Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Godly Home

     This book has been on my radar for a while. Whether it's the puritanical style or the fact that its about family life and marriage, I knew I had to read it.
     Just released from Crossway in 2010, yet written over 300 years ago, The Godly Home by Richard Baxter is actually a small part of a larger directory (totaling 1,143 pages) written in 1673. This specific section was titled "Christian Economics for Family Duties," and is an in depth treatment of the way Christians ought to worship God through family life, including marriage and child raising. In the useful introduction by J.I Packer, he quenches any uneasiness one may have with dealing with such an old text. He says "it would be mere chronological snobbery, to borrow a C.S. Lewis phrase, to assume that only contemporary treatments of Christian family life are worth reading." Agreed.
      Let me explain a few things about the book. It is definitely written to men. Where it does not directly address men, I think it is implied that the men are reading to the children or to the wives. I got a good laugh anyways. The editor, Randall Pederson, did a really good of making it readable for the 21st century reader, taking out uncommon or old English phrases and still keeping with the authenticity of the text. It took me a minute to adjust, but that could also just be my ADD. There was no difficulty reading it, and it was never boring. In fact, I finished this in less than 3 days.
     The book is written in chapters, each first giving a theological examination of a certain family related topic, then providing listed out instructions, and ending with a question and answer section. This was very helpful, and quite intriguing to see certain cultural norms in place (the editor purposefully kept in the sections about marrying first cousins!). I found most of the advice to still be quite timely and important, despite the difference in centuries. Actually, I was very challenged and encouraged by reading this and think its a necessary read for anyone considering marriage and family.
    The first chapter has to be one of my favorites. Listen to the title: "Directions About Marriage." Baxter is very keen on making sure his reader has thought very thoroughly on choosing to get married and that "neither lust nor rashness thrust you into a married condition..." He explains very clearly that "every man is bound to choose that condition in which he may serve God with the best advantages and which tends most to his spiritual welfare and increase in holiness." It seems that at this period in time, many were just rushing into marriage (how curious!), so the advice given today might be slightly different. But yes, we must consider through marriage or singleness, which one increases our holiness!
    His second directive is to not rush into "a state of life where you have never thought of all the inconveniences!" Oh Richard Baxter. Twenty reasons why marriage is inconvenient later, he goes on to explain how one should go about choosing "the person on whom so much of the comfort and sorrow of your life will rest." Brilliant. It's gold advice. I want to rip out this chapter and give it to all my single or dating friends!
   Chapters 2-5 deal with "Family Government" and the "Careful Education of Children." There are many points that I had never fully considered before such as the sanctity of the christian family, discipline as worship, frequency and content of family worship, and authority structures in the family setting. Baxter takes care to explain how to lead the family in ways that will draw the children and family to Christ, instead of heavy handed or passive leadership which is the antithesis of a gospel centered family.
   "Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives Toward Each Other," "Duties of Husbands to their Wives," and "Duties of Wives to Their Husbands" are the titles of chapters 6-8. It is obvious that these chapters reflect on solely the marital relationship. "Never say you love them if you will not labor for their salvation." The main goal is to encourage spouses to point each other in a respectful and loving way towards godly growth. I loved the part about preparing each other to "die well." Sounds morbid, but it's very helpful. Baxter also deals with godly submission of wives to their husbands. I even learned some things from the footnotes in these chapters.
    Chapters 9-12 deal with the relationship between parents to children, children to parents, and children to God. I think anyone can relate to these chapters, and even in the "Duties of Children and Youth to God" chapter, I was admonished and helped by some of the directives. He reminds children that "[you] have corrupted natures to be cured and that Christ is the Physician who must cure them." Amen sir.

 Throughout this book I caught some paedobaptistic references that I would definitely challenge. I also am now interested in learning more about the theologian William Ames. It also does a good job at subconsciously making the case for local church involvement, membership, and discipline. Some of the quotes from this book remind me of some helpful resources out today such as "Shepherding a Child's Heart," by Tripp and "When Sinners Say I Do" by Dave Harvey.

  Overall, "The Godly Home" is quite the robust guide for all things marriage and family. I give it a two thumbs up.

Have you read it? Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pops and Strawberries

A few weekends ago I had some very exciting expeditions. Not that I usually don't, but this weekend was especially fun!

A group of us got all fancied up and hit the road for Boston. We arrived at Symphony Hall just in time to see the Boston Pops performing to the theme of "Broadway Diva's." The music was all taken from popular Broadway shows, and featured pieces especially performed by strong leading ladies. Two of the women who had been int the Wicked broadway show were hosting and singing for the evening, and they added a lot of fun and pizzazz to the show.

I dont know why Hannah looks so alarmed! After the show we went to Finale Desserterie & Bakery and had delicious desert.
It was a fun evening, and I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much. Usually musicals don't do it for me, but I would totally go see Wicked now!

The next morning, Hannah and I woke up early and headed to Dame Farm in Johnston RI to go strawberry picking with some friends!
It was a beautiful morning and the fields were ripe for harvest. I guess it is still early in the season, but we ended up with a good bounty!

Just thought I would share some of my summer time fun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Evenings

After work this evening, I met up with Hannah and Niki at Border's Cafe in the mall. We spend a lot of time there hanging out. They have free wi-fi, delicious ice coffee, and all the books and magazines you can shake a stick at. Thursday nights there is even an open mic night that isnt too bad. Definitely some entertainment, let me tell you.

Well, after leaving there, I went and sat on the Capital Commons grassy area under a shady tree and finished reading my new favorite book "A Godly Home" by Richard Baxter. It is a seventeenth century guide to, you guessed it, having a godly home. I will have to write a little plug for it soon.

Anyways, I just enjoy times like this where I can steal away and get some reading and thinking done. Providence is the perfect little city for such things.

Friday, June 24, 2011

AT&T Mixes In Some Tourism Strategy

AT&T has their thinking cap on. Yesterday they announced that they will be continuing to expand and improve their wireless service on Block Island, also known as New Shoreham, Rhode island. 
    This is a very smart move. They are capitalizing on the frustrations that many travelers feel when they do not have good cell reception while on vacations.
    According to Steve Krom, vice president and general manager, AT&T New England,
 "Our goal is for our customers to have an extraordinary experience everywhere they use their mobile devices, including at popular summer destination spots like Block Island. We're always looking for new opportunities to provide an enhanced customer experience, and our investment in the local wireless network is just one way we're accomplishing that..."
    In 2009, AT&T signed a 2 year marketing agreement with the main tourism organization in New York City which "provided an integrated package of marketing assets to allow AT&T and its YELLOWPAGES.COM brand to reach customers throughout New York City." This agreement allowed them to integrate popular  search products with the AT&T user experience, creating better connectivity between tourists and the city. It also provided businesses associated with the tourism board to access special deals and promotions from AT&T. This seems like a win win situation. 
    I would love to see them do this with more tourism associations, especially in New England. They could do the same things in Providence and other Rhode Island destinations such as Newport and Block Island. Like they did in NYC, they could offer specific web to phone integration with, extra snippets for those walking the new Providence Independence Trail, and even connect with  
   They could get specific branding partnerships with T.F. Green, RIPTA, and the Providence train station.  
   These are just suggestions, but I was definitely happy to see a corporation actually thinking about travelers. Yes they will profit in some way, but so will those now able to get better signals on Block Island and other destinations.

    AT&T also supports tourism in other ways as well. They sponsor the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City Oklahoma, AT&T Center for Performing Arts in Dallas Texas, AT&T Park in San Francisco California. They also provide wireless services to airports such as the Newark Liberty International Airport

In fact, according to Premium Traveler Magazine, AT&T repeatedly gets voted as the carrier with the "Best Mobile Phone Coverage." This year is their fourth year with that recognition and Bill Hague, executive VP of international, AT&T mobility and consumer markets says that this affirms "that AT&T customers appreciate our commitment to connecting them to the people and information that matters most during their travels." 

Getting into the tourism market is a smart plan. After all, the U.S Travel Association says that in 2009 there were about 1.9 billion times that people traveled for business and leisure. Most often people who travel are interested making their trips more exciting, convenient, and comfortable, a reason AT&T could make a killing. 

Rhode Island Tourism News 6/24

Just a collection of Rhode Island tourism news this week.
Via Armistead

I was reading this ABC article about onions, and they mentioned that there is a tiny Carrot Museum tucked in a Rhode Island bed-and-breakfast. Alas, it is in Newport! Whatt?

Is Providence Rhode Island the Countries Most Creative City? by Paul Brady on Gadling
"But no sooner had I parked the car than I stumbled across a storefront packed with bizarre costumes, alien heads and smiling ogres, looking across the street at City Hall. Summer in New England is so pleasant and so cliche, I didn't arrive in Rhode Island expecting to find much more than craft breweries, lobster rolls and some wicked good times. And they certainly have those!"

AT&T Expands Mobile Broadband Wireless Capacity on Block Island 
"Our goal is for our customers to have an extraordinary experience everywhere they use their mobile devices, including at popular summer destination spots like Block Island. We're 
always looking for new opportunities to provide an enhanced customer experience..."

Rhode Island Map Collection
This is a random collection of Rhode Island Maps, but there are some really cool ones! Im obsessed with maps. 

Catch an Express Bus From The Cape to Providence 
Love to get to the Cape sometime this summer, but hate the thought of the traffic and the gas prices? Megabus may be the answer.

Family Matters, Summer Staycations In Rhode Island by Anisa Raoof
"Staycations have become a fashionable necessity during these days of higher gas prices and reduced work weeks, unemployment, or the fear of losing a job. For many, the idea of a pricey vacation is simply out of the question."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cruciform Community

I love this clip from Paul Tripp. It talks about the intensity of living in community with one another. I agree with him totally that "we were not hard wired to live this christian experience by ourselves," and think the Bible also makes this point clearly.

Tripp talks about how we are to grow, and talks about the theology of uncomfortable grace.
"I move toward you not because I trust you. I move toward you knowing that we are both broken and this is potentially messy. I move toward you because I trust the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is hope for us."

Honestly, I suck at all of the above. When I am struggling with sin, I retreat and hope to "come back when I'm done dealing with it." But again and again the Bible talks about confessing to one another in order to bring healing (James 5:16). When I see other people on the road to sin, the last thing I want to do is confront them. What will they think of me, after all? I am not better than them. But again, the Bible clearly says that we are to lovingly go to them and seek restoration (Matthew 18). A key attitude for both situations is humility.

This morning I was reading through Psalms 119 and came across verse 74: "[God], those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in Your word." 

It seems as if David, the writer of this psalm, wants those who fear the Lord (the christian community) to see him and be glad, because he puts his hope in the word of God. 

I want that. I want people to be glad to see me, and be happy to approach me, because they know that I won't get defensive or angry if they point out a sinful tendency or hurtful situation- because in the end, my hope comes from the word of God- not from my pride, or their opinion of me, or what I think is best. They will be glad because I wont flip out on them but humbly accept their rebuke. I want people to be glad when they see me because they know I will point them to truth, to the Word, and not just drown them in legalism or selfish motives. 

Psalms 119 is just a gold mine. Verse 73 says "Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments."

I want that too: Understanding so that I may learn Your commandments.

Lord, help me to only put my hope in your word. Give me understanding so that I may delight in your word and  deny my tendency to be defensive or prideful. Let me be a joy to those around me because I present them with the word and not myself. Help me to measure everything by your glorious gospel and the truth that you have created us, fashioned us, and that through affliction, you are still faithful (vs 75). Lord help me to move toward others simply because of my trust in the work done on the cross and that you have offered us hope. Amen.

Thoughts? Comments?

No Comparison

No Comparison
by Alissa Graham

1 you said I was never as interesting
as car races and tools.
2 you said I was pretty,
Enchanting even, and cool.
3 You said I was beautiful
A glorious creation, a perfect jewel

1 you sometimes cared,
when you averted your eyes from self.
2 you cared quite a bit-
in my pursuit you prided yourself
3 You cared tremendously.
The evidence: to sacrifice oneself.

1 When our lives got hard,
you chose flight.
2 My foolish barriers went up,
and you didnt even fight.
3 I whored myself,
and You married me despite.

At the end of the day
There is only one left.
Number one is my father
Number two is theft
Three is easy
In God I may finally rest. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Celebrating Fathers Day Without a Father

This wont be the first Father's Day that I've had "without" a father. (I would count the two years after he decided to rescind his fatherhood of my sister and I, not telling us his address or phone number as being without a father.)

But this will be the first father's day without my dad here on earth. I haven't really dwelt on it too much to be honest. It was never really a big deal in my house. My dad didn't like gifts and fan fare, and I dont really remember any specific father's day from my past. It did probably involve giving him tools or dinner out.

In spite of all that, I am obscenely thankful for the older men in my life who HAVE been there for me. I can only list so many, but the pastors of Faith Tab and Grace Harbor, my grandpa, my mom's husband George. I cherish the times they protected me, prayed for me, provided for me, and cared for me. The past six months have also been a rich time of learning about the perfect father that God is. This Sunday I will celebrate the fact that God has been gracious to me and given me himself, and those here on earth.

Anyways, I'm not really interested in making a big deal of this "hallmark holiday." But I do feel the urge to share with you some interesting, cool, heart wrenching, or "gadget-y" links about Fathers. Take a gander:

Searching for Abba on Father's Day by Margot Starbruck
When I tracked down my birthfather, he was not interested in knowing me. With my unwillingness to face the sting of his second rejection and the chronic layers of grief it triggered, my pain eventually became unmanageable

Five Things You Didnt Know that Father's Do by Glenn T Stanton
As we celebrate Father’s Day, we should recognize that fatherhood is not merely a sentimental role, but a profoundly practical one as well. Fathers do far more than put food on the table, teach us to ride a bike or take us to our first baseball game.

Cool Father's Day Cards by Dot in the City

Father's Day Secrets by Post Secret

Father's Day Special from Cruciform Press 
Cruciform Press has a Father’s Day special going on. “Get your dad (or really, anyone) a one-year print book subscription and you gain a special opportunity —Buy yourself (or your church, your small group, your reading club, your neighbor…) any number of books from the Cruciform Press catalog AT THE $6.49 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE.”

Glorfying the Father of the Fatherless by Jason Kovaks
God calls us, his adopted family, to be a part of his care for the fatherless. At the core of God’s nature is a Father’s heart that we are to reflect. Scripture is clear that practical care for orphans is fundamental to the mission of the church.

What are your thoughts on father's day? Anything you would like to share about Father's Day family traditions? How do you encourage your dad or the men in your life? What special things do you do for them?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Gospel and Children

Lately, I've been thinking and studying about the topic of gospel centered parenting.  While it is similarly dumb to be an engineer without going to engineering school, or try to create beautiful pottery without learning how to use the kiln, it is dumb to enter parenthood without knowing anything about kids.

It was Kevin DeYoung who quoted someone else saying (this is a rough paraphrase) "Before I had children I had 5 theories, now I have 5 children and zero theories." Of course while styles and theories might change when the rubber hits the road, it is ever good to have a foundation.

I've compiled a short list of articles that have made an impact on how I understand biblical parenting.

The Danger of Moralistic Parenting by Elyse Fitzpatrick
"Instead of the gospel of grace, we’ve given them daily baths in a 'sea of narcissistic moralism.'

Hey, you are a church-going family, right? I mean, that’s what you tell your friends and family anyways. Make sure you attend on Sundays. As long as you didn’t stay up too late Saturday night. Or your family isn’t having a big barbeque.

Give them grace when they succeed and grace when they fail.
I am Unalarmed by Tim Challies
"I am convinced that the reason so many young people abandon the church is that they have seen far more hypocrisy than gospel; they have had their emotions stirred but never their souls."

If you are a parent, do you have any books or articles that helped you think more clearly about parenting? If you do not have kids but plan to, have you thought about the subject at all? I'd love some thoughts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Experience New England: Purgatory Chasm

“Purgatory Chasm is a bold and unique landscape. Hikers beware o the dangers of this trail: slippery and deceiving rocks. The trail is one half mile long and climbing is involved.”
So reads the signage approaching Purgatory Chasm, located along route 146 in Sutton, Massachusetts. Purgatory Chasm State Reservation is a state park with 2 miles of hiking trails, creeks, boulders, and a deep chasm of granite bedrocks full of caves, crawl spaces, and crannies to explore. The daring landmarks that lie within the chasm itself are given romantic or haunting names such as “Lover’s Leap,” the “Devil’s Coffin,” and “Fat Man’s Misery.”

This park is open year round, and both summer and winter hikes are full of great views. Some of the rocks are up to 60 feet high! I was really taken a back by the beauty and the size of the rocks. I felt so small climbing among godzilla boulders!

I went to Purgatory Chasm with some friends, and would definitely recommend it as a fun place to go hiking. There were many families there with younger and older children, as well as people with dogs, even strollers (though I imagine they stayed on the flatter trails). I liked that there are multiple trails to choose from, they are clearly marked, and none of them are terribly hard to complete.

The trails are all definitely fun and diverse!

 The park has picnic tables, grills and a gazebo, along with ample parking. Definitely wear good shoes, bring bug spray, and a bottle of water. Do not make the mistake that I did and wear flip flops, thinking you will successfully conquer the Chasm! What a rookie mistake.. ugh! Anyways, I cant wait to go back soon!

Helpful Links:

Have you ever been to Purgatory? Planning to go? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Providence of this Grief

Let me “quickly” share an observation on the wonderful intentionality of God's plan. While I would rather not speculate, I believe this is a valid observation. As some of you may or may not know, this past fall I was briefly dating a very nice guy. Most of the details are not very important at the moment, except what I’m about to share. God is sovereign, He knows all things, and He knows what is good and helpful for us. Close to the time we started dating, he had recently lost someone very close to him and was going through an intense season of grieving, praying, hoping, and trusting in God.

The topic of death had never quite arose in my life, and therefore I was pretty clueless. Well, being the supportive friend that I try to be, I spent a lot of time researching grief, death, mourning, how we cope, and how we glorify God through the process. Literally pouring over books, blogs, articles, the Bible, all so that I could care well and be a godly encouragement to him.  Many of our conversations were a process of honestly talking through what it meant to trust in God despite this heart breaking situation. I really respected his openness with me and I truly was blown away at how he desired even more so to remain faithful to Christ. We talked, thought, cried, (and sometimes laughed) through some of the crazy responses from the people around him who were also dealing with the situation, how people approached him or avoided him, the ridiculous claims people made about the afterlife, and the painful exasperation of hurting people. We also talked about what he was thinking, feeling, and wondering. As much as I was trying to just be helpful and supportive- I was learning even more- theologically, personally, and relationally.
During this brief relationship (we have long since parted ways due to some significant theological and life differences), my heart was broken (not by him) in a good way. If you know me, I might have been considered slightly "icey" in the past, and I'm sure that those tendencies remain, but God used this situation and this relationship to soften my heart, teach me a lot about compassion, and help me see that grieving is ok.

I have probably cried more in the past year than in the past 20 years of my life. 

Not that crying is some sort of pedestal landmark, but for me it is a real advancement to show emotion in such a visible way. It is a healthy and biblical thing in fact. The Bible, in Romans 12:15, literally says "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." When we are able to share the emotions of others, we offer a means of comfort and showing that we care. 
Last fall, I was also in a psychology course where we discussed the stages of grief and how people handle it. We learned that everyone deals with things differently, but that there are also common themes. These are called the Kubler-Ross model and include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross made it important to note that not everyone will work through these stages in a linear fashion, and that in fact, some might skip some of them totally. I've skipped a few of them totally and spent more time in some as opposed to others.

Isn't all of this so ironic? No.... Isn't it intentional? It's providential! Little did I know that less than 3 months later (exactly six months ago), my dad would unexpectedly die, surrounded by unfulfilled hope, pain, hurt, confusion, and unforgiveness.

Had I been newly confronted with the idea of grief and suffering at that point, I would have been practically incapable of wading through the mire, but God spent all fall preparing me for what was to come. I am sure that without this “training,” there would have been some sort of horrible faith and life crisis happening with me. But I was literally schooled on death so that when it ripped it’s way into my life, I would know how to handle it and how to biblically think through it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no breezing through this situation. It continues to be difficult. It was heart breaking to lose my father. I didn’t think I was prepared. Guess what though, my dad dying is not some sort of "plan B" situation that caught God off guard. I know that God cares for me. I know that I must trust in Him, and that He does what is best. Through this situation, I have also learned so much more about how God is my perfect father.

 People told me that I should be cheerful that my dad is gone, that I should not be sad, he is in a better place perhaps! They said the same kinds of things to my friend, and we had conversations discussing that that isn’t necessarily the truth. Yes, for some there is peace in knowing that there is an after life. But death is not natural. It is a result of the fall of man into sin, it is a perversion of life and creation.

It is okay to mourn this unnatural situation, and realize that this is not how things are supposed to be.

We must realize that while we were all trapped in this unnatural sinful rebellion- God sent his son on a rescue mission to save us. He took the punishment that we deserve for this rebellion, and conquered sin and death so that we might live in freedom, freely relating to God as our father. Death is not the end.

We can make two choices in our life that will direct where we go after we die on earth. We can turn from our sin and place our faith in God, and we spend eternity with Him and his goodness. Or if someone rejects God, they spend eternity in a place that equals out to everything "not good," in fact, horrific pain and evil. This is justice. A crime against an infinite God demands infinite punishment. In his love he provided his son to take our place in the court room, and if we reject this love- we get the just punishment. Friends, accept God’s lavish love. I wish I knew if my dad had.

 I can ask "why did God let my father die," until the cows come home.  But the answer is really: God, why have you allowed rebellious human beings who are born despising you, to live so long? Because of our sin, we deserve death. God is gracious. He gives us the chance for life. He knows what is good for us, and what will cause us to grow. He knows what will bring Himself glory. In His sovereignty, God was gracious to order my life in a way that persevered me in glorifying Himself. 

Next time you go through a situation and you think "what was the point of that (relationship, situation, hurt, class, etc)?" Just think, a short relationship that taught me about grief, it was God's wonderful gracious providence. I am thankful.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rethink Voluntourism

For the whole trimester, I have been trying to come up with a topic to research for a large year end Sociology project. At first I had all these crazy ideas about topics that had nothing to do with anything. Then my wonderful mom said "Why don't you just do a topic that has to do with your major? You like that stuff." Shazaamwow, an idea was born.

"The Effects of Symbolism in Voluntourism." I don't really know how I came up with it, but the basic premise is that in voluntourism (volunteer tourism) there is a lot of incorrect symbolism, which negatively (and I am reluctant to say, but positively as well) affects other cultures.

Symbolism is a sociological term, and it is just what you think it is, when we see something and take it to represent a larger thing. 

I started my project off by asking people what they thought of when they thought of Las Vegas. Obviously everyone thinks of gambling, sex, drugs, etc. Perfect, as that is the marketed symbol. They want you to think that. But did you know that Vegas has a growing homeless rate? That it has a large elderly population? That it has a unique historical heritage? Then I asked what people thought of when they thought "Africa." Safaris, poverty, hunger, orphans. -Wow, what symbols. 
We often create symbols in voluntourism that benefit us, that assuage our guilt, that don't really encompass the reality of the situation, or provide long term sustainable growth for those we intend to "help." We think "I need to go build a church in Mexico." Or "I need to donate all these old clothes to poor naked African children." 

 I found this great example from Vagabondish that goes as follows:
"You would think that donating old clothing to poor African communities would be a good thing, right. You give the clothes to your church group, a local tailor makes any necessary repairs, and the duds are shipped off to the naked people of Africa. I mean – they’d be naked if they didn’t have our clothes, right? Wrong. Instead, local African tailors are put out of business, because people can get their clothes for free from donation shipments. Local economies suffer, the local tailors eventually die, and their skills die with them, since there is no need for a tailor in the community."

What if instead of wasting money traveling down to Mexico to build a church, you give that job to someone who needs it. Send money or building materials down there. Let a local man get paid to do his job and support his family. Unless you are a trained contractor, do not think that your American church building skills are any better than his, and don't think you are doing some grandiose heavenly favor. 

In the rest of my project, I just discuss some other issues with how our interpretations of a voluntourism destination can be both hurtful, and sometimes helpful. 

As a Christian, I am called to help others in need, and I think there are legitimate times when it is good to give  freely, (you know- times of war, plague, disaster etc).  

But in order for volunteer work to be helpful we have to think about the bigger, long term, sustainable picture. We want to not only give a man a fish, but we want to teach him how to fish. Maybe instead of throwing my crappy donations at the problem, or doing a job we are not trained to do- We can teach. We can empower. We can finance. We can provide resources.

Volunteering isn't bad. But we have to check out our motives, goals, and the reality of the situation.      

 My professor told me "great presentation on a unique topic with a functional perspective on the consequences of these programs as they ripple through global cultures." So hopefully I get an A on that :)

Thoughts? Do you agree? Do you think we should just give freely without concern? Should we rethink charity or a donations system? Does this apply to any other industry (perhaps food banks? or clothing drives?)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Mental Vacation

The past two weeks have been a glorious limbo of no class, easy work hours, and hanging out. It has in essence, been a much needed mental vacation. I've enjoyed sleeping in, and making a more delightful and very loose schedule.

For the first leg of this vacation, I took a little staycation with Gunther, a cool beagle friend of mine over on the East Side. We have been friends for a while and like to go on long walks, watch movies, and cuddle. In fact, this is him under the covers with his head on the pillow. Hilarious little guy.

For the next leg of the mental vacation I've done a bunch of random things in no particular order. The weather has been ridiculously hot, and I told Niki that I hope heaven is climate controlled (pleassseeee God?!) 

I decided to spend one night on a little solo midnight roadtrip. Originally I wanted to take some night photos of Providence from the East Bay, but alas, I forgot my memory card. So I ended up driving from East Providence to Pawtucket, Central Falls, and back into Providence. Just for fun. Discovered a lot of little nooks and crannies. Perfect.
Special indeed.

One night a few of us went over to Norm and Cheryl's house and made them dinner. They are an "eternally young" couple from our church. Below is Jake and Melissa cutting up the chicken for some sort of terriyaki pineapple concoction we cooked up. The fellowship with them is rich and full of hilarity and wisdom. At one point, Norm got on his Djembe and went to town to Spanish music. It was awesome. For dessert we had chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt and tons of fruit. It was a glorious refreshment to a sweltering evening!
Monday I had off from work. It was a disgusting 90-something degrees, humidity turned on full blast. I practically swam from my house to the car. I picked up my friend Eileen and we went to Colt State Park in Bristol, Rhode Island. It is right on the bay, it is beautiful, and has scenery like whoa. It is one of my favorite parks just because you can walk along the water and see all the sail boats. After that we had lunch at Panera and hit up Target, Home Depot, and Walmart. I bought some spray paint. 

Luxe Burger Bar has trivia night once a week, and we got a team together. Trivia night is fun because along with just grabbing some food, you have a great, automatic conversation carrier, team building, and hey- it's just something to do! We ended up in 3rd (or 4th?) place, I cant remember. But all I have to say is Milwaukee for the win! 

It has been great to have this kind of free time. It was great to hang out with people without being stressed out or having a crazy time limit. My brain has been able to just take a breather, get some extra sleep, not worry about deadlines of any kind. I can read a book now for pleasure? WHAT!? haha. 

Anyways, that's been my little mental vacation. 
What do you like to do to give yourself a mental break?