Archive for category Say Something Nice

Thanksgiving – Rev. Susan Sparks – SunySideUp.com

Hi Y’all, welcome to the Shiny Side Up! A journal of infectious inspiration that will lift you up, make you smile and leave you stronger!A couple of things. First, life has been a bit busy around here, and as a result, I’m afraid delivery of the Shiny Side Up has been a bit sporadic. Starting today, I commit to sharing the Shiny Side Up with you every other Wednesday!

Second, while the Thanksgiving holiday has officially past, I still want to share this column with you. It talks about the importantce of gratitude which never goes out of season! It was featured as a syndicated newspaper column on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, I’d like to shamelessly sharing a letter to the editor in the Daytona Beach News-Journal about this particular column. I’m super proud of it!

How to give thanks
Susan Sparks wrote a sparkling essay — not a sermon — on the meaning of Thanksgiving and, indeed, on the essence of all that the word “giving” connotes.

Susan Sparks embodies what is best in any minister, rabbi or priest: A sense of humor as she conveys a message of profound significance and a sense of gratitude for what we’ve been given.

As she quotes from The Bible, “God loves a cheerful giver.” It gives a new perspective to what we understand when we think of charity and giving to others less fortunate.

Thanks for publishing Sparks’ heartfelt column.

John P. Stark, Port Orange

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Now . . . for the column!

It’s hard for me to believe that New York City (where I now live) is part of the same country as North Carolina (where I was born). Everything is different: food, clothing, the pace at which people walk, and the accents. Oh, the accents.

I don’t mean any disrespect, but New York accents are just wrong—meaning they fall in the wrong place.

For example, in the south the object one holds over one’s head in a rainstorm is pronounced, “UM-brella.” New Yorkers talk about some foreign object called an “um-BREL-la.”

The southern word for the flat screen on your wall that allows you to binge on Netflix is “TEE-vee.” New Yorkers use some alien multi-syllable conglomeration of “television.”

Some may see this to be a meaningless linguistic tussle. However, when you consider the word describing this week’s national holiday, you realize that there is more at stake than you may think.

Unlike New Yorkers who say, “ThanksGIVING,” Southerners call this holiday “THANKS-giving.” Why? Because that’s what the holiday is about! THANKS. Not giving.

The thanks must come first because you can’t truly give FROM the heart, unless you have gratitude IN your heart. It’s as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

This is an important lesson as we begin this holiday season. While loving, joyful giving should be the focus of the coming weeks, giving usually turns into an exhausting act of duty. Like the conviction that you have to make two potato dishes—sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes—for the holiday dinner. Or the belief that you must fight the Black Friday crowds to get a generic scarf and mitten set for a great aunt twice-removed because she sent you a Whitman’s Sampler.

This is not joyful giving. This is giving cause you gotta. And this type of giving rarely produces anything heartfelt. What it does produce is heartburn. It also generates stress, resentment, and the worse of all things: the martyr syndrome.

To break from this pattern, we must put the emphasis on the “THANKS”—in the word for the holiday and in our lives. And the best way to do that is to ask yourself the following question:

What is good in my life?

When you focus on what you have, even if it’s the tiniest of things, you begin to feel gratitude. And when you have gratitude, everything changes: your mood lightens, your heart opens, and your mind starts to alter its perspective. Eventually, you see past the angst and realize that you are surrounded by blessings—blessings that you want to share.

So, what is good in your life?

Maybe you woke up feel physically stronger than usual. If so, find someone who needs physical help crossing the street or carrying groceries.

Perhaps, you have a plant blooming in your house. Take a photo and send it to someone whose heart is not blooming.
Is your blessing putting on a warm coat this morning? Find a way to share something warm, like a cup of coffee, with someone who needs it.

Or maybe you are one of the lucky people with the biggest of blessings: a job. (And please understand, I didn’t say a job you love. I mean a J-O-B with a C-H-E-C-K.) If that’s your blessing, then remember those who don’t have a job this holiday. Volunteer to serve a meal or be like the anonymous donor who recently paid off holiday layaway accounts at a Walmart.

This week, as you make your multiple potato dishes, and shop in the Black Friday chaos, raise thanks for what is good in your life, then share that blessing with joy. Give with a grateful, not grudging heart. Put the emphasis where it belongs. And remember, as we do in the South, that the holiday is pronounced THANKSgiving!

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Skip the Stores on Black Friday; Share Your Family’s Stories

By Mitch Carnell  – November 27, 2019 – Ethicsdaily.com

As we were walking from the parking lot to his office, I heard my mother say to my dad, “I’m not sure I want Mitch to get new glasses. He has always said that I was so pretty. I am afraid he will find out the truth.” Dad just laughed.

This is a tiny sliver of my family lore, but if I do not write it down somewhere, it will be lost when I die.

There are thousands of events big and small in my family’s history. Hardly any of them important to anyone outside our family, but are significant in telling the story of our family. They are important in making me who I am.

The same is true for your family. If you do not record your story and your family’s stories, they will be gone forever when you are gone.

Bob Hudson, a former senior editor at Zondervan Publishers, said, “Our story is a part of God’s story.” When our stories are considered part of God’s story, they take on new meaning.

This was a new idea for me. I had never thought of my story in that way until I heard Bob say it. Think of how encouraging your story could be to others.

StoryCorps created a National Day of Listening, encouraging people on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to sit with other family members to tell and record those family stories.

The benefits of such a day are enormous. You don’t have to join the mob of those pushing and shoving to buy the latest “must have” gadget.

There is nothing to buy and most important of all, you will be left with a treasure chest of family lore.

When I was to receive an honorary degree from Lander University, I walked out on stage to deliver the commencement address and spotted my Aunt Norma and Uncle Jim, my mother’s brother, in the audience.

They had never attended any event in which I was involved, but my father had died and my mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. They had come to support me. They could never imagine the depth of my gratitude and joy.

That too is a part of my story and God’s story. It illustrates how important small gestures can be.

My late wife, Liz, was well known for her creative abilities but also as a great procrastinator; consequently, I was astounded when she insisted on making our daughter’s wedding dress.

As Suzanne was about to descend the steps from the dressing room in the church, her mother was hastily pinning up the hem of her dress. Mercifully, everyone focused on the beautiful bride without noticing the pins.

Suzanne only remembers her mother’s love that created the dress. Although Liz died 30 years ago, who would want this story to be lost?

While my sister and I were growing up, our dad was an impatient person. When we were assigned a task by him, he expected an instant response. – “Don’t make me tell you twice.”

After my mother contracted Alzheimer’s disease and could no longer communicate verbally, this same impatient man sat by her side, held her hand and talked to her for hours at a time. Theirs was a love that was stronger than any disease.

Is that an important story? He showed me by example what love really means. I thought of him constantly when my late wife suffered from the same horrible disease.

Don’t let your story die. Don’t allow your family’s stories to die. They are important both to you and future generations.

Get together with whomever you consider family and tell the old stories. Start with a single incident. The rest will come.

Mitch Carnell

Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.

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Bucket List Travels with Suzanne and Michael – Part Three

After a very good brunch at Elmer’s Restaurant in Eugene we headed toward Crater Lake National Park. We stopped to explore another covered bridge and resumed our journey. We found to our astonishment an authentic A & W Root Beer Restaurant at Willamette. We had to indulge. It brought back so many memories.  This is the 100th. Anniversary of its founding. Suzanne spotted the snow on the mountains long before I did. Once we entered the park there was snow everywhere. The lake surrounded by the mountains is spectacular. You must add Crater Lake to your travel list. After our stop at the visitor’s center, we had a decision to make. Would we head back to Bend, Oregon and across to Idaho or would we head straight across the southern route? Yours truly made the decision to go the southern route.

We headed across what we learned later was the Oregon Desert. We saw horses, cows, sheep, fields of grass, and irrigation systems. We rarely saw people or other cars. The landscape is beautiful. Fierce battles were once waged here between sheep herders and cattlemen. As daylight was fading, we lost cell phone service and Suzanne said the gas was getting low. I wasn’t worried. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t see the gas gage. Finally we came upon a sign for Silver Lake. We found a service station somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Inside we found a very nice lady who told me I had chosen right to skip Bend. We pressed on to Burns where we dined at McDonald’s. We spent the night at a very well used Day’s Inn. After breakfast we headed toward Ontario, ‘where Oregon begins.”  Burns is named for Robert Burns, the Scottish poet. We visited a very interesting Native American Museum and Shop. We ate lunch at an Asian restaurant in Ontario, took pictured and were on our way to Twin Falls.

When we crossed into Idaho, I was elated. We found our hotel in Burley.  Shoshone Falls have not been commercialized and thus are not spoiled. They are actually 35ft. higher than Niagara Falls. What a sight! We headed back to the Twin Falls Visitor’s Center and were off to Boise. We visited Boise State University. Suzanne got a picture of the blue turf and we browsed the book store. We had a very good dinner at Morey’s Steak House. This was bittersweet because this was the end of our wonderful journey.

Saturday morning we relinquished our trusty steed and flew together to Denver where we parted company. Suzanne flew to Nashville and I flew to Charleston. My heart overflows with joy for these two journeys to the Baltic with Michael and to round out my 50 state Bucket List with Suzanne. I am blessed with two wonderful children.

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Bucket List Travels with Suzanne and Michael – Part Two

On September 27, I flew to Nashville on Southwest to meet Suzanne, my daughter. We had dinner in the airport. Our 9:45p.m. flight to Chicago on Southwest was cancelled due to a thunderstorm over Midway. Southwest could not get us to Chicago in time to make our Amtrak connections to the Empire Builder the next day. The first Southwest associate was less than helpful but assured us that our bags would be taken off and would be waiting for us in baggage claim. Not true. The second associate was much more helpful. She said that against policy our bags had been put on an earlier flight that did make it to Chicago. Not true. She did schedule us on a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul where we could meet the train Saturday night. Suzanne and I made it to a Residence Inn for the night. At 1:o’clock a.m. Southwest called Suzanne’s cell phone to say they had located our bags. Not true. When we arrived at the airport our bags were not there; however we did make our flight to Minneapolis. The Southwest attendant assured us that our bags would arrive with us. Not true. We did learn that Suzanne’s bag did make it to Chicago and mine was still in Nashville. The next flight from Chicago would be at 4:30. The next flight from Nashville would be at 6:30 p.m. All we could do was wait. When we returned to baggage claim at about 5:30, Suzanne’s bag was there. Mine came in on the 6:30 flight. We were without our luggage for about 22 hours.

We boarded the Empire Builder in St. Paul and the remainder of the trip was smooth traveling. We met wonderful companions at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a horrible mistake for Amtrak to discontinue the dining cars from the trains. Meeting new people is part of the attraction. We had booked a roomette. Suzanne climbed into the upper bunk and I was below. The scenery from the train is beautiful. The landscape keeps changing before your eyes. We went through 40 inches of snow in Montana. I’m glad we were inside. After about 36 hours, we arrived in Portland, Oregon. We had already arranged for a rental car. I hated to say goodbye to the train. It was a wonderful trip although I hardly got any sleep which didn’t matter. This train trip has been a goal forever.

We drove around Portland. On our way to Eugene, we had lunch at Buster’s Texas Style Barbecue. Although it was not what we expected in Oregon, it was excellent. Our next stop was off the beaten track to the Brigittine Monastery that advertised chocolates and fruit cakes made by the monks. The chocolate is excellent. The fruitcake is waiting. I am one of the few who admit to liking fruitcake. The monastery is surrounded by hazelnut trees. We finally made it to our hotel in Eugene with rooms overlooking the river and a park. We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, Sweetwater. We enjoyed a wonderful brunch the following morning at the Pump Restaurant. Not only was the service efficient and friendly, but I enjoyed the best home fries I have ever eaten. The restaurant is decorated with license plates from several states. It needs one from South Carolina. Our afternoon was taken up by either driving through or walking through seven restored covered bridges and of course a visit with the University of Oregon Duck. We were greeted warmly and had our pictures taken with the famous mascot. .

Tuesday night we enjoyed a marvelous dinner at the Kings Estate Winery Restaurant. The surroundings are beautiful and the service flawless. An-dee was friendly but not intrusive. She provided us with answers to our many questions. They grow their own vegetables and pride themselves on everything being organic. I think this is the largest winery in Oregon. Oregon is the 49th. state on my Bucket List.

Hold your breath for part three next week.

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