There is a special way the light hits the Smoky Mountains at sundown. I’m looking at mountain grandeur right now. The view is nothing short of cinematic.

I am on a vacation, here in the arresting glory of Appalachia, and I’m wondering about where our country is going.

I wonder things about our nation. Such as, why, in America, do hotdogs come in packs of eight but hotdog buns come in packs of 12?

Why do Americans leave expensive cars parked outside, but use their garages to store worthless junk?

Why does Walgreens make sick people walk to the back of the store to buy prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes up front?

Why do Americans insist on calling them “apartments,” when they’re all stuck together?

Why does my American wife have to open her mouth to put on mascara?

These are just a few of the pressing issues facing this nation that I’m wondering about.

I’m also wondering about an old man, from Sacramento, who was in the grocery store one afternoon, buying—of all things—bananas.

Whereupon he noticed a young Latina woman in line ahead of him. The woman’s name was Isla. Isla emailed me this story.

Isla had her four kids in tow. She was still wearing her maid’s uniform. She was counting exact change. Crumpled dollars. Loose nickels. But Isla came up short.

So the old man paid for her groceries.

Isla thanked him and began to cry. The man followed her into the parking lot and loaded her groceries. She asked if she could repay his kindness.

He smiled. “Don’t worry about it.”

But Isla insisted. She invited him for supper. He arrived at her house. He wore a nice shirt. She was welcomed into her home, which was a glorified shack. She introduced him to her dying father whom she was caregiving for. And her elderly mother, who had dementia.

That night, Isla made tamales. Red and green. After supper, the old man gave Isla three plastic cards. They were Visa gift cards. Each card was worth $1000 bucks.

She never saw him again.

“That man changed how I look at other people,” she said in an email to me.

I’m also wondering about the letter I got from 81-year-old Charles. He lives in Idaho. I’ve never met anyone who lives in Idaho before. All I know about Idaho is something I saw on TV, which said Idaho’s state fruit is the huckleberry. I didn’t even know we had state fruits.

So anyway, Charles was shuffling through a snowy parking lot when he had a bad fall. He lay on the pavement, moaning in pain. He knew he’d broken something. Something important. Within moments, there was a young woman by his side, wearing a cashier’s uniform. She couldn’t have been more than 18.

The slight young woman somehow lifted his 174-pound frame into the back of her SUV, she drove him to the nearest hospital. When he awoke, the young woman was seated at his bedside, her infant son on her lap.

“You’re still here,” he said.

“I didn’t want to leave you alone,” she replied. “I was worried. So I told the nurses you were my dad. I hope you don’t mind.”

Mind? As it happened, Charles had no family. And the young woman had no father figure. Although, as of now, neither of them can say that anymore. They remain best friends.

I also wonder about the email I got from the guy who would only identify himself as “Dude.”

Dude was driving down the highway in eastern Kentucky when he saw a plastic garbage bag floating in the icy river. He pulled over. Dude saw the bag was “flopping around with movement.” Something inside the bag was alive.

So Dude plunged into the icy water until his entire body was nearly paralyzed with pain. He retrieved the sack.

Inside were nine newborn puppies. Eight were living. One was dead.

Dude brought them home. He and his wife conducted a funeral service for the one deceased puppy. They buried him in a cigar box. They raised the others.

Today, Dude has eight grown dogs running around his homestead.

“My dog-food bill is out of this world,” said Dude. “But I wouldn’t trade my dogs for all the gold in the world.”

So I don’t know where you are tonight or what you’re doing. I don’t know whether you are happy or sad or neither.

But as I look at these Purple Mountains Majesty, above the Amber Waves and Fruited Plains, I think the old song was right. Despite the problems in this country, despite our many conflicts with each other, this place is crowned with good. And brotherhood.

And a lot of Grace has been shed on thee.


  1. Timarie - January 6, 2023 6:47 am


  2. William Peacock - January 6, 2023 8:17 am

    As usual your right on and i appreciate your writings
    Bill from Detroit

  3. Lyn Briwn - January 6, 2023 8:26 am

    Good cry… cathartic cry. Thanks, Sean.

  4. Joann - January 6, 2023 9:05 am

    Thank you, Sean. These stories are helping me get through a difficult time right now. No need to go into it, but I just want you to know you’re giving me hope.

  5. oldlibrariansshelf - January 6, 2023 9:32 am

    Good wins over bad EVERY time! < Too often we fail to see the happy endings but you have made it your life's work to point them out. Thanks again, Sean.

  6. JenInTn - January 6, 2023 9:47 am

    Man, I’m so glad you don’t work construction for a living anymore. All of your previous jobs were part of your story, but God made you a writer on purpose. He uses your obedience and faithfulness to help others in ways you may never fully know, Sean.

    Makes me wonder what the rest of us could do if we had your courage.

  7. Denise - January 6, 2023 11:19 am

    I am always encouraged by your writing. I look forward to it every day. Thanks especially for your outlook.

  8. Grace - January 6, 2023 11:23 am

    Spectacular to awaken to these stories. Thank you.

  9. Susan - January 6, 2023 11:30 am

    Thank you for the reminder.

  10. lesliehanson411hotmailcom - January 6, 2023 11:55 am

    What beautiful commentary to bring a smile, warm my heart and start my day !. Thank you, I am a 76 year old woman who is blessed beyond believe not wealthy monitarily but with good health, good family and all I could ask for but every now and then I (as most people) need to be reminded just how blessed I am and not forgetting to share. You are a great sharer of joy and mindfulness and just one of many blessings.

  11. Laurel Johnson - January 6, 2023 11:56 am

    Wow Sean, this was very uplifting! Sometimes we need to be reminded…. God bless you.

  12. Alan Martin - January 6, 2023 12:09 pm

    I often feel compelled to comment even though each time they are lame. Thank you Sean, thank you for restoring my focus to see the good in the world. I’m an old guy. I worry about where we are and where we are going. Your stories remind me that we will be ok. So, thank you Sean, just thank you.
    Your friend,

  13. Christy Henderson - January 6, 2023 12:20 pm

    I want to print this column and mail it to everyone I know because non-bill, non-election, non-advertisement snail mail can lift the spirits.

  14. Chasity Davis Ritter - January 6, 2023 12:31 pm

    I love the human stories it’s always good to know their are still wonderful people out there and the way God works to bring folks who need each other together but I gotta admit you got me with the dog story. I smiled through my leaking eyes at that one. Please never stop sharing your GOOD stories with us. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the good things. More often than not we NEED to know they’re out there!!

  15. D - January 6, 2023 12:33 pm

    I’ve experienced types of these problems, really enjoy this writing. Thank you

  16. Selena Baker - January 6, 2023 12:48 pm

    So true, we just magnify the bad. Thank you Sean for magnifying the good. A great start to my day.

  17. Dolores - January 6, 2023 12:50 pm

    ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ is a pretty good resolution if you’re still looking for one. Because you only have control over your own actions and attitudes when you think about it.
    Grassroots efforts are the beginning of every worthwhile movement. Let it begin with us, the common folk.

  18. mccutchen52 - January 6, 2023 12:50 pm

    And once again I don’t have to use my eyedrops this morning. Thanks for restoring my faith in people.

  19. Judy Klamo - January 6, 2023 1:06 pm

    Your stories are a bright spot in my day. Thank you and God bless.

  20. Debbie - January 6, 2023 1:07 pm

    Your stories of humanity help us remember the goodness of our fellow human beings.

  21. Joy Hunter - January 6, 2023 1:10 pm

    Beautiful, Sean. Just beautiful. Thank you for the reminder.

  22. Jeanne - January 6, 2023 1:12 pm

    Amen! We’re in western NC right now, basking in God’s glorious vacation land!! Thanks for sharing those stories of the kindness of folks! They’re out there!

  23. Fran - January 6, 2023 1:20 pm

    Thank you!!

  24. Pamela Lawrence - January 6, 2023 1:26 pm

    Uplifting news about the inherent goodness of man…thank you so much for spreading God’s light because God is in each of us.

    • Chalmer Miller's Granddaughter - January 6, 2023 5:02 pm

      Whoot! Whoot! Let’s hear it for the good guy/gal!!! I have been the “angel” who arrives just as someone needs God’s helping hand here on earth. I have had the “angel” arrive to help me out in times of trouble. I am always amazed how my path crosses someone else’s at exactly the correct time to create what some would call a miracle. I know it is exactly what was to happen for my life’s script to continue to play out according a plan written long before I was even formed. Thank you for reminding us of how incredible living in the United States of America is that we can travel freely and interact with our fellow citizens. We are free to help others and free to live out our faith in action. God is good all the time. All the time God is good!!! Regards, Jane

  25. Tim - January 6, 2023 1:30 pm


    I would like to nominate you to be the “Speaker of our House”.
    Our House (btw) is our “UNIverse”, aka our “You n I-verse.
    A place where “you n I” can verse others, in softball or hardbal or football or war, etc. etc. etc.

    There is also the “You n I-verse, chorus & bridge”, where we can verse against each other (i.e. the Dolphins vs. the Buccaneers or the Jaguars), but then the “Chorus” of Angels come in (some of who you just highlighted here) and “Bridge” the gap between the “US vs. Them” mentality and turn the reflection back to the “You n I” mentality of our “UNI-verse”.

    You & I are brothers
    You & I are kin folk (kindred spirits- Kindred folk, I suppose)
    You n I are part of a UNIverse.

    How do you create a universe?
    Big Bang Theory?
    Book of Genesis?
    I don’t know,
    But I do know that it starts with “You n I”.
    Even when you spell it,
    It starts with “UNI”.

    (or not)
    They all start with “You n I”

    I vote for you (for U) to be our “Speaker of our House”.

    That would be “Good”.

    • Kristen Dunder - January 8, 2023 2:19 pm

      Love this, Tim! And I would second that vote.

  26. Gigi22 - January 6, 2023 1:42 pm

    Thank you for reminding us to look for the beauty around us♥️♥️

  27. bubbastubbs - January 6, 2023 1:56 pm

    Beautiful, simply beautiful!

  28. Roxanne Watts Langley - January 6, 2023 2:10 pm

    I teach 8th graders every day. They are not very appreciative of what I try to give them all the time. It is in the nature of a 13 year old to be contrary. And smelly. And loud. However, some days, I see the real them behind all the fuss and bother and smell and noise–and I know that they are good, and I am a part of that. Thank you for reminding me of this on the days when the world seems overwhelming.

  29. Deborah Guttridge - January 6, 2023 2:12 pm

    Sean, I have been receiving your wonderful stories for alst 2 yrs when 3 dear friends told me abt you and i subscribed to your writings, I look forward to your emails daily. Sometimes I get behind, maybe 3 days, but then I cath up. I am 64 yrs old, a female so I identify so much when you speak of things and events of how we used to live in what we feel was a better time raising g our children and see the world our grandchildren are living in. Your stories encourage me, I crack up til my stomach hurts and so thankful for you and your sweet wife. Thank you for being who you are, true, honest and you seem to be a man of Faith in God. You are a blessing to so many. Sincerely Deborah.

  30. Priscilla Rodgers - January 6, 2023 2:20 pm

    There are so many good people in this country that we never hear or read about. Thanks Sean for sharing just a few of the stories.

  31. David - January 6, 2023 2:42 pm

    Loved reading this blog as always! Thanks Sean

  32. Cathy - January 6, 2023 2:44 pm

    Grace given is free… Best things in life are FREE!

  33. Cecelia Arnold - January 6, 2023 3:01 pm

    Thank you for reminding all of us that there is a lot of good around us. And more of us need to participate in loving our neighbor as ourselves.

  34. Rufus Ornduff - January 6, 2023 3:08 pm

    It is so good to see your writing each day as you are blessed to see the bright side of people and see what a blessed country america is regardless of all the negative so called news we see each day. Thank you for keeping us out here encouraged with your writing. A follower in south Carolina 89 1/2 years old.

  35. eddie owens - January 6, 2023 3:15 pm


  36. sjhl7 - January 6, 2023 4:01 pm

    Beautiful … from sea to shining sea! Amen and amen.

  37. Jocelyn Knepler - January 6, 2023 4:04 pm

    Such a beautiful story! It restores one’s faith in humankind!

  38. pattymack43 - January 6, 2023 4:13 pm

    You are so right! The sustaining majority of US citizens are good, hard working, God fearing people. They are quiet as they go about their daily routine. In that routine, there are occasions when kind and caring actions are accomplished. Thank you for reminding us of the good people who are around us every day.

  39. Cherie - January 6, 2023 4:29 pm

    You know why your writing is so good? Not because of eloquent prose, but because you find the good in the simplest things in this world and make all of us see it and feel it. It gives us hope that things aren’t all bad. Thank you.

  40. Susan - January 6, 2023 4:35 pm

    I am so thankful for Sean’s stories. Just when I’ve given up on the people in this world, Sean assures me that there are reasons to have hope.

  41. Farris Jones - January 6, 2023 4:45 pm

    And all God’s people said “Amen”!

  42. Stacey Wallace - January 6, 2023 4:54 pm

    Again, you are absolutely right, Sean. God’s grace is never ending, and I am very thankful. Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.

  43. Ken P - January 6, 2023 5:25 pm

    Great one today!! I really needed it. Thanks for following your heart and writing these gems that we all need to read, some days more than others. Thanks Sean.

  44. Ann Hunter - January 6, 2023 5:49 pm

    Many many years ago( I’m 82 now ) I was driving through an Alabama town when I noticed a poor, elderly man had fallen in the median with his few groceries. Cars were just flying by, so I pulled over, crossed the road and helped him up. I found out he didn’t live far so I walked him to his tiny apartment and helped him inside. My friends said I was crazy, but that gave me so much joy to know I could help someone who needed it. When we help the least of these, then we help Him.
    Thank you for your wonderful articles.

  45. Gayle Wilson - January 6, 2023 5:55 pm

    Amen Sean.

  46. Susan - January 6, 2023 5:57 pm

    You did it again! 🥹

  47. AlaRedClayGirl - January 6, 2023 6:17 pm

    Amen. Be the good and believe in the good.

  48. fredjklein - January 6, 2023 7:46 pm

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Somewhere in your collection, there is a movie script. Ever think about it?

  49. MAM - January 6, 2023 8:37 pm

    OK, that one opened the flow of tears with the last few lines. You are so right, Sean. Our country is blessed with the grace that God sends down on us every day. If only more people could recognize it! And thanks, Tim, I’m with U n I. Good thinking!

  50. Margie Van Oostrum - January 6, 2023 9:52 pm

    Thank you just thank you! I hope I can be as thoughtful and kind

  51. Suellen - January 6, 2023 10:10 pm

    That gave me chills. Today our community came together, connected on the NextDoor app, to find an elderly dog that was lost for a couple of days. People stopped what they were doing and went out and helped look for the frantic owner’s dog. There are still a lot of good people in the world.

  52. Kathy Coxwell - January 7, 2023 2:30 am

    So true! In the midst of the murders, wars and rumors of wars, there are still good people doing good things for others. That gives up hope.

  53. Ann - January 7, 2023 2:38 am

    Beautiful reminders..🇺🇸🙏🏻

  54. kingswaydaughter - January 7, 2023 3:53 am

    Just beautiful….thankful!

  55. Sharen - January 7, 2023 3:59 am

    CVS doesn’t sell cigarettes👍🏻 I’m sure Walgreens sells them up front bc they are a big money maker.

  56. shirley howell - January 7, 2023 5:18 am

    Eloquent and very moving.

  57. Debbie g - January 7, 2023 1:27 pm

    Look for the good
    What a blessing you are to us all
    Love you and Jamie
    And love to us all
    Pass it on

  58. Chris Todd - January 7, 2023 1:50 pm

    Ten thumbs up

  59. Tracy McLaughlin - January 7, 2023 1:58 pm

    I needed to hear that this morning! Thank you, Mr. Dietrich

  60. David Curry - January 7, 2023 4:04 pm

    Ahh, the Smokies! And the wonderful stories they’ve yet to reveal. Thanks for yours, Sean!

  61. Ken - January 7, 2023 4:24 pm

    I love your stories Mr Dietrich

  62. Linda Long - January 7, 2023 8:26 pm

    I love this article. May god continue His grace and blessings on us all.

  63. suzi - January 7, 2023 9:43 pm

    These are the stories that should make the headlines E.V.E.R.Y.
    They make me want to do better, be kinder, do good🦋

  64. WayneGina Yount - January 9, 2023 10:19 pm

    Man, you just make me cry so many thankful tears! ❤️😭❤️

  65. SweetOnion - January 15, 2023 6:22 pm



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