Book Review: Half the Sky

images (21)

Half the Sky

Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Woman Worldwide

By: Nicolas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are a married couple and winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.  In Half the Sky they tell the stories of woman and children who experience oppression in the developing World.

Listen to their stories.

Much of the oppression these woman and children face is delivered from the hands of their own families and communities due to deeply ingrained social structures.  The content is difficult; 21st century slaves, prostitution, rape, maternal health, education as a key to overcoming poverty and war, and finally microcredit.

Many of the brave woman and children who break free return to help others from the pain they have known. Their courage will inspire and change you.

Learn more about the Half the Sky Movement.


Lay Hurdles Flat












In sixth grade we could go to the track across the road during lunch time.  I remember one lunch break clearly, not many people were around, so I jumped over a hurdle that sat on the track.  Later that spring I signed up for the 50m hurdles in the annual field day competition.  I got a ribbon! (There may have only been three participants.) I knew deep in my heart I was destined to run the hurdles in track and field.

[In junior high I had a perm.  I had brown glasses that were large.  I had braces.  I was so shy I think I might have growled at people that got too close.]

I did run those hurdles, the 100m and the 300m, all the way through my senior year in high school. Was I good at those hurdles? Not especially.  I had unfortunate form, my leading leg that should have been straight, liked to bend. Instead of seamlessly alternating my jumping, I shuffled so I could jump off my right leg every time.

I kept right on jumping though, because I liked them for some reason.

Our track still had cinder when I was in high school.  We did not have many home meets because of this.  At one home meet my entire extended family sat in the bleachers and many, many classmates.  I stood next to my rival from the north.  I was winning! Two hurdles from the finish line, I bit the dust in a major way, cinder and blood from ankles to knees.  I got up and finished the race.  Everyone I loved witnessed my last place finish. I love those moments.

I have done some spectacular fails in my life thus far.

I have done some spectacular never-even-made-it-off the starting blocks too.

I respect my fails more than the times I never even tried.

Keep going you can do it!


Cinder, blood, awkward embarrassment, and all.

Space to Give










If your mind is cluttered and your schedule packed full, there is no space left to give.

If you make mistakes and do not forgive yourself, there is no space left to move forward.

If you do not acknowledge your imperfections, there is no space left to grow.

  • Remember: each small thing you do can compound into something larger.
  • Remember: the World is not going to end if everything is not checked off your to-do list.
  • Remember: you will make mistakes, have the courage to apologize and move forward.
  • Seasons of life change and determine how much you are able to give.
  • Sometimes all the strength we can gather needs to go to young children, a sick or aging family member, or another difficult situation.  You are still making a profound difference.
  • Slowing down to take care of yourself allows you to be better equipped to care for others.

Be Kind to Yourself.  Your heart will expand with space to give. 


Creating Artwork













Families: teaching children to bring renewal and give understanding to others.

Kids can serve right from home by creating artwork for those in need of encouragement.  Gather craft supplies and allow creativity go wild.  The recipient will receive a tangible piece of love that can be displayed.  Kids learn to take a moment out of their own lives to give to someone else.

To Those Experiencing Grief:  Sometimes a funeral home visit can be overwhelming for young children.  Children are also extremely attuned to what is going on in the world around them.  If a relative or family friend is experiencing loss, a thoughtful picture signed by a child brings comfort to the recipient.  This also provides a way for the child to express their feelings that a loved one is experiencing loss.

To Those Experiencing Health Problems:  Often those that are experiencing illness are confined to a hospital room, their house, or another space of healing.  A cheerful picture from a child can be displayed and bring a little sunshine to a temporary dwelling.

To Those Far Away:  Good, old-fashioned mail does not arrive in mailboxes nearly as often in this digital age.  Nothing warms the heart of a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. as a letter with artwork.  The miles are bridged with this gesture that shows family they are on your mind and close to your heart.

To Those Celebrating a Milestone:  A birthday, welcome to the world new baby, a graduation, or any milestone can be made sweeter with a homemade card.  Homemade Christmas cards or Valentine cards can be a weekend family project.  A piece of artwork- just because- can also be a special surprise to someone’s day.

Add Extra Special Love:  If children are able, have them include to and from on the card.  Sometimes, these pieces of art, take center stage in a recovery room or home refrigerator.  Allow your child to use their favorite means of expression whether that is crayons, markers, water color, or chalk.  Personalize the cards, if an uncle especially loves motorcycles, include one in the picture.

Creating artwork is an inexpensive way for families to give. 

Children become accustomed to taking time out to let someone know they care.


A Little Encouragement










I hope for this blog to bring encouragement to those who read it.

Here is a little Saturday extra. I encourage you not to be afraid to take risks.

For many weeks, I have had this blog ready to go.  I have dreamed about writing my entire life. I held my writing close, like most things in my life.  It took all the courage I could gather to send an email and facebook invitation one week ago to friends and family.  I felt so exposed and so worried.  I barely slept Saturday night and again on Sunday night.  Every day this week I have contemplated taking this all down and pretending it was never here.

That is what I do, venture out small and then scurry back to hiding.

Only now, I realize that would be a life lost.  God asks more of me.  He asks more of all of us.  Not as a burden but as a gift.  He has special things for each and every one of us.  I love meeting people and listening to their stories.  It never ceases to amaze me.  God is so creative and so far reaching.  He has something unique for all of us, more than we can ask and imagine.

I want to share what God did in my life this week. Every time, without fail, when I felt like going back, someone would write me a note, make a comment, or share something with me that they liked reading.  God used you in my life this week.

He is using all of us.  That is an exciting life, when we are being used for great things without even knowing it.

Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Leaving the grocery store yesterday, my son, who is four and half, leapt into an enormous puddle.  The rain puddle soaked him from his feet all the way to his knees.  His jeans were sopping wet.  “Oh, man buddy, we still have to pick up the kids from school and you are so wet.” Then a question came to my mind. “Josiah was it worth jumping in that puddle even though you got so wet?”

He gave me a giant smile. “WES!” (He can’t say y’s clearly.)

It is worth taking the leap.  God is with you.

Fix Firmly

I have spent the last year trying to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

I set them out on the counter the evening before.  I forgot them.

I hung them on a hook in the closet where I keep the car keys.  I forgot them.

I put them in the trunk of my car.  I forgot them.

I set them on top of my grocery list at the door.  I remembered!

(Disclaimer: I still only remember about half the time.  I feel that I am making progress.)

We are people of habit.  To begin a new habit we have to act on it multiple times before it becomes ingrained into our daily routine.

Be intentional about working a giving spirit into your day.

  • Including something new in your day takes EFFORT.
  • Trying new things gives each day a fresh PURPOSE and PERSPECTIVE.
  • We remember to do the things that are a PRIORITY.

Let your life be a testament of a giving spirit.

Fix firmly.  Etch.  Ingrain.  Establish.

What new way to give will you fix firmly into your life this week?



Be Still










Being still moves us against the grain of society.

Slowing down means we may possibly fall behind.

If we slow our momentum enough quiet might come, quiet that opens us up to all that is unsettling in our hearts.


We feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of opportunities.

We feel overwhelmed by all the gathering, pinning, and sorting.

We feel overwhelmed with how to squeeze these opportunities into our already busy schedule.


Be still long enough to listen.

Pause long enough to dream.

Jot down the opportunities that tug at your heart.


Know God. He honors a deliberately seeking heart.

Choose one new way you hope to give in the coming week.

No offering is too small.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God



About Proximity

Place yourself in the proximity of renewal. 

Do justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.                        


If need does not brush against the proximity of our lives, turning away finds simple.


When we put the needs of others in our proximity, we are changed.

We become an intricate part of the act of renewal in the life of others and in our own lives.

Our lives find deeper meaning and purpose.


We are ALL made in the image of Christ.

We ALL have a story and a voice worthy to be heard.

We are ALL loved beyond measure by our creator.


Serving others means showing up:

….even if you feel un-equipped
….even if you do not have immense material resources
….even if you feel unworthy
We all have something to give.

Place yourself in the proximity of need.

Your own life will open wide in renewal.