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

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

Sweet smells from special family recipes, specific tastes from certain foods, other sensory-related experiences help resurface memories

Scuppernongs

My coworker and friend asked if I had ever tasted “these” as she pointed to a package of scuppernongs at the farmer’s market.

I didn’t recognize the look nor the name so I answered no — until she said the name aloud. Once I heard it pronounced I knew exactly what it was and realized how long it had been since I had seen, tasted or even thought about a scuppernong.

We had scuppernongs in our backyard when I was growing up and mom and dad would let my brother and me taste them from the vine. 

That memory flooded back to me the minute I heard the name but I couldn’t remember what they tasted like so I bought some the next day.

And the same thing happened — as soon as I tasted one of these muscadine grapes I was right back there in our backyard with mom or dad pulling scuppernongs off one at a time, hoping the sweet flavor wouldn’t vanish as quickly as it always did.

The same thing happens to me with figs. Memories of the fig tree we could see out Papa and Granny McCaig’s kitchen window becomes front and center in my mind when I taste a raw fig.

We always had our fill of figs when the tree was producing — and Granny spent hours making a winter’s worth of fig preserves.

She loved that fig tree and because of that I always think of her whenever I’m around anything related to figs.

Our senses help us hold on to special memories. Let’s all be known for something endearing in our sensory legacies.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Teachers need our prayers, support

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The buses are rolling and those new backpacks won’t be crisp and clean for long now that school is back in session.

With the start of a new school year comes a combination of excitement and nerves for both students and teachers. And in many cases the exhaustion has already set in for teachers — exhaustion from burnout, discouragement and endless frustrations.

Think about the school teachers who made a difference in your life. 

Also think about those who had lost their joy for teaching by the time you were in their class. How many opportunities to change the life of a child for the good did they miss? Did their lack of energy and enthusiasm for the role end up holding students back in life at some point down the road?

I’ve known several people who truly wanted to make a career out of teaching. They love kids, enjoy teaching and embrace the milestones that come with watching a child learn and grow.

But the overwhelming administrative requirements, overcrowded classrooms and the volume of difficult life issues impacting so many around them finally beat them down.

Making a difference

While the school boards and governmental leaders debate the structural and financial details of how to improve schools and teachers’ salaries, church groups and community members can continue helping in small ways such as sending notes, volunteering and donating. We all can help in a big way by praying for the teachers in the school near us by name.

It’s not hard to find out what a school district or individual school needs most. From there, follow the proper channels to help and encourage others to join the effort.

After all, teachers are molding the minds and lives of our children as much as anyone. 

Shouldn’t we want teachers at their best?

—Jennifer Davis Rash

To the fathers out there — sometimes it’s the little things, the routine moments that make the biggest difference

Sometimes things don’t work out like you planned. You can pitch a fit, get angry and pout about it — or you can adapt. 

That’s a lesson my daddy has modeled for me my entire life.

It might mean an obstacle like a flat tire causes you to miss an important appointment. 

Or maybe a team member fails to carry his or her weight and you have to pick up the slack.

It could be any number of unexpected events that disrupts your day. The best way forward is to assess the situation in front of you, adjust to take care of it and work to get back on track as best you can.

It also may mean changing your plans entirely if the derailment is severe enough — but if that’s what you need to do, then that’s exactly what you do, says my dad.

Living on a farm in rural Alabama offers a special opportunity to be surrounded by the beauty of God’s world, experience a calmer existence and participate more fully in the daily moments of family.

But farming and working acres and acres of land also brings with it consistent problems — equipment breaks down, tools wear out, the weather doesn’t cooperate, people get sick, the community experiences a tragedy, etc.

I can remember many times when I would be so frustrated because something didn’t work out right and dad would be frustrated too, but he didn’t waste time being upset like I did. He would calmly and quietly figure out what all needed to be done and do it without any drama.

Sometimes it meant dealing with a serious issue in the chicken house in the middle of the night; sometimes it was taking a break from the plowing he had planned for that day to rescue me from a broken-down car.

There’s always a way

Whatever it was then and whatever it might be today, I am better because my dad chose — and continues to choose — not to let the disruptions of life defeat him. I sense that same calmness in myself even in my weakest moments when I want to cry, scream or pull the covers over my head.

Thank you, daddy, for teaching me there’s always a way through the problems in front of us, disruptions are temporary and a calm spirit steadies the environment for everyone involved.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Implementing a few basic systems saves time, energy

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Cracking open a crisp new calendar with 12 months worth of life yet to discover is always one of my favorite moments of the new year.

Smartphones and digital calendaring options don’t provide the same satisfaction as pen in hand filling in schedules, appointments and plans.

While I do use a hybrid organizational system between the two worlds of digital and paper, it is still the hardcopy calendar and my endless lists that clear space in my mind to be able to think, dream and rest.

Decluttering

I’ve lost count of the number of years my goals going into a new year included simplifying life, creating more margin and decluttering at home and work.

But this year I’ve decided to surround myself with a team of friends and co-workers who have similar goals. We are working together to manage the chaos.

At the office and at home we are determining bite-size steps to declutter one drawer, one closet and one room at a time.

Streamlining routines

We also are streamlining systems in a way to avoid recreating daily, weekly and monthly routines multiple times. 

By slowing down one time to think through exactly what needs to be done on what schedule and then creating a checklist and/or routine with a timeline, there’s no more wasted energy.

Think of it like creating routine schedules and actions similar to brushing your teeth, getting ready for bed, etc. We do these things without thinking, without having to make new decisions.

One of the hardest areas to tame is always the pull and demands from others on our time. No matter how organized we may be, we can’t control every life moment.

We can continue working to create enough margin, however, so when those moments surprise us and we want to be available to help others or need to adapt to an unexpected situation we actually have room to adjust.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Wisdom of an Innkeeper

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Artwork by Vicki Love (used with permission)

The First Christmas (another perspective)

The weary couple at the close of day
hoped this crowded Inn was their place to stay.
Compelled by the expectant couple’s plight,
the innkeeper found them a room that night.

He ushered them into his hectic hall
When he heard God’s voice so still and small,
“Don’t birth my son in the ruckus place
Of noise and drink and want disgrace.
Is this a place to begin a life
that will change the world of dark to light?”

So the keeper of the inn did say,
“There is no room for you to stay.”
He turned the worn out couple away.

Then stepping outside his lodging place,
He whispered to the groom in haste
“There is a place where you can stay —
out back in my livestock stable hay.
Though not as warm as sleeping here,
it is distant from this dwelling of leer.”

“This is no place to birth a king
whose life will make the angels sing
Of love and joy and grace to all —
Don’t start His life in this reckless mall.”

Stark words he spoke, were not his own.
Where had his compassion gone?
This kind innkeeper had been used
to protect God’s son by his refuse.

The groom in livid anger said,
“I’ll take my bride to this unkempt bed
to birth a child alone this day.
But you, dear sir, will be known for all days
as he who turned the King away.

In great dismay by what he heard
The innkeeper left without word.

That night a savior child was born
in the silence of a manger lorn
With sheep and mules and cattle there
to gaze upon the baby fair

The groom looked at his bride and child
in this quiet place of peace and mild.
He understood the inn keeper’s will.
That put them in a place so still
so they could hear the angels’ thrill
and see the star above the hill.

If they were in the noisy inn
the angels’ song could have never been
heard above the party crowd,
the star obscured by a smoky cloud.

Now they both knew the reason why
the innkeeper had passed them by
This tiny king in their arms this night
Will never be found in the noise and blight
And bustle of a world that reeks
of a self excess — where egos peak.

Instead He is found in a silent night
Where angels sing and stars are bright.

As you seek your Christmas this year
Look not in the hustle and bustle so near.
Consider the innkeeper’s faithful ear

To God’s whispered voice,
which always speaks,
but seldom shouts or competes
with all the glitter, glitz and haste.
Find this Christmas in a common place.

By Michael Alan Tate, Leadership & Life Journal (originally published in 2004, reprinted 2018, used with permission)

Honoring veterans by living lives worthy of the sacrifice

The retired serviceman’s sincere, straightforward approach to his time in the military intrigued me. And the more I thought on his words, the more I realized the depth and intensity of what he was saying.

“When I’ve been in uniform throughout my career, random people have walked up to thank me for my service or buy my lunch,” he said. “There also have been times when applause broke out as I walked through a restaurant or an airport.

“While I appreciate their appreciation, what I really wanted to say was, ‘Don’t thank me. Don’t buy me lunch. Don’t applaud me. Just live a life worthy of living so my service and the sacrifices I made for you were not in vain.’”

Millions have served sacrificially

The U.S. military was officially established by Congress at the urging of President Washington in 1789. 

With hundreds of thousands of people serving in the early days and more than 2.5 million combined active and reserves serving today, my mind can’t quite grasp exactly how many individual people have dedicated their lives during these past 229 years. 

Each of those men and women served sacrificially. Many saw and experienced horrific events that they carried or will carry for their entire lives. Most choose to protect the rest of us from the worst of the details and are hesitant to even admit how heavy the load really is. 

In many cases, those who served are now sentenced to a life of attempting to manage post-traumatic stress disorder, continual nightmares and/or difficulty assimilating back into civilian life. Alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide rates among former military personnel continue to climb. Family relationships and friendships will never be the same for them. Some find a way to push through and quietly battle their internal demons while balancing a loving and caring relationship with family who could never understand. Some do better in isolation or at least by keeping a defined distance from others.

Millions of our fellow Americans stood in the gap for us in past years. Millions more are serving right now or are within days, weeks or months of taking their turn to serve. They have protected and continue to protect the freedoms and way of life we enjoy as U.S. citizens. 

Do we take those sacrifices for granted?

But how often do we really think about the sacrifices so many have made for us?

Military families are typically the best at honoring those in service, caring for those returning and being sensitive to the reality of the situations. And most of us likely have a family member, at least an extended family member, who has served at some point.

It is good to honor those who have served on Veterans Day. We also remember those who died in service on Memorial Day. Most often the 4th of July includes a shoutout to our current military and Lee Greenwood’s famous “God Bless the USA” is sung with sincere gusto.

But outside of those three holidays, how often do we remember the men and women who fought and in some cases died for our freedom? Do we actually grasp and respect the concept of true freedom?

Are we living lives worthy of all those who sacrificed for us? 

Are we making the United States better because we are citizens? 

Responsibility of citizenship

And for those of us who are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ, do we fully grasp the sacrifice He made for us? 

Are we living lives worthy of Him? Do we allow His love and grace to shine through us as He describes in Matthew 5:14–16?

Does our faith journey showcase the fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22–23 — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?

Being an eternal citizen of heaven along with our current citizenship in the U.S. both bring great privilege and blessings and with both come great responsibility. 

—Jennifer Davis Rash