Feel with both hands, Jeanna’
As people come into my studio as clients and leave as friends…..As friendship turns into kindred spirits, as bonds grow deeper and stronger….I know this for sure, our capacity to love is endless. Sometimes we try so hard to “categorize” what love is….we love our spouses, significant others, children, parents, etc because it’s “expected”….but….love is in shared conversations, it’s in underlined words in a novel, loves in an
unexpected gift, a lasting embrace, it’s in the invitation and the acceptance, in giving and receiving, it’s being known and knowing….and love won’t be smushed down into a square peg.
Come on,I triple dog dare you to love more this New Year. And to actually say those three little big words.
“I love you!”
Feel with both hands, Jeanna’
It’s no secret-not any more-that I’m hearing impaired.
People usually figure it out pretty quickly on their own but I’ve changed my approach to my deafness,and instead of hiding it and hoping no-one discovers,
I’ve finally begin to just tell people before they assume the worst; that I’m either ignoring them,being rude,or just plain dumb.
Over the years I’ve gotten
used to the questions, like “Where are you from? I’m trying to place your accent ” and “How can you love music and dancing so much?” and “Can you hear ANYTHING??”
I’m used to it and I don’t mind explaining to others and enlightening them about my deafness now.
If someone asks me, I’m always willing to answer questions,but there’s a few things that just rub me wrong.
Please don’t look at me with pity and exclaim, “I’m so sorry ” when I tell you that I can’t hear and,please, for goodness sakes, don’t begin to define me by my hearing loss.
My hearing loss isn’t something to be pitied,it’s actually one of my greatest gifts.
You see,my hearing loss brings out the truth in people rather quickly.
There’s so much that one can learn about others and about yourself when you can’t hear as well as most people can.
I notice everything,even subtle mannerisms,and shifts in energy because I rely on using total communication-using the limited hearing I do have,reading lips and body
language, while looking deeply into the eyes of whoever I’m engaged in conversation with. I get to sit close to people, I get to hold eye contact and I really focus on who I’m with.
I’m not just “hearing impaired”, I’m a woman that wants to understand and be understood; it’s that pure and simple,and that complicated and overwhelming.
I’m much more than what I’m not, and when people say “I’m so sorry” upon hearing that I’m deaf, I gently tell them “don’t be sorry for me,be sorry for those that hear but don’t listen.”
A few weeks ago,a new client came in for a massage and read my AVA article that was on the table. After talking a few minutes,he asked me if he could pray for my hearing to be restored.
I took his hands in both of mine and said,”You can pray for me,but please listen to this story first,then pray as you see fit.”
My Aunt Dorothy was a feisty woman who had been blind since she was a toddler.
One night she went to a tent revival and the preacher man,upon realizing there was a blind woman in the crowd,came down and begin to pray loudly over her,laying his hands on her eyes, and asking God to restore her vision.
She let him pray and then,she said something that has stayed in my mind all these years.
“You pray for my eyes to see,when what I need prayer for is my heart. I can be bitter and mean,hurtful and unforgiving, and that’s what really needs prayer. I don’t need to see things,I need to be a better woman,I need to be kind,to be patient,to be more loving. When I die,the first thing I’ll see is the face of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I don’t need to see this world, I need to LOVE these people in this world.”
Then with a loud laugh,she added “But if you can make these glass eyes see,that would REALLY be a miracle!”
“Really be a miracle.”
Please, pause and ponder this for a moment. What would really be a miracle?
Sometimes we see a disability and that’s all we see, we don’t look deep enough to realize what else is there. We see a wheelchair,
instead of a person; we notice the crutches,and don’t look at the beautiful blue eyes; we see the elderly man take cautious steps, without realizing that long ago,he fought for our freedom. We see the child with Downs Syndrome, and overlook the child’s pure joy of life. We see deaf people signing,and only think about what they don’t hear instead of marveling at the beautiful language and culture they share. We see the white cane, and act as if the person is invisible.
Like the preacher man,the strangers at Taco Cabana-who approached me and best friend years ago to ask if they could pray for my hearing- and my client, so many people pray for what they perceive needs a miracle. It’s human nature to want to “fix things” and to change things to what we think is “normal” or “better”.
We look,but we don’t see and we hear,but we don’t listen. We assume too much,and know far too little.
The real miracle, I believe, would be for us to really look beyond the surface,behind the disabilities,the disfigurement,
the differences and see the abilities,the beauty,the uniqueness of each person.
We need to pray that our hearts will overflow with compassion, that we can see the goodness in the world,and hear the sound of love.
We need a real miracle and it’s within each of us to make it happen.
My client,after hearing the story of Aunt Dorothy, prayed for a “real miracle” for us both to have the heart to forgive and to love. He understood right away that my deafness wasn’t what a problem to be fixed,but a unique part of who I am.
So, I give this story over to you and urge you to listen with your eyes,to hear with your heart,to touch with kindness,to see with clarity and to create a ripple effect of miracles right now.
It would really,after all,be a REAL miracle.
Feel with both hands, Jeanna’
There’s a story in scripture that even those that don’t believe in Jesus know.
The book of John tells that a crowd gathered around a woman who had been accused of adultery and demanded that she be stoned,according to a set of rules and regulations.
Jesus, however,said these powerful,profound words-“Whichever one of you is without sin,cast your stone.”
Of course,no one did because no one is without sin but I can just imagine the people walking away, thinking to themselves,perhaps huddling in small groups and whispering,”Sure, I sin, but my sins aren’t as bad as hers .” or justifying it by “well, it’s different in my case; I’m nothing like that woman!”
I know,because I’ve been there on both sides.
I’ve had well meaning “Christian” people accuse me of having an inappropriate relationship with another man and I’ve been quick to pass the same exact judgment on another woman.
I’ve felt the sting of being on the receiving end of verbal stones that were etched with words of shame, anger, bitterness,hatred, judgment,condemnation,and jealously.
Those stones lead me to build up a big wall,shielding my heart from others. It was my way of protecting myself but it also, unintentionally,created a barrier that isolated me and kept me from forming close,intimate relationships.
I hid behind my stone wall, barely even letting those closest to me inside. I even pushed God out of my life because,after all,wasn’t it all His people, the Christian- God believing,church going people that had placed me in the situation?
For years, I worn this invisible “scarlet letter,” and I also pulled on a mask,pretending not to care, ignoring the loneliness,and trying hard to convince myself that it really didn’t matter.
It did,though,and I was only fooling myself. I wasn’t fooling God and He saw right through me and He gently began to soften my heart and to teach me something else.
“Cast your stone,” He said, but rather than the hurling stones at someone like they did in the past, with strict rules and regulations, engraved with condemnation and judgement, I want you to cast stones as if upon water and create a ripple effect.
I heard His voice,whispering softly yet persuasively, filling me with words of life to mark on the stones.
Love. Joy. Tenderness. Kindness. Encouragement. Peace.Mercy.Honor.Clarity.Abundance.Compassion. Hope. Grace. Strength.Patience. Understanding.Courage. Acceptance.Generosity. Forgiveness.Faith.Beloved.
All these beautiful, affirming words that could be used as stepping stones….laid out one by one by one to create a pathway-a mosaics of inspirational truths- showing others what God’s love is really all about.
So yesterday,my husband and I bought a huge bag of black polished river stones and a few white Sharpie markers and began to write the words we had been given along with the name of our new website, http://www.castyourstone.com.
Instead of hurling stones with force,we will place the stones gently into the hands of people and let the ripple effect take place. We may leave stones where they can be found,and we might place a stone in unexpected places,but I know this much for certain.
It may seem random to us and it may not make sense at the time,but God has a plan and purpose for each and every thing that happens in our lives.
I know that everything I have experienced has taught me to be slow to judge,and quick to forgive. I can see how some relationships that others would think the worst of have actually been pivotal, life-changing ones.
I know that I’m the woman I am now because of all the relationships-the good and the not so good-that have shaped and taught me.
Sometimes the very things that break us,also brings us to where we are supposed to be.
Love works that way-God works that way-and it’s absolutely amazing to recognize how things fall into place. I don’t regret a single thing because I’ve learned so much about my capacity to love and God’s incredible attention to detail.using all things to work together for good.
I have received the beautiful stones of mercy and grace,of love and clarity and,in turn, I’ve chosen to give back the same stones. I’ve offered forgiveness and found my own freedom, I’ve let go of anger and received peace, Instead of holding grudges,I hold hands and I feel the love of God overflowing from every part of my life.
This creates a ripple effect. A simple stone,a single word,an assuring touch can be the very beginning and it can go on and on,expanding and overflowing, making a tremendous impact and changing the world.
Whosoever is with sin -that’s each and every one of us- mcast your stone and create a ripple effect of love. <a href="http://castyourstone.com"
Feel with both hands, Jeanna'
Every so often I’m reminded of what this life is all about….and I just feel the need to whisper “Please,don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life you’ve been given.”
Please, take this life and use it until every single drop overflows and splashes out, drenching others with your love, your passion, and your unique spirit.
Please don’t diminish who you are, or settle, or doubt the extraordinary purpose of your life.
You see, I’ve learned something during this last year, when I’ve had to come to terms with the way I had lived my own life. There were some dark days that I really had to struggle to make sense of, and I had to figure things out almost entirely by myself.
Those “dark days”, as I call them now, are the days that lead me back to my Creator and forward to the life of intention, passion, and love that I had always wanted to live.
I took the words that had been spoken to me and held them up against the words I read in scripture and, slowly but surely, I began to see myself through the eyes of love – God’s love – and that changed my outlook and my life.
I claimed a verse about being “Set Apart” and held that one close to my heart, along with another one about “Promises Kept”.
And then I just decided to let go and let God. That’s been something that I always thought was a bit of “cop out”. Ooh, yeah, “let go and let God”?
It really is easier said than done…..but that is exactly what I did.
I stopped trying to fit in some preconceived mold of what a “good, Christian woman” was and started finding out who I really was and what I believed.
I discovered that I wasn’t “too much” after all and that all those things that others said was “too much” was actually “just right” to God. I’ve always had “too much” passion, “too much” energy, and I felt “too strongly”. I was told that I “loved too much”, that I “gave too generously”, “acted too sensual ” and the list went on. I had never felt quite good enough but just couldn’t put my finger on why I felt that way.
I had started to diminish my light, to pull on a mask and to hide behind a wall in an attempt to try not to feel so strongly about anything but, as I read and reflected, the words began to fill my very being with grace, strength and courage – more than enough of everything to make me realize just exactly what the real truth is.
“Fearfully and wonderfully made”, written plain as day. That meant everything about me – from my hearing impairment, my strong will and passionate soul, my brown eyes and everything that was “too much” was actually all intentionally planned.
This taught me that God created me and loved me enough – just me – and I didn’t and shouldn’t have to depend on anyone else for validation or love or acceptance.
He who created me also wanted me and loved me just the way I am, and that was it.
The more I studied and understood, the more free I felt; the weight and the burden of everything lifted off my shoulders and went squarely onto the shoulders of my Creator.
Then I came upon this verse in 2 Corinthians 6, where it said ” Please, don’t squander one bit of the marvelous life that has been given to you” and I just whispered quietly,”Never again, God, never again”
Never again will I withhold forgiveness when I can give it. Never again will I decline an invitation because I doubt my beauty. Never again will I build up a wall to imprison myself. Never again will I pass up a chance to be kind and considerate. Never again will I squash myself down to fit into someone else’ comfort zone. Never again will I settle for less than what I really want. Never again will I regret anything I’ve done.
Never again will I waste any of my marvelous life.
Feel with both hands, Jeanna’