As a grateful convert, I’d like to offer a short and completely non-exhaustive list of things and people on my gratitude list for the past year, in no particular order:

1. The marital act. That’s right kids, sex between your parents and blessed by God is the way you came into being. It’s a beautiful thing – and cheap imitations will never measure up.

2. Serious medication. Yep, drugs can be good, particularly the type that have helped Kathi’s migraines this past year. They’re not perfect, but they sure beat the alternative. Good job, greedy drug companies.

3. Christian rock. Having grown up on secular (and now “classic”) rock, I appreciate the broad spectrum of talented Christian artists such as Switchfoot, Downhere (a Canadian contribution), Jars of Clay, and Third Day, among others.

4. Great Catholic authors and bloggers. As a newbie author this year, I have needed plenty of advice, and these folks (and others) have been most generous. I really appreciate it. A special thanks to Dr. Bert Ghezzi and fellow OSV authors Brandon Vogt, Dr. Kevin Vost and Eric Sammons.

5. Speaking of OSV, Our Sunday Visitor is fantastic. They just released my first book, Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck. What an awesome organization, I can’t say enough about the OSV team.

6. Another great organization – The Coming Home Network International. It’s a privilege to work with Marcus and the staff, what a terrific apostolate. Many thanks also to EWTN, our faithful broadcasting partner for so many years.

7. Family and friends. Kathi and our eight kids, our parents, Kathi’s grandmother Ruth, Uncle John, the list goes on and on. Family is a great gift, even when we drive each other nuts. Friends old and new, including Mike Aquilina, Randy Hain, Matt Swaim, Dan Burke, Mark Shea, Pat Madrid, Shane Kapler, the Columbus Legatus group, the St. Gabriel Catholic Radio family in Columbus (now on AM-820!), it’s a long list. Thank you.

8. The sacraments. What a great reason to be Catholic. I’m a fan – in particular, I love the Eucharist, but penance and marriage aren’t far behind.

9. The Church. Kathi and I will celebrate twenty years as Catholics this coming Easter – what a phenomenal gift. As I tell my kids, it doesn’t make life easier, but it sure gives it purpose.

10. The Lord. He is the creator of life, the purpose of our existence, our means and our end. I’m eternally grateful to Him above all.

So what’s on your gratitude list for 2011?