Planet Ark

ARKCOLLAGE

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

REDBIKECOLLAGE

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

Talk Justice: Hunger

talkjusticeTalk Justice: Hunger

Hunger is something most kids will understand. Everyone can relate the feeling of a hungry tummy from time to time. We can broaden our kids understanding of true hunger by helping them learn about the people around the world that feel those tummy rumbles and don’t have access to a snack or meal like most of us do.

TalkHunger ConversationHelp your family go deeper:

  • If you didn’t have dinner would it be hard to sleep that night?
  • If you didn’t have breakfast would you have trouble concentrating in school?
  • How would you feel if you didn’t have a lunch to bring to school?
  • If you had a week where there wasn’t much food at home, would you begin to feel worried about having enough?

Talk about root causes of hunger:

  • wars
  • disasters
  • climate change
  • famine and floods
  • joblessness
  • rising food costs
  • poverty
  • inequality

Help older children understand common misconceptions about hunger:

  • WIC in the United States helps with supplementing woman, infants and children, school lunch programs, school breakfast programs, and summer lunch programs.
  • SNAP Myths and general information.

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!

hunger booksKids Books About Hunger 

The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by: Peter Menzel

Beatrice’s Goat by: Paige McBriar with Heifer International

One Hen by: Katie Smith Milway

The Good Garden by: Katie Smith Milway

 

21 Ways to Take Action!

We have a new Pinterest board called Kids #TalkJustice where I will be pinning many of the resources featured in this series.

Do you twitter? Here is a Hunger List to follow.

I really hope to hear from you all week long! Tell us about your conversations! What resources did you try? What did your kids teach you? 

Next Week… Clean Water and Summer Justice Play Groups.

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.

 

A Path Appears~ because of us.

path_appears-05

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn the fearless team behind the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwidereleased a new book this past September.

A Path Appears talks about transforming lives and creating opportunity. Their reporting provides encouragement and also tells the stories of everyday people making a difference. They teach us to do justice thoughtfully, wearing a path to those in need.

A Path Appears Book Cover

The Film, A Path Appears, will premier on PBS this month in a three-part series on Jan 26, Feb 2, and Feb 9.

You can download discussion and lesson guides here. 

path_appears-01

A Path Appears for others~because of us.

Because we walk this way AGAIN and AGAIN. 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

36 Hope Expands: Wearing a Path Thin

36hopeexpands

I came across this on accident last week, when researching an article.

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.”

We are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is a pure give. 

We must grow beyond self-rejection 

(From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey)

diving board

How would it feel to do this? Grow beyond…

I imagine it feeling like being completely naked.

Like having no idea who I was anymore.

Probably everyone hating my guts.

 

I have to do it, if I want my hope to expand. If I want to be an instrument to expand hope in others, I have to let it go.

I am reading Nicolas Kristof and Sherly WuDunn’s new book, A Path AppearsA film of the same title, will premier on PBS January 26, 2015.

“HOPE IS LIKE A PATH IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. ORIGINALLY, THERE IS NOTHING – BUT AS PEOPLE WALK THIS WAY AGAIN AND AGAIN, A PATH APPEARS.”

—LU XUN, CHINESE ESSAYIST, 1921

 

The enemy wants us to waste our time in self-rejection, worrying in circles, being ineffective.

I want to walk hope, away from my self-depreciation and worry and into life.

I want a path to appear for people because I kept walking it.

What path are you going to wear thin? How can you grow beyond self rejection? 

 

 

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? 

36 Hope Expands: Food Waste and Hunger

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

requirehunger

A 2013 United Nations report: one third of the world’s food supply, or 1.3 billion tons of food, is wasted annually. Research indicates that about half of all food waste originates in households. There is enough food in our world to feed everyone, yet millions go hungry each day.

Hunger and its implications for families is devastating. I want to use what I have with compassion and be mindful of what others lack. Ten steps/habits I am working on this week:

  1. Freeze leftovers instead of forgetting about them in the refrigerator.
  2. Make a meal plan a week ahead of time (before) grocery shopping.
  3. Learn how to serve proper proportions. (I’m terrible at this.)
  4. Take note of what is getting thrown away. Adjust accordingly.
  5. I listened to Seline Juul’s TEDx talk Stop Wasting Food.
  6. I signed the Bread for the World Pledge to End Hunger.
  7. Our family is going to fill our giving bank with change as we save on groceries to eventually raise $264 to work with World Renew’s Free a Family.
  8. I’ll be reading Ellie and Josiah the books The Good Garden, and One Hen.
  9. I will be reading the book a Place at the Table and continue to advocate for important programs like WIC and SNAP.
  10. Work as a family to donate to Community Action House our local food pantry.

How do you minimize food waste in your home?