C.C. America is . . . #224

America is a dream that became reality

an idea filled with the ideals that determine our direction

America is all the intangibles we constantly seek to touch, to embrace, to wrap around ourselves – freedom, peace, prosperity, self-determination, opportunity, hope – founded in faith, built on belief in the power of an Almighty God, America recognizes the potential and the inherent value of every human being –

Yes, America is an idea but also a place, America is a desire and a destination – America is a way of living in this world – America is more than an ethnicity, more than a skin color, more than a gender, more than a religion –

America is a harbor, a safe haven, a home for the freedom seekers of this world –

America is all sorts of people from all sorts of places, we look different, with all sorts of faces – but one vision, one dream we share – while our features may be different, our hearts are all the same – each one beating to the drumbeat of freedom’s call, drawing us together, to gain a better life for all.

America is deserts and wetlands, each teaming with life all its own – America is plains and prairies, tall mountains and deep valleys, America is great lakes and small streams, America is forests and farms, mighty metropolises and tiny towns – America is sandy beaches and rocky shoals, fields full of wheat and cities full of skyscrapers – America is cactus and giant redwoods, churches, mosques and synagogues – America is all these things and so much more –

America’s middle name is Diversity – for centuries people from all over the globe have come here, desiring to make this land their home – only a land as rich in contrasts as they themselves are could provide a home for so many and accommodate their richness of variation –

So much variation! how great our differences! – yet there is something greater than all our differences, something more powerful than anything that would separate us from each other, hopelessly dividing us – Freedom’s call is stronger , her promise so profound that men have given their lives in her pursuit in every era of human history – men have died so that those they love and leave behind might know Freedom’s presence and grow strong in her glow –

Freedom’s purpose held Washington’s men at Valley Forge – it will be Freedom’s purpose that unites us once again to save this country that once saved us and saved so many who came before – emerging bloody from a Civil War – or starved from gas chambers on foreign shores – Freedom’s fight has been waged in every generation, for Freedom’s purpose we will unite, discovering our differences are overcome or overlooked or obsolete or obliterated in our pursuit of Freedom for each other and for ourselves – either Freedom is won for all or it is lost to all –

America is Freedom’s home – where Freedom lives, puts down her roots, grows strong – we are Freedom’s caretakers, if we don’t water and protect her, she will die – if we don’t protect Freedom she will no longer be able to protect us – we have prospered long, safe under her care – but when Freedom falls who will stand in her stead defending us?

America is that city on a hill, that light of Freedom shining out into the darkness of the world – America is promise, possibility and potential – promises made, promises kept, promises yet to be fulfilled –

America is a land of law – a shared standard allowing us to live in peace and safety – the law protects Freedom – Freedom births just laws – together, reigning hand in hand, they liberate this land – law and Freedom – gifts from God –

America is my home, she has been my shelter from the tyrannies and torments of lands that are not free – America needs me in this hour, may I not fail her now, she has done so much for me –

America is a dream come true for all those who set sail – America, Hong Kong and Cuba carry your flag, hoping Freedom will prevail.

America is a land of unalienable human rights, laws that protect not enslave, truth that sets free and Freedom herself –

“Oh beautiful, for Patriot dream, that sees beyond the years, thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears”

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. questions of the curious #223

They were all set to go to Zambia, my sister and other family members, when Zambia closed its borders due to COVID. Family Legacy’s whole summer outreach to over seven thousand Zambian children was cancelled. The danger from COVID was too great. It is a danger that outweighs any positive benefit from the summer program run by American volunteers. The Zambian government is protecting its citizens from COVID by closing its borders and not allowing anyone in or out during these current months.

Some of my family members want to attend the wedding of their niece in the UK in early September. But there is a problem. Although they have been vaccinated, which is one of the requirements in order to enter the country, they also must take a current COVID test and quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival in the country. The time and expense of a hotel room in which to quarantine for such a length of time plus the time off work, combine to make this a prohibitive proposition. But they understand why they have to miss their niece’s wedding – the UK is just doing what is needed to protect its citizens from the dangers of COVID.

Our government is acting to protect us as well. Vaccines are being required of us as citizens in many instances in order to attend university, to go to work, to eat in a restaurant in some places etc. These rules are being put in place by our government because COVID is dangerous and we need to be protected from it. So you can imagine my surprise, confusion and curiosity when I learned that one million plus people from every continent and countries all around the globe have crossed our southern border and entered into our country in the last six months. That is a lot of people to be tested for COVID, quarantined for fourteen days, vaccinated (fully with both shots, which takes time) before being given a mask and admitted to our country to roam free.

I confess – I am curious as to how my government has been able to accomplish all this testing and vaccinating and quarantining with such large numbers of people. It would seem to be a daunting, if not overwhelming task. The city of Shreveport alone has been receiving up to six busloads of people from other countries a day. I’m wondering if this is before or after these individuals have been tested, quarantined and vaccinated? Then I learn that the people crossing our southern border into Arizona, Texas and California are not being tested for COVID, are not required to quarantine nor are they required to be fully vaccinated before they come into our country. Certainly, they are asked the health questions we are all used to by now while their passports are being checked? (I remember answering questions while my passport is perused as I wait to gain entrance into another country, not my own. That is standard procedure around the world.)

So now I am confused. COVID is so dangerous that there are mask mandates and vaccine requirements for us as citizens of this country. Other countries are not letting people in or out of their nation in order to protect their citizens. Why is our government not protecting us? Why has our government let a million plus people come into our country without requiring them to be vaccinated? We are required to be vaccinated to go to school, to work, out to eat etc. We are required to wear a mask even when we are fully vaccinated. We have to take COVID tests even though we are fully vaccinated. Why wouldn’t people coming across our southern border have to test and show proof of vaccination? Why is our Canadian border closed but our southern border open?

Does COVID only come from Canada and not from the myriad of nations from which people have traveled in order to enter our country through our southern border? They tell us our COVID numbers are rising. Why then, does our government continue to admit untested, unquarantined, unvaccinated individuals into our country? (one million is a lot of people to add to the mix when we are concerned about contact tracing, distancing, quarantining and/or locking down) We, as citizens, are under numerous COVID related restrictions at the present time, which apply even to the fully vaccinated among us. Why don’t these same restrictions apply to people coming into our country during this time? (which again begs the question – why is anyone even being allowed to enter the country during this COVID time of such extreme danger that we as citizens have been subjected to rule by emergency edict rather than rule of law? for our own good, of course) I sure hope they are handing out masks at the border, because many parts of our country are reinstating mask mandates for everyone – vaccinated/unvaccinated, indoors/outdoors – young children (who are largely unaffected by the virus but may be adversely affected by constant obstruction of air flow) – it doesn’t matter. We are being told to wear a mask regardless.

So far I haven’t come across anyone able to answer these questions that I constantly ponder given the circumstances that we find ourselves in each day. Why would a country restrict its own citizens in their personal freedoms but allow those same freedoms to those who come from other countries? Why are our borders not closed as are other country’s borders, if COVID is so dangerous at this time as to warrant the limiting of our personal freedoms?

I can only hope and want desperately to believe, that my government does have my best interests at heart. After all, that is any good government’s job – to provide for the common defense – to secure its borders and protect its own citizens from external dangers that threaten them with harm. (and COVID is a definitive danger of global proportions as our government constantly reminds us) This is why I am surprised they are so lax in protecting us – after all, they are the ones warning us of this danger and imposing recurring restrictions upon us while failing to protect us from the spread of this virus through our open border. I never want to see the day when I need protection from my own government. That would be a sad and alarming day indeed. So I don’t want to think too deeply about this apparent paradox of a projected two million people coming into the country by the end of the year. Individually we are in lockdown while as a country we are wide open?

I do feel like my country does not have my best interests at heart right now even though I am one of its citizens. But even as I write this, I realize that my trust, my faith and my hope are better placed in something other than my government. Or rather Someone – these words from Psalm 91 wash over me, redirecting my thoughts, renewing my hope, calming my spirit as I focus on what is both true and eternal –

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. . . . If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. . . . ‘Because he loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.’ ”

now that’s protection! that’s comfort! that’s peace! that’s hope!

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a mountaintop moment #222

We all crave them – those mountaintop moments. But they are hard to come by, far and few between. Still, we seek them out. We go in search of them. Maybe that’s why there are so many actual mountain climbers. What better way to find that perfect mountaintop moment, than to literally go to the top of the mountain? Only problem is, you can’t stay up there forever. At some point you have to come back down the mountain. You return to what you left behind – reality, the real life day to day. But sometimes, if you’re really lucky, the memory stays with you. And maybe, just maybe, you have the pictures to prove it – that is to prove that you did indeed, once upon a time, experience that mountaintop moment.

There are many mountaintop moments in life that come to us wherever we are, we do not need to be on an actual mountaintop to experience them. And I should add, just being physically present on the top of a mountain does not guarantee that the mountaintop moment will materialize. These are elusive moments that cannot be manufactured or summoned upon demand. They are unexpected gifts which present themselves at their own will and whim. They come and they go of their own accord Recently however, I had a mountaintop moment while actually on a mountaintop. (actually I had several of them, moments strung together making something quite beautiful) Now I confess – I didn’t climb the mountain. There was a road. (a long and winding road which took us to our destination)

The occasion that took me to the top of the mountain was my son’s wedding. Marriage is one of those milemarkers in life that should be properly acknowledged and celebrated. And so it was. In the presence of family and friends, my son and his fiance said their vows on the top of the mountain, with the sky and surrounding hills as a backdrop. Let the mountaintop moments reign down! And reign down they did.

Mountaintop moments are meant to be experienced in the present. They are those moments when time stands still and our journey pauses to allow us to commemorate or to celebrate something special. These moments stop us in our tracks – overwhelming and blindsiding us with revelations that are the unique province of mountaintop moments to bestow. In these moments, present, past and future merge, all sharing the same space for the briefest of time and yet the longest of lasting impressions.

As the bride and groom stood before us, I was seeing the little boy he had been, the young man he had become and the man he would yet grow into with all the possibilities and promise that vision holds. I have no doubt the bride’s family was having a similar simultaneous vision of her past, present and future as well. Mountaintops lend themselves to this clarity of vision and thought – they provide a new and different perspective, given the view is quite different from the mountaintop than it is from anywhere else.

It was on a mountaintop that Moses met with God and it was on a mountaintop that Jesus was transfigured as Peter, James and John looked on.

“After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2)

Truly a mountaintop moment. Mountaintop moments change us. Consider Moses after his mountaintop meeting with God.

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:29)

Yes, mountaintop moments with God, who made the mountains, are truly transforming. I leave the mountaintop altered after spending time there in the presence of my Creator. My son and his fiance experienced transformation while we, their witnesses, watched and shared in their mountaintop moment. They went up the mountain single individuals. They came down the mountain as husband and wife. Changed in those moments on the mountaintop, the two became one before our eyes, pledging their lives to each other. We were each one privileged to share in that moment – that brief space in time, where everything and everyone comes together and in that moment, that one shining mountaintop moment, all things are possible.

Because in a mountaintop moment reside all joy, all comfort, all peace, all faith and all hope. And through it all runs love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

sincerely, Grace Day

C.C. a random act of kindness #221

I was out for an evening bike ride when it happened. But that’s how it is with random acts of kindness. They happen when you least expect them, when you aren’t looking – these random acts of kindness which surprise you and change the direction of your day. I guess that’s what makes them random. Otherwise they would be predictable, expected, maybe even required or demanded. But not these good deeds – unsolicited, unexpected, undeserved, unheralded and unheeded, they are more priceless than gold.

Just yesterday evening I was the beneficiary of a random act of kindness that I didn’t even know I needed. I was riding my bike in a neighborhood adjacent to mine, taking my time, smiling at walkers or anyone that I might pass as I rode. (smiling works wonders when not covered up by a mask) As I passed a house where a gentleman sat on the front porch, he suddenly called out to me, asking if my tires were a little low. I circled back and he said he could put air in them for me. (he had one of those machines that does that, whatever they are called?) Now I confess – I didn’t even realize that my tires were low. But this man could tell all the way from his front porch as I drove by, that they needed air.

It only took a minute for him to inflate both my bike tires to the proper pressure. But what a difference I felt as I pedaled away. It was like night and day! I had been totally unaware that my tires needed air and had no idea what a difference more air in my tires would make. Nevertheless, I sure enjoyed my bike ride more after my encounter with this kind stranger. He certainly didn’t have to do what he did. He could have just let me pass by. He was relaxing on his porch. He didn’t have to go to the trouble of dragging out that air machine and inflating my tires. He helped me out when I didn’t even know I had a need. But he saw it and met it, fixing the problem.

As I drove away I thought about other random acts of kindness that I see so often in my own neighborhood and in the surrounding community as I am out in it each day. It is the norm. Neighbor helping neighbor and even strangers helping other strangers. This is the real world outside my door in which I live. This is not the world I am shown when I turn on the TV news. (which is a good reason for me to pay more attention to reality than to what the news chooses to show me)

Random acts of kindness are the stepping stones that carry us through our days and our nights, allowing us to navigate our way without falling through the cracks and being swallowed up whole. True – some cracks are wider than others, but these stepping stones/acts of kindness stand in the gaps that fill our daily lives. I may never see the person again who gifted me with his random act of kindness, but hopefully his example will inspire me to do likewise to my family, friends, co-workers, and yes, even complete strangers.

I haven’t yet mentioned that this gentleman and I share different skin colors. Normally, that would not be relevant nor needed information. But today we are being told that this is all that matters – a person’s skin color. Apparently character is no longer important – even though that’s what Martin Luther King Jr. said should matter most. And of course character has nothing to do with a person’s outward appearance, which is all we see visually. If only we would adopt God’s view on this subject, which He made clear in 1 Samuel 16:7, when He said to Samuel,

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, . . . The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Yes, we were taught it is the content of one’s character not the color of one’s skin that counts. But today our children are being taught just the opposite is true. If they come to believe this lie, my neighborhood will no longer be the peaceful, loving community that I have known for twenty plus years. You see, we are a neighborhood of many skin colors, ethnicities and religions, living peacefully together as Americans enjoying the freedoms this country has provided us in the past. Rather than random acts of violence, random acts of kindness prevail in our community. Perhaps because we recognize the truth that there is but one race – the human race. There is plenty of diversity within our human race – but we share more similarities than differences.

Practicing random acts of kindness daily builds bridges between us, rather than widening the gaps created when false teaching pits us against one another. Galatians 6:10 has great advice as does Hebrews 13:16 –

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

I loved being the recipient of an unexpected, undeserved, random act of kindness – may I also remember to be the committer of many random acts of kindness as well,

sincerely, Grace Day