Love Your Voice: Amy Bosma

DSC_0800-2Name:
Amy Bosma
Your Family:
My husband Shane and I have six kids ranging in ages from 17 years to 6 months – Taylor, Makayla, Ryan, Daniel, Noah and Emily.
Your location in the world:
Holland, MI, USA
Three favorites:
The warm air and newness of Spring
Giving birth
Photography
 
What is your calling?:

When I was presented with the question “What is your calling?” my mind started scrambling for something worthy of writing down. To me, “calling” means purpose. It means passion.  I thought of a few things I am involved in that I could pretend I was most passionate about, but my heart kept drawing me back to what I know is my true purpose right now.

Lets start at the beginning. I was thrust into motherhood at the tender age of nineteen. I had no idea what I was doing and it didn’t feel all that important either. God allowed me to roam around looking for my “calling” in those first years of motherhood. I wanted it to be something important out there.  By “out there” I mean out of my home, away from my family, in public view. Certainly God couldn’t be calling me to just be a mother. So in an attempt to find purpose I did mission trips, led GEMS, trained for prayer ministry, became a youth leader, and so on. None of those felt like they were it.

The past few years God has been drawing my heart back to my home.

My it? My great calling right now? Motherhood. Simple, non-glamorous, I know.

Lets face it, cleaning puke off a crying child at midnight doesn’t earn a spot on the missionary bulletin board at church. It doesn’t even draw forth a thank-you most of the time.

But mothering truly is my passion now.

I don’t want you to think for even one second that we’ve got it all together over here just because I am passionate about being a mom. We are not Pinterest-worthy. We’re a messy bunch of people. Both figuratively and literally. (I can’t even count the times my boys have worn holey jeans to church, or forgotten their underwear, or skipped brushing their teeth. The times we’ve forgotten to do family devotions FAR outnumber the times we’ve done them. And let’s not even talk about the yelling and the fighting.)

And most of the time I downright stink at this. I really do. But the purpose of my calling is not to be a perfect mother. It is to have an open, humble heart to learn from the perfect parent – God. Perhaps my imperfection is the reason this is my calling. God knows that failing constantly and crying out to him for more mercy and guidance every day is what will break me and then grow me. And it will grow them. And that is my passion.

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story:

My redemption story is not a story of one miraculous rescue, but a series of rescues. Because of rejections and woundings in my life, I spent most of my life feeling unloved. I lived by these woundings and in turn my life bore the scars of rebellion,  teen pregnancy, addiction, depression, pain and self-loathing. But God, in his infinite grace, has been whispering his love to my heart right from the start. Sometimes I can not hear him. But there are times where His voice breaks through the drone of the world’s noise and I once again see who he is, and then I can run to his arms.  And at those times God is able to change my heart. He faithfully picks me up, once again, and proves his love for me.  By God’s grace, I can say that I no longer see myself as a victim. I no longer see myself as damaged goods. I no longer define my identity by my sin, but by the way God sees me. His goal is for me to know I am his beloved. My redemption story is ongoing. I pray it will not end until the day I see His face, and I pray that at every turn in my life God somehow uses my story to bless others.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal?

Although my family is my number one ministry right now, God does use my limited time and resources to focus me on other ways of renewal/service for short seasons.  From a youth group lesson I feel inspired to share, to helping my son raise money for a well in a third world country, to praying passionately for an issue God presses on my heart, to blogging about human trafficking, to bringing a meal to a family. These are all moments in time, short periods of my life, where God gives me incredible passion for something. When I have full filled what he has asked me to do, I am released from that burden and I just keep on living my number one calling. For now, I don’t feel desire to be committed long-term to any of the these things. But that’s not to say I won’t in the future. My greatest desire is to follow God wherever he leads me.

AmyB

You can read more of Amy and see her beautiful photography here. She’s also lent her voice to About Proximity here and her photography here. 

Love Your Voice: Jeanne Takenaka

JTFamily

Name: Jeanne Takenaka

Your Family:

I’m the wife of one amazing husband, and two exuberant, Lego-loving boys who hope a dog will one day complete our family.

Your Location in the World:

We live near the mountains in Colorado.

Three favorites:

Only three? 🙂 Okay, here are mine:

Junior Mints

Hiking in the mountains

Watching a great movie with my husband and eating made-from-scratch popcorn

What is your calling?

My first calling right now is to be a wife and mother who follows hard after God. To encourage my husband through words and actions. To guide our sons as they grow older, showing them the reality of who God is and how much He loves them. (And try not to chew my nails to the nub as they get closer to those teen years!) To pray for my family and to just be there for them when they need a hug, need to talk, need a tickle fest (the boys only).

I also have a heart for troubled marriages. My husband and I have had some opportunities to come alongside couples and encourage them and pray for them as they work through issues in their relationships. This has been a great blessing!

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story:

When we had been married a couple of years, we decided it was time to start a family. We tried to get pregnant, and succeeded. Once. We lost that baby. We walked through many years of infertility. This was one of the most difficult seasons in our marriage and of my life. Dealing with the disappointed hopes each month, wondering where God was in all of this. He used this season to draw me close to Him, to show me the depth of His love for me, and to give me a greater understanding of what it means to have faith in Him in all things. When I relinquished my dreams of motherhood to Him, He gave me peace, and eventually gifted us with two sons.

I have had opportunities to encourage and pray for other women walking this same path. Sharing with, crying with, and praying with women on this road brings unspeakable joy. The knowing that God can use me to offer seeds of hope to others is amazing.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal?

Though I am not actively involved in an organization right now, my heart is drawn toward women—encouraging them in their walks with the Lord, in their relationships with family members. I love listening to them, talking with them, studying the Bible with them and praying for them. It’s an informal way of being in the proximity of renewal, but it’s flexible which is good for the things God is doing with my life right now.

JTJeanne Takenaka shares her writing where faith and grace hold hands here. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter. She offers sweet encouragement.

 

Love Your Voice: Julie LaJoe

JulieL.

Name: Julie LaJoe

Your Family:

I’m single, but so blessed to have many people who are like family to me where I live! Close friends, neighbors, and my own immediate and extended family is awesome even though they live farther away than I would like.

Your Location in the World: North Carolina

Three favorites:

Warm weather and everything that goes with warm weather, books, traveling (except for the actual travel part) and exploring new places.

Her Calling:

The true, honest answer to this question is always writing. I’m sure there is more to it than that but writing is a calling placed on my heart.

I’ve done a lot of different things for work, yet writing has always been the best way I can express what God does in and through my life, and I would still do it even if I never get paid a cent. So I guess that’s a calling. It’s so natural I can’t stop. Or so unnatural I can’t stop. Sometimes (many times) it’s hard but it’s necessary.

Other writers speak hope into my life and somehow, I feel like the cycle continues when I do that, through telling of the stories of my life and what God has done and continues to do.

I know ingrained in all of us is a sense of purpose. I desire for people to know what they were created for and to know they are wonderfully made and loved by God. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages.

God continues to teach me that I am treasured and loved and I believe my calling is to live this out the best ways I can with what He’s given me.

Share a way God has worked through you as part of your redemption story:

I work as a counselor with children and adolescents and that wouldn’t have been possible if not for going through struggles of my own first.  I’ve been the kind of person most of my life who thought I had to hold it together myself, who had to be strong, whether dealing with stressful life circumstances or chronic pain or other health problems.

Through all of this, God has given me a heart for people, especially young people, with complex situations and who the world would deem ‘unlovely.’

We don’t like to talk about these things. But this is redemption. I am thankful for how He redeems beauty from pain and makes good, even if not right away, from trials and dark places. God is always at work in making something new. He has done this again and again in my life.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal?

I am the kind of person who gets excited about lots of things. Sometimes, I have a hard time with no, not for any other reason than most things sound good to me.

Being in proximity of renewal often means remembering there is an ebb and flow to life. I can’t live as an on-the-go person all the time or be part of every group or ministry or organization even if I believe in its cause. I’m thankful that renewal often comes with the changing of the seasons and causes me to pause and remember I am only helpful to others and the things that get me excited if I take time to slow some days. Slow isn’t bad.

It’s nice to pay attention and get outdoors. To listen to the natural rhythms around me and read the books I love and sit on my porch and let my heart be still.

Julie writes at Mercy Notes. I love her voice and the heart that accompanies it very much.

i love your voice series

Love Your Voice: Wendi Putzke

IMG_9792Name: Wendi Putzke

Your Family: 

Hubster Aaron, three littles (Evan, Dannan, and Kellen), our snuggly puggle Flicker, and the squeaky guinea pigs Nutmeg and Rosemary.

Your Location in the World: 

Currently we live in Holland, Michigan, but our family is preparing to move back to Washington State this summer.

Three favorites:

Summer, chubby baby legs, and checking things off my ‘to do’ list

What is your calling?

When I read this, I immediately thought of all the things I am NOT doing right now. Why am I not volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or in a soup kitchen? Why haven’t I gone on a mission trip to Guatemala in more than six years?

 After thinking about it for months (yes- it really did take that long- I’m not as evolved as some!), I realized that seeing only my shortcomings would get me nowhere. When I think about what I feel I am called to do, I realize that we are called to many things; sometimes all at once, others over time. Right now I am in the throes of mothering young children and all which that entails. I also teach dance and volunteer at my kids’ schools. All callings, but sometimes I forget that my calling isn’t about my vocation or what I’m doing in my spare time. Sometimes my calling is about being. About being intentional in my choices, being willing to show others my deepest fears and weaknesses, being fully present in the moment when I am with a friend or my children.

My favorite scripture is Matthew 5:16. It talks about letting my light shine so that God will be glorified. MY light. GOD’S glory. So, whether I’m being or doing, my calling is to let MY light shine.

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story: 

All things can be redemptive. Through my struggles with post-partum depression and miscarriage, I learned that other people need to hear our stories to know they are not alone and that we need to share our stories to fully heal. I became more open about my struggles, and in turn, became a more compassionate and understanding listener. My openness has allowed other women to feel safe with me and share their stories as we all journey toward healing. I think this is so important. I am grateful that something so painful could be used for good.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal? 

Renewal comes in many different ways for me. I love time with good friends: Time to reconnect, time to laugh and cry and share the truth of our lives. I love time with my family sharing special memories and making new ones. I love the peacefulness of God’s creation- especially mountains and oceans. I am renewed by doing nice things for others and remembering the little things they have going on in their lives. I’m most passionate about children and education. I love to dance. It seems that when I follow those passions, I find myself in the proximity of renewal.

i love your voice series

 

Love Your Voice: Jen Petersen

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Name: Jen Petersen

Your Family: Married almost 11 years to Jeff, 2 rambunctious boys – ages 7 and 5 years old.

Your Location in the World: Grand Rapids, MI

Three favorites: Dark Chocolate, Baths, Tragic novels (all three of them together make about the best night possible).

What is your calling?

I believe that Call is something that shifts and changes over time, and yet always has some consistent thread to it. My calling has something to do with helping those without a voice to be heard. Right now, that means helping my children learn to express who they are in ways that others can hear them, and helping their schools to hear who they are, even when their voices sound different than those of the other children. And it also means helping people at Servant’s Community Church (and the neighborhood around her), hear the voice of God calling them beloved. It means helping people listen to their own stories and experiences, searching for where God has been present.

I have all kinds of dreams of what this might look like in the future. Maybe someday I’ll pursue a degree in pastoral counseling and spiritual direction. A trip to Israel and Palestine a couple of years ago got me dreaming about listening to stories of the people who live there and helping them to hear one another. I’ve recently become enthralled with restorative justice initiatives and restorative circles and wonder what part that might play in my future.

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story:

The beginning of this call has always been learning to listen myself. I’m not always able to hear God call me the beloved. I worry that I’m not good enough for the work that I do – that one day everyone’s going to wake up and realize that I really have no idea what I’m doing. So I push myself too hard and worry about the things that I didn’t get done, or didn’t do well enough. And I feel it in my body. In college, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In the years since then, I’ve learned that my body will tell me what my heart won’t pay attention to on it’s own. My aches and tense muscles are a sign that there’s too much of me and not enough listening to God’s voice, calling me into being.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal?

Even though I need frequent breaks from it, I love the Westside of Grand Rapids, where my family lives and my husband and I serve as co-pastors at Servant’s Community Church. So many people look in from the outside and see poverty and addiction and cycles that can’t be changed. But I love living close enough to see neighbors helping neighbors push their cars out of the snow banks or gathering on each other’s porches or taking in a friend who’s been evicted when the medical bills got to large. I care about our parks being clean, because they’re the parks my children play in, too. I fight for more equity in our schools because it’s my children’s daily experience at stake, too. Investing in the city isn’t something radical when you live here – it’s just wanting your kids to have a nice place to grow up, just like everyone else wants for their kids.

You can check out our church at Servant’s Community Church.

Or check out The Other Way Ministries, one of the many neighborhood organizations we partner with. You can also find a list of neighborhood partners there under “Partnership Organizations.

i love your voice series

 

Love Your Voice: Caitlin Boersma

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Name: Caitlin Boersma

 

Your Family:

Team Boersma consists of me, my husband, our 4 yr old pup, and our fresh out of the oven, 9 month old daughter. These are my people. My faves. My loves.

 

Your Location in the World: 

Holland, Michigan, USA

 

Three favorites:

Dance parties. Group text messages with lots of emoticons. Summer nights spent on the back deck, sipping wine with new friends and old.

 

What is your calling? 

Two years ago, a conference speaker prophesied over me saying that that I would be a leader of leaders. She encouraged me, saying that I should not let my fear of being young and unqualified prevent me from public speaking and leading. Since then, God has asked me to lead in different ways – resulting in a mix of obedient and disobedient responses on my part.

 

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story: 

9 months ago my world was flipped upside down. God called me to leave my 9-5 job (the one that my bank account and self-esteem greatly appreciated) to become a stay-at-home mama. Hands down, giving up what I knew and welcoming a little person into my family has been the most challenging task I have ever experienced. Even so, I wouldn’t want to give back these daily moments of pain, fear and fatigue. It’s in these moments that I realized I NEED a Savior. It’s in these moments that I realize just how weak I am. It’s in these moments that I realize just how strong my God is, how much God truly loves me. Seriously, I have never…ever…prayed…like I do now – Thanks be to God!

This new understanding of God, has given me a new confidence to live into my calling – daring to do what God calls me to no matter how scary the task. If I can be a mother, God can do ANYTHING through me. God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called. {Christine Caine}

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How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal? 

If you were to hop over to my email inbox you would find that it is full! Full of emails about immigration, women’s rights, sex trafficking, adoption, abortion and so on… If there is a group out there that is trying to bring a voice to the voiceless, I have likely checked it out. I honestly can’t help it… It’s part of who God has created me to be. Even as a little girl, I would intentionally sit next to the kid in class that no one else wanted to sit by.

At times, this has been a gift. But most of the time, it has been a struggle of mine. I have often found myself stretched thin, giving a little bit of my time and energy to lots of different organizations.

When God called me to become a mother, God called me to remove myself from many of the other things that I was giving my time to: my job, the board I was serving on, the volunteer commitments I had made to church, and so on – in order to be truly present. I have learned a lot through this time of “fasting” from doing, and have been cautiously accepting service opportunities as they arise.

Over the last couple weeks, I have felt God nudging our family to pray seriously about an area of renewal that God may be calling us into. It scares me. It excites me. But most of all, it challenges my cookie-cutter world. Please pray for my family as we dig deeper. To be continued…

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Love Your Voice: Julie Meyers

Julie

Name: Julie Meyers

Your Family: Husband of 5 years, Andrew, and the cutest son in the world, Aiden

Your Location in the World: Holland, MI

Three favorites: 1. Cooking and baking for my family and friends 2. Watching my husband make my son laugh 3. Eating cookies

What is your calling? 

First and foremost, I’ve always known that my calling, my purpose on this earth, is to love and serve Christ. This calling looks different through each phase of life. Since having my son 15 months ago, I have been focused on teaching him about God’s love and praying that he would one day recognize the same calling that I have. I see the world around me from his perspective and pray that he would be a light in the world. I’m also more passionate about making the world that he’ll grow up in a better place. 

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story: 

Being a parent is hard. I know this is so obvious to some people and any seasoned parent would respond with “you have no idea!” I by no means had an unrealistic idea of what it would be like once my son was born. I knew sleep would be limited. I knew my passions and wants would fall to the bottom of the list. I knew about diaper changes and crying. But I was still surprised by how hard it was! How am I supposed to know if he’s crying because he’s in pain or is just mad? How do I get him to eat better? What the secret to getting him to sleep past 6am? I have had to rely on God for peace, strength, energy and wisdom. I have been humbled more than I could’ve ever imagined and have had to admit that I can’t do it all.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal? 

This was a difficult question for me to answer because at this phase of life I’m not going on mission trips or volunteering hours at local ministries. The hours of my days are quickly filled up with taking care of Aiden, loving my husband, working at a job that I love, and being a part of our church community. Before I was married, I worked in youth ministry that allowed me to go on 5 or 6 mission trips a year. I frequently found myself in circumstances that allowed me to serve the poor and build relationships with those that are different than me. Today I have to look closer to home for opportunities to bring Jesus’s renewal to those around me. Whether it’s giving a smile to the cashier at the grocery store or being extra kind to someone at work, I try to remember that sometimes it’s the seemingly small gestures of kindness that can have the biggest impact.

i love your voice series

Love Your Voice Series: Melanie Groen

Family PictureName: Melanie Groen

Your Family: Married for 7 years with a 3 year old daughter and a newborn son

Your Location in the World:  Southern California

Three favorites: Visits back to Michigan to visit family and friends, being outside and The Gilmore Girls.

What is your calling? 

I believe that God continues to refine your call as you grow in him.  All my life, I knew that God had called me to work with children.  It is easy for me to build relationships with youth and I have worked and volunteered for a variety of organizations that have allowed me to do this.  Lately, I feel like God has shifted my calling to witness to unbelievers in my life that are my age.  I’ve always found myself surrounded by a group of strong believers and lately God has placed me in groups and in a job where that isn’t the case.  I feel like he has called me to be a light in these relationships that I’m building.

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story: 

I am a planner.  I have to do lists at work and at home, completed every day.  I have schedules and routines that I like to follow.  Believe it or not, everything doesn’t always go my way or in my time frame. God has taught me that although it is okay that I have these schedules, I need to honor Him through prayer, knowing that I don’t always get to see the big picture.  I have learned to trust that God has his hand in everything.  Knowing this, I feel like I have been able to be a support to other people who question where God is or what his plans are for them.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal? 

I place myself outside of my Christian circles for the proximity of renewal.  Although this is difficult at times rather than the “easier” friendships of my close Christian friends, I make efforts to ask people out to lunch or coffee that I know are not believers.  I go to an exercise class in which very few people walk with Christ.  In my workplace, my closest co-workers all don’t consider themselves Christians.

(Thank you Melanie, full of sunshine and the joy of Christ.) 

i love your voice series

I love Your Voice Series: James McLemore

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{A moonrise dust at the family farm}

Family: Married 30 years come July, Laura and I have three sons. Our oldest is legally blind and is a vagabond, quite happy and much too free. Our second is a new chemical engineer in Aberdeen Scotland, working offshore in the North Sea. Interestingly, he has returned to the land of our ancestor James McLemore who immigrated here in 1670. Our third is a playful high school senior.

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Location in the world: My home is Montgomery, Alabama. I am named for our forebear Baptist preacher who settled here in 1817, and upon whose homestead we still cultivate a farm. He begot a long line of cotton planters, by whom I have untold numbers of cousins around here. We are not the Waltons but our ties bind.

 

Three favorites: The land of our family, my historic church, and the natural world. Sections of the family farm – including my parents’ home – are unchanged through several generations. They are simple and ordinary places really, where time pays no attention. Our Episcopal parish, St. John’s Church, is deep rooted too. Founded in 1834, the church is an inspiring blend of old and new generations, forward leaning with a respectful nod to its past. Baptized there as an infant, I suppose I am one of its many relics. Our bio-diverse state, on the other hand, is anything but a relic (politicians are another matter). It is a marvel of evolution of life. Nature nourishes through all our senses, and there I feast.

 

Calling: Calling is adventure. The practice of law has been a good fit and provides me a voice in varied fields which other professions don’t afford. I aim for reason and helpfulness, building not destroying. I love volunteering with nonprofits, mainly culture and art, the medically underserved, and the church — from children’s teacher to Bishop’s advisor.

 

God and redemption: At age 18 while reflecting on the Milky Way one sleepless night, I changed. I had a sudden and intense awareness of a consuming presence of love and of harmony with all that exists. It lasted less than a minute but left an enduring mark. Long after, I read of such accounts from mystics (e.g. Thomas Merton) and scientists (e.g. Andrew Newberg). What I experienced was real, regardless of cause. Everything thereafter has filtered through that moment. Holy Scripture seems to have emanated from such awareness, and I am convinced that through that tradition we can know God.

Storm Renewal: I see in nature a hurricane of creation, changing constantly but becoming new by building upon the old. I find renewal by folding myself into its rhythms and accepting the changes offered me too. It’s easy here where the climate is moderate and the seasons well delineated. When the community shares that vision — critical for the church — together we renew and grow. I cherish how all this is reflected in the visual and literary arts and, well, there too I feast.

Thank you so much for sharing your voice. Read a beautiful guest post by James McLemore.

I Love Your Voice Series

If I had my life to live over I would have found you sooner

Meet: Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

His Family- wife Barbara, dogs MochaJava, Dukee, Rapunzel (aka Pinzgauer), Humphrey, Denali the Happy Husky, Ladron, Sylvia, Bray, Red, Megan the Tank, Mr. Independent, Reebok, Josie, Daisy, Chris, Yoda, Tammy, Rufus, Regis, Shelby, Daughtrie, Labby, Bernard the Ninth, Duke, Elvis, and Bella the Wheechair Dog. Cats FredScotch and Schatzie, and a turtle – Mr. Turtle.

Location in the World- a mesa west of Belen, New Mexico, at a height of just under a mile above sea level

Three favorites-
1 – God
2 – Barbara and the dogs
3 – Henry Lee’s poem “Fighting On”
I see no gleam of victory alluring,
no hope of splendid booty or of gain.
IfI endure, I must go on enduring,
and my only reward for bearing pain – is pain.
Yet though the thrill, the zest, the hope are gone
something within me keeps me fighting on.

My calling- I had a lot of ‘callings’ in my life, but I think they’ve all distilled down into my work with abused and abandoned dogs, I’ve seen death and cruelty casually applied, and this is the place where I’ve chosen to stand, for life and love and hope. It’s come at a high
cost to what I thought were my ‘dreams’, but in the end it wasn’t my own aspirations that really matter. What matters is the effort to make a difference, even in a small way, for the good. And I can only hope that this example might be seen by others, and that people will see that they life is better when they put aside ego and give love freely. That’s the biggest legacy we can leave, I think, a legacy of love given without hope of reward, and of love accepted with gratitude.

Pit Bull HugHow God has worked through me- I was certainly in need of redemption! I valued physical and mental hardness above all other ‘virtues’, and they can be useful, but I overdid it. I guess the redemption came from a dog’s life that I didn’t save. About twenty years ago I adopted two dogs from the county shelter in San Diego, and saw another, an old retriever who really had no hope. He looked at me sadly, and I looked at him – and to my everlasting regret, I turned away, thinking I could only handle two. His eyes will forever haunt me. He should not have passed his last days there. I should have said, “No!” and taken him too; I failed God’s mission for me at that moment. So in a way, all I do, I do for this nameless creature, and in a way I’m saying, “I’m sorry.” To him, and to God.

How do I place myself in the proximity of renewal? Hard to answer this one. Things don’t really get my heart beating faster. My wife says I’m a Vulcan, after all – but at night I sometimes walk through the house and listen to the dogs as they sleep. Their breath, snoring, yipping in dreams of play – and I feel a contentment that I never knew as a pilot, an academic, or as a soldier of fortune.

authorAndrew writes at Blessed are the Pure of Heart. 

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your work. 

 

 

i love your voice series