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Droughts can be times to flourish

September 25, 2011
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer , The Herald-Star

We all know what a drought is. We have experienced them in our area at times. It can ruin crops and tear away at the heart of the ones suffering the loss.

The Womens Missionary Fellowship retreat I attended at Seven Springs this past weekend, with gals from the Smithfield Friends Church, had a drought theme as well.

"Some of us here are experiencing a drought in our lives, and it is our prayer that this weekend will help you. If everything else has failed, we need to turn to God," Kathy Johnson, one of the coordinators, said.

Along with me tagging along, our group consisted of Patty Wetherell, Donna Cronin, Barb Vandeborne, Kathy Dombroski, Alma Letusick, Mary Joy Dillon VanNorman and Nellie Hernandez. To say we had a great time together would be an understatement. They are great Christians and also full of fun.

Sue Reese, one of the most chipper Southern ladies I have ever met and a coordinator, came to the stage with a "Hey ya' all!" greeting. She is a truly gifted singer and gave us proof of that throughout the event.

Carol Williams spoke about the missionaries serving in Nepal, Rawanda, Hungary, Tawain, China and Jamaica and how they care for the children and their Christian needs. "But who will take care of the missionaries? I hope that we will," she said.

She told about the Chinese auction and items for sale that would provide funds for the mission field. At the end, the auction brought in $3,070.25 and was termed a success by coordinators.

There was a magnificent display of Ohio State items, including tickets for the Indiana game in October, hoodie stadium blanket, picnic hamper, caps, clothes and many other things that were part of the basket deal of one church.

Our group was not to be outdone. They had a great Ohio State basket, too. It had a warm and fuzzy, fringed Ohio State throw, made by Kathy Dombroski; sweatshirt and cap; snack bag clips; cheering beads; and a big OSU basket.

They also brought a Steelers basket with a fringed throw, again made by Kathy, who was a busy little knotter; Longaberger Steelers basket; cover for a soda can to keep it cold; and lots of other stuff.

I bought three baskets dealing with food. One was a cupcake basket, with a cupcake stand like you see on food shows, cake mix, frosting, jimmies you sprinkle over frosting, cupcake liners, cookbook and muffin pan.

Another was a cookie basket. It had a cookie sheet, Taste of Home Cookbook, cookie cutters, measuring cups, cookie mixes, frosting, sparkly stuff to sprinkle on frosted cookies, food coloring and vanilla.

The last was the back breaker. It was a Thanksgiving basket with a ceramic turkey cookie jar; turkey figurines; cinnamon candle with a tin candle holder; cans of cranberry sauce, green beans, mushroom soup and pumpkin; plus containers of french fried onion rings, stuffing mix, spices, pie crust mix and a Walmart gift card to buy the turkey.

Combined, these baskets would break the back of a donkey carrying supplies up the mountains, and it posed a problem for taking them four floors down and to the trunk in the car.

Kathy and I commandeered one of the carts used by bell hops, again, as we had done last year. Donna Cronin and I pushed, guided and muttered when we couldn't maneuver corners, trying to get it through the narrow halls to the elevator. Kathy went on ahead to get the car and bring it to the front of the lodge.

Donna tells me I didn't ask her to help, I merely said "You will help, won't you?" just as if if that was a given. This was to someone I had officially met for the first time that weekend and got along with really well.

While navigating the cart, soldiers in full military dress came out of the ball room where a Second Brigade Military event was being held. The lot of us showed them great respect and clapped and cheered as they went by. We were a little distressed because they didn't offer to help us with the cart, though.

Kathy seems to be able to talk me into doing things I would never dream of doing, and it happened again. She mentioned how much fun it would be to ride the ski lift and go down the sleds through the concrete chute so much that she had me hooked.

I wasn't really jumping up and down over the prospect but I did see little kids riding up in the chairs and finally agreed to at least do that.

We were about 30 feet above the ground when she started telling me about a movie concerning a ski lift called "Frozen." This is where three young people were stranded high up in a blinding snow storm. If I wasn't freaked out enough, that did it.

Getting to the most important event of the retreat, a magnificent speaker was introduced and I think we were all under her spell. Dr. Roseann Coleman, a middle and high school teacher from Nashville, Tenn., author and well-known speaker, came to the stage in her red and white Roy Roger-designed cowboy boots, and we were hooked for the entire three days.

"We live up to our name. Believe me!" she said with authority at the start of her many stories, lessons and inspirations. "The very thing that might look like a drought is where we might flourish. Jesus knows where we are," she said.

You immediately liked Roseann when she talked about her CD of songs and said, "It's pretty good music ... but not great." She made us realize we didn't have to lose our sanity striving for the stars, just to be ourselves.

The main character throughout her inspiring talks was Helen Wright, a former concert pianist who did what many would call career suicide. She left the concert stage to teach music at a college too poor to even have a piano.

Roseann told about meeting Miss Helen for the first time. At her knock, the door was opened by a tiny lady who squinted a bit when she was happy and said "Hello, I'm Helen Wright. Who are you?"

Roseann would do the proper imitation, not in a mocking way, but to show the glee in this woman's life just over being alive.

Miss Helen learned the hard way to trust God in dark times, knowing even if you don't have the faith you need, He is still with you. She learned to trust and to love Him and all his human creations.

The little dynamo who has lived into her 90s now is praying that the Lord doesn't take her until she has delivered His message to all the younger generation. They need to hear and to know that he can be trusted.

"Our stories are what communicate information," Roseann said about passing on stories to the youth in our lives. "They need to know about our lives and heritage."

She gave an example that gave me food for thought. "In digging up ancient temples, they found that the stones buried underground were carved just as beautifully as those above ground." It made me think that our unseen being should be just as clean and well defined as the one that is seen.

The retreat has left me with one song running through my mind, "Happy Trails to You." This was sung to Roseann by the group of musicians and singers on stage at the closing program, due to her love of Roy Rogers. Most of us didn't know all the words but it was still great.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at

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