Saturday, September 1, 2012

First of the Month Book Review - Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

MaineMaine by J. Courtney Sullivan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Honestly I thought I would like this book very much since it was about family relationships (and came highly recommended), but I am sorry to say that I was disappointed. Not in the writing, it was good. Not in the setting, enjoyable too since it was Maine and New England and I've lived there and loved it. But in the characters. I just didn't like them.

A good novel will have bad characters with rotten characteristics, but even the worst of characters will have some redeeming qualities. The characters of Maine did not. They are just not likeable. Take Alice, the matriarch of the family, for instance. She doesn't like her own kids, grown now with kids of their own, and frankly, she doesn't like her grandkids either. Worse, she not only dislikes them, but she actually enjoys being mean and making them suffer (all while going to church every morning).

What I liked best about the book was the backstory of Alice's sister's death at the historic Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire - a true event that happened in Boston in 1942, and resulted in a reform of safety and fire codes throughout the country. That part of the story was interesting.

What I liked least were the characters, unkind and selfish, as well as the ending. I kept reading thinking somewhere, someway, someone would have a redeeming quality that would make the story worth reading. But it just didn't happen that way.

Maine is very negative and almost depressing to read, and not a book I would recommend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Want to Make Christmas Special? Really Special? Here's How...

For three Christmas seasons, my family and I have hosted an international student through Christmas International House (CIH), a peacemaking program designed to provide international students a place to stay during the Christmas break when college campuses are deserted and dormitories empty. The experience is incredible, and I invite everyone to consider participating in this year's event.

The benefits to the program are numerous. To the attending student, CIH provides a place to stay and opportunity to learn about different areas of our country. They are able to develop new friendships with their host families and with other international students in the program. Christmas is celebrated with their host family, and for many, this may be their first Christmas holiday ever.

For the host family, the benefits are just as numerous. Families are able to attend any or all of the program activities with their international student, making the Christmas holiday truly time spent together in fun. Strong friendships develop, and host families learn about new cultures and more. CIH promotes unity, that we are all part of the human family, despite differences in culture and ideology.

Originally, we worried that hosting a student would take away from our "family time" and make Christmas less special. What we discovered was completely the opposite. CIH creates so many shared and happy experiences during the holidays and with students we've cherished and will remain forever in our hearts. IT HAS ENHANCED OUR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY!

Each year, numerous students are turned away due to lack of host families available to take them. This year I am working on putting the program together for Houston. You don't have to attend my church, or even be a Presbyterian to participate. All you need is desire to do something kind, and open your heart and home, and the treasure awaits you.

For anyone interested in participating or if you want more information, please contact me.

You can read more about the program on the Christmas International House website and by reading some of my blog entries from previous years concerning the program. Just type "Christmas International House" in the Search This Blog box in the left column of this page.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Texting While Driving

I remember when they passed seat belt laws in Texas. I reluctantly got in the habit of buckling up. But it was a good thing, and if the law weren’t in place today, I would still buckle up. After all, it makes the possibility of my surviving an accident so much higher. It helps me, and my passengers who also buckle up, be safer. So while my buckling up may not do much for you, it’s good for me, and I’m happy to oblige.

It's odd that we have seat belt laws in 49 states, drunk driving laws in 50 states, yet there are very limited texting while driving laws. To me, texting while driving more resembles drunk drinking than it does seat belt usage, and should be treated similarly.

Seat belts protect passengers, but they do nothing to prevent accidents. Texting while driving endangers passengers and causes accidents (like drunk driving does). So it seems weird that most states have a law that requires you protect yourself (seat belt), but they don’t have a law that prevents you from injuring others (texting). Or if there is a law, it’s limited, such as no usage around a school zone or with passengers in the car under age 17.

Also odd, almost everyone I talk with agrees that texting is bad while driving and claim not to do it. Yet it only takes a few miles down the road to see that’s clearly not the case. People text and drive a lot! What can possibly be so important in that 160 character message to risk lives?

I wonder if some day there will be a law completely banning texting while driving? Who knows, but in the meantime, I can tell everyone I know not to text and drive. And I urge you to do the same. Texting while driving is bad for everyone, and not only endangers the lives of those texting, but the innocent victims that are hit as a result. And sometimes the accident is so bad, that even the seat belt isn’t going to save you.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Short Story - Signs of Love

A year or so ago, the Humble Fiction Cafe (HFC) writers group had decided to do another group project in which we would all contribute short stories to a book, with those stories centered around a fictional place called Moot. A spin-off, if you will, to our Split book of short stories, but with a completely different theme.

The town of Moot was an odd place, with occasional supernatural occurrences by the lighthouse. Moot, by the way, was not on the ocean, but had a rather large lake outside the center of town.

Without enough group enthusiasm however, the project quickly died (and unfortunately so has HFC for all intents and purposes), but not before I drafted a story. I thought I would share that story here. I hope you enjoy.

Signs of Love
A short story by Sheryl Tuttle
Click the link above to read the story

Friday, June 1, 2012

First of the Month Book Review - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had heard that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was a bit slow in the beginning, and it is. And it never turned into a serious page-turner, although it kept my attention sufficiently. The book demanded focus in order to keep the numerous Vanger family characters straight, and honestly with my disjointed reading intervals - stealing a few minutes here and there - and the author's switching from using first names to last names, I found myself getting some of the characters mixed up at times.

The story is about a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, who investigates the 40-year old disappearance of a wealthy Swedish scion with the assistance of Lisbeth Salander, who is an investigative prodigy/computer hacker (and the girl with the dragon tattoo). There are interesting twists and turns, and a lot of violence, so it's not for the faint of heart.

Along with a slow start, I felt the ending dragged also. Once the murder mystery case is resolved, the novel continues with a wrap-up of sub-plots, and there are just too many remaining pages of reading after the central story ends.

Overall, I liked the story well enough, but it didn’t live up to all the hype.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Giving, Oh the Blessings You'll Receive

Part of the experience of giving is learning to receive and appreciate your own blessings. In fact, by giving more, whether it be purchased gifts, service to a sister or brother, or even a random act of kindness, it opens your eyes to what you have and are able to share. It gives you more appreciation for the special things in life.

Before you roll your eyes and say “not again,” I want to share one more thought on the 29-day giving challenge that I signed up for and have been writing about on this blog the last few posts.

Throughout the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker, Cami kept saying that her life turned around and that she was receiving more blessings. I presumed she was already being blessed, but that through her giving she was able to more clearly see and appreciate those blessings. But now it’s happening with me too; I’m receiving more blessings. So could it be true? That you are actually blessed more abundantly when you give more?

I have been the recipient of some amazing gifts since starting this challenge.

  • Shortly after beginning the challenge, I was able to get a new computer for an amazingly incredibly small amount of money.  Not the type of gift that falls into your lap every day. 
  • A friend brought me some delicious homemade Thai curry chicken puffs that were out of this world delicious.
  • Kingwood Garden Center blessed me with the gift of plants and supplies needed for a Girl Scout troop beautification project, of which I’m the troop leader.
  • And there’s many more, like dinner and a Kingwood Pops concert with my Dad, and a "many hugs" mother’s day spent in the park with family.

I’ve always felt blessed and very fortunate, and it does feel like lately it is even more so. I guess it just takes one look to the Bible at Luke 6:38 to know it's true.

But the biggest joy I receive is to see a smile light someone’s face, or happiness sparkle in their eyes, and know that somehow I am partly responsible.  Today is my last day of the 29-day giving challenge, but I don’t plan to stop. Rather, I hope to make this more and more a part of my life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Learning to Give

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I recently posted a review on the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker (read that review here), and that I subsequently signed up for the 29 gifts challenge myself. I am now 2 weeks into that challenge and I’d like to share some observations and thoughts.

First off, the challenge hasn’t proven to be life changing or anything drastic like that. At least not so far. But what it has done is helped me to realize two things. First, I discovered that I already was a giver (albeit small gifts typically). It didn’t take long into the challenge to realize my gifts tend to be things I do for people, rather than items purchased and gifted. Like preparing or sharing a special dinner, or doing things for people (typing, giving small change when needed, taking time to spend with loved ones, etc.).

Secondly, it has helped me open my eyes and to look more for opportunities to gift and give. While I still need help in this area and sometimes I swear I have on blinders, this challenge has helped simply by getting me in the habit of thinking about giving on a daily basis.

There hasn’t been a gift that stands out above the others. In fact, one of my most recent gifting highlights is prior to my taking this challenge. We were leaving church one Sunday, and on the corner stood a man, begging. Now so often, I’m embarrassed to admit this, I drive by, wondering if that person has a true need or if they are using the money they receive for drugs or alcohol. I mean, how does one know?

But that Sunday we stopped. We gave the man $3, and a baggy of cookies and brownies we had with us in the car. Not much. But his smile and gratitude was immeasurable. I figure it would buy the man a hamburger at the nearby McDonald’s and give him a sweet treat. And whether his need was legitimate or not, it felt good to help and offer something. And really, who am I to judge his need?

While I don’t often have cash on me (or cookies and brownies), I do typically have spare change, and I hope to become a more giving and less judging person. And I think daily practice and looking for opportunities to give will help. The 29 gifts challenge is really a great movement, and I invite and encourage everyone interested to read the book and sign up for the challenge. I can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reaching 20 Years in Marriage

Recently my husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage (I’ll call him JT). What a milestone, and what a blessing! JT isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but somehow together we are better, and I love him with all my heart.

After a number of failed attempts at relationships in the past, I’m certainly no expert. At least now though, I am more experienced, and I know some of the things that are important to make a marriage work.

First off, I pray for my marriage. Always have, and always will. Those vows we took before God made God a part of this relationship. And that’s important. They say “the family that prays together, stays together.” I believe that’s true. God is love, so include God in your relationship.

Secondly, JT has so many wonderful qualities that make him special, and since day 1, I’ve prayed I never lose sight of those attributes. It’s easy for differences and disagreements to take center stage. When that happens, the focus becomes the disparity. But truthfully, what I fell in love with is always still there, and is a much better place to put my focus. His kindness, compassion, his love of family and friends and his willingness to extend himself to help others, are just some of the traits that make JT a remarkable guy. It’s important to remember and appreciate the person you love.

Finally, it’s easy to take one another for granted, which is a good thing and a bad. Good, in that it’s really nice to have someone you can count on so much that you don’t ever doubt their support. Bad, in that oftentimes by taking someone for granted, you forget that they still deserve your best consideration, civility, and respect. You can’t kick the dog and expect him to be wagging his tail when you come home. Common sense, treat each other well.

So now I’m knocking on wood that I haven’t upset the karma in my marriage by writing this post. I’m blessed and very much in love, but I also know that even the best marriages go through rocky times. I just pray JT and I never give up, and that I can write another post attesting my love in 20 more years.

Me and JT on our Wedding Day - still in love 20 years later
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1st of the Month Book Review – 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker

29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life was recommended by my pastor, and I’m so glad I read it. It’s full of wisdom and insight, including advice from the author’s mother on the secret to a long-lasting marriage, who said “’It’s very simple. We never break up. No matter what.’”

The story is written by Cami Walker who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) shortly after her wedding. Seeking relief from her resulting depression and her suffering from the disease, a “medicine woman” named Mbali prescribes that Cami give away 29 gifts in 29 days. This book recounts how that prescription changed Cami’s life and began a gift-giving movement.

Through 29 days of giving, Cami redirects her focus from inward thinking and preoccupation of her disease to outward generosity. She moves from self-centeredness to selflessness, and the positive results on her body and mind are amazing. She is happier and healthier, more capable of accepting assistance for herself, and is more “engaged in life.” Her attitude shifted from one focused on what she lacked, to one of altruism and gratitude, seeking opportunities and new paths.

I enjoyed reading about the various gifts Cami gave, both large and small, and how each one impacted her. And as I post this review, I just signed up for the challenge myself on the 29 Gifts website, Before signing up, I highly recommend you read the book first, even if just to get a feel for what constitutes a “gift.”

29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life is inspiring at the least. Through her book and website, Cami is trying to ignite a global goodwill movement and renewal of the giving spirit. Just imagine our world if everyone took the challenge!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaching Appreciation

I sure wish parenting were easy (how many times have I said that?), or that there were a manual or Google search with all the answers. But it isn’t always easy, in fact very rarely so, and there’s no such place to find the magic solution. So much of it is luck and experience. And… it helps to have good kids.

And I do have good kids. Bright, responsible, fun-loving, happy, healthy, considerate… need I go on? But there is one area with room for improvement that bothers me, and it’s not just my kids, but a lot of today’s youth suffer from this one lack of refinement.


Don’t get me wrong. My kids really like gifts and privileges, and will occasionally almost squeal with delight as a recipient. But truthfully, many of today’s youth feel a sense of entitlement, and while they like their “stuff,” they don’t necessarily appreciate it. There “stuff” comes to them too easily.

Maybe it’s the times. After all, each generation works hard to improve their standard of living and increase their buying power. Consumerism is pushed through marketing and advertising, much geared towards our youth, arousing our kids “wants” of the latest game or gadget. And as parents, we often feel guilty if we don’t succumb and give our kids what their peers already own. We want our kids to have the latest style clothing, shoes, telephones, i-pods, etc. But that’s just foolish. And it isn’t doing anyone any favors.

So how do you teach appreciation?

Kids ask for things all the time, material items or not, but things that come too easily aren’t valued. I struggle with saying “no” and have written about that before, but saying no can actually be good for our kids, as it makes them appreciate those “yeses” much more.

But it’s more than even saying no. It’s about giving our kids accountability as they grow and develop, and to provide the goodies and gadgets as reward, for their work and for taking the initiative to help out. This gives our kids a clearer perspective of the proper worth of the item or action.

Proverbs 13:24 says “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Discipline is not only punishment for correction, but also includes activities that advance or improve skills; training. Saying no sometimes and giving our kids responsibilities is showing love, and it teaches appreciation.

It’s wonderful to give our kids gifts and pleasures, and even more so to see their faces light up in sincere appreciation and thanksgiving.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Mother's Love - The Best Gift of All

My mom passed away fairly recently. It was after a long battle with lung cancer, of which we knew about for 6 days. Somehow all the doctors and hospitals, and the multiple diagnostic tests that were run for months all missed the cancer each time. They attributed her rapidly declining health to COPD. Finally 6 days before she died, we found out what was really making her so sick and tired. Advanced lung cancer and superior vena cava syndrome.

Mom was a strong woman, so close to death yet she pushed herself and didn’t complain. She’d say she was “tired,” when others would have been on the floor crying. And she just finished up 6 weeks of pulmonary rehab, which didn’t help at all. Gee, wonder why? Yeah, guess I’m a little bitter about the whole thing and how the medical community let us down.

But this isn’t a post about that. Rather I wanted to talk about how very lucky I was to have been able to know her, to love her, and especially live near her in her last few years. And how I miss my mom. I miss being able to run important decisions by her. I miss being able to get her honest opinion about things. I miss hearing her cheer me on when she believed in what I was doing. My mom was so wise, and almost always nearly right (even though I didn’t see it that way every time). And probably the most honest and moral person I have ever known.

But I think best of all, no matter what, I knew that she loved me. It didn’t matter what I had done or said or the mistakes I made, she loved me unconditionally. And that feels good, to know someone loves you despite your downfalls and failings, even through your mistakes and screw-ups. Even if she didn’t approve of something I was doing, I still knew I was loved. That was a true blessing and gift, and one I hope to pass on also to my daughters. I want to pass on that same enduring love, so my daughters know that always and forever their “momma” loves them.

The bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Thanks for always loving me, Mom!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Deliberate Contemplation

Yesterday I enjoyed a little outdoors. I pulled a few weeds from around some of the vegetable plants, and took pleasure in the fresh air, good dirt, and sunshine. I didn’t pull nearly all the weeds, but a few of the larger offenders anyway, and more for enjoyment versus actually making any progress. It was truly to take a break from my busy day.

The great outdoors, the quiet, the peace – I love it! Certainly not a luxury I experience often. Hectic schedules, multitasking to get everything done, and electronic intrusions (smartphones) are more the norm around here, and I suspect for most people anyway. Life is so busy and fast-paced. And it’s really a shame.

I wonder what all this busy-ness is doing to our kids. With all the technology, gadgets, and devices they are growing up with, will they even know how to relax? Fully scheduled calendars, vibrating smartphones, uploading photo’s to Facebook, and doing homework between texts is unfortunately our kids “normal.” Certainly all this new technology makes being connected much easier, but what’s it doing for our downtime? Do our kids even have any downtime?

It is good to slow down, and even stop now and then. To be quiet. Listen. Observe. And to feel connected.

The story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 says it best:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I confess, if Jesus were my guest, I would probably be more like Martha. Jesus is here, I would think, I must prepare a magnificent meal. And only the best would do. I would get busy searching my pantry and garden for the freshest foods available. I’d wash the fine china to serve the meal. Then I’d cook, using only the finest ingredients. And like Martha, I’d be very jealous of my sister, who wasn’t helping, but chose instead to spend time with Jesus.

But that’s just it. Mary chose to spend time with Jesus. And it’s our choice too what we do with our time. Perhaps we should learn from Mary, and let go of our anxiousness and troubles, our busy and hectic lifestyles, and listen for and draw closer to God. Throughout his life, even Jesus took time to be alone in prayer. Sending his disciples ahead of him or retreating to a mountain, He would often withdraw to pray. His life is an example of how we are to live ours.

Today’s lifestyle doesn’t lend well to teaching our kids how to slow down or relax. Rather it’s all about multitasking and achieving more in less time. So as parents, it’s up to us to live our lives as examples. This means spending less time worrying over what is left to be done, and more time in stillness and deliberate contemplation. Not an easy task in everyday life, but one well worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Importance of Church for Kids

I’m glad that I’ve taken my kids to church on Sundays since they were babies. Now that they are pre-teen and teen, it’s expected that on Sunday mornings we will attend church, except for the rarity of being out of town, having to work, or someone in the family being sick. And I’m so glad that’s the case for a number of reasons.

Obviously, the biggest benefit is that we worship God together as a family. Which is what church is for, the worship of Almighty God. It’s not about me, it’s not about you, and it’s not about hearing a sermon so that you or I can feel better. It’s all about glorifying God, and it’s nice to do that in fellowship with my family.

But more than the obvious, I am so lucky that my kids don’t argue about going to church, whereas someone who hasn’t taken their kids to church might have a hard time dragging them there at this age. Their kids may fear the unknown, and worry about not knowing the bible, the church traditions, or even what to expect in the service. And they may dread the boredom. After all, these youth think, how could church be anything but boring?

But it IS anything but boring. My family loves church (kids included)! It’s where we go to fill ourselves with the word of God. To learn how to live our life amidst all the growing troubles in the world, in our communities, and in our lives. Where we can fellowship with other believers, who also experience trials and tribulations, and who love us and accept us no matter our short-comings. (So despite church not being about making us feel better, it’s invariably one of the many positive side-effects).

And a real blessing for my kids is being able to relate to other kids who are also learning Christian values through Sunday school, and for my oldest, through a weekend youth retreat each year called Conclaves. These weekend camps are organized and led by youth, specifically for middle and senior high school kids. They learn and grow in their love of God and one another through small group discussions, and they enjoy leisure time, adventure opportunities, and even a concert.

My kids are comfortable attending church and even weekend outings with area youth. It will be up to them what they do with their spirituality when they are older and on their own. As adults, they will decide whether or not to attend church (I rarely attended church once I was an adult until I had children of my own). But at least they have a foundation on which to thrive, to build and base their decisions. That’s about all I can give them.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

1st of the Month Book Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked best about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was that I was able to share the excitement with BOTH my daughters, pre-teen and teen. They both loved the book and it was fun to share our thoughts about the characters and everything that happened. We had lively discussions of the characters and events - it was as though they were real.

And while it was easy enough to put down when I first started the book, once Peeta and Katniss arrive in the Capitol of Panem to begin training for the games, I was hooked. I didn't want to put the book down until it was finished, I had to know what happened next and how it would all end. Fortunately, it is a quick and easy read and now I look forward to reading the sequels.

Set in the future in the ruins of North America, I thought it clever that the author televised the games in each of the 12 districts. It was interesting how they prepared the tributes to make an impression (including Haymitch's encouraging of the romance between Peeta and Katniss), and how important that would be to sponsors. The similarity to today's reality TV is striking.

What I liked least about The Hunger Games was that it is a young adult novel, but is a story about kids killing kids. Even the thought is repelling. Until I read it, I worried that the storyline would be too violent and disturbing for younger readers.

It IS violent, but it's survival and intuition and friendship too. And it's a really good read!

Now about the movie:
The Hunger Games movie is good also, but there are differences as is so often the case in movie versus book. (Spoiler alert...) For example, in the book when Katniss sings to Rue as she dies and then adorns her dead body with flowers, the people of District 11 thank Katniss by sending her a gift of bread, while the movie versus reflected only a rebellion. Also in the book, Katniss loses her hearing in one ear after the loud explosion she caused to destroy the stored food supplies of the career tributes. The movie didn't mention any hearing loss. The movie also didn't quite match the book in the relationship between Peeta and Katniss, and particularly how Katniss pretends to have feelings for Peeta in order to gain sponsors and receive needed gifts. That was really downplayed in the movie. And there are more. But one thing I thought superior in the movie was the burning capes worn by Katniss and Peeta in the opening ceremonies. It exceeded even my imagination! It was a well done movie adaptation!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bad News Kind-of Sucks

Listen to the news today and you’ll hear stories about shootings, war, and heated exchanges between politicians. The grocery store tabloids tout scandal about celebrity divorces and deaths. We hear about bankruptcy, nuclear arms, and natural disasters. You get the gist. But every now and then you’ll get a good news story… new promising treatment for a terminal disease, a heroic rescue, missing person found. Wouldn’t it be great if we had more of those stories?

The media is full of “bad” news. And it seems the more horrific, the more it’s covered and talked about. But frankly, bad news kind-of sucks.

Bad news is disheartening and depressing, and too much negativism is contagious. The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) contains a report from the Communications Research Center entitled, The Effects of Bad and Good News on Newspaper Image and Community Image. The study concluded that “bad news created a negative image of the community not only on characteristics directly related to the news topics (safety, crime, and violence) but also on general characteristics (standard of living, neighborhoods, and environment).” Too much bad news just proves things are bad and getting worse, it makes you feel generally bad. But guess what? Good news is just as contagious!

As followers of Christ, we are commissioned to “love one another,” (John 15:12) and we should give the same amount of attention and talk time to our good fortunes. Imagine a world that is full of positive thoughts and actions and deeds! Oh that I would live to see!

Now I’m not saying that we should ignore or be oblivious to all bad news. I don't advocate turning the news off. Certainly not – it’s important to be aware of the issues. But we need to feed ourselves with equal amounts good news. What goes in is what comes out. Good news is uplifting, and it breeds happiness.

It takes a little more effort to find and hear inspiring stories. Those feel good stories don’t always make front page or prime time, but they're so worth the effort. So here's three websites I've found that feature good news:

Good News Network (subscription service)
Happy News
Huffpost Good News

So where do you go to hear your positive and enriching stories?