1. Jesus – Even though He was faced with every imaginable trial, the least of which would break the strongest among us, He persevered sinless. He performed miracles and gave of Himself endlessly, showing compassion equally for all, regardless of financial status, gender, race, or background. He gave the ultimate gift of Himself for those who criticized, condemned, and persecuted Him. Many do not do that for those they love.
2. Mother Teresa – She selflessly gave of herself to the poor and needy. While most of us are happy with new shoes or sweet treats, Mother Teresa was happy giving those shoes and basic, need-it-to-live food to people who had none . While many of us read about faith and the life of Christ, Mother Teresa went out of her way to truly live it. And while we tell our friends and family we love them, Mother Teresa lived out her love not only to her friends and family, but to strangers, with her kind and gentle spirit.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
3. Pope John Paul II – Other than the awesomeness that he was Polish (yeah, I’m half Polish), Pope John Paul represented so much more than the Catholic Church. He was a Pope for people everywhere, no matter their religious denomination, or even none at all, not only the Catholic people. Gentle and kind, yet strong in his work for the betterment of humanity, and his teaching the importance of being saved by Christ as a person, not from a formula.
4. Katie Davis – At a young age Katie Davis knew that she wanted to live a life following Jesus. While most high school girls were focused on dating, dances, and clothes, Katie was focused on helping the poor. And when other high school girls were enjoying Christmas break in their senior year, Katie went to volunteer at an orphanage in Uganda. And further, while her schoolmates were planning a life of college, Katie was planning a life of service to the poor in Uganda. That desire to serve led to Katie adopting 14 girls who needed a family, and to Amazima Ministries, a child sponsorship program, which has grown to sponsor over 600 children. Katie is also talented with words, penning the book Kisses From Katie, a highly suggested read, as well as a blog.
5. Maya Angelou – Dr. Angelou is a picture of strength, grace and beauty, who has overcome the brutality of racial discrimination to become a well-known poet, memoirist, and novelist, multifaceted author, among other accomplishments. She took an unfortunate situation and living a life of faith, made it good. Her way with words encourage minds to explore and hearts to heal, as well as meld racial lines.
6. Kathryn Stockett – Author of the bestselling novel, The Help. It took her five years to find a literary agent and The Help received 60 rejections before a publisher finally picked it up. And yet she soldiered on and didn’t give up. We can learn a lesson from Kathryn Stockett about how perseverance leads to success, and about staying real in the middle of success.
7. My late grandfather – My “Grandpa Cielinski” was the kindest, gentlest man, Polish accent, and always smiling. He was a man of few words, but what he did say was always kind and with a smile. I never once heard him say a negative word about anyone. He had set prayer times during the day when he would retreat to his bedroom, and we knew not to bother grandpa when he was praying. He was such a strong man of faith and the cornerstone of our family.
The one common thread all of these people have is amazing humility. Maybe that should be my One Word for 2014.
All is Grace.