Rebekah and I have a wonderful family. Our amazing children and their spouses make us happy and proud, then our beautiful grandchildren constantly bring on the joy.
When they were growing up, we encouraged Andrew and Naomi to love their world, to learn everything they could about it, and to keep their minds and hearts wide open. “We want your family to be an anchor,” we said, “not a chain.” And so they scattered (as much as two possibly can). Naomi met Craig on a boat in Alaska and Andrew and Alicia found one another at a wedding in Northern Italy.
This week they are both on the move again.
Naomi and Craig arrived in Miami in early 2020, two weeks before COVID closed the schools; now the family is moving. Craig, who has demonstrated unusual competence and promise as a Trader Joe’s manager, has been asked to take on a new challenge in Orlando and it looks like a good career move.
Over in Bahrain, Andrew and Alicia are leaving their high-rise apartment and moving to a townhouse in a neighborhood much closer to the school where they both teach. Then, pretty much the moment they have the keys to the new place in their hands, they will board a two-hop flight to Detroit, planning to spend the first few weeks of their “Summer in the States” around Alicia’s parents’ home in Midland, Michigan.
The Active Choice to Love:
Naomi’s family took Miami by storm, becoming ambassadors for the beaches, the museums, the zoo, their church, the Boy Scouts, Beks’ ballet, the elementary school, and a handful of favorite restaurants. They gave Miami the gift of loving it, and its people, extravagantly; it’s what they always do, everywhere they go, and it will doubtless happen in Orlando too.
The approach – deliberately, intentionally loving where you are – is one of the hallmark behaviors of “What Mauls Do.” Kind of a family credo.
Personally, as a lifelong practitioner of the active choice to love, I believe this is good theology.
I have known too many people who compare things, unfavorably, with either where they used to live, or how things used to be. Nostalgia is the enemy of today and it is typically built on a foundation of selective memory, wishful thinking, and make-believe.
- I was raised in Folkestone, and of course it was the most beautiful, livable seaside town in England.
- Then DeLand, in Florida, was the perfect place to go to university, to fall in love, and to pursue my first degree.
- We absolutely loved our years in Decatur, Georgia,
- and when Rebekah and I settled in Pensacola, the historic panhandle town was absolutely the best possible place to raise our children.
- Over the seventeen years we lived in Tampa, we were loud and proud about to all it had to offer.
- Today I can promise you Wake Forest is hands down the best small town in America.
I’m sure you can catch the theme.
Then the churches: Trinity Presbyterian in Pensacola was an amazing community of faith, the people were the best. First Presbyterian of Brandon was a passionate, vibrant, growing church and we loved it completely. Here in Wake Forest, WFPC was the perfect place to worship and serve, overflowing with generous and dedicated families committed to following Jesus (and I know it still is today). Today we are blessed to be a part of HMPC in Raleigh, and we are so grateful to see God at work there.
We never compare where we are to where we were, because God is always calling us to be one hundred percent all in, today, exactly where we are.
Always looking forward:
There is only one comparison that is ever worth making, and that is between the abundant life God constantly invites us into, and how we are responding to the opportunity. God has each one of us where we are for a reason, and that is never about looking back – but, always, to look forward into what is possible.
So let us love God’s world passionately, right where we are, and invite those around us to do the same – DEREK