Growing up, the Fourth of July had a huge impact in my life. It represented freedom, family, and firecrackers. My family has an annual catfish cookout where everybody brings their own dish- most of us try festive Pinterest dishes. We always have a live band come out, the kids are running around everywhere, adults usually catching up over a bite to eat- maybe a drink or two, and after it gets to be just dark enough everyone brings their fireworks to the middle and we set them all off.
This part is my favorite, the loud blasts seem to silence everything else. Bellies full, family gathered round, tired from a fun day, and everyone is mesmerized by the bright shapes in the sky. Every year the crowd seems to get bigger and bigger, but this year we will all be missing one special person.
Last September my grandma got ill and went to Heaven to meet our Lord and Savior. She loved Independence day for many reasons that the rest of us share. But family was the overall most important thing to her. I hope that while I am consuming way too much food and waving sparklers in the air, I will be able to look around and know that we would be making her proud.
This year the fourth means more to me than it ever did in the past. It represents unity, community, and love. Love for our nation. Love for each other. And love for troops.
I challenge you to stop and take a look around this fourth of July. Think about everything you have, no matter how little or big those things may be, you always have freedom. Don't forget to give thanks for that this year.
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." -Psalms 33:12