Tag Archives: gratitude


Orange County has a new hero. Bruno, a German Shepherd police dog, was shot on Friday during a SWAT operation. The bullet struck him in the jaw and traveled into his chest. After a lengthy surgery where his jaw was rebuilt and part of his lung removed, he is expected to make full recovery. His bravery saved the lives of several police officers.Bruno

Not all acts of heroism need to save a life in order to be defined as brave or courageous. A modern day hero is a person who helps those in need.  A real hero gives selflessly of his time, money and energy for the good of others without asking for anything in return and, when offered, turns it down. There are many people, who in a variety of ways, come into our lives and softly, quietly improve them and in the process make us better people. They act without any acclaim or applause, but show compassion, generosity and kindness.

We think of heroes as doing something on a grand scale, but everyday heroes find a way to make this world a better place one person at a time. They don’t wait until they are perfect, they simply get on to doing amazing things. John Ortberg wrote, “If you wait until you are ready, you wait forever. God uses not-ready people.”

There are heroes in my life I’ve never met. Mother Teresa, Corrie ten Boom, Eleanor Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong. There are also larger than life heroes I have met: Colin Powell, Rick Stearns, Max Lucado, Patrick Lenconi. Today, though, I’d like to say thank you to those kind individuals who acted with compassion towards me in my times of need. The friends who showed up unexpectedly at my father’s wake, the teacher who let me cry in her arms after a breakup with a boyfriend, the coworker who gave me a spectacular reference, the gals in my writer’s group who have spent so much time making me a better communicator. There are way too many to list here, but without them I would be a sorry individual. You are my heroes! Thank you so much for all you did when I needed you most.

This, then is a call to action, not only for you, but for myself. When the opportunity comes to help someone, show someone a kindness, offer someone help, don’t hesitate. Just do it, as the motto states. You may never be heralded as a hero on television like Bruno was, but you will make every bit of a difference in someone’s life.

Mother Teresa famously said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” So, let’s get on with it! Make today a turning point. Seek out opportunities to spread love and kindness softly and quietly throughout your day. The world will be a much better place when you do.

America the Beautiful

MC900444636On the 4th of July, I trekked down to Lake Mission Viejo to watch an awesome fireworks display. I got there about an hour and a half prior to the start, which gave me a chunk of time to relax, people watch and read the good book I brought along.  As the 9PM start time approached, the crowd’s excitement grew palpable.

My patriotism swelled sitting underneath the fireworks, full of pride for America and content to enjoy this mid-summer night. But, I also felt something else; a sadness I’ve never experienced. For Midwesterners like me, we wait for all year long for nights like this night. We eagerly set aside mittens, boots and heavy coats for flips-flops, shorts and t-shirts to soak up every bit of summer. Normally during the Independence Day fireworks, I’m both thankful to be sitting under the stars without feeling like the Michelin man, but maybe a bit gloomy since it won’t be far too long before we’ll again be freezing in the cold.

But this year, my sadness was solely for America, for the country of my birth – a country I love deeply. I fear for her future. Politics aside, my grief was for her citizens. More so than any other time in history, our citizens don’t worship a transcendent God. What started out as a Christian country has become a country that worships technology over community; chasing wealth instead deep fellowship; being politically correct over spreading the love of God. Matthew 22: 37 – 38 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Answer honestly, when was the last time you felt your neighbor’s love?

Yet, God does not want a moment of obedience to this command. He wants us to live as citizens in this land, guarding every step we make to make sure we love with His love, graciously and undeservingly poured down on us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Obedience is remembering and choosing God in everything we do, choosing to walk in His steps and following the path He has set for us. And we do this out of love, not fear. Not because people are watching and keeping score. We love because we want to please God, that is our true motivator.

And even though America prides itself on being a Christian nation, we cannot be Christians in name only. For it is impossible to come to Christ and continue to respond to the world in the same way. Our behavior will change along with our perspective, our standards, our motives – everything. Loving in this way sounds like an impossible and overwhelming command. It is – outside the power of God.

So instead of engrossing ourselves in our instant messages, instead of feeling comfortable with our standard of living, instead of relying so heavily on ourselves, our hearts must cry out like the Psalmist:  “Teach me your ways, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

When we love our neighbor as ourselves, our world changes. Our reliance is centered on God, who will guide our steps. God has already been where He wants us to go. All we have to do is discipline our steps, making sure ours match His.


Pancakes and Pizza

DSCN2427The brunch buffet cooks made my choices difficult with such a mouthwatering, marvelous array. Hungry after a two-hour drive, I hustled through the culinary selections looking for something extraordinary amidst all the excellent enticements.

There were eggs and sausages, sandwiches and salads. After surveying the tempting abundance, my childish taste buds decided for me. I’d have my two favorite things – pancakes and pizza – mostly because I could. There aren’t too many brunches that feature both, so this was way too much temptation to overcome.

After I made my way to a table and sat down, I thanked God for the bounty in front of me. Oh sure, this wasn’t an extreme high that I’d remember forever. But my meal, because it was so out of the ordinary, was something I would savor. Thanking God for the opportunity to step away from an epicurean rut was important. After all, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tell us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”

It seemed so appropriate at the time; I marveled at God’s wisdom in asking us to scatter gratitude throughout our lives. That’s because He knows gratitude gives birth to joy.

Joy is easy when you are staring at a plate filled with your two most favorite foods. But what about those dreary days when you are in a bad mood? What about those days when you feel so far from God that lifting a prayer of thanks from your lips seems impossible?

That’s precisely when giving thanks becomes paramount. The language of a grateful heart raises our soul from the muck of our intense difficulties or even just past the routine, passionless segments of the ordinary world. Gratitude changes the way we see our circumstances. Thanking God for who He is and for what He’s done changes our point of view despite turbulent events, broken dreams and unfulfilled longings.

When we feel distant from God, gratitude is the way back to Him. When we make the world larger than Him, gratitude returns us to intimacy with the One who made the world.

Even if it is nothing earthshaking, but just pancakes and pizza, realizing what God provides changes your perspective and brightens your day. Acknowledging His presence magnifies Him. Thankfulness makes experiencing God easier in the clutter, rush or disappointment of our days. Giving thanks always makes us better able to see, touch, taste and feel the deep goodness of God.

But most importantly thankfulness makes us hungry for even more of Him.