BLIND YET SEEING THE LIGHT! The Story Of My Life And Ministry.
Born September, 24, 1957, to Jimmie and Jean Broome in York County, South Carolina, I was the first of four children. Really, you could say that there were 5, including Kenneth our little brother, who died shortly after birth. We will all meet him in heaven some day. There are two sisters, Pam and Donna, and our brother Jamie. Other than some health problems, Maw and Pop, as we call them, are doing well. They are still in love with each other after many years of marriage. I had the opportunity of performing the renewing of their Golden Wedding Anniversary vows. Just think of it! The ones who gave me life through birth in this world, I, as their preacher son, had the fine privilege of sending on their way for, hopefully what will be, many more years of marrital happiness. It is love that keeps them together. They have always stood behind me and believed in me in every thing I've undertaken to do; and, they still do.
Shortly after birth, as I was born quite prematurely, it was discovered that something had gone drasticly wrong. During about the first three months of my life, I was kept in the hospital. Due to the prematurity, I had to be kept in an isolator during that time. In the process, I recieved too much high oxygen concentration which severely damaged my eyes; primarily, the retinas. This resulted in blindness with only light and close object perception. The condition was known as, retrolental fibroplasia, RLF, for short. It is now classified simply as Retinopathy Of Prematurity. My parents were very young too; and, because I acted like any normal baby otherwise, the condition wasn't known for a while. However, the reality which soon sat in would change all of our lives, including mine, for ever!
Maw said that she named me after Michael Anthony, a TV personality, who gave lots of money away; hence, my middle name, Anthony, results in me being called, Tony. Like the one after whom I'm named, I do have a free heart; but, the money part never has worked out!
I enjoyed my early childhood growing up with my young parents and my sisters and brother; though, he was some time later in coming, if you know what I mean. I didn't worry about being blind, because I played and went about as other children did. I played ball with my sisters, rode bicycles, and went fishing and hunting with Pop. Because I had never remembered seeing, I didn't know the difference. Sometimes, I think about it now. What in the world was a blind boy doing, sitting in the woods, freezing to death, and couldn't see a 'cotton pickin' thing to shoot at? But, I was with Pop, and that's all that mattered. I had my own 22, single shot rifle. I got to shoot the big shotgun, but, Pop had to hold it while I pulled the trigger. It was a 12 gauge. If you put in slug shells or those with buck-shot, it could knock a grown man down! Even now, we have a picture that shows me holding up a squirrel that was killed while we were hunting.
I faced promises, eye exams, and surgery, but, all to no avail. In those days, no blind children in our area went to public school. Therefore, we soon faced the sad fact that I would have to go away some 75 miles from my home in Fort Mill, South Carolina, to Spartanburg, where I would attend Cedar Springs School for the Deaf and Blind. How weird I felt being away from home in a strange place, away from my family, friends, and neighbors in the mill hill town where we grew up. My parents have long since told me of the days and nights that they would spend crying as we were absent from each other.
I was so little in those days. The tiny shirts, size 4 Ranglers, and Buster Brown shoes that I wore, are etched in their memory for ever. I missed many times with them, my sisters, and brother during our childhood, which cannot be recovered to this day. Yet, this was a sacrifice on our part which had to be made. The only thing I liked about getting ready to go off to school was getting a hair cut. Now, Old Baldy has his very own permanent one.
We did the preschool shots thing, the doctors or nurses or somebody, stuck a thermometer up my fanny, and we were good to go. If, even a doctor, doesn't know that you're supposed to put a thermometer in your mouth instead of in your tail, no wonder they _blinded me. Why, it's a wonder to God that I'm even alive!
One of the first experiences I had after arriving at School for the Blind, was the strange behavior of going from one building to another to get different things done. Seems like I heard them talking about Registration, or something like that. After leaving one such building, I asked, "Is it time to go home now?" Somehow, my parents got away. One of the first things I did was to ask for a drink of water. One of the guys said, "Well, you just go to the water fountain and get it." (It was one of those basin-type water fountain things that they had back in the 1960's. I said, "Where are the glasses?" they said, "Ya dummy, there ain't no glasses here! Some of us have 'got' thick glasses all right, but you can't drink out of them." I sure had a lot to learn.
One Sunday afternoon as Maw and Pop were taking me back to school, I decided that I had the toothache. The closer they got, the worse it got. We got all the way in to campus. We even went to the imfirmory, or, Sick Bay, as we used to call it. By then, the situation had gotten so bad, that, everyone decided that if I had the toothache that bad, I probably shouldn't stay, so, my parents should just take me back home. Yes! I was feeling better already. We probably hadn't gotten but about 15 or 20 miles from the school, when, Maw and Pop glanced back to see me playing for all I was worth, up in the back of the car where they used to put hand bags and things, up next to where the back glass is, with one of those little toy matchbox cars.
Pop slammed on brakes and turned around and headed right back for the school. I said, "Hey, what's comin off, here?" Pop said, "Your little butt's goin back to school, that's what!" (Of course, he put in a few other little words which I cannot print here, which are not recommended for the auditory canal, especially, in the realm of Christianity. He did that sometimes, when nothing else seemed to work and when his country raisin done come out! Then, I began to holler at the top of my voice, "Oh! Oh! Oh, my tooth, I'm dyin, I'm dyin, oh! my tooth, I'm dyin!" They continued driving. I continued hollering. We reached campus, again. Knowing that we had stopped, I cried, "Oh, I'm dyin, I'm dyin!" "Get out of this car, boy!" Pop said. (I know now that there hearts must have been broken. "All right," I said. "If you don't want me to die in your car, I'll just die out here on the sidewalk!"
When I came home on the weekend pass that Friday, they found out the reason I had pitched such a fit. The day of the ordeal had been Sunday. It was Halloween weekend, and my sisters, Pam and Donna were going Trick Or Treating that very night. Do you think I wanted to miss all that candy? those big Sugar Daddys, Mary Janes, and Jaw Breakers? not to mention, the Kitts Candies, raisins, hot balls, and bubble gum? That was during the time when Trick 'er Treating was much more innocent than it is today. No one would ever even think about putting a razor blade or something bad in candy and giving it to a child. We didn't then understand all the evils which are connected with Halloween. It was just a fun time for the children. We used to get boxes, too, with apples and oranges! You'd think it was Christmas time. Our little sister, Donna, was so young. She'd sing, "Happy Birthday To You." I don't know who's birthday she thought it was, but, we sure enjoyed it,
nevertheless. I could tell you of the troubles I got into as a boy living in the dorm with others, the civil wars between the deaf and the blind, and the things which got blamed on me, which, I _really didn't do. But, most of these things would be better off forgotten; which, indeed, many of them, I have. Of course, we won't mention the time when I kicked the football through the dorm window. I still wonder why it busted, the window, that is!
In those days, your first year at School for the Blind was not even classified as a grade. They called it Preparatory. I think it was really Reformatory and they were just Bluffin Us Off! We had what was called, Touch And Tell. Not being able to see, we had to learn what a circle, square, rectangle, and triangle looked like. You learned to recognize them by touch. The teacher's name was Mrs. Smith. god bless her soul for putting up with me. I won't go through all of my teachers, but, there are a few of them which stand out in my memory.
Our first grade teacher was Mrs. Davis. More about her later. In the second grade, we had Mrs. Casey. She was a young, tall woman, no, I mean, _very tall. Maybe she seemed so tall because I was so short. Our third grade teacher was Mrs. Bonie. They called her Mrs. Bonie, like B O N E Y, but, I understand that she was big as a barn! In the fourth grade, we had Mrs. Robinette. the institutionalization which had charred so many other of the faculty and staff on campus never reached her. She made you feel kinda like you were at home again. She was sweet, and could sing pretty, too. My fifth grade teacher was Shirley Thompson, not the one Jeanie C riley sung about, least, I don't think so. She got pregnant while we were there, no! I mean, around the time when we were in her class. Some of us boys were getting a little older by then, so, we knew what _she was doin. Forgive my reference. Actually, we could tell that she and her husband Jim had a happy marriage. She did something out of the institutional ordinary, too. She took her whole class on an outing. We got to play volley baseball like we used to get to do in gym. In other words, we used a volley ball to play baseball with instead of a baseball. Make sense? Well, if you Was a little boy, it would. Some of us practiced hard to learn how to hit the ball, holding it in one hand and hitting it with the other. Some of the big boys could really hit it far, too. But, that day, they promised Mrs. Thompson that they wouldn't, cause, we didn't have a big place to play in.
Yes, we really had physical ed in those days. They didn't think playing was all that bad for you. We got to ride the train around the park and got to eat some goodies, too, like Mississippi mud cake. Yum, yum!
Our sour puss music teacher was Mr. white. He had the personality of a goat. You could always tell when you made him mad, he didn't say anything. In fact, nobody said anything. It was like the whole world stopped for, what seemed to be for an hour. When he finally did speak you knew that you were Dead Meat! It must not have been quite so bad as it seemed. I made it through it and I'm still playing piano.
My learning continued. I learned shapes, braille, typing, music, and just how good rice and gravy tasted at supper after band practice in the evening. Yes, in South Carolina, we had rice. Rice is nice, but, oh, what a price! We had everything, rice. Rice pudding, rice bread, rice and gravy (leave that one alone, I like _it), rice and corn. Sometimes, I think we even had rice and rice! then, it came. They served it up to us in the 7 AM chow line, rice, with sugar on top and milk poured over for breakfast. That, was the killer! Come to think of it, I still like rice. At least, it was better than that old slimy oatmeal that they had. And milk, heavens to Betsy, we had milk, three times a day, at every meal.
Then, our first grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, decided that we needed a carton of milk for recess. And, then, it happened, she stood in front of us and saw that we drunk it. And, I got a hold of a bad one. Yuck, a-mercy, it stunk like the devil. She thought she was doing us a favor, but, I like to have died right then and there. And, there was Grits. Have you ever seen yellow Grits? Well, we had them. They were so yellow. With my limited vision, I could actually see the yellow in them. Cream of wheat? Don't even talk about it. why it would exist upon the earth as a product for human consumption? I haven't the slightest. Sometimes, when the weather got hot, we would actually have tea, tea! for dinner and supper, too. Oh, it was _so good! It almost looked red to me in those little drinking glasses. But, all the food wasn't bad. They had a dessert in those days which I've never been able to find out much information about since those early years at Cedar Springs; other than the fact that it was a special recipe from the husband of one of our House Mothers. It was something called, Sally Anne. they were given to us as perfectly circular cakes, about 6 inches across and between an inch or two high. To my limited vision, the inner cake part looked dark, and, it was glazed over with a fudge or devil-food-type icing. Now, you just tell me, Don't that sound good? Have you ever heard of anything like that? Well, I still have contact with a couple of my old school buds, and they tell me that it was a recipe from the husband of one of our care taker ladies. I guess I'm so crazy about it because I love chocolate!
Then, sometime around the mid or late 1960's, they started talking about a big word that I didn't understand, something like 'integration' or, something along them lines. they used this other big word that sounded something like, segr-a-gation. they said it was wrong, whatever it was. There was a building on campus that we never got to go to. It was called Ballard Hall, but, somehow it got its name changed to Spring Hall. They said that everybody ought to be put together in school. Well, that sounded pretty groovy to me. then, all of a sudden, these black dudes started showing up. I think the girls' department had them, too, but, I don't reckon they were dudes. they must have called them Dudies, er somethin. Word got out that they were really there all the time, but I never seen em before. Oh, you know, us blind folks say, "See" and "Watch" just like you who can see, do. We talk just like yall. I "Watched" TV last night, or, I "Saw" the ball game, when in reality, "we ain't seen nothin!" Anyhow, I liked the black dudes. Still do, though I must admit, their feet 'stank' and their head felt funny!
I won a braille watch for doing some kind of school achievement of some sort or another. Man, you would have thought that they had given me a million dollars, I was so proud of it. (A braille watch is actually a tactile watch, having dots to mark the dial in the places where the numbers are. Most people who are blinded or lose their vision later in life don't feel comfortable using time pieces of this sort, because, they've never learned braille or the use of tactile devices or markings. But, those of us who started out that way still use them. The rest feel more comfortable using talking watches. We use them, too, but, if you're doing something live where you need the time without audio bothering others, the tactile watch is the way to go. Plus, if you're in a noisy environment, you're not going to be able to hear the tiny voice they have in those things, anyway. Why the agencies give those little-sounding things to those who are seniors, losing their vision, and can't half hear anyway, is beyond me. Give the guy something that'll blow his ears off. He won't have a problem knowing what time it is.
Because of the constant touching, braille watches wear out usually within two or three years. I gave such a watch to my brother, Jamie once. He took it to school and flipped up the lid. You have to do that, of course, to have access to the dial. the guys said, "Hey, man, where did you get that bad watch?"
And, then, I earned my very own slate and stylus. The slate and stylus isn't nearly as fast as the Perkins brailler, but, it's the most portable way of writing braille. The pocket braille slate provides the platform of four lines of about 27 or more braille cells of six dots each. Paper is inserted between the hinges of the slate and the stylus is used to punch the dots into the paper, which comes out on the other side as braille. They were provided to us to learn to write in this format, but, we were encouraged to get our own. We had to write a full page letter using the slate and stylus. when we did it without making a mistake, a brand new one was presented to us as our very own. I felt myself smile as the principal walked into our classroom and gave me, mine.
I would stay on campus during the week and go home on the weekend at first. Then, it was every other weekend. Campus was a very lonely place during the weekends. Our mothers would write us letters during the week and send them to the school. Whether she could think of anything or not, the single sheets of notebook paper were wonderful to us. Yes, Thursday was always letter day. Sometimes, we would even get one with more than one page. During class we were encouraged to write a letter in braille which would be sent home to our parents. We would write double space. That means, that we would leave blank lines between each line of braille so that our teacher could copy for our parents in print what we had written. School wasn't that bad during the daytime. We learned to read Sally, dick, and Jane in braille. In those days, it was reading, writing, and arithmetic. Bring it back! bring it back. We did fractions in braille. My, it took a lot of paper. Paper? That braille paper was so thick, that you could cut the blood out of your hand or fingers without even thinking twice about it. In fact, you didn't even have time to think about it most of the time until it was too late.
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During my eight years at school there, the experience which stands out most of all has really little to do with blindness. It was in 1971, when during a gospel service on campus, I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ and became a Born Again Christian.
Dr. Sam Lawton, a black Presbyterian minister, who himself was blind, was our school chaplain. He gave a short message. I don't remember much about it, except that he described for us, how they took grain or flour and processed it for use in making bread or other products. "Bam, Bam, Bam," he said. (Course, we listened real good to make sure he wasn't saying something else. "That's how they do it," he continued. "They do this so they can take the bad out of it and leave the good," he said. Then, here's the statement that got me. "That's What Jesus Can Do For Your Life. He Can Take It And Make Something Good Out Of It." He gave a simple invitation for us to come forward to give or rededicate our life to the Lord. Some of us did. I didn't know what that Dedicate thing meant, but, I knew I hadn't even done that first thing he was talking about yet. You ought to have seen us blind boys and that old blind preacher trying to find each other.
In those days, you could actually feel of each other and nobody thought anything bad about it. We finally found each other, after my turn had come as he was dealing with several of us boys, one at a time. He got me by the hand and said, "Son, do you want Jesus Christ as your Saviour?" I said, "Yes, sir, I sure do." I meant it with all my heart. One is not saved by feeling, but, it sure feels good to be right with god. When that drastic of a change takes place, you're gonna feel something. I testified to his wife, who was standing there with us, that I had said Yes, to Jesus.
Did I understand everything? No, and I still don't. But, even without knowing it, I had done what Scripture says to do. I had believed and had said Yes to him when the challenge was given to receive him into my heart. Then, I had told someone what I had done. When you can read the bible for yourself, he expects you to learn it and follow it. But, when you cannot, the Holy Spirit of god will reveal the word of god to you. He will lead you and guide you to follow His word, even though you may not know it. I didn't Get Down, Pray Through, or, any of those other man-made rules that they say you're supposed to do in order to be saved. But, the work was done, and He became my Saviour and Lord. I was Blind, Yet, Seeing The LIGHT!
During November of that same year, I felt a strong urge of the call to gospel ministry. this, too, was during a similar service in which I announced to the audience who was there that the Lord had called me to preach. I actually gave a short address then, though, one could hardly call it a sermon. The announcement was spontaneous, but, the Lord had been dealing with me for days before that with the call in my heart and mind already, leading up to that very moment. I have never been perfect, and will never be until heaven. But, I'm happy to say, that, from that very moment, I have been involved to some degree in some type of ministry; whether, preaching, singing, or playing gospel music.
I played clarinette in the band during school days, but prefer piano, keyboard, string, and organ.
I cannot tell you that I was free of all the struggles and hardships that a teenager has, not to mention, continuing to deal with being blind. But, I must say, that because of being Saved at an early age, I was spared from many things which many of my friends fell into, and which, lots of our youth are facing today.
I have used tobacco and have even tasted alcohol, but an anointing has always been on my life. It is only by His protection and grace, that I am able to claim a right standing today with my heavenly Father because of what His Son Jesus did for me on that old rugged cross.
By this time, I had come home from "state school," as I used to call it, and had gone to public school for several years. Well, I was always doing things like that, and still do today, doing things, treading on ground whereon no one else has trodden. Thus, I was the first blind person in our area of the state of South Carolina who had ever attended public school. For the most part, people and the other kids were accepting of me. Of the ones who weren't, they got the fool beat out of them; but, I'll leave that one for my sisters to let you in on sometime!
I took the GED out of the ninth grade, being several years older than my peers, and continued for several years in Bible education, again, being the first and only blind student in our area who had ever done such a thing. I attended Beaver Creek Bible Institute and School Of Theology, graduating in 1977. The Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois, is a wonderful correspondence school for those seeking their high school diploma, or who want continuing adult education. I have taken other bible courses from there, as well as Spanish, medical transcription, health courses, and more.
Beginning in 1972, our family attended the First Free Will Baptist church in Rock Hill, South Carolina. My Christian life and ministry grew. I was licensed as a minister in 1974 and ordained in 1979. I had the honor of being their assistant pastor among many other positions before leaving in 1986.
Many thanks go to my mother, who you already know as Maw, for me being the man I am today. Call it a bribe if you will; but, she's still young enough to Hurt me if I don't acknowledge it! And, I just found out, she's got a computer, now, so, I better watch out. In all seriousness, though, the comment represents the truth.
We would go to auctions in those days, about as far back as I can rmember. then, one day, while shaving very early in the morning, I discovered that I could do it, too, the auction chant, I mean. When my parents and friends heard about it, they all encouraged me to go to auctioneer school, which, I did in 1981, attending Mendenhall School Of Auctioneering in Highpoint, North Carolina. I never really thought of making a career of it, but, do enjoy the bid calling. Someone would catch the bids who was sighted, then holler "Yes," or something similar to me, and I would raise the bid call number count and keep on going. People who help around the auction block with the work and catching bids are called, Ring Men. Course, if it's a girl, I don't know what you'd call her, it, I mean. Maybe that's why they call everything Person now, instead of saying man or woman. In my way of thinking, if you're so blasted determined to get the job, take the name that comes with it.
We worked out a way where the Ring Men could let me in on a bid raise without the other people in the audience or our fellow auctioneers knowing about it. they would casually walk near as they always do at auctions, and touch me on the leg. I would continue raising the chant as anyone else who could see would do. then, somebody got the idea of pulling my breeches leg as, they could do it without being seen. they did it and it worked. thank, God! they didn't fall off. I've actually gone down, as we call it, before someone got in on the end of an item being sold, as a result of course, of not being able to see them. But, who would get mad at a blind man, right? Well, more than you might think! Ya don't mess with a man's money or his woman, don't ya know! Come to think of it, you might have more luck in some cases with the woman than with the money, but, that's another story.
Several years later, Maw went to auctioneer school at Southeastern School Of Auctioneering in Greenville, South Carolina. She had a successful antique auction business south of Rock Hill for a good while. She held South Carolina license as I did for many years after that, but her and Pop are enjoying retirement life in the North Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina. Must be nice! Well, really, they're like a lot of people, retired, but, busier than ever.
If you happen to be in the Rock Hill, south Carolina area, tune in to WRHI, AM 1340 from around 9:30 till 10 on Friday morning, where you might still be able to hear some of my voice-overs, as we call them, as I help out with their Radio Auction program.
I actually held licenses in both North and South Carolina for many years, though, I hardly ever sell any thing any more. I would rather do charities for schools and churches, but, the auction laws have gotten so ticklish that one is afraid of reaping bad benefits from the legal side of things simply for doing a good deed to help someone. With all the tax information and records which need to be kept on file and because of the behavior of a few 'jack-leg' auctioneers, churches and civic groups usually find it easier to just go ahead and have a benefit or yard sale.
Of course, it's my personal judgment, that churches should be in the business of giving away, not selling. All four of the Gospels record instances where our Lord ran people out of the temple, just for doing such a thing! Churches need to get a hold of this. Quit justifying gambling, selling and raffling off tickets to Help cancer, as you say. Cancer don't need your help if you've gotta sin to do it.
This isn't to speak against the high standard which auctioneering has achieved and received as a profession. Many of my colleagues are great auctioneers and take their profession very seriously. That's the way they make their living. Some of them do a pretty good job of it, too. However, the stage for my life had already been set long ago, even before I was born, by our Lord. When someone sees me coming, I don't want that person to think, "Well, I wonder if he's gonna be trying to sell me something today? or, is he going to preach to me?" Answer: Probably niether. However, I want a person to know that I'm there to give something instead of trying to take something away.
In January of 1986, I moved to Henderson, North Carolina to help Steve Pryor, a preacher friend of mine in the mission status of Peace Free Will Baptist Church. This refers to the time in a church's life when it is just being started and growing, the Honey Moon stage, if you will. The move was exciting but difficult; because, it meant being away from home, again! I will always be grateful to Ray and Kat Collier, a wonderful Christian couple who took me into their home and treated me as one of their own. This made things a whole lot easier. We shared meals together, talked about the Bible, and I made them laugh a lot. Steve and his wife Dale Pryor touched many lives and were used by the Lord in Henderson and surrounding areas for many years. Though, sickness has plagued their family many times during their ministry, they continue serving our Lord without complaining.
Doors soon began to open. I had my first full time job in Christian radio at the local Bible Broadcasting Network, BBN, station, WYFL in Henderson. My radio work would Play Out eventually, but many were the rewarding hours I spent putting together production, making 30 second church announcements, weather reports, and community public service interview programs. Those years as a young teenager, messing around with putting things on tape and Overdubbing, as we call it, to make music and voice recordings, helped train me for the job that god would use me in later.
The first station I was actually on was WTYC, 1150 AM in Rock Hill. It has now changed format and call letters. This was a fifteen minute religious program. That's what all my radio work has been, Gospel related.
Next, there was The Firing Line Broadcast, a 30-minute program with preaching and music, on WRHI, 1340 AM in Rock Hill. This station is still going strong. For this program, I actually had a sponsor, Mr. Wiley Blanton, a fine Christian and businessman, who was the franchise owner of the Rock Hill, South Carolina Burger King in those days. The program continued for about ten years, well after I had moved to Henderson.
But, my most experience and pay was with YFL. You know us radio guys, we leave off the W lots of times when we're talkin radio. It's a Secret Of The Trade. Oh, the jokes we shared about me being a blind weathercaster. I would always say, "Well, if I get it wrong, at least I have a good excuse!"
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During this time, I met my wife Peggy. We met at a place which I would recommend for anybody seeking a good mate, a tent revival. We started as friends for a couple of years. Well, you know how it goes, we soon knew that we were meant for each other. Our dates were exciting and exotic, things like, burger King, McDonalds, and Tocco Bell. I liked it when she rubbed my bald head. I think it bothered her some because she was older than I. Well, it didn't bother me none. And because I'm blind and can't see anyway, I can always pretend that she's 25.
One evening, we were invited to have supper with a couple who went to our church. After supper, we went to a place for icecream. The business is now closed, but, the icecream did the trick. She took me home afterwords, to my place, that is, and I proposed to her that very night. the man and his wife who had us over for supper that night said that they would like to have known what in the world was in that icecream! We were married in October of 1990, and, as they say, The rest is history.
The Lord has blessed us with many years together. We continue to grow and love each other. Every once in a while, someone will ask me, "What is it like to be married as a blind person?" In my crazy way of saying things, I'll usually say something like, "Oh, it ain't all that bad. Besides, everybody's blind when the lights go out!" Now, if you hear of me getting 'bumped off' before hardly anyone has a chance to read this, you'll know that my wife, Peggy didn't like what I just said. I already told you that we were married in October of 1990. What I didn't tell you is, that we were married on Pop's birthday. That makes it easier to remember. I don't forget anniversaries. Thus, the 6th of October is special to us in both ways.
Pegg is sighted, though, she does wear trifocals. She's gettin pretty close, don't ya think? Maybe, I should teach her braille or the use of the cane or something. She has always been big on the outdoors. That means, she loves to do yard work.
When I first came into the picture, there was Bits. That was Peggy's baby. She was a long dog, being a Dotson and Terrior mix. She and her sister were twins, Kibbles and Bits. Pegg had to put Kibbs to sleep before we met, so, I didn't get to know her. But, if she was anything like Bits, she surely was a pleasure. Bits and I hit it off good. She would wallow on my feet and roll all over the floor, growling and grunting playfully all the while. Because blind people tend to sit around more than other people might, Bits was my buddy. I stayed with her a lot and took care of her while Peggy worked. I would take her outdoors to see mother nature. Most of the time, she would come back to me. As we played in the floor around and around, I used to love to put my head on her and act like a dog, too. That _does, fit my personality, don't you think? She would snort and grunt like crazy. Then, we would both just take a break, lay around together, and snooze. Bits lived for sixteen years. I jokingly say that she'd probably be alive today if we hadn't lost her due to kidney failure. We still miss her and have fond memories of her. Pegg likes pictures, and lots of them that she has are of the doggies.
We don't have any children, but, I guess, in one way, we do. We have our crazy parrot, Jacksie. He is named after Jackie and Patsie Bayne, hence, the name, Jacksie. He's an African-gray parrot, about 13 inches long. He is pastel gray with a firey red tail. What does he say? Oh, about any thing that Pegg says. He's real spoiled, doesn't have to talk except baby-talk, and will probably never reach the thousand or more word vocabulary which they are supposed to have. A few minutes ago, he informed us, "I want to go out doors." That means, that he wants to be covered up so he can take a knap. He usually does that about every afternoon for a couple of hours. Isn't that the _life? or what? As the young folks say now, "go figure!" Jacksie was born in 1992 on Tax day! He's aggravating as the devil sometimes, but, he's really a lot of good company. Most kids want their parents to buy them video games, pc's, cell phones, and cars. I guess, if we can get by with a $5 jar of parrot food and a $5 toy, we're doing all right.
Jacksie is now staying with a wonderful Christian couple who are part of my nursing home ministry. After 25 years, Jack became so demanding of attention that he started destroying his own stuff, including the food and water cups. I felt that he needed a new beginning. There is no sadness as, we surely did everything to keep him happy. Those of you who know anything about birds will recognize that this sometimes is a characteristic that can only be met by a change of environment.
I referred to Jackie and Patsie Bayne. They are wonderful Christians, living in the Fort Mill, South Carolina area. His story is an amazing one in itself. He is one of our Vietnam vets who should be honored as our heroes. Defending our country as a dog-handler searching for enemy land mines, not only was he severely injured, he was pronounced dead three times. but, he still lives today as a testimony of God's miraculous power. Jackie is still disabled, of course, but, thank God, he is alive. During one of his hospital stays, Patsie, who had heard a lot about his story, came to see him. but, something happened. when she left the room, she took his heart with her. she has made him a wonderful mate. Heaven's biggest and best awaits those such as these Jesus gems of the faith, who have given unsacrificially of themselves to make a difference in the life of another.
Somebody brought this poor crazy dog down the road where we live and just threw her out. What kind of heart do some people have? Sometimes, I wonder if they even have one. Needless to say, we took her in and named her, Lucy. She lived a happy life and went to her rest in December of 2013. The sweetest dog to come to our humble abode is named Savannah. She's a sweet, loving little dotson, but she'll still never take Bits' place, as far as I am concerned. Our boy dog, God help us for having him, is named Chachi. Most people will hopefully go to heaven when they die. Animals who find Peggy, on the other hand, live in heaven Till they die! Our latest dog is named Athina. she is a cream-colored outdoors dog, as strong as an ox, weighing about 47 pounds.
Both of my mother's and father's parents are dead. Her sister, Dianne, and her brother Fred, too, have passed. Because I was born when my parents were quite young, I had the honor of having my grandparents and enjoying a wonderful relationship with them for many years. If someone happened to be looking for me and couldn't find me at home, there were usually two other choices, at the one of the which, they were sure to find me. How beautiful heaven will be, when we all get together again! Granny and Grandpa Beam were precious to me. Oh, that he could see me in the ministry now and witness the accomplishments that our Lord has allowed me to do and be a part of! Grandpa Broome passed away some years ago, around Christmas time. Grandma Broome passed away in July of 2007. Pop has four other brothers, Tommy, Bubby, Roger, and Rick, who was unfortunately killed in a work related accident in March of 2012. Peggy's parents are no longer with us in this life, but, we have the glorious hope of seeing them one day. Her Daddy died of a massive heart attack when he was only ABOUT 49 years old. Her mother, Mary, lived for some time longer, dying in 2002, at the age of 81. She and I had lots of time to sit and talk while everyone else was busy doing other things. I really miss those times, now.
Like myself, Pegg is the oldest of Wil and Mary's 6 children. There are three boys and three girls. Next to Peggy, is her sister, Kay, brother, Jerry, who is now with the Lord, brother, Johnny, brother, Glenn, and their younger sister, Sandy. She and her husband, Charles have two older children, Kevin and Brittany. And, then, there's austin! He is their youngest, but, if you didn't know any better, you'd think that he was Peggy's. We keep him every chance we get. When he gets around her, it's like there's no one else in the whole wide world. He does more than make you laugh, he'll Flat Crack You Up! He is truly a blessing from the Lord to all of us. Of course, there are the other kids and nieces and nephews, equally loved and important, but, I'm just trying to tell you a little bit about myself, it's not like we're trying to fill up the Library of Congress or something, ya know?
No one ever said that married life is supposed to be easy, but, it sure has been fun, and certainly has been an adventure. Unpredictable? Yeah, but, that's what god had in mind when he made a woman! God was saying to man in effect, Boy, you'll never have a dull moment, now! Well, that's ok. We love 'em, better than a home-made biscuit!
For most of my Christian life, I have always believed in the fulness of the gospel. I knew that there was something more, more to be experienced in praise and worship than in the circles or places where I had been and had been ministering in. In fact, for years I had worshipped god with the Pentecostal experience of tongues and prophecy, as the bible records in Acts chapter 2, 8, 10, 19, and other places in the new testament.
Through different circumstances and many prayers, my wife and I joined the South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness church in 1998. It was our privilege to pastor Knott's Grove church in Oxford, North Carolina from 1999 through 2001. I also received full ordination as a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness church in June of that year. The fall of 2001 brought us back to South Henderson church, where we currently attend and serve our Lord in various capacities.
Some Pentecostals are what I term as Extremists. they are high on worship and praise, but, shallow in doctrine. the Pentecostal Holiness church offers a good balance of both. However, Pegg and I love all churches where Jesus is lifted up, regardless of name or denominational affiliation. Don't worry about the name tag. If you go to heaven, it's gonna fall off; and, if you go to hell, it's gonna burn off. People should be able to come together and worship God together, regardless of race, creed, or color. Check out the last part of Isaiah chapter 56 and verse 7. It says, "For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." If you hate or dislike a person because of their culture, social status, or the color of their skin, you really need to do some checking up! because, you've _definitely got a problem.
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, Hebrews 13:8. If He doesn't change, that means, the gospel, the bible, the Spirit's power and fulness, and the gifts of God are all the same. the same Holy Ghost which came on the early believers on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, will come upon you today if you will believe and are totally yielded to him. Just because we live in this late hour, God hasn't lost one bit of His power. The blood of Jesus Christ still washes away sin.
Some time ago, a preacher friend of mine who is a ham brought
his portable radio, we call them HT's, along with him to see me as
I was visiting in the Greenville, North Carolina area. I thought it
was neat to be able to take such a little thing, talk through a
local 2-meter repeater, and, through a 'phone patch', be able to
talk to someone in their home on their local telephone. Of course,
this was before cell phones were so popular. Well, that began my
amateur radio hobby. My call sign is:
For those of you who know anything about ham radio, you'll recognize by the first part of the call that it is an extra class license call sign. It's not the easiest thing in the world to get, passing the 20-words-per-minute Morse code, but, with the Lord's help, I made it and I'm proud of it. I don't talk a lot now, though, I can if I want to. Ham equipment is like anything else, it is expensive to buy and maintain. I used to wish for one of those Kenwood THF6A's, which, transmits on 2 meters, 220, and 440 mHz. It also has a built-in general coverage receiver from about .01 to well over 1000 mHz. One can listen to shortwave, AM, FM, public safety, weather, and more. Of course, a nice HT like this will cost you more than $300. It scares me a little when I see what's happening in the manufacturing spectrum of electronics today. It's getting to the point where, instead of having a pc, mobile phone, or portable communications radio repaired, it's almost easier to throw the defective one away and just go and buy a new one. Pay for shipping both ways, labor, and parts, to have one fixed, and you can quite easily match the price of having a new one which would at least be covered under warranty for a while.
To go along with hamming around, I enjoy scanner listening. I like to snoop around to try and find squirrel channels, as we call them, in our area. These are frequencies with that good stuff on them that not everybody hears or knows about.
For many years now, one of the joys of my heart has been the
nursing home ministry. At this point, I must mention my good
friend, Charles Dennison. Although he wass much older than myself, he really had a heart for nursing home ministry, and was faithful to it until an unfortunate event cause him to have to stop driving.
However, the Lord has truly blessed him. He has been a great help taking me places I needed to go around town and to do errands which sighted people do every day and take for granted. Charles went to heaven to be with our Lord at the age of 94. I have several nursing homes in which I visit and have gospel services in each month. Some of them are done weekly, others , monthly. One thing is for sure, we enjoy going and being a blessing to the residents and staff. This type of ministry receives no applause from the church, recognition or promotion from the 'big boys' in the conference, and, there's certainly no money in it. but, the rewards are _out _of _this _world, in more than one sense of the word. We go there to be a blessing to them. They end up being a blessing to us.
I enjoy preaching, singing, and playing music in various churches, civic groups, and nursing and retirement homes as our Lord opens different doors for me, and, all of this is in addition to the Sunday school ministries, preaching, singing, and playing which I'm able to do at our South Henderson church. Speaking of the which, they have graciously appointed me as pastor of senior ministries. Most of this involves our Wednesday morning prayer, praise, and worship service. This is provided especially for those in the community who may attend other churches and aren't able to be with us at other times, and also, for those who are not able to drive or get out at night. I am honored to have this position, and we are expecting the Lord to cause this ministry to continue to grow.
I have always wanted to support Pegg and our household financially through the gospel ministry. Even though a person is blind or otherwise disabled, as a man or woman, you still feel the responsibility of supporting, or, at least, helping to support yourself and your family. I have looked for other types of employment and have even taken courses in other fields, as noted earlier. But, the ministry is all I have ever known. Even all the work I've done in radio has been ministry related. Money has never been a big thing for me. However, the principle of making one's living as a gospel minister is clearly taught in Scripture. Notice what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:14: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Would people, and even churches, overlook and even judge one who is blind or otherwise disabled in this regard? Unfortunately, yes! But, may the will of the Lord be done. He takes care of Peggy and I, our needs are met, and I haven't missed a meal yet. Some of my current ministry actually goes over into the technology realm. I would like to save that and talk about it a bit later.
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One of the easiest ways of doing braille is the Perkins
Brailler. I've mentioned it already, but, haven't told you much
about it. Sighted people would understand it better as our braille
typewriter. It has six keys which correspond to the six dots of the
braille cell, 1 2 3 on the left hand, and 4 5 6 on the right hand.
There's a space key in the middle of these, and, two lever-type
keys, one on either side of the machine. The left one is for line
spacing and the right one is for back spacing. Right above the
keys, facing toward you is a little name plate containing the
printed words: PERKINS BRAILLER. There are knobs on either side to
roll in the paper, and margin setters at the back of the machine.
The machine is a mechanical device entirely. It is made of aluminum
with gray enamel finish, and it's quite heavy. There's a mechanical
carriage return and it even has a bell like a regular typewriter.
The Perkins Brailler is available from The American Printing House
For The Blind:
There were other braillers such as the Lavender Brailler, but, they contained more plastic and didn't hold up that well. Then, there's the braille slate, which I've talked about already. You can't braille nearly as fast with it as you can with the brailler, because you have to punch the dots individually. However, you can't prove this by Ray Charles. He could 'go to town' on one. That means he could really get down on it; he was quite fast. Though, those of us in the blindness community and music world were saddened by his passing some time ago, his music will live on.
My first experiences with computers came in the early 1990s. I took Introduction To Microcomputers, a course written in braille, from Hadley School for the Blind: www.hadley.edu
Next, around the mid 1990s, I attended Vance-Granville Community College in the Henderson-Oxford, North Carolina area, where I took Intro To Computers and, Word Perfect, under DOS. Yes, everything was under the DOS operating system, then. Everything I have learned from that point on was self-taught, learning the hard way, through trial and error. The college purchased the Jaws screen reader for dos and an OCR scanner for me to take the courses. That's great, but, the system's got to change. Government money, which comes from your and my tax dollars, will go to buy equipment for a school or agency instead of the individuals who will be using it. When the student is gone, the stuff just sits there until it rots. Equipment should be tailored and matched to the particular needs of the student, or employee, as the case may be. then, he or she can in turn, use or upgrade it as they see fit. the persons and agencies who still feel that adaptive equipment should be bought for institutions instead of real people aren't just isolated cases here and there. the leprosy of this rank, dead-head thought is broad-spectrum. I wrote letters around this same time period to our local area Lions Clubs asking them for help in the purchase of equipment that I would use as a blind person for more independent living and possible use in employment. their response was that, they didn't feel that they should buy things of this nature for an individual only, but, thought that such equipment should be bought for schools or other educational institutions. There it goes again, the old, traditional, stereotype way of thinking. This has got to change. It needs to stop, now!
And as for blindness services and rehab agencies, Aren't they shooting their own selves in the foot? Isn't that what the Blindness and Rehabilitation agencies are supposed to be all about? helping the people they are supposed to be serving? That's what their _name is all about. That's what their _job is supposed to be all about. Come on folks! We're talking about ambulatory or sight impaired disabilities here. This is not a test or an assessment for mental derangement! WE know what we Want! WE know what we Need.
There _was a time when I didn't know what I needed. One time, a counselor working with the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, asked me when I was going to public school, "What do you need?" I'm honest as the day is long, I didn't know what I needed, I didn't know what was out there. But, after I became mature enough for this experience to register in my mind, you better believe I set out to find out what was out there to help myself and many more who needed the benefits it would offer. Do you think that they're gonna tell you what's out there to help you? Not on your life, they're not. Why? Because, they might have to Buy something. But, why not? the money ain't coming out of their pocket. At least, not any more so than yours and mine. The truth is, the money is all ours. It's ours! It's your and my tax dollars which are supposed to be given for this very purpose. I have no personal grudge or issue to settle, and, no malice is intended against any party whatsoever. I'm just speaking forth the things which are sober and right. In fact, this isn't about me. I'm blessed. Yes, a lot is out there that I could use, too, and would have a more productive and effective life and ministry if I had it. But, I'm thinking of those other guys and gals out there who are coming up in the ranks, trying to find their way around through all the hurtles out there.
And I am delighted to say that the situation is changing for the better. Clients are now being more readily served by the agencies for the blind. Individualized equipment is being purchased for their needs and occupations, instead of forcing employers to pay for or adapt their own inhouse equipment. Tech professionals and rehab counselors have come to understand that this is not the most practical way. My own experience shows a far more cooperative relationship for mutual success of both agency and client. Those who were once falling through the cracks of the so-called Non-needs situation are now being served, as most of them will fall into the category of either SSI, or SSDI income. This qualifies one for services and is certainly a milestone improvement.
We're not looking for a handout, just a chance. By the way, is there a difference between a handout and a chance? You better believe it! A handout is when somebody gives you something. You use it all either on yourself or for yourself. then, it's gone. A chance or opportunity is when someone gives or provides you with something. You use it to better yourself or someone else.
Our Lord gives a classic example of this in Matthew chapter 25, verses 14-30. Three different men received three different amounts of money from their master. The first two of them used what they had, dealt wisely with it, and gained more. they were honored and rewarded by their master. They treated what they had been given as a Chance. the last man hid what had been given to him. Obviously, it didn't gain anything and nobody reaped any more. He treated what had been given to him as a handout. He was so afraid, that he couldn't even enjoy the benefits of it. The same is true with seed that you plant. But, you don't have to plant it. You could eat it up, but, it would only help you. You could feed it to livestock. They would be fed and filled for a day or night. But, you could also plant or sow it. Then, it would multiply many times over and help much much more.
I have taken a bold stand to express the faults of the Stone Age thinking of agencies and groups who are actually supposed to be Helping, not Hindering the blind and disabled. Why do I say Blind And Disabled? Because, one can be Blind, but, otherwise, healthy as a horse. Just because someone cannot see to paint a house or drive a car, should he or she be disqualified from working or being employed? I Rightly don't think so.
So, then, let's look at the other side of the coin. Permit me to say a word to you, my fellow blind and disabled buds! Many of us have a problem, too, and it isn't our blindness or disability. Some of our attitudes stink, worse than a skunk! Just because you're blind or otherwise disabled, you shouldn't, and can't, take it out on everyone else around you. Many ruin what pleasure they could have in life with friends and family because they go around acting like they've got a stick stuck up their behind. We can't go around feeling sorry for ourselves all the time. Notice that I said, All The Time. Schools and institutions for the blind try to teach us not to ever feel sorry for ourselves. This isn't normal, either. The truth is, that, everyone feels sorry for himself or herself every once in a while. The thing we have to do is, not to wallow in self-pity, don't let it rule you, don't let it reign over your life! However, be careful not to go to the other extreme, either, being so head-strong and independent that you don't need anybody's help to do anything. Your attitude is, How dare you ask me do I need help doing that? What do you think I am? an invalid? In school, they taught us to do as much as we could by ourselves. Well, this is good, in a way, but, God dealt with me about that one, also. We all need help from time to time. If we never needed anything, we wouldn't ever need God. This is what God put upon my heart: If someone offers to help you or do something for you, even if you can do it yourself, let them! You Don't want to take away their blessing, do you? Well, that settled it for me. Long ago, I quit trying to prove myself. You don't have to prove anything to anybody. Just be _real, just be yourself. People will like and appreciate you for who you are. Some, feel like the world owes them a living. Going by the statistics of the unemployed blind, they're sure not going to give you one! Don't sit around pining and whining. The problem with some of you, is that, you're not only blind physically, you're also spiritually blind. You refuse to accept the Light. Instead of receiving Jesus, God's Christ, you choose to continue walking on in darkness. A popular saying in the blindness world is, "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness!" You might not be able to make yourself see or do something about your disability, but, you _can do something about your destiny. God now affords you the opportunity to be changed from darkness to light. Say Yes, to his Son Jesus, as I did at the School for the Blind many years ago.
Let's talk about my computer experiences some more. the first pc I ever owned was a Tandy notebook running Dos and Windows 3.1. My first online machine was Windows 3.1 as well. I soon joined up with the Virtual Buddies group, a mostly North carolina-based group of persons with all types of disabilities. Some of them even have to use special switches and Head Sticks, as we call them. But, when they get on line, everything's fine! No one would even know that they are disabled. I am happy till this very day to have been one of their consultants. They're a nonprofit organization which is currently on Yahoo Groups. Several ISP's (internet service providers) used to generously provide complementary dial up internet accounts so that we could get these wonderful people on line without them having to worry about this added expense, which, in many cases, they wouldn't be able to afford. I definitely wouldn't have been able to help nearly the amount of people that I have had it not been for such sincere kindness. Also, many of you wonderful people out there could do what a lot of businesses and other people have already done, by donating computers. A pc running Windows or a Mac with a decent processor and memory is all that's needed, even if there's no additional software installed. These pc's can be set up many times with no or nominal cost to get these dynamic guys and gals on the internet, out there on the world wide web, where they belong.
This is the part of the mix between ministry and technology which I referred to earlier, to be reserved for me to talk about now. I enjoy helping people to get on line, and then, helping them, once they have gotten on line. In most cases, you can't really just get on the internet somewhere and preach to people. Oh, you can with net casting, but, that's another whole subject and you have to have the right setup. I just like _being there. Through your conversation and online behavior, people will gravitate to you, the ones that god wants you to help. They have questions, anything from their pc behavior, to something about faith or the Christian life. You big boy preachers! Keep on making your fifty to a hundred thousand dollars a year, politicking and trying to play footsy with the guys in city hall or on the county commission. As for me, I'll pull for the underdog. That means, those people who nobody has the time to care about, that little old lady or gentleman in the retirement or nursing home who helped build that big church that you're now preaching in, that disabled person who has no or very little outside contact or connections, and finally, that thrown aside and forgotten minister or worker who is never given the chance or opportunity to show with the help and by the grace of God what they can do. This isn't to speak negatively of my preacher brothers who are wonderful community pastors. Many of them are being used of the Lord to work with local community leaders and authorities to help make our neighborhoods better places to live.
There has to be a balance between working in the community and ministering in church. Our focus has to be on ministering to people from a spiritual perspective; and, that which has to be done in the physical realm will fall into place as we ask God to guide us and help us as we live and minister for Him! This, then, is part of the current ministry I'm involved in. It is a passion of my heart, to help others. If I remember correctly, this was what our Lord was always doing, too.
So, let's talk about the accessibility side of things some more. People who still have some useful vision, low-vision as they are termed, can use magnifiers or screen enlargement software for making the computer screen easier to be seen. On the other hand, those who are blind need what is called a screen reader, the old term is, screen review utility. the text and icons from the pc screen are accessed through synthesized speech or braille output using an electronic refreshable braille display. Many people who read braille and have done so for a long time, really love this method because it is so familiar to them. However, braille displays cost thousands of dollars. the bigger the displays with forty or eighty braille cells across, will greatly increase the price. Thus, you can understand why most blind people use speech output for getting the feedback from their computer. Accessibility and the whole issue surrounding it weighs heavily upon my soul. Oh, it's not as nearly as important as salvation, heaven, the love of god, or anything like that. But, it sure gets up close to the top of the list. Years ago, the internet was a luxury, an option. Now, it's a have to. Oh, no, you don't have to have it to breathe or live, but, if you are disabled, it's your ticket to the world. they don't call it The World Wide Web for nothing, ya know! Being on line will provide legs for those who can't walk, eyes to those who can't see, and ears for those who can't hear. But, unless we make it accessible, they will be left out in the dark, again!
The two leading screen readers in the world used to be Jaws, and window Eyes.
By the way, I am relating my own experiences to share my life and testimony and be a help to others. So, any Company names I use are the property and rights of their respective owners.
It is fair to say that both of these do a great job to interpret and read the computer screen. However, they are quite pricy, at around $1,000 or more if you get the software maintinance agreement. And, you are usually charged to keep the software maintained or upgraded. They claim the high price is because of the limited market. I don't 'buy' it. There's no way that a blind person should have to pay that much for access technology. The good news is, that more and more, people and developers are looking toward low cost and free, open source access solutions for blind and visually impaired people. NVDA, NonVisual Desktop Access, www.nvaccess.org, is an open source screen reader for Windows. This is exciting news for the blindness community!
Of course, there's Linux. I've had some experience with Linux, though, I'm not using it currently. There are too many loose ends as far as accessibility in Linux and applications running on top of the OS, or, operating system is concerned. Linux is cool if you want to get away from the big software boys, but, there are too many pieces to put together and still too many things which can and do go wrong with the installation to make it very feassible for a blind person. I enjoyed my experiences with Linux when I used the old Slackware version with the Speakup screen reader. and have even tried my hand at Ubuntu with the gnome interface and Orca screen reader. However, I cannot get wireless to work, despite the numerous how to's and tutorials.
As you know, technology itself is changing drasticly. There are now PDA's (personal data assistants) which are equipped with both braille and speech output, as well as, either braille or qwerty keyboard input. Blind professionals use them and depend on them to do their work every day. Unfortunately, they can cost up to 4 or 5 thousand dollars or more. Despite their high cost, they are wonderful computers for those on the go. It allows the blind person to go virtually paperless. All those reams of braille paper, briefcases and boxes, and keeping up with all those loose brailled sheets of paper, not to mention the possibility of damage or dots pressed out, could be almost, if not altogether done away with. Most of us call these devices braille notetakers, though, now, they do a lot more than just acting as a notetaker. Most of them can do wireless internet and are Bluetooth compatible.
Can you imagine a preacher with one of these devices? When studying alone, he can use both speech and braille. and, in the pulpit or on the road, he might shut off the speech and just use the braille for silent study or even actually giving a sermon or address. Some of these devices differ in their choice of braille and or speech output, and differing braille or standard qwerty keyboard input. And, you guessed it! with the different choices come different prices. You can have the entire Bible, more than one version if you like, all of your contacts, names, addresses, and phone numbers, time, date and calendar functions. Plus, if you need the internet, just find you a hot spot and jump on! Most sighted people are so unfamiliar with accessibility issues concerning the blind and disabled, that they can't grasp the use or functionality of a screen reader. They always think that you're talking about voice recognition software. while these are great programs in themselves, blind people don't necessarily need them if they already know how to type and use the keyboard. You could have the finest voice recognition software program in the world and be able to talk to your computer, but, if you don't have a screen reader, you're not going to know what the computer is saying to you. That's just it, the pc won't be saying anything to you.
It's kind of like the time when I went to inquire about a job at a certain place. the man there asked me if I needed a braille phone. What in the 'name of Sam Hill' is a braille phone? No offense, if your name happens to be Sam Hill, but, the fact is, that there isn't such a thing. You may _put braille on a phone, but, there's no such thing as a braille phone. Needless to say, I knew I was at the wrong place. I didn't pursue things any further there. The thing that is worse than asking a stupid question is making a dumb assumption. To assert that one would need a braille phone, might need to be carried just because he can't see, or perhaps, that he or she should be hollered or screamed at, would certainly fall into the category of the latter!
One bright light in the otherwise dark world for many when it comes to accessibility, is Sero and System Access from Serotek. It is made up of a community of blind and disabled people who are a part of each other and understand each other and the issues which are confronting them. the Sero community is an online community. It allows blind and disabled people to get on line with little or no experience. You could think of it as an online portal for the blind. All you need is a basic computer and an internet connection, a highspeed connection such as cable, dsl, or satellite is preferred. Then you can connect using system Access and get all the functionality that Sero has to offer. You can surf the web, do email, shopping, entertainment, including news, weather, stocks, and more. Virtually anything that a sighted person can do on line, the Sero user can do using his or her Sero account anywhere and across multiple platforms; including, Windows, IOS using Apple devices such as IPhones or IPads, Android devices, and tablets!
Sero continues to evolve and is kept up to date. The company is called, Serotek Corporation. Blind people have full access to the web without having to buy high-priced screen readers or learn complicated access technology programs. System Access To Go Can Be Used From Anywhere Through A Windows Computer Connected To The Internet! Get in on the System Access To Go experience while the accessible opportunity of a lifetime awaits you! Sero users can send voice as well as text emails, and they have their own chat rooms, too. Some of the specialized content available to the SA network community, such as radio reading service audio feeds and discriptive video service, DVS, dramas and movies are not available to be listened to hardly anywhere else on the internet. As this content and material is copyright protected and designed exclusively for use by the blind, much of it is only accessible through Sero.
One innovative and leading-edge technology part of this community is something called, C-Saw, an acronym which stands for, Community Supported Accessible Web. Nothing is more frustrating as a blind person, than to go to one of those sites where the webmaster or developer, knowingly or unknowingly, has made their website totally inaccessible. There will be graphical links with images but no text or, alt text, as we call it. When these are encountered by System Access or any other screen reading device or software, all you hear is, Link,Link, Link, and you haven't the slightest idea as to what the links are all about. What an experienced user can do in such cases, is actually go to the site using System Access and Label the unlabeled links. Actually, there are no changes to the original page, but, when one is on the website using System Access, he or she hears text on any of those pages and elements which were confusing before. Not only links, but, edit fields, lists, and buttons can also now be labeled. When someone goes in and labels such a site, he or she can submit his or her results to the c-saw repository, where, the entire Sero community can have instant access to any of the sites. How's that for not having to wait for progress?
Community forums are available for user feedback, not only having to do with System Access itself, but, there are a number of forums for just about anything. And, if there's not one to fit your taste, you can start your own. You can make an audio or text blog, and creating a personal web page is a snap! It is possible to listen to audio content all over the internet, radio, tv, news, weather, sports, talk, music, Christian teaching, and more. Social networks such as Facebook, and Twitter are supported by Sero. When I worked at the radio station, we had a control room. Sero is like your control room to the internet, personal files, and music. If you have a broadband connection at your home, you can access your pc remotely and download files and have access to them as you need them. You might think of this as controling your Home Server, and in fact, that's what they call it. Conventional audio cd's can be copied, ripped, or burned, also.
System Access gives blind people not only access, but control over their Windows operating system. Complete navigation of the start menu, programs, apps,and the desktop are possible. Support is provided for Office programs, apps, and browsers. Agencies who are supposed to serve and help the blind, instead of buying high-cost volume licenses for screen reading products which would add up into the thousands of dollars and would tie people to a specific location and pc, they, by recommending and promoting System Access, could provide students not only with Access, but with the independence they need and deserve. For seniors and blind people in general, the learning curve for System Access is much less than that of other screen readers. Standard Windows keyboard commands are used. The System Access menu and key strokes for adjusting voice, keyboard echo, and punctuation aren't difficult at all to learn. Do you want to know a secret? As a matter of fact, I'm using System Access right now, as I write this. Am I excited about this possibly the best ever breakthrough for the blindness community? You better believe I am!
System Access is more than a screen reader; it is an Accessibility Tool! providing Access to you anywhere at an affordable cost! And, who hasn't heard of Skype? the VOIP, voice over internet protocol, internet telephone program that allows the world to talk for free? System Access, in my opinion, works better than any other access technology with this application. The program status and contact list, for example, are totally accessible. When the big-boy screen reader manufacturers have a major upgrade, the user is charged hundreds of dollars for it. But, those who use System Access aren't charged nearly as much for staying up to date with the latest enhancements. All one has to do is to keep their customer account with Serotek current. Because technology changes so rapidly, it's always a good idea to check with Serotek Corporation for yourself for the latest current pricing and availability. Sero and System Access will continue developing as the needs of its customers and those of the blindness community in general expand. What will the future hold? Who knows? But, I know it will be exciting. If you, a family member, or someone you know could benefit from System Access or any of Serotek's remote access products, please, let them know, or let any of us know. Tell them, tony Broome, sent you. And best of all, you can try System Access out right now! Just Go Or Have Someone Help You Go To Their Website!
Sero supports third party email. You can access email from all of your accounts right there with you where ever you are, at home, school, work, church, or anywhere on the go! System Access To Go Lets You use System Access For Free Right Now! And this is all without having to install any software or drivers on the computer you are using. Wat a great way for offering accessibility to all everywhere!
Henderson is located about 45 miles north of Raleigh, North Carolina. Peggy and I, Jacksie, and our special dogs, enjoy a simple down-to-earth life-style in our permanently-foundationed double-wide home.
Pegg likes chees, but, I can't stand it. Neither, do I like strawberries, or mayonnaise. I like table food, not girls' stuff. things like, meat, beans, potatoes, yes, and rice. I prefer what I call Plain desserts. Things like, brownies, chocolate cake or lemon pound. I dig icecream, that kind with M & M's or chocolate chips and things like that in it. I'm not much on milk for the obvious reasons resulting from the run in I had with it at School for the Blind, but, it's ok in cereal. I like water, but, my favorite drink is, coffee! Coffee, coffee, just black coffee. I even have one of the Keurig coffee machines that everyone is crazy about now. The K-cups for single serve coffee are nice, but quite expensive. I like hard candy and bubble gum and chocolate covered nuts, all that stuff that the doc will tell you that probably isn't good for you. But, I bet you won't get them to say that it's not good _to you.
I like _hard preaching, that kind that'll blow the hair off a hound dog's back! Yes, we should preach passionately, but, be kind. Don't beat me up. I already know that we're all rascals deserving of hell and separation from God Almighty. Let me hear that God hates my sin and the sin of everybody. But, tell me that, even though he hates sin, he loves me. He loves every sinner in the world, even those who never give a thought of Him.
Music? Oh, boy! Music is as broad as the Atlantic and Pacific oceans put together. It's my personal judgment, that one who is sold out to God should be all about Christian music. In fact, that's one of the things which marks a believer. God puts a song in our heart. That song has to come out from time to time. That doesn't mean that everything is going good, or well, to satisfy my English perfectionists who might be reading. On the contrary, all hell may be breaking loose all around you. But, if you know and have a personal relationship with your Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what's happening around you, you still have a song of joy and praise in your heart to offer to your god. I've even written some songs myself, more than thirty of them. Really, I didn't do it myself, as I claim no natural ability in this area. The Lord gave them to me. But, I haven't gotten any of them published, though, they are all copyright protected as several collection works. I tried in the beginning to get some of them out there, but, all who ever wrote back to me about them were song sharks who tried to get me to let them do a demo of them. Duh? That's what I sent them in the first place, a demo. why should I let them charge me a bunch of money for something I've already provided? When god gives me a song, I write it down, I do the copyright thing with Pegg's help, using those forms which nobody hardly understands but don't tell Washington I said that, and, I take it to the places I minister in and sing it. That's good enough for me. There are probably a lot of good hits out there, lying around like my songs are, and will never be recognized, because of this type of fear caused by a few greedy song sharks! Personally, I can roll with almost anything Christian, from the traditional hymns, blue grass or country gospel, black gospel, all the way to the contemporary Christian music. As long as it's about God, about Christ, or about the Holy Spirit, I think it's groovy. Don't give me this mess about how to love my woman or my dog. Leave that for the worldly crowd to sing about. Of course, you ain't gotta tell folks how to love their dogs and cats, they do that better than they love their kids. But, that's another story.
It just erks me to see people hugging trees and spending millions of dollars to try and save some whale or sea turtle species, while, abortion kills our children and homosexuality distorts marriage. So, you think homos are wrong, huh? No, I don't think nothing, to use a double negative. It matters not what I think. God is the one who says it's an Abomination! Leviticus 18:22 "thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." I used my Bible so I'd be sure to get it right. I don't mind misquoting _you, even though I hope I don't and I wouldn't want to, but I _surely don't want to misquote Him! This so called alternate lifestyle is severely condemned by our Creator in Romans chapter 1, First Corinthians chapter 6, and other places as well. It breaks my heart to see these wonderful people, and especially, our precious little girls, give themselves over so quickly and freely to this path of destruction; which, is not only against God, but nature itself.
I enjoy hearing reading from some of the modern translations for a change of pace and to see how the words are used for study's sake, but, I still like the old King James Bible, and use it in my preaching and ministry. Because I enjoy the praise choruses which we sing and use in churches and nursing homes, I also like listening to the radio for the same reason. The problem with radio these days, and even so-called Christian radio, is, you guessed it, the almighty dollar. Everybody's trying to sound sole, that's s o l e that I'm talking about, or trying to see how rocky they can get, they make their voice quiver as if they're riding a maniac bull let loose out of a Texas corral! Quit trying to be cute! Get off of the top forty all the time. Give something which praises, honors, and glorifies god. The charts will keep changing with the times and the 'pops' will all pop out one day. But, good music which exalts Christ is here to stay, at least, until the Rapture when Christ returns to the air to call out and meet His Church. And even after that in heaven, the Song of the Redeemed will continue. Praise God!
I _must tell you my favorite Bible verse. First Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." First of all, this verse tells us that this generation, the one we're living in, is a chosen generation, one which God wants to speak to and through and use. Secondly, it says that we are a royal priesthood. That means, that there are no big "I's" or little "you's" in the kingdom of god. we are all on an even playing field, and, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. All of us have equal access to the throne of God, to the Father, through the Son, and, in the Spirit.
It used to be that god worked through the Levitical priesthood, the descendants of Aaron. Anyone other than an Israelite was disqualified right off the bat and could not serve. There was even a time in the Old Testament, when, a blind person or otherwise disabled, could not serve or even enter into the temple of the Lord. Maybe people today think that they're acting for god when they look down on someone who is disabled or treat them as if they're second class citizens. However, God didn't do this to show his dislike for the blind or disabled. On the contrary, he loves them as he loves all mankind. the only reason that this was done was to show the holiness of god and man's wretchedness without Him. This also pointed to the fact, that, one would come to us, Emmanuel, God with us, the perfect sacrifice and Lamb of God, He who would die on a cruel old rugged cross for the sins of the world and rise again from the grave in resurrection power to sit at the Father's right hand. He took all of our impurities and imperfections upon himself, and now, lives and reigns to give us power to live the Christian life. His name is JESUS. He is King of kings and Lord of lords!
We are a holy nation. It would do those from the White House and on down well to remember that. And, even if America and the nations of the world choose not to be so, still, you and I who are born again and bought by the blood, are holy people. We're not holy in ourselves, He makes us holy. We are to be a peculiar people. As you read about my crazy personality, you'll probably say that I've got that one down "pat." Really, though, it means that we are an owned bunch, if you will. We don't belong to ourselves any longer. Just think of the great price that was paid for us.
And then, the last part of the verse, "that ye should show forth THE PRAISES of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Here's the purpose of it all. To praise God, even, to show forth, or, manifest with an undeniable conviction, his praises to this generation and to the nations, races, people, tongues, and kindreds of the earth. that's why He saved us. That's why He redeemed us. You don't have to Try, or Strain, or Work It Up because some man or preacher makes you feel guilty because you're not doing what he thinks you ought to do. It's not something you work Up, it's something you work Out. In fact, you let god work it out in and through you. Keep on praising Him. Someone will be like me: BLIND YET SEEING THE LIGHT!
I have done my best to let you in on a little about myself, my family, and my life. We've talked frankly and openly about blindness, the dark-ages attitudes of people and agencies toward the disabled, and maybe have even clipped the wings of a few big-shot preachers. Some of this may sound a little rough to some of you, but, it isn't meant to be that way. My heart is a heart of love, and, I hope you can see that. I've done my best to have and present a balanced view of the things which are written about here. My main objective in writing the story of my life, and especially putting it on my website, is to be a blessing to someone. My purpose is, to stand up for the Lord and what is right, to reach those who don't have God in their life, and to speak for the disabled community, especially, those who cannot speak for themselves.
Now the question is for you. Are you spiritually blind? Have you ever seen the Light? Preachers do their best, but, sometimes we make it complicated when god never intended for it to be that way. It's simple, just two verses, there are many more, but, you can get in on all that later. Romans chapter 3 and verse 23 tells us that, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of god." The idea here is, that we continue to 'fall short' of the glory of god. That's the first verse. It tells us what we really already know, that, because of man's sin and fall away from God, that we are in a bad way, if you will. Here's the second verse, you're gonna like it! First John chapter 5 and verse 12: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Do you Have Him? Do you love Him? Do you know Him? If you know Him, then, you love Him. If you love Him, then, you know that you have Him. Just by simply acknowledging and repenting of your sins, asking Jesus to come into your heart, in other words, you're saying, Yes, to Him, and He _will come in. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" Romans 10:13. I want you to contact me about anything, especially, if you have come to know our wonderful Jesus as a result of reading this or hearing it read to you.
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I would like to close with chapter 9 and the last part of verse 25 of John's gospel: "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."