25 things in 25 years

25 Things in 25 Years

Usually, commemorating another year on the planet would fall within a couple of days of the day itself. However, when I turned 25 on September 13th, I was in Iceland with no access to a laptop. And it was GLORIOUS. (See the end for a couple photos.) 

Spending 10 days abroad with no laptop, no pressure to write and think was really nice. But I firmly believe that touchpoints like birthdays, the beginning of a new year (season…month…week…day), and the like are amazing opportunities to stop and remember. And 25 years was a substantial enough point that I felt the need to really sit with the years, think through them, and assess where I’ve come from and what God has done. 

So, nearly a month after the fact, here are 25 things I’ve learned from the last 25 years that I feel like you should know: 

  1. You will become a different person through different stages of life. It’s okay. Sometimes letting an old self die will feel like a funeral. That’s okay too. 
  2. The Church is not perfect, but it’s worth fighting for, and it needs you. Serve it. Love it. Commit to it. 
  3. Keep reading good books. And any way you consume a book counts (yes, that includes listening to it). 
  4. You need exercise, but you don’t have to hate it. Find something that gets you moving that you love, and ignore the idiotic ideas we have about fitness. (No, how long it takes you to run a mile is not the only marker of athleticism.) 
  5. Giving up meat is not that hard. It saves you money, it’s good for the planet, and it lets you find more animals cute without feeling guilty. 
  6. You’re not God. You need to sleep. Channel a bear and try to hibernate at night. 
  7. The Sabbath as a crucial practice didn’t disappear when Jesus came. You need a day where you cease doing and just practice BEING and communing with God. 
  8. You don’t need to be a master chef, but you need to know how to cook a few things. Trust me.
  9. Do the thing that scares YOU. But know how to make yourself feel safe too. Adrenaline in doses is good but you also need security. Give the speech, but buy the weighted blanket and candles. 
  10. Use a budget. It’s just a tool. It isn’t set in stone. Think of it as your money roadmap and reroute it as needed. 
  11. And use your money well. Be generous. Learn how to invest. Financial stewardship is important. 
  12. Relationships of any form don’t just HAPPEN. They need your time and attention. And, if you give your relationships time and attention, proximity is not a factor. But the relationships that last are the ones where both sides are equally committed to the romance/the family/the friendship/the fill-in-the-blank. 
  13. Get out of debt as fast as you can. But buy the freaking coffee. One great drink won’t set you back 50 years. 
  14. Don’t stay in a toxic job. If it’s eroding your boundaries and killing your spirit or causing you to set aside your ethics, it isn’t worth it. You CAN find another one – it isn’t the end of your career, and you don’t have to stay in a bad situation out of some false sense of obligation. 
  15. But don’t quit a job just because it’s hard or someone hurts your feelings. Resilience hurts but grows. Commit unless there is a very good reason to not be committed. 
  16. Travel as much as you can. Even if it’s to a different town in your state. Travel opens our eyes to the lives of others, lets us see beauty, and challenges us. 
  17. If you start drinking coffee, not only will you have caffeine options wherever you go, but you will have a very sweet ritual too. 
  18. Love your family. Commit to your family. Forgive your family. But don’t let genuinely toxic family members ignore your boundaries, and don’t feel like toxic behavior has to be ignored because you are related. Forgiveness erases any debt they owe you, but it doesn’t create an obligation of time spent together. 
  19. Talk to people about your struggles. Vulnerability hurts at first but it takes weight off your shoulders.
  20. You don’t have to live a Pinterest worthy life. Live quietly, live faithfully. It’s enough.
  21. In our society that loves independence, know that God made you dependent. You NEED Scripture. You NEED prayer. You NEED community. 
  22. It is always better to support policy instead of a political party or politician. When was the last time you saw policy wonks screaming at each other in the streets? (If you did see something like that, please send me the video. I would love to witness how a screaming match over Section 230 goes down.) 
  23. You can think a lot of things are good and worth doing or achieving. The government is usually the worst vehicle to get things done. 
  24. It is not always easy, but you should adopt a shelter pet. You’ll see how radically an animal can love and you’ll change a life. 
  25. Tech addictions will kill your spirit. Frequently resist. Delete the apps. Turn off the phone. Outsmart the attention economy. 

And, a +1 to complete the list: 

Salvation through Christ is the only true hope and security you will have in life. The Gospel is that Jesus entered into His creation, lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we deserve, and conquered death so that one day, only through Him, we will too. It’s THE good news, and I pray you accept it.

And now, a couple of Iceland photos:

Icelandic Horse Investigating Camera
Gullfoss Waterfall
Here are five pointers to help you plan the best (BUDGET FRIENDLY) trip yet:

Kelvey’s Five Point Trip Planning Guide

Here’s something very few people know about me: I LOVE planning trips. Love it. I love finding great deals, getting hyped to go to new places, and, above all, I love planning the trip agenda. 

So, as someone who would totally plan other people’s trips for them just to do it, here are my five pointers for planning a great trip: 

Establish Parameters Based On Who You’re Traveling With

Who is traveling with you? Your family? Your friends? A lot of people? One other person? Traveling by yourself?

Nailing this down makes all the difference. One thing it impacts is the location – I typically save super outdoorsy trips for when I’m traveling solo and try to emphasize more local, cultural, and food options when I have a group. It also impacts budget – you may be able to buy a ticket to Europe right now, but if you’re traveling with a group, you need to know what they can afford. 

Set A Budget

Set. A. Budget. Do not spend on a whim – you WILL spend way too much. But at the same time, don’t set your spending limit too low, because that’s the fastest way to guarantee failure. When I plan for trips, I usually have a housing budget and a travel budget.

I also have a spending budget that includes a realistic amount for every meal I will eat, coffee money, the money for all the planned events, and some flexible spending money. For example, on my recent trip to New Orleans, the flexible spending was put toward artwork for my home and local chicory coffee. I would have bought these things with or without the budget because I loved them so much, but having them in-budget protected the rest of my finances.

Do NOT Only Look At One Option

If you’re rolling with the first option you see, you’re not getting a good deal. Compare airlines, or, if you’re loyal to a single airline for the points (like me!), compare flights. Is it less expensive to take a super late flight out a night early versus a morning flight the next day? Do the same with housing and car rentals. I’m constantly flipping through hotel versus Airbnb prices and if I can’t take public transportation like the Metro, comparing car rental companies to things like Turo.

Read All Sorts of Reviews

I literally planned a trip last night, and you know what I had pulled up? Yelp, Google reviews, Reddit, and all sorts of local review blogs. Getting perspective and hearing what other people (ESPECIALLY locals) think will help you prioritize where you should go. While not always foolproof (some NOLA reviews ended up letting me DOWN), this process has proved useful 90 percent of the time. 

Block All Your Time In A Trip Doc, But Leave Wiggle Room

Finally, the part I love most – pulling together a trip document! When I travel, EVERYTHING goes into one document. This can either be accessed on your phone or, if you’re worried about a lack of service or your phone dying, can be printed out. I always go the phone route because that makes life easier, both for navigation and for updates on the fly. 

All my research gets pulled together in this document, along with all addresses (because just having to go one place for your phone GPS serves wonders) and any tips or notes I may have. Since I apparently lost the last couple of trip docs and am not about to share the one from my upcoming trip with the public (sorry folks!), here is an example of a morning in one of my trip plans: 

NEW ORLEANS

MONDAY

8 am: Get ready, walk over to the coffee shop for breakfast. 

9 am: Head out for swamp tour (address here)

9:30 am: Arrive at swamp tour. (Parking for free around the corner, check-in at the gift shop)

11 am: Wrap up swamp tour, head to French Market (address here)

11:30 am: Arrive at French Market, shop

12:45 pm: Grab coffee + beignets at Cafe Du Monde (leave car where it’s parked – it’s walkable)

The trick to this? ALWAYS leave wiggle room. For trips I’m taking solo, I just leave enough wiggle room for if travel time or a planned item takes longer because I get to plan exactly how I want. When you’re traveling with a group, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Leave a LOT of flexibility for if you’re running late, if the mood of the group doesn’t match the mood of the plans, etc. 

Happy travels!

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what to do with a heart made of map dots

When I was a kid, sticking dots on a map to show where my people were was a simple task. Sure, there were the family members that lived a little further away from me than preferable, but most of my loved ones were clustered in the geographic circle I called home. Continue reading “what to do with a heart made of map dots”