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What Inspires You? “If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved.” — M. Chevalier
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On the Cover: Gov. Mike Beebe & First Lady Ginger Photography by Kirk Jordan
Don’t Forget To Remember
The Bridge Builder
Alex’s Lemonade Stand
The Governor: The Waitress’ Son
They Chose Me
PHOTO BY KIRK JORDAN
30 CASA 31
Out & About At Kohen’s Park
36 32 Photos by Brittany Platt A Moment In Time Photography
We Are Very Fortunate
Out & About
Easy Organizational Tips
Techniques For Great Eyes
Life Begins When You Begin To Live
Burgundy Beef Chili
By Bob Glidewell ay I tell you of one of my favorite pastimes? Well, to drift off in deep thought about days gone by... Man, what good times I have been blessed with! Cold watermelon on the fourth of July, chopping cotton with my mom and dad, building a huge snowman with some friends... Wow, I have been blessed with some great pondering material! Just think back. Do you recall game day rallies at the high school gym, playing in the pouring rain, and smelling honeysuckles on a long fence row as you ride your bicycle by? How about Grandma’s delicious left over biscuits with peanut butter and jelly and some cold milk in one of her old snuff jars? A million other sweet memories are waiting to be harvested like ripe peaches as we go through each busy day in our lives. Hey, go ahead and try one! Turn off the noise of life, the television, the radio, the work, and worry! Take a few minutes to look back at moments that make you smile again. We actually sometimes forget to remember. So here’s a reminder. You are rich in memories. Enjoy them while you can. I spent a lot of time on bicycles when I was eleven and twelve years old. I still have some scars from that time of jumping hills, riding wheelies, and chasing dreams in a small town in 10 InspiredMag.com
southeast Missouri called Steele, twelve miles north of Blytheville, Arkansas. As I recall, the year I was eleven I would sometimes ride my twenty inch “banana” bike by a small shop in Steele where some guys who were about sixteen or seventeen were working on a car. Not just any guys, these fellows were “cool” because they could tear a car into a thousand pieces and then put it back together. I thought that was really something! (Having done auto mechanic work for thirty years since then, I now know what a tough job that is!) I would ride my bike by and slow down for a long nosey look at the project. It was an old hot rod. But not just any hot rod, it was a ’55 Chevy Belair. I’ll tell you, they had the body of this car behind the shop on stands, and the chassis in the shop down to the bare frame and you would just have to be a gearhead to understand it. It was an awesome ride! Who would’ve ever thought that one day, many years later, I would own that car?! You see, the owner of that car, Jamie Smith, married my first cousin, Sharon. Through the years, the age gap between Jamie and I grew less significant and we become good friends. I can’t go on and on, but I’ll tell you this: Jamie was a good man. He was a hard worker, a jack of all
trades, and an avid outdoorsman. He also loved to “graze through a good buffet line,” as he called it. After owning the ’55 for some twenty-five years, he got burnt out on it. He wanted a new bass boat and well, he sold it to a fellow in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It had been gone for about a year when I called the man to ask if he’d sell it. He Sharon & Jamie called me the next day and we made a deal on the car. Jamie later gave me copies of old pictures of the car. Among them was a shot of the chassis in the shop, as well as another one of the stripped body out back on the stands, just as I had seen it twenty-six years earlier at eleven years old! It was a childhood relic from the past indeed. I still have the car, the pictures, and the memories, but unfortunately we don’t have Jamie. You may remember in October ’04 we had a full day and evening of some bad weather, with isolated tornadoes touching down at various places in Arkansas. The weatherman called them Texas Super Cells, tornadoes that appeared
quickly, then were gone. Jamie and his family were at home in Cooter, Missouri, a small town there in the “Boot Heel,” they call it. Very quickly and violently one Monday evening at 8:30, an F2 tornado hit their house and our friend Jamie went to be with his Maker. He is greatly missed, but we have comfort in knowing of Jamie’s faith and belief that the end here for believers is just the beginning somewhere else. So to wrap this up, here’s just a suggestion or two. Pay attention to tornado warnings when they are given. It is a serious threat. But also, don’t forget to occasionally look back and re-enjoy the good times. Share fond memories with people you care about, ride some wheelies when you feel like it and continue with me to chase some dreams! Oh, I’m drifting off again... Thanks, Jamie, for your unforgettable contribution to all our lives. I’ll see you later.
Bob’s Chevy Before
Bob’s Chevy After
the by Cecelia Wilson On the morning of April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was bombed and as the horrific news began to make its way across the country, concerned parents Ron and Beth Newberry received a phone call from their son-in-law. Gary Woodbridge’s request was simple. “I need you to come,” he told them. “’Nota was in the building.” The Newberry’s daughter, Ronota Ann, was born on Christmas Eve, 1963. She loved everything from Girl Scouting, 4H, canoeing, camping and skiing to cross stitching, math and chemistry. A 1981 graduate of Southside High School in Independence County, Ronota attended Abilene Christian University where in 1985 she became the first woman to graduate from that school with a Physics Degree. She followed her Bachelors degree with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas and became an Engineer with the Federal Highway Administration. She loved her job overseeing Oklahoma highway projects, but that knack for engineering began as a daughter’s desire to make her father proud. That bent for engineering was in full bloom years before when her father attempted to build a small bridge of his own on their property in Batesville. Before Ron could complete the task, 12 InspiredMag.com
Ronota had spoken to Highway Department engineers and had all the specs for the perfect design of the bridge over the family creek! In 1985, Ronota met Gary at a Church of Christ service in Fayetteville and the two became friends. One year later, their friendship had grown to love. After taking the Newberry family out to eat one night, Gary returned to Ron and Beth’s home and quickly sought a private audience with Ron to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Ron gave his approval, but Gary’s nerves and the fine meal beforehand took their toll on the nervous groom-to-be. He promptly threw up! The remote property the Newberrys had purchased outside the Batesville city limits was meant to be their sanctuary. The fenced acreage provided ample opportunities to indulge in the family’s love of hunting, and the bluffs overlooking the bayou were the perfect retreat
from a long day at work. “We wanted quiet and And twelve days later, on May 1, 1995, a month peace,” Beth Newberry says of their decision to that Ronota loved, the news they had feared was buy their rural property. But, driving down the finally delivered. Ronota’s body had been found. endless driveway on their way to Oklahoma that She was just 31 years old. An autopsy later revealed tragic day seemed to take an eternity, and the that Ronota had died instantaneously, and for that rain that pelted their windshield as they crossed her mother is grateful. “All the survivors told me into Sooner territory only echoed their worried the same story: ‘…everything just went black,’” thoughts. “We prayed,” Beth remembers of the Beth recalled the words that soothe her soul. But, seemingly interminable journey that day. “[As of course, the consolation is bittersweet. Just on it rained] I remember thinking, ‘I hope ‘Nota is the other side of the pillar where their daughter’s warm.’” And their focus was on the days they office was located sat a woman who survived anticipated staying with their daughter in the the bombing. She repeated the stories told by so hospital. But, they had not yet seen the damage many other survivors, “I didn’t hear anything; and carnage. Gary, in contrast, had witnessed it everything just went black and when I opened all firsthand. my eyes, I saw blue sky.” The Working just north of OKC, woman had been blown against a Gary heard and felt the blast that back wall rather than thrown out had rocked downtown. As he of the building to her death. The drove closer to the heart of the difference between life and death city, his own heart began to sink. is, at times, measured in just a He drove as far as traffic was matter of feet. allowed, parked and then began As devastating as it was to have running down the sidewalks her child taken from her, Beth toward the Murrah building. Newberry’s heartbreak was not As he approached the gutted over. building, Gary sank to the curb, Her husband, Ron, was almost weak at the unimaginable sight inconsolable after his daughter’s in front of him. Only later did death and was having trouble he realize that the soles of his controlling his emotions. When loafers were shredded from the he finally returned to work, shards of glass that littered the “The lists they scanned simply it wasn’t long before strange streets near ground zero. recorded her name and the symptoms began to emerge, Once they reached OKC, the including tingling and numbness description: ‘whereabouts Newberrys and their son-inin his hands. By 1997, a diagnosis unknown.’” law were led to a crisis center was given: Ron had Multiple that had been set up in a local Sclerosis. Sometime later he church. Family members pressed into the center, acknowledged to his wife that he had felt the first providing names and pictures of loved ones who of the symptoms during their two week wait in were unaccounted for. Updates were given: some Oklahoma City. And while most professionals individuals who had been in the building had do not believe stress causes MS, many people been found safe; others turned up injured in area believe, as do the Newberrys, that the traumatic hospitals. Throughout the night, the exhausted stress he experienced in losing his daughter may trio manned phones, calling hospitals trying to have triggered his condition. determine Ronota’s whereabouts. She had worked In 2004, Ron’s health deteriorated to such a on the 4th floor and had not yet been found. The point that Beth reluctantly admitted him to a local lists they scanned simply recorded her name and nursing home. The secluded house that used to the description: “whereabouts unknown.” ring with laughter now had only one resident. “In At night, the three would return to the many ways, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had Woodbridge home to rest before returning the next to do – worse than losing my daughter,” Beth says day to begin the wait and the work all over again. of her husband’s move. “After all, I had him first.” But, as one day slowly melted into another, hope Beth adjusted because she simply had to. Initially turned to dread. “You never give up,” Beth said of she traveled an hour several times a week into the hope that flickered while they awaited word, town to see Ron and began making plans to move “you hang on. But, you also know it’s coming.” InspiredMag.com 13
into town to be closer to him. Her plans included was her third attempt) to receive her practicing having her youngest daughter, Angela, and her engineering degree. It appears the third time was husband, Darin Adams, moving into the family a charm, but Ronota would not live to know it. home. But, even that plan was changed due to She passed her test and received her practicing another curve that life threw at her. engineering degree from the University of Unbelievably, the Newberry’s surviving Arkansas posthumously. The Newberrys traveled daughter found out she had breast cancer in May to Washington D.C. where the United States 2005. Beth was stunned. “What would I do if Department of Transportation presented them she died?” Beth recalled her thoughts after first with the Secretary’s Award for Valor for their hearing her daughter’s daughter’s service to news. The move from the Federal Highway Kansas to the family Administration. A home in Arkansas was scholarship has now put on hold. The plans been established at the to have grandchildren University of Arkansas for Beth and Ron in Ronota’s name. seemed to fade, but The local quorum Angela’s prognosis was court voted to fund a good and she and her memorial in Ronota’s husband even talked honor at Southside of adoption instead. As High School, featuring Angela told her mother an iron structure so eloquently, “[A baby] symbolizing a bridge doesn’t have to grow – a design the engineer Ron and Beth Newberry accepting an award under my heart, but it would have considered on behalf of their daughter from then U.S. can grow in my heart.” fitting. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater. By the following She gave her life in (Clinton Administration) year, treatments Oklahoma, but Ronota completed and recovering from her bout with always wanted to come back home to Arkansas. cancer, Angela and Darin made the move to the In 1995, she did. After a memorial service in family home in Batesville where Angela began Oklahoma City and another service at North teaching first grade at Central Elementary and is Heights Church of Christ in Batesville, Ron planning to get her Masters. Beth moved away and Beth Newberry, their daughter, Angela, and from her rural retreat to an apartment in the city Ronota’s husband, Gary, walked out on the land limits close to the nursing home to be nearer beyond the family home to a cliff that overlooked her husband. She is pleased that her daughter the bayou and there they scattered Ronota’s and son-in-law are enjoying the idyllic location. ashes. Angela calls the spot “Ronota’s Rock” and “Darin says it’s a ‘little piece of heaven’ and they need only visit that location on the acreage where love to entertain [there],” she says, knowing she she now lives to remember her sister. has left the house and land in good hands. Beth Newberry lives alone now, but with her Life had, with some exceptions, settled into daughter and son-in-law’s help is looking to some semblance of normalcy. But, in August purchase a house. She has endured back surgery 2009, after 47 years of marriage, Ron passed and continues to work through the tough times away. “In the beginning, we celebrated his life,” she has endured. She longs for the days when Beth explains, “but [later] the reality of the Ron was by her side and when Ronota wrote huge loss hit me.” She describes her emotional long, loving letters to the father whom she breakdown as a “meltdown” and, though she always wanted to please. But, in reality, Beth continues to struggle, she is now working with is not alone: Angela and Darin live in the house a therapist to work through the most recent loss where the Newberrys’ dreams began and Ronota in her family. is home again as well - in spirit. Life has moved Though the family’s struggles in life have on and has presented its shares of highs and lows, not diminished, Ronota has not faded from and while the land holds bittersweet memories of their memory. In February, 1995, Ronota had better times, on it spans a bridge of hope for the taken two weeks off from work to take a test (it future.
Alexandra Scott was born on January 18, 1996 to parents Jay and Liz. Two days before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. When Alex was four, she was inspired to have a lemonade stand with the goal of raising money to help “her hospital” and in July of 2000, Alex donated over $2,000 to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Alex and her family moved to Philadelphia in early 2001 to pursue new treatment options. She continued her lemonade stand and her third year she raised $20,000 for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in honor of her friend
Toireasa, who had recently lost her battle with neuroblastoma. In 2004, Alex set a goal of raising $1 million for her lemonade fund. With the help of friends, family and strangers who hosted lemonade stands in all 50 states and a few other countries, Alex’s goal was met. Sadly, on August 1, 2004, Alex passed away. However, before Alex passed away, she set another goal: to raise $5 million for pediatric cancer research in 2005. Alex’s Lemonade Stand will continue as a living testament to the inspiration one young girl provided.
The Foundation for a Better Life began as a simple idea to promote positive values. We believe that people are basically good and just need a reminder. And that the values we live by are worth more when we pass them on.
by Brittany Platt 18窶オnspiredMag.com
From the outside, their house doesn’t look much different from any of the other 80 or so houses in their Greenbrier sub-division. After all, sub-divisions aren’t usually known for their diversity, and from the outside, most of the houses look strikingly similar. However, the familiar phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” can definitely be applied to Art and Ann
Crawford’s house. Their home is a modest three bedroom, two bath, with roughly 1800 square feet. The living room is the first room you see as you come into the Crawford’s home with the two guest bedrooms and bathroom off to the left. The dining area, kitchen and breakfast nook, master bedroom and bathroom, laundr y room, and two-car garage is to the right.
Art and Ann Crawford came back to Arkansas after living up north for some time and have settled down in their beautiful home.
Upon entering the home, the first thing that catches your attention is just how beautiful their home really is. It’s elegant, yet feels cozy enough to curl up by the fire with a book, which is exactly what Ann says she likes to do: sit by the fire. When asked what her favorite room in the house is she replied, “It’s a toss-up between the living room and the bedroom. In the winter months, we like to sit in here by the fire, and in the summer, we like the bedroom because it stays so cool and comfy.” The second thing you notice is Ann’s wonderful decorating. Each room is styled in deep reds and warm creams with accents of black. The home is filled with antiques from the mid-18 to 1900’s, many of which are a
spill over from when they owned an antique business. Many more were handed down by family throughout the years. If you ever have the pleasure of visiting with the Crawford’s for more than an hour, you’ ll be sure to hear the chimes of the many different antique clocks that abound in each room. Anyone who spends even a short amount of time with the couple can tell that they are very close. They met picking strawberries at a berry patch in Judsonia. “I was in the 6th grade, and Art was a senior in high school,” she goes on, “though I didn’t really start to notice him until the 8th grade.” That’s when Ann made the first move. “I invited him to a music party hosted by my music appreciation InspiredMag.com 19
class at school and he accepted.” That was to be the start of their friendship and courtship. I then asked the question that every woman wonders, “How did he propose?” Ann says, “I really don’t remember all the details, but we were at the drivein movie one night and he said something like ‘So, when are we getting married?’ and I suppose I said something along the lines of ‘Anytime!’” When Art arranged to meet Ann’s dad to ask for her hand in marriage, her dad knew that Art was very nervous, so he decided to play a little joke on him. Ann says her dad listened intently to Art’s request and after he was finished talking, he made him repeat the entire thing! “He was hard of hearing, but not that bad!” Ann says, laughing. They were married in the Spring of 1961 and their love is still going strong: They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 28th! Art and Ann have two grown children: Michelle, who lives in Texas, and Brian, who lives in Alabama. Although natives of Arkansas, the Crawford’s lived up north for quite some time, moving between Illinois and Indiana, wherever the work was at that time. After becoming what 20 InspiredMag.com
you would call “empty nesters” when Michelle, their oldest, graduated from college and moved to Houston, they decided to move back to Arkansas. The Crawford’s are both active members of the First Pentecostal Church in Guy, where Art is a men’s group leader. They say their church played a major role in the decision to move to the Greenbrier area. “We just felt like this is where God wanted us to be.” Kristi Blakely, a member of the church and a Realtor®, helped them find the house they now call home, and in 2006, they relocated to Greenbrier from Indiana. When asked whether they plan to move in the near future, they replied, “No, this is definitely where we call home.” Brittany Platt is the owner of A Moment in Time Photography. You can reach her by email at bplatt22@ gmail.com or by phone at (501)470-6410.
Story by Cecelia Wilson • Photography by Kirk Jordan
He is now in his second and final term as Governor of Arkansas. There is certainly work yet to be done, but as the waning months of his time in office near, Gov. Mike Beebe sat down for a moment in his office in the Capitol and reflected on where he has been… and where he will go. It has, after all, been quite a journey from his days as the only child of a single mother, struggling to make ends meet on her tips as a waitress.
As a young boy, even he would have thought it
a “big deal” to meet the Governor and keeps that in mind as he travels the State or steps outside his office and encounters a line of students, wide-eyed and excited to be going on a field trip at the state capitol. “I don’t want to take [being Governor] for granted,” Beebe says. “I don’t want it to become second-nature, routine.” In the hum of day-to-day business it is easy to think of it as just another job. But, as he points out, there is only a short list of individuals who have been entrusted by the voters to be their Governor since Arkansas first became a state. It is quite an honor to hold the office. “That is never more evident than when meeting kids,” he smiles. When he gives them high-fives or shakes their hands he is reminded that he was once that starry-eyed kid, dreaming of one day being someone. Little did he or his mother know that he would one day hold the State’s highest office. It reads a little like a script… Just over sixty years ago, Mike Beebe was born in his great-grandmother’s shack near a railroad spur just north of Amagon, Arkansas. It was an inauspicious beginning. His mother was just a teenager, Mike’s father was not involved in his life and there was no doctor present at his birth. Instead, his great aunt Ila Adcox delivered him and unwound the umbilical chord from his neck. Just as with his birth, life for the single mother and her only child would not be easy. Having never finished school, Beebe’s mother struggled to make a living without a high school diploma. “She didn’t have an
[ The Waitress’ Son ] education,” he recalls. “But, she had a great personality and a great work ethic. So, she did the only thing she knew how to do to support her and to support me, and that was be a waitress.” Waitresses didn’t make minimum wage and were, therefore, expected to rely on tips. So, in order to maximize her tips, she worked the noon hour and the dinner hour after her son became old enough to stay on his own. She didn’t go to work until 11:00 or 11:30 a.m. each day and would work until 10:00 p.m. each night. To complicate matters, Mike’s entire childhood was a blur of cities and schools as mother and son moved about the United States. They moved between Detroit and Chicago more than once, but the toddler would return to Arkansas to live with his grandmother while his mother was hospitalized for a significant period of time, near death. She recuperated and the pair moved north once more. Part of his kindergarten year was spent in Chicago; part of his 1st grade was spent in Detroit. Until he was in the 9th grade, the young boy would never stay long in one school. Besides Detroit and Chicago, they also moved to St. Louis; Ft. Walton Beach; Houston; Daytona Beach; Festus, Missouri; and Alamogordo, New Mexico. The constant moving could not help but affect young Beebe. “I think I certainly developed a little toughness,” Beebe says of the moves. “I think it developed in me an ability to try to communicate, because I wasn’t very tough and I didn’t want to fight, so you’ve got to learn how to talk.” But, it also reminded him that his life was different than most of the other students with whom he went to school each day. “What you’ve got to remember,” Mike says, “it was the 50’s and that’s when Leave it to Beaver was on television. The mindset was of the dad who went to an office and the mom who stayed at home…a [couple of brothers or a] brother and a sister. That was the image of the day.” Beebe never knew his father, and stepfathers in his life were not always kind. It was, instead,
“When you’ve had as many opportunities and chances and good things happen as I have had, you feel an obligation to pay it back and to help others. “
“You have to attribute everything that’s happened to me to two
things: my mother and this system we have that allows people, on their merit and their work ethic, be what they want to be within reason, primarily through education.”
— Governor Mike Beebe
the women in his young life that provided him with the most stability. His mother’s #1 goal in life was raising her son with a fierce protectiveness – perhaps because it was so often only the two of them against all odds. As a toddler, his grandmother was a significant part of his life while he lived with her during his mother’s illness. And, throughout his life, his aunt, Dane Huskey Giles, always provided a safe haven in Tuckerman whenever life became too tough for her sister and nephew. And that lure in northeast Arkansas and its stabilizing force called to them often. By the time
Mike was in the 9th grade, the two had moved to Newport where he would finish school. In fact, those last four years of school in Newport would be the longest length of time Beebe would spend in any secondary school. Before graduating from high school, the city had opened its arms to the young man. There was always a warm meal waiting for Mike at the restaurant where his mother worked, but friends often offered a change of scenery as well. “I had six or seven friends whose parents always had an extra plate ready if I happened to show up at their house for dinner.”
After graduating from Newport High School in 1964,
Mike obtained a college loan through the Arkansas Rural Endowment. Coupled with savings from his summer jobs and his mother’s tips, Beebe left for Jonesboro and Arkansas State University. His mother would fall ill once again, this time with tuberculosis, and would move in with her sister, Dane, in Tuckerman. But, once her health had recovered, she got her health certificate back enabling her to return to work and she followed her son to Jonesboro. By this time, Mike was a junior in college and his mother would remain in Jonesboro until her death from ovarian cancer in 1987, at the age of 59. In 1968, armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from ASU, Beebe would move to Fayetteville. Six weeks into law school at the University of Arkansas, Beebe was called to active duty in the Army Reserves. He would lose a year of schooling, but with the tenacity that brought him through his childhood, he simply began again the next fall. He would become the editor-in-chief of the Law Review and continued to go to school on a student loan supplemented with a variety of summer jobs: at Kroger, as a construction worker, ditch digger and park superintendent. He also worked for the Lightle, Tedder and Hannah law firm in Searcy and had a job for the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. during summer breaks. Those particular jobs helped guide the future direction of his life. “I got to see the two extremes: big bureaucracy, big government and a small town law practice.” Mike laughs at the options he was presented after receiving his Juris Doctorate, “I had three offers for jobs and I obviously liked the small town law practice because I accepted the position in Searcy and moved there in 1972.” By 1978, two of the three partners ahead of Beebe in the firm were elected as judges, the senior partner ultimately retired and over time it became Beebe’s law firm, a firm he would practice with for 30 years. At age 26, Beebe got his first taste of politics when then-Gov. Dale Bumpers appointed him to the ASU Board of Trustees. In 1982, he ran unopposed and was elected to the Arkansas State Senate, taking office in January, 1983. He served 20 years in the Senate. From public policy to the budget to higher education, it was a job he loved. He found the greatest gratification when working for individual constituents whose legitimate needs had not been met, simply because they had been unable to get through to state government.
But when term limits were put in place, Beebe had a choice to make: “If I was going to stay involved in public policy as an elected official, then I had to either
FIRST LADY Ginger Beebe
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” — Winston Churchill
get in it (full-time) or get out…[The office of] Attorney General was a natural for me, being a lawyer, being involved with the legislature, understanding what the Attorney General’s role was, so I went in with my eyes opened knowing what it entailed.” So, it was a natural leap when Beebe decided to run for Governor in 2006 and his reasons for doing so were simple. “Well,” he said frankly at the time, “it’s going to sound a little hokey…when you’ve had…as many opportunities and chances and good things happen as I have had, [you] feel an obligation to pay it back and to help others.” Supported by his wife/Arkansas’ First Lady, Ginger (whose own story reads as interestingly as her husband’s), and his three children (David, Tammy and Kyle), Beebe’s life is certainly far richer and more successful than even he had imagined it could be. In looking back over his formative years, Beebe believes he knows how he arrived at this moment in time, “You have to attribute everything that’s happened to me to two things: my mother and this system we have that allows people, on their merit and their work ethic, be what they want to be within reason, primarily through education. That’s why I feel so strongly about education. Education gave me this chance.” And along with economic development in Arkansas and Arkansas’ relative stability and ability to withstand the worst of the recent national economic downturn, education and the strides made particularly in pre-K and K-12 are the major cornerstones Beebe will remember most of his time in office. He has accomplished a lot with what God and his mother gave him. He cites a “properly challenged ambition” and his fortune to be able to grab his share of the American dream as his inspirations in taking each step in life. He and David Pryor are the only two Arkansas governors who came up from the legislature to hold the office, and he considers that experience “a good training ground.” And remembering again not to take for granted being elected Governor, Beebe reminds himself that there have only been 45 Governors in Arkansas’ history: “Forty-four if you don’t count Bill Clinton twice!” There are at least 40,000 pictures the Governor’s Photographer, Kirk Jordan, has taken during Gov. Beebe’s tenure. When he leaves office he knows those photographic narratives will be just part of the memorabilia that will remind him of his time in office. It will remind 26 InspiredMag.com
him of the people he has met, the surprising number of extracurricular functions he and the First Lady have attended across the State, the events held at the Governor’s Mansion and the staff he has been privileged to work with. He says he will miss the people the most, once he has left office, and though he is quick to describe his duties as a “wonderful job,” he is content to say that “eight years is enough.” His home in Searcy beckons, as does the greens of the golf course back home with friends.
While there are still bends
around the corners, it has been a long, interesting journey for the waitress’s son. Looking back, he can still recall walking into the restaurant where his mother worked and wincing when she would grab him and take him to meet all her customers. As a teenager, it embarrassed the young man, but in retrospect he sees it for what it was: a very proud, very protective mother eagerly sharing her pride in her son. While his mother saw him graduate from college (the first in their family to do so), finish law school, practice in a successful law firm and become a State Senator, she did not live to see him become Governor. But as Mike Beebe pauses for one last minute before the fireplace in the Governor’s Office, reaching for the suit jacket he must don for the next function beginning momentarily in the capitol rotunda, he smiles, certain of his mother’s reaction.
“Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
Adopted out of foster care, Arkansas’ First Lady shares her story. Story by Cecelia Wilson
she was given up for adoption by her biological parents and by the time she was four years old she had been in and out of several foster homes. Thankfully, the fleeting memories she has of those homes were pleasant. Despite being past what most people might consider the “optimum age” to adopt, the four-year-old was adopted by a couple who had already opened up their hearts and their home to another adopted daughter twelve years earlier. Buell and Virginia Croom lived in Searcy with their 12-year-old adopted daughter Jean and were eager to expand their family by adding another little girl. Little did they know their youngest daughter would one day be Arkansas’ First Lady, Ginger Beebe. Buell Croom was a big man, a deacon in his church and an avid fisherman. He was a hard worker who worked just as hard as a church member as he did in his business. His wife, Virginia, was his match in being active in church life. It was, perhaps, her love for volunteering, working the election polls and being an advocate for the community that left a lasting legacy for her daughters. While their lives were already full, the couple no doubt felt a part of their life was incomplete. Adoption brought a joy to their lives that completed their family, and it did so twice. For the Crooms, Ginger was simply “their” child. Like so many adoptive parents, they could have wanted an infant rather than an older child; they could have wanted a boy since they already had a girl. But, they didn’t. “I feel so very fortunate,” the First Lady says with a smile. “They wanted [another] child and they chose me.” No longer alone, she suddenly had a home, parents and a sister. Seeing her sibling for the first time left an indelible impression on the young child: “[My sister Jean] was in a purple skirt and sweater and I remember her freckles. I had never seen anyone with freckles!”
“It should come as no surprise that Arkansas’ First Lady encourages fellow Arkansans to consider adoption and foster parenting.” Not only did the couple gain another daughter confines of the Natural State. “The need is so to round out their family circle, but they also great locally.” Besides the vast numbers of filled a void in two young girls’ lives that children of all ages throughout Arkansas in need changed those lives forever. For Ginger and of a home, one need look no further than one’s her sister Jean, a permanent home meant local county, which very likely has a roots, strong family ties and stability. growing population of children It meant a wonderful hometown in who need love, direction and which to be raised. “I remember an opportunity to grow up in the corner store and playing the warmth and security of a outside with neighbors,” family setting. Mrs. Beebe recalls fondly. Ginger Beebe’s father, Adoption meant an uncertain Buell, passed away after future had been avoided and she graduated from a new world of opportunity Searcy High; her mother had been given. Simply not long after Governor put, Ginger Beebe says she Beebe was first elected was “blessed” to have been Attorney General. The adopted by the Crooms. Crooms didn’t live to see There are also other everything the younger numerous illustrations of how of their “two girls” would an orphaned child can climb to, see and do, but their morals perhaps, great heights given the and life’s work helped pave right home life. Orphaned at the the way for her journey. age of 10, Eleanor Roosevelt went As for her own experience as on to become First Lady, writer an adopted child, Mrs. Beebe and humanitarian. Babe Ruth’s is quite at peace with the life father sent his 8-year-old son to Ginger and her sister Jean she was given by her adoptive an orphanage where the young parents. There is no bitterness boy would learn to play baseball. Country for the life that never was, only gratitude for music star Faith Hill was adopted as a baby, the life that resulted from being given up as was Wendy’s Founder, Dave Thomas, who for adoption. “I have had a good life and I went on to found the Dave Thomas Foundation always felt so special,” Ginger says of being for Adoption. Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill specifically chosen to be a daughter and a sister. Clinton, and also First Lady Nancy Reagan, “I was given a wonderful family.” were adopted by their stepfathers. All of their lives may have been immeasurably different had it not been for the love of an adopted parent, a foster family or simply an adult that cared. “People don’t care how much you know It should come as no surprise that Arkansas’ until they know how much you care.” First Lady encourages fellow Arkansans to — Mike McNight consider adoption and foster parenting. Mrs. Beebe knows there are burgeoning numbers of orphans and homeless children within the InspiredMag.com 29
CASA is a volunteer position, like no other, that empowers individuals to change the lives of abused and neglected children and give them a better future! Are you driven by the desire to ensure that children are safe and loved? Become a CASA Volunteer - you can make a difference in your community.
First-graders sing for the Blue Ribbon Ceremony at the Lonoke County Courthouse. Do you have pictures of CASA events from your community? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Out & About at Kohens Park
What Inspires Me? My daily inspirations come from my family and students at the elementary school I work at. I am a cancer survivor who has needed lots of inspiration. Seeing my children and students succeed through their daily adversities have made me a better person. â€” Mary Eary Go to InSpiredMag.com for park pictures from your area!
By Cecelia Wilson
dith Harris and her husband Hank live in a peaceful neighborhood, replete with tidy, colorful flowerbeds. Edith’s German accent is endearing and her humor is infectious. So it is little wonder that few people would guess that behind that happy demeanor drift memories of a childhood spent in terror half-a-world away. On a quiet evening in Bremen, Germany in 1939, the Röpke family (Diedrich, his wife Martha and their seven children) was quietly dining in their kitchen when German soldiers arrived on their doorstep uninvited. Despite his aversion to the Hitler regime, Diedrich was forced to join the German Army that night and was commanded to leave with the men immediately. Though just a young girl, Edith remembers crying along with her mother and siblings as her father was led away. By 1940, Edith’s brother Günter was also “drafted” into the German Army, leaving Edith’s mother as the sole protector of the family. The horrors of war had just begun to invade their home and they would be forced in the years to come to rely more heavily on God than ever before.
They continued to live in Bremen, Germany’s second largest port near the North Sea. But, Allied bombings began to intensify in their bid to destroy German ships and the city’s manufacturing plants. Edith and her family found themselves running more and more often for the enormous bunker centered in their neighborhood. They slept in their clothes in their powerless home, never knowing when the sirens would sound. The first wail warned the residents that Allied planes were nearing, the second that they must seek shelter immediately and, after what seemed an eternity, the final siren sounded the all clear. The children came to rely on their mother and, as long as they were all together, they were reassured despite the terror through which they were living. So, when their mother (pregnant with her 8th child) fell in the streets before she could make it into the bunker during one bombing raid, the children were terrified. They were forced to go into the bunker without their mother and were convinced she had been killed during the raid. Instead, as the bombs reigned down around her, Martha went into labor
in the middle of the street and, with the help of neighboring women, delivered a healthy baby boy despite the chaos that surrounded her.
Their house took the brunt of several bombings and everyone feared for their lives during the long days and even longer nights. Still, the German civilians tried to continue to live a normal life. Once, Edith and her fellow classmates were released from school and told to line the streets as the Führer paraded by in an open car. Anyone who wanted to live another day was expected to cheer and salute Hitler as he passed. But by 1942, ordinary life was becoming increasingly dangerous, so thousands of West German residents with children were instructed to leave their disintegrating homes and move to the more peaceful East Germany. The family’s lives were no doubt spared. Just a few months later, more than 350 American B-17 Flying Fortresses attacked Bremen. The next time the family would see their hometown (more than two years later), it would be bombed beyond recognition. Martha and her seven children boarded a train and traveled to the village of Krumhermerdorf, a few miles outside of Dresden. The Röpkes were assigned to live in the attic of a large two-story home of a high Nazi official and instructed to use the back door as their entrance. And though the family was relieved to be away from the frequent bombings, there were still constant reminders that their lives were not their own. Once, Edith’s oldest sister met the homeowner in the downstairs hall and did not greet him with “Heil Hitler!” He gave Edith’s mother a stern warning, “Your daughter will salute or you will not see her again.” Martha reminded her children that they must all simply do what was expected by the Nazi party in order to survive the war. Their host was not so fortunate once the Nazis fell from power. Fellow Germans killed the Nazi sympathizer whose supreme authority during the war could do little to save his life after the war. On the night of February 13, 1945, the family stood on the balcony outside their new “home”
and witnessed the bombing of Dresden. As the family watched, the American Eighth Air Force along with the RAF Bomber Command employed a total of 1,299 bomber aircraft in a night when an estimated 25,000 were thought to have died. The family was reminded again that there was no escaping the war. It had now moved into the East and by April, the Mayor of the village paid Martha a call. “The Russians are coming. If you want to get out of here alive, you and your children must leave tonight.” Martha was stunned, but knew he was right. She and her children left the comfortable house they had called home for the past two years and took only the clothes on their back. They took a train to Dresden and then began to walk with hordes of other refugees back to their home in northwest Germany. Two weeks out of Dresden, Edith and her family were captured by Russian troops and taken to a prisoner of war camp. They slept on the hard floor of what appeared to be a large gymnasium and were fed watery, tasteless broth served in metal cups. When other prisoners were led away and never returned, they began to fear for their lives. What would the Russians do with them all? Two weeks into their imprisonment, two wounded German GIs approached Martha and told her of their plans to escape. They asked her if she and her
Edith’s Parents InspiredMag.com 33
Edith with a photograph of her mother Martha. children wanted to go along with them and, knowing it was worth the risk, she quickly agreed. After finalizing their escape plans, the night finally arrived when the GIs, Martha and her children, and another woman and her two sons slipped away from the prison camp undetected by the guards. The children were told they had to be extremely quiet during their escape attempt. But after years of living in the midst of war, the children fully understood the gravity of the situation. The small company of escapees walked in silence for miles, fearful of being spotted. As one day melted into another, they saw a Russian patrol approaching and the German GIs quickly shoved everyone under a fence, crawling to find a low hiding place. They were fortunate! The patrol did not see them. After weeks of stealing carrots, cabbage and turnips from farms they passed, the haggard group approached a log across the road that stood as a makeshift border between East and West Germany. The Americans occupying the West asked for identification from all refugees attempting to cross into West Germany. Martha had sewn her id into the lining of her coat and ripped it out to show the American soldiers her name and hometown. The two families and the two injured GIs were allowed to cross the border and as they did so, Edith turned to see a Russian patrol in an open Jeep. The driver had clearly seen them, the men with him were standing in the vehicle with their guns drawn, but the escapees had crossed the border and 34 InspiredMag.com
were no longer living in fear of being captured once more by the Russians. For a total of 9½ weeks the families plodded along war-ravaged roads through farmland and villages with literally thousands of other weary travelers, all longing to simply reach home. They slept in barns, under the starry sky, wherever they could. And still their mother’s words echoed in their minds, “Always stay together.” Those words had an even more profound meaning when the mother and her two sons who had escaped with them became separated. The woman’s oldest son became lost in a crowd and they searched in vain for the young boy. Even with the help of the Red Cross after the war, Martha’s friend never found her son. The large Röpke family was once again reminded how blessed they were. The Röpkes arrived back in Bremen to find a city virtually leveled. They were forced to live in a train depot, over a police station and finally in an abandoned military barracks. The war had ended, but would life ever be the same? The family had no idea if Diedrich and his oldest son, Günter, had survived the war. During the years of war, Martha had only seen her husband once, years earlier when she had traveled to Berlin where he had once been stationed. There had been no other word since that time on either man. Martha only knew she must continue to keep her seven remaining children together and healthy. Two years later, in 1947, Edith, her mother, and two other siblings left their barracks
to stand in line for food. As they stepped outside their door, an extremely thin German soldier in a ragged uniform walked by. Almost simultaneously, Martha and the soldier turned and faced each other and then ran into each other’s arms. The Lord had brought Edith’s father, Diedrich, back to his family after years in Siberia. One year later, her brother Günter returned from a coal mine in Belgium. He had been returning home from the war and had been just a few miles from Bremen when he had been captured. War touches lives profoundly. Edith’s father and brother were never quite the same after their experiences serving for a cause in which they did not believe. Friends and neighbors had been wounded and many had died. But in the midst of the devastation and chaos, the Lord listened to the prayers of ten individuals from Bremen and allowed them to survive and to stay together against immeasurable odds. Her father, Diedrich, lived until 1967 when a heart attack claimed his life at the age of 67, while his wife Martha lived on until 1985 to the age of 84. Of the children who are still living, three girls (one of which is Edith) now live in the U.S., while two brothers (including Egon, the youngest, who was born in the street during the air raid) still reside in Germany. Edith Harris now lives in a different country with different customs, but she does so as one who knows by experience that she can take whatever life has to offer. And life still throws obstacles her way. In March 2008, one month after she and Hank celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, Edith suffered a stroke leaving her left hand and leg partially paralyzed.With her now familiar upbeat attitude, Edith worked hard in rehabilitation allowing her to graduate from using a wheelchair almost exclusively to only needing the use of a walker. “I feel very blessed,” Edith says, “It could have been so much worse.” The Harris’s rarely let Edith’s slightly-altered mobility slow them down. They rarely miss a church service where Hank is a deacon and continue to be every bit as active as before. Their three daughters (Sylvia, Debbie, and Barbara) and sons-in-law and most of their extended family (seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren) live close by, giving Hank and Edith more reasons to stay on the go. Edith lives life to its fullest and does so each day remembering her mother who taught her children that life is worth fighting for and that strength, courage and prayer can overcome fear, poverty and even dictators. InspiredMag.com 35
“Nobody can experience our lives for us.” 36 InspiredMag.com
Ice Cube Trays Ice Trays can be a neat way to organize jewelry in a drawer, or give one to your kids to organize their rock, shell, or other collections.
Make A Package Stuff pillowcases with their matching sheets to save space. Tissue Box As Plastic Bag Holder Keep plastic bags from the grocery store in an old empty tissue box and keep it under the sink. Then, whenever you need a bag, you can pull it out easily. Roll Them Up Group towels by color and size, and roll them up for maximum storage in your bathroom or linen closet. Jewelry Holder Store your best-loved (and most frequently worn) necklaces and bracelets within easy reach on a wall-mounted coat rack. Bonus: they’ll stay tangle-free when not decorating your neck.
Nail Polish as Key Coder Differentiate your keys by color-coding them with your favorite nail hues. Lay keys flat and apply a thick coat of a different shade to the top of each one.
Vase As Toilet Paper Storage The perfect arrangement for helping toilet paper hide in plain sight. Guests don’t have to root around for a new roll in your not absolutely, positively tidy vanity, and you always know when you’re running low. Magnet Clip As Recipe Holder Stick the clip to the stove hood and your recipe is exactly where you need it, and end the daily dinner dance from recipe to stove and back. Toilet Paper Roll As Cord Holder Contain extra extension cords by wrapping the length of one around your hand then sliding the whole thing inside the tube.
Clothes Pin Use a clothes pin to clip those to do lists to your purse.
Shower Caddy as Laundry Room Storage Stock laundry room supplies over a doorknob, so you know when to reload. Detergent, softener, and clothespins fit neatly into the dividers Jars Simple jars can be washed out and have the labels scrubbed off. Use them to organize loose screws, nails, buttons, etc. Shower Caps Use shower caps over muddy shoes to keep from dirtying the floor. Plastic Grocery Bags We all get them from the store, instead of throwing them all away use them as a bathroom trash can liner Card Board Shoe Boxes Store craft items, controllers & games for gaming systems, DVDs, food items such as mixes or seasonings that come in bags, small toys such as matchbox cars or Polly Pockets.
Flower Pot Use a mini flower pot with a drip tray beside the sink for sponges, scrub pads, etc.
Faster Food Keep a “food basket” in your fridge with sandwich fixings, and other things used to make a quick lunch. Everything is in one place and you don’t have to spend an hour looking for the mustard. Bucket Store all car wash items in a bucket in the garage. Envelope Tape an envelope filled with pizza coupons, etc., inside the cabinet door nearest to a telephone. Napkin Holder as Bill Organizer Instead of keeping bills in an office file (or a messy pile), try organizing them with something more attractive. As you open mail, stash the bills in order of their due dates.
Basket Keep a basket in a high traffic area for odds and ends to be put into throughout the day. Empty it at night. Index Card Box File all your secret family recipes in an index card box.
Eyelid primer bareMinerals Brightening Pearl Eyelid Primer This keeps eye makeup from creasing and gives it a long lasting wear.
Base Shadow bareMinerals Queen Phyllis Use this from brow to lash line as a base coat and for brightness on the brow bone.
Crease Shadow bareMinerals Queen Tiffany Foiled Dampen a crease brush with water and dip into Queen Tiffany for a deeper color. This is called a foiled technique.
Lid Shadow bareMinerals Celestine Foiled Foil Celestine on the lid to give the eyes a more wide open brighter look.
Eye Liner bareMinerals Soft Black Eyeliner Wet this color using a eyeliner brush. Line the eyelid close to the lashes, bringing the liner out slightly from the corners making a wing, and connecting it on the bottom lower lash line, going about half way in.
Mascara bareMinerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara For thick full lashes use two coats of this mascara on the top lashes and one coat on the bottom lashes.
Brow Color bareMinerals Dark Blonde/Medium Brown Brow Powder Define your brows by filling in the empty spaces with brow powder using a brow brush. Using a brow powder with a brush gives them a more natural look as opposed to a brow pencil.
by Kerry Rainwater
In October our beagle buried my husband Randy’s wallet in the backyard; we were certain of it. He was notorious for this behavior, having lost clothing, remote controls and glasses in the past. However, in spite of all our attempts to find the wallet, including raking, digging, etc., we had not been able to locate it. All the contents were replaceable with the exception of Randy’s son Aaron’s ID. He has carried it with him since Aaron passed away a few years ago and was very upset about losing it. I cannot tell you how many times he searched the backyard for it. One morning not long ago, Randy was in the backyard picking up toys and noticed something on the ground, only to pick it up and find that it was Aaron’s ID. He looked around and found a few pieces of the wallet and a few more chewed up cards. The only one unharmed was the ID. Now for the God Wink... Aaron died 10 years before on that same date! Finding that ID has turned a very sad day into one that has shown us how God can still bring a smile to our hearts.
Randy & Kerry Rainwater
and how did I find my way back? Moments before disappearing, I was a high school senior in Arkansas, pondering the possibilities of life after 17. Had I overindulged in the fictional fantasies of Star Trek, captivated by the thought of ‘boldly going where no man had been before’, or were Mr. Spock’s alien alliances really bidding for my brain? If only it had been that simple. The year was 1979, and life was in my command. At the brink of adulthood, I anticipated challenging adventures for my future, but nothing like the one which would be laid upon my lap and eventually hammered into my soul. Be aware, less we ever believe we are in control. When the shadow of sickness silences one’s dreams, that shadow, regardless of its size, is in control. I know. Sitting at a stop light in Springfield, Missouri, is the last thing I remember. My mother and sister had brought me to Central Bible College where I would settle into dorm life. Supposing I was drunk, strangers rescued traffic from my violent driving and brought me to my mother and sister’s hotel. Exhausted and disoriented, I began to come out of what seemed to be a merciless dream. Something was wrong, but correctly labeling that “something” would be a 25 year challenge. Twenty-five years of grand mal, psychomotor, and partial complex seizures, refusing medication or other forms of traditional treatment. They would eventually number at about 5,000 individual episodes, with as many as six occurrences in one day, at times. Seizures which would leave me misunderstood, physically injured, brain damaged, and barren. Seizures capable of overpowering my very existence at the moment it so desired, ever demanding instant gratification. Seizures which would mock my pride while it 42 InspiredMag.com
convinced others I was mentally retarded, psychologically ill, or demon possessed. Sadly, some people believed just that. I never did. “Janet, Janet! It’s just me, Janet. It’s your grandma!” Daily multiple grand mal seizures made up the decade of the 80’s. I would come out of them screaming as my grandma Beulah and other family members attempted to console me. Gripped with terror and defenseless, I know the devil took advantage of my vulnerable state. Violent seizures caused my body to jerk and twist itself into positions which left my back injured, and my brain devastated. So severe was the damage that I lost my ability to communicate. Like a stroke victim, I knew what I wanted to say but could not express words. Conversations consisted of me pointing at objects, grunting words one might associate with the object, but never quite able to pinpoint the appropriate noun. Slowly, I learned to connect a rhyming word to the word I really wanted to say, making communication slow but possible. It would take years for my brain to fully recover from the trauma of seizures and mind altering drugs I never really needed.
Brown Paper Bag. Even as I write, I pause and shake my head, smiling to hold back the tears. That was my last trio of conquering words – the worst and most difficult to relearn. And who really needs to be able to say “brown paper bag”? No one I guess… until you can’t do it. I don’t know a lot from the late 70’s or 80’s. The weddings of my friends and the birth of their children are some of the special things I simply have no memory of. I do remember certain episodes of my own wedding in 1989. I managed not to have a seizure during the small ceremony at my parent’s home, but the evening of the honeymoon was interrupted with a grand mal seizure. I don’t remember the first time I made love to my husband…or the last time. I only know the next 13 years of marriage would be a prison of humiliating shame, over which I am still recovering. Abuse may wear a variety of hats, and I have worn my share: Hats blending so well with the overall wardrobe that one could be convinced they are supposed to go together; perfectly camouflaged to the point of denial, easy as a smile. Women with strong personalities wear these hats just as well as the meek. Why? In doing so we believe we hide
our weakness, attempting to save ourselves from the shame of being overpowered by someone who is supposed to love and protect. But that’s another story. Doctors couldn’t find my problem. CT scans revealed no physical problem with my brain, leading them to suspect psychological disorders. Vaguely I remember writing down my dreams and presenting them to a mental health professional. Anti-seizure medications invaded me with side effects which were almost as devastating as the seizures themselves. I tried them all. When that didn’t work, my family doctor tried valium in desperation. For two weeks I had no seizures – the longest I had ever gone. But that was temporary. Doctors would leave me on valium for fifteen years, because it was the only thing that had ever had any kind of positive effect against the seizures, and they felt they had to do something. The early 90’s were my years of recuperating from constant grand mal seizures, as my method of communication improved and signs of brain damage were somewhat less obvious. Its decade also brought a new sense of hopelessness. I began to long for motherhood, but was warned by my doctor never to have children, that there would be InspiredMag.com 43
“Janet, I believe God has allowed him to leave so that you may go on with His will.”
no telling what might come out of my body with all the drugs I was on. I hated myself for going through with tubaligation surgery, though now (and even then) I knew it was the right choice. Between the age of about 32 and 42, I sometimes sat on my living room floor and literally howled in emotional pain over being barren. I suffered alone, keeping my mourning between the walls and me. Perhaps some things just can’t be expressed among even the closest of friends and family. God and age delivered me from such sorrow, and I now live a productive fulfilling life. Nevertheless my barrenness still makes me feel like less of a woman at times. Not less loved, not less important, not even less of a person. Just less of a woman. I couldn’t have tried any harder to work. Convulsing on the floors of a department store in front of customers eventually resulted in me being fired and drawing social security disability, however, which is what I needed at the time. In the 90’s, I attempted to go back to work, as my seizures of a more violent nature had subsided somewhat. But there were more than seizures to contend with. Mind altering medicine prohibited me from thinking straight, making practical decisions, and performing tasks. My people skills and personality almost always got me jobs, but that wasn’t enough to keep them. I went from working in department stores and offices, where my bosses worried about me having seizures before their customers, to working alone cleaning houses. After dropping and breaking a few knick knacks, putting myself and other people’s homes 44 InspiredMag.com
in danger, and urinating all over myself during black out spells, I gave up working. Never have I doubted my family’s love for me, and they expressed it well on my 40th birthday. The year was 2001 and a surprise celebration was on the agenda. We did the usual with black balloons, Epson salt, dentures, and anti-aging cream. My husband was the only person who didn’t show up. Less than a year later, he would walk out on me and move in with another woman. I didn’t love him, yet the abandonment was overwhelming. Today I see it as it truly was: the beginning of hope. In April of 2002, my sister shared with me a prophesy God had given her about 12 years earlier. She had prayed about my healing, and God gave her a word… something about the month of June. Now, 12 years later, sitting on the front pew near the altar area of Faith Assembly of God Church on a Wednesday night, my sister knelt beside me with these words: “Janet, I believe God has allowed him (my husband) to leave so that you may go on with His will. And Janet, God says He has a month for you. That month is June. Now I want you to tell me, Janet. Tell me if something happens in June.” Two months later June came and left. June came and left again in 2003. I continued healing from my anger and abandonment issues, learning to deal with poverty as my mobile home was reclaimed. My parents purchased a used single wide trailer for me to live in and put it on their land. Seizures continued and I was tired of living without a life. With nothing left to lose, I decided to fight my seizure disorder like never before. And if I die, I die. Late in 2003, I went to see a new family doctor, Jennifer Faith. I told her of multiple CT scans to no avail, a visit to a local neurologist who said he simply couldn’t do anything for me, my 25 years of trying every drug and diet in the book. Dr. Faith ordered an MRI, and I waited on pins and needles for its results. When the hospital called, it was actually a relief that they had found something odd. So, I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t demon possessed. I wasn’t even mentally retarded. Tests revealed what I knew all along: There was a physical problem in my brain. Thank God the rest of the world now knew that. At first, the problem in my brain was misdiagnosed, though at least acknowledged. Dr. Faith sent me to a neurologist in Little Rock, who was just as confused as the local neurologist
years earlier. He then recommended a neurologist who specialized in epileptic seizures, Dr. Victor Batton. I was placed in a double blind study for the newest anti-seizure medication, which left me hallucinating and experiencing effects similar to paranoid schizophrenia. Convinced I was going to hell and nothing in the world could stop it, I sat on the floor terrorized at the fate before me, which even the blood of Jesus could not prevent. As I write, I remember feeling these emotions, how real they were, how sure I was of burning in a dark pit throughout eternity. Through the power of medically prescribed chemicals in a bottle I have come face to face with hate and terror. Don’t take drugs if you don’t need them. Unable to continue with the double blind study, Dr. Batton went on to plan B: brain surgery. On my 44th birthday, May 18th, I met with neurosurgeon Dr. Fredrick Boop, the first person to correctly diagnose my condition. Dr. Boop believed the tiny irregular spot on the left temporal lobe of my brain was a slow growing benign tumor, hiding behind a membrane. He believed it could be successfully removed, and said someone would call me to make arrangements for brain surgery. A few days later I got a call from the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The secretary wanted to set up my hospitalization stay for the surgery. “Ms. Morris, I’m thinking we can work you in soon, and I’m thinking… could you come in on, uh, how about June? June 1st?” On June 1st, I had my last seizure ever in the bathroom of the Methodist Hospital, hours before my surgery. On June 2nd, the surgery was successfully performed. I spent June 3rd in recovery, and went home on June 4th. After 25 agonizing years, it was that simple. Like being born again, I left the hospital frail but free, like a baby becoming acquainted with her new world.
Recovery is a step by step process; that I know well. Some of my stages included shock, fear, anger, excitement, and the step I hope to always remain in: growth. Social Security and Rehabilitation worked together to help me establish a new life through education. Twenty-five years earlier, my education had been interrupted. In January of 2004, six months after my surgery, I went back to college at Arkansas State University in Beebe. I will always be grateful for a small school with special teachers who held my hand through the challenging process of getting my Associates degree. The last two years of my undergraduate degree were finished at Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Arkansas. I left
with a BA in Music with an emphasis in voice, and a minor in…you guessed it, rehabilitation. In December of 2011, I will complete my graduate work with a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. My goal is to work with those who are both mentally and physically disabled, and I will begin with a practicum and internship at the Wilbur D. Mills Treatment Center this summer here in Searcy. My growth has been steady and ongoing. Little things like a change in hair style, clothing, and personal preferences really aren’t so little. There is a story behind them. I am not what I once was, praise God. I still battle certain issues, some previously mentioned. More than once I have embarrassed myself and made others feel uneasy by saying, “I look forward to getting to know you.” You see, those I’ve said that to have sometimes been people who grew up with me, and have known me all of their life. But I don’t know them. The last seven years have been filled with re-generating old friendships, learning, and relearning. I don’t go to high school reunions. Many of my classmates wouldn’t understand that I don’t know them, and attempting to rekindle the memory with old stories probably wouldn’t help. That’s not to say I remember nothing. I know some of those I grew up with (though not all) by name – just not by heart. But that is changing. God has blessed me seven fold. I recently built my own house on the land my parents gave me, and I live surrounded by family. I’ve had the opportunity to tell my story to Celebrate Recovery groups, Hope Outdoors ministries, and other functions. I am working on my third and final degree. (Well, maybe! How would “Dr. J” sound?) My big dream is to build a therapeutic recreational center for people with disabilities someday on my 25 acres of land. I don’t know how. God knows, and for now that is enough. May 18th, 2011, marks my 50th birthday, and it will be a great year, of that I am sure. However, some say life begins at the age of 30... some say 40 or 50. For me, it was at the age of 44, and my favorite month will always be June. I say, “Life begins, when you begin to live.”
Burgundy Beef Chili by Lin Meisinger Once again at Girl’s Group recently, there was some amazing food. Roasted vegetables and quinoa, truffles, guacamole salsa and chips, an olive platter, black beans-garbanzo salad with garlic, green beans-tomatoes-feta, gluten free coconutpecan cookies, stolen, crab salad, catfish chowder and chili. Several people have asked for my chili recipe, so I finally got around to writing it down.
1# Burgundy Beef (part of a bigger roast or steak). Cube and brown the meat in a mix of butter and peppered olive oil in a heavy 5 qt. pot. Chop the first 3 and add: 4 celery stalks 1 med.-lg. onion 1 green pepper 1- 15oz can petite diced tomatoes 1- 15oz can chili beans (do NOT drain or rinse) 1- 15oz can garbanzos (rinsed and drained) Stir, cover and simmer an hour – then add: 1- 15oz can black beans (rinsed and drained) 1- 15oz can hominy – optional – (rinsed and drained) Fresh snipped cilantro – about 1/3 of a bunch Check seasoning and add chili powder, cumin, sea salt, powdered beef soup base, cayenne pepper, etc. if needed. Simmer another 10 minutes.