For the Love

forthelove

Jen Hatmaker is the author of Interrupted and Seven, and for those who follow her work, you’ll be excited to read her newest release For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. I do have a copy to giveaway too!

I’ve been so excited to be on her launch team for this release, and you will love it.JenHatmaker4

I really, really love her kitchen too.

You can read all about the book on the For the Love website and watch the book trailer.

 

For all who have ever felt like not enough…

Jen pours out grace and offers encouragement. For the Love is an invitation to let go of our complicated striving, and instead find meaning in loving well.

She encourages us to take ‘off the beam’ anything piled there out of guilt or unreasonable expectations. Freedom.

Her best advice is for her kids- but I love it.

SWINGS

Yes. I really think its that simple too.

“The breadth of God’s family is mercifully wide.”

So let’s be good to each other, and also good to ourselves.

 

You will laugh because she talks about turning forty, leggings as pants- (a no), her spicy family, difficult people, surviving school in a Pinterest age, her no drama forcefield. One of my favorite chapters is- Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy. She’s funny that way.

A series of chapters sprinkled through the book are sarcastic thank-you notes on such topics as instagram filters, the school pick-up line, Target, sick husbands, skinny jeans, and Taco Bell. (Those should not have been referenced together- skinny jeans and Taco Bell.)

 

I love the beam analogy in the book.

What needs to come off your beam this season? (Me- thinking the food things I have to bring for events needs to be homemade. I’m a horrible cook/baker. I’m going to the store from now on. Off the beam- freedom.)

Comment here and be entered to win a copy of the book.

 

Food Insecurity

food insecurityThe USDA defines food insecurity as meaning “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” Food insecurity occurs in every county in the United States. Hunger touches the lives of 15.8 million children.

40% of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans. (National Resource Defense Council)

3 out of 4 teachers see hungry children in their classrooms. (No Kid Hungry)

We should not have these statistics in our country.

Find an organization in your area that addresses childhood hunger and get involved. No Kid Hungry and Feeding America are great national organizations in the United States.

food basket

This past Friday, Jodi Baron and I were able to visit a local organization that addresses food insecurity for kids. It is local to the West Michigan area, and we will be doing a service play group focused on them in December!

In Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland Kids’ Food Basket serves 7,000 kids at 38 schools. They send home sack suppers with kids that opt-in, providing nutritious meals for students after the school day is done.

In Ottawa County over 8,000 children live in poverty. At Holland Public Schools 400 families are homeless, and 70% quality for free and reduced lunch. In Holland, 600 kids at Holland Heights K-7 and Woodside Elementary are being given sack suppers through Kids’ Food Basket. Six schools remain on the waiting list to be served by Kids’ Food Basket.

 

How can you help? 

  • Sign up to volunteer here. Volunteers are needed for sandwich making, delivering sack suppers, and repacking snacks into mixes like cheerios, raisins, and goldfish. They allow families (kids five and up) to volunteer together. It would be a great way for youth groups to serve together. Groups can also decorate sack lunch bags!
  • To add schools and help them off the waiting list, three years of funds must be raised. Click here to host a fundraiser or a wish list drive.
  • Share this organization! You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Also, tell others about this way to serve, to ensure that children in our community do not go to bed hungry.

 

 

 

 

To Slow Down

desk

This summer I read two books, hoping for perspective for something I struggle with.

Lysa TerKeurst is a writer, speaker, and the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries. The Best Yes helps readers make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands. Sometimes no is very hard for me. I feel so sick and guilty when I have to say no to something. The chapters of the book draw you into the process of saying yes and no wisely. Chapter three sums up what so many of us feel, an overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul. Seeking God and letting go of unrealistic expectations can help us wisely give our best yes and humbly offer our best no.

Jessica Turner of Mom Creative, writes The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. The Fringe Hours encourages busy parents to take time for themselves. Do you ever feel guilty when you lie down for a nap, read a book, or try a new craft and your house is a mess? We are encouraged to give ourselves permission to invest in the things we love and the relationships that are important for us, while letting go of the guilt of self-imposed pressures.

 

I truly struggle with both of these things.

 

I’m so thankful for all of you. I want to encourage you all to know its all right to not be perfect. We don’t have to always say yes. We don’t have to give away our fringe hours continually for others. Part of the way we make a difference and give back is to take care of ourselves too.

Since reading these books I have:

  • Made a secret Pinterest board with things I want to dream about.
  • Before school starts again I am trying to take a little nap every afternoon while the kids do their screen time.
  • I got little white lights to hang above my writing desk. I wish I could drape the world with little white lights :)
  • I’m going to make time to exercise and take care of myself.
  • I practiced saying no, which brought me to a yes that I could offer and feel so excited about.
  • I’m slowing down, so I can hear.

 

What do you all love to do in your fringe hours? I want to know what you LOVE to do when you make time for it! These are very well the things God will use most deeply in your life to make a difference.

I also want to give away my copies of these two books! Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered! Giveaway1

 

A Little Bag of Sidewalk Chalk

FINALCOLLAGEService Play Groups, a long held dream, became a reality this summer!

FINALGLOBELet me be honest, I struggled. We had over three hundred families express interest on our facebook page, and I fielded email questions in abundance. Our first week we had a large group, but every week after the group was small. My first thought was that people attended the first week, hated it and didn’t come back. This is what my mind does. It was the depth of summer, and people are so busy. The timing was to open the door for whole families to come, but probably would have been better started a little later and not so close to dinner time. I was worried the families that attended would be disappointed with the small groups. I went home every night and worried instead of feeling joy.

FINALLISA

I share this because whenever you put yourself out there you face vulnerability.

The enemy really loves for us to get into our heads and tell ourselves we are not good enough. It’s my life-long fight.

He wants us to fixate on things like numbers that are completely irrelevant to the kingdom of God. Want to know why?

because then we don’t look at all the small, hidden beauty he offers us.

 

Like…

FINALSUPPORTINGCOLLAGE

The fact that a dream became a reality! We gave over one hundred welcome and birthday bags to Holland Rescue Mission, a trunkful of high-need supplies to Community Action House, a bicycle to a girl to access education through World Vision, two sets of vaccinations to a child through Shot@Life, and seven fruit tree seedlings for families in Bangladesh through World Renew. We were able to use the books donated to us by Citizen Kids Books!

 

FINALJODI

Many wonderful partnership were grown and will be forever friendships. There are many like-minded people in our communities and world, we need to fight to bring them together. We will be continuing into the forever future. Connect with our facebook page, or talk to myself or Jodi Baron! We would LOVE to partner with you. We have some exciting ideas taking shape for this coming year.

FINALFAMILIES

 

All the sweet families who took the time to attend and give. I appreciate you all so much. And so many young people were able to be leaders and guide stations for younger kids! It was so great to watch. All the kids were so wise and insightful during the stories. Kids understand justice so beautifully. We can make such a difference when we come together.

 

 

We needed a significant amount of supplies to launch service play groups. My parents invested in this dream by purchasing all the supplies. They helped me load them up and clean up every single week. All while my Mom is going through a tedious time of treatment for cancer. I am thankful and humbled by the fact that they still support my dreams.

FINALPETERSENFinally…

Every week children would drift into our play group area. They were alone, no families, sometimes siblings. They came from the community, some from the park and others from our neighborhood church. They added a great deal to our time together. There was one little boy, who asked to take some sidewalk chalk home because he didn’t have any. My friend Jen tied some up in a plastic bag for him and he happily went on his way that evening.

As I watched him walk into the distance, after a thirty-six year battle with not feeling good enough, I let it go with that one bag of sidewalk chalk.

FINALCHALK

The world tells us:

perfection, the bigger the better, stronger. you need to be popular, dynamic, numbers are everything.

But not feeling good enough makes it about me, and its not. It just really is not. God is going to use your dreams, and absolutely everything you do for his good, regardless of your weaknesses and perceived failures.

When you are not feeling good enough…

look for what is there, like a little bag of sidewalk chalk.

 

That is beauty. That is making a difference.

And we are going to keep doing it.

 

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!

ARKCOLLAGE@

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

 

 

 

Planet Ark

mimi's village collage

Last week we read Mimi’s Village and talked about clean water, vaccinations, and global health care. We supported Shot@Life, a movement to protect children worldwide, by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. We were able to support two children with a full vaccination set against polio, measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia. The kids were able to lift a jerry can partially full of water to get an idea of how heavy it is transport your own water.

We also had a stuffed animal vaccination clinic! Thank you Nurse Mackenzie, Nurse Ellie, Dr. Julie, and Dr. Rebecca for immunizing our favorite lovies!

mimi'svillage2collage

Our last summer play group is this Tuesday, July 14 at 6:00pm at Kollen Park in Holland!

We will be reading the book Planet Ark.

Bring along $1.00 if you are able for fruit tree seedlings for families in Bangladesh through World Renew. Your purchase of a fruit tree seedling helps a subsistence farm family improve their land and grow fruit to feed their family and to sell for income.

We will have a nature scavenger hunt, leaf creatures craft, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, inflatable world volleyball, and egg and spoon relays.PlanetArkPlayGroupWe 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! I’d love to partner with you, contact me with ideas :) 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!