Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stephanie's Pavilion Dedication

Last Saturday we celebrated the dedication of the new "Stephanie Woodard Family Pavilion" at our home away from home, University Little League. 

The celebration opened with Don Bescher sharing a few thoughts and thanking donors, and Tom Hill closing with a lovely benediction. Stephanie's mom, Jan, drove up from Round Rock, along with Stephanie's brother and his family.

I was asked to share a few words, and in honor of Stephanie's friendship and memory, the following is what I shared: 

One of my fav memories with Stephanie was sitting in the bleachers when Branson and Grey were about 9. She was bouncing between watching Dunson’s team playing on the Major and Grey’s team on the Double B. Steph went over to watch Dunson bat, and we heard a loud cheer from their stands. Dunson hit a HR over the major wall, and Steph came back to us beaming. From the dugout, Grey must have figured out what his big brother did. Not to be outdone, about ten minutes later Grey smacked a HR out of the Double B field.
And just a couple of weeks ago, I sat with Beth in the major stands watching CJ play, and he hit a 3-run HR.

There’s a reason there’s a Stephanie Woodard pavilion in this ballpark.

I miss Stephanie.
Our friendship was birthed in this ballpark, then grew through the incredibly bonding vehicle of baseball.
I feel her palpable absence in bleachers and stands, at football and basketball games, and at assemblies in the school auditorium.
I miss her dry sense of humor.
Her love for all those crazy kitten & cats she couldn’t say no to.
Her green thumb and pretty flowerbeds.
Her last-minute emails to anyone and everyone offering a Friday nighty “open house” swim party.
I miss her big grin and clear eyes.

Corbin and I were in the kitchen just asked a couple of weeks ago when out of the blue he asked, “Why in the world did Stephanie get cancer? Why did she suffer so much?”
I looked up at him, shocked, bc he was reading my mind.
Eight months out, the reality of her absence continues to sink in.

I don’t think Corbin or I will expect to understand this side of Heaven. But like many of us who have lost loved ones, it makes us long for Heaven that much more, bc it’s a very brilliant, daily reminder that this world is not our home.

We are all wired with a longing to leave a legacy.
This pavilion is a fantastic visual, a reminder of Stephanie’s legacy. Her dedication of course was not really to baseball, but to her family. She supported them, rallied around them, spoke highly of them, pushed them, and opened her home to an entire community time and time again.

I think often about what Steph would want for her boys. And I keep circling back to one thing - one gift we can offer her to continue and even increase the Woodard legacy, and that is for us to pray for her boys. Regularly, faithfully.

The timing of this dedication - sandwiched bt Good Friday and Easter morn - a time of spring, of new  birth and rebirth, a time of hope. 

Len, Dunson, Grey, and CJ WILL see Stephanie again. The hope of Christ, who is risen, confirms that. 

I'd like to conclude in the words of the great Paul Harvey, who year after year preached the shortest Easter sermon ever heard:

“Jesus lived a good life in a wicked world to show us it could be done. 
And he died. 
And he rose again. 

To show us... we could do that too.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Practicing Gratitude 4.19.14

- Walking downstairs on a Sunday morning to find her like this

- A cold, rainy April Sunday. As in, rained all day. Everything cancelled except one indoor practice, and the coach was kind enough to taxi Hud back and forth. Other than church in the morning, we didn't leave the house. Pajama pants, house shoes and a fire going all afternoon. Bliss. 

- That it takes two of us to get the stretch the kitchen trash bags over the stainless can. I'm utterly helpless here without the boys or Corbin.

- Why I love taking walks

- The Ace Hardware right by our home. I stop in at least once a week for the post office, house stuff, or even to pick up a gift in their little boutique area ~ I absolutely love having this shop so handy and accessible.

- Just Dance - hilarious watching them

- Essie getting five days in Oklahoma with Daboo and the Tulsa Jameses... think she was excited?!

- Reading to the girls on the porch, still needing blankets and the fire.  Sweet Basden surprising me with salted caramel hot chocolate.

- Getting to share Pigs Might Fly with my girls. Very special to me.

- Slacklining - fun to watch, hard to do!

- Time set aside for writing. What peace and rest it provides.

- Good friends like this

- And this

- Paul and Allison ~ "foundation" friends. A pleasant observation - we spent an entire evening with them (in their new home!) and never once saw them on their phones.

Wrestling... at any age, boys will be boys
Bran's threats fall short against Paul
Allison was an amazing host, even more so as she'd been in Vancouver until the day before having us over
- TCU babysitting class - Basden was thrilled to be Red Cross certified

- John and Bran changing out the bar stool ends for me - not a fun or easy job

- Gratification of working hard, combined with the joy of beautifying part of our yard. Laying flagstone by the driveway - all by myself!
Before - sort of. This was actually hours in of trying to break up that ground - FULL of rocks.
Not quite the finished "after" - but I'm encouraged with the progress
- An hour in Backwoods picking out flies

- Sweet Frog ~ what joy

- Remembering Grandma on her April 18 birthday... thirteen years since she fell asleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus. 

- Lent season, and anticipating the celebration of Christ's resurrection. Thank you, Jesus.

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 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