One teacher makes a difference

*Big thanks to my friend Henry Petty for sharing his gratitude for his sixth grade teacher with us–and thanks to all educators who make a difference in the lives of students today. Stay tuned for other “back to school” posts.*

Henry with Mrs. and Mr. Elumbaugh

Henry with Mrs. and Mr. Elumbaugh

I can count on one hand the number of teachers who really inspired me and left an impact, and this spans from high school through college. Let me tell you about Mrs. Margaret Elumbaugh.

She was Mrs. Beard when school started. I can remember she had this poster up of a drawing of somebody wearing a beard, and that was her. She was the kindest person to me at a time when I was so very vulnerable. I was wearing tattered clothes in a scholastic melting pot of characters: the rich kids mixed with 2 oz. of po-po kids (poor). She and Mrs. Bently were the ultimate tag team of teachers. They genuinely cared about their students, and you could tell.

I can remember being a very unpopular kid in school; I never got my haircut because my grandma cut it for me, and it hurt really bad. And she cut it holding a bowl over my head, hence the “bowl cut.” People spat on me, called me “wet back” because the naïve students thought I was Hispanic (I’m Filipino, dummy), and made fun of me for my hand-me-down-from-a-yardsale clothes. My life was a nightmare. And that was during recess.

But she treated me just like the other students. She didn’t care; she had love in her heart. She would have this giant bag of Jolly Ranchers to give the good kids for doing..well.. good :). I always enjoyed Mondays because she recounted the weekend excursion to Little Rock which she and “Bubby,” her husband at the time, would take. Or she would tell us about some movie they went out to see. I was too poor to see a movie, much less make the scary trip all the way to Little Rock from Batesville, so this was like storytime and show-and-tell for me. I now live five minutes away from the very mall she talked about going to, and when I’m walking around, she comes to mind.

She inspired me to do more with my life. She convinced me that I was special just like any other kid, that I was a good-hearted person with lots to give to the world. When I tried to be someone I wasn’t, she called me out on it. I started walking down the hallway with a “limp” because I saw somebody do it on Arsenio Hall, and she looked at me and said,”Don’t do that.”

I was arguably the poorest kid in her class, very shy, and as unpopular as orange juice after brushing your teeth. I was bullied often, made fun of on a daily basis either for my clothes or darker skin. On the day of our Christmas presentation, I completely forgot my line and was feeling crummy about it. I got back to my desk and found a giant artbook with color pencils and magic markers. She had gotten those for me as a gift because she always saw me drawing. She nurtured that gift which eventually led to my love of entertaining and doing YouTube videos. Thank you, Mrs. Elumbaugh. I never forgot.

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his 2013 bucket list. What’s on your bucket list for 2013?*

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

ImageTake up golf – a buddy of mine said it’s a really good networking tool.  Donald Trump has stated the deals he makes are always on the golf course.  And, I have been approached many times to play golf with them.  And, I was recently eating at a luncheon with our CEO who was talking up how awesome the game of golf was (God’s *wink wink, nod nod* at me, if you will).

Go to Disneyland – I have always wanted to go to either Disney resort.  I love love love love me some Disney; nothing makes me happier.  There is an underlying reason as well.  When I was very young and living in California, my mother took my brother to Disneyland and NOT ME.  To this very day, I will never understand why she did that to me, and my grandma gave my mother a hard time about it for sure.  So it’s almost a “revenge” scenario that’s got a sweet topping with Mickey Mouse shaped cupcakes as a side item.

Be more organized – I think I have some sort of ADD, because I am always searching for my wallet, keys, cell phone.  All.  The.  Time.  I am always checking 5 or 6 times before I leave the house for those essential items, and I always check the door to see if it’s locked.  I’ve even driven half a mile and turned around to make sure I locked the door.  I’ve always been scatter-brained like that, and I hope it’s not genetic so that I can become organized.  If anybody watches the show “Dexter” on Showtime, I want to be as meticulous with my cleanliness and organization as Dexter Morgan. 

Use my gifts for charity – I hope to use my YouTube video skills toward a good cause.  I hope to do something similar to the guy who created #26RandomActsofKindess in honor of the Sandy Hook victims.  Nothing feels better than helping someone else.

*Good luck to Henry and to all readers who hope to reach goals and fulfill dreams this year! What’s on your bucket list in 2013? Leave a comment and let us know.*

Choosing to smile

Regular readers of this blog have enjoyed reading Henry Petty’s guest blog posts. Henry hosts his own YouTube vlog as well as a WordPress blog. I’ve known Henry since college and have watched him grow spiritually, professionally, and personally. He’s a loyal friend and generous person, but I believe his best quality is his ability to see the bright side of grim situations. To the casual observer, he may seem like the most carefree person on the planet who must have had an easy life–how else could he laugh, smile, and share so freely?

Henry and the love of his life

Henry and the love of his life

Let me assure you that it’s not because he’s had an easy life. He chooses to laugh, smile, and share in spite of the obstacles that he’s overcome, and his faith and hope fuel him to inspire other people to do the same. And that is what I am most grateful for about my friend Henry.

Take three minutes away from your strict schedule, stressful shopping excursions, and obnoxious out-of-town guests to enjoy this vlog from Henry :). I’m sure the fun will be contagious.



Ashes to ashes

Special thanks to Henry Petty for contributing as today’s guest writer.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, honoring the first day of Lent.  This is a time when Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before the beginning of His ministry, and is a time of prayer and fasting, all culminating at Easter.  Traditionally, people will give up something they love, like social networking, coffee, video games, and background noise.

During the ceremony at Church, I go up to the priest, who then places ashes on my forehead in a symbol of the cross.  He utters these words as he does this:

“Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3:19)

Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, I believe everyone can get something from this.  To me, it’s a humbling experience, reminding me of my transgressions as well as how fragile life is, and to not take it for granted, because I’ll eventually return to “dust”.

I am truly grateful for the life I’ve been given, and know that tomorrow is not a guarantee.  In the movie “Fight Club”, one of the characters’ lives is spared.  The Brad Pitt character tells his sidekick, ”That man’s breakfast tomorrow will taste better than anything we will have ever tasted in our lifetime.”

To follow Henry’s vlog, visit



Like snow

Our state is about to be blanketed in snow (or at least sleet). It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s a big deal. The bread aisle becomes a wasteland. A few unlucky shoppers wind up with stitches over gallons of milk. The highway department suffers from a massive panic attack. But most of us settle in and enjoy the way the snow quietly covers up our busy little lives temporarily.

As I thought about the tranquility that came with the snow today, I remembered a song I love by Ingrid Michaelson. It’s not a spiritual song; it’s a love song. But as my friend Amie says, sometimes God speaks to her more strongly through love songs than through church songs, reminding her something of the ways He loves her.

Today I hope you’ll take a second to let Him quiet your world.


I get to!

*Today’s post is written by yesterday’s featured vlogger, Henry Petty. Thank you, Henry, for sharing your experience with us!*

I work in an office.  You would think this would be the end of the post, as “working in an office” is synonymous with “living happily ever after,” but you’d be wrong.  No, I’m not being sarcastic or cynical – I am living happily ever after right now inside the 3 ½ walls that is the cubicle I spend roughly 10 hours a day in.  My environment is littered with circulating illness, small talk around the coffee pot, clashing personalities (I’ll get into that in a second), and awkward rides in the elevator.  I’m a happy camper and couldn’t be more grateful.

Before I began my office job, I had spent 6 years at a giant orange store that sells hardware.  I spent most of my days toiling around lugging heavy appliances, Quikrete, mulch, lumber and other heavy objects for a customers’ do-it-yourself project.   I would come home with aches and pains, sometimes blood here and there and smelling of pesticides and saw dust.  Tony Stewart, the famed NASCAR driver, was the spokesman for this store for a reason:  he didn’t work there, and anyone who had wouldn’t endorse the product.

The first day I started at the office, I made a remark to one of the supervisors, “Wow, cubicles.  This is awesome!”  I had said this with much excitement to puzzling glares in my direction.  I was genuinely excited to be able to dress nicely, sit at a desk with a computer, and work with my mind instead of my back.  My grandma had always preached to me this notion, to work smarter and not harder.  I know she’d be proud.

When I’m having even the slightest bad day, I always tell myself that my worst day at the office is better than my best day at the orange big box store.  I even keep my tattered work apron hanging my closet to remind me of how grateful I am.

In my environment, people wish their lives away.  They arrive on Monday wishing it were Friday, and celebrate Friday until it is Monday.  Even on Friday, they dread the next two days because it will be Monday.  Some can’t even allow themselves to ENJOY their weekend that they so wished the other 5 days away to have.  I, on the other hand, tell my co-workers that I’m actually sad it’s 5 o’clock on Friday, because I’ll have to leave work for two whole days before I get to come back Monday to my awesome job!  I don’t win over many crowds, obviously.

Did you catch what I just said?  “I GET to come back to work.”  I GET to wake up in the morning, as opposed to the common Debbie Downer’s mantra of, “I have to go to work today.”  I GET to wake up with the Lord’s blessing of giving me one more day to do what I can to be the best Henry Petty I can be.  Living a life of gratitude will allow you to go places you’ve never been, and maintain a state of constant happiness and optimum performance.

It’s this attitude of being absolutely grateful for what I have that has gotten me very far and successful in the business I’m in.  I am so appreciative of what I have, that I do what I can to earn my keep.  It’s been 4 years since I began working in an office, and I’ve achieved massive success and been recognized on a large platform by the CEO and Executive staff of our company.

One of my co-workers favorite sayings when they sit down at 8 a.m. is,”ooh, I’m ready to go.”  My reply to this individual is always, “I can’t wait to get started!” followed by her retort, “Shut up, Henry!”   It sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays.  My remedy:  A teaspoon of gratitude… and a cup of coffee.

*To subscribe to Henry’s vlog, visit *


Joy and gratitude: my friend, Henry Petty

My friend since college, Henry Petty, is one of the most light-hearted, joyful people I know.

It’s not because his life has been easy or because he’s achieved every single goal he set for himself  or because he is  spoiled rotten.

It’s because he chooses to be joyful and to be grateful for what God’s given him, and for God, in spite of life itself. He allows himself permission to be himself, make mistakes, experience new things, and hope for the best. He takes chances and opens himself to God and has been on a very exciting spiritual journey.

Henry once told me he started a vlog (video blog)  and hoped that someday it would bring people laughter and joy. His vlog has now been viewed nearly 100,000 times, and advertisers contact him because they recognize that people WANT to enjoy life, even if it’s just for a few minutes via YouTube.

Take a few minutes and check out Henry’s vlog.

Can you take an additional 3 minutes today to bring joy to others in your own life out of the gratitude stored up inside you? I’ve watched it transform Henry into a stronger, more outgoing, more successful, and more joyful person. Start practicing gratitude–and sharing joy–and maybe the same will be true for you.