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

Fulton Could Have Given Up

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I was talking with some nurses and techs about Fulton the other day.  It was quite a sight – all of us gathered around the nurse’s station talking about him.  There were tears and smiles as I told stories from the accident.  As I was walking away, one of the techs came up to me and said, “What I like about Fulton is his joyfulness.”  I felt so proud as I heard those words.  There’s no doubting it - people are drawn to Fulton because of it. 

To be joyful means feeling, causing, or showing great happiness; full of joy.  There are so many reasons why Fulton could be just the opposite – full of bitterness, anger, and self-absorption.  After all, he can’t walk, talk, or eat on his own.  He can’t even hold up his head without assistance.  And yet, he’s full of cheer. 

Think of all the people you know who have little or no joy.  They’re miserable.  Oh, they can walk, talk, and take care of themselves, but lack contagious love and peace.  Fulton is far ahead of them.  He could have given up on life a long time ago but he continues on, full of joy, impacting others.  He is a living example of what God can do through His love and power. 

The accident was terrible.  Fulton’s life is hard, but the tragedy couldn’t steal his joy.  David wrote, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Fulton was Stood-up

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The church next door has some wonderful people who have committed to help Fulton attend his Sunday school class.  It’s a big deal to him.  He has been going there now for nearly 4 years and he loves these people very much.  However, on Easter there was a miscommunication.  No one came to help Fulton.  Fulton was stood-up. 

What’s it like, I wondered, having to be totally dependent on others?  What’s it like to be excited to go to church, and find out at the last moment you won’t be there? 

I felt sad for him, so I asked him, “Did it hurt your feelings when no one came?”  He slowly lifted his arm and gave a weak thumbs-up.  Yes, no one came.  And yes, it hurt his feelings.

The more I thought about it, the more upset I became, knowing I can’t protect Fulton from all of life’s hurts.  But God spoke to me.  I heard him say, “I was there with your son and we had a good time together. Fulton might have been forgotten, but I have not left him.”  Jesus clearly understands what Fulton went through.  Fulton’s sufferings are nothing in comparison to being forsaken on the cross. 

It’s so wonderful to know no matter what the circumstances, God is there for Fulton.  People may let him down, but God won’t.  Jesus promised never to leave us alone.  He said in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” 

The next time you and I are stood-up let us remember Fulton sitting in his wheelchair all dressed up with no place to go.  I’m convinced God ministered to Fulton and he will surely do the same for us, no matter what.

Faith: Walking Through Salon Doors

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Dear Praying Friend,

I had a very revealing experience happen to me the other day.  I was with Fulton while he got his hair cut.  As we were leaving, three stylists came up to say goodbye.  One of them said, “Fulton, one of these days you’re going to come walking right through these doors.”  Suddenly I was flooded with a tremendous sense of joy as the reality of what she was saying sank in.  I will never forget that moment. 

As I later thought about how I felt, it struck me that I have become more accepting of the status quo and not believing God for a miracle.  But even if God doesn’t answer all my prayers, he still wants me to ask and believe.  The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Now when I picture Fulton walking through the door with a big smile on his face, I thank God for the amazing things he has done and can do.  That simple act of faith pleases God.  I want to encourage you to ask God to show you ways you can believe more, and therefore receive more, while pleasing God all the way.

The Lesson of the Weeping Woman

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Dear Praying Friend,

I was walking down the hallway the other day on my way to see Fulton.  As I came around the corner I was struck by what I saw…

The hallway was completely empty except for one staff member and one patient.  The patient was a very pretty lady who looked to be in her early 60s. She was sobbing and very confused.  My heart went out to her…she was so upset. 

Standing next to this woman was the young staff member, a girl of about 19, holding this sweet lady in her arms, talking gently to her as she moved her toward her room.  The tenderness of it all touched me.  No one was watching, yet this girl was loving this weeping lady with all her heart.

It got me thinking… How many beautiful acts of love are carried out, but never seen?  I would guess tens of millions every day.  Except for the Lord – He sees everything.  Every act of mercy.  Any attempt at love. 

The apostle Paul spoke of this in Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.”

An act of love is never forgotten by God.  What a comfort and encouragement that can be.

What if There Was Never an Accident?

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Dear Praying Friend,

I was asking God the other day why he allowed Fulton to be in a wreck so devastating.  Let’s face it – God could’ve stopped the accident but, in his infinite love and wisdom, chose not to.  I am convinced when we get to heaven Fulton’s ordeal will make sense in mind-boggling ways. 

One thought came to mind:  If there had been no accident, neither Fulton nor my family would have received such massive prayer support.  The great Christian writer Oswald Chambers wrote, “There is nothing to be valued more highly than to have people praying for us.  God links up His power in answer to their prayer.”  This is what I have experienced, and it is awesome.  What a gift to be the recipient of so many powerful prayers. 

The apostle Paul understood the power of others’ prayers.  He was not ashamed to call on them, and neither should we. It says in 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord's message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.”

Thank you so much for your prayers these last 6 years.  To know you are praying is a massive encouragement to me.  Fulton and our entire family are deeply grateful. 

Thumbs Up

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Dear Praying Friend,

I have come up with a new way of reassuring my love to Fulton.  Once a week when we are alone I say to him, “Son, let’s go over the basics.”  He gives a big thumbs up, which means, Yes, I want to do that. 

Then I say to him, “Son, you realize you are my son." Thumbs up.

"There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.  You will ALWAYS be my son.”  Thumbs up again.

Then I say, “I will always be your father, and there’s nothing you can do about that either.  Nor would I want you to.”  He gives me the thumbs up with a big smile.

I continue by saying, “You realize I would never leave you, no matter what.”  Another thumbs up. 

Then I hit him with the clincher.  I say to him, “Son, there’s nothing you can do, or fail to do, that would ever stop me from loving you.  PERIOD.”  He then responds with a thumbs up and a huge smile, and we hug.

One reason why I go over the basics is because I don’t really know how he feels, or even if he remembers from week to week.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about our little ritual.  It seems to me God, too, goes over the essentials of his love for us many times because we would either forget it, or ignore it.  So the next time God shares his love, give him a big smile and a thumbs up.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 31:3, “Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

Thumbs up!

Roommate Troubles

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Dear Praying Friend,

I learned a lesson about humility this week.  It seems like my pride is always there, getting in the way.  Fulton was moved to a new room.  They assured me it was a bigger room with more light.  What they failed to say was Fulton’s new roommate has some real problems. 

He’s a 40-ish man who had a major stroke and he never stops making loud noises.  It’s hard to be in the room with him for very long.  Talk about annoying…

I was furious.  How could the staff do this to my son?  Why should he have to live under such conditions?  I was ready to confront the administrator, but cooler heads prevailed.  Instead I asked Fulton,

Do you like your new roommate?
He gave me a thumbs up.  (Yes.) 

Does he get on your nerves?
Thumbs down.  (No.) 

Do you want me to look for another room for you?
Thumbs down.  (No.) 

Do you want to stay here, in this room?
Thumbs up.  (Yes.) 

As we used to say, GO FIGURE...  Fulton is happy in his new room, annoying sounds and all.  That’s crazy, but who am I to be against it?  This whole situation has started me thinking…Jesus never had a bed, and yet both the Father and the Son allowed it to happen and he never complained. 

And I must admit, Fulton’s roommate is getting easier to love, and I am learning more of the sacrifices of Christ.  The Bible says in Luke 9:58, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Moving is a Big Deal...To Fulton

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Dear Praying Friend,

I got a call from the nursing home this morning with the news that Fulton was going to be moved to another room.  The staff person went on and on about how much better Fulton’s new room would be.  All I was thinking was of how unhappy Fulton will be.  He’ll have to adapt to a different room, on a different floor, with different staff. 

Fulton, like most of us, doesn’t like change and his brain injury can make him even more obsessive.  In the long run it will be better for Fulton – bigger room, bigger windows, etc.  But right now, I’m asking God to help me be sensitive to him.  This move may not be a big deal to me, but it’s huge to him.  Once again, I am forced to look at life from Fulton’s point of view. 

God is like that with us.  The huge things in our lives aren’t so big to God, yet he knows and lovingly carries them with our weaknesses in mind.

The Bible says in Psalm 40:17, “But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.”

Never Alone

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Dear Praying Friend,

I was talking with one of Fulton’s techs the other day.  She told me something amazing.  She said that every staff person on her shift takes time to come into Fulton’s room to talk with him.  What encouraging news that is! 

One of my biggest fears for Fulton is that he must face hour after hour alone.  My son is one of the most social persons I know.  He loves to be involved in relationships.  It’s always hard for me to leave him all alone having no one to talk with while he faces his massive handicaps. 

But God understands my fears and Fulton’s needs.  I am comforted that while I am writing to you, someone at the nursing home is loving on Fulton.  These last few weeks Fulton is even more aware than ever and is really happy.  I know you have prayed him to this point in his life.  Your prayers are at work every time someone walks in the room to talk with Fulton.

The Bible says in Psalm 68:6a, “God places the lonely in families.”

In His Chair in the Dark

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Dear Praying Friend,

I went to see Fulton at the nursing home Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl.  He was extremely excited.  Fulton is a BIG Patriots fan and loves Tom Brady.  When the game was about to begin I realized life around Fulton seemed different at night. 

For example, he did not want the lights on. Period.  He doesn’t want the heater adjusted and he wants the sound of the T.V. LOUD.  I tried to change those three things and Fulton pitched a fit.  (He likes things a certain way, so don’t mess with him!)  The only seat in his room was his wheelchair.  So while Fulton watched from his bed, I watched the game in his chair, in the dark, with the T.V. being our only light.  Sitting there, I began to have a different perspective of what life is like for him. 

As I sat in his chair the thought came to me:  To understand Fulton you have to intimately know what his world is all about.  Then I thought of Jesus.  He entered our world and became man to understand us and serve us completely.  He did more than just sit in a wheelchair, he became amazingly involved in our lives.  I kept thinking of the words found in Philippians 2:5-8:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

Fulton was ecstatic over the outcome of the game.  And so was I.  If he’s happy, I’m happy.  We had fun and I learned some new things about him, sitting in a wheelchair with very little light.

Life Lessons with Dawson & Fulton