Yesterday on the Fourth of July we celebrated the independence of America from Great Britain. Among many patriotic sayings is a phrase from our national anthem: Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner:
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Indeed this song that was sung while waving our American flag is still a symbol of heroism in the United States of America. And yet I submit to you that within the hearts of the great and mighty that exude bravery are the once ordinary citizenry that the Lord rose up for great deeds. Those neighbors, husbands and friends chose to align themselves with the God of the universe who reigns supreme and will come again for His own. Similarly if anything I write here telling my own story reflects bravery then it is a reflection of those everyday heroes in my life that hold me up as well: many more than I can list here. Allow me to share with you.*
*A dear friend, Cindy, who checks in on me regularly despite her busy work schedule and home life. From her I learned to de-mystify alternative cooking for health (a task which consumes much of my waking hours these days!). Canned coconut cream from a downtown Asian food market is my new delicacy and gratefully it goes with everything. She’s probably the best resource person I know for local health and food stuff, is extraordinarily encouraging, and has a heart bigger than her petite frame. Love you girlfriend!
*Three regular readers of this blog who graciously let me know they are out there from time to time: Jennifer, Sherry, and Amanda. Some may say that it is not a real relationship when you meet a person online and don’t have any face time with them. I disagree. After all, I met my husband online via Yahoo Personals many years ago! And we are living happily ever thank you very much after having bridged the gap from anonymity to familiarity. Yes: very familiar indeed! I appreciate the prayers, sharing, overcoming spirit, and support of these three lovely ladies in their own heartfelt blogs. Amanda generously read and reviewed my first eBook last year. Thank you ladies! Find them at:
*My brother and his fiancé, Mike and Lisa. My brother had a severe stroke 3 months ago and was subsequently dumped in an inner city nursing home because he didn’t have insurance. Together they are navigating the difficult processes of securing Medicaid and Veteran’s Administration benefits. The paperwork, dead ends, delays, and frustrations are intense as time passes without comprehensive medical care or ongoing rehabilitation. While our conversations about all of these are certainly lively, I am impressed by my brother and Lisa’s overall prevailing spirit. Mike is looking forward to the day when he can serve others in a similar situation possibly as a dog handler in a pet therapy program. He is delving into the Word of God often now. Lisa is fulfilling well her new role as Guardian despite being way out of her comfort zone. These are good things. I’m proud of you both!
*My husband Steve. The love in his eyes for me never changes whether he is carrying me to the bathroom (due to daily episodes of neurological collapse) or showing me how to shoot a pellet gun at an empty gallon jug of orange juice. He may not have had enough sleep for the previous four nights in a row and yet his love never changes. He is my Jesus with skin on and greatest hero on this earth. I love you River Bear!
*The Lord, Jesus Christ most of all. When I found myself single at age 45, the Lord had become my Heavenly Husband and everyday companion. He had to become real to me to fill the painful void leftover from my estranged ex-husband. My Jesus also showed me the once empty places in my heart designed just for Him then filled them completely. I know that I am never alone. Ever. He is the great I AM, worthy of praise, and a warrior for the cares of our days. No matter what comes in this fallen world or how wretched, He has overcome all of it. Those of us who believe in Him through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will be saved and spared any more suffering when He comes again for His own. The Lord is the ultimate hero in which we can place our lives, our confidences. Every good thing and the bravery needed to face these challenging times comes from the one true God. In the shadow of His wings I am comforted, protected, find rest.
For the nation of Israel, into which we believers are adopted as sons and daughters of the King, we find our freedom, courage to go on, and rest in the Lord. It is the hope of my heart that you, Gentle Reader, will find these great gifts in the person of Jesus Christ too. In Him we have the greatest of heroes: brave beyond compare. Now that’s a holiday worth celebrating today and every day. Bang bang!
Psalm 147 (NIV)
1 Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
6 The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion.
13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the Lord.