In fall of 2014 I had the thrill of spending 10 days in Israel. I have never been the same since. I will never be the same in the future.
Today, Israel is on my mind and in my heart in a special way. It's the 70th anniversary today in terms of world governments and recognition. But it is the eternal city of God. And today, the U.S. Embassy is newly located in Israel's capital, Jerusalem.
So many moments, images, sights and sites, sounds and sound bites come to mind when I think of this most unique country of Israel and its Holy City and capital of Jerusalem. Here's one moment. Our group, about 35 of us with my Ovid Community Church, walked along together toward our next stop in Jerusalem. In the opposite direction some Jewish men walked by. One man's eyes met mine and with neither of us stopping or even slowing down, he called out, "Where you from?" I said "U.S.A." His response?
"God bless the U.S.A. and Israel, together."
And that is where we are in a special way today.
We don't get too far into the Bible before we read this in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." NIV
Indeed, Jesus came through the Jewish people ... the whole earth blessed by Him.
Is there any place on planet earth more important to so many as this spot? It is calledThe Wailing Wall, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount. This wall is part of the mount, or platform, that once held two Jewish Temples before they were destroyed. Jews pray here and leave notes in the wall. See the temporary fence at left with the women looking over it? This is where many Jewish boys have their Bar Mitzvah.
Psalms 132:13-14: For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, "This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it." NIV.
Israel is the size of New Jersey. Everywhere (EVERY-WHERE) you step, you are walking on history. In fact, I best describe this experience as one where someone dropped me into a Bible and allowed me to walk around there. Events of both Old and New Testaments merge and mingle.
Whereas the Bible was once in black and white, it is now in living color.
Psalm 122:6: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May those who love you be secure. (NIV).
As the man said in the crowd in the heart of Jerusalem,
"God bless the U.S.A. and Israel, together."
This week I interviewed a wonderful American.
She was born and raised in Australia.
Joy Baase of New Castle, Indiana is in her 90s, and our chat was about a story unrelated to this blog post. But during the course of the interview, we talked about many things, including how she is an English (Aussie) World War II bride, coming to her late husband's hometown to make a life together after the war.
We talked about her full life, which is still filled with faith, love, humor -- and patriotism.
Joy became an American citizen in 1953. And in her beautiful Queen's English accent, she recited The American's Creed by heart.
I am embarrassed to tell you that I did not know we had this beautiful statement of who we are. Did you? It took an immigrant to tell me, and I will forevermore be grateful.
Its original elements came from Thomas Jefferson, but it wasn't until 1918 that the creed, formally a U.S. House of Representatives resolution, was passed. The statement was penned by William Tyler Page in a contest displaying patriotism.
On this Memorial Day weekend, when we flippantly wish someone a "Happy Memorial Day," and perhaps enjoy a day away from the 9 to 5, I'm taking time to think about these words, about how no matter what an individual may think about any particular elected official, to consider that our great nation is so much bigger than any combination of temporary leaders.
It is founded on the blood of Americans who died for the freedoms we routinely take for granted. It is to them we owe our everyday, walking-around, going-doing-and- saying-what-we-please lives.
I will apologize to no one for loving this nation, its liberty, and its greatness, proven over and over in the words of the U.S. Constitution, which endures. May it endure forever.
Here is The American's Creed. Would you repeat it with me?
The American's Creed
I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon these principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
Good friends are camping at a state park at a family-reunion. My sister-in-law is returning from Puerto Rico where she’s been on an educational consulting adventure. Son Sam is wrapping up a week’s vacation. What are you up to as we head into Memorial Day weekend?
Brian and I are off work for four straight days, and while there is no trip or amazing outing planned, I will say I’m looking forward to getting lots of things done around the home front.
I hesitate to start listing things in case they aren’t completed, after all. But I sure hope that come Monday night as I anticipate heading to the newspaper Tuesday, there will be more items crossed off my list than remaining on it.
First, I want to take time to remember all those servicemen and women who paid for our freedom with their lives. We owe them so much. And I want to thank those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice as they currently serve the U.S.A.
I know that Brian is looking forward to seeing the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in real time Sunday on TV. It’s the first time the race hasn’t been blacked out in the Indy media market since 1950, is what I understand. This is a special treat given that it’s our state’s bicentennial this year as well as the 100th Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
As much as he looks forward to that, I’m hoping that we can cross off the list a very practical matter – that of trimming back our wild-and-crazy landscaping that has been growing like, well, like weeds with all the spring rain. This is something we always do in May and we’re almost out of May.
I have several different programs I need to work on for my little book-tour talks and it sure would be great if I could make some real progress on those. I don’t kid myself that I’ll get them all done but maybe a goal of two would be reasonable.
There’s also some banking to see to, bills to pay, the grocery store to visit, and little odds-and-ends chores as minor as stitching up a seam tear on my favorite summer sweater.
You know—things that you need doing around the house too.
Even with a list of chores, it all feels like a respite when pressed against the upcoming summer schedule. Don’t get me wrong: I look forward to it all, but there is a lot going on. Wednesday I’ll help judge a bicentennial cookie contest in conjunction with the annual National Road Yard Sale whose roots are in little Dublin, Indiana, and continues east to Baltimore, Maryland, and west to St. Louis, Missouri. The sale’s founder asked me to help. And while I’m there, of course I’ll write a story. I understand that members of the bicentennial commission will be stopping by as this is an official legacy project.
I’m visiting, for a story, Sue Saunders’ new antique store in Lewisville on Tuesday. Thursday is a book-related luncheon. The following week more book fun continues along with visiting the 70th celebration of the Teapot Club. These are English war brides who married American soldiers during World War II and returned with them to Henry County. I love those women, have written about them through the years, and look forward to putting them on the next cover of HER magazine!
If you’re curious about my upcoming book talks, look at the CONTACT tab and scroll down to WHAT’S NEXT. There’s a whole summer’s worth – and then some –of activities on my little tour. And there’s always room for more if your book club, Red Hatters or church ladies need a program.
I have a feeling that the ink on this piece will barely seem dry when I find myself writing a Labor Day post about how fast it all went.
But for now, during this home-based long weekend heading straight into summer, I’m working on a stout to-do list. I’m thankful for the freedom to make my own choices about how to spend my time because I live in the land of the free because of the brave. I love this country.
What are you doing?