Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:14-15
IT’s WAR! – The past two days have been all about sorting and cleaning. The kitchen work is almost completed; so Rebekah and I are – painstakingly – putting the house back together.
This initiative has included an all-out dust-bunny war. To be honest, after more than ten weeks of everything from the kitchen and dining room stuck in odd places, they’re less “dust”-bunnies, and more “tumble”-bunnies. These tumbleweed-esque monsters have joined forces and launched coordinated attacks from under the bed, behind the sofa, and other inaccessible places.
But they’re gone now. We have the living room back; the dinning room is close to pristine; the kitchen is possibly three days from the “big reveal;” and even my study is beginning to resemble a functional working environment.
In fact, my study is the most organized it’s been since the big move last year, and the process turned up a few interesting finds.
PHOTO ARCHIVES: First, this photograph – circa 1986 – from my days teaching 3-6-year-olds in the Autism Unit (Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Delay) at a Pensacola day-treatment program.
The little guy asleep on my leg is Gregory. He’d be 31 or 32 by now. I loved that kid. I still remember the day his dad bought him in; Gregory wasn’t even three yet. After we went through intake, “Captain B” shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, “I expect you to take care of this for me; keep me apprised of his progress.” Then he clicked his heels together, turned sharply, took his wife firmly by the arm, and was gone.
I gave Captain B a week before I asked him to come in for a private meeting; one on one; mano a mano. “Listen,” I said; “I appreciate where you’re coming from. But you’re not the Roman Centurion, and I’m not Jesus.”
“Only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority…” – Matthew 8:8-9
“Besides,” I said, “I’m not here to fix kids, I’m here to teach them the skills they’re going to need if they’re going to thrive. And that’s not just my responsibility, it’s yours too.”
FAMILY: This next image brings two inseparable ideas together – faith and family. First, there’s the family photograph taken around 1993. We had just climbed Lookout Mountain, along with my faithful dog, Mozart.
It had been a tough year at our house, and we all needed to do something good together, something encouraging. The hike was an epic moment of family unity; it brought us together in just the right way.
But, see what’s behind the photo? It’s a family circle, carved from one piece of stone. To me, it’s a family praying together; a family standing firm, regardless.
But there’s more, and this is important. This family isn’t praying together because family devotions make everyone feel all warm, let’s sing kumbaya, and lovey-dovey. No, they’re doing it because they have made the choice to pray together. The mamma and the daddy have made the choice – on behalf of the family – to be rooted and grounded and nourished in God’s love.
It’s a choice. It’s a choice carved out of solid rock.
I’m committed to this in the same way that I was committed to working with Gregory, the kid who made my eyes well up with tears whenever he relaxed into me. I’m committed to this because I know what it takes if we really want to thrive.
Peace, promise, and love – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.