Village Project – Minutes 1-15-2014

In the summer of 2013 I was invited to meet with Anita Kathleen Stein of Champaign-Urbana.  Anita shared the same vision I have had for an organization/facility for developmentally disabled adults in central Illinois, based on the model of Lambs Farm of Libertyville Il.  Lambs Farm is a successful model that is internationally known and studied.

At the time, Anita was in school preparing to take on this mission and we agreed that I would begin working in Bloomington-Normal to research existing services and seek out others with this shared interest.

During the Festival of Trees I collected the names of several people with an interest and have become friends with a few on facebook.

On January 15th, 2014, three of us met over coffee at Paneras [near WalMart] in Normal and began brainstorming where and how to start.  If you have an interest in helping developmentally disabled adults in central Il., please feel free to review these minutes.  Then send your contact information to:

1-15-2012 Minutes – Village Project



Every now and then I share the following statement with my friends:

 There is power in prayer

I share this statement because I have experienced the power of prayer and I know it to be true.

The topic of the sermon this morning in church was prayer.

From the sermon, a statement that most resonated with me was:

“Prayer is the language of faith.”

–          Eugene Peterson

Wow!  I think that is a great way to understand prayer.

Even though I was raised in a church, I felt for most of my life that I did not know how to pray.  Yes, I learned to recite the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, a grace prayer, a bedtime prayer.   But they were not personal. They were words.  Beautiful words.  But words. I would try to focus on sending them to God, but they were someone else’s words.

I admired the people who were able to lead prayer and to speak to God for the group.  I did not know how to speak to God that way.  I didn’t know how to talk to God personally.   And I certainly did not feel qualified to pray out loud. . .that is, to be a prayer leader.

If you are curious about prayer, if you wonder about the meaning of prayer and whether and how God responds, if you are insecure in how you attempt to pray, you may wish to watch/ hear the sermon linked in below.

It gave me great comfort.

Sermon:  Using Bad Language

A number of years ago, after I had invited Jesus into my life, I came across the book  “Prayer” by Richard J Foster subtitled “Finding The Heart’s True Home.”  I love this book.

Let me share the opening of this book called Prayer?

Part I

Moving Inward

Seeking the Transformation We Need

“To pray is to change.  This is a great grace.  How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control.”

Wow again!  From this point, each chapter introduces and clarifies a different kind of prayer.  This book was very helpful to me in beginning a prayer life.  It is a book about prayer, which is not the same thing as prayer.  I think the only way to learn to pray is to start.

The second statement from the sermon which resonated with me comes from the Pastor sharing his own testimony as to how he learned about relationship with God from his sister. I don’t want to repeat this in its entirety here, just know that she advised him on how to cultivate that relationship with God and concluded by saying:  “It’s like having a best friend forever.

I agree.  I still do not lead prayer. . .I pray silently sharing my thoughts with Him and listening for His response. It is much like having a chat with a good friend.  Best of all, when I fail for periods of time to chat with God as I inevitably do, then when I do finally pick up the line, He is there and as it is with any true friendship, it is like we were never apart.  Be prepared!  His answer may not come immediately!  It may take a long time, a very long time.  I have learned that you have to persist in your prayers.  And the answer may not be what you expect.  In my experience, you will have to cultivate patience along with relationship with God.

After church I took my copy of Foster’s Prayer out of the drawer it has been in for some time.

It is time to read it again.

I hope some of you will choose to get a copy and read it along with me.

And perhaps you will be kind enough to share your insights with me.  Then I will from time to time share your insights on this site.

Thanks for checking in.  God bless.







“The Star. . .” Newsletter, Jan. 1, 2014

What a year it has been!

I wrapped up the first year of shaping the StarGift Project and the Village Project with a reading for the children of Heartland Community Church!  Then I turned my attention to family activities. And finally last night, Roger and I spent time with dear old friends. . .friends with whom we’ve been seeing the old year out for many years now.  It was a wonderful dinner and cozy, comfortable visit.

Now that all the holiday activity has come to a close, it is time to offer thanks to everyone who has helped take the first baby steps to starting these missions.  If you know some of these folks, please acknowledge their contribution.

Thanks to:

  • Steve Dean who sells “The Star. . .” in Niepagen’s Flower Shop of LeRoy as a service for the community.
  • The Gingerbread House which is carrying the book
  • My friends Sue Braun and Rita  Browning who helped me to get hooked up with the Festival of Trees
  • Josh Erickson of Second Presbyterian of Bloomington, who suggested a mailing of copies of the book to churches
  • Pastor Payton of Rogers Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago who invited me to share with children in their summer program.  [Bet you thought this was a Christmas Story!]
  • ‘Skip’ Hahn, who does traffic reports over Chicago from the sky, and who donated books to give out to the children who attended Rogers Park Presbyterian Chuirch summer program.
  • Richard Hahn Inc. who donated books for a fundraiser for a young lady named Bella who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  The books were auctioned at a fundraiser.  Another great idea.  Another way the book, this gift, keeps giving.
  • All of the people who purchased books to give to a child or to donate to children who might not otherwise receive the message.  Books made their way to Israel and the Philippines this year!
  • Those who purchased and donated books for the children of the Baby Fold during the Festival of Trees.
  • Brian and Lori Batronis who donated all the books needed to ensure that every resident child of the Baby Fold got a book this year.
  • Everyone who came by our booth at the Festival of Trees and signed a card indicating interest in ‘The Village Project.’
  • Scott Kemp who donated books to children who come through the Celebrate Recovery program.
  • Roger Hieser Sr., Terie Sumrall, Susan Long, Donna Moritz, Kristen Feldker, Tiffany Emmett and Jill Watkins who contributed to the creation of The Star tree at the Festival.
  • Tiffany Emmett who prepared the one-of-a-kind ornaments for the tree.
  • Jodi Lancaster, Coda Emmett, Jose Emmett and Jesse Emmett who helped to man the booth and clear out all of the equipment after the festival.
  • Randy and Ann Anderson of Anderson Ford, Clinton who purchased the tree and will have it on display in their showroom, with all the other trees they have purchased, in future years.
  • Angie Gaddy, Allin Township Librarian, who hosted a reading of “The Star. . .” and invited the community of Standford.
  • Rosemary Parker, who organized a craft activity and reading of “The Star. . .” at Crumbaugh Library
  • Traci Fuller-Milan who hosted a reading at Lexington Library
  • Kate Stolz, who helped to turn the star from the cover into a logo for our t-shirts
  • Ann Lamkey of Second Presbyterian who organized the puppet show based on the book and to the Tompkin’s family who made it happen!
  • Gretchen Cetin who provided a venue at the Presbyterian Woman’s Fall Dinner and an invitation to meet with the ladies of Ruth Circle to share my story.
  • Nancy Gordon, of Second Pres and the Immanual Bible Foundation, who provided an opportunity to present the book at the 18th Annual Woman’s Christmas Celebration [a lovely breakfast event!]
  • The Erbe family who attended the reading at Stanford [I believe] and took a book to Heartland Community Church
  • Marcelle, Director of Chldren’s Ministry, Heartland Community Church who organized a reading
  • All who follow the newsletter, read my FB posts, ‘like’ my author-artist page. . .and in any way encourage and contribute. . .my sincere thanks.

2014 Goals:

 Starting with those goals I did not meet in 2013!

  • Enable my web site so people can purchase directly from me.  Buying from my site, or my publisher’s site, provides the greatest profit-margin and therefore the greatest contribution to the startup of the Village Project.
  • Final mailing to churches in and around B-N and C-U [in progress]
  • Schedule appointments to talk to church leaders
  • Publish the coloring book version to make the story more accessible and donations can be spread further.

And adding to that list:

  • Establish the following boards of directors:
    • StarGift Project
    • Village Project
  • Create a demo video, for speaking engagements, to present to organizations such as:
    • Hearts at Home
    • Women of Faith
    • Child Evangelism Fellowship
    • Operation Christmas Child

    [so much more. . .but these are priorities]

Can you help?

If you have interest in sharing God’s story with children or you are interested in helping facilitate development of a program/facility to enable quality of life and employment for developmentally disabled adults of central Il., please contact me

Please share information about “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” with your friends, wherever they live.  Spread the word.  Share the links below. . .often.  [check out the blogs called Back Story and The Missions]  [like this page!] [like my author-artist page]


Welcome to 2014.

Let’s make it a wonderful year!