Kelly Allen is our 2020- 2021 SFA scholarship recipient. Because Covid is still active, there wasn’t a reception and we didn’t get to meet her in person. We asked for a photo of Kelly but the one sent was small and got really blurry when enlarged. But below is a lovely Thank You note from her.
Things are a little different this year for meeting our LHS Recipient. With the Covid virus wrecking the plans of the Class of 2020 and because of social distancing we were not able to meet our recipient in person. We truly miss putting a face with the name we chose, visiting with them and learning more about their hopes, dreams and goals for their life. So we don’t have a picture from Awards Night, like we have in the past, because it was cancelled.
But I’m very happy to announce our Lufkin High School LAF Recipient this year. Her name is Alexis Ferguson. She has been active in FFA all 4 yrs at LHS. She has served in various different capacities like Historian, Sentinel, Fundraising and did service work on local, state and national levels during those yrs. She has shown pigs and lambs and learned life skills in the show ring and out. Alexis has also been active in Drug Free All Stars, Diamond Dolls and Kyssed Club. She works in her father’s business during the fall and works at a snow cone stand in the summer. All four years of high school she has been taking concurrent classes at Angelina Jr.College. Wow…what has she not done should be the question. Alexis wants to major in Speech Pathology, obtain her masters degree and be a speech therapist to work with children or in a hospital. With what she has accomplished so far I have no doubt she can reach that goal also. Best wishes to Alexis Ferguson.
We are presently living in some uncertain times with the Covid virus that is circulating around the world. A week ago I was in the grocery store and a woman had a bag of over 75 masks, she had sewn, and was giving away to anyone who didn’t have one. She offered me one and I asked her to give it to someone more vulnerable than me. She insisted I take one and so I did. She said she had been a quilter for over 40 years and now knew why God had told her to hang on to the scraps all these years. I thanked her and said what a blessing she was to others during this time.
Later that day my friend, Betty Harrison, put out a plea on Facebook asking where to find more material and supplies so she could continue making face masks. She had run out of options and prayed for God to provide, if he wanted her to continue making them. Betty had been making the masks and donating them to health care workers, family, friends and anyone needing a mask for protection…whether it was by their own health or a job. It has given her a purpose while staying home and is a joy to be helping others. I told her about my mask encounter earlier and said what a blessing both of these ladies were. Then it clicked… I wanted to be a part of Betty’s outreach of help others. So I gave her a Love, Action, Faith Scholarship. After all what she is doing was an excellant example of…showing love to others, through her making mask, because of her faith…the intent and purpose of these scholarships. Betty was thankful and said she was honored to do this in Lauren’s name.
My friend Betty Harrison. May God bless you for being His hands and feet during this time.
And in the pictures above her are her skilled hands and some of the many, colorful masks she has made for local children and adults.
Other side of the World
Sometimes family just blows your mind…in a good way though. I have the best Brother-in-Love and Sister-in-Love….Yes, Love not Law. The “Law” part doesn’t matter to them…they love me unconditionally and are always showing me, and many countless others, God’s love and grace. They don’t just love me because I’m related to them but because that is their heart and soul.
We recently moved and Julie asked me for my new address. I told her as long as she wasn’t sending me a bill I would give it to her…we both got a good laugh. A few days later a packet arrived in the mail. I opened it up… started reading… then started crying. I was blown away….Wow…just WOW!
In Memory and Honor of Lauren they had purchased the construction of a water well to be built in Uganda, Africa. It will be built in a village of over 2400 people and supply them with safe, clean drinking water. A plaque will be added with her name and a specially picked scripture.
“For we do not grieve as those who have no hope…”
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Hope is what we have, as children of God, that one day we will see Lauren again and meet our Heavenly Father, when we leave this earthly life.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that Lauren would be proud, thrilled and probably giddy too… to have her name on a life giving water well around the world….And to play a part in helping people, of all ages, have a much better quality of life.
.Thank You Julie and Todd for honoring Lauren’s life in such a special way!! You are “the hands and feet of Christ” to us and so many! We love you both to infinity!!
Miracle Murphy is our LHS Recipient for 2019. She is smart, articulate, compassionate and well rounded young woman. She was a Sr Sergeant of the Drill Team, mentor to incoming freshman, VP of a Club and became a Team Leader at 17 for Chick-Fil-A. She is planning on a double major of Nursing and Criminal Psychology. Those two fields both involve helping others when in pain, whether it’s physically or mentally. She has a personal reason, a survivor of a traumatic event, that has compelled her to help others because that is when she feels strongest. In the future Miracle would like to open a mental health care clinic, in a poverty stricken area, to bring awareness to mental health issues and help those in need.
Miracle is going to concentrate on her studies her first year at SFASU and will continue working part time at Chick-Fil-A where she is now in a Manager type position. She still loves to dance and hopes to join the dance team after getting her first year of college under her belt. As I said in the beginning…she is a smart girl. I look forward to seeing where she goes in life.
I learned something new at Culinary Cafe and made a new friend….well a couple of new friends actually.
Incase you don’t know what Culinary Cafe is…let me explain. Each semester the students in the Hospitality program at SFA plan, prepare and cook a meal, from a different cuisine, twice a week. They also decorate the tables and serve the meal. You can buy tickets online and they usually sellout within a day or two of posting, that’s how delicious the meal and lovely the experience is. Every meal we have had has been pleasing to the eye and palate, top-notch and enjoyable.
Well, I learned why a Chef’s jacket is double-breasted. So when he cooks, if he gets messy and splatters or drips something on the front of his jacket, he just unbuttons his dirty “side” and moves it to the back and then presents his “new” clean side to meet and greet his customers. Pretty smart idea, very handy and is quickly done.
One new friend was our waiter, Duy Nguyen. He did a wonder job of taking care of us, filling our drinks, presenting our courses with polish and answering our questions about the delectable food we were eating. Our second friend is Mario Figueroa and he is our scholarship recipient for this year. He was working the cafe in the kitchen area, he prepared the Jambalaya Grits. He was able to sit the first course with us, Seafood Gumbo with White Rice, so we could visit with him. He enjoys baking, is from Houston and graduated this month. He already has a job at a Marriott Hotel in downtown Houston, in the bakery. He had a unique opportunity this past May. Through a hospitality program he was selected to go to the Cannes Film Festival in France. He worked in the food service/hospitality area, met people from all over and saw a few Stars too. He would like to experience that event again. He is a well spoken young man and we enjoyed meeting him, learning about his life, goals and dreams and wish him all the best.
Suzanne, Mario Figueroa, Bryan
I can’t help but wonder…what her life would be like now….a young woman stepping into her 30’s…. leaving her 20’s behind. I had been married for 11 years and had 2 children when I turned 30 yrs old…a “bossy” but smart 5 yr old and an easy-going 3 yr old. I was a stay at home Mom and loved every minute of it… well, almost every minute…lol. That is all I ever really wanted to be…a Mom. But Lauren got a college degree and had a goal of being an event planner and hoped to have her own business one day. I have no doubt she would have succeeded in that goal. Would she be living in East Texas, the Hill County or even another state? Would she be in a big city or small town? Would she be married yet…have any children? So many of her good friends are married with children. Would they be meeting up for play dates and “Mama talk”? Or would she still be looking for “the one”…but running a successful business and enjoying her life…traveling maybe? So far she has me beat on the number of countries she has been to. Would she be calling me up and asking how to make a certain recipe and checking up on her Dad and I? Would she be arranging a weekend visit with her younger brother…to just hang out or float the Guadalupe River maybe? Would we be going on family snow skiing trips or cruises or camping still? She enjoyed our family reunions and seeing the new babies in the group…I know she would still be coming. Holiday’s would be more fun if she was here…that girl was quick-witted and enjoyed belly laughs. I know she wouldn’t be too busy to check on her grandparents…by phone or in person. Would she have short hair or her long, brown, wavy hair? Would she have put on a few pounds from motherhood or life stresses? Just so many thoughts and questions running through my head. I can picture her in so many different scenarios…wish I knew…”for real”…
One thing is for certain her time here on earth was as I hoped for her in her baby book. She did grown up to be happy, healthy and a loving, caring person who loved life and her Lord. Happy 30th Birthday Lauren… in Heaven…love you…miss you…
Sarah Withem is our Lufkin High School scholarship recipient this year. What a lovely young woman…in body and spirit. Very friendly, warm and open. She laughed often, has a big, genuine smile and that reminded me of Lauren. We enjoyed getting to know her after pictures were made. She is active in her church and helps teach 2nd grade boys…she is brave…lol. She will be living on campus and plans to join the Baptist Student Union to make more friends and be with other Christian students. She will be working part-time to help pay for her schooling. She wants to be a Speech Language Pathologist.
After being notified of the scholarship Sarah wrote a really thoughtful thank you note to us. In it she said, “I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as the recipient of a scholarship that believes in love, action and faith. Those three words drive my life, and I admire this foundation for standing behind those concepts.” She took the initiative to look up Lauren, our foundation and learn about us. Wow…that says a lot about her character and her heart. I have no doubt we chose well this year. She is special and her parents should be proud of her…they have raised a lovely, young woman.
I always ask friends and family to perform a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) on March 7th and this year was the 8th Anniversary of Lauren’s passing. They never fail to accept the mission… to make my heart happy and brighten the day of the person/s who receives their act of love and kindness. I heard from several friends and the ways they “showed the love” was as unique and various as they are. Andrea gave homemade peach jam to her co-workers. Denise put a beautiful plant in her local park. Elizabeth blew debris off her neighbors driveways and sidewalks. Ben donated to an organization that helps young mothers and babies. Can you imagine the smile on the faces of those who benefited from these fabulous acts of kindness and love? I can. I know there were more RAK’s that went unspoken, I had some too, and those are just as awesome and special as the ones I heard about. Thank you all for spreading love and kindness.
By the time it came to me, on March 7th, it was too late to implement my RAK. I didn’t make it out to the Ellen Trout Zoo in time before they closed…so I went the next day. As it turns out it was the perfect day to go. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day. I noticed lots of families, at the zoo, enjoying their outing. I went to the ticket window and told the young woman there I wanted to pre-pay for some admissions, some RAK’s for people entering the zoo, in memory of my daughter. She thought that was a wonderful idea and wanted me to write down my name and info so she could tell the Zoo Directors about this. I told her that I knew them, Charlotte & Gordon Henley, as I had volunteered at the zoo before and my kids participated in camps there. As I was writing down my info, a family of 3 generations walked up…3 young children, 2 parents and 2 grandparents. I nodded to the woman that I wanted to pay their admission. She gave them a total and said it was already paid for by me, in memory of my daughter. I really didn’t want them to know but it was ok that she told. They thanked me, said what a great way to honor her memory and gave their condolences. We chatted a few more minutes and I learned they were from out-of-state. I took a family picture, inside the zoo, so everyone could be in the shot. (you know from past posts, that it is my “thing” to do for others) The kids were making “silly faces” and I made a deal with them. “Let me take two, nice smiling faces… then we could do the silly one”. It worked and of course the kiddo’s liked the “silly face” picture better because the whole family had a goofy face going on. I went back to the window and chatted with the woman about Lauren. There was money left over for more families to enjoy their day at our fantastic little zoo and that made my heart happy.
For many years the Ellen Trout Zoo has done educational summer camps for elementary kids, Zoo Safari, to learn about animals and conservation. I helped with those camps when I was an Active in Jr League and it was one of my favorite “jobs”. When you are in Jr High you can apply, for a limited number of spots, to be a Jr. Zoo Keeper for a 2 week period during the summer. The kids get to work with the animals, feed them and go with the staff “behind the scenes” in the habitats. Both Lauren and Taylor enjoyed participating in both of these programs that the Henley’s started. They have been Directors at the zoo for over 30 yrs and our zoo has won many awards from their and the staff’s hard work.
Lauren hated bugs/insects that flew… like june bugs, “skeeter eaters”, moths, bumble bees…pretty much any flying bug. She would run, scream and do anything, including push someone in the bug’s path, to get away from the bug…lol. In Jr Zookeeper you got to pick two areas you wanted to work in and one of her choices was always the Snake House. That girl played with snakes, non-poisonous and under supervision, but was so afraid of flying bugs….go figure….lol.
Speaking of music and how it moves me. We now have a small bungalow in Fredericksburg and we go back and forth between our homes in the Hill Country and the Pineywoods of Texas. A few weeks ago I went to hear one of my favorite musicians, john Arthur martinez. (Yes I capitalized his name correctly, read his Bio to see why) He plays about once a month at Fiesta Winery on 290 outside Fredericksburg. If I’m in town I like to go hear him and his fellow musician, Chris, play and sing. They both can pick a mean acoustic guitar and Arthur does most of the singing. I didn’t know much about his Bio except he had several albums and has been playing and singing for many years. I was trying to find the name of one of his songs, which this story is about, when I learned more about him besides the facts of he can sing, play and writes his own songs. In 2004, on the TV talent show Nashville Star, he wound up beating Miranda Lambert for second place. He has traveled the world and shared stages with artist from Dwight Yoakam to Elton John…and Emma Lou Harris because he wrote a song about her guitar.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and when I walked up I gave a small wave and Arthur nodded his headat me as he sang. He knows me by face from being there on several occasions and our small conversations. He is always friendly and chats with his listeners when he is on breaks. I was sitting outside listening to the guys and was on the porch area with them but over to the side about 15- 20 ft away. Most of the tables on the ground were full of people. I had been listening about 30 minutes when a couple sat down beside me. Between songs I spoke a sentence or two to them saying how much I enjoy hearing the guys. They agreed they were both talented. At times Arthur gives the back story to the song he wrote and is about to sing. He starts telling how a little while back he was a HS Tennis Coach and one year they had 4 students die in a short period of time. How hard it was on their classmates, staff and him because he knew these students. How they were too young to die so tragically. How he wrote a song for them but used different names. How he is now finally able to say their real names when he gives the back story to the song. It’s about spinning their wheels as they are raring to get out of High School and town to “start their life”. As I’m listening to him speak I start to tear up, it hits me deeply as a parent who lost a 21 yr old daughter. I can feel the parents pain…I know their anguish. It hurts me that their lives were cut short like Lauren’s…their potential… gone, the hopes and dreams you have for them…while never come to be…the major milestones in life…gone. As I listen to him sing I start to frequently wipe the tears from my face. I know the couple sees me because they have to look past me to see the musicians. After Arthur finishes his song I look their way and tell them I have never heard him sing that song before. How it deeply touched me because I had lost my 21 yr old daughter. They said they thought that might be the reason for the tears because they had seen the tattoo on my leg and how sorry they were for my loss. We chatted some more before they left to head back home to San Antonio.
Life is precious and short, live it to the fullest. Don’t take any day for granted because we dont know when our time is up…only God knows that.