Letting Go Brings a New Hope

November 4, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

I feel like I am on a fast train, like the ones in Europe, speeding through the countryside so quickly my eyes cannot focus. Here it is December and the holidays are upon me. Once again I face them in disappointment and not joy. Even at my age, almost sixty, I still want to capture the magic of the season, be filled with awe and hope and marvel at the greatest gift of all. And yet, here I am, writing this article with sadness in my heart. Once again I’m challenged to let go. This season of life is about letting go, and I’m not good at it.

I’ve always been a fighter. I don’t give up on what matters to me very easily. Now, it seems I am forced to do so. Quite frankly, I do not like it one bit. I feel out of control and powerless. I vacillate between anger and sadness. Internally, I’m like a toddler having a tantrum because I want what I want.

Then I think of Mary. How could I not, during this season? She gave birth to her first-born son, a miracle child. She had much less time with Him than I. Even at age twelve, he was no longer his mother’s son alone. She had to begin sharing Him with others, as when he stayed in the Temple to discuss the scriptures. Her life with Him was continually about letting go.

This morning after a somewhat sleepless night, I woke early and beheld the glory of God in the sunrise. The sun’s reflective light penetrated the darkness and displayed orange and blue steaks of color in the Eastern horizon. I was awed.

I asked God, “I know my waking and seeing this display of Your glory is no accident. What are you saying to me?”

It was as if He said, “If you focus on me, morning by morning new mercies you will see. My light will chase away your sadness and once again you will know joy. Just wait as you wait for the sun to make its appearance in the sky.”

Then I was indeed reminded that to save my life, I must lose it. Losing it for me in this season of life is about letting go: of expectations, traditions, dreams, plans and, yes, even the joys of my early years—all those things that were life to me once. The hope is in the promise of the new life to come once I let go. I saw hope this morning in the glory of the new day dawning.

The Dance of Gratitude

October 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

I start planning for Thanksgiving dinner in August. I think about which kids I get to have home with us, if we are going to the Thanksgiving Day football game and what time the game is so I’ll know when to plan dinner. Last year we had dinner on Friday. This year I have a small group for Thanksgiving Day, so we are going to the Four Seasons Hotel for its fabulous lunch before the game. No cooking and cleaning for me this year. Woo Hoo!

Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food, but it typically gets most of my attention. I don’t think about what I’m thankful for until the day of Thanksgiving. As Christians, the Bible says giving thanks is to be part of our every day existence. In fact, praise and thanksgiving is the posture we take to come to our Father. “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (NIV Philippians 4:6b).

For a year I faithfully wrote a gratitude journal. Then, for some reason, I quit. This day, I am thankful that I was reminded to start it up again.

I’ve been listening to The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. She talks about foreboding joy, which is basically sabotaging those moments when we experience a little taste of heaven by projecting a future catastrophe. The antithesis to foreboding joy is gratitude. Now Brene is not writing from a Christian perspective, but the truth she presents is very biblical. She speaks of practicing gratitude and her suggestion is to start a gratitude journal. I believe God was nudging me back to my discipline of writing in my gratitude journal again.

So I started writing each morning. I’ve been doing it for a week now. As a result, I am more mindful throughout the day of the blessings that come my way. Here’s an example: My sister came into town at my request to help me with painting, cleaning and decluttering my Alzheimer diseased mom’s room at her assisted living facility. Those of you who have lived with and through this disease understand what I’m up against just saying those words. If you have not experience it, think about what it’s like to clean up a toddler’s room with the toddler present. Impossible!

After two days of working together and feeling very satisfied with our accomplishment, we sat in the car exhausted, looked at each other and said, “I’m so grateful we could do this together.” Truly, at that moment, gratitude ruled our hearts and not exhaustion.

I took it even further. For that moment, I believe the Sovereign God of the Universe knew I would need a sister to go through these times with me as the oldest in the family. We have a brother, too, but let’s face it, guys just don’t take care of elderly mothers in the same way women do. I for one feel so blessed to have my sister to go through this very difficult time with me. I am so grateful we have each other to lean on.

During this Thanksgiving season, I hope you will take some time from the meal planning to create your own gratitude journal. I have even set my phone to alert me every day at noon to stop and reflect on what I am grateful for in the moment. I know many of you have probably practiced this for years. I’m just now getting back to this dance of gratitude. Come join me if you have not started.

The Feeding Frenzy

September 9, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Five women got their bags packed and out the door by 6:15 AM to make a 7:10 flight from Vail to Fort Worth. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to turn in our rental car, check our bags and go through security with time to spare.

We were on the plane, headed down the runway right on schedule. Then it happened. The captain comes on the speaker and says, “Folks, there seems to be a problem in the instrument panel. We have to return to the gate.”

The return to the gate ended up being a six-hour flight delay out of Vail. The good news is that we did get to disembark.

Once back in the waiting area, all five of us sit against the wall with our electronics plugged in and charging. We look like little ducklings (maybe not so little) all lined up in a row. It’s 10:00 and I am hungry. We all are. We’ve been up since five. In this tiny airport there is one choice for food, a tiny coffee shop with pre-made sandwiches. That was not going to work for me. I have celiac disease and have to eat gluten free.

I start the hunt. First I find out that I can have food delivered, but it must pass through security like everyone and everything else. Now I have to find the food. Pizza is the logical choice. It’s easy to deliver and many places now offer gluten free pizzas.

After about an hour of searching, I finally find a place open and close by that serves gluten free pizzas. The only problem is that a major bike race is happening and traffic is an issue. The restaurant owner wants a guaranteed order of $100 to deliver the pizza to us.

That is not stopping me. I’ll gladly pay. Then it hits me; everyone else is going to be hungry too. I shout out to other passengers in the waiting areas. “Anyone interested in purchasing pizza slices if I order it?” The number of yeses convinces me I would at least break even. I place the order, and forty-five minutes later, pizza arrives.

When I look at the slices, I know I can’t charge people the five dollars per slice I was going to originally. My four traveling companions, who obviously have better business sense than I, aren’t initially too happy paying the lion’s share of feeding the masses. That is until it is over and they witness with me what happens.

In the pizza frenzy and afterwards, the atmosphere in that waiting room completely changes. The dreariness of waiting shifts to lightheartedness, smiles and laughter. People come up to us and share some of their stories. Chatter fills the once silent room. The little children run by us and say hi. In an hour, a community is formed among strangers.

We all laugh, commenting that this is a little like feeding the five thousand.

Five sisters in Christ traveling home from a girls’ trip already full and rich with blessing, received another one. We built a memory that will carry us through the years of living life together. I can’t help wondering if that same sense of community occurred among the followers of Jesus that day He broke bread and fed the multitudes.

Becoming Mary

August 22, 2022 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Diane Mayfield –

I’d like to think I conquered the Martha in me and have become more like her sister Mary. That’s what I get for thinking. Jesus, in His gentle way, showed me not to think too highly of myself lest I fall.

I recently planned my extended family’s second annual Burton Family Christmas in July. I created a schedule of events on Friday night and Saturday, hoping it was clear to all that the gathering did not start until 6:00 Friday night. That would give me plenty of time to cover all the details and be ready for the crowd. Hoping to circumvent a seed of bitterness creeping in if I was left to do all the work, everyone had meal assignments and clean up duty.

The schedule of events for Saturday included pool time and boating. Built into the plan was a break for me on the boat, so I would have a moment to relax and interact with everyone. Just so no one would forget that they had duties and responsibilities in this family event, I posted the assignments on the refrigerator door in brightly colored magnets that matched my color scheme.

Everyone did indeed have a blast, me included. They complimented me on the flow of the event, the decorations and all the planning. By the laughter and lingering conversations at the table Saturday night, it seemed the celebration was a success.

It was Sunday at 11:00 when Martha appeared in my head. I’d planned on everyone leaving by Sunday morning, noon at the latest. I wrote in an e-mail that nothing officially was scheduled for Sunday, hoping that would communicate, “the inn was closed.”

Oops. Someone didn’t read between the lines. They decided to stay and swim one more time. Then, instead of packing up and going before they left for lunch, they asked if they could come back after lunch, have dessert and then leave.

What do I say in that situation? I had a plan that I was working towards and it was about to be challenged. I politely said “sure.” And then I griped and griped as I worked to organize my house, pick up toys, clean out the refrigerator, empty the dishwasher and start the sheets and towels.

It never occurred to me to go to Jesus and listen to His words and ask for His help in stretching my capacity. I was being asked to give in a way that I had not planned on giving.

I could just hear Jesus saying, “Diane, Diane, why do you worry about getting all this done today and your life back to normal? Can’t you enjoy these people a little longer than you planned? What is really important here?”

No one who asked to change the plan knew of my inner struggle, but the One who matters most did. The good news is that His gentle revelation humbled me. I was reminded that becoming Mary isn’t just about sitting at His feet in the morning because it works for me. It’s about measuring priorities and choosing those that count for eternity. Obviously Martha is still living and breathing in me. I haven’t become Mary yet, but I’m listening.

Unbroken by the Storm

July 27, 2022 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Diane Mayfield –

When I first started coming to Navarre Beach, I was drawn to the mounds of broken shells I saw. They appeared in little groupings, like villages, up and down the shoreline. They were beautiful in their diverse colors and shapes, lying on top of each other, as if to form a whole community.

Because I was then struggling with Christian brothers and sisters at that time, I saw those broken shells as Christian communities. Like those shells, we too are broken when we come to Christ, desperate in our need for a Savior. While He does His mighty work in us, we still have weaknesses that keep us from being holy and complete.

Mercy, compassion and a good dose of humility filled my heart because of those broken shells. I saw my Christian brothers and sisters and, most of all, I saw myself, just like them.

This trip I’m drawn to the unbroken shells. Not because I’m now into being perfect. Oh no, it’s for quite another reason.

I just started Beth Moore’s study of James. The first lesson begins with quite a punch. “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (NIV James 1:2). She goes on to make the point that trials will come. That’s life. God uses those trials to perfect us. It’s our faith that gets us through those storms of life.

By abiding in Him through trust and prayer, we will come through those storms unbroken, like the shells. Hurricane Isaac sent his forceful wind, rain and storm surges up and down the Gulf Coast a few weeks before I arrived. Navarre Beach felt his impact. Debris litters the sand as a result of Isaac’s power. The shoreline eroded in places and parts of the beach vanished.

And yet, there in the sand, I discovered hundreds, probably thousands but who’s really counting, of unbroken shells. Those shells made it through the storm unscathed. They spoke to me of the lesson I began. I, too, can come through the storms of life, the various trials, unbroken. When I persevere in faith, Jesus turns those trials into joy for what He is completing in me. It doesn’t mean I won’t feel pain or experience negative emotions. But, like Louie Zamperini in the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, I will come out of my storms, whole in Jesus.

Hence, this time the unbroken shells call to me. They made it through the storm and so can we all because of our wonderful Savior Jesus.

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