Monday, August 31, 2009

Women of Faith weekend- what it meant to me...

First off, a few pictures from the weekend of fun:

Karen and I:

Rei snuggling up to me:

I didnt know that Karen had even taken this picture- all of us lined up on the front row watching the speaker, and Rei laying down and being a good girl on her blanket. :)

So- what this weekend meant to me...

This weekend was a time of some deep soul searching. While I thought I'd dealt with many of the things from my past and having Usher Syndrome, this weekend brought out a whole gamut of things that I didn't even realize were still there anymore.

I have to say Patsy Clairmont is just a ball of fire that is such an awesome lady. Her stories touched deep to the heart and honestly, all of these ladies that spoke this weekend as what seemed to be extremely successful women who had issues too. Even though they look like they have it all together, they also have problems with things which was really BIG for me.

I think I struggle with the idea that so many people seem to think and portray our family as being the ideal Christian family and having it "all together" in terms of raising our kids and our faith. Now while I like to think we have it "all together" I honestly struggle with my role as a mom to my kids and as a wife to my hubby. I also reluctantly admit that I think I may have an addiction to the interactions on the computer- in various forms of networks to fulfill the adult interactions that I crave, but have great difficulty achieving with both my hearing and vision loss.

This brings me to the speaker of the WOF weekend that left the biggest impact on me for the weekend. This was Lisa Whelchel, who talked about how as a child, she was a firstborn and her mother insisted that she would not have a "spoiled" child. In translation, it equated to having a very high set of expectations to live by and from her mom and very little fun or "normal" childhood activities. Lisa and her family all lived in Arizona, she applied for the 1970's Mickey Mouse Club and landed the part. Lisa explained that they hadn't thought it through well when she got this job, as both of her parents lived in Arizona with her siblings and the job required that she not a resident of California.

As a result, Lisa was sent to live in Cali on her own at the age of 12. She explained that there were several hired "guardians" to take her places, but she was the one that got her groceries, balanced the checkbook, found her apartment to live in and all. Lisa was then took the role as Blair on the show "Facts of Life", in which she played a skinny, preppy, boarding school girl. She went on to talk about how as her parents went through a divorce and with the rigors of acting, how she began to eat to cope with her stress, which lead to the weight gain. Then the result of this was the producers of the show demanding that she lose the weight to maintain the characters appearance. With the losing battle against weight, the producers became more and more demanding and started giving threats of losing her job on the show if she didn't lose the weight. They ultimately resorted to placing a scale in the filming studio, of which every morning before they started filming, the producers would circle around the scale and Lisa would have to step on the scale for them to record how much she'd lost or gained.

Of course all of this resulted in her eating more and gaining even more weight. The "Facts of Life" soon went off the air and she attended college, met her husband and they soon married, had three children one right after the other and she was determined to have the perfect household, marriage, family, and to be the perfect mother by homeschooling, making all their clothes, and so forth.

She wrote multiple books in a couple of years and did everything sh could to strive for that perfect household. She explained too that she had taken up scrap booking and took lots and lots of pictures to document and have memories of the things she did for her family and so forth. She didn't realize how much she was spending on doing the scrapbooking until the one winter that she was at a scrapping crop session that was pretty close to her home, when her daughter called in a panic that she needed to come home, her husband had fallen off the ladder while taking the christmas lights down. The ambulance was there and tending to him.

Lisa said she rushed home and ran up to the EMT to find out what was happening and the EMT got up and said re-reassuringly that he was going to be OK, while he had some injuries, he had no brain injuries or spinal injuries. Lisa then comically said that was enough for her to take off for the house to run for the camera. She then runs back outside and is snapping pictures of the lights dangling from the roof, the ambulance, the EMT cutting the pants leg off of her husband, of which the EMT looked up at her and simply asked: "Scrapbooker?" And with that, her daughter cried out "Mom! what are you doing???" This is when she realized that she had a problem with the relationships with her family, that she should have been supporting her husband and her distraught daughter, or even kneeling with her husband and praying to God.

Then a few months after this event and revelation, she mentioned that she had a gathering with several college girlfriends where they had rented a cabin and was goign to go and spend the weekend talking and catching up on life since college. She realized that while she could talk about life and her kids, that she was unable to really connect and relate to her friends, her family, and most of all her kids. She knew that she needed help because she had many walls up that had protected her throughout her youth from the troubling times that she'd been through, but now that she was through these times she didn't' know how to take these walls down to be the nurturing parent that she wanted to be. Once receiving help, she was able to free herself of these walls and bonds that shielded her from showing or being hurt by things and keeping her emotions locked inside.

This testimony really hit the nail on the head for me as I feel like I keep myself busy to keep from playing with the kids. I have a really difficult time connecting with people in general and especially with the kids in play, as I really don't feel I know how to play with them at this point. I have kept myself busy with activities- all for good things and with good intentions, but it has allowed me to avoid having to deal with the inner demons that I think I am needing to face.

With this painful realization, I have begun to pare back the things in my life that are taking up my time, to dedicate more spending time with God and to my family and to be at their different functions they are involved in. As I know the kids will only be little once and they need me most now and not when grown and gone. I have stepped down as the VP of the Indiana Deaf Blind Association- which I think this was probably the most painful part for me, having put soooo much time and effort into it for the past five years. I will be seeking some counseling services to work through things and see where I need to go from here.

As I've told a couple of people- It is time to advocate for *ME* for a change.... but I admit, it doesn't mean it's easy and it hasn't been without tears or frustration at it all.

We'll see what the good Lord has in store for us in the upcoming days :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Women of Faith Conference: A Grand New Day!

I received an invitation from Karen M to come to the WOF conference with her for
August 7th & 8th. Little did I know what I had in store for me...

It was a group of us that went, several ladies from church that we both knew from bible studies, a neighbor, and Karen's mom. It was a good group of ladies and we started off the Friday morning by meeting up together at the grocery store parking lot and praying together for a good weekend and then heading to Downtown Indianapolis to the Conseco Fieldhouse where the fun was to begin!

We got down there and began our day of listening to an awesome group of speakers that were funny, spoke from he heart, and just absolutely moving. Rei also did an AWESOME job and absolutely AMAZED me as took me up and down the arena steps as our seats were on the floor and we had a set of steps to travel for each break, meals, and to get to the restrooms which were all on the main concourse. There were over 12,000 women in attendance that weekend and WOW, it didn't phase her one bit and she didn't let ANYONE come between me and the person that she was following. It got to be quite comical as the weekend went on, we started to fall into a patter that Karen would lead, so Rei would follow her, and it carved the path for the rest of the group to come in behind, because Rei didn't hesitate to use her nose to let people know she was there and to MOVE IT! She was COMING THROUGH! LOL! :)

I took a receiving blanket and had a bag I carried all weekend with her water bowl, food, and so forth. I was glad I took the blanket, even though it wasn't a lot, as she was on the concrete floor the entire weekend. She was VERY, VERY good through all of the talks and the only time that anything even phased her, was when Sandy Patti hit her Opera high notes, of which Rei jumped up to her feet and looked at me like "What the France was THAT???" As the others in our group said- had there been glass there, it would have shattered, that it was such a high note!

So for our speakers, we had the following people:


Steven Curtis Chapman

It’s hard to believe that Steven has given us two decades of musical artistry—where did the time go?—but easy to understand why he’s won five Grammys and a record-breaking fifty-four Dove Awards. His wisdom and insight, paired with wonderful soaring melodies, touch us where we live.

Steven and wife Mary Beth have adopted three children from China, an experience that led them to establish Shaohannah’s Hope, a foundation to financially assist thousands of couples in bringing home orphans from many countries (including the US). The Chapmans also have three older children. They all make their home in Tennessee.

We wept with Steven and his family at the tragic news of the loss of their youngest daughter Maria in May of 2008. Having stood at the door of eternity, Steven presses on holding fast to the truth of the Gospel and his certainty he will dance with her again.


She’s living proof that you don’t have to win “American Idol” to be a winner. After traveling with Beth Moore’s praise team for 4 years, Mandisa leapt to national recognition in the final rounds of “American Idol’s” fifth season. But fame didn’t come without a price. Looking back on her sometimes-stormy experience, she muses, “My faith certainly went through some tests of fire, but it’s stronger because of that.” Mandisa has not been idle since her Idol days: her debut CD collected Grammy and Dove Award nominations, she joined music legend Gladys Knight on stage at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater for a benefit, and signed on as a spokesmodel for Ashley Stewart Stores. All of which just goes to show, as Mandisa says, “The journey is difficult but the final destination is worth it.”

Lisa Whelchel

For nine years we followed her adventures as Blair Warner on NBC’s The Facts of Life but Lisa’s real life is just as interesting. After a successful acting career (she was a Mouseketeer for The New Mickey Mouse Club before Blair) Lisa married, had children, and began her greatest—and most challenging—role as a wife and mother. When she found herself feeling “isolated and alone” with three children in diapers, Lisa started MomTime Ministries with the goal of refreshing and equipping other mothers. She’s also the author of books on homeschooling, scrapbooking, parenting and more. Lisa’s family includes son Tucker, daughters Haven and Clancy, and husband Steve. They live in Texas.

Patsy Clairmont

As a child, Patsy wanted to be a cowgirl or a dancer but never imagined she’d wind up speaking to thousands of women each year (an idea that was really beyond her imagination during her years housebound with agoraphobia). These days she skips around the stage regaling audiences with her hilarious adventures and heart-tugging insights. Patsy lists her family as “husband Les, sons Marty and Jason, daughter-in-law Danya, grandsons Justin and Noah. Grand-dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, Cody (who jumps higher than I am tall).” They all live in Michigan except during the cold winter months when she and Les live in Texas, near most of her ‘porch pals’.

Lisa Harper

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind adventure with the woman Max Lucado calls one of the "best Bible tour guides around." Lisa earned a Masters degree in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Lisa also served as director of Focus on the Family’s national women’s ministry and as women's ministry director at a large Nashville church. She’s a popular columnist with Today's Christian Woman. Lisa is single, has a bevy of friends she considers ‘like family’ and lives in Tennessee.

Steve Arterburn

We are all here today thanks to Steve Arterburn—he created Women of Faith in 1996. He’s also the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries (the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry) and host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio program. You may be familiar with Steve from Oprah, ABC World News Tonight, or countless other media appearances. A best-selling author and winner of three Gold Medallion and two Platinum Book Awards for writing excellence, Steve has written more than 60 books, including a fiction series (with Nancy Rue). He has been honored as Entrepreneur of the Year and inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. Steve holds degrees from Baylor University and The University of North Texas. He and his family live in California.

Marilyn Meberg

If you had a particularly thorny problem, you’d want to talk it over with Marilyn. Partly because she’s a professional counselor (with two Master’s Degrees). Partly because she’d give you biblically sound, eminently practical advice...and partly because she’d make you laugh so hard you’d feel better almost immediately. Marilyn has been enlightening, encouraging, educating, and entertaining Women of Faith audiences since we began these events. But don’t worry—she still has plenty of wisdom and fresh insight to share! She’s the parent of two and proud grandmother of two more. Originally from the west coast, Marilyn now lives in Texas.

Sheila Walsh

It’s not just the accent that sets her apart; Sheila is a unique combination of author, speaker, Grammy-nominated singer, television talk show host, and Bible teacher. She’s written multiple best-selling books, including children’s series for both girls and boys (Gigi, God’s Little Princess and Will, God’s Mighty Warrior). Gigi even made it to video—and received a 2008 Telly Award along the way. Before joining Women of Faith, Sheila co-hosted television’s The 700 Club and had her own talk show, Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh on the Family Channel. She’s currently working toward an M. Div. in Women’s Ministry at Trinity Theological Seminary. Sheila and her family (husband Barry, son Christian, and Bichons Belle and Tink) live in Texas.

Allison Allen

Prior to joining the Women of Faith team, Allison appeared in 650 performances of Grease on Broadway. She’s shared the stage with the likes of Brooke Shields, Jon Secada, Maureen McCormick, and Jordin Sparks. An Andrew Carnegie Scholar from Carnegie Mellon University, our multi-talented dramatist also acts as a media/acting coach to professional athletes, celebrities, and even the occasional Olympic Gold-medalist. Plus, she co-wrote the stage musical Magdalene. Allison and her family (pastor husband Jonathan “my best friend and a man I can actually wear high heels with,” son Levi “a living reminder to live in the moment” and 90 lb. hound Zeke) live in Tennessee.

Sandi Patty

Three decades into her career, Sandi is a Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee with 39 Dove Awards, five Grammy Awards, and an armload of platinum and gold albums. During her time in the spotlight she’s seen professional peaks and personal valleys alike, all of them tempered by the grace of God. As Sandi wryly explains, “I have a lot of life experience.” (That’s a bit of an understatement.) These days she spends much of her life at Women of Faith events. “I love going out every weekend and sharing my story of how God has been faithful,” Sandi says. Sandi and husband Don have a yours-mine-and-ours brood of eight children—six currently in college! Their blended family (all of whom sing beautifully) can teach us all about mutual love, respect and family unity. Sandi, Don, and their youngest offspring recently relocated from Indiana to Oklahoma.

We had a break for dinner on Friday and then went to the hotel to check in. We came back for the evening session and mini concert with Steven Curtis Chapman too to end the night and head back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast at the hotel, got our stuff together and checked out to head downtown agan for a wonderful day of renewal of faith, discoveries of ourselves, and each other.

After the last session, we went to the Old Spagetti Factory for a yummy dinner where we re-capped on the weekend and poured out our hearts to each other on what we got out of the weekend.

More later on what the weekend meant to me, but I will say I'm anxiously awaiting the WOF follow up we have this coming friday with our small group, to reconvene and enjoy fellowship again as a group. :)

The First Annual InDBA DBW Retreat

For the last 6 months and more, Suzi and I, with some other people have been working very hard to put together the first InDBA Deaf Blind Workshop Retreat. We had a variety of speakers and fun activities that made for a good weekend all around for everyone.

We had 8 deaf blind attendees, 2 deaf blind speakers, and a wealth of volunteers as SSP's and helping with meals. The weekend overall went well and heard quite a few good things about it, given the few challenges we faces with the facilities we were working with.

Here is a write up of the weeeknd itself:

Indiana Deaf Blind Association
2009 First Annual Deaf Blind Weekend Retreat
July 24th-25th, 2009

Photos from the DBW Retreat:

The weekend got off to a great start as everyone arrived on Friday morning at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We started off with registration of the Deaf Blind attendees, in which we had eight Deaf Blind attendees and two Deaf Blind speakers to attend our event. The SSP training started at 9am and the Deaf Blind attendees hung out in the registration area and visited amongst themselves until things began. Following the SSP training, the SSP¡¦s came over and were registered, given their name badges, and then received their assignments of whom they¡¦d be working with.

We started off the day with a wonderful and educational presentation by Critter Colleen from Silly Safaris Inc. Colleen brought an array of animals for everyone to get to see, touch, and even to hold as we learned about the different animals. These animals included a dog, baby rabbit, a blue tongued lizard that liked to give kisses, a chicken that would flap her wings if you cued her by flapping your arms, a beautiful colored snake, a bright green tree frog and a baby tortoise that everyone got to hold, and last but not least a baby alligator that was about three feet long.

After the animal show was over, the SSP's then guide the Deaf Blind to take their belongings to the dorm where we would sleep overnight. It was a bit of a walk, but with our faithful SSP's we all made it just fine and was soon settled into our rooms for the overnight stay. Once settled, the group then headed to the staff dining room of the school for lunch of pizza and breadsticks with drinks.

Everyone reconvened in the conference room for our first speaker presentation from Mrs. Ashley DePrez, the Indianapolis Chapter President for the Foundation for Fighting Blindness. She gave a wonderful talk about Vision Walk and the goals of the FFB on a national level. Immediately following Mrs. DePrez, Al Alvord from CAC Jobs talked about the services that his organization provides to all hearing impaired people in trainings, job assistance and so forth. We were all pleased to hear of his company¡¦s services and several were to attend the job fair they were hosting in Indianapolis, the week after the retreat.

The group then made its way upstairs to the student center, where the "Cantina" was open for service, with fountain drinks, chips, and other snack foods to be purchased if desired. Everyone enjoyed the free time together to chat, play some Braille Bingo, and a few even went outside in the beautiful weather and walked along the beautiful Monon Trail that ran along the back of the school grounds.

When it came time for dinner, the SSP's then guide all of us Deaf Blind people to move to the dining room for a lovely dinner of chicken, corn on the cob, and drinks as well. No one left there hungry, that's for sure! Everyone was free to go to their rooms and freshen up before heading to the student center for an evening of fun at the with balloons to feel the vibrations of the music, food and drinks at the "Cantina" to be bought if desired, and a game of Musical Balloons even started up too! Everyone grabbed a chair and sat in a big circle and one red balloon was passed around and around the circle until the music stopped. When it did, whoever was holding the balloon was out. This continued to the last person, the winner. There was a variety of music from various decades, such as the Macarena, Livin La Vida Loca, Beat it, YMCA, We Are Family, and many other favorites of all ages.

Everyone worked their way back to their rooms and most headed to bed for the night. A couple of Deaf Blind grouped up in a room and chatted amongst themselves for a good while before heading to bed since they hadn't seen each other in a long time too.

Saturday morning came bright and early, as everyone made their way to the dining room again for breakfast of yummy muffins, bagels, and a continental style breakfast for all to eat. Then we all moved back to the conference room to start the day of several awesome speakers! Once we were all situated, our first set of speakers stepped up to pull the members of InDBA into learning what they can do for InDBA using their given talents and gifts!

Jill Gaus, the Treasurer of SHIM=DB of Michigan, as well as a board member for AADB spoke with Jamie Pope, executive director of AADB about Leadership, Empowerment, and what we can do for InDBA. We were paired up as opposite as we could be- Hard of Hearing with partial vision paired up with completely blind and nearly no hearing. We were asked several questions of a conflict that Jamie and Jill staged regarding the differences within the Deaf Blind world and how would we work out this conflict.

Once all of the information was collected and written up on the flip chart what each pair thought would be a good way to resolve these conflicts, Jill and Jamie then moved the discussion to what talents and gifts each person had. Then we began to talk about how each of these talents could fit into InDBA and went over the list of items needed to take care of the next couple of meetings for InDBA and then delegated out these tasks. While the discussions were going very well, unfortunately time ran out too soon and we had to cut things short since it had come to time for lunch.

The group moved to the dining room for lunch and enjoyed delicious deli style lunch meat sandwiches, some pasta salad, potato salad, and some other side items to satisfy the rumblings in the tummies. Once everyone had eaten their fill there, all went to the student center for a fun and yummy treat of ice cream and many different toppings to choose from. Everyone had their choice of Vanilla, Chocolate, or Strawberry swirl ice cream, or all three if they wished, and then there was all kinds of toppings to be had such as Kit Kats, Oreos, sprinkles, syrups, and all that fun!

We then gathered everyone up in one corner of the Student Center to take group pictures of everyone there and Emily Abel, our next speaker volunteered to snap several shots of our whole group, as did a couple of other volunteers helping out as well. Everyone finished eating ice cream to their hearts content and then we moved back down to the conference room for the last speaker presentation for the day.

Emily Abel of the INDATA project, a division of Crossroads Easter Seals and Belva Smith of Crossroads came and presented about assistive technology for the Deaf Blind, as well as about what programs that INDATA and Crossroads offers for the Deaf Blind. They outlined the AT Loan program, the Recycled Computer Program, the secured loan option for people with disabilities, and Training programs that INDATA has and explained that they closely work with Crossroads as case management to continue the process for when a Deaf Blind person decides to purchase a piece of equipment and works through either Vocational Rehabilitation or on their own. Emily and Belva then quickly demonstrated the use of the DBC or Deaf Blind communicator and how that can be utilized for Deaf Blind people.

Our time together then quickly came to an end as we wrapped things up and said our THANK YOU's to all of the speakers, the many volunteers that we had come in and out through the weekend to help with meals, the ice cream social, transportation, and things in general, the SSP's that graciously gave their time for the weekend, the companies, people, and places that donated monetarily to the retreat, and lastly to the coordinators of the InDBA DBW Retreat. Everyone said their goodbyes and retrieved their belongings and then made their way home and the first InDBA DBW Retreat was a resounding success!

Indiana Deaf Blind Association
Deaf Blind Weekend Retreat 2009


~PLATINUM ($1,000. 00 & more) ~



~GOLD ($500.00) ~

Indiana State University Deaf Blind Project


The McGeath Family

~SILVER ($250.00) ~

Archibald Memorial Home

Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities

Teresa and Russell Fry

~BRONZE ($100.00) ~
The Dzwonar Family
Fort Wayne Central Lions Club Charities, Inc.
Goodwill of Central Indiana
Ronald and Carole Guimond
Susan B Jones
Northeast Indiana Deaf Awareness Council
Silent Senior Hoosiers
Suzette Schuette

~FRIENDS and FAMILIES ($20.00 - $99.00) ~
Joan Britt
Roxanne Fischer
Bruce and Kennita McGeath
Roxanne Fischer
Heidi Zimmer

Neighborhood Block Party

After several rain outs last year, the organizers of our neighborhood block party decided that just waiting until later July was the better option for having the block party.

This year, a large ladder truck came along with one of the K-9 dogs from the police department. The kids got to tour the truck and I know my kids were just in awe of looking through and climbing in and out of the truck. They even didn't come eat when it was time to as well!

Everyone started off with food, the Fire Dept grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and then the neighbors all pitching in sides to go around. The weather was awesome, in the lower 70's for a BEAUTIFUL day to eat and hang out on the lawns. :)

A view of the set up and neighbors visiting:

AC walking one of the papillons:

Hubby & AC looking over the foods and getting plates of food:

KT & MD checking out the inside of the firetruck:

KT & MD talking with the Fireman and looking at the hoses on the truck:

Is this a future firefighter??? AC sitting on he front bumper of the firetruck:

AC with a big grin inside the cab of the fire truck and KT too:

AC being a firefighter with a mask on and MD sitting in there too:

As most were finishing up with eating to thier fill, the K-9 officer brought his narcotics dog out and did a demonstration. He did say that he would be retiring his dog soon, and that she would have a permanent home in his house. The police dept is hoping to purchase another dog soon and he is hoping to be the new handler for that dog.

Rei being a good girl during the demonstration:

The firetruck heading out with AC and Hubby watching it go by:

Everyone had a great time and then gathered up thier stuff and looking forward to next year!