Christmas Update: Lessons from 2020
It should come as no surprise that the Sound Stewardship team faced new challenges (working from home!) and learned new lessons (working from home, again!) this year. As we enter the Christmas season, we’re feeling grateful for all the ways God provided for us—and our clients—throughout the unexpected ups and downs of 2020. Here’s what we’ve been reflecting on as we look ahead to 2021.
Like everyone else, it was a really hard year for us. 2020 brought our limitations into clear focus but also gave us new opportunities we had never thought about before. One of my best memories from this year was climbing a mountain in Ireland to find a 5,000-year-old tomb! Unfortunately, I’ve also been facing physical challenges from the lingering effects of early COVID-19. I’ve been forced to slow down and am unable to exercise anymore (for now!). But learning to slow down is also good: In place of that exercise, I’ve been able to spend much more time walking with my wife. This year has taught me how much life can change all at once. So many clients had dramatic turns of events. Some great, some tragic. Plans are important, but they must be held with an open hand. One 2020 highlight was getting quoted in a Kiplinger article on building bond ladders with ETFs—it’s a privilege to share a little of what we tell clients with a wider audience. In 2021, I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing clients face-to-face again…eventually!
My wife and I both worked from home for most of the year, so we were able to spend more time together as a family. One of our best 2020 memories was when our son, Dallas, turned one, and we were able to celebrate his birthday with family. Another highlight: We had been working on paying off our house for the past three years, and in September we were able to, with guidance from our financial advisor, Joel Reimer. As a firm, we were able to shift quickly to online meetings and do more of our processing electronically at different custodians, which was crucial since in-person meetings came to a halt. We also learned more ways to help others stay proactive in protecting their identities (we had a helpful seminar with a retired FBI agent). In 2021, we hope to take a family vacation!
This year, my husband and I are both working from home, and my 1st grader, Adler, is doing virtual school. For the most part, we’ve only seen close family. Adjusting to working from home and homeschooling was very challenging and stressful in the beginning. We still have some challenging days, but for the most part we’re doing good with our new schedule. I am impressed with how well our team adjusted to working from home. It was a big change for some, but everyone figured it out quickly and kept a positive, understanding attitude. Even when working remotely, everyone is still actively devoted to each other as well as our clients. One of the best parts of 2020 was the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl! Because of the pandemic, we had to cancel all our planned vacations, but we did end up spending a few fun days at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. In 2021, we are looking forward to having a big family party to celebrate a year’s worth of missed holidays all at once. It’ll be an Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Etc. party!
In 2020, our best memory was the birth of a new grandson. One of the year’s biggest challenges was determining how to interact with extended family members while keeping everyone safe. One thing I learned this year that helped me serve Sound Stewardship’s clients better is that a smile goes a long way—even from behind a mask! I am looking forward to a time, hopefully in 2021, when our Sound Stewardship team can all be together in the office again.
This year, I learned how to be much more content and adaptable. The highlight of 2020 was, by far, getting my new job as a Client Care Associate at Sound Stewardship. I have been looking and praying for a position like this for over a year! I have learned so many things in my first six months, but if I had to name one thing that helped me serve clients better, it’s getting pretty good at finding little things that may have otherwise been missed when preparing client meeting notes. One of the biggest challenges of the year has definitely been the COVID-19 isolation. The lack of interaction I’ve been able to have with my fellow church members, coworkers, and other friends has been difficult. In 2021, my goal is to pass my CFP exam. I’m also looking forward to COVID-19 ending and normal life resuming.
Cindy St John:
Due to COVID-19, my husband, Ricky, and I have been working from home since March. Before this, he traveled three to five days a week, so that’s been a huge change for us. One of my best 2020 memories was the birthday of my granddaughter, Ella, on March 31, 2020. Not being able to see our grandchildren very much due to the pandemic was one of the year’s biggest challenges for me. Over the past ten months, it was comforting to see that Sound Stewardship had the right procedures in place so that the staff could work remotely and are able to serve our clients. For 2021, I am looking forward to when our staff can be together again.
This year, my family learned how much we like each other and how we can get along in the same old house for extended periods of time. However, a little separation and independence goes a long way—especially for our twins, who went off to college! One of our best 2020 memories was taking Jeep adventures out West! We enjoyed off-roading in Montana, Wyoming, and Moab, Utah, in a safe and socially distanced way in God’s creation. The year’s biggest challenge was getting all of our clients through the “COVID Canyon” that the stock market experienced! In 2020, our team was able to switch to serving remotely by having the right technology in place ahead time. Everyone was cared for in a safe and contactless manner, according to their specific needs. In 2021, I’m looking forward to discovering what our “new normal” will be and hopefully meeting with clients in-person once again.
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