Communication and accessibility are basic human rights.
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
In 2017, I really enjoyed sharing my goals with you all in January and then updating you on my progress in December. I hope you all enjoyed it too. So, here are my goals for 2018.
1. Lose weight and improve physical health
I realize that, at this point, this has become a clichè New Year's resolution. However, taking a Biblical, practical approach to weight loss and healthy living needs to be a top priority for me this year. I have about 60 pounds to lose. From a physical standpoint, my weight is greatly impacting my health. From a spiritual standpoint, I want to honor God with my body.
2. Dig deeper into the Bible with topical studies and memorization
Since I fell a little bit behind with mg Bible in a Year reading plan; I should be finished by the end of this month, though. I've struggled with how to best engage with the Bible after completing this plan, but I intend to pray about the topics I need to dig deeper into and allow God to lead me to the right topical studies. I have already read two short plans about grief and I am currently going through a plan about approaching weight loss Biblically.
Also, since I focused on memorizing verses in 2017, I would like to focus on memorizing larger chunks of scripture this year, although I'm still debating where to start.
3. Continue to improve my ASL skills with a focus on interpreting
Since I focused a lot on expanding my ASL vocabulary and grammar skills in 2017, I want to focus specifically on interpreting skills this year. This will most likely involve a stronger focus on grammar and idioms, as well as lag time, fluidity, speed, and the vocabulary and code of ethics used in the field of ASL interpreting.
4. Visit people more and participate in more outreach
I intend to do a separate post about the importance of visiting people and engaging in face to face communication, despite all the technology we have at our fingertips these days. But, for now, suffice it to say that God has put it on my heart to spend more time visiting people that I don't typically see often. I am also aiming to remain "others focused" in other ways by participating in outreach and service projects as God shows me exactly how He wants me to serve.
5. Expand this blog
There are so many things I want to do with this blog that, honestly, it's a little overwhelming! But, the short version is that I want to keep up with posting content twice a week on the same days each week (this will be Mondays and Thursdays--the past few weeks have been different for various reasons, but I intend to go back to that schedule). In addition, I would like to publish more vlogs on my YouTube channel. Also, I am trying to learn more about the business side of blogging. If I can learn enough and build enough confidence, I may even be able to purchase my own domain so that I have more freedom to customize the site and better meet the needs of my readers.
Do you have any goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments. Let's support and encourage one another in our efforts to have a great 2018!
I know that it's a bit clichè, but I love reflecting on my year during the week between Christmas New Year's. In January of this year, I wrote a post on my goals for the year (check it out here ). So, in this post, I'll share with my progress throughout the year. I'm very proud to say that I've acheived many of my goals and made significant progress on the ones I haven't quite achieved yet. Now, I'm in the process of fine-tuning my personal, spiritual, and professional goals for 2018 (that will be another post).
1. Read through the Bible
6. Reevaluate possessions at least once a month and maintain a minimalist lifestyle.
7. Spend time with friends at least once a week.
8. Publish at least one blog/vlog post per week.
Keep an eye out for my next post about my goals for 2018.
Did you have any specific goals in 2017? Do you feel like you met them?
As a Christian, my quiet time is the most important time of the day. It's the time that I set aside to read God's Word, pray, and listen for God's still, small voice. Quiet time is essential if we want to become more like Christ and grow in our faith. God is always speaking to us, but we can't hear Him if we don't take the time to listen. God is always willing to work in us and through us, but He won't force himself into our lives; we must surrender ourselves to Him first.
The question is, if quiet time is so important, why is it often the first thing that gets pushed out of our schedule when things get chaotic? In our minds, chaos and quiet time cannot fit together, but nothing is impossible with God; His ways are higher than our ways.
The most ironic thing about our misguided priorities is the fact that when life is chaotic, we need our quiet time the most! In life's most difficult seasons, we need God to guide our decisions and our actions more than ever. We need His love, peace, strength, mercy and grace to sustain us. If we don't take time to read the Bible and listen to God, we cannot receive everything that He has for us.
While adequate quiet time is very important, it's also important to remember that none of us are perfect. I have yet to meet someone who has a perfect quiet time every day, without fail. We are human and failure is a part of our life on this earth. But, God's grace is more than enough for all of us. If you truly love Him and trust Him, you can rest in that. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Do you have a daily quiet time? Are you happy with the quality of your quiet time? Do you have any goals to improve your quiet time? Let me know in the comments! Let's share our goals and ideas and encourage each other!
The book of Exodus contains the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, where they were slaves, so that they could travel to and inherit the promised land. When the Israelites are first freed, they rejoice and worship the Lord. But, it doesn't take long for them to realize that, although they are headed for the promised land, the journey will not be easy. They're traveling through the desert. They're tired, they're hot, they're hungry, they're thirsty. As the Israelites face these less than ideal circumstances, their perspective becomes distorted.
"In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death" -Exodus 16:2-3.
These people were freed from slavery and they want to go back to being slaves! They forgot, in a relatively short period of time, how bad their life in Egypt really was. But God didn't abandon them, despite the fact that they had a limited, distorted perspective and felt frustrated. Instead, He lovingly provided for His people, even in their lack of faith.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day' Exodus 16:4.
The bread that the Lord provided is called "manna". Notice that God didn't provide the Israelites with an abundance of manna; he provided for them each day with what they needed for that day.
This concept still applies today. While I have never eaten bread that rained down from Heaven, I find that God provides me with different forms of "manna" in my daily life. And I'm learning to notice these provisions when I'm in the most difficult circumstances. This modern day manna comes in many forms: a Bible verse that speaks to me in a way that it never has before, an encouraging word from a friend, a random act of kindness, extra time to rest--the possibilities are endless!
The reason I compare my experiences with the manna in the Old Testament is because God provides me with exactly what I need to get through that day rather than an abundance to store away for the next difficult day. Why does God offer his provisions in this manner? I know, for me, it reminds me that I need to take life one day at a time. And, also, that I need to be completely dependent on God. In my weakness, He is strong. Those two truths make it possible for me to continue to navigate this crazy life.
It's so comforting that God never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we're emotional or irrational. Even when we don't feel His presence, He is with us. That's the Truth we need to stay focused on always--that is our candle during our darkest days.
Right now, I'm hanging out at my parents' house and watching "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" with my little sister. This is a pretty typical Thanksgiving tradition for us, but, for the most part, Thanksgiving is going to be quite atypical for me and my family this year.
I have a fairly large extended family, so I've grown up with a lot of holiday traditions. Though small things have changed over the years, we are still typically all together, so the small details didn't really make much difference.
But, sadly, this year, we will not all be together for Thanksgiving (The only other year we were not together for Thanksgiving was about 3 years ago when I was in the hospital). My Grandpa has been in the hospital for about 5 weeks now (he did come home at one point, but it was for less than 24 hours). We hoped that he would be able to come home today, but we found out this afternoon that that's not going to be possible. And then, my Grandma was very sick today and is now in the hospital as well. They are keeping her at least overnight and, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, we will be having a Thanksgiving without my grandparents.
We all know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and having an attitude of gratitude, right? When our circumstances are less than ideal, it becomes significantly harder to find things to be thankful for. However, God instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. So, even though I am sad that my grandparents will not be at the table with us this Thanksgiving, I will be praying for both their recoveries and taking time to reflect on what I'm thankful for.
Here's a short list of some of the things I'm thankful for:
1. My family
My close-knit family is my biggest support and one of the biggest blessings in my life.
2. My friends
I am very blessed to have friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin. We've seen each other through the worst of times and celebrated together in the best of times. I consider my close friends to be part of my family and I'm so, so grateful for them!
3. My job
I am extremely thankful to have a job that accomodates my needs as a person with disabilities. They're hard to come by!
4. My apartment
Just a couple years ago, I wasn't sure if I would ever live on my own again. But, I have been living in my own apartment for almost a year and a half now; God is good!
5. The goals I've accomplished in 2017
When New Year approaches, I tend to reflect on the year that is soon ending. I set some goals in the beginning of 2017--you can read about those here. When New Year gets closer, I'll talk more about how I've done with my goals, but suffice it to say that I took my goals more seriously this year than ever before. I'm so grateful for all the new things I was able to learn experience!
What are your Thanksgiving plans? Do you have any new traditions this year? Or, are there any traditions that you've stopped this year? What are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments.
It's very rare that I let anyone see anything from my personal journal (ok, journals. Yes, I have multiple!) But I thought this was worth sharing. As I was struggling with my own health, mental and physical, one of my friends asked me "what can you think about right now?" We talked about reading the Bible and listing things I am thankful for. We also talked about how helpful it is to get our thoughts down on paper rather than relying solely on mental lists.
I opened my Bible to Psalm 119 and started reading where I had left off. This verse stuck out to me: "My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life" (Psalm 119:50.) Well, it was certainly no accident that I was at that particular point in that particular Psalm this evening!
I wrote that verse down in my journal, but then felt uninspired to write anything else. So, I started leafing through my journal, backwards, looking for circled verses. Ever since I read "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson, I've made a habit of writing down verses that contain one or more of God's promises, and drawing a circle around the promise (this was the author's suggestion, hence the title). Essentially, I was looking for promises to cling to while I was feeling needy. These are a few of the verses that stuck out to me.
"The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord" Isaiah 40:30.
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron" Psalm 107:15-16.
"Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them" Hebrews 7:25.
These verses, along with a few others inspired this list I made in my journal. I wanted to focus on different characteristics and attributes of God that I know are true because of His promises.
Now, I want to be clear--I'm not saying that everything is fine and dandy now after that worship exercise. Yes, it was helpful. Yes, I believe it glorified God. Yes, it was comforting. Yes, it got my mind off other things for awhile. However, that doesn't mean that my problems went away after one session of quiet time and worship. But, I placed my mind on things above and not on earthly things. I took my thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ. Those are two things that God commands us to do. I can thank God for helping me to be obedient even when my emotions are not following suit; that alone is proof to me of growth in my life and that is my victory for tonight.
Here's the list I made in my journal. I've since thought of a few more things to add to it. I pray that these attributes of God bring you comfort and encouragement, as they have for me.
Description of the list for blind and low vision readers:
The title of the list is God. . .
The bulleted list reads:
is strength life
intercedes for me
takes care of me/provides for me
lives within me
shows me grace and mercy
loves me exactly as I am, unconditionally
wants me to have an abundant life
listens to me
speaks Truth to me
wants me to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise
has a plan and a purpose for my life
1. I make eye contact when speaking or listening to people whenever possible.
2. I turn the sound on videos off!
3. I use captions!
4. I’ve learned about other differences people have besides Deafness.
5 I’m more expressive!
Do you have a skill or a hobby that you find makes differences in your daily life? Comment and tell me about it!
Here’s a list of things I “should” do today:
Here's a list of things that will most likely occur today:
Sometimes, we have to put our "shoulds" off to the side for a time and give our bodies, our minds, and our spirits the rest that they need.
I’m weak today. It’s been a long, tiring week, physically and emotionally. But, this verse helps me to remember that, in my weakness, He is strong! So, here I am, admitting my weakness and praying for Christ’s power to rest on me today! I know that my weakness is covered in His grace, and for that I give God praise, glory, and honor!
Hopefully by next week, I’ll have my next post done. It is outlined, but it is an ASL post, so I need to film it, caption it, and get feedback from Deaf friends on it before posting it. ASL posts take a more time and effort, but I believe they’re important for me to include since the principles of this blog include acknowledging communication differences and creating accessibility. It’s important to me to expose my readers/viewers to sign language in order to promote awareness and sensitivity. So, stay tuned! God bless!
It's hard to believe that it's been three weeks since my personal "retreat week"! If you haven't had a chance to read my previous post about the details of that specific week, you may want to read them before reading this one.
How my Habits Have Changed Since "Retreat Week":
Changes in my Spiritual Life as a Result of Changing my Habits:
I'm sure it's obvious from the specifics I've shared above, but my retreat week was extremely beneficial and I'd do it again in a heartbeat! In fact, I'm sure I will do it again at some point. Taking a time-out from different things in our lives to examine our spiritual condition is very important. If you've never done so, or it's been awhile, I encourage you to pray and ask God what may be distracting you from Him. If you earnestly seek God, you will find Him and you will hear His voice!
I promised not to leave you hanging! Here are some abridged entries from my journal from days 3-5 of my personal "retreat" week. This week produced so much spiritual fruit that I am continuing to benefit from! To God be the glory!
Day 3: (Monday, May 16)
All I can think of to start this journal off with today is I’m so glad I’m doing this! It is so true that when you put God first in your life—not just say he’s first put make him your first priority-- and eliminate the things that drown out His voice, He reveals Himself in all His glory! I’m only a few days in to this week long “challenge”, but God has revealed so much to me already and He is guiding me to find appropriate balance in my life and walk in His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how God will make connections between many different resources that I’m using at the same time. God never ceases to make connections between my multiple sources, and the things He reveals are always the Truths that I need in that very moment! I praise Him for His sovereignty!
I added Facebook back in in the afternoon hours today, as I planned to do. It felt good to get on and catch up on some things I missed, but I was reminded that it doesn’t satisfy my soul like my time actively seeking God does. It is a way of keeping in touch with family and friends as well as networking and meeting people with similar interests. But, it’s not soul food. As of right now, I plan to stick to the “No Facebook during the morning hours” rule. I can feel the “needing to be plugged in 24/7” mentality losing its stronghold on me slowly, but surely.
I haven’t added any TV back in yet except for YouTube videos on Biblical teachings. I intend for the guidelines around TV usage to be fairly like those for social media usage. TV usage is much less problematic for me than social media, but there are still certain shows that affect my mindset and pull me away from Christ. Those are the shows I need to abstain from completely. There are other shows I enjoy that don’t have that effect, but I found that my time was better spent doing other things today than turning on the TV, so I didn’t bother.
It is going to take some time to establish new routines and create new habits, but it is well worth it! I want to have the full armor of God on every single day, submit myself to Him, and resist the devil! I want to be spiritually strong so that I can fight the battle that goes on between my flesh and my spirit in a way that glorifies God. And, this challenge is helping me to do just that!
Day 4: (Tuesday, May 16)
Today was similar to yesterday, except for the fact that I added a ½ hour of TV back in today. It feels good to be able to enjoy entertainment (provided it isn’t in conflict with scripture) in an appropriate way. This challenge is changing my routines and the order in which I do things throughout the day. I used to wake up in the morning and look at Facebook first thing. Then, I would often get sucked in for so long that I’d wasted a good portion of my day. It was even to the point where I would be late getting places because I couldn’t get off social media. For a time, I did do a morning devotional before getting on Facebook, but I still spent most of the morning on Facebook. Now, I read a devotional while I eat my breakfast in the morning (as opposed to scrolling through my news feed) and, if I have extra time, I listen to a podcast, usually from the Desiring God website.
I used to also spend much of my evening on social media, sometimes trying to convince myself, for an hour or so, to get off and have my quiet time. I would often wait until I was so tired to have my quiet time that I didn’t get as much out of it as I could have. I was giving God my leftovers when He deserves my first fruits. Now, before hopping on social media or turning on the TV, I ask myself if there’s something directly related to my relationship with God that should be done first. That way, entertainment gets the leftovers, not God!
I also try to ask myself if there are any other tasks that should be completed before jumping into entertainment. Is my house a mess? Do I need to make any phone calls? Do I need to reach out to someone? Do I need to run an errand? These tasks have a lower priority than God, but they still have a much higher priority than entertainment! I am learning to be honest with myself instead of saying “I’m just getting online for a minute” when I know I intend to be on much longer than that and procrastinate the task at hand. I am by no means perfect at this, but I feel it is part of the balance that God is teaching me.
Day 5: (Wednesday, May 17)
One of the verses God has been using to speak to me this week is the memory verse for the week from the Bible study I am doing with my Bible study group. The study is called “Seeking Him” and the verse is Hosea 10:12: “Sow righteousness among yourselves. Reap the fruit of unfailing harvest and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” That’s quite a challenge! At our Bible study meeting, we talked a lot about what it means to “break up our unplowed ground”. When a farmer breaks up unplowed ground, he’s preparing the soil to receive the seed and reap a good harvest. The process takes much time and effort. The same is true when breaking up the unplowed ground in our hearts. We must allow God to go deep into our hearts; to reveal things to us that we may have shoved to the back burner quite some time ago. This can be a painful process, but it’s impossible for us to receive all that God has for us if we don’t endure it. And, it is possible to endure it when we depend upon His strength.
I continue to be very grateful for all that God has revealed to me throughout this “challenge week” so far. So far, the habits I’ve created have been helpful, so I plan to continue them. My hope is that they will become even more ingrained in my routine and feel less foreign as time goes on. But, my mind has been racing so much less this week. My mind is going back to God as a “home base” rather than to worldly things. I want that to continue to be the case, so I know I must continue to intentionally make God the number one priority in my life every day.
Keep your eyes open for my next post, where I will discuss how I am continuing to reap the fruits of my "retreat" week! I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am!