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365 Days of Grief and Love by Vickie Guerry

Tom Guerry and Mitch Carnell at French Huguenot ChurchTom Guerry was a close friend. He was one of the three ministers who took part in marrying Carol and me. He was a vital part of the Monday Lunch Bunch until he could not be. Vickie, Tom’s wife, is a very good friend. We worked together for more than 20 years. I have known, Ben, their son since before he was born.

All this to tell you that I am not impartial. These are my friends, but that did not keep me from telling everyone that Vickie has written an honest, helpful book. This is my review on www.amazon.com. The picture is of Tom and me at the French Huguenot Church.

A Friend for the Journey

My wonderful wife has been gone almost three years now and yet I find Vickie Guerry’s book to be honest, painful and helpful. So many writers are timid about laying out the truth of a senseless journey that no one should have to travel. Guerry chronicles each of the first 365 days of the grief she experienced at losing her husband. You can feel her anguish rise from the pages, but you also feel the deep love that these two shared.  Although writing the book is her way of coping with her loss, she does it in such a way that is helpful. There are no solutions here, but with this book you have a friend who walks the journey with you.

 

A Kind Word

Back in 2006 when Mayor Keith Summey signed the first proclamation for Say Something Nice Day in North Charleston, I had no inkling that this simple idea would one day circle the globe. We were not the first to proclaim the virtues and benefits of just saying a kind word. The Hebrew prophet prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Centuries later the Apostle Paul said, “Be ye kind one to another.”

As rage is on the uptick in our society, it would be good to remind ourselves to just be kind. Say a kind word to the next person you meet and the next and the next.

It is a simple idea. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult. The easiest and most appreciated words are “Please“” and “Thank you.”

As I was walking to Baggage Claim in the Charleston Airport after a flight from Nashville, a stranger only a few years younger than I took notice of my resting for a moment and offered assistance. A man and his wife from Ridgeville rescued my bag from the carousel. When I thanked them, the man said, “This is Charleston.” What a wonderful reputation for a city to have. Simple acts of kindness leave a lasting impression.

My son and daughter-in-law met me and we drove to Chick-fil-a to pick up a sandwich on the way home. Although it was late, we were met by a cheerful, smiling server.

To my surprise and joy, I have read web post from around the world about Say Something Nice Day These make me hopeful. A recent Gallop Poll found that 47% of Americans believe that our morals are in decline.

I think we can change that for the better. When you are wondering how to respond in a particular situation, just say something nice, encouraging, uplifting, and helpful. You may not see the results, but your kindness will be remembered.

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Simple Rules for Better Communication – www.day1.org

 Tuesday June 01, 2021

As we begin to gather again and assemble in larger groups, “Say Something Nice Sunday” comes in time to remind us of some simple rules of engagement. We will be so happy to see each other again. The fifth-tenth annual event takes place on June 6th.

Stop talking. Give others a chance. This is difficult because there is so much we want to share. We have been separated for so long. Smile thus breaking the ice. Smiling is a universal language. Speak to people. You may need to introduce yourself. In many cases we will still be wearing our masks. Don’t assume the other person knows who you are. I learned this valuable lesson from the president of the board of the agency I headed. He always introduced himself. He did not assume that others would recognize him or remember his name.

Listen attentively. Because we are not talking does not mean that we are listening. Active listening demands personal discipline. Don’t spend your time thinking about what you will say next. Larry King, the television personality, was such a good interviewer because he listened to what his guest said and then responded to what had been said. Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 11:15 (NIV)

Don’t interrupt. Interrupting is an act of aggression. It says that what I have to say is more important than what you have to say.

Delay judgment. Jumping to conclusions always poses the danger of arriving at the wrong conclusion. Crow never taste good.

Sincerely compliment others. Find something nice to say. Stay away from talking about physical attributes.

Consider the opinions of others. They might have something new or unique to contribute.

Be sensitive to the feelings of others. They may not take what you say the way that you intended. Remember Murphy’s Law. If it is possible for someone to misunderstand, she or he will.

Be approachable. Be aware of your body language. Uncross everything. Face the other person. Maintain eye contact.

Speak the truth, but speak the truth with love. It is not necessary to share everything you know. Don’t gossip. Dr. Arthur Caliandro, the late pastor of Marble Collegiate Church, said, “Be kinder than you think it necessary to be. The other person needs it more than you know.”

Stop talking. We return to the first key because it is so important. I learned a new acronym that applies to this key point from Rev. Susan Sparks – WAIT. Why am I talking? We never learn anything while we are talking.

There is so much in Scripture that helps us in our communication with others. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” St. Paul added, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV) In other words don’t stir up controversy.

We as Christians have a great message to share. Effective communication depends on our attitude toward others. If we show respect for others even though we may have great differences our efforts will most often be rewarded with good results. We want others to be happy to see us and not to moan when they see us coming. Our reputation so often precedes us. We want that reputation to be one that generates positive expectations.

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Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC. He is the author of, Our Father: Discovering Family. He blogs at www.mitchcarnell.com.

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Love, a Tiara and a Cupcake – Rev. Susan Sparks -www.goodfaithmedia.org

Susan Sparks has created a profound book of faith wrapped in humor with her latest publication, Love, a Tiara and a Cupcake.

Melding her many talents as a lawyer, stand-up comedian and preacher (she is pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City), Sparks has produced a work that truly feeds the soul while stimulating our sense of humor.

She weaves in a lot of her North Carolina upbringing to make it real.

Sparks finds spiritual nourishment in the TSA agents confiscating her pimento cheese and in her trips to Kmart. She encourages us to be as enthusiastic about our faith in Jesus as Elvis fans are about keeping “the King” alive.

Elvis fans are happy to talk about him and to connect with other fans. They proclaim that he is alive, although he has been gone for 40 years.

Her premise is, “When we were born, God crowned us with a radiant tiara – a holy stamp of approval, a sign of our belonging.” We should wear it proudly.

She contends that the person who has the most influence over our lives is the person we refuse to forgive. She quotes a recent fortune cookie message, “Anger after 30 seconds is ego.”

Anger can steal our joy quickly and cause us to say things that divide us even further. The Bible warns about not guarding our words, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

On a teaching trip to Las Vegas, she saw a sign that conveys the message, “Civility is in you. Pass it on.”

According to Sparks, worry can tarnish our tiara. She devotes three chapters to this topic and employs Jesus, Dr. Seuss and John Milton in her argument.

Worry has become a national pastime but worrying will not solve our problems. We only make progress when we bring our worries into the open and deal with them.

She quotes Milton, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” Worry or believe – we can’t do both.

Sometimes, we need time to mature, which Sparks calls this the long way around, using Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt as an example.

There was a shorter way to the Promised Land, but the Israelites were not ready for the challenges they would encounter. So, God led them on a much longer journey to better prepare them.

To make it personal, suppose you found your dream job, but you didn’t have the skills you need to be successful in that job. So, you had to postpone that dream job until you acquire the skills you need.

It can be hard when we feel that we are not on the fast track. We worry about being passed over.

Yet, Sparks contends that it is not our timetable that matters. We can fight it, or we can trust the process, “Knowing that long way or not, God will eventually lead us home.”

In the chapter, “Do It Now,” she tackles one of our biggest problems: self-doubt.

We are always finding excuses for not fulfilling our dreams. It’s too late. I’m too old. People will laugh. I’ll do it later. I don’t have time.

For this last one, she adds, “You don’t. Do it now.”

We spend too much of our lives doing useless things like complaining. “We can spend our entire life complaining and then it’s gone,” she observes. “No one is saying that the path to your dreams will be a straight line. Look at my road: trial lawyer to standup comedian and Baptist minister.”

As I finished reading each chapter, it became my favorite.

This is no Pollyannaish book that pretends that faith is a magic bullet that will make all of our problems disappear. It does give us new ways of looking at our problems.

The author believes that God has given us everything we need to solve our own problems. Even in the miracles of Jesus, human participation is a necessary component.

The last two sentences in this marvelous book sum it up. “Each one of us has a divine potential. We just need to stretch our mind, body and soul toward its light and do what we were born to do: love.”

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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