I would like to take a moment to introduce you to my dear friend Paula. Paula and her husband Shannon, began attending our church several months back. Even though we went to the same church, we didn't connect until earlier this year, when Paula joined an online bible study I was hosting. (Ruth & Naomi's Empower Hour) She and I connected, and as with any friendship, the husband gets pulled right on in too!
Paula and Shannon met in 4th grade at the Kentucky School for the Blind, in Louisville, Kentucky. They became friends, and throughout high school they began to spend more time together. Shannon describes their relationship by saying, "love came softly and slowly for us." They began by helping each other on homework, she would help Shannon with his english and he would help her with math. Paula said "I'm still not very good at math." Shannon chimed in from the back ground saying "I'm still not very good at english." Today, I am writing this blog on their 20th wedding anniversary (June 21). In the late 90's, Shannon helped found the Kentucky Association of the Deaf Blind, after serving on the board for many years, he was asked to serve as President. The organization helps, hearing and or visually impaired people to lead fully independent and self-sufficient lives. They are made up of both seeing and non-seeing, hearing an non-hearing individuals.
One of Paula's passions is prayer. Paula is a prayer. You know that friend that just prays. all. the. time. for people she doesn't even know and may never meet. It is truly beautiful and I strive to be more like her. One of my favorite things I have ever heard Paula say is that "sometimes, it is a blessing to be blind. When we walk into a prison all we see is broken people." My friendship with Paula has helped me to have such a greater and deeper respect for those who are visually impaired. But, I will be completely honest. It intimidated me to death. I thought crazy things, like, how do you talk to someone who is blind? I don't want to say something that may hurt their feelings. For a couple of weeks after Paula joined my bible study I didn't speak to her at church because, literally, I felt like I didn't know how. Then, I just bit the bullet. You know what I learned? That you talk to a blind person the same way you talk to anyone else. With. Your. Mouth. And you know what happens. They talk back. With. Their. Mouths. I knew I would survive and grow immensely from this friendship the first time I guided Paula to the restroom... She said "Could you be sure to turn the light on?" HA. So... I did. I said "Alright Paula, I've got the light turned on for you. I'll be right outside the door. Just let me know if you need anything." You know what she did. SHE LAUGHED AT ME! She. Laughed. At. ME! When she came out, she said (while still laughing) "You turned the light on for me. You do realize I can't see if the light is on or not, right?" And we just both laughed. And we still laugh about it, and she loves to tell that story on me.
NOW, that you know about Paula...
Let's talk Purpose.
About two weeks ago, I did a Facebook Live video, talking about one of our Jewelry lines, Purpose Jewelry. The mission of this company is that they give hope to girls and young women who have been rescued from the human trafficking trade. Every piece is hand crafted and signed by these women. When Paula first found out about Purpose Jewelry, her heart cried out. She has been praying silently for these women for a long time. She picked out the Infinity necklace and bracelet set. She has the signed tag, from 2 different rescued women to now cover in prayer as she had been doing secretly for months.
Paula's words about the set after we got it on are included. "We had a time getting this necklace on, I had trouble hooking it. Someone didn't want me to get it on. I overcame and did it anyway, but now, it is hooked and I need to pray they are hooked on Jesus. I am honored to hold these tags in my hand and pray for that specifically. Literally, as I am putting these on, the song Clean by Natalie Grant comes on the radio."
It was a powerful moment. As my relationship with Paula and Shannon has been. While they may not have sight, they have vision. Shannon said, "We have no choice but to rely on God." Not a single one of us have another option, sometimes though, I believe our sight gets in the way of our vision, and our ears get in the way of being able to hear. Paula and Shannon inspire me so deeply and they touch my heart so much. The fact that absolutely nothing can stand in their way. Their outlook is incredible. The lessons they have taught and continue to teach me, are lessons I will treasure for the remainder of my days! Our differences are insignificant when you look at them in comparison to our similarities.
Today, I challenge you, live independently dependent on Jesus. Look past your differences with someone and find what you all share. Don't let your sight cloud your vision, or your ears deafen your ability to hear. Walk tall, walk boldly and walk with a purpose. I love you all!