“A common goal unites us all.” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Tracy Woodard

Whenever I’ve felt anxiety in my own life, the most helpful thing for me has been to identify truth. In those times, I’ve relied on a trusted friend or loved one who can help me uncover the lies that fuel the anxiety and point me to the truth of my emotions and my reality. When […]

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Whenever I’ve felt anxiety in my own life, the most helpful thing for me has been to identify truth. In those times, I’ve relied on a trusted friend or loved one who can help me uncover the lies that fuel the anxiety and point me to the truth of my emotions and my reality. When appropriate, lovingly remind that person struggling through anxious thoughts what blessings they have in their life and help lift their eyes to see beyond their current situation.

As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Woodard.

Tracy is the founder and co-owner of Covered In Cotton: producer of upscale, 100% cotton baby blankets, hand towels, and throws. She and her husband, Ty, take the highest quality cotton grown on their third generation family farm in Darlington, SC and work with small, local businesses to have the cotton ginned, spun into yarn, and woven into cotton products with a cause, all within North and South Carolina. Tracy and Ty have been married for eleven years and are busy raising their children, 7 year old Tate and 4 year old fraternal twins, Tobin and Tyson.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

In high school, I found my passion and talent for graphic design and what I thought was the perfect career path. So, I began my Graphic Communications degree at Clemson University with big dreams of getting my college degree and then moving to a busy city to work at a fancy design firm. Little did I know as that wide-eyed freshman, that four years would fly by and I would graduate, get married, and move to my husband’s very small and very rural hometown of Darlington, SC to join his third generation family farm. Although “my plan” had changed dramatically, I still had that desire to use my creativity and create something — I just had no idea what!

My husband, Ty, and I had spent years just talking about how we could share a part of what we grow on our family farm, Woodard Farms. It had always been something fun to daydream about until December 2017 when I actually woke up from a dream with a vision for Covered in Cotton. I woke up that morning and scribbled everything I felt the Lord had shown me in a notebook, which I then shared with Ty. Without hesitation, Ty said “Let’s do it.” So, that began our journey of finding the right people to help take the cotton grown on our farm through the process of becoming yarn, which is then woven into 100% cotton products — all within the Carolinas. After almost one year of ups and downs in starting a brand new business in an industry we knew nothing about, we launched our online store in November 2018! Our “Cotton with a Cause” mission was born from our own story of our youngest son as he fought for his life back in 2015 and allows us to bring hope to families across South Carolina as we donate one throw for every ten that we sell to a local children’s hospital.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There’s certainly one book that has truly changed my life — The Bible. For so many years, I let what I could accomplish in school or with my own talents determine my identity, and I let other people determine my worth. It wasn’t until I dove into the Bible and found the Truth of who God says I am and who He is, that my life truly changed. Through each high and low in life, I’ve found comfort, hope and guidance in the pages of this timeless love letter to humanity.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

1. A common goal unites us all.

We all love that feel-good point in the movies where the team of misfits or the gang of opponents come together under a common purpose to finally defeat the villain. What rallies our hearts on the movie screen is even more compelling in real life. All throughout history, we see times of victory defined by the camaraderie and unity of a people joining together under a common mission. Well, this time in history is no different. As we’re each impacted in different ways during this Corona Crisis, we can be hopeful in the way we’ve joined together as families, communities and a nation. We don’t have to look far to find the stories of our fellow Americans stepping up and uniting in this unprecedented time for our country. From the healthcare heroes on the front lines of battling this virus, to the community of teachers and schools making the best of a new frontier in education, to the essential workers and first responders showing up each day to keep our communities safe — we have much to celebrate, even in the face of uncertainty.

2. What matters — matters, and what doesn’t — doesn’t.

Back in December of 2015, my youngest son Tobin was 3 months old and contracted a rare and destructive type of bacterial meningitis. He spent 35 long days in the children’s hospital, which included emergency brain surgery on his first Christmas Eve. As you can imagine, that season completely turned our world and our family upside down. Before Tobin got sick, I was overwhelmed with the usual busyness of the Christmas season — decorating, shopping, managing schedules and all the seemingly important things that command our attention and resources during that time. But, in a matter of hours, the true and most important things in life were the only things that mattered — our son’s health and survival, our family being together, and the community of people who were loving, supporting and praying for us. We came through that season with one of the greatest gifts of all — perspective. It truly changed the way we view ourselves, our family, and our situations. In this most recent season of uncertainty, we each have the opportunity to receive the gift of perspective and change our minds about what truly matters in our lives.

3. Revival of the home and family.

Just two weeks before the Covid-19 crisis broke out in our country, my husband and I sat down at our kitchen table and discussed a hectic upcoming spring schedule. Between the busyness of planting season on the farm, baseball games and practice, dance class, several out of town trips and a full schedule of engagements for Covered in Cotton, we looked at the upcoming weeks and could only hope to cross paths a couple times each week. Fast forward just a few weeks and a whole new vocabulary — “social distancing”, “Covid-19”, and “quarantine” have become our new vernacular. Amidst this new schedule (or should I say lack of), we’ve sat down at that same kitchen table and eaten more home-cooked meals in the last three weeks than we have all year long. We’ve sang and danced together, played family games and gone on new adventures around our property. We’ve seen a revival of our home as a place of safety, refreshment and comfort. We’ve seen our family and relationships strengthen as we’ve laid down the burden of hurry and leaned into the blessing of togetherness. What if the homes and families across the world emerged from this time revived and refreshed — ready to take on a new season stronger than ever before?

4. It all comes back to people.

At Covered in Cotton, we work with all locally owned and operated businesses throughout North and South Carolina. We’ve been so blessed to find businesses to work alongside us to make our vision a reality, and along the way they’ve become more like family. I’m reminded that throughout this time of crisis for almost every industry and economy, everything is truly about people. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re really in the business of people. When businesses are closing their doors, it’s not the brick and mortar or the business plan that we grieve, it’s the people who are affected. My hope is that this time of loss, challenge and struggle would strengthen our resolve in the years to come to continue focusing on the people who make up our businesses, schools, governments and communities and how we can remain better together.

5. Pruning leads to growth.

There are countless principles of agriculture that parallel the truths of life. Whether you have a backyard garden or a lone house plant, you don’t have to live on a farm to understand that pruning leads to growth in the life of a plant. And, the same is true for us. Times of hardship and challenge, “pruning” if you will, are often the most effective opportunities for growth in our lives. We can choose to lean into this season and make room for reflection and evaluation as to what in our lives and within ourselves could be changed for the better. As with every season, this will end. But, the greatest tragedy of this Corona Crisis would be if we came out the other side unchanged.

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

1. Just listen.

Before transitioning to Covered in Cotton full-time last year, I worked in vocational ministry for many years. I had the opportunity to come alongside many people throughout that time and the number one thing I learned about supporting people was simple — just listen. No matter who you are, everyone wants to be heard. And most of the time, that simple act of listening communicates more support and love than any words could say.

2. Identity truth.

Whenever I’ve felt anxiety in my own life, the most helpful thing for me has been to identify truth. In those times, I’ve relied on a trusted friend or loved one who can help me uncover the lies that fuel the anxiety and point me to the truth of my emotions and my reality. When appropriate, lovingly remind that person struggling through anxious thoughts what blessings they have in their life and help lift their eyes to see beyond their current situation.

3 Don’t just offer help. Give help.

When we found ourselves in the hospital with our son fighting for his life, I learned what is truly the best way to offer a helping hand. I’ve never been great at accepting help, and when someone would ask what they could do to help during that time, it almost was automatic for me to thank them and dismiss the offer because I didn’t want to burden them. Though, when someone would ask a more specific question in contrast to a more vague offer, it made all the difference. For example, instead of saying, “What can I do to help?”, you could ask, “Where is a good place I could drop off some groceries tomorrow?” or “When is a good time this afternoon for a Facetime date?”

4. Just do the next right thing.

A constant encouragement around our house is, “Just do the next right thing.” Now, those words are usually offered to the youngest members of our household in order to remind them to make the right decision to clean up their toys or after an act of mischief, but they can be extremely helpful in refocusing during times of anxiety. When you’re offering support to someone around you or battling anxiety yourself, it can feel like the weight of a million decisions and fears are piling up and overwhelming you. But, when you commit to putting your eyes and mind on the next right thing, it allows you to move past the weight and fear that can paralyze and actually take steps forward.

5. Follow up.

A friend loves at all times, and the simple act of following up with the people around you feeling anxious goes a long way. Whether it is a text, phone call, or note card in the mail, make sure to keep in contact with the people who need to be reminded they are not alone. And, a pro tip would be to set a reminder on your phone or calendar to continue to follow up!

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Talk to a friend or loved one that you trust and know has your best interests at heart, and if needed, reach out to a professional for more help. The oddly comforting thing about a country in crisis is that you’re not alone, and that means there are more resources available than ever before. Reach out to your own healthcare provider, local church, or community organization to find the best tools to move forward.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” — James 1:17

It was in the most difficult time in my life that this verse from the Bible came alive for me. With my son fighting for his life each day, and in a time when I didn’t know what the next day would hold, I continued to be reminded of this verse. It wasn’t until months after we had brought Tobin home safe and well that I realized that trial was one of the good and perfect gifts of my life. I changed. My husband changed. My family changed. We had been to the end of ourselves and found a Heavenly Father who had never left us. He had shown His character and love more than ever as we relied on Him like never before. I know I can now walk into whatever life brings and know that there is a good and perfect gift to be found because the Father who has always met me in the lowest of lows and the highest of highs will always be there.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I recently heard the quote, “whatever life gives you, give more back.” Ever since I heard it, the simplicity and power of such a statement has not left me. When I think of a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I can’t help but think that a true movement of that magnitude can only be born from a mindset beyond ourselves and a heart for good. In a time when life has seemingly given each of us much to fear, much to question and much to grieve, we could all make the choice to focus our hearts and our minds beyond ourselves and our current situations as we instead, give more back.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Follow Covered in Cotton on Instagram and Facebook, as well as our website

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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