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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

"Stars & Stripes"
Date Posted: July 3, 2004

Flags are flying, firecrackers popping, ice cream melting, swimmer splashing-- it's that red, white and blue time of year.

Independence Day (or the Fourth of July as we commonly call it -- I wonder why?) has until the last few years been as full of tradition as most holidays in my family. But as we have all grown up and added in-laws and children it's hard to get together and keep up the familiar.

When I was younger we almost always went to my grandparents home, a farm, where we would gorge on watermelon (My grandpa always said the watermelons weren't really ready until July 4 and he could always choose or grow a delicious one!), homemade ice cream -- cranked by hand, of course, and homemade cookies. We would set off our own selection of fireworks and watch the big displays which were visible from several area communities right from the back yard.

I never liked the loud fireworks, which my brother just had to buy. Many times I found myself in the house after the "pretty" ones were gone, and to avoid the noise, watching part of "The Music Man" which always seemed to be shown on the 4th, or watching the celebration from Washington, D.C. or Boston with the fireworks accompanied by a live orchestra playing "The 1812 Overture".

Some of my traditions sound like sappy cliches, but I guess maybe that's why they became traditions. They may be too tame or lame for some, but I think they represent what Independence Day is about. Celebration of a place where we can celebrate in almost any way we choose.

We can gather with those we love. We can pray together. We can eat too much sugar and make too much noise and for the most part, no one will be bothered by it.

I hope my children will not laugh at all the Independence Day traditions I try to keep alive, but more importantly, I hope they will acquire a desire to celebrate the traditions of the Lord's Independence day -- his death on the cross, bearing our sins. And I hope they will want to celebrate it each week as they remember his death and resurrection in fellowship with others.

If they love the "stars and stripes" I hope it is because they are Christ-followers in a nation founded for those who want to follow Christ. When they look at our beloved flag may it represent more than those who gave their lives for our country's independence. May it also remind us of the Maker of the stars and His son, who bore cruel stripes that we might have independence from the bonds of sin.

During your 10 minutes this week, thank God for those men and women who have fought with voices, pens and weapons to make this a Christian nation. Ask Him to help us continue that fight that our nation and the world might know freedom through Him.

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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