The Roses Of Our Republic

  Today we honor those brave soldiers whose convictions empowered them to give their lives from Valley Forge to Mosul and Kabul. They cared enough to do whatever it took to keep us a free people. Americans of all races and backgrounds came together to make a statement. That statement was simply this, the American Dream is worth defending.

Like our soldiers, all across this country, good men and women, feel the need to impact our nation. We may not all be able to fight in uniform, but we can all make a difference. In honor of our soldiers, let us start today to better our country, in whatever way we can.

Whether it’s the voting booth, running for local office, or giving time to our community let us accept the call. Falling in step with the men and women of history who improved this country. We can leave our nation better than we found her.

It is fitting that our Lady Liberty is made of copper. Her skin was once brown, but age gave her that now famous green patina. Over time we can change the face of our nation, if we make a start.

What do you believe our country needs that you can help to make happen? I believe in the three great documents of our country, and what they stand for. The Declaration Of Independence, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  

I believe in the right to worship, free speech, and the freedom of the press. Which by the way, is the order listed in the first amendment itself. If we believe it, then we must contribute to its preservation.

Look for a place to serve, a gap no one is filling. Whether it’s through prayer, political office, or local charity work, we can beautify our corner of America. It can be as simple as placing flowers on a warrior’s grave.

Historically one of the early days chosen for Memorial Day was selected because the flowers were in bloom. The hope of a better life still grows on that shining city on the hill. The roses our republic were planted by America’s defenders, and must be cultivated by it’s citizens.  It’s our job to maintain what our brave soldiers planted, and to cause it to flourish.

Mother’s Day(s)

  Happy Mother’s Day… Yes that’s today, but any Mother will tell you, it’s more than once a year. When a child, small or grown, is successful in behavior or achievement, that is also a Mother’s Day. 

We are all the result of a Mother’s days, even the tough ones . Those times when her hair wasn’t perfect, her clothes were a mess, and everything was chaotic, except her.  I’m sure she had less than perfect days, but the important thing wasn’t perfection, it was consistency.

The most important factor in my life is the people that share it with me. The good days are great, but it’s the arms that support you in the bad ones that you’ll never forget.  If I have someone who loves me in my corner, no matter how beat up, I can keep fighting.

That perseverance is one of my favorite things that my Mother has taught me.  I’ve seen her with her back to the wall, but she always found a way.  The only thing that wasn’t an option was giving up.  People don’t know how to fight someone who doesn’t quit, they give long before you do. 

I learned that from Mom, along with a passion for God, how to cook, and how to eat an elephant. A rim shot plays in your head as you think of the punchline, but it’s true. Any project that is bigger than I am, she taught me how to figure out how to accomplish it. One bite, or step at a time, even if the elephant is lifting a piece of furniture by myself.  

Tenacity, perseverance, and consistency make up my best days, all of which are gifts modeled by my Mom.  We are the benefactors of their everyday, most of which went uncelebrated.  They weren’t filled with thank you’s, even though they should have been.

Today, we can fill their day with love.   Let your Mother, and the world know, that you are here today because of her sacrifices.  Spend a little time showing how thankful you are, for all the days she helped you through. After all, today is Mother’s Day.

Enoch 365 New Year Post

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Enoch’s 365

Public Domain Image
Public Domain Image

Genesis 5:23-24
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him
.

He walked with God through every season of His life, 365 years of them to be exact. We all recognize the number, especially on January first. Today is day one, it’s the beginning of something new.

If you’re walking with God, you’re beginning a new year together. If you’re not, today is a great day for a beginning, or to begin again. Maybe you’re walking, but your struggling in a battle. Look at today as a new phase in that battle, yesterday’s mistakes do not decide today’s response.

Perhaps you’ve got dreams for this year, new projects you want to pursue. We want to see you succeed in each of them, but to do this, start by walking, not running. Pace yourself, don’t burn out in January what you want to complete in December.

Leaps are important, they can be great, but first, take the steps to prepare for those leaps. Before the tight rope walker walked across Niagara Falls, he made sure that the rope was installed properly. He didn’t just check the one side, he inspected the post on the other side as well. Before you leap, check your landing space.

To do this, takes time. You’ve been given a new year, don’t try to finish everything in a month. Set smaller goals that can be completed periodically, but make them part of a bigger vision. Don’t make a resolution, resolve to live differently.

First, spend some time in Prayer, find out what His plans for you this year are. Then, align your goals accordingly. A righteous man’s steps are not only ordered by The Lord, a righteous man steps in pace with The Lord.

Naturally all this year holds won’t be revealed to us, but the direction can be. We can chart our course through prayer and God’s Word. Some things, like a closer relationship with Him, are always on God’s list.

Another on His list is improving the relationships that matter, including family, friends, and those we seek to reach this year. Our commitment to these precious people must be maintained and enhanced over time. We do this, not to benefit ourselves, but to make their lives better.

Much like a plant needs water, light, and attention, relationships, and goals need nurturing in order to grow. That is really what Enoch spent his 365 doing, getting closer to God, and ministering to those around him. I pray at the end of 2015’s 365, you and I will be able to say the same.

Anticipation

Wikimedia Commons Image
Wikimedia Commons Image

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

“I wonder what color it will be?” “Did they get the one I circled, with the special features?” Anticipation, it’s happening all across the globe this Christmas. It means to regard as probable, to expect, or predict.

It’s a word that contains so many others, faith, excitement, hope, and waiting. It’s the expectation of what we’ve been waiting for. To a child at Christmas, it might be a bicycle, to Isaiah, it was a baby.

An old man puts down his quill to day dream. He’s just, under God’s anointing, written his seventh chapter. In Isaiah’s mind, he travels to his anticipated day. He imagines meeting Christ and hoping for the real event.

David, and those before, Abraham, Moses, and Jacob longed to see Him. They anticipated, they believed, they expected. “He will be born… He will accomplish… He will fulfill!” They faced trials, battles, and all out war, but the anticipation kept them going.

We get to read about Him, Christ’s birth, His Nativity. What prophets and kings would pay to know, are passages we’ve committed to memory. In the midst of the turmoil of your season, don’t allow it to steal your anticipation. The expectancy of hope that is Christmas is more than wrapped gifts under a tree.

You may ask, what is there to anticipate for us, this side of Bethlehem? We’ve seen the Angels, read about the wise men, and watched the flight to Egypt. What is left to anticipate? The fact that, every morning not just on Christmas morning, it is real again to us. The heartbeat that filled the stable, now beats within a Christian’s heart!

Christ is born, Hallelujah, Christ is born in us! It’s the anticipation that He still is patient, still is forgiving, and still is kind. He cradles us the way Mary cradled Him. We get to expect His mercy, though not take it for granted. Oh better still, we get to expect to see Him!

It may sound old fashioned, and out of date, but it is still true. Many doubted Isaiah’s prophecy, but He was still wrapped in swaddling clothes. They mocked Christ when He said He would give His life and rise again, until He did. As surely as the manger was filled, and the tomb was emptied, The Lord Jesus is coming.

This Christmas Eve, as you anticipate tomorrow’s gifts, and the new year beyond, take some time. Anticipate what it will be like to bow at His feet, not at a manger, but a throne. Whether as a cooing child, or a loving King, all sorrows end at The Master’s feet. An until that day, we can kneel in prayer, anticipating, expecting, and finding Him there.

The Day Before

 

Wikimedia Commons Image
Wikimedia Commons Image

Today is officially the day before Thanksgiving, but don’t wait 24 hours to show someone how important they are to you. There is a person, or persons, in your life that have literally rescued you from countless things. From irrelevance to inconceivable sorrow, you and I are better because of someone else.

Today, in the midst of broken egg shells, peeling potatoes, and unthawing turkeys, take some time. In all this preparation, take five minutes to call up the loved one you’ll see tomorrow, tell them you love them. Yes it may sound sappy, or it may make their day easier.

Everyday someone is hurting, scared, or lonely, but today shouldn’t be like any other time. This day, they need to walk into their tomorrow knowing someone out there cares for them. They need to know their not only loved, but relevant.

Show them that they are more than just their recipe for sweet potato casserole, or the macaroni salad they make. Tell the people that matter in your life the things that matter. The stuff that is important to us isn’t the sage they mix into the dressing, but the wisdom they add to our lives. It’s the day before the big meal, but we should never go 24 hours without saying Thank You.

Thanksgiving In June

“I want a 25 lb turkey, do you have one?”  John McKee almost laughed in the customer’s face.  There were only two things that stopped him.  One, it was against store policy.  The second was for a much more important reason.  It was his Grandmother, Hilda Klein.  You didn’t laugh at Hilda Klein.

Instead he said something almost as dangerous.  “Grandma, you can’t afford a 25 lb turkey!”  She was five foot one, cotton white hair, blue eyes, gray glasses.  Her weight, while unknown, was pronounced.  She was dressed in her best clothing.  To anyone else, she would have failed to intimidate, but this was family.

She raised herself up to her total height, looked him straight in the eye, and quietly said.  “John Francis McKee, do not proceed to tell me what I can or cannot afford.  I will ask you once more, do you have a 25 lb turkey?”  He nodded quickly, and within three minutes time, was carrying it out to her car for her.

“I’ll expect you, your fiance, and your siblings at my house tomorrow at 2:00 in the afternoon.”  This stopped him in his tracks.  “Grandma, tomorrow’s a Tuesday, I can’t get out of work.” 

“Oh yes you can.  I spoke to your supervisor’s manager on the way in.  While he was arguing with me, he received a call from the store’s owner.  Just for his impertinence, you have three days off with pay.  You’ve worked plenty  hard, enjoy it.”

The next day, all 27 members of the Klein family, plus 18 extended members were present.  Grandpa Ezekiel looked as if he was a deer in headlights.  As amazing a woman as she was, he couldn’t believe that she had accomplished it. 

The entire family heard something in the living room.  They went in to see Grandma working the VCR remote like a pro.  You would hardly imagine she was 82.  The television’s sound was elevated louder than normal to get everyone’s attention.  Suddenly, the Macy’s Day parade was on the screen.  What made this so surprising was the calendar.  It read, not incorrectly, June 17. 

Finally, Laura, her oldest could take no more.  “Mom, what’s this all about?”  Grandma smiled.  “This past year was the toughest that our family has ever went through.  From your Michael’s surgery to John’s accident, to your brother Harry’s job, it’s been hard.”

“We needed a little something to pick up everyone’s mood.  Since it was too early for Christmas in July, I went for Thanksgiving In June.”  Sally, your six year old helped me tape it last November.  I wanted to see what I had missed by cooking.  I saved it.”

That was the memory John smiled at as he mailed the package.  It had been twenty five years now, but it had become a family tradition.  At the end of that dinner, Grandma had given the wishbone to his Uncle Harry.

She had said.  “We don’t believe in lucky charms in this family.  God has, is, and always will take care of us.  So take this, not as a good luck charm, it never did the bird any good.  Take it as a reminder that no matter how bad it is, we have hope.  We have food on our table, family beside us, and a future in front of us. Hope in God, and work happy.  Use it as a plow not a wishbone.  It’s the same shape.”

Uncle Harry did just that.  When his son Wendell was struggling in school, he carved a wishbone out of a tree, and painted it white.  That afternoon he gave it to him.  It was passed along in the family from one member to the other over the years.

John received it last August when he had his heart attack.  Now, it was going to his sister Sally.  She and her husband had just adopted a child in need of a good home.  He figured they could use the encouragement.

Grandma, who lived on a fixed income, couldn’t afford that extra Thanksgiving meal.  John found out later that she had been saving for a new living room set.  While she was far from even enough money for a love seat, they all sat down to a house filled with love.

Whether it was June or November, she knew it was always time for Thanksgiving.  Time, not for the meal she used to illustrate it, but time to be thankful.  Grandma taught them not to focus on the setbacks, but The God that set them up.  Her last two sentences on the subject that afternoon were his favorite, “Obstacles don’t stop you, outlooks do.  Hearts filled with Thanksgiving produce eyes full of possibilities!”