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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Fades

gray

Friday evening, I felt depleted. Oh the gray that builds sometimes, especially this time of year. Laying on the couch, I hit play on A Path Appears. 

The three-part documentary film based on the book of the same name by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, shows on PBS. Episode One talked about sex trafficking in the United States. Episode Two covered Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. You can watch Episode 1 and Episode 2 on-line until February 14. The last part will show this evening and takes place at the Kiberia School for Girls.

It was midnight when I finished, and the gray had receded.

Proximity does that to you. You remember who you want to be.

path

Earlier in the month, Nicolas Kristof wrote an article about a high school friend, stuck in a cycle of poverty called Where’s the EmpathyOh, how we need and long for understanding that leads to empathy, that moves us to act.

 

I’m excited about A Path Appears.

The IF Gathering where so many women gathered and dreamed this past weekend.

Voices like Amy Sullivan, who remind us that serving is hard, but glorious.

and progress like the Millennium Development Goals.

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{Mother and their children at a Mother’s group in South Delhi, India}

The Global Team of 200 is reporting this month with Save the Children and MDG4, reducing childhood morality. The number of children dying from preventable causes decreased from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. Progress… but still 

  • Each day an estimated 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die from largely preventable causes.
  • More than 1 million babies die on their first and only day of life across the world, and 2.9 million in their first month.

Newborn mortality rates can only be reduced through

  • fairer distribution of essential health services
  • universal healthcare access; this means making these more available to the poorest and most marginalized families, as well as to communities living in rural areas.

The world produces enough food to feed every man, woman and child yet 1 in 8 go to bed hungry every night. 

???????????????????????????????{Mother and son in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia}

 

Let’s rise up to meet those suffering with empathy and action.

It is our calling, why we breathe.

and gray fades.

 

36 Hope Expands: About Proximity Projects

36hopeexpands(36 Hope Expands. A series of 36 ways to expand compassion in our daily lives.)

I have a hefty list of things I would like to do with About Proximity, including a snazzier design. Also, I promise to never have ads, especially pop up ads, or start saying bad words, or talk to much. Mostly, I just really want to be faithful to God and make a difference, however small, to me that is hope. To me, that is why I write.

requiregive

This one is simple. I’ve been wanting to start a new tab here. GIVE Projects. (See it up there?) There I will keep About Proximity’s projects. I hope the list grows and grows.

Remember Amy Sullivan’s bookWhen More is not Enough. She gave all the proceeds to a local ministry called Transformation Village. First book, she just went all out. I want to go without looking back too. I will be tithing my freelance writing work into our GIVE projects.

First up, a KIVA loan. We will contribute to a microfinance loan. When it gets paid back eventually, we get to pick a new person to receive the same amount.

Our first loan will go to Calixta Elizabeth from Ecuador, a single mom with a small eatery. The loan will allow her to purchase tables, chairs, and a business sign.

What do you dream of supporting if money and time were not an obstacle? 

He gave you the goods

breathe(Kristine, me, Amelia, Amy)

This weekend I attended Breathe Christian Writers Conference in Grand Rapids.

My dear Amy Sullivan (newly published!) trekked all the way from North Carolina. I met the talented Amelia Rhodes (the mastermind behind Praying A-Z) in person finally! I also met a writer that I have followed for a long time Chad Allen in person. He is truly just as encouraging and genuine in real life. I grew to know other talented women from the area like Melanie, Kristine, Catie and Jenna. I love that in a crowded and enormously competitive field, I have only met generous and encouraging people.

Amy stayed up until 1 am with me, getting me on track and brainstorming. God is so good to give us special friends to journey with us in our lives. I think He knew I would need someone to kick my butt, but love me all the same. Also nachos can come with waffle fries instead of chips?! Who knew.

 

The key note speaker was Julie Cantrell. I can’t wait to read her books. She has a beautiful story of faith despite enormous loss. She could not be humbler (hello, New York Times Bestselling Author.) Check her out.

 

This is what I want to share with you. Whenever I go anywhere or do anything, I feel so inadequate… like I so do not belong at a writing conference. Why in the world are these people friends with me? I am the worst. I have imaginary conversations constantly.

 

Another presenter Tracy Groot shared this:

God is the ultimate gift giver. 

The gifts God gave you are not broken. 

The anti-thesus of creation (satan) wants us to believe we drive a gutted car. 

 

I waste way too much time buying into this lie. I think I have some major stock in it.

 

So, this day I want to extend this encouragement. He gave you the goods. Beautiful, unique, utterly you gifts. He poured them out with generosity like no other. Own them, they are yours and yours alone to live out for him.

I think that covers our ordinary days with a layer of joy and bright and purpose, for that I am thankful. I am thankful for all of you and the way you reflect that gift giver.

What lie do you buy into? What are your gifts? Share what you do best! 

 

When More is Not Enough

amy cover

When More is Not Enough! This is Amy’s big day!

Have you ever dreamed of giving your gifts away. If I ever make enough money, I’d love to… well Amy didn’t wait. ALL proceeds of her book are going to Transformation Village, a housing ministry for women and children founded by Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministries. That extravagant generosity is Amy, and you will love her book.

 

She empowers us all to be givers and to raise givers with her smart, compassionate and funny voice. She gives birth on the side of the road, converses with imaginary critics and struggles through her daughters first years on permanent oxygen. Her journey to generosity is transparent, honest and down-to-earth.

God wanted more. He expected it. God desired to take what we saw as ours and turn it into his.”

ReleasePic1Generosity (1)

Amy encourages us to leave behind the term youth entitlement. She offers practical ideas for our world, our community and in our home. I especially love the dinner table dialogue sections.

She also goes beyond the most often shared service ideas and challenges our hearts to serve through forgiveness, prayer and rest. What a beautiful invitation, that in order to serve we must rest. We must pray. And we must be ready to offer forgiveness. Providing rest, service and prayer for others is also an act of service.

 

This kind of heart shaping, deeply loving, extravagantly generous service shapes a beautiful life. We know this from the voice and life of Amy.

 

I’ll be giving away TWO copies of the book!

Just comment below to be entered. What is your biggest giving dream? What is your families best giving ideas?

Lets give Amy lots of proximity love! You can share her book, follow her journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and subscribe to her blog by email! We love you Amy and so beyond proud of you and difference your book will make!

AmySullivan

Compassion is the New Black.

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This around the web has made my heart happy!

Where the wild things play! What do you think? I’d sign the waiver and send my kids in.

The Head Nurse at Emory University talks about why bringing Ebola patients to the United States, benefits not threatens…

BookCover-3DI’ve been following the work of Eugene Cho for quite some time. He’s a pastor, writer, and founder of One Day’s Wages. His first book is releasing September 1, Overrated. It will challenge us to DO JUSTICE and not just love the IDEA of making a difference. His premise is that sometimes we are the one’s that need changing. Take his 5-day challenge here. 

 

Our Amy girl is prepping for her big book launch this September too. Here she gives us ten ideas for drawing our families into service.

Amy also just introduced me to She Reads Truth. Check it out. They are studying the book of Hebrews this month.

orangeRestorative justice. I read Orange is the New Black on vacation. I haven’t seen the show, but I read the memoir by Piper Kerman, incarcerated ten years after transporting drugs a single time as a young woman. I LOVED the book. She accepted her punishment, and saw the prison system and the women in it with compassion, many incarcerated women are mothers, and non-violent drug offenders. A deeper look into their lives shows how poverty influenced their choices. I applaud how she took something devastating and turned it into an opportunity to make a difference.

 

She encourages the public to look at the justice system as a place for these women to find restoration and receive what they need to have a new life when freed. Check these out when you get a chance: Angel Tree (supporting kids with incarcerated parents), Woman and Prison written by the woman there, Book through Bars, Thousand Kites, Pen Prison Writing. Want to learn more about restorative justice, The Office Social Justice has great resources.

Who has kids hanging around? Check out this great paper slingshot from Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks.

Also… if you window shop on a website… later the $140 Born leather boots show up in your sidebar, every minute of everyday. I say that is not compassion.

What have you witnessed/read/done lately that was compassion? What’s your take on any of these articles? (Want to share with a guest post? I love your voice!) 

 

Impact with Simplicity and Savings

Introducing the Summer 2014 Impact ezine!

About Proximity’s partnership with the talented Amy Sullivan. 

ImpactSS Live simply to make space to give more… I always long to learn more about this topic.

Thank you to these lovely ladies for sharing their best:

Mickie Devries, Leslie Manlapig, Kim Fernando, Jennifer Peterson, Jennifer Iocavelli Barbour, Amelia Rhodes, Beth Stiff and Julie LaJoe.

 

Come on over! Click here to read.

We’d love to hear what your best tips are… and what ideas you might use!

#RiskRejection… I have no idea. Nice Try.

I love Amy Sullivan’s risk rejection series and the voices that have shared within it.

Every time I get ready to write about what I am going to risk for our monthly check in this comes to mind.

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What would you ask a chef about making food for a celebration?

Josiah: I have no idea.

 

What would you risk?

Me: I have no idea.

 

It’s called: let’s go with that, because I don’t want to write the real answer even though I know it. Amy challenged me to finish a writing project in fiction. That is my risk rejection, to focus on this project when I’m off from work this summer. I want to have a rough draft to show her by September… I need to stop saying I’m going to do it and actually do it.

I say I have no idea, because it scares me so much. I feel not good enough, and maybe it won’t be. I would rather say I tried. Yes, that is really true. I would rather risk rejection than to have always wondered.

 

People who have inspired me to risk rejection recently. 

invisible girlsSarah Thebarge, the author of The Invisible Girls, if you read any memoir this year, I highly recommend this one. She is a beautiful writer and spirit. Let’s talk facing aggressive breast cancer in your twenties, and afterward leaving your successful career, ivy league education, and failed relationship for a different coast. Sarah sought to heal her wounded heart. Enter refugee Hadhi and her five daughters. In the book Sarah is not afraid to ask why of God. She is also not afraid to share how placing herself in proximity to this refugee family revived her faith. I read it in one night. That good. You can also listen to an audio interview she did with Amy earlier this year.

Editorial Director of Baker Books, and blogger who encourages creativity, Chad Allen, introduced a fortieth birthday challenge last month. He is seeking to raise $40,000 for Heartline Ministries in Haiti, helping Moms and babies, and also jump out of an airplane. #Jump4Haiti is his year long mission. Read more about the trip that inspired this risk. I know I will be supporting this gutsy goal.

What will you be risking in the coming months? 

 

 

 

even the imperfect ones

imperfect

One more #riskrejection link up with the beautiful Amy Sullivan. All these ladies have inspired me so greatly. They are brave and I love to hear their stories. It is powerful when we do not allow fear to overcome our hearts, and listen for that still small voice. You can read my other risk posts here, here, and here. I hope you might be encouraged from someone who is not so very brave deep inside.

 

I remember when I was little and in the backyard with all the neighbor kids. We would take turns flipping and twisting backwards on the rings hanging from the top of our playhouse. Everyone could do some sort of great variation. I would be there too, but my amazing trick would never come. As soon as I started, I would imagine my arms twisting out of their sockets and hanging limply at my sides. The risk was too great, so I just never tried. I would sit in a patch of daisies with my dog, watching everyone else try new things. 

And I went on to spend most of my life, watching everyone else take the risks.

 

Now, I find myself saying yes more often, even when I’m not sure I’m good enough. I used to tell myself, I would take chances when I was smarter, or skinnier, or had more experience, or felt less anxious. The day I started writing here I realized something, God takes all voices, even the imperfect ones.

Thinking back to my childhood backyard, I realize I have changed.

The more you risk, the stronger you become. God will keep welling up in your heart more and more… to take steps of faith in things that matter.

 

I promise to keep writing hope and encouragement, even when I’m scared.

I promise to risk swinging upside-down on the rings…

 

Would you take a risk? About Proximity is running a series called I Love Your Voice. 

I so very much believe that we all have a story to tell. We all embody a unique way that God uses to bring hope and renewal to others. The proximity of your voices encourages.

Read our first contributions here, here, and here. We want your voice. Contact me for some ideas for you to share your heart aboutproximity@gmail.com

The way you place yourself in the proximity of renewal will challenge others to take risks. I know it.

i love your voice series

his understanding

IsaiahThe month of January, I am joining a group of writers talking about risking rejection. Thank you to Amy Sullivan for encouraging us to move out of our comfort zones. You can read her risk and all the links to others here.

Last week, I sought to take a risk and say no (not an easy feat for me). I can’t say I was totally successful. I said no to one thing, while finding myself in another spot, as a substitute. I tried, does that count?

The next two weeks I will talk about risks that are intertwined with writing. Let’s be honest, I am a worrier and a doubter. Every day I hit publish on here or somewhere else I feel so vulnerable, I can barely breath. Also, I very much love writing.

There has been a lot of risk involved and an unbelievable amount of rejection.

 

My risk this week is trying again.

Last winter, Kids Can Press, Citizen Kids donated an entire set of books to About Proximity. They were unbelievably generous and believed in our message.

citizen kidI worked to put together a series of play groups involving the books. They were super fun; games, interactive activities, a big dose of families making a difference. I gathered up my proposal and met with someone at the public library. They have a wonderful auditorium space. I thought it might be a worthwhile addition to their summer offerings.

A week later I received a no. Saying no is hard for me. Receiving no is hard. I tend to think the worst of myself and my ideas. (This did not fit their themes.)

I packed up the books and slid them in their box under my desk. The great moral of how I did not give up never happened, because I did just that. I felt very sad and did not keep trying.

My risk rejection this week is to gather those books and the plans up again. I will commit them to God. If I don’t find a home for them, we will line my street and fill up my house. I can’t wait to write about them this summer.

 

His understanding when we are rejected is so great.

His ability to not grow weary of us and our hearts is so great. They are everything to him.