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,

- wouldn't you


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! (

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


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


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


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?