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Monday, December 17, 2012

Wrapping It Up



Just a couple things I need to tie up here at the end of this year.  This is that last time I'll be posting anything until 2013!!!

I finished my two knit dishcloths that I was making for my mom and mother in law.  They aren't perfect, but they are finished - and filled with love!!

Congratulations to Jennifer Peterson for winning the copy of "Bennie's Forever Gift"!!  It will go out tomorrow.

I'm heading out of town for the rest of the year to spend time with our families.  I hope that you have a most blessed Christmas!!

I will see you next year.  Lots of exciting things going on over the next few months.  I do hope you will join me here then!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS  and Happy New Year!

Amy

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Dear Little Boy



Yesterday was such a tough day, wasn’t it?  We’ve had lots of those days.  Let’s face it, we’ve had a few tough years.  This learning to be momma and little boy becoming a big boy is the hard stuff.  You learned how to ride a bike much faster.  You even carried your pedal car up the basement stairs all by yourself last night – much to my amazement.

My amazement – it’s there nearly constantly.  You amaze me at every turn.  Sadly, I don’t always see my amazement as a good thing, as a God-thing.

How is it that you see straight through all my layers and complexities to my most basic defects?  You are my refiner’s fire that focuses like a laser on my weakest points.  Not only are you refining, but you are my welder.  You take your metal and fuse it into the cracks and make me stronger than the whole that was already there. Oh, but how the sparks fly and we need protection.

The burning makes me wonder how I will survive.  It drops me to my knees, face in hands, crying out for mercy with tears streaming to a loving God who knew this would all happen beforehand.  I come to the end of me and you are still going strong.  I’m dumbfounded and spent entirely, left with no answers.  I am left with hope for sleep and that I can be refilled with new, with better than what I had this day to offer.  It was a poor offering, indeed.

I woke this morning praising God that you have again blessed us with your presence and a full night’s sleep.  That makes three this week alone.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift I’d put on any list.  I thank you profusely, offer you a high five and can’t get enough kisses on those cheeks as you sit on my lap in the midst of dressing for the day.  You have on your reindeer shirt that asks “Who needs mistletoe?”  Who, indeed?  I steal sweet sugar from my baby and 
prepare to send you off for the day.

These days I look forward to, shamefully at times, where we are apart.  I know that they are better for both of us.  Absence makes my heart grow fonder as it gets much needed maintenance.  Those welds need to be ground down and the sharp burrs removed.

Thank you for the hard and for the soft, for the tearing down and the putting back together.  I have a feeling I’m doing the same to you and hope that we both come out of this purer and stronger each day.

Love always and forever; to the moon and back,
Momma

How do you handle your hard days?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bennie’s Forever Gift {Book Review and Giveaway}





Lynne Farrell was introduced to my Community Bible Study large group gathering last week.  We happen to attend the same church where she teaches.  Given the size of our church, we had never crossed paths.  What intrigued me about Lynne was the journey surrounding this book.  The contents of 40 pages had taken years to complete and had ultimately become a lesson in obedience to God.  The obedience, more than being published, had become the focal point.  Motives were constantly evaluated and self erased from the pages at every appearance.  As a reward for the obedience Lynne’s father’s initials form the name of a main character.  One could also say that the publishing of the book is also a reward for obedience and diligence.

Through circumstances that could not have been orchestrated by man, Lynne mentioned to her friend Kathy Dache’ that she needed to find someone to do the pictures to make the book come alive.  Kathy then replied that she was, in fact, an artist.  The collaboration resulted in the charming and beautifully illustrated Bennie’s Forever Gift.



Bennie and his grandfather, Eldee (L.D. being Lynne’s father’s initial), are bikes in the town of Spokesville.  Bennie tells the story as a loving memorial to the knowledge he gained from the relationship with his beloved grandfather who was “the wisest bike I ever knew.”  Eldee is described as smart, kind and generous.  He was the Mr. Fix-it for the whole town.  His dream had been to be a parade bike, but his talents where for making things and others better.  This was all the design of The Great One who had made each bike unique.



On a ride through the forest Eldee marvels at the wildflowers he picks.  These are gifts!  The world all-around showed the ways The Great One offers gifts.  Gifts are given freely as a sign of love.  But there is a better gift - The Great One wants to be your friend.

Bennie’s 8th birthday and the gifts he received become the analogy for grace and the forever gift – accepting a friendship freely offered.  All Bennie needs to do is choose to accept this gift.  The forever gift is not just for this lifetime and Eldee explains that as he wears out he has nothing to fear.  When his time in this world is over he will get to live with The Great One in His home.

My almost 4 year old son who loves his bike and loves books was entranced.  And so begins the conversation with your child all from the story of a tricycle and his loving grandfather.  The message is simple, yet so clear. Included in the message from the author is a website to learn more about The Forever Gift -  www.benniesforevergift.com.

I want to leave you with Lynne’s own words:  I encourage you to consider your own calling.  What is the Lord asking you to do to further His Kingdom? If you are saying, "I can't do that!", ask Him to soften your heart so that you can be part of His work.  You will truly be blessed by your obedience.  



Just in time for Christmas, you can also purchase the book from this website.  The print and e-book versions of Bennie's Forever Gift are also available at Amazon.comThis is an affiliate link if you feel like helping a sister out a little. J

BUT…. Lynne has graciously offered a signed copy of her book to one of my readers.  “Offered” seems a little innocent.  I actually went over to her, told her that I loved her story and wanted to share it with you.  I asked outright if she would give me a copy to review and pass along. It’s a win-win in my book.  So here’s the deal.  Just leave me a comment so I know you were here and that you want a chance to win. 
All comments must be received by 9PM Eastern Time on Friday, December 14.  Unfortunately, this is open to the US only.   Good Luck.

All images are courtesy of Lynne Farrell

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It’s Not Too Late for Operation Christmas Child




Did you have dreams back in October about filling up a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child? 
Did November roll around and you were getting excited about buying all those little goodies for a boy or girl?

Did the busy-ness of life come at you like all those Black Friday commercials and fliers and you missed the drop-off dates, or never got your purchases made?


Here is your chance to still participate and reach across the globe and spread Christmas cheer to a child in need.

If you want to still fill a box, there are 6 regional drop-off locations with dates as late as December 31, or the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, NC which accept boxes year-round (I didn’t know that!!).  You can personally deliver your box or ship it to the addresses listed by clicking the highlighted words above.   Here are some photos from Boone, courtesy of my friend Kristan, whose husband works for Samritan's Purse.  These boxes are on their way to Africa.








There is also another amazing and fun option: 


For $30 you can go online and customize your box.  Begin by selecting either a boy or girl and the age range for your particular shoe box.  Select one of two featured toys, then four more toys to go in the box.  You can choose two personal items that will be added to a bevy of essential s.  Finally, upload a photograph and a personal note to your child.  Pay and you are done.  It’s that easy and doesn’t even require to change out of those yoga pants or brush your hair.

Are you looking for a gift that makes a difference.  You can gift this option to another person and let them Build-A-Box.

Of course, there is always the Samaritan’s Purse GiftCatalog.  You can buy anything from animals, to medicines, to a fishing boat and change a life – or many lives.  

Many thanks to Samaritan’s Purse for giving me this opportunity to partner with them this Christmas season.  I also want to thank them for the beautiful Christmas ornament I received at the Allume Social Conference in October.  They were a generous and gracious sponsor of this event.  Go show them some love.

How are you making a difference this Christmas season?  Please tell me in the comments.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wonder


It’s the last Five Minute Friday of the 2012.  I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo and hundreds of other amazing faith sisters (and maybe a brother or two) today.  We’ll let our fingers fly for five minutes without the pressure of getting it right.  No editing (ok a few spelling goofs), no over thinking – just fun.  Then, because encouragement is a superpower, I’ll go read and comment on the post linked up before mine – and many others. 

Here are my five minutes on:  WONDER


You forget how it can be new every year.  After all, can’t you just sit back in a chair, close your eyes and picture it all lit up – even in August.  But to a small child, it’s right there on their face.  

The first time the lights are plugged in and the hands are pulled down from the eyes.

Wonder!

The mouth is open – to taste the peppermint and sweetness of the holiday that is floating in the air. 

The eyes are two full moons with the darkest black hole centers taking in every twinkle and sparkle and glitter.

The ears are perked.  They are listing for the slightest jingle of sleigh bells – even though it will be weeks.

When does this wonder start to fade?  Is it in the long lines at the stores?

Is it in the traffic that Will. Not. Move!

What about the wonder in the everyday?  Have we become so dulled to the wonderful that we need a spectacle to behold it?

Would we have beheld wonder in a dirty stable and a poor unwed mom’s little baby – or looked on in pity?

Where is my sense of wonder now?

Time.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 
Luke 2:11-20 – ESV


Tomorrow is the first day of December and we will start going through Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White of Oh Amanda.  See that cute candle ornament?  That’s from last year.  This year we will be using the new printable ornaments.  Get your own copy of the ebook and printable ornaments just by clicking.  This is an affiliate link and I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FREE Printable Ornaments for Truth in the Tinsel

The offer for the free ornaments has expired, but you still have time to get your copies to start your Advent celebration December 1.  All links have been fixed.  Sorry if you had trouble earlier.


So, I know I’ve already written some about how to be prepared for this big shopping weekend and truly, month, that is ahead of us, but I need to give you a little more good information.  I’ve also already mentioned the adorable Advent book for children called Truth in the Tinsel.


This is a bit of Black Friday awesomeness that is anything but dark, harried and overly aggressive.  As a matter of fact it’s a gift that is going to make next month even easier. 

The lovely Amanda, of Oh Amanda, has a treat for you!  If you buy Truth in the Tinsel on FRIDAY ONLY you will receive the printable ornaments FREE!!  Yes, FREE.  The ebook is $7.99 and the ornaments are normally $3.99.  The printable ornaments are new this year.  I admit that there were days last year that I just knew there was no way my little guy who was nearly 3 could make the crafts.  We also travel and that threw everything off, too.  This gets rid of all the crafty messiness and leaves just a little picture on a circle to color, glue together and hang.  EASY!


Folks, this is like getting the book for half price!  You aren’t going to find a lot of 50% off deals Friday unless you show up at 7:45 Thursday night and sit out in the cold in your lawn chair to be first through the door.

This year, Truth in the Tinsel is also available en EspaƱol – La Verdad en el Oropel.  The printable ornaments will work with this edition as well.  What an amazing way to reach a whole huge part of the world!! It is the same price at $7.99 Please spread the word.

When placing your order there is no need to add the ornaments in your cart.   As a matter of fact, if you do add them you will be charged and are nonrefundable.  The link for the ornaments will be in your purchase email.  There will be detailed instructions on the ordering page here:

So remember…  FRIDAY ONLY order your copy of Truth in the Tinsel and get the printable ornaments FREE.  Be ready on December 1st to start counting down to the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior.



Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link and I get a small commission from each purchase.  Thanks.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Come, Sit and Stay


Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday, my day to set aside five minutes for playing with words.  I see what word the lovely Lisa-Jo has for me, set a timer, and run free across the keyboard.   No overthinking, no editing, just free.  When 5 minutes are up I stop.  I try to find a picture and put it on here for the entire world to read.  After that, I link up at her website with amazing women, and occasionally a brave guy or two, and go read.  I read the one who linked up before me and leave some encouragement in the comments.  I can’t stop myself and just keep going like a kid in a candy store.

Now that you know what to do would you like to join me?

Here is my Five Minute Friday offering on: STAY

Photo Credit


This week at my CBS (Community Bible Study) Ellen Vaughn spoke to us for a few minutes.  She has written several books and was telling us about her newest one – Come, Sit, Stay.

This book is an exhortation to Come to the feet of Jesus, Sit at His feet in study, and to Stay – a continual coming back and staying in His presence.

Staying is hard sometimes, especially the staying that requires effort.  I can stay on the couch no problem, but that requires so little of me.

Staying in contact with an old friend – that takes work.

Staying on track with exercise or eating – that takes work.

Staying committed to daily spending time with Jesus – that takes work.

The first two are hard enough, but the third is a target.  We are constantly under attack to keep this one from happening which makes it all the more important.

Time!

P.S. - if you look closely you might just find me on Lisa-Jo's post today.  ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Shopping Preparedness

Photo credit

PREPAREDNESS: it’s a word we’ve heard all too often over the past few weeks.  Generally, this word comes with a sense of some impending doom whether it is a major storm or your financial future.  But what if we could turn this all around?  I want to redeem this word for a more positive use.

I want you to be fully prepared to DO GOOD this holiday season.  How?

SHOPPING!!

Yes, I am telling you to shop.  This from the person who just finished reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker and is trying to figure out how to cut back on almost everything.  However, the one thing we should never cut back on is GOOD.  Generosity is the aspect of good I’m going to prepare you for now.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to triple your budget to be more generous.  In fact, you might even save a little more than expected with this.  Look how I’m being generous with you already.  So here we go.

First, I want you to go to Pure Charity and install their browser plug-in for the computer you will use for shopping.  If you are like me, you may use multiple browsers.  Install all that you need.  If you use Chrome you will find this by searching their Extensions – these seem to be like apps that you would use on a smart phone. (Obviously, this is NOT a techie blog.)

You will want to register on the Pure Charity site and look around.  You will find that there are a number of projects all around the world that you can support. There is specific information about the financial needs of each project, how many others are supporting the project and how 
many lives will be reached.

I chose to support the treatment of child malnutrition in Somalia through Project Peanut Butter as a Ready-to-use-Therapeutic Food with $5 that I was given for registering at the Allume Social conference.  Peanut Butter is a staple in this house.  This was something that held deep personal meaning for me.

PureCharity was a sponsor and where I learned about this amazing opportunity to do good in and for the world by simply shopping.  Now that I have the plug-ins installed I can continue to support projects at over 1000 partner businesses.  I need new windshield wipers for my ride.  I can order them from Auto Zone, use a coupon provided, save some money and help feed a child (or fund a microfinance loan, or pay for a sewing machine…).

Now, you will want to shop. You know you are going to do it anyway.  Why not make an impact at the same time.  Double dip by purchasing from charitable companies, like TOMS shoes that have partnered with Pure Charity. 

It’s all GOOD!

Cyber Monday and Black Friday can be about so much more than pure consumerism. 
It can be PURE CHARITY!!  

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 NIV


Please let me know that you have registered in the comments.  I’d also love to know which project(s) you were interested in.  Thank you so much.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Week Without Words



It feels as if it has been an eternity since my fingers touched these keys.  Nothing of any substance has entered my brain that I can even stretch into a sentence worth sharing.

I have some free time right now and I thought I would do what everyone who writes is encouraged to do – JUST WRITE.

The last three weeks have felt like months.  How could so many things have happened in such a short time?  I’ve been elated, left powerless, and at times been driven.  Although that “driven” refers to the 18 hours of time spent on interstates and doesn’t accomplish much other than getting from one location to another. 

It has all left me a little weary, uninspired, and without words.


At first there was a spark that seemed poised to become a roaring fire that could be tended to and sustained.  Then life happened and even the embers hidden under the ashes grew cold.  At that point, all that can be done is to take out the old ashes, find dry kindling, a match and start over.  The thing is, you have to know when to start the fire.  You can’t start it and walk away again expecting it to just grow.

So here I am with my bucket and shovel trying not to make a mess of it all.  I’ll sweep up, check my schedule and see if it’s a good time to reignite.  There’s nothing better than a good, strong crackling fire.

There’s not much worse than trying to start a fire too quickly and having your house fill up with smoke setting off every alarm.  Who wants to have to open every window and door in the cold just to clear the air?

So I’m going to let the dust settle and take a little trip out to the woodshed.  I’m going to be collecting my thoughts and all of the information I have that I want to share.  There’s lots of really good stuff you need to know about.  I want to do it justice.  The organizations, programs, and people involved deserve the best I have to offer. 

Until then, start rounding up your marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers to enjoy all the goodness out there.  You’re gonna want to be ready.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Being a Jonathan and the Giveaway Winner


Thanks to all of you who entered my Stella & Dot giveaway.  We have a winner: Linda from Tender Allure!!! Check her out and say hello.  I’ll be sending her the lovely Light Bracelet as soon as it arrives.  This was fun and I hope to be able to bless more readers in the future.

Thanks also to those of you who placed an order and helped support my wonderful friend Sharon and also the Stella & Dot foundation.  I hope you are happy with what you found.

I love encouraging my friends in their endeavors.  I know how much your encouragement has meant to me over these past 7 months.

If I haven’t mentioned it lately, I want to be sure that each of you understand how much I appreciate the time you take to read my words and leave your own in the comments.  Community and friendship are so important to me.  I have been blessed beyond imagination with the relationships I have had over my lifetime in real life and online.  I seem to have a knack at attracting some pretty amazing people into my little world.


Photo credit


I have been challenged as of late to become a “Jonathan”, to reach outside of my normal sphere to interact and to cultivate friendships that wouldn’t normally occur, or to interact with those I don’t necessarily agree with on different issues.  Taking Jesus as my example, I want to forfeit my reputation in order to reach out to others.  This is a big step, but one that is worth taking.  I’m not sure how this will all happen, but I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for any opportunity.



How have you been challenged to step out in an unfamiliar way?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Letter C




The letter C plays a huge role in my life.  You might even say that it is Central to who I am as a person.  If you look at my email address you will read amyctilson@gmail.com. My Twitter handle is @ACTilson.  My initials tell me to ACT!  I think that’s pretty cool.  I also don’t think that is by coincidence.

I love to think and plan, but I often forget the most important part.  I leave the follow-through part out of the equation.  I need to be constantly reminded to do something – to act.

I was privileged to meet and hear Darren Rowse speak at the Allume conference at the end of October.  Darren, also known to many as ProBlogger, titled his address “From Little Things Big Things Grow”.  Two of his main points for me were to firstly, be myself and secondly, to watch for my sparks.  Sparks are those things that give me energy, you will gather around, or are promptings from God.  This conference that I planned to attend originally as a spectator has given me so much potentially life-changing information.  But what I need to do is ACT on that information. 

Being the crazy person that I am, these have all seemed to stem from that charming curvaceous consonant that sits contentedly at the center of my name – C!  I think that these things are where I need to focus my energy and my work here in this space.  The easiest way for me to share this with you is in a list.  It may seem long, but there is a lot of overlap in my mind from these.  Bear with me as I put it out there for you:

Christ

Community

Charity

Coffee
Chocolate
Creativity
Care
Communication
Conscious Consumerism (yes, this one took a little bit of thinking to come up with)


Moving forward, I hope that I am able to engage both your mind and heart with all that I share.  I ask for grace to occasionally wander from these – especially on Fridays.  It is also my hope that if you know me you will see the cohesion of this list with my personality.  If you are just getting to know me, I hope that this will give you a clearer idea of who I really am.

As a side note, this also leaves some room for comedy and confession - two things that I love and need as well.

This is a culmination of much thought and prayer since the Allume Social conference.  It’s taken a while to process, and I’m sure there is much to be learned about my true purpose, but it’s a start.  And what I really need to just ACT on it!

What sparks are you noticing in your life that you need to act upon?

Gratefully linking up with Debi at Funki Planet and Mary Beth at New Life Steward




Thankful today for my rights and freedoms in this great nation.