I will carry you...

Today I got my first tattoo.

Rewind to college. I wanted a tattoo, one that meant something. I didn't want one just for the sake of having one. I wanted a reminder of something God taught me or something God did in my life.

Fast forward to our first year in Salem. The hardest year of my life! The short version...moving to Salem meant...I lost family, friends, support system, identity, history, and...it felt like I would never be me again.

One night (during the "crazy" Kara phase) Jeff and I were laying in bed...I was doing the ugly cry...I felt like I couldn't be 7 months prego, with a 1 year old, hardly any friends, no family around, living in a tiny apartment with my belongings in 3 different locations, no social life, and no ministry connections anymore. I was exhausted and didn't have anything left.

I remember looking at Jeff through my water filled eyes saying, "If this is God's best for me...I don't want it! I can't do this anymore!" Jeff responds, (with more passion than I knew was in him) "I didn't move our family up here for you to give up...I will carry you!" Not much was said after that, he just held me while I cried.

Fast Forward 1 year later. I was recounting to a friend all that God taught me during our first year here in Salem. I shared w/ her the story of Jeff and I on ugly cry night. Rejoicing in Jeff's response being a reminder of how the Lord felt about me...He would carry me...and HE did!

She blurts out, "ahava!" I had no idea what she was saying or what that word meant. She explains it is a Hebrew word for love. There are several different kinds of love in the Hebrew language...this particular word can be the carrying type of love...example; no matter how heavy or hard it gets I love you so much that I will carry you!

Jeff did the design for my tattoo...making the "h" resemble a shoulder...a reminder of how the shepherd puts his sheep on his shoulders, to carry them after they have strayed away, to be close the them, because HE loves them!

Today...I celebrate and remember God's love for me...the "I will carry you no matter what" kind...


Oh the Wonderful Sounds Mrs. Brown Can Hear...

I have had my new ears for one week! WOW!!! I can't even remember what it was like without them...well, to be honest, I can. Because I have to take them out every couple of hours to give myself a break. It is really overwhelming and I have had a constant headache for a week.

I have been avoiding this entry because I have put a lot of pressure on myself to communicate what it was like to go from hearing the world with half of my hearing to ALL of my hearing...and then some!

So I made a list of things as the days unfolded...some big...some not so big...here goes...

  • seatbelt makes a click sound
  • raindrops on the windshield
  • melody/harmony...never heard it, BEAUTIFUL!
  • water splashing on the sink
  • ice machine...crushed...yummy
  • my kids in the back seat, talking, singing, arguing, all of it!
  • my oven timer, even from another ROOM!
  • the prelude to the Chuck series has a bunch of background sounds that I never knew were there
  • birds chirping
  • the sound of the steamer when my dirty chai is being made
  • the sound of paper ripping and scrunching
  • had to turn down the ringer on my cell phone
  • at the park w/ the kids and heard all these adorable little voices w/ wind and falling leaves
  • the carousel was annoying loud :)
  • music played from the ipod or in the car does not have to be full blast
  • people whispering...both ears and from all kinds of distances
  • my friends and families voices as they really are...tears...lots of tears...
  • the sound of Ally's id tag clinking against her collar (Ally is our chocolate lab...first born)
  • annoying talking/noise toys that our family buys for our children! thx grandparents!
  • the sound of someone eating a banana...loudly
  • my feet hitting the ground as I run...and all the feet around me too, so I don't do that anymore!
  • knuckles cracking
  • cymbals...you know...like w/ the drums...never heard those before
  • zits popping...love that sound :)
  • discovered "background" music levels
  • cereal hitting the bowl
  • hearing people WITHOUT reading their lips and seeing their faces
  • egg shaker - thought those were for the people who could not sing but wanted to be on stage ;)
  • tv shows w/o captions...and I can hear everything!
  • egg shells cracking
  • finger nails being clipped...cool sound that goes w/ that gross job
  • i never understood why there was keyboard AND piano at the same time, turns out, they are different, layering i think is the fancy/music word
  • church/worship/teaching was AMAZING!!!
  • hearing my hubby sing, fully and completely, I was a mess, it was/is beautiful! more to come on hearing my man talk and sing...its gonna be a tear jerker...stay tuned!

oh the wonderful sounds...

PS...I have also realized that I AM REALLY LOUD...so I would like to publicly apologize to all of you for my loudness! I AM SO SORRY! WOW...I had no idea! Bad news is...I passed it onto my kids...ugh!!!


I Can Hear Them Breathe...

If you haven't read the previous post, you might want to do that first before you read on...

Friday...Friday the 17th of September, 2010...a day I will NEVER forget!!! Jeff and I finished up a double date with Steve and Trina Fowler and headed over to the Oregon School for the Deaf. We get there and Scott (test/ear mold guy) gives us hugs and a huge welcome. Apparently he had been waiting for us all afternoon! I guess he was excited to see the follow up from my ugly cry when I realized I was getting 2 new hearing aids...for FREE!

Jeff and I w/ Scott

All of a sudden a woman hands me a little plastic bag w/ 2 new hearing aids, "Kara Brown, right?" She tells me to wait to put them in, so that Dr. Bill Austin can do it. There they are...in my hand. I just sit and look at them, I don't know what will happen when he puts them in...I mean, I know I will hear better, but it couldn't really change my life...could it? could they? 2 little hearing aids?

They even matched the outside to my hair color!

While we are waiting for my turn, our friend from church, Robyn Brown came up. She was so excited for me and asked if she could stay and watch Dr. B put them in. (Robyn had been with the deaf students in Minnesota all week, and had been signing/interpreting and helping with all aspects of the Extreme Home Makeover stuff, she is also the pastor for the deaf at our church - awesome lady!) We were blessed to share this experience with her!

Then it's my turn...he comes over and puts them in my ears...a guy from Starkey has the camera and lights rolling...I feel very much watched and the center of attention, which normally I don't mind, but today I felt really uneasy about it...b/c I didn't know what my response was going to be. I was actually in disbelief at first...I just kind of sat there with tears streaming down my face while he talked to me. I could hear him loud and clear. I could hear and UNDERSTAND him w/o looking at his face! Jeff is just standing there watching w/ tears in his eyes as I am hearing the world for the first time the way he hears it. Then my hubby stands behind me on my right side and says softly, "raise your right hand." So I did, and he claps his hands and says..."That is amazing!"

Jeff, Dr. B, and I...I know, great self portrait...I am short...ok?!?

Dr. B is still talking to me, explaining all the neat stuff about the hearing aids, making sure they fit, and then...Jeff comes up behind me, on my right side, and whispers into my ear. I immediately go into the ugly cry. Dr. B says to the camera guy, "You missed it, he just kissed her on the cheek. Get back over here." I respond to Dr. B and say, "No, he didn't kiss me, he whispered that he loved me...and I HEARD it!" He says, "Wow, I didn't even hear it." To which I responded, "I know a great guy who can hook you up with some amazing hearing aids."

This is right after Jeff whispered I love you...

Then...in a matter of minutes all the sounds I have been missing out on for 30 years come crashing into my world...its amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. Little things like when we got into the car I went to buckle up...and I heard the click it makes, so I did it again, and again, and again...Jeff is just laughing at me...I heard the raindrops falling onto the windshield while we drove to pick up our kids.

We get to Logan and Erica Martins house, who have been watching the kids for us, I rush in the door and up the stairs...Caleb says, "Mommy" and I drop down to my knees and cry while I hug him. Hearing his little voice in all it's fullness for the first time...such a flood of emotions. Then I hear Samaria, "are you ok, Mommy?" I sweep her up and cry even harder as I say, "Yes, Mommy has never been better." My children have the most amazing little voices and hearing them completely was one of the most precious moments in my life!

Then after we watched an episode of Chuck on Jeff's laptop...WITHOUT captions...and I heard it all! I went in to brush my teeth and wash my face...I heard the water hit the sink and splash, I heard the toothbrush against my teeth, this was so much fun, I wanted to hear more things. So I went into the kitchen and started opening and closing things, jingled the keys, clinked silverware together, and then I got an idea...I wanted to hear my kids breathe...so I crept into their rooms...and listened...it was perfect!



So...if you have read our blog before...you know that I don't! Jeff does it...he is the blogger in our family. He is funny, he is great with words, he can make you cry, he can cheer you up, challenge you, and gosh darn it...people like him! Now that we have established that this is a RARE occasion for me, Kara Lee Santos Brown to be blogging...here goes...my first time...
I was born w/ a hearing disability...it was not discovered until I was 4 years old. High Frequency loss amounting to 90 % in my right ear and 10% in my left ear. I was given a hearing aid...undercover word for, make fun of me! I was taken out of class once a week for speech therapy and the best part was they taught me how to read lips. (let me tell you...that has come in handy on numerous occasions!)

The bottom line was that I HATED having a hearing aid, I hated being different, and I hated being told I HAD to do/or wear something. I fought, and I mean fought HARD to get rid of that thing! To the point where I would walk out of the house wearing it to appease my parents and then as SOON as I got to the bus stop I would take it out and put it in my backpack. The bad news - the kids in my class and my teachers did not have a hearing disability and could hear it beeping b/c I would often forget to turn it off in a rush to get it out of my ear and in the backpack as soon as possible. So then I would get busted at home AND at school.

Didn't matter...still fought the hearing aid battle...determination is one of my most endearing qualities. :) just ask my parents! So needless to say I eventually wore them down...6th grade, Jr. High, the mother of all transitions up to that point in my life...they said if my grades did not suffer I did not have to wear my hearing aid to school! Praise the Lord! He does hear and answer prayers! No more speech therapy, no more hearing aid, no more being made fun of, no more being different!

It never affected my grades! It affected other things in my life though...music is hard for me to follow b/c I can't make out the lyrics. That is one of the reasons I love worship music so much, I know the words b/c they are on a screen every week at church. Movies in the theater...fun for most, for me very frustrating b/c if the screen is not showing the person who is talking I can't read their lips and I miss what they are saying. Whisper to me...hahaha Not a chance I can hear that. Missing out on things said...my friends always having to repeat themselves. Never being able to put the phone on my right ear. And the list goes on...

Now lets fast forward, graduated from college, got married to the man of my dreams, we got pregnant with our first baby...I didn't want to miss my little one cry, coo, or say uv u (love you) for the first time! So with some money saved up and a loan from Jeff's parents (Thanks Mom and Dad Brown) we went and purchased a hearing aid for Mama Kara. It was sufficient, enough to help, but nothing to write home about...we had a budget to stick with and a baby on the way, not to mention insurance does not cover them!

And then we had our little bundle of joy, Caleb...and that same bundle of joy (a year and a half later) stepped on my purse, which happened to have the hearing aid in it...yup...he smashed it to smithereens! My bad for taking it out and putting it in my purse...but those things itch after they are in your ear all day long! Needless to say, insurance still doesn't cover them, we have 2 babies and bills to pay...Mama Kara is back to reading lips and "what did you say again?"

In the meantime being blessed w/ friends and family who repeat themselves a million times, watch tv shows and movies w/ captions on, running buddies who always run on my left side so when they are talking and breathing hard I can hear them, tilting the rear view mirror down when I am in the backseat so I can read their lips and not be left out, and so much more!!!

Fast Forward to September 13, 2010...I get a text from my running buddy Erik, and I quote, "what is ur deafness called?" I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. Turns out he is talking to Dr. Bill Austin, who is at the Extreme Home Makeover site, which happens to be the Oregon School for the Deaf - here in Salem! Erik says, "get over here, they will give you a hearing test"...in my mind I am thinking...Erik, I already know I am deaf! And Jeff and I are supposed to have a date night, and I don't want to go get tested again, we don't have money for another one, blah, blah, blah. Jeff says, lets just go...so we do...pack up the kids and head out. They give me a test...yup...still deaf!

Scott (test/ear mold guy) starts asking me questions about my hearing loss...what is hard? What do you wish you could hear? What is the hardest thing for you about your hearing loss? This is when tears start...I realize how much I truly miss out on...I have just always adapted...but in truth...I miss a lot of what my kids say. I miss out on one of my husbands gifts and passions in music. I miss out on getting sweet little whispers in my ears from my kiddos...b/c I can't hear them...so they don't do it! I miss the cute things they say and sing in the back of the car b/c I can't always tilt the rear view mirror to see their lips.

What I don't realize...until they are making molds for BOTH of my ears (I have only had 1 in my right ear before) is that...they are making molds for in ear hearing aids...this means they think I am getting TWO hearing aids!?! I stopped Scott and let him know, we don't have the money for this, and I have never had 2 before, only 1...he looks at me confused and says, "how did you hear about this?" I fill him in on Erik and the free test. Scott looks at me w/ tears in his eyes and says, "this is a $3,000.00 hearing test Kara. You are getting not 1 but 2 FREE hearing aids today." This is when the ugly cry starts...I can't believe it...and these are not just hearing aids...these are the Best of the Best! (I know...I sound like an old lady...off to a nursing home!) Jeff comes over, I explain, we both burst into tears...Scott is tearing up w/ us...and says to Jeff, "date night will never be the same, you can go to the movies now!"

Wow...I am in awe of how God chose to heal me! I have been praying for my ears to be made new for as long as I can remember! I want to hear what my husband plays...completely! I want to hear my kids...even when I am not looking at their faces! I am sure all my family and friends want me to stop asking, "what did you say again?" Thank you for always repeating yourselves! Thank you Erik for being that friend...like the friends in Mark 2:4! Thank you Dr. Bill Austin for your generosity! Thank you Jeff for pushing me to go for the "free hearing test" when I just wanted a date night w/ you...life will never be the same husband! Thank you Extreme Home Makeover for coming to Salem! Thank You God...for hearing me...healing me...loving me...and saving me!!!