Memorial Day Weekend has always been one of my favorites – for me it has always signified the beginning of summer, the excitement of lazier days, vacations, good books, cookouts with friends and family, and the beginning of my official countdown to Football Season.
But, this year it feels different –
At first I thought it was because it looks different for us because this year we have Townes, but I realized this week it’s not because we are a family of five (let’s not forget Tucker & Luna) not four – it feels different because it is different.
This year looks much different than years prior. All Spring Sports have been canceled, one of my favorite events that only occurs every four years in the summer has been postponed, and I have been facing the reality that there is a chance that my beloved football season may not happen and if it does, it could look different. I haven’t heard people talk of the summer with excitement and anticipation; I haven’t heard about fun upcoming trips people have planned – I have heard about the ‘changing of plans’. Just two years ago, I was boarding a plane to visit Africa…
So this week, I have spent more time reflecting on not the Memorial Day Weekend but what we are actually honoring – the reason, we as Americans, have a holiday to celebrate.
Our freedom has come at great cost and sacrifice over generations of men and women who have voluntarily chosen to defend this nation and our rights as citizens – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But It wasn’t just these brave soldiers sacrifice, it was also a sacrifice of their families — mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, children who accepted the choice of their loved ones.
While my own family has not lost anyone while they were serving our country, I have grandparents who served in the army, a great aunt who served in the marines, and great uncles in the navy and air force. I am proud to have this in my lineage.
I have read so many books over the last few years on WWII – mostly fiction with historical basis. I am fascinated by learning of all the facets of this war but also heartbroken. All countries paid a great price during this war. Generations impacted and changed forever.
When I was in college, I spent a month in Washington, D.C. interning for the Congressman in my district. I fell in love with the history captured in Washington, the beauty that is found in the monuments and the stories that are told through the memorials. I appreciate the country I live in – I am thankful for it. No, we are far from perfect and we do not always get it right but I do believe in the founding principles of this great nation. And I hope I can instill this same respect and patriotism in my own son.
This week I have been reminded that Freedom Doesn’t Come Free. Simple pleasures that I get to enjoy every day are not available to some in other countries. As an American, I know a great price has been paid for my Freedom – blood, sweat and death. A great sacrifice voluntarily chosen to protect and defend our ideals, our Freedom, and in by doing so they have given their life. One of the most chilling landscapes in our country can be found looking out over Arlington cemetery. The least we can do for these individuals and families is honor and remember them this weekend.
As a follower of Christ, I know a great price has also been paid. Through Christ’s sacrifice at the Cross I have been made righteous and given freedom from my sins. One of my favorite translations states the gift of freedom we receive so well.
Romans 5:15-17 NPT “Now, there is no comparison between Adam’s transgression and the gracious gift that we experience. For the magnitude of the gift far outweighs the crime. It’s true that many died because of one man’s transgression, but how much greater will God’s grace and his gracious gift of acceptance overflow to many because of what one Man, Jesus, the Messiah, did for us! And this free-flowing gift imparts to us much more than what was given to us through the one who sinned. For because of one transgression, we are all facing a death sentence with a verdict of “Guilty!” But this gracious gift leaves us free from our many failures and brings us into the perfect righteousness of God—acquitted with the words “Not guilty!” Death once held us in its grip, and by the blunder of one man, death reigned as king over humanity. But now, how much more are we held in the grip of grace and continue reigning as kings in life, enjoying our regal freedom through the gift of perfect righteousness in the one and only Jesus, the Messiah!”
Christ came so that in him we may find freedom from all that burdens us, that enslaves us. For some it could be addiction, others insecurity or the feeling of being unworthy, and for most at one time or another Fear. Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
How easy it is sometimes to lose sight of the freedom offered in Christ and instead focus on things of the world. During my pregnancy after every doctor’s appointment I could feel fear trying to set it, to grip hold of me because science and medicine seemed so powerful and there was real uncertainty in what we were facing but I had to choose to redirect my focus back to the one who paid it all for me and for my son. I played worship music, I read scriptures and I surrounded myself with those people who were going to encourage me in the Word and the hope that is found there. Psalm 130:5 “This is why I wait upon you, expecting your breakthrough, for your word brings me hope.”
This weekend there is so much to be grateful for – a freedom I have been given as a believer of Christ and a freedom I have been given through the courage and bravery of others.
Our soldiers who we honor this weekend have lived out Mark 10:45 as they have given their life for me and for you. They have served our country and served as a ransom price so we can maintain our freedoms. “For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life as the ransom price in exchange for the salvation of many.”
And while we have all felt that during this season we have been asked to sacrifice let’s also honor those who have been risking their lives on the front lines since COVID-19 started to swarm our country. Our country has been facing an invisible enemy – Our doctors, nurses, nursing home and assisted living staff, as well as essential workers such as pharmacists, grocery store clerks, target employees just to name a few have been putting themselves selflessly in harm’s way to fight for our health and our freedom. Let’s remember them, let’s thank them. They also have stepped up – they are living out Mark 10:45 every day, serving us.
And let us especially remember where the true hope to fight this enemy lies. Matthew 12:21 “in his name the nations will be put their hope.”
Because of the brave men and women that have gone before me, I have spent this weekend telling Townes all about the fun of summer. I have held him in the early morning hours and watched the birds feed from our feeder, a mere dream of mine just 2 ½ months ago. Because of this freedom, Scott and I will get to choose how we want to raise him, where he will go to school one day, what sports he may choose to play, we have the freedom of religion in this country. There are simple, everyday things that at times we take for granted, but this weekend I am reminded a price was paid. For you, For Me, For my Son. Freedom isn’t Free.
Happy Memorial Day –