proximity

Proximity

 

A week ago, I submitted my rewrites for Kids Talk Justice. I wrote and edited like a madwoman for the twelve weeks of summer. Everywhere. It was the hardest work of my life. In the late hours of the night, I wrestled with words.

These topics are not easy, made more complicated by the difficulties facing our nation.

I expect the next round of edits to be equally hard. This is my promise and prayer, I will not give up.

Proximity is essential in our lives.

We need it now more than ever. So much has happened.

There is so much hurt and unkindness. So many fractures.

I promise to keep listening. Wrestling. Struggling. I would do it over again because sometimes the most important things are the hardest.

Like this photograph, sometimes the most important things are simple too.

A response.

A drawing close.

A prayer for changed hearts.

A seeking of justice.

A call to never give up.

hope.

hope

This past week was spring break in Michigan. And it snowed, rained and sleeted most of the time. It was also cloudy, dark and cold. I’m not going to lie, we were all a little stir crazy. We did read a lot. Including Josiah’s new obsession with being read the Lord of the Rings out loud. People, it takes like twenty years for the hobbits to get out of the Shire…

Whenever I struggle, I read hard books. Kris often teases me about what sad book I am reading next. I read hard books, not because they are sad topics, but because of the proximity and perspective they give me. They fill me with hope and remind me of my purpose in Christ. I want to understand the stories of people and how to make a difference. When I want to wallow in my own uncertainties, I’m reminded of how much I have been given. Speaking of wallowing, read this great piece by Janyre Tromp. She’s the author at Ugly, Beautiful Me and I think you’ll love her.

This is what I’ve been reading…
evictedEvicted by Matthew Desmond.

Homelessness in America.

 

 

 

 

$2.00 a Day Living on Almost Nothing in Americapoverty

by: Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Extreme poverty in the United States. Low-wage labor market.

 

 

 

poverty 2The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives

By: Sasha Abramsky

Economic inequality for the chronically poor and working poor.

 

 

 

Born Survivors by: Wendi Holden born survivors

Three young women and their babies born in a concentration camp.

Such defiant hope. courage. life in the face of death.

 

 

 

SHofcoFind Me Unafraid

By: Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner

Love. Loss. Hope. Kenya.

 

 

 

Keeping Hope Alivehope

by: Dr. Hawa Abdi with Sarah J. Robbins

Dr. Hawa and her daughters run a refugee camp on their family farm close to Mogadishu, Somalia. The camp has provided for nearly 90,000 refugees.

 

 

Hard things are happening in the world, but hope always prevails.

We can be part of that hope. I want very much to be.

 

What are you reading?

Also… I would love to give away my copy of Brooklyn, it is so sweet and fiction. (just leave a comment to be entered.)

 

Talk Justice

 

talkjustice

It’s been a long winter hasn’t it? So long. I’m excited for spring and the new hope it brings to our hearts. I’m also so happy to begin a new series called Talk Justice!

My friend Amy Sullivan, writer of the amazing When More is not Enough, sparked thoughts about talking justice with our kids a few months ago when we were having a phone date. In the right context walking beside children and teaching them about justice issues from a young age, shapes them to be people who understand, empathize, serve, and love others.

 

I tried to put it off.

if you find this letter

 

Then a little volume came to my mailbox to be reviewed. If you find this letter, by Hannah Brencher. She was featured in our Craft for a Cause Issuu magazine! As the founder of the World Needs More Love Letters, the book is a beautiful unfolding of her journey to crafting love letters to strangers and leaving them all over New York City. Her little dream grew into something so much bigger than herself, and millions have been touched by the love letter movement. Learn more at her website.

 

Hannah had this struggle I know well.

She longed for God to use her fully, but she didn’t feel good enough.

God used her anyway.

 

Do small things. On repeat. And think about other people. ~Hannah Brencher

 

That is what we are going to do each week.

 

I hope you will join me here on Mondays, for the next three months, to Talk Justice. Not just for ourselves, but for the generation we are raising up. They can handle proximity.

I’m really excited about so many things. (I’ll keep them a secret for now, but especially about Summer Serve Play Groups with the Citizen Kid Book Series given to About Proximity.)

 

Also, you are good enough. My love letter to you… I hope every time I write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

a wide world

little fellowOver break I watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Although much of JRR Tolkien’s works have spiritual undertones, I was particularly struck by the imagery of this movie. Smaug the great dragon has been killed. The people of Laketown gather in need of shelter, food, and clothing. Thorin Oakenshield, once a great leader, inhabits Lonely Mountain unwilling to share even one piece of gold.

Dwalin:  “You sit here, in these vast halls, with a crown upon your head and yet you are lesser now than you have ever been.”

“You cannot see what you have become.” 

Kili: “I will not hide, when others fight our battles for us.”

Of course, he comes around to be the great leader we all knew he was, abandoning wealth and power. Redemption. 

 

And as Gandolf leaves Bilbo with the powerful ring… “You really are just a little fellow, in a wide world.” Perspective.

 

I don’t know if I was all to ready for this new year. Even so, I know who I want to be.

 

I want to be brave and not hide. 

I want to love in close proximity… to do that, I know I must be quieter, stiller, gentler. 

I want to kneel because I know I am just a little fellow in a wide world. I know I need God. 

In this new year, what do you hope for? 

 

 

 

 

 

have deep compassion for the people.

background

I have been reading a collection of Mother Teresa’s teachings. Where there is love there is God. 

 

The Christian community can be divided about participation in Halloween. I was encouraged moving through the rainy streets last Thursday with Captain America, Lucy of Narnia, and Leah the black cat. To me it was community, people extending love and children receiving the gift.

Every year there are under the breath grumblings, of teenagers, hooded and un-costumed, filling backpacks and pillowcases with candy. It happened where I grew up and it happens where I live now.

I say in every way, in every opportunity extend love.

That to me, is every time there is something that is perceived to be ‘unfair’, including assistance of every kind.

 

This week households will feel the first effects of budget cuts to the food assistance program SNAP. Most of these households include children, seniors, single parents, and those with disabilities. Over 1/2 of those that use SNAP have jobs, but can’t make ends meet because of minimum wage {Center for Budget and Policy Priorities}.

Non-profits and churches will find it difficult to fill such an enormous gap. People will find themselves in a vulnerable space of hunger.  Try taking the SNAP challenge through Feeding America.

Thinking about the issue in abstract it is easy to perceive ‘unfair’. Put yourself in the proximity of those that are vulnerable and everything changes; stand in the Feeding America line in your church parking lot, hold up a grocery store line trying to use your dwindling SNAP benefits, choose between a meal for yourself or your child, hand your child a cup of watered down milk to stretch what is left.

Instead of saying ten words say one ~ Mother Teresa

compassion

I love your voice and your thoughts. 

Unfinished

images

Richard Stearns, President of World Vision has a new book called Unfinished Believing is only the Beginning. 

About Proximity was given a hard cover copy to review and giveaway!

Stearns first book was the National Bestseller The Hole in our Gospel. In that book he spoke about his journey from CEO of Parker Brothers Games and Lenox, Inc to World Vision.

 

In Unfinished, Stearns writes about our Biblical mission to proclaim God’s truths and act on his life-changing love.

100_0069

The book lacked the deep story telling Stearns included in his first book. He spent much of the chapters giving overview to the bigger story found in the Bible. I still enjoyed the book and its message very much. The stories he tells of his work with World Vision and other people’s acts of love are the strongest parts of the book.

One story stands out against the backdrop of the book for me. He told of how tourists vacationing at Haiti ocean resort locations are placed on buses with blacked out windows when they arrive at the airport. Then, they are transported to their destination. The windows are blacked out so they do not see the abject poverty they are passing by on the way to their resort.

 

The work is unfinished.

How often when we are not in direct proximity to suffering, do we black out what we see.

We were made for so much more.

made

You have a critical role to play.

We need to cast off our inward, secure, isolated lives and look outward.

The book has a great study guide and an act,pray, influence and give guide.

 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a hard cover copy of the book! 

Are you ever tempted to black out what you know? What do you think when you read the words we were made for so much more?

Kneel

DSC04815

Your light will break forth like the dawn,

your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you, 

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:8-9 

 

I am thankful that God says HERE AM I.

I am thankful that I can kneel.

 

Hey God, I feel utterly helpless right now. There are so many things out of my control. They leave me reeling.

All I can do is get on my knees. I want to wear them out. I called to you and I can be assured that you heard me. 

 

You will be my rear guard. If I stumble, if I fall backwards, if I am reeling you are right behind me to catch my fall. You will ease me back to standing. You will make my footsteps firm.

The very second I call to you.

 

Here am I. Here am I. Right here: in front of you, behind you and all around you.

You NEVER leave my proximity ~

kneel