Monday, May 21, 2012
The difference is, no one in grade school told me that if I tried hard enough, I could change my brown eyes to blue. But teachers did tell me that if I tried hard enough, I could tell the difference between b and d.
When I was in grade school, no one knew about dyslexia. I imagine it had been studied, but none of that information had arrived in schools. Not one of my teachers knew what my problem was. I don’t blame them but life wasn’t easy for a six year-old who couldn’t do what other classmates accomplished so easily.
When I look at lists of problems dyslexic children face, these are a few I see in myself.
1. Getting sounds in words mixed up. I cannot say “bed and breakfast” without stopping because my first choice is “bread and beckfast” and I always put “tea and flick” collars on our pets.
2. I can’t tell the difference between “right” and “left.” I once had a pair of shoelaces—this was when I was thirty—that had “right” on one and “left” on the other. Once I figured out which shoe to put each in, I felt an enormous sense of security. If I was confused, I could look at my feet. This is still a problem. When I tell my husband to turn right, he often turns left because that’s what he thinks I mean. I have pondered getting a tat on my right hand that actually says, “right.”
3. Trouble sequencing numbers. Even now, when I go to pump gas and am asked my zip code, I panic. I’m not expecting that and cannot remember it. Once, as minister, I gave a woman whose husband was dying my phone number—but not the correct one. When I’m tired or sick, I will always make mistakes.
4. It’s very hard for me to memorize anything. In Spanish, I would write vocabulary words over and over, sometimes fifty times or more, to learn them. Oddly, I ended up majoring in Spanish and teaching it for years.
There are many more examples but this is probably enough for you to get the idea. As a kid, I felt stupid. Really dumb. I never got my spelling papers on the bulletin board. Of course, I never made 100% on a spelling test either.
But I am smart. Really smart. I’m not bragging but it’s true. That’s how professionals can tell a dyslexic: a smart kid who underperforms.
How does a child deal with feeling stupid?
Today, life is easier for students with learning disabilities. Programs and support are available today that weren’t when I was in school. But it’s still hard. A child with learning disabilities is still different, is often removed from class—always a stigma—for special attention. A high school neighbor who was dyslexic spent a few weeks each summer going back to school for additional assistance.
I made it through grade school—not that I had much choice—and high school and college and earned two master’s degrees because I was blessed to know Jesus my entire life. My father tells the story of my having a tea party with Jesus when I was three of four. I don’t remember that, but I believe it because there has never been a time I didn’t have faith, when I didn’t know my Savior walked beside me and strengthened me.
Knowing I was a beloved child of God carried me through grade school as certainly as it has carried me through my entire life. With every tragedy or new adventure, the certainty of God’s love supported me.
So when Molly Noble Bull—also a dyslexic—had the idea of dyslexic authors who wrote for Love Inspired coming together in witness, I immediately joined the group as did Ginny Aiken, Margaret Daley and Ruth Scofield. In this book, the five of us tell how we overcame our disabilities. These sections became The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities which we self-published through WestBow Press last year, thanks to Molly’s tireless efforts.
We all felt the need to witness that through our faith, we came out strong and successful people, women who have published around one-hundred books.
But I’m still dyslexic and I still have brown eyes.
Come see Jane’s interview on InfiniteCharacters.com about her new fiction release, The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek.
Jane Perrine and the The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek
Meet Molly Noble Bull: The Dumbest Kid in Her Elementary, by Molly Noble Bull
Why I Wrote Part of the Overcomers, by Margaret Daley
Jane Myers Perrine has worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and been an active volunteer, but she’s always wanted to write. Finally, she found time and has published books with Avalon Books and Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.
She’s now writing a three-book series she loves about a young minister in a small town of Butternut Creek in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. She likes small towns, warm, friendly people and humor. The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, the first book in the series, was published in April, 2012. The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek will be available in November, 2012.
With her minister husband, George, she landed in the South after living many years in cold areas of the country. They decided to give up changing seasons for no snow and have never regretted that choice. They now live north of Austin where their lives are controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats.
Jane can also be found at the following:
Friday, May 11, 2012
Today is May 11th, eleven days past the end of Autism Awareness Month, and I realize I did absolutely nothing to take notice of the challenges of autism during April at all.
The answer is twofold. First, I had planned to do a series on Military Ministries in January, which got pushed to February, then to April. Helping veterans and their families is an important topic and I didn’t want to neglect it. I felt a Holy Spirit nudge to post the series as soon as it was ready, so I did. God’s time, not the arbitrary time of an “Awareness Month.”
Second, autism isn’t about a month to me, it’s about a lifetime. It’s about a young man who is gifted in ways that would make a grown man cry, and would help the harried find peace.
He is my son.
The world first sees him as deficient because he can’t speak or write, and will probably never hold a real paying job. And yet he is the one who knows when I’m down, and sooths me with a gentle touch, demonstrating the love of God. He is the one who reminds me what to do in times of trouble with one of the few words he can say.
He is an extraordinary gift from God and a TRUE vessel of the Holy Spirit. I wish others had access to this beautiful gift. If they allowed him to reach out to them, they too would be truly blessed.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
This is Rachel’s story:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
It was a Saturday in October 2009; I was stepping out of my comfort zone onto a bus headed to Walter Reed Medical Center with several others from my church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. I signed up to volunteer months before not concerned or giving thought to my struggles with anxiety. The day had come and I realized I wasn’t prepared for what I would possibly face. It was like I was headed for battle. This battle, I was creating of course.
Nevertheless, I was quite apprehensive and uncertain of what to expect. War wounds festering, limbs lost, exposure to all types of injuries and damaged soldiers. All these thoughts started to make me feel anxious, out of control and unsure if this was something I could handle. I began to doubt myself and my strength to pull through these types of anxious moments.
As I stepped onto the bus I began to pray selfishly for myself that I would make it through the day. I mean, here I am going to serve those who made extreme sacrifices for me and the least I could do was pray for them and their troubles. I realize now the selfish foot I had started out on that day. There were men and women with troubles far more life threatening and serious than mine but all I could hold on to were my worries and anxiety.
When I stepped off the bus the warm sun had invited me to notice the beauty of the day. It was an unseasonably warm, sunny, colorful fall morning. I became conscious of the fact I was there to complete a mission, and from there on, that would be my focus. After setting up and finding my place next to a hot, smoky grill with some newfound church friends and my boss (also a very dear friend) who talked me into signing up for this adventure, the soldiers began to arrive. At that moment a new feeling came over me. Instead of wanting to run away or fade into the background, I was moved to interact more with the men and women we were there to serve. I had a desire to talk to them and get to know their stories.
As I began speaking with one of the soldiers I found myself no longer anxious but gracious for this opportunity to serve someone who was wounded for serving us. There were no outward scars to scare me away. He was a normal man, mid 20’s with a Texas accent and a drive to serve. This had been his second time at Walter Reed. My prayer is that it was his last, and he is now home safe with his family. Although I don’t remember all the details of our conversation I do know that he was the best ice breaker of the day. Our conversation was pleasant and he didn’t call me out on my secret selfishness or point out that my anxiety is nothing compared to what he had been through. Though I kept those thoughts to myself, had he been able to read minds, he would have had every right to call me out.
After stepping out and moving past an anxious morning I decided to walk around and see where I could be of service. As I watched soldiers come and go I realized there was nothing scary about this experience. This was a moment to cherish. I began to see them for who they really were minus the injuries and ailments. I began to look at them and appreciate them like I never had before. The courage they possessed to have been through what they have and to put themselves in a situation that could and did cause them harm is beyond honorable.
I spoke to a few other soldiers that day, listened to some of their stories on where they’d been, where they were going, what was next, and thought about the battle of my own I had put myself through prior to these conversations. They had real wounds and faced real problems, but after speaking to a few of them I see the foundation which we all had in common. That foundation was, and is, God.
My boss, whose name is Jan, and I befriended one of the soldiers and handed him a card to come see us at the hair salon if ever he was in need of a free haircut and a good church. Then in January 2010, in walks that same soldier into our salon who in October was wheelchair ridden. There he was walking upright and doing well. We cut his hair for free of course, invited him to church and showed him off that next Sunday. He was our soldier friend from Walter Reed who is now a member at our church and doing quite well. He had been through a war, a serious injury, finding a job in an economy where jobs are limited, and some other obstacles I’m sure, but with God’s help defeated the odds against him.
My experience allowed me to put my battles into perspective. I grasp that we may all be fighting wars, whether it be our own or someone else’s, but these soldiers do it freely to keep us safe here at home. I don’t believe the battles I create have the same effect. I do believe that no matter what they are or how they are created the battles we overcome are won with the strength that can only come from the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, so we would not have to suffer, and death would not be our end.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us and these men and women are a great example of unselfish service and sacrifice for their country. Freedom is not free when someone is dying to allow you to attain it. I was able to overcome the same anxiety that used to keep me home bound to serve those who deserve it the most and I give the glory to the God that gives me the strength to overcome any obstacle that hinders me from doing His work.
Military Ministries Series Links:
Inspiration for “Wedded to War,” by Jocelyn Green (about her upcoming novel to be released July 1, 2012)
24 Ways to Put Military Ministry into Action
Invisible Battle, by Jocelyn Green
Broken by War, Saved by Grace
Rachel is a hair stylist at Cut Loose in Edgewater, MD. She lives in Harwood with her wonderful husband Deryck and their adorable German Shepherd Gemma. She is passionate about writing and reaching people for Jesus. Her inspiration comes from life struggles and God inspired moments. God put it on her heart as a young girl to write, and as she matures in her writing her hope is to one day reach her goal of becoming a published author.
Friday, May 4, 2012
Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on the needs of our military members. Today, I’d like to focus on what the church can do for them and their families. These are wives without their husbands, husbands without their wives, and children missing at least one parent for long stretches of time. They need support.
As a person working in a counseling office I’ve seen families stressed by the parent or spouse who works long hours and/or goes on frequent business trips, only to come home, fried, to a spouse who’s juggled multiple burdens. This takes a toll on the marriage, the family and each individual within it.
Now, imagine if that business trip spanned months, or even years, and the stress of the “deal” was replaced by the threat of peppering bullets, bitter enemies and IEDs. A real and immediate concern for many of our citizens today.
These families need help—physical, emotional and spiritual help. They need assistance for the care of the home and family as well as the multiple burdens from the scars within. Many churches are assisting families in important ways. Is yours one of them?
The following is a list generated mostly by Jean King, of Military Ministry (a division of Campus Crusade for Christ, International), outlining the kinds of supports given to her as a military wife, as well as what her church (and others) have done. I have also included a few ideas I picked up from discussions I had while compiling this series. Hopefully, they will spur some ideas of your own.
· Help with minor car repair or maintenance for the spouse of the deployed.
· Male member of the church helping son with Boy Scout projects.
· Families inviting kids for pizza and game night.
· Help with transportation to sports, school or church activities.
· Single woman helping mothers with Christmas morning set-up.
· Care packages for the deployed.
· Phone calls and cards of encouragement for family members and deployed.
· Support groups for at-home spouses discussing fears and challenges; encouraging and praying.
· Support groups for military members transitioning to civilian life.
· Camping ministries for survivalists transitioning to the world of home and office.
· PTSD groups for those still haunted by images of war (see resources).
· Buying flowers on Valentine’s Day.
· Gift cards for spa days for overburdened moms.
· Meals for overburdened moms.
· Marriage Support groups, such as “Homebuilders Bible Study,” “Loving Your Military Man,” Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready,” and “Defending the Military Marriage.”
· Watching kids for a Parent’s Night Out, both when deployed as well as while couple is transitioning to home life back together.
· Bible studies specific to needs (see above).
· Bible/Devotional packages for the deployed (not just those in your church, but ones who may not yet know God).
· Prayer sheets for deployed, listing where they are, family’s name and expected date of return. But don’t forget to continue to pray after they DO return.
· Military Appreciation dinner.
· Youth group activities on same night, while parents are at dinner.
· Appreciation picnic.
· Special Recognition on Veteran’s Day, Fourth of July and Memorial Day.
· Meals brought for families when deployed returns home.
I’m sure there are many valuable ways we can support those who have risked their lives for us. Don’t stop at these! Military Ministry is definitely a great resource. Check them out.
Feel free to share ideas of what your church is doing in the comments below. Thank you.
Related links in this series:
The War at Home
Broken by War, Saved by Grace
Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, by Edie Melson
Battlefield and Blessings Iraq/Afghanistan (Stories of Faith and Courage)
Two Wars: One Hero’s Fight on Two Fronts—Abroad and Within
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Today, I’m continuing my series on Military Ministries and I want to thank Jocelyn Green again for sharing another excerpt from her book, Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. These have truly been a blessing.
The War at Home
Andrea Westfall, Oregon Army National Guard, Kuwait and Iraq, 2002-2003
When Andrea Westfall came home from her nine-month deployment to Kuwait and Iraq as a flight medic in May 2003, she knew something had changed within her.
“I reacted to loud noises,” she remembered. “I no longer felt safe and always watched doors. I didn’t like to be around people—large crowds were awful for me. I thought I was going crazy, but it wasn’t until a year after I got home that it was bad enough to get help. I was self-medicating, getting drunk every night. I was miserable and I wanted to feel anything different than the hell I was in.”
Westfall was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and went to the nearby VA Center for treatment. But she knew that wouldn’t solve everything. For her nagging questions about God, she turned to a local church.
“Spiritually, we are the most vulnerable when we come home,” she said. “We’ve been immersed in seeing death and destruction. There’s a lot of woundedness.”
Church services weren’t easy for Westfall, either. “How are you doing?” someone would ask.
“Actually, I can’t sleep, I’m really struggling—“ Westfall would begin.
“But you’re seeing someone about that right? There’s a book you really need to read . . ..”
No one seemed to understand that Westfall needed more than a pat answer or a best-selling book—she needed the body of Christ. “I didn’t need a church with a full-blown military ministry,” said Westfall. “But little things would have made a difference like someone coming over and mowing my lawn, or fixing what was broken.”
One day at work she was having a hard time dealing with a situation; anxiety was high. “What’s your problem, you made it home alive!” her boss told her.
Yeah, Westfall thought, but I wish I had died over there.
It wasn’t until the local newspaper ran an article about Westfall that the extent of her struggle with PTSD was fully told. The day after the story ran, a woman came sobbing to Westfall’s mother: “I prayed for Andi every day when she was gone,” she said. “When she came home I stopped praying because I thought she was safe. But that’s when her war really started.”
Those words traveled near and far, including up to the Pentagon chaplain.
Finally, somebody gets it, thought Westfall.
“My spirit is broken” (Job 17:1a).
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the hurting people around me; show me how to lift them up with your strength.
One weekend in February 2007, Andrea Westfall stood outside Times Square Church in New York City, finishing a cigarette before bracing herself to go inside. Though she still believed in God, she had given up on going to church—but she made an exception on this particular day. Today, Westfall was asked to share her story with Times Square Church leadership.
God, prove to me that people love and serve and mean it, she prayed. I have to see that a church has a heart for veterans. She didn’t think it was possible.
But as she listened to the leadership explain why they wanted to launch a military ministry, she noticed tears in the eyes of two senior pastors. “I got a glimpse into their hearts,” Westfall recalled. “My body armor started to fall apart after that, the pieces started coming off. Everyone says that at the end of that weekend, my whole countenance had changed.”
Westfall returned to Times Square Church from her home in Texas for the Easter morning service and found herself fully engaged with the sermon’s theme of being called into battle by God as the King and Commander in Chief.
“The pastor said that we’re part of God’s army,” said Westfall. “I got that. I started putting some pieces together that I was just missing: this belief in God is not a passive one, it’s active and proactive, moving, growing. It means jumping in when needed, resting when it’s time. It’s like the Army. I understood that. ‘I can do this,’ I remember thinking. ‘I can put my whole heart into this.’ And like that moment I first said my oath to join the army, for the first time in my life I made a public profession of faith and went forward for an altar call. That Easter Sunday was my birthday.”
While she anticipated that she would stumble on this new spiritual journey, Westfall understood the connection of God as king, warrior, and Lord. Still experiencing symptoms of PTSD even as she grows in her faith, Westfall shares her story through the Military Ministry’s Bridges to Healing program which educates churches about PTSD.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).
Prayer: Lord, help me submit to your will and take delight in serving you as my God and King.
Excerpt from Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan (AMG Publishers 2009) by Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green, and John Croushorn. Used by permission.
Please join LBOC on Friday, May 4th, to see a list of ways churches can help!
Does your church have a heart for veterans? If so, tell us more below.
Broken by War, Saved by Grace
Ronie Kendig—Inspiring Military Ministry
Jocelyn Green, the wife of a former Coast Guard officer, is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and editor. She is the author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody 2008), and Faith Deployed . . . Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody 2011), along with contributing writers. She is also co-author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq/Afghanistan (AMG Publishers 2009). Her first novel, Wedded to War, will release from River North (an imprint of Moody Publishers) in July 2012. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.