#TalkJustice April Edition

april

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? 

hope.

hope

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.

This is what I’ve been reading…
evictedEvicted by Matthew Desmond.

Homelessness in America.

 

 

 

 

$2.00 a Day Living on Almost Nothing in Americapoverty

by: Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Extreme poverty in the United States. Low-wage labor market.

 

 

 

poverty 2The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives

By: Sasha Abramsky

Economic inequality for the chronically poor and working poor.

 

 

 

Born Survivors by: Wendi Holden born survivors

Three young women and their babies born in a concentration camp.

Such defiant hope. courage. life in the face of death.

 

 

 

SHofcoFind Me Unafraid

By: Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner

Love. Loss. Hope. Kenya.

 

 

 

Keeping Hope Alivehope

by: Dr. Hawa Abdi with Sarah J. Robbins

Dr. Hawa and her daughters run a refugee camp on their family farm close to Mogadishu, Somalia. The camp has provided for nearly 90,000 refugees.

 

 

Hard things are happening in the world, but hope always prevails.

We can be part of that hope. I want very much to be.

 

What are you reading?

Also… I would love to give away my copy of Brooklyn, it is so sweet and fiction. (just leave a comment to be entered.)

 

leading us deeper

shippingcontainers

What is God doing in my life right now?

Closed doors and a lot of uncertainty.

It raises in up in me all kinds of demons of fear and not feeling good enough.

 

I’m learning to lean into the uncomfortable of not knowing.

To give myself grace when I feel completely lost.

This quote brought me much comfort this weekend, and I pray it might to you as well.

The spiritual life does not remove us from the world, but leads us deeper into it. Henri Nouwen

Be encouraged that God hears your prayers, knows you, and loves you well.

 

#TalkJustice March Edition

locks

March! The month of the long goodbye to winter.

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!
12482154935_ca10226573_zShelterbox: 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.

Pray for refugees: A new prayer is posted everyday.

justice

What’s new in your corner of the world?

 

 

 

And It Was Beautiful

Tippetts

I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it.

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.

 

#TalkJustice Election

 

election

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Soul Rusting Times

blackout1

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.

cupofdustWhy I love her as a writer is she is not afraid to tackle messy and difficult.

Her lastest novel is A Cup of Dustwhich 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?

#TalkJustice Together

febtalkjustice

Women from Around the World

Photographer Michaela Noroc continues her quest to photograph women from every country in the world. She documents through The Atlas of Beauty.

The Flint Water Crisis

A piece by Nicholas Kristof shedding light on the lead poisoning of water in Flint, and also the elevated levels of lead in impoverished cities across America. Talk about why this might still happen in a developed nation like the United States.

Be The Bridge

Women around the country gathered for IF:Gathering this past weekend. Be sure to check out Tasha Morrison of Be The Bridge, building racial unity in the church. Follow Be The Bridge on social media and sign up for the newsletter. Also a great article about what everyone needs to know about racial reconciliation from Relevant Magazine. Talk about how your family could be involved.

Shrink Your Waste

Work together to Shrink Your Waste! Take Part shares many ideas about how less if often more.

Sustainable Development Goals 

Choose one of seventeen sustainable development goals, find practical ways to make a difference and graphics to share.

Goodwill Pop Up Shop

Pop up shops, restaurants, and even weddings have grown to a billion dollar industry. What do you think of this Goodwill Pop Up Shop? Talk about creativity and make a difference with your family.

Show Up 

This past month I have been continually reminded of this one truth. Show up.

When we show up in the smallest moments that is our most profound.

showup

God use me.

Don’t let me give up.

Help me be faithful in all the hard,

not glamorous, 

difficult, even ugly 

moments that make up real life. 

You are there. Loving us. 

 

 

Your Voices

Yellow

This prayer I prayed a few months ago:

God, don’t let me give up.

Maybe sometimes it is all you have left, that tiny little plea.

If you have something to do through me, I want to show up. Very much.

 

I would rather it to be easier. Without rejection pressing up tight against me. When its hard to even kneel. When tears gather up, when usually they are tucked away.

So I keep praying, God don’t let me give up. 

I am praying that for you, for whatever is hard in your life.

 

I’m so thankful for these beautiful people who came out to support immigrants and refugees a few weeks ago. It was a good night. It’s your voices that keep me going.

BNBCOLLAGE

I’m so excited to begin planning #TalkJustice playgroups for this new year!

I’d love to hear from you!

What organization would you like to support? What activities? Where would you like to meet? What times would work best this summer?

Comment here, or send me a note aboutproximity@gmail.com

Your voices truly do mean everything.

Blessing Not Burden PlayGroup

BNB PLAYGROUPCome out for the first playgroup of 2016!

We are so excited to be partnering with The Office of Social Justice and the Blessing Not Burden Campaign and Zeeland Christian School for this group. If you are in the Holland Area we hope you might come and join us!

BNBnewyear

Serve together by using our voices in a photo booth to share how immigrants have blessed you.

Name jar

Read The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi about new Korean immigrant Unhei. As she decides on a new name, she finds her classmates eager to help her transition to America. Friendship opens the door for her to embrace her Korean identity.

BNBPREFINAL

Participate in play stations-

  • world volleyball
  • crafting- with stencils and passport stickers and world coloring pages
  • an old-fashioned Ellis Island simulation
  • immigration timeline walk from The Church Between Borders
  • take a citizenship quiz
  • world landmark sensory tub
  • play doh with letters to make your name
  • who is my neighbor Instagram interactive art.
  • language soup
  • what would you pack? station

 

Take Home: 

  • Immigration Family History Handout
  • Ways to get involved in the Blessing Not Burden Campaign

All Ages Welcome! Zeeland Christian School is located at 334 W. Central Ave. Zeeland, MI.

Keep updated at the Facebook Event Page. Email me at aboutproximity@gmail.com if you would like to receive email updates about what is new with #TalkJustice playgroups. Exciting things are happening this coming year! And I would love you, your families, and your wise voices to be a part of it.