It’s amazing what you can adjust
to when you have no other choice’
Second in a three-part series in the New Castle Courier-Times about local people who deal with special challenges during this time of quarantine. Their stories are about how they cope and hope not only now but routinely, and their advice for us. Tomorrow: Wanda Jones.
By DONNA CRONK
SPICELAND – In 1998, at age 31, Amie Thornburg was a young wife of Pat Thornburg and mother of their little girls, Emily, 6, and Lindsey, nearly 2.
The Tri graduate who attended both Purdue and Ball State also worked in exports for SMC Pneumatics in Indy. It was then that she was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“ALS basically causes your muscles to quit working. Eventually, all of your muscles,” Amie says, adding that she was able to work for several years after the diagnosis, as well as do many things because the disease has been slow to progress in her, “which is usually not the case,” she adds.
“Most people are told to expect to survive 2-5 years after diagnosis,” says Amy. There remains no cure.
For sure, Amie and family have had to adapt to her disability. Yet today, she continues to lead a full life where the name of her blog, “An incurably happy life,” says it all. (Visitors are welcome: https://incurablyhappylife.wordpress.com/).
The couple’s daughters are now 27 and 23, and the empty-nester couple even travels together via RV where the equipment Amie needs is easily accessible. Amie even has her own etsy shop where she enjoys selling vintage items in her store, called Zuzues Petals (at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZuzuesPetals).
“I type and am able to use my laptop through the use of a computer program and eye gaze system called Tobil,” says Amie. “I spend a lot of time on my laptop since I cannot physically do anything by myself.”
As normal as possible
Amie says she and her family live their lives as normally as possible. “Doing anything with a disability requires lots of extra time and lots of planning and extra work, but most things are doable,” she says.
Several years ago, she planned a family vacation to Ireland. “I was in a wheelchair then too, so it was tricky, but we did it and had an amazing trip,” Amie says. “My husband and I go on vacation, these days usually in our RV. We have started spending part of our winters in a warmer climate, like Florida, except this year, unfortunately.”
The RV makes travel easier with ready access to her wheelchair, BiPAP machine, shower chair and other supplies. While the trips are a welcome break, mostly, Amie is at home.
“Adapting to always being in my house, due to my disability, came slowly,” she says. “As I was able to do less and less on my own, I stayed in more and more. It didn’t happen overnight, luckily, unlike the COVID-19 virus, where everyone was suddenly told to stay home. Adapting is also easier when you have no choice. I can’t physically go out on my own, so, unless someone helps me, a lot, I don’t go anywhere…”
Amie is at higher risk when it comes to the pandemic, which includes a decreased lung function, “so if I got this virus or even any pneumonia, I don’t know that I would survive it. Likely not. This is serious stuff, yet I don’t think we can stop living our lives.”
She says she possibly feels a bit safer due to widespread caution. “I don’t know how I’ll feel once everyone is back to work, and living their normal lives, probably a bit nervous because it would be so serious if I were to get sick.”Amie and Pat have reduced contact with people as much as possible, including not having family in as per usual.
“My husband still has to go out fairly regularly just to get supplies for us and our animals,” Amie says. “He tries to be cautious. It’s tough because I do need help with every daily function and a patient life.”
She speaks of the effort and help required for every trip to the bathroom, bathing, dressing and eating. “I have to have someone else come over to help me when my husband isn’t available, virus or no virus.”
Amie says she is fortunate that sister-in-law Jennifer Wolski is nearby and usually helps when Pat can’t, as well as daughter Emily. Amie’s mom, Sharon Day, also helps out.
“So, I have to take some risks just to live,” Amie says. “I really don’t think about it that much. We all just have to take precautions and be cautious, but keep on keeping, on, as the saying goes.”
Doing the at-home thing
Amie says she has “been doing this stay-at-home thing” for a long time. “I have learned that we can get by with way less than we think we need, no matter what the situation. I would never have thought that I could stay in my house and not go out for literally months at a time, but I have found out that it is very doable.”
“I would have said 30 years ago that I couldn’t imagine living without being able to move my arms or walk around, but it’s amazing what you can adjust to when you have no other choice.”
Do it yourself: Amie says If you keep your mind and brain active, along with your body if able, you find that you don’t need to go out daily, “that’s just what you are used to doing.” She mentions things people are accustomed to such as various aspects of grooming and how people can do those things themselves. She suggests YouTube videos for how-tos.
Take a break: Amie has learned “that anyone will drive you completely nuts if you are around them too much, even the people you really like or love.” Her advice is to have your own space “to get away from everyone however often you need to.”
She says most homes have more than one room for more than one reason. “Take a break from whoever you live with and stay in different rooms (or garage and basement, etc.) for a little while every day…”
Gift of time: Amie agrees with those who think the virus has a purpose. “We’ve seen many horrible things with this pandemic, but there is a lot of good that’s come from it too.”
Says Amie, “I just hope people have used this gift of time to learn a few things about themselves and their lives. We can survive without many material things, but times like this make you realize what is really important in life.
“As we slowly return to our normal lives, I hope we can find a new more meaningful normal.”
First in a three-part series about local people with special challenges during the coronavirus quarantine. They share their stories of how they cope and hope at this time, and offer advice for you. Reprinted from the April 30, 2020 New Castle Courier-Times. Tomorrow's paper will feature Amie Thornburg of Spiceland.
By DONNA CRONK
Despite complications from cerebral palsy, and a prognosis that she would never see her fifth birthday, lifelong New Castle resident Lynda Alberson is 57 and due to the creativity of her friends, is in the process of “touring” the country.
One thing that doesn’t scare this virtual traveler is getting the coronavirus. Although at high risk due to asthma, Lynda says, “If I get it, I get it. I can’t spend my life worrying about dying. I was supposed to die before I was 5. I am now going to be 58 in November.”
What troubles Alberson is not what will happen to her, but she is concerned for others and that her loved ones will be OK and that small businesses will make it.
Reared on love
Raised in a family that loved her deeply, including her late parents Gene and Dayton Alberson, the daughter remains encouraged by her upbringing and the love of family and her community. She says if she dies, she feels it’s her time. She credits Granny for her outlook.
“I could not go outside and play like everybody else so I sat and talked to her,” recalls Lynda. “She talked to me like a person; told me when my time is up, it is up.” Granny told her granddaughter that she can either fret or live her life.
Lynda says she knows so-called “normal” people who are not as blessed as she is. “I have many, many people that care about me, plus when I was very young, my Granny told me I had a choice. I could be bitter, not have people like me and be unhappy – or, smile, laugh and always find the silver living. I picked B.”
In fact, Lynda enjoys laughter so much, and finding the humorous side to life, she says, “If not for my voice I would try my hand at stand-up comic – or in my case – sit down.”
The hometown woman claims two New Castle Chrysler High School classes as her own. As a proud member of the Class of 1981, Lynda looks forward to her 40th anniversary next year. She was originally to be in the class of 1982 but credits her teachers with getting her promoted a year early by having her work ahead in sixth grade and thus skip the perils of going to the seventh-grade building with no elevator.
Lynda’s teachers also encouraged her to stay positive with advice that yes, she does things differently, but she is still no different than “June, Steve or Cathy.” She credits many people for her positive outlook.
Chick on a stick
As for her hobby of travel, Lynda would love to see all of the nation’s 50 states. She came up with a way that just might let her meet that goal. She got the idea from someone on TV who had his or her photo taken out of state and emailed to a TV station.
“I thought ‘Hey, might be a way for me to say my head has been in 50 states.’” So she posted the idea on Facebook and her friends got on board. “My friend Judy jumped on it. She takes me everywhere,” says Lynda.
“Others like my friends Nancy and Liz ran with it. Had family take me to reunions. I so enjoy the creative way they do it,” Lynda continues. “Nancy walked up to people on the beach and said, ‘Hold my friend’s head, I am posting on Facebook. They said cool.’ Our mutual friend Liz got a race car driver to hold my head and sign it.”
Lynda goes on. “The joy I have got from one post, amazing. Guess it circles back to how I stay upbeat. How can I not with all the amazing people around me?”
Advice to others
Lynda has some thoughts on how others can get through tough times such as this period of extreme social distancing. She encourages people to set goals, to get up, dressed and know what day it is. “If you don’t, you fall in a dark well that even Lassie can’t save you (from),” says Lynda.
She encourages people to “Don’t visit your fears or judgments on others,” to maybe check on loved ones or keep busy for their health. She also says to be kind. Her comedic side suggests to not be the neighbor from (the old TV show) "Bewitched."
Adds Lynda, “Laugh every day, especially at yourself.” She says if she is dropped on her head, she doesn’t get mad, but laughs and says, “Retake.”
Lynda says that “Laughter is a gift. Use it often. Lastly, remember you are not (the) only one. Treat the ones helping you kindly. They don’t have to help.”
I'd know that view anywhere ...
It's inside the little Brownsville United Methodist Church. It's where my Grandma Jobe played piano, but not in my lifetime. It's where I went to church growing up. It's where I got married at 20. In the graveyard surrounding it is where my family members who have passed are buried.
It's taken me weeks to write this post. Recently my brother's ashes were buried in the cemetery here, surrounded by our other close family members nearby, including close by our brother David and his wife Janet, and our folks, Huburt and Martha Jobe, and a great-niece and great-great-nephew. On the other side of the cemetery, grandparents and great-grandparents.
It was a short service, occurring just before the stricter funeral gathering restrictions went into place. In fact the next day, new work-from-home policies were established, despite our media exemption.
Life has been anything but normal since Tim's gravesite military burial, and a quick paying of respects. Then we dispersed back to our homes. Life will never be normal without Tim. He was the best. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.
But I wanted to say something about the unexpected comfort I found that day from some special ladies. These church ladies, I've known all or most of my life. And there they were that day.
When we arrived at the cemetery, I heard strains of organ music coming from the church. There was no inside service, but I had to know who was in there playing. I went in and there was Charlotte, as if there from a dream of an earlier time. Charlotte has always in my recollections, been an organist at my sweet little hometown church.
She said because they had not had services the previous Sunday, and because she was thinking of Tim, she just wanted to come in and play ...
And there was Pat, changing the sign out front. Another dear heart I've known all my life.
Lois was there, too. She asked if we wanted photos sitting in the pew space where my mother and I sat on Sundays. So briefly, all too briefly, that's where we were and I turned the camera on her.
On one of the hardest days ever, despite the years, despite the distance in miles, despite lots of life getting in the way, despite the quick service, despite it all, I was comforted uniquely and tremendously by these constants in my life from my little church in the wild wood. Thank you ladies.
And then, it was over ... and we were on our way home.
We always spend Easter dinner and afternoon with our daughter-in-law Allison's family. So tomorrow afternoon will be quite low key with folks not able to get together this spring due to social distancing. Still, I put out a few decorations. I didn't buy anything new; just used what I had, such as this green bunny, and handful of fake eggs, and a good scatter around Grandma Jobe's marble-top hutch.
I've had this peony wreath for probably 20 years. I ordered it from the Current stationery and novelty catalog. I remain impressed with how realistic Indiana's State Flowers look after all this time, how authentic the leaves, and how much I still enjoy this wreath either encircling a candle (this spring it's on the kitchen table) or hanging from a door or wall. Happy Easter everyone! Remember, we have every reason for celebration because the tomb is still empty!
I had a celebration, of sorts, for spring this morning.
Actually, I had forgotten the season had changed, but found cheer when I saw that it had.
I celebrated this morning, when the sky was blue and the sun bright (for about 10 minutes, anyway) by hanging beautiful chimes outside on our back porch. Church friends got them for me in memory of my splendid brother, Tim, whose funeral was Tuesday.
Sixty-one-years-old and I’ve never had chimes before. These are large and loud as you handle them, but something remarkable happens once they are hung.
They know what to do. Once in place, they’re in their element and start bumping into each other softly, playing sweet, original tunes, directed by the wind. I immediately thought of how much I will enjoy them when I doze on the porch this summer. Already I like to hear them when seated in my house.
That’s not the end of the story, though. Within 10 minutes of their glorious prelude, the breeze turned to wind, the sky from blue to gray. Felt like a storm blowing in, a spring one.
The chimes got louder as the wind tossed them about, never wavering from their song. Their melodies continued new and strong, dancing in the wind, ever louder, still beautiful.
I’m hearing these chimes as a metaphor for what we’re to do in this storm that’s shared by all humanity right now. We are oddly standing together as we stand apart.
Speculations are varied and endless about how we’ll endure, what will happen, and when we can return to normal. No one knows what will happen or even what our new normal will look like. When you’re in the middle of a storm you have to ride it out.
But we'll be in this storm for a while. I have to turn off the news and do something.
Now being a Midwestern farm girl at heart, I’m all about the practical. So here’s what I’m going to do.
I’m now commuting to work in a new way, as are many of you. But hey, you can’t beat the gas mileage from my bedroom to my living room. And it doesn’t get any more casual Friday than PJs.
Everything in regular time is canceled now. So we’ll find creative ways to stay connected. Three groups I’m involved with – a life group of friends from my church, Weight Watchers and Bible Study Fellowship are working on virtual meetings to keep us connected. So we’ll all learn to set up and use a new skill.
How often do many of us say “If I only had time…” Well now we do! So we’ll find out if we really mean it that if we had the time we’d clean out cabinets, deep clean the house, make more home-cooked meals, allow ourselves little guilty pleasures such as binging on the streaming services we pay for anyway.
Maybe we'll write letters or help someone. Maybe we'll go through our stuff and donate the useful abundance to those who need it. We should absolutely pray that God will go with us through this storm and bring us out on the other side.
Historically speaking in my life, organizing and eliminating clutter have been soothing activities. There’s something about an organized closet, streamlined junk drawers and cabinets that make me feel accomplished on a primal level. I think it has to do with feeling in control of something when everything beyond those activities feels totally out of control.
And we need to laugh! Yesterday Brian called on his way home to see if I needed anything at the store. Well, that’s a funny question, but gets only funnier when I tell him we could use toilet paper! That’s the national joke and TP the product of the year. (But we could use some … I’m just saying.)
I said eggs, we could use eggs. When he got home he said, “Guess what I found?” As he made his way through the house, he handed me this a six pack--of eggs!
We had to laugh over the store-rationed half-carton of eggs. But you know what? THEY WERE ENOUGH! The small carton made me realize that it meant others didn't have to do without eggs all together. There would be more eggs the next day. Our need was met and guess what? We haven't even used them yet!
Also, we need to do something normal. Every year we do at least one fairly major home repair or upgrade. This year the goal is to paint our ceilings and three-quarters of our downstairs interior.
So instead of wringing our hands, we’re having a young man who owns his own painting business and who comes with sterling recommendations from two friends, give us an estimate. We're looking to refresh and update our décor, but it’s also about supporting a local business, and thus, the economy. OUR economy.
And I'm on a committee that will start making phone calls to church members, these, in my life group. The goal is to keep us connected to God, to one another, and to our spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
We can do this everyone. We can do what each of us can do. We cannot freak out. We have others who look to us to see how strong we’re staying; how sane of mind and firm of faith.
Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!"
And let the chimes do what they do. Chime loud and strong in the wind and the storm. Let's do the same.
Are you with me?
It was only fitting that I met up with my friend and writing colleague Janis Thornton of Tipton yesterday on "Spring Forward Day."
There's no writer I know with more energy, drive and spring in her step than Janis. She is inspirational.
Not only does she have a day job, she is a prolific author on her own time with a love for research. She has written a number of books, including her 2018 "Too Good a Girl: Remembering Olene Emberton and the Mystery of Her Death," relating to the still-unsolved death of her high school classmate.
On a special day at the Tipton Library in 2018 I had the pleasure of being the emcee for a standing-room-only crowd where the very law-enforcement professionals who worked the case in the late 1960 shared the mic with Janis to discuss the cold case. It was quite a day. The Indianapolis Star devoted a huge chunk of page one to the book and the case, along with a video with Janis showing readers around sites of the mystery.
She has also written or co-written local-history books, cozy mysteries and more.
In late 2019 I had the honor of reading her manuscript for the upcoming "No Place Like Murder: True Crime in the Midwest," published by Indiana University Press. The gripping stories inside the book take place, largely in Indiana, between 1869-1950. The book is described in a pre-release as "A modern retelling of 20 sensational true crimes."
I wrote a blurb for the book which Janis said is included in the book! How nice. It's available for pre-order now on Amazon.
Retirement is not on the radar nor even in the vocabulary of this talented author. She said she wouldn't want every day to be Saturday. In fact, she's yes, springing forward yet again in looking toward penning a sequel to the IU Press book.
Janis, thank you for always managing to stay in touch and including me on your ride. We share a mentor in the late, great newsman Ray Moscowitz. Ray discovered Janis and for a period, although we didn't know it nor know each other at the time, we both worked at sister newspapers, she the editor of The Frankfort Times, and me in New Castle.
We connected, oddly enough, in the gift-shop line at the Indiana Historical Society during its annual author fair in 2014. She's helped me out in numerous ways showing up twice at my author programs, designing this website five years ago, and sharing vendor booths together as well as being on panel discussions together at several venues.
Janis I admire your forward approach to your writing and life. Thank you for keeping us in contact. You are inspirational. Keep writing and mining for gold in those newspapers at newspapers.com.
Until next time ...
Seated in the heart of downtown New Castle in the newsroom of The Courier-Times, I hear pounding and machines, trucks and working men and women just beyond my windows.
It's the sound of progress.
It's a relatively new sound. I've sat in the newsroom most weekdays for the past 30 years and only in the recent ones has there been this sound.
I've always heard talk of a downtown renaissance. Those who remember the good old days of busy streets on a Saturday night, of bustling department stores and one-of-a kind housewares and clothing shops have often spoken of how great it all was and wondered why it couldn't be that way again.
I figured they were longing for something that could no longer be. After all, the past several decades the trends were toward fleeing downtown for the busiest street in town that took you north to Muncie or south to the interstate and Indy, and big malls were where it was at.
But something has happened. Things are swinging the other way. Some of the malls are dying. Dead is the Anderson Mounds Mall, for example.
And one by one, the unique shops run by entrepreneurs with a vision and love for this city are locating back downtown. Consider 1822 Vintage and Dance Studio, Unique Boutique, the classy Twin Lions, and more are coming. I see the 1400 Plaza with its entertainment venue and parking spaces. The healthy smoothie shop, an ice cream shop on the way.
It's exciting to see the young people claim downtown. It's pretty amazing and beautiful! They have become the community leaders who always pined for the way things could be. Only it's happening!
And part of the trend is found in Carmen and Scott Cash. This is their story. And I thank them for letting me tell it in a recent Courier-Times article, reprinted here.
The move of their business to downtown New Castle began three years ago this past October when Carmen Cash had something rare – a day all to herself with no plans.
The busy working wife and mother of four rarely gets such a thing.
On this one, while reflecting and praying, she heard this inside her spirit: “Go downtown and drive around.”
The impression was so clear that she did it. The New Castle resident hadn’t been downtown for a while, and hadn’t seen the transformation unfolding.
“It was almost like I was being introduced to a new city,” she recalls. Yet after driving around for a while, she still didn’t know why she was there.
Then she saw it.
A for-sale-by-owner sign. It was for the 1872 Keiser Building. Although the space at 1321-1323 Broad Street appeared run down and perhaps nearing demolition, Carmen had found her “why.”
She wanted to buy it and relocate her family’s hair salon, Colour’z, inside the vintage space.
“It was God,” Carmen says of the experience. “It was a Holy Spirit moment.”
Another surprise came at husband Scott’s reaction. Scott, a 20-year employee of Draper, Inc., tends to think things over carefully and avoid rash decisions. This time, his reaction was quick. He was on board.
In fact, he says he knew it was of God.
When they toured the property for the first time, Carmen didn’t see a tired, old building. “All I could see when I walked in was this completely restored building.”
She says, “I love seeing things built from the ground up and being restored.”
At the time, the property was owned by an individual, then taken over by the not-for-profit Preserve Henry County, and then restored by the non-profit down to its good bones and interesting features. Those features include rare artistic glass windows over the front entrance, a skylight, brick walls and a brick arch.
The Cash couple closed on the building one month ago. Now the emphasis is on refurbishing and decorating the interior to honor the past yet meet demands of a busy shop behind the 1321 Broad St. storefront. It will provide working space for nine stylists and other support staff.
Carmen’s dad Greg Davis founded Hairitage in 1976. He and his wife, Carmen’s stepmom, Martha, changed the name to Colour’z in 2008. The couple lives in Greenfield, formerly New Castle. Her mom and stepdad are Nancy and Jim McCullers of Lewisville.
Scott is the son of Jerry and Ladona Cash of Spiceland.
The couple plans to change the salon and spa’s name to Selah and open it this summer.
What they know for sure is they want Selah to live up to the word’s meaning, “to pause and to reflect.”
Their mantra is “Pause, reflect, renew.” The salon’s name comes from the Bible’s book of Psalms.
Carmen says, “We want to stop the craziness of life and give them a space to take a break, pause and to relax.”
The shop’s offerings include hair, massage, eyelash extensions and facials.
Says Scott, “We’re simply at peace in the whole process. I feel like He (God) has a heart for this city.”
And so do the Cashes.
Tri High School sweethearts, she is from Lewisville and he from Spiceland. Both went on to Ball State University where he studied sales and marketing and her major was dietetics.
While he went to work at Draper, Carmen became interested in her father’s second salon in Greenfield. After a successful career in Mary Kay leadership, Carmen attended cosmetology school and worked in the family business in Greenfield. Then she became a stay-at-home mom to Kiela, Grant, Caleb and Luke until they were in school.
Then it was back to work, this time at Colour’z in New Castle, where she has spent a number of years and bought the business. She had contemplated relocating the shop when she heard the instructions to visit downtown.
The couple are thankful for the support they have received from the community and downtown merchants. They say everyone has been encouraging.
In particular, they have special praise for Jeff Ray of Preserve Henry County and for Carrie Barrett of New Castle Downtown who supported their purchase of the downtown building.
The property was first owned by the building’s namesake, Swiss immigrant J.U. Keiser. A professional jeweler, he constructed the building in 1872 during a prosperous period in New Castle history. It was there he sold time pieces of various kinds along with musical instruments.
Later, the building housed Allen’s Young Fashions and Cliff Payne Clothing, Inc.
In a previous Courier-Times article, Jeff Ray described the importance of restoring and repurposing the building. He said, “It is part of the only complete block left in downtown New Castle.”
The Cashes are happy to be part of that repurpose.
“We’re very passionate about bringing our successful business downtown. We excited to bring our customers downtown,” Carmen says.
And, they want to be part of something bigger than their own endeavor.
Explains Scott, “We want to help the other businesses that are downtown. We want to help revitalize downtown.”
They see the importance of community doing business as a community. They recognize a trend toward shopping smaller and inside specialty shops rather than in massive malls.
“We just want to be a part of it,” Scott says of becoming downtown merchants.
Carmen adds that her customers and staff alike are excited about the move.
They have a lot of space, more than one might guess looking from the outside. They anticipate a possible community-venue area and have some additional ideas in mind they are still considering for the space behind the 1323 storefront.
The two say they’ve been on a journey. And it’s still unfolding. “We just want community to happen,” she says.
But there’s more. “We want to glorify Him more than anything,” Carmen says.
Painting by Deanna First, who will discuss how she creates illustrations and art as part of her devotional offerings at a free workshop on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Ovid Community Church, Anderson, Indiana. Deanna matched her painting with this scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Anyone interested in creating devotions through story, song, art, photography—or a combination of these mediums—is welcome to attend a free seminar from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at Ovid Community Church, 793 East 600 South, Anderson, Indiana in the family-life center.
The workshop is facilitated by writers Donna Cronk and Debbie McCray. This is the second devotions workshop they have produced for the church. Donna is a member of the church, while Debbie attended Ovid when her family called Pendleton home before they relocated to Ohio.
Along with several speakers, there will be a break for refreshments and fellowship, along with door prizes. Senior Pastor Keith Wooden will speak briefly in “casting the vision” for the church Facebook page’s 2020 devotional theme of God Sightings: Finding God in Our Everyday Lives.
Those who can stay following the teaching sessions are welcome to visit informally with speakers and with one another about their own devotional writing and expressions.
RSVPs are requested to assess seating and refreshment needs. Direct those and questions to Donna Cronk at 317-224-7028 or email: email@example.com.
Meet the speakers:
JILL BROWN of Pendleton has been singing in church since age 3. In high school, a love of poetry started her writing verse, which has led to awards and the sale of some greeting cards. Jill wrote and performed a song for her high school graduation, but began song writing in earnest as a member of the band, First Light. Jill writes songs with her husband, Rick, which they record in their home recording studio.
The mom of two began writing devotions after attending the first Ovid devotions writing workshop in fall 2018. Because music is such an integral part of her life, she often integrates songs into her devotions.
In her session called “Note Worthy: Incorporating Songs in Devotions,” Jill will share some of her music and discuss how songs can be inspiration for, or be, devotions.
She performs regularly with the Ovid praise team.
DEBBIE McCRAY of Springboro, Ohio, keeps busy looking for and finding the God stories in her day-to-day life and volunteer commitment as ministry leader for Cancer Hope.
Over the past few years, Debbie and her husband, Tom, have been intentional in doing things on their bucket list. Those items involve travelling by car and hiking in God’s beautiful creation. Pictures from their 2019 trip to Maine will be shared in a devotional format.
DEANNA FIRST of Anderson is a nearly lifelong artist who draws and paints.
Self-taught, Deanna enjoys playing with different media. She began Bible-art journaling in 2015.
In 2018 she started writing devotions, combining them with art. She writes for the Ovid Community Church Facebook page and recently created her own Facebook page, Devotions and art from Deanna.
She will speak on “Devotions Through Art.” Deanna will show examples of the art she enjoys creating.
DONNA CRONK of Pendleton has been a professional writer most of her adult life with a career in community-newspaper journalism.
She is author of two women’s Christian fictional novels, “Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast,” and “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.”
She is in her tenth year of Bible Study Fellowship and co-leads a life group at Ovid. Donna started writing devotions for the Ovid Facebook page two years ago and now considers looking for God stories a regular part of her faith walk. Her topic is “Devotions Through Story.”
Devotions Workshop Itinerary:
Saturday, Feb. 15:
9 a.m.: Welcome, introductions, prayer
9:10 a.m.: Casting the Vision for 2020 Ovid devotions …. Pastor Keith Wooden
9:20 a.m.: Note Worthy: Incorporating Songs in Devotions … Jill Brown
9:40 a.m. Devotions Through Photography … Debbie McCray
10:10 a.m.: Break: informal fellowship, refreshments.
10:30 a.m.: Devotions Through Art … Deanna First
10:40 a.m.: Devotions Through Story … Donna Cronk
10:55 a.m.: Door prizes.
10:57 a.m.: Benediction in song … Jill Brown
11 a.m.: Programming ends but everyone is invited to grab another cup of coffee and stay around for an informal time discussing devotions, chatting with presenters, and each other.
11:30 a.m.: Dismiss.
Want to attend the free workshop? Mark your calendars for 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at Ovid Community Church Family Life Center, 793 East 600 South, Anderson, Indiana. Photo above: Workshop facilitators Debbie McCray, left, and Donna Cronk. to RSVP or for more information, email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-224-7028.
January is not an easy month.
I don't mean the weather, as it has been forgettable, at least when compared with past first months of various years.
Take 42 years ago today, the Blizzard of 1978. I worked in Connersville at the time at the little Western & Southern Insurance office as the clerk.
My job was to collect deposits and do the bookkeeping for all the agents' collections as well as wait on customers by collecting their money and taking deposits to the bank every day. It wasn't a great job but I was glad to have it.
It was a late Sunday afternoon or early evening when Brian called to tell me if I wanted to get out the next morning, I should come to Liberty and stay at my brother and sister-in-law Tim and Jeannie's home. A blizzard was on the way.
It seems I looked out not long after that only to see snow coming down hard. I took his advice, threw clothes in a suitcase and headed to Liberty. I think I spent the next two weeks on my brother's couch. Pretty sure I didn't make it to work for a day or two or more. But I made it a lot sooner than if I'd stayed out on the farm.
There have been other difficult Januarys; lots of them, in my years on this planet. When we lived in Fountain County in the 1980s the snow would get so deep and high that I had to go into Attica where I worked and stay for a week or more at a time with my boss / friend, Sue Barnhizer Anderson. I often have wondered what I would have done had she not been the boss. Would I have kept my job if I couldn't have gotten in for a week or more?
There was the worst January of my life, when Sam was diagnosed with a heart defect at Riley Hospital as a baby. And the year before that, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in the sky, and I was home from work with morning sickness.
This January has been drab of weather, but but that same weather has not been threatening. There has been no piled snow and the snow shovel hasn't come out.
Things can change on a dime, and who knows what February will bring. I'm just grateful that the bulk of my January projects is behind me --a couple hundred or more calls or contacts for our annual community directory we call Answer Book; two large feature stories for our HOPE edition; her magazine wrapped up and off to the press.
Add to that training on new computer software, a family funeral, and some sad news from a friend, yes, all that going on in the nation's capitol, and I can tell you that this January isn't one I'll miss when the calendar flips.
Still, we press on.
I'll check back in soon with information about what I'm looking forward to about February, and how that concerns you! But for today, I'll leave it there.
SO, we planned to leave the Christmas decorations up for another week. There's no secret about how much we have enjoyed the tree lights as well as the entry and staircase garlands. The time has gone quickly since we put them up the day after Thanksgiving, partly because there was no extra week in November, a cushion between the two holidays.
Then I got up yesterday thinking about the incredibly busy January ahead that includes not one but several large work projects and extra assignments, and how my schedule will be altered this coming week with the second-straight Wednesday holiday, and then back to work on Thursday.
With nothing pressing on yesterday's agenda other than a trip to the grocery store, I thought that what I should do is go ahead and take down the decorations and be done with it. After all, next weekend, I might well not feel in the mood to deal with it.
Taking down Christmas makes me grumpy and meloncholy. Does it you?
But at the same time, I'm slow as a snail about it all because I want it put away just right. Call me OCD, but I get a ridiculous level of satisfaction in bubble-wrapping each heirloom bulb and bauble and store them by category in their stackable containers.
I also upped the game by placing the garlands in individual smaller containers, labeling where they go next Thanksgiving time, and the tree lights got their own large container, with appropriate extension cords stored with the lights.
We even beat the rain and took down the outdoor wreaths so they are dry when put away.
Now it's all packed away, and while the living room seemed dark and joyless when dusk moved in yesterday, it's done, and I don't have to spare the time next week.
I remembered my daughter-in-law's homemade Christmas gift. It's my favorite gift of the season! She took three Ball jars, covered them with doilies and frosted the glass. Inside, she placed battery-powered lights that look like real candles. There's even a little doily runner that goes with them. I placed the trio in our kitchen window where a lit garland had been.
I absolutely love it! Those cheerful lights will be our winter decor, shining against the gloom and gray of winter and matching the snows that will inevitably arrive in the coming weeks.
Thank you, Allison, for the lights! They are beautiful! And they are just what I needed with the decorations all put away for another 11 months.