Most heroes don’t wear capes

You’ve seen the images over the last several weeks: devastating fires in the west, unimaginable flooding in the east. One part of the country is desperate for rains to fall while another begs God to dry up the floodwaters. Whether it’s fire or water, whole communities have been wiped away. Precious lives have been lost or irrevocably changed.

In these environments, heroes emerge. Not loud or showy. Not with super powers. Not wearing capes. Instead, they come with helmets and gloves and boots. They arrive by helicopter or boat. They bring with them strength and hope. And food and water and shelter.

This is National Fire Prevention week, which probably seems foreign at the moment to those in South Carolina dealing with a 1,000-year flood. There are heroes in both fire and flood, and I want to celebrate them today.

I attended an airshow this weekend and saw both Canadian and U.S. air force flying demonstrations. These are easy heroes to cheer and celebrate.

Airshow2015_1FT Airshow2015_2FT

However, the real heroes of the hour (so to speak) didn’t get to appear on stage. Instead, they waited in the background, perhaps because they had to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Extremely dry weather, high winds and the threat of thunderstorms with little rain brought a red flag warning Saturday, and the Cal Fire units that had been set to participate in the day’s events stayed behind the scenes, quiet and waiting.


A helicopter of heroes

In the last few days, Cal Fire finally reached 100 percent containment of two raging fires, one that burned up 76,067 acres and another that burned 70,868. So I am not exaggerating when I tell you these are my heroes.

For flood and fire victims alike, heroes may come in many shapes and sizes. The fireman who returned the day after a fire to corral several horses and make sure they had fresh hay. The vets working to save burned animals. The National Guard troops keeping flooded areas safe. The countless volunteers staffing shelters, cooking meals, donating time and supplies. These are the heroes that emerge in disasters such as these.

While many of us may not be able to go to the front lines of the fires and floods, we can still help the heroes who are there. Here are two great organizations that would welcome your support:

I love a good airshow, but even more, I love the ways capeless heroes rush to save lives, property and the natural resources that make this such a beautiful country.


Four Canadian Snowbirds deliver a message of love.

How will you help these heroes? Do you have other go-to organizations for helping when disasters strike?

If you have a hero story to share from flood or fire, please add it to the comments below. And if you’ve been affected by these recent natural disasters and would like prayer, I’d be honored to lift you up in prayer. Simply put your request in the comments below.

Running for an imperishable wreath

When I was six years old, I held my mother’s hand while we gleefully smashed the tiny acorns that scattered the sidewalk in front of our church.

When Lopez Lomong was the same age, he was ripped from his mother’s tight grip, taken by soldiers from under the trees where his family and others from surrounding villages had been in prayer during a church service.

I was born in America. Lomong was born in southern Sudan (now South Sudan). To quote Robert Frost, “That has made all the difference.” It’s a difference I can’t begin to grasp.

Lomong is one of my Olympic heroes, representing the USA in two Olympics – in 2008 in Beijing where he also served as flag bearer in the opening ceremonies and again this past summer in London where he came in 10th in the 5,000 meter final. I feel blessed that I got to see him earn a spot on both the 2008 and 2012 teams, watching him race at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore.

Lomong runs a victory lap after winning a spot on the US Olympic team this past June in Eugene, Ore.

Lomong runs a victory lap after winning a spot on the US Olympic team this past June in Eugene, Ore.

Lomong’s story is nothing short of amazing: from being abducted by soldiers in war-torn Sudan to living in a refugee camp in Kenya for 10 years to a journey to the United States where he would become a citizen and live out his own version of the American dream while never forgetting the other boys and girls left behind in Sudan.

Lomong has shared his life – its struggles and triumphs – in a moving memoir published last year, called Running for My Life. Never has a book title been so accurate. Running saved his life.


Lomong’s remarkable memoir of his life so far

Lomong’s book was one of the Christmas presents I gave my husband, and I read it right after he did, knowing that I needed to keep the kleenex nearby. I was still unprepared for how the book would affect me emotionally. Continue reading