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God Bless America

God Bless America

I started my day at Mass, asking that God bless America and especially all those who have given their life for our freedom.  Truth be told, I usually start each day at Mass.  But, there is something about Memorial Day and remembering our fallen troops at church that is always so profound for me.

But, Mass today, wow was that special.  Let me explain.  Every morning when I attend Mass, there is an older man, maybe 94 or so, who always attends.  We call him Briggs.  He still drives and brings with him everyday, a woman from their retirement community, who just turned 96 herself.  Briggs is such a gentleman, always a kind word, opening doors for each of us.  I don’t know him well, but I have heard a few stories.  One story in particular is that he fought at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.  When I asked him about that a few months ago, he simply smiled and asked how I had heard that.  I took that as confirmation that indeed he had fought for us there.

But, back to this morning.  We are at Mass and there is Briggs, in his usual place, on Mary’s side of church.  As Mass was drawing to a conclusion, our Pastor suggested that we sing, as a closing song, God Bless America.  But, he offered, that he can not carry a tune and would someone be willing to lead us in song?

There are easily 50 – 75 people at Mass, but not a soul was willing to start, except for one strong voice.  Yes, it was Briggs that immediately led us in song.  The 94 year old man who fought for our freedom, ever so proudly led us in singing God Bless America this morning.  There was a hush for a second as we all realized who had started the song, and then we all joined in.  I don’t know if I ever heard a more beautiful rendition of that great song.

I think about the gifts that his man has provided us; from his days in battle, to his work in our community, to his gentleness with all he meets, to his beautiful humility.  Perhaps his greatest gift is the example he sets for us each and everyday, an example of faith, honor, commitment and loyalty.   That gift was so profoundly evident today, as the 94 year old veteran stood tall and sang out God Bless America for us and for all those who have served.

God Bless our troops and God Bless America…

 

 

 

Author, Be Radiant, faith

A Horrible Headache

Author Donna A Heckler as a child
Donna about age 9 or 10

Let me take you back, many, many years ago when your author, as a 7 or 8 year old, had a horrible headache.  I remember it well.  Truly, I had never had a headache before so I couldn’t figure out what was occurring, but my little head was just pounding.

I went into the kitchen to look for my Mother.  She took one look at me and asked what was wrong.  My head really, really hurts I explained.  I don’t think I even knew the word for headache yet, to be honest.  She asked me what had I done?  Had I fallen, had I hit my head?

“No”, I said, “I was just thinking.  And, now my head really, really hurts!”

“What were you thinking about?” she asked curiously.

“Well, I was trying to figure out how God could be three persons in one.  I can’t figure that out, and I really, really tried!  And, now, my head really hurts!”

My mother proceeded to explain that this was something that people are not supposed to understand, we needed to accept it on faith.  While I don’t recall if she said it was a “mystery”, she did tell me that it was something that only God understood.  She suggested I just accept it and not try to sort it out and then my head would feel better.

I thought about this at Mass today on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and thought I might share the story with you.  This little girl stills wishes her brain could figure out the Holy Trinity.  This Catholic adult is humbled by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the three persons in one who love, strengthen and guide us.

I smile as I think about this very real introduction to faith that I had as a child.  As an adult, I smile as I think about how many times faith removes the horrible headaches in our lives, allowing us to be radiant.

Be Radiant Friends….

 

 

 

 

 

Be Radiant, faith

Finding Radiance in the Rain

Rain on Leaves

This author and speaker did a bit of a mid-west tour this past week, driving from St. Louis to Indiana to Iowa, back to Indiana before heading home.  I tried to tell myself I was doing one big loop through the upper mid-west, though truth be told, it was more of zigs and zags, through the rain most of the way.

It was a rainy trip and I was slogging through downpours and thunderstorms as I drove.  During one part of the journey, when the rain didn’t seem like it would ever let up, I challenged myself to find the radiance, in the rain.

Surely it was there, I just needed to be present and look for it. I pulled off the highway to get some gas and a little bit to drink.  As I checked out with my beverage in hand, the clerk, never-looking up, murmured “Thank you and have a blessed day.”  I automatically said thank you and turned to leave.  No, I thought to myself, really thank her for saying that.  I turned back to her.  “Thank you for saying that.  That was really lovely.”

Words can not describe her reaction.  She lifted her head up and burst into the biggest smile I have seen in awhile.  Standing  a bit taller, she looked me in the eye and said with a shoulder shrug and that beautiful smile, “I always say that, it is sort of my thing.”

“I am so glad” I replied, “It is a wonderful thing to say.  Thank you so very much.  You have a blessed day as well.”

I stepped outside, into the rain and realized I had seen the radiance I was looking for that day.  Right there, at a little Speedway gas station in Indiana, by a shy, beautiful cashier who wanted to remind me, and all of us, that we are blessed.

 

Be Radiant, faith

A Profound Moment in Korea

Donna in Korea
Donna A. Heckler eating lunch in Seoul in 1996.  Trying to Be Radiant and smiling at all the food being placed in front of her.

What outstanding news this morning, to learn that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had crossed into South Korea for a Korean summit.  It reminded me of my own profound moment in South Korea many years ago.

The year would have been 1996 and I was leading the marketing for Energizer through-out Asia-Pacific.  While I was based in Hong Kong, I traveled all over Asia for work, several times making the trip to Seoul, South Korea.

During one of my visits to Seoul, my translator and the people I worked with took me to a market for a little shopping.  While we were walking through the market, my translator was pulled aside and a conversation started.  I wondered if I was the topic, as they kept pointing to me.  After a few minutes, my translator came back to me and said that this gentleman would like to speak with me, if I was willing.

“Of course” was my answer, “what does the man want to talk about?”

“I will let him tell you himself” my translator responded.

The man was older, weathered, I might say.  He was hunched over a little and his dusty white t-shirt spoke of all the work he did.  He reached for my hand to shake it and I smiled.  He started to speak to me, stopping periodically, so my translator could share.

“I have never met an American before” he began. ” I wanted to meet you, because you are American, right?”

“Yes.  Yes, I am American.  It is so nice to meet you.”

“I wanted to meet you because I wanted to thank you.  I want to thank you for sending all the American troops over here to South Korea to keep us safe.  I want to thank you for all that America has done for us.  I wanted to thank an American in person.  Thank you, thank you.  Will you tell everyone in America how much we, in South Korea, appreciate that?  Will you tell your President?”

I was so touched.  “Oh, what kind words, thank you.  Yes, I will share your message in America.  I don’t know the President.  I don’t know that I can get your message to him, but I will certainly share it.”

As I left the man I had this overwhelming sense of awe.  I had no idea the profound impact America was having in South Korea.  I didn’t know the number of troops.  I didn’t understand what it meant to the people there.

But, it mattered so much to this man that he had to stop a stranger, an American and offer his thanks to her, through her translator.

When I returned to America, I told that story quite a few times.  It was part of a larger narrative for me; that being to understand the impact that America has on the world stage.  I had not known.  I had not understood that.

So, as today’s profound moment in Korea occurred, I kept thinking of my own profound moment.  I thought of that kind man and his words of gratitude.  I thought that sharing his message of gratitude might be a perfect thing to write about and share today.

 

 

 

 

 

Be Radiant, faith

The Gift of a Wrong Number

 

A few years I met a spectacular woman, Natoshia.  Here is the story, it was all a “mistake!”  You see, she had made a call, only to discover she had dialed the wrong number.  But, my friend, who answered the phone, chatted with her a little bit and told her she should meet me.  And so, meet we did.

Natoshia is beautiful, inside and out.  My friend introduced us because we both were interested in supporting other women.  I had just launched my book Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer.  Natoshia had launched a business entitled Wiggin’ It, a company designed to help women with wigs due to hair loss.  But, what really connected us was God, faith, and love of humanity.

So, fast forward a few years and I do more and more work, speaking, and writing around the idea of radiance.  When it was time to do a few videos, Natoshia quickly popped to mind as someone who could share radiance in such a beautiful way.

Radiance is something that can not just be talked about, it needs to be lived.  Natoshia lives it in ways I can only dream about.  Every morning, her daughter chooses a mug for Natoshia to use at school that day.  Natoshia bravely teaches fifth graders!  The mug her daughter pulled yesterday was our mug that says “Be Radiant!”  You have probably seen that mug in some of our videos.

That phrase caused Natoshia to pause yesterday.  You see, every day at school, she shares a phrase of the day with her fifth graders.  A phrase that they can use, that can motivate, that can challenge, that can empower.  Because of that mug, she shared the phrase Be Radiant!  She invited her students to learn about me, to talk about our friendship and to think about how they can be radiant for the day.

She texted me last night and shared that she thinks we are starting a Be Radiant movement.  Her message gave me chills!  The gift of a wrong number leads to a friendship, leads to sharing radiance in many different ways including with a class of fifth graders!  Perhaps this was never a wrong number, perhaps this is God giving us the absolute right numbers!