I hope

expandAnother year of my life draws to a close at the end of November. I’m not one to walk in great confidence of myself. So, I often become worried around this date… seeking God, asking if I am all he wants me to be. Knowing another year has passed and I possibly did not do my perfect and my best, unsettles me.

I want to think about being mindful of making a difference.

For the next two months, I will be writing about small things we can do to make a difference. Little things, that can be enfolded into our daily lives, but are full of compassion. This is where I find peace and strength. This space is where meaning slips into my story, I hope for it to expand.

What do you experience when another year passes in your life? 

Read it. Seriously.


Have you read this book?

Everyone from fifth graders to Grandmas and Grandpas could read this book. Once you meet August Pullman, your life will not be the same. R.J. Palacio speaks into the world of ‘being different’ with a tenderness that disarms.

You are a wonder


I think of Jesus. Oh, how he loves. How our hearts were formed to do the same.

Have you signed up for the November Challenge through Do Justice? You are invited to listen at the margins, a short story delivered to your inbox daily. Just to listen. Sign up here. 


I am listening too. I want my heart to move with the kind of tenderness that disarms.

You are a wonder, like God’s creation. Here’s a glimpse of Michigan fall.


burning warm for the hours

burning warm

At church there were moments that the sun peeked through the stained glass window, beautiful on a gray weekend. Last weekend we were at eighty and beside Lake Michigan, this weekend the temperature was forty. The weather moves like that here. The sun shone so brightly through the top amber panes, I almost needed to shield my eyes.

In a pew Bible I found a slip of paper. Psalm 23 was written in neatly in childlike form.

thermynaThe Lord is my Shepard, I shall lack nothing. he makes me lie down in Green pastures, he lead me beside quiet waters he restores my soul. he guides me in paths. no lo thermyna. 😦

not thermyna.


Sometimes, I don’t feel as though I deserve those words either.

Like when I hesitated to turn left on a blinking yellow and the SUV behind me laid on the horn. In horror, I watched my right middle finger fly off my hand squarely to the rearview mirror. And afterwards… I realize yes, I really did that with my kids in the backseat.

Or the tantrum on Sunday afternoon about the burnt rice that resulted in an apology to all three of the other people in my family.


Only I do deserve Him.

So does Thermyna.


God’s brilliance is like the sun shining through that amber glass. It burns warm, simply because he loves us. He knows we are never going to be so bright on our own.

I am in the hallway at my job. A friend stops even though she is pushing a baby stroller, and she puts her hand on my shoulder. ‘I’m praying for you today.’ I want to say, oh, everything is fine. In reality, that day it is not. She knew somehow. Her voice was the warm love I needed for the hours.

I need.

Thermyna needs.

We all need that burning warm. Love. Forgiveness. We are messy, messy people.


This week I will think of the amber colored stained glass,

burning warm in sunlight,



and also I will pray to remember to be that burning warm to others.

like Thermyna, a child… longing for the comfort of Psalm 23.

There a million and a hundred thousand trillion of her in this world, in need for the hours.


When have you felt that burning warm of God’s love? Who can you offer hope for the hours? 

we will not


I have been feeling so quiet lately. Everything is just so loud. Sometimes I feel like the on-line world does not need another single word added, especially mine. Even, in these quiet days I am thinking of you all, and praying for you.

This verse showed up Sunday morning in church as I felt lost in worries. That constant nagging fear I love to embrace, that I am not enough. Can you imagine the mountains falling into the heart of the sea? The picture is striking and terrifying, even then he commands us not to fear.

And I am left wondering why I worry so.

In the midst of noise, I pray this for you all this week.


Do not fear.

Even in the heart of the sea, He waits to rescue.



I have something so small and short, seemingly insignificant.

During the day, I am at my job at a K-8 school. Yesterday, I was walking down the hallway to my next destination. Alongside me was a first grade classroom walking in their line to the gym. I moved past them in my quest to get from point a to point b, when I felt a hand reach up and grasp mine.

A little girl looked up at me and smiled shyly. I slowed down and walked all the way to the gym with my hand in hers, no words spoken. Seemingly insignificant, but not so much.

So many people just need a hand to hold… if only for a short moment. If I would have kept moving so fast, I would have missed it completely. The best part of my day, that one minute expanse of time.

Small, but not small. What we do when we love is not small at all.



I love books. When I pack for trips half my suitcase is full of books. I like actual books too, because I smell them. I really do. My friend Shannon Hollemans tagged me on Facebook a week ago to name my top ten life-changing books. So, I share them here with you.

These are the ten that stir something up in my heart the most. (And two honorable mentions that embrace awkward, which I feel acutely as well 🙂


Mostly, I’m so curious what your favorite books are, tell me please! Or guest post here with your list! We like good reading.

1. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

2. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

3. The Road to Daybreak, Henri Nouwen

4. Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi

5. Half the Sky, Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

6. The Working Poor, David Shipler

7. Simpler Living, Compassionate Life, Michael Schut

8. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok

9. Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol

10. The Bible (The Message)


Honorable Mentions:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling

Bossypants, Tina Fey

that we might love.


I’m adjusting back to work and a new schedule. I take my uncertainty everywhere I go. I wear it though it is less than becoming. The first day I sat beside a new student. One encounter, where I must encourage doing the hard work and the dreaded writing. Every day in the hallway, I am now greeted with a smile and a wave, an enthusiastic I’ll see you this afternoon!’, a saved bench on the playground. Unconditional love.

Hillsong United’s Oceans.

where my trust is without borders. 


I am always boxing God in with my fear.

If only I would give him my trust without parameters.

I think I would love more deeply, without borders.


trust God without parameters, that we might love without borders

my prayer this week.


How are you all? How can we pray for one another? 


#ServeChat Leveraging the Passion of Youth

servechatThe serve champion Sheila Sjolseth of Pennies of Time hosts a twitter #servechat once a month. She’s a voice passionate about providing families with resources so they can serve together!

She is gracious to invite About Proximity to share about leveraging the passion of youth tonight. If you have twitter, we’d love for you to be a part of the discussion. If not, join it here to day. I LOVE your voices.


My areas of work have focused around camp ministry, youth ministry, education, and social work. In those years, I have been blown away by the compassion and potential of young people.

When Kris and I were middle school youth leaders, we had high expectations of our students.

  • Because we knew they had beautiful gifts to be shared
  • Because we knew they were longing for responsibility and greater meaning
  • Because we knew loving adults were going to be there to help, guide, and love in anyway possible.

We witnessed students leading vacation Bible school groups, sharing encouragement, welcoming classmates, facilitating crucial conversations. The more opportunities we offered the more they embraced serving. We believed in them and they responded.

Watching these students grow into adulthood and go on to live lives of service has been a beautiful progression. When you leverage passion when they are young, a strong foundation is built for future service.

youth serviceFor those of you that are looking for more resources on leveraging the passion of youth here is a round-up I put together for you. Get out there and encourage our young people!

  1. Tons of service ideas from our own Sheila Sjolseth of Pennies of Time.
  2. Amy L. Sullivan’s book, When More is Not Enough releases Sept 22. GENEROSITY!
  3. Generation On offers resources for students to make a difference.
  4. Learning to Give offers philantrophy focused lesson plans.
  5. Teens Turning Green making conscious living a way of life.
  6. Tons of Kara Powell resources to make faith and service stick in students.
  7. Join 2.7 Million young people through DoSomething.org
  8. Young humanitarians can volunteer with the Red Cross.
  9. Watch Girl Rising and get involved in helping getting worldwide receive an education
  10. Serve your family. Ideas from Kay Wyma and Clean House.
  11. Over twenty issues and ways to advocate at Office of Social Justice with World Renew.
  12. Babysitting? Try reading an online book from We Give Books to provide a book to a child in need around the world.
  13. Check out About Proximity’s Pinterest Board Make a Difference Kids Books.
  14. 13 Games that teach empathy.   
  15. Ideas to IMPACT with Crafts and IMPACT with simplicity and savings.
  16. Terracycle outsmart waste curriculum series.
  17. Trick or Treat for Unicef.
  18. Channel the love for shopping with packing an Operation Christmas Child Box.
  19. Amy Sullivan’s Pinterest Board doing good as a family. kindness.
  20. More ideas Group Pinterest Board I love serving with my family.
  21. Sheila Sjolseth’s Pinterest Boards have enough ideas to keep you busy for a lifetime!
  22. Instagram your dinner? Use Feedie app to make a donate to the Lunchbox Fund.
  23. Use the I can go without app featuring daily challenges doing good with micro donations.
  24. All that training for sports turn it into miles into good through CharityMiles.
  25. Download One Today to learn about a new cause daily!
  26. Photography that gives. Three awesome ideas from Amy L. Sullivan.
  27. Facebook Timelines for a cause ideas here or make your own!
  28. Search the web use goodsearch. Choose from 10,000 causes.
  29. Play Good. Do Good. at Zynga.org free games and making a difference.
  30. More Games? Yup. Games for Change. 
  31. Twitter? Join a thunderclap for causes you support.
  32. Follow the twitter for good blog and learn about campaigns and hashtags to be involved in.
  33. Millennial Activists youtube talk from GoodXGlobal.
  34. Post College? Catchafire helps you use your skills to give back and gain experience.
  35. Family Dinner Dates with Kids Cook Monday.
  36. TEDed talks to build student lesson plans around.
  37. Free Rice practice vocabulary and help the World Food Programme.
  38. A Global Education Toolbox for understanding the greater world.
  39. Go shopping? Hipcycle. 
  40. Wear it. Sevenly.
  41. TOMS marketplace.
  42. Get Milkshake shopping.
  43. Millennial reality check. Read Eugene Cho’s Overrated.
  44. Mark your calendars for Jan. 20 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
  45. ZeroBound pay down student loans through volunteering.
  46. Habitat for Humanity Youth Programs.
  47. Start a service club at your school.
  48. Love art? Make a mural with a message. Social Media share.
  49. Create Anti-bullying posters
  50. Walk/Run/Bike/Swim/Tri/Shoothoops/PlayBall/Futbol for a cause.
  51. August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day. Go for a visit!
  52. 366 Great Community Service Ideas.
  53. Harvard Graduates Instagram how they make a difference.
  54. Share your story.
  55. A Mighty Girl Social Issues Reading List.
  56. Read the book 50 Simple Things Kids Can do To Save the Earth.
  57. Tie your Instragram photos to cause with hashtags like #charitywater
  58. Make a vine for a good cause.
  59. #teenactivism social media nominees.
  60. Pin for fun and pin for good.
  61. Krochetkids awesome example of using visuals to further message/ got a future graphic designer/ coder?
  62. Groupon Grassroots for the future economist.
  63. Create a storify for a social cause.
  64. Make your own on-line publication on issuu
  65. Snapchat? Start a deeper conversation.
  66. Have a #servechat with far away family via facetime or skype.
  67. Make a social good We Heart It List
  68. Create a glog for your cause.
  69. A storyboard tool for students Storybird. 
  70. Teach students to use CharityNavigator.
  71. Voices of Youth connect with other teens globally.
  72. Heard of PeaceJam? form a club!
  73. Youth Volunteer Corps joins you with a larger network.
  74. Earn your congressional volunteer award.
  75. Read any book from the CitizenKid collection.
  76. Become an Apprentice Ecologist.
  77. Got a reader, try Read to Feed with Heifer International.
  78. A library of ideas at Create the Good focusing on the elderly.
  79. Project Heal started by teenager help to eat, accept, and live.
  80. Help younger siblings do Alex’s Lemonade Stand for childhood cancer.
  81. Make serving connections with current events.
  82. Work through the Cooking Matters program with No Kid Hungry.
  83. Volunteer abroad with Cross Cultural Solutions.
  84. Join a unified sports team through Special Olympics.
  85. Learn about the Franklin Project through the Aspen Institute a service gap year.
  86. Art Therapy Without Borders.
  87. Check in for good app lets you check and make a difference.
  88. irecycle app helps you find the nearest location to recycle what you have.
  89. My Life as a Refugee App brings awareness to the plight of global refugees.
  90. Challenge your pals to Budge and app that raises donations.
  91. Instead app: instead of a coffee- three days of clean water
  92. Free2Work helps you know if your favorite brands are sensitive to child labor/trafficking.
  93. Receive a daily act of kindness from this app.
  94. Learn about apps that help students with special needs.
  95. 2014 Cause Awareness Calendar. Ideas for tweeting and sharing.
  96. Give App makes donating safe and secure.
  97. Make a free animated GIF for your cause.
  98. Social good Instagram accounts to follow.
  99. Social Good Summit.
  100. No effort is too small… make sure they know it!

What were your favorite service projects as a young person? In what ways were you empowered in your early years? How do you empower youth in your life to serve? 

love like Christ. always.


Summer is gone. School starts tomorrow. If I’m honest, I have that nervous flutter in my stomach. Translation: I have eaten some oreos and ice cream.

The days pass by so quickly. I am tempted to lament all the things we should have accomplished, experienced, created… all the projects I did not finish, all the worries that I let choke away joy. I want to encourage myself and you as you enter this new season.


barefootBarefoot Tribe by Palmer Chinchen PhD, inspired me. He grew up in the jungles of Liberia, now a pastor at The Grove in Arizona. His book comes from an experience as a first-grader. As his family’s bamboo hut burned, a little Liberian girl gave her only shoes, the only protection she had from parasites, to his sister. Someone who had nothing gave everything. His book encourages us to take off our shoes by engaging in passion worth living. Each chapter begins with we will- and I love the last chapter.


We will- Love like Christ- always.


Do you love me?

i really love you. i do. but I’m pretty messy. i’m pretty uncertain. i’m 100% sure I could be doing so much better and more and beautiful. 

Do you think that matters?

no… not if i am loving like you. always. 



That is my prayer this school year. Sometimes my displeasure at myself for not being good enough overcomes me, then God draws me close again. I am more than enough if I am only loving him and loving his people. That is when I kneel, so thankful for that grace.

What is your prayer? What does your fall season look like?  I’ll enter you to win a copy of the book!