Guess What My Ears Heard?

By Shanna Groves ©

I once had someone pray that I would stop going deaf.

In today's airbrushed, Photoshopped world, flaws can be erased in just a few keystrokes. My hearing loss was something I wanted to disappear. So when a person of great faith prayed for my healing, tears welled in my eyes. I was overwhelmed at the possibility that I wouldn't have to wear hearing aids to have a normal conversation, or that my children could ask me a question one time and I would understand them.

Some may be skeptical of the healing-prayer belief. I was. Doctors and medicine contribute to healing, but people who pray?

In the spring of 2007, I attended a worship service with a lifelong friend. She was concerned about my hearing struggles, as I was. She caught the sounds I missed during our time together. The jokes I didn't laugh at. The conversation I pretended to hear even when I didn't have a clue. My young boy's comments from the back seat of the car while we drove, his repeated use of the words "stupid mom."

"That's enough," my friend said to him. "You don't talk to your mom that way."

"What did he say?" I was oblivious, and it embarrassed me.

At the worship service, she walked with me to the altar for prayer time. A pastor met us there.

"What can I pray for you?" he said.

Somewhere, the Bible talks about the proper way of praying for a person's healing. I didn't know the exact verse, but the pastor did.

"'Is any one of you sick?'" he read from James in the New Testament. "'The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.'"

My flawed ears made me sick at my stomach. How could I be a good mom without the ability to hear my kids' words clearly? How many times had I been called "stupid mom" from behind my back? How many times had I let my boy say that to my face without realizing it?

I allowed the pastor to pray for my ears to be healed, for the ability to hear my children. Tears welled, then slid down my cheeks. I didn't wipe them away.

When the prayer ended, the pastor motioned for me to remove my hearing aids. He then asked me to repeat his words without reading his lips. Yeah, right. How can a lipreading mom do that?

The pastor covered his mouth and spoke to me. The words I heard were, "What state do you live in?"

After I answered him, he and my lifelong friend exchanged hopeful gazes. I'd answered correctly.

A week later, I went to my audiologist for a hearing test. I wanted documented proof that something had changed in my hearing ability. After sitting in the listening booth and responding to beeps and spoken words via headphones, I waited for the test results.

Something had changed with my ears. I could hear the highest frequency sounds to which I had been deaf the week before.

I had been healed. It was a miracle. I wasn't deaf anymore. Really? WOW.

A year later, I sat in the same hearing booth. Something had changed again with my ears. I wasn't sure if it was an ear infection or hormonal changes during my third pregnancy or noise exposure, but I couldn't hear the highest frequency sounds anymore. I thought my brain was playing tricks on my ears. How could I be deaf to sound, healed, and then deaf again?

Regardless, the test indicated what I feared. The hearing gain I had made after being prayed for was gone. Just like that.

I had other people pray for my ears. I prayed for my ears. I pleaded with God, read, and reread verses about prayer in the Bible. I dreamt about not having hearing loss and wrote about it in my journal.

Each year, my hearing tests revealed more hearing loss. Had I imagined someone had prayed for me and I had actually been healed?

In discussing this experience with one of my hard-of-hearing friends, she offered this perspective: "Healed or not, you haven't changed. You are and will always be you."

Healed or flawed: which do I prefer? Somedays, I want to be free of hearing loss, particularly when my kids scream to get my attention because I can't hear them clearly. Sometimes I want to be deaf when they yell!

I decided to take a daytime walk by myself along a wooded nature trail. Pretty risky in this day and age to stroll solo. It was one of those busy family weekends when all I craved was two hours of solitude. So I turned to my husband and pleaded. "The best thing you can give me right now is the gift of childcare. Would you take the kids for a bit?"

Normally when I'm in the great outdoors, I prefer to take my hearing aids off. The sound of wind blowing through my behind-the-ear hearing devices unnerves me. 'WHOOSH' is the most excruciating white noise. I must've been in a hurry to become one with nature, or I didn't want to walk alone without a way to hear well. Either way, I had both hearing aids in when I pulled into the parking lot of a local nature center.

As soon as my flip-flops hit the trails (not the best hiking footwear, but I was in a hurry for my solitude), I heard a series of beeps in my right ear. Then silence. One of my hearing aid batteries had died, which meant I could only hear out of my left ear. I walked with caution since I now only heard half of what lurked in the trees, and my thin-soled shoes struggled on gravel paths. Occasionally, my left ear caught the rustling of tree leaves, whooshing wind, or other hikers chatting as they sped by in their Nike best. It was enough environmental sound to put me at ease and not worry about personal safety.

All was peaceful. I could breathe deeply, reflect. Twenty minutes of the walk were spent not walking, but gazing into a shallow creek. I gazed at a small fish swimming amid rocks and murky water. I was tempted to dive in with the guppy, but then noticed wind-blown garbage mixed with some of those rocks and started walking again.

On my way back to the parking lot, my ears began hallucinating. I heard children laughing and squealing far away into the trees. I stopped to listen, and the chatter ceased. My flip-flops took off again, and the banter continued. I hadn't passed any walkers since before the guppy creek, and I had a ways to go before hitting the parking lot where folks surely congregated. The hooting and hee-hawing sounded like my kids, who were at home with their daddy four miles away. Was my one working hearing aid that powerful?

Standing in front of dense foliage, I stood and observed anything living and moving. Flying objects, like tiny airplanes, darted in and out of the tops of trees. They moved effortlessly and blared their sirens with each descent. "HEE! HEE! HAW! HAW!"

The tiny flying things were painted deep blue and velvety gray. No hallucination. Just beautiful bluejays and robins, singing and soaring amid treetops.

For the first time since my hearing loss diagnosis 10 years before, I could hear squawking and hooting, shrill whistling and soft sopranos. The symphony of birds. At least in my left ear.

I've had the experience of being both hearing and deaf. Some would favor the former life, but I prefer the path I am currently on. Born hearing, now hard of hearing, mom of three healthy children.

I appreciate all that I can hear through my hearing aids: birds singing, my little ones laughing, the wind whooshing. Even without my hearing devices in my ears and with the reality that I am slowly going deaf, I feel gratitude.

My ears don't control what my heart can hear.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shanna Groves is the author of Lip Reader, a speaker, and advocate for hearing loss awareness issues. Read more about her writing and speaking at Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom to three young children at

Unexpected Gifts

By Teresa Tierney © 2012

“I can’t believe you’re here!”

Looking up, I almost didn’t recognize my friend Kat. Her stunned expression was void of pleasure. Instead I saw utter relief in her weary face.

“Are you okay?” Kat’s usual sparkling energy was missing. Guiding her to a table in the bookstore café, I was concerned she might collapse.

A recent widow, she told me about her storm of grief in Menards 20 minutes earlier. She quickly left there but found herself unprepared to face 5:00 traffic. Pulling into the bookstore, her prayer was for someone to talk to.

I wasn’t supposed to be there. My husband and I were on the way to Menards when I asked for a detour to the bookstore. So there I was, “in the right place, at the right time” for Kat.

The circumstances and timing were so unique

2 Warnings For Sexual Assault Forum Users

By Sarah Waters

It is believed that 1 out of every 4 girls, and one in 7 boys will experience forced sexual contact before the age of 18. Internet forums abound to help survivors of child sexual abuse, but they should be used with caution. As unreal as it seems, these forums can, in some cases, inflict further harm on already damaged survivors.

The first thing to consider is whether or not the forum you choose can be read publicly. This means that anyone who is on the internet can read postings, not just people who are members of the forum. It may feel safer to know only members of the forum can read what is posted. On the other hand, it is possible that sexual predators may create false profiles and join the forums anyway. They receive sexual stimulation when detailed accounts of child sex abuse are shared, and more frighteningly, they may befriend abuse survivors and try to make contact outside the Internet. Even in a place "safe" for abuse victims, you must be wary of those who encourage meeting in the real world.

The second warning is: Not All Abuse Is Created Equally. There is danger in comparing your reaction to childhood sexual abuse to the reactions of others. There are so many factors involved, some of which are who did the abusing, what the abuse actually entailed, and the psychological development of the child at the time the abuse occurred. Individual victims' personalities also play a role in how they deal with the abuse. Comparing yourself to another victim is like comparing apples and oranges, and can cause you to wonder why you are not coping as well as someone else. The truth is there is no right way to deal with your sexual abuse. There is just the way you choose to deal with it.

Internet forums for survivors of childhood sexual abuse can be great resources for finding support from people who understand what you're going through. As with all things, you just need to be cautious.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Waters is a survivor of childhood sexual assault. She has written a gut-wrenching ebook about her abuse and the long term consequences she faces. You may learn more about her struggle at []
Article Source: 2 Warnings For Sexual Assault Forum Users

Don't Look At Me - What's The Link Between Sexual Abuse And Obesity?

By Robyn McGee

Elizabeth started gaining weight in high school and laughs that "my big hips come from my dad's side because my mother is extremely small." Elizabeth, who never knew her father, regularly braves the dating scene but says she knows lots of overweight women who don't dare: Some sisters "hold on to extra weight as physical and psychological protection against a hostile world. The thinking goes like this: If I am fat already, I don't have to concern myself about going out and trying to find a man, because I already know that most men want thin women. So many women think, 'Oh my God, if I lost weight, someone might actually be attracted to me and I might have a relationship-and risk being rejected for some other reason.'"

Beyond the immediate issue of using your weight to avoid intimacy lurks another tragedy for some women. They turn to food to ease the painful memories of childhood sexual abuse. Sadly, young women and girls who've been molested,

Five Steps to Get a Grip on Your Stress

April is Informed Woman Month

By Karen Jordan
How can we get a grip on our stress, when life is heavy and hard to take?
The book of Lamentations offers a clear word about dealing with stress. "When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear” (Lam. 3:28-29 MSG).

1. Go off by yourself. Jesus knew the importance of spending time alone with His Father. When He needed to listen, He would pull away from everyone. After Jesus fed the 5,000, He “climbed the mountain so (He) could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night” (Matt. 14:23).

2. Enter the silence. When we seek God, the accuser tries to distract us with fear, like in the story of Hannah. Hanna’s husband had two wives, and her husband’s other wife taunted her, accusing God for Hannah’s inability to conceive. Even when Hannah prayed, the accuser attacked. “… Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk”…” (1 Sam. 1:13).

3. Bow in prayer. God promises that if we call on His Name, He'll listen. “… And if we're confident that he's listening, we know that what we've asked for is as good as ours” (1 John 5:15).

4. Don't ask questions.My questions often interfere with my communication with God—I’m talking, instead of listening. When Jesus taught His disciples, He asked them on several occasions, “Are you listening to me? Really listening?” (Matt.11:15).

5. "Wait for hope to appear." The psalmist speaks of “waiting,” “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip” (Ps. 40:1-2).

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt. 6:34).

So, remember, "When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear" (Lam. 3:28-29).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Jordan is best known for telling the stories that matter most. She has multiple writing credits and trains other writers as well. Contact her for speaking events, writing assignments, and interviews at <> or visit <> .

Christian Men Are Not Victims of Sexual Abuse

By Thomas Edward

In the Christian community men surviving sexual abuse issues are often ignored. It's not a cold calculating intentional disregard, but negligence. Negligence steeped in the fear and discomfort of dealing with an uncomfortable subject matter. If you think it's not true, attempt to publish your work with a Christian publication! Good luck! As Christian men surviving childhood sexual abuse there are belief barriers and stereotypes that are faced in the healing process, Christian beliefs about masculinity and gender. Men who come forward acknowledging such hurt and pain are often harassed into silence.

We hear statements like,

Holy Humor, Batman!

By Deborah DeArmond

The month of April is in fact, the time set aside to celebrate a good chuckle, a guffaw or a hearty laugh as part of a faith-filled life. It’s Holy Humor Month!

The Bible is clear that God believes humor should be on the agenda as a healthy habit. Proverbs 17:22 NKJ “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.”

The word “laugh” or “laughter” is mentioned in the Bible approximately 200 times. Much of that laughter falls into some categories that do not feed our hearts like medicine. Consider if you will:

Without Consent or Force

By Laurie A. Gray © 2010

One of my jobs as a deputy prosecuting attorney is to review cases of sexual assault, determine what crime (if any) has been committed, and assess the likelihood that we will be able to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. While the specific laws are different in each state, every sex crime requires either a lack of consent on the part of the victim or the use of force on the part of the perpetrator. Too often people think that “without consent” is the same as “by force,” but that is not true in a legal sense. Appreciating the difference is the first step in understanding how the justice system works and why it so often fails in the eyes of sexual assault victims.
A Woman’s Presumed Consent
            Sexual assault is the only crime of which I know where victims are presumed to consent and actually have to resist physically, risking serious injury or even death, to establish their lack of consent. It’s true. It’s still a man’s world, and our laws do more to protect a man who is careless with his wallet than to protect a young woman who trusts the wrong people.
            This is an especially important concept for teenagers in intimate situations. The girl may be thinking “the answer is no until I say yes” while the boy may be thinking

Easter Is the Time to Examine the Nature of Jesus

By J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Detective
Special to ASSIST News Service
MISSION VIEJO, CA (ANS) -- It's Easter Season once again, and it's definitely the time of year when people are curious about the life and nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Have you ever thought about what separates Jesus from other wise religious men from history? Have you ever been challenged to defend the divinity of Jesus?

Jesus claimed to be God and he demonstrated his divinity in several important ways. When people think about the nature of God (even those who doubt God's existence) they typically think of God as all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving. The gospel eyewitnesses described Jesus as having all three of these divine characteristics.

Jesus is All-Knowing?

Grooming: How Child Molesters Create Willing Victims*

By Laurie A. Gray © 2010

There’s an old urban legend that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll naturally hop out; however, if you place a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually increase the heat, you’ll end up with a cooked frog. I can’t say whether this is true for frogs, but it certainly is true for many children who are sexually molested. The gradual cooking process is known as “grooming,” and the increased heat is the evaporation of physical and emotional boundaries. The Webster’s Dictionary definition of “grooming” includes “training for a particular purpose.” For child molesters, that purpose is a sexual relationship.
 The Real Danger
Most people still want to believe that child molesters are deviant strangers who abduct children or entice them with candy and puppies. We teach our children to be wary of strangers, to shout “NO!” or run away and tell a trusted adult if anyone should ever approach them in such a manner. We teach them about “good touches” and “bad touches” and believe they will tell us immediately if they receive a “bad touch.” Our intentions are good, but we’re preparing them for the exception, not the reality in sexual abuse.
            In reality, the molester is more likely to be

Let’s Talk Mental Health

By Teresa M. Tierney © 2012

In the share-it-all era of Facebook, it seems we share almost everything. We see posts that range from the trivial—having the world’s best coffee—to the personal—having the best (or worst) day of my life—to what is known as TMI, too much information—if you can imagine it, surely it’s been posted! But does anyone post about mental illness?

With mental illness, we are silent. Only a select few are in the loop. When I told a co-worker my good friend needed to go to the hospital, I deliberately omitted her diagnosis of major depressive disorder. I told myself this is her story to tell, not mine – but deep down I felt she wouldn’t want anyone else to know.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh/, one in four Americans will experience a mental disorder this year. With medication and/or psychotherapy, most people can resume productive lives. However, only a third will seek treatment. One factor is America’s cultural stigma over mental health issues.

Have You Ever Been Raped?

CAUTION: This article contains graphic language. The author, an attorney and child advocate, speaks frankly as the law states it. It is not the intent of the author or Glory and Strength to be offensive, but to reach out and help those who have suffered.

By Laurie A. Gray, JD © 2012

A simple question: Have you ever been raped? Yes or no? We are conditioned to sort and label our experiences in black and white, true or false, but what seems like a straightforward question can be confounding to someone who has been sexually assaulted. Who gets to decide whether or not it’s really rape? The two people involved in the action? Local law enforcement? A jury? Each state has its own criminal code definition, but for society at large rape is becoming a catch-all term for sexual assault.

Sexual assault runs a gamut of seeming opposites, often driven by unclear facts and innuendo. On the one side is legal, moral, consensual, pleasurable sexual contact; on the other is criminal, immoral, nonconsensual, devastating sexual contact. Our social expectation of right and wrong, our personal judgments regarding good and bad, and our individual experience of pleasure and pain are all loaded into our perceptions regarding sexual contact. The more able a person is to give consent, the greater our expectation for physical violence to show lack of consent. When a person is unable to give consent, we are more apt to recognize the violation regardless of physical injury, as we do in statutory rape cases.

Just as He Said

by Kristi Bothur © 2012

Photo by Mark Butterfield
"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said." (Matthew 28:6, NASB)
Have you ever done a trust fall? Popular in youth groups or other programs targeting teenagers, the idea is to have one person stand with his arms crossed over his chest. Another person stands behind him, arms outstretched. On cue, the person in front leans back, and when he begins to fall, his partner catches him.

The lesson is to learn to trust each other. But that lesson only sticks if the person doing the catching actually comes through! Otherwise, you end up with a sore behind and a determination to be careful who to trust in the future. Finding out that you can't trust someone leads to all kinds of negative feelings – disappointment, discouragement, embarrassment, fear, betrayal.

I think Jesus' followers must have felt all of those feelings in the hours following his crucifixion. They were confused and broken – what had happened to all of their hopes, all of his promises?