Today is Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Feeling blessed

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Keith Woodall invites visitors to the upstairs apartment via the 1946 Otis Elevator, decorated with family photos.
Keith Woodall has built a driving range in the “playroom” for the boys.
Memorial Boulevard is the view from the back deck and
Arched doorways are found throughout the apartment and also in an area above the bed in the master suite
Tish Woodall decorated the lovely apartment that has a balcony on the inside that allows better views of the historic downtown square.
The Woodall apartment has large windows looking out over the historic downtown square.
On the day of the eclipse, Tish and Keith Woodall watched from their rooftop deck
Keith and Tish Woodall are raising their two teenaged boys, Joshua and Caleb, in a large, beautiful apartment atop Springfield’s historic downtown square. CHERI REEVES

A Springfield couple, whose two teenaged children have cerebral palsy (CP), is living in the city's historic downtown square in a home that has been beautifully decorated and equipped to meet the special needs of their two sons.

Keith and Tish Woodall have been married for 25 years and say they still continually count their blessings.

Their boys, Joshua and Caleb, were both born prematurely. Joshua, 17, was diagnosed with CP at the age of nine months and Caleb, 14, received his diagnosis a few weeks after birth.

"The first thing we noticed with Josh is that he was not looking directly into our faces, but looking above them," Tish said. "I took him to the doctor, concerned about him being able to see. The doctor did some reflex testing and realized his whole body was affected, not just his eyes."

The final diagnosis came after a visit to a neurologist, where an MRI was performed, according to Tish.

When Caleb was born, the physicians did an MRI early, detecting the disorder.

"They noticed right away that not all of his brain was fully developed," Tish said.

Tish Woodall was the speech pathologist at Krisle Elementary School for five years until Joshua was born.

She now devotes her days fulltime to her two boys, helping them develop into young men.

"I even do our schooling," Tish said. "Because I knew that I could provide more therapy and better hygiene and care and more attention. I've worked in the school system and as great as they are, I felt no one could give them the attention that the boys were needing."

The Woodalls met at church - in the nursery of Springfield Baptist Church when Tish was just an infant. Keith is about nine years older than Tish.

"His mom, Joyce Woodall, worked in the nursery for 50 years and was there every Sunday," Tish said. "He remembers the first Sunday that my mom brought me in."

After three years of marriage, Keith and Tish Woodall opened the Crossroads Christian Bookstore on Main Street.

In 1998, after paying rent for three years, the Woodalls purchased the building that housed the bookstore and moved into the renovated apartment upstairs in 2003. Later that same year, Caleb was born.

They ran the bookstore for about 17 years and sold the business in 2012.

"When we constructed the apartment, we already had one special needs child," Tish said. "So, it was just perfectly set up because we had all the wide doorways, hallways put in. The building had a 1946 Otis elevator, which wasn't working, but we had it repaired and still use it today."

Tish said through the years, the 2,800-square-foot home, that sits on Main Street above the historic downtown square, has exceeded their needs.

"We would have never envisioned living here," Tish said. "It has been very convenient and accessible to stroll the boys to the post office or to the library. It has just been wonderful. God set us up to meet our needs."

Despite being a full-time caregiver, Tish said because of the boys' conditions, she has a lot of quiet time throughout her day.

"It gives me time with the Lord," Tish said. "We have little outings like going to Keith's family farm every week. It's those things that help me to stay physically and mentally healthy."

Both Keith and Tish say that their lives have been blessed and they continually count their blessings.

"I remember going to my dad when we first received the diagnosis on Caleb," Tish said. "I was crying, and said to him, 'Dad, it has happened again.' He looked at me and said, 'Honey, there are a lot of things worse in life than having a special needs child.'"

Tish said she and Keith would have never picked their children to be handicapped, but when they see other families who struggle with children experiencing drugs and other issues, she realizes her challenges are just different ones.

"The number one thing is to have God in your life," Tish said. "And then you just have to count your blessings every single day. That's what helps to keep your head above water."

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