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Drawing spiritual parallels from Fulton's recovery after a traumatic brain injury on December 11, 2010.

Not An Easy Story To Tell

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Dear Praying Friend,

I had a difficult time with Fulton last week, it’s not an easy story to tell. We were in his room. He was in bed and looking very tired. A football game was on and I thought Fulton was asleep. 

I was standing with my back to him, watching the game when all of a sudden, he kicked me in the lower back with his strong leg. It was sudden, powerful and it really hurt. I think he hit my kidney. I was really angry at him. I let him know. I told him he had really hurt me, and I wasn’t going to come back and see him anymore if he was going to keep kicking me. (I really wished I had never said that.)   

It didn’t seem to register with him, all I know is that I was hurt and angry. The frustrating part of it is, he can’t communicate much, so maybe he was telling me, “You’re blocking my view of the TV and I need to get your attention.” Sometimes, it’s hard to know what he is thinking but God did speak to me, clearly, reminding me that Fulton has a serious brain injury. 

Also, God wanted me to know about the times I’ve kicked Him. I’m going to go see Fulton today, hopefully there will be a lot of hugging. But do you have any advice for me? I would love to hear it. What would you do in a situation like that? Sometimes things get hard and all we can do is our best. 

Proverbs 16:32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”

Family Celebration

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Dear Praying Friend,

This Saturday, our family will be celebrating my son Gene’s 30th birthday. Fulton is always excited when we celebrate as a family. There’s a big room in the nursing home, right across the hall from Fulton that is given for us to use. 

Fulton gets to see his brother and that’s a big deal to him. It’s always moving to watch the two of them interact, in spite of the heartache both have gone through. Gene has a special way of interacting with Fulton. Yet, in many ways Fulton is not the same brother he was before. 

One thing I hope Gene has come to understand, “We don’t live to ourselves or die to ourselves.” (Romans 14:7) There are always others involved in the events of our lives, both for good and bad. Gene still suffers too. I hope we can talk more about his feelings, in a good father-son heart to heart talk. So, pray for my son, Gene, that God will encourage him even as he spends time with his brother. Please pray for us all. 

The Pen God Provided Me

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Dear Praying Friend,

I learned a lesson the other day about God providing. I was headed to the nursing home to meet up with Fulton. But I had a problem, I had to sign some checks and I didn’t have a pen. As I got out of my truck, I wondered where am I going to find a pen. 

As I was thinking about this little problem, I walked down the parking lot to the back door of the nursing home. I looked down and there was a pen on the sidewalk, just 3 feet from the door. I couldn’t believe it. What are the chances of me finding a pen right where I was walking! I knew it was the Lord providing, so I thanked him. And a verse came to mind, “My God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. 

Whatever our needs are, large or small, God can and will provide. I signed the checks, and then spent time with Fulton, it was a good day. Something small becomes very big when God is in the middle of it.  What do you need to trust God to provide in your life today? It could be something as small as a pen or something much larger. May God help us all to put our faith in Him, large or small.

Good News!

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Dear Praying Friend,

Philippians 1:3-4:  “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.”

I have some good news. Fulton has had one of the best weeks he’s had since the accident, nearly 7 years ago. He’s stronger, brighter, quicker, and happier then I have seen since this ongoing story began. God is doing something in his life and it can’t be ignored. He has taken your prayers and added them all up in a powerful way. God is not done with Fulton. Please keep praying for him, that the power of God will transform him. You have been an integral part of his journey. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for you. I’ll keep you posted.


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Dear Praying Friend,

Fulton has had a lot of tragedy in his body; therefore, he can’t talk or walk or feed himself, and has very little self-control, but he is cognizant. He is aware, he knows what’s going on.  If you ask him to talk, he will try and make groans and laughing sounds.  It’s amazing the conversation you can have with him. He is well aware of what’s going on.  In the sadness, there is gladness. Even though his body is broken, he has the gift of self-awareness.  I’ve often wondered what he would be like without it, it wouldn’t be good.

Yet, you have prayed and Fulton has become more aware all the time.  There is always beauty in the heartbreak.  Fulton’s self-awareness is a gift. May we become more self-aware in our relationship with God. 

Ephesians 5:14 This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

I Put My Head on His Chest

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Dear Praying Friend,

I had a wake-up call the other day when I was with Fulton.  He was already put to bed and appeared to be withdrawn and weak.  As I hugged him I put my head on his chest and I could hear some rattling in his lungs.  It reminded me that Fulton is still very fragile, and pneumonia is his mortal enemy.

A couple years ago my assistant and I took Fulton to see his pulmonologist.  It was a cold and windy day.  We wanted to take him to a restaurant after the appointment.  I will never forget what the doctor said to me.  She said, “You can go if you want, but remember, Fulton has the lungs of a 90-yr-old man.”  Needless to say, we did not take him to the restaurant.

Life is fragile.  Psalm 103:15-16 says, “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.”

Fulton may not seem like it, but he’s not nearly as strong as he looks.  Isn’t that true of us all?  But God is in the process of taking our weak and battered lives, and filling them with his strength.  The Bible says in Isaiah 41:10:  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Please continue to pray for Fulton.  Every breath he breathes is by the grace of God and His goodness.  I don’t know what will happen to him, but I’m convinced that God will take care of him.

Hanging Out at the Nursing Home

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Dear Praying Friend,

I was out with Fulton yesterday on the patio of the nursing home.  At first there was just the two of us. But not for long.  Staff kept walking by to hug on him and give him a hard time.  Fulton, per usual, loved every minute of it. 

And then who should walk up and sit down with us but the head administrator.  He spent the next 25-minutes with us as I shared Fulton’s story and what God has done in his life. The administrator was deeply moved by what he heard. 

At the end of the conversation I had a chance to talk about how awesome the staff has been with Fulton.  We talked of all the attention he gets and how he loves the hugs.  The administrator was really excited to hear what his staff was doing with Fulton.  We both agreed that love and hugs are the best medicine of all.  I’m convinced he’ll be talking to the staff about how their affection and kindness make awesome medicine.

God used Fulton yesterday.  We worked as a team telling his story and watching the powerful effects it had.  I was really proud of Fulton.  He may be broken, but, praise the Lord, he has a story to tell and it’s all to the glory God.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! … Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” —Psalm 103:1, 4

Fulton's Indignities

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Dear Praying Friend,

One thing I’ve had to endure in the years since Fulton’s accident is witnessing the indignities he experiences daily.  There’s very little he can do to help himself.  He can’t clean himself, use the toilet, feed himself, communicate basic needs, or even take one step. 

Last Sunday my wife, Ruth Hill, went to see Fulton.  She found him in his wheel chair, with his head twisted, and his body bent and contorted.  His chair has a support to hold his head up, but somehow Fulton slipped out of place. 

His nurse explained that one of the staff had put Fulton in a bad position in the wheel chair while she was getting ready to give him a sponge bath.  It’s a complicated process of using a lift to move him out of his wheelchair and onto the bed.  

I thought to myself, How does my son put up with these humiliations day after day?  But God reminded me Christ went through these abasements every minute of every day, ending with the cruel shame of the cross. Matthew 27:29 says, “And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews! "

I don’t know how Fulton puts up with all he goes through day after day, but I know Jesus is with him helping him face all the indignities.

Fulton Tells Tall Tales

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Dear Praying Friend,

I love to hear Fulton laugh.  He doesn’t speak, even though he very much wants to.  But when he gets laughing, I can still hear his speaking voice coming through.  So we do a lot of laughing.  It’s good for both of us. 

I get him laughing the hardest when I tell made-up stories about him.  The ones he likes the most are stories about what he has said to make me look bad.  For example, there’s a story of how he told every staff person in the nursing home I fought in the Revolutionary War.  Or he’s telling everybody I am 80, but his mom, my wife, is 50.  The latest story is how he’s told everybody I am so old I’ve become a greeter at Walmart. 

He never gets tired of these crazy stories.  And I never get tired of hearing him laugh.  So there I am in his room, yelling away at him for running his mouth, and he’s laughing as hard as he can. 

I have learned love will attempt to make an impact any way it can.  God loves laughter.  He uses it in our lives.  So while Fulton is laughing, God is smiling.  I am so grateful to hear Fulton laugh, and he sure does love those stories.

The Bible says in Psalm 126:1-2, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”

Horseback Riding and Near Disaster

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Dear Praying Friend,

This week God protected me from what could have been a real tragedy.  I was horseback riding with a friend of mine deep in the hills of Tennessee.  As we were climbing a steep and narrow path, the saddle on my horse slipped sideways, and I fell off and landed on my head and shoulder. For several moments I couldn’t move.  Stunned and confused, I slowly realized I was looking up at my horse’s stomach and legs.  She was nervously dancing, but somehow never stepped on me. 

I finally climbed out from under her, and with my friend’s help, re-tightened the saddle.  I was shook-up, but I knew I would have to get back on the horse.  If I didn’t, I might never have the courage to ever get back on a horse again.  I am still bruised and sore, but so grateful God protected me.

My experience with Fulton’s car accident is helping me learn that same lesson.  I often tell people when Fulton went down, I went down with him.  For months and months I grieved.  But God, in his grace, has over the years helped me get back on the saddle again. 

Scripture says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” —Psalm 37:23-24 (NASB)

Life Lessons with Dawson & Fulton


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