5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
So, I'm sitting here in Panera writing a blog post, when really I should be writing my paper, but when inspiration strikes, it strikes, and I find myself wanting to write. Besides, this is an important post about thankfulness so I am just going to write and let the paper be for just a little while.
You might ask, what was it that inspired me to write today, a mountaintop experience, a particularly poignant verse from Scripture, a beautiful piece of artwork? Nope, it was none of the above. Rather it was a commercial, a radio commercial about Black Friday, or as it should more aptly be called, Black Thursday. That's what it's come to. Shopping on a day when we are supposed to be counting our many, many blessings.
See, as I was driving down the road, the commercial came on with the announcement that a local mall would be opening on Thursday night at 5 and I couldn't help but chuckle at the irony. We are putting aside our thankfulness earlier and earlier in favor of finding a good deal.
Don't get me wrong, I love Black Friday as much as the next person. (Well, actually I kind of hate it. I'm not much for crowds and hustle and bustle so really I've never found much appeal when it comes to Black Friday.) But, I really am not against finding a good deal. There's a lot of joy that comes from finding a good bargain and it makes sense to find ways to save during a financially taxing part of the year. I guess what I am against, is the fact that we're letting it overshadow what the day of Thankfulness is really about.
A few Thanksgivings ago, when I was spending the holiday at an aunt and uncle's I recall a prayer that my aunt uttered that day that has stuck with me over the years. It was simple and yet very profound. "Lord, teach us to love You, the Giver, more than we love the gifts you give us." Isn't that a beautiful thought, to be thankful for the Giver and not just the many many gifts he pours out into our lives.
And there are plenty of gifts that he pours into our lives. Blessing after blessing of daily bread and friendship, gifts and desires fulfilled, wants and needs taken care of. Day after day, so many things we take for granted, are laid at our feet without us really taking stock of a God whose mercies are new every morning.
This of all the months of the year, after an abundant harvest has been gathered, is a time to be thankful. But not just thankful for the gifts, more importantly, thankfulness for the Giver, the One who pours out blessings without keeping track. The one who gives ungrudgingly to a people that aren't always as grateful as we should be.
So in honor of Thanksgiving I've decided to write a list of things I'm grateful for that have to do with God. I hope it inspires you to make your own list of reasons you're thankful to our Good and Gracious Heavenly Father.
I'm thankful for:
A God whose mercies are new every morning.
A God who love me beyond measure.
A God who knows every thought and desire of my heart and willingly fulfills those desires in his own time and in his own good way.
A God who doesn't treat me as my sins deserve.
A God who is unfailingly patient with me and my many many shortcomings.
A God who doesn't hold grudges.
A God who looks out for the poor and weak and lowly.
A God who sacrificed everything to save me from my sins.
A God who guides and keeps me day by day.
I think you get the idea. Really, when I think about it, the list could go on and on. So I guess in this season of Thanksgiving, find a way to be grateful not just for the gifts but for the Giver himself. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Last night I had an entire house to myself, a rare thing in my life right now. While it can be a bit lonely, it’s also a great time to do things for myself – like watch cheesy girl movies and eat bad Chinese take-out. All in all, it was a nice refreshing change from the busy, hectic pace of family life.
Late that night before bed, I reached for my tried and trusty Bible, something I don’t have the luxury of doing much these days. It was like sitting down to read letters from a friend. You see I bought this Bible for myself back in 2000 - eighteen years ago, when life wasn’t so peachy keen.
This book got me through the toughest of times. All those years before I was diagnosed – those long years of silent suffering, no place and no one else was there for me like God was through his word. I reference this in one of my speaking engagements, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church's Woman's Health Conference.
“The one awesome thing about going undiagnosed for so many years is that I clung to God’s Word like nothing else.”
Truer words were never spoken. In an earlier blog, I wrote about how suicide was a dark thought that crossed my mind many times pre-diagnosis. I was that miserable. My post, 'This is called the I wish I didn't have to write this,' post, references some of the verses that were especially important to me. These are the ones I laid at God’s feet waiting for the day when he would answer all the prayers that sometimes felt like they were falling on deaf ears, even though they weren’t.
The thing about God’s Word is that it’s living and active and, no matter how many times I’ve read a book of the Bible, or read verses that have been dated and underlined, they still speak to me. You see, the Bible isn’t just some dusty old thing I pull off the shelf every once in awhile when I feel guilty or need some divine intervention. It truly is a life preserver for me, a compass, a love letter from a Heavenly Father who adores me more than words can say.
I think when I write my posts I’m drawing on all those years of being in his word and hiding it in my heart. They are truly the place of wisdom that one can’t find anywhere else. If you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written over the past several years, if it’s inspired you or encouraged you, know that it didn’t come from me. It truly didn’t. It came from the wellspring of life flowing up within me. It came through the pain and suffering that made me wiser than anything else could have.
So, do yourselves a favor. Open your Bibles, and find wisdom, and solace and truth there. And if you don’t particularly care for the translation you have, find another. The Bible pictured above is my copy of the New Living Translation, and I find it quite refreshing. I hope that you can find the same wisdom and knowledge I’ve found in the pages of God’s word and that when you read it, it blesses you beyond measure. Peace to you until next time.
For those of you who have been on this journey with me for a while, you know that I’ve been pursuing my Master’s in Special Education for some time. After this semester which is about half-way done, I have only one more semester before I graduate. That’s the good news.
The bad news? This last semester is promising to be a doozy. I have to take a class, do my internship, and now, thanks to the blessed state of Iowa, I have to pick up an extra practicum to make sure I get the endorsement I’m seeking. On top of that, I have one of the toughest professors I’ve had yet for this next semester’s class. I had to laugh when I went to sign up for the class yesterday, because it was the very professor I hoped not to get. Add the stress of being a special ed teacher and writing lots of IEPS this semester and well, you get the general idea.
I do believe that, as my husband puts it, I can do anything for a semester, but I will have to say that this upcoming one is not a semester I’m looking forward to. For now, I’ve settled in and am accepting that life will be a bit crazy. Truth be told, though, yesterday I had a few dozen freak-outs about it. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed in the knowledge of what I’m up against.
1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 New International Version (NIV)
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
I don’t know about you, but when I start to doubt God and his guidance and leading, I feel a bit guilty, like, how dare I doubt him when he’s done everything to prove that he is worthy of my trust. But the above verse is one that is tucked a way in the corner of my mind when it comes to feeling guilty about what I am or am not at this point in time.
Because it reminds me that I am not the one in charge of my own sanctification. That’s God’s job. I don’t have to be perfect. Through faith in Jesus I already am. And now, God’s growing me in goodness.
Instill: To introduce by gradual instruction. To pour in slowly by drops.
You see, all the lessons I’ve learned in life that have “stuck” are ones that I’ve learned over the years. The ones that have been instilled in me didn’t come all at once. It took time, to grow and mature and be all that I am now. I’m not exactly who I want to be, but there is freedom in the knowledge that right now, I am exactly who God has made me to be. And I don’t have to feel guilty about what I’m not, because God is in the details of changing me into who I want to be.
So, don’t get down on yourself for all that you’re not. Thank God for all that you are. Trust him to change you - the parts of you that need to change. And let his peace dwell in your hearts and minds as you realize it’s not about you changing you, but about God working in you what is pleasing to him.
When something significant rears its ugly head in our country, I find myself wanting to write about it. But when it’s a controversial sort of something, there is a still small voice in me that says hold back. ‘No one wants to hear what you have to say. It doesn’t matter. It’s inconsequential.’ Perhaps all of that is true, but still something in me is compelling me to sit down and write, so here it is.
I hope I don’t come across as being of one particular bend as far as politics go. I don’t like political rhetoric, so I will do my best not to spew any. But this whole Kavanaugh thing has me up in arms. So here are some thoughts about this situation.
When I was 18 years old, I was sexually molested. It happened on a trip to Mexico when my group went snorkeling. It was my first time ever doing this and I was having trouble securing my mask. One of the guides took advantage of that. He held me back and separated me from the rest of the group and proceeded to “feel me up” without my consent. I was scared. I was afraid. I was deeply embarrassed and humiliated. To this day, writing about it brings back some sting.
Here’s the deal though. I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for the man who did this to me. I prayed for him shortly after this happened. My prayer wasn’t one of revenge or exacting justice. It was simply a prayer that he would never do to another woman what he had done to me. Ever.
Don’t know if that prayer was answered but I’ll tell you what I do know. Forgiving him freed me. It helped me to heal, to let go of the pain and the humiliation of that wretched memory. I’ve been so free from it for all of these years that I rarely call the incident to mind. Until now. Until this.
I don’t know who’s telling the truth in this situation. The fact is there is only three who know what that truth is. Two live on this earth and One does not. But in the end, His is the only Truth that matters.
So here’s what I decided to do. Pray. Pray for the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. The problem in our country is we do entirely too much debating, and blaming, and pointing fingers instead of praying.
See prayer is what gets it done. Hearings don’t. Debates don’t. Broadcasts don’t. God is the one who gets things done. Do you want to see an end to this debacle? Then pray, along with me, that the truth shines brightly for all to see-that justice would be exacted and that the innocent would walk away unscathed.
Maybe what I’m saying seems too simplistic. That’s all right. I’m a simple girl. But the truth is I can’t live with how we as a nation act when a disgrace like this happens. Prayer people. It’s powerful because no one else can do bring the truth to light like God does. Amen and Amen.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
This week I practiced a little bit of fear. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, I let fear consume me. To the point where I was afraid to do anything, because I was afraid it would be the wrong thing.
You see, school has started and this time of year is a stressful thing. Lots to do, lots to think about, lots to get used to. And after a summer of relative rest, it can be a bit overwhelming. This week, I let that overwhelmingness, overwhelm me and it was no fun. No fun at all.
Then yesterday morning in church I was reminded of something, something big: I didn't receive a Spirit of fear, I received the Spirit of sonship. You see, I have the above verse etched in my mind and my heart, and I call it up every so often, but this week I forgot this all important truth:
I did not receive a Spirit that makes me a slave again to fear.
You might be asking yourself, what does that mean exactly. Well, to me it means one very precise and important thing. I don't have to be afraid. Of anything. Not of life. Not of death. Not of making mistakes. Not anything. Ever.
Why? Because I didn't receive a Spirit of fear, I received, in Jesus, the Spirit of sonship. The Spirit by which I can cry out to my God, my Father and know that I am cared for and safe.
What are your fears? Are they consuming you? Do they control you? Then stop letting them. Stop letting them consume you. They aren't of God and they aren't of faith. You see, having faith in God is the opposite of fear. When we have faith in God, we trust him. We believe his promises. We don't let our fears control us. We control them.
So whatever you're afraid of right now, leave it at our Good Father's feet. Trust that he is big enough to handle each and every one of your fears in his own time and in his own way. Above all, remember that we weren't meant to live in fear. Not anymore. Jesus paid the price so that we wouldn't have to let fear reign in our hearts or in our lives. Let your fears go and trust the One who fills you with faith not fears.
I wrote this when my daughter who was just four years old at the time, made a very profound comment - one that has stuck with me over the years. Hope this little story is helpful to you as you remember what it means to serve a God who is always "following us."
For the past week or so my daughter has been amazed and delighted by the fact that the sun is “following her”. At first I thought it was so cute and couldn’t help but smile at my amazingly, adorable daughter. Later on in the week I began to think about what she was saying and realized that my daughter could be a little philosopher. The sun is following her. Why, yes it is. And come to think of it, the sun is following me, too.
I must confess something here. Sometimes I doubt. Yes, you read it correctly, I doubt. Lately, these doubts have centered around the idea of what eternity will be like. In the last year or so, I’ve contemplated what it will be like to see God in heaven. After all, I’ll be only one of hundreds of thousands who may be entering the Pearly Gates on the exact same day, and possibly, well probably, at the exact same time.
Sobering thought when those of us who are believers think about running to God’s throne and being greeted with the best bear hug ever. So, how exactly will that work? If there are thousands of us dying at the same time, how in the world are we all going to fit on his lap?
I’ve confessed before that I am no theologian. But my tiny little theologian may be on to something. The sun follows her. Doesn’t matter who else it shines on or even on how many billions of people it is shining down on at the same moment. The sun shines on her. It follows her. It’s her sun. When I heard her make this comment for the third time in a week, it reminded me of a verse in Revelation.
Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (NLT)
I’ve heard this verse in the past and felt perplexed. What did it mean exactly when it said the Lord will be its sun? I always thought it meant that he is so radiant, we won’t need any other lights in heaven. But the profound statement from my daughter made me think about it a little differently. Maybe being in heaven is a little like being in the sun. It doesn’t matter how many billions of people are there. For each one, God shines on them, and it doesn’t in any way make it less true that he also shines on billions of others at the same time.
Do you get what I’m saying? I guess it could be looked at a little differently. Have you ever wondered how God dwells in each of our hearts at the same time? How can God’s Spirit live inside of me and the millions of others who call Christ, Savior and Lord? While I can’t explain it, I can testify to it. I know that God’s Spirit lives in me and just because he dwells in others' hearts, too, doesn’t take away from the fact that he loves me, he fills me, he follows me.
So maybe heaven is like that in a sense but on a more physical level. If God can dwell in our hearts, spiritually speaking, in this world, who’s to say that he can’t do something like that in a more “physical” way in heaven. Somehow God being God, I have to believe that he has no limits. So, maybe I don’t understand what it will be like to arrive in heaven, nor how I’m going to get “my turn” to sit on God’s lap. Guess some things have to be accepted by faith. But my little girl taught me something this week. When it comes to the sun, and to God, all things are possible.
. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
On August 9th, my husband and I will be celebrating fifteen years of marriage. It's a milestone we've been looking forward to for some time. Unfortunately, no trips to Europe or Hawaii are planned, but we are excited to be here on the edge of fifteen years. Fifteen years of ups. Fifteen years of downs. Fifteen years of being there for one another and of being best friends.
I wish I had all kinds of wisdom to share about marriage and what it takes to make a good one. In some ways, I feel that my husband and I have been blessed with a good marriage that has not taken too much effort on our part. But I suppose if I think about it, there are some truths I've learned along the way, so indulge me while I share the lessons I've learned about marriage over this past decade and a half.
Number one, don't go to bed angry. The other night I did. What's more my husband did. When we woke up, we were still cranky towards one another. So much so that my husband was ready to leave the house for work at 6:30 that morning. Work on a Saturday? Yea, he was that mad. So we sat down and talked and talked about what went wrong and what we were upset about.
Talking things out was something my own parents weren't good about. I think in some ways, things just built up and were never discussed. That's something my husband and I have determined not to do - to keep silent when we're upset, to let the resentment build up. That's never a good idea. Over the years we've worked hard to communicate even about the hard things. It's not always easy to be honest, but I've found that when I share my side and let my husband share his, I come away with a little better understanding of where he's coming from and vice versa.
Number two, practice a little humility. A little humility, like admitting when you're wrong and even conceding when you're mostly in the right, is a good thing. The Bible says that the meek will inherit the earth and that when we humble ourselves God will lift us up. Sometimes it's more important to win the moment than to win the argument. What I mean by that is this. Winning the argument might make you feel better but it doesn't necessarily make your marriage a happy one. That's because, in a marriage, it's not so much about being right as it is about loving someone completely, with utter abandonment. Not so much thinking about yourself, but putting the other person's thoughts, feelings and ideas above your own.
Number three, always avoid the always and nevers of life. As in, "You never help around the house, or, "You always take the kids' side when we argue." My husband is the one who pointed out my tendency to use always and nevers early on in our marriage. It might be true that your spouse sometimes neglects to help with household responsibilities or sometimes seems to take the kids' side over yours, but is it really true that it is always the case? Using always and never statements just sets everybody up for failure. No one wins in always and never situations. So don't go there. Just don't.
Number four, make time for each other. In our marriage, I am often guilty of wanting to do my own thing rather than spend time with my husband. It is hard for me to set things aside to invest in our relationship. What's more, I tend to put the kids first before our marriage and that is backwards thinking. After all, if it weren't for this most important relationship in our house, the kids wouldn't even exist. So it only makes sense that we nurture and cherish our relationship first. It's kind of like how on an airplane they tell you, in case of an emergency, to secure your own oxygen mask first and then take care of your little ones. Nurturing the relationship and bond you have with your spouse can only serve to make you better parents. Our kids love that we love each other. They'd never admit it. They even act like our hugging and kissing grosses them out. But underneath it all, I'm pretty sure they are secure in the knowledge that their parents genuinely like each other and are still going strong after fifteen years.
Last but not least, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The verse I shared above was one of the scripture verses read at our wedding. I loved it then and still do. In fact the other day , I found a wall hanging with this very verse printed on it. It now hangs in our bedroom, and every morning I wake up to the reminder that this marriage isn't just about us. My husband and I aren't on this journey alone. God is part of it. He always has been and he always will be. The day we said our marriage vows, he was right there with us saying yes in the promises we made to each other. There's a lot of comfort in that knowledge, the knowledge that even when it seems things are unraveling a bit, God is there to keep our bond strong. So when all else fails, and I find that I'm breaking each of my own bits of wisdom as written above, there is something to be said about that third strand - a God who keeps our love alive and well. Not just now, but always.
Happy Anniversary to my best friend. I'm looking forward to many more years of an abundant and thriving marriage. Love to you always. Me.
My family has been out of town for the last couple of days and I must admit, the time to myself has been nice. I’ve been doing schoolwork, a necessary evil, taking time to go on walks, sleeping in a bit later and indulging in my favorite pastime, watching movies, specifically movies of the romance genre. These are the movies that the rest of my family scoffs at – ones that they won’t give me a moment’s peace over. So when I get the chance I probably overindulge. Here are some I’ve been watching: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, a fun little one called, Penelope, and a classic 90’s one, You’ve Got Mail. It’s been great to dust these gems off and revisit my favorite romantic scenes.
Then came last night. Last night, I felt like watching something new, something I hadn’t seen before. Since I’ve rented most of the movies I’ve watched, I felt it might be good to watch one that came with our Amazon Prime subscription. That’s when I noticed it, Me Before You – one I’ve passed over on previous occasions, thinking it sounded a bit cheesy. But after a moment’s thought, I decided, ‘What the heck.' It was free, and I could always turn it off if I didn’t care for it.
When the movie started, however, I was immediately hooked. This quirky little movie drew me in from the get go. It’s a story about a man who loses all mobility after being in a serious accident. When the movie opens, you see him in his “normal” life waking up to a beautiful girlfriend, on the phone making business decisions, seemingly in a top-of-the-world euphoric rush. Then as he steps out onto the street one morning, he is hit by an oncoming motorcycle. End scene.
Fast forward two years, and the man is now living with his parents in the annex of their house, in a state of complete disrepair and fighting demons daily; demons like depression, listlessness and hopelessness, not to mention an array of medical maladies.
Enter the cute, quirky, chatty girl who’s been hired to be a companion of sorts. From her fun sense of fashion, to her bubbly personality, she is everything he needs in a companion – someone to rouse him out of his stupor and bring him joy again. And that’s exactly what she does. At first, he resists her efforts to form a friendship and continually makes her life miserable. But day after day she comes back, ready to try again and, eventually, she brings him around.
She gets him out of the house. Takes him places, watches films with subtitles with him. In general, a warm and genuine friendship begins, and she basks in the idea that she has done her job. Until one day, she finds out something rather disturbing. She overhears his parents discussing the fact that this man has made plans to end his life by assisted suicide. As they talk, she learns that he has tried to commit suicide once already and has made a deal of sorts with them. He will give life six months more and then, if still unsatisfied, travel to Switzerland to end his life in a peaceful manner.
When the girl finds out, she determines to make him change his mind, to show him how beautiful life can be and that it’s worth living. Despite her best efforts, however, in the end, he does travel to Switzerland and end his life with his parents and the girl by his side. And though I’d enjoyed the film, as I described it to my husband later that night, I felt thoroughly unsatisfied with the ending. I tried to account for that, and here’s what I came up with.
Suicide was something I contemplated for years before I was diagnosed. I write more about it in my post, ‘This is called the I wish I didn’t have to write this post.’ In short, I lived in a pool of misery and despondency for many years. But though I contemplated it on more than one occasion, there was never a moment when I went through with it. There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with more than the dogmatic thinking that committing suicide is like committing murder. It has to do with three things that remain despite the most difficult of circumstances we may face in this life.
1 Corinthians 13:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
See I believe as the Bible teaches that though all else should pass away in this life, three things remain: faith, hope and love. Faith to get us through the dark times, hope that our life will not just be one long, wretched day of misery. And most importantly of all, love – the love of our Heavenly Father who sees in any type of darkness and provides a shining light to guide us out of it. Faith, hope and love. These things remain.
Back then, when I wanted so desperately to end the pain of my existence, these three things kept me going. I think more than anything else when times were tough, I believed that things would get better. What’s more, I wanted to finish this race of life, not quit early, because there was a stitch in my side and I was gasping for every breath.
Watching the movie, what troubled me was that in this case, hope didn’t win out, faith didn’t win out, love didn’t win out. That’s why at the end of a movie that in all other aspects was well done, I felt wholly unsatisfied.
God is a God of hope. He is a God who knows every moment of our life, a God who has a plan for the dark times we go through. He understands our suffering. He understands how desperately we wish the pain would end. He understands and more importantly, he cares.
Life is difficult. It can be dark, and cold, and sad, but there is joy even amid the darkness. Believe that because it’s true. Finish the race you were meant to run. You will encounter steep hills, long, tireless days, and moments when you just want to be done, but press on. Press on trusting in the three things that will remain: faith, hope, and love.
Patient: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity (Merriam Webster)
The other day, my husband and I were sitting around talking with some friends, when I overheard him giving me a compliment. He said, "You know, my wife has the patience of a saint." When I heard him say this, my ears perked up. It was a shining moment for me. 'Wow,' I thought, he really thinks highly of me.' Then I heard the second part of his statement and my heart fell. Unfortunately, his compliment was attached to some strings. He went on to tell a tale that I am not overly proud of. One, in all honesty, I'd rather forget. But as always, my blog is a place I choose to be real, so here is a story of a time when I was anything but patient with my kiddos.
It's quite shocking really. It was a Monday and my daughter had been ultra moody with me all weekend. She'd been quite hurtful saying some not very nice things and just being a stinker all together. So the next day, when my son and I got into an argument, I sort of lost my cool. Walking away from him, I muttered under my breath, "Sometimes I hate having kids. They suck all the joy out of life." Thinking he was in the other room and not paying any attention to me, I proceeded to carry on with my day.
Unfortunately, my son had heard every word. You have to understand that he has a very sensitive nature, so for him to hear his mother say that he was sucking all the joy out of her life was pretty devastating. I didn't know at first that he had overheard me, but later my husband took me aside and informed me that our son was pretty upset. At that point, I was still pretty angry. Rather than being repentant, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well they do suck all the joy out of life sometimes." What's more, when my husband tried to smooth things over between myself and my son, I repeated my assertion.
Once I'd cooled down, I searched out my son and explained why I was feeling this way. I told him that, as a parent, I sometimes grow weary of dealing with the same issues day in and day out. Issues that never seem to be completely resolved or go away. It makes me feel so tired and weary, and it does feel as though parenting brings more pain than joy at times.
I once said that I never understood God half so well as before I had kids. Kids are tough. They just are and in the midst of the yuckiness of raising two near teenagers there are days when I just think to myself, "And how much longer do I have to put up with these two?" I wonder sometimes, if God ever mutters those same sentiments. Oh, I know God is the definition of patience. I believe that firmly. But surely there must be times when he gets tired of all the messes we as humans manage to make on this earth.
I'm grateful that our God is a long-suffering God - One who is able to love us steadfastly despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. Quite frankly, knowing that God is abundantly patient with me makes me a better parent. It helps me to remember to be patient with my own kiddos, love them and hang in there with them - even on days when it feels like they've "sucked all the joy out of life."
Seriously, though, love your kiddos. Be patient with them the way God is with you. Remember how kind, good and forgiving he's been with you and model that love for your own little ones. There's not a better way to parent than to follow God's example of patience - patience that lasts despite every circumstance. May we love our kiddos as much as God loves us. Amen and Amen.
The other night my daughter and I were lying in bed cuddling when, for some reason, the Star Spangled Banner came up as a topic of discussion. I asked my daughter if she knew the lyrics to it. When she nodded her head no, I proceeded to sing it. Not very well, mind you, but I wanted her to know how important that song is, so I did my best.
She joined in when she could and we finished the song together. While my rendition wasn't pretty, I still got a little choked up as I thought about what it means to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I don't know about you, but I take this great country we live in and all the freedoms we enjoy every day for granted. I don't often think about the thousands upon thousands whose blood has been spilled in my defense, in our country's defense.
There are many troubling and disturbing events taking place in our nation right now. While I could go into the politics of who did what and why and how, I'm afraid I'd be missing the point.
The truth is our country has faced many troubled times in its storied history. For two-hundred forty years this nation has seen its share of ups and downs. And while America is often called a great nation, it seems like we, as petulant children, have forgotten how truly great it is - what it means to be both free and brave.
Maybe we need to go back to the basics, to the days when America was an infant nation - still fighting for complete independence.
In 1814, Francis Scott Key penned the words of our national anthem as a poem. At the time he wrote the Star Spangled Banner, Key was in Baltimore negotiating the release of a Dr. William Beanes who was a British Prisoner of War. Key was able to negotiate Beanes' release, but the Brits refused to surrender their prisoners of war because they were in the midst of an attack against nearby Fort McHenry.
Fort McHenry was attacked with powerful weaponry and merciless barraging. Due to lack of sophisticated ammunition and weapons, the Americans were unable to fight back. All they could do was "hold the fort" and hope for the miraculous. Throughout the night, Key anxiously watched to see whether his beloved Stars and Stripes had been replaced by the Union Jack. It was during these tense and trying hours that Key penned what would become the nation's anthem.
Finally, their twenty-four hours of bombardment ended in an unsuccessful attempt by England's finest. They were unable to capture Fort McHenry. The Brits withdrew and Key was surely overjoyed when, by the dawn's early light, the flag he loved so much was still gallantly streaming.
Do we love our country as much as our founding fathers did? Do we appreciate all that is beautiful about being an American? Those who planted the seeds that became our democracy fought because they weren't free. They fought because they wanted something better for the country they called home. In their struggles, they earned the right to pass on to us this gift of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
America is not perfect, but it is still pretty great. Francis Scott Key thought so. Our founding fathers did, too. And the many men and women over the years who have defended our country to their very last breath believed in this country, too. May we not dishonor their memory by giving up when there are so many important things to fight for.
We as Americans have inherited a legacy of what it means to be both brave and free. I pray to God we pass this legacy untarnished to those who will someday inherit this great country we call home.
The Star Spangled Banner
by Francis Scott Key
Oh say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And thy rocket's red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.