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Why It’s Important to Record Your Family Stories – ethicsdaily.com

Why It's Important to Record Your Family Stories | Mitch Carnell, Storytelling, Family, Memory, Remembering, National Day of Listening

If you do not write or record your family stories, they will die with you, Carnell says.

Who was the funniest person in your family? Who was the most serious? Who was the caretaker? Who was the prankster?

Family stories are important. They tell who you are and where you came from.

My grandfather had the greatest laugh I had ever known until our son, Michael, came along. His laughter can light up the room.

My sister is the caretaker. She mothers everyone. Cousin Virgil could spin an unbelievable yarn. Uncle Calvin was the optimist. Daughter, Suzanne, could compete with my dad for being tenacious. The two of them were thicker than thieves.

You haven’t experienced anything as ridiculous as listening to my great-nephew, Justin, talking about his love affair with bologna. I hold the family record for preparing the worst ever Christmas ham.

I have a prized family heirloom. It is a record of the births and deaths of my father’s brothers and sisters in my grandmother’s handwriting on a parchment scroll. It was rescued in the nick of time from under my uncle’s house.

The record starts in 1888 with my grandparents’ wedding on Sept. 20. My dad took it with him to prove his eligibility for Social Security benefits. It made the rounds of the office before he got it back.

Why are these things important? These stories tell us who we are. If you do not write or record your family stories, they will die with you.

Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving, is the National Day of Listening. It was started by StoryCorps in 2008 as a day set aside to tell and record family stories. Where did your family come from? What brought them here?

My friend, Carl, tells the most wonderful stories about his father, who was one of the first highway patrolmen in Texas. I keep urging Carl to record his stories; otherwise, they will disappear with him. I would buy his book.

You may think that your family’s history is dull, and no one would be interested. Think again.

When I was writing my book, “Our Father: Discovering Family,” and was about to give up on the project, my wife said, “You have got to finish this at least for your grandchildren.” I finished it, and one of the reviewers said, “His grandchildren and great-grandchildren will treasure this.”

Of course, you can spend Black Friday shopping, but sitting with relatives, friends, fellow church members or civic club members and recalling and recording shared moments will prove to be much more meaningful. Try it with some older members of your church.

When I was about 9 years old, we were in Spartanburg, South Carolina, walking to the office of my ophthalmologist. I was a few paces in front of my parents. I heard my mother say to dad, “I’m not sure I want Mitch to get new glasses. He has always thought that I was so pretty.”

My late wife, Liz, was such a procrastinator that my sister told her, “Liz, you will be late to your own funeral.” As we were riding in the limo to her funeral, my sister said, “Mitch, look at your watch.” We were 10 minutes late.

Do I want that story to die with me? No, absolutely not.

When my children were small, we were driving to my Uncle Calvin’s funeral. We passed a small country church with a sign out front that read, “Revival in progress. Come and be revived.” Michael spoke up front the back seat and exclaimed, “Daddy, that’s where we can take Uncle Calvin.”

I never tired of hearing my dad talk about his asking my grandfather for my mother’s hand in marriage.

My grandfather was a big man, already dressed for bed in a nightshirt and barefoot. “There he was with tears flowing down his cheeks. ‘Well, Carnell,’ he said, ‘if you don’t know how to treat her, you know where you got her.'”

Your family stories are just as valuable as mine. Take some time. Laugh a little. Tell the stories. Be sure the voice recorder or video camera is turned on.

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Welcome Anaheim California and Mayor Tait

Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim and the City Council issued a proclamation declaring Say Something Nice Day on June 1. Mayor Tecklenburg of Charleston sent him a copy of my book, Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter at Work. They had met at the National Mayor’s Conference.

Mayor Tait campaigned on a platform of kindness. He declared Anaheim the City of Kindness. Say Something Nice Day fit beautifully with that theme. When I met with Mayor Tecklenburg and Mrs. Tecklenburg they were both enthusiastic about that idea. Michelle Hill in Mayor Tecklenburg’s office and Loretta Day in Mayor Tait’s office were both extremely helpful. I received a beautifully executed proclamation from Anaheim signed by Mayor Tait and all of the council members.

Little by little, we are making progress. The harsh rhetoric that is so prevalent in our national discourse is taking a toll on our national character and the lives of individuals.

We would welcome your help in persuading your city to endorse Say Something Nice Day on June 1 each year and/or your church to celebrate Say Something Nice Sunday on the first Sunday in June.

Words matter. In Charleston we have witnessed firsthand the power of words to heal.

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Celebrate 11th Annual Say Something Nice Sunday

The book of Hebrews tells us, “Not to neglect to show kindness to strangers.” When members and visitors exit the sanctuary of historic First Baptist Church of Charleston on June 4, they will be given a daisy, the symbol of friendship, with the instructions, “Give it to a stranger and say something nice.” Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim, California said, “Acts of kindness create a vibration that extends out like the ripples from pebbles and brings people together.”

Sunday June 4, 2017 is the 11th. Annual Say Something Nice Sunday. Every church, denomination, religious organization or group fostering greater harmony and goodwill are encouraged to join. There are no fees or anything to buy. “We are just trying to make the world a safer and happier place to live,” according to Mitch Carnell, Chair of the ecumenical committee.

The movement began at First Baptist Church of Charleston and was adopted by the Charleston County Baptist Association. The Charleston/Atlantic Presbytery joined followed by the Disciples of Christ and the Catholic Diocese of Charleston which includes all of South Carolina. Many American Baptists, Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodists churches around the country joined. Recently Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin and Louisiana College have joined the movement.

The Most Reverend Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston said in support of the movement, ”Our words should be used to express love not hatred. What better way can we express this belief than to celebrate a day devoted to healing with our words? I heartily endorse the mission of Say Something Nice Sunday and urge all Christians to participate. In Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul tells us that the greatest virtue is love. What better way is there for Christians to express this virtue than to participate in Say Something Nice Sunday?”

Everyone can use a word of encouragement, a smile or a pat on the back. That is our purpose. Everybody is somebody. You are unique, one of a kind. You make our lives better. That is the message we want to send.

Free materials are available at www.fbcharleston.org. Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page then scroll down to Say Something Nice Sunday. You will find, Bible verses, devotionals, suggestions for use, art work and the purpose of the celebration. You are encouraged to create your own materials and share them. Send to lori@fbcharleston.org.

 

 

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Great Reception at Charleston Baptist Church Forever Young Seniors

There is one thing all Baptists have in common. We like to eat and fellowship. You can never go wrong by attending a Baptist Pot Luck meal and the Forever Young Seniors at Charleston Baptist Church are no exception to the rule. These folk have a great time together.

If the truth be told, they do not need a guest speaker. Their fellowship is enough to carry them through. Today they were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. My friend Randy Moody took a fair amount of grief over his green Dollar Tree hat.

I was flattered to be their quest speaker for the meeting. They were extremely receptive and polite while I talked about what I learned while writing, Our Father: Discovering Family. They even bought copies of that one and, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. We had a good exchange of ideas. I always have more fun around church people. My friend Phyllis Haynes from First Baptist was also there.

Randy Moody introduced me. Randy, Sarah, his wife, and I have been friends for more than thirty years. They are marvelous Christians who make life better for all who know them.

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