Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. – Mother Teresa

Posts tagged ‘Amarillo’

My 15 Minutes of Fame … Spotlight in Amarillo Magazine – November 2013

Stephanie Swindell

Stephanie Swindell
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Rainbow Room coordinator, book lover, wife

As Community Partners coordinator of the Amarillo Child Protective Services Rainbow Room, Stephanie Swindell manages the emergency resource room that assists some of the area’s most vulnerable children and families. Created in 1996 by Community Partners of Amarillo, the Rainbow Room was only the second such room in Texas at its launch. It provides clothing, diapers, baby formula, school supplies, cribs, and more for abused or neglected children and their families.

“I love what the Rainbow Room does and I love being a part of it,” Stephanie says. “The most fulfilling part of my job is being a part of an organization that is making a difference in the lives of children in our community. Every day a child benefits from the donations given to the Rainbow Room.” On any given week, the Room might provide a stuffed animal for a frightened child who has escaped a home of cruelty or neglect, or groceries for a single mom struggling to keep her kids fed.

Stephanie praises the compassionate CPS caseworkers who endure tremendously challenging jobs. “They might be summoned during the night to rescue a child or to help a family escape an abusive situation,” she says. “Children often enter the foster care system with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.” In such cases, even the smallest comfort – a quilt, a teddy bear – can make a difference.

In 2000, Stephanie first encountered the Rainbow Room while volunteering with the Junior League of Amarillo. “It was close to my heart then, and never really left,” she says. At the time, she owned and operated A Book to Remember, a small second-hand bookstore. Sales dropped following the advent of e-readers, so Stephanie sold her inventory of books and looked for a career change. “When I heard that the position [at the Rainbow Room] was open for the first time in 16 years, I was thrilled,” she explains. “I have a passion for this project. My heart is here.”

When not providing for children in CPS care, Stephanie enjoys the company of her husband, Victor, with whom she graduated from Amarillo High School in 1985. Were they high school sweethearts? “No,” Stephanie laughs. “At our 10-year reunion, we were voted ‘most unlikely couple to couple.’ But I guess we’re doing something right.” The Swindells are the parents of Shelby, 22, and Sawyer Beth, 20.

Q&A

Right now, I’m listening to… a song on my iPhone – “Come to the River” by Rhett Walker Band.

My friends and family call me… “Steph.” Some of my family still calls me “Sissy.”

My favorite meal to make from scratch is… breakfast for dinner.

In an alternate life, I would’ve been a… storm chaser or private investigator.

The most famous or interesting person I’ve ever met is… I have seen a few famous people but never officially met anyone famous. I am most interested in the lives of our kids.

If I had an open plane ticket to anywhere, I would go to… Ambergris Caye, Belize.

My go-to stress reliever is… music.

One of my favorite childhood toys was… my Spirograph, Shrinky Dinks or Lite-Brite.

My favorite most-quotable movie is… “You’ve Got Mail.”

If I were a character in a book, I would be… when I was a child, I always wanted to be Pippi Longstocking. She was pretty cool.

The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received is… my prayers are more powerful than my presence.

You may be surprised to know that I… used to own a bookstore and I love to read.

I know every word to the song… “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

My favorite bad-for-me-food is… chips and dip.

My Facebook friend count is… 1,302.

I’m secretly addicted to the TV series… “Parenthood.”

If I had a time machine I would travel… back to the ’80s – if I knew then what I know now.

by Jason Boyett
Jason Boyett is an Amarillo writer and the author of “O Me of Little Faith, Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse,” and several other books. Jason’s writing has appeared in a variety of national publications including The Daily Beast, Salon, and The Washington Post. A former creative director in the local advertising industry, his work can also be seen on Amarillo billboards, heard in Amarillo radio ads, and followed in celebrity social media streams he’s not allowed to divulge. Jason is currently writing a young adult novel, and has known his wife, Aimee, since both were preschoolers in an Amarillo church nursery. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.

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Mere Seed Planter

Sometimes it’s about the little things. Smiling at someone or going a little out of my way for a person are both things that can make a difference in a person’s life. Sometimes I know what another person is going through and so I make a conscious effort to help, and other times I may not know the effect I can make on someone just by giving some love!
Sometimes I can make a difference in a child’s life by purchasing a pair of prom shoes for her and taking her to lunch. Some days its to throw together a last-minute birthday party for a little girl who feels forgotten. Some days its to help one of my own kids solve a problem lovingly and let them know I find my peace in trusting God and they can too. Some days its to just listen to a friend that needs to be heard. Sometimes its to come up with something really funny to make someone laugh out loud that hasn’t had much to laugh about lately. The love in our hearts can be shared by our actions everyday.

In the past it has been hard for me to let go… actually, it’s still hard when it comes to my kids and even other children or friends. I not only want to plant a seed, but I have felt it my responsibility to impose protection and see it through to full harvest. I worry, become anxious and over-analyze what will happen and how I can help move things along in a positive way… I think because #1 I don’t like to leave anything unfinished, and #2 I like a happy ending.

I have found that in the place God has me right now, it is my job to plant a seed, and sometimes that’s it. Plant the seed.
Being a mere seed planter is an important job, and is actually a hard job sometimes too. I have to let go… I have to trust and have faith that the growth and harvest are happening in God’s time and that I may or may not be a part of that.
It’s far beyond my job description to actually grow the plant and harvest the fruits. I am a mere seed planter, and I take it seriously with all my heart.

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A Season of Change – posted 8/1/2009

A Season of Change – published 8/1/09

Friday, April 19, 2013

5:09 PM

I’m going through a season of change. So many changes in such a short time has really had a huge effect on me.

I have decided to start a blog as an outlet for some of my building feelings that I may not want to air on Facebook.

6 weeks ago I sold my bookstore. On Monday, May 18th, after many emails, a man and his wife walked in and gave me a down payment on the bookstore. I than began packing up and getting ready to u-haul the books to Spring Branch outside of San Antonio.

I also had my oldest son graduating that weekend.

My emotions were and still are a roller coaster of feelings. I’m up … I’m down… I feel like laughing, I feeling screaming with excitement, I feel like crying, I feel like I might throw up, I feel like I might fall, I smile, and I hold on tight.

I just feel so out of control. I have no idea what God has planned for me.

When I first opened the store, everything fell into place.

I could see God’s hand in every step of the way. He opened doors and everything went so smoothly there was no doubt in my mind he was at work… But then when the economy started getting bad, I said, “oh people who read will always read. I will probably do even better because I can sell them gently used books at a better price and they will come here instead of the big chain stores.” But when that never happened I felt so lost. So finally I said, “ok God, I will put it out there and if someone wants to buy it and I can get out without owing everyone money…I will let it go.” Sometimes you just have to let go and let God.

SO I let go.

Then everyone I know and DON’T know asked me, “Why did you close the store?” “What are you gonna do now?” They would say, “I’m sad, now where will I take my books.” I would smile and say “I’m sorry I’m sad too, but it’s for the best.” What I really wanted to say was, “well, if some of you were more into BUYING instead of bringing in your old books then maybe I could have survived!” Also, I noticed over the years, oddly enough I have tons of friends that read, however not very many of them at all shopped in my store. They were still shopping at BN, Hastings, Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Target. Partly for convenience I’m sure, but so many locals talk the talk of SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS however, few actually do. I felt like I was going through steps of Loss… first shock, then sadness, then aggravation (I wanted so badly to yell “POSERS!” at some of these people.) Next…I looked for the good in the situation.

Always the glass is half full kind of girl, I just smile and say, “I know God has a plan, I feel blessed that I had a buyer and that it all went so smoothly. I am ready for my new adventure.”

Now, I’m feeling a little scared and ready for God to reveal whatever it is I’m supposed to do. I keep telling myself…” ENJOY THE JOURNEY ON THE WAY TO WHERE YOU ARE GOING!…” and then I say… “easier said than done! ” (sigh)

On top of this change, My first baby is going to be leaving in a little over two weeks to start his life as an adult. He will be going to culinary school in Odessa four hours away.

I am so thrilled for him, but again I feel a loss. Our little family unit will never ever be the same. He has already somewhat detached… he is gone all the time. With your first baby, you just don’t realize what is just around the corner or you would savor certain moments in time that you didn’t even realize where important or the last time it would ever be. I feel a lot of regret of things I always said we would do, but never had the money to do.

I am sad not only for what will never be again, but because he is so different now. I really am so proud of him and how far he has come in the past two years. There was a time I really thought I was losing him. But I would give anything for him to love me the way he did when he was little. Sometimes when he has said something horrible or hurt my feelings badly, I will close my eyes and picture that blond-headed little boy running to me with his arms wide open and yelling “Mommy!” oh so excited to see me.

Then there is my sweet 16 baby girl. Sometimes I feel that through all that has gone on, I have somehow overlooked certain things with her because she is so easy. I do actually spend more time with her, but I’m afraid it’s not enough. There are so many things I want to do for her that I thought was going to be easy, but now with finances not at all where we thought they would be… are becoming very difficult to do. She gets very upset when I talk about finances… and it’s not something a child or teen should have to worry about, but I want her to know the reality of things so she isn’t shell-shocked someday when things don’t always work out the way we plan.

I have been applying for jobs and let me just say that it is very humbling to be out there at 42 trying to get hired by a 25-year-old. I am working temporarily for my sister’s company and it has been oh so humbling. I have cried most days in the car on my way home. Maybe I’m having a pity party for myself, but I just thought I would be in such a different place at this point in my life and instead I am starting over.

I have been trying to speak positive thoughts and any time something negative comes to mind I try my best to push it out of my mind.

I think that the stress of all this has finally affected me physically too. My back went out and has been an issue for about a week and a half now. I started off with back pain and a severe bladder infection, then I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic and my throat started to swell shut…I then had a panic attack because I thought I was dying… after several doses of Benadryl and a trip to minor emergency, and a steroid shot, I found out that on top of my infection and allergic reaction that the pain in my back is from something muscular or skeletal… Probably my sciatic nerve. I have been on muscle relaxers for a week now.

I am daily looking at the want ads, hoping my dream job will show up. I’ve dropped off my resume at several shops around town.. not knowing what my dream job is… but knowing it is definitely not in the apartment business. I don’t have the killer instinct to do that job. I want everyone to have a home. I want to help people when they ask my opinion instead of saying nothing because legally I can’t …I want to believe everyone because ultimately I’m one of those people who tries to see the best in everyone… therefore it would be easy to take advantage of me in this field thus the reason I’m not cut out for this. I need something more creative. Something that makes me feel good about who I am and what I’m doing… I want to make a difference… even if it’s in a small way.

Working in the bookstore gave me that creative outlet. I listened when an old man just needed someone to hear him, I listened to the middle-aged woman so wrapped up in the romance books she wanted to tell me every detail of the book she just read, I loved finding a book for a child and making them smile. I love doing my art work and I loved that it was my own store and I could be me. I loved that if I wanted to give my opinion or speak of my faith it was ok. I don’t like policies and rules that are laws. I feel all rules are bent to be bent if the situation arises.

and they always do in my world.

I want to feel like myself again.

I will say that I love being at home more. For the last year I was working about 50 to 60 hours a week at the bookstore. My family was neglected , my home was neglected my health was neglected. I just pray that I can find a part-time job that will provide me with an income to help Victor, and I pray I can have more time at home to be the mom and wife I want to be again without the stress of looking for a job. The way it is now, I’ve been home, but spend almost every waking hour looking for a job, or stressing over not having one, instead of enjoying my time at home. This is because of finances I know… It would be great if Victor was offered a job that made more, then I could just concentrate on the things I love doing.

I have noticed that I have become distant with a lot of my friends and family throughout all of this. (accept for my husband and the kids). I just don’t want to talk until I have something good to say. I always feel like they want to console me but instead it just makes me feel more like crap and so I avoid them. I have started getting rid of negative influences.. that has been very helpful. It’s hard to stay positive with negative surroundings.

So back to what I need to end this with… I need to enjoy the journey on the way to where I’m going.

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From <http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=295661426999928395>

ALSO IN COMMENTS:

The very month I wrote this, I got a job with an old friend from high school. I started working at Marcella Furs with my friend Marcie. I worked sales and then advanced into her marketing director. I had many new experiences there and I know now God meant for me to be there for a temporary time. It was good for the store and it was good for me spiritually too. I was there for about a year.  Then…. the job I feel I was waiting for all along finally became available. In November 2010 I was hired as the Community Partners Coordinator for the CPS rainbow room. I love what I do… my prayers for a job that I felt I could make a difference were finally answered. Everyday is a new challenge… and some days are better than others.. but I love it. I was able to live my dream of owning my own bookstore… and now I can help others in a way I never thought possible. My son went to culinary school and moved back to Amarillo, and he is now a grill chef at Cracker Barrel and doing great… we are closer now that he is older. I love him with all my heart and he loves me too.  We still have our moments… and to be honest… can only take each other in small doses… probably because he is a lot like I was growing up… and I am constantly struggling to help him not have to go through life the hard way…but he has to learn his own way.. and he will. He is doing great and I am so proud of him. My daughter, Sawyer Beth has been going to Amarillo College for 2 years and is about to start WTAMU. She is an Art education major. She just got promoted to full-time “commercial teller” at Amarillo National Bank. I am so very proud of her. She feels my heart with joy and we are still very close. We genuinely love each others company. She is my best girlfriend.

Victor is still my rock. He stands by me and supports me in everything I say and do. My life would not be complete without him by my side. Thanks God, good job putting us together. :) April, 21st, 2013.

 

I’m Married to Mr. Wilson not Mr. Swindell – Posted January 6, 2009

I’m married to Mr. Wilson not Mr. Swindell.

by Stephanie Hayes Swindell (Notes) on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 3:53pm

New Years Eve we had stayed home as usual. Victor had gone to bed around 10 pm and I had to wake him at 11:58pm to come watch the ball drop, kiss me & toast a glass of Sparkling cider with me. He grudgingly obliged my need to celebrate for the two minutes with a sleepy smile.
New Years Day Morning I was happily “sleeping in” when I was awakened by the neighborhood kids outside… playing and yelling. Victor sprang from the bed … ran to the window… and peeked through the mini blinds… and said, ” those kids are rolling around in my yard! and swinging on the branch of our tree! they are going to get it!” so he runs down the hall. I lay there… not wanting to get out of bed but listening… wondering whats going to happen next…? is he going to confront the kids and ask them not to play in our yard?… no not Victor… instead I hear the kids all scream at the same time and I hear them running away…. he comes laughing back into the bedroom. I said “what did you do?” He said, ” I turned the sprinklers on them.” I giggled and said… “Come back to bed Mr. Wilson.”
(just incase you weren’t aware… I’m referring to Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace)
Oh, and I told him I was going to write this story and he said that’s fine as long as I tell his side of the story. SO…. He works hard to keep his yard looking good and they break the sprinkler heads and damage the grass… and that’s his side of the story. THE END 😉

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The Last Point – Posted – November 1, 2008

The Last Point.

by Stephanie Hayes Swindell (Notes) on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 7:29pm

The Last Point

I am at work this beautiful Saturday morning working a full day without much sleep after arriving home at 3 AM this morning from an out-of-town football game. I am overcome with emotion today as I was all night last night.
This was my son’s first year to play football at Arbor Christian. It was his first year to play football since 8th grade actually and this year he is a senior.
He is the kicker for the team and plays defense.
When he played football at Bonham the coach there seemed to be unfair and only concerned with politics. Needless to say, Shelby started to lose faith in adults and what we had taught him about fairness. He then wrestled his freshman year at Amarillo High School, but because he couldn’t keep his grades up, his coach told him that he was off the team and to come back if he could get his priorities straight. The coach didn’t have time to help a struggling student and he needed to focus on winning matches. We were active in the booster club and had worked on the fundraiser and dedicated our time to helping already yet the coach never discussed the situation with us. This broke some of Shelby’s spirit and he started to lose confidence in who he was. He sort of gave up at that point. He was falling through the cracks. He struggled to find where he belonged. He was lost in many ways, he didn’t know what his goals were, he wasn’t involved in any sport for the first time since he was three and he was slowly fading away. I felt like I was losing him. I cried out to God and soon he answered my prayer.
Once I decided to take him out of public school… I was finally led by the Holy Spirit to call Arbor. Several months before, I had read an article in the paper about Arbor Christian and the name change and another school. I had cut out the article and held on to it for months. I was sure why at the time, but I know why now. The Lord was already at work. After talking to the superintendent of one of the other private schools, I was feeling hopeless. He steered me away from his school and even steered me away from Arbor. Based on what I had told him about Shelby and his grades, he said that Shelby was going to be too far behind to succeed at his school. I asked him about Arbor and he said I don’t think Shelby would be “a good fit” at Arbor either… he directed me to a few small “unaccredited” schools. I was distraught. I literally lifted my hands to Jesus and cried “please Lord, Guide me.” I then sat there quite for a few minutes and decided, I’m going to call Arbor anyways, the worst they can do is turn us away. So I called. I spoke to Renee Whitaker who immediately made me comfortable. I spoke briefly of the situation, and she said, “come on down anytime, I will show you around and answer any questions you have, if you decide you’re interested you can set up a time to speak to our principal Jennifer Wilkerson.” I said “we are on our way!”
After speaking with Jennifer we felt the welcoming atmosphere immediately. We found our school home.
Last night was our last football game of the season. We had lost all but one game all season. We lost our game last night too. Shelby kicked the last point of the last game of the season, and for Shelby the last point of the last game of organized football he will most likely ever play.
For some parents and fans it was an end to a losing season….better luck next year.
For some senior parents it was the last game their child will play football.
Last night for me it was one of those rare moments in time that you wish you could stop time. Last night I absorbed and soaked it all in. For me it was not just the end of Shelby’s last game it was a moment in time that God gave me the privilege to witness and be apart of.
Our team always prays together after every game. They did so again as they always do, but then after the other players headed off to the locker room for showers, the small group of senior players, huddled together an even smaller group of the 8 senior players… they all had their arms around each other with tears in some of their eyes, took a turn and prayed aloud for each other and thanked God for their season together, I came close to take a picture of the beautiful sight and overheard my son closing his prayer and looking up to his team mates and saying “I love you guys”.
I no longer could hold back my tears…my heart swelled with pride for these young men… this team had not been defeated…no one was mad at anyone or blamed anyone for a bad play or season … they saw so much more in their football season… they had come together and played as a team and they were glorifying God.
Even more so for me, it was a moment in time that I will remember always. There are moments as a parent you make decisions you question, then there are the moments you almost hear God’s voice say, “see Stephanie, I led you and you followed. You were patient and allowed me to do my work, and I am doing it. See! Enjoy child… soak it up.”
Shelby has grown so very much. He is a different young man now than he was one year ago when we first transferred him to Arbor from public high school. With guidance and respect for him as an individual, Arbor has allowed him to grow into the Christian young man who God wants Shelby to be. His strengths are glorified and his weaknesses are strengthened. Coach Rives has become a mentor to him. He admires him and discusses his decisions and problems with him. I am so thankful Coach Rives is in Shelby’s life. All of the coaches are that way. They are incredible men. Because of the strong personal relationships Shelby has with the teachers, staff and coaches at Arbor, he has learned to handle things more maturely and realized that adults can be your friends too. He has made plans for his future and he is really happy for the first time in a long time. The past three months have been the best time I have had with Shelby since he reached puberty.
He still is a teenager 100 % and needs guidance on many things, but God has provided him with the exact person in each situation and experience, each time to help him along the way. God has shown Shelby a way of a better life and because of that he makes better decisions now than he would have a year ago. Shelby still struggles some with his grades, but with grace and respect he is held accountable and given opportunities to learn in different learning styles and is not shoved into a mold that he can not possibly feel successful in. The teachers are amazing.
As I reread this I want to say, there is nothing wrong with public schools. My husband and I are both Amarillo High graduates. (once a Sandie always a Sandie) Every child is different, every situation is different. Our daughter also goes to Arbor now. Where she has blossomed, feels safe being herself, and doesn’t feel like a number.
This isn’t about private school versus public school.No school is without flaw. I know this. This is about answered prayer and letting God take control of your life and the lives of your children. This is about faith, grace and love. This is about growth and about how amazing God is and can be in your life if once you pray for something and continue to be prayerful, you actually let go and let God do his work.
God is good.

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