The Blind Pleading the Blind: Perceptions

Other people’s perceptions can be difficult for those with sight loss. As an example, I go out for lunch quite a bit with a friend. One day, he was shopping locally and a shopkeeper (who’d obviously seen him with me) asked: “Are you a care-worker?” My first response when I hear of something like this is usually to burst out laughing, but then I think about it afterwards. By asking that question, they’re assuming I don’t have friends (like normal people), and if I’m out holding onto somebody’s arm, they must be my carer. This doesn’t give me much dignity and it’s awkward for my friends as well. Similarly, in this great blog-post, a visually-impaired bride-to-be is asked: “Who’s going to be a bride’s-maid then?” because she’s looking for a bridal shop, and the person has assumed she couldn’t possibly be the bride!

A few years ago, someone actually said to me: “You have physical needs; I have emotional needs”. This shocked me and I didn’t know how to respond, but I’ll tell you now I have emotional needs as well, and many times the emotional needs are far greater than the physical.

For me as a blind person, it can be very easy to get disorientated. (Put a blindfold on and try to find your way around your house to get an idea what it’s like without sight.) I found out relatively recently that my eye-condition affects my sense of direction, so it can take longer for me to get routes into my head. If I’ve practised a local route regularly, I’m fine with it, but if I’m walking it having not done so for a while, I can get as lost as if I was walking it for the first time. The problem is that when you get lost or feel nervous, strangers can treat you like you’ve got a screw loose. “Are you all right? You look confused today,” they say, in a voice loud enough for anyone nearby to hear. Um – thanks! The truth is that sometimes I can go out with complete confidence, but I can also have off days like everyone else.

I suppose another perception I don’t particularly like is a more general one: That people will want to be grouped together with those who are the same as them. There are various groups for people with a visual impairment. My local branch for the blind meets roughly once a fortnight, but as someone recently pointed out, there’s nothing in those meetings for the more active person. Not everyone wants to sit playing Bingo or listening to an entertainer, but some people might. For visually-impaired Christians, there are Torch Fellowship Groups or the Disabled Christians Fellowship, but personally, I’d rather spend time with people who don’t necessarily have disability in common.

So, to summarise this post, everyone’s different. Blind people are capable of having friendships/relationships and yes, even getting married! And we do have feelings, which can be hurt the same as anybody else’s. All these seem obvious to me, but because of my experiences and those of others, I thought I’d point them out.

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“Atlas Girl” Sequel: “Making it Home” Book-Review

Emily offered her Facebook-friends a free copy of “Making it Home” in exchange for an online review. Having reviewed “Atlas Girl” for Revell last year, I was interested to read the next instalment.

Sadly, I didn’t enjoy the sequel nearly as much. The parts I most enjoyed were those that were others-focused. Since the days of watching “Home and Away” as a child, I’ve been interested in foster care, so I loved reading about Emily and Trent’s fostering experience, and I liked the ‘Daughter’ theme that ran through the book, but the spotlight was frequently on insecurities I felt she already covered in the prequel. It’s a great shame more wasn’t made of how The Lulu Tree came into being. As a founder, Emily could probably tell the story better than most, and it seems deserving of more than just the end of this book.

I’d recommend Emily’s memoirs if you’re a reflective sort of person, and she puts in enough backstory that you can read “Making it Home” as a standalone book, without having read “Atlas Girl”.

Unexpected Treasure: “The Chase” Book-Review

From the foreword by Karen Kingsbury – a doting mum who prayed for her children and their future spouses before they were even born, I expected this to be a difficult read, but take my advice: Don’t dismiss it till you’ve read chapter 1, because from chapter 1 onwards I was hooked. I love their storytelling, the lessons from those around them, and that each chapter has a section from Kelsey and from Kyle, so you get the girl’s and the guy’s perspective. Kyle’s a songwriter like me, which adds to the book’s appeal.

It’s definitely addressed to girls/women, but far from just being for singles in the church, there are reminders here we could all do with revisiting from time to time – Kyle’s thoughts on TV-shows, for example, or the brilliant section in chapter 8 on hearts being compatible.

Kyle and Kelsey are engaging writers who’ve found their happiness together, but I’ve a feeling had they stayed single, their message would have been the same. I’m surprised, in a good way, to be able to say The Chase is one of the best books on relationships I’ve read.

Good Foundation

I listened to the radio yesterday morning while I washed the dishes, and was really struck by something a lady said.  She and the DJ were discussing couples, and how it was good for them to have time to themselves instead of being joined at the hip.  She said if you have two concrete pillars holding the roof on a structure and those pillars are too close together, that roof will fall.  Similarly, if they’re too far apart, the roof will also fall because its foundation isn’t good.  But if they’re just the right distance apart, then that roof will stay up.

 

Although they were talking about couples, I think this speaks to all of us.  If I depend on my family or friends to be happy, if I give them first place in my heart and think too highly of them, my life will fall apart.  If I distance myself from family and friends, if I have no need of them and there’s a wide chasm between us, then my life will also fall apart.  But if I give them their rightful place in my heart – Jesus at the centre (whom I depend on for my joy) and them second, then my life will remain secure because my Foundation is good.

 

What are the foundations like in your life?  Have you considered doing what the children’s song says – building your life on the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Atlas Girl” Book-Review: Travel and Family

This fast-moving book is much more than the travelogue I was expecting.  Yvonne hardly gets a mention in the synopsis, but the mother-daughter relationship is an important facet of Emily’s story.  If you struggle with flashbacks, the constant time-shifting (1998, 1981, 2002) could be a problem, but each chapter-title includes the month and year.

 

Perhaps along-with others who haven’t travelled extensively, I looked forward to getting a flavour of so many different countries, but I also loved the personal aspect – how Emily wrote so honestly about her marriage, how God showed His care for her again and again.  I was sent a free copy of “Atlas Girl” by Revell for reviewing purposes, but it’s a book I might well have bought, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

Healthy Sharing

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisors bring success” (Proverbs 15:22).

 

I think this is one reason why community’s so important.  I’d definitely say sharing with others and getting their input into your life shouldn’t be restricted to Sundays.  Just the other week, I was struggling with something a church-member said, trying to process it, and one thing that helped me do that was chatting with some Christian women on Facebook.  Sometimes I can be quite hard on myself, but when I shared with the group, no one said what I might have said – that I needed to be thicker-skinned.  In fact, the most helpful comment was one about ‘Our gentle God’ – one that made me refocus on the love He has for us.

 

If I have a dream that’s potentially life-changing, before acting on it, I ask people I can trust, who are most likely to put me off.  When even they can see it working, it reassures me that I’m not coming from another planet!  What about you; who do you bounce your ideas off?  Do you prefer to share online or face-to-face?

True Friendships

“Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and to insight, ‘You are my relative’” (Proverbs 7:4).  I can’t emphasise enough how much insight will help in your day-to-day life.

 

If someone’s insightful, they’re a person who looks underneath the surface:  Who looks past the words to see what was meant by them, or looks past the action to find what caused it.  I guess it’s a bit like empathy really – putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes.

 

This verse advises us to keep insight close to us because God knows it’s going to help in our relationships.  When you really know people and understand why they feel how they feel or do the things they do, then you can have true friendships and not just superficial ones.

 

Jesus had a group of twelve who followed Him closer than the rest, and from those, a group of three (Peter, James and John) who were closer still.  They were the ones He wanted praying with Him in His last moments before He was crucified.  What about you?  Do you have some true friends in your life?  Let’s thank God for them today.

Not for Just Anyone

“And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).  I see that verse 19 as a good measure to use when it comes to physical intimacy.

 

When I was at school, I’m sure teenagers knew that underage sex wasn’t the way to go, but I still remember the comments:  “He had his hand up my top” or “He asked her to go topless.”  It’s our responsibility to think what we’re asking of another person, and how much we’ll share with them.  According to this verse, your wife’s breasts should satisfy you, so it’s not just sex that should be saved until marriage.

 

What I really want you to take away from this is that you’re special, and the parts of your body aren’t for just anyone.

“Stay Calm and Content”: A Book-Review

“I wish it were easy to give feelings of self-esteem to children, young people, and the adults they become.  If we could, many of society’s problems would disappear” – Cat Williams, author of “Stay Calm and Content:  No Matter What Life Throws at You”

 

I heard Cat interviewed about the book on my local radio-station.  Thinking she talked a lot of sense, I wrote to thank her, and she sent me a copy to review.

 

As the quote suggests, the book’s main focus is self-esteem; how it shapes us; why we act the way we do.  As soon as I read the blurb on the cover, I looked forward to getting into this book.  If (like me) you’ve read “The Five Love-Languages” by Gary Chapman, I think you might enjoy this one too.  There are lots of personal stories in here and, although fictional, Cat is a relationship counsellor and some of the changes took place in the lives of her clients.

 

True to life, some situations are presented to us with no resolution, but my particular favourites are those where counselling has brought about positive change – an abusor being forgiven; a teenaged girl’s relationship with her mum; a marriage falling apart, now restored.

 

Cat says of the book:  “I know that not everyone will like it and that some people might find faults or omissions.  However, I hope you find it interesting and perhaps useful”, which I did.  Things jumped out at me that I hadn’t thought of before, such as:  ‘Old memories replaying can make you feel what you felt in the past, even though the circumstances are different’.  Or:  ‘An argument is 2 people experiencing low self-esteem, because it’s centred on defensiveness and/or criticism’.

 

So, if you buy this book, it’ll make you think.  The only thing I found it lacked was the Christian perspective, so I might have phrased some of the assurances differently.  For example, Cat says:  “We can handle anything because we can choose how we respond to it”; I would add to that by saying:  I can handle anything because God says however many days I’ve got, I’ll have enough strength for them all (Deuteronomy 33:25).  Cat’s statement that we’re good enough when we’re born, before we’ve achieved anything, is such a rare thing to hear and really resonated with me, but I can’t think of that statement without being reminded of Jesus at His baptism, where God said He was pleased with Him before He’d even started teaching or doing any miracles.  For me, my Christian faith is what’s got me through the last 14 years of my life; I can’t imagine how people cope without God, but I’ve certainly learnt from Cat’s book, and I like her style of writing.  It’s very easy to read.  She’s covered such a range of topics in this first book of hers, but I really hope we’ll see other books in the future.

31 Days of Song: “Jesus Saves”

Today I wanted to include a song by Jeremy Camp, so I could tell you about his book “I Still Believe”.  It came out on Kindle in January and if my Kindle software still worked (which it hasn’t for over a year), I’d buy it straightaway and start reading.

It talks about his first wife (Melissa) and how, after their honeymoon, they found out she had just a few months to live.  I don’t know how I would have coped with that in my early 20s, but here’s what impressed me.  Jeremy was sitting with Melissa after she died and felt God saying:  “I want you to worship Me”, so he picked up his guitar and worshipped.  It reminds me so much of Job in the Bible the day he lost his ten children (Job 1:20-21) – how he praised his God who gave and took away.  He worshipped too.

I think anyone who chooses to do that is someone with real integrity, who deserves respect.  I haven’t heard many of Jeremy’s songs, but I do like this one.  Jesus saves!  He’s there to save us from a life of bitterness and bring us into God’s good plan for us.  Will you be a part of letting the whole world know His name?