About lisavanengen@gmail.com

Posts by lisavanengen@gmail.com:

#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.

 

I know no other way

Kneel2016

A few weeks ago, I stood outside waiting to direct participants to our playgroup. The evening was dark and cold. I took a picture of the street lamp piercing the dark. I wanted to remember the prayer I prayed that night, to not give up if God had something to do through me.

Over break I read Brene Brown, a New York Time Bestselling author. She is a researcher and spot on about messy things of the heart and how to meet them head on. In Rising Strong she says this about the messy middle:

You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”

 

God, don’t let me give up. Let me hit my fears, insecurities, and rejections head on.

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

 

There is a plaque on my fireplace mantle that reads: Its hard to stumble when you’re on your knees. Ever since I read about adopting one word for each new year, mine has been the same. I wonder when I will let it go… or if it will always be a part of me. Kneel. It has to be for me, I know no other way. It all has to come from that place kneeling before God, or I am not me. I would not have the strength to show up. I would run far, far away.

My prayer for you this new year:
To not give up. You are enough. He has something beautiful to do in you and through you.

What do you need strength for in this new year? 

 

 

#TalkJustice Together December Edition

talkjusticeDECEMBER

#TalkJustice Playgroups

Maddie's Fridge We will be sharing this sweet book, Maddi’s Fridge at our next #TalkJustice Playgroup Kids Helping Kids. This is a fantastic book to open up conversation about food insecurity with your kids!

We will be supporting Kids’ Food Basket by decorating lunch sacks, repackaging trail mix, and playing! Visit our Facebook Event Page here for more information.

 

 

When People Make a Difference

A stray email from a Tennessee school reaches the inbox of a New Jersey man. He ends up adopting the school and the kids call him their ‘New Jersey Grandfather.’ Read the article here.

Changemaker

Take the Story of Stuff Changemaker Quiz to see what kind of changemaker your family is!

Christmas Story 

As we gather to read the Christmas story this season, remember that Jesus was a refugee. Consider changing the conversation at Blessing Not Burden. If you are in the Holland area attend our playgroup coming this January (facebook event page). For older kids download the app My Life As A Refugee to open up the conversation.

Holiday Kindness Toolkit

A mega list of holiday kindness ideas from Pennies of Time. Including, our kindness options for Elf on a Shelf.

Our monthly #TalkJustice as a family usually shares ten ideas. This month we will stick with five, so you can spend lots of time doing our last idea…

slowdown

Slow Down

The perfect way to make a difference this season is to just simply slow down with your family.

If all we are is noise and busy, we leave no space to notice, where we might love.

What will you be taking notice of this holiday season? 

 

 

#TalkJustice Kids Helping Kids

KFB Playgroup1

I love #talkjustice playgroups. I love the proximity, the kids, the families, the organizations and everyone working as a community! Want to partner on a playgroup? Contact us at aboutproximity@gmail.com

Our next playgroup is Monday evening, December 14, 6:30-7:30. The wise and talented Rev. Jodi Baron and Grace Episcopal Church will be hosting.

We will be reading the book Maddie’s Fridge. A wonderful story about childhood hunger.

Maddie's Fridge

We will also play and serve together supporting West Michigan’s Kids’ Food Basket.

At Kids’ Food Basket sack suppers are delivered to students throughout the school year to bridge the gap so school lunch is not the last meal of the day. In the summer sack suppers are delivered through local park programs. They serve nearly 7,000 kids in the West Michigan area.

Kids’ Food Basket is unique in its Kids Helping Kids initiative that allows children to serve at their on-site locations, something that is not always possible in nonprofits.

49,560 children living in Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties are food insecure. There are many schools on the waiting list to be served by Kids’ Food Basket. When most of us have more than enough, these statistics are heartbreaking. We need not travel far to know hunger.

I hope many families will come out this busy holiday season to serve together! Join our Facebook Event Page to ask questions and get updates.

 

What does hunger look like where you live? What organizations meet the needs of food insecurity well? How could your family contribute? 

 

 

When We Give

I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend! I know I am so thankful for all of you.

When we give, the advent season takes on an even more beautiful form.

givingtuesday

Amidst holiday shopping, remember Giving Tuesday is tomorrow!

Many non-profits will match donations on Giving Tuesday.

giftcatalog

One of my favorite holiday ideas is picking out a living gift from a gift catalog together. Look online or order a copy in the mail. Great options: World Renew, World Vision, Compassion International, Heifer International, International Justice Mission, OxFam, The Salvation Army.

In partnership with Pennies of Time Holiday Kindness Camp, I shared this past week about incorporating acts of kindness with Elf of the Shelf. Even if you don’t get into the elves, these ideas would work anytime during the holiday season.

Christmas25

Here are 25 Acts of Kindness for your Advent Season:

  • Read a book together from We Give Books that donates another to a child without access.
  • Make a card for veterans and servicemen and women through A Million Thanks.
  • Plan an evening of caroling with friends at a nursing home (call activities director ahead of time)
  • Make kindness coupons for two neighbors offering leaf raking or snow shoveling services.
  • Give of your excess, fill a bag, and deliver to a donation center.
  • Invite the children of a single parent friend to decorate Christmas cookies with you and give their Mom or Dad time to go shopping alone.
  • Pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots or a low-cost Santa shop.
  • Take a hike and log your miles for the free app Charity Miles.
  • Invite a friend with a disability and their siblings to a movie party. Allow their parents a time away
  • Make handwritten notes for someone who could use encouragement. Send them in the mail.
  • Donate coloring books and crayons to your local WIC office
  • Donate to your local animal shelter.
  • Deliver treats with a thank you note to a community helper in your town (ex. firefighters)
  • Write a letter for The World Needs More Love Letters.
  • Donate socks and underwear to your local homeless or women’s shelter, this is common need.
  • Donate laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, or personal care items to your local food bank- these are often high-need items.
  • Make a special call to a Great Grandpa or Grandma or special friend that lives far away. Share what you love to do!
  • Cook a meal together and make extra. Deliver the extra meal to someone in need of a pick me up.
  • Deliver a special cocoa, coffee, or tea to a hard-worker teacher, coach, or leader who blesses your family
  • Make treats together and deliver to neighbors.
  • Fill out coupons for jobs you can do for Grandpas and Grandmas throughout the year
  • Make teacher Christmas thank-you’s.
  • Take a photo and upload to the app Donate a Photo, choose the cause you would like to support.
  • Serve your kids with a special surprise.

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving Weekend? What giving traditions do you practice with your family? 

We loved my Mom’s pie, cousins, deal-shopping with my Dad, and a sweet visit from my in-laws all the way from Iowa. My favorite tradition- trying hard to slow down and a remember why we celebrate Christmas.

I’m also excited about two upcoming playgroups. Kids Helping Kids with Kids Food Basket, and Blessing Not Burden, with the OSJ Campaign and Zeeland Christian School.

A Million Thanks

YouAlone

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m so very thankful for all of you.

This past week we participated in The Big Read, Holland Area in partnership with Herrick District Library and Hope College for a Give Back to Veterans Playgroup. We made cards for A Million Thanks and saw some things soldiers carried. The artwork of West Ottawa students blew me away.

VeteranPGcollage

Once again the playgroup surprised me. Our night ended up being cold and rainy and the turn out was not what had been expected. I was sharing that disappointment with my dear friend. Later that night I had to text her, you wouldn’t believe the artwork on these cards I told her. The messages inside were even more stunningly beautiful. It’s not about the numbers, it is about the heart that goes into it. You won’t see this girl giving up anytime soon.

I know everything around us is disappointing, disheartening, and even scary right now. We don’t all agree.

But, we can still love each other. That’s really all that matters. Let’s not give up on each other. Don’t for a minute give up on yourself either.

Someday, I’m going to have a story about setting up these playgroups with my Mom, and watching a handful trickle in, and sharing my insecurities with Julie… feeling not good enough. Maybe if the person leading them were a better version of me… God saying no, it is you I need. I’m just going to use them my way, not yours.

And I am thankful, because I know he redeems. He uses us, even when we feel un-usable.

 

I am thankful for you. You are all brave.

You are strong at the things that only you and you alone can do for God. That is beautiful.

Much love this holiday week.