Saturday, October 30, 2010


Birthday Party!

The last friday of each month is exciting for everyone! The teachers get paid and the kids get a birthday party, which means cake and ice cream (and no school after lunch!). All the staff and students with a birthday in that month get a seat at the special table, birthday hats and get to go through the cake and ice cream line first! It always a lot of fun and a great way to start the weekend :)
The special "birthday" table
Kimmarley turned 19 this month!
Birthday girls!

Anesa and Antoinette smiling sweetly :)
 The cake!
Anesa kept asking me if she could be the pig. I was confused but then realized she wanted
to lick the cake pan. In the picture she is signing "pig" with the "P" handshape under her chin  :)
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A Blunder, Yet Such Wonder!

Feeling Oh So Not Big as I said goodbye and got in the car to drive back up to Mandeville, I contemplated the last 45 minutes. It had been such a great weekend in so many aspects. I had gotten to see my kids at CCCD Kingston, hung out with the students I am close to at the school for the blind and had the opportunity to go to Calabar for church. And this is how it ended. Good job Blake. Lord forgive me for my critical and judgmental tendencies, I prayed as I slowly pulled through the gate and onto Cassia Park Rd.

Some days I really miss my mom (not always in the emotional, clingy, teary-eyed sense that you miss me, momma), but like when I can't find something and used to be able to yell "hey mom, did you see where I put my camera?" Or I'm trying to get ready for something and could holler "momma, where is that super comfy stretchy blue polo from express that Brad always steals?" Or when I'd run out the door only to return a few seconds later and sheepishly ask "mom, have you seen my keys?"

Well, Sunday at about 4:30 was one of those moments. It was raining and I wanted to get on the road before it was completely dark. I had packed everything up and put it near the door so I could just make one run to the car. Not wanting to get soaked in the rain while fumbling with the keys, I went to grab them so I'd have them in hand. But when I looked on the table they weren't there. Oh, must have left them on the couch. Went back in my room, nope, not on the couch. Maybe they got tossed into the sheet on my bed. Nada. Restroom? Zilch. Kitchen? Nah. Where could they be? Perhaps I accidentally packed them into one of the 5 little plastic grocery bags I'm using to haul stuff to Mandeville. I take everything out. No keys (but I did find the USB cable for connecting my phone to my computer, whoohooo!). Unfortunately, USB cable ain't gonna get me into my car and start it. At this point I know it has to be in a very obvious place but which obvious place?!? I pull everything out of my bookbag. Laptop, books, camera, pens, headphones, spare change, a Tide-to-go pen, business cards, a stale piece of gum and a bandana. No keys. I check the little pocket on top. No dice, just my sweet Maui Jim sunglasses (little blurb for them, I really do love these shades, thanks a ton to Alison Sutter and her parents, Ron and Gayle Romersberger).

Then it hits me. Ohhh. The kids were up here before dinner playing around with my phone and wanting the little football. The now convicting but then so convincing chemistry of thought began making up the answers to the question I faced of "where are my keys!?" My heart started buying into this "solution" and I grabbed my umbrella and headed towards the dorm. Rashawn was eager to run and give me a hug, wondering if he could get a couple more gum balls. I smiled forcefully and motioned for him to follow me. Not wanting to draw a crowd, trust me there are no secrets among deaf children, I ushered Rashawn into the dorm to avoid peeking eyes (well, except for Alex, he seems to be everywhere) and asked him if he had seen my keys. He seemed confused. My car keys, I explained, when you were playing BrickBreaker on my phone in the kitchen, did you see the keys on the table? I need to drive my car and can't find my keys. Did you see them? Not getting anything affirmative I prodded a bit further. Do you have the keys? He looked to the side and shook his head.  "You sure you don't have the keys?" I pressed. He seemed a bit uneasy. In my mind I'm the private eye and figuring it all out but my heart is not ready to commit.

I head back up to my room and now sequester the help of a few teens. We look through everything. No keys. My mind is running, its now after 5 and I'd really like to be going, but fat chance of that without knowing the answer to "where are my keys?!?" Replaying the tape, I can find no solution but that the keys are not there. If my pockets were empty it means someone else's are not, right? My heart gets a bit blacker and I search for confirmation of my intuition asking the teens if they think Rashawn has the keys? "me nuh know" is the response I get in JSL. Heading back to the dorms I think, ah-ha, I cannot get Rashawn to give me the keys but if I entice him with a chance to take a ride with me, perhaps he will say, oh yay! and by the way, here are your keys. It didn't work. He even pulls out the lining of his pockets (which looking back to that mental image now about makes me sick) to show he doesn't have them. Come with me, I say. I love this kid and hold him close as we walk together under the umbrella. Certainly he's confused. "I saw the keys on the table but now Blake is asking for them, and he seems to be upset. Why is Blake mad at me? Blake is my friend." And likely the last thought running through his innocent mind is something like "why do people always blame me and get angry with me, I only want to help." Blinded to all of this, I walk with him up to my apt. I show him where I left the keys and ask for his help. Maybe he just played with them and dropped them on the floor or put them on a box under the table, I reason. We look, we get down on our knees. Not there, Rashawn tells me. A teacher joins us and I somewhat corner Rashawn. Please, Rashawn, I need my keys. One of the teens joins my bandwagon of assumption and encourages Rashawn to give me the keys. You won't be punished, she suggests. A great tactic, I agree, tell him he won't be punished and then he'll confess! He took the keys, he had to have done it. There is no other solution. My brain is convinced. The pieces come together. He is a little devil child as some would say. He can't be trusted. Why, all he ever does is get in trouble! Don't let him use your things and certainly don't take your eyes off him. He is ornery and full of mischief. You are right, I am sure. I never should have seen the potential and brilliance of this young boy. Who cares if he is full of energy and laughs and voids? Love shouldn't be wasted on you, it would be better spent on a more suitable soul. You know, he ought to be punished! I'm not even sure but I believe my heart was in the grasp of the one who will be eternally banished.

I hear a squeal and turn to see a finger pointing to my bag. The keys! They are right there! In an instant my eyes see the world as it truly is. The dim glass becomes crystal clear. The smoke, like a vacuum, is instantly sucked away. Right there, in the little mesh side pocket of my bag, are the keys. Oh no, I shudder. What a blunder! It can't be. You see, I know this child has me deceived. I don't want the keys to be there. The realization I could hardly bear.

But that's what it was, the cold, hard truth. I felt sick. I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds, but the lack thereof would leave me empty inside. The song had it right. I wanted to swallow my pride and forget this whole thing, but it was leaving me empty inside. What a fool! How could you! The enemy immediately begins pulling the darts out of Rashawn's shield and flinging them back at me. I pull Rashawn to me and hug him, kissing the top of his innocent head. Separating us so he can see me, I tell him I'm so sorry. He smiles, everything is ok, he thinks. But why is Blake crying? (ok, not really crying, but there were one or two drops in there) Oh his innocence! Humiliated and humbled but so grateful and overwhelmed all at the same time, I reach into the fridge and grab the gum balls. Will you help me share with the other students? I ask. Yes! Rashawn replies. He smiles and puts his arm around my waist as we walk back down the stairs. He is happy. 

The car gives me a good shake as it drops down to street level. "That just happened," I think quietly to myself. Father, would you teach me? Would you mold me? I have sinned, will you forgive me Lord?

The scripture from that morning's study comes to me. In John 19:30 Jesus said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

We are broken creatures, are we not? We do the most foolish things. We seek after that which does not satisfy. We trust in the most unreliable ideals. We are so quick to blame. We seek affirmation in all the wrong places. We come up with really silly ideas. Jeremiah writes "Our hearts are deceitful above all else, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jesus is the answer. He can understand it. I am so thankful I have Jesus. I screw up all the time. I screwed up really bad on Sunday afternoon. But I do not wallow in the mire, for as David tells us in the 40th Psalm, He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure! Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Redeemer of all things. He is the Reconciler of all things. He is in the process of holding all things together and making it into something beautiful. I love my Savior! Not because I have loved Him but because He first loved me! Even when I make such a big mistake, He His body did brake. 

For me. 

Why? Because He knew I'd leap to conclusions and blame the innocent when I could not find a solution to the problem of "where are my keys?!?" So He became the innocent. He took my blame. He had no keys. Yet as He died for me, this was His plea, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Jesus, thank you. 

I come to You, and You alone, as the Redeemer of my iniquities. You are the only One who can fix me. For I am broken, and desperately need You to pull me out of this hole I find myself in. Not by my power, nor by my will, but by thy grace.

"Power of Your Love"

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That i have found in You
And Lord I have come to know
The weakenesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I will rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
And Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love

And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Sunday, October 24, 2010


A Weekend Back Home in Kingston

Daphawn and Rashawn
Daphawn and I showing our "house-divided" collegiate preferences :)
Out to eat at KFC with my blind students, Sanjay, Jade and Cheyenne

Watching "Flicka" with my kids.

It's been over a month since I had a weekend to just hang out with the Kingston students, and only the second time since school got out in June....when will a sense of "normalcy" return, I don't know, but I enjoyed a little down time to just hang out and remember how much these kids love and want to be loved...and that's always a good thing to be remembering.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


DYM National Convention 2010

The National Convention hosted by Deaf Youth Ministries was a huge blessing and encouragement to all who attended. There were sound and challenging teachings, candid and vulnerable conversations, friendships formed, relationships strengthened and seeds planted. We pray and trust the Lord of the harvest to add the increase!

With Demetric, LaQuita, Tyler, Anthony and Michai, five teens who came to Jamaica in June.
Matt Belwood gave us the introduction to the theme "Reach"
Stacy Wildes and Rick McClain perform a memorable skit. Stacy is loaded down with baggage as she strives to serve the Lord and reach the lost. Rick approaches her and helps her understand that with so many "good works" (the bags) she was unable to "reach" up to the source (God), from whom all fruit in our ministries will come. We were challenged to abide in the Word, as Jesus (the Vine) is the source of all our strength.

Chad Entinger, director of Deaf Missions, provided a challenging message, teaching us that ministry to lost, deaf teens must be focused on the model Jesus taught, not on developing fancy and attractive church-based programs to draw teens in. Rather, just as Jesus was "on the move" to reach his disciples and lost sinners, we too need to be "on the move" and seeking, finding and mentoring lost teens through Christ-honoring relationships. If the bottom-line in our ministry is more numbers, then offer free pizza. If the bottom-line is cultivating souls and to see them develop into Christian leaders, then we must build relationships.
 Bruce Persons is not only a Godly man I greatly respect, but I can now also call him a good friend.
 Brent (not Bruce) Lee is a great guy and super easy to get to know. He's also a huge Gator fan and provided me with a shirt to wear the Saturday night of the big Alabama vs. Florida football game...I just wanted to raz the hometown Alabama fans...
As it turned out, Alabama was whoopin' Florida so I found a Crimson Tide shirt and jumped bandwagons :)
 Bob Ayres, loyal Gator, yes, but much more than that; mentor, friend, encourager, brother and partner in His work to reach Deaf teens. Bob seeks to grasp God's vision and open doors for others to join the journey.
 Matt Belwood is one of the funniest guys I've ever met. He is a DTQ leader and director for their camps. I would love to spend more time with Matt and learn from him.
 Dr. Rick McClain is hilarious, loving, sincere, extremely smart, etc, etc. The only problem is that he loved to give me a hard time for being a Boiler....go figure, he's a Buckeye
 Jessica and Semaj with Marva Sellers. Unfortunately I lived in the same city as Marva (Indy) for two years but didn't meet her until this summer. She heads up DTQ-Indy and has an awesome heart for teens.
 The Three B's: We all had the same sign name (handshape letter B on your temple) so all of us adopted the initial of our last name to distinguish between us. Awesome men of faith who blessed me greatly!
 the CCCD Kingston crew. Huge thanks to Maria Lawrence (principal) for making the contacts with DYM and creating the opportunity for all of us, myself included, to attend this convention.
Good times, great friends, lasting memories!
 yes, we are so cool (Lance, Marva, Bruce, Liz, Robert, Suzanne and I)

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September Update Newsletter

Sept 2010 E-newsletter c

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Deaf Youth Ministry National Convention 2010

On Wednesday the 28th our CCCD group had the opportunity to travel to and visit the Alabama School for the Deaf. Four students and a teacher who were on the DTQ mission trip to Kingston this past June hosted us and gave us a tour around the campus. It was a beautiful place with some really classic buildings and some nice, new facilities. I was impressed by the school, the principal, staff, kids, everything really! Even lunch was good!

These three adorable kids are students in Suzanne's class (friend of mine who is a DTQ leader for ASD) and I quickly became attached to them, especially after getting letters from all three!
The CCCD gang and some of the DTQ students
152 years old, established 100 years before CCCD!
Our CCCD students with Tyler Perry and LaQuita Carrol of ASD / DTQ

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