I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength. – Psalm 138:1-3
There are literally dozens of contrasts I could point to that illustrate how completely different North Carolina is as compared to Florida.
Living in Florida was a great experience. Four years at Stetson University, more than fourteen in Pensacola, then almost seventeen in Brandon, a few miles east of Tampa. The most wonderful people; the most beautiful beaches; raising our family in two amazing churches. But I did get tired of the relentless heat, especially in Brandon.
But here, in addition to the benefit of enjoying actual seasons, I love the topography around Wake Forest. The rolling Piedmont, covered in trees of every variety, full with dramatic color in the cool of November.
It all came together for me Friday, when my friend George and I went over to Durham to play a round of golf. The high that afternoon barely reached 57-degrees, the sun was brilliant, the trees were resplendent in their finery, and I got to enjoy the beautiful outdoors with a good friend.
I even managed a few holes (here and there) of truly exceptional golf.
It was one of those courses where narrow paths wind up and down hillsides, through dense woods, and over bridges, linking holes set out in such a way that the natural scenery is not offended but complemented. The layout is more about strategy than bombing the ball a mile off the tee, and wish I’d packed my Nikon SLR along with my clubs, to capture more than just a hint of how wonderful North Carolina is in the fall.
So today I’m grateful to Wake Forest Presbyterian Church for inviting us to live here in The Tar Heel State. And I am grateful to God, not only for encouraging Rebekah to say “yes”, but for so ordering our lives and with such mercy and grace.
I have – of course – lived my entire life thankful for the places I’ve been privileged to call home. Gratitude is part of how I choose to experience each and every day. But I’m still caught a little by surprise at how well this all fits.
There’s a song we often sang at the close of worship when I played with the Praise Band back in Brandon. It goes like this:
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us” (repeat)Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)
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.