It’s been a hard year to be an American. There’s been no end to the confusion and division. Many days I’ll confess I don’t recognize my country any more. Lady liberty seems to sing a different song to the tired, poor and huddled masses. Government seems less and less by and for the people and more a game of power and control.However, I am an American and even though it’s been hard; I believe hard things are worth doing. So I wave the flag proudly. I’m not backing down. I refuse to let others define patriotism.I have been so deeply blessed to have the advantage of being an American. I love this land. I love this culture. I love our diversity. I love our generosity. I love baseball and jazz and Asian fusion tacos. At its best this community sees it’s blessings as a gift to be stewarded and shared with generosity and openness and does not back away from doing what is good even if it is difficult or different. So here’s to these United States; Happy birthday! I’m sticking with you. Let’s lift you up. Let’s try it again. Let’s try to take a step together to live in love.