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.

A book list from Australia!


Our “bestie” from Australia Diane Harvey compiled her top ten reading list for us! She wrote me a hand-written book review once, that completely floored me. Not only is she intelligent, but spot-on in her generous faith. She will be traveling to Cambodia with her church group in the next month, and promised to write all about it for us upon her return.

1) The Bible. I use the NIV version the most. You could call it my heart language. Whenever I hear different versions I am comparing it to the version that I know in my heart. There is so much that I love about it. I love all the golden threads linking this with that, sharpening and developing our understanding of things. I love how even though it is made up of different books, it is an integrated whole telling of how God loves and rules the world. I love that people can be saved by God through Jesus, and that this is not earned. It is a gift. I love that God is restoring all things and we have a glorious future hope in him with nothing broken – everything fixed forever –  thanks to the work of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection to life!

2) Seven by Jen Hatmaker. I love the way she calls out to us in the Decadent First World to get a grip of ourselves, reign in our over-consumption, and look out for people other than ourselves. I cheered heartily at her message.

3) Jesus and Muhammad by Mark A. Gabriel. This book was written by a man who was brought up a Muslim and trained in the Islamic faith. The beginning of the book is the first part of his biography, the end is the later part of his biography, and the middle is a side-by-side comparison between Jesus and Muhammad. It was fascinating and well worth a read.

4) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This is a fictitious tale inspired by the story of Hosea, which is itself an illustration of God’s loving-kindness despite the unfaithfulness of his people.

5) Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons by John Dickson.  Dickson is really clear and focused on his task to understand, “What does the word ‘teach’ refer to when it says in Timothy, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The topic is controversial, his conclusions are unpopular in his circle but his research is skilful and convincing. If you read any books by John Dickson I guarantee you will not be wasting your time.

6) Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller. The title says it all.

7) The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. This book has injustice as one of its main themes and follows the hero PK who encounters racial injustice as a child and who fights against it as he grows.

8) Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. Who knew cleaning the kitchen sink was so important? Cilley tries to encourage you to get good habits to clean your house and I appreciate that about her. I am, however, still a work in progress!

9) The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis. I know this is a series and I’m cheating but they were a childhood favourite and an encouragement to me still.

10) The No.1. Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Another series and I’m cheating again but, delightful!

Special mention and not on my official list because I haven’t read it yet but I keep meaning to:

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and his Prayers by D.A. Carson.

dianepicWhich of Diane’s picks have you read? What are your favorites? We love suggestions! 



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
  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 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!