It’s been over three months since my last post. (Does that make me sound like a recovering write-a-holic?) Now that summer is in full swing, I hope to write more frequently, as the Lord leads me.
Yesterday we had a wonderful time with family, celebrating the birth of our great country. The holiday was even more meaningful to me this year due to a recent encounter I had with a beautiful Ethiopian woman I met at a hair salon. “Saluda” (not her name) ministered to me as she cut my hair, fixing a disastrous haircut I’d just received from an unnamed “Big Name” hair salon — at a quarter of the price.
Saluda grew up in Ethiopia but moved to America over twenty years ago, and she LOVES this country. Extreme poverty and corruption are rampant in her native land, so much so that she does not often go back to visit. She spoke of how much she loves “the law” in this country. In Ethiopia, if a person is pulled over by a policeman, he can be bought and the ticket is ripped up. In Ethiopia, if a person wants to build a house, he has to pay bribes to everyone just to get started. In Ethiopia, orphaned children live on the streets, eating garbage out of trash cans, holding out their hands, their bodies skinny and sickly. She gives to them, she said, but there are so many of them that she can’t help them all. There are no jobs to be had.
In America, she said, a person can make a living for the family, even if it means holding down two or more jobs. At least in America there are jobs for the taking for those who will do them. When her daughter sees a person on the streets begging for a handout, she who has seen extreme poverty shakes her head and says,
There is a difference between being poor and being lazy.
She was not being callous in her observation. She was being honest. Something about her comment has stayed with me. I remember my father teaching my brother and me the importance of having a strong work ethic. Even if you have to walk alongside the road and pick up aluminum cans, you can do something to earn a little money.
So today I am grateful to be celebrating my freedom — freedom from overt religious oppression, freedom from corrupt public officials, freedom to obtain employment, freedom to write these words. I am thankful to our Lord who is the source of all our freedoms. Even if I were shackled, I would be free to pray and praise him. If my mouth was taped, I would still be free to praise in my mind. Today I pause a moment to pray for those around the world whose only freedom can be found in their minds. I pray the Lord will encourage, strengthen, and lift up the millions of children around the world whose extreme poverty is at a level that we in America can’t even fathom.
And I thank Him for Saluda, who through her conversation and gentle spirit opened my eyes to a new appreciation and gratitude for America, and especially for the Lord who, for some reason only He knows, decided to plop me down here, in hot-as-fire North Texas, in an air conditioned home. He has given me a precious child who does not, THANK YOU LORD, have to dig for food in a garbage can but can freely go to the pantry whenever she wants.
You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.