Communicating With The Hard of Hearing from Sloan’s Perspective

Dear Upper Room Family,

My parents chose to not put me in Deaf Culture when I was 2 years old (and fitted with hearing aids for the first time ever). They bootcamped me through years of speech therapy and put me into mainstream society – sometimes I am still not sure if they realized all the consequences of their actions in doing this, because putting a nearly-deaf girl into a hearing world is a bit overwhelming. From the time I was young, I have struggled to engage in communication in social situations. Plenty of wounds were left over from this – most especially in peer-to-peer situations, stuff  I’m still dealing with today. Only through Jesus am I able to overcome this – I don’t know sign language to this day. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of American life, but you just never know! I am missing cilia cells from my left and right cochlea in my inner ears. Science and God are working on the miracle.

  • Make sure that I can see your lips moving at all times. I’m an even better lipreader without my hearing aids.
  • Speak clearly and articulately. In most cases, speaking louder is a bit offensive to me.
  • Try to stay on my LEFT side.
  • Patience in love is key. I need repetition.
  • I thrive best in one-on-one settings when I can fully engage with the other person.
  • Group conversations in person are overwhelming for me. In that case, it’s almost necessary for the speaker to wear my microphone at all times. This may partially fuel my love of GroupMe and social media, because we are on an equal platform.
  • Because group conversations are hard, if Heaven could come to Earth in our community, everyone who is in the group conversation I’m in would speak loudly and clearly (or maybe pass the mic around) to make sure I can understand what they are saying. It’s so hard to watch everyone around you laugh while you have no idea what is going on.
  • I use wireless bluetooth headphones to listen to podcasts, audio, music etc on my computer and phone. The Bluetooth technology wirelessly connects to hearing aids.
  • I need my Roger clip-on device and Roger pen the most in group settings, restaurants, bars, games, driving in the car, hiking, etc. I use it less in quiet settings one-on-one. I will demonstrate to you in person how to use if you have questions.
  • People far away from me are hard for me to “make out” what they are saying. The problem is never volume for me – it is always comprehension and the distance (as well as background noise) barrier of manmade technology unable to replicate God’s creation.
  • Please don’t be afraid to call me on the phone! Apple does an AMAZING job making iPhones compatible for hard-of-hearing users – along with my Bluetooth headphones and Roger clip on and its partner.

With my hearing aids, I have a “mild” hearing loss. As I am typing this, I can hear cars rumble down the road late on this evening.

Without my hearing aids, the softest sound I can hear in my left ear is right above a vacuum cleaner, or a loud voice talking near my ear. In my right ear, I can hear rock concerts but not much more than that. I’ve considered a cochlear implant but the idea of damaging residual hearing in my right ear seems horrible. Technology has really advanced since 1988, and with each new hearing aid model released I can hear that much closer to glory.

Closed caption/subtitles is pretty much necessary for me. Also – I don’t enjoy the movie theater. I LOVE instrumental music – whether that is LeCrae, clean rap, rock, techno, whatever it is. I love to dance. However, worship and country is pretty much the only lyrics I can make out naturally with hearing aids 😉

Please don’t fear coming to me. And bring all the questions/concerns/prayers you have! I am really an open book. I really appreciate your love and support in this. I hope that this will help you in your future communication with people as well.  Love you guys.

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What brought me to Colorado in 2016

The story behind moving to Colorado in Spring 2016? Ever since the Wild West enchanted me in adolescence, summer after summer, I wanted to move here. An entire state revolved around mountain culture, tying Eastern and Western America together. That was in high school. Then I went to Athens and fell in love with the city and its people and spots. I stayed for ten years, and it seemed like I would never leave. In spring 2012, the Lord began to do a new thing in me: something called breaking me apart. Somehow He kept leading me to make choices that seemed to lead to one closed door after another. This was after seven years at @ugawesley, in and of itself some of the most incredible of my life. But I decided to stay in Athens post-interning at Wesley and tried about 4 things in 5 years- God teaching me to wait, trust, serve, go with the flow, refining my desires, learning about the real world, gaining expertise in content marketing, becoming a self-starter, having healthy friendships and so forth. But I finally grew bored with Athens. I have a dream to do media for missions and I still have yet to see some of that come to pass, but I definitely was led to do my first season of it from April to December 2015. I thought I was going to a refugee community in Atlanta to join staff and stay for 2-3 years after ministry training school bootcamp (August 10- Dec 23). However, after moving from Athens to Atlanta and raising a lot of support, I felt like The Lord kept speaking to me to be “true to myself” and not waste my time or others’ time. I felt like He showed me so many powerful things that can’t fit on here, I encountered Him like no other time in my life up till that point. He stirred my heart and made me ask myself what I really want to do and where I really want to go. All of the classmates around me were leaving everything to go tell people about Jesus in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. I wanted to and still want to play a role in supporting people in that, but my role looked different. We read a book required each week. And the day before Thanksgiving week is when I realized that I wouldn’t be joining staff with the missions organization. At first I started looking at options locally and kept hearing God say “MORE. How big can you go, how far can you go?” 
Then I looked regionally… athens again, Nashville etc. But that wasn’t big enough for God. My dream was still too small. It had been my intent from the start of 2015 to dream big and live big even while adulting. 
Finally, I was reading this book at the gym for class while cycling late one night the week after Thanksgiving. I had no idea who John Bevere was before this week, or his wife Lisa and their four sons. Little did I realize they live in Colorado Springs. I read a few lines in the middle of the book about repentance, and giving things up to God. 
And that was the defining moment for me. What was my one thing? My one thing was Colorado. I had not given the Lord Colorado. 
He had been closing doors for almost four years while that still small voice had been nudging me all along to not be afraid and to go after my biggest attainable dream in front of me thus far in life. The absolute scariest thing for me was leaving behind the beloved Christian community that had surrounded me for most of the last decade. Friends like I’ve never experienced in my whole life, seeing God move in ways very few Americans get the privilege of seeing. 
I was inspired by all the millennials moving from all over to Atlanta and realized that I needed to do that for someplace I am truly passionate about. One of my biggest fears in life up to this point has been fear of letting go to go after some of my biggest passions, no matter the cost. 
So I repented to God and felt a huge release of peace and comfort. A couple of days later, I found myself weeping like I had not in along time in repentance. And that’s when it started. It hit me that this dream could be a real thing. 
So I started looking at people and places in Denver and Colorado Springs and telling everyone about my plans and intentions. The Lord made me fall in love with this state all over again and reawakened my heart to feel lovesick for this place, just as many people do for a certain country in the world they want to be a missionary to. 
I couldn’t stop thinking about Colorado until Christmas, and intended to do what I had wanted to do for 12 years- drive from Georgia to Colorado and take a vision trip. 
But then for some weird reason Colorado fell on the back burner again and I felt very open and indifferent about the next step. I kept telling people the first week of 2016 or so that I had no idea what this year had in store. I could go anywhere and do anything. I had no idea what the next month had in store. I put myself out there in leaps of faith to see what would fall in place.
Then I found myself leaving for this trip to Colorado. I never believed it would truly happen until the day I got in the car and drove west first to MS to pick my friend up so she could go with me. She didn’t believe it would happen either. 
But a couple days later, as we crossed the border from Kansas to Colorado and for the next eight days afterwards the Lord opened door after door after door after door doors doors doors galore!! I was ruined for anything else.
I didn’t want to leave Colorado. When I returned from the trip, nothing felt the same. I felt complete closure with Georgia, Atlanta and Athens that I didn’t have in the fall of 2015 in Atlanta. 
My eyes were fully focused forward and I decided to take that leap of faith and move. Again door after door opened. My friend happened to have a spring break free to help me move and the same friend who was trying to figure out the next step in MS ended up coming back out with us while I stopped in to Oxford to see my brother. Moved and again doors galore open. Got a job in four days and found a dreamy homey home.
I could go on and on. I haven’t had a single red flag out here the last 3 months. It’s been exhausting, exhilarating, amazing and so many more emotions. 
So- God used that book to change my life. I even got the chance to speak with Messenger International on the phone while looking at moving to Colorado. And while reading it a few days later at a restaurant in Atlanta, a man came up to me out of the blue and praised the Bevere’s ministry. Yay God!!!

Travel Photos: Australia

I’ll be making a series of posts showcasing my photography in various categories. I thought I’d start with one of my favorite hobbies: travel.

I’d do anything to be on a plane right now.

May 2012 is WAYYYYYYYY TOOOOOO LOONNNNGGGGGGG.

Take me in your suitcase, Spring Breakers.

These are my two picks from hundreds of point-and-shooter photos I took in Sydney, Australia in June 2007. Thing were only budding then, and it’s easy to be self-critical.

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Sample of Engagement and Wedding Photography

My new site is under construction, but in the meantime, I’d love to share with you all some happy memories from this September 2013 wedding date in Danielsville, GA. Also pictured are engagement photos from fall 2012. Shoot me an email, sloan.blanton@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like to set a session up! Thanks so much for considering me, and have a blessed day!

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Lesson from a Tuesday night in January

I learned not how I do not make my disability a disability, but just all the little ways that I have let a disability be a disability. A physical disability can have no effect absolutely on social, personality-related, and practical situations. Rather, it is the work of God that creates an ability, and of lies that creates a disability. A physical disability doesn’t create more of a disability. Everything I have is either a gift from God, or a lie to reject. There is no reason any of us should not walk in confidence or laughter. This year, I am inspired to live abundantly in the freedom I am given. We must cling to hope and bring that hope to the world around us!

Every stranger has a heart waiting to be opened. Break the ice randomly in conversation, and a treasure of gold and of love will be opened up to you.

Once again, reminded of the importance of living every day in spiritual, emotional, mental, active, and physical discipline.

I Can’t Believe I Wrote This FOUR Years Ago?! Learning Not To Judge!

I wrote this one Thursday afternoon in mid-March of 2010.

Some of my favorite and most powerful times with Him, come in just sitting with Him and my journal in the Wesley Prayer Chapel…no music, no people, just me and God and silence. He will pour revelation out into my heart, and it is truly a remarkable experience. My revelation is my love, obedience, and worship to Him!

We are all scumbags without Jesus, and with Him we are ONE in Christ! So who are we to judge?!

Judge by FRUIT not METHODS of walk.

I’ve been tired of judging myself as a “lower” sense of spiritual status with God than many of my close friends are, because Romans 8 says I’m not. Romans 8 says that HIS love for me NEVER changes, that NOTHING can separate me from His love. Judgment cannot separate me. Judgment from others can’t. A root of me thinking of myself lesser spiritually is that I felt lower in the past when I would depend on people for the needs I should have been taking to the Lord.

It is wrecking the symbol when we think we’re better than others, because it is the accessible free gift that God gives us as a symbol of His grace to all of His children, we just ASK, and He GIVES because He is GOOD and He DIED for us. It’s up to HIM to judge the wicked and convict the sinners. Not us. Being judged hurts and makes you feel unworthy like someone doesn’t honor you, and makes you feel like scum. That is a lie because that is not who we are in Christ’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what other people are experiencing, all that matters is, are YOU experiencing the Holy Spirit, and shining as a witness? Some of this revelation came to me as I was comparing myself to a friend. And while doing this, I realized I am just as worthy of the wisdom and gifting as my friend is- they are just as equally accessible to me as they are to my friend.

Gifts are just as equally accessible to Obama.

Equally accessible to the girl at the strip club.

Equally accessible to the dying child in a third world nation.

Equally accessible to the prisoners.

Equally accessible to the legalistic system of some churches. People on the other end of the theological spectrum.

And, THAT, my friends, is why we do ministry. Why we intercede! Why we have HUMILITY! Why we take pride captive. We are all ONE in Christ. And we, ALL of us, are all scumbags without Jesus.

The other day a judgmental thought crossed my head about one of my friends in particular (I actually don’t remember which friend it was) and God sent a stingy feeling in my eye to remind me of Matt. 7:5.

Who am I to put people on a pedestal? It’s all equally accessible to all of us. It brings either pride or unworthiness.

John 3:17- “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

John 3:17: Can be easily translated to “God did not send the Holy Spirit into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved, interceded for, ministered to, loved on, and discipled by the Holy Spirit through US, the sons and daughters of the living King!”

Feeling judged by others, whether as a lie from the enemy or as an actual action that my friends have taken against me and repented of, has lead to breakthrough in my own life by not judging people. While I have quickly assumed often that people were judging me, God has still really used this time in my life to break me free of not judging people and to give me this revelation I feel He wants me to tell you, it is a topic we overlook so much.

Don’t judge- it hurts your own spiritual growth, and takes your focus off of who the Lord has designed you to be, and onto whatifs. It also harms your relationship with people, bringing bitterness, jealousy, disorder, and evil of every kind. Allow yourself to see yourself in the Lord’s eyes and listen to His discernment for who you are, and to not judge others so you can pray and encourage them and minister to them! Yeahhh.

Fruits not gifts reveal spiritual maturity.