Speak What is True

When I saw SJ up on the stage at the church I went to growing up I couldn’t help but let the tears come.






It was such an answer to prayer to watch her use her gift of sign as a ministry. A couple of months ago I shared a video of the two of us signing “Gratitude by Brandon Lake”.

My friend who is a dance teacher wanted to know if SJ and I would be interested in incorporating ASL into the dance she was working on with her class. I agreed without hesitation and SJ was all in as well. SJ’s cousins are a part of this ballet and she was very excited to work on this project with them!

Then we got to meet a new friend and that was icing on the cake.

Morelia’s sister is in the ballet too and it turns out Morelia knows some sign language so she was the perfect partner for SJ. She actually learned to sign before she could talk. It was a great resource for her since some of her medical challenges delayed her speech. SJ had the same experience as a toddler due to her deafness. The two girls are the same age and both worked very hard to learn all of the sign language and practice with the ballerinas.

I love how God brought this beautiful and diverse group of young ladies together to spread a message of his love.

SJ’s genetic mutation is called connexin 26. Morelia’s is 22Q, but their act of worship was proof that no diagnosis or numbers were going to hold them back. It was a joy to watch all of the girls.

The lyrics to the song say “Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true”. As I watched Morelia and SJ sign those words I loved how they were sharing the words in a voiceless language.

It makes me think of how God speaks to us. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that God can and does use an audible voice, but how often does he speak to us in other ways? In the Bible we see him use a rainbow, a dove, a donkey, a burning bush and more. He can speak to us through nature and the arts. He can use anyone and or anything. When the girls did their performance, I heard the words and I saw an interpretation through dance and though sign. It was a powerful reminder of the limitless ways that God can speak his truth.

This whole experience was such a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness. Both performances were really special and I know many lives were touched.

By |2023-06-12T06:27:54+00:00May 24, 2022|ASL, Uncategorized|0 Comments

ASL Signs for Gratitude by Brandon Lake

I am so excited about this video I recently posted.  A little background if you are new here, my daughter SJ was diagnosed with severe hearing loss when she was two years old (almost ten years ago). She can hear and speak now thanks to cochlear implants and hard work, but it was a very long journey.

I started simple signed language when she was a baby before I knew that she was deaf and when she was dianosed I knew I needed to find a way to communicate with her immediately. So I devoured every resource I could on American Signed Language. One thing that helped me learn ASL was to worship in sign. Several years ago I had some friends who are deaf that started coming to the church where my husband was the full time worship leader and while I certainly could NOT interpret the message (I am nowhere near fluent) I could interpret  and lead in sign during worship.

When the song Gratitude by Brandon Lake came out it resonated deeply in my soul so I did what I always do when I want to learn the signs, I googled it! Except there was no interpretation online anywhere. I felt like the Lord led me to be the one to post a video of the interpretation so I did and I had my daughter join me.


I know there are many ways to interpret, especially music. I did receive help from a deaf friend who is fluent, so between my friend, SJ, and myself this is what we came up with. It’s an expression of worship in the first language that my daughter and I spoke to each other with. Fun fact, she is left handed and I’m not so our signs are a mirror image of each other, which I feel like makes it even more special.

So there is the full back story to this video. If you are interested in learning the signs to the song Gratitude line by line I will leave the gloss below. Glossing can be used for any language and it’s when you do a transcription of the words instead of a translation. So I will type out the signs that we used, but keep in mind a lot of this goes deeper than just a direct word for word translation, it’s facial expressions, body movements, and reactions that express the full message of the lyrics. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of ASL that made me fall in love with this language.

I could go on and on, but for now, here are signs-

All words fail

I have nothing new

How I show my gratitude

I can sing

I often sing

but every song ends

you eternal

*throw hands up*

praise again again

all I have hallelujah hallelujah

I know not much but I have nothing for king

but  heart sing hallelujah hallelujah

I have one response

I have one strategy

*spread arms wide*

I will worship you

come my soul don’t *shy (but we did more expressive movement)

lift song

I lion inside breathe

lift up praise Lord

I’m simplifying big time here, but I know something like this is helpful when learning. I would encourage anyone interested in ASL to learn about the full structure, culture, and nuances of the language, but you have to start somewhere. My heart is that maybe someone who is learning about worshiping in sign, or is homeschooling, or even in ministry of some kind that maybe this blog post would be helpful. It was a fun first time experience to share this expression of worship with my daughter.

By |2023-06-12T06:23:55+00:00February 15, 2022|ASL, Uncategorized|0 Comments

SJ’s Signs Part 2

We leave for Texas in a couple weeks and it will be our first visit back to our home state since SJ’s diagnosis. Even though she doesn’t sign a ton, I want our Texas family and friends to be able to know what she is saying when she does. I knew I needed to make another signing video of the signs that she uses. I wasn’t planning on doing it when I was all hot, sweaty, and had not showered or done my make up, but when SJ hopped up on my lap while I was at the computer it seemed like as good a time as any. In the video it might seem like I am apprehensive about traveling to Texas or the wedding. This is not the case, it was just that I was trying to wing it and it was my ASL vocabulary that I was apprehensive about sooo… anyway enough disclaimers. Here is the second installment of SJ’s signs. 

She understands many other signs and she will mimic a lot, but those are some of the main ones that she uses on her own along with; no, milk, more, please, potty, eat, help, thank you, all done, and hurt, which are all included on the first video  except for milk and hurt. 
Milk is pretty easy, just squeeze your fist to represent milking a cow. 
Hurt is just like pointing 2 fingers together wherever the pain is.
I heard that some people had a hard time viewing the first video so I have posted them on youtube in case that helps
Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! 
By |2023-06-12T06:31:12+00:00July 25, 2012|ASL, Uncategorized|4 Comments

SJ’s Signs Part 1

We leave for Illinois in about 2 weeks and we will be meeting up with old friends that haven’t seen SJ in a while. This video is to prepare them and other loved ones to see first hand what signs she knows. Knowing just a few simple signs will help bridge the communication gap, but she is also in the middle of getting the kinks worked out with her hearing aids and starting speech therapy so it’s also important to clearly verbalize the word with the sign so that we can continue to encourage both ASL and english. This isn’t something I want to push on everybody, but I want to make sure SJ’s friends and family have a fair chance to know what she is signing or how to get a point across to her, although truth be told she is 2 and won’t even look at what you are signing half the time!  

It was hard for me to narrow it down because there are so many other signs that she can say, but I don’t think you will need to know cat, bath, or ice-cream while we are camping. Here are some personal notes about the 10 signs I decided on for the video

1. More- This is the one she uses the most and it usually just means she wants something even if she hasn’t had any to have any more of.

2. Eat- She understands and produces this sign.

3. Help- She uses this one usually if she is trying to get something open although it is a little hard to recognize so I show her variation in the video.

4. Please- She doesn’t do this one often, but she has known it since before she was diagnosed hearing impaired, so I try to encourage manners and remind her to sign PLEASE when she wants something.

5. Toilet- Sometimes she signs toilet sometimes she just grabs herself, ha ha.

6. Thank You- Same as please and sorry. We are working on our manners.

7. Careful- SJ does use this sign, but she understands it. Since it is a command that comes up often with her I thought it might come in handy.

8. Sorry- She does not produce this sign either, but much like please it is something we are working on to show respect. If you sign it make sure to be expressive! Facial expressions are an important part of sign language.

9. No- She sees this one a lot and uses it a lot, but it’s usually because she is being a stinker.

10. All done- This was one of her first signs. She also sometimes uses it as a way to express when she doesn’t want something. Similar to wanting more of something she hasn’t had sometimes she is all done with something she hasn’t begun.

If you have any questions just let me know!

By |2023-06-12T06:31:41+00:00June 15, 2012|ASL, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Tips and Links for Learning to Sign

Since finding out my daughter SJ has severe hearing loss my sign language vocabulary has gone from barely a handful to a pool full of words and information on ASL and deaf culture. I am still a beginner, but I’ve come a long way and I wanted to share some of the tools I’ve been using.

1. Baby Sign
When SJ failed her first hearing test I pulled out the baby signing curriculum that I haven’t glanced at in years. The DVD includes 145 ASL signs which I kept practicing until I knew them all. I also started watching Signing Time videos which are a great way for both children and adults to learn on a number of levels.

2. Talking With People
One of the best tools for me has been talking with some of my friends that are interpreters for the deaf. I have gone up to complete strangers that have hearing aids and talked to them. I have sought out council from friends of friends that are deaf or hard of hearing. I want to hear from anyone and everyone that can help me on this journey.

3. Phone Apps
There are a few free phone apps that I downloaded to help me learn on the go. There is one called Wierman’s family ASL which includes 50 signs and you can take quizzes. All the free apps are very limited, but every little bit helps when you are starting out and you can always delete them if they are taking up too much space.

4. ASL University
This website is really in depth and I’ve only completed 3 of the units, but it’s been informative and it was recommended to me by someone who teaches ASL full time.

5. Online Dictionaries
I have three websites that are my go-tos for looking up signs they were all recommended by some of my professional interpreter friends.




My biggest advice as someone learning to sign is CROSS REFERENCE! It’s hard to learn when there is so much conflicting information on which sign is the right one. Many times there are a few different signs used depending on a persons age or region. It’s a bit of a headache, but I always check 3 sources and pick whichever is most common or up to date.

6. TV

Once I started learning ASL I noticed that signing was happening all around me already. For example programs my kid’s watch like, Blue’s Clues, Sprout Good Night Show , and PBS kids all use some sign language. Then I came across this Sia music video, which I had seen several years ago, but it didn’t occur to me at the time that the entire video was in ASL! Now I can watch it and recognize most of what they are signing. src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/t1x8DMfbYN4?fs=1″ width=”480″>

7. Switched at Birth

I had a signing teacher recommend this show to me (featured on ABC family, ABCfamily.com, and netflix) and I was skeptical at first because I am just not a fan of teenage drama. Watching the entire first season  has confirmed that this show would probably be my last choice in entertainment OTHER THAN the sign language. Many of the main characters all communicate with ASL. Seeing the usage in conversation and modern language was SO helpful. I think this program is what really taught me to be more comfortable implementing what I know into every day speech. I would often rewind pause or try to interpret without reading the subtitles. I fully intend to watch the entire show again eventually just to see how much more I understand the second time around.

8. ASL dictionary

At this time in my journey I invested in a heavy duty hard back ASL dictionary for about $30 at half price books. I use it all the time, but I do wish it was even more current than 1998 edition because some of the words are outdated already.

9. Documentaries

The Sound of Fury
Through Deaf Eyes
Touch the Sound

The first two documentaries are on Netflix and they teach you a lot about deaf culture, cochlear implants, and the history of sign language. The last one is a film I saw several years ago about a deaf percussionist.

10. Practice

I think one of the reasons I have been more successful with ASL than any other language I have tried to learn is because it’s applied to my everyday life. I needed a language to speak to my daughter that is still in-between the world of the deaf and the hearing. I use sign language everyday and I keep an ongoing log of words I want to learn. My 4 year old keeps me on my toes anytime he asks me a sign that I don’t know I just say lets write it in the notebook and later we look them up. We usually do this practice once or twice a week. I will learn one song or story at a time and this helps a lot too. Every time I learn a new song or children’s book I realize there is a little less that I have to look up because my vocabulary is expanding.

I’m linking this up with Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings. I know it’s a lot of info, but I’ve wanted to share these tips with my friends and family for a while and I always love to network and learn new things myself (see #2). For those interested in my daughters story feel free to browse through the blog or read this post for details.

By |2023-06-12T06:27:12+00:00June 12, 2012|ASL, Uncategorized|287 Comments

Learning to Communicate

Finding out you have a child that can’t hear is a little bit of a shock, but as with most situations in parenting you have only a moment to let it sink in before you have to respond. The day SJ’s was diagnosed we were sent home with quite a bit of reading material about being the parent of a child that is deaf or hard or hearing. That alone is a little surreal. I feel like parenthood has thrown me a few curve balls already, but nothing that required a team of experts and a stack parenting handbooks. 


The most important thing for me at this point is to give my daughter a way to communicate. SJ is still at a good age to pick up speech quickly, but the ideal window for acquiring a first language is half closed already. The doctors and therapist can only work so quickly. No matter how concerned they are and how much they encourage a sense of urgency it seems like the standard protocol in this field is “hurry up and wait”. I can sit around and wait for the Doctors, but the thing is, I am pretty stubborn.  I am ready to communicate with my daughter now and I know that sign language is realistic way to do that. So I have been devouring every bit of information I can in this area. In less than 2 months I have acquired a 250 word vocabulary in ASL. SJ has gone from knowing 5 words to 9 which might not seem like a big deal, but those are just the words that she is producing on her own. She repeats and understand a lot more than that. It’s a big step forward in minimizing frustration and educating her about the world around her. 

For example, we went to the zoo and beforehand I learned every zoo animal sign I could think of because  she wasn’t going to hear me say elephant or rhinoceros, but she could see me sign and start identifying that these amazing creatures have names! Here is a little video of her signing shoe, which is basically thumping your fist together at the thumbs.

I have so much to say about sign language, which I will be sure to post more on in the near future. When SJ gains oral communication she may decide to drop signing all together or our whole family could end up bilingual. Either way I’m hooked. I know I am just a beginner when it comes to this beautiful language, but I am grateful for what it has already done for me by enabling me to communicate with my daughter. It’s funny, I’ve been vocal my whole life (just ask my family), but for this season that I am in it’s like ASL is what has given me a voice.

By |2023-06-12T06:31:57+00:00May 27, 2012|ASL, Our Hearing Loss Journey, Uncategorized|3 Comments
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