Advent: A Call to Renew Lost Sabbaths


“Emily’s Reel” by Yo-Yo Ma and friends are my companions this morning.

Many of us suffer from a wide range of blues at the holiday season – anything from grumpiness to a bit blue to downright depressed. One of the kind of nice things about being older is being able to predict these things. Pretty much as soon as the turkey is in the frig and hopefully starting to thaw, I know. It’s not the flu. These waves of strange emotion have a pattern and a reason. Same patterns, many reasons.

This year I am anticipating an easier season though.

Easier not in the sense that I can predict how sad I’ll be. The news is horribly grim near and far. But, I’ve let myself trust some friends of late in a Deaf bible study and it is having a grounding effect on me. I’m more willing to try my wings and more aware that being open to a shift in my relationship in God is the most wise path among various choices on my horizon.

Easier because I’m determined to not lose my sabbaths.

My “can do” attitude has been renewed of late.

Edgardo Ramerez~ photo by Elgardo Ramerez


All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah:
“Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths,
during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest
while seventy years are fulfilled.”

2 Chronicles: Chapter 36

Here’s hoping….



Heroes: Bella and George

oral meme“He’s actually really small….I use him like a crutch.” ~ Bella

I’ll give fair warning – yes this post is eventually going to lead to another opinion about the recent mayhem of reactions to terrorist attacks in Europe and Africa and the Middle East…but not until the end.


first – please watch this video – I don’t think it is more than one and half minutes. If it doesn’t make you gloriously happy and astounded with hope, I’d so appreciate knowing why. I don’t mean to judge, I want to know! Actually, with the career that I’m wanting to develop – I need to know. I need to know why stories like this make some people sad or afraid.

Ok – do it, please. Watch this one:

Bella and George

Did you hear her say:

 “He’s actually really small…..I use him like a crutch” ?

I grew up with a great dane – they are not small! They are nothing less than ginormous.

My goodness – this story – this family, this mobility access project – it’s a beacon.

This success story is proof that the world has not yet totally gone to hell in a handbasket.

If we take care of ourselves – we get to choose who and what is

going to limit our perspective

about who and what is the…

can’t find another word, who and what is the enemy.

But, come on America! I’m fed up – stop rolling over to and hiding behind your shallow and selfish and vain points of view.

Stop the cover up – take your hands away from your mouth so we can see you and hear you, and for God’s sake – stop interrupting each other. Insane. It’s insane these days.

Take care of yourself – and no, I’m not referring to Botox and man scaping – I’m referring to morals and ethics and decency and intelligence.

I read an article just now that echoed exactly what upset me so much in the past week. I was  upset so much that I considered quitting everything that I’ve worked so hard for the past three years. I went into the week – even after having had a most wonderful, fun, and relaxing weekend away with a dear friend, I went into my classes feeling…yet again – ready to just quit.

I’m registered to at last start the really meaty classes in the American Sign Language – English Interpreting degree that I am seeking. By the time the crocus bust through the now frozen ground – my brain will once again be playing the language two step. I’ll be learning to hear my first language, put it through a quick spin cycle in my head, and according to my instructors hopeful words, my hands will learn to respond with a visual representation of what was said in English.

However, a few days ago  I asked myself: why bother?

“You are gradually losing your hearing – this makes absolutely no sense. Hearing aid or no hearing aid – this makes no sense. If you can’t hear it, you can’t interpret it.”

The doubts passed though – and it’s all going to be fine. I don’t have to know for sure where all of this is taking me – I’ll graduate from the program and I trust my gut that the purpose of these efforts is to pull together work experience and education from the past.

It’s okay that I’ll be in my 50’s by the time I graduate. Lucky am I.

And, the saying I hear often among interpreters is not “if you can’t hear it, you can’t interpret it.”

The saying is “If you can’t understand it, you can’t interpret it.”

And, going back to Bella and George – understanding is a very complicated thing. That little girl is full of depth and I’m going to be careful to not give up my freedom to perceive the world as safe.

Here’s another link to learn more about the accessibility program that connected Bella and George: – check out their donation project – it involves chicken poop.

And here’s the article that I loved this morning:

So – that’s it. No more avoiding the weekend full of homework ahead. And yes, it snowed in Iowa last night. A big, whole lot.

Be well – Kate.

Is What We (Who are Not Pumpkins) Need Here?

early novThis is the sunrise in Ripley Ohio today.

My stomach has been in knots for several days now – in no small part to the terrorist events in our world – far and near.

For me, my sadness is only in part about the bombings in Africa, and Beirut, and Paris – it’s about noise. Our world is so full of superficial noise. I don’t want that for my grandchildren.

That is not what I want for them. I want more than for them to know that Granny’s new favorite phrase in ASL is “my hear is your heart.” I want more than to teach them to say that to me in silence. I want more than to sing them to sleep. I want far more than to hear their squeaky little voices. I want them to trust the world beyond the front door…beyond the village borders.

I want them to trust the feeling of joy – but if I don’t – how can they? And I don’t.

As I get older I question joy, all….of….the….time.


Every year at this time I have the same dilemma, one that is shared with the couple of weeks that come before Lent: how will I celebrate Advent this year?

“What do you need this year?” I ask myself – “Where are you hurting? What do you need to deepen? Question? Celebrate? Learn? Strategize?”

Don’t know about you, (you who do the Advent thing that is….) but it’s a matter of setting up routines. Likely, most people fall into the comfort of old routine – pull out or make the wreath, gather a prayer book, set aside a few extra minutes.

But of all church seasons….Advent means the most to me because it is about quiet. I love quiet as a way of life more, and more, and more….every day.

Neurotic am I though….part and parcel of not coming into the world as a pumpkin in a patch or a set of shoes on a store shelf – I worry.

So, every year at this time ruminations are about what routine will be set forth in a week or so for the next month of preparations for……drumroll…



This year I’m going to try and write.

My prayers, unless they go in a different direction…will be about abandon. The process of finding work, making friends, committing to a bit of a career shift, and enjoying the luxury and privilege of yet another educational gig – it has softened me. I hadn’t realized how lonely and bitter I’d become because…well,

because I’m not a pumpkin or a shoe.

So, that’s that….here are the flagship words that sit by my desk and tempt me to walk out the door as I do these days….

“What We Need is Here” ~ Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith; what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

Lord have mercy.

Whale Watching ! And, Proof that ASL is Expanding My Brain and Heart


A few weeks ago I was able to enjoy one last summery, fun moment before the busyness of school took over. We were sitting around a campfire with my sister-in-law and she asked why I’ve not blogged this summer while time allows. I thought it was interesting that she asked if I don’t have anything to write about.

I said “no” and don’t know what I said after. Then, the conversation went elsewhere.

I’ve been thinking about it though, and I haven’t been able to blog because so much good has been going on that it’s overwhelming. Lots of worry and hard work too of course. Yet, words can’t describe the process of expanding this language in my head and heart. Now, words and phrases are set loose in my head in Sign Language and English…and occasionally a French vocab word from Jr. High will pop up.

When I complain that my brain literally hurts and why, a friend who is a speech therapist promises me that it is because many physical and emotional and intellectual things are changing, and healing is happening rapid style as I adjust to the gradual hearing loss which is now in both ears. He has a way of turning me toward the perspective that it is a party in my brain with all of this language acquisition and he supports my bucket list efforts.

“A pretty martini with MyFriend and his husband” is now on a card. Not sure how we’ll find the time…it will happen one day or not and that’s okay.

But! Thanks to my husband, I accomplished my first Bucket List index card on 4th of July week this summer!

Not only did he and I go whale watching, I stood at the helm and gasped watching the water whoosh to the sky from a pod when they would peek up with a blow hole and exhale. The rumor is true that they are the boss team of the animal kingdom.

And , oh my word, when one of them came up, not far from the boat and flipped. I may never be able to connect English or spoken words. It was like a spiritual…


I can’t do it yet. I don’t have words to describe the beauty of that ten seconds of my summer.

All that the index card in my purple bucket said was to take a whale watching boat ride. I wouldn’t have cared if we never spotted one. That wasn’t my goal. Just knowing that I was on a big boat, and that somewhere under me, some miles close, was a whale – that was an amazing idea to me. There are not a lot of whales on the planet, and there is one me. And they are very big. And I am very small in comparison.

What’s more…

to then come back from Boston to Iowa to my Deaf and Interpreter friends for an end of the summer picnic and be able to explain in ASL – this time with full blown details and pictures in the air and visual sound, I can now explain exactly why the flipping whale made me burst into happy tears. I’m not a public BurstIntoTears type – for sure.

With my signing progress, I’ve only learned a tip of the ASL iceburg. I am in ASL three and there are six introductory levels for interpreting. This process is followed by a life time of study to stay updated on language changes and the like.

In the 1980’s my ASL was words…nearly 30 years later – my brain is giving me ASL pictures and video cameras. Intense.



it’s a lot.

I just found this beautiful song named Quiet Line by Lucy Waignwright Roche (with Mary Chapin Carpenter). Apologies to my Deaf friends that there are not captions or lyrics. For me, on my first listen, it’s about waiting patiently and being open to overwhelm-ment.

And yes, I just made that word up.

Prayers for a restful labor day to all. Or not.

Yours, Kate

A Quiet Line : Lucy Waignwright Roche

Cellos Can Bring More Hope

11054444_817268375005618_6549938944609850678_nSo, some my Google searches this past couple of weeks have included words and phrases such as:

  • Boston
  • Cheap travel tips in Boston
  • Whale Watching
  • Meneiers Disease
  • Vertigo
  • How to Use a Paint Roller
  • Painless IT Band Stretches
  • Paint Color Philosophy
  • Yo Yo Ma
  • Jon Stewart
  • How to Write a Mission Statement
  • Is it true that you can pay the State of South Carolina money to have a confederate flag on your license plate?
  • Cute puppies running in circles videos

I’m in the middle of a serious waffle making chore so my thoughts are pretty scattered…but I want to pass on a link to what a minister friend of mine sent this morning: . Can you imagine the pressure on a Friday morning in America if your job is to preach this coming Sunday? In a Methodist church no less?


I asked a friend who is a professional musician for some good cello music this morning. My ENT wasn’t up for explaining why violin music is starting to cause my skin to crawl. Someone suggest trying cello and it worked. Lower frequency I guess? Who knows. So, on the topic of confederate flags and hypercusis my friend sent me this cello video: .

Amazing. Just four strings.

So. What is on your websearch list?

“Proud” : Easy to Learn in ASL

11188262_825705304161925_1221999162433126540_n This is what I wrote on my Facebook page this morning:

“I’m waking up feeling so thankful about the tight little group of friends that I am making.


I wasn’t ready to make friends for two years – yet the key was barely in our new door before my neighbor sent fresh-baked cookies…and how can one resist being hopeful with daily jokes from a sign language interpreter who was my first coworker in this new town we are in ?…and now the list goes on.


I’m just as introverted and still need hours of solitude and some of my rough edges will never go away, and that’s okay… and the work load is kind of huge, and it is going to get exponentially bigger soon….


When I first registered for these classes I sent a note to my (speech therapist) friend about how unreasonably worried I was that I was making a mistake to be taking this side route at this point in life and his main comforting advise was :


‘Your brain will be so happy, and if your brain is happy, your family will be happy.’


So, if you are wondering if those articles that you’ve read about language, foreign language especially being good for your noggin? It’s true. Do it. It’s not too late…


my class mates are saying the same thing…it’s like our heads smolder with information and vocabulary and grammar rules and confusion and then we go to these Deaf social events…and it works.


It’s like having a popcorn popper suddenly launch with yummy linguistic happy time. We understand, they understand us, and if there’s a mix up, who cares, we are still cordially invited to another event! So. That’s what I have to say this morning. Have a good day.”

11054444_817268375005618_6549938944609850678_nP.S. I apologize to the t-shirt company that advertised these shirts…if I can find you again – I will post a link and advertise for you!

P.P.S. The green t-shirt is showing how to do the word “proud” in American Sign Language.

Ali Rogers Music/Lyrics: “If I Ever”


Ali Rogers “If I Ever.”



If I Ever Lyrics

I don’t have words to tell you how I’m feeling
I don’t think any language can
At times like these silence is appealing
Somehow I know you understandAnd if I ever lose my hearing
If I ever lose my sight
If all my five senses leave
I know we’d be alright
Cause it seems your heart is a part of mine

So this is how it feels to be breathless
When someone walks out of a room
Stay by me, we can be timeless
Less than forever is too soon

And if we ever lose our hearing
If we ever lose our sight
If all our five senses leave
I know we’d be alright
Cause it seems your heart is a part of mine

I’ve sorted through every word I know to use
And looked for beauty to define
I haven’t found what I want to say to you
But I’ll try for the rest of my life
Lets try for the rest of our lives

And if we ever lose our hearing
If we ever lose our sight
If all our five senses leave
I know we’d be alright
Cause it seems your heart is a part of mine


Reminders from Thomas Merton and St. Francis and a Mute Button about Small Favors

popeILY“My mom’s home care nurse called. She was having distressed breathing. Her pulse ox level was 83 which is poor. She was struggling to breath. Having pain. Ambulance was called…I am beside myself….

Gracie’s pain is being managed to the best they think we can do without surgical intervention….

Today we will be discharged…we will be making (her 90th brain) surgery date in the next few days. Grace has had a wonderful spirit through all of this. She just wants to not have pain anymore. Team Amazing Grace needs prayers for wisdom and peace…

Please pray for. Grace we are turning back to go to the. ER … I am over an hour out and she is. 10 pain. She is not well…”

Those are just a few of the frantic Facebook status updates that a friend of mine has been putting up in the past two weeks as she asks for prayer from her huge circle of online friends. She is one of a small handful of women that I’ve tried to keep in touch with for almost fifteen years on the internet. I met them while looking for information about adoption before our youngest was born. Lately contact with them has dwindled to a lot of clicking of Facebook “likes” or these cute cartoons that have a bit more flare in a response and “save time” for a “real” response. Two of us have been going in a new directions – one as a writer and me with my American Sign Language studies. One of us has been doing a lot of elder care and is busting out all over with pride as her daughter is stepping into her own skin and singing like no other all over her town.

In this small group of friends two of us, the mom whose status updates I quoted and another mom – have during that 15 years buried three children. One child took his own life and two other boys died from genetic illness. Another mom’s child has been diagnosed with a lot of maybes – but a “probably” that he is struggling with neuro sensory issues that are along the lines of autism. He is a complicated puzzle of emotions. He is a delight and she sometimes shares quotes of what he is saying out loud that are at times hysterical. Other times his quotes are heart wrenching observations about the world that should be coming from an old man, not a Ninja Turtle who is barely old enough to read chapter books.

What I appreciate about this group of friends that I have never met is that because we’ve grieved together with prayer for those three sons that died – we don’t, well I don’t anyway, always necessarily explain what prayer is being asked for when one of us requests an all out bended knee effort. And we And I feel comfortable with not always having the time to explain the details of what is going on with me or my kids when I share with any one of this small bunch – I have sort of a code phrase that is about the song “row, row, row your boat.” If I make a swing by comment about that song it means either that I know that their mom heart is in a state of worry, or it’s a general announcement that I’m in a bind and don’t have time or space to explain why I am a ball of nerves and doubt.

merton worthy

I have to share something really cool that just happened…but I promised my husband I would do an important chore in a few minutes, so forgive me if I don’t make sense.

Early this morning I read what could be a day old status update that my friend’s daughter is needing her 90th brain surgery to help with hydrocephalus – I started looking for some music to send her way. Her oldest child is a wonderful musician. And I went with a liturgical dance video that I found yesterday while looking for videos of church sign language interpreting.

But…as I mentioned in my last post, music sometimes hurts my ears of late – especially violin or high pitched vocals. I read a recommendation to listen to cello music because the frequency is lower.

So, I’m watching the liturgical dance video and wondering if I should share it, got cranky that the music was ruining the video for me, and clicked off the sound button on the video itself.

I had forgotten that I had Pandora running at the same time and an instrumental song called “Expression” was being played by Helen Jane Long. (The link I attached to her name is not the same song – but just as pretty).

Here is the amazing thing: the instrumental song, when I replayed it in the background, but watched to video in front of it (remember now, the actual music that was being used in the video was turned off) – when I paired the instrumental words with the St. Francis prayer dance – they were PERFECTLY in step – seriously. Don’t quote me but I think it was in 3/4 time – and in any case, there are a few moments of silence after the song finishes and she finishes her dance prayer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that 15 minutes of my day much more interesting than the day of chores I have ahead. And I may not be able to to check in on my friend and her little girl until tomorrow – but I firmly believe that the music, and the dance video, and my friend’s pain, and my sadness about singing out of key- all of it – got a really, very, super nice fifteen minute reprieve.

We can’t do it all, can we now?

But every once in a while, we get a deep breath from out of what seems like no where at all.

Thank God for small favors, eh?

Jason Listman and “You’ll Be Okay” by A Great Big World

“Early morning singing signals to other birds

about the strength and vitality of the singer.

Singing is an essential part of bird life,

but it’s costly in terms of time and energy.

CND path

Singing loud and proud first thing in the morning

tells everyone within hearing distance that you were strong and healthy enough to

survive the night.”

~ Mary Bates, “Why Do Birds Sing in the Morning?”

Yesterday one of my best friends, one of two college roommates, posted a phenomenal music video to her high school American Sign Language students. She happens to have been hearing until age three, and Deaf ever since. I happen to have been fully hearing until of late and I’m proudly heading toward my fifties. She and I both took dance lessons for many years prior to college. But, with a huge buffet of academic and arts choices available when we arrived at college, she tended to study what she had always loved, and I tried to branch out. She majored in English and if I remember right she also enjoyed environmental science. I majored in Communication Arts/Theater and attempted to branch as far as my credits would allow into religion and all other performing and visual arts. We both still took dance classes most semesters and I enjoyed learning a little bit about choreography. One of my best memories was a final project in which she graciously put up with me trying to choreograph a dance for both she and I. I’m not sure what music we used other than wind chimes. Did I have a classmate read a story or poem? Could be. I don’t remember.

No matter. It was so fun and she raised the roof with applause at every student performance in which she performed.

Hmmm. That makes me wonder, did we think to tell her how loud the audience was hooting? Doesn’t matter now – we had a great time and our friendship is still solid.

So, this week I’ve been putting up with some most annoying ear pain that feels like infection. They took a peek and the insides look perfectly healthy. A few weeks ago the ENT said the same thing – “everything looks perfectly healthy…we don’t know why this discomfort happens.” I wasn’t in a questioning mood that day, but I managed to get an appointment again in a few weeks and I need to let him know that I have an inquiring mind and I won’t rest until he at least gives me some “it could be” scenarios.

After a good bit of research I think he is going to tell me that this discomfort is likely hypercusis : sound intolerance, frequently accompanied by tinnitus. If I do have otosclerosis  as suspected I will have won a prize in comparison to other hearing loss conditions because hearing aids, a specific surgery called a stapedectomy and sometimes cochlear implants are all practiced options to possibly restore some or a lot of hearing. I also have the choice to just let it go, which I consider a fine option as well. The trick is that I’m not yet sure if any of the hearing aid or surgical options treat the symptoms and some can make them worse.

Which stinks.

I am patient and my life is blessed though, and to some this will seem strange, to others it will really resonate:

What is bothering me right now is the realization that I’m losing my voice. Literally.

People more frequently say “huh?” and tell me that I pronounced one thing when it was another, or look at me all wonky about the sound of my voice.

I also can hit all the right notes of a song very, very rarely. It had been hurting my pride a bit for a while. Now that I understand why, I’m relieved to be able to kind of grieve the loss of a cherished companion. From my college years, graduate years, baby raising years (two out of three – the youngest hated lullabies) up until about 5 or 10 years ago I could hit almost every note, almost every time. And since performance isn’t the career I chose, harmonizing with James Taylor without effort was and is respite care – not grocery money.

Good things are happening though – I am learning to listen and let others sing for me because I certainly can hear the chords and technology gives me the option to look up the words if needed. JT hasn’t given up on me and I can still hit our harmonies if I am alone, rested, relaxed and hydrated.

And there is this – the video that my college Deaf bestie shared – it’s phenomenal in every single way. The performer is a professional video director, Deaf, and studied college at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Here you go, enjoy. And happy Remembrance Day: Jason Listman in

“You’ll Be Okay” by a Great Big World in American Sign Language with lyrics.