winter giving.

winter 10

Donate Warmth

The cold temperatures this winter have affected so many. I know our local shelter has ran out of space and mattresses various time this winter. Donate warmth to those that need it most. Check out the needs of your local homeless shelter. One Warm Coat has great resources for holding coat drives. Donate through UNICEF featuring a winter kit for Syrian refugee children.

Read 

I often include We Give Books as a service option. It’s a great way to involve kids in giving. Choose a book on-line, read it together, and join efforts to help kids receive reading materials around the world. Pull out blankets and hot cocoa and you are ready to go. Find winter theme books featured on their front page.

Get Crafty

Kids love to craft. Try one of the twelve ideas featured in the ezine IMPACT with crafts! These crafts make a difference. Try some DIY crafty fun to bless others with Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks.

Give Back to Families through Ronald McDonald House

Every year 7 millions families are able to stay together during treatment for a sick family member. Find your closest local chapter and gather some of the following item donations that help keep their work going and families comfortable.

International World Women’s Day 

March 8 is International World Women’s day. Gather up a group of girls and watch the documentary film Girl Rising. Use the companion curriculum to go deeper into the lives of the girls featured in the film.

Senior Hunger

Watch this infographic about the Meals on Wheels Program. Find your closest local chapter here; volunteers make and deliver meals every day. Purchase The Made With Love Cookbook and work through the recipes with your family. Proceeds go to Meals on Wheels and the cookbook features former First Lady Barbara Bush, Martha Stewart, and Dr. Maya Angelou.

World Water Day 

World Water Day is March 22, 2014. Check out this amazing list of 200 ways to conserve water. Go through the list with your family and choose some to implement.

Is there a way you serve specifically in the winter months? 

Come by next Wednesday for special Valentine’s Serve Ideas! 

I Love Your Voice Series

yellow heartMeet Diane Harvey

Her Family: Married with two young children and a black Labrador-cross called Lucy

Location in the World: Perth, Australia (That’s the capital city in the state of Western Australia)

Three favorites: Wow, it’s so hard to think of only three but I’ll get deep and say Love, Clean Water and Hope

DSC00094What is your calling? To learn about Jesus, to teach about Jesus, and to follow Jesus.

How has God has worked through you that has become a part of your redemption story? Slowly, slowly, bit by bit, God has been giving me jobs to do. When I first left theological college I was like an exuberant puppy, straining at the lead, eager to do something, while at the same time feeling inexperienced and insecure. But over the last few years I have found it really encouraging and humbling to be given positions of responsibility. It fills me with joy!

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal that gets your heart beating faster? Knowledge is good, and information is good, but it’s what you do with it that counts. I want to have a practical faith: one that hears and understands, and then acts. We all know that faith without deeds is dead. What good is it to me if I agree with all the teachings of Jesus, and then not do anything about it? I don’t want to be just a bobble-headed Christian, nodding in agreement on a Sunday morning.  My desire and heartfelt wish is that I live out my life of faith by actions and not be content with mere mental assent. Unfortunately, my ‘self’ gets in the way. Ignorance and Apathy always fight with me and I regularly let them win, to my shame.  I’m a Pharisee daily. Thankfully – and praise be to God – there is forgiveness, mercy and grace as I keep starting and keep trying.

Knowing my failings, I am so grateful to have an encouraging team around me. We call ourselves the “Social Justice Group”. It’s not a very creative title, but it gives you an idea about what we’re all about. Our mission statement is, “We exist to inspire in our pursuit of following Christ’s command to show love and justice to others.” Jesus’ instruction following the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) is a challenge to me personally:

Jesus asked, Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

We’re involved in a few different things but our main focus for the next three years will be our adoption of the “Peace Bridges” project in Cambodia, in partnership with Baptist World Aid Australia.

Kim Vanden Hengel writes: Cambodians have suffered immensely during decades of war and internal conflict. Many have witnessed terrible acts of violence and suffered significant personal trauma. Over many years, oppressive regimes have crushed any who spoke out against injustice. All this has impacted significantly on the Cambodian people and their ability to deal with conflict. Sadly, violence as a response to difficult situations has become common and accepted, both in the home and in the community. Fear and mistrust have left people feeling powerless to change their circumstances. They are struggling to rebuild families and communities of trust, love and acceptance. With limited access to services, those who struggle most with these issues are often the poor.

Peace Bridges works by providing long-term training to key people, called Peace Builders. Peace Builders work at the grassroots with people in their community, be it their own family unit, a church or an organisation. Peace Builders use their training to help others to deal appropriately with conflict, and ultimately to bring about change for the whole community.

Many Cambodians were killed during the years of strife. Some of those who are parents today grew up without parents themselves, and often have little experience of healthy family life. Domestic violence is very common. Some Peace Builders will be selected for further training in more complex issues, sharing their skills with people living with violence in the home.

Through word of mouth, Peace Builders impart their learning to others in their community to bring about widespread change. Peace Bridges provide support and training on a regular basis to help with this process.

We are planning a trip to Cambodia this year to look at this project, so hopefully I will be able to tell you all about it later in the year!

Thanks for encouraging us Diane! We will love to hear all about your trip. 

i love your voice series

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}

Equidistant Disquietude.

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Equidistant Disquietude.

I like the way different words combine together can give clear picture into your heart.

The thesaurus is an exciting place for me to visit, nerdy I know.

 

I am feeling equidistant disquietude right now.

Equidistant means equally distant. I am feeling equally distant disquietude.

 

Another school year has found completion. My kids are with me now. I have to admit that I really love that time, but I also feel fragmented. Though that has been the case this year it protrudes even more during the summer; am I reading books or writing an article? Do I play tennis when they ask or do I revise a chapter of my manuscript?  I want to be a good Mom, but I also don’t want to overdo my presence when they are learning independence.

How do you all balance this? The roles we play as wife, Mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, career, servant of Christ?

Sometimes it all feels equally distant to me, like I am doing everything, but only half good. This is where the disquietude and guilt seep into my thoughts.

 

My senior year in high school, I found disappointment. Around the time we graduated, a close friend told me that I had changed a lot that year. How so, I asked? Worried in my people pleasing ways that somehow it had been a bad change. Just in your disappointment, you have grown deeper. 

Yes, my friend was right. Somehow the disquietude had deepened who I was.

Now, when I feel that disquietude and equidistant feeling I remember the word deep.

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I remember deep in the context of digging deep. I need to go someplace deep inside me that is hard to access sometimes.

That place where you put others before yourself again and again, in faith that God sees. Not to be re-payed, but to remain faithful. A place that no matter how fragmented you feel in your roles, one thing remains the strongest your faithfulness to those who love you and your love for God. This place where you kneel.  This place is the most important place to be.

kneel

Do you know that place that is hard to get to sometimes? How do you get there? How do you balance on the tightrope of life? 

God’s Heart for the World

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[Image courtesy of Africa /FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

 

A Guest Post from Jodi J. Jodi shares her heart and experiences from her time serving in South Africa. 

Africa.

What does the word conjure up in your mind when you hear it?   Hot sunny days with cool starry nights?   Exotic safari?  Wide open plains where the elephants roam among the baobabs with the giraffe?  A terrific destination for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Hunting big game?  Bargaining over open market intricate wooden carvings and then showing off the much prized souvenirs on the flight home?

Perhaps the word connotes more negative than positive thoughts?  Tribal warfare?  Apartheid?  Violent crime?  Hopelessness and high unemployment contributing to substance abuse?  Staggering rape statistics?  HIV/AIDS?  Child sexual abuse? Witch doctors?

My perceptions were shifting with each passing year for the decade I called the southernmost country on the continent, South Africa, ‘home’.    Yes, it is a place of beauty and a place of violence.   A place of extreme wealth and a place of dire poverty. A land of contrasts.  A land of crisis.

My place was in the communities.   27 of them.   Devastated neighborhoods where little girls grow up to sell.   Flowers?  No. Clothes?  Hardly.  Food?  They wish.   Grow up to sell whatever they are told to sell.   Sometimes it’s illegal drugs; often it’s their bodies.   But how can this be?

The stage has been set.   Poverty.  Abuse of power.  Rampant childhood sexual abuse.   Desperation to survive.   High unemployment.   Common knowledge that there is one sure way of getting cash quickly.

Add to these the words often spoken ” Child, you must listen (meaning ‘obey’) when the adult tells you to do something”, without  clarifying for the child to which adults they should submit, the child is left to believe all adults are good decision-makers, wise, kind and of course has no ill intention toward children.

In the midst of much chaos and hardship, enough to cause a mature grown-up to be tempted to retreat, the child of South Africa is asked to grow up and become a community-minded member of society.

And God is transforming lives.   Women who were once standing on the street corners later seen standing in the waters of baptism.   Women who were once being called every label under the sun are now being addressed “my sister in God’s family.”

 

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[Image courtesy of Africa /FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Five years ago at this time of year, I had a memorable Good Friday in South Africa.   Several of the women involved in prostitution realized their brokenness as a person who has failed to love God above all else.   Once these abused ladies saw the reality of their wrong-doing is actually sin against the One Who created them, they asked God for forgiveness because God’s Son Jesus already paid for our wrong-doing when He gave His blood on the cross in our place (for what we deserve).  Then we journey on together as each of us seeks to live a life of gratitude to the Lord for the remainder of our days on earth and then continuing into eternity.

Patricia invited me to accompany her in the process of obtaining her life-sustaining medication because she contracted HIV somewhere along the way.  It could be from her unfaithful husband, or the rapist as she journeyed to the big city in search of employment to support her family, or from the days of finding no real job so doing what she never wanted to do to get money for food and rent in her new location.   We traveled together to her seven am appointment at the city hospital for HIV positive people.  Many, many people were already there waiting for the doctors to arrive.  A little bit after eight am, the receptionist came out to the waiting room where there were no open seats and announced “The doctor has called in and will not be coming today.  Maybe the local doctor will still come, but we do not know when or IF he will come today.   So you must each decide if you will stay to wait and see, or if you will go home.”

Two doctors were at the entire hospital, and many patients had traveled far to get to the doctor.   Most of these patients walk to get where they want to go (or take a taxi if they can obtain funds for taxi fare).  Most of them have children, who need child care arranged for days like this one, when they travel to the city.  Finally, the local “doctor” arrived and went one by one down the benches in the waiting room asking each patient to describe why they are there (in front of all the other patients!).   Then the nurse came out of the one observation room and announced “I have been working with HIV patients for 17 years and I need to tell all of you that you must drink 2 liters of water each day to flush the virus right out of your system!”   I was cringing for most of the morning from my spot on the soiled cement floor as I watched and listened.   Then I went to the restroom which was a “walk-through” arrangement which was shared by men and women with open “stalls” with not only open viewing from above eye level, but also a small swinging “door” which does not close and no toilet paper (actually not even a dispenser!).   There was no soap, no towel and very little hygiene.

As I sat there on the floor looking at the patients lined up on the benches, I realized it is Easter week and my friend and I may very well be the only ones in this group of people who have hope in our hearts.   Hearing the coughing, seeing some faces that look like skeletons with skin, and thinking about the reality that each of these persons has more than likely been told they have a disease that will, unless the Lord intervenes, shorten their earthly lives, touched me deeply.  We were ushered into the counselor’s room so that my friend and I could hear about the pills she will be required to take every day for the rest of her life…

What would you do if you were in my spot?   Would you have shared with the whole group in that waiting room about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection offering us new life and forgiveness through Him?  Would you have cried with them, knowing many of them did not choose to participate in at-risk behavior but still contracted the “taboo virus” that everyone keeps hush-hush as long as possible?   Would you have silently prayed?  Would you have sung a song about life’s trials but still having hope?   Jesus always knows what the best course of action is, may our lives truly reflect His heart for the world.

One Word: Kneel

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One Word Three Sixty Five’s tagline:

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.

One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

Visit the One Word Three Sixty Five site here.

 

Through many of my writing friends, I discovered this fresh take on New Year’s Resolutions. I really loved reading about how they grew from focusing on one word throughout the course of a year. There has also been some beautiful art and scrapbook creativity going on with One Word.

 

My one word for 2013: Kneel.

This fall has been difficult for me. With both my kids in school, I have re-entered the workforce. I choose to follow my dream of being a writer. Honestly, for each step forward I’ve been met with about seven steps backwards.

Some days I have really wanted to quit. I’m weary of the rejection, of ‘being so out there’, of trying so hard. I know deep down I can’t quit. This is who I am, it is like breathing to me. I might not still be  here without the gift of writing my heart. I want very much to honor God with my writing.

I thought a lot about my one word for this year. When I was thinking I felt the weight of my discouragement. So, I imagined what makes me happiest. Then the word kneel pressed into my heart.

 

To Kneel in Prayer.

To Kneel before God as a broken person.

To Kneel before others with my heart wide open.

To Kneel in service to those in need of a touch of love and kindness.

To Kneel before my writing to encourage others and encourage justice.

To me, that is hope. Kneel: is my One Word for 2013.

 

The beautiful Melanie Moore of Only A Breath made buttons for our blogs. I will keep my one word on the sidebar for the course of this year. I will be linking up with her and others on the 15th of each month to talk about what we are learning.

Visit: the oneword365.com community page for links to other blog’s one-word for inspiration.

Scrapbook extraordinaire Ali Edwards is offering a monthly class (for the 2013 year) all about One Word.

 

I hope you will prayerfully consider one word for 2013 too! We can talk about our words in the comment section! I’d love to pray for you and your heart this coming year! What One Word did you choose? 

one word