Making a difference

Talk Justice Together September Edition

tj-sept

Happy September and start to a new school year. Praying you feel the beauty of a changing season. Here are some talking points for your family to talk about justice together.

Loss and Hope: The children of 9-11 and what they can teach us. More than 3,000 children lost their parent that day. Their stories of loss and hope.

Refugees: I am Syria. A gentle, illustrated look at the reality of Syria and the needs of refugees. Perfect for children.

but in my heart I look ahead to the rebuilding of our cities.

Poverty: Landfill Harmonic a coming documentary about a recycled orchestra born out of a slum alongside a landfill in Cateura, Paraguay. Hope. Watch the trailer here. Ask the members of your family what they are thinking!

Kindness and Innovation: A teen the creates an app called Sit with Us, so no one has to sit alone in the cafeteria.

Our Global World: Follow the Out of Eden Walk from Paul Salopek, a reporter who has set out to retrace our ancestors global migration on foot. He will cover 21,000 miles. The photographs and stories are striking. Follow his travelogue together.

What happens when you become a war refugee? You walk.

Literacy and Education: Emma Watson interviews Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky and A Path Appears.

School to Prison Pipeline: When School Feels Like Prison. What do your kids think? How would they feel?

Clean Water: What do your kids think of WarkaWater Towers in Ethiopia?

Hunger: Watch this powerful 30 second short from Feeding America called Empty Plates. 

Refugees: Photo series of refugee fathers. Humanity.

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A Little Bag of Sidewalk Chalk

FINALCOLLAGEService Play Groups, a long held dream, became a reality this summer!

FINALGLOBELet me be honest, I struggled. We had over three hundred families express interest on our facebook page, and I fielded email questions in abundance. Our first week we had a large group, but every week after the group was small. My first thought was that people attended the first week, hated it and didn’t come back. This is what my mind does. It was the depth of summer, and people are so busy. The timing was to open the door for whole families to come, but probably would have been better started a little later and not so close to dinner time. I was worried the families that attended would be disappointed with the small groups. I went home every night and worried instead of feeling joy.

FINALLISA

I share this because whenever you put yourself out there you face vulnerability.

The enemy really loves for us to get into our heads and tell ourselves we are not good enough. It’s my life-long fight.

He wants us to fixate on things like numbers that are completely irrelevant to the kingdom of God. Want to know why?

because then we don’t look at all the small, hidden beauty he offers us.

 

Like…

FINALSUPPORTINGCOLLAGE

The fact that a dream became a reality! We gave over one hundred welcome and birthday bags to Holland Rescue Mission, a trunkful of high-need supplies to Community Action House, a bicycle to a girl to access education through World Vision, two sets of vaccinations to a child through Shot@Life, and seven fruit tree seedlings for families in Bangladesh through World Renew. We were able to use the books donated to us by Citizen Kids Books!

 

FINALJODI

Many wonderful partnership were grown and will be forever friendships. There are many like-minded people in our communities and world, we need to fight to bring them together. We will be continuing into the forever future. Connect with our facebook page, or talk to myself or Jodi Baron! We would LOVE to partner with you. We have some exciting ideas taking shape for this coming year.

FINALFAMILIES

 

All the sweet families who took the time to attend and give. I appreciate you all so much. And so many young people were able to be leaders and guide stations for younger kids! It was so great to watch. All the kids were so wise and insightful during the stories. Kids understand justice so beautifully. We can make such a difference when we come together.

 

 

We needed a significant amount of supplies to launch service play groups. My parents invested in this dream by purchasing all the supplies. They helped me load them up and clean up every single week. All while my Mom is going through a tedious time of treatment for cancer. I am thankful and humbled by the fact that they still support my dreams.

FINALPETERSENFinally…

Every week children would drift into our play group area. They were alone, no families, sometimes siblings. They came from the community, some from the park and others from our neighborhood church. They added a great deal to our time together. There was one little boy, who asked to take some sidewalk chalk home because he didn’t have any. My friend Jen tied some up in a plastic bag for him and he happily went on his way that evening.

As I watched him walk into the distance, after a thirty-six year battle with not feeling good enough, I let it go with that one bag of sidewalk chalk.

FINALCHALK

The world tells us:

perfection, the bigger the better, stronger. you need to be popular, dynamic, numbers are everything.

But not feeling good enough makes it about me, and its not. It just really is not. God is going to use your dreams, and absolutely everything you do for his good, regardless of your weaknesses and perceived failures.

When you are not feeling good enough…

look for what is there, like a little bag of sidewalk chalk.

 

That is beauty. That is making a difference.

And we are going to keep doing it.

 

Summer!

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We are on an eleven and a half day countdown until the end of school! June 10 (pending survival on field day.)

Exciting opportunities are coming this summer…

 

Questions about the Holland Summer Serve Play Groups? Click here! 

summer camp

About Proximity is joining kindness experts and host Sheila of Pennies of Time for Virtual Kindness Summer Camp.

This is a Facebook Group where great conversation will take place and lots of ideas will be shared about serving with our kids. About Proximity is sharing Talk Justice Play Groups.

We’d love to have you join in. Click here and request to be a part of the group.

 

I love that summer changes speed, and the space it makes for friends and family.

I love the bike riding, beach hanging, ice cream, and the kids Nerf squirt gun fights.

(The only thing I don’t love is our neighborhoods love affair with fireworks. All DAY and ALL NIGHT, yet only legal the day before, of, and after the ten federal holidays.)

I love being able to sit at my desk in my office/guest bedroom/kids creation zone and write. I will be working on two big projects this summer. They have been wake up at 4:00 a.m. freak-out projects, but I know that God is bigger then my fears.

  • Finishing up Changed for Life, a curriculum about entering into short-term missions as a long-term partnership, with respect and humility for the work already occurring in the host community. (I’ve been a co-writer on this project for some time, and I am so excited to see it moving to completion.)
  • 88 Playgroups that Make a Difference: Helping Children Engage Justice Issues that Really Matter. You can pray with me that this project might become more than a document on my laptop.

Also, I should clean my house.

Mostly, I share these things because I want to know what you are doing this summer! What are your plans, fun activities, the ways you are going to slow down, projects? What you are most excited about? 

 

 

 

#TalkJustice: Race

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Race. Not an easy topic.

Walls shot up immediately. Emotions high.

How can we talk about race in our families? Do just that… Talk. Learn. Listen. We would do well to humble ourselves and open up dialogue. Expose our kids to people from different parts of world, different cultures, different skin colors. Our lives grow wider and richer. Help them remember history and why hurt remain for cultures and groups of people. Listen.

Discussion Starters:

race conversation starters

Help Your Family Go Deeper: 

  • What is privilege?
  • Are there certain groups with advantages or disadvantages?
  • Why do you think race is such an uncomfortable conversation?
  • How can we do more listening?
  • Can prejudices go both ways?
  • Are some places or activities still very much segregated?
  • How are race and class connected?
  • How would it feel to carry a history of slavery as a people?
  • When you are judged on appearance how does it feel?
  • How do different cultures deepen our lives?
  • How can you respect people even when they don’t do things the same as you do?
  • What is a stereotype? How easy is it to move beyond a stereotype?
  • Do we tend to lump people together in groups without sifting out their unique qualities?
  • How often do you describe someone by their race or culture?
  • How often do you see people with different skin colors in television, movies, books?
  • How can you expand your global consciousness?
  • How honest are we about history? Are we honest about how that effects present day? Are we honest that we still have a long way to go?
  • If God created us all equally, should anyone be treated differently because of the color of their skin? or where they came from?
  • Is race a challenge everywhere in the world? Are there inequalities everywhere in the world?

Kids books about Diversity and Race

kids books about race

Lee and Low Books (a multi cultural publisher)

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester

What We Wear by Maya Ajmera

Delivering Justice by Jim Haskins

Same Same but Different by: Jenni Sue Koseckti-Shaw

I Lay My Stitches Down by: Cynthia Grady

21 Ways to Take Action

A Twitter Race list to follow.

Follow our About Proximity #TalkJustice Pinterest Board.

#TalkJustice Summer Serve Play Groups! Come over to our Facebook Event Page to learn more. Invite friends! 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.

How can we listen more and talk less? 

#TalkJustice Immigration

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Kids #TalkJustice Immigration

In the United States immigration is a polarizing issue. My family has lived very close to it through Kris’ work with the Office of Social Justice. No matter where your opinion lies, understanding and looking at the big picture of global immigration is eye-opening.

Start by talking through your own ancestors journey to the United States, Canada or wherever you call home. Most likely, there is a story there. The story probably mirrors the story of immigrants today seeking a better life for their families.

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Talk about Jesus’ clear call to welcome the stranger in our midst. You will be pretty amazed at kids ability to grasp this one. I see it everyday play out in our school with a large immigrant population. When Kris brings home pictures from the border or teaching aides, our kids stare at them with surprise. They ask with wonder, “there is really a wall like that?”

That is why we talk justice, to assure them that their childlike hearts are pretty perfect the way they are.

Immigration Discussion Starters:

immigrationCS

Help your family go deeper: 

  • Talk about root causes of immigration-
  • looking for jobs to provide for their families
  • to be re-united with family
  • fleeing violence, gangs, war
  • religious or ethnic persecution
  • Does America use immigrant labor? Do we use low-skilled workers to do jobs not many others choose to do?
  • What might happen to our food sources if their was no farm labor?
  • How do you feel about a wall separating two nations?
  • Some families wait 15-20 years for a green card to see their families. What do you think of this time period?
  • What if you found out as a teenager that you were not a legal citizen, but had lived in the United States most of your life?
  • Some families live in constant fear of separation- how might this effect your family?
  • Would you hope others might change laws that this is not a reality anymore?
  • How can you welcome immigrants in your community?
  • How can you honor culture and traditions that are not your own?
  • How can you reach out to students in your school that are new immigrants?

Kids Books about Immigration: 

Immigration BooksHarvesting Hope by: Kathleen Krull

Brothers in Hope by: Mary Williams

One Green Apple by: Eve Bunting

Waiting for Papa’ by: Renee Colato Lainez

The Colour of Home by: Mary Hoffman

The Name Jar by: Yangsook Choi

Inside Out and Back Again by: Thannha Lai

Migrant by: Maxine Trattier

From North to South by: Rene Colato Lainez

My Diary From Here to There by: Amada Irma Perez

Goodbye 382 Shin Dang Dong by: Frances Park

 

14 Ways to Take Action! 

An immigration Twitter List to follow

Follow our About Proximity #TalkJustice Pinterest Board.

#TalkJustice Summer Serve Play Groups! Come over to our Facebook Event Page to learn more. Invite friends! 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.

What is your families immigrant story? How has someone from another culture deepened your life? What does welcoming the stranger mean to you?  

#TalkJustice Disabilities

talkjustice

Kids #TalkJustice Disabilities 

With all our #TalkJustice topics exposure and education goes such a long way in our kids growth in empathy, awareness and action. Talking about disabilities helps kids with familiarity, comfort level and response to those they encounter.

Expose your kids to different kinds of disabilities. The following are good examples to begin with…

Physical: Asthma, Blindness, Cerebral Palsy, Deafness, Diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, Epilepsy, Facial Disfigurement, Hearing Impairments, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Tourette’s Syndrome,

Cognitive: ADHD, Aspergers, Autism, Cognitive Impairments, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Learning Disabilities, Speech Impediments,

Emotional: Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Eating Disorders, Self-Harming

Remind your kids that we all face challenging obstacles in our lives. Encourage kids to understand that those with disabilities are not so different than themselves. Kids with disabilities typically do not want to be treated differently. It is usually all right to start a friendly conversation. Most kids don’t mind answering questions from peers about why they have leg braces or hearing aides. If classmates are experiencing difficulties with more unseen disabilities challenge your kids to remember that not every disability is visible.

The beautiful line from the new Cinderella movie was HAVE COURAGE. BE KIND

Wonder challenged us to #ChooseKind. I’ve spend a lot of time in my grown-up life working as a special education paraprofessional. Kids have really big hearts. Sometimes their acts of kindness to their classmates floors me. They are good at disabilities. We just have to make sure they fully understand how important choosing kind is.

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Kids with disabilities may be at risk for bullying or feeling alone. Help your kids to learn how to always #ChooseKid, as so beautifully express to us in the book Wonder. Invite kids with disabilities to parties, playdates and outings. Kids are amazingly resilient, they don’t want to be seen as not capable. Challenge your kids to see the whole person. The disability is just a small part of who they are, it does not define them. 

Disability Discussion Starters:

disability conversation starters

Help your family go deeper: 

  • Do we all learn the same? Are some subjects harder for others?
  • What is everyone called you the ‘brown haired girl’ is that the only thing that defines you? Do labels describe a whole person?
  • Many people who have disabilities have grown up to be famous artists, writers, athletes and really anything you could dream of.
  • Do you think kids with disabilities might develop some amazing strengths? Courage? Perseverance? Compassion for others?
  • What would be easier or harder about having a visible disability vs. a hidden disability?
  • Do you think all societies treat people with disabilities equally?
  • How could your family support someone with a disability?
  • When you encounter someone with a disability could place yourself in their shoes? How might your reaction change?

 

DisabilitybooksKids Books about Disabilities:

 

18 Ways to Take Action!  

A Disability Twitter List to Follow

Follow our About Proximity #TalkJustice Pinterest Board.

#TalkJustice Summer Serve Play Groups! Come over to our Facebook Event Page to learn more. Invite friends! 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.

What have kids taught you about disabilities? 

 

100 Under $100

100 Under $100

As a member of Mom Bloggers for Social good and the Global Team of 200, I had the opportunity to review an advanced copy of 100 Under $100. Betsy Teutsch compiles a wonderful guide to one hundred tools for empowering global women.

I absolutely loved reading about the cutting edge solutions happening around the world that contribute to alleviating poverty from maternal health to finance to global health. Within each tool she includes ways to deepen our education and ways we can contribute to the work of the organizations that bring these tools to life. I loved seeing them in action through the photographs as well.

After reading the guide, I felt great hope. People all around the globe are combining talent with compassion to make the world a better place.

That is hope. That is proximity.

 

The book releases March 6, in the meantime check out the 100 Under $100 websiteblog, Pinterest boards, twitter, and facebook page.

I made a twitter list with all the organizations featured in the book.

 

I can’t wait to continue sharing the work of these organizations and how we can help.

I mean keyhole gardens, kangaroo care, solar ear, eco-briquettes, bottle bricks, microloans, infant warmers, and school lunch. There is so much to be excited about.

Betsy dedicates the book to all who engage in Tikkun Olam- Repairing the World.

talentcompassion

That is all of you!

Thank you for your compassion and willingness to place yourself in proximity to need.

 

 

A Dangerous Way to Live

giver

I watched the movie trailer of The Giver. I was confused.

Then I read the synopsis of the book on wikipedia. (I know, not the best source.) Still confused.

Eventually, I thought maybe I should just read the real actual book.

When in doubt, read the book.

 

Jonas lives in a ‘perfect’ community without war, pain, suffering, differences or choices. At age 12 he is chosen to take the place of The Giver, the memory keeper, who must transfer all the memories of humanity to Jonas.

When he feels love for the first time- “I can see that it was a dangerous way to live.”

Though the memories of suffering, pain, and loss are excruciating they change the course of Jonas life. The story is a beautiful parable of how we need to keep telling stories.

 

If the stories of the past are not in our proximity, we too easily forget.

If stories of present challenges are not in our proximity, we too easily ignore.

 

At the conclusion of the book, I read Lois Lowry’s Newberry Award acceptance speech. Best take away: We can’t live only us, only now. 

 

Live dangerously.

Draw up close.

Love.

 

What book has touched you with deeper meaning?

 

 

 

 

36 Hope Expands: Little White Lights

36hopeexpands

Little white lights make everything better. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break for those who celebrate. I know I am so very thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, especially all of you. We had turkey and cheesecake. I scored a few presents on Black Friday with the spectacular team of my Dad, Mom and Ellie. Kris and I saw Mockingjay, and we finished up with some Sunday puking, because what’s a holiday without someone barfing? Best of all the little white lights are up.

givingThe new expanding hope ideas:

  • Have you heard of AmazonSmile? Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Just log into your regular account and they take you through the simple steps. I was so excited to find World Renew the organization Kris works for. Our percentage will go to support their work!
  • I’ve seen Better World Books donation sites in parking lots around my area. When this business was featured in A Path AppearsI definitely wanted to learn more. You donate books which are then bought from the Better World Books on-line store. A portion of every sale goes to world literacy. Over 15 million books have been donated to non-profits, they support grants, and also recycle the books unable to be sold. Read more about their impact here. I’ll be going through our stacks this season!
  • Elf on the Shelf kind of creeped us out last year and I’m really bad at remembering to do it. I also saw on Pinterest an idea for giving elves, or something really beautiful and perfect like that. Our family variation: the kids like the concept of finding the elf. So I have a plan of what to do with him each day, but he will also have a note sharing with us an act of kindness we need to complete. (Will we succeed everyday, or will I remember? No because we are not a pinteresty sort, but we are going to try!)
  • Try this one: go to GreaterGood. On the top toolbar they have nine sections like autism, literacy, and hunger. As you click the cause, a button will appear to support the cause, just click again and you’re set. The advertisers fund the causes. Click nine times and you’ve contributed to nine causes for free. You can give back every calendar day.
  • Rice 2.0 offers 10 grains of rice to the World Good Bank for every correct answer. They offer a number of subjects. I’m loving the spanish vocabulary section right now.

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite free ways to give back on-line? 

Hopelifter

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Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts. 

Kathe Wunneberg is the founder of Hopelifters Unlimited.

 

This book is about showing up when things are hard.

And showing up is really everything.

 

Have you ever wanted to run away from the visiting line at the funeral home? Pretend that you didn’t hear what happened and not send the note or make the phone call? Have you ever wanted to just wish away the pain?

The beauty of offering hope, is that it can be in silence. Often, it is just showing up.

It can mean everything to someone who is hurting.

 

The author has known great loss and pain. She has also walked alongside those who have known the same.

Along with encouragement from her own life, she and forty-four contributors offer their stories of hope lifting.

 

Encouragement, stories of showing up, ideas, and hope. Hope.

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How have you given or received hope? Has someone ever shown up for you? 

Leave a comment and win a copy of the book!