Archive for December, 2012


Heroes nearby

A gift for a child

Early this month I spent the second year in a row in Memphis during the St. Jude Marathon. A town known for music, soul food, and the death of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memphis is also a place where many families have found the only hope for their children at a hospital that offers cutting edge treatments at no cost.

Visible Music College had music stages set all along the race course to help keep the runners motivated, and I was helping my friend George check in on the musicians including students and Vincent Creative Group’s Americana duo Yancy & Yancy. One of the venues was a fire station parking lot that faced part of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A high fence lined the hospital lawn, green from the still warm southern temps.

As we watched the runners in one of the last miles of the race, we saw that a father and two small children had come out and were peering through the bars at some of the heroes passing by. One of the firemen crossed over to them slipping two red plastic fireman’s hats to the kids from the other side of the fence. The smallest child was a little girl donning a mask and a pretty headband across her head, bare from the treatments that were helping to lengthen her life. She proudly placed the red hat on her head and continued to watch the hero runners, many who not only paid the fee for the race, but had also raised extra money to help kids just like her.

It was a poignant picture, and I thought as the fireman crossed back over to his station how there are heroes all around us. We have family members in the armed forces, friends who are policemen, brothers and sisters who are round-the clock nurses and doctors, and we know teachers who protect children even at their own peril like we saw in Sandy Hook just a few days ago.

Many of us will be with our personal heroes as we reunite with families and best friends over the holidays. Some of us will go “home” to see pastors and spiritual mentors. Others of us will be volunteers along side other heroes to feed the homeless, give shelter to the weary and cold, or to deliver packages to children with out-of-work parents. And less than two weeks ago, I got to meet medical heroes that saved George’s life when he had emergency double bypass surgery.

Truth is, in the midst of a chaotic and troubled world, there are heroes nearby.

As 2012 winds down, we are presented with the perfect opportunity to say thank you to our heroes. If you’ve lost a hero this year, write a prayer, print and frame a special photograph, or gather with people to tell the best stories of that person’s life and record the conversation as a memorial that can be shared with generations to come.

Conversely, take some time to appreciate, to love on, or to serve your living heroes. I’m on my way to see my Pap who is one of my heroes. I often joke with my daughter that they don’t make men like him anymore, but I hope you know someone like him. Devoted father, husband, former volunteer fire chief, prayer warrior, steel mill and railroad worker, retired yet full-time caregiver to my Nan—he is a humble leader with a very healthy sense of humor, a person who leans on his Bible more than his abilities (though he has plenty of them), and one of the most godly men I’ve ever known as evidenced by his every day living.

I plan on telling him how much he means to me. I won’t get anywhere near the mark in expressing fully what a great hero he is to me, but I don’t want to miss the chance I have this year to do so. I promise you sharing your gratitude with your hero will be one of the best gifts they could ever receive this Christmas.