I am originally from New York State, near Auburn - Union Springs area.
Graduating from Union Springs Central High in 1973 at 16, I returned the following year for postgraduate work, as a condition of graduating a year early. I studied commercial art at BOCES technical school in Auburn and was a teacher's aid in a Spanish class for middle school students that year.
When I was 15, I won a local "draw your father" for Father's Day contest in the Auburn newspaper, and then had a poem published in the New York State Anthology of High School Students in 1973.
Years before these things happened, I knew that I "was" a writer and artist. Not that I would become those things, I just knew somehow that they were my gifts and accepted it from preteen years.
In those days, my passions were pretty simple. Dancing, dating and drawing just about covered everything.
One of my passions was a very special college student that I had met one summer in Auburn. His name was Stuart David Van Orden and his parents were teachers at Eisenhower College not far from where I lived.
My family moved to Florida when I was 17, in 1974, and I didn't see Stuart again for about 35 years.
Then the personal computer was invented and one day, (just for the heck of it), I looked him up in one of those Yahoo people searches and found his email address. He had gone on to work for a company that was working in cooperation with NASA and the Air Force on weather satellites.
He blessed me with camera equipment for a studio, and has been a voice of wisdom in my life for years. Thank you Stu.
Meeting him again, and several other of my classmates and cousins that we had left behind in NY, filled out my life a great deal and have made me understand how magical life is.
I had married Mark in 1977, a golden haired boy in Palatka, Florida who seemed to be able to do no wrong. He never made an enemy in his lifetime, either in his private life or his work environment.
He was artistic, invented things, entertained us all with the stories he made up and acted out, and before I knew it, we found ourselves living in the "woods" in Georgia.
By woods I mean a 12 acre 'farm' on a dirt road, in the middle of a few thousand acres of farmland where our closest neighbors were at least a quarter of a mile away.
Those years were like living in a dream, feeding chickens, raising a deer, praying and writing poetry in the early morning mist as the school bus drove away.
Unfortunately, dreams don't last, and my golden haired boy died. That same year Rod entered my life, and took over the job of raising my boys and keeping us safe.
He rescued the children from a fire in our house that lightning sparked, which also broke the propane lines and had gas shooting into the house next to the flames. God works some mighty miracles and the fact that any of us are still alive is one of them.
Of course life isn't perfect, neither are relationships, neither are our bodies or jobs, or anything else you can mention. But it's ok to be different, flawed or scarred a bit by our experiences.
It's what makes us so individual and precious. We are defined by how we handle what comes our way, and the decisions we make. I can see how every suffering has brought patience and love into my life and I praise God for that!
Some high points of my life:
Growing up with my particular parents and sisters. They were the perfect combination for me!
Mom encouraged us to sit around the kitchen table with her and talk for hours. We were tutored at her table in all aspects of life and no subject was ever taboo! That is the greatest gift you can give to your children - yourself!
Taking a belly dancing class at the YMCA in Auburn at 15, then an oil painting class at the museum, same town.
Traveling with the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros Circus when I was 16.
Taking a bus to Bangor, Maine at 16 and then hopping the Blue Nose Ferry to Nova Scotia for the night. The Blue Nose started it's life as a Coast Guard ice breaker. (Yes, I felt sea sick.)
Working for the St. Johns River Water Management District for 3 years in Palatka Florida as a secretary at 20.
My first child, Mark Christopher, was born with brain damage from the difficult birth when I was 23.
I spent 5 months sleeping beside his crib at Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville Florida.
I learned a lot about medicine, seizures and giving shots, along with patience and prayer. This was one of the most defining times of my life.
Mathew was born in 1981, just as God began moving and healing Chris. He taught us so much in those early years.
We moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1984. Mark was the supervisor of Bally's Aladdin's Castle game rooms in the state of S. Carolina. I loved Columbia, began drawing professionally there, and selling my pictures.
I met a fireman there who helped me sell my artwork and was a close friend. Thanks Phil.
When we moved to Americus, Georgia, meeting a family of farmers who shaped our spiritual lives and helped us so much through the years we lived there in the woods.
Thank you dear Bobbi and Lloyd, and Eugenia and Gene. It would have been impossible to live there and learn the country life without them. God bless Ollie Mae, we'll be with you again soon.
Daniel was born in Americus while we lived there. He spent the first 8 years of his life on that farm.
Daniel taught himself to read before kindergarten, do math by reasoning it out, then by reading math books, and was writing computer programs by the time he was 13.
About that time, Matt was in 7th grade. I took the boys out of public school and we started home schooling.
Matt was a good helper and friend through those long years and we're still very close.
He scored 295 on his GED and is working on a computer information systems degree. He wrote a computer program for a local factory. Matt has a wife and three little girls now. A fourth child is on the way.
Rod, you've been our knight and protector for 13 years now. I love you and thank you. I've learned a lot from you, and grew up before your eyes.
I was in the dinner theatre play put on by Billy Carter's family in Americus, GA, in 1997 and met the presidential family. Had a REAL ball doing that. (Secret service men are really nice.)
Teaching an art class in a private Christian school in Americus one year. LOVED that!
About 8 years ago, I got into computers and how to make a living from home with one. A couple of years into it, I "met" Ken Woolcock online. He lives in England.
Ken has been a close friend, advisor and my cheering section ever since.
At times we've hovered close to being soul mates, and explored the marketing world and its pitfalls together.
I was a notary public for a few years, but my passion is telling people about Jesus. Now I'm a licensed minister, have married 5 couples and performed a funeral. My church is Blessing Meadows Ministries.
Having grandchildren, the little girls I never got to experience in my own nest. They're adorable and fascinating. Each mind is different and each girl clearly has her own destiny. We don't know yet if the baby on the way will be a boy, but he/she is welcome here.
Things I remember fondly.
Those wonderful moments that stop time and mark your place, like a bookmark in a favorite book. So you can go back there again when you want to:
Sitting on the railing of the gazebo by a lake in Upstate NY with Stu.
Standing chest deep in the warm water of George's Lake in Florida with Mark and his friend Robert, watching the sun sparkle off the water and feeling at one with the universe.
Had that same feeling standing in the yard outside my office at the Water Management District in Palatka, FL, during lunch breaks. Watching butterflies, hearing the buzz of the world all around me, and zoning out. Lovely!
I felt it again on our farm in Georgia, standing in the chicken pen with a bucket, listening to the hum of the world increase till noon, and decrease through the afternoon. The sunrises and sunsets splashing across my mind, the faces of the goats darting in and out of memory, the hard work and the disappointments, and the long years of life.
Thank you God for the long life!
Above and through it all, the greatest thing in my life has been the intimate and vivid experiences with God, meeting Jesus' real physical presence, being healed of various things and being part of other people's miraculous healings -
Rod's cancer healing in 2000, Chris' many healings throughout the years, and the spirits we've witnessed.
I am learning to expect goodness and mercy, because the Word of the Lord says so. I am drawing closer to Him, and He is drawing closer to me. We're having more intimate moments and I reap ALL the benefits. They even overflow from my cup to my family and friends!
What a ride! I'm 53 this year, and looking forward with great joy to another 53, and then another and another, no matter what world I find my feet standing on. Praise the Lord! I am firmly established in His goodness and protected by His covenant forever!
If you'd like to join us, just ask Jesus. God and I love to share, the more the merrier!
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Some artwork and written material © 1980 -2009