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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Road Home

Let’s set the stage and avoid any questioning from the get-go:  I am a country girl from the mountains of Southwest Virginia.  My parents moved just before my 4th birthday into the house where they still live.  “Home” is a place that consists of an entire county, but “home” (notice the little h) has been lots of places since I left for college in the fall of 1989.

The one thing that has remained constant for me has been church.  Weekly.  For a long time 3 times a week – Sunday morning for Sunday school and worship, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for Bible study or prayer service.  Attendance was NOT optional growing up.  You know what, that instilled in me that attendance was NOT optional when I was on my own either.  That’s a good thing y’all. Felt like I needed to prove my Southernness right there.

So much of my life has also been tied to either US 11 or I-81.  This road took me home from school – elementary through college at James Madison University - GO DUKES!! – to graduate school at the University of Tennessee – GO BIG ORANGE!!!  I even taught school at the very end of it for part of a year at Slidell Jr. High in Slidell, LA.  Roads are how I knew I was going to love this book.  Two words:  Google maps!

That picture is one I see often online.  It’s the top of our driveway right on route 11.  I can’t count the days I stood at those mailboxes.  That was our bus stop.  That’s my parents house you can see peeking through the trees in the back to the left.  I think that’s their camper.  I use the little yellow man on Google Earth to visit friends’ houses, see what’s changed, see what’s exactly the same.

It’s been really nice since we’ve not gone anywhere since last October, but have been practicing a bit of mutual hospitality right here at home.  Which brings me to where we are, which is exactly where God needed us to be on the morning of November 23, 2014.  Every turn through the states of VA, KY, LA, NC, OH, IL, CT, back to IL, and to VA again have put us in the right place at the right time.  We just didn’t realize it completely until our eyes were opened in a dramatic fashion.

Can you look back over the roads you’ve traveled and see how it was the route God used to get you where you needed to be?

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Slave-free Christmas with Trades of Hope

Today I'm joining forces with Melanie at  All this month, she has been featuring amazing resources for shopping for your Christmas gifts that help and empower others instead of oppressing and enslaving.

I'm honored to represent just such an organization.  My Trades of Hope creates a marketplace for beautiful handmade Fair Trade jewelry, accessories, and home decor items that empower women around the world to clothe, feed and educate their children and be productive members of their communities.

Go visit Mel, do a little shopping and leave her some comment love.  Those last two will enter you into a drawing for this snazzy little gift that isn't available for purchase.  {wink, wink}

I'd love for you to like my Facebook page, Amy Tilson - Trades of Hope, so you can stay updated on new products and giveaways.

If you are interested in hosting your own party either online or in your home (if we live near each other) please let me know.  If you think maybe this is the opportunity you've been looking for to start your own home-based business and help others, we should talk.  I'd love to have you as part of my team in this sisterhood.  Leave me a comment or email me at

Blessings to you all!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Allume Reflection #1

I’m sitting here, in a still sleep-deprived, mind addled state.  I have faces and words, hymns and racing thoughts running through my brain. They run just as I did at Dulles airport to catch the tram to the terminal, to my bag, to my home, to my family.

I brought back memories, and dirty laundry, pounds of books, challenged assumptions and this:

I show hospitality to those around me, and angels unawares, when I treat each person in this world – near or far, face-to-face or remotely – with honor.

Honor and dignity don’t care about labels, skin tones, manner of dress, customs, language, ability, status, or the other person’s attitude toward me.

I can only be responsible for my own heart and my own actions in this life.  And believe me when I say with full confidence and assurance, I will be held responsible for both.

I was profoundly struck by the words of Shauna Niequist during her keynote speech at the Allume conference last week in Greenville, SC.  Hospitality was the topic, and as the author of Bread & Wine, this is not unfamiliar territory.  When she spoke of entertaining and engaging with others she defined a benchmark for success:

I practice true hospitality when others leave feeling better about themselves than about me.


I don’t need to be the chef that leaves you wanting more, the designer that you wish you could hire, the entertainer that you would see again and again, the host who should have her own television show, the stylist that you want to go shopping with you for a new wardrobe, or the hero saving the day.  I only need to love – and let others love me in their own particular way.

Easier said than done, right?  Yes, until we practice it over and over and over.  I find it interesting that PRACTICE is the word most often combined with hospitality.  Practice may never make perfect in this fallen and broken world, but practice may make it a little less so.

So this is my take away, my intention.  Just so you get the irony in that last sentence.  INTENTION is my one word this year.  I’m pretty sure that back at the beginning of the year I wasn’t thinking about this application.  I love when God grows us and shows us new ways.  Now all I have to do is say ‘yes’ and follow.  Join me?

One way to show love and hospitality to others is by linking arms with the Allume Giving Circle and Pure Charity.

First, sign up with your own account.  Do that here:

Second, help us spread the word about Patch a Child’s Heart with Preemptive Love Coalition.

How can you practice “hospitality” in a new way starting today?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts, letting them soak in good and deep.  Sometimes they need to percolate before they have the right strength and lose the raw edge.  The need more body and refinement.  Really, this post should’ve been up a week ago, but it just wasn’t there.  I’m not sure it is yet.

There are times when ideas and books get into your DNA and you can’t express the difference, but you know it’s there.  Think of a holy virus that starts small, but fills your being with a new way of living.  This is how “Breathing Room”, the new book from Leanna Tankersley, is feeling to me.

Never have I read so many chapters with my mouth hanging open and feeling as if maybe I’d been spied on without knowing it.  Maybe those who wear hand-crafted aluminum foil hats to keep out the thought monitors are onto something.  Or maybe, we all have a lot of the same thoughts, but aren’t able to define what nags at us on the tired, lonely, dark, or frazzled days when we want it all to just. go. away!

That feeling of holding our breath under water to make it through to the next day, we’ve all been there at some point.  We are pushing through for the next big inhale that will sustain us as we hold it again.  But there’s a fundamental problem.  Taking in a big inhale is not what we need to do.

               The opposite of holding your breath isn’t inhaling, it’s letting go.

Letting go!

Letting go of the frantic, the control, the desire to suppress grief, the holding it togetherness – all that exhausts us.  The letting go is what gives us room to breath, to accept who we are and FULLY LIVE!

Leanna blends honesty, humor and a mastery of literary devices in “Breathing Room” that makes it entirely readable, relatable, and revolutionary.  It’s filled with “me, too” moments as well as empathy expanding moments for those you may not have experienced.  The insights are thought provoking and may change your perspective on the private struggles of others – and yourself.

I was given an advanced copy of Breathing Room to read by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, but my opinions and subsequent self-evaluation are entirely my own.  I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t tell you that you should read this and see for yourself.  Available now through your favorite bookseller.

Disclosure:  I was provided a copy of this book for review.  As always, all opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for your support when you use them.