On GRACE

On January 2, I wrote, “I suppose, if I have one goal or one word for myself this year, I’m leaning toward GRACE. GRACE when I want to beat myself up. GRACE when I want to beat someone else up.”

The words “I suppose” sound half-hearted.

“If.” Noncommittal.

“I’m leaning…” Not quite there.

Perhaps, I needed a plan. Perhaps, more prayer.

Sure enough, by October, my word of the year had escaped my otherwise-preoccupied mind. I searched the blog and discovered these few lines toward the bottom of my first post of 2022.

“I’m leaning toward GRACE. GRACE when I want to beat myself up. GRACE when I want to beat someone else up.”

And what have I been doing to myself these last few days?

Beating myself up.

On housekeeping, on Christmas shopping, on my inability to move from the couch after work, on my not checking in on friends and family.

Then there are the fantasies of throwing throat punches. On the road, in the grocery store, even at school.

Then the anger melts to tears.

And suddenly, finally, I hear GRACE in the back of my head. In a velvety smooth voice, she says, “Honey Child, what would Jesus do? ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34).”

And that’s GRACE—

Feeling the love and paying it forward, understanding we’re human and flawed, extending ourselves GRACE and love and time for honesty and patience for what we cannot control, knowing God will get us through if we just lean in.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and LOVE and GRACE and PEACE to you!

33 Years and Then Some

Kody’s yearbook. 1984. He was off to high school while I would spend another year in junior high. Ironically, four years later, I followed him to OU, not OSU. The Class of “88 still rules.

Thanksgiving started when our daughter Lauren drove in from Oklahoma. For that I am most thankful. Along with our grand pup and a couple of pies, she brought us some boxes from Nana’s house. Nana is Kody’s mom. One box contained Kody’s junior high and high school yearbooks. Mine met their demise during the hurricane of 2017, and since Kody and I went to school together, well, I got my yearbooks back. Never mind all the signatures from girls who were crazy for Kody back in the day. They provided hours of entertainment.

Kody’s 1984 yearbook was proof that we were friends before I remembered. In a way it foreshadowed at least half of our relationship: “You should know that I’m mad at you…”

Jokes aside, today we celebrate 33 years of holy matrimony. Never mind the three-year divorce. We kissed and made up. For the prequel to a love story, click below.

Bleh vs. What If?

Bleh, bleh, bleh, bleh,
bleh,
bleh,
bleh.

Bleh and bleh,
worry and fear,
sad and mad,
shame and guilt
and regret.

And yet—

What if?
I have the power
to rewrite my story.

What if?
My words and thoughts
have creative power
to transform.

What if?
I think on noble things:
health, wealth, and love,
faith and gratitude,
peace and hope
and joy.

What if I believe?
Life is good and generous,
and miracles are in motion
beyond my wildest dreams.

What if I say?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Unfortunate Tale of Pico the Peacock

I didn’t really know him.

“The peacock does most of his serious strutting in the spring and summer when he has a full tail to do it with. Usually he begins shortly after breakfast, struts for several hours, desists in the heat of the day, and begins again in the late afternoon.”

Flannery O’Connor, “The King of the Birds”

I spotted Pico back in March. He was one magnificent bird dressed in emerald green and royal blue, turquoise and purple. All alone in the world.

I knew nothing about him, but I wanted to. Was he a pet? Did he escape? Did he have a name? I’ll never know. Months before that first encounter, my friend and neighbor Stan had mentioned peacocks in the neighborhood. Then sure enough, I spotted him outside my bedroom window, scrambled for my shoes, and grabbed my phone for documentation.

Pico, March 12, 2022, 8:26 AM

Later at school, I told my students about our neighborhood peacock. They said Houston was known for peacock populations. Who knew? I Googled their claim, and it’s true. This one seemed to be a loner. I spotted him a second time. And a third. And a fourth. I snapped more photos, shot some videos, and admired him from afar. I was smitten. Only once did he speak. Was it a cry? I backed away.  

Pico, March 23, 2022, 6:23 PM
Pico, March 26, 2022, 8:43 AM
Pico, March 27, 2022, 8:30 AM

“At night these calls take on a minor key and the air for miles around is charged with them.”

Flannery O’Connor, “The King of the Birds”

Once you hear a peacock’s voice, you’ll recognize it whether you see him or not. But the calls stopped.

He was gorgeous. No reason to die.

Stan told my husband that someone ran the peacock down in cold blood. Vehicular homicide. I don’t know how Stan knew. I want to believe it’s not true. How could anyone be so cruel? So sadistic? I’ll never know.

My heart reeled at the news. He deserved better. At least, a name. So, I named him Pico. In my mind, he flew in from Puerto Rico. RIP, you handsome King of the Birds.

My Grandmother’s Legacy

Grandma had a ninth or tenth grade education. Even so, she had a gift for words. Sometime in her mid-fifties, she wrote out her memoirs, long hand. Somewhere along the way, my mother made copies of those pages that mean more to me than anything else Grandma left behind. She has been gone for thirty years this December. The 11th. 1991. One month later, I would give birth to a baby girl. My grandmother’s legacy and love would live.

My Legacy by Catherine Savage

“I’ve never really enjoyed anything written in the first person—a primary rule about writing, and one of the few I know. Even in a letter is the abhorrence of the word or letter I. But just how do you begin or end or even put anything in the middle of this title without its use.

Money is such a transient thing, even more than life, that I haven’t considered it of great value. Possibly because I never had much money, I have just had a sour grapes attitude about it.

Love is the greatest commodity, and the giving of it always begets it. The thing I have to leave my children are their own lives. James Edward, Carol Rose, Sharon Sue, Joed Cleve, John Paul, each a lovely and loving person—all made possible by Edward Tony Savage.”

From l-r, my mother Sharon, aunt Carol, grandmother Catherine, uncles, Johnny, Joed, and Jimmy. Photo taken for a Wonder Bread campaign and missing my grandfather Ed, whom I’m sure was hard at work on an Oklahoma oil rig that day.

Auntie!

When I moved from small-town, Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado at age nineteen, Auntie mesmerized me. She was Kody’s Aunt MeMe, his mother’s identical twin sister. Her face and mannerisms were amazingly like those of my new mother-in-law. I couldn’t look away. I’m pretty sure we bonded that way. That was thirty-two years ago. I called her by first name, Tana, but she put a stop to that. “I’m your Auntie, Baby,” she said. “Call me, Auntie, Bella.”

Auntie was tough. She told it like it was. But she was magnetic. People loved her. She had connections all over town, and Kody and I were along for the ride—from North Denver to Cherry Creek, El Chapultapec to the York Street Jazz Café. That’s how Kody’s Aunt MeMe became my Auntie. She taught me gratitude and a persevering attitude. I freaking loved her.

 ***

I flew into Denver last Thursday night in the dark. I couldn’t see the mountains. Kody picked me up at the airport. He had flown in days earlier to be with his cousin in the wake of death.

The sun rose on Friday morning, and Kody and I drove toward Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in North Denver. When the Rocky Mountains showed their face, I said to myself, “There’s no Denver without Auntie.” Even as I thought the words, traffic flowed from east to west, north to south. Of course, Denver would move forward. It already had. My heart broke, and I shed a tear all the same, but I felt Auntie’s spirit in the face of those mountains.  

***

We did it the way Auntie would’ve wanted. A celebration of life. A party. Family. Fun. Storytelling. And fierce love.  

Hot Dates with my Husband

First, go to an art supply store and buy yourself some Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. Truth be told, I bought some years ago for my son, and when they went unused, I decided to color. Last coloring extravaganza—2016ish. The Prismacolor Premiers haven’t aged a day.

I suppose, mindfulness was my goal. I didn’t put that much thought into pulling the coloring book and colored pencils from the drawer of my nightstand. My brain was locked and loaded, practically shot, with back to school info. and all the details of a brand new job and 200+ new names. I teach high school, and I had taken a two-year sabbatical since the last time I stepped into my own classroom. My brain is two years older. Technology is ever changing.

I started in the center of a rather intricate design, the first page of the book. Suddenly, there was no past. No future. Just picking colors. Sharpening pencils as needed. Pressing harder for effect. An occasional thought snuck in to guilt me: Shouldn’t you be going through the mail on the kitchen table? When was the last time you mopped? But there was a calm satisfaction in my attention to pattern and juxtaposition of hue.

My husband looked on. “Can I have a turn?” he said. Over the course of thirty two years, not once had we colored together. But how could I deny him my new-found peace of mind? I passed the book and the tin box of Prismacolors. And I watched as he wrestled over his choices. I bit my tongue when I would’ve chosen differently. I smiled instead. Sometimes in marriage a wife or husband must relinquish control. He colored a particular pattern and passed it all back to me. My turn. His turn. My turn. His turn. Jeep’s Blues played in the background. In this way we passed a Saturday.

And perhaps a Sunday.

And another Saturday.

And perhaps another Sunday.

Devote.

Sometime before the first of February, I decided to devote some time each morning to God. I have a devotional book on my shelf—Jesus Calling by Sarah Young—a page for every day of the year written as if Jesus himself were speaking. Each day a sentence or two leaps off the page, and I try to remember the message in its simplest form all day long. Please accept a few jewels from this month so far:

“Talk with Me about every aspect of your day. including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.”

April 1

I didn’t grow up talking about my feelings, and once upon a time some counseling revealed my tendency to stuff them inside. At the time, I felt I had no one to talk to. Since then, I’ve opened up more. I understand vulnerability makes certain people uncomfortable, so I choose what to say to whom with care. We all need at least that one person, and God invites you to talk to Him about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. I find great comfort in an honest relationship like that.

Your deepest, most constant need is for My Peace. I have planted Peace in the garden of your heart, where I live, but there are weeds growing there too: pride, worry, selfishness, unbelief. I am the Gardener, and I am working to rid your heart of those weeds…Thank Me for troublesome situations; the Peace they can produce far outweighs the trials you endure

April 2

Oh boy, do I ever need peace? Sometimes I forget to thank God for my troublesome situations, but I’m trying so hard to remember this simple formula:

Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope

In Me you have everything. In Me you are complete.

April 3

Despite your beliefs in God, these are beautiful affirmations. I have everything. I am complete. It’s so easy to want more and to feel less than. Say it again. I have everything. I am complete.

A person who is open to My Presence is exceedingly precious to Me…I see you trying to find Me; our mutual search results in joyful fulfillment.

April 4

I’ll admit I was a little angry with God this year for just plain personal reasons, but I continued to feel His presence. It’s a comfort to know He considered me precious through my tantrum. Reading a devotion a day was a way to make peace with Him and find some balance for me. You know what they say about anger—it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I knew I had to let my bitter feelings go. I acknowledged the emotion by sharing it with God, and I’m trusting the Gardener to rid my heart of the weeds. Who doesn’t want to be filled with Love, Joy, and Peace?

Thanks so much reading my 2021 A-Z Challenge post today. That means a lot to me. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action, mental and physical, things I might already do or haven’t attempted in years or maybe never. You know what else I’m trying for some balance? Answers found in these links: Abstain, Ballet, Cartwheel.

It brings me joy that you made it to the bottom of this post. Thank you so much for reading! For the April 2021 A-Z Challenge, I hope to stick to a theme of action—I’m thinking both mental and physical, continued current activities, those of days gone by, and possibly a few never attempted. You know what else I’m trying for balance in my life? Click links to posts so far: Abstain, Ballet, and Cartwheel.

On the Turning Away

Church started with Pink Floyd last Sunday. Technically it was Domino. With his iconic dreads and electric guitar, he sang, “On the Turning Away.” I saw it online, and I just happen to have a link. Next came Jeff Jones, he’s the senior pastor, and the current series is “Love Like Jesus.” Feel free to scroll on. I’m posting it believing someone might need to hear and will watch.

Jeff started out his sermon with some word associations: “If I said ______, you would say _____.” Eventually making it to his point. “If I said, ‘Christian,’ I don’t know what you would say, depending on what your experience is…”

I knew where Jeff was going. I knew what should go in the blank, but I’ll be honest, my first thought was not positive. Forgive me for going there. I know there are lots of good Christians, amazing humans who give generously of their time and resources and have an unbelievable level of grace for others. But I also know lots of people who won’t step foot into a church…who feel judged by Christians…who have had bad church experiences. Almost daily during my online scrolling and sometimes in overheard conversation, I hear and see Christians passing judgement. And I think—what would Jesus do? What would Jesus say? What would Jesus post?

Jeff continued, “…but I know what we should be able to say, what anybody in the world should be able to say whether they are Christian or not or believe anything about Jesus…the first thing they should think about when they think about ‘Christian’ is love…because that’s the one thing that Jesus said,…’Love like I love.’”  

The weekend before last Ryan Leak kicked off the series. He’s a teaching pastor and a professional speaker. And the strange thing is—I saw him for the first time preaching at a church in Houston about a year ago, and then suddenly he’s popping up at my home church back in Dallas. Throughout the pandemic, Chase Oaks Church is my go to for Sunday mornings. I find extra inspiration and hope here. The sermons are archived on their website if needed, and you can fast forward through the music—or not.

 

Anyway, I go to church each Sunday for my weekly attitude adjustment. I am far from perfect. FAR. But I try. On the day of this U.S. Presidential election, I might not be perfect. Despite results, I’m sure I’ll need to be back in church by Sunday.

Jesus knows we’re all messed up. He offers forgiveness as a gift. And because He would, I’m sending love and peace your way—no matter who or where you are, no matter what you’ve done or what you believe. ❤️