A Prayer for the New Year

decThe Time People of the Year are those fighting ebola. I love title of the article.

Do Good, Be Brave.


Those little white lights of the season always draw me into a quiet spirit. I am ready for a little stillness. About Proximity will be back in the new year. I love your voices. Growing to know you all more deeply makes my days and encourages me so very much.


I pray for our new year…

that we would be brave

that we would kneel often

that we would love in close proximity.


Hope Rising


Hope Rising by Scott C. Todd of Compassion International encourages readers that it is possible to end extreme poverty in this generation.

Todd draws from his experience as the Senior Vice President of Global Advocacy for Compassion International. He focuses on Isaiah 58 as a true example of fasting and a call to a personal commitment on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He also draws back to a young AIDS victim in Africa, a life lost that deeply touched him in his work.

When he gives us the capacity to discover, to innovate, and to create, He intended for us to use these gift for good


We can turn the tide with faith-based organizations, cause marketing (such as Toms one-for-one model), fair trade, and the generous giving of our resources.

In Hope Rising, we are encouraged to snap out of our self-satisfying world.


With every Christian who responds to that call with each one who rises out of spiritual grogginess and to new expectations, God’s work gathers momentum.


I appreciate this book because of its honest call to not live by small expectations.

What kind of history do we long to write? I dream of one where Christians are the leaders in being extravagantly generous with what God has given us. I think this is a hope we can all gather around. This is the dream Hope Rising conveys and it is a meaningful message.


Comment to be entered to win a copy of the book! 

What do you find yourself having small expectations about? How can you allow God to let your hope for this to rise? What can you do to DECLARE that hope? 

(Opinions are my own, I was given a copy to give away and review through Book Look Bloggers.)

Kneeling with the Everybody’s

KneelingSomehow I fell upon quotes by Sylvia Plath on Goodreads. She was a brilliant writer. I am sad that she stuck her head in an oven and died of gas inhalation. I wish I could have sat down with her and told her she would be all right, and that her writing would inspire people to share their hearts for years to come.

Also that Jesus loved the way she breathed.


Her words were so honest, some burn right to my heart.

She said this in her journal, “I suppose if I gave myself the chance I could be an alcoholic.”

I have never drank a drop of alcohol my entire life. People come to the wrong conclusions about that. I don’t because I long ago knew, if I gave myself the chance I could be an alcoholic. It’s like the entire tray of Oreos, and carton of ice cream I sometimes use to dull my worries.


My Mom was telling me about someone with a storied past that my Dad had stopped to talk to on the sidewalk yesterday. “That’s what I love about him,” she said, “He treats everyone the same.”

That is what proximity is.

Kneeling with the everybody’s, and not because we have something to bring.

Kneeling because we are “them” too, and also because they sometimes have something to bring us. Like, dead Sylvia Plath and her sentence that I’ve always been afraid to say aloud.


Yesterday, the cousins were over. We have had few warm days here, and they played for hours in the backyard with buckets, water, grass, dandelions, and twigs in superhero costumes. Eli explained they were making “merryweed potion.” When they were hurt they went into the “healing chamber” and applied the potion and were well again.


My merryweed potion is that in proximity I can see my true self and Jesus still loves the way I breath.

What makes you well again? Why are honest words so hard?


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! 

have all of me.


I read an old journal from my camp counseling days. I was weary, dragging, discouraged, defeated after ten weeks of constant… my third summer running.


I swam with the girls for night swim.

In the glow of their flashlights they shared about cancer, popularity, God when they went home and into their schools.

They feel asleep as I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

And three years of 7B ends with Imogene Herdman crying in her crookedly veil broken by God’s love. It is the proximity that makes life worth everything. I knew I would do it all over again, and in different forms I have.


My last journal entry from the porch of 7B: I want you to have all of me Jesus.


Being available to God,

Being in proximity,

Being bent by his love,

Offering that without reserve,

is the hardest you will do.


For months I have felt that bone-weary tired, used-up, defeated, discouraged, my heart like stone.

Then it comes quietly, by picking up old writing. It is because I am deep in proximity right now. I would do well to be gentle with myself.

He wants us to offer everything, but he is love in taking it.


Be gentle with yourself.

I know all you do in your work, in your home, in your relationships, in proximity.

You are more than enough, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

That allows me to say have all of me, Jesus. All of me.




a whole world of people hoping

globeOn Mondays, I try to write personal posts. People say they like them best, although I’m not completely sure. They are hard for me. It was never what I intended, but it is intertwined with proximity. Sometimes… the biggest thing that prevents us from moving into closeness to renewal is ourselves.


I fell in a mud puddle at school last Friday. My pant legs were brown, like poop a kid pointed out, and I had to sit like that the last one and half hours of the day.

The month of March clings stubbornly to winter, the glimpses of spring small. Honestly, that is what I feel like, and it is often what I feel like. It isn’t pretty. I feel gray and cold and hard, with brown pant legs.

It’s a frozen that hurts. Like sitting in church feels like torture, because I don’t want to sing. And getting up feels impossible sometimes. There is a lot tedium in my life and lot of movement in the people around me. Being faithful feels impossible.


I read my old journals sometimes, I have never felt such persistent doubt and insecurity enfold me. They choke the life out of me. Sometimes I feel like I am battling so deeply with satan. He keeps pulling me, pulling me down. Then a little crack of sun pours in and I detect joy, but soon the gray seeps again. That is what my mind and my heart do. And it is a fight every day.

I know I have to get up. I have people that are counting on me, little people. Not getting up, is not an option, it never will be.


I realize that I have forgotten to ask God for help, because really I’m kind of mad at him, for leaving me like this so often. Even though I know it is not his fault. I crack open the tiniest piece of my heart…

it is there so clear. That is why we have to do the proximity thing. It makes us get up. It is the purpose, however small and insignificant. I know not only little people are counting on me, but there is a whole world of people hoping.


There is always a need we can meet.

I understand that is why I write proximity. It is what has kept me breathing.

All I am left to pray is scratched in my journal from a decade ago…

Summon out what I should be, somehow God. 


I want to hold this close, but it is too much a part of me right now. It’s a sensitive thing… and I wonder if others struggle with one thing that seems to continually bring them down. What is that thing that helps that gray clear for you?


One Word: Kneel

kneelNew Year = New Resolutions

Last year, I participated in One Word Three Sixty Five. I love the website because you can read other people’s chosen word and be inspired. One Word is a way to focus on one word for a year, bypassing or adding to resolutions. You can further join the One Word 365 community on their facebook page. 

Often, I write a list of goals and lose it, then write another, don’t do anything on it, write another, and before you know it another year has passed. Choosing one word allows me to focus on that one word and come back to it often as the year passes by.


I thought, searched, and prayed about my One Word for 2014. Again and again KNEEL came to my heart. I used this word last year. I think it might be law breaking to use the same word again.

God won’t let it go.

I think its just About Proximity. Maybe, I have further to go. I know I have further to go. I know this word is what I want to be. I want to kneel to God and to others. I don’t want to be first, or big, or high. I just want to be used.

Kneel. I’m not going to fight it. It’s our rally call to make a difference.

I would love to hear if you choose One Word for 2014 and what that word is! 


Reading others choices also got me thinking about how much I learn from others. I want to keep learning from all of you. I love your voices, you all have so much to give through just who you are. I will be starting a new series this year featuring YOU!

i love your voice seriesAn apothecary full of drawers, endless in its depths.

Each drawer a window to know and be know.

Who you are is important, so very important. We need each other to grow.


I will be scattering this series throughout About Proximity in addition to my M-W-F posts. I can’t wait to watch the list grow and grow. What will I need from you?

  • A photograph of you
  • One additional photograph that might go with your answers
  • Answer the questions I provide for you. {Some will be the same, with some tailored for you specifically}.

Who would like to be first? (I very, very much promise that you won’t regret it. You have a story that no one else has and we long to hear it!)

aboutproximity@gmail.com /or come by the facebook page/ or snag me in the real world.

P.S. {I’ll be asking too}

hope. hope. hope.


The sun persists in rising, so I make myself stand- 

Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Trilogy

I watched Catching Fire over Christmas break. My favorite part of the films is Katniss Everdeen, her face. She stands tall and does what she needs to do, even when it is the very last thing she longs to do. Even in her imperfection, she becomes a beacon of hope.

Primrose Everdeen: Since the last games, something is different. I can see it. 

Katniss Everdeen: What can you see? 

Primrose Everdeen: Hope. 


I had a wonderful Christmas break, but my heart missed About Proximity.

The break proved a needful rest for my mind. I learned a lesson that I have not been very great at taking seriously. We are often too hard on ourselves.

The expectations that we map out for ourselves can be very unkind and quite impossible.

I did that to myself. I often do that to myself. Then, I find myself laying in a puddle of dashed dreams, disappointment in all I am not, and exhaustion.

This new year, I am releasing impossible expectations.

I am not a woman who can do it all. 

But, I am a woman who can do something, even small. I can be an imperfect Mom, wife, daughter, friend, paraprofessional, writer, woman of God, servant. These things I do will not always be perfection, but they will be good and enough.

That promise offers my heart great hope.


Something is different this time…

I am trusting God that my imperfection will be enough. I am praying God will honor my desire to do my best, love completely, and ask for help.

I want to offer hope. I want to offer hope with you this new year.

May About Proximity offer you encouragement as you seek to place yourself in the proximity of renewal. I was going to type all the things I have planned for 2014, but then I decided not to. I am laying this year in God’s hands. Those expectations I press on myself, I am laying them down.

I am so very, very thankful for you.

Proximity would not be the same without you. Thank you.


Tell me about your Christmas season. What are you looking forward to in this new year? What unrealistic expectation will you be laying down?

Fading Summer, Open Space and a Thankful Heart

Disney 2013 312

Another summer has faded behind us leaving piles of sand, grass clippings, half emptied suitcases and piles of memories.

This week we reset ourselves for a new school year. {Which means earlier bedtime… if you hear crying kids all the way from Michigan, they are mine.}

I am so thankful for another beautiful summer and especially for the time we spent with family and friends.


The end of summer is a nostalgic time for me. I love long summer days and extended time with family that we do not see often enough.

I miss the laughter.

I miss my nieces and nephews, and my siblings.

I miss the happy play times with long known friends.


The changing of seasons makes each period of time sweeter in some ways too. The shifting rhythms help me appreciate special moments even more.

This summer we spent a week with our Iowa family in Minnesota. We ate a lot, drank even more pop, circled the campfire and soaked up the kids. It’s an annual event, planned by Dad and Mom Van Engen. The summer week we spend together always moves past too quickly

minnWe also traveled to Disney World with my family. It was a ten years in the making trip by my Dad and Mom.  Who worked really hard to get our whole family there. It was a gift full of smiles, special moments and lots of laughter.

dis collageI am so very thankful for the gift of these special times.

Like all of us, I look ahead to the coming season. I think we can all trust that space will be made for more heart-expanding moments and new opportunities to place ourselves in the proximity of renewal. God is faithful that way.

I can’t wait to experience it all with you. I’m very thankful for each and every one of you. God did more than I could have imagined on this little blog last year, I can’t wait to discover where we will go next.

1150286_10153147751980088_391102945_nI want to hear from you! How do you approach changing seasons?

Impact with Crafts


The first issue of Impact, a quarterly ezine collaboration from About Proximity and Amy Sullivan.


Impact others with crafts!

Make a difference by being creative!

Use your gifts to offer hope! 


I can’t wait for you to meet our amazing contributors. Do you like their work? Show them some love by stopping by their blog or following their social media. They all have huge hearts willing to share their work freely.

There is something for every one to try here, even the crafty challenged like myself.

Presenting {our labor of love} Impact with Crafts… this is our cover. I’m having technical difficulties embedding the ezine directly into this blog… so click the link to view.

Here is the direct link. Click over and take look!