Want to peek in my window?

I have been writing my blog now for about eight months and it was brought to my attention that some people might want to hear how a blind (or almost blind) person does day to day life. So, I thought I’d dedicate this post to giving a glance at some things I do a little differently then some people. I hope to bring some awareness to life with a disability and help others not take for granted the abilities they have and use those abilities to the fullest. I also hope it gives some inspiration to someone who feels like life is just too hard with a disability; with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19;26).

My mornings consist of dragging myself out of bed by 6:30 or 7 o’clock to get going on my morning tasks. I have found that using the Kurig has been the answer to a blind girl’s coffee conundrum. I have never been good at making coffee but you factor in the whole measuring thing and then trying to fill a tiny water reservoir and it often times ends up in a mess. But then this nifty little invention came out and, poof! Problem solved. Here is the first example of how we can view a modern convenience as more than just convenient. I still have enough vision to pour cream in without too much trouble. However, if I am not at home and my environment is very different, this poses a problem. Lighting plays an enormous factor in how well I see or poorly I see. It can make me feel a bit like a child to have someone pour my cream for me at times. But I am so grateful I have loved ones and friends who are willing to assist me.

(Side note— Using the individual little creamers, like from a restaurant, are handy as well)

It’s now time for the animals, assuming they have let me get my coffee first. My dog is very routine as well as my cat. They each get treats in the morning and will sit in the same places every morning until they get them. After they are taken care of, it’s time for me to sit and have my devotional time. I have my Bible on my phone as I’m sure many of you do. There is an audio version on it but what if I want to just read a couple verses? Well I have voice over capability on my IPhone. I just touch the screen and it will read line by line to me. I will get devotional books from audible or download devotional apps to read. This means I have to have earbuds of some sort with me most of the time so as not to disturb others around me, if in fact others are around me. Voice over means privacy is limited, but having the earbuds helps with that. The second example of modern technology being more than just having the latest new gadget. This phone allows me to read my bible first thing in the morning, last thing at night, 3:00 a.m.— whenever the Lord impresses me to. I also really enjoy hearing the author read his or her devotional with emphasis on the places they intend in their devotionals.

(Side note— I love to listen to a book or devotional while I’m cooking, folding laundry, doing dishes, etc.)

There are a couple of medications I have to take daily. We have several medicine bottles around so I place a rubber band on mine so I know which ones to take without having to ask someone else. In the shower, I have a rubber band around my shampoo bottle as well to differentiate between it and the conditioner bottle. I use rubber bands for many things like this around the house. Telling the difference between my toothbrush and my husband’s, putting one on the ranch dressing bottle because it’s my go-to dressing, putting two rubber bands on the onion powder but only one on the garlic powder, things like that.

(Side note— I’ve also used foamy letter stickers on certain things like makeup, other seasonings, cleaners; to identify what they are. I can feel the outline of the letter and know what it is.)

I love to cook and try new recipes. I have rounded “bump dots” that I place on my oven to mark the temperatures I use the most. I line up the arrow on the dial with the dot and… voila! Oven is preheating. The burners are a little trickier. I have a glass top stove so it’s totally flat and smooth. I use what sight I have to get it as close as I can but I usually have to adjust the pan once it gets cooking. I can hear the difference in how rapidly it’s boiling for example so I know when it’s mostly centered. I also listen for a certain sound meat makes when it’s being browned. It crackles more when it’s almost done.

(Side note— I keep my wooden spoons and cooking utensils in one crock on the counter and all my little cooking tools in another so it’s easier to find them when needed)

I have a color identifier for choosing my clothing that is close in color shades. I have a liquid indicator to hang on the side of my glass to know when it’s full while pouring a drink (admittedly I don’t use that one a lot). I have a computer program that talks to me as I’m typing to do these posts. I use the same program for Emails, searching on the internet for resources, creating folders, and all the techy stuff I can seem to figure out along the way. I do have certain frustrations that I can’t jury-rig my way around. Things like, if I drop something on the floor, it’s not just bending down and picking it up. It’s down on my hands and knees, feeling around on the flor until I find it. Of course, this is also how I determine that my floor needs sweeping. If I or someone in my household, eh-hem… leaves a chair or TV tray, or any other non-regular object out where it shouldn’t be, I will likely find it with my toes or this and knock it over. I have a gift of finding any cup with something in it and knocking it over. Having to memorize the remote control and TV stations. These are just part of my life. It’s frustrating, sometimes exhausting, often exasperating, but it’s my life. I can focus on the spilled drinks, lost items on the floor, rubber bands as a staple décor piece, or I can be eternally grateful for the fact that I will never judge someone on sight, always have a special appreciation for a lyrical voice, listen closely to the pastor’s sermon because I’m not visually distracted. We can always find the negatives in everything, but it will never bring contentment or peace. Focusing on positives can give a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, and purpose. If I have to get down on my hands and knees then there is my lunges or squats for the day. If rubber bands are part of my décor, I promise you I won’t just have to worry about staying on trend. If I have to use earbuds to hear my phone, that just means more time I can block out all the negativity surrounding me with God’s word. Friends always, ALWAYS, look for all the good things or your days will be empty of joy. It’s there, grab a hold of it and run with it! You will be a trend setter and people will want to be around you just for your positive attitude. It’s infectious.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s happening to us?

This is on my heart and I didn’t want to wait for next week to share it. So here is a bonus post for this week.

I have mentioned before in past posts that I had been teased and bullied in school. This is not a new phenomenon of course. When I hear of people getting bullied, it is usually kids in middle or high school. It is heart breaking and cruel. Kids just don’t seem to understand the long lasting effects that their words or actions will have on someone. Countless suicides have happened as a result of bullying. As adults, we always say “kids are so mean” and we believe that once these kids grow up then they will see how severe bullying can be. We expect that as adults that we are out of the bullying stage.

This post is to bring awareness to people about adult bullying. I have two friends that are married and each of them have a disability. One is blind and one has spina bifida. They went to a movie the other night and found their seats in the section for people with disabilities. They were trying to enjoy this movie that they had been waiting to see for a while, but the enjoyment was short lived as there was a young family sitting behind them that chose to start bullying them. They proceeded to kick the backs of their chairs, hitting them in the back of the head, and just generally picking on them.

As I mentioned, she has spina bifida and can’t just move somewhere else. They clearly had to sit in the disability section for a reason. This event hits close to home for me for the obvious reason. I went to a large mall shortly after Christmas this past year. I was stepping out of my comfort zone and starting using my cane in public for the first time. I had people cut in front of me to get across the hall, I had people literally run into me, I even had a man who kicked my cane out from under me. When did people start getting so wrapped up in their own worlds that the very things set in place to protect people with disabilities are seemingly no longer helpful.

There are reserved sections for people with disabilities at movies, stadiums, concert halls and alike. There are devices to alert others of someone with a disability so they don’t get injured or injure someone else. Somehow these things seem to be a green light for some to abuse the disabled person. Why?

Several months ago, there was a story circling around Facebook of a woman that made a video on behalf of her parents. The couple went to a restaurant with a drive-through. They pulled around to the window to order instead of ordering at the speaker because they were both deaf and needed to read the workers lips to order and find out how much the meal would cost. When they reached the window and explained their situation, they were mortified when the worker placed her hand over her mouth and began speaking to them. The wife explained again that she was deaf but could read lips so would she please remove her hand. The worker didn’t. She continued mocking the couple by speaking with her hand over her mouth. The couple was heart broken to have to endure bullying at their ages and because they had a disability.

I praise God that He has given me the strength to overcome the horrible hurtful words and actions of the kids I went to school with, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten those words. It is my heart’s desire, as I mentioned in my last post, to reach people for Jesus in a mighty way. It is also my hearts desire to be a voice for those with disabilities who don’t feel like they have a voice. Maybe they don’t feel strong enough to use their voice. People with disabilities of any kind are just as valuable and as much of an asset as anyone in this world.

I want to inspire someone who thinks they can’t do something because they have a disability to give it their all and try. If you don’t get results, try harder, find another way, ask who you have to ask to help. You can do it! Ask God for the strength and will-power to make it happen. He will give it to you. Just remember that the person getting bullied is someone’s loved one. They hurt and feel and cry just like you do. Make a difference in the world and fight against bullying. So much damage is done from bullying.

Who are we?

I am sitting on the beach with two childhood friends as I write this. We planned this little vacation several months ago. We have been friends for thirty-two years and we have all had ups and downs in our lives. We all three have been in some sort of abusive relationship that varied in severity. We all three eventually married wonderful men. Two of us had children and one didn’t. We call ourselves the Hyster-sisters as we all three have had Hysterectomies.

As I am sitting writing this post, Paula is reading a magazine, and Nina is collecting beach grasses to make a little wreath or basket or whatever it ends up being. We are all creative in some way or another. I write, Nina makes different creations, and Paula puts together really cute outfits. We have different talents, ideas, beliefs, lifestyles, and I’m sure many other differences.

But one thing we do not differ on is how valuable our friendship is to each of us. Paula has become a young widow (this is the reason for our little trip) and she didn’t want to spend her first anniversary without him, by herself. Nina’s kids are grown and moved out to live their lives as adults. Her husband took a little trip of his own on a camping adventure. My husband is holding down the fort at home with our two kids ages eighteen and sixteen. My daughter (the sixteen-year-old) is starting her senior year of high school and will be seventeen in just a few short weeks.

So, we are all three at different stages of life. It’s hard to imagine being a widow at my age and it’s hard to imagine being an empty-nester, but this particular phase is closer than ever. We each bring something different to the “table” so to speak (pun intended). Our little cottage we are staying in is a perfect tiny “she-shack” with a fire-pit, brick patio and patio set to have our coffee in the morning, a fountain, and plenty of birds to hear singing.

Well there was a pause in the writing for more fun, so I am actually home now finishing this post. I come away from this trip with the knowledge that friends can have a bond to spite their various differences. If there is a mutual respect for one another, a true caring for each other’s’ well-being, and a shared desire to remain friends no matter what, then you have the ingredients for a life-long friendship. We shared laughter, memories, new experiences and yes, a few tears on our girls get-away. I come away with wanting to value my husband more, make more time for my kids while they are still at home. Because this time will pass far to quickly.

I’ve learned more about what I want out of my life, cared less about portraying a certain image to those who don’t know me. Realized I have work to do to break the stigma that blind people (or anyone with any sort of disability) can’t have the same new adventures as anyone else, and have had a renewed passion for the Lord and praying for others. My heart longs to reach so many more people for Jesus that sometimes my eyes brim with the tears that God cries for His children. Romans 10:15 reaches my soul with these words… “and how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the scriptures say ‘how beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news’” NLT.  We painted our toenails on our weekend getaway and they turned out pretty. But you know what? If I can bring God’s message of free love and forgiveness to everyone I can… no pedicure in the world could make my feet more beautiful then carrying that message to them. Oh Father, give me the desire to share You with others always. Let distance, restrictions, time, nor any other obstacle get in the way of that.

Will you join me in this prayer?

P.S. If you need something brought to the Lord, please don’t hesitate to ask me to pray for you. It would be my honor and privilege to do so.

Stacy’s story

I was asked to share my story on Cyndi’s blog, Around the Table. Cyndi and I became connected after a mutual acquaintance suggested that we connect. We both share some of the same visual challenges and very much depend upon our faith to help us cope with those challenges. I feel blessed to know Cyndi and to have been asked to share my story.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with primary open angle glaucoma. I knew I was having some trouble seeing because I was having a lot of difficulty driving in the rain. Other than that, besides more frequent headaches, I really couldn’t tell anything was majorly wrong. At that time, I was teaching 2nd grade in a district where I had taught for the previous 12 years. Upon being diagnosed, I had already suffered damage and had lost a great deal of my peripheral vision. I continued to teach and drive the next school year, but I soon started experiencing several more challenges which lead to not being able to drive at all. The next year, I began experiencing even more challenges including my first blind spot. Teaching became very difficult. I missed several days of school and eventually resigned that year. My glaucoma continued to progress, and I soon had two blind spots. Not only did I have peripheral loss but now also had central loss due to the blind spots. I now have had glaucoma surgery in both eyes, but the progression just seems to keep occurring. The spots are bigger and brighter than ever, and I now am experiencing visual distortion in my left eye. Apparently, the surgery has worsened a cataract which seems to be causing all or most of my trouble. Surgery to remove it has recently been suggested. Despite all of this, I am still able to read, watch TV, and blog in moderation. I have a lot of trouble in unfamiliar places, but I am so thankful for the sight I still have.

This eye disease has been difficult to deal with at times especially since I also suffer from other health challenges as well. It really became hard to handle when I had to give up my teaching career. There’s no way I could have ever gotten through this or any of the challenges I’ve faced without the strength that only God can provide. I am so thankful to have had a wonderful church and church family to support and pray for me. I still have times where my emotions get the best of me, but I am always able to overcome them. I spend the majority of time these days absorbing myself in as many spiritual activities as possible. Music has always been my main coping strategy. Another has been writing. I began writing poems and then last year, I created my own website and Facebook page titled Living with Adversity. There, I share my personal story. I created the site with the intention that people would connect through similar experiences and share their testimonies. It has brought a much-needed sense of release to be able to share my feelings and experiences.

Again, I want to thank Cyndi for asking me to share my story. I enjoy reading her work and view her as a great source of inspiration. I am so thankful we became connected. May God richly bless her for the positivity and encouragement she is providing through her blogs.

-Stacy Hall

Am I somebody to anybody?

When I was about ten or eleven years old, my two friends and I would play “Charlies Angels.” For those of you who are not familiar, it was a TV drama in the late 70’s, staring Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn smith. These women were P.I’s and they meant business!  I was the only blond so of course I played Farrahs’ character. Oh we had such fun adventures with that game. Our imaginations had us tracking down criminals, cracking cold cases and locking up the bad dudes.

Man, we sure felt important when we played that game. We strutted around with our pretend walkie-talkies (wow, that really shows my age, huh?) We felt like because we were doing important work, then that made ‘us’important. We were “somebody.” We would even try to one up each other from time to time. Because ya know, locking up pretend thugs makes you the who’s who in the neighborhood.

I recently had an experience as an adult that for some reason made me think of the years I played a pretend important person so long ago. I’ve been working on not feeling “less than” or “inferior” to someone else who isn’t blind. This emotion can get the better of me occasionally. Especially when I learn of how much more someone else is doing in ministry. Not out of a competition stand point but from a “Lord I could do so much more if I wasn’t blind” stand point. This can leave me feeling like I’m not as important to God’s work as I seem to think. It makes me feel a bit like I’m playing that pretend important P.I. agent from my youth.

My dishwasher went on the fritz and we had to get a new one. While perusing the appliance aisle at, well… a large hardware chain, we came upon a brand that we were not entirely familiar with. I made a call and learned that this particular brand was, in fact, a good brand to get. The salesman came over to assist us and just as a second opinion sort of thing, we asked him about the brand as well. He replied by saying “Oh yes, if you have this brand”, pointing to the dishwasher we were inquiring about, “you   are   somebody!” Umm… really? A dishwasher makes me somebody? It really bothered me to hear the salesman tell me that. Now I know this is nothing more then a sales technique. Everybody wants to be somebody. But this is the message that is driven into our heads on a daily basis. You have to have, to be. We are told by advertisements for cars, neighborhoods, clothing, jobs, and now apparently, dishwashers, that what we have, makes who we are.

If we are not in a position to have said items, we can feel so less than. We may drive a used car. We may have moved into an old house (or manufactured home, apartment, etc.). We may purchase clothes from a consignment or thrift shop. Is this supposed to mean we’re not “somebody”?

Oh friends, if I could go to each and every person who feels less than because of this type of message, I would wrap my arms around them and say “You are somebody… you are a child of the King!”. John 3;16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not parish, but have everlasting life.”

Do you see the four most important words in that passage? WHOSOEVER BELIEVES! Notice what it does NOT say… whosoever drives a brand-new car…whosoever lives in a new built home in the richest neighborhood… whosoever wears the most expensive clothes… whosoever has the top of the line dishwasher! Ugh, you have no idea how much I wanted to sit that man down and tell him that people are not somebody by the dishwasher they have. God created you so that makes you somebody. We (including me) can get so caught up in how others see us. Our kids want to go back to school with the best and most expensive clothes to impress a bunch of kids who don’t give a hoot about their real life. We want to get the nicest car to impress our neighbors who wouldn’t even grab our newspaper for us while we were out of town visiting a sick relative. We want more status at work to impress our co-workers who spread gossip about us on their lunch breaks and never invite us to come along on that lunch break. We need only to know that Jesus values us because He made us. We need not obtain anything to be valued by God. He values the homeless man on the street corner every bit as much as the CEO of the largest corporation.

My mission is to help others see that status, money, clothes, size, color, notoriety, nor any other worldly measuring stick means anything to God. He values you because you are His creation. His master piece. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the bible tells me so. It tells you so too.

Renting from God?

Years ago, when my husband and I got married, we lived in a manufactured home. After about one year, we bought an acre of property and moved our home to that property. Times got hard and money was tight. We wanted to refinance the house to get a lower payment and in order to do that, the bank wanted a breakdown of our expenses. We obliged and gave the requested information. We received a call from the finance officer who told us in no uncertain terms that this bank wouldn’t even consider refinancing us until we stopped this frivolous expense of paying tithe.

Now this is not a condemnation or sermon or anything about paying tithe. I’m just giving a background as to why we now rent. We refused to stop doing what the Lord asked us to do and they refused to work with us. So consequently, we filed bankruptcy on the house and we had to move. We have chosen to continue renting so that if God asks us to take a ministry somewhere other than here, we can go and not be tied by a house to sell.

So, we rent our home but it doesn’t feel like it’s not our house. We can paint, we can hang stuff on the walls, we could do anything that we would choose to do if we owned our house. It’s really been wonderful. This has made me think of renting in another way.

When we rent or borrow something from someone else, we usually take good care of it lest we return it damaged. The thought of giving something back to its owner in a less than good condition can stress us out.

Or if we rented something from a store like Home Depo or a tent rental company, there would most likely be a fee involved if it came back damaged. We take care of our rental home, not only because I would take care of my home anyway, but also because I wouldn’t want to damage the landlord’s property. I mean, could you imagine loaning your car to a friend and they bring it back with the front end smashed in? They simply toss you the keys and say thanks for letting me borrow the car then walk away. What would your reaction be? Probably not good, right?

Isaiah 43;1 says “But now thus says the Lord, your creator, oh Jacob and He who formed you, oh Israel, do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

We rent all that we have from God. Our children, our possessions, even our own bodies. In my last post, (How can I call myself a Christian?) I mentioned that the way I talk to, talk about, treat… my family has been on my heart a lot lately. Also, how I treat my own self. Getting enough water, how I talk to myself, how much time I spend with Jesus, all of those things. If I wouldn’t dream of returning a borrowed item that has no feelings or character, in poor condition, I shouldn’t let my family or myself return to God in poor condition. I want to be more mindful of the Lord’s possessions and their value. He holds them in the highest regard, so I should too. I love the people God is renting to me. I’m learning to love the me God has rented to me also. If we can view everything as belonging to God, we might see much more value then we’ve ever seen before. What do you think?

 

How can I call myself a Christian?

I have a confession to make… sometimes I don’t feel much like a Christian. I get angry, I get ugly, I get self-righteous, well… I just plain don’t act like a Christian. I want to be known by my fruit. Not the bad fruit, the good, plump, juicy fruit that everyone looks for at the grocery store. You’ve seen them, right? They search through, they pick up the fruit, they sniff the melons, they squeeze to check for ripeness.

But I admit that I don’t always portray the follower of Jesus that I would like to. If I’ve had a bad day with writing or something in my ministry, well… my husband will surely know about it! I have a hard time dealing with others who claim Christianity but then lie about or manipulate a situation to get what they want. When this happens, instead of praying for that person, I get miffed. If I feel overwhelmed with tasks I have to do, instead of asking my kids to help me, I will sometimes resort to copping an attitude and accusing them of never helping out when I need them too. I have gotten into shouting matches with my kids as well over messy rooms, dirty laundry, empty cups on the living room end tables. Why can’t I simply ask them to take care of these items instead of getting upset about it?

I wouldn’t talk to a friend in this manner, I wouldn’t speak to my kid’s friends in that tone, and certainly I would never show frustration like this to a church member. I was thinking of a scenario last night about this issue. If we are at that grocery store picking out that deliciously ripe fruit, then go about finding the rest of our items, the final step at said store is to head to the check out and pay for our goods, right?

Have you ever gotten to the check out and the person in front of you only had enough money for two items but they had four on the belt? It might only total a few bucks, so you say “I got it,” and hand the cashier the money. The person you’ve just helped thanks you profusely, possibly with tears forming in their eyes. You feel good about your helpful deed and go on about your own purchases.

Now be the person on the receiving end of the above blessing. You are, say, $3.78 short and the person behind you says “I got it.” You may feel a twinge of embarrassment but you probably wouldn’t shun their generosity. Okay, some people might simply put back a couple items so as not to have to accept the gift of a stranger but honestly when we do that, we are robbing that person of a blessing that God is trying to give them. But in either case, we are sure to feel a hot flash of color creeping up our necks.

The next scenario is you are behind the person who is short on cash again, but this time the person actually turns around and asks you for the needed money. You may hand it over but if you are anything like me, you may question how someone could be so bold as to ask a total stranger for money to cover their bill. I would gravitate to the outcome of them putting a couple things back before they actually asked someone behind them for the money. I personally have not experienced someone asking me for the money but I can imagine that’s how I’d feel.

One more scenario. You are the one who is short on cash once more. You don’t ask the person behind you for the money. No, you tell the cashier that the person behind you will pay the difference. Whaaaat? By now you are probably shaking your head and saying, “I would never do that!” How would you feel if someone expected you to pay for their items? I believe my response would go something like this… “that’s not my fault that you don’t have enough money.” Or “I don’t think so!” or maybe even “Excuse me? How rude!”

My point here is that this is what I do when I’ve had a bad day or I’m feeling frustrated with something that has nothing to do with my husband or kids. I expect them to pay the price for me being short on patience. I expect them to make up the difference. The funny thing is, I know it’s not right or okay to do, but that’s where Paul comes to mind. Romans 7:15-16 says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”

Oh friends, I know when I am doing these things that It’s not right but my fleshly mind gets the better of me. But my desire is to be like Jesus. I need to bathe myself in His word and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide my words because I do what I do not want to do. I am a little comforted by the fact that I’m not alone in these feelings. You aren’t either. Paul got it. He knew the thoughts of the carnal mind. But asking the Holy spirit to come in and live within my heart gives me the hope that I can live the way Jesus would have me too. I pray it gives you hope as well. You see, we will always have hope to live like Jesus if we always recognize our need for Jesus. It’s not the things we do wrong that make us wrong. It’s our denial that we need a savior to guide our paths. We all fall short of Gods’ glory (Romans 3:23) but we can all fall into His arms and let Him hold us up.