I’m not going to lie. When I started thinking about F words and verbs for this month’s A-Z challenge, I struggled with my habitual G and PG ratings. I considered skipping F. Instead, I decided to confess my dirty mind and ask for your forgiveness.
Through teaching school for twenty years, I refined a philosophy. I get along with 99% of everyone I know, and the other 1% is not my problem. More often than not, those who fall in the 1% are dealing with something that has nothing to do with me. However, I later realized that sometimes the people crawling under my skin were the people closest to me. Did they fall into my 1%? Did I have a bigger problem getting along with people than I wanted to admit?
I came up with another philosophy through fifty-one years of life experience. Expectations in other people lead to disappointments. People will fail you. People, especially those closest to you, will say and do things you don’t like. What’s a person to do? Say, “I’m right and you’re wrong”? Fight about it? Hold grudges forever? Delete family and friends out of your life one-by-one? Forgive and move on?
Forgiveness is hard, and I’m no expert. But I do know life is too short to resent people for being human. If you struggle like me (and have an extra 38 minutes), you might want to watch this. This guy helped me.
I appreciate you for reading my 2021 A-Z Challenge post today. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action: mental, physical, and spiritual, 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, Devote, Encourage.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
One year ago, and for the first time ever, I blogged A-Z during the month of April as part of a challenge. I committed at the very last minute, wrote my first post A is for Apple on April 1st and posted it on the 2nd. I chose a theme of gratitude, which seemed important at the beginning of a pandemic and in keeping with the nature of my blog:
Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope.
Other than that, I didn’t have a big plan. I chose an attitude of gratitude for twenty-six days according to each letter of the alphabet and posted on the fly. It was all part of keeping my own sanity.
I missed this year’s big theme reveal day on March 8, and I read that technically I don’t have to stick to a theme. That’s what I love about blogging—freedom of voice. Whew!
This semester my MFA program comes to an end, and the deadline of my thesis looms on the horizon—April 26. Revisions continue on my memoir, a quest for help for my son who has a severe brain illness and a coming-of-age story of a middle-aged woman who realizes the only person she can truly help is herself. I see my work as a playbook of sorts for someone in my position and hope it’s relatable despite a person’s circumstances.
During the spring semester of 2021, I’ve submitted the first two-thirds for feedback from my professor, and the next third is due at the end of March.
Parts I-III: 20,650 Words and 74 Pages
Parts IV-V: 23, 271 Words and 87 Pages
Parts VI-VII: 23,882 Words and 84 pages
Grand Total Today: 67,803 Words and 245 pages
Then, two more rounds of MAJOR revisions on my part, and after that three more professionals will read for extra opinions. So I might be mad to even consider a challenge. Then again, if I go for it, I might be building my audience of potential readers when the time comes to publish Help in the Time of Schizophrenia.
I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. Geez, if you hang in here with me after that line, well, then, God bless you.
Today would have been my mother’s eight-first birthday, and every time I tried to write something eloquent, I failed hard. She was the best, and I miss her. During these last couple of months, I have been overwhelmed by the outreach of kindness and sympathy from friends, hers and mine. These words are among my favorite:
“I have sat beside, under her leadership and so close in prayer with your mother, on many Monday mornings—
She brought life, laughter, peace, memorized scripture passages, prayer needs and most importantly she taught me about “grace notes” and moments our Lord gives to us and our family: encouragements, joy, blessings—these are prayers of praise!
Praise prayers were prayed for you: in your teaching positions, your home sales and purchases, your honors, her grandchildren, births, graduations, and accomplishments. She thanked God for Kody, his strength and promotions, provision for you. We as a circle of friends “cheered you on” with our hearts lifted in unison for any concern, worry, or need. She prayed lovingly and with faithfulness, waiting patiently on our Lord to answer. I am still learning “patiently”. So, so thankful for her wisdom and understanding our Holy God and His promise, Psalm 31:15 “our times are in His hands.”
May you, sweet Crystal see and hear in this note, your mother’s deep spiritual love, her constant commitment to you…”
And these words go on. So, today I celebrate my mother. I see her as the picture of health with a smile that radiates sheer joy, and I hear her voice through the thoughtfulness of her friend. I hope she hears me, too. Happy Birthday, Dear Mama! Happy Birthday, to you!
I want to say the year was 2013 when my friend Pamela attended an Oprah-sponsored Life You Want Weekend in Miami. She texted me a selfie, and I texted her back, “Awesome! Take notes and forward!” I mean, seriously, who doesn’t want to live the life they want?
She texted me back, “There were so many takeaways but what rings in my ears right now is something Rob Bell said, ‘The life you want starts with being grateful for the life you have.’”
January 2021 was hard for me, a month of grieving, not exactly what I want to do with my life. I know I can’t rush the process, but I want to move forward. Since 2013 (I think), I’ve chosen gratitude as my path to the life I want. Don’t get me wrong. Acknowledging pain is important. Wasn’t it Rilke who said,
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final" ?
It was Rilke. No feeling is final. Thank goodness. I’m thankful, too, for my little collection of words and insights and people, all of the ones helping me through. I’m especially thankful for my people. So many of you have lifted me up with your words this past month (and even before now) as I struggled against lowest lows. If that was you, leaving kindness in your wake, thank you from the depths of my heart. If you are reading now, I appreciate you for being here. I tend to feel everything deeply—beauty and terror—compassion, prayers, and gratitude.
And do you know what I love? How this WordPress blog tracks the distance of my words and the location of readers. I’m humbled, so humbled, by the readers who visited in January alone, readers in 47 countries—the U.S., India, Canada, The U.K., Germany, Spain, France, the U.A.E., China, South Africa, Australia, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Hong Kong SAR China, Egypt, Pakistan, Netherlands, Indonesia, Austria, Japan, Finland, New Zealand, Portugal, Jamaica, Philippines, Singapore, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Kenya, Thailand, Greece, Venezuela, Brazil, Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Congo-Kinshasa, Zambia, Chile, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Israel, and Mongolia.
I am grateful for you.
It’s funny how a simple thanks doesn’t seem good enough.
Sharon Sue Petty, 80, passed away peacefully at home amid family on December 24, 2020. The third of five children, Sharon was born February 26, 1940, at home in Oklahoma City to Edward Tony and Catherine Leota Barker Savage. She brought extra joy into this world.
As a young girl, Sharon wanted to be president of the United States. She met David Kent Petty at the end of her eighth-grade year when she was elected Student Council president. David, as the outgoing president, swore in Sharon as the new president. These kids fell for each other at Northeast High School in Oklahoma City, and they swore their lives to each other in marriage on May 29, 1961. Sharon chose to be the best wife and mother she could be, and she was.
Sharon attended Oklahoma State University and delayed her graduation to support David through law school. When the family moved to Guymon in January 1970, Sharon continued her studies and graduated from Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
Sharon loved gardening. Over the years, she cultivated many productive vegetable gardens and gave away bushels of zucchini. She applied for and received grants of over $100,000 for trees to beautify Guymon. She planted and watered many trees personally. Sharon also served several terms as the president of the Rose Garden Club in Guymon, where she mentored other gardeners. Sharon’s top gardening tips included 1) Only trim shrubs in the months with “R” in them. 2) Planting trees in the fall gives them a chance to grow before leaves require moisture. 3) Knockout roses are wonderful. They bloom from spring to the first freeze. They are hardy and resist disease and drought.
Active in her church and community, Sharon taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and helped with Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. She volunteered as a tutor in Guymon Public Schools, as an ombudsman at the Heritage Community, and as a committee member for Guymon on the Move. Sharon visited, mentored, and shared hope with inmates and met weekly with her beloved ladies’ Bible study groups. A member of Victory Memorial United Methodist Church, Sharon was involved with United Methodist Women, the UMW Clothing Ministry, the Stephen Ministry, Martha Ruth Circle, and several church committees. UMW honored Sharon with their special recognition for her service. In 2002, the City of Guymon recognized her as Citizen of the Year. In 2004, Beta Sigma Phi sorority awarded Sharon the honor of Woman of the Year. In 2008, Main Street Guymon recognized Sharon for her efforts toward the city’s beautification. Sharon only wanted to make a difference, and she did.
Sharon touched many lives with her beautiful smile, unconditional love, and constant kindness, and her life was a living example of her favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 41:13. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Sharon fought the challenges of Alzheimer’s and complications from COVID-19 with the supernatural strength and courage of her heavenly Father. At age ten, Sharon knew she needed Jesus, and she felt His presence throughout her days.
Sharon is survived by her husband David of the home; daughter Liz Lee and husband Mike of Guymon; son Scott Petty and wife Gerri of Stillwater; daughter Crystal Byers and husband Kody of Houston, Texas; grandchildren Chase Lee, Gant Lee, Drew Byers, Lauren Byers, Catherine Petty and Will Petty; two great granddaughters Olivia and Allyson Lee; her brother and his wife, John Paul and Nancy Savage of Granbury, Texas; her sister-in-law Linda Savage of Norman; and many nephews and nieces. Sharon was preceded in death by her sister Carol Rose Payton and two brothers James Edward Savage and Joed Cleve Savage. All of these she loved and touched deeply.
Sharon’s life will be celebrated with a graveside service at Elmhurst Cemetery in Guymon on Monday, December 28th at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Rose Garden Club of Guymon or the Panhandle State Foundation scholarship fund. In her memory, please wear a mask and maintain distance in public.
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. ❤️
I grew up blue
in a little red state
in a little red town.
with the red kids.
My blue parents
red parents down
That was great.
opinions and choices.
Votes were our voices.
We didn’t see
red or blue.
and what's true—
like a person's heart
we can agree—
You do you.
I’ll do me.
I realize that living well is an art which can be developed. Of course, you will need the basic talents to build upon: They are a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings, and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift. That people who may differ from you in political stance, sexual persuasion, and racial inheritance can be founts of fun, and if you are lucky, they can become even convivial comrades.
A few days ago, I read the words of my friend Collette. She writes about her sobriety of eighteen months and why past sobriety attempts failed. After spending decades of her life in an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, Collette experienced a mindset shift. She prayed to God to deliver her from temptation, and now she practices turning to God daily in gratitude and dependence. God performed a miracle for Collette—he removed her desire to have a drink.
Collette’s shift of mindset spoke to me in terms of navigating a path forward for my son Drew. I wasn’t exactly sure what that would mean for my life and thought perhaps a counselor might help me figure that out. But a few days later, I spoke to a local pastor who runs a Christ-centered recovery program. I told him all about Drew and our journey with schizophrenia. He said, “Crystal, God can work miracles.” And he told me all about their program.
I re-read Collette’s words, which led me to a few more of her words, and suddenly I realized what a mindset shift meant for me. Like Collette…
I need a miracle.
And I believe.
In a miracle—
And with gratitude.
And with this faith—
there is hope.
Thank you, God, for renewed hope and peace in my heart. This is exactly where my blog started three years ago when a hurricane flooded my home and we rebuilt for ten months while living in a hotel. As we continue to rebuild our lives, please God, don’t let me forget the formula:
Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope
Today is a milestone on the blog, and I can’t think of any more appropriate words for my 150th post. For those of you praying for me in recent weeks, thank you with all I have. Do you see God at work?
And I stand in prayer on the following promises from God:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Psalm 138:1, 3, 6-8
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise…
3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me…
6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. 8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
23 “Truly, I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
1 Peter 2:24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Samuel 2:26
And the boy Samuel [Drew] continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with people.
The Lord will fight for you [yes, YOU], you need only to be still.