To Slow Down

desk

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

 

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Summer Serve Play Groups

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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

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June 23: One Hen

OneHenHungerJune 30: The Red Bicycle

TheRedBicyclePlayGroup

July 7: Mimi’s Village

Mimi's Village Play Group

July 14: Planet Ark 

PlanetArkPlayGroup

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

Shot@Life

World Vision

World Renew 

All our stories are donated by Citizen Kid Books.  

 

We can’t wait to see you this summer! 

Questions? 

Email: Lisa Van Engen at aboutproximity@gmail.com 

 

 

 

Invisible to Visible.

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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.

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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?  

 

Bloom and Daughters of Cambodia

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

It’s amazing what word-of-mouth can do. We were only supposed to be checking out two projects, but when my friend Lynda found out we were in Cambodia she said I had to check out Bloom. My new friend Trish was on the trip with me and she was told by another lady at church about the work of Daughters. We set out to squeeze them both in if we could.

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“Bloom is a cake art gallery and not-for-profit organisation that empowers and skills Cambodian women while providing you with a chic oasis in the city.” They have a high quality vocational training program AND the cakes are beautiful and yummy! Double yay!! The Cambodian website is here. There is not much publicity on there about the work that they do but further information about Bloom can be found at here. I suspect that they are guarded about publicizing their work to protect the women, and to let the work speak for itself.

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The second place we went to visit was called Daughters. Its mission is a lot more explicit. “Daughters of Cambodia is a faith-based non-Government organization reaching out to victims of sex-trafficking and sex-exploitation in Cambodia. We work to eradicate enslavement in the sex industry by offering to those trapped in it, opportunities to walk free and start a new life.”

We took a tuk tuk to the Visitor Centre in Phnom Penh which enables the public to learn about Daughters and support their work. I was able to browse in the craft store (sorry I don’t have pics!), enjoy deep fried cookie dough and a “Snickers” thickshake in the cafe, and get a head/face/shoulder massage in the spa. Three shops in one location! The work they are doing is explained everywhere you turn: in artwork on the walls, on the back of the products, and in a dvd looped in the mezzanine. You can check out their website at here. It’s pretty fascinating!

We all care about the exploitation of women. I am thankful for the work these businesses are doing, but I think it is genius the way they make it accessible for an affluent white westerner like myself to come alongside, engage and find out further ways to support.

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All of the pictures are from Bloom except the picture of me holding up an ice coffee. That was a regular cupcake place that I dragged everyone along to, knowing that Bloom sold cupcakes. I had spied it from our river cruise, thinking that this was surely it – before I took the time to find out the actual name and address of Bloom!

Light of Hope

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

I had the opportunity to go to Cambodia in a team of six from Perth, Australia. We went to visit two projects, which are supported by Baptist World Aid Australia. Lisa has allowed me to write three posts for you. This one will be about PNKS, the second will be about Peace Bridges and the last one will be about two other organisations doing great work that I found while I was there.

I really didn’t know what we were going into. This was my first trip to a third-world country. I shouldn’t have worried. My team leader and the partner organisations did a great job of planning the itinerary and showing us around.

It was called an “Exposure Tour”. We weren’t there to do anything as such, just to observe, listen, learn and ask questions. It wasn’t all hard work either. We did some sightseeing on tuk-tuks, took a ton of photos and were able to Skype the kids at home every night from the Wi-Fi in our comfortable hotel room.

PNKS2The first organisation we visited was called PNKS (light of hope). They are a Cambodian Christian NGO working in community building, agriculture and livelihoods training and health. We were out in the rural areas, guests to their community meetings and got to observe some things that PNKS have introduced to help build the communities.

Climate change is a big issue in these communities. Rainfall used to be predictable and the rice harvest as a result used to be predictable, but now late rains could mean poor crops. PNKS is working with the locals to teach/share farming practices, skills and techniques, work towards diversification of crops, so families might plant vegetables and have a fish pond as well as just the rice field.

Communities were also taught in monthly meetings about various topics such as health care, civil rights, domestic violence, and other things. The communities also had the opportunity to have a shared savings account, which had lower interest than what was offered by the microfinance institutions. We heard one example of this being used when the community needed funds for a funeral.

PNKS4You’ll see in two of my photos that there is plastic sheeting and plastic bottles being used in agriculture. This is to avoid evaporation during the drought. The locals have to endure both droughts and floods in a year and often lose everything they have gained during the drought. We heard that there isn’t enough water for their animals to survive the drought. Fish, however can be kept in plastic bags.

I really loved visiting the rural communities and having the chance to talk to some people who were happy to show us the improvements that PNKS had brought to their communities. In one community meeting I asked what was their greatest need, and they said that they needed consistent rain for the remainder of October for their rice crops. You can imagine our collective joy when it started to pour down!

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This photo is of me talking to the community ladies. I am wearing a blue blouse and the translator is on my left.

The other photo is of the savings group. If you would like more information on PNKS, there is a good article here.