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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.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Did You Know - Part 2

I started this story back in April. You can read Part 1 here because I'm sure you can't remember from that long ago. I had to re read it to see where I'd left off.

I left off by mentioning a long road that led to Las Vegas. That road started with lots of paperwork, and lawyers, and photos, and scrapbooking, and phone calls, and updates.... and you get the picture. There was a lot of PROCESS!  Processes can seem slow and arduous until they kick into high gear.  At that point it is white-knuckle-hanging-on-for-dear-life fast.  I'll start where the pedal hit the metal.

One early autumn Thursday night in Chicago I sat on the sofa in our high rise apartment with my husband as we got ready for our bi-weekly update call with our agency.  After going through all the standard questions and pleasantries, she said, "I wouldn't normally tell a client this, but I think someone is interested in your profile."  I think my heart skipped a beat, but knew better than to get it's hopes up.  She said that they would call us with any news.

This is where life gets crazy.  I'm going to go fast.

Friday, I had spent the day finishing up laundry and packing for our beach vacation.  I finally got around to taking a shower in the afternoon.  I turned off the water and heard the phone ringing.  I grabbed towels and ran out dripping through the hall to answer THE CALL!  There was a little boy, almost 9 months old, were we interested?  They would send an email with photos and important documents.  [I'm not going to share those here.  Sorry.]  I was caught off guard - even with the previous night's conversation.  I immediately forwarded the email to Shane at work and called him up.  Within 10 minutes I was back on the phone and finding out what was next.  There were several more calls.

Like I said, we were on our way to the beach.  We sat at a gate in O'Hare airport and made plans to have a phone conversation the next day from our hotel in SC.  You think turbulence on a flight will make your stomach flip.  Try finding out you are potentially going to be a mom -  in a matter of days!!!

On Sunday we went out to breakfast, and hit a bookshop - it was a rainy morning.  We were doing everything we could to figure out what to say to this birthmother and be on a vacation at the same time.  My parents were coming down the next day, but we didn't want to get their hopes up yet.  We were about to burst.  Other friends were in the area and met us for dinner.  We HAD to tell someone.

We had the phone call and it was a go!  When I say go, I literally mean go!.  She wanted us to fly to Vegas from vacation and then we could go back.  Unfortunately, that's not how things work.  We had to buy a small netbook at the beach so we could send the 567 emails that had to be sent that first week!

We splashed, swam, ate seafood, book another flight for the next week with an open ended return, booked a hotel with an open ended checkout, booked a rental car for an undetermined amount of time, then we went back to Chicago the next Saturday.  The next few days were CRA-ZY!!!

Sunday was church and unpacking with the start of laundry. Monday, Shane had to work and completely change his schedule for the next two weeks.  I hit the baby stores - all of them.  We had been shopping, so we knew what we wanted. I bought a stroller, ordered furniture, got bottles, towels, diapers, detergent for the diapers (!), a bathtub, a couple toys, and anything else I thought I might need immediately.

Tuesday and Wednesday was full of making arrangements, more emails, and figuring out how to pack everything.  I even wrote a note for the TSA explaining the white powder and to PLEASE not throw it away.  I would need it to wash all the diapers they saw.  I'm sure we were sleeping and eating food during this time, but I don't remember that.  We should have appreciated that more when we had it.

Thursday, October 1 2009 we boarded a plane for Las Vegas!  That day I had my first Fat Burger - it was glorious!  We also went to dinner at the great little place in Henderson called Coyote Canteen.  I give it two big thumbs up.  Again, we should've appreciated the small things more, like hot food.  :)
We decided to drive down the strip to see it, just incase we didn't have a chance to later.  That was really nice.

On Friday, October 2, 2009 we killed time all morning before our 2:00 appointment with the agency.  We got there a bit early.  Someone saw us in the lobby and told us we could come on back.  We went to a small, nondescript conference room and there he was!  Can you stand that cuteness??

 I'd be lying if I said it wasn't completely awkward and uncomfortable at times for a number of reasons.  Less than an hour later we left with this little bundle, one bottle and a car seat.  Oh, and an overwhelming sense of WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE DO NOW!

So even though it seem like the end, it was really just the beginning.  That was FIVE years ago today.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Because - Five Minute Tuesday

I know it’s Tuesday, but sometimes we get to it when we get to it. Am I right? It’s only really too late to write if the next word has been given, but then it’s a fresh start anyway, so really it’s never too late to start.

I’m going to pound out my unedited, from the hip, less than perfect words and share them with anyone who cares to read. I’ll link up at the lovely Kate Motaung’s and then follow the ONE BIG RULE visit at least the one who linked up before me and leave encouragement in a comment. I generally visit more than one, because there’s some great writing in this community and you never know who you will discover that speaks to your heart.

Here we go. This week’s prompt is……


Because my mom worked in a garment factory for all of her working life. Her working life ended with trade agreements and overseas sourcing, and looking for a cheaper way.

Because when I learned about the Triangle Fire on the Lower East Side Tenement Museum tour in Manhattan, my eyes were opened a bit and that Union that took some of my mom’s money every month had a noble beginning.

Because after reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker I started to see that enough was really way more than enough.

Because when I followed that up with Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline, my shopping ways came to abrupt halt, I repented of sorts, and haven’t been the same since.

Because when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and killed all those trapped workers in Bangladesh, I wasn’t very surprised at all. It was just a matter of time really.

Because, my voice and words may not travel far from my desk, but my dollars travel around the world and back.

Because there are ways that I can act with intention and make a difference in this world.

Because when I find something I think you need to know, or would want to know, I just can’t stop myself from telling YOU!


This is why I have decided to become a Compassion Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope. I don’t really consider myself to be very persuasive, or much of a sales person. I am passionate about fairness and treating others well. In fact, I really want to treat others the way I want, and dare I say expect, to be treated.

Micah 6:8 has become something of a life verse for me:

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

We all like pretty things. We all want to feel beautiful. Most of us want to help others when we can. A lot of us have no idea how to tangibly do this in our everyday lives.

Trades of Hope seeks to bring an end to poverty and empower women (and men) around the globe by providing meaningful work that provides an economically sustainable model for all parties involved. Artisans are paid their asking price for their goods and you are able to purchase beautiful handmade items at a fair price. In turn, I am also given the opportunity to help support my own family. Everyone wins here.

I’d love for you to check out what Trades of Hope has to offer by going to My Trades ofHope. See where the items originate and the benefit to each artisan.

If you’d like to shop, there is a Facebook party open right now until October 14, 2014.

If you want to have your own party, or are considering becoming a Compassion Entrepreneur yourself, please let me know. I’d love to work with you. Together we can change the world!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  They cost you nothing, but help a sister out a bit.  Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Introducing My Trades of Hope

Hey, there!  Remember me?

I’ve been so hit and miss this summer, er, fall, with this whole writing and blogging. There should be a conference for that. Oh, wait... Ironic is it that I’ve been to busy while helping to get the fabulous Allumeconference ready for this October? I’m so looking forward to the speakers, the music, the swag, but mostly the AMAZING people that I will be with all weekend long!!!

For realz, y’all! One of my best friends in the world will be there, friends from out of the country and across the country will be there!! I’m so stinking excited to lay hands and eyes on these gals – a few guys, too.

Of course, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I only did one thing at a time. That’s like only reading one book at a time. Who does that??

So besides hammering nails into walls a la The Nester and a couple other projects I’m working on, I signed up for a new home-based job.  I’d love to introduce you to Trades of Hope.  I am now a Compassion Entrepreneur, or a CE as we say in the sisterhood. (Don’t run off, this is really good stuff.  Honest!)

I’ve known about TOH and pondered joining their ranks for months now.  To tell the truth, I don’t exactly know how I first discovered them.  As far as I can tell it was either through twitter or through one of their artisan groups.  Follow enough ethical fashion organizations, world-changers, and general do-gooders and eventually it will lead you to Trades of Hope.

Simply put, Trades of Hope is based on the good ole home party shopping model.  Here’s the twist:  all items are hand-made, Fair Trade, and directly impact the lives of the artisans who make the jewelry, scarves, bags, journals, and home décor.  Here’s the why and how:

“So many women live in poverty, not because they lack abilities, but because they lack opportunity. We started Trades of Hope to give women that opportunity for a better life. Each woman has a story, and with Trades of Hope's help, their story has changed from pain and struggle to a story of HOPE!

“Our artisans make approximately 6 times more than they would normally make in the context of their country. Trades of Hope is not a charity or a not for profit. We believe sustainable business is a long-term solution for change over charity.”

I have an open party on Facebook right now.  I’d love for you to join us.  If you like what you see and would like to host your own party, just let me know.  I’d love to make that happen for you.  If you really, really love it and want to join me – I can make that happen to.  Let’s talk.


So this party, it’s my first and I’m hosting it myself for myself.  That’s not really much fun.  I’d rather host it for YOU.  Anyone who places an order by midnight Saturday, September 27, will have their name placed in a drawing.  The winner will have the party changed into their name and receive all the hostess rewards from the party.  The party doesn’t close until October 14.  This gives you plenty of time to invite even more of your own friends to join in.

Hope on over and take a look.  Not on Facebook, but still interested?  Go to my personal website.  If you place an order, you will still be entered.  Unfortunately, this is for the 50 United States and APO addresses only.  Hang in there Canada.  Hopefully we’ll get to you, too.