Memorial Day

We’re at our annual family reunion this week, so I’m running some of my favorite posts from the archives. Today’s is short but a great reminder to appreciate the men and women who died to give us the freedom we so enjoy.

Going to the Indy 500 is our Memorial Day tradition, but we should all take some time today to remind our kids of the sacrifices thousands of men and women have made so we can be free. Take a moment to walk through a cemetery or go to a Memorial Day event. Talk with your kids about the responsibilities that come with freedom. Say a prayer for the families of those who have recently lost loved ones in war. Don’t let today pass without marking the significance of the day in some way.

Enjoy the holiday, eat some yummy food, go to the pool and hang out with friends. But always remember that freedom isn’t free. Some people have paid the ultimate price so you can do those things today. Thank God for their sacrifice and remember them today.

Happy Memorial Day!

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.

Celebrating Freedom

We’re sleeping in this morning after a long car trip home from Colorado. Enjoy this post from the archives full of ideas for teaching our kids about the freedom found in Christ. I’ll be back tomorrow with July’s Dinner Discussion questions.

I love the Fourth of July — the parades, the cookouts, the fireworks, the friends and family. I love the opportunity to teach my kids about the courageous men who had a radical idea called democracy. I enjoy getting the chance to talk about the sacrifice that men and women in our armed forces have made over the centuries so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that those men in 1776 embraced.

As much as I enjoy teaching my kids how lucky they are to live in the United States, with all its freedoms and benefits, the Fourth of July is a great time to talk about the ultimate freedom — freedom in Christ. We can use today to teach our kids that while freedom to do what we wish is one thing, freedom from sin is a greater blessing.

There are people all over the world today living in countries where their physical freedoms are restricted. Places where you take your life in your own hands if you want to meet with other Christ followers and worship God. Places where simply sharing your faith can get you arrested. Places where it’s not safe to walk outside because there’s a war going on. Places where no matter how smart you are or how creative, you will never rise above the class into which you were born.

Our kids need to know that places like this exist. When you are born and raised in the United States, it’s easy to take your freedoms for granted. Most of us have never had to put our lives on the line to worship God. We’ve never wondered if the next knock on our door will be the one that takes us to prison. We should be thankful for the countless sacrifices that have made that possible.

  • Talk with your kids about what freedom means. Explain that there are countries where people can only do the things the government tells them they can. Talk about how that means that those people may not be able to leave their homes at certain times. They may not be able to go to church. They may not get to choose what sport they play or what school they go to. Ask your kids how that makes those places different from the United States.
  • Explain to your kids that even in situations where people aren’t physically free, they can still be find freedom in Christ. Jesus sets us free from sin. Sometimes people think that following Jesus takes away our freedoms because God asks us to live a certain way. However, when we realize just how much Jesus has done for us — He made the ultimate sacrifice in dying on the cross for us — we choose to follow Him out of love. Share Galatians 5:1 with your kids: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Talk about how Jesus sets us free from our sin. He takes it away and forgets about it. If we keep dwelling on the things that we have done wrong after we have confessed them and been forgiven, then we make ourselves slaves to sin again. Teach your kids to confess their sins and then move forward, so that they can enjoy the freedom that Christ has given them.
  • If you go to a Fourth of July parade, you will probably see a soldier or two. Explain to your kids that Jesus is like those soldiers. Our soldiers sometimes sacrifice their lives so we can have physical freedoms. Jesus sacrificed his life so we can be free from sin. While physical freedoms are wonderful, spiritual freedom allows us to be free even when our physical freedoms are missing.

Celebrate your freedoms this week with food, fun and fireworks. In the midst of the celebration, take a moment to thank God for both your physical freedoms and your freedom from sin.

Memorial Day

We’re traveling home from a weekend spent at the Indy 500 today, so today’s note will be short. Going to the Indy 500 is our Memorial Day tradition, but we should all take some time today to remind our kids of the sacrifices thousands of men and women have made so we can be free. Take a moment to walk through a cemetary or go to a Memorial Day event. Talk with your kids about the responsibilities that come with freedom. Say a prayer for the families of those who have recently lost loved ones in war. Don’t let today pass without marking the significance of the day in some way.

Enjoy the holiday, eat some yummy food, go to the pool and hang out with friends. But always remember that freedom isn’t free. Some people have paid the ultimate price so you can do those things today. Thank God for their sacrifice and remember them today.

Happy Memorial Day!

I’m Thankful for Freedom

Each day until Thanksgiving, Everyday Truth is looking at a different reason to be thankful in a family devotional. Use these devotionals with your kids to help keep your family focused on giving thanks. If you missed the introductory post, check it out here for directions on creating a “Thanksgiving wall.” When you’re done with the devotional head on over to the Everyday Truth Facebook page and join in the discussion of why we’re thankful for our freedom.

I bet you got up this morning, picked out your own clothes and had a choice of cereals for breakfast. You probably decided whether or not to wear a coat to school. You may have chosen what hairstyle you wanted today. When you got to school, you probably talked to some of the people you have chosen to be friends with. At lunch you probably chose whether to eat all or part of your lunch.

On your way to school, did anyone stop your car and tell you you couldn’t go to school? When you got to school did anyone tell you who to talk to or what to say? Probably not.

You had choices this morning because we live in a free country. Many people in the world do not. In some countries only kids whose families have enough money are allowed to go to school. In some places, girls aren’t allowed to go to school. In some countries, you don’t have a choice about what you want to be when you grow up; you have to do what the government tells you to. And in some parts of the world, it’s a crime to talk about God.

Many of us have never lived in a place where we don’t have freedom. We take it for granted. And we shouldn’t. Men and women throughout history have died protecting our right to be free. Those soldiers don’t know most of the people they are protecting. They serve so we can live in freedom. John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Soldiers do that every day. They put their lives on the line in dangerous places so we can live in freedom.

Don’t take your freedom for granted. Be thankful for it. Today is Veteran’s Day. It’s the day we honor the men and women who have served in the military. We take a moment to be grateful for the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free.

Take a minute today to seek out a veteran, someone who was once in the military. Tell them how thankful you are that they chose to protect our country. Make them a card or bake them some cookies.

Pray and thank God for the sacrifices others have made so you can live in a free country. Write on your Thanksgiving wall one thing that you are thankful you can do because you live in a place where freedom is a right.

Be grateful for freedom because it isn’t free. It costs brave men and women their lives.

Memory Monday: Let Freedom Ring (Galatians 5:1)

Happy 235th Birthday, America. I love the Fourth of July — the parades, the cookouts, the fireworks, the friends and family. I love the opportunity to teach my kids about the courageous men who had a radical idea called democracy. I enjoy getting the chance to talk about the sacrifice that men and women in our armed forces have made over the centuries so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that those men in 1776 embraced.

As much as I enjoy teaching my kids how lucky they are to live in the United States, with all its freedoms and benefits, the Fourth of July is a great time to talk about the ultimate freedom — freedom in Christ. We can use today to teach our kids that while freedom to do what we wish is one thing, freedom from sin is a greater blessing.

There are people all over the world today living in countries where their physical freedoms are restricted. Places where you take your life in your own hands if you want to meet with other Christ followers and worship God. Places where simply sharing your faith can get you arrested. Places where it’s not safe to walk outside because there’s a war going on. Places where no matter how smart you are or how creative, you will never rise above the class into which you were born.

Our kids need to know that places like this exist. When you  are born and raised in the United States, it’s easy to take your freedoms for granted. Most of us have never had to put our lives on the line to worship God. We’ve never wondered if the next knock on our door will be the one that takes us to prison. Today, we should be thankful for the countless sacrifices that have made that possible.

  • Talk with your kids today about what freedom means. Explain that there are countries where people can only do the things the government tells them they can. Talk about how that means that those people may not be able to leave their homes at certain times. They may not be able to go to church. They may not get to choose what sport they play or what school they go to. Ask your kids how that makes those places different from the United States.
  • Explain to your kids that even in situations where people aren’t physically free, they can still be find freedom in Christ. Jesus sets us free from sin. Sometimes people think that following Jesus takes away our freedoms because God asks us to live a certain way. However, when we realize just how much Jesus has done for us — He made the ultimate sacrifice in dying on the cross for us — we choose to follow Him out of love. Share Galatians 5:1 with your kids: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Talk about how Jesus sets us free from our sin. He takes it away and forgets about it. If we keep dwelling on the things that we have done wrong after we have confessed them and been forgiven, then we make ourselves slaves to sin again. Teach your kids to confess their sins and then move forward, so that they can enjoy the freedom that Christ has given them.
  •  If you go to a parade today, you will probably see a soldier or two. Explain to your kids that Jesus is like those soldiers. Our soldiers sometimes sacrifice their lives so we can have physical freedoms. Jesus sacrificed his life so we can be free from sin. While physical freedoms are wonderful, spiritual freedom allows us to be free even when our physical freedoms are missing.

Celebrate your freedoms today with food, fun and fireworks. In the midst of the celebration, take a moment to thank God for both your physical freedoms and your freedom from sin.