Music By Laurel Jean

Music By Laurel Jean
Music with a Message and a Mission

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Laurel Jean's Scrapbook

Sharing God's Guiding Glimpses into my Life of Music and Ministry

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friends of Bartimaeus

Friends of Bartimaeus jamming

August, 2013 marked the one-year anniversary of the Friends of Bartimaeus Christian Outreach Center for the Blind, hosted by Calvary Lutheran Church, Charleston, SC. This photo was taken at the center’s very first meeting in 2012, as I accompanied Taylor Jones Stebbins, an amazing Lowcountry blind youth with a beautiful tenor voice. Pastor Ed of Calvary Lutheran couldn’t help but join in the praise with his guitar, and our friend and sighted volunteer Kevan-Ann Spangler brought her hand-clapping, toe-tapping percussion to this impromptu music ensemble.

The Friends of Bartimaeus Christian Outreach Center offers a monthly gathering for the blindness community to enjoy food, fun, fellowship and worship in an accessible, inclusive, non-threatening environment. After being served a delicious hot meal, guests participate openly in songs, prayers and times of sharing, including devotional time led by Pastor Ed. At the end of the meeting, people are given more time to socialize. Groceries are offered to attendees who have need of them, and mail-reading services are also available.

Congratulations to the people of Calvary Lutheran for all of their efforts which have made the Friends of Bartimaeus Christian Outreach such a tremendous success and such a blessing to the community. I was honored to be asked along with many from the Lowcountry’s blindness community, to assist in the beginning of this center. In cooperation with Lutheran Braille Workers, the organization responsible for 60-plus outreach centers of this kind across the United States, and Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., every blind individual attending the Friends of Bartimaeus has also received a talking Bible of his/her very own. God’s Light keeps shining!

Thank God and thank you for the ongoing prayers and support which make outreach efforts like this possible. Stay tuned for more posts like this one. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrating Missions

Laurel Jean poses with women of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Hanahan, SC

Here I am with a few of the United Methodist Women of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Hanahan, SC. I was honored to present dinner music and a program for this group’s Christmas dinner.

After the program, I was invited to stay for the meeting of these truly mission-minded women. Many of the ladies took time to share their personal testimonies concerning the group’s outreach efforts, raising money for Water Missions International, feeding hungry families, providing clothes and personal items to people in need, promoting social and racial justice, and so much more! People said that they were blessed by the music, but I felt that I was the one blessed as I listened to one inspiring story after another.

By scheduling Music By Laurel Jean, and thru the purchase of CD’s, these dear sisters have helped to keep my ministry going and growing. From helping to provide talking Bibles for the blind and learning impaired, to the peer mentoring of “God’s outa-sight kids” of all ages and the promotion/support of Braille literacy, there is much to do. My thanks to the Aldersgate UMW’s for taking time to join with me in the mission that God has given me!

You, too, can join with me in helping to keep God's Light shining. Visit my Web site to learn more about bringing me to your church or community.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sharing Insight

Tweetie, Brianna, Audrey and Laurel outside of Citadel Mall, Charleston, SC

Every day, I thank God for His calling on my life. In His service, I am often blessed to work with and on behalf of my brothers and sisters in the blindness community. For the past several years, as part of this outreach, I have served as an officer of Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., and was recently honored to be elected Dixie Land’s Secretary/Treasurer for yet another term. I’m pictured here with my fellow newly-elected officers, Tweetie ford (First vice President), Brianna Murray (Second Vice President) and Audrey Gunter (President).

Dixie Land is the South Carolina affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc., among the world’s largest guide dog user groups. As many of my readers already know, I am an avid cane user and take great pride in continually honing my skills with the long, white cane. I also wholeheartedly support those who choose a guide dog as a means to their personal mobility and independence. I love guide dogs and am in awe of the incredible, indescribable bond that they share with their handlers. The guide teams pictured here with me are among my dearest friends.

Tweetie with her guide Yvonne, is a native Charlestonian, a graduate of North Charleston High School, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. In addition to her work in the medical field, Tweetie served actively as a church musician until health issues forced her to retire. She lost her sight later in life due to complications brought on by a stroke, and was matched with her first guide dog, Heidi in 2004. Heidi tragically passed away suddenly and Tweetie was matched with her second guide Yvonne in 2010. Tweetie and Horace, her husband of 42 years, served actively within the blindness community here in Charleston until Horace passed away in 2012. Also a devout Christian, Tweetie continues to serve her God and her community, and is a true friend of the musical ministry that God has given me.

I knew Brianna, long before she was matched with her guide Lacy in 2011. She is one of the young people whom I was blessed to mentor as part of my youth chaplaincy. Like the rest of the young people with whom God has blessed my life, I find that she mentors me most of the time, especially when it comes to learning new computer and cell phone technology. As of this writing, Brianna is the only blind student to be accepted to the Charleston School of the Arts, where she graduated with honors as a violin major. She is currently a junior at Winthrop in Rock Hill, SC, pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in English.

Since 2006, Audrey Gunter pictured with her current guide, Jessie, also continues to volunteer on behalf of my ministry. A native of Charleston, Audrey was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and declared legally blind at age nineteen. She was told to get herself a cup and some pencils because she had nothing else to look forward to. Audrey received her ABA with honors in 1975. She retired in 2001 as the Director of the MUSC Department of Transportation. A pillar of the blindness community, Audrey is a Past President of both the Lowcountry Chapter and the State American Council of the Blind in South Carolina. She has served on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Disability Resources Center, the Board of Directors of Guide Dog Users, Inc. and the Board Graduate Committee of Southeastern Guide Dog School (where she was matched with her first guide Zack and her current guide Jessie). Her book "Zack's Tales, Travels of a Guide Dog" can be purchased on my Web site. She founded the Southeast Regional Top Dog Workshop in 2006. In 2011, she was commissioned as a Stephen Minister at Grace United Methodist Church in Charleston, where she currently serves as an active member.

Laurel brailling names of campers

Together and individually, my friends and I work to promote a positive image of the blindness community within the community at large. Our recent presentations have included Charleston’s ASPCA Bark Camp, where I am shown here brailing the names of day campers as our sighted friend Kevan-Ann Spangler, brings the photographer in focus.

Laurel teaches sighted guide to day campers

Here I am teaching day campers the proper way to serve as sighted guides.

Laurel and Audrey speak to Delta Gamma Sorority

Recently, Audrey and I were also blessed to address the Delta Gamma Sorority of the College of Charleston, whose philanthropic focus serves the blindness community locally and beyond.

My thanks to everyone whose prayers and support on behalf of my music and ministry help keep God’s Light shining. I’m just one of many members of the Body of Christ, called and able to serve our awesome, equal-opportunity God!

Stay tuned for more posts like this one. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!


A Little About Me

My photo
God continues to bless me with a busy and fulfilling life. Even after thirty-plus years, my music and ministry keep going and growing. Blind from birth, I am n avid user of Braille and the long, white cane, in addition to a variety of mainstream and access technology. While my blindness does not define me, I consider it to be a unique gift from God. With this gift comes my opportunity to serve as an advocate on behalf of my fellow members of the Blindness community, living and serving among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my music, ministry and outreach, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!