Open Our Hands


I planned to share a new campaign from World Renew and the Office of Social Justice.

Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden.


I didn’t plan to share this-

At church this morning, a congregation member translated for a legal worker. He stood up in his pew, hand over his heart as she spoke. He picks blueberries at a local farm. His seventeen year old son embarked from Guatemala to join him. His paperwork was not done right, and he was detained in Arizona. Documentation to prove he is a minor was provided from Guatemala, but to be released to his Dad pending trial, he needs 7,000 dollars in bond money. A father in Michigan picking blueberries. A son in immigration detention in Arizona. These stories are told daily, because our system is outdated and broken.

What struck me most, was how small the father looked, standing there so still, his hand over his heart.

Like somehow, he could keep his boy safe that way.


In light of stories like these, and also the pictures of despair we have witnessed from Europe, we can take a few moments to enter in conversation, to make a difference. This is so, so important.

Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden Website. 

Follow updates on Facebook. Invite friends.

Unlearn here. Sign, Share, or Wear here. Sign up to be a social media ambassador here.


The last few weeks I have been guest posting at about being intentional.

Being Intentional: Slowing Down 

Being Intentional: Pausing for Prayer 

Being Intentional: Consumption


This coming weekend, I will be at The Breathe Christian Writers Conference! I will be presenting a social media for writers workshop with Amy Sullivan. I would love for you to pray with me, because I will also be pitching a book proposal for Talk Justice Playgroups (our Fall Facebook Event Page is here). I can’t wait to gather new ideas to share with all of you, and meet new people to introduce you all too.

Sometimes, I feel so small. I want to grab everything from God’s hands and try to force it to where I want it to go. I’m so afraid to open my hands. He definitely calls us to be more. He asks us to do the harder thing, and trust him.

Dear God, please open our hands when we can make a difference. 

What is new in your life? How can we pray for you? 

Small Things


Sometimes when I run out of things to read, I reach for Where There is Love, There is God. It is a selection of Mother Teresa’s writings and talks to the Sisters of Charity. Her words never grow old or less impactful to me.

This past week was full of challenge. Leading me to a space where doubt and worry takes up residence. It culminated with a trip to Grand Rapids Art Prize Saturday. When we parked at my brothers house, in the gutter by the street, Ellie and Josiah stepped in dog poop. It somehow ended up on four shoes, two hands, clothing, and the interior of our car. I sat in the road scrubbing Ellie’s shoes with wet wipes and laughing until I cried. We’ve all been there, and what can you do but laugh? (The above piece is by Kelsey Montague and features interactive butterfly wings on the opposite side.)


I was reminded of some of my favorite words for this book.


dog poop.


really wanting to give up, but not.

discouragement that takes root deep inside you.

tears after basketball.

all the mundane.

You _______________ fill in the blank.


She also said,

we fear the future because we are wasting today. 


#whatliftsyou was the hashtag of that piece of art.

May what lifts you today be that you are not wasting one drop of anything.

Offer it all to God that it may become infinite. Beautiful. Small.




Be Brave Gutsy Girls!


Amy L. Sullivan debuts Book One of her Gutsy Girls Series today! Yay Amy!

I love the concept of introducing our girls to strong, Christian women who impacted the world. This is even more needful to me, as I navigate having a tween! How did that happen?


This is my Gutsy Girl. She had her first b-team basketball game last Tuesday. I was so proud of her and her teammates. They had so much courage and determination. After the game there were tears of exhaustion, and also the realization of how intense a real game really is. Shortly after the last tears were dried, she was pumping her fist in the air and exclaiming how excited she was for the next game.

Life, not so easy. There is exhaustion, intensity, sadness, fear, worry and anger right alongside joy and beauty. We need everything possible to strengthen their hearts and prepare them to live for God. The inspiration of Gutsy Girls is a beautiful book for doing just that.



The whimsical illustrations by Beverly Ann Wines are the sweetest accompaniment to the story of Gladys Aylward, an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things for God. For all of us that feel the pangs of not being enough- her story is impactful. Gladys never gave up despite insurmountable odds. She became a missionary to China and saved numerous lives. She kept going in faith. She made a difference, and now will inspire another generation of girls to be brave.

AmyI just love Amy. She’s an encourager, a wisdom-giver, full of grace, and kind. Follow her work at her website Check out her #raisinggirls Pinterest board. I also love Amy’s first book When More is Not Enough. She is a hip Instagrammer too! And a Mom to two girls. She lives in North Carolina among beautiful mountains, but you can invite her to move to Michigan. Holland specifically.


If you order Gutsy Girls by September 25, Amy is giving away really fun freebies! Gabfest conversation cards and a five page guide of extra enrichment activities! You can order Gutsy Girls: Gladys Aylward here. Visit Amy’s blog for details of how to get the free stuff! (Just email


I would love to give away a copy of the book! Leave a comment to be entered.

Who is the gutsiest girl you have ever known? 

(I would say my Mom who just did nine months of treatment for breast cancer like a boss :)



Be Encouraged



The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. – Henri J.M. Nouwen. 

I have spent the last few weeks moving About Proximity to this new space! Every is the same, just a new address and a host that can do some bigger things. There were times when I felt like my head was going to explode trying to navigate all this technology. Pretty much nothing went right the first time, or second, or third… not everything is perfect yet, but I promise to get it right eventually (like the vertical social media icons). I had a pretty theme, that would not cooperate, therefore we are going minimalist. It’s about what’s one the inside, right?

Here, we have successfully transitioned back to school. There is now a middle schooler with a locker in our house, and a third grader. How this happens, I’m still not sure. This year I am working in fourth grade, sixth grade, and eighth grade.


I want to share a few things with you today Fall #TalkJustice Play Groups and encouragement. 

We have two fall playgroups scheduled in Holland with more being planned for the spring. Would you like to partner with us? Let me know! We would love it! Or can I help you with your own?

Our first is a partnership is with The Big Read in Holland. We will work with Herrick Public Library and Hope College who are reading the book, The Things They CarriedTuesday, November 17 at 7:00 we will gather for a story and support A Million Thanks and our local VFW to align with the theme of The Big Read.

Veterans Playgroup

In December, we will partner with a local organization Kid’s Food Basket. Kid’s Food Basket helps childhood hunger by providing sack suppers to children after school. We will be hosted at Grace Episcopal Church on Monday evening, December 14, from 6:30-7:30 for a story, play, and three service projects for the Kid’s Food Basket new Holland location. We will be decorating lunch sacks, repackaging snacks and supporting expansion with $1.00 donations.

KidsHelpingKidsStay connected and invite friends on our Facebook Event Page and our Service PlayGroup Facebook Page.

Here’s a fun little slideshow of all our fun this summer.


If you are like me you need a little encouragement coming out of summer!

  • Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience has a beautiful response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Read that here.
  • Our dear Amy Sullivan has a new book coming out this month. I’ll share more in the coming weeks, but here is a little preview!
  • I know this is a great sin… but I had never read the Harry Potter Series. I am now on book six and have lost a great deal of sleep. Oh the sweet and loyal friendships. (and you know I love a good love story… Ron and Hermione.)
  • And finally Socality Barbie on Instagram is a parody account of our “authentic” social media lives. It’s funny… really, really funny.

Following that account makes me feel better. #Iamauthenticallyamess and maybe that’s OK.


Like the quote above, it takes great strength to remain where we are sometimes. We can be assured that God has us, there is something greater being manifested in, around, and through our faithfulness. Be encouraged.

How can I pray for you as we head into the season of fall? 



For the Love


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.


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


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.


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.




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!



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.



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.


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.


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


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!


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!




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!


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 :)