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? 

 

 

 

 

 

listen

listen

Listening at the Margins.

I love this article from Do Justice.

Our best service comes when we listen.

A number of CRC agencies have come together to listen to stories from people who are marginalized in various ways, whether because they are disabled, Native American, refugees, undocumented immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, etc.

Sign up here, to receive an email story each day in November that positions us to listen.

Once a week over at Amelia Rhodes online home, you can follow her Pray A-Z Community Prayer Guide series. She’s getting practical by offering stories and prayer for needs in our communities.

I’m excited to be in proximity and to kneel.

How do you truly listen? 

I can’t. You can’t. We can’t.

aaa

I am fighting discouragement right now, as I know many others probably are too.

I spend five hours a week writing and making graphics for social media about immigration reform and the people it effects. In the last four months I have read half a dozen books, countless articles, and various positions. All the reading I do in my own time, because I want to understand. Then I draw out and create and share, and hope. I really hope… for change and for others to be moved.

 

In every message we share, words we speak and actions we take some are received and some are not. There is a lot competing for our attention. I understand that so much. There is a lot of disagreement, a lot of untruth, a lot of history.

Sometimes it feels like making a difference is too hard.

 

That verse:

Acts 17:26 He determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live.

It was the little breath that I needed to keep going this weekend.

If God sets people before us… how can we turn away, just because its hard?

 

To every story that we hear, every person we know there is so much more…

not just immigration reform, everything…. and everybody; the single Mom in the grocery story line with her Bridge card, the same-sex couple trying to find a church home, the newly released felon with no place to go. It’s hard.

I know its hard. I’m writing this slung over the couch in the dark of summer. I just ate six cookies. Sometimes I want to give up.

I can’t.

You can’t.

We can’t.

aaa1

I think it is what God created us for. I pray we can rise up and live into that calling.

How can I encourage you this week to keep going? What are you struggling to stick with? I know you all do beautiful things from advocating for human trafficking to changing diapers. 

 

 

The Gut Punch

gutpunch

Last week, I attended The Stranger Film premier in Grand Rapids. My husband works at CRC Justice and they have been advocating for immigration reform in the United States. For the past four months, I have also been doing freelance social media writing and graphics for the cause. I have learned so very much.

I want to share the words of one of the panelists who spoke on the issue after the film. He lives in West Michigan as a refugee from Pakistan, where he is a pastor. His wife and child still reside there. His immigration status is pending, and he will seek asylum for his family when he is able.

His words cut through the packed theater that after the stunned pause erupted into applause…

Americans live in their own world. They don’t know the challenges and difficulties the rest of the world is facing. They must know the privileges they have, so they can be a channel of blessing.

 

If you don’t know your neighbor or office mate how do you know what’s happening in the world? How can you relate to the global body of the church?

 

On the Pakistan/Afghanistan border there is a refugee territory. Those entering are welcomed, feed, sheltered, and protected. If a tribal people can do this why not a civilized America?

 

A total gut punch.

Proximity is important.

I am so excited for summer, but I intend not to get too comfortable.

I want to remember. I want to know. I want to encourage and make a difference.

What are your thoughts? Too harsh? Right on? 

Kneel

 

save

At calendar time in second grade we count the school days with tally marks. The end draws near, one day and half. September seems a lifetime ago.

And I am thankful.

 

Life is about proximity. I held it close. I know it made me more.

 

I am thankful for little people that-

Ask about homeland, kneel over their classmates to help with work so hard, sit patient when another cries, run to comfort, rejoice in another’s happy.

One held onto a piece of confetti. You are not my friend another hissed, claiming it was his. Moments later the confetti piece is placed in a hand. It is not as important as a friend.

How do they know when adults sometimes do not? They know to kneel.

 

I was a part of a servechat on twitter about reaching out to veterans Thursday night. The guest was a disabled combat veteran, now a national chef advocate for No Kid Hungry.

He wrote, 1 in 5 kids go to bed hungry every night. After my service, I found a new mission. It truly saved my life. 

 

I get it. How life is so hard. We need to kneel for rescue by rescuing. Proximity. Everything.

 

 

IJM and Noonday

noonday collection

I have two organizations to share with you today. My friend Amy sent me an email weeks ago, encouraging me to enter the #styleforjustice contest. The second I looked at it I wanted to enter. I waited until last night, almost the last day to enter. You win by popular vote and that is just impossible. Then, I realized that I love their work and would like to share it and my entry, because it is encouragement.

The Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the most vulnerable in the developing world and buyers create a marketplace for artisans.

IJM (International Justice Mission) partners with local governments and communities to protect the poor from violence such as sex trafficking, violence against women, modern-day slaves, other experiences where they are far from the law’s protection.

This summer they are hosting a #styleforjustice storytellers trip to Rwanda. You can still enter too, the deadline is May 28. Click the link above and read all about it.

 

You can vote for me here. I’ll share my entry here. My headshot is pixel crazy… and well you’ll read the rest. 

Popular votes are difficult. My headshot is not professional. I’ve never traveled out of the country. I’m a quiet Mom that lives on a quiet corner in a city by Lake Michigan. I’ve been longing to enter this contest for weeks… but I know what people will see is small and unqualified.

I see it in myself. I am drawn to it in others. I write at aboutproximity.com. We talk about placing yourself in the proximity of renewal. On my darkest days, images of justice lift me forward. My work with Global Team of 200, CRC Justice and Exodus Road breathe new life in me.

Drawing people into proximity with words is my place of happiness. No matter where we are in life we have the ability to offer hope to others. Our lives gather deeper meaning and vivid threads are added to our stories when we reach further than ourselves.

I hope for the proximity of this trip.

I want to see.

I want hear.

I want to kneel.

I want to soak in the proximity of the country and the woman who are hope.

 

They have known hard living days and nights unfolding. The lives of those who have seen injustice, experienced despair and have felt small will revive the hopes of many.

 

The simple gift of their story will heal. They offer what is most precious.

I love their voices very much.

 

I wish I was more pixelated and more popular votish, but really none of that matters because the cause of justice will be heard. Their voices will be heard. 

I will keep doing my little part and it will make me happy. I love their voices and I love your voices. 

Do you ever let the feeling of inadequacy hold you back? 

Kneeling with the Everybody’s

KneelingSomehow I fell upon quotes by Sylvia Plath on Goodreads. She was a brilliant writer. I am sad that she stuck her head in an oven and died of gas inhalation. I wish I could have sat down with her and told her she would be all right, and that her writing would inspire people to share their hearts for years to come.

Also that Jesus loved the way she breathed.

 

Her words were so honest, some burn right to my heart.

She said this in her journal, “I suppose if I gave myself the chance I could be an alcoholic.”

I have never drank a drop of alcohol my entire life. People come to the wrong conclusions about that. I don’t because I long ago knew, if I gave myself the chance I could be an alcoholic. It’s like the entire tray of Oreos, and carton of ice cream I sometimes use to dull my worries.

 

My Mom was telling me about someone with a storied past that my Dad had stopped to talk to on the sidewalk yesterday. “That’s what I love about him,” she said, “He treats everyone the same.”

That is what proximity is.

Kneeling with the everybody’s, and not because we have something to bring.

Kneeling because we are “them” too, and also because they sometimes have something to bring us. Like, dead Sylvia Plath and her sentence that I’ve always been afraid to say aloud.

 

Yesterday, the cousins were over. We have had few warm days here, and they played for hours in the backyard with buckets, water, grass, dandelions, and twigs in superhero costumes. Eli explained they were making “merryweed potion.” When they were hurt they went into the “healing chamber” and applied the potion and were well again.

 

My merryweed potion is that in proximity I can see my true self and Jesus still loves the way I breath.

What makes you well again? Why are honest words so hard?

 

God loves the way you breathe

 

flowersI struggle with feeling good enough. In the realm of being a Mom I feel it very acutely.

 

When we were just married, Kris was a youth pastor. One summer we took a small group of middle school students on a 3-day bike trip in northern Michigan along the lakeshore. We biked successfully, went swimming at the campground, cooked over the fire and settled into our tents. Sometime in the night the heavens opened up with rain, wind, thunder, lightening and a storm warning. The tents flooded and twisted in the wind. We all spent half the night sleeping in the 15-passenger van.

The next morning we got up and took extra care to dry out our soaking campsite. We got riding, and approaching our second camp saw the black swirling clouds above us again. Warnings extended through the night. We decided to call it and head home early.

Upon arriving in the church parking lot that evening, we opened the trailer that carried all the bikes and supplies. A 50 gallon cooler full of red juice had somehow not been emptied and had spilled all over the floor of the trailer, including an expensive tent folded on the floor.

That’s when you stand there and hope the students parents realize you are only twenty-two and forgot about the red kool-aid while you tried to keep the kids out of the storms path. No one said anything, all that mattered was that we loved their kids and did our best for them.

 

This summer we went to Disney World with my family. My parents had been planning and saving to take my brother’s family and my own for quite some time. One evening everyone was ready to go back to bed, but Ellie. I stayed with her to wait for an hour to meet Tinkerbelle. When we left it was downpouring so hard. We ran down main street in the Magic Kingdom with rain up to our ankles, laughing. I think neither of us will forget the moment. Imperfectly perfect.

tinkerbelleA few days after I had Ellie, I sat on our couch with her in our seminary apartment. She was so little, and I felt afraid out of my mind. I didn’t even know what I needed or what to ask for. Then my Mom showed up with target bags, from an hour away. She just showed up. I didn’t have any idea what I needed, but she did.

 

That is what love is… showing up.

Just being there in a puddle of red kool-aid, in pouring rain at midnight, in the doorway.

It’s being in proximity to those we love and those we need to learn to love.

It’s simple and I don’t know why I always make it so hard.

Just be there, even if you are an imperfect mess. God loves the way you breath, even if you are standing in puddle of red juice. 

 

How can you show up this week? When have you or someone else showed up in a red kool-aid moment?