Make a difference as a family

Kids Talk Justice April Edition

How can you talk justice together this month?

Hunger: Take the Waste It or Take It Quiz with your family. For every quiz taken a meal it donated through Feeding America.

Education: Scroll through pictures of girls attending school all around the world. Access = Hope.

Innovation: In Lagos, Nigeria tricycles provide a vehicle for recycling and income for wecyclers.

Literacy: Explore photographs of readers around the world because literacy opens up doors.

Conflict and Refugees: The pebble artwork of Nizar Ali Badr depicting the war in Syria and the journey of refugees. What makes these images so moving? What do they teach us about war and displacement? 

Creation Care: Practice the art of enough. Read the article together and pick one of the challenges to try as a family.

Elderly: Sign a petition to save funding for Meals on Wheels fighting hunger for the elderly. Talk about why the elderly are a vulnerable people group.

Health Care and Recycling: Unused hotel soap bars are recycled into new soap used by NGOs and organizations like the Red Cross to promote health care globally. What do you think? 

Conflict: Photographs out of Syria continue to break out hearts. Consider the work of The White Helmets and The Preemptive Love Coalition.

Restorative Justice and Everyday Heroes: An everyday hero fighting for hope and justice that restores.

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? 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Spirit!

I love the Olympics!

This year the Olympic Refugee Team warms my heart.

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We celebrated the Olympic spirit with a Talk Justice playgroup!

My friend Janyre read us Can You Say Peace by Karen Katz.

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The kids painted Olympic rings and completed an obstacle course. My parents prepared Olympic gold medals for all our participants.

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We were able to support Kids’ Food Basket by decorating one hundred lunch sacks, Holland Rescue Mission with a trunk load of clothing, and $31.00 to The Flint Water Fund. As hard as it is to believe, people in the state Michigan are still struggling to have clean water. It’s a great reminder that when initial news stories die down, there are still people living in that reality.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Talk Justice July Edition

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Refugees: Who loves the Olympics? We sure do! Make sure to keep your eye out for the Refugee Olympic Team. Ten athletes from Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be competing to shed a light on the refugee crisis. Click the link above to watch a short video.

Access to Education: Girls learning to code in Afghanistan! What do you think?

Hunger: To combat food waste Walmart announced it will sell ‘damaged’ fruit at a reduced price. Whole Foods has also offered this to some retailer. Walmart recently estimated that U.S. consumers throw away $29 billion worth of edible food each year. Would you eat fruits and vegetable that did not look perfect, but were still healthy?

Sustainability: One the topic of food waste- a great infographic to break it down and give ideas for making a difference. What can your family implement?

Access to Education: Read this article and talk about opportunity gap with your kids.

Purpose Hotel: What does your family think of this idea?

Homelessness: Look at the photos of the finalists in the Through Our Eyes photography project, giving voice to the homeless through the lens of a camera. What surprised you?

Living Wage: Check out this infographic about affordable housing on minimum wage.

Kindness: The construction worker who hides a life-size Waldo for children at a nearby hospital to spot each day.

teacherEducation: #iwishmyteacherknew started as a project in Kyle Swartz’s third grade classroom. Her book by the same title just released and it’s beautiful encouragement, gives voice to our children and hope to all of us to support students and our teachers.

 

 

 

 

What are you all talking about this July? 

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!

 

 

 

Summer 2016 Talk Justice Events

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Let’s make a difference together this summer! I’m so excited to invite you all to our Summer 2016 #TalkJustice Events. We very much hope to see you there!

Join our Facebook Event Page to get updates and ask questions.

TJ ACTS

Acts Holland is a family. A place for kids to be embraced, equipped, and empowered.

We will be supporting Jaime Blom and Acts this summer! Last year, they shared their thoughtful art with us and this year we get to give back to them! Follow their work on Facebook here.

Read a book, create art, and play. Give back by bringing: List coming soon!

 

TJ Hope Pkgs

Hope Pkgs is a community based ministry that provides first night bags to kids entering the foster care system. There are approximately 220- 350 kids in foster care in Ottawa County at any given time. These bags provide hope, comfort and meet tangible needs.

We will be supporting Lisa Hoeve and Hope Pkgs this summer! Follow the work of Hope Pkgs on Facebook.

Every child is so special! We can’t wait to celebrate kids by sharing a story, making a fabric prayer bookmark, playing with parachutes, celebration play doh and more. Your family can give back by bringing a first night bag to donate, or joining with another family to put together a bag to bring.

TJ Olympics

#TalkJustice Olympics!

Event 1: Decorating Lunch Bags for Kids Food Basket.

Event 2: Holland Rescue Mission Clothing Drive- Donate your used clothing to be sold in the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Did you know you can also donate clothing that can’t be reused to wear? They also recycle textiles and receive the profits.

Event 3: Bring a dollar to support the Flint Water Fund distributed by United Way.

We’ll be sharing a story about peace, participating in an Olympic obstacle course, making olympic ring pictures and having an Olympic flag scavenger hunt. Give back through our three featured events and receive your service medal.

 

We hope to see you at Kollen Park this summer! Let’s make a difference and serve locally!

Wondering what Talk Justice Events are like? Look at pictures of our past events here.

All ages are welcome! We love it when older children help at stations too.

I’d love to answer any of your questions! aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

#TalkJustice Together December Edition

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#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…

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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

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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? 

 

 

A Million Thanks

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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.

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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.

 

#TalkJustice Together November Edition

#TalkJustice November

#TalkJustice Playgroups! Are you in the Holland Area?

Come out this Tuesday, November 17 from 7:00-8:30 at the Herrick District Library Auditorium for the Give Back to Veterans Playgroup. We will be reading a story, making cards through A Million Thanks, creating a poppy craft and seeing the things soldiers carried. We are partnering with the Holland Area Big Read.

In December we will support Kids Food Basket with Grace Episcopal Church. In January we will partner with Zeeland Christian Schools for a Blessing not Burden Playgroup supporting immigrants. Want to keep up-to-date on play group opportunities? Join the Service PlayGroups Facebook Page.

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Thanksgiving

A beautiful family thanksgiving tree for inspiration from Caitlin Boersma.

#PorteOuverte

In the midst of tragedy residents of Paris practiced #PorteOuverte offering an open door to those stranded or in need of safe shelter. A beautiful act of light where darkness tried to prevail. And a needful prayer from Ann Voskamp.

National Family Literacy Month

November is National Family Literacy Month. Log in some time at We Give Books and help provide books for kids that need access.

Creativity

Encourage your creative kids to use their gifts. Watch the video of E-tracers ballet slippers that trace dancers movement.

Ethical Shopping Guide

In this season of gift-giving gather ideas from the Art of Simple’s Ethical Shopping Guide. There are many fair trade ideas.

Gift Catalogs 

Order a print version of a holiday gift catalog from any of these non-profits. Look through the options together and pick out a gift. Gathering around the photographs is guaranteed to open up conversation. Heifer International, World Vision, World Renew, OxFam, UNICEF, Compassion International, International Justice Mission. 

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Audacious Prayer Guide

Join Micah Challenge and pray as a family for Sustainable Development Goals that address injustices families are facing around the world. Use the Audacious Prayer Guide here.

A Gutsy Girl

Alicia Bruxfort over at The Overflow shares her own gutsy girl. Your daughters will love to read her words.

#GivingTuesday

Get ready for #GivingTuesday, this year on December 1, 2015. Talk about what organization or family you might like to support. Make plans ahead of time to be able to make it a reality on Dec. 1.

What Thanksgiving and Holiday giving practices does your family participate in?

I am so thankful for all of you.