The America That I Know


It’s election season, and I have been listening to the candidates talk. What I hear, makes me sad. Every candidate seems to point out the flaws and the terrible things about our country. It sounds like America is a terrible place to live.

I know much of it is rhetoric, and I know that we, as a country, have our flaws. But I also know that there’s a reason people are willing to risk crossing an ocean on a raft to come here. I know that even now with all our flaws and problems, we’re still a land of opportunity.

Between the TV commercials, the debates and the soundbites on the morning news, I wonder what country it is that these candidates are talking about. Because I don’t think they live in the America I know.

In the America that I know, in times of trouble, friends and neighbors lend a helping hand.

In the America that I know, the neighborhood kids make sure the elderly neighbor has a driveway and walkway clean from snow.

In the America that I know, strangers stop to help a young mom when she drops her coupons in the grocery store aisle.

In the America that I know, my daughter sits at a lunch table filled with her friends – a girl from Ethiopia, a girl from Malaysia, and a girl from India.

In the America that I know, there are people who make racist remarks. And there are more people who point out the injustice and wrongness of those remarks.

In the America that I know, there is human trafficking. And there are ordinary men and women fighting to stop it.

In the America that I know, people open their wallets to help others in need – whether it’s ringing a bell at Christmastime or funding relief efforts in Haiti.

In the America that I know, people volunteer their time to help kids learn to read, to help adults learn English, to help the homeless learn an employable skill.

In the America that I know, people can exercise their freedom of speech (although we could all learn to do so a bit more gently).

In the America that I know, little girls can grow up to be anything they want, including president of the United States.

In the America that I know, the biggest kid on my daughter’s hockey team stands up for the smaller guys (and girl).

In the America that I know, people are generally decent and hard-working.

In the America that I know, the older couple on the street keeps dog biscuits on hand for the neighborhood dogs (and the dogs come knock on the door to ask for them).

In the America that I know, most peoplee are all just trying to get along, live in community and build a better life for themselves and their families.

Nothing about our country is perfect, but the America I know is much different from the one our candidates for president seem to live in. In this election season of turmoil and discord, let’s remember that for every one thing our country could improve on, there’s another that we do well. Let’s remember that it’s not our politicians that make America; it’s the people. We are America. Let’s find the good things in the America that we know.

What does the America that you know look like?

Day 2: My Vote

Welcome to Being Thankful for the Little Things, our annual November Thanksgiving family devotional series. This year, we’re focusing on being thankful for the little stuff, the things we often take for granted. Each devotional is meant to be read as a family. At the end of each devotional, you’ll find a journaling prompt (you can download a free journal cover and pages here) and an action step you can take to help out someone else. Thanks for joining us and be sure to share it with your friends via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Today, I’m thankful for something really small, but something that makes a big impact. The little thing I’m thankful for today is my vote. Our vote is kind of like a puzzle piece. A puzzle piece is really small, but when you get the puzzle put together if a piece is missing, it’s the first thing you notice. While a puzzle piece all by itself doesn’t seem like a big deal, it plays an important role in finishing the puzzle. It’s the same idea with our votes. By themselves they seem really small, but put together they make a big impact.

In this country, we take voting for granted. When you turn 18, you can vote. That’s it. You don’t have to prove that you’re smart. You don’t have to be a certain color. You don’t have to hold a certain job. You have the right to vote. It’s been that way for a long time. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to vote. You can choose not to because we live in a free country.

But the right to vote is precious. There are people all over the world who wish they lived in countries where they could vote for their leaders. And our right to vote was paid for with the lives of people willing to defend it. From the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, American soldiers have fought and died to protect our right to vote. That single check mark in a box is so precious that people have been willing to die for it for more than 200 years.

When we vote, we honor that sacrifice. We take part in a process that declares to the rest of the world that we are a free country. We should make our choices when we vote thoughtfully and prayerfully. God wants us to use our vote to honor Him, too.

Although, you probably aren’t old enough to vote yet, you are old enough to understand how precious that freedom is. Our right to vote is a symbol of all the freedoms we have in this country. We can go to school, go to church, and say what’s on our minds, all without being afraid. No one is going to arrest us because we get together and worship God. If we criticize the president, no one is going to throw us in jail. We can choose what to wear, where to go and which person we want to lead our country. And that’s the gift of freedom.

Be thankful today for the little things your freedom allows you to do. Be thankful for the soldiers who protect it. And be thankful for your vote — even if you’re not old enough to use it yet.

Journal entry: Write down three little things you’re thankful you can do because you live in a free country. Don’t forget to be thankful for the soldiers who protect our freedom. If you know someone who is in the military or has been in the military, write their names in your Thanksgiving Journal.

Action step: If you can, go with your parents to vote today. Be a part of the process. If you know someone who is serving in the military, thank them for protecting your freedom. If you don’t know anyone, write a thank you card and send it to your local Veterans of Foreign Wars post to thank those who have served in the past.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife.