In my own life, the 4th of July still tends to be one of those overlooked holidays.  For me, it is a party in celebration of summer and the theme colors of the party happen to be red, white, and blue every year. I hear patriotic stories and say “God Bless America” …and that is the extent of my celebration of our nation’s freedom.

However, this year was a little different. My parents recently returned from their 3-week trip to Ukraine.  They really enjoyed their time in Ukraine but they have also said several times that it has helped them gain a new appreciation for the United States. As they have shared that insight with me, my appreciation has grown as well.

I’m not sure how God goes about deciding who will live where, but I sure am blessed to be an American.  Born and raised in a nation that is always striving for continued equality, opportunity, and success for every person… no matter their skin color, intelligence level, no matter if they have parents or not.  Living in a city where I feel safe and protected by our public safety officers and military.  Where order, congeniality, and charity are shared without prompting.  Not many other nations around the world, even westernized ones, know these realities to the extent that we do here in the USA.

This July 4th, I got to spend time with some family friends.  Out of the 4 families on the trip, there were 5 children there who were not born Americans.  As I sat under the fireworks, my thoughts were on them.  I thought of them and the nearly 200 other children who are now in the US with host families for the summer.   I considered how far these children have come.  How blessed they are to experience life in the blessed and free nation that we know… and I take for granted. 

Now when I think of our kids, adopted and hosted, I will see a reflection of the American experience.  The blessing that we have to live in this nation.  Truly a place of safety, refuge, and freedom in this world.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord
Psalm 33:12 (NIV)