A Honeymoon Do-Over

January 30, 2023 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

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.

Transparent

January 16, 2023 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen-

Opal is a precious stone made from silica, taken mostly from sandstone, and water. This solution runs along cracks and crevices where the water then evaporates and the silica hardens. If repeated many times, this process forms an opal.

I was given an opal ring a few weeks ago from my grandma. It seems that the colors held inside that stone are endless. One moment I will see an electric green and the next it will be a rosy pink. Recently I was marveling at how vibrant it was when my dad gave the best description, “It’s as if there is a light inside the stone causing it to glow like that.” Out of my mouth popped the response; “It reminds me of us as Christians.”

Again and again the Bible establishes that God is light. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to have Him shine fully in me the way an opal shines. He is there all right, a light inside my heart and soul. The problem is not His absence of light, but the overabundant presence of myself. My flesh covers the light inside of me, and I long for those rays to break free. One of my biggest prayers is that I would forget my flesh and remember to glorify God in all things. I want to be transparent so that God can be apparent.

My brother leans forward eagerly, watching as I unwrap his gift. A small jewelry box is revealed, but I am no closer to guessing the contents. I lift the lid, exposing a pair of earrings inlaid with opal stones. Raising my face to share a smile with him, I see his grin and the addition of a dimple. My little brother has the gift of giving. When he exercises that gift, the joy and love of God shines.

Sitting beside my not-so-small brother, I listen as he tells of his desire to preserve a pure mind. It’s never easy striving to live God’s way in a world bent opposite, but my brother is growing into a young man who sees the importance. He has the gift of perseverance. As he uses this gift, the purity and deliberateness of God radiates. God has given us all a gift that we can use to glorify Him. In using our God-given talents we have the opportunity to be a beacon of God’s light.

An opal is made from silica and water, not much, yet multi-colored lights burst throughout its surface; potentially opening blind eyes to see the Creator. A Christian is made from a sinner, saved by a loving God, redeemed every day by the blood of the Lamb. The construction of a Christian has immensely greater components than the construction of an opal, which can only mean one thing; we have all that is necessary to trump an opal’s heavenly light and bring glory to our loving King.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

Intervention

January 10, 2023 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Heather Allen- 

When I was six I was overcome. I knelt down and confessed that I sinned, regularly, I needed someone who would intervene. I became a teenager. I wrestled with staying home from the parties that would spiral into intoxication and sensuality. Not because I wanted to go, but because I didn’t want to be left out. But then five drunken lives are permanently altered as their car runs off the road and headlong into a tree. Three are dead, two shattered, and my public school turned into a funeral home. The consequences of compromise are far worse than being alone. Weeks after death and regret, the parties kick up again. The pattern repeats. God stands near to the broken, will we turn, will we bid He intervene?

I become an adult. I look for a new pattern. Surely the church is transformed. Surely believers extend their arms. Surely, we the beloved of God flood love on all that is broken. But it is not so, and the mildew starts here in my own hearth. Growing from an insecure doubt that I am not who God says.

The foundation has been laid. Years and years ago. But human insecurity never quits whispering “You are not enough, you will never be enough.” I hold hands with the enemy inclining my head in agreement. “So here is the plan, look around you…you’re better than that guy over there, but you’re a loser compared to her. She would never be your friend, so just ignore her.” And it turns out that he has substance to spare, and she is hurting for a true friend.

My daughter and I take a drive. She abruptly turns to me “When we seek God’s glory we find our empty, lonely emotions overcome by the jolting purposefulness of living in God’s plan.” Is serving God, by loving others, worth trading for the emptiness found in seeking what’s best for self?

We sojourn together you and I, traversing the dusty Earth roads. Will we trip one another, or will we grab hold and run together? Will we live the beautiful blessing of discipleship and fellowship? Will we be the Pharisee or the Good Samaritan? Will we stop to help the ones left to die alone? Will we follow the Pharisee who uttered all the right words and never put them into practice, or will we be the Samaritan who cared more for a broken man than his own reputation, wallet, or time?

A few weeks ago, I walked by a woman who needs my friendship in order to chat with the friend I want. I felt a pinch in my spirit. I appealed for God’s strength to love others better than myself. He reminded me that small deeds of kindness are weightier than I fathom. Intervention in one life affects eternity. Christ made himself of no reputation in order to save us. So when He says “follow me” He is asking us to live from the knowledge that we are loved, valuable, and worth redeeming. This is home. A grounding point from which we find the stability and support to love our fellow traveler.

Beyond Downton

January 3, 2023 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield – 

Clear blue ocean water, the melodious sound of the waves gently rolling onto the shoreline, the sun’s rays dancing across the water and orange and pink sunsets filled my life last week. I took a girls’ trip to North Captiva Island with my daughters and daughter-in-law. We try to make this trip every other year if possible. Between weddings and babies, that is no small task. Our destination of choice seems to always be the beach.

I treasure this time together. We read our books while sunning on the porch. We eat seafood, French Fries, and ice cream. We take walks on the beach, talking about dreams, plans, children and memories. There is plenty of teasing Mom about her Mom ways— from being a bit technically challenged to a little OCD in the kitchen. At sunset, we all gather on the porch to bid farewell to the sun and see what glorious colors God gives to us to delight our soul. For a brief moment, it truly is heaven on earth.

One of our favorite past times this trip was to watch Downton Abbey. Two of the girls had not started the Downton craze, and they were eager to join the movement. My challenge was to not give anything away, which was quite difficult since I ooh and aw through most movies anyway.

I love Downton Abbey. I could watch it continually. I guess one could say it is “play” to me. I never want it to end. I love the historical time, the romantic culture, the glamour, and the upstairs-downstairs characters-all that makes up Downton.

If you are not familiar with the story, this English aristocratic family owns Downton Abbey. It is a castle estate with much land that the villagers support by farming. Part of the story centers around saving Downton. In fact, personal choices of marriage are based on saving this gorgeous estate and the way of life that goes with it. Saving Downton seems to be the glue that keeps the family together.

That gives me pause. The family lives for the estate. Two of the sisters don’t even like each other but they are bound by Downton, a structure. Magnificent as it is, it is just a building. They are all bound together for this cause, as if the people inside the house are second to the house itself.

To me, family is more that the house we grow up in. Family is more than a building or its land. It is the site of memories and relationships, but it’s not the family. Family is heart connection, where we are bound beyond the obvious physical link by something spiritual and intangible. Living people made in the image of the one true God make up a family. A house, even one as majestic as Downton, provides shelter for the family. It’s the connection between the inhabitants that really matter, that will really last for all eternity.

What’s funny is that I long for a house that brings my family together since we all live in different cities. I realized, though, that a house, even one as magnificent as Downton, is not what brings people together. It’s the relationships of love, caring and support that matter. It’s playing, laughing and even crying together that create bonds that bind us. I’m grateful to have a family that wants to come together even when there is no Downton to draw us.

Finding Acceptance

December 22, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Growing up in my family, I was not allowed to express myself, especially if my views differed from the rest of the family. If I challenged the establishment’s perspective, I was properly put in my place. Disagreeing definitely upset the apple cart. For that I would feel like a bad little girl. When a child is not allowed to express himself or herself, or is shamed when he or she does, a part of his soul is damaged.

Last weekend I experienced some healing.

I was at a weekend retreat with men and women that I dearly love. Sitting around the fire, the discussion turned to a controversial subject in Christian circles. The details of the conversation do not matter. What matters is that I stirred the pot. I expressed an unpopular perspective in the group. It was uncomfortable for all.

For a woman who has worked hard most of her young life to be popular and accepted, I was committing Christian social suicide. I didn’t plan it. It just came out of my mouth. I didn’t agree. I had a different perspective. It felt wrong to go along with the group.

I know for some, what seemed like conflict was very scary. For me, it was an honest discussion of differences. The evening ended with hugs and professions of love, but my concern was the aftermath. I wondered what the morning would bring. That was the real test.

I woke aware of the “bad little girl” image knocking on my door. I chose to not let her in the room. Instead I embraced the truth of who God says I am. I am enough. I am a princess. I have a redeemed heart and I wear a robe of righteousness. There is no condemnation in Him. Those were the truths I embraced as I sent the bad little girl out of the room.

The real test was at breakfast. How would I be treated? Would it be awkward? Would the discomfort of others be evidenced by the strain on their faces? Those moments open the door again to the presence of that little girl. But, praise God, the atmosphere was one of love and acceptance. We debriefed the conversation from the night before. Some expressed what they had learned about themselves. One of the men told me he appreciated that I stayed in the conversation and did not walk away.

I stirred the pot. I expressed an unpopular perspective like I had done many times before in my family of origin. This time, my Christian family helped send the bad little girl away by responding with love and acceptance.

I would never have tasted such sweetness if I had not risked being authentic and unpopular. I put aside my fear and offered who I really am. In return, I received the blessing of unconditional love.

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