The Gift of Freedom

My grandson and I sat in our folding chairs, watching as the carnies dismantled the festival rides beneath a sky bursting with 4th of July fireworks. It was the first time I viewed fireworks from this perspective, in the middle of a basketball court with a few other family groups gathered nearby doing the same. We chose this location because it avoided the hordes of onlookers that descended on the city’s lakefront where the pyrotechnics were launched.

As crews worked at removing a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and other rides from their positions and loading them piece-by-piece into semi trailers, my thoughts landed on the reasons we celebrate Independence Day.

A huge, sparkling aerial display above the carnival grounds recalled the many battles that had been fought to defend our freedom. It’s the same message that appears on a t-shirt I sometimes wear with the message “Freedom is Not Free” atop an image of the American flag. It seems many in our nation have forgotten this reality. My grandson and I spent a few minutes talking about the sacrifices military personnel have made to ensure our freedom.

The chatter from the work crew prompted my grandson to comment that they were having fun at work. During my younger years, I might have thoroughly enjoyed traveling around the country bringing summertime entertainment to different communities. There are seasons in life for us to utilize the various talents and abilities that have been bestowed upon us by God. We are blessed in our nation with opportunities to use and develop our individual gifts.

After the fireworks’ finale, we folded up our chairs and walked back to our car under the dim light of a few streetlamps. As a woman, it is my habit to take note of my surroundings; I felt safe here. That is not true everywhere, including some places in the metropolitan area where we reside. I silently thanked the police officers who watch over our community and respond to calls for help. I appreciate their willingness to head into dangerous situations to protect me should the need ever arise.

None of us have a choice of where or when we enter this world, or the circumstances. We don’t get to decide when we will leave it. But we have been given freedom to choose how we will live out our time and where we will be once that time on earth has ended. When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior, we are assured of eternal life with Him in heaven. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Christ has already paid the price for our freedom. I am happy to say both my grandson and I, along with many other family members, have chosen His gift. This free gift is available to everyone who asks with a sincere heart. May freedom ring in your heart forever.

Showers of April Blessings

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

One of the most popular verses in the Bible, found on coffee mugs, wall hangings, or bookmarks is Proverbs 3:5.

I suspect this is because we find comfort in knowing God looks out for us. When life is going according to our plan, it is a lighthearted reminder. And, when we face the inevitable difficulties of life, this verse becomes a spiritual lifesaver, especially when it is accompanied by the next verse, Proverbs 3:6, that reads “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. 

God never fails to deliver on his promises.

When my grandson was less than one week old, I asked him to give me the opportunity to teach him about Jesus. God’s faithful response throughout the decade that followed made it clear that he wants me to follow up on my commitment. Whenever my path seemed to be heading to a dead end, an opportunity opened up to continue with biblical training. 

What the Lord has done for me, he can do for you. Your testimony is uniquely your own, however, the command to bring your faith to light with grandchildren is common to all believers. It begins with your request for favor over your grandchild, and your unique style of sharing your faith in God. 

You can always count on God. I know God will care for you. Trust Him when…

Take a Break

Photo by Barb Howe

It surprised me to count the number of grandparents I know who are involved with raising their grandchildren. I’m not talking about the ones who get to see them during occasional holiday visits. I’m talking about the ones who are on the front lines of child rearing, supporting their adult children. It’s a tough job to keep up with the energy level of anyone younger than 20 years of age when you’re sporting a crop of grey hair. 

Allow yourself to take a break. It’s a good idea for everyone involved, including those grandchildren. Breathe deeply, take in the splendor of all the good things God has given. Genesis reminds me that He placed the first man and woman in a garden, so gardens are where I like to be when rejuvenation is what I need. A large, public landscape garden near my home is where I go to find year-round periods of refreshment.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”
Psalm 62:5 

Visiting this place also reminds me that any challenges I am facing have already been resolved by the Creator of all things. It gives me pause to recall the many times He has carried me through trials of many kinds. My job is to allow Him to work in me, to continue the transformation of my heart, so I can be more like Jesus. It is a huge task.

His reward to me is the blessing of peace, joy, and love. Perhaps that is why, in the first chapter of Genesis, God rested on the seventh day. I believe he was demonstrating to us the need for periodic moments of down time. It’s as if He is telling us to “take a break” so we can be reminded that our grandchildren truly are a blessing from the Lord.

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7 

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Compare Notes

Photo courtesy of Alvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Admit it, the world we live in doesn’t always make sense. A quick glance at the news reminds us that our country is undergoing a long season of trepidation and rebellion. Given the conflicting deluge of messages thrust upon us daily, it’s nearly impossible to know what to believe. Thankfully, there is one source of information we can rely upon for absolute truth: the Bible. Eternal wisdom flows from its pages.  

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations
of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deuteronomy 7:9

We probably all have concerns for our grandchildren’s physical and spiritual well being. Having many decades of experience, we’re reminiscent of the Farmers Insurance ad tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Our perspectives and collective wisdom are vital for these young ones. That old cliche’ reminding us “it takes a village to raise a child” hits home here. Please, allow God to be at the center of it all. 

It is a blessing to have friends that share the same concerns for their grandchildren as I do for my grandson. We support one another with prayer, encouragement, and advice, much as mothers of young children do amongst themselves. Think of it as comparing notes with other people whose ultimate goal aligns with yours: to spend eternity with our grandchildren and other believers in heaven. Be sure to bring a notebook the next time you meet.

 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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