Ms Leslie Pavlasek ~ SFA ’22-’23

Leslie Pavlasek SFA Recipient

Meet one of our two SFA Recipients for this year. Leslie Pavlasek is a Senior this year and is a well rounded student. She enjoys cooking, plays trombone and is in the Marching and Roaring Buzzsaw Pep Band. You will notice her right hand is purple from the Big DIP celebration when she received her SFA ring.

Her answer to an SFA form question touched my heart. The question was: If you had two minutes with the donor, what would you say to him/her?

Leslie’s answer: I would thank them for the generous gift they are giving me. I would like to learn more history about their daughter, her legacy at SFA and give them my condolences.

You can read her thank you note and learn her and her Mom’s struggles after losing their home in a tornado. I’m glad we can play a small part in helping her reach her goal of becoming a culinary instructor one day.


Grannie Joy ~ Joy Fredrick

I’ve started this post several times.  I can’t seem to figure out where to start.  In the beginning or at the end…at what year…in what place?  On top of the fact how do you say all you want to…without it turning into a book…although that is what she deserves and more!!  But she would only want Jesus to shine…not her!  And He did shine through her, in so many ways, to each and every person, multiple thousands I’m sure, she encountered in her life.  And add to that the untold numbers that benefitted from the ripple effect of her giving heart, as she served and shared, to spread His love.

I’ll start with…We are sad our mentor and friend, Joy Fredrick, passed from this earth on August 17th.  We’re sad because we can’t see her, hear her infectious laugh or speak with her again.  We had plans go to Colorado this past July, she was on the list of people to visit but a personal issue came up and we weren’t able to go.  We are sad we didn’t get to see and hug her one last time.  But we know she is happy and well in her Heavenly home.  I can easily imagine her walking the streets of gold, talking to her “neighbors”, laughing, whooping it up and hanging out with her BFF…Jesus, her Lord and Savior…and the rest of the Heavenly family.  She isn’t sad and wouldn’t want us to be either.  She loved and served her Lord every day.  I have no doubt when He welcomed her home, with open arms, He said “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I have known Grannie Joy, as she liked to be called, since I was in elementary school and lived in the same neighborhood.  She had peacocks in her yard, I think some just migrated from her neighbors the Tinkle’s yard.  I would warn my friends spending the night, don’t be scared if they heard screaming…it was just the peacocks hollering…lol.  I sold her and other neighbors rocks I had picked up from someone’s driveway.  I used those nickels, dimes and quarters, if I was lucky, to go to the corner store and buy a little, brown bag’s worth of penny candy.  I also picked up the beautiful molted, “eye” peacock tail feathers and sold them to other neighbors…for you guessed it…penny candy.

Later in life, married with small children, we ran into Grannie Joy one day.  In catching up she invited us to First United Methodist Church and the Sunday School class she taught.  She and Charles, her husband, taught the Serendipity Class, for many, many years.  We weren’t happy where we were attending church so we tried her class and ended up joining the church.  Lauren and Taylor were about four and two, respectively, and we all grew up under her guidance and mentoring.  She got us all involved helping and participating in church activities and missions through the years.  We played roles in An Evening in Bethlehem the church put on each December.  We built wheelchair ramps, cooked quarterly for God-Tel, a local shelter, helped put on VBS at smaller churches, painted houses for people in need and more.  Once our SS Class even raised money to buy a man a good, used mobile home because we couldn’t repair his.  Grannie Joy had an infectious laugh, joy and spirit about her and it could be hard to tell her “No” sometimes…lol.  So we did all kinds of things…loving almost every minute of it…sometimes it was hot, sweaty, dirty work.  If you were on the receiving end and tried to turn her down…”Don’t deny me my blessing” was her favorite phrase!  She truly wanted to “bless you” with had she had or could do for you because she wanted to share and spread the love of Jesus.  She had a servant’s heart and was truly the hands and feet of Christ.

Grannie Joy & Lauren
Confirmation Sunday April 2000

Lauren picked and asked Grannie Joy to be her Mentor, a year long commitment, for Confirmation in sixth grade.  Lauren had made a profession of faith and had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior in the third grade.  That Christmas Grannie Joy gave Lauren a hand beaded, scalloped sea shell ornament…a symbol of baptism in Christianity…and still hangs on our tree every Christmas.   Grannie Joy delighted in Lauren accepting Jesus and helped her grow her faith even more.  As her mentor, they got together several times a month, visited and did activities together.   They would go see Grannie Joy’s Nun friends at the Infant of the Monastery Jesus. They took food to the bereaved in the church or to people in need.  They baked cookies for Kairos, a prison ministry.   Sometimes they would just go get ice cream and chat.   It was a very special year for Lauren and I believe Grannie Joy too…they formed a tight bond.  At the end of their year together she gave Lauren a James Avery Fleuree Cross charm and necklace.  I have no doubt that was very likely the start of Lauren’s love of JA Jewelry.   She loved and wore that cross necklace often and had it on when she passed away.  I now wear that cross, with a new chain because it was broken in the hospital, every day since Lauren passed 11 years ago.  Only taking it off to clean it periodically but putting it right back on.  It’s a special piece that is now doubled…in memory of my daughter and a dear family friend…it’s value to me is immeasurable. 

Charles and Joy moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2005 to be near their two sons and families.  We all missed them dearly but kept in contact, catching up on each other’s lives, by emails and phone calls, several times a year.  We went to go see them in September of 2009 and visited for several days.  She happily showed us her new church there and where she helped homeless individuals in her community.   They were enjoying their new lives and activities, their sons, grandchildren and soon great grands.  Funny story here:  We went to Colorado, in our RV, in the summer of 1998 and one stop was a few nights in Manitou Springs, which is near Colorado Springs.  We went into a Sam’s Club for supplies and Bryan spotted a young teenager with a Crown Colony t-shirt on.  He said ” I gotta ask them how they got the t-shirt and tell them we are from Lufkin.”  Well low and behold…it was their granddaughter and daughter-in-law…we all had a good laugh!!  Later we called Grannie Joy, back in Lufkin, and told her who we had run into in Colorado…lol.

As most of you know Lauren died from injuries sustained in a 4-wheeler wreck on March 7th, 2010.  She was an honors student at Stephen F Austin State University and about to graduate in August with a degree in Hospitality Management.   Because she was so close to being finished,  SFASU posthumously graduated her in May 2010.  After a brief explanation from the University President, he and Dr. Roy Dean Alston, her grandfather who had taught there for 40 years, handed her diploma to Taylor and Bryan Alston, her brother and father.. amid a standing ovation from the whole stadium.  Had Grannie Joy still lived in Lufkin she would have been one of the first ones at the hospital and our house, doing anything and everything she could to help us through that tragic event in our lives.  Because you never expect to bury a child, you don’t think about planning their funeral, you’re not prepared and are in shock.   But we knew quickly, in the planning stage, we wanted Grannie Joy to do the Eulogy and Clay Walker, her former Youth Pastor to handle her service.  Thankfully she said “Yes, I will do this for you and Lauren” and so she flew in from Colorado.   She did a wonderful job speaking from her heart, about Lauren, their experiences together and Jesus.  

Grannie Joy was also the kind of person who personally hand wrote letters, cards and notes and I still have some I received through the years.  Her handwriting is pretty and so destintive.  One letter is even more special than all the others.   When she arrived from Colorado to do Lauren’s eulogy she came to our home and gave us the letter and told us what it said.   She said, with a strained half laugh, “You might think I’m crazy when I tell you this.”  She had heard about Lauren’s accident on Saturday and had been praying for her since then.  She went to church on Sunday morning and had her church praying too.  After she got home from church she sat on the steps leading down to her livingroom, looking out the big picture windows, at the big, puffy, white clouds.   She was praying for Him to heal Lauren’s body and for us and Taylor.  She said “Jesus, I give you my friend in faith Lauren, I’m trusting you and handing her into your care for you know what is best for her.”  She continued to pray and a few minutes later she said, “Y’all I saw in those beautiful, puffy, white clouds Lauren running into Jesus’s arms.  Just plain as day, I saw it.”  We briefly sat there stunned, soaking it in…then started crying.  We told her “No, we don’t think you’re crazy and we believe you.  What you saw is a comfort to us and confirmation of where she is…with Jesus in Heaven.”   

Grannie Joy impacted our lives and we will never forget her! She was a beautiful woman inside and outside. She lived her faith every day and we will honor her memory by continuing her legacy of helping others.

Joy Anderson Fredrick Obituary

PS: I’m going to miss her comments on my blogs. She always had positive and encouraging words to say. Her last comment was a post in February.

Love you…I’m gonna miss you my friend! 💛❤💛

Ainsley and Butterflies

Spreading her wings to fly

Lauren liked to babysit, kid sit really, and had several families she sat for. Ainsley and Preston Miller were two of her favorite kiddos. Tammy and David, their parents, were like second parents to Lauren, definitely the “cooler parents” over Bryan and I. They were more like older siblings that she went to for advice and guidance. The whole family loved on and cared for my girl…I’m thankful for the special connection they had.

Ainsley has danced since she was very young. Lauren went to see her in The Nutcracker.

Ainsley graduated from Lufkin High School this year. She loves to design and sew clothing and even sewed her prom dress, a beautiful blue and black lace dress, this year. Lauren had “a love thing” for James Avery jewelry so we thought a sewing machine charm was perfect for Ainsley’s graduation gift.

I also wanted to give her a piece of Lauren’s own personal jewelry. I chose a silver butterfly bracelet with pink, peach and green ribbons on it. I thought it looked like something Ainsley would wear and might enjoy.

I didn’t want to risk these special items getting lost in the mail. So I sent them back with Taylor, our son and also close with the Miller’s, to personally deliver them to Ainsley. Taylor chatted a few minutes with Ainsley and Tammy and left before Ainsley opened her gift. She immediately started crying when she saw the butterfly bracelet, which was the first thing she saw in the box. Tammy was concerned and asked her what was wrong. She said ” I didn’t think I would ever see this bracelet again. Lauren would let me wear it and play with it when she babysat. One time Preston was watching a movie I didn’t like and she gave it to me to play with while we sat watching the movie.” Tammy had no idea of that connection and memory of that bracelet for Ainsley…nor did I, when I chose it for her. She also got out a butterfly hair clip to show her Mom, that was Lauren’s, and she had given to Ainsley one time while sitting for the family. Neither Tammy or I knew about that little gift either.

Ainsley called me immediately to share about her memories with the butterfly bracelet. We were all blown away and crying about the significance of the bracelet. I’m so glad I picked that particular piece of Lauren’s jewelry for Ainsley. It was a God wink, for all of us, for sure!

And of course she loved the sewing machine charm and it’s currently being added to her charm bracelet. She also thanked me for both gifts, one priceless and one special. We also chatted about how excited she was to be attending Texas Women’s University in the fall.

Ainsley is leaving her cocoon and spreading her wings to fly. One day when she is a famous designer, maybe she will wear that butterfly bracelet while showing her new design collection on a New York runway .

Beautiful Ms. Ainsley Miller

LHS 2020 – Alexis Ferguson

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.


Face Masks

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.

20200417_152543My 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

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!

The Other Side of the World


 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.

We have HOPE


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.

Example of a water well. You can see a plaque, for another person, in the second picture.

The John 4:14 Foundation : Life Giving Water around the World : Awesome!!

.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!!

SFA Culinary Cafe

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

30 today…at 9:58 pm


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…20180518_083006-1

Sarah Withem – LHS 2018


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.” 20180516_153433-1She 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.

The Zoo

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.


Not a snake but a live tarantula in her hand.