Our neighbor, Jim, just returned from Afghanistan, safely, much thinner, but home.  He has fought in a war he didn’t begin so that others might have the chance to experience what we in this country often take for granted–our freedom and our value as individuals.  His folks have been courageous in their wait, hopeful in the process and faithful in their support of our men and women who serve in harm’s way each and every day to protect our way of life and the freedom we enjoy.  We’ve had a yellow ribbon tied around our tree in the front yard for longer than I care to think, and it has been a constant reminder to me that someone’s loved ones are living at risk so I can enjoy my life.

We’ve just had an election (and I won’t comment any further on that) that is another reminder of our unique place in the world, living in a country where we have the privilege of choosing our officials, of experiencing freedom of thought, religion and speech and of having the possibility of choosing to make ourselves better than our circumstances dictate.    It’s not a perfect country, and there are many who are discontent with it, frustrated by it and bothered by what they perceive as injustice in the system.  Of course there is a lack of justice in this country–life is unfair.  Across the board.  But then again, this isn’t heaven.

I was thinking about how amazing it is that I have been born during this time in history, a woman who has had opportunities because of men and women who have gone before me to fight for those opportunities.  I live in a country that is free, and though I may disagree with the politics, I am free to do so.  And it isn’t an entitlement–it is a gift given by men and women throughout history who have given of themselves, their lives, their dreams, their hopes so that we may all have a chance to dream and hope.

Life here isn’t perfect.  I look around and find that much of what our country was founded on has changed, sometimes not for the better.  But I am also incredibly grateful that I can even be writing these words without fear of recrimination.  I am grateful for this country, for our government, for our people.  God has blessed us richly as a nation, and I hope someday soon we will turn to Him in gratitude as well.

So thank you, Jim, for your sacrifice, your hard work, your commitment to a country you believe in.  Thank you for taking time away from your family and your life to give to us as a nation another day of freedom, another chance for each of us to make a difference.  Thank you and all those other men and women who have given their best for us.  May you sense our gratitude, but even more, may you know the peace and comfort of the God who also has given us His best.

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