Friday, August 28, 2015

The United Methodist ASL glossary project -- from

In August 2015, United Methodist Communications published a series of videos presenting "church" terms in American Sign Language (ASL). The words are from a glossary that explains terms in United Methodist law and usage that are often misunderstood or not known to the general public. This series of videos aims to help United Methodists engage with and welcome Deaf and Hard of Hearing people more effectively. Of the 32,000 United Methodist congregations in the United States, fewer than 200 have accommodations for Deaf people who use ASL. 

 This work is unique in several ways. It marks the first time that United Methodist Communications has coordinated with Deaf United Methodists to produce information available on the website in ASL.

Each video includes sign options and the meaning of the term in American Sign Language. Individuals who are Deaf, communicating in their primary language, present all of the terms. All terms are ASL translations of the glossary, as defined by The United Methodist Church.
A diverse team of American Sign Language users, both Deaf and hearing, compiled the translations. The team included United Methodist seminary graduates, native ASL users and professional ASL interpreters.

At the web site, Tom Hudspeth explains how he used an entry from the glossary to teach a class of Deaf and hearing people with great results. 

Bringing American Sign Language to makes possible language access to United Methodist teachings and materials directly in ASL. This is significant step toward opening United Methodist church doors to individuals who communicate in ASL.
The initial phase was published with translations from the United Methodist glossary. It was funded in part by a grant issued by the Deaf Ministry Fund. The Deaf Ministry committee is part of the Global Health unit of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Beatitudes -- Diane Mettam

While I am recovering from eye surgery, I thought I would share this reading, which I found while cleaning out files in my office.  It comes from the Lincoln Training Center, based in South El Monte, California, whose stated mission is to foster independence and improved quality of life for individuals with disadvantages or developmental disabilities through maximum effort of the organizations staff, membership and volunteers.  


BLESSED ARE YOU who take time to listen to difficult speech, for you help us to know that, if we persevere, we can be understood.

BLESSED ARE YOU who walk with us in public places, and ignore the stares of strangers, for in your friendship we feel good to be ourselves.

BLESSED ARE YOU who never bid us to "hurry up" and, more blessed, you who do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us, for often we need time rather than help.

BLESSED ARE YOU who stand beside us as we enter new and untried ventures, for our unsureness will be outweighed by the time when we surprise ourselves and you.

BLESSED ARE YOU ask for our help and realize our giftedness, for our greatest need is to be needed.

BLESSED ARE YOU who help us with the graciousness of Christ, for often we need the help we cannot ask for.

BLESSED ARE YOU when, by all things, you assure us that what makes us individuals is not our particular disability or difficulty but our beautiful God-given personhood which no handicapping condition can confine.

REJOICE AND BE EXCEEDINGLY GLAD, for your understanding and love have opened doors for us to enjoy life to its full, and you have helped us believe in ourselves as valued and gifted people.

Authorship and source unknown

Blessings - Pastor Diane

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The challenge of unsearchable greatness -- Diane Mettam

While I have been busy planning for my second eye surgery next week (barring a cold I am trying not to catch - please keep me in your prayers), I have suddenly realized that I will not be able to use my glasses after this next operation.  While the right lens allows me to see clearly, the vision through my left lens is not clear, and I have been getting headaches in my left eye as the vision is continuing to adjust following surgery.  My doctor told me it would be four months before my vision resolved into its permanent new state, at which time I would probably need a new prescription.  When the right eye is operated on, I will have blurry vision through both lenses, so the glasses basically will be useless. 

I will have a new challenge to live with for a time.  I realized that my confident plans of driving again after the surgery are probably not going to happen very soon.  I am very near-sighted, and I dont trust the vision in my left eye enough to drive safely with my current glasses.  I dont drive very much, or very far - my longest drive is to my doctor in McKinleyville, about 20 miles on the highway.  Usually its just to a shop, or Bible study, or to my volunteer job at school. 

I still havent got back into doing much reading - its too much strain on my eyes.  And I havent been doing much sewing, or fine needlework.  But Ive managed to knit two charity sweaters, and a hat for a teenage friend.  I just cant sit and be idle.  And I find I dont have to look as I knit simple patterns.  I can feel the yarn on the needles and know if everything is going well or not. 

It took several months, but I finally got into the Dial-A-Ride system here in Eureka, so I will be availing myself of that organization for awhile.  Im not optimistic, based on the application and approval process.  But well keep our fingers crossed.  I live in an area where there arent a lot of sidewalks to get to the bus routes I need, to get to the places I want to go, and the streets involved have high speed limits.  It will be a new adventure! 

I used to half-joke that my worst nightmare was that I would be 90 years old and nothing would work but my mind.  My husband half-jokes that Im getting there!  Its true that my spinal condition has worsened, and I live more days in pain than not, and my hearing has declined, and my vision needs surgical intervention, and my hands have only 20% of their grip, but none of this really matters, because I am a beloved child of God, and as long as the breath of life is in me, I have something to celebrate, and something to give to the world.

close up photo of rose petals in abstract symmetrical pattern, Tim Vermande

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    his greatness is unsearchable.  Psalm 145

Thank you, Dear God, that you give the same breath of life to each one of us.  We may not have the same gifts and abilities, but we are all blessed with something.  Some of us have wise minds, some of us have caring hearts, some of have strong bodies, but all of us have ways to serve you and each other.  And all of us are valuable in your sight, and to each other.  Help us to remember that, and to treat each other as the wonderful creations that we are.  We are all made in your image, an image far greater than we can imagine or define.  How wondrous!  How wonderful!  Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2015

AMD this week - 14 Aug 2015

Weekly compilation of news items from the United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities.
Here is an interesting view about parking. It has rarely been this writer's experience that there are enough blue spaces, let alone extras, but it does speak to problems of inclusion.

NAMI reviews Behind the Wall:

Diane Mettam addresses AMD and DCM:

Disability and Self-Acceptance (medical and social models)

UM Disability blog: Love and encouragement

The Atlantic: Exoskeletons

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love and encouragement

This week my friend Kathryn talked about The Work We Have To Do.  We humans can look at work as something we have to do, like holding a job, or cleaning the house, or something we get to do, something we enjoy or find meaningful. 

All of us need work.  All of us need to feel that our lives have meaning.  And we have work, whether we know it or not.  It may not be paid work.  It may not be recognized by the world as work.  But it is work, nonetheless. 

Kathryn spoke of her father at the end of his days.  Like some of us, he had been busy all his life.  He had painted the church, built cabinets, volunteered his time and energy in so many ways.  Now his body was betraying him and he asked his pastor, What can I do? 

You can give encouraging words, his pastor replied.  Thats something we can all do.  It takes little time, little energy.  But it takes sincerity, and an open heart. 

The story reminded me of a woman I read about, a woman who hugs.  What a great job, I thought.  People stand in line for hours to receive a hug from her.  I tracked her down.  Her name is Mata Amritanandamayi; she is known also as Amma.  In her life, so far, she has hugged and given comfort to more than 20 million people - yes, million.  I first read about her in this news report.

Her gift is to give love unconditionally to everyone who asks for it.  She hugs each visitor for a full minute, telling them that they are loved.  As far as I can determine, she doesnt do it in the name of any religion, but she absolutely radiates the love of God.  She is an encourager on a grand scale. 
Billy Deters of the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, with his typical smile of encouragement.
A smile of encouragement from Billy Deters, member of the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries
Our Christian faith has always been one of encouragement.  The Book of Acts talks about the Levite Joseph, renamed Barnabas, son of encouragement for his generosity and devotion.  Paul uses the word encourage eighteen times in his letters, urging the communities of faith to be strong during times of trouble.  We can all be encouragers.  "It takes no energy to love," Amma says. "It is easy.

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

We thank you, O God, that no matter how small and infirm we might feel, there is always work we get to do for you.  We can always be encouragers.  We can always give good words, a smile, a hug.  The spirit which sustains us is always ready to be shared with others.  For this we are grateful.  Amen.