• The Next Turn: Heading Home
    The Next Turn: Heading Home
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    I don’t think we could have asked for a better journey these last four years.

    Almost to the day, four years ago our season as a family here in Texas began as we were welcomed openly and warmly as the newest members of the Woodlands Church staff team. The people of Woodlands Church accepted us and rallied around our family as we transitioned from our home in Tennessee.

    As a family, we have had incredible life-experiences, made new lifelong friends, grown tremendously, and been a part of exceptional work here and abroad for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. I have had the honor and privilege to serve as a member of the incredible staff at Woodlands Church, under the leadership of Pastor Kerry and Chris Shook. As a leader, I have had the great fortune of leading an exceptional team of fellow leaders in WCMissions, WC Care, and WC Trading Co. We have truly been blessed by the countless people who God has brought across our path that have enriched our lives in immeasurable ways.

    The course we have walked these last four years has been full of twists and turns, challenges followed by moments of shear joy, highest of highs and significant lows, experiences both expected and some that simply caught us completely by surprise. At every turn, we have witnessed God’s faithfulness and have done our best to step forward whenever He called us forward and simply said to us, “Take courage. Trust me. Let’s step together.”

    Over and again, we have simply said “yes” to the Lord. A beloved friend of mine helped me in this season to understand the significance of that one word: yes.

    We are forever thankful for this journey that has brought us from California to Tennessee, from Tennessee to Texas, and now this journey takes us on yet again. The Magnino family is heading home to Nashville, Tennessee.

    It is said home is a place your feet may leave but your heart will always be. Our feet have walked upon many a path these past four years, but we have now found ourselves with a call and a God appointed opportunity that leads us home. I am excited to officially announce that I am assuming a new leadership position as the Executive Director of Hope Smiles based in Nashville, Tennessee.

    This journey home, though sweet and exciting, is still bittersweet in the truest sense as we say goodbye to so many great friends and colleagues here in Texas. As my beautiful wife so perfectly wrote in her own post a few days ago, “I wish you all could see and hear the prayers and tears and arguments and conversations. I wish you could read my journal and see how God has spoken. I wish you could hear all of the ways that God opened doors for this to happen.”

    We are forever thankful for Woodlands Church, Pastor Kerry and Chris, our church family, the wonderful staff team, and for every person we have met and have had the privilege to come to know as “friend” in these four years. I am forever grateful for this season, and can only hope that my time here at WC is marked with excellence, passion for His Kingdom, and success in making the name of Jesus known as great. Time and again I have seen His hand lead us through. We have experienced miracles. We have seen the favor of God upon our work and have seen His Kingdom advanced in significant and strategic ways that I would have never imagined four short years ago. I can honestly look back and say, “WOW!! I got to be a part of that!”

    To those who I have had the honor and privilege to serve with, I leave you with this challenge that I have continued to give myself often:

    Go mark the world and change the destiny of others.

    Carry the torch. You have the mantle, now GO! In all that is to come, in all that currently is and all that will be, be resolute about making the name of Jesus known as great. You are His ambassador to this world, representing the full power, glory, and representation of our King and His Kingdom.

    I love you all.

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  • Look Up
    Look Up
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    Autumn is my favorite season of the year. Growing up in California, we were taught about the four seasons, but in my experience living there, fall was the period of three days between when summer decided to finally say “adios!” right before winter came and camped out for a couple months.

    While I was taught there were four seasons, my experience was 2 solid seasons with a few days of fall and a week or two of spring. That was about the extent of my “seasonal” experience.

    Moving to Nashville ruined me. Living in the hills of Tennessee for over 5 years exposed me to the true beauty of Autumn. I remember my first visit to Tennessee during the fall months before we would move. I was astonished at the magnificent colors of the harvest season on majestic display! Every hill was covered with deep reds, fiery oranges, and golden yellows all signaling the changing of the seasons.

    Even though I appreciated our short lived seasons of fall in California, Tennessee solidified my affinity for the season. I looked forward to it every year there.

    Then we moved to Texas.

    Don’t get me wrong. Where we live here north of Houston is a beautiful place. We live among the trees. You can’t even find large stores because of the trees. It really is a unique place. But, the climate here usually does not exactly create the “cold snap” required to get the fullness of the fall colors of Autumn.

    So imagine my disappointment during our first fall season here last year. We had a splash of color on a handful of trees. Everything else was gorgeous and green, but I wanted the Autumn experience that I had grown to love in Tennessee. I might even be said that I was a bit depressed during the months of Autumn…ok not really depressed but I did miss my favorite time of the year.

    Thanks to the devilish tools of Facebook and Instagram that were loaded with photos from my family and friends from Nashville, I did have to do business with a small bout of jealousy and envy.

    God knows the desires of my heart. He knows what I long for and what makes me happy. He knows intimately the wiring of each of us; We are His creation, the works of His hands. As the Creator, the Artist, and the Lord of it all, He is gracious and good to us as we delight ourselves in Him and in His plans and purposes. (Psalm 37:4) He desires to bless His children.

    Often we fail to see His everyday effort to bless us along our day-to-day journey.

    As I was walking into work this morning, I took a moment to stop and look up. We have had a great Autumn here in Texas this year. We have experienced some cold weather. Colors I missed last year have began to explode from the trees all around. With a mild Texas winter, Autumn has seemed to be prolonged a bit. Leaves have been lingering on the trees all the while displaying the radiant colors of Autumn.

    And up until this morning, I had failed to stop and appreciate the fullness of it. Busyness of life had strangled my ability to be still and simply appreciate God’s blessing of the season; I had failed to appreciate this little blessing that God had given to me personally.

    This morning I slowed down and looked up.

    Friends, take time today to be still and look up. Appreciate what is all around you. Call to mind the simple blessings of God in your life. Exercise thanksgiving.

    Look up.

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  • A Father’s Heart
    A Father’s Heart
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    Have you ever had one of those moments where you come face to face with a harsh reality, one that you knew existed but in an instant it becomes all the more REAL to you?

    In these moments, every fiber of my being fights to put that experience somewhere. I have to do something with it. It has begun to disturb and disrupt me and is changing me at some level. Ultimately, my behavior is about to be tweaked because my world view has been radically invaded and tweaked.

    I had one such moment this last week in Haiti.

    Let me first say that orphans have always been real to me. I have worked with a number of organizations around the globe in their initiatives to care for orphans and the families that have taken it upon themselves to care for these forgotten and abandoned children. Even at a heart level, now having established friendships with orphans, it has been real to me. it is not as though I thought it to be some social anomaly that existed in some other place. It has been right under my nose for years.

    An encounter with a 3 year old Haitian boy named Emmanuel rocked my world.

    It struck a different chord in my heart.

    I had multiple opportunities to pick him up, hold his hand, make him laugh, and simply do whatever I could as an english speaking “le blanc” to make him feel the love of Christ. As I interacted with Emmanuel, I saw my own 3 year old son Ethan.

    That is when it became REAL.

    My heart began to break as I allowed myself to engage Emmanuel, and the countless orphaned children his story represents, as a father. I envisioned my own son staying in the orphanage that Emmanuel called home, sleeping on the bed that was his, not having a mom or dad to read to him or kiss his head at night as he drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face. I imagined Ethan walking the steep hillside hand in hand with the other children as they looked out for each other…who else would? As we checked each child during a well clinic and treated their various sickness and infections, I imagined Ethan standing in line sick with any one of the infections we saw and patiently waiting for someone to help.

    My prayer with every team that I lead,with every journey I take, and wherever I am in the world is that God would break my heart for what breaks His.

    I have not quite finished placing this experience anywhere yet…and to be honest I am not sure I am ready to. I want to let it continue to mess with me because my heart has been softened to a new place, to feel in a new way the hurt the Father feels for these children. It has brought new resolve and a fresh reminder of why we do what we do.

    So I’ll continue to wrestle. Thank you Emmanuel for revealing the heart of the Father to me in a way that you will never fully comprehend.

    Merci Jezi.

    * This post is cross-published at WCMissions site. For more information about the work of Woodlands Church and WCMissions, visit the site here.

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Christ follower . husband . father . strategic leader . ENTP . humanitarian . collaborator . creative . writer . photographer . lover of people . dreamer of the day . seeker of justice . coffee snob

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