Hearing impaired, Jane sang in churches through sign language, sitting in the back not to disturb others. One service, a pastor asked her to come to the stage. It went from there and Jane began sharing her sign-language singing at various churches, nursing homes, care centers and with different organizations. She'd even go into the homes of the shut-in or the terminally ill and sign their favorite songs using the CDs of Carolyn Stacy and Kelly Cash.
In 2000, someone brought to her attention that she was providing a ministry. "I had never thought of it that way," she said. The individual said she had a caring heart and Caring Heart Ministry for Special Need Children and Adults began. Her signing grew to the point that she was traveling the United States with it. She also taught sign language to special education students at Lauderdale Middle School.
Jane said their accident, which occurred when they were coming home after a nursing home visit, "slowed me down to be with my husband and son. I've learned so much. The Bible says to be still. You have to have those quiet moments."
She may have slowed down, but she and her husband haven't stopped giving back to others.
In the nursing home visits immediately following their accident, the Wileys visited with as many residents as they could. They soon realized that some residents never get a visitor, much less a card or note. So, they began taking five to 25 cards, letters or encouraging notes to pass out.
"They'd slowly take their hand and run it over the envelope, the card, then open it, taking in every inch like they had a treasure," Jane recalled. "A lot (of nursing home residents) can still read and are sharp as whips. You could just tell what it meant to them. My husband and I looked at each other: I told him I'd do everything I could to make sure every resident got a Christmas card."
That was in October and A Caring Heart Christmas, a part of the non-denominational Caring Heart Ministry, began.
The Wileys started preparing Christmas cards, each signed and hand addressed, with two nursing homes -- Wesley at Dyersburg Nursing Care and Dyersburg Manor -- and a volunteer came on board adding Lauderdale Community Living Center in Ripley.
Word about A Caring Heart Christmas traveled from mouth to mouth. "Quite a few people" from Dyersburg, Gibson County, Shelby County and Lauderdale County "found out about it and realized what we were doing" and assisted by either giving cards or providing handmade ones for the project, Jane said.
On Dec. 3, they delivered a total of 317 cards to the three nursing homes.
"My pastor happened to be (at one of them) when (the cards were) passed out and he said it was like Christmas morning," Jane said.
She witnessed that herself.
"They'd take the card, run their hand over the envelope, then the card, then read it, put it back in the envelope and do it all over again," she said. "Seeing their faces light up when they received that card is a blessing you'd not believe; words can't describe it. I still cry at the memory of it; it's something I'll remember for as long as I live."
She believes it's the same for the residents.
"When your heart is in it and (the residents) know it, it really is a gift of love and they know it. I really think it made some precious memories," she said.
Jane said while "God laid the mantel on (her and her husband) to do (this), we couldn't have done it by ourselves. We thank all of those who contributed. We are so grateful for their help; without them, we couldn't have done it. I feel God led them. This ministry was made possible because of people who showed the residents concern, love and compassion. They have provided a precious memory."
The Wileys hope others will want to provide that precious memory.
Next year, they hope not to just add more nursing homes to A Caring Heart Christmas but to also provide more for the residents.
"Carolyn Mitchell (at Lauderdale Community Living Center) told the volunteer they can always use gifts like chap sticks, tissues and socks for the residents," Jane said. "We want to provide each resident a card and a little something."
That will take a lot of preparation and the Wileys have started by designating an area of their house for donations of cards and items. And this time of year, she noted, is the perfect time to get those Christmas cards as deductions are made.
To make a donation to A Caring Heart Christmas, contact the Wileys at 731-836-9838.