My name is Rebecca and I am a preacher, musician, and a writer. I am also visually impaired.
As a woman of minority descent with a visual disability, I feel a deep sense of call to work to make the church and society a more inclusive space for all of God’s children, especially people with disabilities.
I also love to write. I studied English in college and graduated with a Bachelor in the Science of English Education. Throughout seminary, I was one of those unique people who genuinely enjoyed writing twenty page theological papers. In December, I even published my first chapbook of poems, Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse.
One of my greatest joys is when I can combine my love of writing with my love for making the world a more inclusive place for all people. Last evening, I was over the moon when I was offered a very special and unique opportunity.
During a conference call with the creators of CAPTIVATING! Magazine, Stephanae McCcoy and Chelsea Nguyen, I was asked to become a Core Team Member and Staff Writer.
“We can’t pay you, but we would love to have you work with us!” said Steph.
I laughed out loud. “You have no idea how perfect that is!” I replied. “You see,” I explained earnestly, “I’ve committed my life to the church. Part of my contract states that I cannot have another job or accept a paycheck from anywhere other than my church. I must dedicate my entire life to Jesus.”
“Okay,” Steph replied.
“So what that means,” I explained, “is that I couldn’t take money from you- even if I wanted to do so. I believe in your mission and I want to help. Furthermore, my church has appointed me to be the chair of the Disability Ministries Task Force for our conference. This means that it is my job to work alongside the committee to help to provide resources to 890 local churches regarding disability awareness and empowerment. Working with CAPTIVATING! is a great fit because it will help me to stay connected to the Disability Community.”
“We’re so happy to have you,” Steph replied. “Chelsea and I believe that CAPTIVATING! could become the Huntington Post of the disabled community.”
“I absolutely think that it could,” I answered. I was certain that they could hear me grinning from ear to ear over the telephone.
CAPTIVATING! & @BeckieWrites= A Perfect Fit
CAPTIVATING! is a collaborative project created by Social Entrepreneurs, Chelsea Nguyen of CN Vision Image Consulting and Stephanae McCoy of Bold Blind Beauty. When I first read about CAPTIVATING! Magazine on Steph’s blog, I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical.
“Yeah,” I thought to myself, “Sure. A magazine for people with disabilities. Sure. Whatever. I bet it doesn’t work with voice over. It’s probably a completely inaccessible PDF.”
Nevertheless, I clicked the link to download the most recent issue. I was fully expecting a PDF that my screen reader would simply read as, “Page is blank.”
When CAPTIVATING! loaded on my iPad that morning, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! It looked like a real magazine. With my declining vision, I haven’t read a real magazine in years. I used to love magazines before my sight loss became worse.
What was even more amazing was that it worked with the Voice Over option on my iPad!
As I paged through CAPTIVAING! Magazine, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The women in the pages were bold, beautiful, and confident. They were also all disabled!
“Wow,” I thought to myself, “I wish I would have had this when I was a teenager! It would have meant so much to me to see myself represented. It would have been a huge help to my self esteem if I would have been able to see concrete examples of other women with disabilities boldly breaking barriers and being beautiful!”
Even at that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a part of CAPTIVATING!
We Are CAPTIVATING!
CAPTIVATING! is a magazine that is empowering people with disabilities and breaking barriers. The core team of captivating is comprised of a wonderfully diverse staff full of creative people. I feel truly blessed to part of this amazing project. What I like most about CAPTIVATING! is how it emphasizes the fact that people with disabilities can do anything anyone else can do – we just do it a little differently.
In 2014, I was ordained as an elder in my church. For a secular comparison, becoming ordained in my church is similar to getting tenure at a University. I’m guaranteed a job for life as long as I promise to always serve. This means that I have to be willing to serve in Timbuktu if the Bishop calls me to do so- but I’m perfectly happy about that. I know that almost 80% of people with disabilities are unemployed. I’m more than ready to pack my suitcase and head to Timbuktu if that means I can fulfill my call to serve Jesus AND put food on the table (Plus, I’ve always had a love of travel!).
I view writing as part of my call to preach. I believe that God calls us to use all of our gifts and graces to serve. I’m so happy that CAPTIVATING! has provided me with the support and the opportunity to use my love of language to raise awareness, empower people with disabilities, and show the world that all people are beautiful because we are all made in God’s image.
There are so many exciting things in store for CAPTIVATING! Our theme for February is relationships in honor of Valentine’s Day. For our February issue, I’m working on an article that includes tips for couples dealing with disabilities. Then, in March, our focus is on Women’s History Month, and I will be sharing an article that includes tips I wish I would have known during the beginning of my career.
I used to feel embarrassed when people starred at me while I was using my white cane. Now, the next time I feel embarrassed, I will remember our mantra as CAPTIVATING! Magazine:
Let them stare. They stare because we are bold. They stare because we are beautiful. They stare because we are CAPTIVATING!
CLICK HERE to visit the website for CAPTIVATING! We are adding new content every day, including videos!