Category: Whitney (Page 1 of 11)

A Night with the Greatest

I’ve got three or four pretty good Emmitt Smith stories from my mediocre sports radio career and I added to the list last night with our oldest daughter Whitney. The all-time greatest running back in NFL history was in town for the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series at Midland College, and our favorite math professor, Lori Thomas, got us a pair of VIP passes for the event.

Emmitt stopped by the pre-event reception to take pictures with us and he was kind enough to pretend like he remembered me from my time at KRLD. Maybe. There were a lot of us in and out of Valley Ranch back in those days, but the longer we talked, the more he seemed to recognize me. He was mostly surprised to hear that I’m preaching. Most people are. And he was kind enough to autograph my press pass from the day he broke Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record against the Seahawks at Texas Stadium. It was the first and only time in my 16-years in sports radio that every person in the press box stood and applauded an athlete on the field. A special day.

Whitney doesn’t remember Emmitt Smith’s playing days. When he left the Cowboys the season before Bill Parcells took over for Dave Campo, she was nine. But she’s seen all the highlights and heard all the stories. She laughed out loud several times during Emmitt’s talk and her eyes lit up when he talked about Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, when he mentioned familiar names like Jerry Jones and Roger Staubach. She was especially locked in while listening to the story about the separated shoulder game against the Giants – an expertly delivered first hand account. I guess it was her first time to hear about that legendary performance and she was riveted. We debriefed it all the way home – she asking questions, me telling her my memories of that afternoon.

They don’t make ’em like Emmitt Smith anymore. Three Super Bowl victories, league and championship MVPs, Cowboys Ring of Honor, Pro Football Hall of Fame. His rushing records for most ever yards and most ever touchdowns in NFL history will never be threatened. He was durable, dependable, tenacious, and focused. Not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest. Just the undeniably best to ever do it. And still a really nice guy.



Round Seven and Zach Williams

We bought the Zach Williams concert tickets before Carrie-Anne was diagnosed with cancer, before we knew that, when the date rolled around, we’d be in the middle of chemotherapy and cold cap treatments every Friday for twelve straight weeks. When I ran into a friend in the lobby of the Wagner-Noel last night he said, “Didn’t Carrie-Anne have her chemo today? She must be doing really well.” Truthfully, nothing was going to keep her from that show – Zach Williams is by far her favorite artist. And, by the way, she is doing really well.

Yesterday was Round Seven of the sixteen total infusions Carrie-Anne will receive as part of her treatment. And, so far, the side effects have been minimal, if at all. She is generally only having issues with the even-numbered infusions, and that is only some nausea and minor bone and muscle aches that usually begin overnight Friday and run through Sunday afternoon. We met with Dr. Manny on Thursday and all of C-A’s blood tests and lab numbers are perfect. As far as they can tell, everything is working exactly like it’s supposed to. In addition, the cold caps are doing their job, too – she hasn’t lost one strand of hair! The frozen gloves and slippers are also proving effective as her fingernails and toenails are not just holding their own, they’re growing! There is a cumulative effect on her energy we’re noticing. It is taking her a few hours more every week to feel back to normal. But Carrie-Anne is working four days a week and, overall, we both feel very confident and grateful for where we are and how things are going.

As for the concert, Zach Williams always puts on a good show. Four guitars, three horns, keys and drums, background singers, and steel guitar gives the whole thing a really full sound. It’s kind of a Southern Rock / Country sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Dierks Bentley. I like the lyrics to most of his songs – fear really is a liar and we really could use a little more up there down here – and he seems to be a sincerely humble guy who wants to help people connect to our Lord through music. Carrie-Anne and Whitney both know every word to every song and I had a blast just enjoying my wife and my first-born daughter having so much fun.

Near the end of the show, Williams led his band and the whole crowd in a sharing of the communion meal. We were forced to use those terrible little rip ‘n’ sip communion kits, but it was okay. It was really good, in fact. Zach spoke about how the Church has distorted the communion meal, how we’ve conditioned ourselves to be silent and somber during the bread and cup when it was always intended by God to be a time of fellowship and sharing, a time of celebration and praise. At that point, Carrie-Anne leaned over and said, “He’s preaching your sermon.” I know. I was all in. So, Zach encouraged us to consider the Body, to remember the unity we share in Jesus, and to be alright with smiling and celebrating during the meal. And we did. The Body of Christ broken for you. The Blood of Christ given for you.

The only thing missing is for Zach to write a song based on Isaiah 25:6-9 or Exodus 24:8-11. I think I’ll send him a letter.




The Big Three-Oh

Our first-born daughter, Whitney Leigh-Anne, celebrated a significant milestone today, celebrating 30 years of life well-lived in God’s good world.  Whitney’s closest friends from our church family at GCR gathered at Travis and Donna’s house last night – more than thirty of us have been lying to Whitney for at least two weeks about this – and surprised her with a birthday party worthy of a 30th year.

Some of you know, Donna never does anything halfway. No, this shindig was over-the-top in a wonderful Donna McGraw  kind of way: oversized balloons and massive decorations; a feast of culinary marvel featuring Blue Sky sliders, burritos, chicken nuggets, salads, nachos, meatballs, banana pudding, and a beautiful birthday cake; and some of the very best people we’ve ever had the privilege to know.

Whitney broke down in a emotional combination laughing – panic attack when she opened the door and heard the “Surprise!” and saw so many people who love her so much. The Legg and Rampton kids who are just a small part of the Children’s Ministry with which she volunteers two or three times a week, were there. Good friends from Whitney’s small group, from our church ministry team, from her Gathering Group in the women’s ministry, her friends and peers who hang with her at restaurants, coffee shops, and game nights, and several representatives from her second family, the McGraws, were all there to wish our girl a happy birthday.

And, of course, true to GCR fashion, we needed a couple of U-Haul trailers to cart all the gifts back home.

Happy Birthday, Whit. Your mom and I thank our Lord every day for the love and the joy we’ve been able to share with you for the past thirty years. You are a blessing of genuine warmth and happiness to us and to everyone who knows you. We love you, girl.






To our congregation at Golf Course Road, thank you for the way you love our daughter. Thank you for the acceptance, the community, and the belonging with which you have welcomed her into your lives. It is a reflection of the glory of our God, it is an expression of the love of Christ for his people, and it is an answer to our prayers.



Sunday at GCR

Our GCR children’s minister sent me this picture of our Whitney yesterday reading to the kids at Children’s Worship.

This is Whitney’s life. Her passion and her identity. Being a ten-year cashier at United Market Street and a five-tool volunteer in our children’s ministry. We are so grateful to Kristin and Ashlee for using Whitney in creative ways here. And we praise God for what he is doing in and through our first born daughter.

Fun Club

As part of GCR’s “Breakthrough,” our church is partnering with Emerson Elementary School to provide needed resources and support for the teachers, staff, and the 420 students there and their families. We’re planning for our church members to serve as crossing guards and cafeteria aids on campus, to stock and organize the Care Closet, and to staple papers and make copies for the teachers. We’re providing teacher lunches and weekend food packages for the kids. We’re putting together a “Fist Bump Crew” to greet the students as they enter the campus on Monday mornings. And we’re committed to completely renovate their interior courtyard, to provide a beautiful space where kids can eat breakfast or lunch with their parents and where we can read with them through Fun Club.

Fun Club is a program through which an adult or two eats lunch once a week with a group or four or five students and reads to them during the meal. You eat with this small group of kids, you laugh together and bond a little bit, and you read. That’s it.

Our children’s minister, Kristin Rampton, and our oldest daughter, Whitney, are already plugged into Fun Club at Emerson. This picture is of Whitney reading to a small group of second-graders earlier today. Does that warm your heart, or what?

Are you telling me you can’t do something like this once a week? Don’t tell me. Tell Whitney.



Take a Pitch!

Whitney and I took a baseball road trip to Arlington this past weekend to take in the Rangers and White Sox at that horribly ugly thing they call the new ballpark. And, of course, we had a blast.


We sang Beatles songs together all the way to Fort Worth. We put on our Rangers gear and ate extra cheesy enchiladas at Pappasito’s, our traditional pre-game meal destination. We arrived at that atrocious barn early enough to take a lap around the concourse and comment on all the things we despise about the Rangers’ new digs. We waved at Chuck Morgan in his bulletproof P.A. booth. Whitney bought a Corey Seager t-shirt and I bought a 50th anniversary edition of the Rangers yearbook. And we watched Texas lose 2-1.

The Rangers scored a run on two hits in the first inning, giving us hope for an exciting game and maybe, just maybe, a Rangers win. But then our boys managed only one hit the rest of the way to lose by one. Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the 8th when the White Sox pitcher lost control. He walked two guys and plunked a batter to put the tying run at 3rd base and the potential game-winning run at 2nd. But Leody Taveras chopped at the first pitch he saw and grounded into the inning-ending and, ultimately, game-ending out.

The Chicago pitcher was on the ropes. He was wild. He had walked two and hit one. And with the bases loaded, down one run, in the bottom of the 8th, Taveras didn’t even take one pitch. He didn’t even look. He swung away and bounced it to short. And the game was over.

But I was with Whitney. And a bad day at the ballpark  – even a bad ballpark – is still better than a good day almost anywhere else.



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