July 4: feasting on the gift of life

Sarah, Jared, Seth, and Jordan Alexander

MAUL-HALL INVASION: In the “getting family together” department, weddings and funerals are “no-brainers” (or at least they should be…). Then there are other opportunities, and in Rebekah’s family Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and July 4th have evolved into the go-to “try our best to connect” holidays.

With five siblings, this can be a challenge, but three out of five is considered a success and sometimes we even do better than that. This year was beginning to look like a quiet celebration until a few last-minute shifts and – suddenly – we had 18 family people at Maul Hall, including all six Jacksonville Alexanders Friday evening through Monday afternoon.

We had family in from Florida, Virginia Beach, Richmond, and Charlotte, with most of us here in time to nicely fill two rows of seating at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church for worship. What better place is there to celebrate our freedom than in church?

Jesse, Rebekah, & Rachel

THANKS TO GOD: “I understand we have families in the mountains, out at the beach, off on vacation, and involved in mission ventures,” Rebekah said from the pulpit; “but I wonder sometimes why people don’t flock to church July 4th weekend the same way they do Easter and Christmas? This freedom we have to worship openly, and to practice our faith without fear, has come at such great cost – how could we do anything other than celebrate and give thanks?”

It’s a good point, and that spirit of celebration – along with our simple gratitude for the gift of freedom – animated everything about our Sunday afternoon feast. We were feasting on more than just barbecue, and bratwurst, and hot-dogs, baked beans, and chicken, and squash casserole, and fresh sliced tomatoes, and peaches, and coleslaw, and salad, spinach dip, and toosie dip, and banana pudding, and freedom poundcake, and assorted beverages, and much more… We were feasting on the gift of life!

“Freedom Pound Cake”

Feasting on the gift of life. Now that is a great concept!

As I was playing the role of host – along with Rebekah – I really didn’t have any more than a couple of chances to pick up my camera. So the usual array of paparazzi photos will have to come from some other source this time. But I do have a few pictures to share, and I believe the images effectively capture exactly what I’m talking about, the sense of celebration and gratitude that permeated our Fourth of July.

Feasting on the gift of life – DEREK


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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.

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