Monday, August 30, 2010

meijer gardens

after waiting all summer, i finally got to experience the beauty of the frederick meijer gardens with chris. he took me last saturday, and i loved them! they have a special exhibit right now created by chihuly. he created glass pieces that seem to grow out of the landscape--out of the beautiful gardens.
this exhibit is there until october 30...check it out!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"after all, it is up to us to make the world a better place." --zana briski

did you know that slavery still exists today? even here, in america, in your own neighborhood? and did you know that slavery exists in higher numbers today than ever before--even higher than during pre-civil war times? in fact, roughly 27 million people are enslaved today.

check out this map to see some of the reported cases of human trafficking in the usa: slavery map (remember, these are only a small percentage of all incidents of trafficking--most go unnoticed or are just not reported on this map.)


according to the polaris project, "human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. victims experience a loss of freedom and exploitation at the hands of their traffickers who buy and sell them in pursuit of profit. as a result, human trafficking is commonly known as modern-day slavery."
check out their website to learn more: polaris project

((human trafficking can come in the form of forced/unpaid labor, sexual exploitation, etc., and it is not always obvious.))


here is a link to another website you should check out: not for sale
this organization, not for sale, also has a moving documentary that you should watch. this is one of the first few documentaries i viewed on this issue, and my heart ached after watching it. a portion of this documentary showed under cover footage of a brothel in cambodia where 5- and 6-year-old girls were offering "yum yum" and "boom boom" to older men. 5 and 6 year olds! young innocent girls--the age group i want to someday teach. i couldn't believe this.


here is a link to a page about one of my favorite documentaries: born into brothels

zana briski, a ny photographer, went into the brothels of calcutta india, where she taught the children of prostitutes about photography. this gave the children an opportunity to find a skill that could get them out of the brothels. zana also worked as hard as she could to get most of these children into school. while most were able to attend school, some were forced back into the brothels to become prostitutes by their aunts, mothers, and/or grandmothers; some chose to return to the brothels because that was all they knew. two of the children, though, ended up at universities here in america doing photography and film work. out of zana's work came an organization called 'kids with cameras.' there are plans to break ground for the hope house, a place where children from the brothels will be able to live and attend school.

here is more information on the school: hope house
you can sign up for email newsletters regarding kids with cameras and hope house.

as a future educator, i was excited to find that zana briski, along with kids with cameras, created a curriculum guide as a companion to the film 'born into brothels'. this guide can be used in classrooms in america, and around the world, as a way to instill a global awareness of world issues in the minds of our children. as zana said, "american children are riveted by the kids from calcutta. they connect with them through the film in a way only kids can. kids want to share, to know more, to get involved."


another insight i had to this issue came from my visit to the international slavery museum in liverpool, england this past june. while this museum tells the horrific story of the slave trade of the past, it also tells visitors of the reality of the slave trade today. if you ever find yourself in liverpool, this museum, located on the albert dock, is definitely worth a visit.


finally, if you want a good book to read, read sold by patricia mccormick. this is a fictional children's novel, but it's definitely a great look into the mind of a young girl who has been tricked into leaving her family in nepal to join a brothel in india.


i am writing about all of this to inform you of what is happening around the world and in your own neighborhoods. i am not asking you to take action, but i do think it is important that you are aware of what is happening in this world--in your world. although, if you do feel moved to do something, all of the organizations i mentioned above have links on their websites with ways to help. one thing you can do is pray for this situation and for all of the people involved in modern-day slavery.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

happy birthday luke

i had a wonderful weekend!

friday i went to the beach after work. i went alone and spent some time floating in the water and reading on the beach. this time of relaxation was wonderful. i then went home, ate dinner, and baked some snickerdoodle's. i used my dad's delicious recipe, but this was our first time using the oven, so i had to learn to gauge the temperature setting's. the bottoms of the cookies got a little burnt, but they were still tasty. at night, i went to see eat, pray, love with my friends sarah and chelsea. the movie was quite long, but i enjoyed it, and i love julia roberts!

on saturday, chris and i headed to grand rapids, where we met up with ryan, amber, and ruby to check out rob bliss' 500-foot waterslide.

the slide was not as large or as fast as we imagined it, and the line was pretty long, so we decided the slide was not worth the wait. it was pretty neat to see this big event in GR though. we then headed to the pita house for gyros for lunch. they were huge and delicious! we then headed to madcap coffee, where amber, ruby, and i sat outside chatting while ryan and chris grabbed some costa rican coffee. a lot of our friends showed up at this point, and ryan and amber left with ruby while chris and i headed to schuler books, where luke grabbed his first beer with a few of the guys. a bookstore: an interesting place to buy a beer right? we then all headed back to luke's where we swam all day, played volleyball (i watched because i am awful), and mrs. t grilled ribs for us. at one point, about 15 of us piled in the mule, and luke drove us around his property. we splashed through many puddles, went up and over hills, and off the beaten path. we then ended up by the pond near luke's, and most people jumped off and jumped in the water. luke, chris, ben, steph, and i took off and left everyone else behind. we returned to the house, and fleck took chris and me back out to check out the tree the guys cut down a couple of winters ago. i was impressed that they cut the tree down with their bare hands, but now i am even more impressed and convinced of their manliness now that i have seen the tree with my own eyes. awesome. i had such a great time seeing a lot of my friends back together again. ps: happy birthday, luke!

this morning, i drove back from gr, went to engedi where i heard a sermon that i actually let settle in my heart (see previous post), and then my momma came to visit! we went to the holland state park and rode the waves on boogy boards. we then grabbed ice cream from captain sundae. so much fun! i love her so. later tonight, i am walking down to kollen park to watch the sunset with maria and lizzy!

on receiving guidance from God

lately, i have been nothing more than a sunday morning christian. i have been attending church on sunday mornings, but i have not been turning to God any other day of the week except for on rare occasions. Proverbs 16 tells us: "To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" (NIV). we should turn to God for guidance all the time, not just on sunday afternoons when we are contemplating the sermon we heard earlier in the day. this is how i have been lately. the sunday morning sermon sinks (or seems to sink) deep in my heart, but then i brush it away the rest of the week. this is not how i am called to live. i am called to turn to God, who will always guide "the repl[ies] of [my] tongue." God wills all things, but we still have free will. therefore, i should turn to Him when i am unsure, and He will guide me to do or say what He wills me to do, and this will lead to a more fulfilling life in Him. to help with this, God has placed many devoted Christians in my life, and He wants me to turn to them for help in making decisions. Proverbs 11 tells us: "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory." when we turn to our Bible-reading Christian friends (to our friends who truly and deeply know God), they will help us to make wise decisions for our lives.

so, my prayer is that i, and all of you, will grow to know God better so that i and you may become more like Him so that i and you can make wiser decisions that align with His will for us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

depression film

check out this link: Captured: America in Color
these are some of the only color photos taken during the great depression in america.
really interesting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

family weekend

my family came to holland this past weekend to visit!
we rented a cabin at holland state park. we enjoyed views of the beach and the channel into mac bay, and we spent some quality family time together.

we played ladder ball, rode bikes, swam, hung out at the beach, grilled, and played family games.
i had so much fun visiting with my fam! we even celebrated joey's birthday. i baked him a chocolate meringue cake with homemade whipped frosting and berries. mmm

on saturday night, after we grilled and joey opened presents, our family made a bonfire and roasted the largest marshmallows i've ever seen! natalie brought them, and they were tasty! we could see thousands of stars, and dad had his star laser pointer with him, so he kept pointing out stars and constellations to us. it was fun! we then saw the largest ship i've ever seen leaving lake macatawa for the waters of lake michigan. this same ship entered mac bay the following morning, sitting lower in the water this time, so it must have been carrying something into the lake.

mom, dad, and i sat and watched the boats come in for a while.

these cabins are a perfect place for a family to stay! there are two bedrooms. one room has two bunk beds, and the other has one bunk bed, but the bottom bunk is a full-size bed. there is even a small kitchen area complete with a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster oven, and coffee pot. the cabins are handicap accessible--even the grill, firepit, and picnic table were accessible! so my dad was able to join in all of the fun!

speaking of handicap accessible, and i think i may have mentioned this before, holland state park has a handicap parking space at the end of their boardwalk on the beach! perfect for my dad so that he could join us near the water.

overall, i had a wonderful weekend, and i can't wait to see my family again soon!