make a difference

Newborn Health

newborn health

New life emerges vulnerable. The loss of a new life is devastating. We can work together to ensure that more families do not have to endure such grief.

I am a Mom to two kids and one life lost through miscarriage. We all have a story to tell. Woman who give life through childbirth find themselves in a  very vulnerable space, good maternal health care ensures the best possible outcome.

When we make maternal health a priority, Mom’s around the world receive a gift of hope.

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Millennium Development Goal #5 is to improve maternal health. The MDG’s were designed to be reached by 2015.

The Global Newborn Health Conference will be taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa April 15-18. The world is joining together to reduce infant mortality around the world. The conference will be streaming live here.


These are simple ways that maternal health can be improved globally:

UNAMIPhoto Credit: UN Photo/Bikem Ekberzade

What Can You Do? 

  • Lend your signature to the Million Moms Challenge the right for every Mom to have a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth and a strong beginning. 
  • Two Degrees for every bar you buy a nutritional pack is donated to a hungry child. (Think TOMS for protein bars.)
  • Get involved in the Global Team of 200 partner organization Maternity Worldwide.
  • And the organization Shanti Uganda.
  • Pull out those gift catalogs and pick a gift that directly benefits maternal health.
  • You can follow the conversation at Twitter #Newborn2013
  • Watch Girl Rising and help support education to girls.
  • Read about PulseOx Screening for newborns.

Somali Refugees Dollo Ado Refugee receiving Camp in Ethiopia

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

What is your baby story? 

Existing for Others

bunk beds

A homemade diaper table became a bunk bed. We had been reading Bernstein Bear books and they were enamored with brother and sister bear’s bunk bed.

Sometimes it becomes very quiet in our house, too quiet…


Ever have those moments? Panic settles in as you run from room to room to find out what is going down.

A few moments from the Van Engen house:

  • A fashion show where the two kids modeled underwear on all their extremities. 
  • The impromptu science experiment in the basement involving baking soda, vinegar, and other substances.
  • The perfume shop that opened in the kitchen.
  • Josiah’s face and hair smeared with seven layers of lip gloss.
  • Play doh time in a bed
  • Toilet paper… I don’t need to expand.
  • Crayons and a wall.

(Now you are wondering if I watch my kids at all 🙂 )

Josiah Face

God was and is a creator. We are his workmanship. God labored over us with the deepest love.


Give your creativity unsupervised space.

To be meaningful, art must serve, must wash feet. Like Jesus, who has been called “the man for others” our art, to have meaning, must exist for others. [p86] Micheal Card, Scribbling in the Sand. 


I am so encouraged by the creative ways people are making a difference. Let’s keep adding to the ways we exist for others, letting our art and our talents serve.



Far More Interesting Things


Sometimes I go through moments of serious doubt about myself. Confidence is not something I’m able to gather and hold onto for any extended period of time. Many times that occurs on the heels of comparing myself to someone else. This is not honoring the person God made us uniquely to be.

I also love the way The Message puts this, we have far more interesting things to do with our lives.


Want something interesting with your life today?

Join the End7 campaign.

End 7 diseases by 2020. 7 neglected tropical diseases that affect a half a billion children.



Family Giving Opportunity


Stephanie Voetberg shared about her time serving at Orphanage Emmanuel last year. You can read about her experiences here.

This amazing young lady has found herself back at the orphanage this year loving the kids with all her heart. Her joy is contagious.

Orphanage Emmanuel is located in Guaimaca, Honduras.


Every 2-4 weeks a container is shipped from the states to Orphanage Emmanuel. This is a wonderful project idea for a family to complete.


Ideas for your family giving package:

-Body Lotion

Lice Picks

-Hair Brushes

-Hair accessories 



-Kitchen Spoons/forks


-Blow Dryers


-CANDY  (to pass out to the children)



-Nail Clippers

-Nail Polish

-Nail Polish Remover

-Bed sheets



-Snacks for the girls and I that live in the volunteer house

-Brownie mix, Cookie mix, etc…I love to make cookies and brownies for my girls that I look after!!!


Packages can be sent to:

Orphanage Emmanuel

Stephanie Voetberg-Volunteer

4611 Hixson Pike

Hixson, TN 37343

Package days are a great encouragement to volunteers and the children at Orphanage Emmanuel.

100 Non-Profits to Follow on Pinterest

100 pinterest

1. American Cancer Society

2. A Mighty Girl collection of books and movies for girls.

3. Action Against Hunger implement long-term solutions to hunger.

4. Alex’s Lemonade Stand fighting childhood cancer.

5. Amnesty International fighting for human rights.

6. Bread4theworld a collective Christian voice for ending hunger.

6. Care fights global poverty.

7. Catholic Relief Services helping those in need.

8. Charity: Water bringing safe and clean drinking water to developing nations.

9. Church World Service justice among the world’s most vulnerable people.

10. Compassion International releasing children from poverty in Jesus name.

11. Crowd Wise giving back.

12. Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption finding forever families for children in foster care.

13. Delicate Fortress Creations shop with a purpose.

14. Disabled Sports America providing adaptive sports equipment for those with disabilities.

15. campaigns for teens and young people.

16. EarthShare connecting people with environmental causes.

17. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

18. END7 & GlobalNetwork helping to end tropical diseases.

19. Enough Project ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

20. Fair Trade Company sharing information about fair trade.

21. Feeding America fighting hunger.

22. FEED creating products that feed the world.

23. Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes at major military and VA hospitals for families.

24. Future Fortified Global Alliance of Improved Nutrition.

25. GENYOUth Foundation reversing the trend of childhood obesity.

26. Global Fund for Women investing in human rights for women.

27. Global Girl Media her voice and story to change the world.

28. Goodwill Industries International leading nonprofit provider.

29. Greenpeace For a green and peaceful future.

30. GroundUp Global serving the Liberian refugee population on the Buduburam camp in Ghana.

31. Habitat for Humanity imagining a world where everyone has a place to live.

32. Headbands of Hope for every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to research.

33. locally and globally caring for the earth.

34. #stop child abuse.

35. International Rescue Committee responding to humanitarian crisis.

36. Justice 55 giving back to organizations that help children.

37. KaBoom The KaBOOM! vision is a great place to play within walking distance of every child. 

38. Kiva empowering people worldwide with microloans.

39. Half the Sky Movement providing opportunities for woman worldwide.

40. Handcrafting Justice provides access to Fair Trade markets.

41. Heifer International empowering millions worldwide with gifts of lifestock.

42. Joni and Friends equipping Christ-honoring Churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disabilities.

43. Luthern World Relief every generation lives in justice, dignity and peace.

44. Make-a-Wish-Foundation

45. Mercy Corps global humanitarian organization.

46. Micah Challenge Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice.

47. Milkshake…all that’s good a daily email connecting connecting you to ways to give back.

48. National Downs Syndrome Society

49. No Kid Hungry fighting Hunger in the United States.

50. One Campaign fighting against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

51. OneMoms a movement of Moms to fight extreme poverty.

52. OxFamER Raising funds for Oxfam’s emergency response work.

53. OxFam Grow Method ensuring your habit help the world have enough.

54. OxFam International lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

55. Operation Smile changing the lives of children born with facial deformities.

56. Pencils of Promise every child should have access to quality education.

57. People Water every bottle equals clean water to an area of need.

58. Plan International promoting child rights to fight child poverty.

59. Random Acts of Kindness Foundation facilitating a kinder world.

60. Reach out and Read evidence-based early literacy initiative.

61. (RED) helping those effected by HIV/AIDS.

62. Resurge International life-changing surgeries for children w/ clefts, disabling burns & hand injuries.

63. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides support and vital resources to families.

64. Rotary International  making the world a better place.

65. Ryan’s Well delivering safe water and sanitation to the developing world.

66. Save the Children creating lasting change for children in need.

67. Samaritan’s Purse physical and spiritual care globally.

68. Sevenly raise money & awareness for the world’s greatest charities.

69. Seva Foundation vital eye care and diabetes prevention

70. Shanti Uganda improving infant and maternal health in Uganda.

71. connecting consumers with cause-oriented brands.

72. Shot@Life  Vaccines to save children’s lives in developing countries.

73. Social Good Moms a global coalition of Moms who care.

74. Solar Sister Light. Hope. Opportunity. In rural Africa.

75. Somaly Mann Foundation Global dedicated to ending human trafficking.

76. STOP THE TRAFFICK  global campaign against human trafficking.

77. Surf rider Foundation protecting oceans.

78. TerraCycle eliminating the idea of waste.

79. The Global Fund for Children  invests in innovative grassroots groups around the world that serve hard-to-reach, vulnerable children.

80. The Humane Society animal welfare.

81. The Hunger Project Global committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.

82. The Mentoring Project mentors for boys.

83. The Nature Conservatory working for people and nature.

84. The Shine Project employing at-risk youth to make bracelets for college.

85. The UN Refugee Agency vital aid and protection to the forcibly displaced around the world.

86. TOMS one for one eye wear and shoes.

87. Trees, Water, and People helping to conserve natural resources.

88. United Nations Development Programme empower lives and build resilient nations world-wide.

89. safe water and sanitation.

90. Wellspring of Hope we can do more together than separately.

91. Women on Call connecting women to volunteer opportunities.

92. Women’s Refugee Commission protecting women.

93. World Food Programme fighting hunger worldwide.

94. World Vision Christian humanitarian organization.

95. Wounded Warrior Project honor and empower wounded warriors.

96. UNICEF advocating for the world’s most vulnerable children.

97. Vital Voices investing in women.

98. 10x10act  educating girls in developing nations will change the world.

99. #FairTradeUSA  fair trade products of the USA.

100. #GivingTuesday a new day for giving back.

Charity Miles


Charity Miles is a smartphone app that allows you to earn money for charity while you run, walk, or bike.

Bikers earn 10 cents a mile and walkers, runners earn 25 cents a mile.

Download the app, they track your miles, and you choose one of their sponsored charities.


Get Healthy and Make  a Difference!

This is a way to donate just by exercising.


This month Charity Miles is partnering with Global Team of 200 cause the UN Foundation’s #VDay10k campaign.

Miles are donated through this campaign to three organizations:

Shot@Life which brings life-saving vaccines where they are most needed.

Nothing but Nets working to fight malaria.

Girl Up a sponsor of the upcoming documentary film Girl Rising. Want to see it in Holland? Click here.


I know not everyone has a smartphone, if you do this is a great option for giving back.  (PS My cell phone fell in the sink. I’m not encouraging you to drop your old phone in the sink, toilet, or other watery space… just saying sometimes rice does not work, at which time you will need a new phone possibly.)

This is the kind of motivation I need to tie those running shoes back on!

charity miles

Save, Love, Give

save love give

Save, Love, Give is an app that allows you to optimize your cell phone bill in a secure way.  You are then provided with an option to give back your savings to micro-finance through the Seven Bar Foundation. You can choose not to donate, donate one time, or donate monthly.

We waste 50 billion dollars a year on unnecessary cell phone charges.


I love this concept of saving money and having the opportunity to give back!

My friend Mickie let me know about Save, Love, Give. (Mickie and I sit in each other’s cars every afternoon when waiting for our kids to get out of school. Those talks are a happy part of my day:)


Watch a video here of how much families saved on their cell phone bill, as featured on Good Morning America.

Ready to save money? Start here.


“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
-Mother Teresa

Anna’s Story Part 2


Read Anna’s Story Part 1 here. 

Anna’s Story Part 2 of 4

Through Anna’s drooping eyelids, the bus interior faded in and out. Nightmares disturbed her sleep of the bus never stopping and the bus stopping where it should not.

Valentina shook her shoulder one dawn morning. The landscape had turned to a green she had not known before. A flicker of hope warmed her, but faded just as quickly. They continued into a city. In the glow of the rising sun, grew buildings and neon lights flickering off after illuminating the night. The bus stopped on a narrow, un-swept street. Anna stood up, disoriented. Valentina locked their elbows together.

The two girls who had sat in the back of the bus exited first, and took off running. Three large men followed after them. Anna heard the screams, the sounds of heavy dropping onto pavement.


“Be still,” whispered Valentina into her ear. Anna was led into a dim building and up a narrow flight of stairs. A middle aged man pushed her toward a closet-sized room. Anna held onto Valentina with both her hands, frantic. The man shoved her so hard she skidded across the cement floor into the wall. Click and she was locked in: no windows, dark.

Anna quit counting the minutes pass. She thought of the smell of warm bread in the morning. Matushka used come home tired, and yet still brushed her long hair and helped braid it away from her face for the ovens. They would be waiting, her brothers and Matushka. They were waiting on her. She thought of the money never arriving. Her heart constricted and she felt warm tears slide down her cheeks.


Hours passed before the door clicked open and a three people entered the room. One walked to the center and pulled on a chain. All that time there had been a bare light bulb and she had laid there in darkness. A small sleeping pallet lay in one corner.

She stood up tall. “I want my passport back. I want to go home.”

The woman laughed bitterly. She moved her fingers against her palm indicating money and pointed at Anna. Then, she moved closer and cupped her hands around Anna’s narrow waist, nodding her head in approval. Anna darted for the open slit of the door. The young man to struck her across the face. Rising up she tried again only to be struck back. This went on until she could not summon strength to stand again.

Lying on her stomach, she could hear voices in the hallway through a small gap between the door and the floor. The words spoken tangled into rhythms and sounds she did not understand. Sometimes she could make out names. The people that came to her space were Meka, Analu and Ipo.


She lay crumpled on the pallet and whispered the story of the Firebird and the Grey Wolf into the darkness as she did to her brothers each night.

And Prince Ivan lay dead. His brothers took all that he had; the firebird, the horse and Helen. Then the crow brought the water of death and the water of life to the grey wolf. The grey wolf revived Ivan with the water. He regained all he had lost.


Days passed where she refused to rise despite their yelling and the kicking of her body. One day they brought a fourth person into the room with them. She lifted her head and folded herself into Valentina’s arms. Valentina whispered into her ear in Russian, “They will kill you. You can’t run with no passport, no money. They will find you anyway because of the debt. Be a good girl, do what they say. Down the hallway, girls share rooms. Maybe we can. These things I know. I will watch over you Anna, I promise. Stop fighting. I worry for you.”

“I want to go home.”


Anna wore high heels, a mini-skirt, red lipstick and eyes rimmed heavy with charcoal. A glass window separated her from the ogling eyes. She would not raise her head, they could not make her. The younger man, Ipo came and lifted up her chin. Her eyes grappled for the floor as she strained against his cold fingers. Every night following would pass the same.

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Her tears dried up. The thought of home made her ache and she let it become dim in her mind. Empty was easier, it took all her strength to keep breathing. Sometimes, she wondered why she cared to keep on, death might be better, only she was too scared. She thought of her River Neva frozen to the bottom layer of silt. There was no more water running underneath the frozen layers, alive. No, everything lay solemn and cold. She quit whispering into the dark.


Join the fight against human trafficking at Exodus Road.

Follow the Exodus Road Blog to keep your thoughts in proximity to the need. 

Harvard Student Lea Parker attended Passion 2013. We, God’s people, need to be present.  Read her post here.

Blogger Amy Bosma writes a post here called Break my Heart. 


Girl Rising Advanced Screening


About Proximity is so excited to be hosting an advanced screening of the film Girl Rising. 

If we can gather enough interest, Holland will be in the first wave of screenings.


I know all of you beautiful people are not from Holland… here is the link to host a screening near you, go for it! (Seriously!)

This is a life-changing film and an invitation to make a difference!


Watch the trailer

Visit the Girl Rising Website


How can you help?

To bring the film to Holland we need to have at least 100 tickets reserved.

Holland 7

Thursday, March 7, 2013

at 7:30


You can reserve your ticket here. Cost $10.00 (a portion goes to the organizations that work with the movement.)

Gather your girlfriends, your book club, church group…


Find Updates on the Event Facebook Page.  Please feel free to share this event through facebook.

Thanks for being such amazing people to take time to watch this film.


After the showing About Proximity will run a series on how we can respond through the sponsor organizations of Girl Rising.

Please let me know if you have questions!


Give Life


Today I want to introduce you to a non-profit organization that is revolutionizing malnutrition globally.

Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions.


One-third of our planet is well-fed,

one-third is under-fed,

and one-third is starving.”
(World Health Organization estimate)


Their mission is to treat and prevent malnutrition for vulnerable children in the developing world.

They produce high-quality, ready-to-use Plumpy’Nut, Plumpy’Sup, Plumpy’Doz and Nutributter. These products are distributed to humanitarian organizations and non-profits. The peanut-based product does not require refridgeration or water, and this allows the products to also be used in crisis events.

The products address the needs of children 6 months- up to five-years-old who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.


We have all seen the photographs.

We may not be in direct proximity to children suffering from hunger and malnutrition, but our hearts can wrap around the great need.


You can donate to easily through Global Giving Projects.  $25 can provide a child with treatment for a month.

This is a family giving project children can understand. 

Feed Bears are adorable and proceeds go to the work of Edesia.

If you are an educator the World Food Programme has excellent resources about World Hunger.