FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Barbara Wiles of Frederick has been writing poems for as long as she can remember.

For most of that time, she kept them to herself. Since 2007, she has been reading an original poem the first Sunday of each month at Parkway Community Church, where she has been attending services for about five years. Several of her fellow congregation members, who want to remain anonymous, surprised Wiles by gathering 63 of her poems and had them made into a book, “Forever in Mind, a Collection of Spiritual Poems.”

Born in 1949, Wiles grew up near Martinsburg, W.Va., the second of six children. Her father was a migrant worker.

“We never knew we were poor,” Wiles said. “The house was always full of love.”

Wiles attended Linganore and Walkersville high schools, “but I was too stubborn to graduate.”

A major influence in her life was her grandmother, Valley Miller. “She only had a third-grade education, but she knew the Bible inside out. She gave me a Bible when I was 9.”

Wiles said the words to poems “just came to me,” though often it was only a line of words or part of a poem.

“Whatever I was doing I would write it down. It might be on a brown paper bag or scrap of paper. After a while, I picked up all of those pieces of paper and it came together,” she said.

She and her husband, Vernon, have five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She operates Grandma’s Cleaning, which works primarily with homes for real estate professionals. She gets houses ready to show to potential buyers. She also has a number of regular customers whose homes she cleans, “though the number is down with the economy.”

An active member of Parkway Community Church, Wiles enjoys working each Tuesday evening with students from nearby Crestwood Middle School in the Campus Life program. For two hours, the children have activities and snacks.

“Mostly they are activities that teach the children how to work together, how you can get things done better that way,” Wiles said.

The first poem in the book is dedicated to her grandmother, Wiles said, and another is dedicated to her mother.

“Others are heartfelt. If you live God’s word, it is an invitation for a better life,” she said. “I thank God I can see the things he has made, from my eyes to see to my heart to get and return the love people give me.”

Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post,

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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