This past October I began suffering constant and intense headaches, located behind my right eye, which progressed into what appeared to be an eye infection. Upon visiting my primary care doctor, I was quickly scheduled for an appointment with an ophthalmologist, as it was believed that I had a case of Shingles. Who knew that you could get Shingles in your eye?! Certainly not me. Over the course of these past 5 months, the infection has gone, but the sight in my right eye is inconsistent. Some days my vision is clear, but later in the day, everything is a blur. There is, apparently, a medical reason for this, and I am assured by my medical team that it will continue to improve over time, but for now I make do and am able to enjoy the irony that in the year 2020, I do not have 20/20 vision.
One thing that has become clear during this time is that I have much greater focus on that which I can see with my left eye. It has given me some clarity, in all senses of the word, that I did not expect. God is indeed good. This clarity is what I believe is allowing me to look at the current COVID-19 epidemic in a different way than what I might have without my vision setback. Our nation, indeed, our world is facing very uncertain times at this very moment. Personally, I have been on self-quarantine for the past 8 days as my bride wasn’t feeling well last week and ultimately was tested for COVID-19. We do not believe she has contracted it, but until the test results are back, neither one of us can return to work. We have both been working from home and our son, daughter-in-law, and 2 of our grandchildren are quarantined with us and somehow we have settled into a new routine.
During this time both my wife and I have been working from home. I have been directing the work of my Facilities Team in what has become an essentially empty building, and my wife has been directing her staff of childcare workers from afar. Unfortunately, this morning she received word that she needed to close her childcare center effective this evening and place all of her employees on standby status. Even despite the uncertainty of these times, we see God is working, and we are doing what we can to comfort and provide for our employees.
Many of you have stories to tell, or will in coming days. Cities and states are beginning to enforce Shelter-in-Place protocols and rumors are everywhere…along with a whole lot of memes. I want you to know that the NACFM wants to support you during this time. Please remember you are not alone, reach out to one another. I can’t tell you how much it will mean when someone reaches out to see how you’re doing, but I can tell you that I have been blessed by these calls myself in recent days. In fact, I have spoken with quite a few of you over the past few weeks as the landscape of our lives and ministries is rapidly changing around us. It is good to hear from one another. I have loved seeing the dialog on the NACFM Forum and on our Facebook group sharing information. I have been blessed recently by vendors and some of our Business Members, in particular, Christine Monson of PathoSans, as I have been looking to find a solution to our disinfecting chemical shortage. Christine, you rock!
Now is not a time to get caught up in worry, anxiety, and fear. Now is the time we need to have 20/20 Vision: Looking to the Future that our Lord has placed before us. The building may be CLOSED, but the church is OPEN. What does the Lord have for you to do during this time? How are you ministering to your team members and others around you? Keep your FOCUS on Him and I believe we shall see amazing things in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
At this point, we are moving forward in expectation that we will still be joining together in Chicago for our 25th Anniversary National Conference June 15-18. Online registration is open and there are still a few more days to receive an early registration discount of $50. Hotel reservations are also open and can be made via the link on our online conference registration page. At the same time, we know that things may look different the closer we get to June and are looking at a variety of options.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29.11
As we all begin to adjust to the new (and hopefully temporary) normal, I am confident the Lord has us just where we are for just a time as this. While we often do our work behind the scenes, much of our work is now front and center as we respond to this national crisis, so please remember to pace yourselves for the long run and don’t be shy about reaching out for encouragement, prayer, or to share insights or stories through the online Forum, Facebook group or personal contact.
Looking to the Future with you,
Patrick Hart, CCFM