America–Sweet Land of Liberty

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My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

by Samuel Francis Smith

Father God, thank you for the amazing gift of freedom. Thank you for those who have served, sacrificed, and died that we may have life. And Father, we praise You for the gift of Your Son, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate gift—freedom from a life without You. Thank you, Jesus. We love and praise You.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For (That I Can’t Say in Church)

At the risk of sounding unspiritual, I am going to compose a list of ten things for which I am extremely thankful – things that would barely receive an honorable mention during Sunday school, or a Thanksgiving service. I will not be sharing the typical offerings, i.e. the joys of: my saving relationship with Jesus Christ, my precious marriage to an amazing man, my children, extended family and dear friends. I will forego babbling on and on about how my heart puddles when my baby grandson “kisses” my face or how I almost cried when I had the privilege of feeling my youngest grandson kick in my daughter’s tummy. I will not share scripture about keeping a thankful heart. I will simply list a few things that make me smile.

So here we go…in no particular order…

1 – Peanut M&M’s

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2 – Autumn in the South (Cotton fields, sunflowers, cooler temps)

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3 – Diet Dr. Pepper

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4 – Our overgrown mutt, Harvey, who can turn 27 circles in 10 seconds

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5 – Peanut M&M’s

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6 – A genuine wood-burning fireplace on a cold rainy day

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7 – My husband’s goofy jokes and laughing till it hurts

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8 – Andy Griffith reruns

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9 – Football season (Go Panthers!)

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10 – My favorite pair of blue jeans and a pair of fluffy socks

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11 – Hobby Lobby

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(I added an extra one, just in case someone noticed a repeat)

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Thank you, Father, for your good and perfect gifts – the heart-stopping amazing ones, and the simple-everyday ones!

(I have to share just one…) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

Now it’s your turn! What are your “everyday” favorites?

 It has occurred to me that while we might not hear these “blessings” shared in an adult setting, we would surely hear many like them in a group of children. We can learn so much from the simple thankfulness of a child!

Ah, Vacation!

rainpic1Slipping away to the beach for an early-morning walk, I feel light rain on my face. Should I turn back? Is this the beginning of a downpour?

I pause before taking a few more steps toward the shore. Seagulls soar overhead, while waves race each other to the sand. The rain picks up a little. Again, I wonder if I should turn back. Then…

…I notice a faint streak of color. At first soft and pale, the colors deepen into the brilliant spectrum of a rainbow. Overwhelmed, my heart squeezes and I begin to sing…How Great Is Our God

But wait…I’m in a public place. I must look pretty strange, feet in the sand, singing to a rainbow. I glance around, self-conscious.

But the moment draws me back in, and with God’s help, I stay.

And I worship.

As I cherish these all-too-brief moments, I am reminded of a couple of things. First, our Creator God can do anything. He is in control. He is bigger and stronger than any circumstance in our lives.

And second, if I had turned back when things became a little unpleasant, I would have missed a unique opportunity to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Oh Father, give me strength and courage…to be thankful for the rain.

 

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How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!  Psalm 47:2

Unappreciated

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

Romans 12:1 (NIV)

Standing in the kitchen, my eyes taking in the chaos before me, I gripped the broom in sheer frustration. Dirty dishes littered the counter tops while someone’s half-eaten breakfast cereal was splattered around its bowl. An overflowing trashcan begged to be relieved from its load while doughnut glaze covered one corner of the floor like confetti after a celebration. How can one family create such a mess?pileofdishes

Fighting a rising tide of resentment, I completed kitchen duty and made the mistake of hitting the living room full tilt without bracing myself for the inevitable. Why should this room be any different? Stepping over an array of toys, shoes, and clothes, I threw up my hands in an attitude of defeat. I’m outta here…

With an exasperated sigh and a not-so-gentle close of the front door, I stepped out on the porch for a breath of fresh air. Full-blown anger was forming a knot in my stomach. Looking up into the clear summer sky, I vented with, I’m so tired of being taken for granted, Lord! Is a little appreciation too much to ask? No one ever seems to notice what I do around here. Seething, I plopped down on the top step.

The late summer sun was intense but a light breeze tickled my face, providing a respite from the heat. A few yards away, sheltering trees swayed gracefully as whippoorwills and crickets competed for attention. Our dog sat beside me, paws crossed in front, content with my companionship. In the unique beauty of His creation, God spoke.

Oh child, how many times have I touched you with a cool breeze or enveloped you with the warmth of the sun? And oh, how often have I anticipated your reaction to the brilliance of the sunrise filtering through towering poplars or the majesty of that same light as it sinks beneath the clouds at night? My daughter, who daily guides your steps and provides strength when you are weary? Who loves you with an everlasting love and forbears and forgives without end?

And then, with tenderness and compassion…I understand, child, I understand.

Oh Father, I am so sorry.  I confess an ungrateful heart and a spirit of discontentment. Please forgive my selfishness. Help me to keep my eyes and my heart centered on You. Restore in me the joy of servanthood.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

Do you ever feel unappreciated?