Independence Day

declaration-of-independenceIt’s hard to appreciate independence as an American in the 21st century.

We are still benefitting today—July 4th, 2013—from the courage and bravery of a people whose chosen leaders pledged their “lives, [their] fortunes, and [their] sacred honor” two hundred and thirty-seven years ago. Well over two centuries of time has passed since that particular July 4th.

(Actually, it was July 2nd, but that’s not really the point here…)

Today we live in the freedom that they fought for, and were successful in gaining.

The founders knew the value of freedom, even though they all had grown up in a culture where human slavery was an open practice for two centuries before their birth! Many of them opposed it strongly and spoke out often against it, including Thomas Jefferson, who tried to introduce a bill into the Virginia legislature to abolish slavery.

(Please read this article, The Founding Fathers and Slavery. It’s full of information that is frequently omitted from discussions about the country’s founding and the obvious paradox of the institution of slavery continuing for nearly another century more.)

They knew and understood that freedom—for all—was an essential, foundational right, given to every individual person created by God.

That is worth fighting for. And it’s worth preserving.

Listen to this, from John Quincy Adams (known as the “hell-hound” of abolition):

The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself [Jefferson]. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country [Great Britain] and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of His Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves.

Wow. That’s pretty clear. (I added the emphasis you saw above.) Adams said they were “universally” against it, with Jefferson being foremost in that “undoubting conviction”.

Because they knew freedom was so essential.

We the People of the Unites States of America have been traveling down a path towards much LESS freedom for generations now. It’s a pattern in human history; certainly we should be no different. Or maybe we should?

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.

Today, the Campbells will be reading the Declaration together, again. (It has become a family tradition to celebrate the Fourth of July.) And we will discuss the courage of the founders to stand against those who tried to suppress their inalienable rights, beginning with freedom.

(We also plan to read today from a book called For You They Signed, detailing the lives of all the signers of the Declaration.)

The 4th of July is not about fireworks. The meaning behind our holidays often are lost after only a short time of the annual commemorations.

We must not lose this one.

We are created free, and equal, and are meant to have the unconstrained rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Celebrate today what those men stood for, fought for, and many did die for: your freedom.

And thank God today that you were born here, when we were free. Not all can say that.

Happy Independence Day!

If you’d like to read more about slavery and the attempts in the 18th century to do away with it, I so highly recommend starting here (and then here), and then reading the book about William Wilberforce that that post is in reference too.

House-i-versary: Ten!

Our House

April 25th is the day that we became home owners. The year was precisely one decade ago: 2003. Ten years of mortgage payments, tax payments, home owner’s insurance payments, home improvement and maintenance projects and cost…

Yippee! 🙂

But, it is still a fun day to celebrate.

This home is the only one that four of the Campbell children have known. Ten years is a long time to live in one place. (I think this might be the longest that I personally have lived at one address over my lifetime?) Much life has been lived in this domicile; and some, over that time, has been lived elsewhere, with Campbell hearts hoping to return to this place we call ‘home’.

The attic remodeling—now my office!

The attic remodeling—now my office!

In ten years we’ve reconstructed and deconstructed, repaired and replaced, upgraded and removed, laughed and cried, and we do not lack for anecdotal evidence of all of those things. (Some of which you can find here at this blog!)

I’m not entirely sure how we will celebrate this decade of residing here. We’ll think of something, I’m sure. (We do enjoy celebrations, commemorations…)

Kitchen Remodeling—Oct 2011

Kitchen Remodeling—Oct 2011

One thing that I love about this little parcel of land and this fairly old edifice is that we are part of a larger history. When we first purchased the home and then obtained the deed to this property, I truly enjoyed reading through the history of our home. Who owned it through the years; the agreement with one of the neighbors that the owner of this land could cross several other owners’ lots to reach the community well—that being, perhaps, my favorite—and just knowing that much more life had happened here at this place we now call “ours”.

Our Yellow House

Who knows how much more life will be lived here in this spot? We can’t know. Perhaps another decade? The rest of our lives on this planet? Maybe just a short while longer? You just never know.

But I do know that today marks ten years in our Little Yellow House. Our ten-year house-i-versary.

I wonder what memories will be reminisced on April 25th, 2023…


08:06 - August 6thBirthdays are a pretty big deal here in the Campbell home. We really enjoy celebrating each other’s special days, usually for more than just that one day. But that one day is a circled day on the calendar and a number that carries more meaning than others.

We love the months of February, March, July, October, November and December. (We’re nicely spread out!) We love the numbers 5, 11, 13, 25, 28 and 30. (There are two 28s and two 30s! Even more fun!)

And we don’t have to wait till that special day once every 365.25 days…

I remember a long time ago, maybe even before we were married, Jen pointed to the dashboard clock in the car we were in and said, “Look, it’s my birthday.” I was confused at first, but then noticed that the clock said 10:28… October 28th! She told me that she often gets to celebrate her birthday two times a day whenever she can look at a clock at the right time. I smiled then, and I’m smiling now. I sure do love her! 🙂

So that has become a fun thing that we do here (at least Jen and I). We have plenty of chances to catch a birthday on the clocks! We’re coming up on Ian’s birthday as I type this (12:25)

It’s fun to have quirky family traditions!

Perhaps now you’ll notice a birthday next time you glance at your clock?

If so, happy birthday to you!

NASA Crushes 2012 Mayan Apocalypse

Well, leave it to the party poopers at NASA to crush the dreams of all of the big fans of Mayan prophesies and general time keeping skills.

It seems that the head of the Near-Earth Objects Program has quite handily decimated any and all the claims of global apocalypse, mayhem, end-of-the-world predictions as well as any of the happier “new beginning” prognostications based on the Mayan calendar ending with December 21, 2012.

It’s a shame, really. I was glad we knew the date… now we’ll never know!

But, leave it to the smart guys at NASA to clear things up for us. You can always count on them!


If you’re curious … enjoy the video above, or read the article.

But, if you do, your dreams will definitely be crushed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you …

Birthday Season (And Sabbatical)

Birthday season is upon us here in the Campbell home. Today is the first of three birthdays in two weeks. We’ll be celebrating it up in our typical style—the birthday girl will be well-celebrated!

(If you’d like to read the story of her very first birthday, please do…)

So, with that information in hand, I have another announcement, of sorts. This post will be the end of one (minor) experience—experiment?—and the beginning of another.

If you’ll recall, I began posting a column a day back on December 31st. (I first realized I was doing that somewhere in mid January, and kinda went with it.) It’s been a very interesting experience for me in that it ensures that I am writing—writers love deadlines!—and when I am writing, I am thinking. And when I’m thinking, well, that seems to be when I process life the best. (And for me, that’s a good thing.)

So I’m not really stopping … and don’t hold me to that, ’cause I probably won’t…

But I need a break.

Not really from the writing. That’s always a nice respite, a good outlet, and just enjoyable. Really I need a break in order to do other things. Writing, as great as it may be, is taking time. Which means it’s coming out of time I could give to other things.

Like reading. (You’ll recall that my reading list is rather lengthy!) And from my kids. And from my work. And from other good things to do in life. (There are many!)

So for now, I’m going to take a sabbatical. Not sure for how long, but I’m thinking the two weeks of Birthday Season.

For you daily readers, you’ll get a nice break to read some other stuff, too. For the more casual visitor to, may I suggest a stroll through the previous sixty days, and then keep going. There are nearly eight and a half years of blog posts on this website… over 675,000 words… bound to be something that’ll catch your fancy in there. 🙂

I look forward to this break to refresh and increase the intake.

See you on the other side.

(If not before.)

A Birthday Party

Yesterday was a special day in our home.

February 25th is not a date we celebrate annually, but in the year 2012, it was a day we celebrated our oldest daughter Kirsten.

It was a day that she has been waiting for—quite literally—for years.

It was her first, real, official, honest-to-goodness birthday party! (And it was to celebrate the completion of her 8th circuit around the sun!)

What bad parents!!! Who doesn’t give their daughter a birthday party until they turn eight??? Well, probably a fair question. And, really, I don’t have any single particularly satisfying answer. Somehow, it’s just worked out that way.

But after a tiny bit of convincing required by Dad and Kirsten to win over the Mom (it really didn’t take much …) we scheduled, schemed, invited. Then we shopped, cleaned, decorated, prepared… and partied!

As I mentioned, for a few different reasons, Kirsten has managed to avoid having her own party over the years. She’s even managed to avoid going to others’ parties. A big part is just that she is pretty young, but somehow it’s just never worked out. Another big factor in her own lack of birthday parties is that we often combine her celebration with that of her two sisters whose birthdays are 11 and 13 days later. It makes for a big fun party, but not one for just Kirstie.

Yesterday, she finally got her wish! 🙂

She was all smiles for days before, most all day today, and I got one of the biggest smiles of all time from her as I was saying goodnight to her in her bed, and I asked if she had a good day. (I already knew the answer, but it was nice to see it shine through in her beautiful smile.)

Eight years ago this Tuesday we were blessed with our first little girl. She is beautiful, caring, sensitive, bright, aware, tender, fun, clever, curious, and incredibly precious. My life would definitely not be the same without her in it.

It was a great day, celebrating our little girl. I am thinking it will be remembered for many days to come. (Days going on years.) And I’m guessing she’s going to want to do this again. 🙂

I already can’t wait!

First And Second Birthdays

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. January 26th is a circled day on the calendar that our family celebrates. Has been for as long as I have memories. All day long, we think of my Mom. We call, we video chat, we send cards… we celebrate the life she began on January 26th, 19xx. 🙂

(I don’t know that my Mom has any real problem with me sharing her age, but… just in case… since she reads this blog … Suffice it to say that this year her two-digit age ends with a zero! So in some ways it was an even more memorable/special year.)

I love my Mom and love celebrating her birthday! (Even if we’re not in the same location on the birthday day.)

At some point during that day I was reminded that the 26th of January is also the birth day of our good friend’s Mom. She, too was born on the twenty-sixth day of the first month of the year. If I recollect correctly, she was even born in the same state, not far from where my Mom was born. She too has children who love her, and many grandkids.

But she has another birthday.

A little over a decade ago, she was born into her eternal life. She is now with Jesus. So her birthday is celebrated at least a little differently than the way we celebrate January 26th here, where we can still show our love and see it received, and given back.

It’s better to be with the Lord. The Bible tells us so. But I’d imagine first birthdays are at least a little harder when the one birthed has had their second birthday already, and you’re left celebrating without them.

This week I’ve also been thinking of our friends who are coming up on the one-year anniversary of a second birthday. Tomorrow will be one year since our friends lost a Dad and a Husband and a Grandpa; and since we lost someone who was becoming a good friend.

Death leaves such an absence. It’s hard to celebrate the second birthdays. Again, it’s better to be with the Lord, but that truth seems distant when the life so suddenly changes, and the void is so clearly known and seen and felt.

I know it’s been rough again lately for our friend who lost her Dad. (And I know for many years our friend who lost her Mom has missed her so dearly on many occasions, more than just first and second birthdays.)

It definitely makes me value the days that I have now with my Mom, who’s still only had her first birthday.

The hope that we have runs deep. I know and trust that once we have both passed the threshold into our eternal life, I won’t have to live or think about living life without my Mom in my life. That is a great hope.

But I’ll say it again: for now, on at least some levels, I’m very glad my Mom is still only one.

I rejoice for the lives of the two parents I know, mentioned above, who are missed yesterday and tomorrow. They loved well and are still well loved. I am praying peace now for the kids who miss their beloved parents on their first and second birthdays respectively. But I already know they have hope. And in that I also rejoice.

This talk of “second birthdays” has a bit of a morbid undertone, but if you know our Jesus, it’s a wonderful thing when you turn two.

It’s just harder for all the one-year-olds who are still waiting for their own second birthday.

It will come. And then others will both mourn and rejoice on our two birthdays. And we will celebrate with all of the ones we loved who went before us.

What a birthday party that will be.

Note: This photo of my Mom is slightly dated, but it’s a good one, with several of our kids loving their Grammy. There are not many photos of my Mom in existence, and I’m nearly certain this is the only one published online! So, I might get in a tiny bit of trouble, but… I know she still loves me. Right, Mom? 🙂

Tradition, Tradition!

Traditional New Year's Day meal, pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn bread

As far back as I can remember, my family has always celebrated New Year’s Day with a big meal featuring pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. My dad enjoys throwing in some baked clams, but I’ve chosen to leave those out of our version of the family tradition… 🙂

This year was no different. Even though we’d been packing a bunch in between Christmas and Ian’s 13th birthday celebrations, and despite the fact that I had been feeling pretty sick the night before, I still managed to get the pork loin in the oven to slow roast overnight and we had a delicious meal for a late lunch the next day.

It’s said that having this meal on New Year’s Day leads to a prosperous year, but I’m really just glad for the fun of making it and the tastiness of eating it! Plus it’s a favorite of just about everyone in our family (and friends we’ve gotten to share the meal with, too!)

A slightly more odd tradition that we keep in the Campbell household is celebrating Three Kings Day, which we’ll be doing tomorrow morning! This is because of the few years of my childhood that were spent in Caracas, Venezuela. Three Kings Day is celebrated in many hispanic countries, including Venezuela! Our version may be a bit modified, but it suits us, and is mostly in the same spirit, I’d say.

Every January 5th, we leave our shoes out by the front door, ready to be filled by the three wise men. They leave us gifts, just like they did for Jesus. We can leave straw for their camels to eat, but usually don’t do that. 🙂 In the morning, we come down to find a small gift and usually some candy left in everyone’s shoes. Fun!

And, every once in a while, we’ll bake an oven-safe trinket into a cake and then whoever gets the piece of cake with that item in it gets to be KING for the day! We’ve modified this a bit, too, in that we know the King of kings, we try to be a king in the way he was: serving, not being served. (And yes, the kids still want to do it!)

Speaking of knowing the King of kings…

After reading many of her favorite mom/big-family blogs this Christmas season, Jen thought it might finally be the year to “do Christmas differently”. We’ve had a pretty typical Christmas tradition of lots of gifts, and the big family Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa’s, and so on. This year she thought we could focus more on the reason we’re celebrating: it’s Jesus’ birthday! (At least, the day that is celebrated.)

We’ve tossed some of these ideas around for the past several years, but we decided to really do it this year. First, we each drew a name of someone else in the family, and got just one meaningful gift for that person. (So, still gifts, but much less about gifts for us.) We spent as much or more money giving gifts to Jesus. How, you ask? Matthew 25 says, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you are doing for me” (my paraphrase), so we did that! We bought (via World Vision this time) 13 small farm animals for people who could use them for daily sustenance. It was really cool to see the kids excited to do it! And it was so nice to have the focus much less on the gifts (and the getting) and much more on Jesus, and the incredible Gift of his becoming a man that “…all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

We also made a birthday cake, of course, and had a great time celebrating Jesus’ birthday! (We’re pretty good at celebrating birthdays around here!) Hoping that this becomes our family tradition as the years go on. And I’m sure there will be some great modifications along the way.

Born 4 BC? 2015 in 2011!

Note: we based the “age” upon a birth year of 4 BC… thus the 2015. (Though, if you count the year 0, wouldn’t he be 2016?) 🙂

Do you have family traditions from your childhood that you have continued with your family? Any new ones you’ve begun with your own family? Comment below!

Local Politics

If you’re like me, you got a sticker similar to this a couple days ago at your local polling booth. (Our son, Ian, was with me, and he actually got my sticker.) It is your badge of honor for participating in our great representative governmental system. This year may not have been the more exciting, national-level elections, but they’re still important.


When I scanned the ballot as I was casting my vote, I noticed that in many cases, the people running for the various local town, village, and county positions were unopposed. Some of them were listed as the representative for all of the parties! (How can you be backed by all of the parties?)

This made me wonder, why are we even doing this? I’ll admit to not being too plugged in to all the issues that face my village, town, etc, but I really didn’t know that these local representative positions were so unimportant as to have only one person raising their figurative hand to accept the spot! It actually made me want to run, just to compel people to look into the reasons you might want to cast your vote for whomever you end up choosing.

The trouble is, I don’t think that matters. We’ve become so politically polarized in our country that we just let the party that the candidate is listed under direct our vote. (That’s good for those chaps who were listed under all the parties!) It doesn’t matter what the person under that banner has done, or believes, or wants to do … as long as they have the right party flag, they get the vote!

The other piece is the glamorization of the national political elections. Any news you might hear about elections is often so heavily weighted toward the national elections, national issues, that the local races aren’t even noticed. They aren’t exciting enough to want to vote for (or apparently, to run for).

And in the end, I’m not even sure what our local government does. (Which is likely all my fault. I’m sure I could do a little investigating and fairly quickly find out at least more than I know now.)

So if I were to add my name to the ticket, what is it that I would be hoping to accomplish? Probably lowering taxes (we pay something like $23/1000 for our school taxes, plus town/county, and village property taxes) as well as trying to figure out why we need all that tax revenue in the first place!

Then, soon after that, I think I’d try to figure out a way to let other people in our community know (once I discover what it is) what exactly it is that our elected local representatives do for us. (If I discover that such positions are so unnecessary that there aren’t even people willing to volunteer to run for that office, then we can just probably do away with it altogether!)

So, this year’s elections are over. The unopposed candidates have been duly elected to their spots. But watch out in 2012 (maybe 2013, since 2012 is the big presidential election year…) you might have to make a choice which candidate you choose! And, since I am not affiliated with any particular party … I might just create a new one! 🙂

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Sometimes in life, you just have to take the bad with the good.

I’ve always loved the “fall back” Sunday, where you get an hour of your life back. Who couldn’t use an extra hour!? Either another hour of sleep in the morning, or really, whatever suits your fancy!

The extra hour was always especially helpful when we were regularly working Sunday mornings, doing music for churches around the country. Sometimes that was quite early, and/or after a gig the night before… and sometimes that was in a different city or state! So an extra hour was a very welcome gift. We loved ending Daylight Savings Time!!

But it does seem that every good things has a bad side, too, no?

In the spring, when you lose an hour (the bad), it’s at least very easy to just bump all the clocks up one hour. All you need to do is click the “hour” button once (the good).

In the fall when you gain an hour (the good), depending on the clock, you may be able to do 60 minutes backwards, or, you may have to go 23 hours backwards. That’s 23x more button clicking! (The bad.)

The best part is, one of my wife’s favorite things is to have a clock in every room. (Some rooms have more than one.) So… 23x more clicking … times many clocks…

Well, let’s just say I’m super glad I have an extra hour. 😉