Member Spotlight
To facilitate new members getting to know the congregation, and maybe even long-time members learning something new about each other, every so often we will feature one of our members with a spotlight article. We will begin with our members who have recently joined and continue by randomly choosing a member from our membership directory. Couples will have individual turns. Robin McKinley will contact you when your name is chosen, and arrange for an interview to gather the information for the spotlight. Stay tuned for the fun!

Member Spotlight, Amber Beckermann


Member Spotlight
Amber Beckermann
April 28, 2017
Amber Beckermann was born in Georgetown, and moved to Taylor when she was four. She is the oldest of three children in her close-knit family. Her sister, Shelby, is two years younger, and her brother, Dustin, is 7 years younger. Her mother, Monica Johnson, has worked for State Farm in Austin for 34 years. Her dad, Joe Johnson, does bidding for an Austin company, Texas Cutting and Coring. Amber and Daniel Beckermann, a long-time member of First UMC of Taylor, married three years ago on December 13, and have a darling baby boy, Turner, who was born last July 16. Daniel works for Brant Plumbing which is located in Austin, but he works all over wherever he is called. Amber counts her family as her biggest success in life. Her family is very open and talk about everything. She has a really healthy family which is a great support system.
Amber is very close to her grandmother, Dorothy, who she calls Granny. Granny tells a story of when Amber was little and in trouble with her mother. She was supposed to be sitting in the corner. Granny telephoned her mother during Amber’s time out and her mother confessed that she was close to spanking Amber. Amber piped up and said, “You can’t spank me because I am so precious. Granny says so.”
Amber was very close to her grandfather, too, who recently passed away at the age of 89. He had been sick and gotten better, but then worsened and died. So the family was not prepared. It was a very tough time for Amber. Her grandfather, along with her Granny, was the glue that holds the family together. Amber realized, “I knew I had to be stronger for my family.”
Amber works at Trinity Lutheran with the 3- and 4-year-olds. She started there last October. “I like it a lot,” says Amber. She has worked with kids since she was 17 (a LONG time ago, not!) She loves working with kids because they are all so different and they are excited about what they’re learning. One thing she misses about being a kid herself is taking naps. (Somehow with a little baby at home, this seems beyond understandable.) She tells the kids, “You will miss this when you are older.”
She worked for State Farm for three years, but didn’t like sitting behind a desk all day, so when the opportunity arose to work with children again, she took it. She says her dream job would be to be a counselor for children, especially those that have mental disabilities. She would like to work with kids who need special attention and be someone who has the time to give it to them.
If money were no object, Amber would be a stay-at-home mom. She would take Turner and go do fun things. “I’d spend as much time with him as I could,” she says. She would also do charity work.
Amber joined FUMC of Taylor this year in March. Formerly, she went to St. Mary’s in Taylor. Before joining, of course she knew Turner’s proud grandparents, Marsha and Raymond Beckermann, and she knew Shelli Cobb. The whole congregation, especially Vesta Ryan, was warm and welcoming. Amber is a big fan of Pastor Sela, and she likes how laid back the church is with an emphasis on being there to worship and be happy with each other’s fellowship. “Everyone wants to be there and help. There is a family-type feeling,” Amber says. Her favorite hymn is “Eagle Wings”. She loves the way it can fit in any mood or any situation. When sorrow hits, it comforts. When joy comes, it expresses that, too.
One of Amber’s hidden talents is cooking. She doesn’t have a single special dish so you could say her specialty is trying new things. “I cook really well and I love to cook. I like trying new recipes,” she says. Happily, Daniel is not a picky eater, and he enjoys the new recipes.
Another thing church members may not know is that when Amber was attending junior college she played softball. She loves to play. Both she and her sister played softball since they played T-ball as children. Amber doesn’t play anymore, but her sister is a softball coach at Ranger Junior College.
After junior college, Amber began to attend Texas State. She is still taking classes there, and is finishing as she is able. She is majoring in Applied Arts and Sciences, with special emphasis on Elementary Education, Psychology, and one more area still to be chosen.
Her friends describe her as an outgoing, people person who likes to look at the positive side of things. Her mother-in-law adores her and says she is the ideal daughter-in-law.
That positive nature shows up when Amber says that her life has taught her that you learn as you go. She says she hasn’t done everything by the book, but she has found love and started a family and she is doing what she loves – working with kids. Her life reminds her that measuring up to the status quo isn’t that important.
When asked about the most fun she’s had, Amber has a hard time choosing. She has a lot of fun with her friends and family. Her wedding day was amazing. Turner’s birth was amazing. She finds fun in large things, but also in small ways. Once when she was a junior in high school, she was at a softball tournament. After the tournament, they and her friends were at the hotel. They were watching something on TV, and one of the girls made a comment. “It’s a beached whale.” “We all died of laughing,” she reports. Maybe you had to be there, but “fun in life comes from making jokes, being fun, and silly. It was a great experience,” she says.
Amber’s eyes light up when asked where she would like to travel. “Europe,” she says. Which country? No one in particular but all over Europe. “There are so many places to go and such much history and culture. That would be amazing. I love history. I could sit and watch the history channel all the time.”
We are so lucky to have such a brilliant light in the world as Amber as a part of FUMC of Taylor. Be sure to give her a big hug and welcome her to the congregation.
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Nellie Ledesma

Member Spotlight

Nellie Ledesma
March 10, 2017
Nellie Ledesma was born in Nueva Laredo, Mexico, and adopted by her family who lived in Cotulla on a ranch where they raised cattle and chicken.  She spent most of her early life in Cotulla from kindergarten through high school.  Besides her mom and dad, her family included four older children. 
Nellie fondly remembers her childhood on the ranch.  They would go to the river, which she loved.  “I loved listening to the river,” Nellie says.  Since Cotulla was very dry and hot, a favorite thing to do was to play in the huge spigot from the irrigation pipes.  She had a pet deer, brought home by her dad when the mother was killed.  Nellie loved the faun, and the faun loved her, even after she grew up and had two baby bucks.  Even as an adult, her doe would eat out of Nellie’s hand.
Nellie rode the bus from the ranch to school, and remembers trading her tacos for sandwiches.  She thought sandwiches were wonderful because that meant being rich.  The kids who came to school with sandwiches thought they got the better deal because they though tacos tasted better.  School was rough in the beginning for Nellie, as she spoke no English and the school spoke no Spanish.  A big change for her came when one of her teachers took a special interest in Nellie, and she made the promise to learn what she needed to learn. 
Nellie has been married to Rob Ledesma for 20 years.  Rob does commercial flooring for places such as Army bases, schools and hospitals.  He is on the road constantly, since they have been blessed with a lot of contracts. They have no children, but she has three dogs, and they have lots of nieces and nephews.  She is now taking turns with her sister caring for her elderly mother. 
Nellie no longer works because of an accident that left her disabled two years ago when she fell off a ladder.  Before the accident, she worked in the prison for seven years, and before that in other positions as an administrative secretary in Round Rock and Austin.
A member of Taylor FUMC for a month, Nellie used to be a Catholic, but likes her new Methodist experience.  Betty Brown invited her to come to church and she especially appreciates our pastor who was most welcoming to her when she attended.  She reports she was actually shocked when she first came because the members of the church were so outgoing and welcoming.  Her Catholic experience was of a much more reserved and quiet congregation.  “It’s awesome,” she says.  “Before when I left a service, I felt like I was carrying the cross, but now I feel uplifted when I leave.”
Nellie reports that she always wanted to sing in the choir.  [The writer enthusiastically let her know the choir welcomes new members and would love to have her take part!] Her favorite hymns are “I’ll Fly Away” and “Go Rest High Upon the Mountain.”  She loves those because they free your spirit, and remind you that it is okay to let go.  She loves the bluesy, belted-out, soulful, old gospel music.
As a good friend, Nellie can be boisterous and out-spoken but she gave up being snarky for Lent.  “I want to be a friend people would like to have,” says Nellie.  Her husband says she’s a good wife. 
If money were no object, Nellie would be a missionary somewhere she knows the language.  She would love to help communities.  And as for where to travel, she would love to go to Nazareth and the Holy Land.
The most fun Nellie has ever had was going to Costa Rica, sightseeing and learning about the county.  She particularly enjoyed getting to know the citizens of Costa Rica, and remembers one family who was selling coconut water on the beach.  The mother was working very hard, and had several children helping out as well.  Rob asked one of the boys if they liked soccer.  They replied “Oh, yes!”  Rob and Nellie came up with the idea to go to the little market near there, and buy the boys a soccer ball and whatever else they needed so that they could play.  “That made their day and it made our day,” says Nellie.  “It made me feel so good.”
Be sure to let Nellie know how much we appreciate her being a part of our congregation, and wait until you hear how beautifully she sings!
By Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Don Hughes

Don Hughes
Member Spotlight

February 26, 2017

Don Hughes, Donald Jay Hughes to be precise, is probably the first person you meet when you come to Taylor FUMC.  His smiling face is there every Sunday as the usher for our services.  He sits on the back row, which he and the other faithful laughingly call “Sinner’s Row.”  From that alone you can tell the merry twinkle in his eyes stems from a great sense of humor.

Don likes nothing better than help people.  He had a beloved aunt who was in a wheelchair.  He would pick her up and bring her to church.   He has helped several others in the same way.  He remembers enjoying singing with his aunt their favorite hymn: “How Great Thou Art.”  And his other favorite hymn is “In the Garden”.    

Don loves Taylor FUMC, having attended since childhood and during the time the church worshipped in the old building on Fifth Street.  “It seems like a close-knit group,” he says.  He likes the get-togethers and the events where people work together.  He fondly remembers Vacation Bible School from the old church, as well as MYF when the youth would play the Baptists in different games.

Don was born in Taylor, Texas, although his family farmed in Beyersville some eight miles away.  His middle name, Jay, was after the doctor that delivered him.  Later, during the depression, the family moved to Taylor.  He has an older sister, Florean, who lives in Tomball, and had an older brother who passed away before Don was born.

Don’s family is very important to him and in fact it’s kind of hard to get him to talk about anything else.  He has three daughters, Brenda and Donna both live in Hutto, and Kimberly who lives in Taylor.  Don’s wife, Bonnie, passed away in 2001.  Bonnie had four children by a previous marriage, and Don is still close to them.  Then, there’s the grandkids.  Each daughter has two children.  The grandchildren’s professions range from high school coach to police dispatcher.

Family times included a lot of fishing and camping.  He would help the girls learn to bait the hooks.  He also went camping with his cousins.  Once, after a flood, they were swimming in the river and they stepped on a dead cow.  Everyone was scared, and they all jumped out.  It’s a story that everyone remembers to this day. 

Don served in the Air Force for 25 years, having enlisted in 1955.  While stationed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, he attended technical school, and later became an instructor.  His specialty was supply and distribution.  He served at numerous bases in the US, and did tours in Viet Nam, France, French Morocco and England.  In England, his daughters lived on base with him and Bonnie, and they especially loved him being in the Air Force because they got to travel all over Europe.  Don remembers helping coach the softball teams which went to different bases to compete.

After retiring from the Air Force, Don and his family came back to Taylor.  For many years, he worked at Westinghouse and Intercraft.  He and Bonnie had planned to go traveling when he retired, but she came down with lymphatic cancer and passed away before they had the chance.  If he had the chance now, he would love to go to the Grand Canyon and to Niagara Falls.

Be sure to give Don an extra hug when you see him for all of the loving kindness he brings to our church!

Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Carolyn Gautier

Member Spotlight
Carolyn Gautier

January 29, 2017

Carolyn Gautier was born in Chicago. Her father was in law school at Loyola University, and met her mother at an anti-communist rally. She has two sisters in Texas, a brother and sister in Chicago, and a brother and sister in California. There were originally nine children, of whom seven are still with us today. Her family was raised Catholic and always tells the story of when her father was dying, and Carolyn hadn’t been to church in a while. She felt compelled to get a priest to administer last rites for her father. It was the middle of the night, but she went to the church, knocked on the door, and asked the man who answered, “Are you a priest?” He said yes, and she asked him to come say last rites for her father. He agreed, and only later they found out that he was the pope’s emissary, at the church for a temporary time. Carolyn had gotten the emissary of the pope out of bed for her father. It’s that kind of dedication and loyalty that makes Carolyn such a good friend.

Carolyn worked and retired from AT&T after 25 years. She then worked in Austin for 2.5 years as a medical claims analyst, doing Medicaid claims for 99 counties. She retired in November, but may continue to do work for them from home. She liked the way her job was a puzzle, and she had to find the anomaly to finish the claim. She enjoyed the people she worked with, she could wear jeans, and they had good coffee. What could be better?

Recently, Carolyn and her sister purchased a duplex together in Gauthier, Mississippi. The town was founded by her great-grandfather. Mississippi is kind to seniors and seems like a good place to retire, but Carolyn wasn’t really intending to buy property there. This duplex just popped up, and the price and layout was just too good to resist. She is in the process of moving there, but she promises to come visit often.

Carolyn has been a member of the church for six years. She started by going to the Sunday School class led by Mitch and Lisa Drummond. She was most impressed when Mitch and Glynn Tucker got into an argument, but later they remained friends. Glynn, in particular, loves to banter back and forth with Carolyn but when the chips are down, he is there for her. He once came over in the middle of the night to help her get her lights turned back on. And once when she totaled her car, Debi Tucker met her at the police station to take her home. She has many friends at the church and counts Shirley Ball and Linda Clevenger as very dear women friends.

Her favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. Just hearing the hymn makes her cry every time. She loves the story of how it’s written, and that the song talks about redemption and renewal.

Her friends would describe her as funny and telling lots of funny stories. Many have told her to write a book. She really likes children, and has lots of nieces and nephews she enjoys. She is very close to her family. She’s easy going and grateful, and she takes nothing for granted. “I don’t worry because God has control,” she says. As for flaws, she does admit she will procrastinate.

Long before Carolyn came to Taylor, she had always enjoyed doing an artistic signature that includes a duck. Quite the coincidence! She loves to play games and especially darts.

Carolyn has fun all the time, and especially had fun one time when she went to China with some friends. They were on a double decker bus and ended up in the bus garage! They all just started laughing. The bus driver didn’t understand why they were laughing and, not speaking English, didn’t know how to help. They ended up taking a bus to the airport, calling the hotel, and getting a shuttle from there. They were just in hysterics.

We’re going to miss having Carolyn on a full time basis, but let’s hold her to that promise to come visit often!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Charlene Olbrich


Member Spotlight 

Charlene Olbrich 
Charlene Olbrich was born in Whitney, Texas (the nearest big town is Hillsboro.) She was named after her dad, Charlie, and that’s why you pronounce her name CHARlene, rather than SHARlene. Her dad was a band director and they moved to many different towns following his job. She lived in Italy, Falfurrias, Rosenberg, Dayton (TX), Deleon, and back to Whitney. Her father passed away and her mother remarried. Her mom had three children, Charlene and twin sisters, and her dad had two children, a boy and a girl. The blended family became very close-knit and Charlene adored her step-father. The family calls her the strong one of the family, partly because she cared for her mother and father who lived across the street.

One day, her new dad got a job building the Alcoa plant and the family moved to Thorndale. Charlene was a sophomore in high school, and she graduated a mere year later, after her junior year. Little did Charlene know at that time that being a Thorndale ex would turn into such a big part of her life later on. Today, Charlene spends a lot of her time working for the Thorndale exes association. Every week, Charlene writes an article, most of the time including photos, about the exes for the Thorndale paper. The column is titled “Keeping up with the Thorndale Exes.” Every year, Charlene organizes events for the exes during homecoming week. They send out 2500 invitations, and a couple of hundred exes come every year.

Leroy Olbrich had already graduated from high school before Charlene arrived in Thorndale, but Charlene would see him working at the gas station. Once when they passed by, her mama said about Leroy, “If I were younger, that’d be my boyfriend.” Later, she was invited on a blind date, and some friends upset her terribly by telling her that Leroy was wild. It was a case of mistaken identity, and the “wild” Leroy worked at the gas station too, but the date was with Leroy Olbrich. A few years after Charlene graduated from high school, they married. Charlene walked down the aisle carrying Leroy’s bible that they still read every day.

Charlene and Leroy have a son, Jeff, who lives in Pflugerville. He got his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Texas. He teaches statistics at St. Edwards University.

Charlene and Leroy joined the church about 15 years ago when the Thorndale UMC closed down. She remembers SR and Carolyn Moss met them at the door, and claimed them as member immediately. They were even put in the church directory before they were members. They had visited several other churches but found Taylor FUMC to be the most welcoming to them. Both she and Leroy love going to church. She loves our preacher and also loves to sit when it’s quiet and enjoy the stained glass windows. Charlene has served for several years as chair of the Finance Committee. Among her many talents, she is an organist and pinch hit for 9 months when we were without an organist, and Ellen Hannington played the piano. She also filled in as secretary once when the church was looking for a secretary.

Her favorite hymns are “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden,” because her mama loved it so much.
Charlene worked in the secretarial/financial administration of numerous schools, including Taylor High School. She also worked for a landscape company that she really loved. That company went from 27 employees to 500 employees in 3 years’ time. “I enjoyed working,” says Charlene.

Her hidden talents include painting and she has won first place on two of her paintings. She has numerous of her paintings decorating her house, including one of Leroy’s mother with the turkeys she raised. Another of her paintings is framed with wood from Leroy’s mother’s old house and another with wood from the outhouse. Charlene also has a huge talent for genealogy, and has 75 binders of information on her and Leroy’s families going back 30 generations and including 50,000 people. She and Leroy walked numerous cemeteries scouring the tombstones for family connections. The most famous family she has found are some close relatives of presidents, although none are direct ancestors. She would love to travel to Ireland to see the homeland of her ancestors and to visit the cemeteries there.

Charlene is an amazing woman, and an incredibly hard worker. In fact, I am so worn out thinking about all she accomplishes, I think I need to lie down for a little bit. Give her your appreciation when you see her!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Megan Moss

Megan Moss

Member Spotlight, Megan Moss
Megan Moss has lived all her life in Taylor, and as a member of First United Methodist Church of Taylor. Her immediate family includes her mom and dad, Brad and Belinda Moss, and her sister, Amanda, who is married and lives in New York. Her fondest memories of childhood are of visiting her papaw, SR Moss, and mamaw’s house, watching movies and doing art projects with them.

Her biggest influence in the church has been her papaw, SR Moss. He has inspired her with his faithful attendance and dedication. She loves the fact that everyone at church is friendly with each other, and knows each other. “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place” is her favorite hymn because she likes the music behind it and it sticks with her. She wishes we would sing that hymn more often.

Megan is a senior at Taylor High School this year. Along with the usual high school subjects, she has studied art for years, and also took a course in graphic design, which sparked her interest in pursuing graphic design as her career. Her hidden talent is drawing, which she does with any spare moments she has. Her favorite type of art is black outline drawings with Sharpies which was the technique she used on her favorite project of a tree with a swing and a man sitting in the tree.

Next year, she will enter the University of North Texas in Denton, and plans to study communication, focusing on graphic design. Her dream job would be to become a graphic designer and design logos and advertising that people see everywhere. She would prefer to work for a graphic design company because she would enjoy the greater variety of projects she could accomplish.

While in high school, Megan has enjoyed spending time with her friends, and learning new things. Her friends say that Megan looks out for them, and is smart because she knows the answers to the questions her teachers ask. She is also funny and can tell a really good story. Her caring nature shows in many ways, but especially in her participation in many community service projects. She gives of her time most generously, working for three community service organizations. Those three are Interact, which is a Rotary Club for high school students, National Honor Society, and Silver Cords, which is THS’s community service group. In Silver Cords, you pledge to do 160 hours of community service during your high school years. Megan is the Creative Officer for Interact and is the historian for NHS. Her favorite service projects are those when you interact with people such as the Kiwanis Club Pancake Supper because it is more personal, and she has done many projects that involve cleaning up a street or park in Taylor.

She also has participated in the High Steppers, THS’s dance team, for all four years of high school. She began dancing when she was little, studying mainly jazz. Her favorite type of dance now is creepy dance which is dark and tells a story. The most fun she’s ever had was to attend High Stepper camp. She admits it was a very stressful experience especially because they rose at 6 a.m. and went to bed at 3 a.m. for three days straight, but was fulfilling and a lot of fun working with her team and getting to know their strengths.

High Steppers also gave Megan the opportunity to become a stronger person. Last year, the director of the High Steppers was very challenging for her to work with, and Megan learned to push through the hard times and not give up. She was able to ignore the bad things, and continue on to a better year this year.

And in the midst of all those volunteer activities, Megan also puts in time at the family store. Something everyone may not know is that Megan started working for her mom and dad when she was in the 5th grade. Work days at the store may include anything from taking cash to wrapping gifts to filing.

With all her varied activities and hard work, next year is sure to be a great success for Megan. We will be looking forward to visits back home so that we can hear of her adventures!

Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Roy Rogers

7be18349-5251-4138-8582-981f4d060007                                                                           Member Spotlight, Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers was born in Poteet, Texas, and grew up on a farm and ranch.  His family raised cattle, hogs, and milk cows, goats and horses.  His granddad gave him a horse when he was three years old and from that young beginning, he rode nearly every day until he was 40 years old, moved to town and didn’t have room for horses. 
Roy was married to Pat for 54 years before her passing in 2013.  He and Pat had 2 sons and 2 daughters, and 3 granddaughters and 3 grandsons.  They lost one daughter in a car/train accident.  “My family was my main objective,” he says.
His friends describe him as friendly, loving, quiet and faithful.  “And I’m hard of hearing,” Roy adds with a grin.  And he loves to play cards.  He has the most fun with his friends and family playing games (42 was mentioned, but Pitch has become a new favorite.)  “Doing family stuff is what I enjoy,” Roy declares.
After college, where he studied Ag Ed, Roy worked for the Soil Conservation Service, a part of the USDA.  Later he bought out an Exxon agency in Taylor.  He distributed gas, and ran 2 convenience stores and 2 service stations.  He retired in 2000.  He liked best working with the people.  “You run into all types of people, and learn to deal with them,” Roy says.  He feels his Exxon business was his second biggest success.  His biggest was raising his beautiful family.
Roy and Pat joined the church in 1975.  His mother-in-law and father-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. George Busby, were already members of the church.  Roy appreciates the friendliness of Taylor FUMC.  Roy adds, “I like the people.  They make you feel welcome.” His two favorite hymns are “Amazing Grace”, and “In the Garden”.  He was raised in a Baptist church, and these are hymns they sang.
Roy would like to travel to Wyoming and the western part of the United States, but he admits he is not much of a traveler.  He likes New Mexico, and used to go to Ruidoso and listen to music.  They had a festival there with old bands, and he and Pat would dance Western dance and the two-step.  Together, they won many contests as best dancers.
In fact, dancing was a favorite past time for Pat and Roy. “We loved it,” Roy remembers. They started dancing the day they met at SW Texas.     And they were selected by their class to be representatives for Frontier Days.  They wore matching shirts and dresses at the special weekends, and rodeos.
Roy taught his kids to dance as well.  His daughter, Trisha Copeland, fondly remembers learning to dance by standing on her daddy’s feet.  She reports her mom and dad had been dancing as long as she could remember.
Another thing Roy loves is the outdoors.  Roy was an avid gardener before his back started giving him trouble and he still loves it.  He likes to grow flowers and vegetables: tomatoes, squash, and bougainvilleas.  Also, he spent many a happy hour hunting with his sons and grandkids.  They would take his hunting dog, a Brittainy Spaniel, out to hunt deer, dove, and quail.
And his hidden talent is that he can yodel – well at least, sing.  He once sang “Lovesick Blues” for the 4H Club competition and won third place!  He loves music and singing.  Get Roy to demonstrate his yodeling, er, singing skills for you!  Don’t let that quiet exterior fool you!  He has friendship and many talents to share.
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Debby Vester

Member Spotlight, Debby Vester
Debby Vester was born in Lyons, Kansas and lived there until she was 5 years old. Her dad worked for an oil company, so they moved to Odessa, Texas, where she first took piano at age 7. Later, the family moved to Thousand Oaks, California and she graduated from high school there. She attended California State University in Northridge, studying music, and took one semester in organ. She majored in Home Economics and planned to teach.
She married her husband, Roger, who is a CPA, and they moved to Midland. By then, her family included her son, Mark. Mark is now in the army stationed at West Point, and flies helicopters. (Ask Debby to show you the pictures!) He is married and has 2 children, Isabella who is 9 and Jackson who is 6. Later, daughter Kelly came along. She is also married, lives in Georgetown, is an emergency room nurse, and is mother to Kaden, who is 9, and Kamryn who is 2 months old. You’ll never find a prouder grandma than Debby!
In Midland, at her church St. Luke’s UMC, Debby was asked to play piano by the choir director, and then he suggested she try out the organ in the church. One thing led to another, and soon she was playing the early service, and later, the other services, and also playing for the youth choir. She’s been playing organ ever since. She was a music assistant as well. She has been playing two services a Sunday for a little over 30 years. Today, of course, she is both director and organist – a fete she is accomplishing superbly.
Her darling mother, whom Debby lost this year, laughed and laughed that Debby became a full time musician because of the fights they used to have when Debby was a child and didn’t want to practice. She used to say, “I can’t believe you ended up on an organ bench!” Of course, Debby thanks her now and her mom was so proud of her.
Debby has taught children and youth from 3- to 4-year-olds all the way up to high school. She loved the times that she would go with her Midland church’s youth choir on their annual summer trips. They travelled many places, including the US, England and New Zealand, playing concerts all the way.
One treasured memory of those trips was when she went with the choir when they did a Wesley tour of England. One concert was in the Wesley Museum in London. Debby got to play on John Wesley’s instrument, a manual organ enclosed in a cabinet with a very narrow keyboard. The thrill of playing the same keyboard that John Wesley played was a once in a lifetime event. The instrument is worth $800,000 today.
Debby likes music because it touches people. She says, “You never know who or why, but it will help somebody. You never know.” Debby says 90% of the hymns in the hymnbook are her favorites, but she particularly likes “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (just because) and “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” because that’s the hymn she played on John Wesley’s instrument.
Remember to listen and appreciate the gift that Debby brings to us at Taylor FUMC. You can hear that all those years of practice paid off!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Frieda Isbell

Member Spotlight, Frieda Isbell
October 7, 2016
Frieda Isbell was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She attended art school, married and began traveling to many different places. She lived in Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico, as well as Louisiana and many places in Texas, including San Antonio, Rosenberg, and Bryan/College Station. Her first husband attended medical school first in Mexico, then in Texas. They had two children.
In 1992, her husband died, and she was left to raise her young children and support her family. She went back to school and became an art teacher. She met and married Mike Isbell who she says is her best friend.
After receiving her teaching degree, Frieda taught for 11 years. Frieda loved teaching and really enjoyed the kids. She taught high school for six years, and then switched to elementary school for five years before she retired.
Don’t think for a minute that Frieda has been sitting at home twiddling her thumbs since retirement. No, she has been busier than ever. She creates gorgeous oil paintings. Some she has used as the subject of her earring line that she created by reducing the paintings to a small size. She is embarking on a new angel-themed portfolio.
And not only does Frieda draw, paint and create other works of art, she also writes! She is the author of a novel, titled Ice Angels. She is planning a sequel soon.
Frieda’s family likes to say she is crazy, of course in a fond way. She says she is the crazy artist aunt of her family. Her kids appreciate her cooking talents. She is an avid watcher of the TV show “Chopped,” and loves to throw unexpected ingredients together to create a new, delicious dish. She never cooks the same thing twice, loving the thrill of experimentation.
Frieda and Mike have been members of the church for four years. She remembers being most warmly welcomed by Vesta Ryan who brought cookies to her house when she first joined. Frieda likes best about Taylor FUMC, she replies emphatically, “The people.” She says that everyone has been really sweet to her and Mike.
Frieda wasn’t always Methodist. In fact, for many years, she was atheist. Her first mother-in-law, whom Frieda dearly loved, kept praying that Frieda would know God. One day, suddenly, Frieda had an experience she could only describe as an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After that, she never doubted the presence of Jesus. She went to lots of churches, and looked for ones that matched Jesus’s teachings, one that was a refuge from the world, where everyone would accept each other as sisters and brothers. Her favorite hymn is “In the Garden” and she has a beautiful voice to match.
Despite the hard times in the past, Frieda has had a lot of fun in life. “Mike and I do a lot of laughing,” she says. They love to ride motorcycles, go with their family to Matagorda Bay, go snorkeling and horseback riding and have gone on several cruises to such places as Cancun, Cozumel and Hawaii. She still would like to go to Jamaica on a cruise, but on their Hawaii cruise, they got so sick that it is hard to get up the nerve to go on another cruise.
When you next see Frieda, be sure to ask her about her paintings and her book. There is sure to be a sequel coming out soon!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Carmen Tucker

Member Spotlight, Carmen Tucker 
September 25, 2016
Carmen Tucker was born in Waco, but moved to Austin and grew up there. Her mom is from New Jersey, is an attorney and a vice president at a college, as well as running a catering business. Her father is from California and is a head hunter for executives and is semi-retired now. Her mother and father divorced when Carmen was a girl, and her mother remarried. Her stepdad is a retired police officer.
Carmen’s mom loves to say that Carmen is creatively inclined, and that she thinks outside the box. (Thanks, Mom!) Carmen’s creativity led her to earn her bachelor’s degree in art, which she uses in her hobby of finding broken antiques and restoring them into something beautiful. She is particularly proud of fixing chairs that came from her grandma, screwing them by hand since she doesn’t have a drill. She also restored a table top into a piece of art that she has hung on the wall. But her best friend has put the brakes on Carmen adding more furniture to her house, threatening to put tags on any new items and having a sale!
All that creativity, and restoration, as well as Carmen’s keen ability to show compassion plays right into Carmen’s profession and passion: teaching kids. She says it isn’t always about fixing something, but about getting it where it needs to be. Before starting in the classroom, Carmen earned her master’s degree in Human Services.
Carmen now is a special education teacher as well as a resource and inclusion teacher. This is her first year in the classroom, but she previously was engaged in college and career counseling as well as after-school programming at LBJ High School. Carmen loves her job, and she likes best to watch students’ faces light up when they come in her room. Students know her room is a safe place, and Carmen feels like she is doing God’s work with her students. She says, “Pay scales fade into the background when the students come in and we begin to work together.”
Carmen’s hidden talents are cooking, a talent she got from her mother. She loves crock pot cooking, and baking. Her specialty is strawberry cake. I sure hope she brings that to a fellowship luncheon one day!
Carmen joined Taylor FUMC in July, and she was welcomed most warmly by Mitch and Lisa Drummond. She loves the size of the congregation, and the casual and friendly approach of the church. She always dreamed of living in a small town where she can slow down and recharge. She finds the church to be her refuge.
Carmen’s favorite scripture is from Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” She says she hasn’t always been strong, and it reminds her to stay strong.
Be sure to give a hearty welcome to Carmen. What a blessing to have all that talent and dedication that Carmen brings!