The Glory: Our 4th of July

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I get sentimental around the 4th of July.  I remember many of them from my childhood.  There were the family barbecues, and the times spent at the local high school watching fireworks with friends.  Other years involved either crabbing off a dock or spending time with dad while he was flying a model airplane in some field somewhere or, maybe, just fishing in Shinnecock.  As a child, I can see myself running up and down our block with sparklers spitting tiny bits of fire; and, as teenagers, my sister Jayne, our friend Michael, and I chatting away, watching our sparklers burn, while perched on top of the backyard picnic table. Each year, in any way, the 4th was acknowledged.

One July 4th was particularly memorable. It was 1999 and we were vacationing in a charming, peaceful little town in VT. The sun was just going down. Children were running around the freshly mowed field, and adults were strolling with cups of homemade lemonade. Most were wearing white boat hats lined around the brim with red and blue ribbons. Two of our children twirled round and round, arms extended as if to grab the moment – until dropping dizzily to the ground. Another daughter dipped a wand into soapy liquid, blowing bubbles to the sky. I chose to take it all in from the hood of our car.

Soon dusk gave way to the night. Everyone settled down — on blankets, chairs, car hoods — all eyes looking to the stars. A burst came forth, another, another. Some rockets left trails of red, white, and blue behind as they fell back to earth; some flared high, bursting into a thousand fireflies.

Nights like these I hold close. The shutter clicks and another image is impressed into my mind, along with the smell of the grass, the cheering voices, and soon I can’t help but get gushy…

I thank God for America. It is not perfect. We have our issues and problems. But we have hope that they can be worked out to the best benefit of the people. The very idea that this is even possible is due to the sacrifice of the men and women who put themselves out there every day to keep us safe here at home.  Those service men and women, past and present, have fought, sacrificed, lived, died, so that I can have the freedom to have past 4th of July’s to remember, to have a family that is safe and sound, and to have hope for a good future for all of us.

So, these fond memories of July 4th’s gone-by, I dedicate to our military and say

THANK YOU
and
GOD BLESS!

In Truth, I Am More Than A Conqueror

DSCN0133This is a truth I’ve learned: our lives are like a house built upon a foundation. And as the foundation is, so is our house. This foundation holds all our beliefs; all that we deem to be true. And as such, out of this truth comes our behavior; we act upon that which we believe to be true.

This foundation of ours is powerful for that reason. There are beliefs and truths here that bring us goodness, health, and solidify our faith. And there are things here that bring us self-injury, harm, and fear. The good news is that we get to choose what is in our foundation; we get to re-examine and throw out some old beliefs and truths that actually turned out to be lies, and replace them with some new thoughts, beliefs, and truths that we know to be valid, every single day.   So the question remains: What truths have we built our houses upon?

I have had some pretty damaging truths in my foundation: I have believed that I was the super-hero in my own story and that I could save my own little world. I have found out, through the years, that this is a lie. I am no super-hero; I cannot save anyone. In fact, I can barely take care of my own little problems in my own little corner of the world. When discovering this truth, I found I could breathe!  I could turn it all over —  it was ok to fail and make mistakes and not have the answers to every little thing. It was ok to just say: I don’t know. The world didn’t fall apart — it kept right on spinning! What a relief. My new truth: its ok to fall down. Its even ok to stop for awhile.

Recently, I did just that: in my mind’s eye I saw myself sitting down in the middle of the road of my life’s journey. I told a friend how concerned I was about this. I had never seen myself sitting down in the middle of the road of my journey before. I was always on the front lines of my battlefield, armed to the teeth and fighting — with sling-shot and rocks ready to take off heads. But God had been prompting me, over the last couple of years, to examine this behavior. And now, here I was, last winter, sitting down in the middle of the road on my life’s journey. I told this friend: “I don’t think I’ve taken off my boots though”. That was good. Because that worried me; if my boots were off on the long road of my journey then I was in trouble. That probably would mean I’d given up, or was in a depression. So I studied myself in my mind’s eye to see if my boots were still on …

This sitting in the middle of the road and taking a pause was actually the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long, long time. It was a form of surrender, a form of “giving-up” my old beliefs, my old truths. Talking it out with friends, I discovered that I was sitting and waiting because I really didn’t know what the next step should be, in what direction I should go in. It reminded me, in a way, of Dorothy when she asks the Scarecrow about directions and he points in opposite ways; it was like that. So I sat down and waited.

It was at this point that I sensed there were more things in my foundation that needed to be cleaned out, but I didn’t know what they were yet. I had paused my life, and was waiting in the middle of my dusty road, knees pulled up to my chest, for God to show up. This was one of the scariest moments in my life because it was so out-of-character for me. So I continuously checked in with myself, with family, and with friends. No, I wasn’t depressed; I didn’t feel depressed, but I definitely felt different. Waiting, pausing my life, without being depressed. This was new.

As it turns out, this sitting in the road only lasted a few short weeks. Enough to give me a breather. A new pathway did open up — one that I didn’t push or make happen; one that just emerged, not all at once, but one step at a time. It’s still emerging that way — I cannot see the whole thing; God is only giving it to me one step at a time. My job is to walk it out; and so, eventually, I stood up and took a step … and found my boots were still on my feet.