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And I’m proud to be an American

On Sunday night Sweet William and I attended a concert at the mega church in our area with some friends. It was in honor of America’s birthday.

There was a full orchestra and a one-hundred voice men’s choir who performed over a dozen songs and medleys. As the instruments tuned up, I was enraptured from my seat in the balcony. I love to be where the music is, and this was an occasion to celebrate.

The concert was themed One Nation Under God, and I pray we still are.

The performers played and sang songs like “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” “Washington Post March,” “God Bless America,” and of course, “The Star Spangled Banner.” I couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I sang along.

One song brought tears to my eyes, “Bring Him Home.” I thought of a young man I knew who was killed in the line of duty a number of years ago. He did not come home. There are many others. Families are devastated by such heartbreak, and yet this is the cost of freedom.  The cost of my freedom.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes in our 200 plus years as a nation, but this is still the best country in the world, the place where others want to escape to, the nation that offers liberty and justice for all.

Though we are divided in many ways today, we still live free. And this freedom is the gift we treasure.

Freedom is never completely free. It costs someone. Freedom is my treasure, my pride in the US of A, my privilege in living my life here.

I am proud to be an American. At the concert, I tapped my food, clapped my hands, and sang along. At the end I felt so patriotic, honored to live in this great country.

I dare not forget how blessed I am. Truly God shed His grace on thee, my United States of America.

Let freedom ring long and loud. And let us live honoring the freedom we have been given.

Senior Day and the USA

It is the Fourth of July today, but it’s also Senior Day at Kroger which occurs on the first Wednesday of each month.

When I was nearing my 60th birthday, one of the things I anticipated was being old enough to get in on the bargains at Kroger on its one day of the month dedicated to us senior citizens. Ten percent off my entire order is nothing to sneeze at. And those of you who know me know I love a bargain!

I’ve tried going at different times of the day. Around 9 am it gets really crowed, and if you are under 60 be afraid, be very afraid! The parking lot is full, and cars are waiting to get the spot of anyone emptying her baskart. Three o’clock isn’t a bad time to go.  Folks may be home watching Dr. Phil.

Don’t go late at night. The shelves run low of stock and the tired staff have gone home to rub liniment on their feet.

I’ve discovered the best time for me to go Krogering is 7:30 in the morning. Parking places are available close to the store. There are still plenty of baskarts and product on the shelf, and the checkout lines are not too long.

So this morning I put on comfy clothes, pull my hair back, and don my garden hat with a colorful scarf tied around it to perk up my outfit, and I’m off with list, coupons, and Kroger card in hand.

The plan is to move quickly, grab the sale items and stock up on the non-perishables like dog/cat food and laundry detergent. I sure don’t want to miss the toilet paper isle where the good stuff is usually on sale.  I grab several packages because you just don’t want to run out of toilet paper whether you are a senior or not.

The atmosphere at Kroger is electric. The music over the speaker system is playing the oldies from the 60s and 70s. I catch myself bouncing along to the beat or humming the familiar melodies of my youth.

I usually see people I know. Today it was some folks from Little Flock where Sweet William and I attend church. Some days it’s a neighbor or parents of my son’s high school friends. We are there for the same reason.

The manager is quite visible on this particular day of the month. Or at least I notice him more. He stands as a sentinel before the checkout lanes, calling for additional checkers if the lines back up. He smiles at the customers as they go from aisle to aisle. He quickly responds to questions and moves at the speed of someone who knows this will be a very good retail day.

And what does Senior Day at Kroger have to do with the 4th of July?

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. Is this a great country or what?

Sure, I know we have our problems. I agree that the United States is in a moral decline. I am of the baby-boomer generation who watched it happen when prayer was removed from the schools and the resulting land-slide that has followed.

Yes, we are in a great financial crises and only God knows where that will take us. I see the graft, the political maneuvers that create harm for the masses while padding the pockets of a few.

I too fear for our young ones who must find their own way while pornography gropes for their minds, drugs are available on most any street corner, sex before marriage is expected, and the family as we know it is being threatened.

And yet . . . I still have the freedom to pursue happiness as I see it, to choose a career path and decide where I want to live. I can walk out my house and not fear that bombs may drop or hidden land mines may explode at my feet.

Our children can go to school or they can stay at home and learn their ABCs from mom and dad.

While the argument about healthcare reform will be ongoing, we still have some of the finest medical facilities the world over.

The United States is the county that sends aid when disaster strikes. We are the ones sending missionaries and mission groups to places where poverty is like nothing we have ever seen.

And as a citizen of this great country, I can still vote and make my voice heard though I am only one. I can step out and try to change something I don’t agree with.

I can get up on Sunday morning and drive to the church of my choice without fear.

I can freely talk about God and tell people about Jesus without worrying that I might be arrested.

I am humbled by the memories of soldiers who fought on foreign fields, like my grandfather in WWI and my dad and uncles in WWII; and the friends my age who endured the horrors of Viet Nam are dear to my heart. 

I am proud of young men and women who still join the military knowing they will face uncertain and often horrific situations but choose to serve me anyway.

God has blessed America with an abundance, and we will be held accountable for what we have done with it.  To whom much has been given much will be required.

I am commanded to pray for the leaders of my country, and I will personally be held accountable for that.

I am proud to be a citizen of this great country. I pray that her flag waves long and free, that her leaders will be godly and lead us in the path of righteousness.  I pray that we will make God our Lord so that His blessings will continue

I want to be a good member of society, to make a difference for good, and to pave a better road for my children and grandchildren.

I am glad to be an American where I can shop at Kroger on the first day of the month. I can choose veggies and fruits or I can grab the chips and ice cream. They are my choices and my consequences.

Freedom is still mine.

So I say:  I’m proud to be an American.  God bless the USA!

Is this a great county God has given us or what?

It is for freedom

I’ve celebrated quite a number of Independence Days.  Each one is a bit different.  I remember fireworks celebrations with our church group in a big open field at a friend’s home and small time stuff in a family member’s subdivision that scared me because of the lack of safety.  I’ve sat facing Salt River at our city’s professional pyrotechnical display with a giant ice cream cone to occupy my taste buds.  Then there was the year when the grandchildren were very small and Sweet William was prepared to “wow” them with some simple home fireworks.  At the very first shoot-off, the noise scared the children into loud weeping.  That ended our best laid plans for fun.

Last July 4th, the grandchildren were spending the night.  We made plans to attend Shepherdsville’s fireworks show, but rain prevented it starting on time.  I decided it was late and time to go to bed.

Just as I was tucking Ethan in, we heard the commotion of firecrackers and rockets in the sky.  I raised the shade in the bedroom, and there was the beginnings of a light show.  The children and I went to the back deck to watch.  Then we went to the front porch to get another view.  We saw colors in the dark night coming in the direction of one of our neighbor’s yards.  All of us in our house slippers and PJs began walking toward the light. 

We “oohed and aahed” as each pop pulled our eyes upward.   As we passed the oak trees along our route, Ethan took my hand and said, “I hope we don’t see that evil squirrel.”

It made me smile.  He seemed so little last year.

Each Fourth of July I get out the American flag, the one that was draped across my Grandfather Charles Lockard’s casket at his death.  He was a World War I veteran.  Since his wife preceded him in death and because my mother was the oldest of the three children, she was presented with the flag.  When she died, I became it’s keeper.

I cherish that flag and think of my Gramps when I carefully unfold it and hang it on the deck railing.  I feel proud and patriotic at the same time.  I hope people coming down my lane see it and think of this great country.  I contemplate America’s history and how we have been unusually blessed by Almighty God.

We Americans value our freedom, we relish it, flash it around, claim it, defend it, and dare anyone to take it from us.  I suppose it is the main reason citizens from other countries long to come here, to have the privilege of living a life that is free to choose.

I’ve wondered and have heard others wonder why God make Adam and Eve with the right to choose good and evil.  Couldn’t He just as easily have made us all permanently incapable of sin, to live evermore in a perfect world?  It would seem to be a much better way than allowing people to kill, steal, injure, lust, and turn away from a good God

But God gave man and woman the gift of freedom, the right to choose.  It was a beautiful gift He offered.  Too bad we make the wrong choices so often that we have wrecked and ruined our lives and our world.

I ponder what a treasure my American freedom is, how I am thankful to have been born a free individual, and how I want to treat that freedom with respect and honor.

I also ponder the gift of freedom God gave to me.  Even more, I am thankful for the gift of salvation that saved me from all the wrong choices I made in my “free-ness” to grasp what would satisfy my self-centered and selfish nature.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” said Paul to the Galatians (5:1).  As you have heard it said, “Freedom is never free.”  Our country’s freedom has been won and preserved with the blood of men and women who fought for it.  My personal salvation, offered as a free gift, was bought with the blood of a Savior-God who gave me freedom, watched me sell it for slavery, then willingly bought it back and set me free once again.

He who has been set free is free indeed!

May God continue to bless America, not because we deserve it, but because God is good.