So it is time for the traditional “Rebekah & Derek Annual Newsletter.” It’s all right here, folks, the year 2021 in a nutshell:
- Rebekah and Derek turn 65,
- 12 more months of Covid,
- The end of an era,
- 40-years of active, full-time ministry wrapped up in an epic retirement celebration,
- Four generations of family from 13-months (Geoffrey) to ninety-three and a half years (David),
- Mauls continue to trot the globe….
There is a lot to talk about, so it makes perfect sense to anchor this in one scripture passage, a word designed to keep our focus in the right place. (I’m choosing, ironically, the passage all Rebekah’s preaching was rooted in throughout the latter part of her ministry.)
When the team that called Rebekah to Wake Forest Presbyterian Church in 2013 asked how she prepared for a typical sermon, she replied by saying: “I try to stay awake!” She was referencing the scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5, and the fact that she consciously works to be aware, alert, paying attention, listening to her people, reading God’s word, asking the Spirit for insight, and speaking directly into the world we experience.
This is still exactly where God invites us to keep our focus:
For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.1 Thessalonians 5:5-6
This past year Rebekah and Derek – a.k.a. Children of the Light – have continued to live faithfully (or at least we tried) in response to our calling to stay awake, to stay engaged with the world, and to live “Good News Lives.”
The biggest 2021 news is that August 1st, after 40-years of ministry, Rebekah retired (read about it here). Many factors led to this decision, not least of which was the sudden death of her sister Rachel, back in January (Another epic story moves from this life into eternity).
All things considered, we decided that turning 65 was a good moment to implement this shift in focus and prepare for the final third of our lives together. August 1st was an amazing day, with the (then) positive Covid situation allowing for a full house at worship and 400 people for lunch.
So many tears, such joy, such pain to let all of this go, such affirmation for Rebekah’s enthusiasm and commitment and inspiration over all these years. I honestly cannot imagine such a strong and positive voice for Jesus failing to reemerge in some way in 2022; but for now – and the immediate future – we are still figuring out what “retired” looks like, and exactly how God is calling her to use her gifts.
Derek is writing and caregiving:
As for me, I am still writing for a number of editors and deeply involved in caring for my parents next door. I am enjoying our Golden Retriever, Max, playing golf when I can, taking photographs, speaking occasionally, and consulting in the area of ministry to men. Rebekah and I have found a church within a reasonable distance where we both feel at home, and I will likely move my membership in the New Year.
My parents, David and Grace, are 93 and 90 respectively. In many ways mum and dad are remarkably well, and – also – in just as many ways every day is its own monumental struggle. They are glad to be able to be cared for at home, and they genuinely love living in this part of North Carolina.
Our children and grands:
Andrew and Alicia, along with their two year old, Mr. T., moved from Dresden to Manama, where they are both teachers at the American School of Bahrain. Professionally, this is a positive move for them both. For our grandson, it’s just a bigger sandbox.
Naomi and Craig are making the most of their big 2020 move to Miami. We are proud to share the news that Craig has been promoted to Captain at Trader Joe’s, where he will be running the company’s flagship Florida store. Naomi keeps the family on track and engaged in so many creative activities, David and Beks are shining in 4th and 3rd grade, and Geoffrey just turned 13 months.
We are blessed beyond measure with our beautiful family.
In conclusion, 2021 has been one of the most overwhelmingly difficult years in the forty-two and a half we have shared as a family.
Each and every morning, however, Rebekah and I wake up to a new day and we choose – consciously and prayerfully – to live as “Children of the Light.”
Again from Ephesians: “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” (Ephesians 5:8)
With love and more love – Derek and Rebekah