Memorial Day

This day in the United States is set aside as a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. To those who never came home, or came home in a flag draped box. Many died on foreign soil miles and lifetimes away from their loved ones. Let us remember them today with deep gratitude and honor. And gratitude to their families who had to learn to live their lives without those who were lost.

When I was growing up our town always had a Memorial Day parade, as did most of the towns around us. It was a small town at the time, so it was not a long elaborate affair, but it held much meaning to me and I’m sure to many others. I was a scout for most of those years as were my siblings, so usually at least some of us were participating.

It started early in the morning.  As we were getting ready we could hear the rifles being fired. I never saw the Honor guard but could hear them as they moved to different cemeteries and war memorials around town. The parade route wound through downtown as we stopped at a couple of memorials where speeches were read, prayers were prayed and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

The last stop was the town cemetery for more speeches and prayers and then the roll call, where  the names of veterans in the town who had died during the previous year were read. It was a time where people gave of their time on a day off to come and pay respects to those who had died. To acknowledge the part they had played in our freedom. John 15:13: “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Those times growing up instilled in me patriotism and deep love for my country. I am still moved to tears when I hear Taps or patriotic songs or see flags proudly waving. The town where my children grew up had many of the same traditions. I hope it helped instill in them some of the same things.

I wonder, are the children of today being taught the same things? I’m sure there are many small towns that still do these things. And I’m sure children who have parents who either serve in the military or have served have a much greater understanding of what these things mean than most of us.

I think if we don’t teach our children these things we are doing them a great disservice. They need to know that a price was paid for them to enjoy the life they have now in this country. As the old saying goes “freedom is not free”. How can we teach children to be grateful if they don’t learn what freedom and sacrifice really means?

It saddens me deeply to see so many teaching children only to hate this country and complain about all that they think is wrong with America. Yes, we have our problems but you don’t see people in boats trying to escape from America do we?

America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave. It will remain that way as long as we have those brave men and women who stand up to protect that freedom. For no other reason than love for their country. Those who will answer the call to stand against forces threatening their land. 

There are some who prophesy doom, gloom and the total destruction of America. I disagree. Yes, we may have some challenges ahead but this is one nation under God. God has His hand on this nation and His purposes and plans for America WILL be fulfilled whether you like it or not.

As a citizen our job is to pray for this country and to do our part to keep it the free nation that it is. Yet there are those who do nothing besides spew hatred towards America and teach their children that America is evil. And those who try to turn this into a country it was never meant to be. Perhaps they need to remember that the only reason they can get on Facebook and rant, or to cause unrest is because of those who died so you could have that right. And those who even this day or this week are fighting for their country. To those people perhaps we could just say there’s the door. Go find that perfect utopia that you think is out there. I dare say we won’t even miss you.

God Bless America!

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Choices

” I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; Deuteronomy 30:19.

We have many choices set before us every day.  Sometimes the choices we make can have great consequences in our lives.  Things like choosing to go somewhere we know we shouldn’t, or doing something we know we shouldn’t would be obvious ones.  Yet, even the smallest choices can have consequences. We need to make our choices wisely.

The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Do we purposely choose joy?  Even when things don’t seem joyful?  Do we choose to believe that if God is for us who can be against us? Do we choose to be thankful?  Thankful for things we may take for granted, that many in the world do not have.  Food to eat, a roof over our head, people who love us, and even just the fact that we got up this morning, and we are still breathing.

Do we carefully choose the words we speak? Do we speak only blessings over our lives and not curses?  And what about the things we choose to think about?  If the thoughts we are thinking aren’t good thoughts, and they make us feel angry or sad or bad about ourselves, then we know they are not from the Lord. Do we choose to keep thinking them anyway?

To me and I’m sure to many others that is one of the greatest battles.  We can listen to those negative thoughts and before we know it we are meditating on them and feeling bad. If we realize we are thinking on the wrong things we can instead choose to do what the Bible says, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  Then we can replace those negative thoughts with the Word instead. 

God’s thoughts about us are always good. As Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lordthoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Thankfully, He does not think the same way we think. Isaiah 55: 8-9: ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

How different would our day be if when we get up in the morning, we first thank the Lord that we are alive, then we choose life, choose joy, choose to only speak and think on good things. Choose to believe the best of people and to treat them as though they had done us no wrong.

What if instead of watching the news and mediating on what the media says and wringing our hands over it,  we choose to pray about it instead? And mostly, how about if we choose faith. If we just choose to believe that no matter what we see going on around us with our natural eyes, we focus on the Lord instead and know that He has His hand on us. Choose to focus on His promises instead of our problems.

For those who know the Lord and love Him, he has given us this promise from Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Amen. We can choose to believe that.

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Memories

Memories are a powerful thing aren’t they? It’s funny how we can be going along, minding our own business and then we see something, or smell something or hear something and memories  sometimes come rushing in. Good or bad I guess.

I had that happen the other day.  I was at a local farm looking at some flowers.  They happened to have one of my all time favorite garden flowers. Cosmos, for those of you flower lovers out there who were wondering. There’s just something about them, so tall and graceful and cheerful. They make me happy.

In the house where we raised our kids, I used to plant them every year right outside the back door. Every time I went in or out I looked at them. It wasn’t so much the memories of growing the flowers that hit me that day. I have grown them, or tried to, in my current house and the one before this. They never seem to grow the same as they did at that old house.

No it wasn’t the flowers it was the memories of summers gone by that hit me that day. Warm days when all our family was still under the same roof. We had a pool at that house so, as you can imagine, we spent lots of time out there with the kids. I have such fond memories of times with friends, neighbors and loved ones on those summer days. Some of those loved ones are no longer with us. All we have left is memories.

Good memories can be wonderful things to have and to pull out and remember from time to time. Perhaps memories of vacations or times when your kids were small or yes, memories of those who have gone on. Its especially good to remember things the Lord has done for us in our lives.  His goodness to us. His love.

Memories can be wonderful. But if we start comparing them to our current lives and being more content to live in the past, or think the past was so much better then it can be a problem.

The thing about memories is that they’re selective. We don’t always remember the bad with the good or the good that was there with the bad. That’s why the past is someplace we are only supposed to visit from time to time. Not stake our tent pegs and live there. We can never re-create the past the way we remember it. And living in the past takes away from our present and our future.

Whatever is going on at this time in our lives will someday be tomorrow’s memories. It only makes sense then that we should spend more time thinking about what’s going on today than what happened last week, or last year or a lifetime ago. And why is it we sometimes continually beat ourselves up over mistakes we may have made in the past instead of moving past them, and forgiving ourselves?

The Apostle Paul had his priorities in line. If anyone had things in their past to beat themselves up over, it was Paul. In Philippians 3:12-14 he said: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

He hadn’t forgotten any of the wrong that he had done. But he knew he was forgiven and he knew he had things to do that the Lord had called him to do. Imagine if he had spent all his time living in the past instead of in doing what he was called to do. We wouldn’t have much of the New Testament today. 

I think his is a pretty good example to follow. I believe I will cherish my good memories and think on them from time to time. The bad memories I will choose to forget and leave behind, while I reach forward to those things which are ahead. We all have things the Lord has called us to do. Like the old saying goes “your eyes are in the front of your head for a reason”. We can’t see where we’re going if we keep looking behind us.

Oh, and in case you were wondering. I did buy some Cosmos. Like I said they make me happy. And maybe this will be the year that they will really grow!woman-cosmos-flower-field-mountain-background-36938067

 

 

 

Embrace Change

One thing we know.  Change is inevitable. No matter how hard we might try to keep things the way they are; it’s not gonna happen.  Things are constantly changing.  

Are you one of those people who thrive on change? Or, is not your favorite thing, like many people?  However you may feel about change, it still happens. We get so dependent sometimes on our little comfort zones. Even though things may not be the way we would like them to be, at least we are used to the way they are, and somehow that sameness gives us comfort.

What is it about change that can be so scary sometimes? Often the very things we have been praying about, are the things that frighten us the most when we get our answer. Because although we might have wanted that particular change, all of a sudden, we are headed into uncharted waters and we’re not sure what to do about it. Situations have changed and we have to change with it and adapt. We don’t always like that. Well, at least some of us don’t.

I have come to realize something. If we want God to answer our prayers, we have to be willing to let Him answer them in His way….and often that involves change.

We might occasionally have changes that go quickly and smoothly. We think, wow God, thanks, that was awesome! Make sure you enjoy those times! I would say more often than not, because change is a growth experience, where perhaps we have things to learn, it may not always be smooth. Many times change comes about through turmoil, much prayer and learning to trust God in the situation. 

We were never meant to stay stagnant and never change or grow. We can hold so tight to the way things are sometimes, that we don’t see the possibilities of the new. Those changes that may have frightened us most are often the very ones that we need, and they end up being a blessing.

When we are in the midst of a big change in our lives its hard to see the big picture.  Usually its not till sometime later when we look back, we can see how it was all part of God’s plan. Then we can see how the different pieces and threads of the situation were woven together for our good. When you are stepping out in faith to make a change, its that first step that’s usually the most difficult. If you know that change is from God, take the step anyway, even if it frightens you.

 Trust God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Who knows? It just might end up being one of the best things that ever happened to you! Embrace the change. It may be a marvelous opportunity that the Lord has planned just for you.  If you find yourself starting to panic, calm yourself by meditating on some scriptures about not being afraid. Who knows?  Maybe one day you will find yourself excited by change and bored by the same old same old!

Romans 8-28 All Things Work Together For Good beige

 

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