Powerful Words: Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States
A Proclamation

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

happy thanksgiving words

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The 1870′s called, and it wants its politics back…

The 1870′s called, and it wants its politics back….

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The 1870′s called, and it wants its politics back…

Lately, I’ve been researching the 1870′s as background material for my upcoming novel,”By Streams of water”. I’ve been struck by how that time laid the groundwork for issues that have carried forward to today. I won’t go into a lot of detail about that. You can 8125485_sthem through their various points of view.

Here are some things I personally learned by vicariously living through those times with my characters.

1) The hanging chads of a few elections ago were nothing new. The compromise of 1877 was due in part to disputed election results from where? From my beloved birth state of Florida. Other returns in dispute came from South Carolina, Louisiana, and Oregon. The election confusion was not solved until the March after the November 1876 election, and during the intervening months, the country was without a clear executive leader. America survived in the 1870′s just as it did during the Bush/Gore election dispute.
2) When Rutherford B. Hayes came to office, his presidency was controversial. Even today, historians debate whether his presidency was legitimate and whether or not he was an effective president. We can’t expect that politics will always run smoothly or assume that controversy means our country is doomed to fail.
3) Failures, misunderstandings, and even corruption among Republicans, Democrats, northern, southern,  whites, blacks, farmers and businessmen set up a political and social climate that still haunts us today. We still debate many of the same issues. How far should the federal government intrude into state government or even into an individual’s personal life? we ask. How do we ensure the rights of minority groups without curtailing the rights of majority groups. Not only that, but we are all more affected by 1870′s stereotypes of what it means to be a native American, a Southern white, a black person, a Northerner, a conservative, or a liberal than we realize.  We are rightly appalled by the racism intertwined in 19th century society, but we still react to certain groups for what their ancestors did or didn’t do in the nineteenth century.
4) We are fortunate to live in a society in which we, as citizens, can be part of the governing process. There are positive things that can come from a representative form of government.
5) Having said that, it’s time to acknowledge the limits of government, science, and business to provide the deep answers to life’s problems. Individual and group sin really does interfere with our ability to understand each other and to deal with each other in an equitable, just, and beneficial way. Thus, Reconstruction era politics could only do so much, and the country abandoned the effort. Likewise, the Progressive era that followed failed to achieve its objectives. To be properly related to others, we all need divine grace and wisdom. We need our Savior, and when we reject his ways, we suffer. Only Christ’s kingdom stands when human kingdoms falter.

Enjoy!

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Ouch!

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I love this quote from Samuel Johnson: “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” Ouch!

Enjoy!

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Convalescing…

small_Woman sewing

It seems to me that in days past, there was something of an art and a science to convalescing. The definition of to convalesce is to recover one’s health and strength over a period of time after an illness or operation. In the days before antibiotics got people up and running quickly — in those days when people often died of sinus infections or strep throat — it was imperative that a patient fully recover from an illness to prevent relapse. This was especially true when it came to diseases such as typhoid and tuberculosis. In our modern culture, however, we expect to be back at work within 24 hours of coming down with nearly anything.

In an article on her journey back to health after an illness, Johanna Fitzpatrick writer, “At first it (convalescence) seemed an agreeable idea. As a teenager, I had quite fancied myself as a tragic 19th-century heroine – usually consumptive – whiling away my time in a sanatorium in Switzerland. But this wholesome image of convalescence belongs to a gentler time, when getting better was an accepted part of being ill. That has been lost as modern medicine came up with magic bullets – antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc – that seemed to cure instantaneously. It has altered our perception of illness, and now a period of convalescence does not translate easily into our frenetic pace of life.”

I am currently recovering from a bout of pneumonia. This began with an ordinary virus that inflamed my asthma, which I tend to neglect when I am feeling well, and then progressed into a bacterial infection in my lungs. I am, for once, sufficiently sobered by how sick I was to know that I need to get fully well before resuming my usual pace of life. However, I have discovered that I — like most Americans — am not good at convalescing.

As Jane says, “at first, it seemed like an agreeable idea.”

Here are the hours to read, to write, to watch movies, and to sew and not feel guilty for whatever else I might be neglecting. Here is the time to write real letters and also to catch up via email, texting, and the like. Here is my time to recover as a Jane Austen heroine would, with hours passed in gentle pursuits. Yet, my tired mind and a tired body wearies easily of even these pleasant things. I also fret that I’m not “accomplishing anything constructive”. The agreeable idea becomes a little less agreeable when you long to be out and doing.

I remind myself that it’s also a time to spend more time reading scripture and praying, and these things are nourishing to my health. I also consider that to convalesce is a blessing, considering the alternative, and that just a week and a half ago, I’d have been delighted to be as well as I am now.

I also remind myself that one of the best medicines is that old tincture of time.

Enjoy!

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Words Aflame with Revolutionary Joy!

“The cynics, they can only speak of the dark, of the obvious, and this is not hard. For all it’s supposed sophistication, it’s cynicism that’s simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is to see the cracks?

The sages and prophets, the disciples and revolutionaries, they are the ones up on the ramparts, up on the wall pointing to the dawn of the new Kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and to the Blazing God who never sleeps.”

Ann Voskamp

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Like apples of gold in settings of silver…

In Proverbs, the Lord tells us that “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I’m pondering that today.

I greatly treasure those friends who speak aptly to me. Some have the gift of knowing when to encourage, when to challenge, and when to simply listen. Some are able to help me put my life, with all its joys and problems, into perspective. Well-spoken words have the power to convey hope, faith, and love.

Many people have left a beautiful legacy in my heart by speaking beautiful words to me. A friend of mine posed the notion that a person who becomes richer, rather than bitter, as they age has chosen to absorb what was beautiful and godly from people in their lives and to let go of what was not. There is a skill to hearing aptly, as well as speaking aptly.

Conversely, words poorly spoken and poorly timed can do great harm. These are the words that often haunt us. Why is it so easy to remember the words that cripple our hearts?

I know that I have often wounded others with my words. Sometimes, this was through the actual words that rolled off my tongue. At other times, the problem was not with the words, but with the timing. I have blurted something out when the hearer was not in a position to truly hear and consider my thoughts. In order to use words skillfully, we have to discern when to speak as well as what to speak.

Since, as Jesus tells us, we speak out of the overflow of our hearts, the ability to use words wisely comes from staying close to God. Whatever our hearts are full of will spill out in the words we say.

This applies to writing fiction, as well. Whoever the author is as a person shows up in the work.

Oh, to be able to speak and to write words that are well chosen and well timed! That is a prayer of mine.

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