I am heading out for a couple weeks of computer quiet this summer.

This is Ellie, Josiah and my brother’s boys. The adventures are endless when you’re a kid during the summer. I love witnessing it all.

I am praying we all get a few moments of quiet this season. (Or winter season in Australia). Much love to you all. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Send me a note about how I can pray for you. I really, really love hearing from you all.

What have been your best summer adventures?



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.)

The Butterfly and the Violin


The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron 

Kristy Cambron’s debut novel is stunning.

I have been captivated by the cover since I first saw it, especially because it is set during World War II.

The stories of contemporary Manhattan art dealer Sera James and World War II era Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron intertwine in this novel. Sera uncovers a painting of a mysterious young woman (Adele) and seeks to uncover her story.

Adele’s story, while heartbreaking, stands out among the fiction I have read. A talented violinist and daughter of a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele acts on what she knows to be right and true, to help smuggle a Jewish family out of Vienna. That act leads to her imprisonment in the dark camp of Auschwitz, as a member of the Women’s Orchestra. I had no idea their was truly an orchestra to entertain Nazi leadership, and to escort prisoners to their death.


I love the depth of faith in the story, Adele is a life changed by acting on her belief of justice. Here we are challenged to wonder if we would have such unwavering courage. Those in the concentration camps, in the midst of horror, still sought to create by writing, painting, and playing instruments. I find encouragement that in the face of adversity, our God-given gifts cannot be suppressed.

God was there, in the hearts of the lost, in the lives of the men and women and children who had lived for a new beginning.


And just like that there is hope, even when the world goes dark, there is always light.


Where have you seen hope in what seemed hopeless? What gifts has God given you to use?  

Comment and win a copy of this book! 

(Opinions are my own, I was given a copy of the book to review and giveaway through Litfuse Publicity.)

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!

this girl.


This girl is ten years old today. I don’t know how that happened. Time moves slowly and quickly all in the same heartbeat. She has always been so alive: full of life, confident, overflowing with ideas. Not much slows her down, or gets her down, or inhibits her.

I know this might change when she grows into those teen years.


I hope and pray for her and all girls that they:

  • might have complete freedom to be who they are in Christ
  • might know that imperfect is beautiful
  • needn’t feel the pressure to ‘have it all,’ but be able to do the thing they do best to the fullest
  • might have a crowd of girls around them encouraging their strengths instead of tearing them down behind their backs
  • might know that the hard days really do mean something, that sad really does make you stronger, that joy always finds a way to seep back in
  • might understand that kind is always the best choice

…and also that burning your diaries after high school is well-advised.


I love that tween and teen age so much. I think because to us their beauty is so profound. We see their God-give potential, uniquely their own, deep inside their hearts.

I wish it wasn’t so hard for them to see for themselves

or for that matter to see in ourselves still.


Remembering those things for ourselves, might be the best way to teach our daughters.

Even though I feel quite unworthy to be your Mom, I love you Ellie. I trust God with that imperfectness. I am thankful for all the ways you challenge me to be brave like you.

What would you tell your teenage self if you could go back in time? 




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.

Proximity to Sidewalk Art


A Guest Post By: Brenda Petersen 

It was a cacophony of the big city with cars, trucks, buses, trains, sirens, and people moving loudly and silently; talking to invisible people on their phones, to one another, and to no one at all.  Heat was in the air as well as steaming up from the sidewalks and streets. I was focused on one thing, and that was getting to the Art Institute to take in all the goodness the walls contained. Suddenly one block from my destination, the art of life right there on the streets interrupted me.

On a corner sat a body propped against a black lamp post holding a worn cardboard sign stating she was homeless and asking for any help… her face was worn, weather beaten from hard living and from what else, I was not privy to.  With her sign tucked under her chin, she silently watched sidewalk prophets on the exact corner, albeit on the opposite side of the walk, one manhole cover away.

Those sidewalk prophets carried professionally created yellow and black signs and across the bottom it stated the verses were taken from THE HOLY BIBLE. Those signs proclaimed such things as: The Wages of Sin is Death; No Man is Righteous;  Repent and Be Saved… and to top it all off, there were fancy two foot long, double sided, foldout color tracts to be handed out explaining how you too can be saved from hell.  They were printed in English and Spanish.

From what I witnessed the young girl never took her eyes off from them.  Not when I walked by the first time, not when I walked back a second time, and not when I walked by the third and fourth time.  Her eyes were just fixed upon them.  I was magnetized by this scene on the corner.

I did not know her story, but I did know everyone had one.  She was someone’s daughter that much I knew.  Maybe she was a victim of abuse, an alcoholic, a drug addict, a victim of trafficking, a runaway or perhaps just plain a scammer looking for a handout.   I did recognize her as a fellow child of God.  While I rarely offer monetary offerings directly to those on the streets, something compelled me to stop.  As I kneeled down in front of her and placed a paltry few bucks in her cup, I looked her in the eyes and quietly said; “God bless you …” Her gaze went to my eyes and a slight smile formed revealing her decayed teeth and she quietly thanked me.

Lest you think I am putting down the well-intentioned sidewalk prophets… I am not.  As a part of a youth group in the 1970’s, I handed out Four Spiritual Law tracts at a busy resort area one summer.  I talked to folks about God, with a good response, although a one-time encounter.  However, as the years have worn on, I realize that those tracts needed to morph into a body with feet, hands, ears, and eyes.

On that day, I saw wonders of Chagall and Monet however; the real life art on that street corner has not left me.  The words from the late Keith Green’s Asleep in the Light song have haunted my mind for days now.

“He brings people to your door and you turn them away, as you smile and say God bless you, be at peace… and all heaven just weeps. ‘ Cause Jesus came to your door… you’ve left Him out on the street. “

Green portends the church is asleep in the light.  I don’t want to be asleep in the light.

BPBrenda Petersen worked as a Family Advocate with Shelby Public Schools for 22 years. She now resides in Holland, MI with her husband Philip. Four kids call her Grandma B. She shares her faith and experiences in person and with her writing.