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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.

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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

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Review of “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen

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Click here to purchase!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know all too well that I absolutely loved reading through Nothing to Prove.  I am such a believer in Jennie Allen and behind the ministry of IF seeking to multiply disciple-makers.

Jennie’s story of feeling so unworthy and incapable facing a growing ministry refreshed my soul.  As she named fears and lies, I was able to name many of my own, both in ministry and as an individual.  That nagging, stabbing lie that knows precisely when to whisper and when to shout beneath all of our performance, “You are not enough.”

“If I were your enemy, I would intoxicate you with the mission of God rather than God himself.”


“Fear speaks a dark lie over our lives, over who we think we are.”

I listened to Nothing to Prove on Audible, treasuring hearing Jennie read her words aloud with her own inflection and tone.  As a southern girl, I felt so comfortable hearing Jennie’s southern accent come through.  Listening to her read each page felt like having coffee with a friend or mentor.

In the pages of Nothing to Prove, Jennie Allen reframes stories of Scripture, telling them as personal accounts.  She tells the story of Jesus turning water to wine through the eyes of the bride and groom.  She tells the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper through the eyes of Peter.  Each and every first person narrative she created moved me to chills and tears.  Each story transitioned in my heart and mind from stories I had heard and taught on to stories that took on humanity, frailty, and so much similarity to my own fears and struggles.

“Jesus wasn’t there for Mary and Martha to prove their faith to Him.  He was there to prove His love for them.”

Nothing to Prove is an incredible read that I put off finishing because I really never wanted it to end.  Each chapter ends with discussion questions that would be great for a small group or Bible Study to walk through together.

“You will watch God do incredible miracles if you stop looking side to side.  In quietness and trust shall be your strength.”

Jennie shared so bravely about many painful parts of her story, facing an eating disorder, wrestling with showing up as a pastor’s wife, walking with her sister through a divorce, and I was so thankful to be met by her humanity, authenticity, and struggle, rather than another read of why I should be more and do more.  I walked away from this book feeling less challenged and more like I had gained a new friend, while reframing my view of Jesus and all that He’s called me to.


Thanks for stopping by! H8ULakjvMGHuOo5uritQ9Lrm0KZkxT0ncqFEIMOVNU0

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 “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren

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Click photo to view book on Amazon

I was first drawn to this book when my Bible study leader read an excerpt to my small group (Thanks for being you, Lisa).  In this book, Warren highlights various aspects of normal, routine, and sometimes monotonous day to day life, like washing dishes and getting enough sleep at night.  She exposes how we in Western Christianity have often teased apart the boring aspects of our lives from our Spiritual lives, interjecting that the two- the boring and the intentional are critically interwoven to form our holistic beings.

God says this is my beloved Son in who I am well pleased before Jesus had done anything but lived an ordinary life.

Warren emphasizes the ways in which Jesus, too, took part in the normalcies of our earthly life, like eating dinner with friends and learning a trade.  Jesus cleaned up after his siblings, felt thirsty, and needed to use the restroom.

In her own journey of seeing the sacred in the ordinary, Warren began to see the presence of God infiltrated in her every day life.  She began making her bed every morning as a practice of His presence.  A normal chore that is routine for many was the means by which she was reminded of her call in the Kingdom to create order, imaging God in a fallen and disordered world.

Ever so refreshingly for my Millennial soul, the author writes of how each and every one of us want to change the world, but what we are first called to is the ordinary, rote, and mundane in front of us.

Everyone wants a revolution.  No one wants to do the dishes

God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.

As we are in the season of Lent, I enjoyed her anecdote of struggling to identify what to give up for Lent one year.  She was raising a newborn child while shepherding her own church congregation.  She spoke with a mentor who encouraged her that all of her life was sacrificing, nudging her to practice pleasure and enjoyment of the goodness of God.  Through this practice she came to see and know God in beautiful ways through a weekly trip to a coffee shop.

Warren highlights the sacredness of soup, sleep, and slowly sipping a cup of coffee, demonstrating that these facets of our lives no mater how ordinary or plain are integrally shaping as as spiritual beings nonetheless.


After reading Liturgy of the Ordinary, I decided to share a little bit of my ordinary by sharing one of my most ordinary recipes.

Click here to learn how to make my Southwest Chicken Quinoa Bowl. (Gluten Free)


dalton-31

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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Recipe: Southwest Chicken Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients (2 quinoa bowls):

  • thawed chicken breast
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 can drained black beans
  • baby spinach, washed
  • salsa
  • mexican blend cheese
  • red pepper hummus (optional)
  • pink himalayan salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • taco seasoning

recipe

Most of these ingredients are staples of my diet.  Actually as I’m reading back over them all of them are.  These faithful friends are always in my fridge and always a go to that I mix and match for various recipes as I try to cook healthy for one on a small budget.

Out of creativity or desperation (I’ll let you decide), I ended up throwing them all together and my quinoa bowl has become a staple meal for me!

Here’s how to make it!

  1. Run quinoa under cold water in a mesh drainer.  (Actually do this or it cooks weirdly.  Trust me.)
  2. Boil 2 cups of water for the quinoa.  Grab a pot that you know where the lid is, because that will help.  Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a little pink himalayan salt.
  3. When water comes to a boil (I honestly never wait that long) add the quinoa.  Leave on medium heat until it’s boiling like it means it.
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  4. In a frying pan, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and turn to medium heat.  When coconut has softened, distribute evenly in the pan and add 2tsp of taco seasoning (half the packet- who has time to measure?).  Place chicken breast in the middle of the frying pan.
  5. Drain black beans and place in small pot.  Turn to medium heat.  Stir occasionally.
  6. By now your quinoa should be boiling.  Give it a good stir and put the lid on if you haven’t already.
  7. Flip chicken and begin chopping into small chunks (sorry that’s a gross word) as it cooks. (I use a wooden spatula for this.)
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  8. While everything is cooking and you’re feeling like you run the world, get out your bowls.  I like to use large glass ones.  Go ahead and grab and rinse your spinach from the refrigerator and get your salsa, hummus, and cheese nearby.
  9. Stir and turn your chicken, quinoa, and black beans.
  10. Once cooked, scoop quinoa into bowls then diced chicken, then black beans.
  11. Top with spinach, salsa, and hummus (if you’d like).
  12. Open a cold Lime La Croix and enjoy!

Also if you’re cooking for one like me, I make my quinoa bowl then place the rest in containers to make a quinoa bowl another day.  You can also use the leftover black beans to throw on a salad with your spinach or have quinoa on the side with some chicken and veggies.



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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.