Independence Day–Why we celebrate the Fourth of July–by Rose Davidson

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The Fourth of July, Independence Day, marks the historic date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. The document stated that American colonies were tired of being ruled by Great Britain. They wanted to become their own country.

Before the declaration, America was part of the Kingdom of Great Britain (now called the United Kingdom). In the 1600s, people came from Great Britain to settle in what is now North America. Between 1607 and 1732, the British founded 13 colonies: Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

As these colonies grew, the people who lived there thought the British government treated them unfairly. For example, they had to pay taxes on items such as tea and allow British soldiers to stay in their homes. Colonists had to follow these laws but couldn’t do anything to change them. So they rebelled. As a result, the Revolutionary War between the colonists and Great Britain began in 1775.

But fighting wasn’t enough. The colonists decided they needed to declare their independence in writing to explain their reasons and gain support from other countries like France. On July 4, 1776, a small group of representatives from the colonies—called the Continental Congress—adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Written by a committee led by Thomas Jefferson, the document was signed by people from all 13 colonies. But the British government didn’t accept it. So the colonists continued to fight for independence until they finally defeated Great Britain in 1783.

The Declaration of Independence, now housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., is recognized around the world as an important message of self-governance and human rights. The second sentence says it all: that all people are created equally and have rights that include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson, who became the third U.S. president, wrote those words.

Today the United States and Great Britain are friends. Most Americans still celebrate Independence Day, often with parades and fireworks. Historians think this is thanks to a letter written by John Adams, who helped write the declaration and would also go on to be the second U.S. president. In his letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams predicted that the colonists’ independence would be celebrated by future generations as an annual festival with parades and bonfires. Those were prophetic words.

Here are biblical words about freedom:

+Galatians 5:1: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

+1 Peter 2:16: Live as free men, but do not use your freedom to cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

Have a blessed Fourth of July!

The Lasting Impact of a Father’s Love

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Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Family gatherings, personal visits, phone calls, greeting cards, text messages, emails — all brought expressions of love for or remembrances of our fathers.

This Sunday would be my father’s 104th birthday. He died New Year’s Day 1983 at the tender age of 66, way too young in the opinions of me, my mother, my siblings, other family members and friends.

Though far from perfect, the Christian values and old fashioned work ethic Dad imparted to me have had a lasting impact on my life. I am who I am largely because of Martin Herbert Otto Kieschnick.

Credit is also due to my dear mother Elda, who worked hard to raise her four children in tough economic times. At the same time she was actively involved in many other aspects of life.

Teachers molded and shaped my thinking and communication skills. Pastors and other church leaders were instrumental in spiritual growth and leadership development. So were the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and colleagues on The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Council of Presidents.

Yet it was my father who emphasized love for God and respect for authority. He also modeled the values of integrity, trustworthiness, initiative, Christian stewardship, critical thinking, honest work, faithfulness to wife and children, a sense of humor, and a love of outdoor cooking.

Dad was a straight shooter, insightful, relational, wisely understanding what kind of treatment each of his children needed and the right way to administer loving discipline to each of us.

It’s my thought that if the young or not so young men (and women) involved in recent non-peaceful protests, violent rioting, and foolishness like CHOP or CHAZ in Seattle would have had the blessing of a father like mine, those activities may very well not have occurred.

The lasting impact of a father’s love cannot be over-emphasized. The Bible has lots to say about this topic, including these passages:

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” Ps. 103:13

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Prov. 3:11-12

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4

I thank God for my father, his love, and the lasting impact he had upon my life!

Twelve More Rules for a Good Old Age–Adapted

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Today’s article is a continuation of the first “Ten Rules for a Good Old Age” shared with you on May 14. Here we go:

  1. If your spouse is still alive, be intentional about expressing your love. Say “I love you!” as often as possible. Enjoy your time together now. Don’t wait till later. She/he is one of God’s most important gifts to you. Thank Him daily and openly express your love. If your spouse is no longer with you, remember with a thankful heart the years and times you shared.
  2. Avoid using the phrase “In my time.” Your time is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time. You have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.
  3. Stay positive about today. Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days in the latter mode. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people, it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.
  4. If possible, avoid living with your children or grandchildren. It’s fine to live close to family but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your spouse, then find a place in the midst of others with whom you can readily identify and share similar values. Move only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.
  5. Try not to abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, find one. If physically and financially possible, you can travel, hike, cook, read, and dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, dominoes, golf. You can paint, volunteer at church or your favorite charity. Find something you like to do and spend time having fun with it.
  6. Even if you don’t always feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, confirmations, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences, funerals. Try to go. Meet people you haven’t seen in a while, go to museums, walk through a field. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Get out there. If humanly possible.
  7. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of truncating conversations. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much. Always find some good things to say as well.
  8. Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life everyone goes through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be and still are.
  9. If you’ve been offended by others, forgive them. If you’ve offended someone, apologize. Don’t drag resentment around with you. It will make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said, “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Don’t take that poison. Forgive and move on with your life.
  10. If you have a strong belief, savor it. But be wise when trying to convince others. People will make their own choices no matter what you tell them. Guided by the Spirit, live your faith and set an example. Actions speak louder than words.
  11. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Remember, you are one of the fortunate ones. If you’re over 70, you’ve been blessed with life, a long one. Many never get to be your age and never experience a life of fulfillment. But you have. Try to find the humor in your daily circumstance. Laugh at yourself.
  12. Take no notice of negative comments people say about you and even less of what they might be thinking. Let them talk and don’t worry. They likely have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think.

With all these tidbits of advice in mind, don’t forget to remember God’s promise: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:31

Angel Flight

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Credit: defense.gov

Last Thursday my Perspectives article was simply a powerful photo of a young boy receiving a ceremonially folded American flag at his father’s funeral. I added the words of Jesus from John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Today I’m adding a moving testimonial song titled “Angel Flight” by Radney Foster. It can be heard and seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIsnD87uOeo or https://youtu.be/70Ikj1hZDnw. Here are the lyrics:

All I ever wanted to do was fly
Leave this world and live in the sky
I left the C130 out of Fort Worth town
I go up some days I don’t wanna come down

Well I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you’re with me tonight
Between heaven and earth you’re never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I’m taking you home

I love my family and I love this land
But tonight this flight’s for another man
We do what we do ‘cause we heard the call
Some gave a little, but he gave it all

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you’re with me tonight
Between heaven and earth you’re never alone
On the Angel Flight

Come on brother I’m taking you home
Come on brother I’m taking you home

Well, the cockpit’s quiet and the stars are bright
Feels kinda like church in here tonight
It don’t matter where we touch down
On the Angel Flight it’s sacred ground

Well I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Got a hero riding with us tonight
Between heaven and earth you’re never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I’m taking you home

Ten Rules for a Good Old Age–Adapted

  1. Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren. You’ve taken care of them for many years, and you’ve taught them what you could. In case of an emergency, you’ll be there to help. But you gave them an education, food, shelter, and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their way.
  1. Maintain a healthy life with moderate exercise like walking every day. Eat well and get sufficient sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. Stay in touch with your doctor. Get annual exams even when you’re feeling well.
  1. Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your wife or husband that you can afford. Enjoy your time and money with your spouse. Some day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy it while you can.
  1. Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down. And don’t let the future frighten you.
  1. Regardless of your age, keep love alive. Love your spouse. Love life. Love your family. Love your neighbor. Love your surroundings. Love your country. Giving affection helps us stay young at heart.
  1. Be humbly proud, both inside and out. Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber, unless you cut your own hair. Manicure your nails. Go to the dermatologist and the dentist. When you are well-maintained on the outside, it helps you feel confident and strong on the inside.
  1. Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There’s nothing sillier than an older person trying to wear what is currently fashionable among much younger people. You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you. Stick with it.
  1. Keep informed about what’s going on around you. Read a newspaper. Watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You’ll be surprised which old friends you’ll meet. Keeping in touch with what’s going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
  1. Respect younger people and their opinions. They may not have the same viewpoints as yours, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them of yesterday’s wisdom that still applies today.
  1. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

 

It’s Mother’s Day. Not Mothers Day.

This Sunday I’ll thank God for my mother, who’s been in heaven one year and four months, and for my wife, the mother of our children. For years I’ve said that Mother’s Day should focus on each living person thanking God for his or her mother and not on honoring all people who happen to be mothers. Here’s some historic support for that idea. From Wikipedia:

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died.

Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” 

In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. 

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she resented the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday should be on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

She also specifically said that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother’s Day.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with honoring on Mother’s Day all who are blessed to be a mother. Yet doing so as the primary or sole focus of Mother’s Day observances can be insensitive to and painful for women whose blessings do not include motherhood. It’s Mother’s Day. Not Mothers Day.

The bottom line? This Sunday, and every day, take time to thank God for your mother!

The Green Thing

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We’ve been hearing and reading lots of stuff about COVID-19 the past few weeks and I really have nothing new, insightful, or creative to add. So I decided instead to share a bit of subtle yet pointed history with a slight dash of humor. So here we go with The Green Thing, author unknown:

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags. Plastic bags are bad for the environment. The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” The older lady said that she was right. Our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles, and beer bottles to the store, which sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day. 

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But you are right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But you’re right. We didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or just one radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. But no “green thing” back then.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But you’re right. We didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost more than a whole house did before the “green thing.”

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

This brought a smile to my face and a nod to my head. I lived during the no “green thing” days. And so did many of you. At the risk of chastisement from some of my “green thing” friends, I must admit that I don’t yet bring my own grocery bags to the store. Guess I’m still stuck back in the day when I covered my books with grocery bags.

God bless your day!

Inheritance, Passwords, Funerals

Those are three topics in a USA Today Valentine’s Day article. Here are a few survey statistics:

  • Half of those surveyed feel guilty not leaving enough inheritance for their family.
  • Forty-two percent are unsure of the best way to structure an inheritance.
  • One-third don’t know how to discuss inheritance with family members.
  • Only 36% of those surveyed have shared financial passwords to use in case of emergency.
  • Passwords have been shared by 44% of people with $250,000+ in investable assets.
  • Forty percent have discussed funeral arrangements with their family.
  • Thirty percent have set aside money for end-of-life care and a funeral.
  • Twenty-eight percent have created a plan in case something happens to the household’s primary financial decision-maker.

A prominent wealth manager said: “Without an estate plan in place, clients may see their assets distributed in a way that may not be consistent with their wishes.” So true.

These are some of the primary messages of Legacy Deo, the charitable foundation I serve:

  • Planning how best to share inheritance with loved ones is an important responsibility.
  • Including church and other charities in an estate plan is meaningful and fulfilling.
  • Using beneficiary designations is a simple, inexpensive, non-probate process to use.
  • Life insurance and charitable trusts are also effective practical and philanthropic tools.
  • A current Last Will and Testament is a basic estate planning instrument.
  • A list of your assets, accounts, and passwords should be available to your spouse, other responsible family members, and/or the executor of your estate.
  • It’s a good idea to make written plans for your funeral, especially if you’re over 70.

Taking care of these important tasks and responsibilities will give you peace of mind. The day will come when your family will be blessed by your thoughtfulness and planning.

And if you have no family or no one to whom you feel comfortable entrusting administration of your estate, contact Legacy Deo at (512) 646-4909 or info@legacydeo.org. We’re here to help.

Put Me in Charge

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Credit: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

In my Perspectives file this week I found an article that my notes say appeared in a newspaper in Waco, Texas. The author, a 21 yr. old young woman, expresses how she feels about the social welfare system in our country today. Here are excerpts from “Put Me in Charge.”

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Hostess Ho Hos, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is get women birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22-inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.”

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin people’s “self-esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self-esteem.

And while you are on government subsistence, you no longer can vote. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a government welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Obviously this is a bit radical or even offensive. Obviously it’s targeted toward those who abuse the system. And obviously there are many, many people who simply cannot find a job due to physical or developmental or emotional impairment and truly need financial assistance.

At a time when prospective candidates for the highest office in our land are proposing lots of “free” benefits for American citizens and non-citizens, it behooves us to think carefully, to choose wisely, to supervise appropriately, to act responsibly, to provide adequately, to care generously, to serve selflessly, to be thankful continually.

The one we “put in charge” this November will have all those responsibilities, and more. He or she is definitely in need of our prayers for wisdom and discernment.