Thanksgiving Amidst Battles

Thanksgiving Amidst Battles

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is hardly a time to think of battles. We were at Gettysburg this past summer. It was sobering. The wheatfield, the hospital, the pillars from the states erected over acres of war-torn land. It was amazing and quieting. Yesterday we attended a luncheon with our State Senator who mentioned that President Lincoln declared a day of National Thanksgiving after the battle at Gettysburg.

A Day of Thanksgiving after a horrible 3-day butcher-fest.

And the pilgrims- think what you may- lost 45 of the original 102 souls who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They were people who were willing to suffer and die for the hope of freedom and the right to religious liberty. Those that survived celebrated with a feast: a day of thanksgiving after a year of profound suffering, death, and loss.

Battles and Loss

Maybe you feel like you’ve just come through a battle of sorts: a battle for your health, a battle for a child struggling with addiction, a battle for your soul or the soul of someone you love. What I know for sure and for certain is that this life is chock-full of battles, hardship, and disappointments. And holidays can be like pouring lemon juice on a paper cut

But I also know that regardless of the battles you’ve fighting or just won or recently lost, there is much to be grateful for. We live in America. We are the fortunate 5% of the world’s population that lives in a place of relative freedom, choices, prosperity, and opportunity.

In spite of the battles being fought, lost and won, we have much to be grateful for.

An Attitude of Gratitude

My daughter and I went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood last night. Mr. Rogers was beloved by many precisely because he continuously found thanksgiving amidst the battle. I certainly didn’t expect to cry throughout, but I wasn’t the only one as you could hear others in the theater muffling tears, sniffling and blowing their noses. At the end of the movie, Mr. Rogers leans in to whisper to a dying man, a man whose life has been exemplified by loss, addiction, and desertion of the people he was charged to protect. He is asked later, what was it that he whispered. He has asked the man to pray for him because someone so close to death would be close to God. It is a beautiful re-frame. Instead of pitying the man, he sees that death brings clarity and refined purpose. This woeful sinner repented, asked forgiveness in a clear and profound manner and used his last days to redeem and bring healing. Mr. Rogers is grateful for this man’s life-all of it- the pain, suffering, redemption, and healing. He finds thanksgiving amidst the battle.

Holidays can be hard. My prayer for you is that you see all that you have to be thankful for and that despite the current or recently fought battle, you will feel God’s good presence and experience joy!

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer 

May it be your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, who hears prayer.

Civil war era soldiers in a filed on horses and a child's hands clasped in prayer. The history of Thanksgiving Day.

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

Our Founding Father’s were dreaming Englishmen who committed treason. Their dream was about about a place that allowed freedom of idea, thought and expression. It was about a place where the common man could forge his or her own destiny. They believed in the hope of that dream so much they were willing to commit treason against their fatherland, family and friends.

We are political watchers in our house and we are grieved by the denegration of that dream and the easy disposal of the liberties we’ve been afforded as Americans. It’s as if because the reality isn’t a picture perfect version of the dream, the immense good that people HAVE in America should be completely thrown away.

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

We read the Declaration of Independence on July 4. It used to be what towns and cities gathered for. To read, hear and remember. To appreciate that the liberties we experience as commoners in America are hard fought or non-existent in many places through time, history and our current landscape.

So we read, we listen, we remember. We thank God for men and women who were bold enough to be treasonous in the face of corruption and elitism, for those who dreamed of a land where we could pursue life, liberty and happiness, and that they were willing to lay down their fortunes, families and lives for this cause.

Dreaming Englishmen & Treason

It’s not a perfect place. It is not utopia. We have a long history of not living the dream for others we want so dearly for ourselves. But, in my long and involved study of history, I can still say that America is beautiful, that it is the beautifully flawed and beautifully imperfect land of the free and home of the brave. I am grateful to be an American, grateful to still hope in a dream, however imperfectly executed, that still inspires people around the globe to want to live here.

To fully understand what America is all about; dreams, flaws and all check out Humanities: U.S. Foundations– a 2 1/2 credit course including American History, American Literature and Fine Arts, taught by Cindy Brumbarger as well as Government and Economics, taught by Jeff Burdick.

 

Education: Power tool of Character & Virtue

Education: Power tool of Character & Virtue

Scalia Speaks

I hadn’t known the late justice Antonin Scalia was an advocate of education until the cover of the recently released Scalia Speaks caught my eye at a local bookstore. Just a few moments with the book revealed his thoughts on the deterioration of American schools, the sinking standards of higher education, and the need for learning based on scripture and civic responsibility. Drawing on his experiences in law school, on the bench, and with the younger generations he mentors, he warned urgently against following the veering moral compass of our nation.

Scalia drew his opinions extensively from the words and writings of the earliest Americans, challenging me to examine my parent’s motivations in their decision to teach me at home. Each phrase directed me to the firm understanding that knowledge was worthless unless grounded in faith and virtue. An excerpt from Noah Webster’s On the Education of Youth in America impressed me so deeply that I pondered the meaning through the rest of the day. “The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.”

On the Education of Youth in America

I later found a copy of Webster’s entire essay, where he outlined the subjects he believed a child must be taught in school. He emphasized a rigorous study of law, history, and ethics, seeing these studies as not merely the acquisition of knowledge, but of virtue and character.  Along with Scalia, he believed schools should place a higher importance on forming a strong character than a brilliant scholar. Furthermore, Webster did not suggest teaching these subjects to produce a successful career. He believed instead in forming citizens qualified to take their place in governing society.

Character Formation

The message resonated with me as I recalled my parents, who valued the formation of their children’s character first and foremost, guiding their decision to raise a homeschool family. They believed in education as the transmission of Christian virtues and culture to their children, and saw home education as a powerful tool in achieving this goal.

Technology, Skills, Character

In our technology driven world, a person’s knowledge and skills are incredibly important. Yet it is character that determines how those skills are put to use. A child’s moral grounding will provide the rudder to steer through career development, civic duties, and family life. My parents were confident that they could give adequate instruction in the practical skills of learning, and that they would also be in a better position to court the developing hopes, dreams, and character of their children.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.~ Luke 6:45

Sarah Frederes is a homeschool graduate and a Dakota Corps Scholarship recipient, which allowed her to attend and graduate from college debt free with a Summa Cum Laude and a BSN. She is the oldest of eleven children and has a love and passion for music, parrots, writing, gardening and photography. You can find more of her writing and lovely photography on her personal blog All That is Gold 

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