|Feature Artcles: OUTCRY Magazine * Book Expo Special, July 2000|
Feature Articles, July 2000
|Amazing Story of a Blind Woman with a Free Service for Those Who Can See|
The little woman that could
by Sue Slater
When I was a little girl, I used to have a favorite story that my father would read me. It was called, "The Little Engine That Could". It was about a little train with a small engine trying to get up a hill. The engine was told that it would never be able to do it. But he kept saying, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"; and a miracle happened and it got up that hill all by itself.
My life has been like that little engine; full of ups and downs, and people saying, "you cant get up there and stay." But I have.
I was born with a hereditary eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa., but nobody knew I had it. When I was young, I just thought that I was near sighted. Of course, everybody is near sighted; and most people wear glasses. I did not know that I had a hereditary eye disease that was progressing and would eventually rob me of all my sight. It did not cause me any problems until I turned twenty and working in Maryland as a manager of a candy company retail store, having to do window displays, where I had a problem with my depth perception and making out details. I went to a specialist who told me that my macular was undeveloped and that the rest of my eye was just taking over for the part of my eye that was nott working. "No big deal!"
At twenty-one I moved back to St. Louis and started on a new career. I went to school to become a court reporter. After two years of going to school and completing the course I was told, "you cant do this. Your lack of eye sight will prevent you from becoming a success."
I did not want to give in so I tried something else. I went to school to become a legal secretary. I finished the course, did very well, but no one would hire me because of my eyesight.
I then received a work grant from Rehabilitation Services of the Blind. I went to work for them for ten months, typing up a manuscript for a book for one of the counselors. I did very well with that and the counselor wanted me to finish typing up his book. However the grant was not renewed so I was with out a job.
By this time I was in my early thirties, and my eye disease had been correctly diagnosed. Now knowing what was needed I went back to college and successfully finished my education. I received an associate degree in business education from Forrest Park Community College. After that I went on to U.M.S.L. where I received my bachelor degree in social work, graduating SUMA COM LAUDE with a 3.8 g.p.a. I then went on to earn 40 hours toward the master degree in social work, when another obstacle came into my life.
The Jeep SUV plowed into us while we were at a stoplight. The accident ruined the mechanism and functions of my back. I spent the next five years going to doctors, undergoing surgical procedures, and spending four days a week in land and water therapy to no avail. The condition did not change. The problem with my back was more of a liability than my lack of sight. It prevented me from sitting in certain chairs, traveling on trains and buses for a long time, standing in one position for more than a couple of minutes, or typing for long hours.
I decided the only way that I could be productive was to start a home based business that I could do from my home and I was able to be productive and pace myself.
Last year I purchased a computer and came up with an idea to start a business. I have been told that you should do something that you know a lot about and have done research on. Being a diabetic, whose diabetes is controlled through her diet, I have extensive research through the last ten years to find great taste in sugarfree deserts. I knew there was an interest in it because friends have always asked me where to find great buys. I thought that this would be something other people across the United States would be interested in. I knew that there were millions of people out there who could not have sugar or do not want sugar in their diet.
This is how SUGARFREESITES.COM was conceived. The worlds best guide for place for selling sugarfree items across the United States. In addition to being guides for places, www.sugarfreesites.com will also feature content and articles on its web cite as well as selling sugarfree products.
I am a person who has had lots of up and downs in her life but has always bounced back. Today I am married and the mother of two wonderful children. A daughter who is 14 and a 28 year old son who is an actuary in San Antonio, Texas. I know that with the support and help from my family that www.sugafreesites.com will be a success and I will be the little woman who could.
Being Certain in a World with No Absolutes
We live in a world with no absolutes. It is not hard to realize this when you look around and see all the chaos and confusion. There are no moral standards on which we can agree and this is making it hard for us to determine what is right and what is wrong. School are teaching children that values and morals depend upon the circumstances. Gays and lesbians are telling the world that they have a right to live a different lifestyle. Prayer has been taken out of school because we cannot agree on the right prayer for all of us. And people can be sued these days for criticizing certain behaviors at school or at work. There are so many different ideas on what is right and what is wrong that many of us are becoming absolutely confused.
Religions are even causing confusion. There are so many different religions from which one can choose. People are making up their own religions. We live in a world that glorifies man. The New Age Movement informs us that we have the power within ourselves to change our life around. It teaches that man can find the answers to all of our problems, given enough time, effort and money. Nowadays when we choose a religion, we choose a religion that is in sync with our own personal objectives. The religion that one person holds may not be suitable for another person's needs or wants, so we create our own religions that are suitable for our wants and needs. 2 Timothy 4:3, "For the time will come when me will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." That's why there are so many false religions. It's called "feel good" Christianity.
Then there are people who question the existence of God. These people are called agnostics. They believe that there may be a God, but they need proof. This is because an agnostic thinks he does not have to bear any consequences for sin. If he chooses to believe that there is no God, then there are no rules, no right or wrong and, therefore, no consequences for sin. He is life a person trapped in a room surrounded by walls with no door. He can convince himself that the walls do not exist. But when he tries to leave the room, he will walk "smack" into a wall. As much as he tries to convince himself that there is no God, in the end he is still going to have to suffer the consequences for his action.
People who cling to a world with no absolutes are like ships without rudders. A rudder is a small device on a ship that controls the direction of the ship. Without the rudder the ship cannot be controlled and is tossed about in the ocean by the waves and the wind. People who lack a sense of direction in their lives are tossed about by every popular philosophy or fad that comes their way. Their lives are full of doubt and they are desperately searching for order and direction in their life.
So how can you be certain in a world with no absolutes? The first thing that we have to do is agree that we need a standard. A standard is a basis of comparison or a measurement. It is a guide that will help us determine what is right and what is wrong. This standard cannot be so restrictive that we loose our freedom, and it cannot be so lax that we can do anything we want. We all know that everything we want to do is not always good for us.
Well, if you think about it, we do have some standards by which we live. The laws in this country create a standard for us to govern ourselves. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Sound familiar? If you do any of these things in this country, then thou shalt be arrested. Where do these standards come from? They come from the Bible. Our country adopted these standards years ago because they work. They bring order to the world by giving us rules and guidelines by which to live.
Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." When man does it his way, he creates a world of confusion and chaos. He creates a world with no absolutes because who can speak for everyone? My way seems right to me, but your way will seem right to you. Only God can make it right for everyone because God created order out of disorder. He is not the author of confusion. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, God gives us a rudder called the Holy Spirit who brings order and direction into our life. We are no longer a rudderless ship. The standard measuring tool is the Bible. It contains all of the information we need to add structure and discipline to our life. Psalm 1 tells us that a man is blessed who delights in the law of the Lord. We are here for a purpose. We are not here by accident. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us.
The word "certain" means to be sure or definite. Psalm 19:9b says, "The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous." How can you be certain in a world with no absolutes? Solomon summed it up it Ecclesiastics 12:13: "Here is the conclusion of the matter, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."
Benjamin Dixon, (11th Grade) Black Jack Baptist Church, Florissant, MO
Do You Live What You Say You Believe?
James 2:18 reminds us that we demonstrate our faith by what we do. The way we show what we believe is through our actions. There is an old adage that says, "actions speck louder than words." The question is, can we see what you say you believe?
As teenagers it can be hard to live a Christian life because we want to fit in. We want to be accepted by our peers. So we mimic our friends' actions and dress. Teenagers can be cruel. If you don't meet their approval, you are ridiculed, and you become the target of hateful jokes and comments. Look at the situation when it is taken to extreme. The students at Columbine High who brought guns to school and shot several of the students were the outcast from society. They dressed differently and they acted strange. They were not the norms so they were used as objects of scorn among their peers. I am not saying that their actions were right, but their actions were a response to their treatment at school. Now you can see how powerful the action of teenagers can be and how important it is to fit-in with the "'norm."
You should choose your friends wisely. If your want to be a witness for Christ, it is important that you choose friends who want to do the same. Jesus gives us a valuable teaching tool on this lesson. When Jesus sent his disciples to nearby towns to preach, he sent them by groups of twos. He did this so that they could encourage each other and help each other. The same is true with us. We need encouragement to speak out against wrongs and to do what is right when others are doing wrong. With this encouragement, we have greater influence over our peers. We can teach them how to react to those who dare to scorn us for being children of God. When they laugh at us for being different, we can say that we are children of God. When they laugh at us for being different, we can say that we are children of a King. When they make fun of us for being" goody two shoes", we can say we come from the bloodline of royalty. When they laugh at the way we dress, we can say, our bodies are temples, which we must treat with respect. When they use as objects of scorn and ridicule, we can say "blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)
But Jesus said, "Do not put your light under a bushel but on a lamp stand so it give light to everyone in the house." (Matthew 5:15) Likewise you want to do the same. When you see your friends doing wrong and you don't speak up, you are putting your light under a bushel. When you hear you friends say things that are not right and you don't speak up, you are putting your light under a bushel. When you say you believe in Jesus and have accepted His salvation but act differently during the week in order to fit-in, you are putting your light under a bushel. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14) How can you be the light of the world if you do not live up to your faith and the teachings of Christ? You cannot, except you live a double life. When you live a double life, you send a confusing message to your friends and you also cripple your witness. When you become a child of God, you must take a stand. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you put your stake in the ground. Now you must show what you believe. No one said that it would be easy, but it is right.
There are two major divisions of sin in the Bible. One is the sin of omission and the other is the sin of commission. The sin of commission is easy to recognize because it requires our participation in wrongdoing. In other words, we commit the act of sin such as stealing, cheating or lying. The sin of omission is not easily recognized. It is the failure to do what is right when we are paralyzed by fear. The sin of omission is the sin of silence. Many Christians are guilty of the sin of silence. We sit idly by and watch others as they commit sin and say nothing because of peer pressure. When we remain silent we give permission for sin to abound in the world and we are just as guilty as if we participated in the sin itself. When you are afraid to shine the light that God has given you in the world, you contribute to the evil in this world.
How can I say that Jesus is my Savior and refuse to live my life as though I believe that this is true? If I am afraid to live as I say I believe then I am showing God that other people are more important to me than He is. Therefore I downplay the importance of God in my life. I cannot do this. My faith is who I am. It is a part of my very being. And if I believe that, then I must live the way I say I believe.
You too must live as you say you believe, or you must question what you believe. It is just that important. Don't hide your light under a bushel but rather put it on a lamp stand so that it will give light to all that come near you.
Crystal Stimage, (11th Grade) Black Jack Baptist Church, Florissant, MO
Forgiveness Means Being Able to Start OverEverybody makes mistakes. Some mistakes are big and some mistakes are small. Most people have at least once, done something that they wish they had not. When people make mistakes it does not always affect just them. It sometimes effects the people around them. If it is a big mistake it mostly effects the people that are closest to them. Sometimes people realize that and sometimes they do not. The people that realize that they made a mistake and know that they have hurt those who are closest to them, are usually the ones that mostly regret the mistake they made. It hurts them to know that they have hurt their family and their friends. They wish they could go back in time and change their actions, but they can not. The only thing they can do is apologize and try to forget and move on.
Trying to forget and move on is the hardest parts of making a mistake. Especially when you have people around you that will not let you forget. The people that you hurt the most are the people you want to forgive you, but when they will not, it is one of the worst feelings in the world. You try to explain to them how sorry you are, and how you wish they would forgive you, but sometimes they do not always understand because they can not see what is in your heart. Even if you are trying your best to explain the way you feel, you can not perfectly explain the way you feel.
In the Bible a perfect example of forgiveness is Luke 15:11-32, the story of the Prodigal Son. He left his father's house and dishonored him by doing all sorts of sinful things. He ended up eating the food of swine. The son returned to his father and confessed his sins. The father put robes of elegance on his back and jewelry on his finger. The father forgave him and showed that in the way he treated him.
Big mistakes also cause you to lose trust. Trust is one of the hardest things in the world to get back. One of the saddest parts of making a mistake is knowing that you are losing trust. If you make a mistake and it affects a close relative or friend, they lose the trust they have in you. They would be wondering why you did such a terrible thing to hurt them the way you did. And even if they say they trust you again you can not always hold them to it because they will always be looking at you out of the corner of their eye. And sometimes when you have forgotten, people would bring it to your face just when you thought they were beginning to trust you again.
You can ask that person or those people to forgive you. And they might say that they do forgive you, without really forgiving you. Forgiveness means being able to start over. It means being able to move on, and not cling on to one small part of life that many people wish had not happened. Being able to forgive means trusting again and giving another opportunity not to be let you down again. The dictionary says to give up the wish to punish or get even with. Forgiving a person is not the easiest thing in the world, but it is also not the hardest thing in the world. God forgives us for our mistakes when we ask for it, why cant we forgive each other.
by 'Lola Vidal, (10th Grade), Black Jack Baptist Church, Florissant, MO.