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5 Positive Impacts of COVID-19

How long has your community been in some sort of lockdown or quarantine? It’s been over six months for my area. 

What began as a doable “15 Days to Stop the Spread” campaign turned into a harder-than-expected cycle of lockdowns, isolation, and disruption of routines. As things begin to open, talking heads are professing this to be the “new normal,” but there is NOTHING normal about this season – it’s just weird. One day we’ll be back to normal(ish), but right now we live in the weird. 

But thankfully the worst type of weird can bring some good things with it. In an attempt to stir up gratitude within me, here are 5 positive impacts of COVID-19: 

MOTIVATION TO TURN MY HOUSE INTO A HOME

I had been in my house for less than four months when COVID-19 struck. And as the weeks since then have passed, it’s motivated me to get boxes unpacked, walls decorated, furniture rearranged, and really turn the space where I live into a home. It’s made me think more deeply about things like my workspace, how to keep everything cozy without being cluttered, and how best to arrange the space when hosting (something I have happily been able to do, albeit in small groups, throughout COVID). 

TIME SPENT WITH PETS

I have a rescue dog with separation anxiety, and my sister’s anxious little dog also lives with me. It has been so good for both of them to have so much time with me, and I have loved it. While it might be a little bit more challenging during work meetings (they don’t quite grasp my need for them to stay quiet during my Zoom meetings), being able to curl up on the couch and write while they sleep at my feet is a delight. 

LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS

I reignited a childhood love of reading a year or two ago. I LOVE books. But there are so many other things pulling for my attention on a daily basis. Having a lot of the special events, regular meetings, and reoccurring calendar items canceled has opened up time that (when using my self-discipline to keep me away from Criminal Minds on Netflix) can be used to devour book after book. 

EXTRA TIME TO FOCUS ON HEALTH

My commute is gone, and my time to get ready every day has been slashed. This means that when I don’t sleep well, I can really focus on getting enough sleep by setting my alarm for later. It means that I have the time every day to get a really good workout in. I have the time to cook healthy meals. And, if I’m not getting enough steps in during the day, I can pace around my house while on that conference call with zero judgment. 

NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROUTINES AND OBLIGATIONS I TAKE FOR GRANTED

I miss my alarm going off earlier than preferred on the weekend to wake me up for church. I miss a commute that guaranteed carved out time to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I miss regularly meeting with others in the evenings, even if I was exhausted from the day. COVID-19 has breathed new appreciation into these regular happenings, an appreciation I would not have had otherwise. 

How about you – are there things that you can be grateful for, even in this weird and awful season? Let me know in the comments!

signing of the declaration with text

What Can Hamilton Teach Us About Learning?

For the past few weeks, one word has taken over the internet and the dinner table conversation across the country: HAMILTON. 

An on-demand world means that Broadway has now entered our living rooms, and the release of the live recorded production of Hamilton on Disney+ is the most recent development. However, this one show isn’t set apart simply because of its innovative music or diverse cast, but because it is based on historical events. While not perfectly factual, it documents the beginning of American independence by focusing on one Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. 

(Full disclosure, I have the soundtrack playing in the background as I write this. The music is VERY good.) 

Now, there are certainly people who watched Hamilton and took it at surface level. They watched it, were entertained, and then turned it off and walked away without another thought. And that’s okay. 

But the musical sparked curiosity in the minds of others. What were the actual political stances taken by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton? Why was Angelica so excited about Common Sense by Thomas Paine? After rapping about it so much, what role did the Marquis de Lafayette actually play in the French Revolution? 

In this capacity, Hamilton serves as a case study on learning. It doesn’t matter what form knowledge comes in – what matters is what is gained from it. If having rap music on repeat can drill important pieces of American history into our heads, all the better. But maybe we all can learn much through not only music, but movies, poems, art, podcasts, or anything other than lengthy books. 

To be sure, we should always fact check what we are learning, no matter the source. Alternative forms of learning can often take artistic liberties that make the facts less precise. But once we make sure our facts are in order, these resources are wonderful tools in growing our understanding of the world. 

We live in a culture where constant learning is undervalued. If things like Hamilton can help change that, we should be all for it. 

Kelvey's April - June 2020 reading picks

The Quarterly Reading Roundup: 2020 Q2

Anddd we’re back! As you know, this year I’ve started a new series (but can it really be called a series when it only occurs four times a year?) that highlights some of the best books I read every three months. 

Here are my picks from quarter two of 2020: 

The Vanishing American Adult by Senator Ben Sasse

To be totally honest, I’m wrapping this book up right now. But Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is not only my favorite person in Congress – he is also an amazing author and historian. His diagnosis of America’s coming-of-age crisis is analytical and accurate, and his ideas on how to chart a new course are phenomenal. As a young adult, this book has left me not only thinking about how I want to raise my future children but how I can set a better path forward for myself even though I’m already in my twenties. 

The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson

I am desperately in need of grace at every single moment of my life, and Wilson writes for those of us followers of Jesus who are thankful that Jesus has it all together because we know we never will. I don’t usually quote Amazon summaries, but a line about this book (from the Amazon link above) was accurate: “For the believer who is tired of quasi-spiritual life hacks being passed off as true, down-and-dirty discipleship, here is a discipleship book that isn’t afraid to be honest about the mess we call real life.” 

50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren W. Wiersbe

To start with just a small critique, the targeted audience for this book is obviously pastors and many of the people featured are pastors most of us have not heard about. However, even with that knowledge, this book was extremely encouraging. I loved being able to read short biographies of so many giants in the faith, and have resources listed if I wanted to learn more about specific figures. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, so we should allow their lives to urge us on. 

What books are you reading?

crates with white text

Let’s Take Ideas Out Of Their Boxes

Okay, pop quiz. What box would you place the following ideas in? 

The best solution for hate speech is more speech, not less. 

Demilitarize the police. 

Excessive and wasteful taxation is theft. 

Climate change is a real problem. 

The right to bear arms shall not be infringed. 

Drug legalization/decriminalization would lead to a more equitable criminal justice system. 

Religious liberty should be protected. 

Immigrants built America and we should knock down barriers to legal immigration. 

Free markets lead to freer people. 

Okay, what boxes did these check? Liberal? Conservative? Libertarian? 

I don’t know – I pulled them all at random from a box titled “Kelvey’s political beliefs.” 

Have you noticed that shoving ideas into strict boxes makes us reluctant to pull from the boxes that wear labels we don’t like? We prejudge the idea based on what it falls under instead of on the merit of the idea itself. 

Instead of right or wrong, factual or nonsensical, reasonable or radical, we let the labels do the talking. And these labels often make us swerve away from an idea if we deem it too out-of-step with the rest of the boxes we like to dig through. 

And you all know the feeling of agreeing with an idea that is boxed in with a label you don’t like. You cringe a little bit, wondering, “Did I really agree with something that ____ thinks?” 

We like our boxes because it takes the hard work of analyzing ideas one-by-one away. It’s much easier to sort boxes than it is to sort all their contents. It allows us to lazily claim whole boxes as our own instead of pulling together a worldview composed of individual ideas. 

Let’s make things harder on ourselves. Let’s think some more. Let’s take ideas out of their boxes. They were never supposed to be labeled and sorted like this anyway.

Just because you're moving and living doesn't mean you're growing or progressing.

All Motion Is Not Progress

Smack dab in the middle of a public education policy diagnostic summary, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) writes in The Vanishing American Adult, “All motion is not progress.” 

Simple. Profound. True. 

Have you noticed that humans tend to act like we’re sharks? While some sharks are certainly able to stop moving and still get oxygen, there are many species that must keep moving in order to pass water through their gills and get oxygen. If they stop moving, they stop breathing. They move just to stay alive. 

We often act like the latter. 

We think that as long as we keep moving, we’re living, even progressing. Whether this is in the personal habits of the everyday citizen or in the halls of Congress, mere action is equated to growth and improvement. But is that accurate?

Motion isn’t necessarily progress. Pulling from a larger perspective, just because Congress passes a bill does not mean things are progressing or improving. The bill could certainly be (and often is) something that is burdensome and regressive, offering more problems than solutions. 

On a personal level, just because we’re going through our days and weeks does not mean we are progressing at all. How many of us get to the end of these time periods, wonder what we actually accomplished, and write it off as okay? I know I am too often at peace with stasis instead of analyzing it for opportunity to actually move forward. 

Movement doesn’t mean that something is actually happening, changing. We need to, I need to, start questioning ourselves on this idea. Where are we going through the motions in our lives, expecting that to propel us forward? Where are our lives static? Where do we need to compel ac? 

Left to our own devices, we would all fall into meaningless motions and become blind to the lack of progress those actions produce. Let’s challenge ourselves to become more intentional in our ways, our motion, and look forward to the growth that produces.

We need a functional life, not just one dedicated to achieving goals.

Let’s Work Toward Functionality, Not Just Goals

I remember a time in my life where I would regularly get up at 4:45 a.m. and be at the gym by 5:15 a.m. to grind out a hard workout. 

Oh, the ambition of younger me. (Yes, four years qualifies as ‘younger.’)  Continue reading “Let’s Work Toward Functionality, Not Just Goals”

reading a book with text

The Quarterly Reading Roundup: 2020 Q1

I’m a former nonprofit fundraiser so I could expound on the importance of breaking up the year into quarters. I like the practice so much that it carries over into my own personal life as well where you will find me setting goals and assessing on a quarterly basis as well as on a monthly and annual basis. Combine this with my love for reading, and the quarterly reading roundup was born. 

Here are my favorite books read during quarter one (Q1) of 2020:  Continue reading “The Quarterly Reading Roundup: 2020 Q1”

black and white with text and spirals

How To Mitigate The Stir-Crazy

Nothing like a global pandemic to put your life on hold. I’m now working from home, my favorite coffee shop is closed, my gym is closed due to government mandate, and large gatherings (including services at my church) are all banned until further notice. 

A perfect recipe for stir-craziness.  Continue reading “How To Mitigate The Stir-Crazy”