make a difference

#TalkJustice April Edition

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Happy April! Spring! We love its arrival in Michigan.

#TalkJustice with your family this month. Here are some great resources and discussion starters to use.

 

Spring Cleaning: Don’t forget that your donations to Goodwill or other non-profits create jobs! April 2, Uber and Goodwill partnered in some cities to pick up donations. What other organizations would you love to see work together?  

Mental Health: The public library often offers a haven to homeless populations. Learn how the San Francisco Public Library is offering mental health services on-site.

Prison System: A jail where inmates and abandoned animals find a second-chance. I bet kids would have some wonderful insights after looking at the photographs.

Refugees: Greek residents of the island of Lesbos are being recognized for their efforts to help refugees. I love their straight forward quotes on the issue. “we are monsters if we don’t do this– why should we be given a prize for being human beings?”

Disability: From Christianity Today how her son’s autism changed one Mom’s church. How can we extend welcome?

Hunger: Food goes to waste while people are hungry. Some countries are trying to change that. What do you think?

Thinking outside the box: A laundromat owner washed the clothing and bedding of families at a homeless shelter during Easter week. A small gift that saved money, time, and offered dignity to families.

Sports and Development: Read about how sports can be a powerful development tool. Ask your kids what they have learned on sports teams or playing games with friends. I am looking forward to the world coming together for the Olympics this summer.

Global Education: Preschool teacher Davinia James raises money for Girl Rising and global education by collecting pennies. Even the smallest offering can make a huge difference!

Earth Day, April 22, 2016: In honor of Earth Day pick a short movie from the Story of Stuff to watch with your family.

Finally, I am so excited to reveal some great #TalkJustice events coming this summer. Check back next week to see how we can partner together to make a difference!

What did your family talk about? 

#TalkJustice March Edition

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March! The month of the long goodbye to winter.

While you are waiting for spring to arrive #TalkJustice together!

March Madness: Fill out a charity bracket with your family! Win up to 100,000 for the charity of your choice. Such a fun idea!
12482154935_ca10226573_zShelterbox: Learn about ShelterBox together. What started out as a Rotary Project for disaster relief in England has expanded globally. Each ShelterBox includes a relief tent, thermal blankets, groundsheet, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic toolkit, mosquito nets, and a children’s activity pack.

@ShelterBox, Photographer: Rebecca Novell

 

Sacrifice: Read this article about a couple who foregoes their dream boat to pay for the college tuition of an entire kindergarten class. Talk about the difference between needs and a wants. What could your family sacrifice that might make a difference to someone else?

Dignity: A soup kitchen disguised like a restaurant offers dignity to the homeless in Kansas City. Read the article and talk about how they are building community, treating others with dignity, and offering hope.

Clean Water: 10 things women and girls could be doing instead of collecting clean water from ONE.

Breaking Down Myths: SNAP benefits are not always enough to keep families in need fed. 1/3 of families using SNAP still have to visit food pantries to bridge gaps. Talk about hunger and stereotypes to accepting assistance.

Food Waste: Sign a pledge as a family to curb food waste with Feeding America.

Pray for refugees: A new prayer is posted everyday.

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What’s new in your corner of the world?

 

 

 

#TalkJustice Together

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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.

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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. 

 

 

True Joy

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I’ve been struggling to stay at peace this past week.

Being a Mom, working full time, writing at night… I just can’t find a balance that I can tie up in a neat bow and declare that I can have it all together. This is my third year navigating, and I think I finally realized the perfect balance will never come.

I think I have known all along, it was just the act of accepting it.

I don’t know what it is that makes us feel like perfection is so needful in our lives. Jesus was perfect, but no one else was or is or ever will be.

 

Ellie had a fluke fall on Sunday morning and fractured her wrist. As we passed hours in the emergency room, getting her fixed up, I realized why I could accept imperfection.

If what I am doing is caring for the people God has put in my life, it is enough.

And no where in the Bible did God tell us to do it perfectly.

 

The special needs students I work with at school, don’t need a perfect helper. They need one that loves them unconditionally, and is there when they need encouragement and love to keep growing.

My kids don’t need a perfect Mom, they need one who is present. Sometimes, that might mean moving my computer to the table and working together there. That might mean I leave the writing for that night and play soccer outside instead. Sometimes, it means saying no to a game and finishing something instead. They need independence and to see me doing things I love, so they can do the same.

Anyone who reads my writing, already knows I’m terribly imperfect. But if I am using it to care for God’s people, I can be assured that God will do what he wants with it, even if it does not always align with my ambitions.

 

If what I am doing is caring for God’s people, I’m going to be OK.

I can trust God with my life. I can be at peace that he will use what I give him in a way only he can.

Know that I am praying for your peace as well.

What can you trust God with this week? 

 

 

we belong to each other

 

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We have arrived at November and enter into a glossy holiday season.

If you have one minute this week, I encourage you to watch this clip from A Path Appears, featuring Jennifer Gardner and Nicholas Kristof talking about the cycle of poverty through Save the Children in West Virginia.

The stress of extreme poverty changes the way your brain develops and grows.

Words we throw around like dependency, handouts, poverty, and inequality do not fit into little boxes. There is so much more going on.

I pray this holiday season we remember that we belong to each other in Christ~

Simple Giving

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Meet Jennifer Iacovelli, a fellow Global Team of 200 member, and writer of Simple Giving Lab and Philanthropy Friday’s. Jennifer encourages readers to give back by featuring organizations that make a difference and practical ways for readers to get involved. I appreciate the spirit of giving that she enfolds in her writing and all she does.

Her new book comes out this week, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day

 

In her book, Jennifer outlines six models for giving from everyday acts of kindness to giving as a business model. She shows that we don’t have to put giving in a box of solely giving time or giving money. There are countless ways to shape our lives around generosity. Each chapter offers action steps and resources to encourage readers to grow in giving. She also shares the stories of many organizations and individuals.

My favorite story in the book shares Jennifer’s experience traveling with Mom Bloggers for Social Good to Nicaragua with WaterAid America. She didn’t let her experience end when she returned. An avid athlete, Jennifer trains with WolfPack Fitness. On the following World Water Day, she planned a fitness event where the workout revolved around water (pumping water, carrying water). Her group was able to raise money and awareness to support the program she visited in Nicaragua.

Take what you love and find a way to intertwine it with giving.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are at- Teddy Roosevelt

 

I have a copy of Simple Giving to give away! Comment for a chance to win.

What is your favorite and most simple way of giving back? 

jenniferiacovelli

Jennifer is a writer, speaker and consultant. She helps entrepreneurs, bloggers, and nonprofits tell their story. Her website is Another Jennifer Writing Lab. You can follow her at facebook and twitter. You can follow Simple Giving Lab at facebook and twitter. She is based in Brunswick, Maine.

Open Our Hands

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I planned to share a new campaign from World Renew and the Office of Social Justice.

Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden.

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I didn’t plan to share this-

At church this morning, a congregation member translated for a legal worker. He stood up in his pew, hand over his heart as she spoke. He picks blueberries at a local farm. His seventeen year old son embarked from Guatemala to join him. His paperwork was not done right, and he was detained in Arizona. Documentation to prove he is a minor was provided from Guatemala, but to be released to his Dad pending trial, he needs 7,000 dollars in bond money. A father in Michigan picking blueberries. A son in immigration detention in Arizona. These stories are told daily, because our system is outdated and broken.

What struck me most, was how small the father looked, standing there so still, his hand over his heart.

Like somehow, he could keep his boy safe that way.

 

In light of stories like these, and also the pictures of despair we have witnessed from Europe, we can take a few moments to enter in conversation, to make a difference. This is so, so important.

Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden Website. 

Follow updates on Facebook. Invite friends.

Unlearn here. Sign, Share, or Wear here. Sign up to be a social media ambassador here.

 

The last few weeks I have been guest posting at WholisticWoman.com about being intentional.

Being Intentional: Slowing Down 

Being Intentional: Pausing for Prayer 

Being Intentional: Consumption

 

This coming weekend, I will be at The Breathe Christian Writers Conference! I will be presenting a social media for writers workshop with Amy Sullivan. I would love for you to pray with me, because I will also be pitching a book proposal for Talk Justice Playgroups (our Fall Facebook Event Page is here). I can’t wait to gather new ideas to share with all of you, and meet new people to introduce you all too.

Sometimes, I feel so small. I want to grab everything from God’s hands and try to force it to where I want it to go. I’m so afraid to open my hands. He definitely calls us to be more. He asks us to do the harder thing, and trust him.

Dear God, please open our hands when we can make a difference. 

What is new in your life? How can we pray for you? 

Planet Ark

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Our last summer service play group took place this past Tuesday! We had such a great time for all five weeks. I’m so thankful.

We read the story Planet Ark about how we can all be modern-day Noah’s through caring for our environment.

We were able to support seven families in Bangladesh in receiving a fruit tree seedling that will provide food and income through World Renew.

The kids made leaf creatures and were awesome at the nature scavenger hunt!

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Next week I would like share about the groups more personally, but for today I’m so thankful they became a reality, for all the participants, support, and amazing difference makers! And… there will be more. Hopefully forever and forever.

About Proximity formed some wonderful partnerships and we will be moving to hold more events throughout the year with Jodi Baron of Grace Episcopal Church in Holland.

Please, join our facebook service play group page for details and opportunities!

We’d love your ideas and to partner with you. I really mean that! Partnerships are what make a difference in our world. Every story and everything we did was better because we worked together as a community!  aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

 

 

Mimi’s Village

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Last week we had a little group, but that didn’t stop us from making a big difference!

In a world were numbers are a big deal, we can be reminded that what you do does matter so very much.

We were able to read the story The Red Bicycle. The red bicycle began with a boy named Leo in the United States, then journeyed to Burkina Faso to Alisetta, who grew her family’s sorghum crop with its help. Later, a young woman named Haridata, used the bicycle as a clinic ambulance! We had our own bike parade to celebrate the power of one bike!

We were able with the help of Grace Episcopal Churchs’ Lent collection raise money for a bicycle through World Vision to help a girl have a safe pathway to education!

Mimi's Village Play Group

We hope you can come out to this week’s group!

We will be reading Mimi’s Village and talking about clean water and immunizations.

Remember to bring along a stuffed animal for our ‘immunization clinic’! We will also be participating in a water carrying relay, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, inflatable world volleyball, soccer, and a coloring page.

If you are able please bring along $1.00 to support Shot@Life. $20.00 protects a child in the developing world from pneumonia, polio, measles, and diarrhea. We also have five adult and 5 children’s t-shirts from Shot@Life to give away!

 

We have had so much fun, we hope to combine forces and continue play groups for the West Michigan area past this summer! Make sure to join our Service Play Group Facebook Page to get all the updates as we make a difference together as a community!

 

 

 

 

#TalkJustice: Clean Water

talkjustice #TalkJustice: Clean Water  Last week we talked Hunger. Clean water is another great justice topic to start with for kids. They understand thirst. Beyond, thirst we can teach them that unclean water makes people sick. We can talk about water scarcity and how that affects everyone on the planet.

Whenever we talk to our kids about justice issues we can be positive, because there are so many ways we can help! Even though the topics can be heavy, we can make a difference, and that’s something to be excited about. cleanwater conversation starters Help your family go deeper:

  • Do we use more than our share of water?
  • Imagine using unclean water for laundry, showers, drinking, cleaning dishes.
  • What dangers might occur trying to transport clean water to your home? Might it make you vulnerable? Would you have time to attend school?
  • Without water could anything survive?
  • More and more people face water scarcity. How could that affect everyone on the planet?
  • If you had to walk thirty minutes to get clean water, how would you use water differently?

clean water booksKids Books About Clean Water: 

Clean Water for Elirose: by Ariah Fine 

A Long Walk to Water: by Linda Sue Parker

Ryan and Jimmy: by Herb Shoveller

One Well: by Rochelle Strauss

Mimi’s Village: by Katie Smith Milway

19 Ways to Take Action!

A Clean Water Twitter List to Follow.

Follow our About Proximity #TalkJustice Pinterest Board.

Introducing #TalkJustice Summer Serve Play Groups! Come over to our Facebook Event Page to learn more. We will be exploring topics and making a difference in community, using a series of books donated to us from CitizenKid. Hosted by About Proximity (that’s me) and my Mom, a public school family advocate for two decades.

I LOVE to hear from you! Did you try any hunger or clean water activities? What conversations came up in your family? 

Next Up: Education