Shine On a Parade

Dear Lindsey,

My mom woke me one Pennsylvania morning on my birthday and told me God had wrapped my present in white, if I would just look outside. (SNOW!) Although, I had always wished for one of those cool pool-party-birthdays my friends had in the summer, my parents had a way of making my birthday special just five days before Christmas.

Mom never wrapped my birthday present in Christmas paper, but went through the

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

inconvenience of getting the “out of season” birthday paper to make my day different. I was the envy of my brothers (I was sure) when I got presents two days in the same week.

Then some adult came and rained on my parade.

“You must hate having a Christmas birthday!” the adult had said.

“What’s there to hate?” was my thought, but what I said at that young age was, “yeah,” in agreement with the adult, and my heart searched for reasons to hate it.

I am reminded of this every June 10th, because I remember a time someone rained on my son’s parade.  That date was already special to me because it is my friend’s birthday, but then we became parents on June 10th of 1997, an answer to many prayers! June 10th’s value multiplied when our second son was ALSO born on that same date three years later. I had painted their shared birthday with a positive brush, the same way my mother had painted my Christmas birthday with positive. My boys always get double cakes. (Although sometimes they help me and one requests cupcakes, cookies, or cookie dough instead!) Their uncles often call one, hang up and then call the other so they get double calls. They can “party hardy” together – and will have it in common all through adulthood. AND they can sing the song, “You say it’s your birthday? It’s my birthday too, yeah!” and really mean it!

Casey was four or five, when some adult came into his life and said, “You must hate sharing a birthday with your brother. That stinks.” I watched my son’s sky turn a little gray as he probably contemplated why it was a bad thing; he had never known any different.

It must be easier to rain on a parade than shine on it.

When my milk-allergic son was two, eating a frozen banana covered with sprinkles, enjoying every minute of it, someone at the store decided to shower some rain, “You can never have ice cream? Never? I couldn’t LIVE if I were you!”

Someone recently drizzled on my daughter, “You might be able to put dew from the grass on your face and wipe off those freckles.”

I know I know: some of those negative comments are from people just trying to be fun. Some are trying to “relate,” but too often un-contemplated words are just a form of precipitation on a parade! (My husband has spent hours counting the freckles on my daughter’s face – so I am thinking the “wiping the freckles off” comment didn’t stick, but I could practically see her thoughts:  “Am I supposed to want to wipe them off?”)

Small talking at graduation parties recently, I saw my own tendency toward rain as thoughts crossed my mind during conversations. It IS easier to bring up negative subjects, spread negative news, or in other words: rain on the parade. But we are not called to the easier path. We CAN paint some positive into peoples’ lives. What if we encouraged the mother of the handicapped child, instead of pointing out how difficult her life is? (She already knew that part.) What if we told the person getting married that he is going to LOVE married life, instead of pointing out the ball and chain?  What if we stop negatively saying, “You sure have your hands full!” to the mom with five young kids in the store and instead we say, “Wow, I bet you have some joyful times coming in your house!” What if we told someone in a storm of life that without the rain, a sun can never make a rainbow?

Do you remember someone who brought out the sun in your parade called life?

I remember what I considered, “messing up” a reading at church during the Christmas program when I was ten. Afterward, the minister’s wife came to me (as if she hadn’t even heard my error) and said, “You are a beautiful reader!”

Her husband immediately interjected, “And you read well too!”

Ha! That one pierced through some clouds.

Sunshine

I have told it before (when Shouting Out to my Dad) that when I had burned the cookies, and my brothers were making fun as brothers do, my father came in, took a bite and exclaimed, “Finally! Cookies made just the way I like them!!” That one still makes me smile – shining sun onto my parade thirty years later!

A most memorable sun shined into my life in February of 2010. A man sent an email to my husband with the subject title, “Should there be a second author in the Brady house?” This was a strange, “out of the blue” comment from someone I was yet to meet. Attached to the letter was a fifteen-page pdf presentation encouraging me to write. Apparently Russ Mack, who had helped get Chris’s best seller published, had seen me speak on stage somewhere with Chris.  The first page of his document had a copy of the “NY Times Best Selling Author” award from my husband’s book, Launching a Leadership Revolution, but Russ had Photoshopped an “s” on the end, so the ribbon now said, “NY Times Best Selling Authors.”

For fifteen pages, Russ quoted Benjamin Franklin, (“We should all write something worth reading or live something worth writing.”) and others and told me “Somewhere, somebody is looking for exactly what you have to offer.”  Since he was involved in marketing books, there was weight to his opinion that was both flattering and humbling to me. His sun was high in the sky, shining on my parade.

Despite little response from me and nothing in it for him, his encouragement didn’t stop. A few weeks later, he emailed me again to see if I had thought through his proposal. I must admit, I couldn’t figure out why he would continue encouraging me, especially since I had told him, “thanks, but no thanks.”

In 2011, another letter came, “It looks like the world still needs your wisdom.”  Later that year, within one week of the first letter of this blog, this Russ Mack sent me another email telling me he knew it would be a success.  I was shocked he had already found my blog, since I had not told him. Another letter came the next year. His sun shined brightly and consistently.

Although I only actually met him once or twice, I consider Russ’s encouragement such a blessing. He was such a sun on my parade.

But suns set.  Berkshire Sunset

Last week, Russ’s sun set, when he lost his battle to cancer and went to be with the Lord.

Though I did not know him well, I can tell you that the effects of his sun will warm and give light to my life and many others’.

May we each follow his example of shining onto the parades of others’ lives.

Encourage when there’s nothing in it for you.

Encourage again, even if there’s no acknowledgment.

Be positive toward others, even when you feel like your own life is a little cloudy, and you will be surprised how the sun reflects back on your own parade.

And one day, like Russ, when your sun is set, the effects will shine on the parades of others for years to come.

God bless,
Terri

1Thes 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

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27 thoughts on “Shine On a Parade

  1. I had a sister born on my 3rd birthday. We have always thought it was very special that we share the same day, and now 5 years ago my other sister had a daughter (my niece) who also shares our birthday. We all this.k it is very special to share the same day. I always enjoy hearing that other siblings share the day that God gave them to share. God bless your children with special memories of shared birthdays.

  2. Terri, what a great reminder about the influence we have in people’s lives. The ability to brighten a moment or darken it is something we should always keep in mind. I have witnessedyou many,many times shine your loveinto lives.
    Thank you for sharing the story of Russ. What a ray of light and he was totally right on with you becoming a best selling author!!!
    Love you!
    Cassie

  3. I find it amazing that we just had our firstborn today, and you just wrote this blog post! 🙂 Speaking of shining on someone’s parade, the midwife that helped delivery baby Teylyr had a wonderful impact on our lives. Flora was in labor for 18 hours, which subsequently cut through 3 different shifts of workers. Our nurse, however, asked for permission to stay after hours; and she helped us deliver 3 hours later than she was supposed to be at the hospital. 🙂 A small sacrifice, of course, but one that forged a respect and a friendship that will last throughout the years. 🙂

  4. What a great encouragement Terri! Even if the clouds would be over us, to encourage any way may be just what it takes for those clouds to part. I believe Russ was right on, you are an exceptional writer and I can’t wait to see a book~hint;)
    That is soooo cool that your boys share the same birthday. Honestly, I have never known siblings with the same birthday-what fun!
    Happy Happy Birthday to the Brady boys:D
    Thanks for all you do!

    • What Jessica said! You have an incredible and refreshingly original way of writing. I would love to read a book that you authored!

      Also, thank you for this post. It is easy to fall into using common sayings to relate and not realize how negative they are. I appreciate the reminder!

  5. I know that thousands of us are very grateful for Russ’s encouragment and for your willingness to continue to serve all of us with your sunshine. I hope your boys have an amazing day.

  6. Thanks Terri for the gentle reminder to be a balcony person today. My son just walked in the room. I think I will get to work on that. : )

    Lynn

  7. That was beautiful. Thank you!! He is right you are a best selling author. Keep on encouraging thru your blog as well. Thanks again. GOD BLESS.

  8. Hey Girlfriend you have been a lighthouse for me as well as for many others I am sure. My son Jake was born on Christmas day and he, like you, have had many people try to comment negatively to him about that. I love his reply when asked, “Don’t you hate having your birthday on Christmas?” His reply, “No! I get to share it with Jesus!” I love that response an I love the fact that he was born on Christmas, it was the ultimate gift!
    I hope you know I love you and love your writing and YES DEFINITELY, You should write that book!!!
    Love ya, anna

  9. I am in complete agreement with Jessica and Clint. We need another Brady book author!
    It was the encouragement and praise from Chris that started me on the path toward writing my own blog. It was the realization of the start of a long-held and closely guarded secret dream. (Not so secret any more!)
    My two sisters have birthdays in the same month, while mine is several months later. As children, they would often plan their celebrations to coincide. A well-meaning friend once drizzled on my day by telling me how “lucky” I was to get my birthday all to myself, when I was often so envious of my sisters for their shared parties. As I grew older, I realized it was all just a matter of perspective . . .

  10. Great post Terri! You are a great example of one who continues to shine on a parade. In God’s timing I know you will be ready to publish those books, in the meantime this blog will continue to bless my life and many others! Thank you for your words.

  11. God Bless, Russ and you for being lamplighters. He was a wise man and knows a good story teller when he hears one. Thanks for starting yet another morning of mine with my heart warmed by love and a tear in my eye.

  12. I so want to be like you and Russ when I grow up! Loving life and living it. Thanks for your words. Russ was right to encourage you to share with us. Your storytelling flows wonderfully, whether in your writing, on a cd or from stage. You will never know just how many people’s lives you touch. I am glad you touched mine. Well mostly, sometimes you give me tough stuff to think about, which helps but it’s just not as much fun!

  13. Can’t wait for your books to come out… I will love to read them and share them with my friends and read them with my son and daughter. Thanks for your encouragement. I have a new year’s eve birthday, which is only 1 day away from one of my older brother’s birthday. Thought I was caught in the “how sad it must be….blah, blah..” I figured out to shine on my own parade after spending my 16th birthday crying” I decided that a positive of having a new year’s eve birthday, is that I don’t have to look very far for a party, and most times there is even fireworks. 😉
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Thank you, Terri for shining into the lives of others through your blog and speaking engagements. I appreciate your humor and the way you give life to your stories.

  15. Love this! You are so right – there are comments that are unintentionally “rain” on a parade. High fives to your family! My daugher’s birthday is Dec 23rd. We would also make certain that her birthday was not shared with Christmas. When someone asked her if she hated it she said “NO! My parents always made sure I knew I was special!” It warms my heart to hear that your mom worked hard to make your day special too! Also that your family makes your sons each feel special. Each child is a blessing and a miracle!

  16. Terri, your blogs, cds, and live talks have radiated sunshine into my gray heart for years. They have also caused their own form of precipitation, but, I think it’s important to cry, too. Please write your book soon! P.S. California is FULL of sunshine…you’re welcome back ANYTIME!!! ^_^

  17. What a blessing he must have been to you; what deposits he made; what a legacy for him to have left. Praise God for lives that reach into other lives and make a profoundly meaningful impact on the future. Lives like yours…

  18. Our daughter’s birthday is Dec. 21, and oh how I used to shudder when she would get the Christmas paper on her birthday gift from others-lol! But her dad and I have always made it separate and special. Thanks for the reminder of being the sun on the parade. How things are is how we think they are! And please, please, please write that book!

  19. I was fortunate enough to read this on your blog the other day and immediately sent it to my niece Katie… (Russ’s daughter). It will suffice to say that it brought some sunshine to her day! Russ was not just a brother in law and best friend… He was also my “Encourager In Chief”! His constant encouragement has led to the “Broken Dad’s” project. Terri, I cannot thank you enough for sharing. Russ may be physically gone but his legacy lives on because “he lived a life worth writing about”.

  20. Terri, this is such a beautiful tribute. I’m afraid I may have rained on a few parades myself. Your blog is such a great reminder of how important and how much more appreciated a little sunshine is. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Pingback: Waiting for the Other Shoe | Letters to Lindsey

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