Stinking dog proud!  Yep that’s right, I sure am.  Ever wondered why our old, faded blue store one day appeared burgundy?  Well truth be known, the store is as close to Aggie Maroon as I could get when we repainted it some seven year ago.  Proud to display my true color!  And you just thought I picked a great color out.  Class of 1990.

There are many things Aggies are known for (don’t you dare think you can now walk in and tell me ANY Aggie jokes) and one of those is their friendliness.  Ever been on the A&M campus?  You cannot pass a student without being greeted with a healthy, “howdy”.  It would be years later and two kids in tow that I would be reminded of how friendly Aggies are, regardless of where in the world they are.

Having the privilege of serving in Austria for several years as church planters, one of the fun things we got to do was host teams of A&M students come and work alongside us.  As we would traverse our community on foot, there were a many a heads turn as our German speaking friends would be greeted with a word that was more than foreign to them, “howdy” each would hear.

One particular day as we walked to town, we were walking single file going down the winding sidewalk as an older gentleman slowly made his way up.  With Bethany (at age 8) leading the way, one after the other, the man received a hearty, “howdy” as he walked home.  By the time he reached me, I could sense his amusement at his visitors.  Almost apologetically, I told him they were crazy American college students here for a visit.  That greeting turned into a brief conversation.  I learned that day that someone who has never been to this country could be appreciative of some of the very things we Americans are.  Herr (Mr.) Rheingold began to tell me how he thanks America every day for fighting in Europe 70 years ago.  Perplexed I asked why.  He told me that many in Austria reluctantly served in the German army and how he was shot in the hip by a “GI”.  And because of his wounds he returned home and soon thereafter the war was over.  He now enjoyed a democratically elected government.  Oh, and that wound has plagued him his whole life?  I saw it as he limped away making his way home that day.  See, with every limp, he reminded himself that he was still alive and enjoyed some of the same freedoms we do because young men from a foreign country fought for them.

So here in a few days, as we all are reminded of our Independence, be thankful for those men and women who have given so much that we are able to enjoy all that we do.  Let the fireworks, fun, hot dogs, picnics, and more be the “limp” that Mr Rheingold had.  We are fortunate that we have so many freedoms.

I conclude with this.  Just as we celebrate this week our country’s independence, let me express my acknowledgment of my dependence on you.  As we thank those who have gone before us, paving the way for our independence, I would like to thank you once again.  We wouldn’t be were it not for your choice each time you need something to visit Eagle Hardware.  So as we celebrate our Independence this week, I will celebrate our dependence on you!  I am and always will be appreciative of you.  Thank you and we’ll see you next trip.

PS – Should you choose to sport the proud colors of the best school in Texas, I am sure we can work on a discount.  And you’ll be happy to know should you dawn any other sub-par school, I am sure we can work on a surcharge of some kind.