Sunday, June 6, 2010

For My Brothers and Sisters

Last summer I participated on an amazing trip to Guatemala. (To read about it, visit all posts labeled Guatemala 09.)
Susie Magazine is returning to the exact same place this summer for another Never the Same experience! I prayed and prayed about going back. But right now, it's just not what God has planned for me. He made His answer clear that I wasn't supposed to go back this time, and I am at peace with that decision.
However, I do have loads and loads of friends from last year that are returning! And they leave for Miami in 22 short days! (Long days, to them, no doubt!)
These friends that are returning have a tremendously special place in my heart. In fact, they're more like brothers and sisters to me. True, they are spread all over the U.S.A. True, we only spent two weeks together. But truer still, we are bonded in Christ for eternity. Even though we were only together for a short amount of time, and despite the fact that I don't keep up with all of them as well as I'd like, the kinship I feel with them is different than even my friendships here at home.
When we came together and met, we didn't meet as individual teens, busy with our own life, coincidentally sharing the same faith. We united with the same purpose, under the same banner. We met as brothers and sisters in Christ.
On behalf of my brothers and sisters who are returning to Guatemala, I ask you to pray for this mission trip. Pray for them as you would pray for me, were I embarking on a like adventure.
The nation of Guatemala desperately needs all of our prayers at this time. About one week ago, a volcano erupted in the heart of Guatemala. Guatemala City and many of the places that Susie Mag is scheduled to go and minister were greatly affected. Severe tropical storms assaulted Guatemala for days, resulting in flooding, mudslides, injuries, death, and even a huge sink hole. Many of my friends have sponsored children in these areas.
I don't know how many times I have said, "I know God will do big things on this mission trip." Well, I didn't understand exactly how big. I still don't. But with all these natural disasters taking place in the same location that this mission trip is going to take place, one can only begin to imagine in what ways God will use the hundreds of teens who have volunteered two weeks of their summer to His service!
Last summer God did some BIG things. There were over 3,000 salvations, many miraculous healings, and even an opportunity to pray with the First Lady of Guatemala herself! Could God be planning something even BIGGER than all of that for this summer?
Even though I'm not going to Guatemala this year, I am very excited to see what God will do. I have been praying for my brothers and sisters as they prepare for a life changing experience. I will continue to pray for them during the trip, June 28-July 11. Would you please pray for them as well?
All my love to those returning to Guatemala! You will NEVER BE THE SAME!

To keep up with the mission trip, visit my friend Aubrey's blog, Never the Same 2010.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Holding High the Torch

Yesterday Summer was officially ushered in by Memorial Day! Every year we enjoy kicking off summer break with swimming, cooking out, and dressing in red, white, and blue!  
My family gathered with some friends for a traditional celebration: hamburgers, hot dogs, cupcakes, homemade ice cream, and lots of games.
What did you do for Memorial Day?
Memorial Day has become symbolic of the beginning of summer. But it means much more than that. In the midst of the summer fun and celebration, how many of us truly stop to ponder the true reason for this holiday?
Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember all those brave men and women who have fought for our freedom, and died. They deserve our attention and reminiscence, even if it's a day late.

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

From the Patriots who fought to create a nation over two hundred years ago, to the soldiers who fight to preserve our nation today, millions of brave souls have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue to live in a free country.
These American heroes understand what freedom costs. They have witnessed life void of freedom. They have battled enemies that would rob us of our liberty, and they understand that the U.S.A. is a precious gift worth dying for.

It is because of these men and women that many Americans are oblivious to the tyranny that reigns in the rest of the world. Sometimes our troops are even ridiculed and persecuted! But they have fought - and are fighting - so that those people can continue to live in oblivion. They are defending the rights of each and every one of us to hold our own opinion.
War is an ugly, horrible business. No one wants to go to war. But our heroes have made a sacrifice. They have sacrificed time with their families. They've sacrificed a comfortable life. They have sacrificed their old way of life - for no one can go to war and return the same person. Many have sacrificed their very lives, and many more will.
But the battle doesn't end there. As it says in the poem above, they have thrown the torch to us. Our heroes have done their part. They've fought the enemy, and have died fighting. Now it's time for us to do our part. While we may not go overseas to defend our freedom, it is our responsibility to defend it right here at home.
That is one reason why I am so passionate about politics. Throughout all of our history, millions of people have died to preserve the freedom I enjoy! And there are thousands more defending it right now. Even if all I do is help organize TEA Parties and exercise my freedom to speak, I'll be helping to bear the torch that our fallen soldiers have carried so far.
What a shame it would be for all the millions of lives that have been lost in the cause of freedom to go to waste, because we, here at home, refuse to catch the torch. How awful it would be for us to lose our freedom from the inside, while our troops die for freedom all over the world.
I can't imagine what it means to fight in a war. I can't comprehend what it would be like to die for freedom. But I can understand what it means to be grateful, to remember, and to carry the torch. And I will.

And I'm proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
Next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.