Encouragement

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? 

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.

When You Are Not Superwoman

When you are not superwoman it is very difficult to keep your life together. In normal life I can’t do Pinterest perfect, but life while working full time and writing a book, and being a Mom looked pretty ugly.

I have always known I have limitations, but they were greatly amplified through this process. I’d love to share some things I learned.

We Can Do Hard Things! 

The learning curve for this first one was steep, but I figured it out. It was messy and ugly. There were times I wanted to pull my hair out or crawl into bed and never get out. We can do hard things! I think what eventually emerges will not be messy!

Small Steps

Some days I didn’t think I would make it. Working at school all day, driving kids to activities, trying to balance everything else. Every day I tried to accomplish one thing no matter how small. Some days that looked like one sentence. Other days it was thinking through one of the topics in my head. That forward momentum kept me going.

Seasons of No 

I also had to say no… a lot. This was not comfortable to me. I’m a people pleaser and saying no makes my stomach hurt. I learned people understand when you have seasons where no needs to come more frequently. People have been gentle and understanding.

God Works Through Us to Uplift Each Other 

Friends mean so much. I have received such needful support at the very moments I needed it most. God works through us to uplift each other. It doesn’t go unnoticed by me to be thankful for those God has placed in my path. Also… even when you are thirty-eight you still need your parents. I also missed my first family trip to Iowa at Thanksgiving to stay home and write. Everyone survived.

Imperfection

I stayed up very, very late at night to get my writing done. I should learn to drink coffee… (it is more fun to eat junior mints though). I did not watch television. Therefore, I have no idea about This is Us, except Milo and Mandy would be enough to make me a fan. I wrote and did little else for the last six months. My house is so messy, it is taking us all spring break to clean it back up. Other people might have faired better, but I was not one of these women. I tried to embrace my limitations, dig in and do what I needed to do.

Kids Talk Justice

Kids are brilliant. Every time I wanted to give up. I’d read their survey’s and quotes. Beautiful. Brilliant. Needful. It helped me realized that this work is important. We need to champion them to be all they can be in the work of justice. They are specially equipped.

Kneeling

I needed God very much. I kept repeating… please be the author of this book God. Give me the right words. He listens. I will commit to keep praying this prayer. It has been a humbling experience. I have so much to still learn about writing, justice and being who God want me to be.

A week ago I got to hit send!

The next time I see that puppy, it will be bleeding red. That will help shape it into something infinitely better. Something that used to be so scary to me, is welcomed now. I can hardly wait to share the finished product with you all!

I can’t wait to share the voices of kids concerning justice. Their words will inspire and challenge us all more than anything else. I can’t thank you all enough for your love and support. We have a long way to go, but the hardest part has passed.

And I do love writing so much. My friend Julie at work asked if I would want to do it again. Yes, I answered without even thinking. Writing my heart is so much easier for me than talking it out.

Clearly, I am not superwoman. I’m thankful God still uses me in a small way to make a difference.

I’m looking forward to being back here more to share all I can about justice issues in the world, engaging our kids and offering all the encouragement I can find. We need it right now, so very much.

Greatly Loved

Happy New Year!

I’m getting closer and closer to my first big deadline over here- less than three months and counting. Everyday it’s prayer first, second, last and a hundred times in between. I surely would never be doing this on my own. Even then, I’m constantly fighting away the not good enough feeling that follows me wherever I go. I keep pushing forward and I am on my knees.

I am so thankful for all your encouragement and also for the surveys so many kids filled out! (I am still accepting them, if anyone else is interested!) Kids are the best and they are brilliant.

I want to encourage you in this new year. I am giving away three books I have recently read.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Wild an Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan 

 

“God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live . . . loved.” Lysa TerKeurst

I am praying you can dwell in that space of being loved greatly.

Set apart to do what God specifically has designed YOU to do.

What are looking forward to in this year of 2017? Leave a comment here and I’ll enter you for the books!

Love Mercy

 

action

We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing wings on the way down. Kurt Vonnegut

You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe. Leymah Gbowee, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

I am thinking about these quotes this week.

It has been a long one- I’ll leave it at that for now. The world does not need my thoughts- it needs my actions.

 

For now some encouragement in the form of fiction. I have these four beauties to give away this week. Fall and winter is a perfect time to curl up with some great reading.

The Light Between the Oceans, Brooklyn, Little Bee, and All the Light We Cannot See.

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Here are some exciting book releases coming up that I also have to give away… 

Amelia Rhode’s Praying A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for your Community

Amy Sullivan’s Gutsy Girl Book Three: Fanny Crosby dropping December 1!

and newly released…

Leslie Manlapig’s STEAM Kids Christmas

Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way

Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited 

 

 

To be entered to win just leave a comment…

What are you reading? What is giving you encouragement right now? 

 

 

believe you are worthy

worthy

I had the blessing of attending Breathe Christians Writer’s Conference for the third time this weekend. I’m so thankful to live so close to this space of great encouragement.

I wanted to share some of that encouragement.

 

 

Brenda Yoder shared that when we honor God by honoring our stories, we become whole.

It is so important that we embrace who God made us to be.

We can embrace those things that make us uniquely who we are.

We don’t need to bury our talents.

Or ratchet down our successes.

Lynn Austin reminded us to give our families the gift of encouraging us in our dreams.

 

I have always loved these beautiful words from Lupito Nyong’o during her 2014 Oscar acceptance speech. “No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.”

 

and from the keynote speaker James Scott Bell

fall in love with the gift God has given you.

 

Today, I give you permission to hold the frailty of your dreams and the beautiful ways God has created you close. Take them to heart. Share them. Believe you are worthy,

because you very much are.

 

 

Never Give Up

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For the past year I have been in the humblest spaces. Places where no echoes, pathways turn into dead ends, and the silence is never-ending. Somehow in the midst of all those questions and rejection, God gave me the biggest surprise.

We have signed a contract with Kregel Publications for a book about Kids Talking Justice!

I am so excited to share this journey with you. So many of you have supported me from the very beginning. I could not be more thankful for your voices, hearts, and encouragement.

My heart is so happy to be writing something that means so much to me.

And I would love to ask for your voices!

questionaire

Would you be willing to lend your voices? Here’s how you can help!

  • Help your kids answer the Kids Talk Justice Questionnaire! You can print it off in PDF, or let me know you are interested and I’ll get a copy to you! You can access them here: elementary/teen questions and young kids questions.
  • You can lend your voices with one simple question. How do you talk justice with your family? 
  • Sign up for the Talk Justice quarterly newsletter for updates on the right side bar of the website or let me know and I’ll sign you up.

Here is my encouragement to you:

never give up- for God is able to do immeasurable more than we could ask or imagine.

 

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? 

Expansive and Immense

expansive

This is what I know…

God’s love is not a skinny love.

 

Lineation: the action or process of drawing lines or marking with lines. 

Unravel: to separate or disentangle threads

Draw

Erase 

Design a plan

Shred a plan

 

His love melts into the narrowest of passages

Expansive and Immense

 

 

 

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!