by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Of course, in our Declaration of Independence, I’d like to substitute for ‘the pursuit of happiness’ something like, ‘the discovery of true joy’ because that is what Jesus promises us. (John 14:1; 15:11.) I do know, however, that down through the years our country’s founding documents have assured its citizens of success in their pursuits of a good life. And, our nation’s founding cornerstone was (and is) ‘In God we trust.’
Since every birthday, in my opinion, deserves a celebration that lasts longer than a day, why not take time for a week or so to dig around a bit into what makes democracy like ours tick? You could find help online, no doubt, but you’re not without creative energy and need only to set aside some time, engage your family to participate, and come up with your own ‘curriculum’ for highlighting a few of the blessings that come with being an American. Only positive ideas, please. Here are some of mine:
- Download the original version of the Declaration of Independence. Note especially the beginning and ending. Get together, read these parts aloud and try to imagine what it must have been like to be a representative in that historic gathering. Pool some of what you already know about the circumstances that led the Colonies to take such a bold step.
- Discuss whether we, today, value the same things as the writers of the Declaration. Why or why not?
- Read together Psalm 118:8-9. Is there evidence that the authors of the Declaration trusted in God? Read the whole Psalm, taking it in turns until the last verse. Read the last verse in unison. Memorize it.
- Consider making this verse your family motto for a time. Create a version of it on a poster that you can display in a prominent place. Use this verse, said in unison, at the beginning of every mealtime you share together.
- Start a list of things you can ‘give thanks’ for as a citizen of the United States. What evidences can you point out that we now enjoy as proof of God’s enduring love?
- Encourage your family members to express their gratitude to God and our Founding Fathers in their own creative ways. Drawings, poems and songs, dramatization, flower arrangements, prayer walks, essays, puzzles, games, charts and research – give them freedom to be themselves. Set a time limit, however, and come back together to share with one another.
- Design a way your family is comfortable to pray together for our nation and its leaders. Discuss ways you can show respect, even when you disagree with their actions.
- Lead your family by example. Guard your own talk in their presence.
- Create a Bible study on respect of authority appropriate to the ages and maturity of your family members. See: Romans 13: 1-7; 1Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 13:17.
- Discuss ways you might consider improving your ‘respect quotient,’ both towards governing authorities and each other.
- Think of ways you might share this with members of your extended family, or another family. Invite them over and share a meal, good times and some of your discoveries.
- Let these suggestions lead you to other good ideas and follow through.
- Keep a record of what transpires in some form to which you can return and rejoice.
(We) give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29