How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life forevermore. – Psalm 133
I’m back! One full week without posting seems like a long time, but this vacation was a family cruise, and we made the decision to be “off the grid.” No phone, no email, no Facebook – no Internet at all. We didn’t even look at the television or catch up on the news briefs the cruise line makes accessible.
This was the fourth “Maul Family Cruise.” It’s an act of intentional we-are-determined-to-be-connected-as-a-family love, and we made every wonderful minute of it count.
There’s a lot to cover, so I plan on sharing this cruise in the following bite-sized pieces.
- Tampa (we sailed out of our old home)
- The ship (boat, floating buffet…)
There will be many photographs; some of them can only be described as spectacular, and I’m very excited about sharing these with you. But also – and you know this is always my intention – there will be something challenging for us to think about, and to guide us along the way as disciples.
Fifteen of us sailed out of Tampa. My parents; Rebekah and I; Andrew and Alicia; Naomi, Craig, David, and Beks (Campbell); Hannah’s family (my brother’s daughter, her husband Andrew Roberts, and three of their four children – Haley, Hudson, and Hannah Mae).
We met formally around a long dinner table every evening, then in smaller groups throughout the day. The Campbell and the Roberts families had a beach day together in Mexico; Rebekah and I took Andrew and Alicia on a Mayan ruins expedition; there were late-night cousin gatherings on their room balconies (they’ll have to explain the “Exploding Kittens” game to you!); we had a worship service together Sunday morning.
The cruise was and unqualified success. My parents were able to relax and enjoy themselves – but most of all they were so happy to see their grandchildren enjoying one-another, and our family together. For Alicia, this was her first “Maul cruise,” and she was able to appreciate being loved as another grandchild. My late brother, Geoff, may have been sorely missed, but this family is still growing, and still embracing the spirit of adventure and passion for life that defined him.
By now (Friday), Andrew and Alicia are in Moscow en-route to Uzbekistan, we’re back in Wake Forest (we drove, my folks flew), Hannah and family are home in Sarasota, and the Campbells are heading to Virginia.
But we are one in spirit, one in our intentional living as followers of Jesus, and bonded just a little more deeply as a family of Mauls.
Again, and so appropriate for this New Year, I offer these words with gratitude to God, and with such an awareness of amazing grace – DEREK