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Beach Day

I thought I’d give you a recap of how the Mr. and I spent our 4th of July.

Being empty nesters allows us to march to our own beat, so to speak.

First, we both slept in.  I started off the summer so well . . . getting up early each day to walk.  Since getting back from California, I haven’t been able to, though.  I was exhausted the first week and gave myself some grace.  I hurt my back the second week and am still healing, so walking has been out.

I did manage to get dressed in my favorite workout shirt, an homage to my Rooster, and do Leg Day of the 80 Day Obsession program I’ve been making my way through.

Excuse the bed head.  I had not even brushed it at this point.  I knew I needed to get on the ball with my exercising before the Mr. started hollering.

A couple of hours later, we headed out to one of our favorite spots . . . the beach.

Parking was a bit of a nightmare with a bajillion other people taking advantage of the gloriously sunny day.  Fortunately, we found a space on our second pass-through.  We’d packed a little lighter because of my back and settled in for the afternoon.

The Mr. had ordered me a patriotic bikini, and the visor was the one I’d found at the BX during our visit to Rooster’s base.

Ahhh . . . toes in the sand (the prettiest sand I’ve ever seen).

Oh my word, but the beach was c-r-o-w-d-e-d.

People were almost sitting on top of one another.  I can’t say that I like it when it’s that busy.

I’d read that the water had been clear for the past few days.  Boy, was it ever.  It was also freakishly hot, so many, many people stayed in the water.

A big gripe now.  I really wish that smoking would be banned from the beach.  Even though I grew up in a home where the adults smoked, I have become very sensitive to it.  It seemed as though EVERYONE around us was smoking that day.  It was so gross and gave me a headache.


One more grip:  Why are people so rude and sit in front of you and then set up tents?  We are very careful when we set up shop so that we won’t block others’ views of the water.  Ugh.

All of my complaining aside, it was a glorious day.  The forecast had called for rain.  I’m glad we ignored it because we didn’t see anything.

People watching is something we enjoy doing at the beach.  Take a look at this guy . . .

He was feeling the holiday.

We left around 4pm, sandy, tired, and hungry.

After feeding the dogs, who were extremely happy to see us, a shower, and a change of clothes, we headed out to dinner.  Nobody felt like cooking, that was for sure.

We had a 50% coupon for Bonefish Grill, a reward we’d earned after three qualified visits.  What can I say?  We really like this place.

I had been wanting a beachy drink.  This one hit the spot.

Dinner was wonderful, as it always is.  I always get the House Salad.  It’s light and hits the spot.  A former student who works as a server came over and spoke to us for a few minutes.  We see him almost every time we dine at Bonefish.  It’s always fun to catch up with my kids once they’ve left high school.  He’s turning out well, which does my heart good.

There was a long table beside us filled with some older folks.  One cute-as-pie lady gave us sparklers, which she’d made, and told us to have fun.  We assured her that as empty nesters, we were doing just that.

The Mr. suggested that we watch one of the many fireworks displays in town, but I said no.  I’m a homebody at the core of my being and just wanted to be with my fur babies.  Plus, I needed time to mourn for Molly (I didn’t say this to the Mr.).  The sad stuff had been building all day and it just needed to come out, privately.

It turns out that this was the best decision because he didn’t feel too great later that evening.  It had been a fun, albeit exhausting day.

Plus, we’re old like that.

July 4th, 2018

Gosh, but is it really the 4th of July already?  It doesn’t seem like an entire year has gone by since the last one we celebrated.  I actually remember spending a few hours at the pool before hurrying home to spend time with my sweet Molly, who wasn’t feeling well.

How will you be spending the day?  Will you watch a parade?  Will you grill out with friends?  Will you stick your toes in the sand and listen to the sound of the surf as I’m planning on doing?  Will you spend the evening watching a gorgeous display of fireworks?

What will you be thinking about as you engage in your fun?

Will you relish the day off in the middle of the week?  If you’re a teacher like me, will it be just another day in your second month of vacation – a day to spend with family?

I don’t know that I gave the 4th an extraordinary amount of thought until two years ago when my Rooster enlisted in the Air Force.

Perspective is everything.

Now that I’m a military mama, I recognize the day for what it is:  a celebration of the freedom that selfless men and women gave their lives for in the early days of our country’s founding.

This freedom is still being fought for.

I count it an honor to count my Rooster among that special group of people.

Rooster, thank you for what you do.  Thank you for answering the call to serve your country.

You always said that you wanted to serve where you would make a difference.

You do.

Every day.

I am so proud to be a citizen of a country that was forged by incredibly brave individuals.

More than that, I consider it a great privilege to be the mama of a serviceman.

Happy 4th of July, sweet friends.  Let us never take for granted the freedom that is uniquely ours.

4th of July – A Fresh Perspective

Today, we celebrate the 4th of July.

As a new Air Force mom, I am looking at this holiday from a different perspective.

Today, when I think of the founding of this country, I am beyond thankful.

Thousands of people made the brave decision in the early days of the founding of this country by going against the tide to secure this nation’s freedom.

Over the years, countless citizens have sacrificed their time and, ultimately for many, their lives, to ensure that we continue to enjoy our freedom.

Several times during Rooster’s graduation weekend, we had the privilege of hearing new Airmen recite the Airman’s Creed.

It matters not the color of the uniform or the creed spoken.  Each branch of the military consists of self-giving individuals.

I think I used to take this for granted.

I no longer do so.

As you celebrate, take a moment to lift our country’s servicemen and women in your prayers.  It is because of those who blazed the trail all of those many years ago and those who presently serve that we continue to live in the Land of the Free and the Brave.

One Nation Under God

Happy 4th of July!

May we never fail to uphold God’s laws and stay true to Him, for He has abundantly blessed our country.

Independence Day 2012

I am so grateful to those who went before me…bravely standing their ground so that I could have the freedoms I enjoy today.

I am so grateful to those who serve, even while I sleep, to ensure that these freedoms are enjoyed.

Thank you!

Let Us Never Forget…

I live in an area that houses two bases from two different branches of the military.

It’s not easy to forget about the sacrifice that our soldiers are making.  In fact, I’ve taught students who had parents serving tours of duty in the Middle East.

On this 4th of July, I thought I would post a video for the Dixie Chicks’s song, Traveling Soldier.

The words of this song never fail to bring tears to my eyes…especially more so now because my friend, Jane, lost her first husband to the Vietnam War.

So, while we’re busy barbecuing with family and watching the night skies light up with brilliant flashes of color, let us never forget those serving all around the world, lighting up the skies in a much different way and often making the ultimate sacrifice…their lives.

The Beat of the Drums

Happy 4th of July!

I really like when this holiday falls on a Sunday.  It is a good reminder that it is by God’s grace that we live in a great country like the United States.  This country was founded on Christian principles (despite what some people may say), and it is God who deserves the glory for the blessings we enjoy in this land.

When I entered the sanctuary, I had no idea that I would be in for a treat.

I attend the contemporary service.  This service does not have a formal choir.  Instead, the music is led by a worship team and band.

This morning, however, there were quite a few people standing on the bleachers behind the band.  We sometimes use this area as overflow seating, but this was not something we needed today as a lot of people were missing…out of town visiting family, I suspect.

Among the group, I also spotted three guys from the high school band.

Interesting, I thought to myself.  They must be playing in the band too.  It isn’t uncommon to see new faces now and then.

The service began in its fairly regular way.

Everyone stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance, to acknowledge this special holiday.

We sang several praise songs, passed around the attendance binders, and took up tithes.

And then the surprise…

The band, the extra people in stands (I quickly realized they are the members of the regular choir, which sings at the traditional service), and the three guys from the high school band stood up.

The guys had strapped on their drums.

One was playing tenors (which is what Rooster will be playing this fall)…

Another guy was holding a snare drum…

The third gentleman had strapped on the very large bass drum…

The guys were wearing black shirts, and their drums were held with white straps similar to these…

They looked like they were wearing uniforms, and the picture was striking.

The lights were down in the church, and the choir began singing.

The boys stood at attention.

They looked a little like the following picture, which was taking during the Civil War…

One by one, the boys lifted their drums sticks as their instruments entered the musical piece.

As they began to play, all eyes focused on them.

We just couldn’t help it.

We were mesmerized.

Chills traveled through my body.

As the tempo picked up and the song reached its crescendo, tears began rolling down my face.

Chicky looked over at me and, in a voice barely above a whisper, asked why I was crying.

I couldn’t explain…not yet anyhow.

You see, as I watched those boys play, and I listened to the words of the song, my heart was moved in a powerful way.

My nerdy brain that thrives on history saw those boys as representative of others who, many, many years ago, served in our military.

Music played a very important part in military life way back when.  Music signified the beginning of a soldier’s day, meal times, drills, and even pay day.

The musical selection Taps originally began as a song that ended the day.

Drum cadences were used to help men march in time, unified, as they were about to face an opposing army.  Commanders relied on drum signals to convey commands across the field of battle.

All of these things were going through my mind as I sat there this morning.

Those boys…one just graduated, one to graduate next year, and the other the year after with Rooster – they could easily have been in our nation’s earliest battles for freedom as most of the soldiers were quite young back then.

This holiday is a day when people barbecue…thank their lucky stars that they have an extra day off.

For me, the morning’s music was a time to reflect and give thanks, both to God and to those who were brave enough to take a stand for freedom.

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th everyone! As a naturalized citizen, Independence Day is very special to me. To be adopted by a country that continues to send its citizens into battle to safeguard our freedom…well, it’s truly a blessing.

We sang this song last Sunday at church, and if you follow the words closely, you’re reminded that God’s hand surely guided our forefathers, as He guides us now.

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Julia Ward Howe – 1862

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

What Does the 4th of July Mean to AuburnChick?

As the 4th of July nears, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on what this day means to me.

I’ll admit that my first thought is “Long Weekend,” since the holiday happens to fall on a Friday this year. Sleeping in, eating barbecue, and watching fireworks are the first images that come to my mind.

However, my mind quickly (and guiltily) shifts away from these traditions to the reasons behind the celebrations. Perhaps this is because I just graduated from college, where I spent the last two years immersed in history classes.

On second thought, I think that my awareness of the true meaning of Independence Day has come slowly over the the years through a series of events in my life.

Although I was born in Canada, I have spent nearly all of my life in the United States, so I feel like America’s history is a part of my heritage as well.

I became a naturalized citizen on April 29, 1997. I was sworn in when I lived in Miami — a hodgepodge of cultures. During my ceremony, the name of each country represented by at least one new citizen was read out. We stood up when we heard our country’s name. It was an incredible sight to behold, for the list was quite long.

I was given a packet before I left. It contained my Certificate of Naturalization along with a letter from the President (in my case, it was Bill Clinton). The first two paragraphs of the letter speak volumes to what my heart cannot adequately express:

“Dear Fellow American:

…As you enjoy the benefits of American citizenship and assume the responsibilities that accompany it, you follow the many brave men and women who have sacrificed to establish and preserve our democracy over the last two centures.

You now share in a great experiment: a nation dedicated to the ideal that all of us are created equal, a nation with profound respect for individual rights. The United States is a land of unparalleled natural beauty, vast opportunity, and freedom. It is home to people who have been drawn to our shores from all over the world and who share a common love for life and liberty…”

I’ll never forget the first time I voted after becoming a naturalized citizen. I was nervous and excited. Mostly, I was proud. I was proud that I could finally have a say in the way things were being run. I took my children with me, as I continue to do. I never want them to take this right for granted because I know what it’s like to not have the privilege.

A couple of years ago, my family traveled to Arkansas for a soccer tournament. On the way, we stopped in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This was the site of a long siege and fierce fighting during the Civil War because of its strategic location on the Mississippi River. We visited a graveyard with the tombstones of many who fought there. What a poignant reminder of the lives lost during the battle to preserve this country.

It reminded me of my visit, as a teenager, to Arlington Cemetery. My mom, sister, and I attended a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Although I was a teen, prone to a disrespectful attitude common among that age group, I knew my place. This was a rite of tribute and honor. It was beautiful to behold the care given to those fallen in the line of duty.

Perhaps the event that most made me aware of what it means to be an American (and thus truly “get” the meaning of the 4th of July) was September 11th. This was probably the event that tied us together in such a way as had not been seen for several generations. I think that this day showed me how quickly things can be taken away. The security I had always relied on was shattered, for a time. I cannot imagine living in a country where people face this fear every single day.

So, what does the 4th of July mean to me?

Bravery. Those first settlers who left their homelands for a world unknown…seeking freedom from the tyranny that surrounded them — surely that took a lot of bravado.

Perseverance. Those first decades were devastating for the newest citizens of this land, yet many stuck it out, refusing to give in to the elements or others who tried to thwart their plans for a better life.

Determination. The patriots dared to take on England…the giant of the day…to not allow the rights of those living in this country to be trod upon unjustly.

Sacrifice. The many men (and even women…I know this from my studies) who laid down their lives fighting for a seemingly lost cause. I am awed by this. I picture the first shots that rang out at Lexington and Concord. I cannot even begin to imagine the fear and uncertainty that must have plagued each person as life was disrupted. Nobody at that time could have predicted the ending.

Wisdom and vision. The great care our Founding Fathers took in creating the government, which was so unlike any other that existed during that time. George Washington could have become another king, yet he showed great restraint in not allowing the power to go to his head. He was one of many wise leaders.

Throughout the years, many events could have torn this country apart, but Americans banded together and somehow found a way to prevent this country from dissolving into a chaos that it could not recover from.

What is even more amazing to me is that this country is filled with people who willingly serve in the armed forces…determined to protect our country and help other countries facing tyranny. I realize that our ideal of democracy may not work in other countries due to years of their own particular struggles. However, the recognition that we have so many freedoms that others do not have…and the willingness to help put those countries on the same path…well, it just boggles my mind.

Thus, because others much more brave chose to serve:

I am humbled. I am grateful. I am proud. I am free.

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