Monday, December 30, 2013

"10 Days Without"

How can you help "the least of these" while also relating to them on a personal level? Daniel Ryan Day answered the question with an experiment to get a small taste of what others are going through, while raising money and support for organizations helping others around the globe. The premise: go ten days without something most of us take for granted to raise awareness and support for those who go without it daily. For example, 10 Days Without a Coat to collect warm coats for the homeless, or 10 Days Without Speech to support the anti-trafficking movement.

The book chronicles eight of Day's experiments and what he learned from each. It's a very simple read and makes an excellent starting point for anyone looking to make a difference in the world. As Day alludes, making a difference is not simply a 10 day experiment. Instead, the 10 Days Without concept is a starting point, a way of humbling ourselves and breaking the routine that keeps us only concerned about our own circle. It's an eye-opening experience to make us question the way we live and interact with the people in the world around us.

For those eager to embark on their own 10 Days Without experiment, Day offers suggestions and tips at the end of each chapter, along with resources and organizations worth supporting. His website also features more resources and other experiments worth looking into.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I also recently participated in my own 10 Days Without challenge, going ten days without technology. It was not easy, but it was eye-opening. You can read some of my thoughts and experiences here.

I would definitely recommend this book to those unsure of where to begin making a difference in the world, and for fans of Jen Hatmaker's book 7.

Recommended, 4/5 Stars.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Ladies, before you tune out, this isn't just a guys book. It's not about being gentlemen, or holding doors for women, or some romantic spiel. Instead, Zach Hunter's newest book is a call to action urging all young people to develop and live by a code of honor. To live civil and just lives in an unjust world.

Using the knights of old as inspiration, college-student Zach Hunter uses his fourth book to inspire Christians to hold themselves to a standard of conduct higher than the world demands, but one it so desperately needs. He blends personal anecdotes and modern examples with classic philosophers and Scripture to present his case for modern chivalry.

The book includes a section of journalling or discussion prompts and encourages a commitment to chivalrous living with a specific "contract" for each chapter.

Chivalry would be a great book for Christian teens and young adults eager to stand strong in today's culture as they are beginning to form their worldview and strengthen their belief system.

Recommended 3/5 Stars
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Techless Ten COMPLETE!

The first (and probably last) ever Techless Ten Challenge here on Aspiring Ashley is now finished!! I cannot tell you how happy I am about that! This has been a very tough and loooooong Ten Days Without Technology.

Before I get into the good stuff, let me apologize for the lack of posts during this challenge. You might be surprised to know that it's very difficult to post by proxy. Especially when you're working opposite hours from your designated poster. Also, my brother works retail, and this challenge happened to fall over the Christmas season madness. He was barely home to rest, let alone do much else. I had given him another post, but it seems he wasn't able to get it up. Sorry about that, readers! If I ever do this again (though that's highly unlikely), I'll make Blogger my one exception so I can post myself.

Going without phone, computer, and TV for ten days is, in fact, just as crazy as it sounds. While maintaing a normal work schedule and Christmas social life, Christmas shopping, and observing early bedtimes, I read the longest Harry Potter book (900 pages) and another normal-length book (190 pages). I also spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch or table and staring into space. I did not, however, get so bored I cleaned. I planned to use some of my free time for cleaning, but my house is super cold, so snuggling under a blanket and going to Hogwarts was a much more alluring activity.

You don't realize how much you use the phone and computer for until you go without them for ten days. The TV part wasn't too bad. Especially since I had the rule that I could watch if invited to join someone, which happened a few nights. But going without my phone and internet was so hard! People would be talking about the latest weather or news or Facebook gossip and I was completely clueless. Can't tell you how many times someone would say, "Did you hear about....oh, wait...."

Didn't know about the whole Target identity theft thing until I had already shopped there twice. Couldn't look up movie times when the family decided we'd all go. Had to get a battery in my old watch, since I usually just use my phone. Same with flashlights and alarm clocks. If I had a question or a fleeting thought, I couldn't just Google it. Didn't know what the weather was going to be for the next day. Had no way of contacting friends if I wanted to tell them something. Had to print a hardcopy of my calendar, since I usually use my phone. Couldn't document the mundane things of life with an artfully edited photo. No TV in the background while I made crafts, just silence.

The biggest complaint was the convenience factor. Staving off boredom with a little powerful device became impossible. While I was sewing Christmas gifts, it was just me and my brain. No entertaining show in the background. Instead of looking up a med real quick on my phone at the medcart, I had to go dig out the actual drug book and hope it was in there. Couldn't text my dad to ask him to bring home ice or whatever on his way home. Nothing to do while on lunch break, or standing in lines. Just me and non-technological means of entertainment.

The second facet of the challenge was the feeling of being disconnected. With my family, I see them every day, so I didn't feel too disconnected there, unless I was out and wanted to ask them something. But not being able to talk to my friends was tough. Not being able to share the events of the day, or something silly that happened that only they would understand is something uncommon in today's world. We're so used to instant communication, to the ability to immediately convey what's happening or what we're thinking with the world, that to take that away is very strange. Especially when you realize that ten years ago, cell phones were just starting to become popular. I didn't even get my first one 'til about nine years ago! Before that, if I was out there was no contacting home, unless I was at a friends house and used their land line (ha, remember those?). Yet today, it's odd if you don't have a cell phone. We're so over connected it's crazy!

Then, there's the whole reason I did this. Not just for bragging rights or so everyone could call me crazy, but to help children on the other side of the world find connection with people who love them. So their voices could be heard and their little hearts can find peace. The Kealey Family is heading to Thailand in approximately one week to work with kids who have been victims of human trafficking, or who are risk of being trafficked. I gave up my connections for ten days to connect this awesome family with these kids. Have you donated yet? If not, click here to make a difference.

I know that I am a bit addicted to my phone and the internet, but I made it through this challenge! Walking away from it, I am going to try to make a more conscious effort to put the technology down more often and focus on the now. In some ways, it was nice to be unplugged. Knowing that if anyone really needed me, they'd find a way to make it happen. Not feeling the need to check out what was happening on Facebook. By the end of the experiment, I had finally stopped having that mini panic attack when I didn't feel my phone in my pocket.

So while I'm glad I did this challenge, I am also so glad it's over! Going without technology for ten days was insanely difficult, but definitely worth it to help fund connection for the kids of ZOE.

This challenge was inspired by Daniel Ryan Day and his new book Ten Days Without, which is now available. I'll be posting the review hopefully tomorrow, definitely over the weekend.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Techless Ten Day Three

   Hello everyone! It's Jeremiah again, posting for Ashley. She wrote this last night, and asked me to post it for her today. Enjoy!

   As I write this, it's 5:15pm and I'm wondering what to do with myself for the next four hours until my brother and friends get home. they invited me to watch something with them, and per my rules set last week, that means I can. Yay! I've already spent the past two hours reading through half a book, with several hours earlier in the day and yesterday. I suppose I should finish making Christmas presents...
   Today was the hardest day (so far. I'm sure tomorrow-my day off- will be worse). Today was my day to work at the church, which is mostly a desk job, in front of a computer. I did everything I could without the computer - even hand drawing and writing Sundays take home sheet! Then came my one planned internet escapade during these ten days - setting up a Youtube playlist for Kid's Church. It was fun to have a little video break! And I'm proud to say that despite some of the intriguing "suggested videos", I stayed on tsk the whole time!
   Of course, when I first opened up my browser, I was automatically headed to Facebook, but I caught myself before I clicked. For that matter, the instant I sat at the desk, I reached for the mouse to start Pandora or Spotify! It's crazy how ingrained and automatic technology has become in my life. This experiment is showing me how much time I truly waste on T.V., internet, and apps.
   Then there's the communication side of it. I can't just text my friend to ask "is so-and-so married, or did I dream that?". I can't call home to say I'm running late at work. I have to rely on my family to tell me the forecast, or if a meeting will me cancelled due to snow. Most of the things I want to text or post are trivial - an observation (It's only 1 degree outside according to my car!), a silly happenstance (How did I cut my hand sitting at my desk?!), or just an update of unimportance (Christmas is one week away!).
   But for the millions of kids held in slavery around the world, true communication on any level seems impossible. I've got my cell in my bag, ready in case of an emergency, but these kids have been dehumanized to the point that no one in their world will listen even if they do speak up. They are used, and hurt, and forgotten. Hopeless.
  Thankfully, there are people like the Kealeys willing to step into the world these kids live in and listen. To give them a voice and make others aware of their needs. It makes this experiment seem small, but God is in the habit of using foolish things to confound the wise.

This post is a part of 10 Days Without inspired by Daniel Ryan Day. It is an experiment to go ten days without technology to get a sense of feeling unconnected and to raise money and support for the Kealey family, who will be moving to Thailand to work with children at risk for, or who have been victims of, human trafficking. The complete series of posts can be found here.

To donate, please click here. Want to support the Techless Ten but can't donate financially? Please share the posts within your circles using the hashtags #TechlessTen and #10DaysWithout.

Techless Ten Day One

Hello everyone! This is Ashley's brother Jeremiah, posting her blog for her. Apparently the first post I put up for her on Monday didn't actually post, so here it is again!

   Well, the first day of my "10DaysWithout" experiment is complete, and it wasn't as bad as I expected! Granted, I was super busy at work, and really tired when I got home (late), so that helped. But honestly, except for a few minor inconveniences and reaching for my phone/laptop/remote out of habit, I didn't miss it too much. I know that will be completely different, though, on a day with more downtime (like Wednesday. I'm dreading Wednesday).
   Today I used my few spare hours reading a book (the whole thing), checking my Christmas list for any gaps, and starting to plan out my 2014. I also got my Compassion Child Advocate package in the mail, so I looked through that (more about the Advocate program when I come back). Although today wasn't too bad, I've already got a list started of things I need to look up or do once I can be online!
Happy Monday everyone!

This post is a part of 10 Days Without inspired by Daniel Ryan Day. It is an experiment to go ten days without technology to get a sense of feeling unconnected and to raise money and support for the Kealey family, who will be moving to Thailand to work with children at risk for, or who have been victims of, human trafficking. To donate, please click here. The complete series of posts can be found here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Announcing The Techless Ten

I've been brewing a plan for a while. Ever since I read Jen Hatmaker's book 7 and learned about the soon-to-be-released book from Daniel Ryan Day, 10 Days Without. The plan? To go without something for a set period of time to raise awareness and funds for a cause. Well, thanks to Daniel, this plan has been fully formed! Introducing...

For ten days (Monday, December 16 through Wednesday, December 25) I will be going techless: No iPhone, no computer, and no TV (except with friends or family. It is Christmas season...Christmas movies and Doctor Who!) Ten days with no texting. No Facebook. No Instagram. No email. No Pinterest. No Candy Crush. No makeshift flashlight. No daily Doctor Who.

Yes, I am crazy. Or as my brother and his friends said when I told them my plan, "That's stupid!" But I'm not doing this to be crazy stupid. Or even just to see if I can do it. I'm going techless to see what it's like to be unconnected. To not be able to just pick up my phone if I'm bored or lost or need an answer. But more importantly, I'll be unconnected to help fund connection. What is that supposed to mean??

My friends, the Kealeys, are preparing to move to Thailand with ZOE to build connections with kids who are at risk for, or have been victims of, human trafficking. Kerri is one of the people I've looked up to throughout my life, a real-life role model! And now she's packing up with her husband and four adorable children to go love kids who have been through more in their short lives than you and I can imagine. I'm so proud....and a bit jealous.

So while I go techless for ten days, I'm asking you to sponsor me and donate to these awesome people doing awesome work. You can make a one time donation of your choosing, or donate a fee per day (say, $10/day? Keep the theme going?), or however you'd like to do it. Donations can go directly through their page on the ZOE website. When you make a donation, can you do me a favor and let me know? I'd just like to see how much we raise during this time! You can post below anonymously, if you'd like.

Please spread the word about this experiment. I will be hand-writing about the experience throughout the week for my family and friends to post here, and Kerri will be guest-posting one of the days for us! Share this and coming posts with the hashtags #10DaysWithout and #TechlessTen so we can follow along!

So, what do you think of this challenge? Think I'll make it? Would you be able to do it?

Questions? Encouragement? Leave them below! Want to know more about the Kealeys and Zoe? Check out these links:
ZOE missionaries
Kealey Family Blog

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Sex and the Single Christian Girl"

So, to be honest, I don't recall why I requested this book. Truth is, I'm a bit jaded when it comes to purity books. I grew up in the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" generation. I devoured every purity book that came out in that time (and there were plenty!). I've taken the pledge, worn the ring, been to the conferences, and bought the t-shirts. And as I've grown, I've watched many of my friends (and the authors of those books) get their early 20s.

Now, I have nothing against people getting married in their early 20s. But as I sit here, as single as can be about to turn 27, it annoys me sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've heard/read someone say, "It was so hard to wait that long! What a struggle!" And then you learn that they were married by 22. Really? Please, tell me again how hard it was to stay pure until you met and married your husband at 19.

At 27, to most of the world, I'm still young. But in Christian circles, it's a usually unspoken belief that anyone not married by 25 is an old maid. Most people won't actually say anything, but you'll get the impression. So going into this book, I was a bit skeptical, to say the least. But then, right in the first chapter, we learn that the author didn't get married til 38. 38! Ladies, we have an actual real-life example here! She knows what it's like to struggle, and she writes for women, not for teens (though teens could certainly read this). Do you know how rare that is in the purity-book world??

Plus, she admits that she ugly-cried all the way down the aisle and quotes Mean Girls, so I knew I could trust what she had to say.

This book is not your average purity book. Most tend to be a mix of the author's love story, religious rules, and a basic message of:

Sex and the Single Girl takes a different angle. Ellis goes beyond rules to the heart of the matter. She makes the case for why we should seek purity and how to fight the lies of the enemy regarding sex. Ellis wages war against a "no-big-deal" culture to lovingly rescue women who have been burned by the world's mentality, and equips them to fight back for their purity and wholeness. She uses her own experiences, the experiences of others, and lots of Scripture to make the case for purity and healing.

This book is so good. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. What I loved is that much of what she is preaching is applicable to other struggles, not simply sexual sins. Ellis makes the case that purity is impossible on our own, because our nature is sinful. The only way to conquer sexual impurity (or any impurity for that matter) is to be renewed and redeemed. Ellis describes how to get to a place of intimacy with God, and how to stay there. She provides plenty of Scripture passages to help women stand against temptation and is bluntly honest about how to flee it.

I will absolutely be recommending this book to any woman struggling with sexual sin and impurity. Definitely check this one out!

Can you relate to my single-Christian-girl frustrations? Have you read this book? What'd you think?

Highly Recommended
4/5 Stars

I received this book from the published in exchange for an honest review through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program.

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