The Art of the Contingency Plan

Something wonderful happened last night. Our ministry team designed a contingency plan in case of staff illness or internet outage for our virtual meeting. Because the meeting had key vital elements that certain people had to deliver, it occurred to me that we’d be lost if those people somehow couldn’t connect to the meeting.

Sure enough, a storm came through, and our key speaker had no power to connect to the internet. But our contingency plan went seamlessly into effect! We used a substitute teacher who had the speaker’s notes. We also posted his notes for another element that I could quickly cover in the meeting. The participants would never know what exactly they missed. The contingency plan worked.

What is a contingency plan? It’s a proactive strategy to help solve for any problems if you are in a high risk situation. It’s a form of crisis management.

Then today, I thought about how important a contingency plan is for teaching in the fall if I happen to become sick. I’ll tell my students in advance this plan, and I’ll know how to move forward for the semester.

What else? What could you put into place to help in a crisis situation like illness or even something more obvious like natural disasters? A contingency plan basically offers a way to continue normalcy with as little disruption as possible.

Contingency plans help me when I feel uncertain. Even putting just a few things in place can ease our minds and allow for smoother transitions to Plan B when Plan A no longer works.

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The Thing You Do When There’s Nothing to Do

I’m so thankful for the one mile loop around the neighborhood. It’s what we do. One day, we took the loop seven times. There was nothing else to do. We’ll look back on these COVID-19 days and remember the loop. We walked. We talked. We learned all about the neighborhood cats and dogs. We learned about the robot lawnmower that mows a yard on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.

We are always so excited to see that mower. We love the cats that greet us—especially Frankie who is visiting from Costa Rica with his family. That’s our whole world.

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20 Years

Today is Ashley Holleman’s and my 20th wedding anniversary! Here’s a picture from our engagement on the left and one taken last year.

I’ve loved being married to Ashley! I think the greatest thing I’ve learned about marriage is the importance of building oneness. It’s work! You have to continually enter into one another’s lives. We’ve done this through rituals like drinking morning coffee, taking daily walks together, and sharing one another’s interests. I have learned to talk about woodworking and Star Wars, and he has learned to love all my television shows that involve singing and dancing.

We also have to build oneness professionally. Ashley will visit my classrooms, pray for my students with me at night, and ask about my lesson plans and goals. He’ll socialize with my colleagues and learn about my supervisors. Likewise, I’ve entered into every ministry conversation and learned about his daily meetings and responsibilities. When we’re given different opportunities professionally, the first question we’ve learned to ask is this: Will this help or harm our oneness?

Spiritually, we’ve learned to ask about what we’re each learning in our Bible reading and morning devotions. We often pray on our knees together at night by the bed.

And now? We’ve written a book together! God is so kind to blend Ashley’s ministry life with my writing life.

So if I were to give anyone the best advice on building a fun and rewarding marriage, it’s to ask God to help you build oneness.

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Some Fun Images to Share

Good news! My new book Sent: Living a Life that Invites Others to Jesus releases August 4th! I’ve attached some fun quotes you can share on social media if you’d like! I’m so excited about this book. It’s a practical, joyful, easy to read and easy to apply book on talking to people about Jesus. I cannot wait for you to read it. Thank you!!

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Hiding Away

This morning, I think about the number of times David asked God to “hide” him, especially in Psalm 17 where he writes to God, “hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

I love how David understands God as his hiding place, most notably in Psalm 32:7 where he states: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

I think of David wanting to hide away from the pressure of his ministry as king, from the fear of his real and imagined enemies, and from the battles he would fight. I think of him as an ordinary man with an extraordinary calling that he had to grow into. After all, think about that moment when he tries on the king’s armor that doesn’t fit him and decides to use the smooth stones and a sling to defeat a giant (1 Samuel 17: 38). I think of his mistakes and sin (Psalm 32). I think of all his despair recounted in his psalms. He’s a writer trying to make sense of his life like so many of us.

But in the quiet moment when David writes to the Lord, he asks for a hiding place. It’s sweet. It’s innocent like a child. I wonder if, as a shepherd boy alone on the hillside, he enjoyed hiding away in the shade somewhere as he watched the sheep. Children love to hide (especially if they know someone is looking for them and will find them). In that hiding place, it’s quiet and cool and restful. It’s peaceful and solitary. You can breathe in the hiding place. You can feel safe and loved. You can feel unseen from the crowd. It’s a place to think, to write, to pray, and to worship.

Today, we can let God be our hiding place.

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A Wonderful Blessing

This morning I read this blessing from Psalm 128: 1-2

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
    blessings and prosperity will be yours.

I love this blessing!

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The Night Time Journal

Last night I attended a webinar with Dr. Phil Gerhman, a sleep expert from University of Pennsylvania. As a lead researcher in the field, Dr. Gerhman taught me many things I did not know about how to have a good night’s sleep–all based in scientific research. One new thing I learned from the webinar was the importance of writing down what’s on our minds in a journal right before sleep. This helps soothe the mind and keeps us from racing thoughts. And sometimes when we go to bed, it’s the only chance for the brain to begin processing our worries, so it makes sense that we can’t get to sleep!

But writing down what’s on our mind for a few minutes helps. It has to do with the psychological process involved in actually writing something down. Apparently, it’s good for the brain! Yeah!

Last night, I tried it for the first time. I wrote down in my Night Time Journal whatever I was worried about or things I had to do this morning. I made it into a prayer, too, and invited God into the Night Time Journal.

I slept great! I woke up refreshed and happy. I’m excited to try my Night Time Journaling tonight.

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The Blessing of Rain

I check the weather to determine whether or not I’ll water the garden. I find myself so thankful for the blessing of rain. Not only does it save me from the morning watering rounds, but it also happily cools the yard. I realize these kinds of statements come from the mind of an older person. That is me. I’m older now.

It’s wonderful to think of the seasons of your life and how, when you’re younger, rain hardly ever represents a good thing. It cancels games; it closes pools; it keeps you away from everything out there. And suddenly, you’re older. You love when rain keeps you in here and how it relieves you of watering your garden.

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