This Decisive Hour

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Have you read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”  I would encourage everyone to read the letter in its entirety, it’s transformative.

I’m in Birmingham because injustice is here.”

He shares his disappointment in the overall silence of the church, fearful of being disturbers of the peace.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.”

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

For the last year, I have been a part of the Be the Bridge community. I highly recommend their resources on racial reconciliation from a Christian perspective.

While in this community in a small group, or through the Facebook forum I am a part of I listen. This is what I hear. Our silence is deafening and painful.

These are difficult times we are a part of. Speaking, standing. No, they are not easy. I feel we have had the luxury of sitting out for too long. People of color have known these truths. The ugly language and ideas that shock our hearts are not new to them. For this, we must lament. We must get up and stand alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Social justice does not need to be political. Social justice is the work of Jesus. Redeeming and reconciling.

No more silence. There is injustice here.

 

One of my favorite quotes comes from Lupita Nyong’o best-supporting actress win in 2014.

No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Not only dreams but lives.

To God, each life is valid, extraordinary and needful.

Open

Happy New Year!

For the last five years, I have picked one word for the year through #oneword365. Every year I have chosen kneel as the posture I hoped to take in my walk with God. This year I felt the truth of kneeling, but still keeping my hands clenched tightly.

 

Over break, I read Steven Pressfield’s book Do the Work.

Resistance finds us in:

Fear, Self-doubt, Procrastination, Addiction, Distraction, Timidity, Ego, Self-Loathing, Perfectionism

I see myself in so many of these. Hand clenched.

 

I long to open my hands to God.

My fear, my self-doubt, my timidity, my perfectionism leads me to surface living.

Slow progress. Digging deep. Wrestling. Struggling. All these bring depth.

 

All the hope and dreams of this coming year I want to hold with open hands to God.

What- one word- might bring you hope and direction this new year? 

Talk Justice Together December 2017 Edition

Happy Advent Season! Talk justice together this month of December.

Social Justice: Author Sarah Thebarge shares a story from her medical training work in South Sudan. Love Runs In. How can your family run in for others? 

Creation Care: A changing climate. A deeply moving photographic exhibition from the United Nations Development Programme. Discuss the changes our planet and people face.

Refugees: What they bring to the tableWhat ethnic food does your family enjoy most? 

Innovation: Check out the finalists in the MacArthur Foundation 100&change competition. Each finalist and semifinalist program features a video of the life-saving work they are doing globally. What program sparks your imagination? 

Access to Education: A Syrian boy wins the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize for starting a school at a refugee camp in Lebanon when he was just twelve years old.

Immigrants and Refugees: An Advent Prayer. 

Hunger: The new face of hunger in the United States. What surprised you? 

Disability: Healthcare professionals with disabilities make a difference.

Access to Education: A symphony of broken instruments. Love, hope and the importance of arts in education.

Race: 5 lessons from multiethnic youth ministry.  What lesson resonates with you? 

 

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?