Fundraiser for the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival
Fun shirts for readers. Here is one:
Fun shirts for readers. Here is one:
This weekend I uncovered such a touching story and I mentioned I’d found something on Facebook. Many of you are wondering what it was. So now, I’ll tell you. It’s a story from the Thomson family about one of my husband’s distant cousins.
It’s true, I got Tom hooked on family research. His long-ago cousins helped, though. One, Clement Rutter Thomson, recorded some family history and put it in a book. Over 200 hand written pages recorded in 1888. And he found it in the State of Ohio Library right here in Ohio. I mean, who has that kind of luck! (I might be a little jealous.)
However, most of it is not about his direct line. It’s still a fascinating history, though. He’s been trying to connect some dots. When his grandpa was living he wrote down some family history that he’d been told. It goes back to the 16th century in Scotland, but we haven’t so far been able to verify it. In Grandpa’s notes, he said his uncle had found this Scottish information in the library and gave his research to his eldest nephew. So, we thought we’d try to trace this nephew who by now had to be deceased, but maybe he had kids and grandkids and they had it. We discovered he only had one son, who was named after him, both them being Burdette Thomson. Fortunately not a common first name. And then we discovered that Burdette Jr. had also passed away leaving no children. He is buried in Ohio, but had died in Florida in 2003. His wife, Christa, died in 1963.
Someone on Ancestry typed out the newspaper story that appeared in April 1960. I discovered that several papers across the country carried it. It explained why there were no children. Here it is:
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Christa Thomson holds her breath each time she strokes a canvas with her brush. She paints with her teeth.
Paralyzed from the shoulders down, the pretty 34-year-old German refugee has solved the problem of enforced idleness.
Four years ago she and her fiance, Burdette Thomson Jr., went swimming at nearby Indian Lake. Christa dived into shallow water and broke her neck.
Doctors said even if the girl lived she probably would never be able to sit up. Despite the grim outlook, Christa and Burdette went ahead with their plans for marriage.
Today young Mrs. Burdette Thomson gets around her home in a motorized wheelchair. Although she cannot dress herself or do houswork, she has found that she can paint by holding the brush in her teeth. Says she:
“My desire to paint began when I looked at pictures of the old home in Germany and the mountains where I used to ski. In my hospital room I thought of these things. The walls of my room suddenly became a movie screen and I could project my whole life in detail on the ceiling.
“I wanted very much to create something. Then, a year ago, I began detail painting by number portraits. Gradually I started adding a flourish of my own, or changing a color.”
Now Christa is painting solo, with numbers for guides. There are difficulties, but she is overcoming them. Says she:
“I see beautiful pictures in my mind. I want to translate them on canvas – perhaps someday sell them.”
April 18, 1960.
Despite this devastating injury, they went through with the wedding! That alone is touchingly romantic. But we also know Burdette never remarried after she died. We found him in a high school yearbook. He was handsome and played every sport available. I can just imagine them that fateful day enjoying the summer at Indian Lake (a place we’ve been to.)
And then I found this picture that must have accompanied the article.
I can’t make it any larger, but perhaps you can zoom in. I believe that must be Burdette smiling down on her. He must have loved her very much. After all, he made sure he’d return to Ohio to buried next to her 40 years later.
Christa escaped Germany after WWII, quite possibly all alone but with hope of making a better life in America. We don’t know yet how they met or what she had been doing before the accident, but that day must have felt like the end of her dreams. However, despite living as a paraplegic, Christa found a way to express the beauty she still saw in the world through her painting. I would love to find some of them someday.
We still don’t know if somehow the Thomson family history research survived by being kept by another family member or donated to a library. We’ll keep looking. But finding this unexpected love story while looking for something else shows how important uncovering the stories of our ancestors is, so we can let them live again to inspire future generations.
People often ask me how I do my research. I’m currently finishing my third novel set in ancient Ireland, so I’ll talk a little about that. There are many resources and books that people have written over the years. I have several bookshelves full of them. But today, I thought I’d share just three and also give one of them away!
Both the book and the accompanying DVD are excellent. It spans 9000BC to the twelfth century when the Norman Invasions occurred. For my novels I was most interested in the middle part, but it’s so engaging and well written that I enjoyed it all. Here is why (copied from Amazon)
In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are festivals, places, and folk customs that provide a tangible link to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places and festivals, talking to a wide variety of historians, scholars, poets, and storytellers in the very settings where history happened.
You can read this free online. Click here. But I enjoy having the two volumes of these in print. I also have A Smaller Social History, which is an abbreviated edition. That book is the first printing in 1908. Patrick Weston Joyce was a nineteenth-century Irish historian. According to Wikipedia In 1856 he was one of fifteen teachers selected to re-organize the national school system in Ireland. He published several books, but these are my favorites because they tell me most of what I needed to know about how the people dressed, what their laws and education were like, what rights women had, what their religions were like and much more!
If you’ve read my Daughters of Ireland Series, particularly Pages of Ireland, you know how important the ancient books were. This book, with photos of pages of the actual historical books, was helpful in helping me understand which books held what information and what the history of each one (throughout the ages) was. It’s not widely available now, but copies can be found.
Of course there were many other sources I studied, but these three were by far my favorites and the most helpful. If you want to know more about this time period, check them out. If you want a short synopsis of the early Christian time period of Ireland, see my book The Roots of Irish Wisdom. Only 8.99 in print and 2.99 on Kindle.
I thought you’d enjoy the DVD mentioned above, so I’m running this contest for a copy. US residents only.
From Enya’s Son ©2017 Cindy Thomson
“Aye.” She had no time to explain or wait for explanation. “I want to tell you my dream and I want you to tell me if my baby will die.” The words felt like raw wool on her tongue.
He nodded and she sat beside him and told him the whole thing. “Please, Brother, I must get home before my husband misses me. Tell me what you know.”
To her dismay, he sat in silence. She shifted about, rearranging the folds in her skirt to show her impatience.
“Ah, the time has certainly come, and you are surely a blessed woman.”
She grabbed his collar. “Will my baby die?”
He grinned, showing small, yellowed teeth. “He will die an old man.”
She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and then dropped her grip on the monk and moved toward the door. “Thank you. Truly, I am most grateful. But I must go.”
He splashed about and wiggled off the edge of the bath, nearly slipping on the wet floor. “But you should know that your life will not be easy. The child, the man, will break your heart and cause you worry.”
She paused with her hand on the door’s latch. “That’s what my mother said I did to her. Perhaps ’tis the lot of all parents.”
“I concur, woman, but none have endured more than you and your child shall. Do not forget this.”
Such a statement should have been delivered with dread. Perhaps he did not believe it because a slight grin crossed his face.
He tossed a wave toward her. “If you must, go. Go with the peace of God.” He returned to the bath and plopped his large feet back in.
Enya hurried outside where she found the stable boy sweeping a walkway. “I must leave at once!”
The startled lad dropped his broom and ran off. Amused, and a bit surprised at the tone of her voice, she picked up the broom and propped it against a tree. The guesthouse door open behind her.
“I must send you with a warning.”
She sighed. Hadn’t he just done so? She folded her hands in front of her and turned to face the monk.
His eyes bulged. The muscles in his neck tightened. “Heed my words, Enya of Mac Naue. No matter that you now live with a new clan. Do not forget ’tis a great burden to be a fifth daughter.”
She thanked him, and rushed off to find her horse. A shiver ran from her spine to her neck. She had the good news she’d come for. Her baby would live and grow to manhood. If Fe were here, he would say to dismiss the old man’s admonition as pure superstition. She put a hand to her beating heart as she ran, telling herself that despite the monk’s urgency, she must give it no heed.
First, let me say the people at the Dayton Celtic Festival were very good to me. They stopped by to talk about Ireland and genealogy, and which books of mine they’ve read. They bought a lot of books, and it was my privilege to be able to sign them for folks. They were also good at making St. Brigid’s crosses! Excellent students. 🙂 Heather has worked hard to grow the Cultural Area, and she is a delight.
But the week brought some tough news for no less than five people in various walks of my life: cousins, prayer partners, my son’s National Guard unit (there was a fatal car accident), and one of the festival authors who normally would have been at the Dublin Festival. Really, really tough stuff.
So when I got to the Dublin Festival, I admit I was not in the best of moods. And then our tent looked backwards to us. We were convinced no one would find us this year, and Friday sales were slim.
But, there are some fantastic authors in that tent. Add in some Irish humor from a couple of the new authors, and things got better. As a whole the festival was very good for me, and I hear it was for the other authors as well. The fantastic weather on Saturday brought a ton of people to the festival and at times our tent filled up with book browsers.I just found out what happens when a writer leaves her computer for a weekend. #connecting #writinginspiration Click To Tweet
Oh, my goodness. I talked to so many interesting people. I can’t begin to describe all the conversations I had, so I’ll just share a few.
This young woman, Rebecca, has become a big fan. She’s read the entire Ellis Island Series, and is currently reading Brigid of Ireland. She picked up Pages of Ireland at the festival. She makes me think I better get a move on with the next novel! She’s so faithful to email me, read my newsletter, and show up at my appearances. It’s for readers like Rebecca that I’ve written these stories.
This is Jessica Krcal. She stopped by because her boss sent her. You see her boss, Lexi, is my friend from my youth group days. And she doesn’t live in Ohio. Neither does Jessica. They are in Virginia. Jessica was visiting family and planned to come to the festival. When Lexi heard that, she said go see my friend Cindy. So she got this photo to show her boss she followed up. 🙂
And I met a young woman named Autumn, who had bought a book last year. I had a nice chat with her and her friend. Turns out Autumn works for a book printer and they do work for Tyndale, one of my publishers!
Another woman popped in to tell me she bought Brigid of Ireland the weekend before in Dayton. She said she enjoyed it and read it in two days!
A few readers who get my newsletter and/or follow me on Facebook stopped by to tell me that. A young woman who was named after St. Brigid decided she must get Brigid of Ireland. I talked to several people about places in Ireland and about their genealogy. I signed a copy of Brigid for a young girl whose mother a few months ago gave birth prematurely. Her dad told us a bit of the struggle that family is having but things are improving and they are coping. Several people told us how very much they love books!
And then these folks stopped by.
Can you see what is on the leash?
I had a talk on Saturday titled, Turning Novels Into Novels. I read excerpts from my books. There was a decent size audience and they were attentive, which is always nice. 🙂 On Sunday the group was smaller, but still attentive and even asked some good questions. That topic was The Ancient Books of Ireland, a bit of the research I enjoyed doing that didn’t make it into my novels.
Even with the bad hair days I had.
I also enjoyed catching up with some vendors I know. I met a new lady too. She makes embroidered designs copied from grave markers in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and frames them. She told me how she got this inspiration, and how she kept dreaming about these designs until she landed on the idea to make them into wall hangings and then the dreams stopped. She doesn’t want them on clothing. She wants to respect the original intent of the families who erected these markers. She lives here in Ohio.
And Tom and I enjoyed the festival finale before we went home and fell exhausted into our bed. I have since received some emails and Facebook messages from readers, and fun chatter with the authors and Barb, our author’s corner coordinator who is so good to us. Oh, and one more thing I want to mention: The Book Loft! Julie, Sean, Josh, and Ross, are such nice people not to mention knowledgable about all kinds of books. If you are in Columbus don’t miss visiting the unique book shop, The Book Loft.
Writing is by necessity a solitary endeavor. So it’s great to get out and meet the people who will read your books. And connect with friends and family who came to the festival. I’ve heard it said that to write a novel people will want to read, you have to have experiences, which means you can’t stay behind your desk all the time! This time of the summer and fall is my time to do that. Make sure you get my newsletter to find out what else is in store.
Sure, the world needs love, but seriously what the world needs now is more people with grateful attitudes. I’m afraid we’ve become complainers, at least in this country. I’m challenging myself to look for the good no matter what. I’ve faced some tough situations, and am currently facing some, but they aren’t things I can change, so I try to talk myself into focusing on what’s good about these things. Or at least, what good can be found.The World Needs More Thankfulness Click To Tweet
“If we think that impressive food, decorations, and presents constitute celebration, we will miss out on an important spiritual practice that will draw us toward the joyful heart of God.”~Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent
I took way more than 40 days to finish a 40 day devotional called Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent. But the important thing is I did finish it, today, two days before Thanksgiving. The last chapter was titled Celebration and she spoke about Thanksgiving. I wrote down in my journal a couple of things she said that spoke to me. (I started this post a few days before I read this chapter. A coincidence that I was thinking about these things and then read this? Probably not.)
“…celebration is not restricted to times when everything is going perfectly.”
The quote above reminds me of The Grinch.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss,
So the celebration will come, how I respond is up to me. Keri drove that point home in Deeply Loved when she wrote:
“By choosing to be grateful, to celebrate and be joyful, we begin to feel thankful for what we do have, and to transform our attitude about life’s challenges. The discipline of celebration ushers in joy.”
I’ve found it helpful to keep track of the books I’ve read using Goodreads. I also do a challenge, which I did not meet this year. It was too optimistic. I would have loved to have read 55 books this year, but I only made it to 35. Goodreads also tells you the shortest and longest books you read. For me, the shortest was an ebook called How To Make a Living With Your Writing by Joanna Penn and the longest, Ulyssess by James Joyce. My average length was 370 pages. The book I read that was the most popular with Goodread users was, no surprise, To Kill a Mockingbird. Surely I’ve read it before. I watched the movie, but I thought I should re-read it. I wanted to be ready for Go Set a Watchman.
Not all of what I read was released in 2015. But some were. I loved Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept! Another favorite: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Actually 2014, but it still seemed new.) I Read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins just to see what all the fuss was about. It was a very good book. For the same reason I read Go Set a Watchman, the controversial book that was kind of a new story, kind of not. And actually, for me, both of those books by Harper Lee had disappointing endings. Kind of like no ending at all. But I’m still glad I read the “new” one. She was a talented author.
And I read some oldies. Like Ulyssess. I listened to that one or I surely never would have finished it. What an odd book. Still, I can say I’ve read it now!
A surprise was Jane Kirkpatrick’s The Daughter’s Walk, published four years ago. Very good historical fiction. I love how Jane makes people who lived long ago seem like someone you’d like to know today.
Another oldie was Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, published in 1994. Very good, but really, really liked Sophia’s Secret, 2008. Very clever plot, and of course I’d love a story about a novelist. I read these because on the advice of my friend Rebecca I went to hear Susanna speak.
As usual I read a variety of things from a biography of C.S.Lewis, a work from Thomas Merton, and Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker, to a few baseball books, more clever, enjoyable novels, and few I didn’t care for all that much. I liked all of them somewhat, however, or I would not have finished them. There were some of those this year. I’ve decided life is too short, there is too much out there to read to settle for an uninteresting book.
I’m going to set my 2016 goal for 35.
There’s Christmas, and then there’s the Twelve Days of Christmas, and then Epiphany. But, not yet. First, it’s Advent. The meaning of that season seems to be getting buried. Anyone else feel that way?
We once had a pastor who insisted that the music in the service be Advent music. No Away in a Manager or Joy to the World, because Advent leads up to that. Don’t get ahead of things. The hymns that we should be singing are O Come O Come Emanuel and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. And the Baby Jesus in the manager? Nope. Not until Christmas Eve.
I understand that patience is a virtue. It’s hard to wait, especially for Christmas. After all, I know what’s coming. I know the story. It’s no surprise. Let’s just celebrate! Many people are complaining about how early Christmas is observed these days. When I was a kid, we put up our Christmas tree the week before Christmas. Who does that now? No one I know, including me.
Most people do, however, feel a need to prepare when an event is coming up. That includes Christmas, at least the way most people usually prepare: shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, planning meals, inviting guests…
But that’s not the kind of preparation I’m talking about. Advent is a season the church recognizes as a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus. True, he has already been born, died, crucified, buried, risen, and ascended into heaven. And yet by observing the religious tradition of remembrance, I find I am able to receive him anew in my heart each Christmas, IF I observe Advent and don’t rush right to the prize. By taking the time to reflect, pray, and ask myself if I were one of the people in the Biblical Christmas story, how would I respond, I am preparing myself. I think that’s a gift.
“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.”
― Mother Teresa,
What’s the hurry? Maybe I’m just getting old, but the pace that life seems to want to push everyone along on bothers me. I’m going to make an effort to slow down, listen, watch, and enjoy more.
“God is here. This truth should fill our lives, and every Christmas should be for us a new and special meeting with God, when we allow his light and grace to enter deep into our soul.”
― Josemaría Escrivá,