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Guest Blog: Five Steps to Plan Repeatable Events

This guest blog is written by a dear friend, coworker, and my supervisor, Preston Tippett.  Preston has worn many hats in the WinShape College Program including Event Planner, Small Group Leader, Event Specialist, and now serves as a Coordinator of Programming.

Everyone who works around us thoroughly enjoys laughing at our dynamic as Preston is definitely the “how” to my “wow”.  While I am most excited to meet new people and dream up new ideas, Preston keeps us grounded, on track, and productive.  Below he shares practical insights on planning repeatable events!


As a ministry leader of students, you know very well how often events take place.  All. The. Time.  As soon as one is finished, your focus and energy shift to what is next on the calendar.  Often, you are forced to think about and plan for multiple events simultaneously.

I’m here to give a few thoughts about how you can go about planning for events in a way that could alleviate your future to-do list.  Because let’s be honest, who wants to reinvent the wheel or duplicate work every time you gear up for an event?  Me neither!  Below are five essentials for creating repeatability in planning events.

  1. Have a trackable task management system, something that you can refresh and reuse each time.

    Ideally, this system should track how far out from the event (days, weeks, or months) you need to complete the task.  Once you input that information for each particular task, you won’t have to take the time to think about when you need to do that certain task, nor are you feeling overwhelmed in looking at every task that needs to get done for the event to happen.  Rather, the system is reminding you when you need to complete that task.  I recommend your system to have a filtering or ordering option, where you can select which parts you want to view based on how far out from the event that task is to be completed.

  2. Know your budget.

    We are called to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us.  Planning events usually comes with stewarding a good bit of money and using that money wisely.  It is important that you keep track of how much you are spending throughout the planning of your event.  The benefits to tracking your spending are twofold: you know on the latter end if you spent more or less than you were allotted, and you have a very accurate estimate of how much to allot for each line item the next time around.  I would recommend not just tracking the overall amount spent, but know how much you spent on each individual aspect of the event.  Break it down as specifically as you can.

  3. Take notes!

    Have you ever had a great idea and think, “There’s no way I’ll forget that, that’s too good of an idea,” only to later have no recollection of it?  One of the easiest ways to limit your ability to create repeatable events is to forget what you’ve done before.  This might sound slightly like the part above regarding task management, but the difference here is not just knowing the task that needs to be done, but knowing how to go about completing that task.  Let’s say, for example, that you used an outside vendor to provide supplies for your event and you would love to use them again.  You would want to take note of that company’s name, the specific vendor’s name and contact information, as well as any additional notes about the specifics of what you did.

    Bottom line: take note of how you completed tasks, and create a reminder in your task management system to review those at the start of your next event.

  4. Evaluate and refine.

    This step is crucial if you want to create repeatable events and maximize your efforts.  If you don’t evaluate what you are doing, how would you ever know if you are creating the best version of what you are doing?  Don’t just do it the same exact way year after year.  You could be left with designing your programming around a theme to a TV show series that none of your students have context to because it’s that outdated (yes, my team has made that mistake).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to replicate what you do year after year, but rather to do so with discretion.  Essentially, you should schedule time after each event to sit down with your team and evaluate what you believe went well and what needs to be improved.  I have a practice of creating a new note in my phone during events where I can quickly jot down anything that comes to mind in the realm of tweaking, improving, or removing.  This helps me when I come to the team’s evaluation meeting, as I can pull up that note and see the list of items I think should be reconsidered to make better.

    The second step to evaluating is refining.  The reason for evaluating is to know the areas that need refining.  Use the energy and momentum from your evaluation meeting to put the refining into action.

  5. Celebrate!

    This isn’t necessarily a tip for planning for repeatability, but it is an important step that, surprisingly, can easily be overlooked.  After you’ve accomplished your event and evaluated its success, it can feel natural to simply move on to the next event that needs attention.  However, I would highly encourage you to schedule time for you and your team to celebrate the completion of your event.  Set aside a specific time in your calendar for your team to enjoy a meal together or create a shared experience.  Be sure to clarify the connection between the accomplishment and the celebration.  Celebrating with your team is a great way to create a natural close to the event you have just planned and executed.

Review of Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

I became a Simplified Planner user in 2016 and have never looked back.  This planner is my heart beat, my saving grace, and one of my most treasured possessions each year thanks to the craft, talent, and intentionality of Emily Ley.

I was late to the Grace Not Perfection party, but so thankful I picked it up.  Emily Ley openly shares her story of battling to be perfect and in the midst of striving, finding grace.  Within each chapter she shares practical tips for organization and cleanliness in your home, work place, and daily life.

Ley’s word pictures of her story battling perfectionism, infertility, and health issues, invited me into her home to sit down and have coffee.  Each chapter felt like sitting across the coffee table from a wise friend and rather than feeling tasked with another creative organization plan, I felt accompanied by a friend saying, “me too, girl.”

The good life is rich, slow, real, and flawed.

In those moments when we give ourselves the grace to let everything else fade away, we find our most sincere happiness.

Emily’s battle to be the perfect daughter, woman, wife, mother, leader, business owner and designer ran her life, just as many of us find ourselves slaves to perfectionism- or at least perceived perfectionism (guilty).  But she decided to no longer be paralyzed by perfectionism and striving, missing out on the life she always wanted for a life she felt she was meant to continue striving to perfect.

Someone told you you had to do it all and to do it all by yourself.

Chasing perfection had been my way of searching for joy.

But in losing the battle, she found grace.  And in grace, her real and truest self.

You are enough.  You deserve simple, slow, and sweet.

It was time to give myself permission to be a priority again.

Don’t sacrifice the good in chase of the perfect.

When we create fantasy images in our heads, we slay the beauty of life.

I loved Grace Not Perfection and found myself in a bit of a book rut upon completing it, because I felt nothing could compare as it offers the sweet embrace of a friend and practical insights to simplification and organization, woven amidst a story of grace.


Thanks for stopping by!

profMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church

Lynne and Bill Hybles share their story in detail of building Willow Creek Community Church from only a vision and dream.  The first half of Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church is composed by Lynne who begins with Bill and her first engagement that she broke off.  She shares of the two of them beginning their ministry together and Billy learning the gifts God had given him of teaching and leadership.  Lynne describes their journey of stepping out in faith to plant a church while both of them were only twenty-three years old.  She honestly shares the difficulties of this season of men coming to Bill stating they were about to lose all the collateral they had put on the line for the church, Bill trying to get out of debt by selling tomatoes door to door, a scandal in the church that split it in half, and the Lord protecting them from purchasing a condemned property.

Bill’s half of this work takes on less of a narrative form, but rather conveys his passion and zeal to see irreligious people become saints.  Bill also shares about times of incredible joy in watching the congregation of Willow Creek grow, make disciples, reach out to others, and give so generously.  He furthermore shares of difficult times and decisions as a leader, yet amidst every struggle and time of questioning of seeing God’s faithfulness.  Hybles consistently focuses on the importance of continuing to reach out to unbelievers and charging members of the congregation to do the same in order to see growth.

A key helpful feature of Rediscvoering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church is Lynne and Bill’s honestly.  Lynne shared honestly and openly of times when Bill was “married to the ministry” and she had to seek companionship with fellow staff member’s wives in the loneliness.  They share honestly about the difficulty of stewarding such a large congregation with such a small budget to begin with and such big decisions to be made with a team of only three elders.  The Hybles are open and honest about their mistakes and point so consistently to God’s faithfulness to their obedience.  A limiting feature of the Hybles’ work is the stark difference in Lynne and Bill’s writing styles as Lynne provides a narrative and seems to set Bill up to tell the rest of the story in the second half.  Bill, instead, seems to passionately teach a sermon on continuing to reach beyond the walls of the church and tells stories of radical conversion.


Thanks for stopping by!

profMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love

 

Gloria Furman’s work Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is a message to all women who find themselves in the role of being a wife of someone in full time ministry.  She shares stories of times when many members of the congregation placed their expectations onto her to fulfill obligations she never imagined were hers, such as working to repair a leaking ceiling in the church foyer.  Furman and her husband pastor a church in the Middle East, thus gender roles are defined and experienced differently than in more Western environments; yet, Furman shares stepping into this role God has called her into with courage and care, especially as she has to work so tirelessly to protect her children and care for her husband who faces a muscular disorder.

From her experience as a pastor’s wife, Gloria Furman encourages other women to be aware of the many expectations the church will have for her.  She encourages women to have boundaries in place of what she is able to do for the Body and to always first prioritize her individual relationship with Jesus and caring for her husband and family.  She bravely suggests as a pastor’s wife to still seek out older women in the Body for mentoring and to allow fellow members to assist with children, when trying to attend to them while a pastor may be busy delivering a sermon or caring for a family.

Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is specifically helpful in honestly addressing many expectations pastor’s wives face with very specific anecdotes that help bring this tension to light.  Furthermore, Furman’s experience translates to a variety of global contexts for pastor’s wives in any part of the world.  On the other hand, Furman’s work is limited in directly addressing wives of pastors rather than all women in ministry and addressing wives from a very conservative context.  She addresses women in similar contexts to her own which prescribes a very small church with limited staff and extremely conservative gender roles.


Thanks for stopping by!

profMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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Inconvenient.

There’s never a convenient time to break a dish, but especially when preparing to cook dinner.


I reached into the backseat of my car into my duffle bag to find something to blow my nose on.  Tears poured down my face and my chest hurt deeply for my best friend facing her first Mother’s Day without her precious mama.  And it hurt a little deeper for precious friends who were also facing the day without theirs.

This was a hurt I knew.  I remember my first Father’s Day fatherless.  I sat on one of my best friend’s front porches and wept on his shoulder.  I kept asking him how in the world I could ever face more Father’s Days.  I knew my friend would probably go to sleep that night with a pillow full of tears as would a handful of my other friends wishing they could buy their mama flowers.  That tearful pillow was not just something I could imagine, it was a feeling I knew all too well.


I was trying to cook dinner tonight after a pretty long day at work with lots of questions swimming in my head.  I reached to grab a cutting board to chop up some ginger and garlic when a glass dish fell and shattered all over my kitchen floor.

Everywhere.

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I froze for a second (which is my typical stress response) then grabbed a broom and began sweeping up each and every piece, amazed at how tiny shattered pieces found their way in each nook and cranny of my kitchen.  In one hand, I was thankful no one was hurt, especially the three baby kittens that have found residence in my laundry room (We’ll talk about it later).  I was thankful no one was about to come over and that I didn’t have a living room full of guests, but that thankfulness lasted for about a minute.  I was frustrated, not to mention hungry that I could not even cook a meal without something going wrong.  And this just was not the best time for my kitchen floor to be covered with glass.

As I swept pieces big and small into a dustpan all over my kitchen, I thought of how tired I can feel of cleaning up messes.  Yes, physical ones at times but so much more messes in my heart.  I am tired of weepy drives when I struggle to see the road through the puddles of tears crossing South Carolina state lines, wishing with all my heart when I saw the beautiful state flag flying I didn’t think of the one handed to me next to the casket that held my Daddy’s body.

And the inconvenient grief can hurt the worst.  This week I stood with my coworkers in an activity that was supposed to be fun and exciting that for me required choking back tears.  I’m just tired of explaining why things are hard or triggering.  I’m tired of jumping when I hear certain cadences of beeps in a nearby printer because it reminds me of machines in the hospital that I pretended to understand to fathom together some hope of my Dad surviving.

I’m tired of holding the broken with the blessed.  Of receiving sweet sweet blessings, that somehow prove themselves to be the tipping point that knock my mended heart off the counter and back into a million pieces.

The inconvenient grief is often unexpected.  The moments of pure bliss and joy, of answered prayers, knowing there’s a presence missing in the room.  Of still trying to call him after two years to talk through those questions swimming in my brain.


There’s never a convenient time to be broken.  To hurt and to grieve.  But sometimes the shoe drops, even in the sweetest moments, and the pieces of hurt and reminders of loss scatter deeper and wider than you could have imagined, making the cleaning more detailed and time consuming.

Because glass will always be breakable and we are too, but some of the best dinners are served in glass dishes.


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A few summers ago I was rushing to a work dinner when I hit a curb, causing my tire to deflate.  A dear friend and his family pulled up in their van right behind me for the same dinner.  As he began replacing the deflated tire on my car with my spare, his two oldest daughters came up to me.  The oldest began asking questions of how this happened, how it could be fixed, and if all cars traveled with an extra tire in case you hit a curb?  But the younger came and stood by my side and in every bit of her six year old wisdom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Hey Emily Katherine, I’m sorry your car is hurt.”

And I’ve learned these are my two options in those unexpectedly hard moments- to question or to lean in.  To either ask why in the world this had to happen or why ofall moments this had to be the one for me to be upset, or to let myself have the tenderness of my six year old friend, Selah, and just admit that I’m sorry things are the way they are, whether that’s a shattered dish on the kitchen floor at diner time, a hard moment of fighting back tears at work, or a Mother’s Day without a mama.


Thanks for stopping by!

My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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Review of “Freefall to Fly” by Rebekah Lyons

Rebekah Lyons is a gifted speaker whose teaching I’ve enjoyed sitting under a couple times.  I have admired her authenticity, ferocity to proclaim who Jesus is and how He has worked in her life, and if I’m honest her taste in shoes.

In Freefall to Fly, Lyons shares her story wrestling with severe anxiety as her family transitioned from Georgia to the hustle and bustle of New York City.  Painted with beautiful word choice, the author lets readers into her innermost wrestlings and questions with God as she struggled to face each and every day, fighting to believe each day would be the end of this relentless battle.

She shares of finding small glimmers of peace and hope in her son Cade’s honesty, friends she sat across the table with, and her husband’s steadfastness.  Rebekah eventually experienced radical healing from her anxiety.  As someone who has prayed for a miracle very close to my heart that I didn’t receive, I at times have a hard time with these reads of prayers being answered so abundantly.  And I felt so thankful for Rebekah’s honesty that as she shared her experience with her friends some of them had the same response.

Only those in our midst- our physical lives- can accurately assess when we’re embracing our true selves.

Lyons furthermore so bravely addressed a phenomenon faced by many women who overlook or abandon unique callings on their lives to pick up the reigns of motherhood.  While not diminishing the sacredness of this call, Rebekah Lyons begs the question if maybe we are limiting ourselves and the work of God in us, when we push down these gifts and callings God has planted deeply within us for a specific purpose.

Once we know what we’re good at, we must match those things with a deep need in this world.  This need is what makes your heart break.  That memory that makes you weep on quiet nights, that creeps up on you when no one else is around.  When you discover this, you will know your deepest burden.  It’s tricky to find a suitable match in a world that’s broken in so many places.

She shares openly about so much of her “hard stuff” and the difficult situations she’s walked through with friends, demonstrating the theme that God meets us at the very end of our rope.

I think of more stories- so many women walking from a place of bravery.  I think of marriages imploding after years of infidelity and watching as grace rushes in.  Of families suffering financial ruin and finding provision to rebuild.  I’m in awe that I get to befriend these battle-wounded women of beauty.  While time and space separates these stories, they are sewn together by a common thread.  As I consider these women’s lives, a consistent theme surfaces:

Survivors make the most beautiful people.

Our bruises don’t have to make us ugly.  They make us who we are.  They add texture and color to our lives.  They strengthen bonds that might otherwise break.

Freefall to Fly is bold, honest, and brave.  Rebekah Lyons story is extremely relatable and her writing style, beautiful.


Thanks for stopping by!

My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch. dalton-31