July 2020. What came to mind when you read those words? Was it patriotism, freedom, independence, a picnic in the park with fireworks to follow? Maybe you were hoping July would remind our leaders in Washington about the “perfect vision” our forefathers wanted to provide for America. Did God come to mind? As we celebrate the birthday of our country, I would like to share my thoughts and reflections of what came to my mind.
As a young girl, I can remember anticipating July 4th. It was a day full of excitement spent at my Grandpa and Grandma Divine’s house. My dad had two younger brothers and their families would join us also. In all, we had 17 family members gathered in the same place. This was always special. We all looked forward to spending the day together. The kids would play in the backyard on the trampoline and the swing set. We would jump high and do flips on the trampoline, which made my grandmother nervous. Of course, this enticed us to jump all the higher and flip even more! Our parents would challenge each other to tennis matches on grandpa’s backyard court or to a game of pool in the recreation room.
Then it came time to eat. There was always plenty for everyone. If you went hungry, it was your own fault. Grandpa’s huge mouth-watering summer hamburgers with all the fixin’s, homemade vanilla ice cream, watermelon, corn on the cob, pasta and/or potato salad…I can still taste it all. Every year, it seemed my grandmother would never fail to build a hamburger so big with ALL the fixin’s that she would make the comment, “I don’t know how I’m gonna get my mouth over this!” To which all three of her sons would reply, “Don’t worry Mom. We’re sure you’ll manage.” I can still hear my dad and his brothers laughing hysterically at their response. Conversations between the adults would ensue. Usually they were about my grandfather’s experiences in the valley I grew up in. Stories of how he came to the valley, what he did for work, where that lead him, the movie stars that visited the valley and those he had conversations with. It was something I learned to appreciate listening to as I grew older…and miss now.
FIREWORKS!!!! Fireworks as a kid were the most anticipated time of the day. After we were all stuffed from dinner, we would gather in my grandparents “forest”. This was an area beyond the backyard and the tennis court towards the back of their property. Grandpa had planted several different kinds of trees amongst the grass and built a white gazebo in the middle of it all. From their “forest”, we had a perfect view of where the town shot off the fireworks. We would lay out on blankets or sit in lawn chairs and gaze at the beautiful night sky, just waiting for the light show and the big bangs we could feel in our chest as the fire- works exploded overhead. We exchanged oooh’s and aaah’s, depending on the size of the bang, the type of firework and the colors.
As the night drew to an end, we all exchanged hugs and kisses and bid each other goodnight. It had been a good day filled with laughter, competition, storytelling, good food, time with family and memories that will last a lifetime and passed on to future generations. Through it all, I know God was there! He was there in the hands that made the food. He was there in the laughter shared by brothers teasing their mother. He was there in the stories that a father/grandfather shared with his family. He was there through the tennis and pool competitions (probably had a hand in helping my grandfather with his trick shots in both sports). He was there in the worry that my grandmother had for her grandchildren jumping and flipping too high on the trampoline. He was also there in the foolish grandchildren who jumped even higher and flipped even more!
He was with us all as we gathered together to celebrate this great nation’s birthday…colorful fireworks add- ing to His already beautiful starry sky.
I asked you earlier if God came to mind when you thought of July 2020. He definitely came to my mind. For I know I have been blessed with wonderful people that provided me with love, compassion and an appreciation of family, country and knowing what a loving God can do in your life. I realize that many of us will not be able to celebrate our country’s birth this month as we have done before
surrounded by family or friends because of the Covid-19 pandem- ic. However, we have many ways of keeping in touch with those we care about. You can plan an old-fashioned phone call, a letter, a card or maybe a new-fangled Zoom meeting. No matter how you may choose to communicate, know that God is already there with them and with you! So celebrate, my friends. Celebrate what God has given and has yet to provide in your life and in theirs! Have a blessed 4th of July, make memories and praise God in your life always!
CVCC Deacon of the Month