"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
June 3, 2009
Jon and I were recently watching a documentary about the Smithsonian Museum. They showed the original American flag that was flying during the battle when Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner". They mentioned that Betsy Ross is accredited for having designed and sewn the first flag, and that this was supposedly that flag, but that just wasn't true.
This particular flag, which is currently being restored by the Museum of National History, was sewn by Mary Young Pickersgill. She was commissioned to sew "a flag so big that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance" by Major George Armistead. She hand sewed the 30x42 foot American flag, with some help from a few other women, in just six weeks. The result was an enormous flag that could be seen for several miles from Fort McHenry. This flag flew over Fort McHenry during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore on September 13th and 14th. When the British attacked Baltimore, Francis Scott Key saw this flag while he was held captive on a British ship, and was inspired to compose the poem that became the national anthem of the United States.
Legend and history books record the story that George Washington and some other men went to the shop of Betsy Ross in 1776, and commissioned her to sew and design the first American flag. But there are no records to support this claim. Many historians agree that Betsy Ross probably didn't design or sew the first American flag, but for more than a century Americans have accepted the story as true history.
The story of Betsy Ross was first published in 1870, 34 years after her death, by her only surviving grandson, in a paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The paper included stories he had heard from his grandmother and other family members throughout the years. He was 11 years old when his grandmother died, but the stories were kept in his family as an oral tradition.
The Betsy Ross story was made public after the close of the Civil War. In its emotional state, America embraced the patriotic tale. The Betsy Ross story was published in books, magazines and newspapers.
The grandson's story has been the source of some debate. It is generally regarded as being neither proven nor dis-proven, as there is no evidence either way. While modern lore may enhance the details of her story, Betsy Ross never claimed any contribution to the flag design except for the 5-pointed star, which was simply easier for her to make. She did sew flags, but very likely didn't make nor design the first one.
The question "Who made the first American flag?" can only be speculated about. There were at least 17 flag makers and upholsters who worked in Philadelphia during the time the flag was made. Any one of these people could have sewn the first American flag. According to Betsy Ross' grandson, there were other variations of the flag being made at the same time his grandmother was sewing the design that would carry her name. If that is true, there may not be one "first" flag, but many. This is something that no one has yet determined the answer to.
All this goes to show how stories can be told from one generation to the next, and believed as truth, yet there are no written documentation to back up the facts. And as we all know, over time, the truth often gets distorted in the retelling.
I remember playing the game "Telephone" when I was a kid. You would get a group, and the first person would whisper something in someone's ear. They in turn would repeat what they heard to the next person, and on to the last person. By the time the last person repeated what they heard, the original message had become very skewed.
With the family of Betsy Ross passing the story of her involvement of the making of the American flag, who knows what her original involvement actually entailed. I'm sure she did make flags and may have designed the star from being a 6-point to a 5-point. But what has been widely accepted and taught in history classes is not documented as fact. But rather, her grandson was able to publish a paper with his version of her involvement, and it was accepted as truth.
There are many things that we accept as truth, without first finding out the facts for ourselves; some important and some mundane.
As a child, I remember hearing things preached as gospel and as being in the Bible. I later found out that some were good things to do or know, but were not from the Bible. I'm sure part of it came from many preachers years ago not having a lot of education and not knowing how to read very well. Therefore, they memorized scripture or repeated things they heard other ministers or individuals quote as Bible verses. They were sincere and truly believed that what they were saying was truth, but were repeating what they had heard orally, and not what they had read in the scriptures themselves.
Years ago there was a quiz going around that had different sayings on it, and you had to determine which sayings were from the Bible and which weren't. They were all things we hear growing up, and it was surprising how many I wasn't sure about.
Knowing what the Bible does and doesn't say is important. If you're unsure, then look it up and find out. I think at times, people have the attitude that if they don't know then they don't have to be responsible for obeying. So they'd rather not know that the Bible says, thinking that they won't be held accountable.
There is a saying that "Ignorance is bliss." But that's just not true. Ignorance can lead to destruction and can cause harm. If we remain ignorant of the Bible and God, that doesn't make us blissful and unaccountable. God and the truth of His Word does not change just because we ignore them or don't acknowledge their power and truth. They remain the same, and the judgements of them are the same, regardless of man's belief or unbelief. The only lasting peace and comfort we will have in our life comes from our relationship and belief in God. Bliss comes from knowledge, not ignorance.
Man has many opinions and beliefs. We need to be careful who we are listening to and who we are paying heed to. Throughout the years, millions of Americans have believed the story of Betsy Ross designing and sewing the first flag. But there is no proof to back that story up. All we have is a story that was passed down by word of mouth by her family members. We have no way of knowing how much her grandson embellished the story before publishing it. But since it's written in the history books and school teachers told us the story of Betsy Ross, it has to be true; doesn't it?
One truth we can be certain of, is that every word in the Bible is true. There are no embellishments. The different books that make up the Bible were inspired by God, and were written by the men who were there and lived it. We don't have to try and figure out what really happened or who to believe. It is all truth.
Believe in what is true and real. Man will let you down at times. But you can put your whole trust in God, knowing that He will never leave nor forsake you. God will never lead you astray nor deceive you. He is truth, He is real, and He is the best friend you will ever have.
I usually enjoy reading Proverbs. There are some very interesting proverbs, like "Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing." My favorite Biblical proverb, though, comes from Philippians, 4: 8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." I'm not always good at it. But it's a great way to combat the strife, anger, fear, and hatred so commonly preached in the world today.
Once in awhile, when I start to join in the negativity around me, I remember this verse. Then I start to remember relaxing in the hammock, or walking along a stream. It helps me. It's peaceful. It's my 'happy place'.
I enjoy cooking and usually put recipes in this portion of the newsletter. But there are times when I need something quick, whether here at home or something to take to a party, and either don't have time to cook or don't have a lot of groceries on hand. And sometimes I'm just not in the mood to cook!
Something that I generally try to keep on hand is tortilla chips. They are very versatile. At home, I use them as a base for mexican casseroles or nachos. Jon and I also like to eat them when we're not real hungry at mealtime, but want something light to snack on. They are also quick and easy to take to a party when you don't have a lot of time. There are several different dips you can use with them: salsa or picante sauce, bean dip, guacamole, or spinach dip. You can make homemade dips if you have the inclination, or get mixes that are semi-homemade; but I generally go with the jar varieties from the grocery store that are already pre-made, which are all usually really good. Depending on how casual the party is, I've just taken the bag of chips and jar of dip. But you can also buy cheap chip and dip trays (or more expensive ones), where there's a bowl for the dip in the center and you can pour the chips around the perimeter, and it will look a little nicer. For my niece's baby shower, I found some clear heavy plastic ones in the party supply section at Walmart for around $3.00. Chips and dips are generally a hit at parties and something that everyone likes. Best of all, it's easy and inexpensive.
Jon and I have seen some humorous things from time to time when we've been driving. When we went on vacation to San Antonio, we were driving through Texas somewhere and along the interstate was an adult video store. To the side of the building was a large billboard sponsored by a church. I can't remember the exact wording, but the message was to the effect, "God Is Watching You!" There was a "picture" of Jesus painted on the sign.
Last summer we were traveling to Missouri and we drove past a large group of motorcyclists. They all seemed to be enjoying the beautiful ride and weather; except for one lady. She was riding behind her husband (assumedly), had a paperback book propped against the his back and was reading. I had never seen that before! I told Jon if he were into riding motorcycles (which he thankfully isn't), that would probably be what I'd be doing if I had to ride with him.
The saying is, "The grass is always greener on the other side."
But we all need to take care of the grass on the side where we're already at.
No matter which side you're on, the grass will wilt and turn brown if it's not cared for.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon