Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, America!

I'm the kind of girl who tears up at the National Anthem.

I may have also teared up at My Old Kentucky Home in the middle of Commonwealth Stadium...

My roots run deep.  I've lived within the same five mile radius for all of my 35 years.  Sometimes, that's a good thing... most of the time, in fact.  Oh, there are always days when I get upset with hometown politics or get frustrated with having to drive an hour to watch a movie... but mostly, I love Breathitt County.

I love Kentucky.

And I love America.

I love the thought of the Stars and Stripes waving over the steeple of a church against a blue sky.

I love our history, how we overcame tyranny to become independent and welcomed the masses.

I love my heritage, Eastern Kentucky people raised hard who have compassion and love for each other.

I love McDonalds French fries and Audrey Hepburn and JFK and Jackie.  Oh, wait.  Hepburn was not an American actress... but you can't get more American than Tiffany's.

I love apple pies... well, maybe not... but I loved making them with my Grandma.

I love football- American style.

I love the summer sun as the waves from the Atlantic crash against the shoreline.  I can close my eyes and smell sunscreen, feeling that sun on my cheek and smelling that ocean air, even here in the humid Appalachian Mountains.

I love accents... all different kinds.  It amazes me how I can speak one way and someone from the other side of the state can say the same word and it sounds different.

I loved the Grand Canyon and the Washington Monument and Abe Lincoln's statue on the Washington Mall.  I sat in revered awe at Ford's Theatre almost twenty years ago, still feeling "something" even after all of those years.

I've been to Niagra Falls in the north and Daulphin Island, Alabama in the south... to the great state of Texas and have kinfolk in Michigan.  I've met people from most of the 50 states and I have to say that we are more alike than different.

239 years ago, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence stating that they wished to be absolved from any allegiance to England. To be free from tyranny. To be able to make their own decisions.

"Our Creator" endowed us with certain unalienable rights- Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

They signed off on the declaration "with the firm reliance on divine Providence."

 Our Creator. Divine Providence.  When someone goes against the laws of nature and nature's God.

Our nation was based on more than just religious freedom... but the very document declaring us as free pointed to dependence on a Higher Being.  Not just any higher being... but God. 

And this last line... it is what made America so great. "we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. "

Pledge to each other our lives. 

Our fortunes.

Our sacred honor.

Even if  God was not mentioned... that last line is what Christianity was founded on.

“The greatest among you will be your servant.”   Matthew 23:11

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”   Galatians 5:13

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

Our forefathers believed in unity.

Men and women throughout the years have fought for unity. Many gave their life to support this cause.

Our name says it all- The United States of America.

United- unity. 

It's the only way we can be great.

I may not agree with you.

You may not agree with me.

But we can respect.

Respect the freedom of speech- I have the right to express my beliefs.  You do, too.  Let's not argue. When we don't like what is being said, present our viewpoint respectfully and then let it drop.

Respect the freedom of religion- I serve God and am so thankful that I can get up every Sunday morning and go to church.  I appreciate the opportunity to go into a store and buy a Bible to read. You may not believe the same as I do.  We all have the right of freedom of expression in our religion.

But we can mutually pledge to support and love each other... as Americans.

Happy Birthday, America!  May you continue to be blessed by divine protection.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Berry Good Lesson

Wallace and I took Will on a ride to Papaw Paul's yesterday.  We avoided the rain showers and even got to enjoy a little bit of sunshine. We went by the ponds ("the creek", as Will called it) and then went up on the ridge.

I have so many good memories of Papaw's pond from my childhood. We used to swim there.  It's where I first let my Uncle Dennis bait a hook for me and when I first learned how to cast into the water.  It was also where I learned that you had to be quiet to fish, and that meant that fishing probably would not be my favorite habit.

Fish like people to sing to them, too, right?

So yesterday I couldn't help but notice how the sides of the pond had grown up. When I was younger, it was full of grass and cat-tails.  Yesterday, though, there was something new...

lots of blackberry bushes.

The road up to the pond had been lined with blackberry bushes when I was young.  While I never liked the berries, I often enjoyed picking them, first with Papaw and then because it meant he'd give you a little cash, which is always needed by a teenager with gas to run out driving around town.

I was shocked to see them around the pond, though, until Wallace felt like he needed to give me a science lesson.

"You know, the birds eat them and then drop the seeds."

As if I had forgotten plant biology in college, the most difficulty "easy" class he ever talked me into taking with him.

We continued up the hill to the top of the ridge, and something that Wallace said really struck me as profound. 

(Yes, write it down.  It may be the only time you see those words.)

I noticed the blackberry bushes the entire way up the hill, and toward the top the berries, though still not ripe, were huge. I commented on the size.

"It's because they are at the top of the hill and they get the most sunshine."

Something struck me about that statement. I realized that really, there's a lot I can learn from those berries.

Let's liken them to the fruit of the Spirit...

A lot of times when you eat the berries, they may be a little bit tangy... and most people tend to add sugar.  When they are baked into a cobbler, sugar is added as well.

That's kind of like our lives. We can be a bit tangy... bitter, even.  But God's Word and giving Him control, allowing His sweetness to take over, can make us palatable to others.

Also, those berries require some hard work to get.  Granted, some of them are right there on the top of the bushes... but a lot of the times you have to be willing to reach down, through the thorns, to pick all of the fruit. Kind of like life... we have to go through some thorny patches to see His fruit manifested in our lives.

And then there was that statement about the sun.  The berries that got more sunlight were bigger, more evident.

And we need more Sonshine, more of the Word and time in His presence, to have the fruit obvious in us.

Lord, I know that I can be bitter and thorny and not be ripe for Your use. Help me seek out Your Sonshine, dig into Your Word, and seek Your will, so that  I can be fruitful for the glory of Your kingdom.