About lisavanengen@gmail.com

Posts by lisavanengen@gmail.com:

Coming this Week at About Proximity

March 5, 2012

  • Involving Kids: Creating artwork to encourage others

March 6, 2012

  • Book Review: Mother Teresa Love Stays

March 7, 2012

  • Donating: Habitat for Humanity Restore

March 8, 2012

  • Encouragement: Being kind to yourself so you have more to give

March 9, 2012

  • Learn about the Micah Challenge and be inspired by useby2015

March 10, 2012

  • Encouragement: Laying Hurdles Flat

A Little Encouragement










I hope for this blog to bring encouragement to those who read it.

Here is a little Saturday extra. I encourage you not to be afraid to take risks.

For many weeks, I have had this blog ready to go.  I have dreamed about writing my entire life. I held my writing close, like most things in my life.  It took all the courage I could gather to send an email and facebook invitation one week ago to friends and family.  I felt so exposed and so worried.  I barely slept Saturday night and again on Sunday night.  Every day this week I have contemplated taking this all down and pretending it was never here.

That is what I do, venture out small and then scurry back to hiding.

Only now, I realize that would be a life lost.  God asks more of me.  He asks more of all of us.  Not as a burden but as a gift.  He has special things for each and every one of us.  I love meeting people and listening to their stories.  It never ceases to amaze me.  God is so creative and so far reaching.  He has something unique for all of us, more than we can ask and imagine.

I want to share what God did in my life this week. Every time, without fail, when I felt like going back, someone would write me a note, make a comment, or share something with me that they liked reading.  God used you in my life this week.

He is using all of us.  That is an exciting life, when we are being used for great things without even knowing it.

Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Leaving the grocery store yesterday, my son, who is four and half, leapt into an enormous puddle.  The rain puddle soaked him from his feet all the way to his knees.  His jeans were sopping wet.  “Oh, man buddy, we still have to pick up the kids from school and you are so wet.” Then a question came to my mind. “Josiah was it worth jumping in that puddle even though you got so wet?”

He gave me a giant smile. “WES!” (He can’t say y’s clearly.)

It is worth taking the leap.  God is with you.

Donating Women’s Clothing

 Some woman’s clothing ties us to memories.  They have sentimental value and summon emotional response.  These articles of clothing can be difficult to part with.  When considering letting go of this type of clothing, consider the need it might fill in someone else’s life.

Giving so others can have the means to make memories or move forward in life is something worth pondering.








Professional Clothing

Woman who are entering the workforce sometimes need assistance in acquiring professional clothing and accessories.  Donating clothing provides woman with the confidence and professionalism to tackle job interviews thus finding work to support their families.  Some programs additionally support career development services to equip woman with interviewing skills.

Professional clothing that is often accepted:

  • Up-to-date suits
  • Outerwear
  • Handbags
  • Briefcases and portfolios
  • Professional accessories
  • Footwear

A good place to begin might be www.dressforsucess.org .   Specific guidelines for donations can be further explored.






Prom and Formal Dresses

Donate prom and formal dresses to youth that might not get the opportunity to attend otherwise.  www.donatemydress.org offers a directory of local chapters by state.  Areas also host dress drives to donate.  Different options may be available in your area.  Some organizations also host prom and formal dress resale to benefit specific causes.







Wedding Dresses

The cost of having a wedding makes a formal ceremony out of reach financially for some couples.  Donating a wedding dress can open a door for a woman that might not be able to otherwise experience that memory. www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org also provides care and education to families dealing with breast cancer.  www.donatemyweddingdress.com features other options for dress donation.  Again, opportunities specific to your particular geographic locations may also be available.  Having the wedding dress professionally cleaned first, is encouraged.  Some non-profits may ask for a donation to cover preparation and processing fees.

Fix Firmly

I have spent the last year trying to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

I set them out on the counter the evening before.  I forgot them.

I hung them on a hook in the closet where I keep the car keys.  I forgot them.

I put them in the trunk of my car.  I forgot them.

I set them on top of my grocery list at the door.  I remembered!

(Disclaimer: I still only remember about half the time.  I feel that I am making progress.)

We are people of habit.  To begin a new habit we have to act on it multiple times before it becomes ingrained into our daily routine.

Be intentional about working a giving spirit into your day.

  • Including something new in your day takes EFFORT.
  • Trying new things gives each day a fresh PURPOSE and PERSPECTIVE.
  • We remember to do the things that are a PRIORITY.

Let your life be a testament of a giving spirit.

Fix firmly.  Etch.  Ingrain.  Establish.

What new way to give will you fix firmly into your life this week?



Book Review: Jonathon Kozol

Book Reviews:  Literature that draws readers into the proximity of renewal.

Jonathon Kozol’s stories remain in readers thoughts long after they are read.  His words are sometimes uncomfortable to take in and nudge readers from complacency.  His writing is also deeply moving because the stories are authentic.  Kozol has traveled the city streets, sat in homes, classrooms, and immersed himself in the people whose stories he tells.

Each one of Jonathon Kozol’s books draw readers into the proximity of renewal.  These books are life-changing to read.

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools focuses on the disparity of resources in public schools in East St. Louis, New York City, Camden, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.

Rachel and her Children  touches on families that encounter homelessness.

Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation looks closely at the Mott Haven district of the South Bronx in New York City.


Other titles by Jonathon Kozol:

Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope

Death at an Early Age

The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, Letters to a Young Teacher

Free Schools

The Night is Dark and I am Far from Home

Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the Bonds of Adult Illiteracy in America

Visit a website dedicated to his work www.learntoquestion.com .


A Response:   Visit  www.adoptaclassroom.org

This non-profit organization partners donors with classrooms.  100% of the donation goes to the classrooms.

  • Teachers post their specific needs
  • Pick the classroom you want to donate to
  •  In return you receive correspondence to witness your impact
  •  Donations are accepted in a very easy to navigate, shopping cart method
  •  The donation allows teachers to buy critical supplies that make a difference in the lives of their students.


Be Still










Being still moves us against the grain of society.

Slowing down means we may possibly fall behind.

If we slow our momentum enough quiet might come, quiet that opens us up to all that is unsettling in our hearts.


We feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of opportunities.

We feel overwhelmed by all the gathering, pinning, and sorting.

We feel overwhelmed with how to squeeze these opportunities into our already busy schedule.


Be still long enough to listen.

Pause long enough to dream.

Jot down the opportunities that tug at your heart.


Know God. He honors a deliberately seeking heart.

Choose one new way you hope to give in the coming week.

No offering is too small.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God



Children’s Giving Projects

Families: teaching children to bring renewal and give understanding to others.









Children’s Giving Projects

Visit http://www.crwrc.org/pages/crwrc_childrensresources.cfm

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee provides exciting resources for families and children’s groups.

Free-A-Family Giving Project:

My kids really enjoyed this project.  A booklet with seven lessons is available.

The lessons talk about family life in developing countries.

Children can learn about how work is being provided for clean water, education, schools, clinics, and churches around the World.  A community poster is also included.  After each story children can add a sticker to the poster that illustrates the story.  We have been adding up money in our giving bank and hope to adopt a family soon.

There are a number of other resources for family projects that cover the topics of clean water, living in hope with AIDS, and literacy.

Coming this Week at About Proximity

Monday Feb 27, 2012 

  • Learn about the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee children’s giving projects.

Tuesday Feb 28, 2012

  • Encouragement to be still        

Wednesday Feb 29, 2012

  • Literature that draws readers into the proximity of renewal: Author Jonathon Kozol                                         

Thursday March 1, 2012

  • Encouragement to fix giving firmly into your life

Friday March 2, 2012

  • Donating Dress Clothes for Woman: Professional, Formal, and Wedding Dresses














Giving: to bring renewal to other lives

For those of limited means giving to a cause can feel nothing short of impossible.

Whether you are temporarily going through hard times or continually find financial difficulties, donating can be a tangible way to give. 

You might feel what you are offering is small.

Every donation is a substantial gift to another human being.

Donation requires sacrifice.  Donating is an act of letting go of something, releasing what you own so someone else can have a need met.

A selfless act is donating while not expecting to replace the object with another material thing or monetary reimbursement.