Highlights from my Life of Music and Ministry
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Taylor stands at the altar of Grace Church, where shoeboxes full of goodies have been collected and blessed for Operation Christmas Child.
Last July, youth attending my Camp Lakewood Vacation Bible School had the opportunity to earn money toward a Walmart shopping trip to purchase items for their very own shoebox contributions to Samaritan’s Purse. Saturday, November 14 marked a special Camp Lakewood reunion, held at Grace United Methodist Church. On this day, the Camp Lakewood Class of two youths was greeted by Miss Susan, another sighted angel volunteer, who led us in a time of sharing and fellowship as we decorated and stuffed a total of six shoeboxes!
On Sunday, November 22, Taylor represented Camp Lakewood at Grace UMC in the 11:00 AM service. During the Blessing of Shoeboxes, he was recognized and asked to come forward, placing one of his shoebox contributions on the altar with the others from Camp Lakewood and from the congregation (84 boxes in all).
Many thanks again, to Grace United Methodist Church, the Lakewood, IL United Methodist Church and Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., for joining with me to help make Camp Lakewood possible!
Here I am, reading to students of Grace Weekday School, Charleston, SC.
On Monday, November 16, I joined a variety of volunteer readers on this Christian campus. Students ranging in age from two to five years rotated from room to room, eager to hear another story! I chose a “Dr. Seuss” (AKA Theo. LeSeig) book entitled “Maybe You Should Fly a Jet, Maybe You Should Be a Vet.” I have a full-vision version of this book, which means that it contains Braille along with the complete, illustrated publication. The kids enjoyed telling me about the silly pictures in the book and sharing what they would like to be when they grow up. My favorite comment came from a little three-year-old who proudly announced, “I want to be a TV! I really want to be a TV!”
“On the Road to Reading” is a school-wide program with a goal of every child having at least ten stories read to him/her by November 24, 2009. With the help of parents, grandparents, teachers and us volunteer readers, the students of Grace Weekday School have well-exceeded their goal of reading a total of 1000 books in celebration of National Children’s Literacy Month!
Shelby, one of “my” kids, sings the theme from “The Sound Of Music” during this celebration of White Cane Safety Awareness Day, October 15, 2009. It was an honor to accompany her at the piano as I served as Master of Ceremonies for this celebration in Charleston, SC.
October 15th is recognized internationally as White Cane Safety Awareness Day. This day is set aside to recognize the white cane and to teach sighted people about the purpose and use of the white cane by the blind. During this special celebration, blind folks of all ages met at the Visitor’s Center on Meeting Street in Downtown Charleston. After a walk to Francis Marion Square, the program continued with a narrated presentation of The Colors. Elementary and secondary students were awarded for their participation in a story contest featuring the long, white cane. Then, God’s “outa sight” kids of all ages offered a variety of musical selections.
After the program, folks were treated to snacks and several different exhibits, including an authentic American Flag with raised stars and stripes, which could be touched!
This exhibit was inspired by Taylor, who took his first “hands-on” look at our country’s flag when my Camp Lakewood Vacation Bible School toured Grace United Methodist Church last July. As we watched Taylor “see” the flag for the first time in his fifteen years, my associates and I realized how important it was for others to have this opportunity. We asked that a hands-on flag be part of White Cane Day, and everyone agreed! When at the end of the day’s events the Color Guard presented me with this flag, I was literally speechless!
My thanks to Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, and the Charleston Chapter of the American Council of the Blind, for making “Music By Laurel Jean” part of this event. On this day, we celebrated God’s gifts: not only our independence as blind individuals, but also the freedom that we know as citizens of The United States of America.
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- Laurel Jean
- United States
- God has blessed me with a Music Ministry that is still ongoing and growing after twenty-plus years. This includes my outreach promoting Braille Literacy in the Christian venue, and my recently-founded Children's Chaplaincy for blind youth. To make things a bit more interesting, I have also been blind since birth. I consider my blindness to be a unique gift from God, an opportunity to serve as an ambassador among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my work, from South Carolina to Central Illinois and beyond, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!