Talk Justice Together September Edition

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Happy September and start to a new school year. Praying you feel the beauty of a changing season. Here are some talking points for your family to talk about justice together.

Loss and Hope: The children of 9-11 and what they can teach us. More than 3,000 children lost their parent that day. Their stories of loss and hope.

Refugees: I am Syria. A gentle, illustrated look at the reality of Syria and the needs of refugees. Perfect for children.

but in my heart I look ahead to the rebuilding of our cities.

Poverty: Landfill Harmonic a coming documentary about a recycled orchestra born out of a slum alongside a landfill in Cateura, Paraguay. Hope. Watch the trailer here. Ask the members of your family what they are thinking!

Kindness and Innovation: A teen the creates an app called Sit with Us, so no one has to sit alone in the cafeteria.

Our Global World: Follow the Out of Eden Walk from Paul Salopek, a reporter who has set out to retrace our ancestors global migration on foot. He will cover 21,000 miles. The photographs and stories are striking. Follow his travelogue together.

What happens when you become a war refugee? You walk.

Literacy and Education: Emma Watson interviews Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky and A Path Appears.

School to Prison Pipeline: When School Feels Like Prison. What do your kids think? How would they feel?

Clean Water: What do your kids think of WarkaWater Towers in Ethiopia?

Hunger: Watch this powerful 30 second short from Feeding America called Empty Plates. 

Refugees: Photo series of refugee fathers. Humanity.

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Encouragement for You

pretty-3Today, I want to offer you encouragement. Someday soon, I can tell you about the past six months, all the closed doors, false starts, waiting, questioning, being humbled again and again… and the open doors. The ones that move the slightest bit and leave you stunned.

This is what I know, God cares for us with a gentle, careful love. He always has and always will. Even if we don’t at all see clearly what he is doing in our lives. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

To call you friends is a tremendous thing.

I want to give away three books I read over the summer- as we all free fall into a new season where our calendars expand and responsibilities pile up.

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Hand Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford

Present-over-Prefect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte

 

I pray for you all to be able to slow down this fall season and see the cracks of light streaming through the doors God opens for you.

Leave a comment to be entered to win. Or direct someone over to our Facebook Page if you think they might be encouraged there, let me know to be entered.

How do you practice being present over being perfect? 

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?