Pine trees with the caption in white letters November 2022: '16 Rules for Living With Less' + Anti-Social Advent

November 2022: ’16 Rules for Living With Less’ + Anti-Social Advent

What were you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Here’s the monthly recap: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

My recommendation this month is a little different. I was recently introduced to the work of The Minimalists (their Patreon content is definitely worth the small cost), and they offer a free ebook that is a great short read. You can find 16 Rules for Living With Less for free here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

What time is it? Time for some shameless self-promotion! Really, I want to share this article with you all not because I wrote it but because I want people to have the information it contains. “A Consumer’s Quick Guide to Environmental Certifications” is available to read here. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

This one is short and snappy from Becoming Minimalist’s Joshua Becker: “The less you own, the easier organizing becomes.” 

Quote of the Month

“It only takes five minutes to break the cycle. Five minutes of exercise and you are back on the path. Five minutes of writing and the manuscript is moving forward again. Five minutes of conversation and the relationship is restored. It doesn’t take much to feel good again.” 

-James Clear, author of Atomic Habits 

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

This Advent season, want to get anti-social with me? 

I’m not talking about ignoring your friends and family. (Although, depending on the person and the calendar, it might be worth taking time to do that too.) 

I’m talking about getting off social media. 

Advent is the second period of time when I typically take an extended social media break (with the first being Lent). Both of these seasons are times that encourage us to turn toward Christ. But Advent does this by prompting us to slow down, to turn off the noise, to wait. 

Now, I have to add some nuance here and tell you that I’ll still be on social media for work during the weekdays. Social media management is a huge part of my job, and maybe it is part of your job too. I think that’s a little different. 

Outside of work? I can add to the limits I already put on my social media by completely turning it off. I can step away from the frenzied pace, comparison game, and anger perpetuated on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

I can slow down. I can turn off the noise. I can wait. 

And maybe you will too. If you want to dial down the volume on the world this Advent season so that you can focus more on Christ our King, this may be a practice for you. 

And I’d love to hear if it is. Feel free to hit the reply button on your email or the comment button on Substack and let me know if you’re joining me this season. 

Just don’t tweet me. I won’t see it. 🙂 

Merry Christmas. I’ll catch you next month.

Green leaves in the background with white text overlaid and a white frame around

July 2022: ‘Things That Matter’ + Resisting Consumerism

We’re more than halfway through 2022. Wild, right? Here’s your July 2022 recap: 

Best Book I Read This Month 

Many people think that minimalism is about getting rid of things until you have one lonely chair sitting in your pretty empty home. But what if minimalism was about refining your life to live on purpose? Joshua Becker explores this concept in his books. Because I’ve been reading a lot of Becker’s work, this month is a two-for-one recommendation. Find out more about Becker’s Things That Matter and The More of Less here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

Shameless self-promotion here. July played host to Shark Week! I love sharks and I love writing – read the combination of these loves here. 

Tip + Trick of the Month

July was all about minimalism on the homefront. Have an overabundance of towels and blankets that have seen better days? Don’t throw them away – take them to your local animal shelter! As someone who has volunteered for two different shelters and has a shelter pup of her own, I can testify that there is always a need for more soft things for dogs and other animals to sleep on. 

Quote of the Month

“Often, Christians ask me, ‘How can I love my neighbor without misleading her into thinking I approve of everything she does?’ First, remember that Christians cannot give good answers to bad questions. No one approves of everything that others do. No one. It is a false question. The better question is this: ‘How can my neighbors know that because I live under God’s authority rather than the compulsions of my own selfish desires, their secrets are safe with me?’ The answer is simple: love the sinner and hate your own sin. Or, as Mark says ‘Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another’ (Mark 9:50).”

-Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

As Americans, we’re conditioned to think that more is better. That is the very heart of consumerism. But what if we start to resist that notion? 

I know I have been harping on minimalism throughout this entire monthly update, but I think regardless of how strongly/loosely you hold to such tenets, there is goodness for everyone to find here. As of late in my own life, it has been a freeing resistance to consumerism. Do you know how good it feels to walk through a store and have my brain be thinking about how happy it is to not bring unnecessary items into my home rather than wanting to buy everything? 

Something to think about. Hit the comments or the reply button if you have your own thoughts on this and, as always, I’ll catch you next month.

Photo of a Des Moines, Iowa bridge at night with white text overlaid

June 2022: Holier Than Thou + A Note on Processing

The fireworks in my neighborhood are dying down, so it’s official – it’s time for the June 2022 recap:

Best Book I Read This Month 

If God is holy, He can’t sin against me. If God can’t sin against me, He is the most trustworthy being to exist. Jackie Hill Perry breaks down God’s holiness in a tangible, convicting way in Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him. Get it here. 

Best Article I Read This Month

The concept of Jurassic Park is good, actually. Matthew Yglesias over at Slow Boring explained why. Read it here!

Tip + Trick of the Month

In light of SCOTUS’ concerning decision regarding Miranda rights, this thread from former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Spike Cohen is helpful: 

Quote of the Month

“This is the promise of minimalism: to rejoice at the sight of all the things we do not need. And to have our lives finally freed to pursue the things we want to do.” -Joshua Becker, The More of Less

Kelvey’s Thought for the Month

Early in June, an evening walk ended in me witnessing a shooting and the murder of a young woman. To close this edition of the newsletter, I wanted to share some lightly edited thoughts I originally shared a week after the event took place: 

“This week was hard. Lots of lost sleep, prayer, and conversations with dear friends. Thank you for your prayers and messages. Monday night, I was present at the shooting that took the life of Elizabeth Arzola. 

I was out for a walk at my favorite place in Des Moines, a walk I take most nights. I never imagined the night would end in Elizabeth’s murder or that I would bear witness to it. Please keep praying for her family and those who were with her that night – their screams will never leave my head. 

Trying to process this trauma over the past week has left me thinking a lot about safety. I can’t help but think about how fast I was walking, the conversation I was having with a friend, and the geese and skateboarders we stopped to watch. If any of that timing had changed for us (or for anyone else on that hill that night), if we had walked even slightly faster or not stopped at all, we might not be here today. That night was determined by seconds, and I can’t make sense of why Elizabeth is gone and the rest of us are not. The feeling of safety in that place has been shattered, but it was a reminder that safety is an absolute illusion. 

I’ve lived through horrible car accidents, head injuries, illness, threats. But I’ve also lived through waking and sleeping, going about my day, and acting as if my frail humanity is not reliant on God for every breath I take. Life isn’t safe. We pretend it is. But I might go to sleep tonight and not wake up. I might step in front of a bus, hit my head too hard, or catch an incurable disease. 

Removing the illusion of safety is enough to make you cry and stop living, to sit inside your house and panic. Life isn’t safe. The ONLY assurance I have in this life is that it is held by the God who aligns planets and breathes out galaxies, who unbelievably cares for me too. I know that when that day comes when life’s lack of safety catches up to me, I’ll be home with Him. Do you know Him? I pray you do. Life isn’t safe. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Please run to your Creator.”

Have a great July. I’ll see you next month.