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


Summer Serve Play Groups

playgroup dates

About Proximity is so excited to host Summer Service Play Groups in Holland, Michigan!

Let’s come out to make a difference as a community with our families.


Here is our Facebook Event Page. 


Printable PDFs to share with others. Included are the service opportunities for each week and all the activities we have planned! 

Summer Serve Play Group Schedule Summer 2015

June16: If the World Were a Village


June 23: One Hen

OneHenHungerJune 30: The Red Bicycle


July 7: Mimi’s Village

Mimi's Village Play Group

July 14: Planet Ark 


Serve Projects: 

Bringing donations is completely optional! Even if you are unable to participate in the donation part of the service project, still come out to the play group! We’ll learn together and have fun. We want everyone to feel welcome. Click on the printable PDFs to see what we are gathering for each week.

A few ideas:

  • When shopping for donations for Holland Rescue Mission and Community Action House involve your kids. It’s a great opportunity to talk to them about needs families might have and what items can be a support and encouragement.
  • When bringing $1.00 donation for Shot@Life, World Vision, and World Renew encourage your kids to earn the money by doing a small job around the house, helping will feel even more meaningful to them.


Want to learn more about the organizations we are supporting? 

Holland Rescue Mission

Community Action House


World Vision

World Renew 

All our stories are donated by Citizen Kid Books.  


We can’t wait to see you this summer! 


Email: Lisa Van Engen at 




Invisible to Visible.

path appears

Tonight at 10:00 pm on PBS the three- part series of A Path Appears premieres. The film is based on the book by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book was wonderful, I have no doubt the documentary will be the same.

Another married duo changing the world through their advocacy is Bill and Melinda Gates. They released their annual letter last week. As a member of the Global Team of 200, I have the privilege of sharing it with you through images.










We live in an unprecedented time. What will our role be? Can we be global citizens that shift to place ourselves in proximity, so the invisible are visible?


36 Hope Expands: Hiddenness

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

The largest part of Jesus’ life was hidden. Henri J.M. Nouwen

If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his Kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life.


Our ordinary moments can be so hard. They outweigh the spectacular, by ALOT.

We live hidden lives, our best moments are often not witnessed… except they are. He sees every one, especially those done out of love in hiddenness. Ever feel unnoticed, unappreciated, unknown? It is painful. I promise you He knows. He sees. He loves you for your simple, unspectacular, ordinary, hidden. That makes my hope expand.

colorful chairs

I want to fill my ordinary with God.

Four little, applicable steps I took this week:

1. I downloaded the free CharityMiles App. You can walk, run, or bike. You can also do it with the kids and have them help pick the organization you give to.

2. We also tried Donate a Photo. Another great family activity… you simply take a picture and Johnson and Johnson donates daily to a cause of your choice.

3. I also started using RecycleBank. You can earn points to redeem. What I love about it is that you learn green tips and information.

4. In those ugly moments of feeling completely exhausted of my ordinary… I am trying to remember that showing up is an act of faith. Read this article about just that by Amy Sullivan


I pray for you and encourage you. We can do a million acts of justice, kindness, and good… but the most obedient and beautiful is probably the simplest.

Showing up for God in hiddenness.

What little things do you do to give back, that take just a moment in your day? How do you feel about obedience in the ordinary?  


# Giving Tuesday

tues#GivingTuesday opens up conversation about giving back, giving smarter, and giving deeper, not just during the holiday season, but EVERY DAY!

Visit the #GivingTuesday website to catch up on news and see the stats from last year! Giving Tuesday made a difference in its first year, we hope for it to continue to deepen our call to give.


Want to be inspired~ read How We Give a feature of the website, sharing stories of partner organizations.

In the midst of a busy holiday season how do you give back? 

giving tues

Halloween for a Cause

PicMonkey Collage

Halloween can = making a difference!


1. The Red Cross Partners with AMC’s the Walking Dead to encourage people to give blood.


2. Trick or Treat for UNICEF! UNICEF improves the lives of children’s and families in 190 countries.

download (2)

3. Operation Gratitude Candy Buy Back Program. Operation Gratitude sends care packages to US military.

PicMonkey Collage

4. Check out your local trunk or treat celebrations. Many churches host these safe alternatives on Halloween.


Searching high and low, the deepest depths of the internet, and I could not find much more on Halloween for a Cause.

Halloween is the second highest grossing consumer holiday behind Christmas!

I think we have an area where our world-changing, creative ideas could make a difference.


What are your ideas? 

I can see my daughter Ellie hosting a great costume party for a cause.

Get Ready- Get Safe

DisasterReport2013.jpgGet Ready- Get Safe is a Save the Children Campaign.

Despite a record disaster year and high-profile school tragedies, most states still fail to meet basic child-safety measures endorsed by a national commission after Hurricane Katrina, Save the Children reported.

There have been many high-profile natural disasters in recent years like Hurricane Sandy and Isaac, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and the Colorado fires. Not only that, but the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Despite these wake-up calls, significant progress has only been made in four states. {wondering what four? New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Utah.}

What are the four critical standards?

  1. an evacuation plan,
  2. a family reunification plan
  3. a plan for children with special needs
  4. that states require all schools to have disaster plans that account for multiple types of hazards.


Save the Children is launching a new campaign called Get Ready- Get Safe. Click here to learn more. You can take action here as well, by writing to your governor to urge them to help your state meet requirements. You can also look at the report card for your state.

See their Disaster Preparedness Printable, it is incredibly helpful!


This was so eye-opening to me. I’m the Mom who is searching through cabinets for batteries when the power goes out, hoping to find a working flashlight. We could do much better in our family to be prepared.

I think I like to pretend nothing will happen. It’s nice to think sunny days, but the reality is a disaster can happen anywhere. Being prepared helps ensure families, schools, and childcare centers will emerge with best case scenarios.

Superstorm Sandy: Journey of HopeThis is my state of Michigan.

michiganWhat preparedness actions have you taken with your family? How do you think your area does? 

{This post was done through Global Team of 200 and all photo credit goes to Save the Children.}

Some Groovy, Cool, Tight Stuff


I was going to call this “cool things,” but I thought I better go with a more hip word. Which led me to all kinds of websites with slang words for awesome… like wicked= not evil, but wicked cool. Instead, I got kind of confused. I still use “cool” a lot and because I am thirty-four that might not be so cool.

Did you know in hip-hop culture if you are “trill” you are well-respected. The urban dictionary is endlessly fascinating to me… I guess that makes me old and nerdy.

Here is your tight proximity stuff:


1. Jeff Goin’s Slow Down Challenge:

Jeff Goin’s is a fantastic writer with a heart for others. Join him in his Slow Down Challenge here.  He’s a writer to follow and the reviews of his book The In-Between are fantastic. When you sign up for his newsletter you also get two free e-books Wrecked for the Ordinary and The Writer’s Manifesto. 


2. Shot@Life’s Partnership with Walgreens:

Shot@Life is teaming up with Walgreens for this flu season. Click here to learn more about Get a Shot. Give a Shot.

Get a flu shot at Walgreens and they will donate a life-saving vaccine to global children.


3. A new CausePub Project: 

Couch Rebels gathered stories about making a difference to provide water through Blood Water Mission.

A New Life Within, will gather stories about motherhood that will help new mothers through the Gabriel Network. Learn more about writing a submission and supporting the project here.


4. Did you know our friend Amy Sullivan is the SERVE editor over at 

She posts on Thursday each week with topics about serving. It’s a great place to be challenged, encouraged, and join discussions about making a difference.


5. Thursday Facebook Giveaway’s at About Proximity:

I want to give back to you! Thursday’s are going to be giveaway day at About Proximity’s Facebook Page. I have some great stuff planned; like gifts that give back, kids making a difference and LOTS and LOTS of books! The first four weeks will be Living Simply so you can Give More. If you have friends or family member’s that would like our content encourage them to like the facebook page. I post only once a day and love to widen our community! The more voices to make a difference the better!