nancy williams

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Archive for June, 2010

Taking Time to Remember

In a few days, we’ll join people across the country to celebrate that momentous day, when a group of leaders gathered to sign a document that would change the course of history, in our land and around the world. The Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Declaration of Independence, unanimously declared by the 13 United States of America, on July 4, 1776. The first celebrations began shortly after the signing in colonies along the Eastern Seaboard, with parades, fireworks, the firing of cannons, military reviews and festive meals shared by families and friends. As signed copies of the document reached various towns throughout the colonies, eager citizens gathered on the courthouse steps and town squares to hear it read aloud. This public announcement of the birth of a nation began with a statement of observation:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness …”

It continued with a list of the colonies’ concerns and the failed attempts to resolve them with the British monarchy; and it closed with this declaration:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Citizens have gathered each July Fourth since then to commemorate the steps to freedom, and in just a few days we’ll have opportunity to do just that. We’ll begin with parades, proclamations, pledges, and picnics with family and friends. Then we’ll close the festivities with vibrant fireworks displays and jubilant sounds of freedom. As we enjoy a time of celebration, let’s also pause to reflect on the principles our country’s founders set in place for us. Principles that can be a guiding force for our nation and our personal lives as we face the challenges and opportunities before us.

-We must know what beliefs we hold dear—the principles we want to base our life upon—and why they are of value to us.

-It’s important to stand strong for those beliefs and to speak out when appropriate, not just about what we’re against, but also for what we favor.

-We need a solid foundation to uphold us when the challenging winds of adversity blow—a source of strength and stability to guide and sustain us.

-It is important for us to cherish our freedoms and not take them for granted.

-We can learn to respect differences, while seeking out the common threads that can draw us together.

As we celebrate this special day in the life of our country, let’s also pause to humble ourselves before God as we seek His face and ask for His guidance, protection and provision. May “that star-spangled banner yet wave” and may freedom ring, in our nation and in our hearts. And, may God bless America. Happy Fourth of July!

Fortunately – How’s Your Day Going?

First off, my apologies to those grammar experts reading this column. You are about to read some things that may cause you to twinge a bit. So, set your red pens aside, relax, and enjoy a playful look at how our days (and our lives) often flow.

Fortunately, I enjoyed a great day.

Unfortunately, the time was late and I was tired, so I had to stop what I was enjoying and go to bed.

Fortunately, I have a comfortable bed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have long to sleep because I had to get up early the next morning.

Fortunately, I have an alarm clock.

Unfortunately, it woke me up with an irritating buzz.

Fortunately, I preset the coffee pot the night before.

Unfortunately, I don’t have room service.

Fortunately, it was worth the trip to the kitchen to begin the day with a fresh cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, I barely had time for a quick cup before I had to hurriedly prepare for the day ahead.

Fortunately, I planned a day that would be both productive and fun, including time with friends.

Unfortunately, I needed to clean the house before company arrived.

Fortunately, my husband helped me get things in order.

Unfortunately, we had no snacks to serve our friends.

Fortunately, my husband went to the store while I got ready.

Unfortunately, his taste in snacks is unusual.

Fortunately, so are the tastes of our friends.

Unfortunately, the time passed all too quickly.

Fortunately, we always enjoy our time with them so the evening overflowed with love and laughter.

Unfortunately, we had to clean the kitchen after they left.

Fortunately, we have a dishwasher.

Unfortunately, it was full of dirty dishes.

Fortunately, we worked together and it didn’t take us long to finish.

Unfortunately, it was late, I was exhausted, and I knew I would have another early morning start.

Fortunately, I have a comfortable bed.

Unfortunately, I had to set an alarm that has annoying buzz.

Fortunately …

So tell me, have you had days like that one? Of course you have; we all have experienced that duo. Days filled with both “fortunatelies” and “unfortunatelies.” Times when plans unfold easily, things flow smoothly, and we encounter numerous pockets of satisfaction, joy and even laughter. Yet, our days also have “unfortunatelies” in them. Times when distractions veer us off course, irritations annoy us, unexpected obstacles challenge our plans and disappointments attempt to rob us of joy.

I just wonder: do we approach our days, knowing we will encounter both “fortunatelies” and “unfortunatelies?” If we do so, do we take time to recognize and enjoy the “fortunatelies?” There are a lot of them around, you know. Obvious treasures we plan and prepare for, unexpected surprises we encounter, and little nuggets of joy we would miss if we didn’t look carefully and deliberately for them. Or, do we just zip right by them in our attempt to pack all we can into our day? Do we take them for granted? Do we minimize their value? Do we consider them lucky happenstances? Or, do we count them as blessings?

And what about the “unfortunatelies” that come along? Like it or not, no matter how well we try to avoid them, they do find their way into our lives. Sometimes we see them coming, while at other times we’re caught off guard. Sometimes they come with a bang and other times with a whisper. Do we meet them with shock? Do we approach them with dread or fear? Do we sit in the midst of them with frustration, disappointment, even anger? Or do we accept them as reality and see them as the part of life we must press on through?

What about today? What “fortunatelies” have you experienced and what “unfortunatelies” have you met along your path? And, most importantly, how have you responded to both? What has captured your attention? What has influenced your attitude? And what has driven your conversations and actions? What will you ponder as you lay your head on your pillow tonight?

Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of this column and you’ll need to finish this story yourself. Perhaps that will be one of the “fortunatelies” to bring you a laugh or two this day!