Posts Tagged mission

Love, a Tiara and a Cupcake – Rev. Susan Sparks

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

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Thankful Thursday – Colleagues of CSHC

Last Saturday afternoon, June 14, there was a re-union of some of the staff of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center. Since I was at the center for 35 years, the group is only a small sample of those who labored so hard for the welfare of children and adults. When I came to Charleston I had no idea of the great adventure that lay ahead. We made wonderful friendships and together we changed the futures of hundreds of children and adults. If it is possible to have a love affair with a career and a city I am the example. Not only did we have dedicated staff members, but we had members of the Board of Directors who were dedicated to the mission of the organization. On this Thankful Thursday I want to express my gratitude to all those staff members and board members of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center who brightened my life and enriched my soul during our time together.

Charleston Speech And Hearing Center Reunion

Thankful Thursday is a day to recognize and express our gratitude to those who contribute to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. Develop an attitude of gratitude. You will be glad you did.

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Breaking Through the Noise


In today’s intoxication with celebrities and the latest person grasping for her or his fifteen minutes of fame, how do you penetrate the noise and get a hearing? McDonald’s has the golden arches. President Obama has the bully pulpit. Sarah Palin has the Tea Party? What do you have or what can you develop or create?

Who are you? Why would I want to know you? What do you have that I need or what can you do that will help me accomplish my goals? Spend some time with yourself and answer these questions. What skills do you have that are important to others? Make a list, but be honest. Are there any of those that you do better than most of the people that you know? Do you have any area of special knowledge? Are you an expert in any area or would you like to become one? Do you have a passion for any particular area? Life without passion is hardly life at all.

How do you want to spend your life? That sounds like a big complicated question, but it really is not. Write a mission statement for your life. This can take some time, but don’t worry. You can revise it from time to time. What part of this do you already have? What kinds of endeavors require your kinds of skills? Which areas interest you? Now, go into your mental closet. What would the person that you have described be like?

How would she or he dress? How would he or she sound? Would he or she write articles or books? Would he or she make speeches or appear on television? Would he or she be a computer geek, an evangelist or a marketing guru?

No matter which area you choose, make yourself an authority on the subject. Read! Read! Read and then read some more.  Make a list of those who are authorities on the subject and question them. You can do this in person or by E-mail, telephone or snail mail. Develop a small group of trusted advisers that you meet with on a routine basis and ask for guidance and help. Listen to what they say. Contribute articles to trade publications. Start a blog and post to it several times each week. Seize every opportunity offered to make speeches. Keep them current and keep them centered on your area of expertise.  Be helpful in every way you can to others. Attend workshops or conferences for those in your field and network like crazy. Research the people you want to meet at these affairs so that you will have something to talk about with him or her. In other words start being the person you want to be.  There is no better time. None of this means that you have to give up your present job unless it is totally incompatible with what your goals. This is why spending some time getting to know yourself is so important.

At the end of each day ask yourself this question and answer it honestly. What have I done today that moves me toward my goal?

Make certain that you present a congruent image. Your materials should accurately represent you. Your correspondence should reflect your image. Be especially careful that you put nothing on Facebook or Twitter that would call your image into question.

The most important step is to start. Stop waiting for the ideal time or until things get better. Stop talking about what you are planning to do and do it.

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Random Acts of Kindness – 70

There is someone who wants to share in your mission. Invite her or him to share your mission. You will be glad that you did.

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