Ah, the annual Christmas Family Newsletter. It’s always a challenge to put together the right words with the right pictures and cover an entire year in a relatively short post.
So I will begin with a scripture to hold it all together. You know, as God’s word does.
But you are living with people who are crooked and corrupt, who have lost their sense of what is right. Among those people you shine like lights in a dark world, because you hold on to the word of life, and you offer them the teaching that gives life.Philippians 2:15-16
Then there is the “official” photograph. Often, I manage to organize a studio-like portrait with everything in place, just so. This year that just wasn’t going to happen! So the photo – and there will be several versions in this post – reflects the busy, tangled, almost put together but not quite reality that has been Maul-Hall in 2022.
Okay, now we have the scripture (which is a hybrid of two translations) and the photo. I can get on with the 2022 review.
Busy busy busy:
2022 got going with Rebekah’s solo adventure to Bahrain, where she spent three weeks with Andrew, Alicia, and their then two-year-old, Mr. T. Just getting there, with blizzards disrupting flights in Istanbul and New Jersey – and COVID adding layers of complications at every turn – was an epic achievement.
Meanwhile, dad’s condition deteriorated to the extent that his care had become a 24/7 commitment. Good natured and cooperative as always, dad made staying home possible all the way through to April 8th, when he moved into a state of the art assisted living residence five miles from our home.
Just one month later, Rebekah accepted the position of interim pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Wilson, a positive and welcoming community an hour to our east. She enjoyed a remarkable week, where staff, elders, and congregants responded to her enthusiastic vision. But then she fell in the sanctuary, breaking her right ankle and bones in both feet. It was the shortest pastorate in history!
During the summer, Rebekah and I were blessed with visits from both Andrew and Naomi, along with their beautiful families. Hannah and her crew then joined us for dad’s 94th birthday, and my parents had all nine of their great-grandchildren at one time!
Later, after the dust settled, we took David and Beks (our oldest grandchildren) to the North Carolina mountains for a week before driving them back to Florida and their new home in Orlando.
Fall, and the end of a long goodbye:
Fall in North Carolina came with its typical blaze of beauty, then in mid-October Rebekah and I finally took our long delayed retirement trip to England (thanks to the love and generosity of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church). The vacation was the perfect blend of family, relaxation, memories, exploring new places, amazing food, and much needed time alone together. We met Andrew, Alicia, and Mr. T. at the perfect Airbnb on the south coast before enjoying a few days alone, exploring the Isle of Wight.
How can I articulate the emotions, and the love of saying goodbye to my dad? How to summarize the gratitude for a life of 94 years lived with such authentic goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and quiet service to others? David Maul passed away peacefully, and as Rebekah told him, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace, both now and in the life you are entering” (Numbers 6:24-26).
His service was followed – naturally – by Thanksgiving, with the family gathering at Craig and Naomi’s in Orlando.
And now it is Christmas.
Christmas. The Philippians text talks about shining like lights – like stars – in a dark world. Well, there would be no light for us to know, to be filled with, and then to share if Jesus had not broken into time and space via his birth into a normal, humble, faithful family two thousand years ago.
So our prayer for you, for all of us, for this world, is that we invite this light in, that we live and love and share such goodness from day to day, and that we accept God’s invitation to come home.
In love, and because of love – DEREK