Olympic Spirit!

I love the Olympics!

This year the Olympic Refugee Team warms my heart.

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We celebrated the Olympic spirit with a Talk Justice playgroup!

My friend Janyre read us Can You Say Peace by Karen Katz.

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The kids painted Olympic rings and completed an obstacle course. My parents prepared Olympic gold medals for all our participants.

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We were able to support Kids’ Food Basket by decorating one hundred lunch sacks, Holland Rescue Mission with a trunk load of clothing, and $31.00 to The Flint Water Fund. As hard as it is to believe, people in the state Michigan are still struggling to have clean water. It’s a great reminder that when initial news stories die down, there are still people living in that reality.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Talk Justice July Edition

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Refugees: Who loves the Olympics? We sure do! Make sure to keep your eye out for the Refugee Olympic Team. Ten athletes from Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be competing to shed a light on the refugee crisis. Click the link above to watch a short video.

Access to Education: Girls learning to code in Afghanistan! What do you think?

Hunger: To combat food waste Walmart announced it will sell ‘damaged’ fruit at a reduced price. Whole Foods has also offered this to some retailer. Walmart recently estimated that U.S. consumers throw away $29 billion worth of edible food each year. Would you eat fruits and vegetable that did not look perfect, but were still healthy?

Sustainability: One the topic of food waste- a great infographic to break it down and give ideas for making a difference. What can your family implement?

Access to Education: Read this article and talk about opportunity gap with your kids.

Purpose Hotel: What does your family think of this idea?

Homelessness: Look at the photos of the finalists in the Through Our Eyes photography project, giving voice to the homeless through the lens of a camera. What surprised you?

Living Wage: Check out this infographic about affordable housing on minimum wage.

Kindness: The construction worker who hides a life-size Waldo for children at a nearby hospital to spot each day.

teacherEducation: #iwishmyteacherknew started as a project in Kyle Swartz’s third grade classroom. Her book by the same title just released and it’s beautiful encouragement, gives voice to our children and hope to all of us to support students and our teachers.

 

 

 

 

What are you all talking about this July? 

Kids Talk Justice

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The kids took their 1st night bags for Hope Pkgs very seriously! My favorite part of this playgroup was how so many kids wanted to take time to show me everything they chose for their bags. Their items were carefully chosen and packed. They understood how special the items inside would be for kids in foster care.

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We celebrated kids with bubbles, glitter play dough and we made fabric heart bookmarks to remember to pray for kids in foster care. After we read On the Night You Were Born, the kids also had some parachute and sidewalk chalk fun!

HPBlog3Learn more about the work of Hope Pkgs at their website. Lisa Hoeve and her team are doing amazing work and gaining more and more traction everyday to support kids, organizations and families within the foster care system. You can also follow Hope Pkgs on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget our last summer playgroup coming Monday Evening, August 8 from 6:30- 7:30 pm at Kollen Park. We are going to celebrate the world coming together for the Olympics with three local service projects. We will be supporting Holland Rescue Mission with clothing donations, decorating lunch bags for Kids Food Basket, and donating dollars to The Flint Water Fund. There will also be an epic Olympic obstacle course!

#TalkJustice Together June Edition

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Ten ideas to get your family talking about justice together!

Caring for Others: How to Teach Your Child to be an “Includer”

Refugees: Displaced people now surpass 60 million. One in every 113 people have been driven from their home due to violence, persecution, or human rights violations. What do your kids think of that number? Where should those families go?

Girls: #LeanInTogether is a new initiative to encourage leadership in girls. When women support one another great things happen.

Restorative Justice: Jail for many is not as simple as it seems. There is often more to the story.

Education: Talk to your kids about why early childhood education is so important. The first 1,000 days are critical to development.

Battling Entitlement: The story behind the viral photo of the West Point Graduate. Read it with your kids.

Race: Why the ‘Roots’ Remake is Important. It’s a story about extreme pain and beautiful resistance. Ask your kids what they think they can learn from history.

Human Trafficking: International Justice Mission (IJM) is hosting Freedom Sunday, September 25, 2016. Involve your church with these free resources.

Refugees: To be a refugee is to make impossible choices, a first-person perspective from OXFam.

Climate Change: Five amazing inventions for a sustainable future. What could you invent?

What did your family talk about? 

 

Kids are Talking Justice!

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On Monday evening we celebrated ACTS! A local ministry led by Jaime Blom who opens her home to kids of the Westcore neighborhood for meals, art, and a giant doses of love. This is the beautiful artwork they brought along to share.

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We read the story The Dot about how we all have something beautiful to offer.

The kids made watercolor hearts to remember to love each other.

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They also completed a collaborative art project by making a home. The homes were put all together by my friend Janyre. Then we gave the project to ACTS so they can remember it takes a village of love and that we care about them.

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Next up: This coming Monday, June 27 at Kollen Park from 6:30-7:30. We will supporting Hope Pkgs which provides first night bags to kids in foster care. We hope to see you there!

TJ Hope Pkgs

Summer!

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As of June 14 another school year will be completed! A bittersweet moment for me, as I most likely will be doing a new work in the fall. It was my great privilege to be a small part in the lives of some incredibly special students with special needs. They have my heart- forever. You could pray for me in the coming weeks that I feel God’s peace and clarity moving forward.

We got a long-awaited puppy! Meet Ginny Weasley Van Engen, a German short-haired pointer. She is sweet, puppyish and has lots of energy. The kids have been waiting their whole life for her!

 
changed for lifeI finally get to share a project I was blessed to be a contributing writer for called Changed for Life. Changed for Life is a free, downloadable online resource from the CRC and RCA that equips short-term mission teams, the hosts who receive them, and the congregations who send them, to craft a well-organized mission experience with the potential to catalyze lifelong change.

 

The curriculum features the work of established voices in cultural intelligence and missions Kurt Ver Beek, Jo Ann Van Engen, and David Livermore. Read more about the why behind the curriculum from Pastor Shannon Jammal Hollemans called Missions Tourism. I loved being a part of this project, because it is challenges us to think about seeing how God is already at work where we serve and joining God in that work alongside one another.

 
TJ ACTSSummer also means Talk Justice Playgroups! If you are in the Holland area, I so hope to see you there! Sign up for updates at our Facebook Event Page or send me an email! Our first date is Monday evening June 20! Meet up at Kollen Park from 6:30- 7:30.

We will support ACTS, a local ministry led by Jamie Blom that reaches out to neighborhood kids through meals, art, and an open door. Listen to a story about creativity, play at stations, make newspaper watercolor hearts, and contribute to the collaborative art project it takes a village.

Let’s encourage the Blom’s and their ministry by bringing needed donations like Meijer gift cards for meals, gas cards for field trips, art supplies, or even toilet paper.

 
GutsyGirlsCorrieandBetsieCover3Our dear Amy L. Sullivan has released the second book in her Gutsy Girls Series (Gladys Aylward: Book 1). This addition is a beautiful, moving, and winsome look at the sister duo of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom. I love everything about giving our girls role models that are worthy examples of making a difference! Want more book suggestions- join Amy’s summer book club looking at more books for girls and talking to their authors.

 

What does the summer hold for you family? I can’t wait to keep doing justice together!

 

 

 

#TalkJustice Together May Edition

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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…

Ready to talk about justice with your family?

Education: Big kids inspiring little ones. There is something so beautiful in the simplicity of this story.

Homelessness: An innovative idea to help those that are homeless. The Sleepbus. What does your family think?

Hunger: A Fresh Food Grocery Bus for areas where there is no access to healthy choices.

Refugees: What was inside the first ever care package? Can you send hope as a family?

Refugees: Short, but powerful video about the evolution of American Public Opinion toward refugees. Watch with your family- has much changed?

Clean Water: Take a home water audit quiz with your family! Then learn some new tips for conserving water.

Innovation: Plastic turned into 3D printer ink. What could you dream up?

Education: Girl coders from Mumbai making a difference with technology.

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Summer Fun! Virtual Kindness Summer Camp! Sign up for six-weeks of amazing ideas to fill your summer with kindness opportunities and ideas from five writers, including us, About Proximity.

Learn about our Summer 2016 #TalkJustice Events in Holland, Michigan supporting ACTS, Hope Pkgs, Kids’ Food Basket, Holland Rescue Mission, and The Flint Water Fund.

What does May bring for you? What articles did your family explore? 

 

 

 

Out in the Open Air

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Since December I have experienced four large rejections.

A goodbye to the work I have known for three years.

And silence.

 

I have moved from despair, sadness, feeling like an utter failure, to peace around and around again. This is what I have been learning:

  1. 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.
  2. “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.
  3. Waiting is hard. Be kind to yourself.
  4. 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.
  5. Even though you know God cares for you and has a plan, it sometimes feels lonely and desolate, and that is all right.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

And somehow it is beautiful.

 

Summer 2016 Talk Justice Events

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Let’s make a difference together this summer! I’m so excited to invite you all to our Summer 2016 #TalkJustice Events. We very much hope to see you there!

Join our Facebook Event Page to get updates and ask questions.

TJ ACTS

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!

 

TJ Hope Pkgs

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.

TJ Olympics

#TalkJustice Olympics!

Event 1: Decorating Lunch Bags for Kids Food Basket.

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! aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

#TalkJustice April Edition

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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!

What did your family talk about?