acknowledging the heart and soul of my family (“what it means to be a Maul”)

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I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” – Psalm 122:1

the Alaska hike, 2006
the Alaska hike, 2006

In 2006, during the great Maul family cruise to Alaska, Rebekah and I scheduled an educational hike in the rain forest near Sitka. So the four of us – me, Rebekah, Andrew, and Naomi – enjoyed an interesting, energetic, at times challenging, three-mile hike over some beautiful Alaskan terrain.

Later, someone asked Naomi why she had passed up the opportunity to take one of the more exotic shore excursions in favor of a family hike? Her answer was simple, and extremely telling:

She spent the day hiking with her family, she said, because, “That’s what Mauls do.”

Andrew and Hannah with Hudson and Haley
Andrew and Hannah with Hudson and Haley

2015: Labor Day Weekend is slated to be another family-themed occasion. Last week we got together with all the extended Alexanders for Myrt’s memorial service (The art of Family and the joy of celebrating life); this week our gathering is on the “Maul” side.

My niece Hannah (my late brother Geoff’s only child) flew in from Florida yesterday, along with her husband, Andrew, and two of their four children. Then Naomi is driving down from Richmond with David and Beks (Craig has to stay behind and work).

IMG_2096The reunion won’t be complete, but Andrew and Alicia’s sojourn to the nether regions of Uzbekistan more than qualifies as a reasonable excuse; so I’ll just post a recent picture (Alicia bicycling in Tashkent) to keep the “epic adventurers” in the conversation!

Here in North Carolina, Labor Day Weekend is the official “last mad rush” of the summer, and everyone seems to disappear to the mountains or to the shore for one more weekend before settling in to the routines of the fall. So we’re thrilled that our family is coming to Wake Forest, and that we’ll be able to worship together Sunday morning, bringing the heart of “what it means to be a Maul” into clear focus one more time.

THE HEART: Worship together is an integral element of our family ethos. It doesn’t matter if we are at home, visiting relatives, on vacation, or even cruising in the middle of some ocean; regardless of where we are, we will present ourselves before God – as a family – to give thanks and praise. Because – and this has been our chosen family priority since before I was even on the radar as a baby – “That’s what Mauls do.”

David and Beks
David and Beks

Mauls do this (and Alexanders too, by the way) because of two simple truths. One: God has chosen us. Two: we have chosen God.

There is no other single factor in family life with more power to keep us grounded, to teach us the ways of love, and to equip us to live fully engaged lives as blessed children of the Creator.

This is true for every family under the sun. And if worship – as a family, and with a faith community – is not your most valued priority, then I have to say that you are missing out on something deeply beautiful, a commitment that goes to the root of a family life that works.

Besides, as our daughter Naomi said – “It’s what Mauls do.”

I’ll see you in church – DEREK


    1. I took a look at your blog, and there’s obviously a lot of good writing there about your struggle. So I won’t throw a glib or easy answer your way.
      I think the first thing when finding a church home is to understand that you have a home with God. God’s invitation is always to come home. Another key fact is that you are not at church for you, and your experience, so much as showing up to worship God. Granted, it’s easier to feel at home with God and to worship in spirit and in truth when you are in a setting that makes sense for you. But the setting is definitely secondary to the call to worship.
      Finding a place where you can serve God in the context of a worshipping community is – again – more important than finding a place that fits our own needs. It helps to see and understand how a faith community is reaching into the world to live the good news in creative and judgmental ways.
      Finally (not because this is “the last word” but because I have no more time to write!), making a commitment to a local church and then simply being faithful often leads to comfort level down the road. In other words – and a lot like a marriage – it’s the commitment and the faithfulness that makes the relationship work. There are no perfect churches, but finding some honest fellow-journeyers is a great place to start. If you live anywhere near Wake Forest, come and see – Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
      Peace and blessings – DEREK


      1. Dear Derek,
        Thank you for your very thoughtful response. I am a critical person by nature, and that is, I think, part of what is making tis difficult for me. Your point is well-taken, though: Worshipping God is the first priority. Your analgy to marriage is also helpful. Again, I appreciate the time and thought you put into your response, and I will make your comments part of this process.


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