What does it take to be a hero?

In truth, not much. 

Sure, there are elaborate heroes who do things to change the world.  But you don’t have to change the whole world, all you have to do is find someone in need, and change their world.

If a child asks you to come play ball, or Barbies, or jump on the tramp, or swing them, or read them a book, or tell them a story, and you stop and do it… you’re their hero.

If you see someone at the checkout counter who didn’t bring enough money, and you step in and make up the difference… you’re their hero.

If you see someone on the side of the road and help them change their tire, or jump-start their car, or pull them out… you’re their hero.

If you see someone having a bad day, put your arm around them, give them a smile, and offer some encouragement… you’re their hero.

If you’re always the one to look on the bright side of things, to point out the positive, to provide energy and spirit to those around you… you quickly become their hero.

If you see someone new in your neighborhood, in your school, in your church, or in your office, and you take the time to get to know them, ask them questions, make them feel welcome, and be their friend… you’re their hero.

Being a hero doesn’t always require heroic effort, just the right effort at the right time.  And usually the amount of effort required is vastly disproportionate to the impact you have.  Sure, there are big things that you can do (and big things that need to be done), but more pervasive are those little opportunities that constantly surround us where we see someone in need, step in, and help.

Our environments are composed of hundreds of opportunities such as this.  The building blocks of heroism. 

So look around you, and be a hero.



Don’t abandon your children

Today Nebraska lawmakers voted (43-5) to change the state safe-haven law.  All 50 states have these safe-haven laws, allowing parents to leave infants at a hospital anonymously without fear of prosecution.  They were passed in an effort to prevent unwanted babies from being abandoned in less safe locations.

But when Nebraska set up their law, they failed to provide an age limit.  The result is that people have been driving even from out of state, just to drop of their children.  They’ve come from Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and even Florida.

Since September, when the law took effect, they’ve already had thirty five children dropped off, all but six of them older than 10.  Today the Senate held an emergency session to change the law.

But is there a problem with the law, or is there a problem with society?

Full disclosure, having myself been abandoned by my father when I was about 2 and by my mother when I was 11, I have strong feelings on the matter that may cloud my vision.

But to me this whole scenario has exposed a terrible flaw in society, and this is just the tip of the iceburg (granted, one of the more atrocious illustrations of this flaw).  To me it speaks to the dramatic deterioration of the family.  

As a society have we come to so disregard the family?  Unwanted and out of wedlock pregnancies abound because of this disregard.  And as a society how do we rate this.  It’s strange to me that anyone can have a child and we have laws allowing them to abandon them at will at a hospital, but I have to have a license to catch a fish.  There’s something innately wrong with that.

Are there scenarios where it may be in everyone’s best interest for a child to live somewhere else?  Perhaps (far be it from me to judge each scenario), but it should be done with extreme trepidation, care, prayerful consideration, inspired guidance, and using appropriate channels (for there are worthy parents out there who are willing and anxious to care for these children).  But what kind of solution is it to simply walk away from the problem.  Especially when that walking away is from your very children, who love you, and look to you for support.

What kind of culture does that create? What kind of message and habit does that perpetuate? 

Families are ordained of God.  It’s central to His plan for the eternal destiny of His children.  Families are the mortar of society, and anything that would weaken those bonds (including the dereliction of duty by parents) threatens not only society but our own exaltation.

The protection and preservation of the family is not only crucial to those who have their own families, but to every individual, for families form the fabric of eternity, and our eternal destinies are interwoven in that fabric, regardless how isolated we may feel or try to become.  The hearts of the children MUST turn to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers MUST turn to their children.  There is immeasurable and ill-understood power in these relationships both on this side of the veil and beyond.

This same eternal and divine power that binds us together as relatives, is the very power that will strengthen you, support you, and give even the most weary parents the emotional and spiritual sustenance they need to overcome even the most daunting of life’s many challenges.

So if you are one who is struggling against such challenges, and considering such a dramatic course of action, let me speak to you clearly.  There is no challenge beyond which the Lord has power to help you overcome.  Do not turn away from your family.  Instead, turn to them, and experience the infinite power that is available to those who endeavor to strengthen those family bonds, instead of breaking them.  Turn inward, not outward, and you’ll find strength and support from the Lord in ways that you may have never imagined.

Families are eternal.  Let them not be so easily broken by such temporary strains, no matter how difficult they may seem at the time.


If you haven’t already, just read “The Family:  A proclamation to the World” and let your soul reflect upon the words of a latter-day prophet.



P.S.  News on the issue can be found here, and here.


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Don’t give up, you are loved

I firmly believe that there’s no amount of feel-good fluff that can compare to the self-propelling power of pure principles in getting us through the hard times.  The internal strength, divine direction, and eternal perspective one gleans from studying and pondering pure doctrine is incomparable and irreplaceable.

Still, “variety is the spice of life”, and often motivation and strength can be found all around us.  In times such as these, when so many face so much, we may do well to absorb motivational messages from many more sources.

Here’s one for those touched by music…

As you face the challenges that are bound to be thrown at you, just remember… don’t give up, you are loved.



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Holding on for dear life

I was in Orlando Florida last week, presenting some new software I’d been working on at a large tradeshow, when something I saw totally captivated me. 

One morning, the group of us was following the masses toward the conference center entrance to get our badges scanned.  It was a gorgeous day, and I was looking around, enjoying the surrounding beauty when I spied the most amazing plants.


These plants lined the front of the conference center.  As I walked, I noticed that these plants would grow along the gound, sprouting above-ground roots that would slither out in all directions attempting to find nourishment from their surroundings.  Apparently, at some point, they’d  find a sufficient source of nutrients, and the plant would be strong enough to start growing upward.

And then I came to this one.


I was captivated.  But it wasn’t the novelty that captivated me as much as it was the apparent symbolism.

This was the only plant of its kind.  It grew straight up.  Rather than sulking along the ground, seeking nourishment, one of its tendrils had found a large, neighboring palm.  It had then wrapped its root around this tree multiple times, giving it direction, strength, and protection that the others lacked.

Before I was befuddled with the frantic nature of the tradeshow, I had a brief moment to reflect upon the message this plant had to offer me.

In life, some people choose to “go it alone”.  Sometimes that choice is forced upon you, and you find yourself scrambling for nourishment (spiritual, emotional, or otherwise).  In either case, it’s a constant struggle for the most meager upward gains, and you end up spending much time and effort moving on a more lateral course, constantly reaching out in every way to find support and strength.

But we have been provided pillars of strength, and we should wrap ourselves around them.  By so doing, they provide us direction, strength and protection that ensure our upward growth. 

For each of us those pillars may differ.  Sometimes it’s a close friend who somehow seems so grounded, or whose testimony is so sound.  Sometimes it’s a religious leader.  Sometimes it’s a family member.  Someitmes it’s something inanimate, like the scriptures.  Often, it’s the Savior.

But whoever or whatever you find, keep them close.  Wrap yourself around them, and let them give you strength.

The physical principle of gravity, that objects of lesser mass are pulled toward objects of greater mass, has a spiritual shadow.  If you surround yourself by those people, places, and things that are of greater spiritual strength than you, you’ll be naturally pulled upward by them.  But be careful, for the opposite is also true.

May each of us find our pillars of strength, and wrap ourselves around them.


(click image below for large view)

P.S.  For a greater explanation of this take on “gravity”, see my post here.  For more about how you are shaped by your spiritual ecosystem, click here.

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What do you care?

“I don’t care”. 

How often do you hear that phrase?

More importantly, how often do you say it and mean it?

Stop and think for a minute… how much DO you care? 

Do you care about life?
Do you care about religion?
Do you care about your job? 
Do you care about your family? 
Do you care about politics? 
Do you care about sports? 
Do you care about the weather? 
Do you care about a hobby? 
Do you care about progression? 
Do you care about understanding others? 
Do you care about others at all? 
Do you care about what those around you are trying to tell you? 
Do you care about what you’re going to do tonight? 
The rest of your life? 
Do you care about music? 
Do you care about the direction of your life? 
Do you care about your spiritual state? 
Do you care about eternity? 
Do you care about your appearance? 
Do you care about what others think of you? 
Do you care about what your spouse is going through? 
Do you care about helping, and making a difference? 
Do you care about how you feel when you look in the mirror? 
Do you care about what media you consume? 
Do you care about what food you consume? 
Do you care about a pet? 
Do you care about nature? 
Do you care about your education (regardless of age)?
Do you care about yourself?


Caring is one of the simplest, yet most magnificent of motivating powers.  Caring gives you energy, purpose, hope, enthusiasm, passion, commitment, perseverance.   None of those can exist without caring.  In fact, no positive, healthy, or forward-moving emotion can exist without first caring.

What’s more, those who care more, experience more.  More life, more joy, more hope, more love, more fullness.  As a people, I am convinced that we have got to care more.

So I ask you, what do you care about?  Try caring a little bit more, see what happens.


Inspirational Quotes

I’m always looking for inspiration, and I’m always inspired by looking. 

So, I’ve decided to start a post where we can collect inspirational quotes.   I try hard to use my blog to inspire and motivate others.  But the beauty of social media, such as blogging, is that it’s a two-way street.  This post is your opportunity to inspire me, and others who read it.

It’s an open forum, post whatever quotes you’d like, spiritual, motivational, whatever.  They can be yours, or they can be another’s (if so, please post who said it, if known).  Obvious rules will apply…

Let’s have fun.


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Straining toward achievement

This morning I was at the gym, sweating, hurting, thinking I was an idiot, and wondering what in the world I was doing.  I’ve got a goal to bench-press 400 lbs, which is about 25 lbs over my prior max.  Now I know 25 lbs doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’ve already reached your limit, no matter what it is, expanding that limit even by as little as 5% (as in this case), is extraordinarily difficult.

As I was sitting there reflecting on the ridiculous amount of pain, effort, and perseverance you have to endure to increase by such a meager margin (only 5%), I realized that this is a nearly universal principle.

Any time you want to push yourself well-beyond what you have done before (particularly when you were pushing yourself then), the amount of effort required will be dramatically disproportionate to the increments in which you increase.

I learned a couple things then, as I pondered this principle while pounding out as many reps as my tired muscles could bear.

Character development

First, what matters most is not the end result from pushing yourself so far.  At least in this case, the ends do not justify the means.  Such proportionately unimpressive increases do not justify the disproportionately gargantuan effort they require.  But what does matter, is the character development inherent in the process of pushing yourself farther and harder than before.  It’s about the value of setting goals, the ethic of hard work, the principle of perseverance, and the inner-strength you get by simply sticking to it.

In my limited observation, those individuals that are the strongest, and who achieve the most, are those who have learned to push themselves, who have learned to be passionate, and do not quit when everyone else does.

The cost/value principle

Second, those things in life that are of the greatest value are not free.  And usually the level of value associated with the achievement is directly proportional to the amount of work required to achieve it.

I pondered how this applies across the broad panorama of life, from the physical, to the mental, to the spiritual.  “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”  Even the very level of our eternal exaltation shall be determined by how diligently we endeavored to work the works of righteousness.

Dealing with failure

Third, and finally, to be good at something, really good, you’re going to have to get used to failure.  The better you want to at something the more failure you’ll have to endure to get there.

A good sales person, for instance, will be rejected 9 times out of 10 (or more).  In baseball, a batting average (your ratio of “hits” to “at bats”) is considered excellent if it’s higher than a .300, and .400 is nearly impossible.  A “.300” batting average means that you’re going to miss seven out of ten times at bat.  The last time I ran a marathon, I had to run about 325 miles over the three months prior just so that I could run 26.2 miles the day of the race.

In short, “failure” (which is really a misnomer) needs to become a part of your life, you need to be able to look at failure for just what it is, the temporary inability to achieve what you meant to, and a guide on what to change so that in the end, you succeed.

If you’re not currently pushing yourself at something, and feeling the pain that happens when you do, then I’d encourage you to find a part of your life in which you’d like to improve, make sure it’s of value (see the worth of your pursuits), and work to achieve it.

If you ARE feeling pushed and pulled, if you are struggling towards some worthy goal and are feeling the whole-bodied drain that it is having on you, I encourage you to persevere, keep it up, and make it happen.  You’ll be happy that you did.


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