A Grateful Heart


“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!”

– Psalm 107:1

I’ve become very good at asking God for things. My prayers are filled with requests for a variety of areas of my life.

But what about gratitude? Do I always tell God how much I appreciate what He does for me?

Beginning this Thanksgiving, I am taking on a daily challenge: I want to develop a grateful heart.

The challenge will be simple:

  1. Every single day I will find a quiet moment and choose one thing for which I’m grateful.
  2. I will then use that moment to say a short prayer and thank God.
  3. The challenge is this: I want each day to have a unique focus of gratitude with no duplication. I’ll keep a small notebook to keep track of things.

I’m hoping the result will be a new habit—my way of consistently discovering things that I value in life. I want God to know that I appreciate everything He does for me every single day.

By Thanksgiving 2019, I hope to have a list of 365 things I’m grateful for. And I will have developed a grateful heart.

Won’t you join me?


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK




In June of 2017, I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding with two very special people, Sheila and Mark. It was during this wedding that I learned an important life lesson.

We got an early start that morning. The women spent the morning at the salon, while the men played a round of golf. By mid-afternoon, we all arrived at the church two hours before the ceremony was set to begin. The women were in one room, the men in another.

While there was lots of laughing and hugging being shared, underneath it all was a touch of nervousness. Sheila struggled with anxiety in her life; it was something she had been battling for years. Recently she had two small episodes, minor panic attacks that left her breathless with a racing heart.

As the big day approached, Sheila worried that the emotions of the day would get the best of her. She worried that she would encounter another attack. And worse, that the attack would stop the wedding.

Sheila took a deep breath and began her calming techniques as her bridesmaids buttoned and tied her wedding dress. She could feel the pressure building in her chest.

It was at that moment that she heard a sound, a “ping-ping” coming from the doorway.

She turned and saw Adam, the Best Man, standing at the doorway with his phone in his hand. He looked up and smiled, then slowly walked into the room.

Sheila went into panic mode. What was going on? What was wrong? Why was he here?

Adam looked up and smiled. “Beetlejuice.”

Sheila laughed a nervous laugh. “I don’t get it?”

“It’s a gift from your soon-to-be husband,” said Adam.

Sheila was still confused.

“Mark asked me to set the timer on my phone every hour. When the timer goes off, I’m going to look at you and say ‘Beetlejuice.’”

“Beetlejuice” was the first movie Sheila and Mark saw together at an outdoor film festival. It was their third date, and it was the night that Sheila and Mark realized that this relationship had a chance to be something very special.

“When you hear these words,” Adam continued, “Mark wants you to take a breath and realize that you are surrounded by people who love you and want to celebrate you. These people want you to be happy for the rest of your life. When you hear the words, take a moment to savor. Take a moment to enjoy. And take a moment to say a short prayer and thank God for this spectacular day.”

Sheila instantly teared up and embraced Adam. It was the best wedding gift she could have possibly received.


Today, over one year later, I’m sitting with my family on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake, watching a spectacular sunset fill the sky. One word comes to my mind: “Beetlejuice.”

What are you savoring in life? How often are you actually doing it?

Are you remembering to thank God for your spectacular day?


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.


I Will Be Grateful

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Be Grateful.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

Who have you thanked today? What are you waiting for?

Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs

A few years ago some friends of mine had a baby. They recently moved to a new home several hundred miles from my house, so it wasn’t easy for me to visit them. So instead, I sent them a gift: Sweet Surroundings Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair. (Yes, it was a bouncy chair shaped like a monkey.)

I wanted this gift to be unique, something special, something that would let them know that I was so very happy for them.

I placed my order, selected my delivery method, and off it went. And then I waited.

And I waited. No call. No email. No text. No thank you note. Nothing.

I wondered if they received the gift. Could there have been a problem with shipping? Maybe it was sent to the wrong address?

A few weeks passed, and I started to get concerned, as I still had not heard from my friends. That evening, I went onto Facebook and I stumbled upon some newly posted family photos. The baby was adorable, and Mom and Dad were beaming with pride. But then I looked closer at one of the shots in the living room. There, in the back of the room, against the wall, was my Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair.

They simply forgot to say “thanks for the gift.”

This experience made me think. How many gifts has God given me in my life? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Have I always remembered to say thank you? Have I always been grateful for everything that God has given me?

This month, theROCK is focused on Being Ready. A big part of being ready is always being ready to say thank you.

There is nothing better in life than sincere gratitude.

God has given me lots of Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs in my life. I think it’s time that I sit down and write him some serious thank you notes.


Dan Herda is a member of St. Dominic Catholic Parish Marketing Committee, and one of the editors of theROCK.


The Blessing Box

For the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family. This tradition includes both sides of the family and results in about 24 people. While this sounds like a big deal, it really isn’t, as I only cook the turkey and other family members contribute to the feast.

When I began hosting, I initiated a family practice called the Blessing Box. The “blessing box” is placed in a central location with strips of paper and markers. Throughout the afternoon, everyone is to write a blessing they are feeling onto a slip of paper and place it in the “blessing box.”

Just before dinner, I take the collected strips and distribute them randomly among the guests. We circle around in anticipation of the sharing. I call the group together, thanking them for coming and joining us before announcing, “May the blessings of one be the blessings of all.” We then take turns reading what is on the slip as we go around the circle. When the circle of sharing is complete, we say the meal prayer.

When the children were smaller, we were blessed in gratitude for Elmo, blankies, potty training, and school. Now that we are 15 years older, our blessings are becoming more profound and sentimental. I have collected these blessings in scrapbooks. The scrapbooks have become part of the Thanksgiving tradition as well. It is fun to look back on pictures of dearly departed family members and their blessings written in their handwriting.

These little nuggets of history begin “remember when” conversations that knit our family tighter together. When we do have guests join us, they become part of the story. While I ponder what I will share as my blessing this year, I can’t help but think of the community and story I have found myself woven into here at St. Dominic.

Five years ago, I knew the Lord sent me here for a purpose. While I pray for the wisdom, courage, knowledge, and understanding to fully execute that purpose, I do know that it was Divine Providence. I have gained so much from being a part of
St. Dominic that I can’t help but feel blessed. I am blessed to come to work and not ever really feel like this is work. I am blessed to engage with people who appreciate their Catholic faith and common purpose.

I am blessed to be surrounded by the most genuine, hard-working teachers and staff members, who are dedicated to the well-being of the children. I am blessed to feel the love and joy of 433 children every day. God is good! All the time!

As I gather with my family in gratitude, please know that you are counted among my many blessings.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Peace!



Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish