To our veterans: Thank you

Father, uncle, son, grandfather, nephew, brother, husband, cousin, other family members and close friends (male and female) — each of us on the TAB Media team is closely connected to a veteran of the United States military.

One of our staff members — Richard Maddox — served in the U.S. Navy (Submarine Service) from 1970 to 1974.

And a few days ago, another staff member was helping her grandson complete his paperwork for admission into the U.S. Army. He leaves for boot camp right after Christmas.

We all have varying levels of experience with someone who has or will be serving; and we all have tremendous respect for those who have served, are currently serving and will serve in the days to come. We are grateful for their service.

Sincere appreciation

We want to personally thank all of you who served our country.

The sacrifice is not lost on us, and we are indebted to the role you played in keeping our country safe, as well as to provide the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens.

May we never take those sacrifices — past, present and future — for granted.

While November provides a day on the calendar for us to salute our veterans, hold parades and remember, we urge all who live in this land (that so many worldwide covet for themselves) to never forget those who have served.

True sacrifice

They not only faced dangerous situations but also missed milestone moments at home and gave up creature comforts during their service.

So many carry the horrible past experiences of war with them each day, choosing to tuck the nightmarish memories down deep while continuing to function as strong and contributing citizens.

We recognize you graciously accepted the lifelong sentence of what you endured — saw up close and personal, felt in your heart, worked to comprehend in your mind and maybe even had to do — so the rest of us would be spared those difficult circumstances.

Thank you for your service, dear veterans. Know you are loved and appreciated.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Will Southern Baptists exist in 50 years?

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A straight-line decline in membership for more than 50 years should sound an alarm for Southern Baptists, something several ardent researchers and ministry leaders in the convention have attempted to do in various ways for many years.

What could be the reason for the consistent decline?

Did we get so caught up in growing the numbers for numbers’ sake that we forgot to focus on making disciples?

Have we spent most of our energy recruiting church members rather than sharing Christ with those who don’t know Him and helping individual believers grow in their faith?

Do we use the church statistical data to judge each other unfairly and thus push people away?

Have we overcomplicated and overextended what it means to be part of a church family?

The Church and politics

In his 1997 book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” author Philip Yancey noted, “In the 1950s and 1960s, mainline denominations moved away from proclaiming the gospel toward a more political agenda, and the pews began to empty, cutting membership by half.

“Many of these disaffected churchgoers sought out evangelical churches, where they heard messages more directed to their spiritual needs. It would be ironic indeed if evangelical churches repeated the error.”

To read the full editorial, which first appeared in the Aug. 20 issue of The Alabama Baptist, click here.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Commencement address to Judson College’s 2020 graduates

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Jennifer Davis Rash

Graduates, the nugget I want to leave with you today is the importance of holding on to the capability to learn.

As the Class of 2020, you are being touted as the class above all classes because of what you experienced during your final semester. You know, that little pandemic thing.

You’ve proven you’ve got what it takes.

You learned in only a few months what most of us had the luxury of a few decades to learn — how to adapt and still flourish when life doesn’t work out like we planned.

But with this praise comes a great deal of pressure and responsibility, which can be managed with success if you maintain a spirit of teachability.

The ability to continue learning at every step of your journey will always serve you well.

Some days, good enough truly is good enough, but most days should be about excellence, no matter how insignificant the tasks of the day may seem.

Part of being excellent is owning up to mistakes.

Mistakes are part of the journey so being mature enough to own yours will lighten the load for everyone involved, including yourself.

It’s also important to learn from them — yours and others.

One mistake we all make at some point is to believe the world revolves around us.

And while today is rightfully all about each of you — most days are not.

In fact, the more we focus on helping others instead of ourselves, the more at peace we will be.

Being a graduate of a religious institution of higher learning means you know a bit about the Bible, so you already know Scripture teaches our greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

And the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

As you leave the college nest and prepare to tackle the world, clinch tightly to those commandments.

And recognize that to achieve both, you must also love yourself.

Scripture is clear that each one of us is created in the image of our Father, the almighty God, so humbly loving ourselves reflects our love for Him and teaches us how to love others.

You only have one life to live here on earth, and you’ve started well.

I urge you to commit today to also finish well — with confidence in who you are and assurance of Whose you are.

The fact is, we need you.

We need your light. We need your kindness. We need your smarts. We need your energy. And we need your teachability.

A few ABCs for the road …

A — Always be honest but be kind in the process, and always give people the benefit of the doubt as your first response.

B — Be forgiving and able to let go of past hurts.

C — Calm the chaos around you by giving more than you take and being part of the solution.

Congratulations, Class of 2020. You are beautiful. You are valued. You are loved. You are strong.

And remember, we need you — the very best version of you God has in store.

Editor’s Note — Commencement address delivered by Jennifer Davis Rash at Judson College in Marion, Alabama, on June 27, 2020.

Open letter to Ahmaud Arbery’s mom

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Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones,

Watching your interviews with various media outlets drew me to you. The depth of your grief alongside the calmness of your spirit speaks volumes.

I can’t begin to imagine what these past two and a half months have been like for you, nor can I truly ever understand the pain for the African-American community as a whole, but I do want you to know I join the hundreds of thousands, and possibly more like millions, of Christians who care and are grieving with you.

Read the full letter here: My Rashionale

—Jennifer Davis Rash

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” —Romans 12:18

 

 

Use global halting of events as opportunity to rest in Him

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Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash

By the time we realized March Madness for the year 2020 would not describe basketball brackets, rivalries and surreal roundball moments, the normal activities of life as we know it had practically shut down.

COVID-19 became a household term, and our homes, offices, schools, churches and devices might just be the cleanest they’ve ever been.

Online screenings and drive-thru testing centers emerged seemingly overnight.

Many conferences, classes and church services were canceled, rescheduled or moved online.

Airlines and hotels removed all rescheduling and cancellation fees. They even made it super easy to go online and click through the necessary items in a matter of seconds.

Making assessments

Leaders at all levels assessed, reassessed and worked hard to make the best decisions they could for the people for which they were responsible, as well as for the businesses and organizations they lead.

And when Alabama’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced this morning (March 13), the assessments narrowed to an even more laser-focused stance.

While our team at TAB Media is working to stay up on all the latest reports and announcements, we also are performing appropriate assessments related to our staff and office as well.

Crisis management plan

Past experiences of unforeseen difficult events, such as the Snowpocalypse winter storm of 2014, the April 2011 tornado devastation in Alabama, the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 and other experiences through the years, provided opportunities to develop crisis management plans we still use today.

As crises emerge along the way, we always try to dust off our existing plans and put those into play while also adapting as needed to the current situation and accounting for new techonology and resources available to us.

Learning from each experience makes us better and more prepared for the next event sure to come our way. Having a crisis management and communications plan prevents panic and uncertainty because team members trust the leadership and are informed early, consistently and with clarity about what to expect and how to prepare.

Even a basic plan such as knowing who is in charge during a crisis and naming one person to handle all outgoing and incoming communications gives an advantage in focusing quickly on determining priorities.

Opportunity to shine for Jesus

As we find our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m confident history will report amazing stories of people of faith shining for Jesus. 

Volunteers trained in medical missions and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief will undoubtedly be on the front lines. 

Believers with a chaplain’s heart will work to calm the masses, and people of prayer will unite across the globe to call on God to lead us through this journey.

And I believe the best of each of us will surface as we come together.

Take this opportunity to calm your heart and mind and sling some Jesus all around.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Interesting exercise to draw a line down the middle of your story

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Stepping into this new year and new decade brought a significant milestone for me personally. 

I’ve now spent half my life serving Alabama Baptists through The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media — and I can’t think of anywhere else I would have rather been.

I joined the TAB team on Jan. 1, 1996, at 24 years old, and on Jan. 1, 2020, I celebrated 24 years with TAB.

Countless people have poured into me through the years, and many continue investing in my growth, something I truly treasure as a big believer in mentoring and cross training. 

A quick look back over the years shows clearly how God was working all along the way.

What I thought was a short-term position while completing my studies at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University quickly became home and the obvious place where God had called me to serve.

‘If God called me …’

While I had no idea how the calling would work itself out nor what all would appear along the path, I trusted that if God called me to do it, He would guide me step by step —
and He has been faithful.

He has provided continuous opportunities to learn and grow, and He has put many amazing mentors and co-workers in my life to teach me along the way.

The deep friendships formed through the years fill my heart and make me even more grateful to be part of the broader Alabama Baptist family.

But how did I get here?

Drawing a line down the middle of your story can be an interesting exercise. For me, there are two sets of 24 years.

Early years

In the first set, you will find my growing up years on a farm in Phil Campbell, Alabama — a rural community in the northwest corner of the state.

During those years I thought the norm for all children was to grow up in a safe, loving environment with plenty of food and parents who taught life skills and a strong work ethic.

Experiencing life outside those early years has taught me many people didn’t have that opportunity and what a privileged upbringing I had.

 Also in my first set of 24 years, you will find two years spent studying at Northwest Community College and another two years spent studying at the University of Alabama.

And while I grew up in church and part of a large extended family of believers, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I truly gave my heart and life to Christ.

It also was during college that I surrendered to a call to full-time Christian service, which led to a search for what that meant. 

After college graduation, I spent two years serving with the International Mission Board as an editorial assistant with Caribbean Christian Publications focused on the English-speaking Caribbean.

God provided intense opportunities for me to grow spiritually, professionally and relationally during those two years. When the term ended, I found my 24-year-old self at TAB with no idea where that would lead.

Reflecting on my current mid-point marker and these past 24 years at TAB helped me realize just how many strides have been made by a variety of different team members who were under the direction of Bob Terry for most of those years. What a gift to get to tag along for the ride.

Second half

Since 1996, the TAB team has moved from focusing on one product — a weekly newspaper — to becoming a full media group with multiple daily deadlines in 2020.

The first webpage came along in 2000 and a fully functioning website in 2004. TAB found its way onto social media platforms  in 2007–2008 and then launched the digital version of the print publication in 2010.

Augmented Reality was added to the mix in 2015 and lasted for a few years, along with several attempts at live streaming and video newscasting.

A robust new multilevel website was developed in 2016 along with the debut of a new logo and rebranding effort.

In 2018, the TAB News radio show and podcast hit the airwaves, and in 2019 a visually impaired cartridge and new glossy magazine were added.

Granted, technology advancements allowed for much of the expansion to take place, but it also took vision, courage and training to make the moves.

With the various new elements in the picture, it could be easy to let the print product slide away, but the focus on the newspaper continues to be an important part of the team’s work.

We plan to continually polish the 177-year-old weekly newspaper currently entrusted to our care. It has won more than 250 national awards in less than 25 years, and we are determined to keep it among the best available.

We also are excited to introduce a trickle of new glossy magazines being produced by TAB for special events and specific emphases.

Coming to the airwaves will be more podcasts available on the TAB Media channel as well as more growth in the audio digest version of TAB for the visually impaired.

Going forward

And our online presence through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube), web resources and the digital version of the paper will no doubt continue to adapt to that constantly changing realm.

What changes will we see in the next 24 years? I’m not sure, but I’m confident we are ready to figure it out step by step.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

What will history write about our version of the 20s?

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We are at the front end of a pristine new 20s. Whether we refer to our new decade as the “twenties” or the “twenty-twenties,” we have been handed the opportunity to blaze a new, yet healthier, path by learning from the past.

What will history write about the 2020s one day? What statement will we make? How will we be branded?

We truly can shake off the past, let go of whatever is holding us back and make this our decade. Why not make it our goal to see and live with the clarity of 20/20 vision in the decade of the 2020s?

Read the full My Rashionale piece here.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Few moments without mobile devices might be our new ‘apple a day’ remedy

 

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When I sorted through the mail a few weeks ago and discovered a four-color Christmas catalog for toys — Amazon’s Ultimate Wish List — my mind jumped immediately to my childhood when we received the annual Sears Christmas Wish Book.

Everyone received the Wish Book back in the day. It’s how we made our list for what toys and gifts we wanted for Christmas — that and the commercials on Saturday morning of course. The Wish Book had all the latest toys displayed in four color. 

The Sears Wish Book is no longer printed but even if it were I can’t imagine it would have the same impact as it did then — with no internet and no mobile devices with which to compete. 

While it seems ironic that in this high-tech, digital age an online sales company mails out print catalogs, it does make sense as a way to stand out. Children and their parents are bombarded with digital screens in every part of life now so the promotions and ads all kind of run together sometimes.

‘Strength overdone becomes weakness’

Multimedia offers countless positive aspects and we at TAB are excited about ways we will continue growing our digital presence. But the saying “strength overdone becomes weakness” applies in the area of multimedia as much as any other.

Too many hours a day looking at a screen, especially without proper body alignment and rest breaks, will cause physical issues that come with any type of overuse situation. And emotionally and mentally the scars from overuse will no doubt run deep. 

A few moments talking in person rather than texting and silencing the nonstop dings around us might just be our new “apple a day” remedy for the negative side effects of too much screen time built up over years of use. 

—Jennifer Davis Rash