Celebrating America’s Independence Day

Celebrating America's Independence Day

Independence Day.
The 4th of July.
Grilling out, hot dogs, burgers, apple pie and fireworks.

All these things we have come to represent the celebrated American holiday we call, the 4th of July.

While pleasant, those things are most certainly not what the 4th of July is about. Consumerism has done a bang up job of perverting yet another great celebratory day (Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the most prominent offenders) but this one deeply touches my heart, crying out for liberation from it’s trite food fest moniker.

Independence Day. What does that mean anymore to the average American? What does ‘Independence’ mean to other peoples in other countries? Really, ask yourself that very question, because I don’t think it’s contemplated enough.

What exactly does celebrating the Independence of America from Britain mean?

What it means to me is perfectly stated in our Country’s Declaration of Independence.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

(click on photo to read the entire Declaration)

As you can see, this was no ‘willy nilly’ band of rebel rousers who just didn’t like the King. This was an assembly of thoughtful, intelligent, well-read, articulate and worldly men who understood that our basic human rights come from ‘Natures God’, and not a king, dictator, tyrant, nor any man, and that freedom is a right, not a privilege.
That is critical to understanding American freedom, which is vastly different than say…the Egyptian freedom so newly won, and quickly deteriorating.

Why has America retained it’s freedoms so long? Because we have always understood that the giver of those basic freedoms (Life, Liberty, Happiness) is a higher power, NOT a human being. It is the responsibility we have to Natures God to be a good, moral, and virtuous people that has made America exceptional in the history of humankind. It is the fact our life, our freedom and our right to pursue happiness are not to be taken by a state nor another human that makes our founding different and unique. It is the right to own the fruits of our hard labor that defines ‘American Exceptionalism’.

There is a reason why in the period of a few hundred years, America has grown from a small band of colonists to the global superpower it has become. Our fundamental way of thinking is entirely different from the rest of the world. That is not bragging, it just is. People come from all over the world to America, seeking the freedom to prosper. Yes, the freedom to prosper means the freedom to fail, but that is a critical tool to learning how to succeed. One must fail.

Today, I don’t know how many Americans under the age of 50 really understand what the Declaration really means and what the Framers intended. How many even read our Constitution and know anything beyond the 2nd Amendment? For America to remain free, these must be taught, discussed and reflected upon.

So, I encourage you to take a moment in all the festivities and ask your family and friends:
What does America’s Independence mean to you?

And if they say BBQ’s and beer, might I suggest you read the full Declaration to them.

Then light up those fireworks, and teach your children why we light them. Not only will they have fun, but there is a richness heritage to the meaning behind it. That will enrich not only them and yourself, but also our country.

Happy Independence Day America.
God Bless this Nation.

Christmas Past

As I’ve mentioned before, I love the holidays. During the season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, it’s fun to pull down all the christmas boxes pulling out treasures which both make the holiday feel special but also stir up memories of christmas past. (I feel like a bell should be tolling and ghost should be manifesting in the background right now)


Usually I set up our tree first. I moved here to the arctic tundra from the moderate Pacific NW going on 13 years ago. I have always had a read tree, but in temperate and moist Oregon, keeping it fresh for the whole season was never an issue nor concern. However, here in the hinterlands, its bitterly cold (yes, at -20 a runny nose freezes) and skin witheringly dry. There was no way I was going to risk setting my house on fire with a real tree, and I was not about to give up my tradition of putting the tree up Thanksgiving weekend and enjoying it through New Years Eve. So, fake it is. 


This year, however, with family in town visiting I decided to start by putting out all my room decorations. I love going through each box, for me it’s actually better than christmas morning. With each decoration I pull out that was lovingly packed the year prior, I can recall where I was when I bought it, who gave it to me or who passed it down to me. The same goes for my tree. 


So, a week later, my youngest and I are dragging the limbs up from the basement and assembling the tree limb by limb. (Yes, I know there are pre-lit umbrella styles, but this one looked the most realistic 13 years ago) Then on go the lights. Now that is a chore and not fun at all. Every year they go in to the box fully lit and working, and every year I pull them out and inevitably one strand is half burnt out. I do not treasure the lighting of the tree. 


But then, I pull out the boxes with our tree trimming ornaments. Every year since the children were born, I have given them each an ornament so that by the time they go out on their own, they will be able to have a head start on their own tree, filled with memories of their childhood. I love looking at each one, remembering why I chose that particular one to represent that particular year. 


The photo below is of a rather special ornament. It is my great grandmother Bishops’ ornament, handed down to me by my own grandmother Evelyn. I never knew her mother, she had passed before I was born. This sweet and very fragile ornament is special to me not only from a family history perspective, but has an heirloom. It, along with a few pieces of china and an old secretary desk, made it around the cape of Africa on a steamer bound for the west coast of the USA well over a hundred years ago. Let that sink in for a moment. It sailed around the continent back in the late 1800’s/1900’s in straw filled barrels on a STEAMER ship! With all the advanced technology of today and modern transportation system, it’s amazing to me to think about the journey of this little ornament church. 


I hope that as you pass through this wonderful time of the year, you are able to take the moment to pause and reflect on your history, your families history and be aware of the memories you create in your own families. Because, you see, Christmas isn’t about shopping or stuffing our faces with special libations and foods. Christmas is about the moment a very special little family was created in a very simple and humble surrounding, giving the world the best present of all. That truth helps me to keep the reason for the season in perspective.Image