Archives For Thankfulness

I can’t get a job.

My candidate failed.

No one likes what I say.

Nothing is going my way.

She won’t do what I want.

I will never win.

I can’t do it.

These are all things I have heard in the past few weeks from friends, colleagues, my daughters, yes even from my mouth. My daughters get so frustrated especially when they can’t make something work. They scream “I can’t do it, Daddy” and literally are screaming. I have to remind them about how much I don’t like the word “can’t” and then try to help. Truth is, when I’m at work and catch myself being down about something at work or with friends. I’ve got a new name for negative talk and I have to remind myself of it each time I catch myself doing it.

In the movie, The Muppets (2011), the billionaire Tex Richman introduced the iconic anti-group,

“Meet the Moopets: A hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The Moopets were everything anti from what the positive and loving Muppets are. They are negative personality of each character. They are cynical, they are bullies, they are dangerous, and only care about themselves. They are “cynical” as Tex Richman called them.

Cynicism is something that is so easy to conform to. The 2012 election sure proved that for us all. I had a discussion with a friend this week about when we feel like we can’t handle life’s circumstances, we suddenly become down about it. We complain. We blame. We hate. Then we are driving and see an “IGBOK” bumper sticker. “It’s Gonna Be OK.” My mom used to remind me of this when I was a kid and as I encounter more things in life, I remember her simple, yet profound wisdom that wraps so many car bumpers.

When Conan O’Brien’s fans were in revolt because he was losing The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno and the forces that be at NBC, here was his response.

All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.

Yes indeed, the cynics were shunned. Amazing things happen because you are suddenly free to go after what God really wants you to do. And what happens next?

Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us,

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Knowing what Christ did for us on the cross is enough to be thankful for.

Let’s give up the Moopets. Be a real Muppet and be thankful.

Wocka wocka

Across The United States this week we are celebrating many things. There is clear political division by health care, an upcoming Presidential election, international conflict, and more. If you watch the news, it is easy to get cynical about America these days.

This past week I met a very nice lady named Hong who has lived in America for twenty years. Hong is a wife, a mother, and a daughter and in her early 40s. She escaped her country for various reasons from what I picked up in conversation. As I listened to her, it was obvious that she came to our country for freedom when she said she was from Saigon. She did not call Saigon “Ho Chi Minh City,” renamed that after the Communist North Vietnam took over in 1975. I did not ask but Hong’s parents could have been those who didn’t get out when our embassy was dramatically evacuated in advance of invading North Vietnamese forces in 1975. It was clear that Hong escaped Vietnam to seek freedom with her family from communism. She and her family came here for a better life.

Hong is Catholic now and has a 10 and 12-year-old son and daughter. She came to the United States as a refugee with her parents, whom when working with a refugee group were able to select Nashville as a home where there were others in her family settling. I am always curious about why people select certain cities when they immigrate because in my ancestry research it was because one family member seemed to find it best and liked it. Soon after the rest followed just like Hong. Many of my ancestors came from Europe and continued to move from the east cost of the United States until eventually setting across the midwest, especially St. Louis on my father’s side. Like Hong’s family, for us in the midwest seemed to be work and family there.

What I appreciated in my interaction with Hong is that she is an entrepreneur trying to make her way and didn’t seem to expect anyone to help her. She was a proud and thankful American even though her accent was incredibly thick. Since moving here in 1992 she took the intentional steps to becoming a citizen. I can imagine Hong this week celebrating Independence Day in a way more meaningful way than most of us eating hot dogs, shooting fireworks, and watching parades. She is living a great story.

I am about 3 or 4 generations removed from when some of my ancestors came to the United States. How quickly I forget how many of my own ancestors escaped to America in such a similar way as Hong. The next time I catch myself complaining about my country, I will think of Hong. Our country is far from perfect but there is a reason people are trying to climb over the fence for a good and honest life here.

Hong will always be my reminder of freedom. 

This Independence Day, take a chance to listen to those who intentionally (especially as a refugee) came to the United States like Hong. You’ll be a better American because of it. 

Happy Independence Day my fellow Americans!

P.S. Truth be told and don’t judge me. I got to know Hong while getting a pedicure with my wife. Okay maybe I deserve to be judged.