Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Wonder ~ Paul Batura and "Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story"

Corbin and I got to meet author Paul Batura last fall while attending a Focus on the Family Couples' Retreat with our friends Steve and Lisa. As we landed in Colorado Springs and headed to lunch, Steve announced that he had already made an appointment for us to go visit with Paul at the  Focus headquarters. Steve wanted to touch base with Paul regarding some work ideas they'd collaborated on, but Corbin and I got to tag along and received the enormous privilege of not only touring the Focus offices, but also meeting and spending time with Paul.

We'd heard about Paul from Steve before, and Steve had described him as "one of the nicest people he knew next to Corbin." Paul has worked for Focus since 1988 and since that time has served as writer and adviser to both James Dobson and now Jim Daly and is currently Focus's Vice President of Communications. And he's penned his share of books in the meantime, including of course the Paul Harvey bio and most recently, along with Daly,  “ReFocus: Living a Life that Reflects God’s Heart." Despite all of his accomplishments, the thing that most stood out about Paul was his kindness and his willingness to be interrupted.

Paul toured us around the Focus on the Family executive offices, board room, and message center. He could have easily washed his hands of us about thirty minutes into our visit. But on this very normal, very deadline-filled Thursday afternoon, Paul took more than two hours with us.

Toward the end of our visit, Corbin started fidgeting and said, "Oh my gosh, Paul, I'm so sorry we stayed so long. When people drop in my office or come for a meeting and then stay forever, I end the day with getting nothing done. We have got to get out of your way and let you get back to work."

But if Paul felt rushed or pushed, he convinced us otherwise. And it wasn't just Paul who allowed us to interrupt him. Throughout our visit, as we barged into people's offices and work spaces, every single Focus employee stopped to make eye contact and visit, even in the middle of his or her work day. It was evidence of the value Focus employees place on people and relationships.

The next day, Steve texted Paul and thanked him for his generous time spent with us, and Paul replied back something to the effect that several years ago he came to see "interruptions" from his work as his true work.

Paul and his family ~ they way he spoke of them, this is his true work.
One other highlight of that day was walking out of Paul's office with two copies of his book "Good Day!" in my hands. When I spied (and gasped at) the Paul Harvey biographies on his shelf, Paul generously signed and gave me copies for myself and my dad.

Wow - this story is a gem.
Paul Harvey is one of my heroes because he's one of my dad's heroes.
Harvey was born in 1918 - the same year as Billy Graham- into the richness of our American early twentieth century, two giants were born. 1918 is evidence to me that God was birthing great men to use several decades later in my dad's life (and of course in millions of others).

Paul Harvey had mentors of his own, especially men who brought encouraging news to our country in the midst of a dismal World War and Great Depression. He also emulated newscasters who brought a variety of topics to their newscast - human interest and interesting quips to take the heavy out of such a heavy time.

Harvey grew up in Tulsa. With my brother Luke raising his family in Tulsa, I found it interesting to read about the city as such a prosperous yet tumultuous city in the '20s and '30s. At one point, Harvey worked out of Waite Phillip's building there downtown, made more interesting to me as our family just last summer toured Philmont - Phillip's mansion and ranch in northern New Mexico gifted years ago to the Boy Scouts.

Harvey also lived in Hawaii and Montana - two more states close to my heart. And Harvey was a pilot, and only pilots themselves - or their wives and children - can relate to this Harvey's sentiment about how his passion for flying nearly got him killed:
My life was so wrapped up in that plane, that the one time I should have jumped, because there was no possible place to set down outside of some trees, I didn't. All that was going through that young brain of mine was, 'If anything happens to this airplane, I don't want to go on living anyway.' So I went ahead and landed it in the trees. (pg33)

Batura emphasizes the impact and influence of Harvey's wife Evelyn ("Angel") over not just Paul's person but his entire career. She truly backed him and propelled him forward.

As magically as we remember his later years, Harvey's career was not without pitfalls. Over the course of his career, Harvey exercised his own ideals of free enterprise, creativity, perseverance, and capitalism. At one point, with a significant degree of reporting success under his belt, Harvey's then- boss A.J. Mosby called him in and explained,
Have I got something to tell you! I'm going to offer you a big job, Paul. And in the process, I'm going to give you the best advice you've ever received. I'm going to shoot you straight here. You have a silly sounding voice. You'd make a great salesman - you can sell anything, but Paul, honestly, you're never going to make it in the news business. You don't have a believable sound for news. It's distracting. People won't trust it. Why don't you join our sales team? The job is yours - but I'm sorry, you're done on the air here. (pg. 92)
Once again, Paul turned to his wife Evelyn's support and counsel, and together they forged ahead. Harvey's career success grew from diligence, hard work, and steadfast ideals: free market, moderation, storytelling to Mr. and Mrs. Middle America, that no story is too small, a knack for dialogue, and asking the right questions.

In the current shifting of America's foundation and ideals, I found "Good Day!" not just interesting but inspiring (and convicting):
When they were obedient to the laws of God, Americans led this world... Fear God again! I don't believe Almighty God is going to preserve this 'promised land' anymore than he preserved the previous ones, if its people are determined to destroy it. Nations are used by God as long as they serve his purpose. (pg 182)
If you're a fan of Paul Harvey, you must read this book. 
And even if you're not particularly a fan yet, it's still worth the read. 
Great man, great story, great weaving of all the facts together. 

Thank you, Mr. Batura, for your research and work and gift of storytelling. 
Good Day!

I love writing these "Wednesday Wonder" posts, because when I see amazing people doing extraordinary things, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least from my little blog!  The people I highlight here are "Wonders" in my eyes because I see God's work in and through them - His work transforming the ordinary to extraordinary. But it typically takes a willing heart, some risk, and an offering of "yes" for Him to transform.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 4.04.14

- Men of my life

- Getting to host YL adult committee dinner and meeting ~ grateful for lovely weather, lovely people.

Sweet Basden helping me peel and slice 24 apples for apple crisp for dessert ~ Pioneer Woman's recipe phenomenal
- Crazy blessed by Bridgett's heart.

- Emily and David - such a neat couple, God overflows so big from them.

- Julie and her awesome efficiency. And kindness.

- A tidy home (sometimes, anyway) - the peace that order brings.

- The critical value of choosing peace when things are not in order. So hard, but so liberating. Allen Levi's "1412 and 1420"  circles me back to reality.

- Bran and Hud taking a vacation day from school to fish with Papa. And that it was, even from a fishing point of view, a success. Thank you for your spontaneous availability and willing heart, Papa, and Curtis and Shirley - thank you for letting them fish in your lake!

- This season of children still in elementary. I love it.

- Hud's complement to Basden about volleyball ("if you were on the team they'd win,") and Branson bragging on Hudson's pitching to his friends. We get so many "opportunities" to train our kiddos on kindness to each other, I'm grateful for these highlights. 

- Ricky's story of God's prompting at Moms in Prayer. Touching. 

- Winding walking paths in the park that help me think.

- When dinner consists of chips, salsa and guac.

- Tanglewood park bench pick up friends. 

- The gift that our good friend, John Kelley, is also our orthodontist. We were friends way before we were patients, but with all four of our kids in treatment, we get to see him often. His staff is so fantastic and friendly ~ they are happy and friendly and forgiving! Makes ortho appts a joy.

- Corbin checking the pool in the mornings before heading to work - that it hasn't been ANY extra work for me in having a pool. What a gift.

- Sweet Molly - so glad they're here from England!

- An friend stopping by spur of the moment Friday morning. Coffee and tears, a privilege to be called on. And a fresh reminder of your miracle in Basden's life and health ten and a half years ago.

- Prov 19:11 ~ "It is one's glory to overlook an offense."

- Our trash ~ that it actually gets picked up every week ~ easy to take for granted, but I'm so glad we're not delivering that to the dump!

 - Getting two cavities filled this week. That we have insurance, the accessiblity to great medical care (in a gorgeous office), and that I've found a great new dentist whom I absolutely love - thank you for making it an easy process, Dr. Sarah Morris.

- Track - McLean City Champs!
Triple jump. B enjoyed it, but I still don't quite understand this event.
Photo credits ~ Patrick Cox ~ thanks for sharing your great shots!
Bran and Jalen. Bran placed 2nd in hurdles to Jalen's 1st, but he was just glad to beat one certain kid. Jalen is one of Bran's  few classmates that also played football, basketball and track.
These boys - so happy for them with all their HARD work this year!
McLean boys and girls both won the championship by more than double the next teams. Way to go. 
- Gorgeous spring weather with screen doors open.

- Getting to attend the YWCA fundraising luncheon - what an incredible service they provide our city. Hearing one of the residents sing, "I can fly" blew me away. Blew the whole room away. 

- Anticipation of a new season, fresh hope.

- Last Friday's La Madeline lunch.

- Baseball!


We woulda cheered either way here - good buds battling it out

Grey hitting Bran in

He doesn't often remind me of a bull, but he's sure got that look here
- My Only Love by Matt Maher - my current fav.

- Jerry and Sarah's hospitality. Best of all, Jerry's Salsa di Parmigiano. Loved our little dinner party.

- The reality of God's forgiveness, and my sin that desperately needs it. Reminded by Jerry Bridge's "Respectable Sins - Confronting the Sins we Tolerate." Grateful for Thursday morning friends to discuss this with - an encouraging and engaging study.

- Basden anticipating FishStix, and that Skylar will still be interning this summer.

- Julia and Brighton for a sleepover ~ made a regular old Thursday night very fun for the Wilson crew.

- Made even more fun by getting to celebrate Atter's new pup, Flora. The only good thing about the Andersons moving outside of town (besides the fact that they love country-living) is that now they sometimes need a stop-over point in Fort Worth, like this week between DFW and the baseball field.

I vote Hud the most smitten
- Raven and Lily's very first storefront open (as of yesterday!) in Austin
Beautiful Kirsten - and her beautiful heart for providing opportunity for women around the world

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday Wonder ~ Dar's Beautiful Life

"Because when Clyde died, there wasn't much of me left."
Written by Dar, my sweet friend Jessica's grandmother, in the letter I received just two weeks ago.

I thought of Dar's love and appreciation for her late husband, her connection to him, and how lonely she must of felt when he died. I thought of her leaving her beloved Hawaiian home to return to Little Rock, where over the next handful of years she enjoyed her family but also battled health problems.

"I am blessed in so many ways. My 25 years with Clyde were the best years of my adult life - then to come home to be with all my family, and to have them be so good to me - what would I have done had I stayed in Hawaii?"

It had been the right thing to move back to Little Rock after her years on the island, but certainly not an easy thing.

"Tell your mom I still have the dear little vase she left she left me when she was there."

She concluded by telling me how she and all of her Little Rock family were to return to Hawaii this June. I've heard Dar say that with Clyde gone, she had no desire to return. But perhaps the idea of enjoying her children and grandchildren again on the island she loved so well changed her mind.

I placed Dar's hand-scrawled letter above my kitchen sink and read it several times, grateful that she took the time to write.

Dar stayed on my mind the following days, and about a week later I sat down to write her. She was so heavy on my heart that day, I considered sending her flowers "just because." I started to look up florists and couldn't decide what would make her happier - an arrangement, or a hand-written note with photos of the blooming pink tulips in my yard - a feeble attempt to connect with her appreciation for flowers and gardens.

But the next afternoon I received a text from Jessica that Dar was spiraling downhill fast, that her health was declining. And then the very next day when I called to check on her, Jessica told me Dar had just passed away.

I put my head down on the kitchen counter and just cried. Perhaps had I seen her in physical pain and distress, it would have been less of a shock. But it happened so fast that I surprised myself with the grief I felt.

Dar and I shared a love for Hawaii - my birthplace, and her home for the last thirty or so years. We shared a special love for February 4th  - my first-born's birthday fell on her 75th birthday. And most of all, we shared a love and admiration for Jessica - my college roommate and dear friend, and her only - very doted on - grandchild.

The four of us college roomie couples went to visit Dar and Clyde a couple of years after we were all married and stayed a week at their home in Oahu. Then after the roomies left, my parents and brothers came and Dar allowed my family to stay in her home as well while she traveled back to the mainland.

Dar and Clyde meeting us at the airport with fresh, fragrant leiis. And Kristin - sorry about the massive red palm tree across you... photo taken from my scrapbook!
Swimming and fully enjoying Dar's backyard. My fav memory of this day was all of us talking about Kristin and Eric expecting their first child (Adeline!), and how it would be YEARS before Corbin and I were ready to start a family. I had no idea I was already expecting.

Roomies - Jessica, Kirsten, me, Kristin
Roomie hubbies - Todd, Eric, Brandon, Corbin

Our super-memorable luau. Goodness.
Dar was a gardener. Her backyard landscape was beyond description - lush and tantalizing and took over an hour to water daily. My mom, also a gardener, was scared to death that Dar would get home to a much-loved plant that had withered under our care.

My family enjoying our own vacation staying in Dar and Clyde's home
What I hope to remember about Dar -

- She exuded beauty and peace. I know her life was not uncluttered. Growing up as one of eight siblings, I can only imagine what she experienced and endured during her years. But by the time I met Dar she was in her 60s, and she carried a disposition of calm beauty. And a wide, lovely smile. And her amazing cheekbones! She loved Hawaii for the relaxed pace and calm island mentality. She loved the people, the landscape, and of course the majesty of the ocean - a love which her granddaughter absolutely inherited.

Dar with four generations of her family - daughter Pam, granddaughter Jessica, great-granddaughter Rebecca
- Because she loved Jessica, she loved me. She took in Jessica's friends as her own friends, and treated us with respect and interest.

- She was always learning, always observing. During our conversations over the years, Dar truly listened. She asked detailed questions throughout our talks and always seemed interested and eager to learn about someone else's life, someone else's perspective. Dar was a great conversationalist because she was a great listener and a great question-asker.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Darnelle's beautiful life. You created her as a lovely person, and gifted her with a long life fully knowing and enjoying her family for four generations. She brought much beauty to this world, and it continues through the hearts and lives of her loved ones.

Darnelle Gentry Friar 
February 4, 1925 - March 29, 2014

Psalm 121
I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and the earth.

I love writing these "Wednesday Wonder" posts, because when I see amazing people doing extraordinary things, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least from my little blog!  The people I highlight here are "Wonders" in my eyes because I see God's work in and through them - His work transforming the ordinary to extraordinary. But it typically takes a willing heart, some risk, and an offering of "yes" for Him to transform.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 3.28.14

- A very happy 14th to Bran...

- Essie's non-stop love for playing school. Usually by herself, as she's got the entire sun room organized as her classroom. She is, of course, "teacher" to Daboo and Basden here. 

- Making the most of a rainy day. Love that they still do this.

- Finding this note in the sunroom. Out of the mouths of babes. Grateful that love covers a multitude of sins - for both of us. 
Before selfies come the self-drawings. This one with self-inflicted tears.

- Essie's inner artist, and that Mrs. Pauling offers it opportunity to grow.

- Her very creative invention. That she took ownership of the project, and that it's over.

- Our driveway filled with great boys. Thrills my heart.

- I signed her up for basketball as an outlet for her competitive spirit. We weren't disappointed. Even down to her "Reid method" of making baskets.

- A full kitchen - with Papa making his guac!

- Honor choir. Getting to sing at a nursing home, among other neat events. She absolutely loves it.

- Running into an old friend. How very grateful I am for his music that streams into our home regularly. Thank you, David, for continuing to take risks in using your gifts in a vulnerable, authentic way. I've listed you in these gratitude posts before.  A treat to get to see you face-to-face.

- A phone call from Nickmo, and then getting to catch up for half an hour. What a gem.

- Phone call from Hud's PE teacher, Mr. Cartwright. Precious and meant so much.

- Kevin and his investment in Branson the past two years. So grateful.
Kevin, our middle school pastor, has calmly talked me off the ledge with reassuring words regarding parenting middle school boys
- My trip to the Apple Store. Breathed a quick prayer in the parking lot before going in that it would be productive - you never know. Not only did they combined my two "issues" into one appointment, but I got our laptop fixed quickly and inexpensively.

- Mark Gregston's website and weekly newsletter. Bless him.

- A backyard ringing with little girls' laughter

- Waking Basden up this morn. She had to be at school early, and I woke her when it was still dark. She lumbered out of bed happily and came downstairs with me with the sweetest countenance. She's just happy to greet the day. So precious. After what I put my parents through, I don't deserve her.

- That Essie can talk her big brother's friends into helping her with cheerleading stunts
Love these boys.
- Sunday nights with Aubrey. A jewel. And direct answer to prayer.

- Sweet school friends.

- The start of Spring baseball. Happy happy happy.
Hud  refusing to wear his UT hat during practice. I'm ok with this kind of rebellion.

- Saying yes to something I don't want to do, and God faithful in softening my heart

- Track - the finale of middle school sports era for Bran. He qualified for the City Championship meet TONIGHT in high jump, triple jump, and both hurdles ~ and he's more than a little nervous.

This kid gave Bran a run for his money. B hoping fora  successful re-match tonight... we'll see!
- Late on Monday night after a track meet, following a packed weekend, Corbin helping Bran with his homework. What a long-suffering daddy.
What cracked me up most - he's using colored pencils to draw the examples. Isn't this what all grown men do at 11 pm?
- Hud going door-to-door on our street selling cookie dough for choir, and Basden and Esther accompanying him as his managers - and the fact that he let them tag along. They both came downstairs sporting McLean shirts that Hud provided, Essie complete with a tutu and clipboard (Hud did ask that she not carry the clipboard and ginormous flower pen, but he relented when she insisted). Wish I had a pic of this one.

- Two signs of independence in my children - Hud shaking his head and looking at me like I was crazy when I asked if he needed me to walk with him door-to-door. And then a few minutes later Basden scooting up to my laptop to reply to one of her teachers, when I intended to reply myself. She wanted to take responsibility in the communication, and I gladly passed the baton. Reminds me of Mom teaching us independence by moving the cereal bowls to the bottom cabinet when we were young. Grateful this independence is passing down the generations.

- That Hud's cookie-dough sales were successful - thank God for great (generous!) neighbors - can always count on the Worleys and sweet TCU girls!

- An impromptu Saturday dinner with friends ~ really sweet evening

- Hud as George Muller, "Guardian of Bristol's Orphans" for Night of the Notables. Muller - what a hero.
The "wizard wig" we shaved down minutes before the event... thx for the inspiration, KDS!
- Hud (Muller) and Mitchell (Houdini)
Add caption
- How, at 7, Essie sees herself.
May her perspective continue...

- Spring tulips. Bulbs that Basden and I planted last fall and haven't touched since sprouted up and surprised us. The wonder of spring.

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12