Feeling festive? I hope so.

I've struggled with feeling inspired to celebrate, I confess.

This week I finally realized how exhausted I've been--maybe you can relate. And clearly, the political unrest continues.

There's always been turmoil and disagreement in the world. And then we take into consideration community and personal struggles--economic or otherwise. I think we've all been feeling a bit of pressure, for sure.

But yet, this weekend we celebrate America. Together. People from all walks of life will gather together and watch fireworks, host family gatherings, and hopefully remember that, despite whatever differences we have, we are all Americans.

Despite the problems we're facing as a nation and even the wrenching social turmoil, we are still America. I'm thankful that we still have the freedom to disagree. We still have the freedom to fight for what we believe in our hearts is right. We still have the right to stand and demand better from our leaders.

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The truth is, that this nation was built following an epic struggle for freedom.

It began in rebellion against what we believed was injustice by a monarch ruling from a place that more and more began to feel like a foreign land to the colonists.

They were taxed and treated unjustly. They were subjected to the heavy hand of the privileged and worked hard to do the best they could with what they were allowed.

They prospered, yes. At the same time, it became clear that ultimately they'd have to stand up against the powers that held the colonies in a weakened position. Only then could the full potential of this nation be realized. But at first, it wasn't pretty, was it?

Today, many are struggling for justice, as well.

What "justice" looks like may differ from one person's opinion to another. Regardless, let's celebrate one glorious thing we all have in common--this incredible nation of ours.

I was taking a walk in a nearby neighborhood recently and some kids (I assume) had drawn this lovely American flag with some sidewalk chalk. Sometimes kids, in their innocence, are the most profound among us. What a reminder of what matters most.

Very often turmoil and struggles, though they can be dark and difficult while we walk through them, lead to real change for the better. This story is as old as time. It's a story Americans know very well.

And since we know this story can end well, it can give us hope. If we'll allow it access to our hearts and minds. And that is something to celebrate indeed. That is part of what makes us American.

Long live freedom. May truth, love, and justice reign in our hearts and in this country.

Happy Birthday, America. Have fun. Be safe. Love your neighbor.

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