Friends and Family Give Life to Living

“I don’t complain about what I can no longer do. I am thankful that I got to do them at all. I have enjoyed so many blessings.” This was my conversation with my friend Dr. Monty Knight on our way to lunch with our lunch buddies. He has blessed my life in so many ways. This is what friends do. They are there when you need a friend to remind you of what you believe.

Several years ago, my son Michael, downloaded a group of my favorite hymns. He gave me the collection, “The Gospel According to Dad.” What a gift. I can play it while I am at my computer and be reminded of what has been given to me. Faith passed down through the generations grows stronger as the years mount up. It is amazing that my son knows me so well. He chose the selections.

When the telephone rings just after 9 a.m. every morning, I know without looking that it is my daughter, Suzanne, just checking in to see how my morning is going or to reassure herself that I made it through the night. By the same token my friend, Gene, will call about 9:15 in the evening. My sister checks in on a regular basis.

When my friends Bob and Rose Boston were on their way to Mt. Pisgah to celebrate their wedding anniversary, he called to let me know that they were passing the signs to Woodruff, my home town. He said that they have a big sign posted, “Home of Mitch.” Preachers can tell some mighty whoppers.

I can count on my friend, Joyce, to call to tell me about an unusual word or a great quote she has found. She and I share a great love of quotations. I look forward to her uplifting conversation. Every Christmas my friend Sally will send me the big print edition of, Daily Guideposts Devotionals. What a treasure.

If I miss being in church, I know that Clyde will call to tell me how much I was missed. His calls almost make it worth missing an occasional Sunday.

From time to time just when I need it Carol, my wife, will tap me on the shoulder and say, “You’ll be alright, Mitch or she’ll sing, “You are My Sunshine.”

I pray that you have some of these folks in your life. These are the angels that we are promised. They bring joy and thanksgiving to the heart.

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Love Is Stronger Than Hate*

Hate is too easy. It relieves us of any responsibility.  Donald Trump has made hate speech acceptable to thousands of his followers. His rhetoric encourages those who are dissatisfied to blame other Americans for their problems. He wants to divide us by appealing to our worst emotions.

We in Charleston have a stronger message. “Love is stronger than hate.”  We will not be bullied into hatting.  A year after the savage murders of worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Church an act that was intended for evil has instead been transformed into acceptance and community.

Let us all use our words to create relationships, build each other up, encourage one another and build a stronger community. Let us build bridges of understanding and destroy the walls of bigotry and hatred.

*Published in the Charleston PostandCourier. June 19, 2016

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Celebrating Family Reunions

Family reunions seem to be having a rebirth especially among African/American families. Family reunions were very important in my youth. I discuss one such reunion in particular in my book, Our Father: Discovering Family. These reunions give us a sense of who we are and where we came from. How I wish that I had paid closer attention to the old stories when I was a boy.

A few years back I started attending my grandmother’s family reunions again. Of course she is long gone and so are all of her brothers and sisters. Only the “kids” are left and most of them are long in the tooth like me. My sister’s birthday falls close to this one, but she threatens my life if I reveal it to the group. This one has been thriving for more than fifty years.

The family of my dad’s sister started having a family reunion a couple of years ago. Maybe there is a resurgence of the practice among Caucasians. It seems to me that the scarier our world becomes the need for closeness with family becomes stronger. In those bygone days, all of the food that was served was home made. You knew whose fried chicken or coconut cake was the best. Now everything comes from the colonel or Publix Supermarket. Nothing remotely compares to my mother’s fried chicken or Aunt Alice’s pineapple upside-down cake.

My Uncle Calvin told the best good old day’s tales and Cousin Virgil told the biggest whoppers. The children were not hothouse plants in those bygone days and didn’t need underfoot supervision; therefore the grownups could have real conversations. The laughter was contagious. Most of all you knew that you belonged. Birthdays, anniversaries and graduations were celebrated. New babies were passed from aunt to aunt. The absence of the recently departed were noted. Many of the attendees were late because their church service had lasted longer. Some were late because they are always late. One thing has not changed. Someone always returns thanks before anyone eats.

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June 5, 2016 Is Say Something Nice Sunday


iSt. John the Baptist
The purpose of Say Something Nice Sunday is very simple. On this one day do not say anything negative about any person, Christian organization or group and if possible say something nice, uplifting, and encouraging. What comes out of our mouths is reflective of what is in our hearts.

This is the 10th anniversary of our movement to change the downward spiral of our speech to speech that is more Christ-like. It is amazing how a kind word can make such a difference in someone’s life. People often respond with, “You don’t know how badly I needed that. I have had a terrible day.”

Rev. Garry Hollingsworth, Executive Director/Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention said, “It is timely for you folks to encourage this kind of cooperation among God’s people since we face so many spiritual challenges in this state and our nation.”

scan0002.jpg BishopThe Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston (all of South Carolina,) enthusiastically endorsed the annual celebration. He said, “The decline of civility is at an epidemic level in our society and unfortunately has invaded our religious life. The disrespect shown to Christians by other Christians is far from what Jesus wants for His people.”

Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church and a member of the committee, emphasizes, “In conversation, an attitude of grace dissolves the temptation to pre-judge the words or the reactions of another. Grace keeps us from being easily offended, and in a conversation on a difficult subject, you neither want to give or take offense. Our world has been divided long enough – let’s build relationships that can change it, starting right here.”

Free materials are at www.fbcharleston.org. Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down on the right to Say Something Nice Sunday. There are Bible references, devotionals, art work and the purpose.

 

 

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