#TalkJustice Together

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Women from Around the World

Photographer Michaela Noroc continues her quest to photograph women from every country in the world. She documents through The Atlas of Beauty.

The Flint Water Crisis

A piece by Nicholas Kristof shedding light on the lead poisoning of water in Flint, and also the elevated levels of lead in impoverished cities across America. Talk about why this might still happen in a developed nation like the United States.

Be The Bridge

Women around the country gathered for IF:Gathering this past weekend. Be sure to check out Tasha Morrison of Be The Bridge, building racial unity in the church. Follow Be The Bridge on social media and sign up for the newsletter. Also a great article about what everyone needs to know about racial reconciliation from Relevant Magazine. Talk about how your family could be involved.

Shrink Your Waste

Work together to Shrink Your Waste! Take Part shares many ideas about how less if often more.

Sustainable Development Goals 

Choose one of seventeen sustainable development goals, find practical ways to make a difference and graphics to share.

Goodwill Pop Up Shop

Pop up shops, restaurants, and even weddings have grown to a billion dollar industry. What do you think of this Goodwill Pop Up Shop? Talk about creativity and make a difference with your family.

Show Up 

This past month I have been continually reminded of this one truth. Show up.

When we show up in the smallest moments that is our most profound.

showup

God use me.

Don’t let me give up.

Help me be faithful in all the hard,

not glamorous, 

difficult, even ugly 

moments that make up real life. 

You are there. Loving us. 

 

 

Your Voices

Yellow

This prayer I prayed a few months ago:

God, don’t let me give up.

Maybe sometimes it is all you have left, that tiny little plea.

If you have something to do through me, I want to show up. Very much.

 

I would rather it to be easier. Without rejection pressing up tight against me. When its hard to even kneel. When tears gather up, when usually they are tucked away.

So I keep praying, God don’t let me give up. 

I am praying that for you, for whatever is hard in your life.

 

I’m so thankful for these beautiful people who came out to support immigrants and refugees a few weeks ago. It was a good night. It’s your voices that keep me going.

BNBCOLLAGE

I’m so excited to begin planning #TalkJustice playgroups for this new year!

I’d love to hear from you!

What organization would you like to support? What activities? Where would you like to meet? What times would work best this summer?

Comment here, or send me a note aboutproximity@gmail.com

Your voices truly do mean everything.

Blessing Not Burden PlayGroup

BNB PLAYGROUPCome out for the first playgroup of 2016!

We are so excited to be partnering with The Office of Social Justice and the Blessing Not Burden Campaign and Zeeland Christian School for this group. If you are in the Holland Area we hope you might come and join us!

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Serve together by using our voices in a photo booth to share how immigrants have blessed you.

Name jar

Read The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi about new Korean immigrant Unhei. As she decides on a new name, she finds her classmates eager to help her transition to America. Friendship opens the door for her to embrace her Korean identity.

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Participate in play stations-

  • world volleyball
  • crafting- with stencils and passport stickers and world coloring pages
  • an old-fashioned Ellis Island simulation
  • immigration timeline walk from The Church Between Borders
  • take a citizenship quiz
  • world landmark sensory tub
  • play doh with letters to make your name
  • who is my neighbor Instagram interactive art.
  • language soup
  • what would you pack? station

 

Take Home: 

  • Immigration Family History Handout
  • Ways to get involved in the Blessing Not Burden Campaign

All Ages Welcome! Zeeland Christian School is located at 334 W. Central Ave. Zeeland, MI.

Keep updated at the Facebook Event Page. Email me at aboutproximity@gmail.com if you would like to receive email updates about what is new with #TalkJustice playgroups. Exciting things are happening this coming year! And I would love you, your families, and your wise voices to be a part of it.

 

I know no other way

Kneel2016

A few weeks ago, I stood outside waiting to direct participants to our playgroup. The evening was dark and cold. I took a picture of the street lamp piercing the dark. I wanted to remember the prayer I prayed that night, to not give up if God had something to do through me.

Over break I read Brene Brown, a New York Time Bestselling author. She is a researcher and spot on about messy things of the heart and how to meet them head on. In Rising Strong she says this about the messy middle:

You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”

 

God, don’t let me give up. Let me hit my fears, insecurities, and rejections head on.

If you have something to do through me, I want to show up. Very much.

 

There is a plaque on my fireplace mantle that reads: Its hard to stumble when you’re on your knees. Ever since I read about adopting one word for each new year, mine has been the same. I wonder when I will let it go… or if it will always be a part of me. Kneel. It has to be for me, I know no other way. It all has to come from that place kneeling before God, or I am not me. I would not have the strength to show up. I would run far, far away.

My prayer for you this new year:
To not give up. You are enough. He has something beautiful to do in you and through you.

What do you need strength for in this new year? 

 

 

#TalkJustice Together December Edition

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#TalkJustice Playgroups

Maddie's Fridge We will be sharing this sweet book, Maddi’s Fridge at our next #TalkJustice Playgroup Kids Helping Kids. This is a fantastic book to open up conversation about food insecurity with your kids!

We will be supporting Kids’ Food Basket by decorating lunch sacks, repackaging trail mix, and playing! Visit our Facebook Event Page here for more information.

 

 

When People Make a Difference

A stray email from a Tennessee school reaches the inbox of a New Jersey man. He ends up adopting the school and the kids call him their ‘New Jersey Grandfather.’ Read the article here.

Changemaker

Take the Story of Stuff Changemaker Quiz to see what kind of changemaker your family is!

Christmas Story 

As we gather to read the Christmas story this season, remember that Jesus was a refugee. Consider changing the conversation at Blessing Not Burden. If you are in the Holland area attend our playgroup coming this January (facebook event page). For older kids download the app My Life As A Refugee to open up the conversation.

Holiday Kindness Toolkit

A mega list of holiday kindness ideas from Pennies of Time. Including, our kindness options for Elf on a Shelf.

Our monthly #TalkJustice as a family usually shares ten ideas. This month we will stick with five, so you can spend lots of time doing our last idea…

slowdown

Slow Down

The perfect way to make a difference this season is to just simply slow down with your family.

If all we are is noise and busy, we leave no space to notice, where we might love.

What will you be taking notice of this holiday season? 

 

 

#TalkJustice Kids Helping Kids

KFB Playgroup1

I love #talkjustice playgroups. I love the proximity, the kids, the families, the organizations and everyone working as a community! Want to partner on a playgroup? Contact us at aboutproximity@gmail.com

Our next playgroup is Monday evening, December 14, 6:30-7:30. The wise and talented Rev. Jodi Baron and Grace Episcopal Church will be hosting.

We will be reading the book Maddie’s Fridge. A wonderful story about childhood hunger.

Maddie's Fridge

We will also play and serve together supporting West Michigan’s Kids’ Food Basket.

At Kids’ Food Basket sack suppers are delivered to students throughout the school year to bridge the gap so school lunch is not the last meal of the day. In the summer sack suppers are delivered through local park programs. They serve nearly 7,000 kids in the West Michigan area.

Kids’ Food Basket is unique in its Kids Helping Kids initiative that allows children to serve at their on-site locations, something that is not always possible in nonprofits.

49,560 children living in Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties are food insecure. There are many schools on the waiting list to be served by Kids’ Food Basket. When most of us have more than enough, these statistics are heartbreaking. We need not travel far to know hunger.

I hope many families will come out this busy holiday season to serve together! Join our Facebook Event Page to ask questions and get updates.

 

What does hunger look like where you live? What organizations meet the needs of food insecurity well? How could your family contribute? 

 

 

When We Give

I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend! I know I am so thankful for all of you.

When we give, the advent season takes on an even more beautiful form.

givingtuesday

Amidst holiday shopping, remember Giving Tuesday is tomorrow!

Many non-profits will match donations on Giving Tuesday.

giftcatalog

One of my favorite holiday ideas is picking out a living gift from a gift catalog together. Look online or order a copy in the mail. Great options: World Renew, World Vision, Compassion International, Heifer International, International Justice Mission, OxFam, The Salvation Army.

In partnership with Pennies of Time Holiday Kindness Camp, I shared this past week about incorporating acts of kindness with Elf of the Shelf. Even if you don’t get into the elves, these ideas would work anytime during the holiday season.

Christmas25

Here are 25 Acts of Kindness for your Advent Season:

  • Read a book together from We Give Books that donates another to a child without access.
  • Make a card for veterans and servicemen and women through A Million Thanks.
  • Plan an evening of caroling with friends at a nursing home (call activities director ahead of time)
  • Make kindness coupons for two neighbors offering leaf raking or snow shoveling services.
  • Give of your excess, fill a bag, and deliver to a donation center.
  • Invite the children of a single parent friend to decorate Christmas cookies with you and give their Mom or Dad time to go shopping alone.
  • Pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots or a low-cost Santa shop.
  • Take a hike and log your miles for the free app Charity Miles.
  • Invite a friend with a disability and their siblings to a movie party. Allow their parents a time away
  • Make handwritten notes for someone who could use encouragement. Send them in the mail.
  • Donate coloring books and crayons to your local WIC office
  • Donate to your local animal shelter.
  • Deliver treats with a thank you note to a community helper in your town (ex. firefighters)
  • Write a letter for The World Needs More Love Letters.
  • Donate socks and underwear to your local homeless or women’s shelter, this is common need.
  • Donate laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, or personal care items to your local food bank- these are often high-need items.
  • Make a special call to a Great Grandpa or Grandma or special friend that lives far away. Share what you love to do!
  • Cook a meal together and make extra. Deliver the extra meal to someone in need of a pick me up.
  • Deliver a special cocoa, coffee, or tea to a hard-worker teacher, coach, or leader who blesses your family
  • Make treats together and deliver to neighbors.
  • Fill out coupons for jobs you can do for Grandpas and Grandmas throughout the year
  • Make teacher Christmas thank-you’s.
  • Take a photo and upload to the app Donate a Photo, choose the cause you would like to support.
  • Serve your kids with a special surprise.

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving Weekend? What giving traditions do you practice with your family? 

We loved my Mom’s pie, cousins, deal-shopping with my Dad, and a sweet visit from my in-laws all the way from Iowa. My favorite tradition- trying hard to slow down and a remember why we celebrate Christmas.

I’m also excited about two upcoming playgroups. Kids Helping Kids with Kids Food Basket, and Blessing Not Burden, with the OSJ Campaign and Zeeland Christian School.

A Million Thanks

YouAlone

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m so very thankful for all of you.

This past week we participated in The Big Read, Holland Area in partnership with Herrick District Library and Hope College for a Give Back to Veterans Playgroup. We made cards for A Million Thanks and saw some things soldiers carried. The artwork of West Ottawa students blew me away.

VeteranPGcollage

Once again the playgroup surprised me. Our night ended up being cold and rainy and the turn out was not what had been expected. I was sharing that disappointment with my dear friend. Later that night I had to text her, you wouldn’t believe the artwork on these cards I told her. The messages inside were even more stunningly beautiful. It’s not about the numbers, it is about the heart that goes into it. You won’t see this girl giving up anytime soon.

I know everything around us is disappointing, disheartening, and even scary right now. We don’t all agree.

But, we can still love each other. That’s really all that matters. Let’s not give up on each other. Don’t for a minute give up on yourself either.

Someday, I’m going to have a story about setting up these playgroups with my Mom, and watching a handful trickle in, and sharing my insecurities with Julie… feeling not good enough. Maybe if the person leading them were a better version of me… God saying no, it is you I need. I’m just going to use them my way, not yours.

And I am thankful, because I know he redeems. He uses us, even when we feel un-usable.

 

I am thankful for you. You are all brave.

You are strong at the things that only you and you alone can do for God. That is beautiful.

Much love this holiday week.

 

#TalkJustice Together November Edition

#TalkJustice November

#TalkJustice Playgroups! Are you in the Holland Area?

Come out this Tuesday, November 17 from 7:00-8:30 at the Herrick District Library Auditorium for the Give Back to Veterans Playgroup. We will be reading a story, making cards through A Million Thanks, creating a poppy craft and seeing the things soldiers carried. We are partnering with the Holland Area Big Read.

In December we will support Kids Food Basket with Grace Episcopal Church. In January we will partner with Zeeland Christian Schools for a Blessing not Burden Playgroup supporting immigrants. Want to keep up-to-date on play group opportunities? Join the Service PlayGroups Facebook Page.

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

A beautiful family thanksgiving tree for inspiration from Caitlin Boersma.

#PorteOuverte

In the midst of tragedy residents of Paris practiced #PorteOuverte offering an open door to those stranded or in need of safe shelter. A beautiful act of light where darkness tried to prevail. And a needful prayer from Ann Voskamp.

National Family Literacy Month

November is National Family Literacy Month. Log in some time at We Give Books and help provide books for kids that need access.

Creativity

Encourage your creative kids to use their gifts. Watch the video of E-tracers ballet slippers that trace dancers movement.

Ethical Shopping Guide

In this season of gift-giving gather ideas from the Art of Simple’s Ethical Shopping Guide. There are many fair trade ideas.

Gift Catalogs 

Order a print version of a holiday gift catalog from any of these non-profits. Look through the options together and pick out a gift. Gathering around the photographs is guaranteed to open up conversation. Heifer International, World Vision, World Renew, OxFam, UNICEF, Compassion International, International Justice Mission. 

prayerMicahChallenge

Audacious Prayer Guide

Join Micah Challenge and pray as a family for Sustainable Development Goals that address injustices families are facing around the world. Use the Audacious Prayer Guide here.

A Gutsy Girl

Alicia Bruxfort over at The Overflow shares her own gutsy girl. Your daughters will love to read her words.

#GivingTuesday

Get ready for #GivingTuesday, this year on December 1, 2015. Talk about what organization or family you might like to support. Make plans ahead of time to be able to make it a reality on Dec. 1.

What Thanksgiving and Holiday giving practices does your family participate in?

I am so thankful for all of you. 

 

True Joy

truejoy

I’ve been struggling to stay at peace this past week.

Being a Mom, working full time, writing at night… I just can’t find a balance that I can tie up in a neat bow and declare that I can have it all together. This is my third year navigating, and I think I finally realized the perfect balance will never come.

I think I have known all along, it was just the act of accepting it.

I don’t know what it is that makes us feel like perfection is so needful in our lives. Jesus was perfect, but no one else was or is or ever will be.

 

Ellie had a fluke fall on Sunday morning and fractured her wrist. As we passed hours in the emergency room, getting her fixed up, I realized why I could accept imperfection.

If what I am doing is caring for the people God has put in my life, it is enough.

And no where in the Bible did God tell us to do it perfectly.

 

The special needs students I work with at school, don’t need a perfect helper. They need one that loves them unconditionally, and is there when they need encouragement and love to keep growing.

My kids don’t need a perfect Mom, they need one who is present. Sometimes, that might mean moving my computer to the table and working together there. That might mean I leave the writing for that night and play soccer outside instead. Sometimes, it means saying no to a game and finishing something instead. They need independence and to see me doing things I love, so they can do the same.

Anyone who reads my writing, already knows I’m terribly imperfect. But if I am using it to care for God’s people, I can be assured that God will do what he wants with it, even if it does not always align with my ambitions.

 

If what I am doing is caring for God’s people, I’m going to be OK.

I can trust God with my life. I can be at peace that he will use what I give him in a way only he can.

Know that I am praying for your peace as well.

What can you trust God with this week?