I was born in Hollywood, FL, but grew up all over the U.S. I went through middle and high school in Ft. Lauderdale. After High School I attended the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, although I didn’t graduate. I spent years working in various places: a nursing home, a bed & breakfast, volunteering at a local Care Center teaching nutrition classes to mothers of high-risk babies and then to low-income families, and I’ve worked with children from homes at high risk of abuse. In between I was a stay-at-home mom for many years, having 3 children in the span of 3 years. I didn’t go back to work until my youngest was 11. I later went back to college and got a Child Development Associate degree and taught preschool. Finally, I became a grandma and Ted and I moved from Florida to Georgia so that we could help with some of them.
Creativity is a gift from God, and I think everybody is creative in their own respect. Creativity dwells in everyone in different forms. It may not come out in an artistic form, but it comes out in some form: maybe software development, teaching or being a parent. You can be creative in whatever you do.
Art was always something I did from the time I was an itty bitty girl. My childhood goal was to one day work for Disney illustrating movies. But that sort of work requires artists to be very quick, and I felt God did not give me the ability to whip things out fast enough.
As an adult, while working as a preschool teacher, my aunt was busy trying to publish some books she had written. She had a positive response from one publisher, but he said it would be a 2-year wait before hers could be published. She decided she wanted to self-publish, and I started doing illustrations for her books. Eventually, we started our own publishing company Crosam Press. I certainly didn’t know what I was doing and I had to do a lot of research, but we ended up publishing 35 books in a 5-year time span. I illustrated many of the book covers and interior illustrations for those books.
When my aunt passed away it was around the time of the economic downturn, and the business was no longer producing enough income to make a living. I decided to stop publishing books. It was a great experience. I loved it, I learned a lot, and I still have contacts if I wanted to do it again.
Throughout my life, no matter where I was, I was always creating. I paint, needle felt, sculpt, knit. I love trying new ways of creating art. If I could I would try everything! When I finish a painting or project, I get overwhelmed by being able to create something. I think, “Wow, God, that was amazing!”
Community doesn’t just apply to your family and friends, but to anyone that you come into contact with. When we lived in Lake Wales, FL, I saw a young girl one day carrying a big plastic garbage bag, and as she passed my house, it broke. I saw she was carrying things like clothes and a pillow. This was her suitcase. I grabbed a garbage bag from my house and ran out to help her. I asked her where she was going, and she said she was headed to work at a home a few miles away…it was one of the large mansions in town. She cared for the children and cleaned the house. I gave her a ride to work, and was able to learn that she was from a foreign country and had lost much of her family before coming to the U.S. We developed a relationship with her that has lasted all these years, during which we taught her to drive, encouraged her to go back to school, and tried to help her to be independent. The cultural differences could be challenging, and I sometimes wondered what God was doing, but I saw myself like a mother bird, pushing her out of the nest. Thankfully, she learned to fly. That was years ago, but we still hear from her. In fact, she called just the other day to check on us.
Community is who we bump into, the needs that are there, and how we can help to meet them.
I didn’t grow up in church. We sometimes went on Easter, but never on Christmas. Our home life was not easy and we moved a lot. Even though I didn’t know God, my faith in Him has always been present. From the time I was little, I would pray because my grandmother had taught me the Lord’s prayer. I remember seeing Oral Roberts preach on television when I was maybe 5 years old. I had this little red chair that my brothers used to balance when they learned to walk, and I would kneel down by that chair and pray when he prayed.
My childhood was not easy. But a lot of your trials are faith perfectors. What you go through in life doesn’t have to define you, but it can make you stronger. I have seen quite a few miracles and been through quite a few trials over the years, but God has used it all.