Surprise Gift

February 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

I read Jarrod Spencer’s article “Surprise Me, God” and thought that was a great thing to ask God for each day, sort of like daily gifts. Being a girl who likes surprises, I asked Him, “What surprise do you have for me today, God?”

Then it happened. I rushed to get ready for my morning meeting. I stepped out of the shower, bent over to wrap a towel around my wet hair and felt a piercing shot in my hip. Then my legs tingled and almost went out from under me. I gasped with pain and managed to sit on my stool. It took my breath away and I was afraid to move. Was that my surprise?

I gingerly managed to stand. Back pain is not new too me but this sort of pain was. I thought if I could sit here, I might be able to finish my make-up. I wish I could say that I prayed at that moment, but I don’t recall if I did or not.

I was hosting my small group that night. Fortunately, all the preparations were made ahead of time. Don’t ask me why. Let’s just say it had to be God’s provision. I canceled all my appointments for the day, took massive doses of Advil and laid on an ice pack with my knees bent.

I tried get up for small group but the pain was too intense. I could only sit for a few minutes at a time and the pain drained me. So to the bed I went. I heard the hellos and laughter as the group arrived. I was missing out on the fun and I hated that.

Suddenly my bedroom door opened and in walked my sisters in Christ as I lay flat on my back with my knees on a pillow. I was not at my loveliest to say the least. Here’s the surprise gift. They all gathered around me, touching me wherever they could and prayed. They prayed for my healing, for the correct doctor, for my ability to rest in His care and for God’s will to be done. We joked that now I should get up and take my mat. That didn’t happen but my soul was totally uplifted, deeply touched and encouraged. My spiritual family surrounded me with loving kindness and care, refreshing my soul with their prayers on my behalf, touching and nurturing me.

I was the one who was to be the hostess that night, the giver and the nurturer. Instead I was the receiver. And quite honestly it’s not a place that I like to be. That was my surprise gift. In my humbled state, flat on my back, I felt so loved and cared for by Him through my sweet sisters in Christ.

Now, I didn’t really fully get all this until the next day when I recalled my prayer for a surprise. Then I was struck with a pinched nerve. You might wonder if that is the way God answers prayer. Thankfully I did not go that direction, although there have been times that I might have. No, His surprise was that instead of my doing, I was to receive His love from the spiritual family that He brought into my life. I had to be still first to receive His love from others. Many times wonderful gifts come from being still.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).

A Return on Our Investment

January 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Raising children is quite a lengthy investment with no real guarantee of a certain return. It’s probably the only investment my dear husband embraced with me that had no tangible outcome. We raised three children, two years apart, all believers. That is worth the investment for sure but there have been others.

While raising them, we prayed together, read Scripture as a family and were involved with our church. We set boundaries, gave them responsibilities and established consequences for their choices. Family traditions were important to building family values and cohesiveness so we created many, like vacations to the beach and skiing. I planned evening meals together for most days. In short, we did what most Christian parents do. We did the best we could to “train them up in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

For us that meant, not only appropriate discipline and exposing them to Christian values but also discovering with them who God created them uniquely to be. That meant allowing for self-expression that wasn’t always pleasant or what we would have chosen, like the time we allowed our son to get a spike haircut. Our thought was that if we allowed choices of self- expression that were harmless, he might not feel the need to make more self-destructive choices.

Then the teenage years hit and the roller coaster began. Verbal self –expression of feelings and desires played into the discovery. I’ll never forget the day my 16 -year old- son said to my husband, “I want to punch you out right now.” My husband calmly said “You seem really angry. How come?” An honest conversation ensued. My son’s anger dissipated. Peace was restored to the family.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what path our son would follow. A few years ago, we begin to get a return on that investment. One evening, our son and his wife were sitting with us on the back porch of our home. He had just won a big sales award and we were celebrating. Here’s the first return. He said, “You know I would never have won this if it wasn’t for you guys, especially you Dad. You gave me my work ethic and that’s what won it for me.” Wow! Dave and I were blown away. Those words were like a taste of rich, creamy homemade ice cream. A return we had only hoped for but didn’t know it would really come.

Another return came several months ago. My son called and asked if I would talk with him before I left for home. We spent the next two hours discussing the dynamics of our relationship. I was so proud of my son’s relational courage.

One more stands out to me happened a few weeks ago. He sent a forward from a friend. He wrote in his e-mail “this really speaks to me.” It was a verse from the book of Phillippians.

There have been other sweet returns from the invested years of parenting. All our children practice some of our family traditions. The beach is still very important in their lives. They are all believers though they express their faith differently. Our son and his wife lead a small group last year in their church. His wife told me he seems to have the gift of teaching. What a sweet return.

I really had no idea if our parenting years would reap the investment I longed for. But, we have received abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined, as only the Lord would do.

The Gift in Alzheimer’s

December 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She can’t recall common nouns, like shampoo. She doesn’t remember that leaves fall off trees in winter. She no longer recalls the names of my children. She thinks my brother and his wife still live in town when they’ve lived in East Texas for 20 years. She counts and recounts the money in her wallet a dozen times in the three mile drive to her beauty shop because she can’t remember how much she has. She can’t read a menu and she wonders what a taco is. Parts of her brain are being destroyed but she doesn’t know it. For Mom, there is nothing wrong with her memory.

I’m the oldest of three children and the one who lives nearest my mother so I’m the primary caretaker. I raised three children who are now young adults, working and starting families of their own. I’ve been married for 35 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling and I’m a certified Life Coach. I’ve worked with survivors of sexual abuse. I taught classes to police officers, teachers, counselors, and other helping professionals. I was a Bible Study Fellowship leader, Sunday school teacher, and small group leader. But nothing prepared me for walking this journey with my mom.

Often times I’m angry that this responsibility has fallen on me. My brother and sister are willing to help whenever I ask, but they are too far away to be involved in the day-to-day caretaking. When I leave town, I have to make sure she can get to the beauty shop. I pay her bills, keep up with her money, make sure her clothes are clean and meet whatever other need that arises. I resent that I’m the one who has to do this. There are times I think about just walking out and leaving it to the others to figure out. But I can’t. This is my mom and I want to honor her. Beyond the obvious physical proximity to her, I believe God has another reason this has fallen on me.

The other day she had an appointment with a new neurologist. I dreaded it. I didn’t know how she’d react. I wondered if she’d lash out at me in anger and refuse to go. I just didn’t want to do it. I tried to get out of it. I actually was hoping I wouldn’t be over my cold. But I was. I’d just finished the book “A Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Vosscamp. She believes that there is a gift from our Sovereign God in everything. So I asked Him “what is the gift in this disease called Alzheimer’s? What is the gift in my having to deal with my diseased mother and take her to the doctor today?” I thought I’d really stumped God on this one for sure.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). Off the couch I sprang to pick up my mother for that doctor’s appointment.

Later that day the Lord reminded me of my prayer to serve Him and my desire to serve His way, not my own. He answered my prayer. This was His way for me to serve Him. Serving Him His way was my second gift in Alzheimer’s.

The Richest of Blessings

May 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

 

I’m constantly learning new spiritual lessons from my grandchildren. I don’t know why I’m amazed, except that I thought I’d learned all I could learn from my own children. Grandchildren either remind me of truth I’d forgotten, or I’m just now learning. Either way, I’m in awe.

 

My daughter just had her first child, a baby girl, so I have a newborn in my family. When newborns come into your family, they are beautiful in all their tininess and baldness. Their noses are often too big for their faces, and they are often all scrunched up like old men. Others often don’t see the beauty that you do. I’m sure my precious new granddaughter looks the same to an outsider but not to me.

 

Her tiny hands and toes are a marvel to me. I get lost in her big, deep-blue eyes, and that “too big nose” reminds me of my daughter’s nose when she was a newborn. Of course, it’s gorgeous to me. I love the way she moves her hands and legs with no real intention. Her communication skills are limited to wailing at the top of her tiny lungs at times, but I’m so grateful she makes her voice heard. I really could simply stare at her for hours.

 

When I hold her, I think of another newborn. The One who was The Word that “…became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14 NIV.)” When He was born, He, too, was totally dependent, like my granddaughter, except He was also God. He allowed mere mortals and sinners to nurture, feed and clothe Him. He cried for his every need. His bodily functions were just like every other tiny, dependent human being. He could not even hold His head up without the help of others.

 

I look into the face of my newborn granddaughter and I try to imagine what it was like for Mary to hold and care for the Son of God. I cannot really imagine what she felt or whom she was seeing in her totally dependent son. It had to be a little hard for her. What she saw and experienced just didn’t match up, and yet it was true and she knew it.

 

Wow, there are so many lessons for me from this tiny person. First of all, I am humbled that my God became like this newborn babe for me and for you, just to grow up and give His life that you and I might live with Him for all eternity. That truth never ceases to amaze me. Then, to think of Mary holding a totally dependent, little baby that she knew was God, and yet dependent on her reminds me that what I’m experiencing at times is not the total story. Truth is in the Word, what God says is true. What I see or feel does not tell it all. It has to be consistent with God’s Word and His higher and greater purposes. I often don’t see that until years later.

 

I’m so grateful for this precious new life in my family. I’m grateful for all three of my grandchildren. Not only for the joy and delight they bring to me but also for the spiritual truths that their existence reinforces for me once again. They truly are the richest of blessings.

A Honeymoon Do-Over

By Diane Mayfield –  

I just returned from a fabulous trip to Maui, Hawaii, with my husband Dave. We had not been back there for thirty-seven years. This trip was our honeymoon do-over. It was definitely better than the first one.

Thirty-seven years ago Dave and I landed in Honolulu, Hawaii, with no reservations for a two-week Hawaiian adventure. Dave’s uncle had encouraged traveling without reservations saying that you didn’t really need them. That idea was quickly crushed when we landed at the airport and had no clue where to go from there. We drove in our rental car to a Burger Hut for lunch and began to look up hotels in the phone book of a pay phone. Does anyone remember those?

We found a hotel on the beach with a vacancy. When we arrived, however, the bellman proceeded to take us to a room with twin beds. My young husband didn’t care about the twin beds; he was just ready to be in a room. This new bride had more romantic ideas, so I said, “no, I want one bed, please.” That was the beginning of our Hawaiian adventure. After that, we did meet with the hotel concierge and planned out our next two weeks in the islands. We lugged four big bags and golf clubs on small planes to three other islands before heading home.

We only knew each other for three months before we were engaged and then three months later we married. Communication was not down to a science yet. In fact, Dave was sure he’d made a mistake when we had our first conflict ever. He was out hitting golf balls early in the morning when this still starry-eyed young bride woke up to snuggle. When he returned to the room, he did not understand why I was upset. Reality set in.

Thirty-seven years later I am happy to report that we have really learned some things. I’m not sure communication is a science, yet, but we do know how to do it with authenticity and love. This trip no golf clubs were taken. I really wanted him to take them, though. For him, they were part of the wrong focus on a honeymoon. We stayed on one island, the beautiful island of Maui, where we had reservations way in advance.

Most importantly this time, our focus was on being with each other, apart and together. We gave each other freedom to enjoy our different interests. I took power walks while Dave read on the porch. I shopped, and he paid for it. We had leisurely breakfasts at the ocean-side restaurant, sat on the beach and waited for the whales to jump, shared what we were each reading and enjoyed each evening’s sunset. He indulged me in a luau that after the third course of a five -course dinner with the masses, we both decided we had enough and left. Back in our room, we each dived into a Hagan Daz ice cream bar, one of our favorite beach treats.

As we reflected on our past years together, we both recognized that we had grown spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. That to us is a testimony to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives and our relationship. Without Him, we could not have made it.

So, the Honeymoon Do-Over was quite a success. We came home refreshed (except for the jet lag upon landing) and looking forward to more years together or, at least, more trips to Maui for honeymoon do-overs.

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