Preparing for the Unprecedented: Thoughts on the Pandemic so far

Preparing for the Unprecedented: Thoughts on the Pandemic so far

As we enter a new phase of pandemic life (the coronavirus is still spreading while our communities try to balance reopening risks and rewards), I want to take a minute to reflect on how COVID-19 has affected our business, our clients and my own life.  

At Sound Stewardship, we update our disaster plan and conduct an annual disaster simulation. Until now, we were focused on things like tornadoes or hazardous material crashes on nearby I-435. In 2017-2018, we disaster-proofed our work processes, so if something structural happened to our building, we could continue to serve our clients. Our office manager, Ambra, had us set up on Zoom several years ago, and all of our primary applications became hosted in the cloud, not an on-site server. Thank God these tracks were all laid far before the pandemic hit. 

In mid-March, we were all able to quickly switch to working from home, and we will continue to experiment with the work flexibility we’ve been developing. We’ve reached out to all of our clients, kept on schedule with our quarterly meetings (now held virtually), and we’ve even added new clients to the Sound Stewardship family. We feel very blessed that we have been healthy and able to keep working throughout this crisis. And not only because it allowed us to continue supporting ourselves and our families, but because we’ve been able to help our clients weather the first four months of this unprecedented event. 

As we checked in with our clients, they all had the same question: When is this going to end? None of us know the answer. But we know from past experiences, like the post-9/11 crash and the Great Recession, that eventually we humans find a way to get our economies back on track. We continued to encourage our clients to control what they can and try not to worry about the rest. 

Every family’s situation was different, so we took the time to understand their concerns and talk through how they wanted to respond financially. We talked about proactive strategies, like revisiting monthly budgets and investing while prices were low if possible; how to make smart tax moves; and taking deep breaths. Because we emphasize principles like living within our means and building emergency reserves, most of our clients already have enough resources on hand to get them through a long dry spell —they just needed to be reminded that they were going to be OK. 

Just like our business’s disaster planning practices readied us for the unexpected, our clients’ good financial practices prepared them to ride out this current season of uncertainty. We are very grateful our clients were willing to work hard for years to be ready for the unknown. They are now in a position to not only financially survive this pandemic but to give generously to those who aren’t as fortunate. It’s been fun to hear stories from clients who technically qualified for the stimulus check but didn’t need the extra help: They turned around and donated the money to people who did. 

Personally, this time has brought big changes and hidden blessings. My family was in Galveston, Texas for spring break as news of the pandemic’s seriousness broke. We quickly started social distancing, but it took that whole week to get our minds wrapped around what was happening. By the time we got home, it was a whole new world: The kids’ school was done for the rest of the year, and I was working from home for the first time in my entire life. We adapted to new, slower rhythms. When I look back to our packed pre-pandemic schedules, I don’t know how we kept up that pace!

While I’m not thankful for the pandemic and the pain it’s caused so many people, I am grateful for the extra time it’s given me with my children. Especially with my twin daughters, Grace and Sophie, who just graduated from high school, albeit with a cancelled prom and a postponed graduation ceremony. Getting to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with them every day during the last months they’ll spend at home was a huge quarantine silver lining. And all that extra family time meant they were completely ready to start their socially distanced summer kitchen jobs at Kanakuk Family Kamp before heading to Oklahoma State University this fall! 

As we look to the future, we’ll continue to prioritize the things that matter, like being here for our clients, so they can be there for others. We’re not naive: We know we still have a long slog ahead of us before the pandemic is over. In the meantime, we’ll control what we can control, trust in God, and get through this together. 

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