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October 2003

How faith brought me shoe buttons

By Maggie Delaney.

Photo of Maggie Delaney

Having been born with an injured left arm I faced many unusual challenges at an early age. Tying my shoelaces proved to be one without an easy solution. Making knots and bows appeared to be impossible with only one hand. My parents and teachers, who were often helpful with other things, had no suggestions.

During elementary school, occupational therapists worked with me on this skill, but they ultimately had to admit defeat. I continued to have to seek help with this task. As I grew older, I became increasingly disturbed at having to ask for assistance; it made me feel helpless and embarrassed. About this time, I began to pray that God would help me with this difficult problem.

In junior high and high school, I continued to be persistent and keep a positive attitude, though the fact that I had to ask my parents or sisters to tie my shoelaces every morning made it harder for me to think positively. I constantly worried that my shoelaces would come untied at school, and I would have to ask someone publicly to retie them for me. I had to learn that those who teased me and laughed at me had no idea how hard it would be for them to tie their shoelaces with just one hand, and that they were just feeling insecure about my being different.

Picture of shoe buttons fitted to shoe and loose.

When I was eighteen my faith was rewarded.

An occupational therapist introduced me to shoe buttons, which are devices attached by small screws into the top eyelets of a shoe. For anyone who has limited use of his or her arms and hands, these shoe buttons allow an individual to wear ordinary shoes. Once the shoelaces that come with the footwear are laced and wrapped around the shoe buttons, they are tied. This knot may be sewn to keep it from coming untied, or it may be criss-crossed around the shoe buttons before they are tied. I found that they come in white, brown, and black, and I could use them with any of my shoes. I was able to go off to college relieved of the burden of asking for help with this task.

I now take great pride in tying my shoelaces. I am no longer dependent on others or fear what they might say to me. I have taken on the responsibility to inform people with physical impairments about shoe buttons and their significance, and I continue to educate everyone that through the work of the Lord all things are possible.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

You may visit your local medical supply store or order these shoe buttons online at

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