Author, Spoken-Work Poet, Prophet

Meet Amena Brown!

I love discovering new authors. Meet Amena Brown an author and spoken-word poet.

Her book How to Fix a Broken Record released in November and it’s a keeper.

Do destructive messages ever play like a broken record in your mind? I am raising my hand.

When God heals that broken record of your soul, you’ll be ready to step into your calling, speak up for what’s right, and dance your own story of God’s grace.

Amena shares truths with an exceptional sense of humor. Her book is divided into seven sections paired with a vinyl record: love and be yourself, dating, marriage, lessons in adulting, ctrl+alt+surrender, home, searching for the groove. Funny and profound. Full of faith.

The job of a poet is to be a prophet, and it is not the job of the prophet to only say the things that make people happy and comfortable. Sometimes poets must say the hard thing, must bring up sadness and anger lingering beneath people’s sentences and actions, must dismantle work by work and brick by brick the systems that oppress anyone who bears the image of God.

I am thankful for Amena’s prophetic voice. Her debut is beautiful, like her voice. A voice I hope to hear much more of in the future.

I’m giving away a copy of How to Fix a Broken Record. Just comment below to be entered to win. How do you stop destructive messages on repeat and rest in what God can do?

2017 Fair Trade Gift Ideas

Christmas 2017 Fair Trade Shopping Guide  

Hoping to make a difference with your gift giving?

Purchasing fair trade through global artisans allows them to support their families and invest back into their businesses and communities.

Here are 100 gift ideas that give back!

For Women

  • Aprons from Imagine Goods made in Cambodia.
  • African Proverb Bookmarks supporting Kenya through the Grain of Rice Project.
  • Bags from FEED projects feeding families globally.
  • Bracelets from 31 Bits empowering Ugandan women making jewelry from paper beads.
  • Divine Chocolate from Serrv supporting farmers from Ghana.
  • Jewelry from the Brave Collection supporting survivors of sex trafficking in Cambodia.
  • Jewelry from Noonday empowering artisans and interweaving ambassadors to connect consumers and artisans.
  • Ribbon Sandals from Sseko supporting women in Uganda.
  • Sari throw blankets from Sari Bari supporting women exploited through sex trafficking.
  • Scarves from FashionABLE supporting women who overcome.
  • Scarves from 1000 Shillings supporting sustainable business for women in Uganda.
  • Scarves from Lesouque.
  • Scrubs providing another for a global healthcare worker from FIGS
  • Shea Skin Care Line from Bread for Life helping women in poverty become self-sustaining entrepreneurs.
  • Shoes from Teysha, artisans from Guatemala.
  • Shoes from the Root Collective supporting artisans in Guatemala.
  • Stationary from To The Market supporting global survivors.
  • Tea from Mighty Leaf working with partners around the world.
  • Yoga Mats from prAna fair trade materials and giving back through Outdoor Outreach.

For Home:

For Men:

  • Clothing from Fair Trade Winds supporting global artisans.
  • Coffee from Cafe Campesino a coffee cooperative based in Georgia.
  • Earbuds providing hearing devices for those in need.
  • Flying Discs from One World Fair Trade.
  • Globetrotter Journal from Fairtrade Winds.
  • Grilling Gifts from Uncommon Goods.  
  • Ipod Cases from Enrou handcrafted by global artisans.
  • Men’s Hats from Krochet Kids supporting women artisans from areas of poverty.
  • Outerwear from Apolis supporting global artisans.
  • Socks buy a pair = donate a pair from Bombas.
  • Socks that fight homelessness.
  • Sunglasses from SOLVE contributing to clean water initiatives.
  • Ties from Bull + Moose helping veterans.
  • Watches that give microloans.
  • Wine from OneHope.

For Children:

For Teens:

A Song of Home

I love having the opportunity to share the work of powerful voices in fiction and non-fiction.

The last chapter of Pearl Spence’s story releases today, from author Susie Finkbeiner. Pearl navigates childhood through the Dust Bowl, The Great Depression, and now as a pre-teen the Swing Era. Susie is a master at writing vivid characters and Pearl is actually based on her own Grandma!

Hard times have the power to change people”

Pearl knows hard times deep down in her soul. She knows abandonment, poverty, and prejudice. What I appreciate most about Susie as an author is her ability to write what is real and hard. Her stories don’t find perfect beauty or happy endings. Yet, they always hold fast to hope.

In her Aunt Carrie and her best friend Ray, the town librarian and Opal, Pearl finds home.

 

When hard times befall us, we ask ourselves the same question.

What is home?

What is steady in hard times?

Home is who holds us in love and us them in return.

Over here at About Proximity, we navigate hard places where we desperately need God’s justice.

In the same way, Susie navigates hard through her fictional characters, place in time, and the gift of story. We are thankful for her voice and all the ways she challenges us.

Follow Susie Finkbeiner on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

What is home to you?

Talk Justice Together November 2017

Happy November!

A month to pause and take time to talk justice together in thanksgiving for all that is hopeful in our world.

Poverty: Tools for childhood trauma from Sesame Street. A new video series gives children tools for dealing with traumatic experiences whether a natural disaster or abuse, neglect, mental illness or poverty.

Poverty: When a kindergartener secures milk for her entire classroom. #bethechange

Clean Water: 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao invents a better, faster way to test lead levels in drinking water in response to the Flint Water Crisis. Dream big.

Refugees: A Doctors Without Borders exhibit called “Flee from Home” uses virtual reality and 360-degree video to share the story of refugees. A Syrian artist and architect build dioramas out of suitcases to bring awareness to the homes refugees leave behind.

Health Care: A National Geographic Report on the importance of vaccinations for developing nations.

Creation Care: Have you ever wondered how climate change actually affects people? Learn about how climate change impacts women and girls on the island of Fiji. Take time to view these stunning photographs of how climate change affects families around the world.

Access to Education: Lal Chandra Pandey started a rebellion to stop child marriage and open up access to education for girls like herself in Nepal.

Hunger: Food insecurity and health. 

Disability: How Ikea is opening up inclusive play for children around the world with their campaign “Let’s Play for Change.”

Clean Water and Sanitation: Did you know November 19 is World Toilet Day? 

As you plan your Christmas shopping don’t forget November 28, 2017, is Giving Tuesday!

What did your family talk about this month? We can’t wait to hear your insights! 

 

Meet Jessica Ronne

For those wishing for a different answer…

For those who have asked why…

For those who have cradled heartbreak and felt shattered dreams…

For those who hope through pain…

 

Meet Jessica Ronne, author of the memoir Sunlight Burning at Midnight.

As a young mother, Jessica faces the terminal diagnosis of her son. Choosing life, a son Lucas is born with a life-changing disability. His name meaning, “bringer of light.”

A few years later, Jessica’s husband Jason is diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor.

After six years of marriage, she becomes a widow with four children.

Jessica’s shares her journey with honesty. Her story is beautiful because she allows readers into her heart, the pain and the hope alike. She doubts, wrestles and pleads. She clings to her faith and the God she knows to be good. We are assured that not having all the answers can be a holy response.

In the end, two stories of heartbreak are made into something beautiful, something as unexpected as sunlight burning at midnight.

Isaiah 61:3 And provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

 

Visit Jessica at Jess Plus the Mess or via social media on Facebook or Instagram. Her family’s adventures and her unwavering faith are an encouragement to all who follow her journey.

Comment below to be entered to win a copy of Sunlight Burning at Midnight.

How do you hang onto faith in hard times? 

A Farewell to Apathy

The last few weeks I have wanted to sink into a bed of apathy and remain there. I would pull the covers over my head and stay quiet, safe and warm.

I think many of us are feeling stress, fatigue, worry, even anger right now. There is so much going on around us. Beyond political strife, there are natural disasters, violence, and hate. All these take a toll on our hearts.

Over the past nine months, I have been a part of a Be the Bridge small group. Our small group discusses racial reconciliation from a Biblical perspective.

The gospel is justice come to life. Latasha Morrison

Founded by Latasha Morrison, Be the Bridge seeks to equip bridge builders with resources, vision, and skills for racial unity. Start here for powerful readings on white privilege, white allies, racial injustice, and education and history.

One of the first things we learned in our Be the Bridge small group is that reconciliation and unity are a hard and messy work.

To reach this goal, we must be willing to remain in tension, be uncomfortable, and not always be right.

A simple, yet powerful way to do this is to listen.

Be kind to yourself- we don’t know what we don’t know. When we do know though, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge.

I’m excited to share that one of the chapters of Kids Talk Justice is race and our call to be allies of one another.

When we most want to embrace apathy, the greater the time in history to say farewell.

We pray God would guide us in this work. To put over all things LOVE. It is then we have expansive hope.

How can you be a bridge builder in your corner of the world? 

Talk Justice Together October 2017 Edition

Happy Fall! Here are ten ways to talk justice together this month:

Electricity: The difference something as small as electricity makes.

Hunger: Eliminating food deserts with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.

Hunger: Using coalitions, strategy, and thoughtfulness to bridge the hunger gap in NYC with culturally appropriate foods. What do you think of these innovative ideas?

Climate: Seventeen questions and answers worth a read. Learn more about the changing climate and creation care.

Education and Girls: Thanks for this great find Amy Sullivan! An eight-year-old entomologist– with access to education we can all reach our dreams!

Disability: A theme park designed for people with disabilities. Gordon Hartman created the “world’s first ultra-accessible theme park” for his daughter Morgan. What parts of the theme park stand out to you?

Refugees: Thirty-seven photographs of the refugee crisis. The most striking part? These are from a 2015 article… they could just as well be from 2017. The refugee crisis stretches on with further suffering. How can we make a difference?

Literacy: The Echo Refugee Library– a mini-van bringing access to the displaced.

Film: Three documentaries that will change the way your children see the world. Have you watched any with your family?

Race: A photographer recreates the 1,400-mile route along the Underground Railroad. Through Darkness to Light. 

How will your family Talk Justice this October? 

Proximity

 

A week ago, I submitted my rewrites for Kids Talk Justice. I wrote and edited like a madwoman for the twelve weeks of summer. Everywhere. It was the hardest work of my life. In the late hours of the night, I wrestled with words.

These topics are not easy, made more complicated by the difficulties facing our nation.

I expect the next round of edits to be equally hard. This is my promise and prayer, I will not give up.

Proximity is essential in our lives.

We need it now more than ever. So much has happened.

There is so much hurt and unkindness. So many fractures.

I promise to keep listening. Wrestling. Struggling. I would do it over again because sometimes the most important things are the hardest.

Like this photograph, sometimes the most important things are simple too.

A response.

A drawing close.

A prayer for changed hearts.

A seeking of justice.

A call to never give up.

Summer Talk Justice Events

We are so excited for Summer Talk Justice 2017!

Tuesday, July 25 from 6:30-7:30 pm
at Benjamin’s Hope (located at 15468 Riley St.)

Benjamin’s Hope is a community where everyone belongs. The residents will be welcoming us to learn about the mission of Benjamin’s Hope, play lawn games, show us their garden and barn, and share popsicles.

This is a wonderful way for us to support adults with developmental disabilities and build community.

We can bless Benjamin’s Hope by bringing:
*Paper Products (toilet paper, paper towel, Kleenex)
*Bubbles
*Simple Puzzles (50 pc. less)
*Coloring Books and Crayons

Tuesday, August 1 from 6:30-7:30 pm 
at Kollen Park (area east of the public restrooms) 

Supporting Health Care and Childhood Cancer through
Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. 

We will read about Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s story, share lemonade, make a community prayer braid and play together!

We can bless these organizations by bringing:
$1.00 per family for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

for Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan
(most needed items)
*paper towels
*Clorox Wipes
*children’s toys

We would be so honored if you would join us! Grab a group and come make a difference!

Keep updated at our Facebook Event Page. 

 

Kids Talk Justice May Edition

Let’s talk justice together as we move into summer! Congratulations to all who conquered another school year, not for the faint of heart!

Hunger: When a Grandmother’s gift multiplies. How does educating others play a role in the success of this business that gives back? 

Clean Water: Have you checked out Use it Wisely with your family? Over 100 ideas to conserve water in your home.

Education: In Pakistan, 88,000 child brick laborers are given access to school. What do you think of that number of children working in harsh conditions?

Refugees: The refugee crisis in Europe is reviving churches. Are those that fear refugees missing an opportunity?

Human Trafficking: Children on the move as unaccompanied refugees are at a heightened risk for being trafficked. #childrenuprooted

Restorative Justice: A modern day Harriet Tubman. A truly extraordinary story of redemption and a call to look at the prison system through new eyes.

Poverty: Check out this photo essay of the women and children of Chad. How does exploring a new place and culture expand our sense of justice?

Homelessness and Sustainability: A refugee makes homes and provides jobs from recycled plastic bottles. What do you think of this creative practice?

Creation Care: Mangroves in Madagascar, what do you think of their ideas to protect the new trees?

Poverty: The real people facing budget cuts to Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, and rural water development. Everyone has a story.

How did you talk justice this month?