a few years since I’ve seen anyone from camp in person and it was fun getting caught up. I also continue to text several nights a week with my friend Robin as she continues cancer treatments.

I still work in web development through VMT, but only have 4-5 active clients per month. With uncertainty of what will happen when my parents start taking retirement benefits, I’m hesitant to try to get more business. Twice this year, I was a guest speaker for disability related resources that will hopefully help others. When time allows, I have been continuing to write my autobiography, blog, and vlog about the life I’ve been given.

In November, I also celebrated my 40th birthday. God has blessed me tremendously this year as well as all four decades I’ve been given. Even in challenging times, I especially try to remember God is in control. I don’t know where 2022 will take me, but I pray to serve God as long as I am able and that all reading this will have a blessed year ahead.


Weekly updates are available on my blog, The Quad Life.

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