Freedom!

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
Thomas Jefferson
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October 2011: Pismo Beach, California.
Inviting aromas of Splash Café’s world famous clam chowder, served in a toasted San Luis Sourdough bowl and Mo’s Memphis style hickory smoke barbecue drifted up Pomeroy Avenue, towards the rocky cliffs separating the Central coast from the rest of the state.
My husband and I were on another vacation to an area of California that’s all too familiar for both of us, since that was the area where we met and fell in love. We leisurely made our way past rows of storefronts on our way to the pier and miles of sandy beaches stretched along the pacific coast.
Warm afternoon breezes and valley tourists packing up, preparing for the two and a half-hour drive back to the San Joaquin Valley.
Strolling hand in hand, reminiscing over previous years, once again taking in the thunder of the waves, and the cool, hard sand beneath our bare feet. Another pursuit, searching for a unique, yet somehow abandoned, discarded, home of a sea creature.
We sat down together on the soft warm sand, watching surfers riding an occasional wave and skim boarders sliding over a sheet of sand that looked like a giant mirror reflecting a biplane in the clear sky above.
I stopped a young man and asked, “I’ve never seen this before. The sand looks like it’s an enormous sheet of smooth glass. What does it feel like when you skim over it?”
“It feels like you’re floating on it.”
“Wow, that’s amazing!”
“Yeah. When it’s not this smooth, and we try to skim over it, we fall off our board a lot easier. We love it when it’s like this.”
“That is so incredible! You guys have fun!”
Two others, around fourteen, tucked their boards under their arm and waved goodbye.
Watching from a distance, I commented “If they’re fortunate enough to have a father who cares about their day, I bet when they walk into their house, Dad says, “Hey son, what did you spend this nice day doing?”
To which his reply may be, “Oh, John and I spent the day at the beach, skimming waves. The conditions were perfect.”
I don’t have a penchant to go into a political discussion, but I wonder if we really realize how good our lives are in this country.
Pete and I sat snuggled together and began an in depth contemplating conversation about how privileged we are and how much we take our freedom for granted. The reality of a difficult economy has kept many families from being able to afford to go on long vacations, but consider how freeing it is to be able to pack your family in the car and say, let’s go to the Coast for the weekend.
It’s so commonplace for us to just jump in our own car and drive anywhere we want to go, whether it’s to the grocery store, an afternoon matinee, or to a nice restaurant with a list of entrees a mile long.
If we think about it, one hundred years ago, only the wealthy would have had the type of luxury we enjoy today.
How about those living in impoverished nations? I have never been to a nation as poor as many third world countries, but by what I’ve read and seen in documentaries it makes me extremely thankful to be an American. I’ve never experienced the horrors of starvation and unhealthy living conditions friends have told me that they’ve experienced on a vacation or perhaps while sharing God’s love on a mission trip.
May 1998, after landing at Charles d’Gaule Airport and standing in the security line for what seemed like hours, Pete and I hopped onto a shuttle headed into the city of Paris. Naturally, everything was printed in French and the buildings had roofs that reminded me of old Disney movies like Peter Pan and the 101 Dalmatians. I felt as if I had landed on another planet. This was my first visit to a foreign country and it felt exactly like that, for me, foreign.
While in France we toured ancient castle ruins and saw how severely Christians were tortured for their faith as we made our way south towards vacationing for a few days along the Mediterranean coast. I was so thankful when we landed on US soil that I felt that I would kiss the ground.
Living in this Great Country, we have our own citizens living in unhealthy conditions and families that have a hard time making ends meet until the next payday, or those who are homeless, living on the streets, searching through a restaurant’s garbage to find something worth eating.
Why can’t we see how our nation is so fully loved by God? How is it that we’re so privileged and we’re able to live in a country so richly blessed, when there are so many souls in our world suffering? The amount of various responses to that question, is way more than I could possibly answer.
Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the freedom God has given us. We tend to take each other for granted.
Don’t forget that we live in the United States of America, where freedom reigns.
Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
Thomas Jefferson

A Father’s Love…A true picture of God’s unconditional love for his children

A Father’s Love
Non-fiction, true story

It was St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012, and my newly divorced son, actively serving in the U.S. Navy, decided to spend a fun weekend with his three children at Balboa Park in San Diego, California. He made a special trip to the base the week beforehand to purchase tickets for an exciting and fun filled day since only a few months before he had returned from a deployment overseas. Before deploying he had intentionally taken the time of forming an everlasting bond of love with his children, one they would never forget.
That morning, Jonathan, age fourteen, Joshua, nine, and Stephanie, five, were taking in the museums, attractions, and venues, when out of the cool, clear, blue sky, Joshua was gone.
Joshua is a smart little guy, often becoming sidetracked, wandering off to take a closer look at something he finds interesting or peculiar. There was so much for his curious mind to absorb and he couldn’t wait to investigate all Balboa Park had to offer!
Once Joseph realized Josh was missing, an agonizing and intense search ensued. Joseph and Jonathan, with Stephanie in tow, ran, searching frantically, through the park for an hour, but Josh was no where to be found.
Out of sheer terror, Joseph decided he had a decision to make, and reported Joshua as missing at the Information Booth.
His decision was made and Balboa Park came to a screeching halt! An ‘Amber Alert’ was issued, the gates were locked and doorways into the museums and other attractions were forced into lockdown mode. Everybody, moms and dads, police, and park staff joined in on the search for Joshua.
As Joshua’s Nana, I can’t begin to imagine what was going on in his mind. I’m sure he must have been just as frightened as Joseph was. He must have run through the park too, thinking, ‘I’m in this huge place with all of these people, how, on earth, am I going to find my Dad?’ Finally, in his nine-year-old mind, he made the decision to return to the spot where he thought his dad would eventually come looking for him.
The search drug on for nearly half an hour when Joshua was finally found in the enormous parking lot, shaking nervously in the mid-day sun, next to his dad’s truck, amongst a sea of other cars. By the time he was found Joshua was pretty shaken up by the events, as was the rest of his family, and everyone at the park that day.
All he could think of to say was, “I thought you left me!”
Joseph lovingly responded, “I will never bring you someplace and then abandon or leave you! Do you believe me?”
“Yes”, with his head hanging in embarrassment and relief.
What a wonderful thing for a frightened child to hear!
Yet, our Heavenly Father has made the same promise to us! Throughout scripture the Lord reminds us that He will never leave us or forsake us. The definition of forsake is to quit, abandon, leave behind, or to cease from.
God, in His sovereignty, holds and shapes every life He’s ever created, or will ever create, in His powerful hands! If you can begin to wrap your mind around what this means and the promise He has made to those who belong to Him, we should never have moments when we feel far from him and his love.
Deuteronomy 31:6 God says He will never leave us or forsake us! Allow that truth to sink into your heart and soul the next time you’re feeling afraid or alone, and be truly grateful, and full of praise, for a God who loves you this much.
I’m reminded of a phrase I learned years ago…there is nothing I can do to make God love me more and there’s nothing I can do to make Him love me less!
Knowing and embracing this truth should transform our lives into a desire to live to honor Him and Him alone. If we’re walking in true communion with God’s Holy Spirit, we will take enormous comfort in knowing He is in control of our lives. Are we willing? Are we able to get past our own agenda and follow God’s will for our lives, trusting and clinging to the words He has promised?

Trusting God

An important fact that we need to focus on is that this life is but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. I fully believe that one day, when we’re in heaven with the Lord, we will be able to look back at our lives and the Lord will allow us to see how events unfolded from an eternal perspective. We should look forward to the end of our lives and do whatever we can possibly do to mend any broken relationship.

Have you ever asked the Lord to show you, or to reveal to you, who you need to go to so that past hurts can be healed?
This is where our faith and trust in God comes in. Romans 8:28 ‘We know that all things work for the good to those who love the Lord, those who have been called according to his purpose.
We must trust in God’s plan.  God knows every single thought we have. He doesn’t just know all of our thoughts, but he also knows the thoughts of all who have ever lived and all who are presently living, and those that are yet to live on this earth! He’s omniscient! He’s sovereign! He knows and sees everything. God has called us to place our hope, faith, and trust in Him and Him alone! He knows everything about each one of us.

Why wouldn’t we want to get out own agenda out of the way and fall on our knees, completely surrendering our lives to the Lord? He knows where you’ve been and where you’re going. He has promised to reward us for our faith. If we slow down enough to allow Him to work in our lives, we will receive powerful revelations of His love and an intimate relationship with Him that will change our entire outlook on this life.

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