A Path Appears~ because of us.


Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn the fearless team behind the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwidereleased a new book this past September.

A Path Appears talks about transforming lives and creating opportunity. Their reporting provides encouragement and also tells the stories of everyday people making a difference. They teach us to do justice thoughtfully, wearing a path to those in need.

A Path Appears Book Cover

The Film, A Path Appears, will premier on PBS this month in a three-part series on Jan 26, Feb 2, and Feb 9.

You can download discussion and lesson guides here. 


A Path Appears for others~because of us.

Because we walk this way AGAIN and AGAIN. 


Peace Bridges


By: Diane Harvey, our fearless justice leader from Perth, Australia

Peace Bridges are also a Cambodian Christian NGO. This is the project that we have been supporting in our church. This is the one that people back home will want all the detail about.

After decades of war and conflict, violence as a response to difficult situations has become common and accepted in Cambodia.

Do you know anything of the Pol Pot regime? 1975-1979. Millions murdered. Nothing about Cambodia will make sense if you don’t know something of the loss and the trauma of these and subsequent years.

PB2One of the first things we did was to go to the Killing Fields. I call it the Killing Fields Memorial because in reality the whole country was covered with Killing Fields. You can see one of my photos. A tree where innocent children were smashed to death. This is one of many horrifying monuments. The red that you see are bracelets of visitors leaving a remembrance.

From there we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21). A former school, it was institutional grey, and another place of imprisonment, torture and death. Records meticulously kept by the regime. Photographs. Face after face of prisoners. Room after room. Young. Old. Male. Female.

2014-10-04 15.14.48Peace Bridges is working to train ‘Peace Builders’ to overcome the effects of their turbulent past and bring peace to Cambodia.  Peace Bridges works by providing long-term training to key people. Peace Builders work at the grassroots level with people in their community, be it their own family unit, or an organisation.

I was able to observe some training taking place, and got to interview many of the trainee Peace Builders. I spoke to a Buddhist monk, a prison guard and a Christian pastor. We heard stories from the CEO,  and then from some who had completed the training and were implementing it in their sphere of influence. We listened to someone from Prison Fellowship Cambodia, and some Bible college principals. All of the stories had the same theme: the training had helped them personally, and then they were able to teach others the skills they needed for non-violent conflict resolution.

PB4I was really encouraged to see Peace Bridges as a unifying force among the Cambodian Christian Community. I also learned the importance of good governance in a country where corruption is so prevalent and tempting. I was surprised that they welcomed and appreciated the scrutiny about such by members of the team.

I’m really happy to continue to support this project. They are doing an incredible work!




Listening at the Margins.

I love this article from Do Justice.

Our best service comes when we listen.

A number of CRC agencies have come together to listen to stories from people who are marginalized in various ways, whether because they are disabled, Native American, refugees, undocumented immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, etc.

Sign up here, to receive an email story each day in November that positions us to listen.

Once a week over at Amelia Rhodes online home, you can follow her Pray A-Z Community Prayer Guide series. She’s getting practical by offering stories and prayer for needs in our communities.

I’m excited to be in proximity and to kneel.

How do you truly listen? 

Compassion is the New Black.


This around the web has made my heart happy!

Where the wild things play! What do you think? I’d sign the waiver and send my kids in.

The Head Nurse at Emory University talks about why bringing Ebola patients to the United States, benefits not threatens…

BookCover-3DI’ve been following the work of Eugene Cho for quite some time. He’s a pastor, writer, and founder of One Day’s Wages. His first book is releasing September 1, Overrated. It will challenge us to DO JUSTICE and not just love the IDEA of making a difference. His premise is that sometimes we are the one’s that need changing. Take his 5-day challenge here. 


Our Amy girl is prepping for her big book launch this September too. Here she gives us ten ideas for drawing our families into service.

Amy also just introduced me to She Reads Truth. Check it out. They are studying the book of Hebrews this month.

orangeRestorative justice. I read Orange is the New Black on vacation. I haven’t seen the show, but I read the memoir by Piper Kerman, incarcerated ten years after transporting drugs a single time as a young woman. I LOVED the book. She accepted her punishment, and saw the prison system and the women in it with compassion, many incarcerated women are mothers, and non-violent drug offenders. A deeper look into their lives shows how poverty influenced their choices. I applaud how she took something devastating and turned it into an opportunity to make a difference.


She encourages the public to look at the justice system as a place for these women to find restoration and receive what they need to have a new life when freed. Check these out when you get a chance: Angel Tree (supporting kids with incarcerated parents), Woman and Prison written by the woman there, Book through Bars, Thousand Kites, Pen Prison Writing. Want to learn more about restorative justice, The Office Social Justice has great resources.

Who has kids hanging around? Check out this great paper slingshot from Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks.

Also… if you window shop on a website… later the $140 Born leather boots show up in your sidebar, every minute of everyday. I say that is not compassion.

What have you witnessed/read/done lately that was compassion? What’s your take on any of these articles? (Want to share with a guest post? I love your voice!) 


Impact with Simplicity and Savings

Introducing the Summer 2014 Impact ezine!

About Proximity’s partnership with the talented Amy Sullivan. 

ImpactSS Live simply to make space to give more… I always long to learn more about this topic.

Thank you to these lovely ladies for sharing their best:

Mickie Devries, Leslie Manlapig, Kim Fernando, Jennifer Peterson, Jennifer Iocavelli Barbour, Amelia Rhodes, Beth Stiff and Julie LaJoe.


Come on over! Click here to read.

We’d love to hear what your best tips are… and what ideas you might use!

Thankfulness to All


A Guest Post from Kris Van Engen 

Growing up on an Iowa farm, over the course of thousands of hours, I walked beans, detasseled corn, shelled corn, fed calves, fixed fences, chopped weeds, bailed hay, helped thaw frozen drinkers, reorganized the machine shed, and made beds of straw for newborn pigs. A cow even rammed me into the side of a barn and left me with a broken arm and jaw. I have special memories of working alongside my parents and my three brothers.


It was hard work, but worth it, because I have this badge of honor that for some reason people respond to with respect, that I once worked on a farm.

This is why I am frustrated about the U.S. immigration debates. When I work in agricultural it’s noble–farmers feeding the world–but immigrants doing the exact same work are told to “get in line,” and as real farmers know, there is no line.

Seventy percent of all US farm workers are undocumented immigrants. Not just 70% of immigrant farm workers but 70% of all US farm employees.

The legal entry system has not worked for over 40 years. Agriculture utilizes immigrants but our laws say no to their visa requests and yet the IRS collect billions in taxes from undocumented workers. Food flows from farm to table but beneath the surface 70% of the people doing the work don’t have access to a legal immigration system. They are completing the hard agriculture jobs that are not filled by Americans.

At some point we stopped paying attention to real people. God asks us to defend the cause of immigrants and to love the stranger. I pray the 70% statistic will awaken us to just how broken this immigration system is.

When we pay attention to the fact that our food, even our Communion bread, comes from this unfair system maybe we will stop taking sides and work together. Imagine the joy on farms when all workers are granted access to legal immigration–when employers don’t feel the guilt of a precarious work force. Proposals to achieve this have been endorsed across the political spectrum. Now Congress needs the will to act.

This isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats. This is about all of us and every bag we fill with groceries. The choice is ours to pray for new immigration laws with our words and actions or to ignore ongoing suffering.

If you want to act you could host a viewing of this film, or even bring this workshop to your church. You can also call your member of Congress at 866-877-5552 and tell them you are ready for new immigration laws. Here is CRC Justice’s advocacy page for easy ways to help.

You may remember Paul Harvey’s ‘So God Made a Farmer’ speech from the Super Bowl. What if, when we listened to those words, we rightly ascribed such thankfulness to all U.S. farmer workers–

KrisKris VanEngen lives in Holland, MI with his wife and two children. He is the Congregational Justice Mobilizer for World Renew and the Office of Social Justice. He carries with him some precious memories of growing up on a farm with his three brothers; Kirk, Nic and PJ.

IJM and Noonday

noonday collection

I have two organizations to share with you today. My friend Amy sent me an email weeks ago, encouraging me to enter the #styleforjustice contest. The second I looked at it I wanted to enter. I waited until last night, almost the last day to enter. You win by popular vote and that is just impossible. Then, I realized that I love their work and would like to share it and my entry, because it is encouragement.

The Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the most vulnerable in the developing world and buyers create a marketplace for artisans.

IJM (International Justice Mission) partners with local governments and communities to protect the poor from violence such as sex trafficking, violence against women, modern-day slaves, other experiences where they are far from the law’s protection.

This summer they are hosting a #styleforjustice storytellers trip to Rwanda. You can still enter too, the deadline is May 28. Click the link above and read all about it.


You can vote for me here. I’ll share my entry here. My headshot is pixel crazy… and well you’ll read the rest. 

Popular votes are difficult. My headshot is not professional. I’ve never traveled out of the country. I’m a quiet Mom that lives on a quiet corner in a city by Lake Michigan. I’ve been longing to enter this contest for weeks… but I know what people will see is small and unqualified.

I see it in myself. I am drawn to it in others. I write at aboutproximity.com. We talk about placing yourself in the proximity of renewal. On my darkest days, images of justice lift me forward. My work with Global Team of 200, CRC Justice and Exodus Road breathe new life in me.

Drawing people into proximity with words is my place of happiness. No matter where we are in life we have the ability to offer hope to others. Our lives gather deeper meaning and vivid threads are added to our stories when we reach further than ourselves.

I hope for the proximity of this trip.

I want to see.

I want hear.

I want to kneel.

I want to soak in the proximity of the country and the woman who are hope.


They have known hard living days and nights unfolding. The lives of those who have seen injustice, experienced despair and have felt small will revive the hopes of many.


The simple gift of their story will heal. They offer what is most precious.

I love their voices very much.


I wish I was more pixelated and more popular votish, but really none of that matters because the cause of justice will be heard. Their voices will be heard. 

I will keep doing my little part and it will make me happy. I love their voices and I love your voices. 

Do you ever let the feeling of inadequacy hold you back? 

a virtual chocolate delivery



Did anyone see this funny end-of -the school year article complete with GIF’s (including one of Brad Pitt)?

I am feeling this. I am thinking everyone might be… the winter was so long. Last week on Friday morning, I was out of lunch bags and low on lunch supplies, so I wrapped cereal in saran wrap as one of the kids lunch items. That was a new low for me. We also have not had matching socks all week, but where are the sock pairs? I have no idea.

I am praying for all of you to have the strength to end strong! I know you can do it! Soon our homes will be covered in popsicle film!


Here are two discoveries that might ignite your summer giving! I plan to check them out as soon as I catch my breath.

giving table

At Live58: Fast. Forward. The Church Mobilized you can download the free ebook The Giving Table. This book offers practical ways to teach generosity to your kids. There are discussion questions, 10 “step in their shoes” activities, and easy images to share on social media. {I don’t have a real kindle, but you can still download ebooks on the kindle app for laptops.}

Do Justice is a new blog space from The Office of Social Justice and The Center for Public Dialogue. There is great perspective here with diverse writers.

You can also try:

The High Calling where Amy Sullivan is a featured writer, A Deeper Story full of honest, and Faith Village.

What communities do you belong to on-line? I’d love to hear where you consistently show up! 

World Water Day March 22!

wateraidMy #waterstory acknowledges that I have always had it. I live near the shore of a fresh water lake. I also have the proximity of its beauty. The waves touch the shore, I am renewed.

I have it. 768 million others do not.

That matters.


Tell congress that you support The Water for the World Act here.

This is so simple to do, give it a try. I promise it takes two minutes. 


Global Team of 200 member Jennifer Barbour is traveling in Nicaragua with WaterAid. You can follow her here. #WaterAidNica.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArticles that cover the global need for clean water:

Lack of water and sanitation hurts women and girls the most
Giving birth on the side of the road with two cans of dirty water
Risking rape to reach a toilet in India’s slums
The burden of collecting water while pregnant
The water crisis that rightly caused an uproar
Everyone, everywhere: A vision for water, sanitation and hygiene post-2015

What is your #waterstory?

You can follow the work of WaterAid here. 

Using Social Media to Make a Difference

social media do justiceSocial media!

If you can believe it a few years ago I had zero social media presence. Then, I realized the difference it can make…

Hop over to the Do Justice Blog an amazing collaboration between the Christian Reformed Church, Office of Social Justice, and Center for Public Dialogue to read about how to make a difference through this medium.