Friday, December 31, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Happy New Year's Eve, friends! What are you doing today? I have a stack of movies a mile high. It is going to be glorious. Also, I figured out how to make my own cherry limeades, so Jesus can come back now. My life is complete.

Oh guess what, guess what, guess what??? Big changes are a-brewin' for this here blog. And by changes, I mean... I STARTED A NEW BLOG. BOO-YAH. I did this because, well, I kind of painted myself into a corner with my blog title, didn't I? I feel like I have to always write about hearing loss and while I'm always happy to share my experiences or think out loud about some issue related to it, it gets old, y'know? Well, not old, I guess, but considering I want to be a more deliberate blogger and at least aim for writing 3x/week, I think it would get old.

So I've made a broader blog. No painted corners this time. Just a place where I can blather incessantly about that one time I did something with someone somewhere or how I'm pretending to be Martha Stewart. It will be grand.

What this means is:

I will leave this blog up, but I won't be writing in it anymore. I hope it's been a good place for people new to hearing loss to learn a little bit more about what it means to be hard of hearing. That was the goal when I started anyway. To share a little bit more of my perspective with my friends and family and also to network with people who also live with hearing loss (either themselves or through a loved one).

I really would love to see you at my new place, so if you're so inclined, you'll need to update your subscriptions (if you subscribe) and following and google reading and bookmarking and all that jazz.

I will post the new link tomorrow so check back for updates!

Happy New Year's Eve, my friends. I hope it is a delightful day for each and every one of you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Whirled peas

I did approximately 8.26 billion hours of shopping last week. Which is quite the feat coming from someone who considers ONE measly hour of shopping to be one hour too many.

I'm a serious shopper. When I do venture out to spend money, I treat it like a marathon. I mentally map out the most effect route to take through the store - the one that gets me in and out and back home in my pj's in the shortest amount of time possible.

But of course, other people do not know this. And they dawdle. And their kids dawdle. And they use their shopping carts to block whole aisles. They linger awkwardly in that one section out of the whole entire store that I need to grab something from.

Rude.

You know what is missing from America's stores?



Walkways. Walkways are the answer. Forget airports. Put these babies into Targets across the nation and you will achieve world peace. Slow people can jump on them if they want, but as long as they keep to the right so I can breeze past them, there will be peace in all the land.

And also? I love walkways. It's true. I went to Las Vegas this fall to visit my cousin. One of my favorite parts was hopping on the walkway in the airport. Because the Las Vegas airport looks like this:



I had to walk something like 15 miles to get from my gate to the baggage claim. Those walkways sure came in handy.

In contrast, my airport looks more like this:



If you land at my airport and if for some bizarre reason, it's your final destination, then I can guarantee you that when you leave your gate, your baggage claim will be right around the corner. No walkways. It's a sad airport.

I don't really know how I got on this topic. My thought process is a little convoluted. Also, on Christmas Eve, I dreamed that I lived next door to a vampire. But then I also spent Christmas Day curled up in my dad's big chair, getting high on cough suppressant and ibuprofen. I also watched Eclipse last night. I don't think I can blame that one on a cold.

I think coming up with an ending is one of the most awkward parts of writing. Especially blogging.

Love,
Lucy

Friday, December 17, 2010

The best way to spread Christmas cheer...

... or, How Many Pop Culture Christmas References Can I Make In One Post?

Am I the only one not really feeling the holiday spirit this year? Maybe my heart is two sizes too small.



Perhaps I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muuggins.



Or maybe because my Christmas tree - if you really want to call it that - looks more like Charlie Brown's



than Martha Stewart's



(not that I've ever had a tree that looked like Martha's, but... well, let me have my dreams). Or the fact that I've left most of my Christmas decor in boxes because it just seems like too much trouble to decorate my tiny little apartment. And yes, I know that Christmas is about more than trees and presents and decorations. But you try getting in the spirit without ornaments and lights, mmmkay?

I know. I have such a hard life. First-world problems and all.

But while we're talking about Christmas, let's talk about the main character: Santa (Ha! Thought I was gonna go all holy on you and say Jesus, didn'tcha? I'm sneaky like that). I have a confession to make. I love Santa. It's true. Now, I am not going to go all Brittany-from-Glee on you and tell you that I still believe in Santa. Actually, I don't remember ever believing in Santa. My parents were a little late to the party on that one and I am pretty sure I remember them trying to convince my enlightened and far-too-old-for-this seven year old self that Santa had left gifts for me. I was all, psh, puh-leez. I am too smart for this stuff. Fat man + chimney = bwahahahaha.



But I love Santa movies and elves and sleigh rides and the North Pole and smiling. Smiling's my favorite. There's just a feel-good charm about the whole thing. It's adorable and magical and there's plenty of room for imagination to run amok. And you know what? I've decided I'm a big believer in imagination. It's good for the soul. A little creativity never hurt anyone. We were wired to create, to wonder and to be thrilled by things. Let's run with that a little more, mmmkay? And Christmas is the most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time of the year to do that.



Now I have a few friends who are parents or about to be parents who are probably thinking about how to handle the Santa thing with their kids and to tell you the truth, I might feel differently about Santa if I was a mom. I'm not wild about letting my (fake) kid sit on a stranger's lap, tell him what they want for Christmas and then expect him to deliver on that. I don't know that I'd let them write letters addressed to the North Pole. I would definitely be emphasizing Christ in Christmas (I'm all holy like that, you know), but I also think that I would happily read them "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and we would watch "Elf" every. single. day. between Thanksgiving and Christmas.



It's a cute story, really. A jolly old elf, flying reindeer, a magical sleigh with a sack bulging with presents. the naughty and nice list and a toy workshop. Adorable. Some people like wizards and Hogwarts and Narnia and lions and hobbits and rings and glittery vampires and russet werewolves (I mean really, people. Go back and read "New Moon" and count how many times the word "russet" is used to describe Jacob. Get a thesaurus, Stephanie Meyer. And with that, now you know one of my dirty little secrets. I read the whole freakin' series). I happen to like Santa. It's fantasy and whimsical and just plain fun.



So. There.

What puts you in the holiday spirit?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When knowing I'm yucky makes me happy

You. Guys. It is 10 degrees. For realz. And they're saying mean things during the weather segments, like "wind chill" and "below zero" and "frostbite." Rude.

Didja miss me, internets? (I know, I'm vain. It's part of my charm.) If I did my math right (and that's always kind of a question mark), this is my 100th post! Bow chicka bow wow!

Anywhozzle, I've been feeling a little scattered lately. My apartment is a mess because I'm never here to clean it up and when I am home, I just want to watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother. I've got work, cavities, people, shopping, parties, crafts, hearing aids and "who am I/why am I here/ohmygawsh I'm having an identity crisis" to think too much about. It's so fun.

But when I get like that, all distracted and frustrated and annoyed, I start thinking that I can handle things on my own and that I am, in fact, all of that and a bag of chips (I know, I am so hip with the slang, I can barely handle it).

But today at church, our pastor was, as always (and in a good way), hammering home the point that there is something wrong with all of us, we're more ruined and awful and messed up and broken than we can ever dare imagine, and that Jesus is our only hope and came to fill our greatest need - our need for a Savior to save us from ourselves.

And all I could think was, "How come knowing how broken I am is the only thing that makes me feel complete?"

So funny how that works. Knowing who I really am - a mess - is actually the thing that makes me the most settled. Because the more aware I am of myself, the more I recognize my need for a Savior. And knowing the depth and desperation of that need causes me to treasure Jesus even more and myself even less.

Which, let's face it, is hard to do. We're selfish people. We think the world is about us. We're here to further our own agendas, meet our deadlines, make the best decisions for our lives and basically, do what we have to do to feel good. And when God says to us, "That's not really the way to happiness," we don't really believe Him, because His idea of joy and contentment is so radically different from our own.

But it's better. Harder and messier and raw, but better.

One of my pastors tweeted not long ago: "My parenting of my (young kids) is currently focused on 2 themes: You're not in control and you are deeply loved."

Which I think is a pretty good thing for all of us to know. We're not in control. We are broken, messy and falling apart - and there's nothing we can do about it. We can't make ourselves right and we don't have it all together. But. We are deeply loved by a Savior from whom we have received grace upon grace. God, who does not merely offer a solution to our problem, but who Himself is the Solution to our problem, loves us lavishly.

Which makes me feel pretty small, and God pretty big, which is exactly as it should be.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Teeth and Clouds

You know that little blog stalking problem I have?

It really does pay off sometimes. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon Joey's blog, but I can almost guarantee there were stalking hijinks involved.

Joey's daughter, Julia, has mild/moderate hearing loss and I've loved learning about hearing loss from the parents' perspective. I've only ever approached my hearing loss from my experience, but it's something that affects the whole family.

Every month, Joey features a deaf or hard of hearing adult and this month was my turn! Head on over to her blog and read the (very. long. (oops)) post I wrote. Thanks for featuring me, Joey!

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Entitlement

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

Here's a math problem for you. All I did was make one batch of mashed potatoes, yet when all was said and done, I had four giant bowls soaking in sudsy water to get all of the potato-ness off of them, approximately 9,000 utensils scattered in the sink and took out two bags of trash in the last six hours.

How does that happen? If Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart ever need a replacement... don't call me.

But the potatoes... oh. my. word. They almost didn't make it to my aunt's for Thanksgiving because I may or may not have kept sneaking tastes. They are full of bad things. Heavy cream. Buttttah. Cream cheese. Don't look at me like that. It was a holiday. Go with it.

Annnnnyway, Thanksgiving. I feel like I won't be a good American unless I list all the things I'm thankful for, just like everyone else is doing. But that seems so... so... routine. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for a lot of things. I understand the value of a grateful heart. But I'm wondering if I really know what thankfulness means.

I came across this Thanksgiving poem last week that just rubbed me the wrong way. It starts out like this:

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank
You, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long
as possible, thank You, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.


I think you can imagine why I found that a little offensive (!). The poem goes on to give thanks for things like family (because there are many who are lonely), food (because there are many who are hungry) and work (because there are many who don't have a job).

It's okay to be thankful for those things. But the motivation behind the gratitude in the poem is all wrong. Being thankful that you have something that someone else doesn't isn't really gratitude, but superiority.

The whole poem is really just one complaint after another. Paraphrased, it is basically saying something like:

"Poor me, I have to listen to my alarm shrill at me day after day, and I'm forced to leave my warm, cozy bed and work for The Man just so I can come home to crying children and a demanding spouse and burned toast in a modest house... but at least I'm not like those people! Even though I'm not really getting what I want, that's okay, because it could be so much worse."

Are we really that backwards that instead of truly being humbly thankful for what we do have, we're begrudgingly noting that at least someone else is worse off than we are? What we're really doing then is assuring ourselves that we're still awesome, that we've still got one up on everyone else. This isn't really a poem of Thanksgiving, but one of entitlement. It assumes that life should be free of restrictions and authority and cold and ruined food and illness and trials. That we are special and awesome enough to deserve a perfect life and have right to pitch a fit when it doesn't go our way.

I know this because I get behind the wheel of a car every day. I don't know what it is about driving that makes me act like a three year old, but it does. I mean, people are driving in my lane. What is up with that? I did not tell them they could be there. Why are they driving so slow? Don't they know that the speed limit thingy is just a suggestion? I have someplace to be and they are slowing me down and don't they know I will be late for work if they don't MOVE. IT.?! I act like I'm the only person on the highway who has schedule to keep. All of a sudden, everything becomes about me and my need to get somewhere and everyone who stands in my way is an enemy.

And the truth is that I live my life this way too. I don't know how to be thankful because I assume I'm entitled to live the way I want. It's hard to say "thank you" when you're distracted by the fact that your internet connection isn't fast enough or that the kitchen isn't big enough or the weekend isn't full enough. Then trying to fake an attitude of gratitude (cue cheesy sound effect) by mumbling, "Well, at least I'm not like that guy!" just doesn't cut it.

I think true thankfulness starts with humility, with recognizing who you really are (a sinner, not awesome and yucky), what you really deserve (wrath, hell and death) and what you got instead (grace, mercy and life). Only by breaking the illusion of entitlement will I really be thankful.

Which means I've got a long, loooooooong way to go.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Ephesians 2:1-10

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am a dork

I get really excited when our office closes early, as it did today for the holiday weekend. It means I get home in time to watch Jeopardy.

True story. I am a nerd like that. And I even got a few of the answers right, too. I may be using the term "right" loosely.

Also, I heard that eggs should be room temperature because then they'll cook up fluffier. I have no idea if that applies to baking, but I'm making chocolate chip cookies and my eggs are still a little chilly. So I'm holding them in my hands to warm them up. (This is a really hilarious sentence if you understand "eggs" as part of a woman's reproductive system. Giggle. I mean, really, I'm about to bust a gut here. Tears are streaming. I entertain myself well.)

So how exactly, you might wonder, am I typing this post?

Very carefully, that's how.

Hope your Thanksgiving is egg-stra special!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catching a whiff

Is Sunday the start of your week or the end of it? I can never decide.

The last couple of Sundays, I'v noticed that I come home smelling a lot better than when I left it. I mean, I use deodorant and everything (not like that one time), but I'm not really a body spray or perfume kind of girl. But after a morning of hugging various friends (and let's face it, the gallery just gets real crowded real fast), their body spray rubs off on me so when I get home, I have some sweet scents to remember the day by. Which is kind of lovely.

And maybe a little creepy.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

(P.S. I've enabled comment moderation. Lame, I know. Just go with it.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'd rather have a pity party, thanks.

That's what I said when one of my co-workers offered me an orange. For the Vitamin C. Because I was busy nursing a sore throat. Cough, cough. I'm a smidge overdramatic when battling viruses. Little bit.

Anywhozzle, sometimes when I get sick, or when I have a lot of things to bring in from the car, or when I have a lot of housework to do, I think, "Score one for roommates." (I pretty much have a daily "roommate vs. living alone" kind of mental scoreboard going on. Just go with it.) Sure, living with people is hard. They don't always do their chores. Or maybe you do something that irritates them. Schedules conflict and decorating preferences clash. It can be rough.

But it's nice to be able to text someone and ask for help bringing on all the groceries. Or share the burden of chores. Or bring you soup when you're sick... or at least throw some sympathizing glances your way. And good roommates - if you are lucky enough that they are good friends, too - will say things like, "You kind of suck right now." And yes, that counts as a point for the roommate scenario.

This is the epiphany I had the other day. I mentioned briefly that sometimes I feel like my life is full of busy-ness but devoid of meaningful relationships. Then I started thinking about what I wanted my relationships to look like and why they did not look like that. There are a lot of factors. Schedules. Personalities. Priorities. Normal things. Neutral things. But outside of those, something I kept coming back to was: me. Maybe I'm one of the reasons that I don't have the relationships that I want. So I've been praying. And thinking. What are the things that I do or don't do that might turn people off? That might be overwhelming? That might just plain annoy others?

And then I realized, it would take me a long time to come up with that answer on my own. When I look in the mirror, I do see a sinner, but I tend to under-emphasize my sinfulness and exaggerate my awesomeness. So unless someone comes up and holds a different kind of mirror up to me and says, "Hey, you are being really dumb and it really hurts my feelings when you ________." Or, "I think that you are making a mistake by ___________." Even, "When you do _______, it is overwhelming/frustrating/irritating."

Those are hard things to hear. And I confess that I don't handle critique well. I want to be a more gracious person and take correction like a grown up, not a three year old with a temper tantrum. But if I don't know my sins, how will I grow? If I can't see the things that are keeping me from focusing all of my attention on Christ, how will I learn? How can I have genuine relationships with people if no one tells me how I'm being dishonest?

I need people to tell me when I'm being dumb. Left to my own devices, I'm going to think I am pretty hot stuff. I'll strut around, patting myself on the back for my good deeds or for being the most mature person the room (never mind that I'm the only person in the room).

I've had a few roommates who were willing to do that for me. At the time, I was mad at them for doing it. How dare they have the audacity to tell Awesome Me that I was really a Sinful Me? What I didn't know then was that it was the most loving thing they could have done. Thanks, ladies.

(And no, it's not just roommates who do that. Friends. Family. I was just reflecting on roommates in particular but by no means is saying hard things limited to people who occupy the same household.)

Hey, you know how when you let out a really big sneeze and you get light-headed for a few minutes and you can pretty much feel your eyes glazing over with that weird "I'm getting sick" look and your core body temperature rises about 500 degrees and you start saying loopy things like "One time, at band camp..."?

No?

Oh, me either.

If you need me, I'll be delirious with cough suppressant and carrying on a conversation with the light switch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love language

Sometimes I wonder (er, worry, if we're really being honest here) if my hearing aids are a turnoff to prospective suitors. How do relationships work if one person is deaf or hard of hearing and the other isn't? I know people do it and I'm curious how they manage. Does it get tiring for the hearing person to have to repeat themselves? Does it get tiring for the deaf/hard of hearing person to explain themselves?

Am I thinking too much again?

Don't answer that.

Just watch this video that I stole from Speak Up Librarian. It made me smile. And helped me stop thinking.



And I confess I teared up a little, too. I'm a girl. It's what I do. Just go with it.

Happy Weekend-ing!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Please send chocolate

Ummmmm... Thanksgiving is in TWO. WEEKS. howdidthathappen?

I bought three cans of pumpkin to celebrate.

I've never baked with it.

This could be interesting.

I feel like I have been super busy lately.

Mostly, this is a good thing.

A year ago, I rarely left my couch.

Now, I rarely see it.

But I wonder, am I so busy doing things that I'm not making room for people?

And if I have to ask...

So that's why it's been quiet over here.

Busy.

Tired.

Please send chocolate.

Over and out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stalking for Zoey

Let's talk about what an epic blog stalker I am. It's true. It didn't take long for me to earn the moniker of "Xanga Stalker" (haha, oh Xanga) in college, which of course quickly gave way to being a Facebook Stalker. And let's be honest, we can all attest to varying degrees of Facebook stalkdom, yeah? Now, friends, I have another badge to add - Blog Stalker. Not to scare you or anything, but if you're a friend of a friend of a friend of a cousin's third niece twice removed on Great-Aunt Sally's stepbrother's side, I've likely been lurking your site.

Just go with it.

Anyway, blog stalking turns up such a treasure trove of stories, and really (in a vain effort to make myself not sound so creepy), it's all about the stories for me (I used to be an English major, so I can get away with saying that). Funny stories, sad stories, make-you-think stories, life stories. I love it. I love learning about how other people are living and in some weird way, feeling a sense of community. A bloggunity, if you will.

This blog stalking passion of mine introduced me to Jessie. I don't know Jessie. I haven't met her personally. But I did grow up with two of her cousins (see, I wasn't kidding. No one is immune to the Blog Stalker! muwahahaha!) and that's how I found her blog. Jessie and her family are raising money to adopt their daughter, Zoey, from Africa. They're still in the midst of the adoption process. They don't know what she looks like or what her circumstances are or if she's even been born yet. But they've already named her and they already love her. Tell me you are not blinking back tears right now!

Anyway, this week, Jessie is holding a giveaway to help raise money for Zoey. Oh my word, you guys, there are so many drool-worthy items you could win. Notecards, necklaces, baby slings... (I know, what am I going to do with a baby sling? Well, I will tell you... Baby shower gift, that's what! Whoever said the birth rate was declining has clearly never been to my church. There are something like seven babies due in March alone!) I believe the word you're looking for is awwww-sum!

So, will you go with me and enter the Love Wins giveaway on Jessie's blog, so that Zoey can come home?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A call for recipes

I'm not a busy mom. Mostly because I am not a mom. But I am one of those weak-willed creatures for whom it does not take much to overwhelm. That didn't make sense, did it? my English major self scolds. In other words, I do lead a busy life and when I get home from work, I'm usually just jumping in the shower before grabbing dinner and dashing off again. And then even when I have evenings to myself, I don't want to do anything. Just lounge on the couch and watch re-runs of The Office. Because I am a wimp like that.

So what I try to do once a month or so is make a lot of food and freeze it so that I can just grab and nuke as needed. But let me tell you, as much as I lurrrrrv me some Mexican, enchilada casserole can get old after a while. Plus, it is a whole new season now, so I'm in the mood for soups, stews and the like. Or anything I can make in a crock pot, really. And mark my words, there will be potatoes all over my kitchen counter soon.

The only catch is that I don't want to spend a lot of money, so I'm drawn to recipes that will use things that I probably already have on hand. This means that I envision quite a bit of chicken tortilla soup in my future. My itty bitty kitchen is always stocked with corn, beans, salsa, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth. And spices. And loooove (insert cheesy head-tilt here).

So can you help a sister out? What are some of your favorite fall/winter recipes? And does anyone have an UH-MAZING homemade spaghetti sauce recipe to share? That one has proven most elusive to me. Send me your recipes and I'll even blog about it. If you know my propensity towards disaster in the kitchen, it could be pretty high-larious.

Please and thank you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Young whippersnappers

Continuing with this old lady theme I'm rocking, try this one on for size.

When I was growing up, it never really occurred to me to turn off my hearing aids, other than at bedtime or once in a very great while and even then it was in jest. Like when my dad was singing obnoxiously, I would make a big show of turning of my aids and effectively "muting" him. Ha. Ha. But other than that, I was too nervous to intentionally leave myself in silence for longer than a few minutes. What if I missed something?

But now lately, I find myself doing it all the time. Even at work. I've been known to spend the better part of the week in my little cone of silence. I can't filter out background noise. It just turns into this churning mass of hums, clicks, murmurs and whirs, all shaken up and poured out into my ears. It's always been bothersome, but I relished hearing while I could. Now, though, it's like nails on a chalkboard. The whir of the printer, the high heels clacking on the floor, the voices - and not just the ones in my head, thankyouverymuch - floating all around... cacophony. Jarring, grinding, nagging, irritating cacophony.

And I can't figure out why this is bothering me now when it never really has before. Maybe it's a change in my environment. Not having to share my living space has made me more comfortable with silence, perhaps, and so the rhythm of everyday life is suddenly jarring. Or maybe my hearing loss is changing somehow, or getting more progressive. Maybe I need to change my hearing aid batteries. Or my personal favorite, I'm old. Let's face it, people. I'm in my pj's by 6:15. I'm sprouting white hairs. Hymns are my favorite music these days.

I'm just one defiant "you young whippersnappers!" and a shaking fist away from the early bird special at Luby's Cafeteria. Come visit me at the nursing home, k?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Old lady

You guys. It is 8:29 p.m. and I'm in my pajamas. And I have been since 6:15. And I'm pretty sure that if I was laying down on my couch right now, I'd be losing a battle with my eyelids. I know, I am a wild woman. Don't hate.

I have about zero original things to say today, so I'll just point you to a couple of links I thought interesting.

Last night's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition took place in Oregon. Instead of giving a family a new house, though, Ty and co. gave Oregon School for the Deaf new dorms! Neat-o supreme-o (oh my, yes.i.did.just.say.that. Old lady alert)! You can watch the video at ABC's website - and with subtitles, too! Marlee Matlin made an appearance and several of the students got new hearing aids from Starkey. So nifty (I'm just full of old school today)!

And then today over at (e's blog, she talks about conversational delays. It's one of those things that I notice about myself but at the same time, I don't. I'm so accustomed to these pauses that I barely notice them anymore. But I'm glad (e blogged about it, because I genuinely thought maybe something was wrong with me that it took me a few seconds to process information! ;) So now you know. When I stare at you blankly from time to time, I'm just trying to catch up.

Okay, the grandma in me is ready for some couch time, warm milk and either a book or Star Trek: TNG. It's an old lady kind of evening, and that's peachy keen with me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obligatory Halloween Post

I'm not a Halloween person. I mean, I was when I was little and there was candy involved but now I'm apparently too old for that, so really, what is the point? I'm not a fan of scary movies, either. I can barely handle this one:



Laugh if you must, but I mean, if you found this among your stuffed animals (yes I have stuffed animals, so.sue.me)-



- wouldn't you



too?

This part just gives me the straight-up heebie-jeebies. Always has. I have to cover my eyes when it's on.



I've given myself nightmares just asking the Google for these images. Mostly because I came across this one:



If that doesn't seal the deal for you, I just don't know what will.

I hope your Halloween weekend has been safe and fun and full of candy delight! (send.me.some.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Contributing with disability - Part 5-ish

Whew. I made it. Part 5-ish. I don't know how some bloggers manage to do this every. single. day. Kudos to those who do! I've learned a lot from writing this little series and I'm so grateful for the discussion it's sparked. I hope we'll keep on discussing and talking and thinking and engaging. Community-ing, if you will.

Defining disability - Part 1
The kinship of disability - Part 2
A proper response to disability - Part 3
Learning from disability - Part 4

Anyway, so all week long I've been talking about what the church can and needs to do for those with disabilities. But as with most things in life, it's a two-way street, you know. Those of us who do live with disabilities cannot just stand around, waiting to be served. My friend Carin commented on one of my earlier posts and I thought she made a great point:

"Disabled" people also need to get involved and do things they are gifted and able to do. ... [W]e who are viewed as "disabled" have a responsibility to become involved and serve as well. And it need not be only in the area of our "disability" as you said. For example, as a deaf person, I am still able to serve my church family in many ways - not only the deaf - but my CHURCH FAMILY (all of them!). There are some things that I am not able to do well because of my hearing loss, but there are many other things I CAN do to serve. I need to do some of them and not just sit back with the attitude that "oh I am deaf..."

People with disabilities are often just as guilty of perpetuating division within the church by demanding this service or that accommodation, or by sequestering themselves with people who are like them. I know that sometimes I am tempted to think that because I have a disability that my suffering is more unbearable than someone else's, or that I am worthy of more attention because of it. But that is not true at all. Disabled or not, we are all sinners in need of a Savior and ought to serve one another in light of that truth. When I look at a brother or sister, I shouldn't see their able bodies and be jealous or angry; instead, I should see someone who needs Christ just as much as I do. The cross is an equalizer in that there is no room for superiority or inferiority in the Body - we are all disabled in soul before the Lord.

Something else that I'm tempted to do is to claim that I have nothing to contribute to the Body or that I'm worthless to serve because I can't hear everything. But when I do that, I buy into the lie that hearing loss defines me instead of embracing the truth that the gospel does. It's true that I can't hear everything and that there will just be some areas where I cannot serve. For example, you'll never see me help lead worship and I'd be reluctant to work at the information desk. I see so many people with disabilities just not contribute because they focus so much on what they can't do, or maybe they're missing all the things they used to be able to do and now suddenly can't. And at the heart of it is a pride issue; we want to do what we want to do and are angry that our efforts are hampered. Isn't God faithful, though? He doesn't let us slip through the cracks and He certainly doesn't put us out of commission just because our ears or legs or eyes stop working. To say that we have nothing to offer because of our disability is like saying that disability has more power than God, that the Almighty could somehow be crippled by our weakness. Puh-leez.

Having a disability does not excuse us from coming alongside of our brothers and sisters, to weep when they weep, to rejoice when they rejoice. My hearing loss does not let me off the hook to make meals when a family welcomes a new baby, help coordinate childcare, hand out worship guides, pitch in with cleanup, be kind to people, love them as Jesus does and offer a listening heart. It's true that I can't do everything, but I can trust that the Lord will equip me to do the things that He has called me to do - for my good and His glory. And so often, we expect that God has a special job just for us and that disability has somehow thwarted that plan, but that's presumptuous. God is, I think, less concerned with exactly what it is we are doing and far more concerned with how we are doing it. There are no loopholes in Micah 6:8 - abled or disabled, the decree is the same:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?


Finally, those of us with disability need to remember that these are just temporary bodies. C.S. Lewis said, "You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." Bodies with crooked spines and lifeless legs and silent eyes and damaged ears - they're just for now. Disability advocacy and raising awareness is a good thing, but it's not the most important thing. When we make disability the standard by which we live, we've missed the point. When we judge other people or churches based on whether or not they meet our needs, we're sinning. At the end of the day, the question is not, "Did the church serve my disability?" but, "Is Jesus my only hope?" Am I finding joy and fulfillment and completeness in the finished work of Christ and embracing the truth that His blood has already spoken for me, or am I basing who I am and what I think and how I act on how my body functions or doesn't function?

God is enough. And that's all I really wanted to say.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Learning from disability - part 4

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

Okay, friends, we’re in the home stretch. Part 4. I was going for a part 5, but I’m not confident that I’ll make it. That’s why I kept adding the “-ish” at the end. Five-ish. Ishes are so helpful in creating loopholes, dontcha know?

What I’ve found in my own life, and from what I’ve learned from others’ stories, is that disability can be a blessing because when something is taken away – sight, hearing, legs, neurons, synapses – you are forced to come face to face with the truth that you are broken. Not just in body, but in soul. That there is something wrong and that you can’t fix it. The need for grace seems more evident when you live with brokenness. Disabilities and sickness and weakness and brokenness point us to God and remind us that He is sovereign and complete and that only He can fix us, body and soul.

A friend of mine, who lives with hearing loss brought on by Meneire’s Disease, put it well:

I like the idea of using the Paraclete Ministry [a disability ministry at her church] as a impetus to remind "normal" people that the Fall, our sin nature, the afflictions in our bodies are a part of all of us... not just the person in the wheelchair or carrying an oxygen tank or wearing hearing aids. Weakness is not a popular thing in our culture or our churches. We want to be strong. I think weakness is where God wants us to be so that we can rely on His strength. Healthy people working with sick people (could be temporary illness like chemo for cancer, or recovering from difficult childbirth, accident, or something chronic, long-term, or even terminal) are going to be reminded that this is what the Fall did, it made pain, sorrow and death come into the world. How thankful we all should be that the Redeemer saved us from our just punishment in hell!

Greg Lucas at Wrestling with an Angel shares his thoughts on how he sees his son experiencing God:

Locked away in the mystified mind of my mentally disabled son is a deep thinking joy that can only be explained as “the secret things of God.”

My son also gives the impression that he too shares a divine bond with his heavenly Father. One of the first words in sign language Jake learned as a young child was the sign for “Jesus” which is displayed by pointing to the center of each hand (where the nail prints will be found). Ask him where Jesus lives and Jake will point upward. Ask him where else Jesus lives and Jake will point to his heart. I don’t remember ever teaching my son these things. Could it be that for many years he has known of the One who sits at the Father’s right hand, and inhabits the hearts of men?

I have watched Jake sit through entire sermons and nod his head appropriately. I have watched him give emotional standing ovations at the end of a well preached message (even when he is the only one clapping in a room of 300 people). He also claps at the end of each prayer—it is a hearty, resounding AMEN!

There have been times after a sermon or moving hymn when Jake is in tears. I do not know what is going on in his mind during these times. I only know that there is so much more happening than the doctors and specialists have ever dreamed possible in the silent, diminished world of his “disabled mind”.

Is it possible that my son’s inability to see things as a “normal” person sees, or his incapability to understand what “ordinary” people understand, is actually an exceptional ability rather than a disability?

Or could it be that I am the disabled one here? That through my own personal pride and the superficial cares of this world I am calloused to the deeper things of God, deaf to His audible voice, and blind to His very real presence in my life.


And that’s why the church needs people with disabilities. It’s not just that we need to minister to the disabled and make them feel loved and welcomed, but we need to learn from them as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A proper response to disability - part 3

So because I consider myself to have a disability and strive to identify – at least emotionally – with other people who have disabilities, I’m naturally drawn to discussion on the topic, particularly in a church setting.

I know a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people who have a hard time with church. Even churches that provide an interpreter or other accommodations haven’t equipped the rest of the congregation to come alongside of those with the hearing loss. So the deaf and hard of hearing tend to just fellowship with each other. And this doesn’t just happen in church, really, but in daily living. And not just with people with disabilities. We all tend to clump together with people who are like us, regardless of how much we say that we are in favor of diversity and unity and yada yada yada.

So when it happens in church, on one hand, it’s natural and unsurprising. On the other hand, that’s not who God has called us to be in Christ. Scripture says that we are all one in Christ, and that we are part of one body. There shouldn’t be division in the church because we’re all the same before the Lord. I really long to see the church come alongside of people with disabilities, not just to minister to them in the sense of serving them and making life a little easier, but to enter into their world with the intention of learning from them as well. To welcome people with disabilities as wholly functioning parts of the Body, not treat them as a fringe ministry.

I'm so thankful for blogs like The Works of God and Wrestling with an Angel. Both of the men who write these are fathers who have children with a disability. I don’t know the particulars of each and a parent’s perspective is a bit different than the child’s, but I can identify with a lot of what they share and I appreciate their gospel-centered perspective on suffering.

A while ago, John Knight (The Works of God) wrote a post that helped clarify my own thoughts. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I particularly liked his argument that God cares about disability, so if we are called to care about the things that God cares about, then we need to care about disability, too.

What this means, too, is that the responsibility for caring for those with disabilities in the church should not land only on those who live with it (the individuals themselves or the family members who care for him/her). We should all be concerned for one another, regardless of the state of our bodies, because we are all members of the same body, and we all belong to each other.

But I'll be honest. I'm not entirely sure what it looks like for a church to come alongside of people with disabilities. I think it starts with a solid theology of suffering, though, and an understanding that God is good even when difficult things happen in our lives or to our bodies. That's a hard truth to cling to, but I think the more a congregation understands this, the more willing they will be to do the coming alongside thing. And as with any kind of group, really, it starts at the top. Pastors, elders and other church leaders should be setting the example and even consider preaching about it.

What do you think? How can a church come alongside of those with disabilities? Should it? What are some things that might keep people from doing so?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The kinship of disability - part 2

On to part two of five(ish). And I know I said this was going to be about disability and church. It's not very church-y or God-y yet. I'm getting there.
Read part 1.

A few months ago, I read The Speed of Dark, which is told from the perspective of someone who lives with autism. I learned a few things about autism and was surprised to find I could relate to a lot of it.

I wish I had the book on me so I could pull some more direct quotes, but basically, Lou, the narrator, talks a lot about feeling like his world is made up of two kinds of people – the normals and the not normals. He has some very specific patterns and environments that he prefers (twinkling lights and the whir of a fan) and even needs to help him unwind. He talks about how he goes to the grocery store when it’s quiet because otherwise, when it’s crowded, his brain cannot assimilate the information correctly. It takes him longer to make sense of all the sounds being thrown at him and creates a stressful situation. So it’s just better if he does when it’s quiet.

I know that I sometimes feel like that – like I am not normal but that everyone else is. Sometimes I really need some quiet downtime to de-stress from the overwhelming noise of life. And I definitely go to the grocery store when I know it will be quieter for the same reason! ;) So even though I don't live with autism, I could identify with the character's feelings and perspective.

I'm a firm believer that while there are a variety of experiences across the human spectrum that not all of us get to know, there is a much smaller spectrum for feelings. Even if I can't identify with someone's experience, I've most likely lived with the same emotions in a different situation. I don't know what it is like to be bound to a wheelchair, or depend on a white cane for sight. I have no experience with Down's Syndrome or spina bifida or mental illnesses. But I do know what it is like to be different, to feel like I am missing out on something that "normal" people get to experience, to be on the outside, to wonder why, in a world of 6 billion people, God in His sovereignty brought this on me, and then in the same breath to praise Him for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I may not get the particulars of what it is like to live daily with a different disability, but emotionally, I've been there.

I also don't think that you have to have a disability to find some way to empathize with the people who do. I think it's less important to understand the disability itself than it is to sympathize emotionally. One doesn't need to have a disability, for instance, to understand loneliness. Or rejection. Or to wonder, "why me?" We would do well to seek common ground rather than stress our differences, methinks. What do you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Defining Disability - Part 1

I have a lofty goal this week, my friends. I've been thinking a lot about hearing loss and disability and how the church can come alongside of people who live with disabilities. I had so many thoughts (um, what else is new?) that I wound up with what would have been a freakishly long post, so I decided to break it up a little. So far I have four parts. Okay, three and a half, but let's just round it up. I'm planning to make it a five-parter, which means I might actually post every. single. day. this week. Which has only been a goal for the last, oh, five months. Procrastinator Extraordinaire, at your service! Also, I don't really have a fancy name for this series, so put your thinking caps on. Ideas. Need. Brain. Hurts. Thanks.

Anyway, here's part 1. It's short, but it's Monday. I didn't want to have to think too much on Monday.

I mentioned some time ago that I tend to view my hearing loss as a disability. I'm hesitant to share that because I have deaf and hard of hearing friends who probably cringe at the term and I certainly don't want to cause a division between us. And I'm hesitant to use the word disability because I feel like there are so many people who have more challenges than I do that claiming a disability, I worry, makes light of their situations.

It is not my intention to divide or belittle with the word "disability." I just take the definition literally. Dis-ability. Which basically means un-ability. And I do not have the ability to hear without assistance. I'm lacking a very specific ability that most people have and it interferes with my life in the sense that I need to work a little harder and utilize outside resources to accomplish regular tasks. In our culture of "everybody is unique," we are slow to use words like "normal," (because how could there possibly be such thing as "normal" if everyone is "special?") but the truth is that wearing hearing aids is not normal. That does not mean that it is unacceptable or weird or gross. It simply means that the vast majority of people do not have to wear hearing aids and I am different for doing so.

So that's what I mean if or when I ever reference hearing loss as a disability. I could also write a whole other post, or series of posts, on how, for me, hearing loss is also more than a disability; it's become part of me. But that's for another day. Or week. What I'm just trying to establish right now are my thoughts on the word "disability." Capisce?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feel Good Friday - The Nicest Man Ever



Feel Good Friday is hosted by The Girl Next Door Grows Up. Check out her blog for more Feel Good Fridays!


I love surprises. And I love presents. And I got an awesome surprise present this week from The Nicest Man Ever, as my co-workers and I call him. I mean, what other moniker can we give someone who brings his crockpot to work and makes us a chocolate lava cake before we moved to another floor? Anyway, The Nicest Man Ever is also an accomplished pumpkin carver and we witnessed his fine handiwork on some uh-mazing jack-o-lanterns at last year's Halloween party, which we held for the kids, of course, and where we ate a lot of candy, also for the kids. Naturally.

This year, though, there's no party. No raffle. No candy (sob!). And, I thought, no jack-o-lanterns. Sad day. Until The Nicest Man Ever showed up at my cube this week with a consolation prize:



Erm. Apparently I need to learn how to use a camera. Here it is with the flash on:



(Does anyone else see the irony in the open Bible? Because werewolves are obviously the first thing to leap to mind when I'm thinking about Jesus. Obviously.)

Yes, friends, now you know my dirty little secret. I did read Eclipse. And Twilight. And New Moon. And Breaking Dawn. And yes, I did remember all of those titles off the top of my head. I didn't even have to ask the Google for help, that's how bad it is. And I may or may not have professed allegiance to Team Edward at one point. But you know what, whatever. I won't make fun of your boy wizard if you don't mention my sparkling vampires, mk?

Now that I've come out of the Twilight closet, isn't the jack-o-lantern adorrrrable? I love the detail - especially the "Eclipse" text at the bottom - and am touched by the thought that went into it. There's nothing like the warm fuzzies of knowing someone was thinking of you, is there? I hope you have a The Nicest Man (or Woman) Ever in your life, too!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Off.

I have been feeling off lately. Probably because it is 70 degrees. In October. In case I wasn't clear about that earlier. But really. Off.

After a conversation with someone and reading (e's post about how people respond to hearing loss, I feel compelled to chime in.

I spent most of my life blaming other people for the fact that I was hard of hearing, basically. If I was left out, it was all their fault. Or if I couldn't keep up with the conversation, not my responsibility. Feeling lonely was their doing, not mine.

But in the last few months especially, I really feel the Lord has given me a different perspective on things, including how I relate to people about my hearing loss. I realized that it was unfair of me to hold them accountable if I had not spoken up and shared that part of my life with them. How can I get mad about being excluded if I never told someone that I felt that way? How is it anyone else's responsibility to assuage my loneliness if I didn't tell them I could use a friend? And how can I blame everyone else for talking at lightning speed if I never asked them to slow down?

Yes, sometimes people respond to hearing loss rudely. Other times, they are just silly. But all of the time, they just don't know any better. Is it their fault for not knowing? Or my fault for not teaching?

Hearing loss is my world, but it is not everyone else's world. Most people that I interact with regularly do not deal with it the same way I do. They don't wear hearing aids. They aren't on a first-name basis with their audiologist. They probably don't even have an audiologist. Their sign language is rudimentary and they are shocked! stunned! amazed! at the idea of speech reading. Captions and subtitles are optional for them, not mandatory. Hearing loss is not their world, so how can I hold it against them if they don't respond the way I wish they would?

But that's not to say that I'm on board with giving everyone a free pass. Just because hearing loss may not be a part of someone's world doesn't mean that they can ignore it. And it's hard not to feel like maybe the hearing aids scare people off sometimes. But something else that the last few months have taught me is that people's unwillingness is not always related to my hearing loss. Sometimes it is them. They are shy. Or they build walls. Or they are just busy. Or sometimes, even, the problems is me, doing the exact same things. So I understand now that my hearing aids aren't always the things keeping me from building the relationships that I'd like to build.

Maybe I need to examine myself first and see where I've gone wrong before I go around casting blame and breeding frustration.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Medley

I babysit some Monday nights. One of the kids is 6 and wears hearing aids, like I do. But after talking to her and her mom, I discovered that her hearing loss is mild. She can go without her hearing aids and responds fairly well when I give her instructions - even when she is not facing me to read lips. I have a friend who lost her hearing after her daughter went to college. She's tried learning sign language and to speech read, but it's been a struggle.

Hearing loss isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. The level of hearing loss (mild, moderate or profound), how old someone was when they lost their hearing, whether they were the only deaf/hard of hearing person in their family or not, how much support they've had in their hearing loss journey, - there are so many factors that make hearing loss unique for each person who lives with it. Some wear cochlear implants, some wear hearing aids and still others find neither of those to be viable options. Some people prefer to sign, others to voice for themselves. Some are good speech readers and others not so much.

I always appreciate it when someone asks me how they can best communicate with me. For reasons I've never understood myself, I get uncomfortable when someone I don't know tries to sign to me. I guess I don't like the assumption that just because I wear hearing aids, I must not be capable of speech. I'm not sure every single person I run into really thinks that and hello, we've established that I am She Who Thinks Too Much, so it's entirely possible that I over analyze it when someone shows me that they know the phrase "thank you" in sign language. Buuuuut still. I'd rather someone ask me how I prefer to communicate rather than offer a solution that might not fit my needs or personality.

And now I'm finding the road goes both ways. For a long time, I was the only hard of hearing person I knew. But now that I'm spending more time with other deaf and hard of hearing people, I'm convicted about my own need to accommodate others. Isn't that funny? All these years, I've been thinking about what I need other people to do in order to accommodate me that I forget there are things that I can do to make communication easier for others. For example, I want to be a more natural and comfortable signer just because there are now some people in my life for whom signing is their primary mode of communication. I also need to do a better job of remembering the simplest things like turning so that someone can see my face or not obstructing their view of whoever is speaking. Things I want to educate people to do but fail to remember myself (Oh hey, hypocrisy, how are you?). Guess I still have a lot to learn myself! ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clearing the (mental) decks

Ugh. Writing is hard. Can I just say that? It's not just coming up with words, but organizing thoughts. Expressing feelings. Sorting through ideas. Let me tell you, that is a monumental task for dreamers like me. I think in metaphors and feel in pictures. Trying to capture all of that with mere words is like trying to catch a cloud and pin it down (name that movie reference!). But it is a good kind of hard. The stretching kind. The say what you mean kind. The makes you think for real this time kind.

But it is tiring. So here are some of the more frivilous thoughts I've entertained lately.

I am having a battle with a single strand of white hair that insists on protruding from my scalp. Now, I'm not afraid of going gray or white or whatever. A woman's glory is her hair, yeah? And I'll wear my white tresses like a crown. But not now. How can I, three years shy of 30, possibly have earned that white hair? I feel like I need to have a few decades of fruitful labor behind me before I'm allowed to join the club. Begone, white hair. Be. Gone. You may come back in 20 years. Or 50.

Where is fall? Well? Where is it? The weather is nice and all... for August. But it's October and I have bug bites. And I want to wear flip flops. Okay, bug bites, flip flops and October. Which of these things is not like the others? I'll give you a hint. It starts with "O" and ends in "ber." As in BBBRRRRR. I want my sweaters and thick socks and warm blankets and crisp apples and steaming mugs and general coziness to ensue. My one hope - knock on wood, cross my fingers and say a prayer - is that mild fall = mild winter. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease. I like being chilly but I don't like freezing. Or driving in the snow. Or on ice. Though at the rate we're going, we'll just end up having a winter-long fall season. I could get on board with that.

I guess this one isn't terribly frivolous, but contemplative. I was looking through some old (well, by old, I mean three years ago) pictures on Facebook (isn't that weird to say? I bet our mothers never imagined a day when the word "Facebook" would replace "photo album.") and I was struck by how much things have changed in three years. So much. I go to a different church. I live somewhere else. I work somewhere else. I drive a different car. I have a new family member. I do different things with my spare time, when I have it. Back then, I had oodles and oodles of spare time and not in a good way. Three years seems like a long time. Five years seems like a lifetime ago. And I still maintain I'm not old, despite what my white hair is trying to tell me. But I'm feeling more keenly the passage of time and I know it only goes faster as I get older. That makes me a little nervous. And a little excited, because I have only the faintest glimmer of what's ahead. But it will be grand. So, so grand.

I have a question for you. Yeah, you. Not the person next to you or five cities away. You. Y'know how I tried doing that What Would You Ask thing? I'm wondering now, what would you say? Instead of me feeding you information about hearing loss, what do you want someone with hearing loss to know? Maybe you're a friend of someone who wears hearing aids or you are raising them or you have to talk a little louder to your grandma. Or maybe you've been living with hearing loss for a long time and have some wisdom to impart. I don't know anything everything. I have things to learn and I'm in the mood to listen. So spill it and I'll share it. You'll be famous. To all three of my readers, anyway.

I'm going to bed now. Because I am old. Let's just call it what it is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Impromptu

Just a little housekeeping here. I've been thinking that maybe the What Would You Ask feature has been getting a little annoying. So I'm moving it to once a month-ish. Or when I remember to do it. If I remember. Whichever comes first. Kthanxbye.

Dear blog, I've missed you. To be more particular, I miss pounding out thoughts by tapping a series of keys on my computer. Writing, friends. I finally came to accept that it's one of my things. But just one of them. When I write, write, write, what that really means is that I am talking, talking, talking. I fill white spaces (both online and in my head) with words and sentences and misplaced modifiers. Oh yes. There is a lot of talk going on from me to "out there." It is good. I am, at last, finding my voice.

But I forget that listening, it's one of my things too. It was my thing before writing and talking and saying and sharing was. So I prayed for opportunities to listen. And when you pray, friends, God delivers. I listened to stories this week, about faraway lands and new love. Of broken dreams and sleepiness. Of plumbing the depths of God and never coming up empty. What sweet things to get to listen to. To share in and be a part of. Thank you for telling me your stories. Thank You, Lord, for the loveliness of listening.

And how are you?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The unofficial major

I was an English major in college. Sometimes I still act like one. I was also a psych minor. It feels very important to mention that I have 18 whole hours of psychology under my belt, putting me a mere 43 credit hours away from a degree that actually matters. But I also like to tell people I was an unofficial journalism major. Just for fun.

When I started out at college, I rolled my eyes when I discovered that writing for the campus yearbook and newspaper were requirements for my degree. I really did not want to work on the newspaper. I thought it would be too fast-paced and political and stressful and boring. My plan was to do whatever I had to do to get the credits I needed as quickly as possible, then focus my energies on the yearbook, which, I thought, promised boatloads of learning experience and fun.

Haha. That's a funny story to share with my fellow English major friends. We laugh at the irony. Because what happened, friends, was quite the opposite. I took the newspaper course because I had to and by the time I graduated, I was managing editor. I didn't mind yearbook, but I just found newspaper to be more interesting after all. I liked seeing my name in print - and often - and as it turns out, I work well under a deadline. With the yearbook, we wouldn't see the fruits of our labors until the end of the year and it was hard to motivate myself to write something I wouldn't see for a while.

Oh, the memories we made on the newspaper staff. Late nights. Quizno's runs. Inside jokes. Red ink everywhere (my friend A and I were not shy with our copy editing chops. Not even a little bit). We dealt with plagiarism, deadlines and scandals. When our school was added to Facebook's list of networks, it made the front page. I'm not saying we were the sharpest journalists all the time, but we had fun with it regardless. Leaving the paper was probably the hardest part for me about graduating.

When I went to college, I really thought I would end up as a book or magazine editor. By the time I left, I was seriously considering a career as a journalist. But out in the real world, I didn't do as well. I freelanced for a couple of local papers, but it just wasn't the same. I worried about misunderstanding information and writing the wrong article. I stressed over deadlines and found my little pile of money dwindling as I poured it into my gas tank so I could drive all over town pursuing stories. Even though I never stopped loving words or writing them, journalism - the hardcore, breaking news, scandal-exposing, following-up-with-leads kind - wasn't quite for me. Instead, I found a job at a publishing company and now I prepare comics pages for newspapers around the country. Not exactly the hard-hitting journalism I had envisioned, but I'm okay with it.

Sometimes in my cushy comics job, I forget what it was like - the thrill of getting a story, the particular joy that comes from seeing your byline. Some might call that narcissistic, but writers write to be read, no? It's what we do and having a byline just validates a passion. I visited a newspaper office a few weeks ago. It was old and lovely and crumbling and full of history. As I followed my guide past a maze of gray cubes, through dilapidated hallways and over worn tile, I inhaled the mustiness. It's a particular smell, one that can only come from history, deadlines, ink and passion. It smells like journalism, I thought. And I smiled.

Got a question? I'd still like to know what you'd like to know, you know? This may or may not also be a shameless plug for comments. Either way, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feel Good Friday: Five Things



Feel Good Friday is hosted by The Girl Next Door Grows Up. Check out her blog for more Feel Good Fridays!


Some lovely things lately:

1) Open captions are back at AMC! I have not seen a movie in an AMC theater for what feels like a few years now. That is most likely an exaggeration because I tend toward the dramatic, but I will say it's been at least a couple of years. Not counting that one showing of See What I'm Saying. I'm also happy that HLAA played a role in bring captions back - you can read more about it at HLAA-KC's blog or on my friend Shanna's blog. Shanna and Teri worked hard to make this happen - GO LADIES! ;-) AMC is currently showing Nanny McPhee Returns and I am all over it, friends. Yes, I know, it's a kids' movie but whatevs. I think it's important to support AMC and thank them for their efforts. Plus kids' movies can be so charming. They are good for encouraging creativity and imagination for both little ones and old. ;-)

2) I started reading a really good book this week. It takes an honest look at the Bible and the author uses beautiful language to really engage my wonder for the Lord. I think that is something that has been lost lately, at least in my head. I get so wrapped up in theological discourse that I forget to just step back and marvel at God. To be astonished by His artistry and grace. To find Him and all he does breathtaking. I highly recommend this book:



Not even joking. It's lovely. I started reading it to my friend's daughters the other night, then I kept reading it while she put them to bed. It's just such a sweet perspective to see things through a child's eyes. Love!

3) Last weekend, on the way to the conference, we drove by Story City, IA. There was a billboard on the side of the road beckoning us to ride their antique carousel. Oh, how I wish we could have stopped. If I lived in Story City, I would totally take up residence in a gingerbread house at the corner of Cherry St. and Gumdrop Lane. My trusty carousel horse would get me to work every day at Toyland, Inc., and I wouldn't talk anymore. Oh no, everything I would have to say would just have to be delivered by way of song and dance. Obviously. (And now I have a sudden hankering to watch Mary Poppins. Hellooooo, plan for the weekend!)

4) Okay, on to more grown-up things. I had lunch with my co-workers today. And we got Chipotle, so really, I am cheating here by listing two lovely things. And they might sound trivial, but it has been a while since we all (well, we were missing one, so okay, most) sat down and had lunch together. Isn't it funny how something as simple as discussing which plastic forks we prefer (the office's or Chipotle's?) or how we eat our food can just make you feel like you belong? I'm blessed, too, to work with people I can also call friends. Not many folks get to say that. And when you add Chipotle to the mix, it just makes everything sweeter. Srsly. If I was 12, I would totally be doodling "I <3 Chipotle" and "Chipotle + Lucy 4 EVER" in my Lisa Frank notebooks.

5) I love watching people take communion at church. The way it's set up is that there are two servers at each station, one with the bread and one with the grape juice. People line up to tear a piece of bread off and dip it in the cup. You just go up when you feel led. I usually wait til the end so I don't have to stand in line can pray and reflect on the Lord before partaking. One Sunday, George and Mary (totally not their real names) went up, tore the bread, dipped it in the cup and walked over to a corner to pray together before taking the bread. As they walked to the corner, George pulled his hat off and wrapped his arm around Mary before leading them in prayer. It was such a simple gesture and one that was being repeated throughout the sanctuary (and one I had witnessed many times before), but it just struck me that day how beautiful and symbolic of Christ it was. His protective covering over us, His speaking for us before the throne. They bowed their heads to pray and I knew they were standing before the Lord as children, broken and in need of grace, as we all are. I teared up because it was so right and so good. And so often, I tend to think of how marriage could be beneficial to me here on this earth, but watching George and Mary together, as one before God, opened my eyes to how beautiful marriage is because of who God is. What a picture it is of Christ and the Church. I don't know if the Lord has marriage in mind for me and if He didn't, that would be okay. There are joys to be had and lessons to be learned in being single that can't happen when you're married. But if He does have marriage in mind for me, I hope I will see it for what it is - a gift from God to be treasured, a daily reminder of His relationship to His people, a sweet evidence of His grace. George and Mary's communion scene took mere seconds to unfold, but oh, what a sweet, eternal moment.

Happy Friday, friends!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Would You Ask: Lectures and Sermons

Last week, Suz asked:

"[H]ow do public speaking forums work best for you (aka. lectures, sermons, etc.)?"

Um, seriously, are you people stalking me? In the hiding-in-my-closet-and-spying-on-me-way, not the I'm-following-your-blog way. Yet another timely question, as I just got back from the Desiring God conference in Minneapolis this weekend, which provides the perfect backdrop for this particular query.

One of the things I really love about Desiring God is their no-holds-barred approach to ministry. They have a "whatever you can afford policy" on their resource items and have faithfully provided accommodations at their conferences. They're pretty good about supplying transcripts of online audio or video and they're faithful to translate their library into other languages so that all people might learn about God. This year's conference was no exception. They offered ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters in addition to Spanish and Russian translators. They don't let anything keep them from sharing the Gospel.

I was really thankful to have the interpreters because even though I was sitting in the front row and the speakers' faces were projected on a large screen behind them, it was still difficult to lip read. They moved around a lot or were just a little too far away to catch. And I tried, but there was just something about lip reading on the screen that was difficult. I'm not sure what it was... maybe I rely on body language to help facilitate communication more than I realize and the way the camera was positioned, we mostly only saw the speaker's face on the screen. So because my primary mode of communication - lip reading - was weakened, I was thankful to have the interpreters for help.

However, I was reminded once again how much English, and not ASL, is my first language. I felt like I could mostly keep up with the concept of each session, but the Wordie (oh there I go making up words again) in me really wanted to know exactly what each person was saying. For example, when Al Mohler was talking, he kept using the word "unregenerated" to refer to those who do not know Christ. But the interpreters would use the sign for "non-Christian." The concept is the same, but the nuances were not. "Unregenerated" brings to mind the powerful work of the Holy Spirit and illustrates the lifelessness of the soul apart from God. "Non-Christian," on the other hand, connotes someone who just doesn't go to church or ignores God. Yes, the two words are technically the same, but one brings more depth to the table than the other.

So don't get me wrong. I'm so thankful I even had the option of ASL interpretation because without it, I really would not have gotten anything out of the conference. I think in that environment, I would have benefited more from captioning and as God would have it, I had an opportunity to make the case for it.

On Sunday morning, I decided to head to the exhibit hall to see if I could talk to a Resurgence representative about getting their online videos subtitled. I was disappointed to find out that no one was manning that booth, so I just wandered around for a little bit and read my Bible for a few minutes. Then I decided it was about time to go and find my seat for the last session. As I got up, I saw Scott Anderson, the conference coordinator, walking across the hall. I had the fleeting thought that I should thank him for the interpreters, and I would have talked myself out of it if I had listened to my inner wimp. Instead, I found my feet propelling me in his direction and before I could stop myself, I heard my mouth greeting him and explaining who I was. I thanked him for being considerate of the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing attendees and how much I appreciated Desiring God's faithfulness to come alongside of those of us who just need a little extra help.

And then I did it. I asked him, "I was just wondering, would you be willing to consider offering captioning at future events?" I explained what captioning was and how it worked and what my experience with it has been like. You guys, he took his notebook out and started taking notes! He was so kind and listened intently to everything I explained and really seemed interested when I clarified that not all deaf/hard of hearing people benefit from the same accommodations. I also explained that it's not just deaf/hard of hearing people who benefit from captioning, but people who are learning English as a second language or even people who are visual learners. He said he'd been wanting to do something like that for a while but didn't quite know how to go about it. He gave me his card and asked me to email him to continue the discussion! I was so thankful for - and humbled by - his attention; even though he was a busy, busy man that weekend, he talked to me like he had all the time in the world. Isn't that just so like the Lord?

So yeah, I know that story doesn't have a lot to do with the original question but I thought it was too sweet not to share. :) So anyway, back to business. In that situation, captioning would have helped and I am considering bringing it up for church. Right now, I sit near the front row and lipread the best I can. I think that I generally get enough out of the sermon to be able to discuss it with other people, but I miss a lot of the jokes and I know I'm not getting every single thing the pastor says. He talks fast. He moves around the stage a lot. So I wonder if captioning might enhance the experience for me. I'm hesitant to use an interpreter because I don't like drawing attention to myself that way. And yes, I'm that vain. ;) Plus most interpreters will use ASL and we've already established that that's sometimes not the best solution.

Now, I did have sign language interpreters when I was in college and I will say that in some situations, I feel more comfortable with an interpreter than with captioning. My interpreters, knowing my penchant for English, modified the way they signed so that they were using ASL vocabulary but with English grammar. And a good interpreter works with their client(s) to deliver the information in a way that best fits the client's needs. I had good interpreters.

Anyway, if I'm part of a classroom or some kind of setting that requires listening to one speaker and then going over discussion questions with the people sitting near me (church people - think midsize group/Explore-type settings), an interpreter is a good fit (although, again, I'm too vain to ask for one. Thereisaidit). With captioning, the person typing can only hear whoever is speaking into a special microphone, so if several people are talking at once or taking turns talking, it's cumbersome to pass the mic around. An interpreter can (in my opinion) more easily relay that kind of information and also convey expression. My interpreters could tell me if the professor sounded mad or if another student was confused. I can't always tell tone, so it was helpful when the interpreter would explain the mood and not just the words to me.

I've also had friends take notes for me, which was really helpful. It's hard - not impossible, but hard - to take notes and watch an interpreter at the same time. ;) And I have put myself in classroom-type settings without any accommodations before. I just lipread the best I can and I have friends who, without being asked, will jump in and start writing a summary of what's going on. They're kind like that.

Mk, friends, your turn. Whaddyawannaknow?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Would You Ask: Music

Last week, Deanna asked:

"How do you hear/perceive music? Can you tell when music is out of tune or pleasant? Care to elaborate about your musical experiences?"

And a timely question, too, my dear, as I already had a draft written about music. Well played. Well played, indeed.

Questions about music and "how much can you hear" are tricky ones to answer. When someone asks how much I can hear, what they usually mean is, "How much can you hear compared to what I can hear?" If I don't know how hearing people hear, I'm not sure how to compare what I hear to what they hear, you hear?

giggle. I'm really so easily amused.

Ahem. Back to music. For most of my life, I cared more about the lyrics than the melody so I tended to listen to pretty mellow music where the instruments didn't drown out the song. Even then, it was a task. Back in the olden days, when people still bought CDs and owned CD players so they could rock out while they built Stonehenge, I would pop a CD in and open the little booklet it came with and read along with the music. I would count and memorize beats to keep me on track and I even used to count the seconds from the time the CD switched to a new track to the time the first word was sung.

Now I listen to music via the newfangled internets (iTunes and even YouTube) and I ask the Google(yes, I just said "the Google." I'm trying to make it catch on. Embrace it) for lyrics. I can usually read along pretty well but the printed lyrics don't always tell you everything, like maybe that they sing the chorus twice, not once, before the bridge, or that the first stanza is repeated at the end of the song. With YouTube, the only words on the screen are the ones being sung at that moment so I know what's going on. So it takes me a while to get to the point where I can listen to something without needing the read the lyrics... something as simple as learning a new song can be time-consuming

So while everyone else was rocking out to their Walkmans (Walk-what, now? my younger readers are asking. It's what the dinosaurs used before iPods came along), I was buried in books instead. Oh, and even with the volume set at its highest, I couldn't really hear the music through the headphones (head-what, now? It's what cavemen used before earbuds), so I was never into the mobile music scene. I also prefer male singers over female because the deeper voices are easier to understand. The ladies' voices are higher and seem to blend with the music in such a way that it's hard for me to separate the lyrics from the melody.

It's only been in recent years that I've really allowed myself to listen to the nuances of instrumental music, or instrumental interludes in songs. I can hear it and I can get caught up in whatever emotion it's trying to convey. I know when it's a powerful piece, or somber, or light, or cheerful. But I have to really be concentrating, otherwise it will just blur into frustrating background noise. I would guess, too, that I don't hear it as clearly or as sharply as hearing people do, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good performance.

I'm not sure how well I do at nothing whether or not something is out of tune. Do you guys remember The Little Rascals, when Alfalfa is singing to Darla in the beginning and his voice cracks? Every time I watched it with my friends, they would laugh because he sounded funny but I couldn't really tell that he wasn't singing well. But then the few times I've watched American Idol, I can usually tell the bad singers from the good ones and sometimes even the just okay singers from the better ones.

My friend Kelly wrote about her experiences with listening to music and while I was never a JT fan like she is ;), I can relate to how she appreciates music and the roles it has played in her life. Check her out or I will send the Google after you.

Mk, kids, it's your turn now. What do you want to know about hearing loss?