by Pamela J. Morton
I looked at my phone. 11:13 am. I had exactly two minutes to drive from my in-laws’ country home to a restaurant in a nearby town where my niece sat patiently waiting for me.
I turned the key to the ignition. No go. I swung my head around wondering what in the world was happening. I’m no mechanical genius, but I have never had trouble putting the key in the engine and turning it over. No juice. The battery was dead. I took a deep breath and went back inside to enlist my husband’s help. He very patiently put on his coat and shoes and began his search for jumper cables.
I could say that this was the start of a rough day, but that wouldn’t be true. This was the MIDDLE of a rough day that had already started earlier. Let me recap.
I washed my new flash drive with the other laundry.
I booked two lunches on the same day.
I changed a password on a joint account and couldn’t remember what it was (and hadn’t written it down).
I lost my keys.
I found my keys in the ignition of my car. (What?!)
I had left the key turned so that it drained the car battery. (More…what?!)
I couldn’t find jumper cables.
I was late to meet my niece.
By noon, my frustration levels spiked as adrenaline coursed through my veins.
“What is wrong with me?” I muttered to myself. “Get it together, Pam!” I shook my head in disbelief. I have been known to have “Lucy” moments, but back-to-back, over-and-over?
As we drove to town in my father-in-law’s truck (Thank you, Pa!), I told John, “Well, I have really hit the chaos phase, haven’t I?”
He smiled and said, “Yep.” (He doesn’t require many words for most situations.)
William Bridges categorized the three phases of transition in his book, Managing Transitions, as “Ending,” “Neutral Zone,” and “New Beginning.” I had also heard the “Neutral Zone” referred to as the “Chaos Phase,” which I think is a better description of my current state.
It’s in this phase of being between the ending of something and the beginning of something else that I find most difficult. I tend to lose all common sense. Before I know what is actually happening phase-wise, I chastise myself for these ridiculous mistakes. I just add stress to my already stressed condition!
But, now that I understand that this “chaotic phase” is just that––a phase, I can see it for what it is and take it in stride. It’s a physical response to a stressful situation.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace,” 2 Corinthians 4:16 MSG.
When I pause and understand what’s happening, I take a moment to thank the Lord for His “unfolding grace.” He provides peace in chaotic times while giving strength to close out old endings and enter new beginnings. Can I get a “Hallelujah!”?
PS For those curious, I didn’t cancel either lunch appointment. I kept them both. I consider myself a Professional Luncher. ;)
Pam Morton, her husband, John, and two teenaged daughters packed up their fulfilling, understood Midwestern life and moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2009. Her dream of serving overseas became a shocking reality of daily cultural encounters that often left her wondering if she’d actually landed on Mars instead! From Cairo to Khartoum to Upper Egypt to deserts unknown, Pam continues to learn, live and thrive in a sandy, sweaty, hospitable land.
An author, global worker, teacher trainer and self-proclaimed “professional luncher,” Pam wants to share laughter, life and hope with her dear Arab neighbors while providing insight into Middle Eastern customs and everyday life with her friends in the West. www.pamelajmorton.com
by Amber Mills
The holiday air is electric! Family dinners are frequent. Seasonal desserts are everywhere. The fragrance of Thanksgiving and Christmas is in the air. Naturally, we want to consume as much as we can. The light displays, the music, and cuddles during movies, the aroma of turkey, and the taste of grandma’s fudge—we recall precious memories through all of our senses during this season.
By the time we have ventured through this wonderful time of year, we do not feel so wonderful. We have eaten too much and gained a few pounds; spent more than we should, and feeling the effects. However, one of the biggest side effects of the holidays is pure exhaustion as they come to an end. Having stayed up late too many nights making sure that every moment is used to its fullest with every corner picture perfect. I have accepted every invitation to join friends and family to celebrate. I have seen seventeen parades and twenty-two light displays, built six gingerbread houses and decorated a hundred dozen sugar cookies…or so it seems. As I sit on the couch, instead of seeing the remnants an incredible few months with my husband and boys, I just see an endless list of chores to return our lives to normal. Decorations that I couldn’t wait to display now cause anxious thoughts of how to pack it all away! I am ready for this time to be over! Somehow, I don’t think this is what God had in mind for this time of year. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed the time, but have I savored the moments?
While pondering all of this, God pricks my heart reminding me of times in my life I have experienced the same affects of a season. There have been seasons in our ministry when we felt alone. We felt as if no one saw us. We were invisibly spinning our wheels and no one knew the struggle. Then, there have been times of incredible favor. In those times, I received many opportunities to serve in new and exciting ways. Because I knew all too well the feeling of being invisible, I wanted to seize absolutely every opportunity given, walk through every open door, and give all I had just in case this season didn’t last. Instead of feeling fulfilled in these moments, I am overwhelmed with exhaustion once again. It is as if I have experienced yet another holiday meal, over-filled my plate, consumed too much, and now I am so full that I can’t breathe. All of the things consumed were good things but moderation would have allowed me to savor each item a little more.
If I can be completely honest, I am currently experiencing a season of an over-piled plate. God has given me opportunities to minister in areas that have truly captured my heart. I revel in these ministry moments. They are not just titles, but have become who I am, and I run to these experiences with great expectation. In addition, God opened some new doors and prompted my heart to walk through them. I am out of my element and unsure of my abilities in these new areas, but they are exciting as I anticipate all that God will do in them. Then, I look at my plate and I don’t know where to begin. I have added new things to try, but kept all of my old favorites. I know the outcome if I try to consume all of this. The problem is: I know I should take the new opportunities, but my heart isn’t ready to release the old ministry areas. They have my heart, my investment.
Psalm 104:19 NLT: You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.
I have a feeling I am not alone in this journey as I see many trying to balance an over-filled plate. We carry heavy loads sometimes because no one else is there to take some of it from us. God is teaching me something I want to share with those who are also deciding where to start: It’s okay to let go. I want to put an exclamation after that statement, but my heart needs a whispered: It’s okay to let go. If God asks you to move, He already has a plan for the hole you leave.
I want to savor each item more. I want to revel in the moments as I watch God do miracles in the lives of those I get to serve. In order to do that, I have to let go. God is moving, signifying we should as well. A new year is beginning; let’s take that step of faith together.
SOMO Kid’s Camp. My heart is working with women and girls, even though I have a house full of boys.
My husband, Greg Mills, and I grew up in the same church in Joplin, MO. We have been married for 20 years. We have served in full time ministry for 19 of those years. We are the lead pastor’s at Camdenton 1st A/G in Camdenton, MO.
We have 4 boys which I homeschool. Brandyn, 18 is a freshman in college. Zach, 16 is a sophomore. Camryn, 14 is in 8th grade. My little Kyle is 9 years old and in 3rd grade.
I serve as the Children’s pastor and women’s leader in our church as well as the sectional Women’s and Girl’s Ministries rep. I have worked as a children’s pastor for over 15 years. Kids are the key not only to our survival as a church but also in our endless pursuit to evangelize our world. They must be taught who we are, why we are, and what we are truly called to do and be. To be able to walk alongside these little ones as they discover these truths for themselves is both a blessing and personally inspiring beyond measure.
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.