a thoroughfare for freedom (of my heart)

Finding perspective when holidays look different to our ideals.

I always feel more homesick on holidays… Homesick for family. Homesick for friends. Homesick for America. Homesick for life as I once knew it.

Today was no exception.

My husband and I decided to celebrate 4th of July on Sunday since in Australia the 4th is just the 4th – another workday like any other. We had a small BBQ in our backyard, complete with American-style hamburgers, PB&Js for the younger (pickier) set, and my husband’s red, white, and blue jello creations for  dessert (his wonderful 4th of July contribution to our bag of family traditions).

Although it’s the middle of winter here we enjoyed a warm day and t-shirts and a chance to deliberately take it easy.

As nice as our little BBQ was, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the fanfare of America and the way we pull out all the stops for holidays.

I missed the small town bike and pet parades. I missed the pancake breakfasts in the park. I missed the gatherings of families and the informal closing of cul-de-sacs so that block parties can happen and kids can set off fireworks and spinners. I missed lemonade. I even missed hotdogs. I missed my hometown’s free blues festival and the amazing firework display from the butte in the middle of town. I even missed cheap flip-flops with American flags printed on the soles.

I missed all of it – the life I used to be so familiar with that sometimes looks so different to what I now know.

(No doubt being pregnant and emotional doesn’t help.)

But now, at the end of the day, I sit with one baby sleeping peacefully in his room down the hall, another baby kicking me with great spirit and energy from within, and a husband sitting next to me who spent three days making a festive dessert in honor of a national holiday that is not his… And when I think of these three precious treasures that I enjoy every day it’s hard to stay feeling sorry for myself when simultaneously feeling so blessed, so rich.

A post I read this morning is still resonating in my mind. It described some of what our founding fathers endured after they signed the Declaration of Independence – incredible persecution, capture, torture, homes ransacked and burned, lives lost in war – and slowly my mind shifts and I regain perspective.

These men and their families didn’t suffer so that we could have hot dogs and block parties. They didn’t pay dearly so that we could have awesome firework displays and sip cool lemonade.

They gave their lives in order to pave the way for us to enjoy so much of what I now take for granted: freedom to live like I’ve always lived… Freedom to worship as I feel led, freedom to vote for my leaders, freedom to build a life for my family, even freedom to live at home or abroad if I so choose.

It’s not so much about a nation or about the structure of a government as it is about the fact that a handful of men over two hundred years ago fought for the life that I’m now free to live, the life that I’m free to give my children.

I hope that as I continue to grow as a woman I will grow in my ability to understand the price others have paid to give my family and I the life we now enjoy, the life that so many in other nations live worlds away from. Because to understand is the first step toward having a grateful heart. And a heart that gives thanks is a heart that stays happy… and a heart that leads us in living well.

So this 4th of July I am homesick. But I’m also thankful and happy… and free.

In closing I leave you with this poem-turned-song which I very much love. I have always wished it was our national anthem since it so beautifully reflects much of the struggle, values, passion, and grace that went into the founding of America. I’ve bolded some of my favorite bits…

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Dear friends, if you are American then happy 4th of July to you. If you are not, well then happy day anyway. What freedoms are you glad to enjoy with your family? And how do you plan on helping your children understand just how lucky they really are?

homesick but happy,



About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • casey
    3 July 2011 at 8:49 pm

    what a beautiful tribute! I love that you celebrated together and that you are honoring the people who gave us the free nation that we have today. Cute pic of Levi too by the way;0.

  • Rosilind
    3 July 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I hear you…it’s hard being so far from home during holidays like these. We are so lucky to have men who celebrate right along side of us. We’re celebrating tomorrow, because Z has the day off. 🙂 Can’t wait. I love what you wrote about those who fought for our freedom – and that hymn is one of my favorites, too. It chokes me up every time.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      4 July 2011 at 9:25 am

      happy fourth to another expat friend!! hope you guys have lots of fun – so cool that it happens to be z’s day off!!

  • Kirsten
    3 July 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Beautifully said! Made me a little teary first thing this morning, but it is always good to have a reminder of what this holiday is truly about. I hope you enjoyed your celebration 🙂

  • Cari
    4 July 2011 at 2:15 am

    Happy 4th Adriel! I will light a sparkler for you:) What a sweet hubs you have, hugs from the U.S.

  • Nessa
    4 July 2011 at 5:22 am

    IT is so true that freedom is something so wonderful and so freely given to us that we loose appreciation. What a wonderful reminder to us all and I hope you home sickness fades.

  • Amy Sullivan
    4 July 2011 at 9:46 am

    It’s so funny that you write about this because as soon as I logged on today, I wondered how you were doing, and I knew if I was far away from the festivities of the 4th I’d be missing it.

    I’ve always loved the 4th because people don’t have crazy expecations and you don’t have to spend loads of money. You just have to be. I struggle with how to teach my daughter about these more abstract holidays. I’ll be curious to read what other people write.

    Hope the pregnancy is going well.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      4 July 2011 at 10:31 pm

      Great to hear from you Amy. I’m doing well overall. There are always “things”… you know *life*. Yesterday it was homesickness, today it’s a sore back/body (pregnancy-related no doubt), tomorrow maybe something else. The challenge for me is not letting those things dictate the rest of your day, you know? But yeah, I get the most homesick at holidays for sure. Sometimes I barely notice that I live in another country… and other times I feel worlds away. We’re hoping to be in America for a visit next summer. I’d love to make it there for 4th of July (one of my goals) and Ryan’s never been there in the summer. I want to show him what my hometown looks like without being covered in snow! 🙂 Really hoping it works out. I must admit, I’ve probably thought more about the 4th this year in terms of what it really means more than I have ever before. Being a mom changes things… makes me want to really live with meaning (to a greater degree) and intention so that I can teach my children well. Levi’s obviously too young to understand any of this now – it’s just another day and another PB&J to him – but soon enough he will. I’m with you… looking for ways to make it all more concrete. Not just for my kids’ sake, but for all of us. The kids part definitely serves as a catalyst though. Anyway, I’ve got some time. For now, I just hope you had a lovely, pressure-free day with your family…. and I dream about my American holiday in America next year. 🙂 Happy 4th to you. x

  • Susie B. Homemaker
    4 July 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Beautiful post… very well written. It’s hard for me to imagine not living in the U.S. and celebrating the way we do, parades & fireworks, but you’re right that it’s not about all the hoople but about being able to appreciate what we have and being with the ones we love. I found you thru Little Miss Mama’s blog- I’m your newest follower. 🙂

  • Rachel
    4 July 2011 at 4:19 pm

    We celebrated the 4th on the 2nd! Tropical thunderstorms thwarted our Ultimate Frisbee/picnic plans and we couldn’t find fireworks anywhere (what gives people? This is China after all!!!). But we ‘picniced’ inside with as many Americans we could find in the city and I tried to make one of those American flag layer cakes (it looked ok…but it was really rubber-like in texture — I guess you can’t substitute oil for butter in cake recipes after all — but the outside looked good!).

    Not a bad 4th of July celebration, even if it was organised by an Australian!!! I love my one and one half Americans!

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      4 July 2011 at 10:32 pm

      You are such a good Aussie-American mom Rachel! Your boys are so lucky to have you. 🙂 Sounds like a really fun party to me, though I’m sorry you got rained out of your Plan A. 🙂

  • Monica
    4 July 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I’m also an American in Australia (Melbourne) and just realized at about 5pm today that it’s July 4th! Sigh. First year I haven’t been back for it (somehow I ended up being back in Michigan for 4 summers in a row! A mixture of two best friends’ weddings, my own wedding reception, and a family emergency). The hardest holiday for me here is Christmas though…and this year we are going back for my first white Christmas in 6 years. I literally think about it every day. That’s a bit sad. But it’s true.

    I think the feeling of displacement – and oh my gosh I hear you about the pregnant and homesick thing….I was miserably homesick while pregnant…like, cried-all-the-way-through-my-first-trimester homesick – anyway, the feeling of displacement reminds me that nothing is permanent except for the character of God and His promises. It is a good reminder to not set my hopes and security back in the USA…or anywhere…because I can’t ‘hang on’ to any of that. Anyway, it is still a frequent struggle for me, but I think that living overseas can teach us good things. 🙂

    Oh- and Happy Fourth of July from a fellow American!

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      4 July 2011 at 10:39 pm

      Oh yes, Christmas is a tough one!! We got to have Christmas in Oregon this year. It was so nice. (So nice x 10 actually.) It was my first in 5 years or something too, and Ryan’s first ever. We had a ball!!! And I was like you – thinking about it every day for months during the lead-up to that trip. (And it didn’t disappoint either!) I find them all hard though – especially Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and the 4th. I guess those are all of the family-oriented ones.

      And yes, I often think about how we are called “foreigners” in scripture and the references to our home being in Heaven. I can relate to those scriptures so much more than I could have 12 years ago, that’s for sure!! Not a bad thing, but hard as you know. 🙂 Sometimes I forget I’m living in another nation… and then other times (like holidays) I get incredibly homesick and feel light years away! *sigh* I’m just so fortunate to have the family I do have though… and skype, and email, and facebook. 🙂 Aren’t we so lucky?!

      Happy 4th to you too! Enjoy your countdown to Christmas. 🙂

  • Laura
    8 July 2011 at 9:20 am

    I definitely understand about not having the same sort of holiday that you remember the 4th to be. Back home, there were always fireworks in the yard, a family bbq, and then a town parade/fireworks show. Without family nearby, it was just a kind of quiet day for us this year. And you’re right, though it might make you homesick, your blessings are so many. Good for you for embracing and focusing on those instead. And I love “America the Beautiful”. It’s always been one of my favorite patriotic songs.


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