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Morgan Inspiration Island, San Antonio, TX


God Moments 1 ~ Mini

At the 2-year mark, post accident I decided it was time to share a bit more of the first days, week, and months, given the years of reflection and the healing of time. I decided I would do that through many God Moments that helped uphold us. However, a celebration blog and other important projects kept me from getting to those blogs. I’m now moved to start those but I’m kicking this off with a present-day one, and then I’ll periodically bring out the earlier ones.

This Sunday morning began with the local weather news showing a nasty band of storms with intense lightning strikes heading our way and projecting to hit just the time we typically leave for church. Remember, being in a wheelchair, which requires two hands for propelling my chariot, leaves NO hands for umbrella protection from rain so rain typically dictates we stay inside. Well, by time we were both ready for church, we had missed the window for getting to Van Gogh before the rain began. This wasn’t just a MI rain storm. This was coming down in torrents. Sitting by our open condo door, I determined I needed to stay home but just then, it slowed a tad so we decided to head out. I was most thankful for our incredible condo board members here who, despite already having the ADA required access to the raised entry sidewalk, recognized that it was across a large, open, exposed parking lot. They took it upon themselves after my accident to add a second ramp which allows me to get between the raised sidewalk to our garage with only a very short area without a covered walk and exposure to the elements, i.e. soaking rain.

Once we arrived at church, we secured one of the coveted van/ramp, blue slashes, accessible parking spots and decided to wait 15-20 minutes hoping for the rain to slow. It was getting close to the start of church and the rain let up only a bit but my husband exited Van Gogh, raised the huge golf umbrella, and came around to where the ramp comes down. The look on his face changed but was unreadable to me. I pushed the button to lower the ramp and realized his look. The water right where the ramp landed was in about 3-4 inches of fast flowing water. A quick look down at my wheels assured me that the wheels would hold me above the water, even if not the hand rims, so down I went and continued to move through the falling rain rather than sit in the rushing water while Alan pushed the button to raise the ramp and close the van door. I looked up to see two angels walking toward me from church in the form of two friends holding their own huge, golf umbrellas. They were able to keep me from getting soaked between the van and the door overhang. Mini God Moment.

As was typical, the service was worshipful and harmonized from the words of preparation through the postlude. The final message in the series on Nehemiah, Restoring Purpose, the Power of Rubble Restored, reminded me of my focus word this year, purpose. Our minister of music and his (guest) brother added richness with their musical talents on piano, organ, blended voice, and trumpet. They sang the hymn of response, Blessings by L. Story, as a dialogue between a typical person’s words and God’s response.

Revised chorus text:

Your blessings come through rain drops. (just this morning)

Your healing comes through tears. (many in the last two+ years)

A thousand sleepless nights (can’t count the number my husband has had)

Are what it takes to know I’m near.


Person’s voice in final verse:

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.

What if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are your mercies in disguise.


Watch for your disguised blessings.

Shalom: May all be well, Collene


♪ On the Boat Again ♬

CVN Moving up mast

Well, actually if I were on THE boat, it would be our beloved, beautiful sailboat, Mariah. Technically this should be entitled On A Boat Again but that doesn’t fit as well with the song in my head (On the Road Again). This week I was able to get on our plan B boat, an open cockpit powerboat which has ample, flat floor space for my wheelchair. It was indeed a red-letter day. Watching water is beautiful but being on the water evokes fresh smells, feelings of rolling gently, sounds of others playing on the water, and a sense of freshness on ones skin.

This could fit as the third in a trilogy of blogs on creative problem solving for a richer life.

The picture above was of me, prior to the accident, of course. When someone needed to go to the top of our approximately 40’ mast to change a light bulb, visually check on things, or retape the spreader boots, I volunteered. I was lighter and Alan was stronger. Besides, the view from up there is breath taking. For the ride up, I sat in our bosun’s chair, an incredibly strong seat made of heavy-duty fabric, strong webbing strategically placed, and indestructible metal rings. The large ring clipped to the main (sail) halyard. Another safety feature we used on Mariah was a Garhauer lifting davit engine hoist to move the outboard 5-horse motor from the bracket on the back stanchion to the transom of the dinghy, bobbing in the water, without dropping it or wrecking Alan’s back. It is a stainless steel upright bar topped with a second bar at about a 120˚ angle. Attached is a 6:1 block and tackle pulley system to significantly lighten the lifting workload and a heavy-duty clamp to securely hold the cargo. With me as cargo seated in the bosun’s chair, the engine hoist could lift me. One of my creative brother-in-laws designed and made a flat backed bracket with a 1” rod welded on to attach to the dock bollard (pole) to provide an upright rod like the stanchion on Mariah’s stern.

With the davit hoist securely attached to the special bracket on that dock bollard so it could pivot, Alan utilized the motor hoist to raise me off my wheelchair seat. Alan’s sister & brother-in-law lifted my empty wheelchair into the boat and then helped position me above my wheelchair. At that point, Alan lowered me with the hoist onto my wheelchair seat. We took extra precautions. I wore a life jacket even before rolling onto to the dock. I hung over the dock, not the water, while the wheelchair was transferred into position on the boat. This brother-in-law and sister are the ones we bought this boat from so if anything went wrong with me on the boat, Alan had a back-up, experienced captain.

Plan B Lowering boat

Our kind neighbors noticed I was on the boat as we returned to the slip, and he thoughtfully came out to catch the momentous event with his camera. It was great to be back on the water. We can now boat together again! I think my worst day after the accident was the fall day Alan went to prep Mariah for winter. After 40 years of working on our sailboat together, I was home crying while he worked alone. After 40+ years of sailing, we are together on a boat again.

Watch for your blessings.Shalom, Collene

How to Win …

Instead of me writing this blog, I’m sharing a blog written about me. It is from BraunAbility’s website. To read it, click the title (italics) immediately below.

How to Win the NMEDA Local Heroes Contest

Creative Problem Solving

DinnerThis blog will seem more casual and certainly not serious. I feel like I’m a 12 year old telling someone what I just accomplished. It is at the urging of a friend who said, “Those who have been following you will want to know what you’ve done,” that convinced me to write this.

Our current life is about problem solving, some solutions working out better than others. Some ideas work well, others not so much. But, bit-by-bit we’ve borrowed or created ideas that make life a bit simpler. I think often about the years of coaching OM (Odyssey of the Mind). A friend and I coached our children and others from our local elementary several years in this awesome, creative, problem-solving competition. OM includes spontaneous (name as many things as you can that are red and round) as well as long-term (multiple months) problems, and over time the students became amazingly adept at problem solving. Adults could not help so the students, not the adults, would develop their skills.

Alan has been a bit like the OM coaches in encouraging me to do whatever I possibly could. What I can’t do (yet), he graciously does. Things that have remained pretty much in his domain are hot stove and oven tasks. The danger risks are too great for me in my wheelchair. Anything cooking on the stove is above what I can see. Moving in a wheelchair involves two hands at all times or the only place one goes is in circles. There is no way I would put a hot pan on my lap. Well, this week I made the entire dinner which involved two very hot stovetop dishes. Shrimp scampi, angel hair pasta, green beans, and fresh fruit. Not one ounce of help. 😉

After seeing a unique dresser/desk configuration in a friend’s condo, I noticed that our counter stovetop had a drawer face just below the stovetop. I was convinced there was dead space behind it so when our remodel wizard was here one day, he checked it out, verified that the drawer face could be removed, found some long, smooth sliding supports, built a shelf, and installed a hidden 22”x25” shelf which is at a convenient height for me in my chair. I can work on it once it’s pulled out from any of three sides. Our kitchen is galley style and not large. I discovered some and predicted other things; therefore, concluding this meal could work.

  • If I put a heat trivet on the pull out workspace, I can lift a small or medium size pan off the burner and onto the trivet to check on cooking progress.
  • Salted water can be brought to a boil, (check once sauce pan is on the pull out shelf, trivet), broken pasta can be added, lid can be replaced, and it will continue to cook on the burner which has been turned off.
  • Marinated shrimp will cook quickly, and I just needed to add a couple ingredients to complete necessary flavoring. Again, I could move the hot, sauté pan to the trivet to monitor cooking.
  • By having the shelf pulled out all the way, I could position my wheelchair sideways between that shelf and our sink. After positioning a stable colander in the sink, I could reach the saucepan (water no longer boiling) from the shelf and empty it into the colander in one fluid movement, where it could drain. No need to rest pan or colander on my lap.

Lightweight, microwave dishes with handles and vents have long made microwave cooking safe for me. Fruit, well, that is more delicious eaten fresh. Not only was the cooking of the meal successful, it tasted delicious. This might not seem earth shaking but it sure brought a smile to my face. Enjoy the fun and whimsical things in life. Watch for your blessings.

Shalom, Collene

NMEDA Vehicle Giveaway Coming Again (April-June)

It is time again for anyone in N. America who has a mobility challenge or has a friend living in a wheelchair to consider what the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Assoc. (NMEDA) is offering. (, The contest recognizes those of us with these monumental challenges a way to ease, at least this part of, our lives. If you or your friend has a handicap which stops her or him from easily getting around but yet has continued to give back, to persevere, to remain positive, to help others, to advocate for SCI, to … (the list goes on), he or she may be recognized as a Local Hero. Read below. It is easy to think, ‘no one ever wins those’ but I’m living proof that the NMEDA group is legitimate and does indeed donate the vehicles to local heroes. I’m one of those! If you choose to enter, my hint is to write your story about how you give back and contribute. Do not tell why you need the vehicle; everyone in our situation needs the vehicle. I have met the NMEDA folks and representatives from the donating companies who provide the vehicles and adaptive equipment. They are amazingly giving, caring, creative, and empathetic people. I’ve met four of the other Local Heroes, and I am awed by what they continue to do. If anyone needs to know more, feel free to leave a message in the comment section and a way in which I can contact you. I promise I will. I wish you well. Watch for blessings coming your way.

You are likely aware of the mobility challenges millions of people with disabilities face every single day. Here at Clock Mobility, we are participating in a national campaign championed by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association to call attention to this important issue. Our goal is to broaden awareness of transportation options for individuals who are dealing with a disability that would otherwise prevent them from achieving the freedom and independence they long for, and we’re seeking your support.
As part of the goal, we are proud to announce the fifth annual National Mobility Awareness Month. Occurring every May, the central focus of the effort is an online Local Heroes contest providing those with disabilities and their caregivers with an opportunity to tell their story of triumph over their disabilities through academic and career ambitions, as well as their family and local community contributions. By visiting, individual’s stories may be voted on and concludes with awarding the winners with wheelchair accessible vans. Program sponsors will customize each vehicle to suit the winner’s specific needs.
For the awareness month to be a success, it must be a cumulative effort. Last year in its fourth year, the program welcomed more than 900 Local Heroes entries and over 1.3 million votes were cast. Four amazing Local Heroes received new wheelchair accessible vans. So, this year we are seeking your help to spread the word about National Mobility Awareness Month to help cultivate another successful year. Together, we can inform our local community about the campaign and empower others to get involved with these life changing automotive mobility solutions.
We thank you in advance for your participation and look forward to working with you. Be sure to ask us for the code and to fill out a quality needs assessment for extra points. If you have any questions, please contact us at 800-732-5625.
Kadi DeHaan
Marketing Manager
Clock Mobility


For 2015 one of my sisters challenged us to each select a word for the year. It was to be one to encourage, challenge, and focus. Mine was easy the first year: Hope. This year a different word came to me: Purpose. I’ve always been a big picture person. If I understood the full situation and especially the reason for something, it made sense and I remembered. I tried to focus on the greater good and purpose for what I did. Easy enough, right? But, then first came retirement and then came the accident.

My purpose and motivation in my career never was “to retire.” I loved working; I loved my job and knew I made a difference. What would I do in retirement? I often said, “I don’t want to retire to be a housewife.” Cleaning and cooking had never been my thing and I wanted to do more than that in retirement. Those tasks would remain shared. Growing up, I would much rather be outside helping than in the house. I much preferred hanging laundry, mowing the lawn, working in the garden, or going to various orchards and farmers to pick fruit and vegetables so we could freeze or can for winter. I even liked topping onions in the muck behind our home. Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean, orderly house and enjoy delicious food. In fact, now when I can dust; clean bathrooms; make the bed (not from scratch); wash, dry, and fold the laundry; or find something I can safely make in the kitchen I feel like I’ve accomplished a LOT! But, I still want and need more.

My mother will soon turn 90. I think I’m asking more questions about her growing up years and stories of her life. When I asked what her typical day was like growing up, I learned that she helped Grandpa outside on the farm and her twin sister helped Grandma in the house. I never realized that! Mom was always amazing in our kitchen. I joke that it was a surprise to me when first married that her cooking and baking skills weren’t inherited. Even during WW2 when both girls, still dressed alike, went to Grand Rapids to work in an office, Mom came home and helped Grandpa on the farm and her sister worked in the house. Now I understand where I get my preferences!

I worked through the what to do in retirement dilemma by identifying some education related projects as well as some ways I believed I could give back while tapping into my experiences and strengths developed through my career. Of course, we also wanted to enjoy more extended sailing, visits with our children, and chip away at that long bucket list of places to which we wanted to travel. In those first months, we were making progress and enjoying ourselves very much.

Accident. Life changed.

If you’ve read my CarePages or this blog, you know that we pray(ed) for miracles. I am an N of one. I still pray for miracles of healing for both of us. We pray that research and modern medicine may develop and fine-tune treatments which hold promise for improvement in bodily functions, bone density, cardio, movement, standing, and walking. I will never cease praying for that miracle.

However, I realized recently that I am already a miracle. Think about all my broken bones, especially in my torso. Yet, I have full use of my arms and hands. Nurses told me that most people with the scull fracture where I had mine do not live. An X-ray technician who was trying to arrange my body to clearly get pictures to show the healing that had occurred to my various bones said, “Do you have any idea how hard you were hit to break your sternum? The sternum is almost unbreakable.” In Mary Free Bed (rehab), based on my chart from Lee Memorial (trauma), I was placed in the brain injury section rather than the spinal cord section. As new medical staff came to meet and help me, I often heard, “Wow, you’re not what I expected after reading your chart. I didn’t expect you to be talking, carrying on a meaningful conversation, or as good as you are.” I have life and have it abundantly. I realize that life as I have it, challenging as it is, is due to miracles. I fully believe the prayers from so many from day one and in an on-going manner are in large part responsible for this miracle of me.

A friend of one of our sons spent some time studying and researching in Ireland. This person recalled being amazed at the number of trees everywhere. At one point, the friend was in the countryside and noted a lone tree. It was huge with its branches and leaves stretched out so beautifully as opposed to those in town which grew together and merged. This person thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be like a tree and grow as strong and as fully as this one, simply reach for the light and grow as intended. The tree’s job is to find the sun and move toward it. How beautiful. Trees know their purpose.

The story also reminded me of an opportunity I had decades ago to attend our church denomination’s youth rally with the HS youth group for which Alan and I were leaders. Blind composer, pianist, and singer Ken Medema was an integral part of the worship sessions. For this conference, he wrote a song which we sang regularly and used as our focus.

♪ I saw a tree by the riverside one day as I walked along                                                        Straight as an arrow and pointing to the sky and growing tall and strong.                        “How do you grow so straight and tall?” I said to my riverside tree.                                        This is the song that my tree friend sang to me.

I’ve got roots growing down to the water,                                                                                          I’ve got leaves growing up to the sunshine,                                                                                    And, the fruit I bear is a sign of the life in me.                                                                                       I am shade from the hot summer sundown,                                                                                            I am nest for the birds of the heaven,                                                                                                  I’m becoming what the maker of trees has meant me to be: A strong young tree.

So, what is my purpose? In all honesty, there are days when just getting through the day is purpose enough. But, I can’t believe God allowed me to live as I am just to get through the days. I ask prayerfully that my words to be acceptable and to live more Christ like. I continue to enjoy and impact our children, Alan, extended family, and friends. Is there something beyond what I’m doing? Is there more I should write? More I should do? Or, less? Be more aware of? Be more sensitive to? Additional advocacy? Promote my spelling program? Become more engaged in leadership or education? What?

From: I, The Lord, of Sea and Sky ♬                                                                                                 (Chorus) Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart. (Dan Schutte)

Watch for your purpose and enjoy your blessings. Shalom, Collene

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