Sunday, September 28, 2014


Childhood Heroes
When we were little, we had our favorite heroes. These champions of the cartoons, comic books, tv show, books or sports captivated us with their talent, personality, costumes and super powers. We saw them as champions, we felt more powerful when watching them. We even imagined ourselves being them.

(Shout Out for Underroos !!!)

My Hero
One of my childhood heroes was a stranger. I never spoke to him. He actually may be a girl, I'm not sure. See, I was riding a small dirt bike with my dad when across this long stretch of "whoops" I heard and saw a CR500 Honda 4 Stroke flying across the tops of the whoop section at what seemed to be 70 mph. He flew past me toward the end of the run where I usually got my little bike stuck in the deep Florida sand. He didn't slow much, instead went head long into this 6 foot tall sand berm where he made a wide, sweeping left U-turn, hitting the gas on the way out and kicking up a rooster tale 20 feet in the air. He came back toward me, across the tops of the same 3 feet deep sand whoops I had fallen in 100 times. I just stood there as if I were on the flight deck of an air craft carrier watching the fighter jets land and take off from 50 feet away. Whoever that masked man, under that helmet and goggles, became my hero that day. I have never forgotten him and never will.

Other Heroes
Let's face it, most of us had heroes who were either imaginary characters or famous celebrities. Batman, Superman, John Elway, Michael Jordon, a singer, a dancer, actor or astronaut. Most of these people will never meet us personally. Even if they exist in real life, we will never get the chance to really know them, to see them in real life, to discern their character, to know if they love people or if they can be trusted. I think Batman has a great cave, great car, plane and utility belt. He beats bad guys and goes on adventures every day. Who wouldn't love that life, right. But, now that I'm older with my own kids and a life of challenge and reward, I have different thoughts. I wonder, is Batman a good dad? Is Batman a good husband? Or, what about real life heroes, heroes who are not famous merely because they look pretty, dance great, run fast or sing well. Fame and celebrity status, even for an Olympian, who deserves recognition for a life of dedication and discipline, are not necessarily any more worthy of hero status than anyone else, if we take away the talent. If we take away the fame, the talent and status, what is left. These are the people I look for today,
a New Kind of Hero.

A New Kind of Hero
No doubt the "man on the Honda", as I refer to him these days, captured my attention. I still love the smell of gas and oil, dirt and mud, filling the dusty air at the dirt bike track. Is he worthy of hero status to a 45 year old, probably not. So, who are the heroes that inspire me now? Who should I encourage my kids to watch and listen to? Beeber can sing, Lopez can dance, Manning can throw and Oprah is rich. Again, does that mean I know them and their character? No. So, these days I think of "Hero" in a different light. I think of the single mom who works two jobs to keep her kids in the best schools. I think of the English teacher who invests days and nights into teaching our kids, with low pay and little recognition. I think of the youth pastor who weekly prays for every one of his 30 youth group kids by name and visits the kids who get ignored to show them they are loved. I think of the dads, moms, fire fighters, police officers, school officials, church leaders, community development leaders and non profit entrepreneurs who bring water, food, clothes and medical care to the most needy around the world. I also think of those who have and will change history with their positive ideas, their love, their service and their humility. Helen Keller and Martin Luther are examples. Honest, hard working, loving, trusted mission workers, pastors, politicians and parents. These are some of the everyday heroes who capture my attention these days.

The student who leads prayer meetings in her school. The teacher who stays late to tutor a child. The shop owner who gives a huge discount to a family who is obviously struggling with the costs of car repairs. These are everyday heroes, making an impact far beyond what fame, status or riches could do. My wife is one of those people. She defines "hero" in every way. She is talented, beautiful and gifted. Truth is, those are not her "hero" characteristics though.
She is a New Kind of Hero.

Shanna spends time, significant time, every single day, thinking, planning and working on ways to help others. She helps me, she helps her children, her clients, her friends, family members and even neighbors and strangers find a way to live better, be stronger and more filled with joy. While she is like any American who wants to increase her income and have nice things, she actually dedicates an enormous amount of time and energy to making our city a more beautiful place to live. She is a master-teacher and could be teaching at University levels, but instead, sits on the floor with kids who need help growing up and teaches them to love music, learn music and love learning. Some kids come to her classes as therapy, some learn to regulate and control impulses, some find their gifts and begin to develop as a little musician. People around her, including me, have found gifts and talents and destiny and have been encouraged to walk it out, instead of trying to be someone we are not.

The New Kind of Hero I am looking for is just like the lady I married 20 years ago. They face challenges with honesty, authenticity, and courage. They stay focused on the relationships that matter most. They find the weaker, less confident or broken people and silently help them up to another level. They never win an award or get bonus checks. They get the reward of seeing a mother's tears of joy at the sight of their child playing an instrument after years of failed lessons. They get the reward of a late night email from a friend that says 'thank you' for spending time with me over Facebook or on the phone, you helped me make it through the day. These Heroes are Champions of Family and Faith. They seek to live better, more healthy and to bring people with them along the journey. These people are the most powerful undercurrent of influence in the world. They have courage to look in the mirror of God's Word, the Bible, and to allow it to challenge them, convict them and change them. They work tirelessly on loving better and living better, not being seen, heard or captured as an internet sensation. They change tires for old ladies, they deliver food to the sick, they find the lowly and downcast, not to sell them something to fix them, but to encourage them and lift them up.

She would and will deny every positive accusation I have mounted against her. I don't care. I'm looking for A New Kind of Hero. I live in a world where depression, divorce and dysfunction destroy homes, churches, schools, and businesses. Our selfish, power hungry, fear and fame based society needs a shining light, a different kind of light. The Light of Christ lived out through the words and work of A New Kind of Hero. These people are not perfect. Shanna, is not perfect. She is, however, real, honest, courageous, loving, trustworthy, longsuffering, prayerful, worshipful, hard working and steadfast. Each day, I get a first hand encounter with my most revered hero, my wife. This is not vain flattery, shared with the selfish motivation of getting favors or special treatment, though I love all of that. This is a very strong impression I have been carrying for weeks now.
We need A New Kind of Hero.

The sound-bites we hear everyday, good and bad, about the rich and famous, are completely and totally irrelevant. Who cares what celebrity is getting married, or what athlete broke the law. I want to know, what father decided not to take the promotion so he could see his kids more. What mother goes to the gym everyday to stay healthy so she can play with her kids for years to come. What dentist, store owner, judge or school teacher goes home and to work everyday with honesty, genuine gratitude and love for others, sharing light everywhere they go? I want to hear about Judy, who works with kids who are visually impaired. I want to hear about Beth, who works with large numbers of mentally & physically handicapped children & adults. I want to hear about Michael who coaches in the inner city and regularly picks up shoes and equipment for his little athletes, and pays for it himself. I want to hear about the CEO who gets a large bonus and instead of investing into another time-share, writes a check for $20k to his local church or charity. These are the people, like my wife, who are truly worthy of Hero Status.

That is the hero I need when my day has been long and hard with no answers. I need someone to text me to say "I'm praying for you today", that's it. No guy in a cape or cool car with rocket launchers. (though I could really enjoy that too)  I just need someone to listen to me when I'm stressed, to accept me when I'm insecure and to affirm me when I doubt myself.

Today, I'm living with my hero. And when I leave this house each day, I am looking for other heroes, New Kinds of Heroes.

Dedication: Though I'm sure they won't read "Dad's Blog", I want to dedicate this post to my kids. These five are champions in my eyes. Everyday I see young heroes in the making, growing, learning, serving, praying, giving, worshiping, challenging. They are also far from perfect, but perfect was never a qualification for "hero" now was it.  

(Elizabeth, you inspire me and challenge me, you are another of my heroes. You leave a mark of joy, love and laughter on so many people around the world, and, by God's grace, I get to see that up close. You shy away from fame and limelight, but minister so well on center stage. You stand tall in character and tall in strength, and your friends find confidence, consistency and authenticity in you. You are A New Kind of Hero.)

(Hosanna, you bring a fresh breeze of grace and beauty to the world around you. You hide the fact that you are crazy smart and forceful when needed. You are a good friend and have extended grace to your siblings, class mates and fellow employees consistently and mercifully all of your life. Your impact on young girls is profound, your prayers are powerful and your dedication to excellence has challenged those around you. God's love and light follows you wherever you go, you are certainly A New Kind of Hero)

(Benjamin, you have always been able to walk into a room and charm your way to the front. More importantly, you accept everyone in the room, with little bias. You love to work as part of a team, you love to be challenged and you work hard for your coaches, parents and pastors when you are asked. I love how you honor and respect your older sisters. I love your love for your mother. I also love the way you have adopted your little brother and made him your own family. Your loyalty is powerful. You are growing up to be A New Kind of Hero)

(Victoria, some generations need special people, molded and shaped, particularly, for impact in that generation. I believe you are this person. Your love for worship and passion for life is contagious. You are smart and lovely. You have compassion for others in need. You sense a call to help those who have been treated unjustly. You bounce back when hard things happen. You are an "old soul" and have been wired for wisdom and growth. The impact you have on other girls who feel timid, ugly or alone has been powerful over the years. You are their hero, and to me, A New Kind of Hero)

(Elias ZhangWei (Eli), I will never really know why God blessed me with a son like you. When I prayed in the mountains, and cried over your soul, my heart was nit together with you. You have brought an entire new level of revelation of God's love into my life. Your personality and courage are supernatural. You face challenge and overcome. You learn and love to learn. You work hard at school, even with some pretty serious limitations. You play hard and love your friends. So many people, young and old, love you and care about you, but more than that, they are encouraged by you. You have changed me forever because, you my son, are
A New Kind of Hero)