Happy Birthday, USA!

You are invited to a birthday party! It will be a big party. Over 327 million people are invited. July 4 is the birthday of the United States of America. Tomorrow we will be celebrating the birth of our nation. It will be our 243rd birthday!

The birth certificate of the USA is known at the Declaration of Independence. This formal statement was written by Thomas Jefferson. It was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The original 13 American colonies declared their independence from political ties to Great Britain.

Today, our nation has grown from 13 original colonies to 50 states. We have grown up to be the leading nation of the free world.

Over the years, we have undergone many growing pains. One of the biggest challenges for our nation was the Civil War from April 12, 1861 to April 9. 1865. It was a war within our own country caused by differing views of slavery. Our country was divided into the North and the South during that time. Finally, the war was over and our country was reunited.

As Americans, we recite a Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and country. Through this pledge, we acknowledge our unity as one nation and our dependence upon God and our commitment to liberty.

The pattern for this pledge was originally written by Francis Bellamy in August 1892. After a couple of additions, our pledge affirms the following. “I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Our country is unique in that we are composed of 50 individual states that have agreed to work together for the betterment of one country. We declare to be indivisible – not able to be separated. I believe this is only possible because we are a nation submitted to God. We are under His guidance and protection. God has blessed our nation and we must continue to rely upon Him for the survival of our nation.

Regardless of our political ideology, we must work together to stay together. We must pray together to stay together. Titus 3:1-2 outlines a positive way that we can work together as a nation. “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” In I Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to pray without ceasing. This directive can be applied to our prayer responsibility for our nation.

A birth certificate has been written for our nation. However, may there never be a death certificate issued for our nation!

We will probably not sing the traditional “Happy Birthday” melody at our birthday party. However, I believe there is an appropriate song for us to sing. The chorus of God Bless America by Irving Berlin (LINK) is a wonderful song and prayer for our nation.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Let’s celebrate our nation’s birthday! Happy Birthday, USA!

A Gift Without a Bow

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3  New American Standard
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3  New International Version

gift bow mf As I begin my blog today I am looking back through the window of time to the day our daughter was born.  Jill will be opening some birthday gifts of her own in a couple of days, but for now I want to cherish the gift the Lord gave me on her birth day. I recently found the following quote by Regina Brett, Life isn’t tied up with a bow but it‘s still a gift.God allowed me to give Jill the gift of life on October 18, and the life she now lives is a gift in return to me.  The day she was born, I fully embraced the scripture of Psalm 127:3 in my heart when I first embraced her in my arms.  I will not say how many years ago I received the gift of her life, but I will say that she has been and continues to be a blessing each year we have been united as mother and daughter. My first inclination is to prefer the wordgiftused for this scripture in the New American Standard translation because of the viewpoint for these comments, but I also sense a deeper meaning in the New International Version when the word heritage is used.  To me, “heritage” indicates a more inclusive meaning that is passed on to include the grandchildren we now enjoy who are our daughter’s gifts as well as ours.

 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6  New King James Version
Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not
turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6  International Standard Version

child tree mf I can testify that the Lord has been faithful to fulfill this scripture for us in the life of our daughter. Through God’s help, Jill’s dad and I were able to raise our little girl to become a beautiful Christian lady inside and out. According to the New King James Version translation of Proverbs 22:6, the phrase I want to focus upon is “the way he should go.” As parents, we are not necessarily to raise our children according to the specific way we might desire, but we are to direct them in the way the Lord wants them to go.  This entails that we as parents seek the Lord in how to direct each of our children in the special way that will best use and develop the gifts, talents and abilities found within each of our children.  This requires the parents to seek the Lord independently and individually for each child He gives to a family as a gift.  I feel our daughter is especially good at this.  She and her husband have four children.  She sees each of her offspring as unique with their own giftings and interests. One child may need more structured activities while another may benefit from more one on one time with mom. Academics may be a forte of one child while another interacts with friends more easily. Jill recognizes and encourages each of their daughters and son in the way that is personally best. However, there is one common trait within all their children, and that is their love for each other and for the Lord.  The International Standard Version interprets this Proverb phrase as saying “the way appropriate for him.”  This is a good directive for parents to follow.  God did not create everyone with the same cookie cutter and neither should parents try to shape all of their children to look alike.

 Children are a gift from the Lord.
He gives us them to return to Him.
Lord, guide us in helping them grow in You
so they can be Your children too.
Thank you for children, thank you, Lord.
Thank you for giving us children.

 gift stars mfThe words above are the words to a short chorus of praise that the Lord inspired to write many years ago on our daughter’s birthday.  It was a birthing day gift to me.  As I look back upon the words of this chorus, I have the distinct impression that God was, and is, reminding me of the two scriptures I have elaborated upon today.  Our children are a gift from God that becomes our heritage.  Our responsibility is to help our children become the children of God He desires them to be. I may have grandchildren as part of my heritage, but God has no grandchildren – He just has children.  I thank God for the privilege He has given me to appropriately nurture creations of His own to become adults who have not departed from His way.  Yes, I sincerely and lovingly thank God for the gift of our daughter, Jill, and for the gifts she is now instilling in her own children. 

Happy Birthday, Jill!


 Challenge for the week:  My Reader, personalize this story to fit the life of your family.

Birthday . . . Birthing Day


free baby%3Today is a milestone birthday for our son. Today is also my birthing day. I remember when the umbilical cord was cut and I was able to hold our son in my arms. I had felt his movement for several months, but this was the first time I could see him and his resemblance of his father. I could count his fingers and toes and not just feel his fist or foot jabbing into my ribs.  There was something very special about the first time I held our son as a unique little being who still depended upon me for food and care. However, the cutting of the umbilical cord was also the first letting go of the son who had grown inside of me for the last nine months. The cord was cut, but I still had my apron strings tied around him and there was a lifeline that existed between our son and me.Greg Ahlquist Headshot

God the Father said of Jesus in Mark 1:11, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and say to our son, “Greg, you are my son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” He now not only fulfills the role of being our son, but he is also a husband and father. By profession, he is an anointed teacher whether he be behind the desk in a school classroom or in the pulpit at church. Truly he is successful both in the natural and the spiritual realms. We are especially blessed by our son this year as he has been named the New York State Teacher of the Year for 2013. The Lord is using him in mighty ways whether he is traveling or speaking or attending committee meetings and conferences.  He is a positive spokesperson for  teachers, students, and education across the state. Psalm 139:16 assures me that God has written all of Greg’s days in His book and these days have been fashioned for him. If I had not been willing to let him become the godly man the Lord purposed him to become, this honor may not have been possible for him. However, whether he received state recognition or not, we are pleased when we see the man of God that Greg is today. It is not because of who I have been as a mother, but who God is as his Heavenly Father that makes all the difference. I am glad I have surrendered Greg’s life to the Lord and have not held him too tightly in my own hands. The truth of Proverbs 22:6 has been fulfilled with our son. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”

free rope First the umbilical cord was cut, and then gradually I untied the apron strings from being his 24/7 mom. The amazing thing is that as I let these strings be untied, the lifeline relationship between mother and son has become even stronger. According to Ecclesiastes 4:12, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Our cord of mother, son and the Lord has not been broken among us. Allowing the Lord to be one strand of this cord has made all the difference in our relationship.  The umbilical cord was purposely made  to be cut while the biblical cord was fashioned to remain intact.

praying-hands-5The best birthday gift I can give to our son is to unclasp the grasp of my own hands and leave him in the hands of God . I need only grasp my own hands together in prayer for him. If I held him too tightly, his life could become stagnant like a pond of water that has no fresh water moving into or out of it. I could squelch God’s grace and stagnate God’s gifts. I must allow God’s grace to flow through Greg. Grace is received, but grace must also be given away.  I annually release our son in order for him to be able to receive the birthright of blessings God has in store for him. I am blessed as I allow Greg to be a blessing.

gift-bow-mfYes, today we celebrate his birthday and we say publicly, “Happy Birthday, Son!” But in the privacy of my heart, I recall the happiness of my birthing day when this special person whom God knit together in my womb, who was fearfully and wonderfully made, made his first appearance into this world. (see Psalm 139:13,14)  I thank God for allowing me to be Greg’s mother. For this reason, I too celebrate today in a personal way.


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