We joined the crowd of people in the little Missouri town of Allendale today.
Every July 4th since 1964, this little town with a population of 53 (more or less) have been serving up an Independence Day breakfast for upwards of a thousand people.
That’s a 52 year old tradition.
Neighbors greeting neighbors.
Entire families sitting around picnic tables.
Three generations of men manning row after row of grills frying sausages and eggs.
Pouring coffee and juice.
Flipping piles of pancakes on a rotating grill.
Pounds of butter.
Gallons of syrup.
There were flags flying.
A band stand decorated and filled with patriotic songs.
And veterans honored.
Made me proud to be an American.
Made me thankful for all those who sacrificed so much for my freedom.
Made me remember that it’s people like this – all over our nation – that make America great.
Thank you, Allendale, Missouri!
And God bless the USA!
This may go down as the our most memorable 4th of July weekend in recent history.
It was by far the most emotional.
We started the day with my nephew’s wedding.
It was a precious celebration of answered prayers and God’s faithfulness. And yes, I cried – but they were happy tears!
While the newlyweds took off on their honeymoon, the rest of us shed our wedding attire and moved on to my sister’s for a family cook-out. You know the kind – an All-American baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet kind of day.
Except that instead of baseball – we had contests on the trampoline to see who could catch a leaf with their teeth while jumping.
And instead of a Chevrolet we had go-cart races.
But we did have hot dogs and pie and lots of laughter.
And cotton candy.
And a strange dog that looked remarkably like Lassie.
And while the rest of the country lit sparklers and fire works – we fired a Civil War cannon. Bet that made the neighbors jump! (And no – we did not use Jan’s cannon ball!)
It was a little bittersweet as we said our goodbyes that evening. We knew that we would all be together the next night at my Grandpa’s visitation and again on Saturday for Grandpa’s funeral.
From wedding to funeral.
Tears of joy and tears of sorrow.
Making new memories and remembering old ones.
An emotional roller coaster.
But it was all good.
And God is faithful through it all. The joy and the pain. The happy and the sad.
The circle of life.
We spent weeks planning, days packing, and hours driving for an amazing weekend with my family that was full of…
…epic multi-generational hikes through the forests with mosquitoes as big as small planes.
…lots of creek wading, splashing and water fights – including one that ended when 2 of my nephews dumped a 2 gallon thermos of cold water on me. Would you believe me if I said I didn’t start it? Yeah – I didn’t think so. 😉
…a side-splitting “Improv night”. Each family brought a bag with 10 random items in it, we each took a different bag and created a skit with the items inside. Let me just say – my family is crazy funny.
…a sweet rubber horse’s head. What? Don’t you go camping with a rubber horse mask?!
…way too much food.
…non-stop fun and laughter.
…and lots and lots of family.
A special thank you to Angel Girl and my niece Faith for the amazing pictures!
“We all bear the painful cost of freedom.
As we formally celebrate the commitment to break from England and to protect our natural rights, let’s hug to our breast our freedom – our most precious national treasure – knowing that it, like a child is imperfect and demanding but undeniably good.
Let’s keep our centuries old habit of protecting that child of America, that freedom.
She’s getting more rare and precious every day.”
James B. Stockdale