Happy 4th of July

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
– The Declaration of Independence

July 4th is definitely one of my favorite things about summer. The watermelon alone sells the holiday for me, but once you add fireworks and the grilled food, I’m officially over the moon.

Growing up, I always looked forward to the 4th. I remember climbing up on our roof at dusk to set off bottle rockets to celebrate. ‘Happy 4th of July!’ my sister and I would yell. Now, with both our families hours away, the celebrations look different but are just as special. Last year, we went to a little picnic area, grilled some hamburgers, and waved sparklers around until the sun went down. Simple, delicious and fun – that’s my kind of celebration.

I’m thankful that I live in a country that I can choose to celebrate if I want. I’m grateful that I have the choice not to.

Not everyone is so lucky.

It’s no secret that there are people who live in countries where their freedom is restricted, where they are controlled by the whims of the regime. I hurt for the people who live with the knowledge that each day might be their last because of their war-torn country or hateful terrorists. My heart aches for the people who flee their homes for a better life – and sometimes never live to tell of it. There are even people right here in America who struggle with food security & hunger, or live in neighborhoods that are dominated by violent crimes and are unable to re-start their lives.

I realize this can be a controversial subject – it’s not easy for Americans as a whole to think of themselves as privileged (there’s only a few of us who can comfortably say they’ve had a easy life), so it’s just simpler at times to turn a blind eye to the people who suffer more than us, especially if they are people we don’t even know. We focus instead on our own issues and where we’ve been wronged.

But don’t worry, I’m not asking you to pick a side or make a statement. Instead, I want to know what you are thankful for.

The 4th of July is the perfect opportunity to practice thankfulness. This holiday is just one of the reminders that we live in a First-World country with so many benefits and opportunities. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is what our forefathers wished for us years ago. Praise God that many of us are living the dream intended for us!

It’s hard to be thankful sometimes, isn’t? For some of us, the American way of life is the only way we know – and it’s hard to be thankful for something we don’t register as unique or even different. And when life is hard, when we experience loss and pressure and fiance issues, it’s especially easy to fall into the trap of bitterness and criticism. But we truly have so much to be thankful for beyond our immediate circumstances. Besides, it’s good to be thankful, to appreciate the life we have been given. After all, isn’t that all life is- a gift?

Today, I am extra grateful for my family. I’m so glad we live in a place where I don’t have to worry about whether or not we will return home, much less a home that we feel safe in. I’m grateful that we have a healthcare system, although imperfect, that took care of our family when we needed it. I am thankful that we have the availability to be treated for everything in a method we prefer, from holistically to medically to practices in between. I’m grateful that there is help to pay for care. I am thankful that I am free to disagree with the government publicly, and that we are free to come and go as we please.

I don’t know where you’re at right now, or what story your life has taken you. I know life can be cruel and relentless. I know I’m thankful for you, that’s for sure. And hopefully, no matter where you find yourself today, you can find something to be thankful for, too.

What are you thankful for today?
What are your favorite 4th of July traditions?

If you find yourself generous today, there are so many amazing organizations that work to take care of hunger, justice, and refugees. Here are three of just the many awesome organizations you can donate to today. Click on the links to read more about their mission and see how you can get involved.

Feeding America
International Justice Mission
Preemptive Love Coalition

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