Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Give Me Liberty: The Home of the Brave

This column was published on June 25.

With Flag Day still in our rear view mirror, and Independence Day just around the bend, today is the perfect time to contemplate our wonderful nation.
Let’s start by considering the last line of the Star Spangled Banner; “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
I love that line. Pride swells as our voices soar on the final triumphant note. It’s so gallant – so inspiring. What a privilege to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
But have you ever paused to really think about that line? It seems pretty straight forward. But what if “land” and “home” mean two different things? What if the “Free” and the “Brave” are two different kinds of people?
The Brave are the people who have fought for America. They have made sacrifices. They have defended freedom regardless of the cost.
Thanks to the Brave, the rest of us are Free! We enjoy freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and more. We are free to invent, to grow, and to learn. Thanks to the Brave, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But sadly, we often forget the high price of freedom, and we end up taking ours for granted. How many times do we, the Free, actually stop to think about the Brave souls who have defended our way of life?
By the Brave, I do not mean only the men and women in uniform, who risk life and limb on foreign soil in America’s defense. Most assuredly, they are brave. But the Brave also include many others, like the pioneers who cut paths through uncharted wilderness, and by the sweat of their brow, began to build a nation. The Brave are the mothers who did not give up hope during times of hardship. The Brave are the children who missed their fathers when they were called to serve.
Yes, the Brave are people like my maternal great grandfather, Philip Hale, who flew secret missions during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. But the Brave are also people like my paternal great grandfather, Ernest Martin, who worked multiple jobs to sustain a wife and eleven children during the Great Depression.
What about the difference between “land” and “home?” Well, anyone can live in a land, but unless your heart resides there as well, it’s just another place. However, a home is something much more. Where you were raised is just part of it. It’s how you were raised – what you believe. That’s where you heart is. That’s your home. Doesn’t it make sense that for America to continue to be the land of the Free, it must continue to be the home of the Brave?
When we sing the National Anthem, those final lyrics should mean something more than just a gallant sentiment. Even though the Brave of the past were heroes, they were no different than us. They had their share of fear, but they didn’t let it overcome their beliefs.
Someday, it will be our turn to be Brave. We may not be called to go to war or face untamed lands, but eventually, each one of us is called to stand up for what we believe in.
I pray that we continue the tradition of strong conviction and bravery in America. We have come too far as a nation to lose our freedom now. Remember, as soon as America ceases to be the home of the Brave, it will cease to be the land of the Free.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Call 2 Fall

Last year the movement Call 2 Fall took place for the first time. Tomorrow, on July 4, it will happen again.
The movement is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14: "Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land."
Every single day our nation is sliding farther and farther away from what it was meant to be - not only by our founders, but by God. And no matter what policies or politicians are put into place, the only way America will be right again is if we return to our Creator, who has endowed us with the blessing of freedom.
Over 450,100 people and churches have committed to spend at least 3-5 minutes on their knees on behalf of our nation tomorrow. Will you join them?
To officially join the movement and learn more, please click here: call2fall.com
It is so encouraging to see how many people are committing to pray for America tomorrow But guess what? We must pray for America every day.
Tomorrow we celebrate our Independence. But the only way we will retain that Independence is if we recognize our dependence on God.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Give Me Liberty: Column 1

Oh dear! It looks like another month has slipped by, and once again, I haven't been on top of things - not around here anyway.
But I do have some exciting news. Recently I've been able to contribute some articles to my local newspaper, the Gainesville Daily Register.
From time to time I will post my newspaper columns here on Freedom to Speak. The title of my column in the Register is "Give Me Liberty", so whenever you see that in the blog title, you'll know it's another column from the paper.
My first article was published June 11. Here it is. Enjoy!

“Liberty!” my mother called. Calling goodbye over my shoulder, I scurried through trees that had become the bases in the neighbors’ baseball diamond. Along the way I spotted a toad eyeing me through the short blades of freshly mowed grass. Gently I scooped him up and stroked the soft, white belly before letting him escape into the flower bed.

“Wash your feet,” Mom said as I scampered through the door, my toes shod with a play day’s worth of earth. I scrubbed my feet quickly as I could, slid into my seat at the table, and drank in the aroma of the homemade hamburgers that awaited my growling stomach.
As a ten year old, there is nothing more thrilling than the beginning of summer break. It feels as if you’ve got a lifetime of freedom ahead of you. Your whole world becomes wrapped up in swimming, snow cones, sleeping in, and playing in the dark. When the school bell does finally ring again, you’ve nearly forgotten the old routine completely.
As a very little girl, I remember anticipating summer break with a foggy recollection. It had been so long since the last summer, I couldn’t remember exactly how things worked.
“Does Daddy get off work for the summer? Is Sunday School out for the summer?”
I miss my early childhood. I miss the days of backyard baseball, toad hunting, mud fights; when today is your whole life; right now is all you’ve ever known.
As a sixteen-year-old preparing to embark on my senior year of high school, summer has quite a different look.
Instead of a long, indefinite stretch of sunshine ahead of me, there is a short road. The end is clearly in sight, and the stop sign is fast approaching.
Rather than weeks and weeks of nothingness to fill up, nearly every block of the calendar is full, and I’m setting up armed guards around the few days that remain empty.
One good thing about the return of the school year is the joyous reunion between friends who have been separated all summer. Well, right now I’m still trying to recover from many of my friends’ high school graduations, and reconcile myself to the fact that when fall comes, we won’t be reunited, but separated as they pack up and head to college.
Oh, and that part about no school? Nice fantasy. There is ever so much studying to do before fall gets here, with all its SATs, ACTs, and college applications!
Are the carefree days of childhood summer lost forever? With another year of high school, four years of college, and my whole life ahead of me, I can’t see how life will ever return to the way it was when I was ten.
Well, it can’t. Yesterday is gone. It was fun while it lasted, but today is today.
However, just because yesterday is gone, yesterday’s lifestyle doesn’t have to be.
When I was a young kid with all of summer break ahead of me, I didn’t worry about the next school year, what my grades would be, and whether or not I would pass my first test. I woke up every morning enthusiastic and exhilarated, anxious to see what adventures the day would hold.
By now, I’ve learned a little more about preparation. I can’t ignore the fact that I will have to take tests and start applying to colleges in a few months, which calls for a good amount of studying throughout the summer. But I can embrace every task with the fresh outlook of my ten-year-old self. Instead of facing my summer duties with dread and chagrin, I’ll tackle each one as an adventure to overcome!
I like to pray that as I grow, I’ll gain the wisdom that comes with my years, but retain the innocence that I held as a child – including the rapture found in every single day, no matter what challenges lay ahead.
Whether you’re a lucky duck with a blank calendar ahead of you, or a busy bee like me with so much to do your head won’t stop spinning, remember what it was like to be a kid who found delight in living each moment to the fullest. Prepare for the future, but remember to stop and embrace each adventure as it comes.