by Karen Whiting
Freedom is a precious privilege and in short supply in much of the world. The founders of the United States included words of faith in the original documents, and soon after the signing of the peace treaty in October, Congress made a proclamation for a day of thanksgiving. They set two dates for giving thanks. The words of the proclamation included:
The United States in Congress assembled do recommend it to the several States, to be set apart the second Thursday in December next, as a day of public praise, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate with one voice grateful hearts and united voices, the praises of their Supreme Being and all bountiful Benefactor, for his numberless favors and mercies.
The 4th of July offers a time to rejoice in our freedoms and gather together with friends and family. The celebration of Independence Day only became a custom after the War of 1812. It became a legal holiday in 1941. It commemorates the day when our thirteen original colonies officially joined together to become an independent nation. It’s our country’s birthday and festivities include fireworks, picnics and sports like baseball.
Choose how you will celebrate the day as a family or within your community. Check your local calendar to join in area celebrations that might include parades, concerts, picnics or fireworks.
Plan some fun that reflects freedom with your family, friends or neighborhood. Discuss the colors of the flag and wear those colors. Make some red, white and blue art. Make colorful firework paintings by pouring red and blue paint on separate small paper plates. Cut two-inch deep slices around the edge of toilet paper rolls about ¼ inch apart. Push the slits open, dip in paint and press onto white paper. Add a little silver glitter for sparkle. When dry, display them around the house.
Create some American history questions and see how well people know the facts. These can be as simple as knowing the city where congress signed the declaration or who commanded the continental army to more difficult questions.
Switch up some popular games like Capture the Flag by using patriotic color flags, a baseball game with decorated bases, a water balloon toss with red, white and blue balloons, or a paper plate ring toss with centers cut out of patriotic colored plates. Blow bubbles and celebrate as the little liquid balls of soap float freely in the air.
Consider purchasing and shooting off some fireworks. Set safety rules and be careful to follow instructions. Be sure you don’t live in a drought area where it might not be a safe activity.
Plan time during the week to drive around your area to view natural beauty and praise God for creating this country. If you live near a national or state park, plan a day to enjoy it.
Plan a favorite American menu with a barbecue and local grown produce. Decorate the table with flags and patriotic colors. Make place cards shaped like Uncle Sam Hats or add tiny flags to folded papers for simple name placards.
Be healthy while snacking. Red and blue berries with whipped cream. Whip up your own cream by whipping a pint of cream and slowly adding powdered sugar until it reaches the desired sweetness. Let children decorate the top with patriotic colored sprinkles.
Or let children make fruit wands on skewers. String blueberries on skewers and top it off with red fruit stars cut from watermelon slices.
Books and Movies to Enjoy
Add to summer enrichment this week by reading and watching patriotic books and films. Some musicals like 1776 are shown on television every year so check your television guide. Visit your local bookstore and library for displays of patriotic books to buy or borrow.
Some great books for children include The Star-Spangled Banner by Jane Hampton Cook and Independence Day by Nancy Sanders, or See the Country, See the City by Crystal Bowman for little ones.
For adults, check out Battlefields and Blessings series of books, especially Stories of Faith and Courage from the American Revolution by Jane Hampton Cook and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front by Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green. These daily devotionals share true glimpses into American history that also reveal the faith of the individuals in each story.
Extend the thoughts about freedom to reading about missionaries who work to bring the truth of Christ that sets people free. Read their stories and also check online to find out about places where people are persecuted for believing in Christ. Pray for those people and look up the countries you read about on a map. Consider supporting a missionary.
When God brought the people into the Promised Land, He directed them to keep 12 stones as a memorial of another miracle and the fulfillment of His promise. Read Joshua 4:6-7 and chat about Israel’s struggles for peace. Consider what you can do to capture memories of faith and freedom.
Decorate a large stone or stepping stone with images or words of freedom. Take photos and make scrapbook pages that include a family prayer and individual thanks for freedom. Include photos of members past and present who served in the military to protect our freedoms.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Blessed are the people he chose to be his own.” Psalm 33:12
Karen Whiting is an author of twenty-four books. Her newest title 52 Weekly Devotions for Busy Families includes a weekly theme with choices of activities and chat prompts.
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