Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel internationally for several different reasons in a year’s time. That year, I wrote the following article for our local newspaper during the week of 4th of July. I thought it would be appropriate to share again this week as we prepare to celebrate our country’s birthday!

This was a year of international travel for me. For someone who doesn’t like to fly, that means it was also a year of faith! I made a once-in-a-lifetime week trip to England and France with my daughter as a graduation gift. We then took a train from Paris to Vienna where we met a Hearts at Home team to spend another week encouraging moms in Vienna. Additionally, my husband and I made two trips to Russia this year to adopt our new son.

Upon returning from our final trip to Russia, I truly would have kissed the ground if it hadn’t been covered with airplane fuel! I was so glad to be home. The comforts of our life in America are luxurious to what is found in other parts of the world. The things that we take for granted are scarcely known in many other countries.

This coming week we will celebrate the 4th of July. After being out of the country for five weeks this year, I certainly have some perspective on just how wonderful our country really is.

Many of the differences I experienced as a world traveler are simply cultural differences. People do things differently elsewhere than we do here. However, some things are a direct result of governmental leadership and the foundations of freedom established by our forefathers.

Truly the song God Bless America took on a new meaning for me as I realized what a wonderful country we live in. Sitting in an obscure region of Russia, here are some of the observations I wrote in my journal:

  • God Bless America where there are screens on the windows and you don’t have to fight the bugs all night.
  • God Bless America where there is air conditioning in both homes and public buildings.
  • God Bless America where you can drink the water or use it to brush your teeth.
  • God Bless America where you have washcloths for your bath or shower.
  • God Bless America where toilets are above the ground rather than just a simple hole in the floor.
  • God Bless America where you can actually flush toilet paper because sewer systems are advanced enough to handle it.
  • God Bless America where grass is mowed and playgrounds are maintained.
  • God Bless America where you can have ice in your drinks!
  • God Bless America where you have the opportunity to own a home and maybe even some land.
  • God Bless America where many children run and play in yards as children are meant to do.
  • God Bless America where you don’t get pulled over by a police officer without good cause.
  • God Bless America where you don’t have to think about “paying off” a police officer if you do get pulled over.
  • God Bless America where a crooked cop and a judge who takes bribes are the exception rather than the rule.

Do you know someone who served our country in the armed forces? Do you have a family member, neighbor, or friend who risked life and limb to protect this wonderful country we call home? If so, take an opportunity to say thank you this week. They deserve our appreciation and gratitude for protecting our freedom. And it’s our freedom that allows us the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship.

As we approached New York City to land in the United States with our new 9-year-old son, he eagerly looked out the window and exclaimed, “America?” “Yes, Kolya, this is America,” I responded. And then quietly to myself I finished my sentence, “…land that I love.”

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