French Toast, Fireworks and Freedom: Epilogue


Late afternoon thunderstorms put the kibosh on Capon Springs and Farms 7/4 fireworks, and power outage killed electricity and the elevator.

As plan B, lovely heroic Alice and I found lodgings a half hour drive away at the Winchester Marriott Courtyard where there was power and cooling a-plenty. Back to Capon late Thursday morning to conclude our final day in WV.

In fact, power was restored at CSF Wednesday evening, so the rest of the gang on grounds was able to run fans and stay reasonably cool. The elevator service was not restored until this morning. Grateful to have had options.



Yetanotherversary. These always seem to slip by me.

8 years (and 2 days) ago, I started back to work. A man, his wheelchair, and a circus cannon. Three employer labels later, grateful to God, family, great docs, nurses, PTs, OTs, Seating Specialists – –

and for a host of exceptional colleagues.


Advent and Stones?


Advent and stones?

What might the connection be between dry, dusty stones and the restoration of a hopeless, weary world? You might thing this an oddly-timed question, especially as we’re revving up for that “most wonderful time of the year.” You know, “the hap-happiest season of all.”  Well, with all due respect to Andy Williams, as with much that God has for us, things are not always as they seem. Sharing an insightful meditation written by my daughter, Ginny, that – as you crack it open – I hope will encourage you.

Even The Stones

Merry Christmas!

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale, Retold


Thanksgiving 2017 has come and gone. No doubt, you’re braving local Black Friday retail merchant mosh pits, racing countless holiday screen-shoppers to grab Amazon Prime’s carefully timed, uncannily suggested, discounted cyber opportunities, setting up the Christmas tree, and spinning up your local FM easy listening station’s holiday music. All this excitement will leave you famished and you’ll stuff your lunchtime “sammiches” with L-Tryptophan-laced butterball leftovers. It is in the spirit of savory seasonal leftovers that I recycle an already several times told Thanksgiving re-tale.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale

Thanksgiving 2009 has become the fixed north star on my timeline by which I recall, and in recalling, attempt to measure, weigh, and value God’s immeasurable, infinite and priceless faithfulness to me, and those human agencies through which He so abundantly has met so many of my otherwise unmeetable needs. At the top of my list of human agents is lovely, heroic Alice, my partner in life’s pilgrimmage. The host of names below hers is vast. As I remember you, and as you remember me, know that I love you all.

I also invite you to read an excellent Thanksgiving reflection written by my friend, Sam Frank Smith III.

Blackberries, or Bushes Afire?


FATHER OF THE BRIDE TOAST Heidel-Masterson Wedding Reception-Dinner Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Saturday, August 5, 2017


Heidel-Masterson Wedding Reception-Dinner
The Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Good evening and thank you all for coming this evening. On behalf of lovely and heroic Alice, along with Drew and Madeline Masterson, let me say how very pleased we are that you’ve joined us to celebrate Drew and Ginny’s marriage, and we welcome you all.

It’s my honor to offer the evening’s first toast, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving to whet our appetites.

Among many immutable laws of nature is this: Chuck in front of a crowd + making remarks = high probability a grown man will cry. In that event, my apologies in advance.

So, this is the fourth of my children’s weddings. Providentially, I was prevented from actually attending the first in 2009. Eight years on, I don’t often look too far ahead with unquestionable certainty. And while cell phone video and Skype brought Chip’s wedding streaming through a rehab hospital monitor – the next best thing to being there — it’s really sweet for me to be right here with you all in spirit and body, appetite at the ready.

When I first met Drew, he struck me as a thoughtful, well-spoken, somewhat quiet guy. On a rainy afternoon I arrived at Christie Danner’s birthday shindig, and as I rolled down my van’s ramp, Drew met me, umbrella extended, and walked alongside me until we were both under cover. In his off-hand, he toted another fold-up ramp that I asked him to unfold and position to permit me to roll up and into the main celebration area. And, he helped push me up the much steeper than “wheelchair-manufacturer-recommended incline.” His warmth, friendliness and service were front and center. Meeting several of Ginny’s younger siblings that day, to my eye and ear Drew registered interest in and spoke genuinely and easily with Calvin, Gracie, Gifford and Allie. We had an enjoyable conversation-filled dinner later on at the nearby Lost Dog Saloon, before parting.

I can’t recall the particular order but in time Drew would meet the other siblings and in-laws: Emily and husband Jonatan, Allie’s husband Kenneth, and Chip and his wife, Ellie. All warmed to Drew, and in time he faced the entire mob en masse, living to tell the tale, even returning regularly through the months. It wasn’t long before he seemed at ease, working the Heidel crowd warmly — both young and old.

I learned more about Drew — growing up on the ranch, his family, his time at Davidson, the Fellows Program, and the Christian Study Center community (with which I intersected when bumbling my way through college). One evening, I overheard Drew describing the Christian Study Center model as ” . . . full-orbed — concerned for the whole individual, and characterized by hospitality, honest inquiry, spiritual formation and intellectual rigor.” That description fascinated me. His and Ginny’s friendship grew closer around experiences and interests both in common, and uncommon. They both enjoyed film and that medium’s cultural impact. And under Drew’s influence, Ginny was persuaded to don fly fisherman’s waders before catching a real trout (a brookie, I believe). I never saw that coming — but there is photographic evidence. Word is, her fly casting technique is spot on.

Ginny Waders

In time Drew and I would speak about his continued affection for Ginny and his interest in marrying her. I’ve had some experience evaluating daughter-suitors. Early on, one or two of those exploratory discussions went a bit rough — no doubt due to my youthful, merely book-learned zeal and inexperience. But when Drew and I intersected over a good steak dinner, we spoke candidly, openly, and warmly, and it was the case that his interest and intentions were in line with my paternal expectations. Our conversation then ventured in a number of directions — all at least semi-serious topics, even the smaller print “In sickness, and in health” possibilities. I appreciated those exchanges. His respect and deference meant a lot to me then, and it was plain to see his interest in and treatment of Ginny was that of a servant, not a self-server.

It is often true that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. You can also judge a man by family he comes from. Recognizing limitations of human agency, but that God ordinarily achieves His ends through means — which are sometimes relationships — as Alice and I came to know Drew and Madeline better, along with Blake, Kendall, and many of you here this evening, including the Uncles, we appreciated Drew even more.

When I first met Ginny, she was very close to her mother (pause for a rim shot and scattered laughter) . . . . We were soon very good friends. In time her creative, imaginative, artistic, literary, dutiful, agrarian, tomato-loving, chicken raising / chasing, romantic, great laughing, scholastic, dramatic, lexiconic, multi-accent-impersonating, critical thinking, museum-loving, determined, Singin’ In The Rain and White Christmas-loving, sociable self manifested. Having grown up in a Christian family, Ginny moved onto her university experience, and later the work-a-day world, and many of her presuppositions were put to the test only to emerge tempered, not torn to pieces. And, through the years, her gifts were honed. Main stage plays, illustrations, blogging, song writing, singing, handwriting, culinaria, and travel experiences, during one of which Ginny was a caregiver to a disabled but accomplished American expat play write and producer.

There is a great deal to like about Ginny. Though it may not be plain at first, all of Ginny’s qualities have somehow synthesized into an eager, not overly complicated, ministry-mindedness. When they were in college together, Ginny and her sister Emily regularly hosted informal dinners in their college apartment. Frequently, first-timers attended, and were drawn in to the dynamics of the evening – taking coats and tossing them in a back room, helping to serve appetizers, putting finishing touches on the dish they brought, perhaps not having brought a dish, they pitched in and dressed the salad. Everyone, it seemed, engaged in some pre-meal activity. Then came the meal – conversation was kindled, common bonds were discovered, differences were explored, and laughter rolled through the room. Though there was no formal agenda, not infrequently a presentation was made that proved entertaining and culturally broadening — like the time two drop-in transfer students from Holland taught the group to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in Dutch. Before long, all were acquainted and a fellowship was formed.

As Ginny related this to me, she told me about a song she likes by Patty Griffin, which I’d like to sing for you now . . . .

Kidding. But Ginny did think a line in that song was fitting:

And we’ll grow kindness in our hearts for all the strangers among us, till there are no strangers anymore.

I’m probably taking license here, but these lyrics seem to illustrate the end-game of hospitality – kindness that God grows in our hearts, extended to those around us who (we pray) will be brought into that vast number of saints — no longer strangers, no longer alienated from God.

We may have much or little in common with those we meet. Either way, by God’s grace, our mercy, charity and commitment to community can be a powerful force. Those whose paths we cross and to whom we grow closer should know without doubt they are not alone – and they have been cared for.

Drew and Ginny, I believe you get that, and I love so many of the qualities and perspectives you share, and your commitment to live together in light of them. You’ll be a great team.

So, join me now and all raise your glass.

Drew, I appreciate your manner, convictions, respect and friendship. And I am grateful to the Lord for his work in your life and to have you as my son in law. I trust and believe you will lead and care for Ginny tenderly, taking as your model Jesus Christ who gave himself up for His bride, the Church. Ephesians 5:25-32

Ginny, I love you and am delighted for you to marry Drew. I have no doubt you will adorn him wonderfully. Ephesians 5:22-24

To Drew and Ginny! God bless you both, and Skål!

And now please join me as I pray.

Gracious Father, Christ the Son and Holy Spirit, we praise you, and we thank you for this gathering, for our celebrants, Drew and Ginny, for their marriage, and for Your working as four parents and loved ones in two separate families, now solidly connected, have prayed over the years for such an outcome as this, an evening like this.

We ask You to bless Drew and Ginny as they begin their life together. Bless and deepen their love for You and one another. Give them every grace they will need. Establish them in their present and future callings.

We thank you for this meal, for those who prepared it, and for the venue in which we can enjoy it. Would you grant us nourishment, good conversation, and a joyful celebration now?

For we ask in Christ’s name — Amen.



Well, there we all are. Slightly more numerous than last year. Another grand-baby-boy with somewhat inconvenient Scandinavian citizenship, and another engaging daughter engaged, who will soon tie the lasso with a handsome Texan fiancé. God’s goodness has crowned our year.

heidel-christmas-2016Happy as we all may appear, do not be fooled. Several in this bunch are plotting, scheming mean gift-givers. Yep, MGGs. And though they oh so calmly deny it, the rest are MGGs in training. Once again, and to prepare any unsuspecting readers — or to remind all 9 of my followers — it’s often the closest relatives who give the meanest gifts. So, at gift exchange time, be on your guard. And trust no one. In this vein, I give you (for a fourth time I think) A Charles’ Dickie Christmas.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale, Retold


As the day unfolds in your own Thanksgiving time-space continuum, and as you determinedly brace yourself for too much turkey, you may already be anticipating the butterball leftovers that will stuff your lunchtime “sammiches” tomorrow. It is in the spirit of savory seasonal leftovers that I recycle an already several times told Thanksgiving re-tale.

A Thanksgiving Re-Tale

Thanksgiving 2009 has become the fixed north star on my timeline by which I recall, and in recalling, attempt to measure, weigh, and value God’s immeasurable, infinite and priceless faithfulness to me, and those human agencies through which He so abundantly has met so many of my otherwise unmeetable needs. At the top of my list of human agents is lovely, heroic Alice, my partner in life’s pilgrimmage. The host of names below hers is vast. As I remember you, and as you remember me, know that I love you all.

I also invite you to read my friend’s — Sam Frank Smith III — excellent Thanksgiving reflections.

Blackberries, or Bushes Afire?


Six Years On


Sixth “Accidentiversary.” Not one of those much ballyhooed multiple-of-five years. While solemn, neither somber nor maudlin. Have been inspired and encouraged by valiant victors whose worlds have been rocked by trials far more severe, but who nonetheless press on and do the next thing. In their particular “captivities,” they rebuff despair, endeavor with herculean effort, and prosper, even if gradually — infusing those spaces they occupy in time with great dignity. Chapeau to that worthy group. Grateful for God’s mercy in granting a year of reprieve from medical issues, being able to continue working and to drive (thaaaaat’s right — keep to the sidewalk), seeing every day of the Tour de Frronze, and innumerable other provisions and blessings. For countless agents of mercy who, at varied moments, times and periods, in WIN_20150111_144252 (2)close and from afar, briefly and over the long haul, rehabilitatively, therapeutically, materially and relationally, have encouraged and helped me and my family. At the top of this list I place the lovely and heroic Alice Heidel, my eight children, my two sons and one daughter in law, my three grandsons, my sisters, Dianne Irving and Sue Heidel, Queen Granny Cakes, and my Uncle Sonny and Aunt Chris. All others are in a tie for first, and down stream newcomers will be next year. Life like this is still, if counter-intuitively, rich and worth living because of these trials, these provisions and blessings, and because of you all. I am and remain profoundly thankful.

Blogging-In the New Year . . . 2014 in Review


Year end greetings to all (nine) of my loyal followers. Ha ha! The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for WheeledWords (below). Though small in number, and dispersed from Alaska to “Schveeden,” we are a force to be reckoned with. Thanks for your interest in WheeledWords, begun just a year ago. I chafe a bit over not posting more frequently. Ideas bubble up, but then life gets in the way (or I can’t find my Moleskine booklet-thing and NASA space pen) and my ideas fly the coop. I hope to write more regularly and regimentedly in the coming year and do have a number of rough-cut notions, but if any general topics interest you – viewed through the lens of a quadriplegic, working-man, father of 8 – pitch ’em my way. Anyhoo, thanks again, please keep following, and don’t hesitate to recommend WheeledWords to 125 or so of your closest friends.

Wishing you all a most Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Far More Weighty and Real


Having played on the 1977-80 Virginia Cavalier football team – well, practiced mostly – I was interestedly watching the Cavs (seldom televised anymore) play the Miami Hurricanes yesterday evening. As they hung on to a slim 6 point lead, early in the fourth quarter, they failed to score from inside the 5 yard line on third and simple. So, the necessary kicker and holder trundled out to attempt a consolation-prize field goal. The ball was snapped to the holder. The holder placed the ball uppy-downy between turf and fingertip, executing a laces-obviating quarter spin, and the kicker’s shoe impacted and propelled the ball through the uprights. Wait! A pair of penalties on a pair of over zealous Miami players — off-sides (declined) and roughing the kicker (accepted) — gave Virginia the ball again, and they scored three plays later, extending their lead to 23-7.

On the ensuing kick off, Herb Waters, a Junior wide receiver with Miami, sustained an injury that left him in a heap, motionless on the turf. My years-long honed enthusiasm for the Cavs and dislike for their opponents was suspended in an instant, I held my breath for what seemed like an NFL Films cinematic slow-mo replay. I watched with laser focus as a small army of team (both) trainers, and emergency medical technicians went to work. They double-timed it out to where Waters lay, bringing the imposing and dreaded back board with its myriad straps and cushioned but rigid triangular head blocks. Encircling the injured Hurricane, they immobilizingly positioned him for transport. “Move something! Move your foot, or a hand!,” I demanded. But nothing moved, and they whisked Waters off the field to the University hospital.

Both Virginia and Miami have soldiered on through disappointing seasons this fall. Each a mediocre team relative to season opening hopes and expectations, tilting in hopes of notching a sixth win and bowl eligibility. Sports is a universe full of lessons to be learned — lessons about sadness and disappointment to be suffered, jubilation to be celebrated, battles to be fought and struggles to be endured, the fleeting and changeable nature of success, the brevity of being on top and the bullseye worn by those who are there. At the end of the day though, sports are only sports — paling in importance to a few things that are far weightier and real.

The final score was 30-13, Virginia over Miami. I went to bed at game’s end, but restlessly replayed what I’d seen through a fitful night of light sleep. I awoke and later went to church prayerfully thinking of Waters. Home from service, and still distracted by not knowing what his condition was, I googled injured Miami player, and learned very happily his injury had not turned out to be severe, and that he had been cleared to travel home with his team.

Mr. Waters, though the outcome has kept a light wind in Cavalier bowl prospect sails, and Miami’s post season hopes are not overly promising, I and all who read this and understand celebrate your far more weighty and real win.