For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19
That’s right, friends, today’s Advent photograph is a pile of mail!
The ubiquitous “Holiday Newsletter” most certainly qualifies as an iconic Advent image. And today – “Day-19” of “Advent at the Improv” – is a great day to talk about newsletters. Why? Because I’m playing “catch-up” (as per usual), and it’s past time to publish ours.
The Derek & Rebekah 2014 Newsletter:
First off, we’re still here! Yes, after thirty-one consecutive family newsletters from the Sunshine State (1982-2012), this now makes two-in-a-row from North Carolina. We’re sixteen months into this adventure, and it looks like Wake Forest Presbyterian Church still wants Rebekah to stick around as pastor.
Rebekah is working beyond hard – but her ministry is encouraging, affirming, and invigorating; in many ways, I believe she’s younger now than the day we rolled into town! Rebekah says it’s humbling to be used in this way by God, and she simply prays that she can hold on for the ride.
This really is one remarkable community of faith. Life at WFPC is characterized by joy, by mutual encouragement, by a growing commitment to discipleship, and by an open-spirited sense of belief in and enthusiasm for the future.
Derek: As for me, I’m fully invested in the church. I’m active in the men’s ministry, I teach an adult-education discipleship class, and I have fallen in love with this community. But my number one job – so far as I’m concerned – remains that of doing everything I can to support and encourage the preacher.
I’m still writing full-time. I’m a weekly columnist for Wake Forest Today, I write monthly commentary for a couple of news magazines in Florida, I stay fairly busy penning articles for AllProDad.com, and my new book is moving along slowly. I post daily here at Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion, and this blog has grown to reach – at this writing – more than 1,850 subscribers.
Our children continue to thrive: Naomi and Craig, along with our grandchildren (David is three and Beks is almost 18-months, have moved to Richmond. They are building a home, and plan to move in the weekend of December 20. Having them just two hours away is literally a Godsend.
Rebekah and I enjoyed an epic travel adventure this past summer, visiting Andrew and Alicia in Italy. Andrew continues to travel extensively in Africa, and Alicia has kept her creative energy tapped via teaching, learning Italian, fine-tuning her opera voice, and entertaining visitors.
My parents, Grace and David Maul, left Florida after more than three decades and purchased the house next door to us on Elmwood Ct. Scout has already beaten a well-worn path to their door, and it’s good to have them close by. They are enjoying North Carolina, they love the neighborhood, and they feel at home in the church.
Maul-Hall: This is the first two-story house Rebekah and I have ever owned, and we believe we’ve finally mastered the concept (we’ve each fallen down the stairs once, so we’re glad that’s over with). The big project for 2014 was the new kitchen; Rebekah had an idea for new lighting and it evolved into a complete transformation. We also have some amazing plans for the garden, but for now pine-straw is my friend.
Highlights of 2014:
- Every day – we’re thankful for this amazing life, and blessed with so much to celebrate!
- Speaking gigs – I was flown to Florida 5 times for speaking engagements. It turns out that the definition of “expert” really is “from out-of-town!”
- March – My parents moved from Sarasota to the house next door.
- April – Twelve days as solo grandaddy in Connecticut when Naomi and Craig vacationed in Italy.
- August’s epic Italy adventure – Two amazing weeks in Naples, Assisi, Vicenza, Venice, Ravenna, and San Marino.
- Richmond, Virginia – In September, Naomi, Craig, and family move and build a new house. The grandchildren are now just two hours from Wake Forest!
- November – 10-week kitchen tear-down and rebuild finally complete!
- Wake Forest Presbyterian Church – this faith community is a highlight every single day.
“The Word” for 2014 is REFRESHMENT. Everything about this year has been about pouring new life and new energy into our experience of living life like we mean it, and living faith out loud.
– Derek & Rebekah
(look for a year-in-review” photo gallery after Christmas)