They Risked All

The-American-Patriots-Almanac-365-reasons-to-love-AmericaThe following is taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb.

On July 4, 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. The men who issued that famous document realized they were signing their own death warrants, since the British would consider them traitors. Many suffered hardship during the Revolutionary War.

William Floyd of New York saw the British use his home for a barracks. His family fled to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees. After the war Floyd found his fields stripped and house damaged.

Richard Stockton of New Jersey was dragged from his from his bed, thrown into prison, and treated liked a common criminal. His home was looted and his fortune badly impaired. He was released in 1777, but his health was broken. He died a few years later.

At age sixty-three, John Hart, another New Jersey signer, hid in the woods during December 1776 while Hessian soldiers hunted him across the countryside. He died before the war’s end. The New Jersey Gazette reported that he “continued to the day he was seized with his last illness to discharge the duties of a faithful and upright patriot in the service of his country.”

Thomas Nelson, a Virginian, commanded militia and served as governor during the Revolution. He reportedly instructed artillerymen to fire at his own house in Yorktown when he heard the British were using it as a headquarters. Nelson used his personal credit to raise money for the Patriot cause. His sacrifices left him in financial distress, and he was unable to repair his Yorktown home after the war.

Thomas Heyward, Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge, three South Carolina signers, served in their state’s militia and were captured when the British seized Charleston. They spent a year in a St. Augustine prison and, when released, found their estates plundered.

Such were the prices paid so we may celebrate freedom every Fourth of July.

The Best Father’s Day Movies

Father’s Day is coming up. The holiday holds true for many people in different walks of life. Maybe you’re still living with your father, or you’re far away from him. Maybe your father died. Perhaps, even, you’re a father yourself now, as this will be my first Father’s Day as a dad. As you well know, there are many movies about father/child relationships. I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite movies about dads and their relationship with their kids.

After all, if you’re struggling with planning the perfect Father’s Day, keep in mind that sometimes the best thing a father can have is a couch, a box of pizza, and a movie.

Big-Fish-movie-poster

Big Fish – This may be my favorite Tim Burton movie; it’s a bit weird, but not at all creepy. It’s the story of a grown son trying to put together his dad’s fabrications of life in the truest sense.

Best line: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

bill cosby

Bill Cosby, Himself – This is a hysterical standup done by Bill Cosby. As engaging as any 90-minute movie, and funnier than most comedies I’ve seen. Cosby takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure from dating to marriage to childbirth to kicking the kids out of the house. It’s impossible not to crack up, especially if you’ve “been there.”

Best line: “We [parentes] don’t want justice. We want quiet!” 

dan_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85Dan in Real Life – A sweet movie about a widowed father trying to raise his three daughters while visiting the extended family. Steve Carrell shows a bit of his serious/charming side in this one.

Best line: “Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”

despicalbe meDespicable Me – Another Steve Carrell favorite, more on the silly side. Despicable Me is considered, in our house, to be nearly as good as a Pixar movie. Maybe it’s the whole adoption thing we like so much. After all, three adorable girls can soften even the hardest of hearts, right?

Best line: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” (That was for you, Sarabeth)

fiddler on roofFiddler on the Roof – And while we’re talking about movies with dads raising three daughters, I’ll throw in this gem. What man can’t relate to Tevye, who just wants a little more money, who just wants to keep his wife’s affections, and who just wants to keep his daughters at home? I’ll admit, as funny as this movie can be, some scenes are pretty tough to get through, especially if you have daughters of your own.

Best line: [To God] “If money is a curse, then smite me with it!”

MSDFAOF EC079Father of the Bride – If you haven’t seen this a million times already… I just don’t know what to say to you.

Best line: “This was the moment I’d been dreading for the past six months. Well, actually for the past 22 years.”

finding nemoFinding Nemo – Search the entire ocean to find my lost son? No problem. Letting him grow up… eh, not so easy.

Best line: “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

GoofyMovieA Goofy Movie – You know, I’ve met some people who didn’t like Lord of the Rings (they’re not my friends). I’ve also heard of some people not liking pizza. But I have never heard of anybody – ever – not liking A Goofy Movie. My dad, in fact, would sit and watch this with me growing up, and getting him to watch any cartoon was like pulling teeth. Yeah, this is the ultimate Father’s Day movie.

Best line: Goofy: “You look just like I did at your age.” Max: “Please don’t say that, Dad.”

mrs-doubtfireMrs. Doubtfire – Dress up as a woman to see your kids everyday? Er, um, sure thing. I think most dads would get this. Robin Williams at his absolute best here. (BTW, they’re working on a sequel… what do you think about that?)

Best line: “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

parenthoodParenthood – Another Steve Martin favorite and directed by Ron Howard (what a pair, huh?). This is the movie that inspired NBC’s awesome show Parenthood. Just a good flick about how parenthood never ever ends – and there’s never a break. (Ironically, don’t watch this with the kids around.)

Best line: Karen: “Do you really have to go?” Gil: “My whole life is have to.”

shrek-forever-afterShrek Forever After – In an effort to erase the deplorable Shrek the Third from existence, Dreamworks puts together a valiant effort in this fourth installment. Shrek is in over his head with this whole fatherhood thing, and he gets his wish to have everything back the way it was before he got married.

Best line: “Are my kids cute or do they make people uncomfortable?” 

What are your favorite movies about fathers? List ‘em bellow, I’d love to hear them!

 

Today is the Day

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Good morning.

Today is an unusual day; a day you don’t get very often.

Today you get to start over.

Today is the day that starts with many of your Yes’s being No’s and many of your No’s being Yes’s.

Today is the day you begin breaking habits, and creating new ones.

Don’t underestimate the importance of today.

If you’ve resolved to read a chapter in a book every day, today is the day to start.

If you’ve resolved to pray every day this year, then do it. Today.

Five years from now, you have the chance to look back and see a clear line drawn in the sand of time and you can say, “I haven’t smoked since the last day of 2013. 2014 was the start of my best year ever.”

If you’ve resolved to exercise this year, today is the day to start.

Because if you don’t, you likely never will.

Today is the day to say no to what you said yes to yesterday.

No to the carbs, to too much TV, to porn, to sarcastic comments, to bad attitudes, to cursing, to honking too much, to raising your voice in arguments, to arguing for arguing’s sake…

Today is also the day to start saying yes to what you said no to yesterday.

Yes to exercising, to smiling, to laughing, to giving, to singing, to dancing, to writing that book you’ve been meaning to write, to reading, to hugging your spouse, to hugging your kids, to counseling, to applying to better jobs, to getting those paint canvases, to starting that business…

Today is much different from yesterday.

Yesterday was the end of a long string of failures and upsets.

Today is the beginning of good choices and a better attitude.

Nothing changes over night, but change can begin in one day.

One January day.

One day like today.

Don’t miss it.

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My New Year’s Resolution

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2013 may have brought a lot of tears for you.

Maybe it brought a lot of prosperity and happiness.

Maybe it was the year you met God. Maybe it was the year you fell from Him.

Maybe you got married, had kids, got a promotion.

Or got fired.

2013 means different things to everyone.

For me, though, whether it was a good year or a bad year, I resolve to let 2013 be the worst year of my life.

I lost my temper one too many times this year. I snapped at my wife too often. I yelled at God.

A lot.

We also got a new puppy this year, and we upgraded most of our electronics. I read 30 books and discovered a bunch of new music.

We visited Nashville, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and other states.

We attended no weddings, but also no funerals. And we celebrated the birth of several friends’ babies.

But regardless of all that, I resolve to let 2013 be the worst year.

And 2014 is going to be the best. Because I will snap at my wife less, date her more, and although I don’t care much for Louisville, Kentucky (compared to other parts of the country), I will live like this is our last year here and we have to see and do everything.

So come on, 2014. Bring it on.

The apocalypse may happen this year, whether by biblical proportions, or by zombies, but 2014 will still be the best.

Why?

Because of two things.

My attitude

and by praying more.

Share your New Year’s resolutions below and encourage all of our readers to make 2014 the best year ever.

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Linus Nails It

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“Remember when we were all sitting around the Christmas tree, opening our presents? That’s when you said it.”

“That’s when I said what?”

“It was beautiful. You said, ‘Why do we have to be nice to each other only on Christmas? Why can’t we be nice to each other every day?'”

Lucy then storms off, shouting, “You drive me crazy!”

And Linus, having won more TV and beanbag time, concludes in It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, “Joy to the world.”

Linus seems to nail it every time, doesn’t he?

So, brothers, sisters; husbands, wives; mothers, daughters…

The next time you grow impatient with your loved one, think back to two days ago – the look on their face when they watched you open that Wii console, or that rare edition of your favorite book.

I’ll think about how self-sacrificing my wife was getting me that 40″ LED Smart TV I’ve been bugging her about for over a year. And that ice cream maker. We don’t have room for an ice cream maker in the kitchen, but she knows how obsessed I am with ice cream, so she got it for me anyway.

I think that’s one way we can keep Christmas in our hearts all year long.

Remember December 25th, and how loving our family was in getting us things we don’t need or deserve.

But they went out of their way to get us those things anyway.

Because they love us.

Yes, that’s right, Linus: Joy to the world, indeed.

Win a free autographed copy of my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. Click here for details. (“Expect dinosaurs and giant creepy-crawlies. And if that kind of thing scares you, then you’re like me, which means you’ll go ahead and read the book anyway, with no one to blame but yourself for all the flinching you’ll do…” -Danielle E. Shipley, author and blogger)

Christmas – A Time to Reflect and Anticipate

sky-night-theme-from-here-this-has-a-static-wallpaperSome people are off from work today, some work half days, and others – well, it’s business as usual.

But today is a very unordinary day – a day that stands out from any other day of the year.

Today, the world holds its breath for those brief moments that bridge the gap between today and that oh-so-special tomorrow.

Many children will try to stay awake all night casting their eyes to the stars, hoping to catch a glimpse of one shooting across the sky.

Some people will make a mad rush to the mall or the nearest Target to grab those last minute gifts – praying that they’re not closed yet.

Families will be gathering around a roast beast tonight, or sitting closely together on church pews, singing about the holiest night in the history of mankind.

The night a baby was born. A baby that created the world.

And a baby that would grow up to change the world.

And we look forward to that grown baby returning once more soon to transform the world.

Christmas is a holiday that is unique.

Whereas other holidays celebrate or remember the past, Christmas extends its arms backward in time and forward.

We pause and reflect on the wonder that was, and anticipate the wonder that will be.

If the candid birth of a king that would not be recognized on His time on earth is so catastrophic, so pantomime – imagine His return when not a single person, loyal or not, will be unable to not bow their knee in utter reverence to Him.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Earth’s king, while it cranes its neck forward, leaning in, and begs that king to reclaim His throne and reign supreme forevermore.

Christmas celebrates the past and the future.

But in the present – from midnight tonight to December 26th – what are we to do? How do we reflect and anticipate? How are we to both remember and long for?

By pausing.

Simply pausing. For one meal of the year, let the meal itself last longer than the scrubbing of the dishes.

Put work aside, if you have a choice, and know that money can always be made for the next 364 days.

Laugh with your kids, embrace your wife, tell your husband you love him.

If you’re still awake at midnight tonight, keep those eyes in the sky, but look not for eight reindeer – but imagine a star once shone brightly on a manger showcasing the birth of God whose reign would extend much past his three-day death.

And when the wrapping paper is in the trash and the last spill of Egg-nog has been cleaned up, and the last Christmas show has been watched on the eve of December 25th, stop.

Don’t think about the mundane 26th – that most dreadful and dreary of days where Christmas has passed and winter remains.

But think beyond that day. Think future-ward to the day when the Christ-child will return, not in a bed of straw, but on a flaming chariot.

That night, when He returns will not be so silent, but oh, will it be holy! That triumphant night, that holy night, that night that wipes away every December 26th, and does away with lingering winters, and every day, from that day on will be like Christmas for those who believe; remembering the past, and living in the future.

Merry Christmas.

Win a free autographed copy of my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. Click here for details. (Toy’s debut novel will leave readers talking and will make them instant fans of his storytelling abilities. -Nicole McManus, reviewer and blogger)

Unmet Plans

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I just turned 30 this year, and it was a difficult milestone, as I’m not yet the self-made millionaire I was supposed to be by this time.

I’m a tricky guy; I eat cookie dough and get giddy over a tacky Christmas light displays with all those cheap plastic light-up Santas and snowmen. But deep-down I’ve been a Scrooge. (I turned off the Christmas music a couple of days ago because it was just too much.)

But 2013 has been a difficult year.

I had high expectations to be met by this time.

We were supposed to have a kid by now, be financially stable – no, comfortable, and  have my book be a New York Times bestseller.

But with just thirteen days left of the year, it’s not likely my plans will come through, and my resolutions must be delayed another year.

But, hard as it is for me to admit, God’s plans are right on target.

And, honestly, I hate that.

It’s true that His ways are not our ways. And sometimes I just want to scream, “Why don’t You just make Your ways MY ways?!”

Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe you had big plans for 2013, too. Maybe you were expecting a promotion by now, or hoping to see a friend or family member come to salvation by this point, or… I don’t know, hoping to finish that book, or go on that vacation.

But the December 31st deadline is crushing in on us.

Something I have to realize and come to grips with is that everything’s on schedule according to God’s watch.

It’s easy to write that, and say it. But darn near impossible to believe.

Or if I do believe it deep down, it makes me angry.

Conform your ways to mine, God. You know?

One of the greatest lines of all time is from the movie Fiddler on the Roof. It’s the last verse in Tevye’s song, “If I Were a Wealthy Man”:

Lord who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am.

And here it is:

Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man.

It’s meant to be humorous, but it chokes me up every time.

I’m not trying to sound wise or profound here, but I think the answer to that question, as hard as it is to admit, is yes. Yes, if God were to “smite me with money” (or happiness, or wishes-come-true), it would spoil His eternal plan for my life.

I wouldn’t have to work at my day job, and, who knows, make friends with the people I work with; listen to them, laugh with them, witness to them, pray for them. (Not that I’m great at the latter two, but the opportunity is there, nonetheless.)

When self-made deadlines approach and when our dreams fall through, these are truths that are hard to face, but face them we must.

If I’ve learned anything from the Christian life, it’s that hardly anything in it makes sense. And nothing is fair.

But you know what helps? To know that others have been in your place. And they’ve made it through, alive, well, joyful, and healthy.

I guess it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun.

But you know what? I may not have everything I want, but if I did, what would there be left to fight for?

I want happiness for my wife. I can fight for that.

I want financial comfort for my family. Bring it on.

On my good days, I want my coworkers to know God. Let’s do this.

This is all easy to say and creatively write this in a blog post, but it’s another to believe it.

But, traditionally speaking, Christmas is the time for impossible belief, isn’t it? The miracle at the year’s midnight? The mustard seed planted in the eleventh hour?

And maybe – just maybe – from that seed can sprout a little hope, a little faith. Just enough to start things off for next year. A better year.

A hopeful year.

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