Thoughts on the 4th…..

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in, and summer has rolled on in some expected ways, and transformed in some unexpected ways.

Since I’ve written, the younger 2 kids went off to Pensacola to spend summer with the grandparents (my parents), which turned our normally boisterous household of 3 children into a one-teenager family overnight. Raising a 16 year old is tricky enough, but without his brother and sister to drive him crazy (as he sees it), my wife and I have found new ways to interact with him. He’s more engaging, perhaps because there’s no pressure to stay within the confines of the older brother role. Of course, it may also be the fact that he’s now 16 and realizing it. I’m sure that if he was confident in his driving and had found a job, he would try renting out an apartment, ’cause that’s basically what his room has become. We see him every few hours, coming out from the screen heaven of TV and laptop. In fairness, he’s been as helpful as ever, assisting us as Miki and I have pretended to move out ourselves in repainting all our furniture. We’ve reverted to college life, living out of Rubbermaid rolling dressers and camping out with mattresses on the floor.

For the 4th of July, we took a trip up to West Palm to visit Miki’s mom. For a mover and shaker such as myself, the free time is both blessing and burden. Blessing in that we had time away from the bustle of ministry, but burden in learning to enjoy that time. It seems my biggest struggle is learning to relax, which of course means my wife can’t relax either. She is always trying to make me comfortable, and I feel guilty for that as well. It’s tough to let go of the super – plan mode that our daily life requires.

As for the night of franks and fireworks, it did seem a little disappointing. Without a big family gathering, we improvised our way to the display in downtown West Palm Beach. We didn’t count on traffic though, so we ended up watching from the top of a parking garage behind another building that kind of blocked our view. The bangs and booms did bring the requisite oohs and aahs, and I couldn’t help thinking of how Americans are continuously defined by what is bigger, louder, or showier. Even in this time of readjusting attitudes on our economy (how many Hummers have been sold lately?), we still want the newest and best auto, the biggest flat screen, and we find great joy in firing thousands of pounds of colored gunpowder into the air in order to say, “Look at us, we’re the greatest country on earth!” How ironic is it that our national celebration is capped off with a Chinese invention?

Forgive the sarcasm, but it is my feeling that more of our self – image must be based on our internal meaning, not on our external traditions or fall-back illusions of grandeur. A new President does not define us; neither a political party, nor a cause or a case for some law or judgment. What defines this country is the definition of an individual –

“having a striking or unusual character; original”.

Our country is based on the dichotomy of individuals that affirm each other’s individuality, while declaring their united understanding of the same as the essential right and responsibility of each to uphold and maintain. And whether you equate the ideals that spawned such a sentiment with the Magna Carta, the deistic leanings of Founding Fathers, or the direct influence of God, no one can replace them with any slogan or flag pin. The true celebration of our independence is in the everyday exercise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Love is what love does, and patriotism is what patriotism does. It sacrifices self for others, family, faith, and country. It realizes the country is better when I am better, not when others make it better. It refuses to place its future in other hands, but takes up the mantle and works until its future is squarely in his. Mostly, it realizes that one’s citizenship is a gift, a blessing, and that in another reality we all could have been born into a worse situation, or not been able to escape one by emigrating to this country. Therefore, it constantly lives to repay the gift by being a blessing back to the land that gives it sanctuary and substance.

Happy birthday, USA.

Looking unto the hills,



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