Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions

To my shame, I have never really put a lot of thought into the Fourth of July.  The years I lived in the States, I always enjoyed the parades, celebrations, picnics and fireworks, the getting together with friends and family, Shari's outlandish sweater {wink}and the summer-ness of the Holiday.  I have always been thankful for our servicemen and women who protect our country and fight for our freedom but I just never put a lot of thought into this particular holiday. It usually snuck up on me and wasn't something I put a lot of forethought into.  Not so this year.

We have been trying to make an effort to begin establishing family traditions and intentionally celebrating holidays with our little family.  I want Caleb (and our future children) to grow up with a sense of traditions and an understanding of why we celebrate the things we celebrate.  Two years ago, I purchased the book Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions.  I bought a used copy for a penny plus shipping shortly before we moved to Korea.  I love Ann Hibbard's thoughts on making occasions Christ-centered and the importance of them to children growing up.  While a lot of her craft ideas might be outdated or over Caleb's head right now, I find it a good starting place for ideas and thinking through our Holidays and special occasions.

Her thoughts on the 4th particularly stood out to me, as I read over it last week in preparation for this week's holiday.  She uses the story of Daniel to teach children about being persecuted for our beliefs and following God.  She goes on to talk about the persecuted Church and the number of people around the world who are in danger or being persecuted because of what they believe. This is also particularly convicting, as we live just hours from North Korea, a country unable to freely worship and just hours (by plane) from China, another largely persecuted country.  Literally, our neighbors can't practice freedom of religion and are persecuted for their faith in God.  She encourages us to be in prayer over the 4th (and always) for our brothers and sisters in Christ who don't enjoy the same blessing and freedom we do.  Finally, it encouraged me to be thankful this Holiday for the freedom to believe in, pray to and worship God freely, openly and without threat of persecution.  The 4th has never held so much meaning for me before this year.  Oh the things having little kids can teach! And here we are thinking we are setting out to teach them....!

Tomorrow, we will celebrate by joining our Church family for a picnic filled with food (I'm making a giant batch of potato salad and several apple pies), games (Steve's in charge of this!), fellowship, fireworks and more.  Looking forward to it!

Happy 4th of July, May it be filled with gratitude and fun!

Bonus Blog:  For Steve's thoughts on the 4th, check out his recent blog post on our Church blog.

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