By Derek Maul

My wife, Rebekah, and I have been remodeling our Valrico home and digging up the garden a little over 16 years now.

On the map, and even according to the original survey, the structural “footprint” looks exactly the same. However, with new features like a gourmet kitchen, completely remodeled bathrooms, re-imagined living areas, mature landscaping and constant re-invention, Rebekah and I have literally transformed this address.

In similar fashion, and over the same 16 years, the two of us have also both been remodeled from the insides out: Refurbished, refreshed, rejuvenated, restored, renovated and re-equipped. We certainly appreciate everything that we had going for us when we moved here from Pensacola in 1996, but – just like our home – we are a work in progress and I’m thankful for the passing of the years.

There’s a lot to be said for chronological patience and the passage of time. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 51 because I wasn’t ready. I believe it took all five decades to prepare me to say what I said in “GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men.”

When I understand the truth about being a work in progress I find myself even more excited about the next few years. Why? Because I am confident that God is still preparing me for more transformational experiences to come.


I honestly don’t want anything to do with the 1996 version of the house and the garden that we first moved into. The 16 years of growing together have been an amazing shot of life to the property.

Likewise, I really don’t want my 40-year-old self back either.

I love how my life is constantly reinventing, replenishing, and moving forward. This journey is an amazing privilege and it’s a most wonderful ride.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!


Life most definitely is, as our son Andrew would most likely say, “EPIC!”


Previous articleSeffner United Methodist Church Welcomes New Minister
Next articleAccess Church Opens at Bloomingdale High School
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.