Monday, April 10, 2006

Beaches and Deserts

Last week Aaron was on spring break.  He spent much of the week cleaning and organizing our apartment.  We had planned to go to Joshua tree national Park and also the Huntington library and gardens.  It was raining the early part of the week so we did not go to Joshua tree when we had planned.  On Thursday Sarah and I were planning on going to the library but then decided to go to the beach instead!  I had not been to the beach since before we had left on our extended “vacation” last summer.  So it was my first trip to the beach in my wheelchair.  I did not drive through sand, obviously; but there was a well paved walkway and also a pier.  The pier was not smooth for the most part, but we went slow and I was able to maneuver over the boards.  We also bought a kite and flew it off the pier and got quite a few strange looks -- which were very entertaining.  Actually, I think we were the entertainment.

On Friday Aaron and I were able to go to Joshua tree.  This is one of our favorite places to go in California.  Did you know as a handicapped person I can get into any national park for free?  There are some perks to being handicapped!  We were able to go on three hikes that were handicapped accessible.  It was fun to be out in the desert again doing one of our favorite activities.  There should be some pictures that will be posted on our web site from our time there.  Between my trip to the beach on Thursday afternoon with Sarah and my trip to Joshua tree on Friday with Aaron, I think this was the happiest I have been and the most normal I have felt since last July.  Going to Joshua tree gave me confidence to be able to continue to do the things we love to do.  Certainly there were limitations -- I was not climbing on any rocks or taking any trails that were too rocky, but I was still able to enjoy the beauty of the desert with Aaron.

This past weekend we began plowing through the incredible mountains of paperwork that had accumulated over the past several months.  It is quite overwhelming but it will feel good to have it done and have the papers filed.  Our apartment is far from being settled but we have resigned ourselves to be content until summer when Aaron has more time.

It is hard to believe that we have been home for nearly 4 months and that our accident happened almost 9 months ago.  In some ways the accident seems that it never happened -- obviously the fact that I am in a wheelchair is a constant reminder, but it feels so normal to be at home in California it seems as though we never left.  But in other ways and at other times the accident is all-consuming.  I mostly feel this way when I'm out in public and notice so many people watching me.  I am getting used to it -- sometimes.  But mostly it is very annoying and it makes me very self-conscious.  I remember in the past couple of years two specific people that I saw in public who were quadriplegics.  One was a young man in a hotel lobby in Washington, DC.  The other was a woman in a restaurant in California.  I looked at them in the same way that people look at me now.  And now when people look at me I wonder if any of them will someday be a quadriplegic.  That is a very sobering thought.  But it is hard to not think that way.

This weekend for Easter Aaron's father Richard and his wife Linda will be with us.  We are looking forward to their visit.  They will be our third set of visitors since coming back to California.  In January Aaron's mom, Alice, and brothers Dan, Bryan, and Rick and Desiree came to visit.  And in February my sister Cyndi and her husband John came to visit.  By the way, John and Cyndi are expecting their first baby in the fall!  We are very excited for a new niece or nephew!

My new computer and new software are working beautifully.  And just today, finally, my new cell phone is working!  If you had my cell phone number and were getting a disconnected message, it is now reconnected.  There has been no change in phone number.

Also several of you have asked to hear my sermon that I preached a few weeks ago.  Our church does record them and I am going to try and get the recording hooked up to the web site.  That way I don't have to send out several copies of the sermon and you can just click on a link and hear the sermon online.  I don't usually listen to my sermons after I preached them -- but I will listen to this one since so many of you have requested it!

I think that is it for now.  I will continue to do updates for a while.  We will be making some changes to the web site eventually.  I don't know when those changes will happen but we are working on some ideas to update the site.  So keep checking!  I am amazed that we still get almost 200 hits a day.

Thank you again for your unfailing support and prayers.  We could not get through this life change without all of you.

With all our love and thankfulness...
Kari and Aaron

Monday, April 03, 2006

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone...

Hello faithful supporters!

This is a blog that you've been waiting for.  I am using our voice activation software to type you this e-mail.  If it takes me two hours to type this e-mail then I am talking very slow.  I wanted to update you on some of the things that have been going on.  First of all, we are still not totally in the clear with our cell phones.  I know that some of you have been trying to call me and have been getting a message that says my cell phone number has been discontinued or something like that.  We had to switch cell phone carriers and buy two new cell phones.  There were some problems with my number being ported from one carrier to another; but tomorrow I should be back to my old phone number.  I will try to return all of your calls as soon as possible.

Thank you for all of the birthday cards and gifts and messages that I received last week.  I turned 32 years old -- where has the time gone?  Aaron and I spent my birthday evening at Disneyland.  My dear friend Daleasha just happened to be at Disneyland at the same time with her family.  I had not seen them since the first couple of months I was in the hospital.  They were on their way back from a mission trip in Mexico.  So we were able to spend Friday evening with them at a very rainy, cold and damp Disneyland.  And the next day they drove from Anaheim to Riverside and spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning with us.  It was interesting to maneuver through Disneyland with thousands of people there.  But I managed not to run over anyone with my wheelchair!  

We left Disneyland at midnight when they closed.  We were driving home on the freeway when something very scary happened.  It was raining and we were in the third lane in a four lane area.  To our right was an entrance ramp.  A white pickup truck was coming down the ramp to get on the freeway.  When he accelerated to merge into the lane next to us he completely lost control of his truck.  He began swerving and fishtailing all over the road.  At one point he slid into our lane and was perpendicular to us.  I went into a panic because it was all too familiar and the weather conditions were very bad.  I can't believe that we did not hit him; but Aaron calmly drove right around him and avoided him completely.  We thought that his truck was going to roll, but it didn't.  I was speechless and shaking very badly.  Aaron was speechless and totally calm.  He said that in that split second he had an overwhelming peace and knew that God had protected us.  Amazingly we realized that there were no other cars anywhere around us.  This is very unusual for a southern California freeway no matter what the time is.  And just for the record, I don't like white pickup trucks.

On Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of being a matron of honor in a wedding that took place at our church.  Two dear friends at our church had a beautiful sacred wedding ceremony.  It was a challenge to get dressed for a wedding but Aaron did a great job and Daleasha was here to help with the hair and makeup.

My eye surgery went very well on March 28.  I went back to the eye doctor the next day and was reading at 20\13 vision.  I don't think I have ever seen that well in my entire life.  It feels strange to wake up in the morning and be able to see right away.  And at night when I go to bed I keep thinking that I need to take out my contacts.  I am so thankful to this doctor for offering this as a free service.  I feel very fortunate to have this done.

Aaron is on spring break this week.  Last night he slept for almost 12 hours.  I don't think he has ever slept this much since I have known him.  He told me today that he has not felt this good since before our accident.  Hopefully he will be able to catch up on even more sleep this week.  Tomorrow we are planning, weather permitting, to go to Joshua Tree National Park.  Joshua Tree is fairly close to where we live and it is easy to make a day trip out of it.  We love Joshua Tree and last spring we spend a lot of time there.  It holds many fond memories of hiking and rockclimbing and camping.  Obviously, we have not been there since before our accident -- so I am sure that it will be a bittersweet time.  On Thursday we are planning to visit the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena with Sarah.  It is a beautiful place that is very handicapped accessible.  The weather has been very rainy so I am not sure we will get to do either of these things but we are going to try.

There is one more thing that I am looking forward to in the next couple of weeks.  I will be attending a clergy conference for women clergy in San Diego.  This is a conference that happens every two years and the last one I was able to go to was four years ago in Colorado Springs.  Fortunately San Diego is much closer to Riverside.  I really don't care if I ever go to Colorado again, so I am glad that it is in San Diego.  Sarah will be going with me as my caretaker and of course as an awesome friend!  I am very excited about this opportunity.  So if any of my female pastor friends are reading this blog update I will see you in San Diego.  I'll be the one with the new wheels!

I think for now I am done talking.  It did take about an hour and a half to speak this e-mail.  But it is much less exhausting talking than typing one key at a time.  Thank you for your continued support and the love and prayers.

Until then, may God keep you all safe.


By the way, we have some pictures that we will be posting on the web site in the next couple of days; so if you are interested in seeing what we look like then keep checking for new pictures.