Life – busy and beautiful – #5PhotoFriday

Well, it’s February 1st today and I’ll try to keep the “5PhotoFriday” initiative going. The difficulty is not so much finding five photographs but in paring the list of contenders down to a manageable number.

The past seven days have produced so much worth writing about it’s like the perfect illustration for the “live like you mean it” imperative I often reference. Life not just busy but meaningful, full, and a little bit exhausting!

#1 – Rebekah

1-img_2869Any image of Rebekah is worth sharing. But this one is of her preparing her sermon for Sunday morning. It’s a long process that not only covers a week or more but also the dining room table. She may describe it differently but this (after four decades of observation) is how it looks to me.

There is prayer and planning – themes and directions – well ahead of time. There is the collecting of stories. There is prayer. There is Bible study. There is Greek and Hebrew and there are commentaries and concordances. There is paying attention to life. There are conversations with people and there is a lot of listening. There is more prayer. There are books and quotations, and articles and videos, and there is listening to what other people have to say.

Then – most simply and most importantly – Rebekah says that she “tries to stay awake.” Staying awake means being alert to the Spirit, to the lives of the people around us, to the pulse of the church, to our relationship with God. So, again, there has to be prayer.

All of that comes in a great sack that she dumps on the dining room table Friday or Saturday, and it circles the scripture selection for the week until some of it coalesces and clumps together and finds its way into her heart, her head, and her manuscript.

Sunday morning, sitting in the pew and listening, that is just scratching the surface of the background.

#2 – Czeching Out

with Karen Tharrington

Friday evening we drove into Raleigh for our friend Karen’s goodbye gathering at Lynwood Brewing Concern (great location).

Karen and her husband Tim are heading to the Czech Republic for a couple of years, trying on the Internationalist life that our Andrew and Alicia have embraced with such passion and love so much.

It’s hard to say goodbye to people who are such faithful witnesses to light and love and have been committed and enthusiastic participants in the life of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. But at the same time we are thankful that Karen and Tim love life with an adventurous spirit and that we are connected in such a vital way exactly because what we have shared has been authentic and powerful.

#3 People

1-IMG_2875Last Friday evening we enjoyed the remarkable NewGrass concert at the Magnolia Roots Lounge in Wake Forest. You can see pictures of the evening here Living the Simple Witness of Light and Joy

A good part of what made the night so enjoyable was hanging out with friends. There are so many amazing people at our church and we would love to spend relaxed time with all of them. So this picture is to say how grateful we are for the relationships we are building here.

Sometimes one person at a time, sometimes one party at a time. Always a blessing.

#4 Winter Golf 

1-IMG_2923More on this in my post on pride. In Florida we backed onto the Buckhorn Springs Country Club. Here the Paschal golf course is just a half-mile down the road.

My primary memories of Buckhorn are of my friend Gary’s generous invitations to join him, of golfers trying to chip out of our flower beds, and of playing at 95-degrees with 99-percent humidity!

North Carolina golf, especially in January, sometimes comes at 40-degrees and brown grass. But I love the contrast between Carolina-blue skies and winter conditions. Refreshing, walking 18-holes just to keep warm, so much fun. Again, quality time with people I love.

#5 A beautiful memory:

download28329Lastly, our son Andrew reminded me this week of a day he and I spent together harvesting olives in Tuscany.

I’d encourage you to read my description of that experience in the following post – Harvesting Olives in the Tuscan Hills. Our hosts that day (The Ammirabile/Deacon family) are dealing with some medical challenges and could use your prayers.

It’s a reminder that God’s good people are everywhere. We just have to – as Rebekah does when she is preparing her message – keep our eyes open and our spirits awake. Who knows what God is preparing to teach us.

Peace and blessings – always – DEREK




culture kingdom of God life photography relationships Travel travel photography

derekmaul View All →

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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