Sunday, February 24, 2008

Open arms

Today I did something that I wouldn't normally do: I signed up to join a Bible study/journaling group. Now I wouldn't NORMALLY do this because, well, I'm an awful private person and I'm not so...gregarious or sociable. (My daughter is the complete opposite!) But I am making changes in my life, changes for the better. And I really wanted to join this group not only to understand things better but also because God has really touched my heart in a BIG way and this is my chance to really glorify in that.

I don't know why I get nervous about being around people I don't know. Maybe it's a natural thing for this to happen? Sometimes I wonder if it's on account of my deafness. Am I afraid to socialize with others because I can't hear? Am I worried my deafness will present communication hurdles which OTHER people just won't have the patience to work around?

Well, it's not like I'm new at this church. Actually, I've been a member of this church for about two years now. The people there are wonderful and VERY friendly, very patient. Some of them actually reach out to give me a hug or shake my hand when I'm walking by them with my head down, minding my own business. I mean, they are really good people. So why should I worry about them being all impatient with me during conversation or deciding to talk to somebody else if I can't understand them?

On the other hand, they HAVE suggested I find someone to act as my interpreter for the services, etc. I'm still trying to do that. There is one girl who might be acting as my interpreter for the church, but we'll see how that works out. The last two interpreters I had moved away!

After I filled out a form to sign up for this group, I sat to watch the services, all the while wondering just what possessed me to agree to going. The timing wasn't a problem; the group meets 3 Sunday nights a month for an hour or two. My husband will be home to watch the children. That is NOT a problem. So I...couldn't exactly use that as an excuse to back out. But I WANTED to do this, and I kept thinking on WHY I decided to sign up. What exactly compelled me to sign up even though I am so nervous about this very same kind of situation?

As I watched the pastor speaking and taking notes of the text they had on the overhead screen, I saw the pastor stretch out his arms and make the sign of the cross in the air, like he was saying something about what the cross symbolized. Well, we ALL know what the cross stands for: the crucifixion of Christ at Calvary! But as I watched him make these gestures and I kept looking at the picture of a cross in the background, something ELSE about the cross struck me. The fact that it looks like a person holding out their arms. Ready to embrace someone. Ready to embrace NEW THINGS. NEW EXPERIENCES. NEW FRIENDS.

If ANYTHING should symbolize what the Christian faith is all about, it is that very attitude of welcome. It IS a vulnerable position to be in, true, but one which the Christian is willing to submit to all the same. We cannot grow in Christ unless we open our arms and our hearts to LIVING THROUGH CHRIST. And part of living through Christ is GETTING OUT THERE to fellowship and socialize with others. Not just others who follow Christ, but others everywhere. Those who don't know God, those who do not accept Jesus as their Saviour and those who are just hungry for communication with others.

THAT is why I must open myself up to this new experience. THAT is why I must look past my fears and embrace the challenge of TRYING to communicate with others even if there could be difficulties in trying to communicate with them. I can't let my deafness prevent me from sharing the Glory of God with others. I can't allow it to scare me away from people and hide myself away from the world. I don't let my burn scars do that; why should my deafness be any different?

I walked away from that sermon more enlightened than I ever had been before. That very insight gave me the key to facing my fears. I must open up my arms and be willing to embrace new things. Just as Jesus spread his arms out on the cross so long ago.

And now I want to end this blog post with an inspirational quote I saw somewhere on the Internet:

"I once asked Jesus, 'how much do you love me?' 'This much,' He said, then spread His arms out and died."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What's happening to our weekends?

It used to be that I could save tasks that require extra focus and time for the weekends. My husband would be home to watch the children so I could work on things that really needed that extra uninterrupted time. But it seems that, lately, EVERYTHING is getting saved for the weekends, and not just stuff I have to do in which I'll need some supervision for the little ones.

I was chatting with an editor yesterday and I related this very dillemma to her. I shared my frustration over having to do the formatting of my manuscript for the publisher on the weekends. The soonest I get that done, the soonest I can send it off! But with the writing job and editing ANOTHER book, I just couldn't fit it into my week. I had to throw extra work into my weekends, a time we're supposed to relax from work. She could relate. She told me how she has MORE to do on the weekends than during her whole week! I guess not having to work on the weekends means that traditional "break from work" is instead "extra time to work."

When I was divorced, I used my weekends to catch up on leisurely activities. I'd spend hours reading, I'd experiment with art, hang out at a coffee house, go for walks and visit the library. Since having child #2, those kind of weekends are LONG GONE.

In fact, I can't even remember the joy of what going for one of my walks is like. Only that I miss them.

At first, I took pride in being so busy ALL THE TIME. It's good to be busy, right?? Good to have things going on that occupies my time. But the more I miss out on having some "fun time" with the older child, the less and less time I get to share with my husband and the even less time I have free to call my mom, read a book and go for one of those walks, the more I am beginning to wonder just exactly where the workweek ends and the weekend begins.

In fact, I'm beginning to see how so little of a "weekend" I have these days. Never mind that Saturday means husband will be home for dinner and I'll get to cook a decent meal. Never mind that Sunday means church. All that I know is that these two days mean "more work" and "less relaxation."

And by work, I'm not talking about taking care of the children and cleaning the house. I ALREADY do that during the week! That's a part of my every day life! What I'm talking about is researching my articles, working on my books, home improvement, running errands, etc.

It seems that the weekend, our supposed "time to rest," is becoming more and more extinct. These days, our "time to rest" happens for just an hour or two at night before we go to bed. Or in the little time we can steal away from the world to lock ourselves in the bathroom, just so we can have a few minutes of peace of mind.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


For two days now, I have had laryngitis. I am starting to feel really frustrated over not being able to talk. I've now realized just how much I LIKE to talk! LOL Or should I being able to talk. It's kind of eerie, knowing that I can't. That my voice is just "gone." But I know it'll come back, eventually.

Still, the frustrations over not being able to talk are mounting.

Not being able to talk means not being able to say sweet things to the baby.

Not being able to talk means not being able to read to Jennifer (something which she has gotten upset about, too).

Not being able to talk means not being able to sing.

Not being able to talk means not calling Jennifer to dinner or telling her it's time for her bath.

And not being able to talk means I don't get to say a little something extra I say after I pray at night. The ONLY thing that I say before ending my prayer.

All of that really bothers me but, on the other hand, it's given me the chance to experience firsthand what it's like not being able to talk. I remember that scene in the movie THE OTHERS, where the mother is demanding the mute girl to answer her question, and the poor girl is grunting and struggling to speak. I finally understand how hard it must've been for that girl to speak when she couldn't. I have done that same grunting in trying to talk but, darn it, no luck. It just makes my throat hurt even more.

Also, I once chatted with a deaf man who told me he couldn't talk. He was born deaf and he was never taught how to talk. I asked him if he has ever TRIED to talk, or learned how to talk, and he said, "It's too hard." I tried to understand how it could be "too hard" to talk. I mean, talking is a natural thing for humans! But having a condition which prevents my voice from working has made me realize that, for some people, it really CAN be "too hard" to talk.

One other thing I have noticed is how much I rely on voice to express my emotions. Like anger (swearing and yelling), love (saying "I love you"), caring (talking in a soft voice to my children), faith (singing a church song). I have seen ways in which I can express these things nonverbally. Like, with getting angry, I stomp my foot. With caring, I caress my child's arm or give an extra strong hug. With love, I sign "I love you" or kiss a cheek. It's interesting to see how I can express myself NONVERBALLY, ways I don't really normally express myself. I have always used my voice to express myself with. Now I can't.

And, finally, there is something else which my inability to talk makes me think about: How there are so many deaf people who don't talk. I'm not repeating what I said above, about the deaf man saying it's "too hard" to learn how to talk. Just the fact that there are many deaf individuals who don't. They just don't speak. I've pondered using sign in place of whispering (which is what I am forced to do, and even then it's really low. Jennifer can barely hear me so I often end up whispering into her ear). I don't sign a whole lot as it is, but we DO sign. Just not as often. But it does give me an idea of how that is like, too. Being a nonverbal signer.

Of course, I am not going to get dramatic about this and have the mindset of being a mute. BUUUUT....I would not be able to write a mute character realistically enough if I did not take notice of what being unable to talk is really like. I will take note of these things, of what it IS like to not be able to talk, and hopefully I can use it for future reference, if I need to.

And meanwhile, hope that I get my darn voice back SOON!

At least I don't need to be able to talk to do Internet stuff.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Keeping ASL in the Deaf/Hearing home

I was doing research on the Internet for my deaf parenting book. I came across a certain blog post and it really hit home.

Here is the link:

The reason why this hit home?

Because, lately, Jennifer has reported she can't remember how to sign certain letters and words. My fault because, for a long time, we have not used sign language as often as we used to.

In fact, we hardly use it with her AT ALL anymore. And she's remembering the signs less and less every day that she doesn't use them.

I realized this while working on the edits for that book. One essay talks about how we ALWAYS use ASL in communicating with her. Our child MAY be hearing but she DOES need to know how to sign, because she has deaf parents. She will need to know how to sign so that she can communicate with us without trouble. And as I read that essay, I realized we don't use it as much anymore. But we should. We really should use sign language as much as possible again. Because, obviously, she will forget how to sign if we don't keep it up.

When I read that blog post, along with some of the comments, I called Jennifer over to me and asked her to sign the alphabet.

She got stuck on the letter "B." Now how sad IS that??

So I signed to her the alphabet and asked her to show me again. This time, she signed it without trouble. But how well will she remember those signs tomorrow or the next day? I know I have to reintegrate ASL into our communication with Jennifer and KEEP AT IT. Just as I learned ASL better when it was used more frequently with others at my school, my child can learn it the same way. I may not be able to sign all the signs so well on account of my hand injury, but I'll figure something out.

At least now I know how important it is to keep ASL a part of our everyday communication. I guess I just went back to relying on lipreading because I took it for granted that she can hear. She'll benefit immensely if she'll know how to sign to communicate with her deaf Mom and Dad. We all will.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Setting things right

There is something that has been on my mind an awful lot lately: Balance. I read this article talking about how people complain one aspect of their lives is working out just fine (such as their career) but another aspect is a mess (such as their personal life). They just can't find a way to balance the two things. That article has stayed with me, mainly because I have the same problem. I just can't find balance in ALL aspects of my life. Career, relationships. money, family, etc. I have tried, but it just hasn't worked out.

And I've been thinking about it an awful lot today, because I keep thinking about how there are GOOD things happening for my writing career now. Good things career-wise....but not personal-wise. The two are just not balanced.

The main thing is, I have done some bad things in my past. I know I'm not a saint! I have hurt people, lied to people, took advantage of people. Etc., etc. I wasn't a very good person in the past. I wasn't very reliable. I put my OWN priorities ahead of everybody else's. And even though I am not that same person anymore, I know what I must do to redeem myself with these people. I must make amends. I must set things right.

I know it's not going to be easy. I'm going to have a lot of owing up to do. A lot of embarrassment and shame to face. But I know I must do this. If not for myself, then for my children. I am, after all, a role model to them. And I want them to grow up to be good people.

I know there is a chance I might fail. That people won't understand. That maybe they'll still be angry, hold grudges or just refuse to bury the past. I know this might happen. I know they might not forgive me. But, I've still got to try.