Category Archives: Family Leadership


candycane8xA parent’s attitude sets the tone in the home.  Constantly saying, “I have to” do this or that is a sign of someone looking for sympathy for their victimhood.  There are only two things you have to do – die and pay for your sins; everything else is optional.  

No one has everything go their way.  But, as Grandma Allred used to say, “Bloom where you are planted.”  In other words, “make the best of the situation.”  Complaining is corrosive.  It only serves to create a negative attitude in ourselves and anyone else who listens, including the kids.   We choose to do what we want to do or what we feel is correct.  So, why whine about it? 

If we want to be happy and help our children to see the best in life, we must have a positive attitude.  Life will truly be difficult from time to time, but that is just how mortal life is.  I always told our kids, “Attitude determines altitude.”

Parents must realize that there comes a day when they can’t force their children to behave.  Children can do whatever they want unless they are physically restrained, and there aren’t enough teenager prisons to handle them all.  This is common knowledge for anyone who has had a teenager, but we like to fool ourselves into believing that we are in control.  The only one in control is God.  We have to look to him to execute justice and make things “fair.”  What we can do is model a positive attitude and show our children the good things that come to good people.

Rescuing Our Loved Ones

A33I was recently in a class of 21 other older men, like me. 

The discussion leader asked, “How many of you have a child or grandchild that has chosen a lifestyle that will compromise their health, happiness or financial stability?  I am not talking about making a serious mistake or two, because we all do that.  I am talking about loved ones who consciously choose a lifestyle that will have significant negative consequences, which they can’t seem to see or do not want to see.”

Every hand went up.

Because this gut-wrenching reality is nearly universal, I would like to share some hope.  This is not my concept but it was taught by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Bible.  Whether Christian or not, the lesson is applicable for all those who want to help others who have lost their way.  It is especially meaningful for those of us who have a family member or other loved one who is on the road to disaster.

In Luke, chapter 15, those who were critical of Jesus pointed out that he chose to associate with the lost souls of his time.  Jesus did not answer his critics directly but, instead, told three parables in succession. 

He told three stories about something being lost because each parable addresses a different reason that a bad choice was made.  Since bad choices lead to bad places, Jesus tells us how to rescue those who are lost.

  1. The lost sheep – The shepherd goes in search of a lost sheep, finds it, puts it on his shoulders and brings it back to the flock.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Go get them – The shepherd left the rest of the flock in order to find a sheep that had innocently wandered away. Many times our innocent loved ones are lured away by those who claim to be friends, or corrupting influences of a corrupting media, or just yielding to physical urges, without proper restraint. We need to actively and immediately go to these sheep and teach them the truth.
  • Carry them – Innocents have not yet learned how to see the consequences of their actions. They are easily misled and we must carry them with our strength, like the shepherd, until they can develop their own.
  • Do not be harsh – The shepherd did not beat the wandering sheep. When one is innocent, they are not choosing to rebel against what is right. They don’t fully understand what is right.  They do need to be corrected and taught and loved.  Harshness will not bring them back.
  • Rejoice – Everything that an innocent does to improve should be celebrated. Both the shepherd and the sheep will be better for it.
  1. The lost coin – A woman loses one of her ten gold coins, so she sweeps her house until she finds it.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Act with a sense of urgency – The woman did not wait until the light was just right to search for the lost coin (lost soul). She lit a candle and began to sweep immediately
  • Search – Since the coin did not lose itself, we must recover it because it will not come back on its own. The woman had not properly cared for the coin and, therefore, it was lost.  We must accept responsibility for losing the coin, and for finding the coin.  
  • Make it right – Many people feel guilty when a loved one goes astray. Usually that guilt is inappropriate and unproductive.  In the case of the lost coin, guilt is proper and it motivates us to apologize for our actions that caused the coin to be lost.  Then, we can retrieve the coin from its lost place.  
  • Rejoice – When the lost coin (lost soul) accepts our apology and returns, we rejoice. However, because the coin was lost as a result of our actions, we must be very careful not to repeat the same mistakes.
  1. The lost (prodigal) son – The son of a loving father takes his inheritance and wastes it in riotous living. He realizes his mistake and returns home to accept his father’s will.

Christ’s teaching:

  • Wait – The son in this story was not innocent (sheep) and was not the victim of the actions of another (coin). He knowingly chose to leave his loving family and the principles that he knew were correct in order to satisfy his ego and lusts.  He was prodigal, which means wasteful.  Jesus taught that we don’t wring our hands and worry about making amends for being human.  This son chose to turn his back on all that was good, so we wait until the son realizes that he was wrong and wants to do better.
  • Love – We must show unconditional love, like the father in this parable did, to even those who have wronged us and blamed us and taken advantage of us. We don’t justify their bad behavior but we love them in spite of their behavior.
  • Teaching can wait – The father welcomed his son home with unconditional love and acceptance. The son will have many lessons to learn and re-learn, but lessons can wait until the celebrations are over.  Preaching should be minimal and teaching should only be as often as the student is willing to learn.
  • Rejoice – It goes without saying that parents are happiest when all of their children are safe within the fold.

We always rejoice when someone who is precious to us is found.  Remember that none of these stories teaches using compulsion or trying to make another feel guilty.   Persuasiveness, patience, gentleness and love are the key elements in rescuing those who are lost.

A version of this article was published by here.

Theories of Parenting

Copy of BrycegunBefore I was married I had three theories about raising children.  Now I have three children and no theories.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester      (1647-1680) 

Having children is a great way to refute naive opinions of how to properly raise a child.  Children are people and people are different.  Each situation is different.  Therefore, there is no patently correct answer to every child or every situation.  However, there are some underlying truths that never change.  These must be the bedrock of our approach to unique people in unique situations.  I am convinced that the following are the foundation upon which we must build our family, if we are to be successful in creating a legacy of a happy family.

  1. Eliminate pride in our relationships.  Most loving parents intuitively know how to raise their children.  The problems arise when we stop listening to our hearts and start satisfying our own pride and selfishness.  Most marriages fail and most parents lose touch with their kids because of pride and selfishness.  Rather than trying to solve a problem in a loving manner, many times we harden our hearts and act in a way that only serves to protect our ego.  I can write authoritatively on this subject because I do it with greater frequency that I care to admit.
  1. Understand the importance of a father and mother role model.  Thankfully, mothers usually act in the best interest of their children.  Many children do not have an attentive father, because he is absent or he is involved in other activities that he considers to be more important.  This role needs to be filled by someone, even if it is an uncle, church leader, Scoutmaster, family friend, etc. Having a good father and mother role model will increase the likelihood that the child will have the perspective necessary to be a successful spouse, parent and person.
  1. Teach our children with love.  Nothing is more important than love in any human relationship.  Loving our children comes naturally to most parents.  To love is not to compromise the truth, nor to spoil or coddle, nor to condone inappropriate behavior.  We follow the example of Jesus Christ when we love the sinner but condemn the sin.

The important thing to remember is to convert the love we feel into what we do and say.  Our children will tolerate a lot of our mistakes if they know that we love them.  We have all seen wayward children return to goodness after realizing that their parents still loved them in spite of their bad behavior.  They usually do not come back if the parents do not reach out to them with love.

“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home”   –  David O. McKay

If our homes are truly the university of life for our children, we must be prepared and willing to teach.  If success in our home is the most important success in life, we must devote as much time as is necessary to achieve the desired result.

This article was also published on

Your Words Label You    

exchange-of-ideas-222788_640Pygmalion was a sculptor in Greek mythology who fell in love with a statue of a woman he had carved.  The ivory statue was transformed into a human being by the goddess Athena to be Pygmalion’s wife.

The award winning Broadway play and film, My Fair Lady, was based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In My Fair Lady, a girl from the gutter is transformed into a princess by Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics.  This transformation was not magic.  It was a transformation of how she saw herself and others saw her based on the way she spoke.  As professor Henry Higgins sings, “An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him.”

Whether we like it or not, the same is true today.  When you begin to speak, you are classifying yourself, creating your own label.  Your speech is your personal advertisement of how you want others to see you.  It might not be totally accurate but it is the billboard of yourself that you have erected.

Even in our society where there seems to be nothing sacred and where moral boundaries are quickly eroding, crude and vulgar language is still a sign of who you are.  Regardless of your title, profanity damages your authority and reputation.

Most intuitively agree with this explanation, “Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly” – Spencer W. Kimball.  If it takes profanity to make your point, then you are unable to express yourself adequately.  If don’t have a feeble mind, then you are using profanity because you lack the cultural, legal or charismatic authority to persuade others.

The following are five ways that the use of crude or vulgar language by bosses, parents, coaches, foremen, etc. degrades your leadership.

  1. Crudeness is often associated the unlearned and uncultured. You might have many advanced degrees but when you use profanity, you are classified with those who speak as if the f-bomb is the only adjective they know. Some say that profanity is normal language for those in certain types of jobs.  If you aspire to be more that “just one of the boys,” speak like a man or woman of distinction.
  1. Using filthy language shows a lack of respect for oneself and all who are within earshot. It makes others uncomfortable to be subjected to such a display of boorishness.  People try to protect their children from profanity because they desire to protect their children’s innocence and virtue.  Virtue in adults is just as valuable and no one deserves to be assaulted with bad language.                                                                                                     
  2. Swearing is a sign of aggressiveness. Otherwise dignified people will launch into profanity when they are angry. In the workplace, this type of behavior could be cause for termination for an employee, or a lawsuit if it is a boss who is creating a hostile work environment.  Such aggressive behavior is not motivating at work, on the ball field or in the home.
  1. Profanity is not the sign of someone who is in control of him/her self. It is juvenile and it is what juveniles do to show that they do not have to follow rules.  One of my favorite shows is The Profit, with Marcus Lemonis.  Lemonis shows his remarkable talent helping businesses to succeed using his formula of “People, Process and Product.”  My only criticism of his method is that when he is in a confrontational situation, he reverts to the use of profanity to make his point.  This is not a good process to use with people to sell a product.  Self-control is always the best way to deal with others.
  1. It is obvious that Americans are not very concerned about offending God. Even though many believe in the Ten Commandments, they ignore the commandment that prohibits taking the name of the Lord in vain.  In today’s society, no one would use the N-word in polite society but using the name of God in vain is as commonplace as saying “lettuce.”  Let me be very clear, taking the name of God is vain is offensive to God and to those who worship Him.         

The way you speak classifies you.  By elevating your language and avoiding profanity, you transform yourself as a boss, a parent, a coach or a foreman.  You will have more respect for yourself and those you lead will have more respect for you.  You label yourself as a better person.

A version of this article was published by here.

A Pebble of Kindness Always Creates a Ripple

A19pebbleThe American clergyman, Edward Everett Hale, said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  The concept of just doing “something” to help others is inspiring. 

As humans, we often think of something we could do for someone else but rationalize not doing anything.  We might think, “Someone else will take care of it,” or “I don’t want to appear to be foolish, or presumptive, or self-righteous,” or “They brought this calamity on themselves,” or, or, or…

My wife, Sue, and I know how simple acts of kindness can profoundly impact one’s life.  The following are examples of what others have done for us that might serve as food for thought.

Guidance – In my early teens, I was making a smart aleck remark at a Boy Scout meeting.  Byron privately told me that I was “better than that,” and encouraged me to change my attitude.  I am a better man because of it.

Helping – When we were just starting out as a young married couple, we only had one car and three children.  Many kind friends helped us by taking the family to meetings when I was on assignment elsewhere.  That service strengthened our determination to help others whenever we can.

Random encouragement – Several times when we took our nine children out to eat, random people would complement us on the behavior of our kids.  Raising children to be good adults is made easier when others are supportive.

Simple gestures – Kris came to visit Sue on her birthday when we were new in the area and brought her a bouquet of flowers from Kris’ yard, placed in a Mason jar.  It brightened Sue’s day and created a lasting memory.

Advice – As we tried to find a cardiologist to care for my deteriorating heart condition, Bruce, a doctor, helped us find the best possible care.  It allowed me to feel better and have confidence in the future.

Listening – I was in the hospital being treated for heart failure symptoms and Sue was left at home to care for our children.  Alana was there to lend a listening ear.  It was just what Sue needed at that time.

Comfort – When I was waiting for a heart transplant, Katy would always check on Sue to make sure that she was OK and give her encouragement.  It helped her when I was not able to help.

Making life sweeter – When Sue was out of town, Randy and Becca made it a point to invite me over to their house for dinner.  Kind acts always create better friendships.

Job assistance – Dennis helped me find and get jobs, on two different occasions.  The income from those jobs was essential for our family.

Physical labor – When I lost my job, we had to move to a rental house.  Ron brought over a moving van and helped us move our large family.  The manual labor was much needed but the kindness was even sweeter.

Charity – Terry and Karen heard that I had lost a job and was having a difficult time finding another.  One night, they came to our house with several bags of food for our family.          They did the good that they felt they should.

Compliments – Both of my younger brothers have said, “You’re my hero.”  Kind words strengthen bonds of love.

Letters – When we moved from the home where we raised our children, Brian took the time to mail me a letter telling me how much he appreciated our friendship.  That letter is a wonderful keepsake and his friendship is priceless.

Neighborliness – Our neighbor, Fred, is well past retirement age but he insists on mowing our lawn because he is already mowing his.  He shows his Christianity in his actions.       

If we all did something meaningful for another every day, the impact would be like a tidal wave of goodness washing over a world of selfishness.  You never know how much good your simple act of kindness will do, but be assured; a pebble of kindness always creates a ripple.

Parents as Leaders

28Petra“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” 

Pericles (495 – 429 BC)

Most people were raised by parents who did just fine with us even though they never read a child rearing book.  I believe that is because much of child rearing is intuitive for those who want to be a good parent.  Most child rearing books are written by psychologists.  Since I am a CPA by training, you will not find any psychological theory in these posts, but you will find my intuitive theories and what I have learned raising our nine children to adulthood.

My posts are not intended to be a manual on how to get inside your kids’ heads.  We all know that every one of us is unique.  Methods that help one child might not help the next.  Therefore, the wise parent will listen to others ideas and decide what is best for each individual child.

I’m not always correct, as my kids frequently point out but, hopefully, you will find practical advice as to what seems to work and what doesn’t.  I just want to share some ideas and experiences about life with you readers.

Since our professions, service organizations, sporting events, etc. are obviously less important than our families, we must devote sufficient time and effort to make sure that we are taking care of things at home.  Too many fathers have the misconception that their responsibility is to earn money so that the family can have the essentials, and luxuries, of life.  Some think it is Mom’s responsibility to raise the kids while Dad participates in other activities. 

A father’s role is so much more important than just buying Play Stations and funding a college education. The societal problems and temptations of our day require a more involved father.  Fathers must talk to, play with, educate, discipline, enjoy and love their children.  The lack of a father-figure will cause society to lose our children in even greater numbers than ever before because of the destructive forces all around us.  By the time the specter of losing a child becomes evident, it might be too late to make a course correction.

Subsequent posts will deal with how parents, but especially fathers, can protect and provide for their families while providing the leadership that children so desperately need.



A65Self-confidence is one of the attributes that will help our kids to be successful in life.  That does not mean that we encourage our kids to be cocky, precocious, or conceited.   We want them to know that they are of great worth but not to be arrogant.

We can increase their confidence by allowing them to use their abilities whenever we can.  This includes dressing themselves, doing dishes, mowing the lawn, etc.  When our children became young adults both they and I noticed that I did not have all the answers anymore.  They were more knowledgeable than I was in many areas.  My sons are also more mechanical than I am.  My daughters are very sensitive to the needs of others and have wonderful leadership skills. 

All of my children are much more technologically savvy than I am.  I have learned to rely on them to help me in all my weak areas.  This helped me and built their confidence as they became successful adults.   

I know that there are some who feel worthless.  I really don’t know how to relate to that feeling since I felt loved and nurtured by my parents, extended family members and kind teachers and church members. Our children will be much more able to understand that their Heavenly Father loves them if they are certain that their earthly father does.

Every child needs a firm foundation of confidence upon which they build their life.  They must know that they are a child of God and have limitless potential.  Our responsibility as parents is to teach them about their potential and help them gain the confidence to pursue that potential. 

Money Essentials for Kids

coins-in-hand-1245246-639x477I have played a game with my grandchildren where I give them choice of a piece of candy or a $1 bill.  When they choose the money, I know that their parents have begun the process of teaching that child about the value of money.  This, however, is just the beginning of the lessons that need to be taught.

Money will be a powerful force in the lives of our children.  They will not intuitively know how to handle it.  Parents have the responsibility to teach these basic money management lessons. 

  1. People are more important than cool stuff.

It is not the one who has the most toys that is happiest.  It is the person who has done the most with his or her life.  Happiness cannot be measured in terms of dollars, as popular philosophy teaches.  “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller

As the Bible says, “The love of money of money is the root of all evil.”  We need to teach to value others more than we value money and to use our money to show what we value.

  1. Learn to delay gratification

If we want our children to be happy, we will help them understand this thought from Zig Ziglar, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  That warning applies to more than just money.

Children typically want to spend money as soon as they get it.  “I have heard that money talks but when I give it to my kids, all it says is, ‘Good Bye!”  We must teach that money can often provide instant gratification, but that gratification leads to regret when they don’t have the cash to buy something that they want even more.

  1. There is a difference between needs and wants

If children are so coddled that they believe that all of their “wants” are “needs,” we have created an insatiable beast.  Some adults also have this problem and they usually end up in bankruptcy court.

When spoiled children get everything they want, they usually become ungrateful for what they do receive.  Ingratitude has its own set of problems.  Eugene Hansen gave this wise instruction, “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

  1. An allowance is not payment for doing household chores.

Giving the children an allowance is a good way to teach money management.  It also frees the parent from being constantly used as the kids private ATM.  You give them an allowance and then tell them to live within their means – a lesson that many never learn.

Since the parents provide the necessities of life and most of the wants of their children, children must be required to do something for the privilege of being pampered.  If you pay your kids to do their chores, you are setting yourself up for labor slowdowns and strikes.  You don’t want to have to negotiate with a child about whether he should pick up the family room, even if it is his baby sister’s stuff.

  1. Save money for improvement and opportunity.

Hopefully, our children will want an education to prepare to take care of themselves.  They should also want to prepare for marriage and having children of their own.  They must begin when they are young to save for these and other significant events so that they will see the value of these goals.

Children can be taught how to budget by keeping a spending log.  The spending log documents all the money they receive and where they spend their money.  This spending log will provide a basis for creating a budget.  Budgeting is a critical tool and practice in becoming a responsible adult.

  1. Comparison shop.

Learning how to shop is nearly as important as learning how to make money.  You can’t fill a sieve with water and you can’t earn more money than you can spend.

Children should be taught how to evaluate the options.  They need to distinguish between quality products and shoddy workmanship that appeals to the eye but doesn’t last.  They also must understand quantity discounts and the relative value of generic products.

  1. Use credit wisely.

Credit cards are not money.  Just because we have checks doesn’t mean we have money.  Just because we can qualify for a loan doesn’t mean we should borrow.  Borrowing for a house or an education might make sense.  Every other kind of debt should be avoided, if at all possible.

Buy only what we can afford.  Pay the credit card bill completely every month.  Let the kids know that staying out of debt, especially credit card debt, is very important to you.

  1. You can’t have everything.

Everyone must set priorities because no one can have everything.  Buy necessities, including insurance, and save a portion for luxuries and unforeseen expenses. No one knows what the future holds, but we must do our best to prepare for it. 

Kids must understand that an automobile is the ultimate money eater.  Almost every teenager has found a “great deal’ on a used car.  They have the money to buy the car but they don’t even think of the cost of gas, insurance, repairs, etc.  Many have purchased a car only to become its slave.  They neglect school, church and other responsibilities because they have to work to pay for the addiction. Cars are big tin holes you throw your money into.

  1. Help others.

Starting at an early age, children must know that you use some of your money to help others.  Talk to them about paying tithing to your church, supporting the homeless center or helping a relative who lost his/her job.  Being charitable is the best way to overcome selfishness.

  1. Learn the basics of economics

Help your kids understand the fundamentals of capitalism, socialism and taxation, the pros and cons of big government, and the law of supply and demand.  Without understanding these concepts, our children will be wrongly influenced by those who have never had to make a profit, be accountable for a budget, or live within their means, and that money can corrupt people and organizations. 

Since money influences almost every aspect of our lives, parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have.  As you contemplate your child’s future, think about the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

A version of this article was published by here.

Drugs & Alcohol – Consider the Cost 

no-drugs-156771_640Parents should fear drugs as much as any evil in this world.  Kids can recover from many mistakes but addiction is one of the most destructive and most difficult to escape.  We all have seen what drugs have done to our friends.  Drug use is not a victimless crime.  We should never approve of the use of any recreational drug.  The cost to society and to the lives of our loved ones is just too great.

We live in a crazy world where otherwise intelligent people condone the use of recreational drugs for “medicinal purposes.”  In their attempt to be compassionate, they overlook the danger of the devastating, unintended consequences.  Some scoff at the notion of marijuana being a “gateway drug.”  Consider this – If it is OK to use one chemical to escape reality, how big of a step is it to move to another drug that is even better at escaping?

Liquor serves no purpose in the life of a minor.  It never benefited anyone other than to create a chemical “high” that reduces inhibitions and creates a separation from reality.   On the other hand, it has destroyed thousands – maybe even millions if you consider the ripple effect.  Yet, it seems to be the common element in almost all social gatherings.

The costs of alcohol, and now marijuana, include the following:

  1. Drunk driving deaths
  2. Automobile accidents
  3. Unwanted pregnancy
  4. Life destroying alcoholism
  5. Divorce
  6. Child and spousal abuse
  7. Loss of a job
  8. Loss of the trust of ones colleagues
  9. Saying things that should never have been said
  10. Wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives

At times, our high school kids were invited to parties where alcohol was being served.  The kids would say, “It is a party where my friends will be, but I don’t drink.”  Sometimes they would add, “Everyone wants me to be the designated driver, since I don’t drink.  You don’t want them driving drunk and getting killed, do you?”  I appreciate effective negotiating skills, but there is more at issue than having fun and protecting friends.

I think that these are self-evident facts:

  •  It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol, even though that law is almost universally ignored.
  • Parents who buy liquor for their kids or allow it to be served to minors in their home should be legally prosecuted and chastised by their friends.  Some foolish parents say, “I would rather have my kids drink in my house where I can keep an eye on them, since they are going to do it anyway.”  Condoning illegal, immoral, or dangerous behavior is not responsible parenting.
  • No good can come from a kid attending a party where illegal, immoral, or dangerous behavior is occurring.
  • Being a designated driver?  Give me a break!  There will be drunk kids driving from a party where alcohol is served.  An automobile can kill a designated driver just as easily as a drunk passenger.  I told my kids that I didn’t want them to be that dead designated driver.

Just because alcohol and marijuana are legal doesn’t mean that they should be used.  Consider the costs.  Above all, consider what you are teaching your children when you use drugs, including alcohol.

A version of this article was published by here.


a47Aesop taught, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” As parents, we want our children to be noble souls.  In order to teach a virtue, we must first have a portion of that virtue.  Sophocles shared the secret to developing gratitude, “Gratitude to gratitude always gives birth.” 

Raising noble souls requires that we be grateful for the life we have, which will lead to being even more grateful.  A good first step is to decide to complain less.  Another suggestion is to recognize that “playing the victim” is not healthy.  Those who act like missile seeking targets have little time for gratitude.

Even though we have been richly blessed, some are still ungrateful.  The seriousness of the sin of ingratitude is perfectly illustrated by W. Eugene Hansen.  “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

Expressing gratitude is a great way to reinforce the gratitude we feel.  John F. Kennedy explained that words of appreciation are not enough, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  His words remind me of a poem by Grace Noll Crowell entitled “Because of Thy Great Bounty.”  These stanzas have a wonderful message:

“Because I have been given much, I too must give.

Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,

I cannot see another’s lack and I not share.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,

I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.”

The following is my Top Ten List of Things for Which I Am Grateful.

1)         Waking up each morning next to my wife, realizing that I have one more day with her.  I have been on the brink of death with a heart that was dying.  Receiving a heart transplant gave me more time with my wife and helped me to understand how much I cherish her.

2)         Knowing that my children walk in truth.  We are surrounded by the enemy of truth.  Too many intelligent people substitute their arrogance-driven opinions for true wisdom.  Having children that “choose the right” has been a wonderful blessing for us, as parents.

3)         Having a loving family and friends.  The support of my family and true friends has helped me with every problem I have experienced.  Nothing is more important to me than to love and be loved in return.

4)         Feeling the hope, peace and joy that come from the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Without God, life has no meaning and loving earthly relationships are fleeting.  He is the light of life.

5)         Working on meaningful projects with good people.  My life has been blessed by being involved in meaningful work, both as a professional and as a volunteer.  Humans need to work and to be engaged in meaningful activities to feel fulfillment.

6)         Living in a country that allows me life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The United States of America is a nation established and blessed by God.  It is my obligation to protect this nation from destructive politics and those who ignore the Constitution and the purpose of our country.

7)         Seeing the beauties of nature.  We have travelled the world and found beauty everywhere we have gone. 

8)         Lifting and being lifted by others.  An anonymous family gave me the heart that now beats in my chest.  I show my gratitude by serving others and working to ensure that people understand how they can Donate Life.

9)         Learning new and interesting things.  We are privileged to live in a world where knowledge is ubiquitous.  It is a miracle that I have almost immediate answers to almost any question on my smart phone.

10)       Enjoying each new day and the promise it brings.  Every new day offers the possibility of a new experience, a new friend, a new understanding, a better me. 

I am grateful for a life that gives me the opportunity to be a more noble soul and share that gratitude with my posterity.

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