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!

don’t look away

My friend Amy Sullivan just released her third book in the Gutsy Girls series Fanny Crosby.

You might know that she wrote over 1,000 hymns, many under pseudonym, all without her sight. What you might not know about this extraordinary woman was her servant’s heart. Among the endless lists of ways she served, including giving away most of her money, she choose to live in one of the poorest tenements in New York City. My favorite part of the book is the picture of the crowded building she called home. She lived in proximity to those in need.

In Amy’s books she shares the definition of gutsy: showing determination when your heart beats fast, your hands grow sweaty, and you fear failure. Brave. Courageous. Daring.

Right now it feels a little hard to be festive for the Christmas season when the hearts of children and families in Syria are so threatened right now. The images shred at your heart. You think, they are so far away. There is no proximity. This is the time to put yourself in proximity to their suffering. The death, destruction, displacement.

There was a video earlier this fall of a little boy put in the seat of the ambulance, his head bleeding. He reaches up and touches his forehead, looks at the blood and tries to wipe it off on the seat. It makes my Dad cry anytime someone mentions it. Another video in the hallway of a medical center after a bombing, it’s inhabitants covered in dust, a teenager cradling the dead body of his baby brother, a women with no children left, two siblings looking for their mother. A group of orphaned children implore help to escape. The days are growing cold as winter settles into Syria and families are desperately trying to escape.

We can’t travel there and scoop them up and rescue, but we get up as close as we can in proximity. We can cry out for them to be rescued and we can help.

  1. Preemptive Love Coalition
  2. Welcome refugees- make way for their families. They are a Blessing not a Burden to our country and our lives.
  3. World Renew Response to Syria
  4. International Rescue Committee
  5. The White Helmets– 2,900 volunteers from all walks of life saving lives in Syria.

Say a prayer with your family this evening… every evening.

Dear Jesus, we pray for families in Syria.

We pray they can stay together. 

We pray they can stay warm and have shelter. 

We pray they can have the food and water they need to survive. 

We pray they can get to places that are safe. 

We pray they can know that we love them. 

We pray we can help and not forgot. Amen

 

Be Gutsy. Be in proximity like Fanny Crosby. Have courage to not look away.

Pray A-Z

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Meet the talented Amelia Rhodes, a speaker and author from West Michigan! Check out her free resources on prayer. Her new release is Pray A-Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community.

A verse, ideas, and a prayer accompany each topic A through Z on topics that help us uplift those in our communities. I love the range of topics: abundance, emergency responders, homeless, justice, refugees, teachers, zero prejudice.

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How many of your meal time prayers sound like this, “Thank you God for our food. Amen.” Or you say that you’ll pray for a certain person, but in the busyness of life completely forget. Sometimes it’s just easy to have prayer block and not even know where to start when you want to talk to God.

This guide is perfect for families to use together.

  • help your kids learn about issues that affect families and people in your community
  • think of people you know that might need prayers for a specific topic
  • learn about praise, petition, and listening to God’s answers
  • consider who God is through prayers of praise
  • pray together as a family

As we pray for our communities’ deepest needs, we bring God’s light into the darkest corners. As we praise Him, we come to appreciate the glory and beauty of His creation.

We know prayer is powerful.

God hears us and longs for us to talk to him about everything.

Our communities, families and friends need to be uplifted and that is something we can give.

 

Comment below to be entered to win a copy of the book. How do you pray as a family? 

(I received a copy of Pray A-Z as a part of Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour.) 

Talk Justice Together November Edition

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How can you talk justice to close out the month of November?

Happy Giving Tuesday! Remember to give to your favorite make a difference organization today. Make sure your kids know about Giving Tuesday right along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Hunger: A farm to school program that tailors its lunch menu to tribal communities. Bison or Buffalo anyone?

Creation Care: Talk to your kids about the Standing Rock Conflict. What do they think?

Pray for Syria together: Half a million children under siege. Below is a photograph of “Land of Childhood” an underground playground in Syria.

On 17 September 2016, two girls play at the 'Land of Childhood' underground playground in a besieged town in in the Syrian Arab Republic. "My friends and I come here because it's the last theme park that is still working [...] the one we used to go to was attacked and is not working anymore," one of the children said. A group of volunteers, led by a fourth-year former architecture student, links two basements with a tunnel and turns them into an underground playground to provide children with a relatively safe place to play and have fun together.

@UNICEF 9-17-16  http://weshare.unicef.org/archive/-2AMZIFPDSVB.html

Play: Check out these repurposed play spaces for families, including one in a laundromat. What do you think? What ideas do these give you?

Labor: Attached to technology? An intensive look at cobalt mining for lithium ion batteries. Did you know?

Human Trafficking: Ten Ways you Can Make a Difference in the Fight Against Modern Slavery. What could your family do?

Refugees: Photographs of the The Refugee Crisis from Doctors Without Borders.

What is your family talking about this holiday season? 

Love Mercy

 

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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? 

 

 

Talk Justice Together October Edition

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The leaves in Michigan are beginning to make their descent to the ground, which means around the corner is snow… for now we will be thankful for every day of sunshine, warm breezes, and the ability to see green grass. Here are ideas for talking justice with your family.

Poverty: We should be talking about it. 3 TVs and No Food: Growing up Poor in America.

Literacy: Barbershop reading.

Education and Technology: Bicycles bringing the internet to rural India. 

Forgiveness: An Amish community and radical forgiveness. 

Creation Care: Urban Gardens and in Paris! 

War: Artist Rania Matar photographs the children of war in Yemen.

Health Care: Umra Omar bringing health care to coastal communities marked with conflict via boat.

Prayer: Litany for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 

Disability: Wheelchair costumes that are epic. 

Hunger: What about this creative solution to hunger? Paying for parking tickets with food pantry items. Found by our friend Diane Harvey straight from Australia.

What is your family talking about? 

 

 

 

 

Your Voices

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I have piles of books, paper flying, ideas moving, so many prayers.

We have a Kids Talk Justice book coming! I’m so excited and terrified. I’m longing for Jesus to be close.

I know we feel that closeness most acutely in the voices of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I can’t wait to include those voices in the book! They are fantastically brilliant at this stuff and I want to hear from them as the pages take shape!

I will include their voices as sidebars throughout the book

and also in social media that encourages. 

 

Everyone who participates will be entered to win a $25.00 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Any parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or friend who recruits and helps a young person with the questionnaire will be entered to win a $25.00 Starbucks gift card. I’m looking for ages three through eighteen.

I will deliver, send to you via email with attached PDF, or mail with return envelop. Just let me know your preference for recieving the questionnaire! aboutproximity@gmail.com

Beyond your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc… do you have a small group, classroom, or team that might like to contribute? We love all voices!

Thank you so much for being a part of this work.

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believe you are worthy

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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!

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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.