by Terry Magness
A friend and I were enjoying a leisurely afternoon breakfast at Village Inn before heading home when I suddenly realized I had forgotten to return a package to The UPS Store. Google Maps showed there was one less than a mile away, but in the opposite direction from where we needed to go. Maps also gave another option in the general direction we desired, but it required a sizeable detour from our route home. My friend chose the second option.
When I pointed out the difference in mileage, she responded, “But that’s in the wrong direction!”
I explained the difference between the two extra miles it would take to drive to the first store and back, and the five to six extra miles it would require driving the detour to the store on our way home.
She didn’t get it. Her focus was on her desired destination. Traveling in the opposite direction of home—though it consumed less time, less car mileage, and less gasoline—simply did not make sense to her, and from her perspective, seemed an imposition.
We have often seen or perhaps experienced this scenario first-hand. Something happens. Life presents us with an unexpected turn of events or change in direction. It seems wrong, possibly ominous, unpleasant, and sometimes downright painful. So, we set our compass and step on the gas, speeding in the direction we have predetermined, only to discover the road we are traveling has endless hills and valleys, blind intersections, road barriers, detours, potholes, and stand-still traffic. Eventually, we discover our wheels are spinning in place and we are going nowhere--and we are not quite sure how we got here.
What if we were to put on the brakes and consider? Does God have a plan for my life? Can He be trusted? Does He really love me?
God’s Word answers these questions in the affirmative--Yes. Yes. And yes!
Jesus said you would have trials in this life, but He has plans that will prepare and equip you to prosper in the journey, that you may arrive at your destination triumphantly. Right?
So then, you might ask, “If He loves me, then where is He in all this?”
A dear friend, Linda Brown, is a Celebrate Recovery leader and Certified Peer Specialist at Burrell Behavioral Health. Her occupation and mission in life is to help souls find healing, deliverance, and redemption.
Linda loves and follows the Lord with her whole heart, but a phone call one morning changed the course of her life. Her daughter, Jessica, the mother of her three grandchildren, died in a tragic auto accident in May 2021. Linda now parents one of those children.
How could she ever imagine this as the right direction for her life? It feels completely counterintuitive and is still unbearably painful at times! Please allow me share what she wrote in her blog on the first anniversary of her daughter’s death:
One year ago today I received the worst phone call of my life. No words can describe it, or the year that has followed. I can say, however, and mean it, that God has shown himself to be loving, good, and faithful through every circumstance of my life, including this one. Christians are not exempt from hard things, because we live on Planet Earth where sin, sickness, and death are. Sometimes there are seasons of grief and deep sorrow, sometimes there are times of anger and questions with no clear answers. Sometimes there are days when you just can’t think about. one. more. thing.
When your life takes an unexpected turn that doesn’t make sense, run to God. Leave your will at the door. Seek His guidance; ask Him for direction. Remember, He knows this road you are traveling. He has designated your route. As Linda does, read His Word and pray every day. Peace and assurance will come that God loves you--that He is good. Look for the beauty He provides in each day, and realize He is working His beauty in you.
God’s Guidance System (GGS) is foolproof and trustworthy. Follow His step-by-step en route instructions to reach your destiny.
Now an ordained AG minister, Terry Magness was once a broken, wounded, angry, and abuse-hardened woman, until God’s redeeming love confronted, delivered, healed, and transformed her life.
In 1995, Terry founded Grace Harbour Ministries, a not-for-profit, Biblically based teaching, prayer, and discipleship ministry to women. Through Biblical counseling, coaching, and mentoring, she helps soul-wounded women come to know God in a personal way, conquer sin, overcome life challenges, and live Spirit-empowered lives. Throughout her global ministry she has witnessed God’s captive-freeing power at work.
Terry has authored two books--Ever Increasing Grace and Azadiah Reynolds: God’s Jamaica Man—and three booklets in her Pocket Scriptures series.
Terry enjoys people, writing, photography, art, nature, and relaxing on the water while fishing with her quick-witted husband, Don, who keeps her laughing. Their amazing children and three priceless granddaughters remind them daily to be ever thankful for God’s wondrous blessings.
by Kim Boley
Have you ever eaten too much? Like, where you’re just miserable? It feels kinda gross, right?
What about when you enjoy a meal, you’re full, but you don’t feel miserable? You still feel normal and pleasant? It’s so nice! I love that feeling when I’ve enjoyed everything on my plate, but I don’t feel awful.
This is how I recently began looking at my time. I’ve been offered some amazing things the past couple of years, but I know I can’t say yes to it all. Even with the amazing things I already get to do, I’ve been offered more. But I’m limited. I hate that.
So how do I determine what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to?
I remember saying to my husband one night when discussing what my roles should look like in Chi Alpha next year, “I think my plate is too full.”
And I was hit with this metaphor.
I saw a plate full of delicious food: My main course was my family—my biggest priority after God—my daughters and my husband, and yes, my dog. My favorite side dish is our ministry—Chi Alpha at Southeast Missouri State. Which, honestly, is super easy to fill up on. I love what we do, so it’s easy to put a lot of that on my plate, and I must be careful how much space that takes up. Other side dishes are things I do for National Chi Alpha and our district, but I must keep these dishes small.
Desserts are my hobbies. Mostly reading. I know I could indulge a lot on it, but I also know my entire meal can’t be made up of just dessert. But a little is very enjoyable, and I could argue dessert is very necessary!
Coffee is my connection with friends. Sadly, I feel as if this one does get sacrificed a lot, but I’m so aware that I need it to get me through. I’ve been prioritizing this one more lately.
You might be wondering where God is in this metaphor? My time with Him is the napkin. So simple. So necessary. Cleans me up no matter what’s gotten on my hands and face. Refreshes me. My time with Him determines the quality of the napkin.
The plate is my time. My time has not grown and never will. I still have only twenty-four hours in a day. My plate is fixed.
About a year ago, I recognized my plate was full and I’d already included dessert. Sometimes dessert was knocked off the plate for a bit. But if I add one more thing, something more important than dessert would fall off my plate, and if I was not careful, I’d drop the entire meal.
So, when asked to take on another project or step into another role, I needed to assess the overall priority. What kind of dish is this? What will I lose on my current plate if I take this on? How many meals will that be? Is that overall worth it?
Yes, there are seasons of tasks, projects, etc. But how long do I want less of my main dish? How much extra of that smaller side do I want on my plate? Thanksgiving does have a big meal but that’s not meant to be consumed every day. Sometimes my kids only eat mac and cheese for dinner but that’s not supposed to happen at every meal.
I don’t want to feel too full and miserable. I don’t want to stack so much on my plate and cram it all in those twenty-four hours that I feel miserable afterwards.
I don’t want to rush time with my kids because I have to get something else done for Chi Alpha. And I don’t want to do so much for our ministry that my time with my family gets covered by it. Then when I go to bed, I feel miserable, because I didn’t do any of it well and I can’t even remember the last time I had a cup of coffee!
I don’t know if any of this will help you or not. Life is busy. But it’s okay to say no. It really is. I’ve been practicing it more. I’ve been getting more creative with what I do and embracing peace about passing on things.
I’m not perfect but I’m getting better.
I would encourage you to write out your own “meal” plan. Talk to your spouse and/or an awesome friend on your priorities. My husband knows things that will tempt me and knows what I would say yes to and make room on my plate for, should certain opportunities arise. This helps when I’m tempted to take something on that doesn’t fit; he can remind me what kind of meal I committed to eat.
And, of course, don’t ever forget your napkin!
Kim serves alongside her husband, James, as Chi Alpha missionaries at Southeast Missouri State University. They have two daughters, Abbi & Lizzie, and one fur baby (a black Labrador) named Natasha.
Kim attended Missouri State University in Springfield, MO where she was introduced to Chi Alpha Campus Ministries her freshman year.
After she graduated in 2006, she spent the next seven years at the University of Missouri in Columbia, serving as a missionary associate with Chi Alpha. In 2013, she and James felt led to pioneer a Chi Alpha where there wasn’t one. Through a series of God-moments, He brought them to Cape Girardeau, MO and the campus of SEMO. Since then, they have both become ordained ministers, learned even more about life and ministry, and fallen more in love with God and each other. Kim is a huge fan of coffee, dogs (especially labs), books, and her college kids. She loves doing Chi Alpha with her whole family by sharing life together.
by Pamela J. Morton
Although I can’t say math is my favorite subject, I do have varied calculations for determining how and when a vacation could and should take place. If you'll indulge me, I'll share the process with you. (You may have already seen me on the cable channels late at night demonstrating how it works and telling you that it could be yours for only 5 installments of $19.95.)
Question #1: How much do I want to spend on vacation? (This includes the TOTAL amount.)
Question #2: How much can I REALLY spend on vacation and not go into debt? (Have you been watching Suzi Orman? She would NOT approve of overspending right now.)
Question #3: Where do I want to go? Where does my husband want to go? Where do the kids (if applicable) want to go? List all possible destinations.
Question #4: How will I get there? Plane? Train? Car? Rickshaw?
Question #5: What is the most economical transportation for all travelers?
Question #6: What kind of lodging will I stay in? 5-Star, camping, hostel, 3-Star, Mom and Dad's?
Question #7: How many days will I stay? (This could affect lodge prices based on length.)
Question #8: How much do I have left from the grand total when I subtract transportation and lodging?
Question #9: How many days can I stand to eat bologna? (No, seriously...now on to food budget.)
Question #10: Will I eat three meals a day plus snacks? If so, will it always be at restaurants, or will I have a place to do some cooking? Does the hotel include breakfast?
Question #11: Realistically, how much will it cost for each traveler to eat a day?
Question #12: What is the projected total cost of food for the vacation?
Question #13: What is my new total of money left?
Question #14: What would I like to do at the destination? Will it cost money? (For instance, a day at the beach usually doesn’t cost anything, but a trip to Disney World...well, Mickey needs a new pair of shoes.)
Question #15: Can I balance “expensive” days with “low-cost” days and stay within budget?
Question #16: Are there any discounts available for pre-purchased tickets, AAA, or package deals?
Question #17: Now how much money is left from the grand total?
Question #18: How much "fun money" do I allot for each vacation day? (You calculate this by your remaining balance, subtracting a small emergency amount and dividing by the number of vacation days. Any money left over from a day can be rolled over to the next day as bonus money.)
Question #19: Am I disciplined enough to put this on a credit card and immediately pay it off with the cash tucked away for this trip or am I better off going with the "cash-in-envelopes" system?
Question #20: Am I ready to have a fun, guilt-free time away?
You may laugh and think, "Does she really, really do all this?" The answer is "YES!" I have a few more questions I include for personalizing the trip, but overall if I follow this method, I am never surprised by the amount of money spent or feel the "post-trip guilt" of overspending.
For fun (or some might say ridiculous) I'll go through all the receipts to double check my projections and see how close I came. Having had vacations that provided a time of rejuvenation only to be confronted by a pile of credit card charges upon return has cured me of future similar behavior. I enjoy having parameters. It brings peace to my life. (I think Charles Schwab would be happy.)
Sometimes the budget will only go as far as a weekend away to a local hotel with a pool. At other times, places more exotic. Either way, we go knowing that it is all good and we can have fun with no worries.
Question #21: Do I think Pam needs a vacation from her planning?
YES! Yes, she does.
Pam and her husband, John, and two teenaged daughters packed up their fulfilling, understood Midwestern lives 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 Middle Eastern neighbors while providing insight into their customs and everyday life with her friends in the West.
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