USA – Land that I love! {11.5.16}

As we approach Election Day next Tuesday, God woke me up this morning with some thoughts to share.  I was reminded of the companies for which I have worked in my career. There have not been that many (7 total I think from teenager to now) but most of them have held corporate values of which I could align mine. The company’s values are what drive their decisions, day to day operations and government of their employees. The same thing is true with countries.

Let’s revisit our country’s values. Of course foremost is our Constitution. I did not include it here because of space limits but encourage you to search it on your own and see what it says. Today, even some of the truth of our history has been changed to reflect “politically correct” thinking. It’s a good idea to seek and know the truth. Only the truth will set us free.  John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I’m not even sure if school children still recite the Pledge of Allegiance but here are the words.usa-flag

Our Pledge of Allegiance

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Our National Anthem is usually sung at sporting events but unfortunately, cheering for the teams usually begin before the singer has finished the first verse. Here are the words. The song actually has four verses. Pay particular attention to the last verse.

Our National Anthem – The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming; Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there: Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream: ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution! No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved home and the war’s desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust“: And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

usaNow that we are reminded of what is so special about our country and its core values, let’s pray for our nation to get back to those values and that we will live in truth and freedom. After 9-11 many sought God immediately and fervently. Then time went on and we forgot God. It’s time to humble ourselves and turn back to Him today. Only God can truly heal our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

May God Bless America – land that I love!

America and Beautiful – a road trip {9.6.16}

We have had the blessing of opportunity in the past to take some road trips. Our first was when our “baby” graduated high school. That was a while back. We took another a couple of weeks ago from our home in Indiana to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. It was a wonderful trip. I kept thinking about the song “America the Beautiful” during our travels. We really do live in a beautiful country. The more I visit different areas the more in awe of our Creator I become. Yes. I said Creator. I see His Hand all around me and nature cries out His Glory. No big bang could have done any of what we see (our own bodies testify to that). But, I got off track. Back to the road trip…

I must admit that lately I’ve been discouraged by the number of farm fields I see being sold to housing developers (one of them out our back door). Sometimes I wonder if we are going to sell and buy ourselves out of food sources. But, as we started on our trip and drove through Indiana and Illinois, we saw farm after farm. The flat land showcased all the crop fields which looked like beautiful quilts to me and grazing cattle with homes and barns. It was a beautiful site and encouraging. We saw many windmill farms and some windmills seemingly all by themselves (would love to hear the story behind those). I didn’t get photos of any of this as I was looking through a car window but close your eyes and you can imagine the scenery.

As we drove into and through Iowa, we made some fun stops. We spent some time in Winterset, Iowa with John Wayne (one of our favorite actors oimg_2441f all time) as we visited his birthplace museum. We even had a photo shoot with him. Then an unexpected blessing happened as we were there, I saw the Iowa Quilt Museum and took a tour. While in there, I met Marianne Fons (those of you who quilt know who I’m talking about). That was fun (side note: she is very nice and down to earth). Then, as we drove through Franklin, Iowa we saw a gorgeous lake from the highway that was filled with blooming lily pads. What a sight. We visited the Lewis & Clark museum and saw recreations of boats, etc. and even walked out on a keelboat.

In Iowa and South Dakota we drove through beautiful prairies. The strange thing is that in South Dakota especially, we didn’t see any farms (homes or barns), just cattle. Lots of cattle, mostly black cattle. I kept thinking of the scripture about the cattle on a thousand hills so I looked it up. Psalm 50:10 “for every animal is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (The Lord speaking) Another unexpected blessing came in the form of sunflower fields. I had never seen a sunflower field before and there were many of them in South Dakota right off the interstate. It made me smile just to look at them. I couldn’t take a photo but did take a video. However, with an 8OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA0 mph speed limit, it just looks like a yellow blur. We drove through the Badlands.

That was really something. A big horn sheep stopped traffic as he walked across the road. That was fun.

We visited Lead, Deadwood, Hill City, Keystone and Custer, SD. Each of these towns has a little different feel and look. (Side note: Be prepared – No sweet tea in South Dakota.)

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Mt. Rushmore was even more inspiring and humbling in person, especially when we heard the stories and facts the park ranger shared with us. Of course, there is the “pinecone story” I wrote about earlier. That is crazy! Another “crazy” was the Crazy Horse monument. It is still under construction but we were told they had made great progress this summer. Still a long way to go– maybe in our great grandchildren’s lifetime it will be done. They do have a nice museum there but it was quite pricey compared with Mt. Rushmore (no federal or state funding).

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Pete even fulfilled a lifelong dream of panning for gold in a creek near Keystone, SD. I don’t know how he did it but that man was squatted down (not a nice word but couldn’t think of a better way to describe it) for about 2 ½ hours. He amazes me. I enjoyed watching him and taking many pictures of the beautiful creek and surrounding area. Custer State Park was another highlight of our trip. We saw antelope, deer, buffalo, and a prairie dog. We drove through one afternoon and saw wildlife right alongside the road but the morning we left, we drove through again and saw a herd of buffalo. Now I had simply prayed to myself that it sure would be cool if we could see a buffalo herd in the distance. We just didn’t see them from a distance, they were on both sides and in the middle of the road. When God answers a prayer – HE ANSWERS BIG TIME!

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I could go on and on but I promised myself I would keep this post as short as I could. We had a wonderful time. We prayed that God would give us opportunities to bless others and He did. But, we were blessed many times by the wonderful people we met, the beautiful weather, and most importantly, God’s presence. I encourage all of you to visit our great country, meet the nice people, and enjoy God’s creation.

Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”