I don’t know why I have been thinking so much about the “American Dream” lately.  I love the idea.  If you work hard, you can achieve just about anything you want to in this country.  At least, that is the idea.

I am forever grateful to live in a country that brought forth the Declaration of Independence.  To put forth the idea that we are all “created equal”, not to mention being “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”- that is just right.  That’s my country. 

It’s around this time that I also find myself thinking about the brave men and women who have given their lives in defense of this country and these principles the past 236 years.  People of courage.  People of honor.  People sacrificing on our behalf.

Now, I have a question for you.  What has your American Dream been?

I told you I wrestle with that statement in my own life.  As a husband and as a dad, I have a responsibility to care for and provide for my family.  Back in 2010, I was hit with a “perfect storm”.  Most of you have probably experienced a major setback at one time or another in your life as well.  I was in a position where I was quickly losing my ability to provide for my family.  My son, Judah, was born with a cleft palate and Pierre-Robin syndrome.  He required 24 hour care.  To make things more difficult, I had just transitioned out of my full time job the month before to start a non profit to help orphans.

Because of all the issues in my son’s life, my wife and I committed to guiding him safely to his 1st birthday.  He needed us.  So, we lived off of our savings for a full year.  We ended up taking just under $7,000 in salary in 2011 in our first year with Patch Our Planet.  But, by God’s grace we made it.  I know, what a great time to start a non profit.  Economy collapsing.  Can’t sell a house.  Jobs leaving the market by the thousands.  Donations down everywhere.

But, there was something much more important to me than adding to our savings, building up retirement and going out to eat all the time.  It was a calling.  When God called me to help lead a movement for orphans, He promised to provide.  And, he has at every turn….my wife has had to remind me of that calling more than once in our journey.

So, for me, the American Dream is a great idea.  But, with all that I know and believe, it has been so much more fulfilling to answer the call of God on my life while living to make a difference in the orphan epidemic, not just to get more stuff.  My time is too short for that.

This 4th, my family will be staying up late to watch fireworks because it reminds us of the great country that we live in and love.  It is also one of those rare times during the year where we feel like our country is all together.  It is a good feeling.  And, it makes me grateful.

What are you doing for the 4th?  For 236 years, the ones who have had the greatest impact in our country have used their freedoms to protect and serve others. 

That is my goal.  That is my American Dream.

Steve Gillis
Founder | Patch Our Planet