Supporting those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

I communicated yesterday with several ER and ICU doctors and nurses in my circle. These are the people on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. They had very clear ideas on how all of us can help right now.

In order of importance:

  • PRAY for every medical professional you know: for their protection, their strength, and their sanity. Pray also for their families; it is scary to watch your spouse head into danger every day, and scary as they potentially bring germs back into your house.
  • If you bought face masks for your personal use, donate them instead to your local hospital. You do not need them – they do! Because private citizens are hoarding them, our hospitals are running out of these critical pieces of protective gear.
  • Do not injure yourself or do anything that would require medical treatment. Our hospitals cannot deal with normal medical issues right now. Schedule your heart attacks and strokes for later in the year. Wink.
  • Do NOT go to the hospital if you have non-emergency symptoms. If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, stay home and call your primary care doctor or your state hotline to ask about getting tested.
  • If you want to do something practical, drop off purchased and sealed food at your local ER. These must be individually wrapped and sealed so that they can be easily wiped down. You should only give things like granola bars, bottled smoothies, and bananas. No homemade treats right now. Do not enter the ER – just hand the boxes of food to security or front desk staff.
  • Offer to help with childcare for the kids of medical workers. Medical staff must work right now, so they may need help caring for their kids who are off school. Assess your own risk factors, though, before bringing additional (possibly infected) people into your home.

 

Medical friends, please comment below to correct anything I got wrong or to add more ideas.

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My kids and I made these this weekend to send to medical professionals in our life. We washed our hands before, during, and after making and sealing them in envelopes.

Love in the time of COVID-19

In the last week, I have been thinking hard about the two institutions I help lead: the Goetsch family (as Mom) and Huron Hills Church (as board Vice Chair). I believe it is incumbent on every institution leader, no matter how small, to ask what public service they are called to do at this unique moment.

Everything I have read has led me to the conclusion that if we want to “flatten the curve,” every institution that can must shut down as soon as possible. And, realistically, the smaller the institution, the easier it is to do so. So, the small ones must take the lead. At this moment, every gathering that is canceled and every individual that self-isolates can make a difference in whether this virus overtakes our hospitals at a rate they can handle or swamps them way beyond their capacity.

If you have not already, the time to act is NOW.  We are at most fourteen days behind Italy whose doctors are already facing horrific decisions about which desperately ill patients get ventilators. In just a few days, the difficulties of remote learning, working from home, and canceling travel are not going to feel nearly so important.

Rick and I decided to self-isolate our family starting today (Thursday, March 12th). We have withdrawn our kids from school and ourselves from all gatherings.  We have prepared to not leave our home for two full weeks. This is not so much to protect ourselves from germs but to protect others from germs we might be carrying. We want to protect the vulnerable…of whom there are many. Everyone above age 60, all cancer survivors, anyone with diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, and everyone who is immuno-compromised for any reason.

Additionally, our church board unanimously agreed last night to move services online and to suspend all gatherings on church property until further notice. Attached is the beautiful email our pastor sent our church body today. I commend it to you, particularly those who lead churches and other groups. A few quotes:

We are confident in Christ’s power. We are concentrating on caring for and loving each other. We are committed to our civic responsibilities as an institution.

…………

We turn first to our Loving Father. Then we do our part in cooperating with his healing work.

…………

We want to create a COVID19 RESPONSE TEAM. This team will focus on our at-risk members. We will contact them regularly, pray with them over the phone, and stay informed of their practical needs, especially if they are self-isolating.

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Rick during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. May everyone who needs it this year be able to get the critical care that Rick was so blessed to receive then.

Regarding Black History Month

For the past two years, I’ve decided to wile away the dark months of deep winter by diving into a personal learning project for Black History Month. Elsewhere known as February.

I light candles in the fireplace, grab a blanket, and plunge into books by African Americans on less celebrated aspects of American history. Because my syllabus contains some dense reading, I try to start in mid-January at Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

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Last year, I was enjoying myself so much that I extended my learning into March. Here’s what I read: Continue reading “Regarding Black History Month”

Regarding Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, sexual assault, and false accusations

Like many of you, I have been watching the coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination-turned-fiasco. I have read the particular accusations against him and the many, varied responses to them. I read this coverage with a slight partisan perspective as someone who believes in Constitutional originalism and as someone who has concerns about a society that permits the killing of its young, and yet…I’m troubled.

I am concerned by the very serious accusations against Kavanaugh, and I am distressed by the responses to them.

I believe that there is more at stake in this moment than the nomination of an individual to the Supreme Court, no matter how important that is. How we handle sexual assault allegations, how we speak about women, what we expect of young men, and how we handle investigations into accusations of years-ago crimes that by their nature delay reporting of them—all of these questions are in play. We would do well to slow down, listen closely, and think deeply.

Toward that end, I commend this article: Between Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh, When do Girls Matter? Two warnings before you click on it, though. To all my readers who have been sexually assaulted or abused, this article may  trigger renewed trauma in you. Please click carefully, if at all.

To everyone else: I find the author’s logic to be very sound…and deeply painful. This is not an easy read. It is worth our contemplation, nonetheless.

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I have noticed that some of my friends with sons have a different reaction to the Kavanaugh allegations than I do, as a mom of daughters. Several times in the last week, I have heard the issue of false accusations raised. This may seem easy for me to say, but I think our societal fear of false accusations may be a red herring.

Yes, if your son were to be falsely accused of a sexual crime, it would be devastating and life-altering. I get that. The incidence of false accusations, though, is quite small.  Regarding that question, I found this article well-researched and helpfully detailed: What Kind of Person Makes False Rape Accusations.

Please do not allow the bogey-man of false accusations to stand in the way of you supporting investigation of sexual crimes and caring for victims. In my personal friend circle, I see a prevalence of sexual assault that matches or even exceeds the reported percentages. The numbers are real and shockingly high. In contrast, I do not believe a single one of my friends has ever been falsely accused of sexual assault.

The numbers of false accusations do not remotely compare to the number of actual sexual assaults. We must not put off grappling with something that happens often by an overblown fear of something that does not.

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2018.

Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot

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I have become convinced that white, American evangelical Christians have a major blind spot. I say this as a member of this community, reflecting on my own people.

Very often, we evangelicals do not see power. We are blind to power dynamics in the world and blind to them in the Scriptures. We cannot assess whether power is being used ethically and justly because we do not notice it is being used at all.

Here’s one way to test the teaching you’ve received and the lenses you’ve been given: were you taught that David’s sin with Bathsheba was primarily sexual? Or were you taught that his sin was the way he abused his power?

Continue reading “Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot”

On MSU and leadership

The President of Michigan State University, Lou Anna Simon, resigned from her position yesterday. She was pressured to do so by those who have watched Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse victims give statements on what they suffered at MSU and other gymnastic facilities. The leadership of USA Gymnastics is under similar pressure, as it should be.

Simon submitted a six paragraph letter of resignation to the MSU Board of Trustees. After stating that “[t]he survivors’ accounts are horrific….tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching,” she goes on to say,

As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me.  I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up….As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable.  As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.  I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.   Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first.  Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU.  I have tried to make it not about me.

You know what this ain’t?

LEADERSHIP.

Continue reading “On MSU and leadership”

What in the world happened to Laura Goetsch?

Is she still thinking about such things? Has she given up veering wildly from the weighty to the frivolous?

My faithful readers may be wondering this since it has been 42 days since I published a post. And that was a short, frothy one.

Rest calmly, dear ones. I am still frolicking in the frivolous and seeking wisdom for the weighty. Truthfully, my days are bulging with both laughter and lament. As I imagine yours are, too.

I have needed to devote most of my words, imagination, and hours to church leading and to parenting this fall.  That’s where my best wisdom and deepest prayers are most needed right now. It has been hard but satisfying work.

So, for the foreseeable future, this blog will remain a bit quieter, though not entirely silent, I hope.

If you find yourself craving my quips, tales of imaginative children, or lackluster fair-to-middling dazzling photos, your best bet is to follow me on Instagram. I post photos and short paragraphs there several times a week. I realize that many of you, dear readers, are not on Instagram, but I’d like to gently whisper that perhaps it’s time to join the cool kids.

For now, I’d like to leave you with proof of one of my personal convictions, namely: Orange cats are the best cats. Meet Max, the cat who lost the library but won the internet.

And a few pics from life in Goetschland:

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Current favorite “sport”
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When we tried to decorate for Christmas
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My life in one picture

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2017.