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Bookmarking smiles
Allen gives bookmarks as slice of hope
Jane Allen prepares to cut a necklace apart in order to use the beads for one of her bookmarks. She gives the bookmarks to anyone she thinks is in need of a smile.

When a grain of sand gets stuck in an oyster’s shell, the oyster makes the best of the troublesome situation by turning it into a pearl.
That’s the philosophy local resident Jane Allen likes to maintain. When faced with obstacles, don’t allow yourself to sink into a realm of despair. Look for positive inspiration.
For more than a decade, Allen has been producing handmade bookmarks at her dining room table. She gives them to anyone she thinks might need a smile, from hospital patients battling disease to friends having a bad day.
“You’d be surprised how it gives people a lift,” said Allen. “It’s a way to show you care, that you’re thinking about them. There are a lot of sick people who just need a glimmer of hope.”
After years of making the bookmarks mainly for herself and a few friends, Allen gained more velocity in 2004 when she read a devotional message about the importance of trusting God in prayer. The article said we should trust the Holy Spirit to bring something precious from the hardest experiences and it made several references to the pearl metaphor.
“Where would we be without the cross?” asked Allen.
That’s when she decided to put a cross and a pearl on every bookmark she makes. She also made contact with the lady who wrote the devotional and got permission to include a copy of it with every bookmark she gives.
Allen has mailed bookmarks all over the country and sent some to friends in Georgia on Monday. She recently gave 300 bookmarks to Healing Hearts United, a local organization which makes care packages for hospice patients around the region.
“This just keeps growing and I’m thrilled,” said Allen. “We don’t realize how fortunate we are until we see others who are dealing with really tough situations. I’ve given a bunch of these to Linda Gilbert, who does counseling. She passes them out to some of the people she counsels.”
Allen, 69, knows staying active is vital to maintaining a positive outlook. She’s spent the past 10 years as a substitute teacher and daycare worker at Covenant Academy. She says the bookmarks provide a project to keep her busy and in a positive mindset.
“It’s wonderful therapy to sit here and make the bookmarks and it will clear your mind,” said Allen. “I’ll make some just about every day, even if I’m just putting one or two together. It takes about five minutes each from start to finish.”
To make the bookmarks, Allen strings beads, a cross, and pearls on waxed linen cord, which is durable. She buys some of the beads and cuts other beads from old jewelry. She says some friends donate old jewelry for her to use.
The devotional message Allen includes with her bookmarks says, in part:
“Jesus responds that we cannot ever understand the mystery of unanswered prayer. It is God’s place to know why things fail to meet our expectations and our only consolation is to trust that the Holy Spirit will enter our souls and work with the hard fragments of deep disappointment to bring forth pearls of great faith. Working through their disappointments, the disciples will build the Christian church, a stunning pearl.”