WHY I HATE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE SUNDAY


Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and it's a day I hate.

I don't hate it because it's unbiblical. It's, in fact, quite the opposite. I don't hate it because it's inappropriate. I don't hate it because the words are unworthy of being spoken.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings honestly shouldn’t have to say. We have to listen to sermons that, otherwise, would never be preached. We have to watch videos and look at images of sweet babies, images that invoke sadness, horror and grief.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that Mothers shouldn’t kill their babies. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their children. No human life is worthless. Regardless of skin color, age, disability or economic status all lives have value. The very fact that these things must be said reminds me of how dark our world is.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that there are babies warmly snuggled in wombs who won’t be there tomorrow. I’m reminded that over 50 million babies will never know the comfort of their Mama's loving arms. Every 20 seconds, a sweet little loses it's life.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that there are children who will be slapped, punched, kicked and burned with cigarettes before they lay down to sleep tonight. Little innocent faces that will never wake to the smell of breakfast cooking and will never be rocked to sleep at night to the sound of their Daddy's voice singing them a sweet song.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that there are elderly people spending their last days in loneliness. I'm reminded that around the world, elderly and disabled people have become targets of euthanasia and assisted suicide, their lives declared a waste.

But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

I love thinking about the fact that I know so many amazing hearts that have opened their arms and adopted into their loving family. I love how much my very own life was saved by adoption. I love that I know people who serve and support pregnancy centers for women in crisis. And I love to see women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven and their consciences cleansed by Him.

My hope is that someday soon Sanctity of Human Life Sunday will be unnecessary. I hope that someday, my grandchildren will not have to hear a sermon against abortion and euthanasia. I pray that the next generation values life much more than the past generations have.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:5

Remixed: When God Blends Your Family | Guest Post

{It is with such pleasure that I introduce Becky Luzier.  We've shared laughter and a few tears during conversations over coffee.  Every time, never running out of subjects to talk about.  Her heart for Jesus shines as does her magnetic personality!  Please give a warm Forever Beloved welcome to Becky!  Show her how much you appreciate her by sharing and commenting on her story!}



Have you ever heard a mainstream Christian worship song remixed? They can be pretty weird sounding. One example, “Oceans” by Hillsong United, is a song that’s very dear to my heart for a multitude of reasons. The Christian rapper KB remixed it, and the new song title is “Crowns & Thorns”. I had heard it for the first time not long ago when my 11 year old son was jamming out, and I thought, “That’s really strange sounding, but I kind of like it”. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way at first, but the longer I listened to it, the more I found myself actually enjoying this new, but not really new, favorite song. Things I didn’t like about it at first, were KB’s added effects, which I perceived as interruptions. The nice, slow chorus that I love singing along to, was now abruptly being distorted by some different rhyme and rhythm. Yet the longer I listened, I enjoyed the beat and even seemed to be gaining a new perspective on the original lyrics. Now I like this remix a lot and listen to it often. Not every remix is like that, though. I believe some songs should not ever be tampered with, because their original state is best. Some worship songs are simply bad as a remix in my opinion, but to someone else, it may be seen as an improvement. 

Remix is a fun term in my opinion; It makes me think of fun, dancing, energy, and flashing lights. I have only recently thought of it as a relational word. I have heard it used this way in a teaching about relationships not long ago. The word stuck with me. I realized that my blended family is a remix. We are awkward at first, our current story is not the way it was originally written, and we grow on you if you hang around long enough! We ARE fun, energetic, loud, and chaotic too! We have also realized that it’s not always fun and games. There are a lot of, what would seem to be, interruptions. Many days are what seem like the opposite of a remix, if there ever was one. They are slow, tiring, dim, but always with the disarray. It can feel like the original song was slowed down and it sounds all distorted now—Jesus meets us there.

I have four beautiful children to my first husband, and I am remarried to a wonderful godly man who doesn’t have any children of his own. God allowed me a new beginning, with a new husband who chooses Jesus before everything, who loves my children like his own, and loves me fiercely. He is not perfect, he is not a knight in shining armor, he is not my savior, and he is a flawed man who messes up at times. We are completely opposite in our personalities. I am extroverted, he is introverted; I am pretty lax when it comes to a lot of things, he is very organized and precise; I am loud and crazy, he is quiet and reserved. But we both choose Jesus—every single time.

I would like to back up just little bit before I keep going forward through the breakdown of our song. My second husband and I were married on August 13, 2016. We began courting in December of 2015. We didn’t waste much time! I met him at our local youth center when I began serving there shortly after my divorce. He was so intriguing to me, and there was something about him that made my heart leap and long to know more. I wanted to know his story, where he came from and how he got here. He had a way of talking with the kids that got them to open up to a depth that others couldn’t seem to reach as easily (if at all). He didn’t do surface level conversations. I knew that he had depth and I had pined for that for so long! We talked off and on for several months. There were times where the Lord would back us away from one another, walk us through some things on our own, and then allow us to pick back up again. We began getting to know one another and he seemed to really be fascinated by me! Me? I didn’t understand! How could I be desirable? I have FOUR children! Did he not realize that? Is he crazy? Is he just stupid? Well, it turned out he was seeking the Lord’s guidance, and he knew it was me. He fell in love with me, as I did him, and he fell in love with my kids.

We were so cute. We thought we had it figured out. We looked forward to married life, which we thought might look a little more settled than anything we both knew at the time. We expected hard things, but we believed that we had this in the bag. We both knew some stuff, we had grown tremendously in the Lord over time, and we prayed a lot. What could go wrong? HA! We had an absolutely beautiful wedding and a really fun and adventurous honeymoon. We confirmed the house we were going to be renting on the morning of our wedding and planned to be moved in after returning from our honeymoon.

Then the honeymoon was over. The day we got back, we picked up the kids from their dad, and ended up having to camp out with sleeping bags and blankets at my new father-in-law’s apartment for the night because of unexpected setbacks with our home. It was nuts! It was a small apartment, there were no activities for the kids (aside from the Wii), and my new father-in-law was sleeping in the next room…fabulous! Why not?! We were disappointed to say the least, but Jesus met us there. The kids had fun playing video games and crashing wherever they could fit, and I think we ended up laughing about the crazy of it all at one point (laugh, cry, whatever). So, while the honeymoon didn’t last long, Jesus never changed.

We moved into our new rental house the second day back from our honeymoon. It was cozy and felt like home. Jesus brought us peace. Jesus continues to bring us peace. Even still, this remix is always changing. Every time we think we have figured out the rhythm, it switches up the beat. Even though we are both choosing Jesus, we are both still only people. I have a supportive husband who loves my children and me intensely, but they still disobey and I still get crabby. They are still disrespectful and a handful. He and I don’t always like each other. We all still get lonely sometimes. Crazy right? In a house with 6 people and 4 of them being under 12, we can still experience feeling lonely. But through chaos, through, through heartache, through loneliness, through weariness, through disappointment, through worship, through praise, through His Word—Jesus meets us here. Every. Single. Day. Jesus meets us here.

Our remix is weird at first. It doesn’t seem to belong in a Christian community. I am a divorced woman with 4 kids who remarried a man who was never married and has zero children. We are wonky and strange in our own ways and we are definitely a spicy family. We love, we yell, we talk, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we get angry and we get sad, we get lonely and we get tired. We don’t know what we are doing. My husband loves my kids as if they were his own blood, while still having full respect for their father’s place in their heart and life. He chooses Jesus first and so do I. We are a hot, stinking mess, and we are always looking to the Lord, and it’s because of choosing Jesus first, that this remix rocks!

Psalm 40:3 NLT He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.


I absolutely love keeping my home for my husband and kids. I enjoy being creative at my out of the home job as a stylist. I love to write. Many times my writing is in the form of journaling and prayers written out to the Lord. It's where the raw relationship stuff is between my Jesus and me. It's an honor and privilege when He leads me to share prices of that to encourage other women!

Q&A DAY | YOU ASKED, I ANSWERED!


Why did you start blogging? 

I started this blog in 2006.  I used it as a way to keep in touch with family and to share my scrapbook work.  Back in the day, scrapbooking was my passion and blogs were what all the cool scrappers were doing.  I used this blog to house my resume, to share my work and get my name out there more.  My work was published in magazines (paper and online) 17 times!  And I spent some time on 13 different design teams!  I even wrote a few articles for scrapbook magazines!  The article below, along with an album I created, was published in Handcrafted, Volume 8 by Stampington & Co.


What is this about chickens?

Oh, I'm so glad you asked!  In this house, we are animal lovin' fools. I must add, I was also born with a touch of farmer in me. So for years, having backyard chickens has crossed my mind. Every time I would bring it up, I was met with a resounding no. But this girl, she's a persistent one! I guess I just wore them down until the answer yes {actually, more like an I guess so}.

I spent months researching different breeds and narrowing down what ones I wanted. One day, I just took the plunge and ordered them. I just jumped in blindly with both feet. I kinda roll like that sometimes. I think that might be a quality of mine that drives my Mama nuts.

You can read here What I wish I had known before getting chickens.

Also, I'm a little obsessed with homesteading and being self-sufficient.  I make 99% of our food from scratch. I can, freeze, dehydrate and preserve. The beginning years of just spaghetti sauce have now turned into canning everything I can get my hands on! Including being obsessed with making my own stocks {chicken, beef and ham}.  I also bake bread weekly, and have been known to go through 150 lbs. of flour within a year (I buy it in bulk 50 lb. bags).  You can read my top favorite bread machine recipes here and here.


Where were you born?

I was born in a little town in New York.  Three days later I was adopted by a couple from Pennsylvania. They were the most amazing, loving parents any child could ever dream of. My childhood was truly magical.

My adoption was never hidden from me, I grew up knowing I had two sets of parents when other children only had one. Oh, how happy that made me. It made me different! I have a sneaking suspicion that may have been where the seed of 'loving to be different' was planted in my heart.

Tell us a funny story.

This story is one of my families favorites. Me, not so much. So, let me take y'all back a few years...

My grandma was a patient in the hospital and I was staying overnight with her. She had a nice little sweet-as-pie roommate who we will call "Edna". Edna was 91 years old and she was so sweet and soft-spoken. On this evening, Edna started getting a "new" IV antibiotic which made her start acting a little off. I should have thought something was up when Edna asked me if the yellow things on the floor were off the trees but...I let it go {mistake #1} I mean, if your 91 and you want to say a few CRAZY things I think you are entitled to.

Grandma fell asleep around 10, hallelujah. I was sitting in the chair by the bed reading a magazine. Edna woke up and started crying so I scurried over to help her. I wanted to help her and keep her from waking Grandma back up. She didn't know where she was or why she was there, which broke my heart. She was so super scared and asked for a drink of water. I walked around the bottom of the bed and poured her some water {mistake #2} When I went to hand it to her she screamed "get out of my house" and punched me in the face. Y'all, she punched me in the face.  Let that little gem sink in for a minute.

During the day, Edna had serious difficulty walking. She certainly couldn't walk on her own and had to use a walker. After she punched me in the face, she didn't need her walker at all.  She chased me like she was a 20 year old spring chicken.

She chased me while yelling for the police, saying I was stealing her jewelry and money. Some where along the way she picked up her bed pan and hit me in the head with it. Repeatedly. It was empty, thank the Lord!  I kept thinking "a nurse is going to come running in and rescue me any time now". Nope, said nurse never came. I'm convinced they knew it was happening, but it was so entertaining they just hated to break it up.

She chased me out into the hallway and a little ways down the hall. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the nurses came and got Edna off of me.  She kept telling them about the woman in her house stealing her jewelry and money. 

I stood in the hall and cried my eyes out. I'm sure the nurses laughed like crazy about that one. I can assure you I was not laughing.

My clothes were soaked. We're going to say from the water she threw on me and not the other option, because I know that bedpan was empty. Just go with it and humor me. I had to go call my husband to bring me clothes. So I go outside and call.

me: Joe {sobbing uncontrollably}
him: What's wrong? Is Grandma okay?
me: Her roommate just hit me {more sobbing}
him: What? What roommate? Edna?
me: Yes, she thought I was stealing her jewelry or something. She hit me in the head with her bedpan. And punched me in the face.
him: Silence. And quiet laughter.

Then I thought I'd call my Mama. Because you know if you want sympathy, you call your Mom! Except that call went just about the same way. And it ended with her saying "You know an elderly woman just kicked your butt".

Joe brought me clothes and Edna, bless her heart, was moved to a different room that was private. And I settled into my chair-bed for the night and slept with one eye open.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be!?

If I had to choose where I would live, it would still be my little Small Town, USA. I adore this town...it's my heart, it's where I'm rooted, it's where I grew up, it's where I've made tons of memories and now it's where I make memories with my family. It may take us forever to get to a store, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I can walk next door to my Mama's and across the road to my Aunt's. I can let my chickens run through the yard, which they love (except when my naughty hens are roosting on my Mama's back porch railing). I can sit on my porch and watch Amish buggies drive past. Every person in town knows everyone, and every person from towns around knows my sweet Dad. There isn't a single other place I would rather live!




My Favorite Bread Machine Recipes

I am a self-professed bread machine addict. I love my bread machine!  The first one I purchased was at a yardsale for $5 and it lasted me for years!  I've since upgraded, and paid a little more for my current one.  But oh, it's so worth it!  There are so many things you can do with your bread machine and it's so super easy! Not to mention the control you have over what your family eats. I wanted to list my top favorite recipes for y'all to enjoy!



Bagels

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
corn meal
2 tsp melted butter

Instructions
Place water, salt, sugar and flour in the bread machine.  Add the yeast on top. Secure pan in machine, close the lid and set on dough cycle. Press start.

When dough cycle is complete, let dough rest on a lightly floured surface.  I put a clean cloth over mine so the dough staid soft. In a large pot add 3 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Bring to a boil.

Cut dough into 9 equal pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each with your thumb.  This takes a big to get the hang of. Spin the dough around to enlarge the hole.  Try to make the dough even all the way around.  Let the bagels rise for 10 minutes.  Again, cover them with a clean cloth.

Lower the bagels into the boiling water one at a time. Boil for 1 minute, turning half way through. I then laid them on a towel to drain some of the water off.  Lightly dust a baking sheet with corn meal.  Place the boiled bagels on the baking sheet.

Brush the tops with melted butter.  Now is when you would add your bagel toppings (poppy seeds, cheese or diced onion).  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until well browned.


Sweet Rolls With Honey Butter
Roll Ingredients
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons melted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup melted butter for basting rolls

Cinnamon Honey Butter Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
In a bread machine pan, add the water, milk, egg and butter. Add in the sugar, flour and garlic salt. Add the yeast on top. Secure pan in machine, close the lid and set on dough cycle. Press start.
When cycle is complete, remove dough from pan and place on a floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll out dough in a rectangle to approx. ½ inch in thickness. Using a pizza cutter, divide into 18 square pieces. Place each piece 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to double in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When rolls have risen, place on middle rack of oven. Bake 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Trust me, serve them warm!

To make the honey butter, whisk all ingredients together.


Homemade Hot Pockets


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
filling - Meatball {meatballs, sauce and mozzarella cheese}, Ham {ham and cheddar cheese}, Pizza {pepperoni, sauce and mozzarella cheese} and Breakfast {scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage and cheddar cheese}

Instructions

Add water, sugar, oil, salt, flour and yeast to your bread machine {make sure to follow the order your specific bread machine calls for} and set it to the dough setting. While your bread machine is working, prepare your fillings and set them aside.

Once the dough is ready, take handfuls of the dough and roll out into a small circle about the size of your hand. Add your desired filling and fold the circle of dough over to make a half circle. Seal the edges and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

To freeze: After baking, cool the hotpocket completely. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe ziploc bag. Freeze for later use.

To reheat from frozen: Unwrap plastic wrap, cover in a paper towel and heat for 1 1/2 minutes. After it has been thawed, heat up in microwave for 30-60 seconds.

Recipe Notes
This recipe makes about 8 large hot pockets.


Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Roll Ingredients
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine or 1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Filling Ingredients
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine or 1/3 cup butter, softened

Frosting Ingredients
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Add milk, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in bread machine.  {make sure to follow the order your specific bread machine calls for} and set it to the dough setting and press start. 

While your bread machine is working, prepare your filling.  In separate bowl combine cinnamon and sugar.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

After dough has finished, turn it out onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 16x24 rectangle.  Spread dough with butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Beginning on the long end closest to you, roll the dough.  I like to use a "roll and tuck" method.  

After the dough is rolled, cut it evenly into 12 rolls.  I use dental floss (or string) to make these cuts as a knife squishes the dough, but you can use either.  To use the string, slide it under the end of the dough roll.  Slide it down to where your first cut will be.  Bring both sides of the string up, tie a simple knot and tighten it until it touches the dough.  Continue to tighten it, as it tightens it will cut right through the dough.  Continue this pattern until all the cuts are made.

Place rolls in lightly greased 9x13 pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled (about 30 min).  I sit mine on top of my stove near (but not up against) the oven vent.  The warmth from the oven preheating will help them rise faster.

Once rolls are done rising bake them for 14-16 minutes. 

While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls.  Trust me, do it while they're warm.  That frosting will melt right down inside the rolls.



Count Your Blessings


I've spent the past week feeling like a mighty blessed girl.  Throughout the entire week, God has shown me again and again that He is good and He provides far past what we could ever imagine.  Here are a few things making me smile...

- The ability to smile and laugh through pain.
- Knowing my baby girl will have a landlord in college that is a believer and she assured me she watches over them like they are her own.
- An upcoming appointment with a specialist who is not only the leading Doctor in the US for Adhesion Related Disorder but is also a Christian!!  Many, many prayers answered with this one.
- Date days with my love, even if they are just trips to buy chicken feed and guns.
- The amazing circle of friends I hold close to my heart.
- Two of the best, most supportive parents any child could ask for.


Why I Write


I write for Him.
I write because He has given me a passion and a heart for marriage.
I write for broken hearts.
I write because I stumble.
I write to help marriages that are hurting as well as help strengthen healthy marriages.
I write to help you enjoy and grow in the beautiful covenant that God created.
I write to let you know you aren't alone. Ever.
I write because I'm not perfect.
I write to share that we all have our own story and our own past.
I write to share my pain and joy, my struggles and triumphs.
I write in hopes that my journey will help you in your own walk.
I write to honor God with my words.
I write out of love.
I write because He nudges my heart.
I write because He is still working on me.
I write because He knows my heart.
I write because He has a plan for my life.
I write because He has called me to write.
I write to share love, not anger.
I write to heal, not cause conflict.
I write to share harmony, not criticism.
I write to speak truth that is sometimes hard to hear.
I write because I believe.
I write simply out of my absolute love for Him.

Q + A With Amy


I want to share an opportunity for YOU lovely gals (and guys if you're out there!), one I'm so super excited about! And something I've never done before. Send any and all questions my way for a little Q&A session on Monday, how fun is that!

I wanted to treat this as a chance to share more of my story with you, and to have some fun while doing it. Ask me anything! Feel free to ask about blogging, faith, chickens... anything you like.

You can ask in the comment section below, message me on Facebook, shoot me an email at gypsytree@windstream.net or ask on my post on Instagram!

Let's have fun!  I'll be answering all questions in a post next Monday, January 9th.  

 


Ham Salad Spread


In this house, the week after Christmas {and Easter} means having a lot of leftover ham.  I always put some aside for ham pot pie and ham and bean soup.  Which leaves me with just enough left to make ham salad, one of my favorites!

The first thing I did was borrow my Mama's vintage 1971 Oster electric food grinder.  My Mama bought it new in 1971 and she's been in our family ever since.  She's over 40 years old and is still in perfect condition and works beautifully!  I use her every year when we make our homemade relish and hot pepper dip.


I start out by cutting my ham into cubes about 1" in size.  I put the cubes into the top of the grinder and push it through.  If you don't have a grinder, you could also use a food processor.  If you are using a food processor, be careful.  One too many pulses and you'll end up with mush.  I would pulse only 3-5 times.  Keep a close eye on it to make sure it's the consistency you want.


Next I put the mayo in a bowl along with some of my sweet pickle relish that I've canned. I added the dijon mustard, a few cut up sweet pickles, the onion powder and mixed it all together.  I poured that over the ground ham and mixed it up.  Perfection!



You can eat this on a roll as a meal, or use crackers and eat it as a dip. I guarantee that if you put this out at a party, it would all disappear fast!


But the ham salad is equally good as a sandwich spread, or you can put it on a lettuce leaf if you’re watching your carbs.


See how gorgeous and creamy this ham salad is. It has the right balance of a little crunch from the pickles, a little sweetness from the relish and a whole lot of goodness from the ham. Enjoy, I know you will love this recipe!!

Ham Salad Spread

Ingredients
3 cups ham, fully cooked and ground
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
5 heaping tsp sweet relish
2 tsp chopped sweet pickles
1/4 tsp onion powder

Instructions
Finely grind ham, set aside. Combine mayonnaise, relish, dijon mustard and sweet pickles in a separate bowl; pour over ham mixture. Stir to coat. Refrigerate until serving time.

Next Door As It Is In Heaven {Book Review}


Next Door As It Is In Heaven:
Living Out God's Kingdom in Your Neighborhood
By Lance Ford + Brad Brisco

About the book:
There was a time when neighbors knew each other’s names, when small children and the old and infirm alike had more than their families looking out for them. There was a time when our neighborhoods were our closest communities.
No more. Neighborhoods have become the place where nobody knows your name. Into this neighborhood crisis the words of Jesus still ring true: Second only to the command to love God is the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
In Next Door as It Is in Heaven, Lance Ford and Brad Brisco offer first principles and best practices to make our neighborhoods into places where compassion and care are once again part of the culture, where good news is once again more than words, and where the love of God can be once again rooted and established.
I’m fortunate to have grown up in the neighborhood that I did. I knew the names of all my neighbors, spent hours playing in their yards, were scolded by them a time or two and we all genuinely knew they cared.

I owe a lot to my neighborhood. Not only did my neighbors watch out for my welfare and tell my parents when I was up to no good {even my bus driver, and close neighbor, would call my parents and tell them if I was misbehaving}, my neighborhood had a lot to do with forming my personal identity.

What an amazing way to grow up!

In fact, I loved it so much that I've never left. And I'm raising my littles in the exact same neighborhood.

Sadly, many people will never get to experience a neighborhood like mine. Between privacy fences and no trespassing signs, it doesn't leave much room for community.

The premise for Next Door As It Is in Heaven is simple: we are disconnected in our modern age of so-called connectivity, yet being a good neighbor is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.  This book is all about empowering you to transform your neighborhood for the glory of God. It provides motivation and Biblical reasoning on the why's and how to's of hospitality. 

The most exciting section of the book for me was on hospitality, the importance of eating together and the value of third spaces. The authors write: “We wrongly assume that one of the greatest needs in our lives is safety. But what we need most is connection and acceptance from other human beings” (99). This connection can be found as we share food and time with our neighbors, and especially as we seek to meet the needs of those who can’t return the dinner invitation. Our neighborliness can actually make the gospel enticing to those who aren’t part of the family of God.

It comes down to this...show them Jesus through you.

This book is full of advice for overcoming fear, time management to create more time for neighboring, creating third places and cultivating bread communities.

Even if you’re an introvert, this book will inspire and encourage you to respond to your calling to be a messenger for Jesus.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Partner With Me in 2017


This little blog of mine, we've been through an awful lot together. My first ever blog entry was July 19, 2006. Eleven years ago y'all. ELEVEN. And it's been such a blessing!

It was started as an outlet, a way to share my scrapbook pages and a way to keep in touch with family. But then something happened. As time went on, more and more people started reading.
A few months back, I glanced at my site meter. I saw something that was beyond anything I could have imagined. I have readers from Russia, Canada, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Philippines, France and Malaysia. And I realized, in that moment, that this blog was my Ministry. God has done something I never, in a million years, would have imagined this country girl from a tiny town in central Pennsylvania doing. I have actually "went into the world" from my living room.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Mark 16:15

Every day I write blog posts to inspire others and make them smile; to share hope, grace and truth; to share my own mistakes and sins; to share my heart; and to share Jesus and His amazing love with others around the world.

And now I want to give you that chance as well.

I'm looking for people to partner with me in 2017.  I'm looking for guest bloggers, products to review, businesses to promote and sponsorships!

Have you always wanted to try your hand at blogging, have a testimony to share or a gentle nudging at your heart to share something specific?  And maybe you're afraid to jump into maintaining a daily blog?  Write a guest post for me!  I'm looking to, hopefully, once a week feature a guest blog post here.  

Maybe your an author with a book you'd love for me to review, or you have a small business and you'd love to get your name out there more.

I'm so super excited to connect, make new friends and work together with amazing people in the new year. There are so many amazing things to come with Forever Beloved this year, and I'm beyond excited to share that with you!

Shoot me an email at gypsytree@windstream.net and lets chat about the details!


Hello 2017...Goodbye 2016

Hello, Goodbye...end of the year style. Which, for us, means a year review in pictures of course.


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