Notes from Maul-Hall North Carolina, three years in


I pray that, according to the riches of [God’s] glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God… – Ephesians 3:16-19

Believe it or not, it’s been three years since Rebekah and I rolled out of Brandon and headed north for our new adventure.

Sunday August 11, 2013, was our last day in Florida; we arrived in North Carolina two days later (today), getting unpacked and settled before Rebekah’s first day in the office. Sunday August 26 was the first time we worshiped with this wonderful community.

A lot has happened since then. But the most important thing to know is that Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is a vibrant, active, stable, passionate-about-Jesus congregation of more than 800 believers, committed to living as faithful disciples, and to being the presence of Christ in this community and beyond.

In some ways I’m still excited about the newness of living in the picture perfect town of Wake Forest. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but this place fit my “ideal” relocation criterion exactly. In fact, when I knew it was time for Rebekah to be open for one more call, I developed a private checklist that I filed with God.

“The congregation,” I said, should be… “One that not only needs the unique characteristics of Rebekah’s leadership style, but is also in a place where they understand they don’t want to replicate the past, are willing to heal, and are ready to imagine a new kind of future.”

“Regarding location I’m willing to live anywhere to serve you Lord,” I said, “from Florida to California to New York to Alaska. But I’d really like a small town with an active town center, a coffee shop, a local hardware store, and an independent bookstore. I’d like to live within walking distance of the town center, with sidewalks all the way. I’d like this town to be close to a larger city with culture, and healthcare, and an adequate airport. Ideally, Lord, I want to live somewhere with four distinct seasons, within range of both the mountains and the sea, and closer (than Florida) to our grandchildren. I’d like a younger demographic, a strong education-driven culture, and the opportunity for me to find my place too.”

When I came up with this highly specific “suggestion” for God, we didn’t even know this community existed. I didn’t share my list with Rebekah, and I was honestly open to every possibility that presented itself.

It wasn’t until we arrived here, three years ago this week, that I realized how close we had come to matching everything I wanted in a town, and more. Then Naomi and Craig moved with the grandkids to Richmond and we couldn’t have been happier.

Since August 2013 we have discovered a lot more about why God had so carefully guided us to this particular place. We’ve discovered that the word “potential” should be listed in a special thesaurus alongside ideas such as prayer, hard work, joy, application, heartache, reconciliation, faith, repair, communion, redemption, tears, struggle, cost, belief, promise, trust, setback, hope, and more….

And we have discovered – we are discovering – that God’s plan is far more extensive and wonderful and redemptive than we had ever hoped or imagined.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

Looking forward to the next three years… and more. And I’ll see you in church! – DEREK

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, 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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