Thank You, America

It seems to be a phrase that is ridiculed more than appreciated these days, but today, I will proudly say, “Thank you, America.” I don’t care who you are, or where you have come from, if you live in this country, and if you call yourself an American, then, you should say the same…and even though, it may not be a popular sentiment, even if you are not an American citizen, you should still say the same.

Too many in today’s culture take so much liberty in bashing the bad of this country. Too much joy is taken in attempting to destroy the history, and the heritage and the legacy upon which this nation was built. If someone stands for patriotism, freedom and anything “American,” too many snarks and ridicules can be made, and everyone is simply expected to accept it as some sort of tolerance and penance for years of a presumed “superior conceit.”

I will never attempt to argue the perfection of America, nor will I say it can do no wrong, but if you cannot take pride in the country in which you preside, why live there? Just as a mother has to admit the foolishness of her child if that child is to grow beyond the wrong; yet, it should never negate the love and protection that mother holds for her once newborn babe. Seriously. I could stop and restart a whole new blog on that little soapbox right there, but I won’t. Not today.

Today, I’ll just stop and say, “Thank you, America.” Thank you for every hardworking man and woman who seeks to serve and make this country a better place to live. Thank you for all those who put their “hand to the plow” and never look back, always striving to leave a better community for the next generation. Thank you for every person who hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow and instead of tearing down all shreds of goodness from yesterday, he or she digs deep to find a ray of sunshine within the clouds of gray. Thank you to every American who continually takes the next step toward life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; so, our children may dream and pursue those aspirations of their hearts just as our forefathers did so long ago.

Thank you, America, and God bless you!

Happy Labor Day to all! ❤️🇺🇸❤️

Is Happiness Relevant?

There is a cultural push in today’s world to “do what makes you happy,” “do what makes you feel good.” Honestly, these phrases and this mentality boggles my mind and even infuriates me. This type of mindset can even be dangerous and detrimental to any and all it impacts.

Go ahead. Get annoyed with my approach. Get frustrated. Get angry with my words if you’d like. However, before you turn away, click the back arrow and decide to never again visit this blog, finish out this post. Read till the end and then decide…

Struggle doesn’t feel good, but it brings the ability to persevere. Conditioning doesn’t feel comfortable, but it brings a strength and durability that wouldn’t exist without it. Conflict isn’t something that brings enjoyment and “all the feels,” but it brings more wisdom and experience than the avoidance of conflict ever could.

When I struggled to teach my sons to bathe themselves, dress themselves and wipe their own backsides, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but as I persevered, they learned how to be little men. When I conditioned my mind to not dwell on the thoughts of my father’s abandonment in my childhood or on other broken relationships that have wounded and scarred my life, it was never comfy, but in my consistency, I have learned to stand strong. I have learned to be stable on my own, forgive the craziness and pain of the past, and become a durable, strong and reliable woman. When I have had conflicts throughout my years, never once did I look at those conflicts with giddiness or excitement, but every single trial has brought me closer to my God, deeper into wisdom and has instilled more insight, more perception and more maturity than any truce and moment of surrender could ever bring forth.

Living for every “happy” moment not only causes us less growth, but it causes us to miss out on so much richness that is freely available for our character and soul. Seeking only the thrill moments and avoiding every difficult moment, causes us to be selfish, self-consumed and altogether blind to anyone else in our life.

Living for only what “makes me happy” causes us to seek personal pleasures, eventually, at the expense of everyone we love and care about. This only leaves us lonely, desolate and desperate. Addicts, divorcees and abandoned children can all attest to this truth.

So, I choose to grow. I choose to mature. I choose to be strong, resilient and dependable. I choose to dig deep and persevered through the storms of life. I choose to choose life not the fantasy or the fairytale.

And because I serve God, and I love Him, I choose to glorify Him in all I do rather than allowing the winds of cultural “happiness” seduce me to believe that “doing what makes me happy” will actually bring me happiness and “all the feels.”

Choose Well

I saw this post the other day, and I thought, “This describes exactly how I’m feeling and what I needed to hear today!” It was Christmas Eve morning. I had 2 church services to attend, songs to sing while on praise team, a devotion to share during offering, Christmas gifts to deliver, people to greet and names to remember, smiles to give and necks to hug. All that before 11:30 in the morning, and I’m not exactly a morning person… Really, it was no different than any other Sunday (except the gifts), and I really do love what I do; yet, that morning, I was feeling frazzled, stressed out and insecure.

Honestly, I had stayed up too late the night before, and I was feeling weary. I had been excited about Christmas coming, and I had gotten everything done about 11:00pm; yet, I just kind of piddled until I got sleepy, an hour after midnight, which doesn’t fare too well when you rise at 6:00am on Sunday!

I was, also, going through a bit of an emotional battle, feeling unworthy, insignificant and internally “bluesy.” All of this was adding up to make the day a very sour lemon! Then, I came across this pic that I had just saved the night before, thinking I might use it for a blog one day, (lol!) and it was as if everything came full circle right a that moment. I was reminded of my philosophy for living: Life is what you make it. It’s all in your perspective and the choices you make.

I didn’t need to let my circumstances rule my emotions. I didn’t need to allow my feelings to be my guide, and I could not permit my choice of lack of sleep and struggling thought patterns to dictate how I would worship my God, engage with people, and follow through with the commitments I had made.

I had a choice to make, and I decided to choose well. I chose to breathe it all in. I chose to slow down, be deliberate and be aware. I chose to have joy, to rejoice in our Savior, and to be thankful in my heart and my head. I chose to savor life and those around me. I chose to smile and allow the wonder and happiness of the moments to not only fill my smile but to fill my soul and my whole being.

It was Christmas Eve, and this one only comes once. More importantly, it was Sunday, and we live in a free country where we can still worship as a congregation. We serve a great God who is worthy of all our praise! I wasn’t going to miss that! It was, also, the day I get to see a lot of people who may or may not be there tomorrow, because after all, none of us are guaranteed the next breathe, and in this crazy world, you never know what might happen!

It was an amazing day, and I am so thankful I made the right choices. 😊

We all have choices to make everyday, every hour, and even minute to minute. What will you choose today?

Southern Heart

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I am a Southern girl, born and bred, and I am proud of it. In the South, we grew up knowing trust in God, family and country were three of the most important things to take care of in life, and when one of those got out of balance, the others were soon to follow. We were taught to respect our elders, appreciate our relatives, (even if they’re a little crazy), and good friends and food go a long way to make a good day great. Old dirt roads are best enjoyed on the back of a pick up truck, and front porches were made for rocking chairs and long late night talks. Fireflies were made to catch in mason jars and catfish were made to fry up for dinner. Sweet tea is made only when the sugar is poured before the tea gets cold, and chicken is best served fried with a side of mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits…oh, and with an apple pie for dessert.  “Yes ma’am,” “No, ma’am,” and The Pledge of Allegiance isn’t just polite, it’s expected, and being a sass mouth is just plain rude…there can be found a hickory switch or two for that one. Barefoot and swimming holes are sought for in the summertime and wintertime is simply harder to find. Thanksgiving is for pumpkin pies, turkey and dressing, and Christmas is for gatherings of family and friends to remember our Savior’s birth and sing of that glorious story. Being from the South makes up who I am, and even if I wasn’t born here, I don’t think you could drag me away. It’s in my heart, and it’s here to stay.

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If you aren’t from the South, don’t like the South, or you’ve never been here, that’s ok. You may be proud of where you’re from, too. You don’t have to love my home, and I don’t have to love yours, but I will try to respect it; that’s just the Southern way. 😉 It bothers me to no end those who ridicule the South by saying we’re less educated or less cultured, because our dialect is a little different than theirs, or because we didn’t grow up where they did. I won’t spend a lot of time here on that soapbox; however, I don’t believe it’s from whence you came that makes you smarter or more stupid than the next guy; it’s all in how you act, react and treat your fellow man that will determine your intellect or lack thereof.

I am so thankful to be from the South, and I can’t think of many other places I’d rather live. I’ve been to many other states, and I’ve yet to find an area I like more. So, if you’re from the South, “Welcome Home, Ya’ll!” and if you’re not, “Come on back to see us soon!”

Daily Prompt: South

Catch and Release

Catch and release…joy, love, peace, anger, resentment, pain. 

Our youngest son loves to fish. He loves to go out, take his fishing pole, cast a line, and catch whatever there is to catch! It doesn’t matter if it’s little fish, medium size, or a great big one… Although, he loves the great big catch! That boy just loves to fish! 

I started thinking…Ya know, we need to be more like this is life! What if we were so eager to “fish” for the good things in life…like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness? What if we cast our lines big, expecting those great big wonderful “fish” to latch on for good? 

What if we learned to release those bad things that don’t amount to anything? What if we let go of those thoughts of jealousy, those memories that bring bitterness, those concerns and fears that keep us from chasing our dreams? …what if??

How different would our everyday lives be if we “caught” only what was good and “released” all that was bad? How different would we react to those around us? How different would our legacy be to those comintbg behind us?

Sure, life doesn’t always being great stuff everyday. There are storms that come, but it rains for a good fisherman, too! Yet, I’ve heard that’s when some of the best fishing is done, in the rain! You’ve just got to know what to catch and keep and what to release back into the lake!

Why not try it today? Put on your greatest fishing attire. Pull out that sparkling rod and reel, and set out on a fishing adventure of “Catch and Release.” Catch only good…Release all that’s bad, and see how different your life can be today. 🙂

Fall Into It (3)

Fall into JOY

Fall into joy like you laughed, as a child, when you “turned over your tickle box.” That moment at five years old, when you got the giggles so bad, you couldn’t stop even at the warning of a spanking from dad. True joy is not only laughter, but it’s attitude. It’s a perspective. It’s an outlook. When true joy bubbles up, it can’t be contained. It can’t be hidden. It can’t be consumed by only one person. True joy changes your mood. It changes the way you see the circumstances. It changes how you see the future, how you see your destiny. Joy changes the very atmosphere. The Word of God says Jesus came to give us “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This kind of joy changes hearts. It changes sight. It changes lives.

Wednesday’s Ode #6

Today, I would like to give my tribute to America. Yes, the land of the free and the home of the brave. I love my home, America.

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There are many in this world who would scoff at those words, many who would sneer at my homeland, believing they would be better off without it. Yet, for those who long for freedom, those held under tight regimental control, where do their hearts long to go? Where do their dreams take them when they think of freedom? Yes, it is AMERICA! This land was chosen to be a place where “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.”* This is the land of the free and the brave. This country was founded on freedom, on liberty and on the pursuit of happiness. For those who live in this land and get angry at these words, I truly wonder why they still live here! Why stay in a country that you so clearly hate? However, I digress. This post today is not meant to be a rant. It is meant to be a tribute; so, let me pay honor where honor is due! 😉

I LOVE this land of freedom! I can worship freely. I can go where I please. I can do as I please (within the laws of reason). I can choose to pursue whatever course in life I’d like. I can be whomever I choose to be. If I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a construction worker, a CEO, a fireman, a retail salesperson, or even a fast food worker, I can be any of these. If I want to pursue a life long dream of singing or a momentary whim of sailing across the ocean, I can do it. The only things that will stop me is my own limitations of dreaming and my own will power to pursue those dreams. This is the beauty of freedom.

Yes, I know we’ve got our problems. I’m not blind. I know there’s people who don’t appreciate this land nor the people who work hard to make it what it is, but that’s not my point today. Sometimes, you’ve got to step out of the darkness to truly see the light again. Often, we must re-shift our focus when there’s so much turmoil and remember the reason we got in this to begin with. This country was founded for freedom. This country was founded on hard work and pride in a nation of diversity and respect for the pursuit of a dream. These are the things upon which this country was built. Let’s get back to the main thing! Sometimes, I wonder if we’ve forgotten the goodness and wonder in the dream of a better future, because we’ve gotten so entangled in the futuristic dream someone else said we should have… (another thought for another day!)

I LOVE this land of beauty! There is an “old” song, sung by Lee Greenwood, that perfectly sums up my love for the beautiful land called America. He says, “From the lakes of Minnesota, To the hills of Tennessee, Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining  sea, From Detroit down to Houston, And New York to L.A., Where’s pride in every American heart, And it’s time we stand and say, God Bless the USA!” The beauty of this land is as diverse as the people who live here. If you long for snow, just travel north long enough, and you’ll find it. If the beach is more your style, just travel South, you’ll find it. Maybe green rolling “hills” (this term is relative to what you call a hill or a mountain) and Shenandoah Valleys are more your speed, or maybe you prefer peaks as high as the clouds, and tree as big as a house or maybe it’s beautiful plains that stretch for as far as the eye can see. Well, we’ve got it all, just find a map and start your travels! America is where it’s at! No matter, if you’re looking for the city and the night life or the ranch and the country life. It’s all here in this great big land of opportunity!

So, today, I call myself BLESSED to be an American, and I consider myself blessed to be living here in this wonderful land of the free! These are just a few reasons I love this wonderful place! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Who’s with me?? 🙂

*Declaration of Independence (found here)

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Do Not Weep For Me

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Death engulfs me in its grasp

Darkness is surrounding me

I hear wailing and mourning

But the faces I cannot see.

 

You weep for me to return

But do you know where I am going?

I am to travel the streets of gold

I am to see His Heavenly Throne

 

I am sorry for your loss and sorrow

You will miss me while I am gone

But you don’t have to be without hope

You don’t have to be lost and undone

 

You can join me here when life is through

You can walk in this Paradise Land

You can have eternal life and happiness

If you will just ask Jesus to take your hand

 

Penned – MG – 2/27/01