Plan & Prepare: a Q&A on Retirement

James Wright, WMU Foundation board chairman, joined us for a Q&A on retirement:

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1. What is the one thing that surprised you the most about retirement?

I anticipated having a lot of “free” time to do things that I wanted to do, and not have to plan my days and weeks. I found very quickly that you can get busy, and there is a need to still plan and carefully maintain your calendar and commitments so you will have time to do the things you want to do. If you don’t take time to plan, you will find your days going by very quickly and you have not accomplished the things you planned to do.

2. What are the top three words of advice you would give to someone who is wondering when they should retire?

My three words are: Plan, Prepare, and Economize.

Plan: Knowing when you are financially prepared to retire requires a lot of planning. This includes knowing the income you will have in retirement such as Social Security, the amount available to withdrawal from retirement accounts, what other financial resources are available to you, and knowing your expenses in detail. Make a budget that includes monthly expense items, and be sure to include annual expenses such a property taxes, house and car insurance, etc. You need to know all of this to have a full view of all of your expenses for a year.

Prepare: There is the need to Prepare. My greatest suggestion for preparation is to begin retirement debt free. When you don’t have a house or car payment you greatly reduce your annual expenses. This takes a LOT of preparation, but gives a much higher level of assurance that you will have enough money in retirement.

Economize: Especially in the early years of retirement, it is wise to live on less than your income. Investment returns can vary greatly from year to year so spending less can take pressure off needing the best of investment results. I very simply call it living below your means.

3. What would you say to someone who is approaching retirement age and worries they do not have enough money saved?

If a person has this question, then they need to seek assistance from a person who can help them do the calculations to know for sure. I recommend a financial planner to review your personal financial situation and accurately assess when you can retire and maintain your lifestyle. If you don’t have as much as you need, consider working a few more years. Or if you are close to having enough, consider working part time.

4. Are there any books, websites, or other resources you would suggest for retirees or those planning to retire?

More Than Money by Calvin Partain is a great book about stewardship and helpful as you think about how you will spend your time, resources, and money. More Than Money is available through New Hope Publishers. Free Bible studies and leader guides based on the book are available on our website.

5. Tell us the most fun thing you’ve done since retiring?

Without a doubt it has been traveling. My favorite was a trip to Scotland visiting tourist sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow and being able to go to the home of golf, The Old Course in St. Andrews. The main part of our trip was hiking the West Highland Way which is a 100-mile trail over an eight-day period. We hiked during the day until we reached a village or a town and spent the night in a Bed and Breakfast. We enjoyed Scottish culture and food. It is a trip I will always remember.

The Resurrection of Easter

Easter. It is resurrection, hope, transformation, life. Easter is what makes the devastation and confusion of Friday make sense.

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For women working their way through Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC), Easter is happening each day. For Akevia Wilson, CWJC gave her the skills and support needed to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. Though her circumstances once seemed dark, poverty didn’t steal her hope. She now teaches a classroom full of students who know through her example that resurrection is possible.

Everyone involved in CWJC – participants, mentors, volunteers – will tell you resurrection is messy. You can’t erase Friday or take away the pain of the events that led to the resurrection. Sometimes the path to Easter morning is heartbreaking and heavy.

But the hope of rising again is always present because God brings life in hopeless situations and transforms us in the process. Resurrection is always possible. Friday may be full of hopeless problems that can’t be solved and circumstances that leave us broken and grieving. It might feel like an immovable stone blocking the exit from darkness. But Friday isn’t the end.

WMU ministries are about hope and transformation—just like Easter. Your prayers, your financial support, and your involvement can make it possible for women to experience the hope of a new beginning through CWJC.

  • Pray for the hundreds of CWJC participants, volunteers, and mentors who are seeking resurrection today. Ask God to shine light in the darkness of hopeless situations.

  • Financially support CWJC by becoming a monthly partner with your gift to the Dove Endowment. You’ll provide scholarships for participants and grants for sites that are working tirelessly toward transformed lives.

  • Get involved. If you have a local site near you, contact them to find out how you can help. They may have specific prayer needs – commit to be a prayer supporter. They may have requests for supplies or volunteer help or any number of needs you may be able to fulfill.*

Be part of Easter for women across the country. Because Friday doesn’t have to be the end.

*Please contact your local site before collecting any supplies. Each site meets specific needs in their community and has a unique set of needs. Please call before you collect!

Former Acteens Honor Leader with Brick on Walk of Faith

Decades ago, Barbara Joiner found out about a group of migrant workers who came to Baldwin County every year to pick potatoes. She felt burdened for them.

So she loaded up some high schoolers in her small town of Columbiana, Alabama, drove down there, walked out into the fields — and picked potatoes.

“She felt like that way, at the end of the day after the work was done, they would be in a better position to sit down with the migrant workers and say, ‘Hey, we would like to share some things with you,’” said Jody Tallie, who grew up at First Baptist Church, Columbiana, where Joiner led Acteens.

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It was effective. And that simple act of love kicked off a 45-year-long ministry that’s still going strong.

“Barbara ate, slept and breathed missions, and she did everything she could to pass that on to us,” Tallie said. “Because of her, the migrant ministry still happens every year, and when we go and see the same families there, it’s like a reunion.”

Though Joiner passed away in 2016, the ministry continues to be a testimony to her heart for missions. And ever since Tallie and others heard about the chance to honor Joiner with a brick in WMU’s new Walk of Faith brick garden in Birmingham, it’s started another kind of reunion — a reunion of dozens of women who are different because of Joiner’s influence in their life.

“My life is very different because of Acteens and Barbara,” said Denise Gardner, who also grew up at FBC Columbiana. “I probably would not be in church today without her helping me catch a vision for hands-on missions and ministry. When I heard recently that the Walk of Faith was being built to honor missions heroes, I knew she was one of them.”

So Gardner wrote a message to some former Acteens, which led to a Facebook group called “Barbara’s Girls” that grew larger every day. In that group, the women reunited and shared memories — and within a few weeks they had the brick paid for.

“Anywhere we went with Barbara was an adventure,” said Tallie, who now leads middle school Acteens at FBC Columbiana. “She taught us that you don’t have fear — you just go.”

Joiner went with them on overseas trips, and she organized events like a 24-hour seesaw-a-thon to benefit work in Bangladesh. She led them to pray about everything, Tallie said. She remembers once when Joiner was going on a trip to Bangladesh and she asked them to pray that she would “keep her curry down and her sari up.”

“She could be as silly as anyone around, but she was also so genuine,” Tallie said.

Gardner gets emotional remembering Joiner’s prayer circle.

“It was just around her coffee table, but we never missed it,” she said. “We always had Acteens at her house, and anyone was welcome. It was more of an outreach than anything else at our church.”

And now Acteens from Joiner’s circle are scattered all over the world serving as missionaries.

“She believed if God asked you to do something, there was no obstacle too big,” Gardner said.

For more information about the Walk of Faith or to purchase a brick in someone’s memory or honor, visit wmufoundation.com/walkoffaith.

Support WMU Through the WMU Foundation

By Joy Bolton, former Executive Director of Kentucky WMU.

When I saw the Baptist Press headline “WMU Foundation: $512,354 to support national WMU work,” I knew what I needed to write about next on my blog, DiscoverJoy.org. There has been stirring in my heart a message about supporting WMU. I believe it is vital for us to intentionally support National WMU.

I grew up in WMU and have been influenced by WMU’s determination to make disciples of Jesus who live on mission. As I became aware of how the work of WMU was funded, I knew that National WMU received no Cooperative Program funding or dollars from the missions offerings, but instead funded their work through the sales of missions literature and giving through the WMU Foundation. But there is more to the story.

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Past “Recall” Funding

A quick look at A Century to Celebrate by Catherine Allen reminded me that from the time WMU incorporated, they knew they would need funds for literature and communications. “They agreed on three principles: they would receive no missions money, but have the women send it directly to the mission boards for expenditure; the officers would receive no pay; and its expenses would be paid by the mission boards.”

“For more than 66 years the process of WMU funding was commonly known as ‘recalling.’ WMU officers would incur or estimate expenses, then ‘recall’ from the mission boards the amount they wished. Always this was done with reluctance and self-sacrifice, for the women wanted as much money as possible to go to the missions fields” said Allen.

The “recall” system was changed as WMU increasingly supported her work through literature sales and earnings from reserves.

WMU Foundation Established

In 1995, the WMU Foundation was established and has become a significant partner in channeling financial support to WMU. This is more important than ever before.

In an era when publishing has experienced radical change, WMU has struggled at times to sell enough literature to fully fund the national office. This is both a symptom of changing times in our churches and in the distribution of information. People today want to find information and resources at little to no cost on the internet. However, even to give away information on the web, there are production costs which must be funded.

When I have attended meetings with other WMU leaders, we have discussed these challenges. We understand that putting “free” information on the web has costs, and that WMU would love to provide some missions resources to churches on the web while continuing to support those who create and develop the content. This is where you and I come in and can help provide the support needed to produce these resources.

We need to step up and fund National WMU work. There are several ways to do this through the WMU Foundation and WMU:

Funding National WMU

  • Support WMU and WMU Ministries: Purchase WMU literature, WorldCrafts, and other products produced by WMU. Keep your subscriptions current. Don’t be among those who say, “I used to subscribe.” You may be too busy to read every word of Missions Mosaic, but subscribe anyway. This is our flagship magazine and your subscription matters. Give gifts from WorldCrafts that are not only beautiful but provide hope for a better life and share Jesus who gives us hope for eternity.

  • Giving Regularly: Give to support WMU ministries through the WMU Foundation. Give automatically through selecting recurring monthly or quarterly giving. Gifts for various ministries of WMU were among the $512,234 given recently. You can support an hour of ministry by giving $34 to the Vision Fund. You can support missions education for preschoolers by giving to the Dixon Endowment for Mission Friends. You can support leadership development through gifts to a number of endowments. See the Funds and Endowments List and pick one! You can also choose a Touch Tomorrow Today endowment which divides distributions between National WMU and WMU in your state.

  • Estate Gifts: Plan a gift to WMU from your estate. All of us will die. We must decide now, however, where our assets will go if we want to have a say in the distribution. Much of the $512,234 came from earnings on endowments. You may want to establish an endowment with WMU, but you can also specify a dollar amount or percentage to go to an existing endowment. Your wishes must be in writing through a will. Do not assume that your family knows you would want this. Put it in writing. The WMU Foundation can assist you with Planned Giving.

  • Memorial Gifts: Memorial gifts are a great way to honor people who love WMU and missions. Give to a WMU endowment at their passing. Or purchase a brick for the Walk of Faith. 100% of your Walk of Faith gift goes to operational needs of WMU. And let your family know where you would like memorial gifts sent when you die. Again, don’t assume they know. Put it in writing and let them know your wishes. Gifts to support WMU are a great way to honor and be honored.

The National WMU Office is important to all of us. It guides our work together and is the hub for WMU work across the country. WMU has a mandate to fulfill and keeping our home office strong and able to provide the resources we need is vital.

Join me today in supporting WMU!

This article first appeared on DiscoverJoy.org.