Happy May! I have a son turning nine years old this month. My daughter and I completed three days of sixth grade camp- I had sore legs and a happy heart. Our niece will graduate high school in Northwest Iowa. School will continue on until June 14- so we have to be a little patient yet for summer break…
Since December I have experienced four large rejections.
A goodbye to the work I have known for three years.
I have moved from despair, sadness, feeling like an utter failure, to peace around and around again. This is what I have been learning:
The stories we tell ourselves are not always true. It’s easy to go with the failure route… but deep down I know failure is not the story of any one of us, including myself.
“I’m not getting what I want.” I told some friends. Afterwards, I thought about that. I’m like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Maybe, this time it’s not what I want, but what God wants.
Waiting is hard. Be kind to yourself.
Sometimes, we don’t know. We just simply don’t know. I have no idea what my life will look like this fall. The answer to that may be a beautiful beginning or it might be a hard space. Either way, I have learn for it to be well with my soul.
Even though you know God cares for you and has a plan, it sometimes feels lonely and desolate, and that is all right.
Trust your heart. I guess I never had a huge sense of clarity or ambition about my career. I just want to love people. Too simple, probably. But me… always.
I’m a control freak all over my own life. This desert period… not even an option. I couldn’t control this train if I wanted to. I’m pretty sure when I meet Jesus he’s going tell me that I sucked at this part… trusting him to know what’s best for my life.
I have had to admit that I’m thirty-seven and I have absolutely no clue right now. I have re-occurring dreams of packing, not being quite ready, and being in two spaces sometimes three. It has to be alright to say I don’t know. If you ask what I’m doing next, what God is doing in my life, where I am heading, I will say, “I don’t know, and not only do I not know, I haven’t the faintest clue.” It makes people uncomfortable, but maybe we need to become more comfortable with not always having an answer.
and I came across this line from Dr. Seuss
It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.
9. We don’t always get what we want. We don’t always get the easy path, the quick answers, the beautifully packaged clarity. And somehow we learn for that to be okay.
Out in the open air… it’s wide and expansive and scary. But, in that openness we learn to breath in God.
Acts Holland is a family. A place for kids to be embraced, equipped, and empowered.
We will be supporting Jaime Blom and Acts this summer! Last year, they shared their thoughtful art with us and this year we get to give back to them! Follow their work on Facebook here.
Read a book, create art, and play. Give back by bringing: List coming soon!
Hope Pkgs is a community based ministry that provides first night bags to kids entering the foster care system. There are approximately 220- 350 kids in foster care in Ottawa County at any given time. These bags provide hope, comfort and meet tangible needs.
We will be supporting Lisa Hoeve and Hope Pkgs this summer! Follow the work of Hope Pkgs on Facebook.
Every child is so special! We can’t wait to celebrate kids by sharing a story, making a fabric prayer bookmark, playing with parachutes, celebration play doh and more. Your family can give back by bringing a first night bag to donate, or joining with another family to put together a bag to bring.
Event 2: Holland Rescue Mission Clothing Drive- Donate your used clothing to be sold in the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Did you know you can also donate clothing that can’t be reused to wear? They also recycle textiles and receive the profits.
Event 3: Bring a dollar to support the Flint Water Fund distributed by United Way.
We’ll be sharing a story about peace, participating in an Olympic obstacle course, making olympic ring pictures and having an Olympic flag scavenger hunt. Give back through our three featured events and receive your service medal.
We hope to see you at Kollen Park this summer! Let’s make a difference and serve locally!
Wondering what Talk Justice Events are like? Look at pictures of our past events here.
All ages are welcome! We love it when older children help at stations too.
I’d love to answer any of your questions! firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy April! Spring! We love its arrival in Michigan.
#TalkJustice with your family this month. Here are some great resources and discussion starters to use.
Spring Cleaning: Don’t forget that your donations to Goodwill or other non-profits create jobs! April 2, Uber and Goodwill partnered in some cities to pick up donations. What other organizations would you love to see work together?
Mental Health: The public library often offers a haven to homeless populations. Learn how the San Francisco Public Library is offering mental health services on-site.
Prison System: A jail where inmates and abandoned animals find a second-chance. I bet kids would have some wonderful insights after looking at the photographs.
Refugees: Greek residents of the island of Lesbos are being recognized for their efforts to help refugees. I love their straight forward quotes on the issue. “we are monsters if we don’t do this– why should we be given a prize for being human beings?”
Disability: From Christianity Today how her son’s autism changed one Mom’s church. How can we extend welcome?
Hunger: Food goes to waste while people are hungry. Some countries are trying to change that. What do you think?
Thinking outside the box:A laundromat owner washed the clothing and bedding of families at a homeless shelter during Easter week. A small gift that saved money, time, and offered dignity to families.
Sports and Development: Read about how sports can be a powerful development tool. Ask your kids what they have learned on sports teams or playing games with friends. I am looking forward to the world coming together for the Olympics this summer.
Global Education: Preschool teacher Davinia James raises money for Girl Rising and global education by collecting pennies. Even the smallest offering can make a huge difference!
Earth Day, April 22, 2016: In honor of Earth Day pick a short movie from the Story of Stuff to watch with your family.
Finally, I am so excited to reveal some great #TalkJustice events coming this summer. Check back next week to see how we can partner together to make a difference!
This past week was spring break in Michigan. And it snowed, rained and sleeted most of the time. It was also cloudy, dark and cold. I’m not going to lie, we were all a little stir crazy. We did read a lot. Including Josiah’s new obsession with being read the Lord of the Rings out loud. People, it takes like twenty years for the hobbits to get out of the Shire…
Whenever I struggle, I read hard books. Kris often teases me about what sad book I am reading next. I read hard books, not because they are sad topics, but because of the proximity and perspective they give me. They fill me with hope and remind me of my purpose in Christ. I want to understand the stories of people and how to make a difference. When I want to wallow in my own uncertainties, I’m reminded of how much I have been given. Speaking of wallowing, read this great piece by Janyre Tromp. She’s the author at Ugly, Beautiful Me and I think you’ll love her.
While you are waiting for spring to arrive #TalkJustice together!
March Madness: Fill out a charity bracket with your family! Win up to 100,000 for the charity of your choice. Such a fun idea! Shelterbox: Learn about ShelterBox together. What started out as a Rotary Project for disaster relief in England has expanded globally. Each ShelterBox includes a relief tent, thermal blankets, groundsheet, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic toolkit, mosquito nets, and a children’s activity pack.
@ShelterBox, Photographer: Rebecca Novell
Sacrifice: Read this article about a couple who foregoes their dream boat to pay for the college tuition of an entire kindergarten class. Talk about the difference between needs and a wants. What could your family sacrifice that might make a difference to someone else?
Dignity: A soup kitchen disguised like a restaurant offers dignity to the homeless in Kansas City. Read the article and talk about how they are building community, treating others with dignity, and offering hope.
Clean Water: 10 things women and girls could be doing instead of collecting clean water from ONE.
Breaking Down Myths: SNAP benefits are not always enough to keep families in need fed. 1/3 of families using SNAP still have to visit food pantries to bridge gaps. Talk about hunger and stereotypes to accepting assistance.
Food Waste: Sign a pledge as a family to curb food waste with Feeding America.
Kara Tippetts is the author of The Hardest Place, and co-author of Just Show Up. Her last book And It Was Beautiful offers thoughtful responses to living and dying well. Kara passed away March of 2015 after battling cancer, leaving behind her husband and four children. She blogged faithfully at Mundane Faithfulness. Where you can still read her reflections and also new material carried forward by those close to her.
After I read Kara’s work I feel my heart softening. Could I celebrate life in the midst of the long good-bye? I might not be as gracious as she was, but I hope that I could learn. I think that is what she leaves us with. Her gentle love for a savior.
She loves despite her prayers not being answered the way she would have wanted. She wrestles. Maybe we all need to be a little more transparent about how hard life can be. How disappointing, scary, sad, and just plain angering it all can be sometimes. And also beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful that we get to live for Christ here in an imperfect world.
She reminds us to live in a way that each breath is an Amen.
Where we are thankful for the time we are given.
Where we see God’s faithfulness to us even in the mundane.
Where we know how desperately we need community to keep going.
Where we lean into how close God is to our hearts.
In her last days, she read to her children as they crowded into bed with her. I’d like to share a small part of her chapter, that I feel sums up so much.
Last night we finished the chapter that ended so tenderly, the one where Harry and Ron accepted Hermione as their friend: “But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” We loved it. You see, we get it, the hard, and how you have to do it together, and how that glues you.
Thank you to Kara, for gently leading us to acknowledge a God that loves, even in the hard we do not understand, who beckons us to wrap our arms around each other, because only then do we truly live.
I will be giving away a copy of And It Was Beautiful. Just leave a comment and I will draw a name. Know that I am very grateful to be living life with all of you.
How do we #TalkJustice with our kids during this election year?
These are the things I want my kids to know and understand.
Voting. I remember walking into the voting booths of my small town and helping slide the heavy curtain shut. Voting is important. The definition of suffrage is the right to vote in political elections. Suffrage sounds an awful lot like the word suffer. People suffered to ensure our right to be heard. When you cast your vote take your kids along.
Respect. No one wants to feel stupid for their opinions. If we disagree with one another, and we will, how can we engage in love? Can we disagree and still respect one another? Yes, conflict is uncomfortable, no one really loves it, but there are ways to approach disagreement in love.
No one is perfect. We are not perfect people. Our political candidates will not be either. They have made past mistakes. They will make future mistakes. No one person can please everyone in the country. No one can change everything for the better.
Think for yourself. Maybe you identify with Republicans or Democrats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think for yourself too. Read from various news sources. Be an independent thinker. Consider both points of view.
Kindness is still important. I can’t imagine a Jesus who steamrolled others to get to the top. He became nothing, that we might have life. Name calling. Exclusion. Rudeness. Demeaning the work of others. We teach our children not to do it, nor should we for any reason.
Standing in the Gap. In seventh grade social studies we are currently learning about the beginning of our nation and the constitution. The argument concerning the amount the government should be involved in our lives started hundreds of years ago. There are no easy answers, but if a safety net of assistance is removed or lessened, someone needs to stand in the gap. I would love that to be the church. Statistics show that 5% of adults in the United States tithe. This is an article from Relevant What Would Happen if the Church Tithed?
Open Hands. I try to remember that Jesus met others with open hands. He didn’t protect himself, even from death. I want to open my hands like Jesus did. He didn’t judge, build walls, or only pick privileged and powerful. He denied convention and associated with those that were considered sinners.
The Fear of Different. There is a certain candidate in this election that has not been kind to a majority of the American people. Numerous times people have said they support him because, he says what everything is thinking, but just doesn’t say. If this is the truth, we need to be honest that there is underlying fear and hatred for what is different. I work at, and my kids attend a diverse school. Most of our communities are diverse and our schools reflect this. Ethnically. Religiously. Socio-economically. When we talk about slavery, civil-rights and suffrage, the kids are surprised and saddened. They don’t necessarily understand a world where these things occurred. They are our example right now. Different can coexist. Different does not lessen our beliefs. Different does not threaten our well-being.
Refining. When Kris was in seminary we job shared. Being married and working together is a careful balance. We did not always agree. Honestly, we argued a fair amount. We would lay it all out and then construct our best ideas back together. What we ended up with was always so much better than what we could have came up with individually. We need leaders that will listen to one another. We need leaders that will work together. We need leaders that are humble enough to be refined by others.
Honesty. There are Christians that are Republican. There are Christians that are Democrats. This stuff is not easy. Look at world history. We have not been kind to one another whether publicly or in our heads. I work with kids all day. Our kids hear us. They repeat what we say. They see your memes. Hear your laughter. They are fiercely loyal. What do you want them to hear?
Pray. That we might all have courage and be kind.
What do you most want your kids to know this year?
Have you heard of blackout poetry? You can see some great examples here, along with the book by Austin Kleon. Learn more about the newspaper blackout project here. Give it a try… you might find it addicting. I think I do.
This was my first try:
impossibly. a thousand feet. bone tired. my soul rusting. dark times.
startlingly beautiful. from afar. deep. sacred place.
It didn’t surprise me that an article stripped down to these words emerged. I’ve been wrestling with all kinds of tangled emotions in the last months. Soul rusting times can led to sacred places in your journey. Sometimes I just don’t want to hear that, like the Sunday morning I walked out of church and all the way home. I didn’t want to sing praise songs, when I was angry at God. You know what, he walked right home with me. He doesn’t leave us, even in our struggle. What he does in us is startlingly beautiful, even if we won’t know the depth of it all until heaven. You are there God, loving us.
I would love to introduce you to someone who understands this. Susie Finkbeiner is a novelist from West Michigan. She blogs regularly here. I think you will find her beautiful, thoughtful, wise and funny. Also real.
Why I love her as a writer is she is not afraid to tackle messy and difficult.
Her lastest novel is A Cup of Dust, which takes place during the Dust Bowl. Pearl Spence, though only ten, is resilient in the midst of a trying and dark time. No matter where we come from, we can be assured that we are loved. You will be challenged by her voice and spirit. (best of all, Susie is currently working on a sequel to A Cup of Dust.)
Comment here to win a signed copy of the book! How are you reminded of God loving you, even during times full of the dust of doubt?