Monday, 1 January 2018

Deaf entertaining

Christmas is over for another year and New Year celebrations about to end. Tomorrow I will be returning home from my mum's where I came on the 29th having spent Christmas at home with friends.  The weeks leading up to Christmas had all been very busy with lots of people activities.  Marilyn doing little concerts, us hosting some pre Christmas events in our home all involving a lot of love, laughter, food and chat.  Then of course there were the actual days of Christmas itself followed by New Year with my mum.  So many dear friends who Marilyn and I love to be with and to open our home to.  And yet as always I am aware of a paradoxical sense of struggle and sadness within me and its to do with the friction between my desire to reach out and have an open loving home for the many lonely folk around us and my real inability to properly connect with any of them because of my deafness and sight problems.  I have such lovely friends and Marilyn works so hard to type for me on all occasions and others do the same and also finger spell.  I am so grateful but still there is that sense of lack.  I love to serve people and get absorbed in all the practical details of getting drinks, making sure the meal is ok and ready ,  offering things and clearing up .  All essential and I love doing it but still feel that sense of loss and yes inadequacy.  My mum types for me and does it so well but it is hard for us to just chat, hard to joke together or dhare a quick laugh over something on Tv.  Everyhing is more of a big deal.   I find out what someone wants for dessert but not so much how they are or the things that matter to them or that make them laugh or cry...conversation moves fast around the dinner table but it is harder for people to type then and I wouldn' want them to as they need to enjoy their meal and the company.  If I could lip read it would help although that takes enormous concentration and must be very difficult to tell the lip patterns when people are eating at the same time!   I think I found things easier when I could see more as although I still cuoldn't hear what was being said, i did know when someone was speaking but now I can't usually tell who's mouth is moving or if there is a general lull which may need filling or may just need here is the question, how does a deaf person who is full of love and the desire to make people feel accepted and belonging go about that?  How can I cross that barrier not just so I know I have connected with someone but so they can feel they have connected with me too?the answer isn't just practical solutions, after all the ipad and keyboard are wonderfully practical and so is the love with which dear people type for me....i guess the answer is in my own attitude too, understanding and accepting that while I can't be the force of interaction and connection between my guests and in my family, that I can still bring all that I long to bring, love, acceptance, belonging and safety for poeple to be themselves, just in my own unique way.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


Yesterday I nearly had a nasty encounter with cars when I tried to cross a road but hadn't looked properly.
I was crossing the side road branch of a T junction.
The side road opposite had a pedestrian crossing which I could have used, but didn't.
I was confident this way was fine because after all it wasn't a very busy road.
But it was unfamiliar and I wasn't thinking much about what I was doing.
And the sun was in my eyes.
and I was in a hurry.
As I'd approached it I'd seen that cars were turning into it from the right so I diligently checked that right corner and waited till it was clear.
This was the moment, I thought, and walked forward, confidently, with Goldie.
After two or three steps something made me glance to my right and I froze!
Just a few feet away two cars were heading straight towards me
I glanced to the left,
But two cars coming that way too.
I was stuck
In the middle
with cars coming fast.
How could I have missed seeing them?
But somehow I'd only checked round the corner,
Somehow I'd forgotten that the most important part to check was along the straight road I was actually crossing!
I froze like a rabbit, sure we'd be hit.
And if Goldie was injured it would be my own fault.
I hadn't taken care.
I hadn't given due consideration to my sight being poor.
I'd just stepped out after one check.
and nearly got hit.
But I didn't.
The cars did stop although it took me a few moments to realise they had, as I can't always be sure if something is moving or not.
But they had and I was fine.
God protected me and gave me a good lesson too.
I was shaken up and when I got back to my business meeting
found myself bursting into tears!
Embarrassing but it let out the shock
and the others were lovely.
but I couldn't believe I hadn't seen the danger for myself and Goldie, of the moment I chose to cross.
God was so good and held me safe.
And what nearly happened
didn't come to pass.
Instead I feel a joy in his love and protection
and a new commitment to take more care.
It's easy to deny that some things are not so good now,
that with the sun in my eyes I can be virtually blind.
and even without the sun, when I'm sure I can see all I need,
to remember that I don't see the detail only the general.
But why deny it?  Why not just take care?
It doesn't make me any the less Tracy
And I still have so much sight to be thankful for
And my God who helps me in so many amazing ways.
And I can negotiate areas that are unfamiliar to me
so long as I take care.
I can take my beloved dog for walks
and enjoy the amazing scenery
and discover new places.
And pursue my loves of books and friends and beauty.
And if I don't deny my weaknesses but acknowledge them and their place in my life,  then give them to Him and carry on enjoying life,
Then they will become true strengths instead, God's strengths
Of wisdom and peace flowing in and through me.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


Sometimes we don't realise
the impact someone has had on us,
until they've gone.
And we start to miss their smiles
their warmth and kindness
and their love of God
expressed in their own unique way.
Sometimes those around us
pass like ships in the night;
We are aware of their presence
in a momentary way
but then they've gone;
suddenly we feel a deep lack
and we are bereft.
Yesterday I said goodbye to Don
a colleague and friend yet not someone I knew well
in day to day life.
I'd never been to his home
never gone out for a meal with him and his wife.
Never watched a film together or even worshipped side by side.
Yet I realise he has added so much to my life.
A true gentleman, full of gentle wit and care
A man of vision and mission with a heart for the deaf.
A lover of jokes, of language, of God.
Don, so strong and determined to forge path of love in his life,
the love of God, of others, of his wife and son,
of those in need in the third world.
A man with a mission to reach out and inspire,
to draw in and make at home with the message that 'you belong'.
A man who set his heart to go wherever God called him,
despite by struck down by deafness as a teen.
A man who struggled with the deepest questions
after losing his beloved son so young
And who contended daily with anxiety
but whose great joy was bringing laughter through a terrible pun.
You've inspired and impacted me Don,
And if I can live my life with a fraction of your zest and devotion
I will know this is fruit from my acquaintance with you.
Thank you for being you and for handling on the legacy of the love of so many things.
God bless you now Don in your new life of joy. 
Ruth will be held safe in God's care
And we will continue your legacy with the love and passion we've received from you.
So goodbye for now, till I join you there and we can dance and celebrate together and see the fruit of God's love continually unfolding still.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

no need to fear

  1. I freaked out a bit when coming home from our conference last Sunday.  The whole week had gone so well and I'd felt kind of up on cloud 9 and relaxed in nyself.  So much so that it didn't seem to matter that I couldn't hear to follow the various conversations.  I felt I knew what I was meant to be doing and that gave me confidence and flow and I was excited at the steps people had taken and many finding the wonderful love of God for themselves.
However on our journey home we stopped off for lunch at a service station.  Marilyn and Heather fancied a Subway sandwich but I preferred the idea of a KFC.  The problem always with these kind of fast food outlets is that the menuss are on boards up above the counters and I can never see them.  Of course I can't hear their responses either and in situations like that it isn't always easy to use a notebook and pen as there is usually a queue behind me.  So Marilyn came up to help me after she'd ordered hers from Subway.  We queued for quite a while then when we got to the counter I ordered my chicken and chips.  The man responded saying something and waving over to the side.  I didn't know what he said but Marilyn wrote on my hand, 'we have to serve uorselves'.  
I felt thrown.  How were we supposed to do that, it wasn't a buffet, it was KFC!    The man waved over to the left again and Matilyn said 'he's saying you go over there...'. But when I looked over in that direction there was nothing to indicate to me what he meant and people seemed to be queueing up just as we had.
So I panicked
Not the best course of action I know
But I couldn't grasp what I was meant to do and that scared me.
Do you ever feel that?
So I said to Marilyn, 'I'll leave it, I'll get something else'
I turned my back and walked away.
And had a subway sarnie I didn't fancy.
But I just felt overwhelmed with the sense that I didn't know what I was meant to be doing and I didn't know how to get past that when the man was so uncommunicative and it was so noisy and busy.
Later I said to the Lord, why did I feel so panicky about tting a KFC?  I only needed to persevere in finding out what he meant.  (When I walked away i saw a computer screen that I think I was meant to use to place my order, but still didn't try as felt too panicky and likely to get it wrong.) 
The Lord said, 'you are always afraid of getting things wrong or not doing things the right way. But there isn't s right or wrong way most of the time.  You are judging yuorself because you have been judged, but as a result you are liviing in a restricted lifestyle only doing the things you feel safe in knowing how to do.  But I want you to be free and enjoying new things without fear of being judged.'
As I reflected I knew this was true and how often I make choices depending on how safe I feel to be ok with how I do a course of action.  
I have lived so much of my life inside like this.  It may not be obvious from the outside but I am aware of it within me.  But the Lord wants me to be free and will help me as I listen for His voice rather sn that old judging and fear inducing voice.  
I will always do things differently as I can't hear and can't see much so don't pick up like others do.
But that doesn't matter
Because I am me and my way is valid.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Manure on the path

I didn't expect to see horse manure on the path, as I walked my dog.
It was a public right of way off a main road;
A narrow little path linking the walker to the fields beyond.
Not a path that horses go down,
Only walkers.
So what was manure doing there this sunny day?
When I was strolling along enjoying the sun and negotiating the brambles.
I was looking forward to the beautiful fields I would soon be walking in,
Seeing my dog frolicking in the long grass,
Enjoying the peace and fresh air after working hard at my computer.
I certainly didn't expect to step into a heap of manure!
How could it be there?  The horse was in an adjacent wired off field Separate to the public path.
So why had its owner not dealt with the manure on his own turf
instead of throwing it into my path?
And as I stopped short in my dismay,
the thought came to me,
That everyday we can experience an unexpected manure pile in our paths.
Not the kind that comes from horses, but from life.
A hurtful word, a rejection, an illness, or loss,
A crippling fear, a break up or betrayal of love;
a prayer unanswered, a shattered dream..
so many things but all causing dismay
and the shock that where we've happily been anticipating what lies ahead.
the way is suddenly barred by ...this!
And then I thought, how on this walk I kind of froze,
not sure what to do: try to get round the manure?
To step through uncaring?
To give up my walk and go home?
But I refused to do that as Goldie needed a walk,
and so did I.
And despite the manure being in my path, I knew there was beauty ahead.
So tentatively I edged my forward
and found a fence post to balance me exactly where I needed it.
There wasn't an obvious route round,
it seemed too difficult to manoeuvre,
But I made it,
Without falling in.
There was a way through.
and there always is,
if we keep looking for the beauty ahead
and know that it is right there in front of us.
And I did get there and enjoyed it and saw Goldie frolicking in the long grass;
I loved the peace and beauty.
And what was on my shoes soon came off in all the long grass.
So nothing need stop us, and nothing need remain on us,
If we keep our eyes on the beauty just ahead.
And there will always be a handy post to lean on as we edge our way around.
to get to the beauty just ahead.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The lights are on again

Tonight the lights are on again
in Barbie's house,
or rather her old house
for its not hers anymore.
Barbie lived there virtually as long as we lived here,
2 doors along.
Moving in a month after us,
22 years ago.
But now she's gone,
Into a care home
too confused to live in her beloved home anymore.
She had to leave last year
just before Christmas.
But somehow it only really came home to me tonight
when I looked out the window and saw her lights were on,
and immediately thought
Is Barbie ok?
Those last months when she was there were difficult.
Difficult especially for Barbie as objects and patterns of living that had been automatic gradually faded away.
Difficult too for all of us who loved her, to whom she was a friend,
for repeatedly there was that question,
Is Barbie ok?  Are her lights on?  Should we check if she is managing?
But although she sometimes did things a little strangely
and couldn't function as she had,
she was still Barbie,
still our friend and lovely neighbour
who had happily looked after our cat when we travelled
and taken our dogs for walks.
How she loved to have a laugh with us and share a dinner together, Playing ball with Saffie, cuddles with Goldie,
watching a film, praying or singing together...
Now she has gone.
We still visit her and she loves the dogs and to sing with us,
but she's not there anymore,
2 doors away.
It's a new home now to a new family.
A young couple with children.
And Barbie would love that as children were her joy.
And I believe her spirit and her faith will touch them as they settle in her old home, and they will be blessed there.
Barbie's mind may be very confused now
and physically she needs constant care,
but she is still Barbie
our friend, her children's mum, her grandchildren's nan
the Lord's beloved daughter...
Her house lights may be shining for a new family
and I'll miss her, even while making them welcome.
But Barbie's true light, her character, her spirit and the presence of God within her will never go out.
I just need to look for it in a new place. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Seeing the treasures of god's help

Yesterday I was returning home from a break away with my mum and sister so was travelling on the train, a journey which only involved one change at East Croydon. I had done the same journey going out and it was very straightforward, only taking 2.5 hours.   My sister dropped me at Havant station at 2.30 pm.  We'd got held up and so I'd missed the train I'd been intending to get at 2.29 but knew there was another at 2.56 so wasn't worried.  I went into the station with Goldie my dog and my suitcase and made my way to the opposite platform.  the train came on time and I found a good seat and relaxed feeling that all was going well.  The journey progressed as planned but suddenly when we reached Horsham I suddenly realised we'd been stuck at the station for a long time.  I glanced around the carriage but none of the passengers seemed to be concerned so I thought it must just be a delay.  In the end we were there for about 15 mins, but just as I was about to ask what was happening the train moved off again.  I was very relieved.  We arrived at East Croydon without further incident and I got off with a man taking my case off for me.  Once on the platform I was glancing around to see what number platform I was on as I knew I needed to get to platform 2 for the Tonbridge train.  An older lady came up to me and started to offer me help.  I was surprised as I hadn't verbally asked anyone and was only glancing around but she obviously sensed I needed help.  She found a guard and asked what platform the Tonbridge train would go from and he told her that it was cancelled.  On my own I wouldn't have found this out as I can't read the screens easily and I thought I knew what I was meant to do so wouldn't have asked for help.  The guard told me to get the next train from platform 5.  The older lady was still with me and I said I will be ok now but she just smiled and set off to lead the way to platform 5!  I was shocked at how much she wanted to help and anxious that she'd miss her own train but she just kept smiling!  So she escorted me to platform 5 which I was actually very glad of as its not an easy station and it was rush hour by now.  Once on the platform she found the screen and told me it would be the 3rd train to come.  Then she waved goodbye and left.  I was so amazed at her level of help when I'd not even asked!  The train arrived and was very full because of it being rush hour and the cancellation of the earlier one.  No seats were available so I had to squash into the bit by the doors with my case and Goldie.  I was concerned he would get trodden on but he slid behind the nearest seats!  As I looked around I realised I was right under a screen.  I can't read the screens until I am virtually on top of them but because of this crowd I was very close.  To my horror I realised this train would divide at Redhill and I was in the wrong end!  I would never have known that if it hadn't have been for the crowds pushing me near the screen. So I got out at the next station and was feeling panicky trying to get further down to the needed carriage. Suddenly a lady guard took my case and went ahead of me and got me on again in time.  It was still full but she pointed to the first class seats. I felt so thankful as I sat down again and the train set off.  Soon I would be home!
When we arrived at Redhill the train stopped for ages again.  I wasn't worried as I knew it was dividing but it was certainly taking a long time.  But suddenly all the passengers began to get off!  I thought 'not again' and called out to find out what was happening.  A man stopped and explained that train was going no further and we'd have to wait for another.  He helped me off with the case and said he'd find out more and come back to tell me.  Another person being very kind.  It was as if when people saw Goldie they were going out of their way to help.  He returned after a few minutes to tell me there would definitely be a train to Tonbridge in 25 mins.  I decided to go to the ladies as it had been a long journey but could only find a gents.  A man pointed out the disabled toilet but when I got to its door it was locked.  A young lady then came up and said she'd get help and a few moments later she brought the guard up to unlock the door for me.  Yet another person going out of their way to help!  A few minutes later my train came in but I was still a bit anxious as this was yet another train that would be dividing and I was nervous of being in the wrong end.  I asked a man near me and he assured me and then when the train came, carried my case on and stowed it for me, helped me find a seat and then on reaching Tonbridge where he also got off, carried my case right to the outside doors before giving Goldie a cuddle and waving goodbye!  yet more amazing help!  I felt the Lord was totally rubbing it in that He loves us and provides for all our needs all the time.