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

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  He was already put to bed and appeared to be withdrawn and weak.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)

Should we Accept Only Good from God?

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Dear Praying Friend,

I came across an email from Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, a famous missionary martyred in 1956 while attempting to evangelize natives in Ecuador.  Steve has had a difficult life these last five years.  In 2012 he was seriously injured by a falling piece of equipment and partially paralyzed.  He calls himself a “high functioning incomplete quadriplegic.”

What touched me is his willingness to trust God even in the midst of personal tragedy.  He said,

“Trusting God to take away pain is admirable.  But trusting God’s will and His love when He doesn’t take the pain away is yours and my greatest opportunity to demonstrate our faith.  When Job’s wife gave up and suggested that he should just curse God and die, his answer has made him a hero to millions of hurting people.  Job 2:10 says Job replied, ‘Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ Should we accept blessings and not adversity also?”

Steve’s perspective is encouraging as I think about Fulton and our heartache.  I have to keep reminding myself God has a plan and that plan is perfect, no matter how difficult it may seem.

To read Steve Saint's original email click here.

Fulton Visits the Dentist

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Dear Praying Friend,

I went to see my dentist, Steve, the other day to get a tooth fixed.  He is a friend and an incredible Christian who has known Fulton since he was three.  I really wanted Steve to see Fulton, so at the last moment on a whim, I decided to bring him along.  Even though Steve was very busy, he took the time to love on Fulton. 

When Steve came into the waiting room, I said to him, “Fulton wants to give you a hug.”  Steve didn’t even bat an eye.  He leaned over Fulton’s wheelchair and gave him a big hug.  Fulton was beaming at the love and attention Steve gave him.  I thought to myself, What a powerful experience this is.  When a man who is very busy stops and takes time to love another man’s son, surely this is the love of Christ.

The Bible says in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

Practicing with Fulton

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Dear Praying Friend,

I’ve been thinking a lot about hugging lately.  Studies show we all need at least 8 hugs a day.  It’s amazing what a hug can do.  For example, it communicates love, boosts self-esteem, and helps to build our immune system. 

I told Fulton I wanted to teach him how to hug.  He gets quite a few hugs from the staff, but he would probably get more if he learned to be more tender when he does it.  His one arm functions, but is spastic and sometimes he’s too rough. 

So just about every time I come to see him I encourage him to be gentle.  We actually practice.  After we’re done, I notice there’s a big smile on his face.  Two men, a father and son, practicing how to hug – it’s crazy, but it works.  It’s amazing what God can do through a crippled arm.  In the meantime, we’ll keep practicing. 

The Bible says, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20 (NIV)

I'll Take Whatever I Can Get

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Dear Praying Friend,

Perhaps you, like me, have been following the tragic saga of Otto Warmbier – a 22-yr-old college student arrested, convicted, and imprisoned in North Korea for stealing a political sign.  His family worked tirelessly to rescue him from the horrible captivity.  It was about a week ago that Otto’s family learned he was in a coma the entire 15 months he was in captivity.  Finally, Otto was released and sent home to Ohio, reunited with his family for a few days before passing away.  The Washington Post reported that his father “wanted to highlight the bittersweet relief that his son is now home in the arms of those who love him – and anger that he was so brutally treated for so long.”

His family was willing to take back their son, no matter what condition he was in.  In a small way I can relate to them.  Fulton was in a deep coma right after his accident, clinging to life.  I remember telling God, “Please let Fulton live.  I’ll take whatever I can get.“

That’s what God feels for us.  We may be broken but God takes whatever he can get.  Now that’s love.  “This is love,” the Bible says, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” —1 John 4:10 (NIV)

Fulton Got A Gift

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Dear Praying Friend,

These are exciting days for Fulton.  One of the techs went on vacation and brought him back a really fine hat.  It’s his favorite kind because it’s a New England Patriots hat with a white leather bill. 

A gift like that is a small thing to most people, but not to Fulton.  His world may be small, but it’s still his world.  It’s not a small thing to me, either.  It really touches me when someone thinks of Fulton.  There’s a saying:  Touch a man’s son, and you’ve touched his father. 

There are many acts of love that happen all the time, and we seldom see them.  But God does and it moves him greatly.  Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Special thanks to that very kind tech.  She did a small thing in the eyes of some, but a big thing for me, Fulton, and God.

Life Lessons with Dawson & Fulton