7/21/14

Stella & Dot Trunk Show Fundraiser

I am constantly overwhelmed by the kindness and the support of so many people in this journey. While many times illness can be an isolating circumstance I have found that those times have been so rare in my journey because of the love of dear friends and the body of Christ that comes to support me and my family. One of those lovely people is Caroline, the sweet and encouraging blogger behind In Due Time. With absolutely no gain to herself Caroline has behind the scenes quietly and lovingly encouraged me for the past year. She has faithfully read my blog and commented with beautiful "life" words, has prayed countless prayers on my behalf, has cried with me through some very difficult and dark nights, and has showed me the love of Christ in a thousand different ways. Caroline loves practically and sacrificially and has financially supported me numerous times throughout this journey. In addition to that Caroline actually went and ran Rebecca's Run back in October 2013! When I got her message I promptly burst into tears that she gave up a Saturday to do that for me. She is absolutely wonderful. I was blown away and so humbled when she offered to donate her commission and host a Stella & Dot Trunk Show party for me to help raise money for treatment. Honestly I kind of resisted at first because being sick and needing fiances is highly emotional. Caroline immediately responded that "this is what the body of Christ is for". Yes, I again broke down in tears. 

I am so grateful to you Caroline for your sweet support, your numerous prayers, and your kindness in getting involved in my life and walking this journey with me. I am so honored to call you a friend!

If you would like to join in on the fundraiser you can click HERE!! Could you help us get the word out and spread the word via social media? Thank you so much! You can invite people to join in the Facebook  group (it is open to all!) which will share information by clicking HERE! Most of all I am extremely grateful for your continued prayers, your sweet friendships, and your love in this journey. Thank you so much friend!

7/20/14

Evening Boat Ride

Two weeks ago (while my sister was visiting) we were blessed with a simply beautiful evening. I was so thankful to be feeling well enough to go out in the boat and the views were just simply gorgeous. I am absolutely in awe of the beauty that surrounds this area that I love so much. Truly the verse, "The Earth is full of the beauty of the Lord" is so true! Enjoy the pictures!

7/18/14

New Items Listed in the Shop!

Happy Friday y'all!! 

In addition to the Lyle, Lyle Crocodile Storybook bunting that went into the shop this past week I also have added a few additional items that I wanted to share with y'all! (Some of you have asked when new items go into the shop. The answer is: every Monday morning! Since December Caravan's mission is to inspire hope & joy in every part of people's lives through handmade creations I figure there is no better time than on Monday mornings! *smiles*) Here are some of the other items that I listed this past Monday:

I have long loved the quote: "All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus" and it always brings a smile to my face when I read it. This artwork quote is written on vintage hymn sheet music and measures approximately 8 x 9 1/4. All embellishments on the vintage sheet music are acid free. This piece is backed by simple acid free chipboard. This piece also features vintage quilting material and I have hand cut it into a shape of a heart and hand stitched the word "Jesus" onto it. The heart sits on a pocket that is filled with five verses (seen in the pictures above) that are a daily source of encouragement for anyone. This piece could be framed or displayed in a variety of ways. It could be used for decoration at an event or it could be used in a home, apartment, or in a college dorm room. This piece would also make an excellent gift! If you are interested in purchasing this item you can click HERE to go directly to my shop!

This ancient hymn, "Jesus, I am resting, resting" has been a source of great comfort throughout these many years fighting advanced late stage Lyme Disease and Cancer. The words of this song have been a quiet prayer that I have cried through and gained strength from during some long dark days and nights. Each vintage hymn artwork piece is displayed on vintage sheet music and quotes part of a ancient hymn. All embellishments on the vintage sheet music are acid free. Each vintage hymn artwork piece is backed by simple acid free chipboard. This quote measures 8 1/2 x 11 and could be framed or displayed in a variety of ways. It could be used for decoration at an event or it could be used in a home, apartment, or in a college dorm room. Know a friend who is struggling with illness or a difficult time in their life? This could simply be sent to a friend as an encouragement. If you are interested in purchasing this item you can click HERE to go directly to my shop!

This quote from Joni Eareckson Tada has proven to be a huge comfort to me in this journey and fight against Advanced Lyme Disease and Cancer. I have often looked at it and been inspired to remember that there is a plan larger than the "walls of sickness". Each artwork quote is handwritten on acid-free scrapbook paper and is backed by simple acid free chipboard. This quote measures 8 1/2 x 11 and could be framed or displayed in a variety of ways. It could be used for decoration at an event or it could be used in a home, apartment, or in a college dorm room. Know a friend who is struggling with illness or a difficult time in their life? This could simply be sent to a friend as an encouragement. If you are interested in purchasing this item you can click HERE to go directly to my shop!

This ancient hymn, "Be Still My Soul" has been a favorite of mine since I was a small child. As an adult and fighting two serious diseases (Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer) the words of this song written so many years ago have been a quiet prayer that I have cried through and gained strength from during some long dark days and nights. Each vintage hymn artwork piece is displayed on vintage sheet music and quotes part of a ancient hymn. All embellishments on the vintage sheet music are acid free. Each vintage hymn artwork piece is backed by simple acid free chipboard. This quote measures 8 1/2 x 11 and could be framed or displayed in a variety of ways. It could be used for decoration at an event or it could be used in a home, apartment, or in a college dorm room. Know a friend who is struggling with illness or a difficult time in their life? This could simply be sent to a friend as an encouragement. If you are interested in purchasing this item you can click HERE to go directly to my shop!

7/17/14

Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series-Part Five- Answering the "critics" about out of state/country travel to see a doctor

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}


Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to continue this six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. Here is the list of the topics for the series and the coming weeks:

Today I wanted to address the reality of the land of "the critics" that will inevitably arrive in your life if you decide to make the decision to travel out of state or the country to see a doctor. I am hoping that some of the things that I have learned the last couple of years might help someone and also I am excited to hear from y'all who have experience with this! (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but since NONE of them have ever looked like this guy or I think we would have the answer of why I am traveling to a different state for the critics! Right? Hahaha! *smiles* This single gal can dream right? *smiles*)

**This post is related to critical comments with traveling out of state or country to see a doctor but could definitely be applied to those that are using a variety of forms of treatment and receive criticism. I hope it is encouraging to you!**

I almost cringed when I realized that this was the topic for the post today. It was ironic because in my post from yesterday (when I gave an update on my personal health) I announced that I had two upcoming trips out of state. The first is a required visit to my Lyme Doctor's office and the second is a necessary trip back to Whitaker Wellness Institute for additional therapy. I told a good friend of mine that I "brace myself" because every time that I write a "Notes from the Porch" update that involves travel out of state I inevitably will hear from the "critics". They don't comment publicly but I will receive many emails criticizing my choice to see a doctor so far away, criticizing my asking for financial support, and even one yesterday criticized my request for prayers. Unfortunately on some days the critics can see "much bigger" then the voices of support and I have learned that this is the case for many people with chronic illnesses (or serious illnesses that last for more than 18 months). I have received numerous emails asking me, "How do you respond when someone says..." or, "I am hurting so much because someone said..." so today I wanted to share some thoughts on the top three frequently asked questions by the critics for traveling out of state or country to see a doctor and some responses that might help you navigate these tricky waters. 

Question #1 by the critics:
Don't you think that the doctors in (our beloved state) are good enough for you? 
This is a tough question to answer because at the heart of it there is a bit of criticism in the choice that you must feel that you are "better" then the numerous qualified doctors in the state that you live in. My best advice for this question is to remain calm, explain patiently the unique reasons that the numerous qualified doctors in your state can't help you and explain that this is your only option at this moment. 

Question #2 by the critics:
My sisters friend's aunt had what you had and they received excellent care and were better much quicker than you are because they stayed in state. Where the heck are you going?
This question can be tricky to answer because you never want to critize another person's wonderful experience with a good doctor. At the same time though anyone with a chronic illness knows and understands that the path to "stability" or healing can look entirely different from one friend to another. I have a dear friend who struggles with Lupus and hears this question all of the time. She says that it is truly incredibly hurtful because while her state does provide doctors who are very knowledgeable and capable with Lupus she has additional health issues that need a different kind of specialist with her condition. For her it is not as simple as just seeing "any" doctor. The best advice that she gave when responding to this question is to simply state that "due to a variety of reasons and health complications I need a doctor out of state" and try to move on. This question is hurtful though and I applaud each of you that answers it with dignity!

Question #3 by the critics:
So... you are going to fundraise money again to go travel to... 
This is the question/statement that I probably get the most and hear from others that they receive the most. It's difficult because it implies that you are "traveling" for the fun of it to another state (hello- anyone that is struggling with illness finds traveling difficult!!!) and that this almost implies you are fund-raising just so you can travel. First, to all of the critics this is not the case and if this is the direction of the email I will state that I am not traveling to travel but I am going to a doctors appointment. (We would never say to someone going to a doctors appointment in their own city that they are "traveling" so I try to remove that word from the discussion but also directly respond to it.)

When I wrote my post yesterday I was literally emotionally bracing myself for the response since I mentioned that I would be taking two out of state visits and am fund-raising again for the latter trip. Out of the 23 critical messages that I received yesterday this question/statement was said in about 20 of the emails. Its hard because as I shared yesterday it is incredibly humbling to lay your heart on the line and state that you need financial support. I can only imagine that the "critics" have never been in a situation where those that are fund raising are or they would never send emails like the ones that I received yesterday. Before I became ill I never questioned things like this but would hear those that were ill sometimes address this and I thought, "who would say things like that?". Unfortunately now I have experienced it. If you are the recipient of this question you know that you feel like you have to almost "justify" your time that you spend. It is irritating, hurtful, and difficult to deal with. I never would have thought to have the need to do this with someone asking for help or money but unfortunately the question implies this. 

I want to tell the critics (which I guess I am going to now *hahaha*) I am not simply laying around eating bonbons or just lazily watching TV. In fact my day is extremely structured due to not only medications and doctors appointments but due to the fact that I am working incredibly hard to bring in every single penny that I can. I am constantly working on freelance writing articles, items for my shop, custom orders, trying to promote the shop or the parcel post tribe, and trying desperately to bring money in. I personally hate TV (you can ask any of my family members), I can't eat bonbons, and the days that I am in extreme pain? Well I am in bed still working on things because finances are always on my mind and at the top of the prayer list. The financial aspect of Lyme Disease is complicated, tricky, and extremely emotional. For the record (and to help bring understanding) I haven't bought "new" clothes in over two years (I love thrifting and have spent a total of $15 in the last two years at a thrift store- and that was only because due to certain medications I have gained weight and none of my clothes fit), I have had my hair cut twice in the past 23 months, haven't bought things that people would call "necessities" (such as extra shampoo or conditioner, fancy girly items, or simply bought lotions or had my nails done or my eyebrows waxed in forever, etc. etc. etc.), we don't go out to eat or get Starbucks (except if there are giftcards sent by a dear friend), I wear my glasses to extend the life of my contacts until I get a migraine to save money, we obsess over every single penny as a family to see where and what we can do "without" (sometimes its milk, sometimes its food, sometimes its not using the car to save gas...) and nothing absolutely nothing is frivolous. (And we never were a frivolous sort of family so we have gone even more extreme. If you haven't had to fund-raise for your health then you have absolutely no idea the humility it takes to ask and lay everything out in the open.  My best advice for those that receive this criticism is to calmly respond. I usually state something like, "At this time this is the decision that I have made for my health. Kind Regards, Rebecca" and I refuse to engage. Those that care about you are not going to be critical even when they have questions and it is definitely not worth your energy to respond to things like this. For emails that are extremely critical and harsh (yesterday I received one that said: "If God wanted you to go back out to California you wouldn't have to ask others for money God would have already given it to you and you are being just lazy", simply delete them. It is definitely not worth your energy for that kind of negativity in your life. Cry if you need to (I certainly did yesterday), delete the emails, and move on. 

I hope that this helps y'all! The best thing that I can share is to stay strong and lean on the love of those who care about you and love you in your journey! It's hard to believe that we are wrapping up this series next Thursday!! Where have the six weeks gone?? Join me next Thursday for the final posting in this series! Happy Thursday y'all!!

7/16/14

Notes from the Porch (twenty-three): an update, praises!, and prayer requests

"O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you; be our strength every morning and our salvation in times of distress."
-Isaiah 33:two-

I posted the above verse on instagram yesterday and mentioned how wonderful it is that the Lord uses different scripture that we memorize years ago to bring comfort, peace, and joy to our lives in the present. I see this everyday throughout this journey that the word of God is living and active and that no matter what circumstance or situation His word is not just for the past but for the present. 

I was given this verse by a former student of mine (the beautiful Breann) my second year of teaching in Georgia. I will never forget the day because there was a ton going on that year that was personally and professionally difficult and the latest event had been that my apartment had a dangerous gas leak in it and I had to evacuate. (I shake my head now because that seems trivial compared to more recent circumstances. *smiles*) Breann had written out this verse on a note card and from the first time that I read it it became the prayer of my heart throughout that difficult year. In my final year of teaching I went back to that verse and shared with the girls Bible class the significance of it and we memorized it (again for some) together. 

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling extremely discouraged by the "length" of this journey. While there have been some small steps of improvement (which I will share below) the reality of the slow healing process can sometimes be extremely discouraging. I had to make the extremely heartbreaking decision two weeks ago not to attend two dear friends weddings (Carina&Matt's and Paul&Katie's) and once again I was caught in the land of "if only" and discouragement. "If Only I wasn't sick I would have a job and could afford to go..." "If Only I wasn't sick and didn't need treatment then I could afford to go..." "If only I wasn't sick and didn't have to pay over $310 for medications each week (after insurance pays the other costs) then I would have money to go..." and I realized quickly that it would be easy to live in the land of "if only" which takes my entire focus off of the Lord. 

In the middle of these happenings I received the most precious email from Carina and a couple of days later I was looking in my wallet for a stamp when I found the note card from Breann so many years ago. What an absolute blessing from the Lord to receive such love and encouragement and to find that beautiful reminder at the exact time that I needed it. Truly the Lord understands our hearts, our desires, and our longings and loves us so uniquely and individually that He knew that the email from Carina (and later text message from Paul) and this beautiful ancient verse would be a staggering reminder of all of His goodness. I might not understand the ways and walls that He places or the reasoning behind the losses and sacrifices in this journey but His blessings and gifts far outweigh any perceived disappointment. 
This above quote by Joni has also been an incredible source of encouragement in the past days and weeks and I am confident will continue to be an encouragement throughout this journey. I can definitely testify that there is no better place then being "walled" in by God... truly He makes us a "prisoner of hope" within those walls. 

As I think back since my last notes from the porch update I am thankful to share that the decisions that we made at that point seem to have been the best for my body. My body seems to be slowly responding to the different medications and although there are difficult days with medications (and I am still struggling to up that one from 1 teaspoon to 24 teaspoons!!) there have been no severe reactions and for that I am incredibly thankful. Things are slowly slowly slowly (sometimes so slow that I have to re-read my journals to see the difference!! hahaha) moving forward. Instead of staying in bed all day or needing help to walk (if I was able to walk!) last summer I have been able to move a little more easily, gotten dressed out of my pajamas 4 out 7 days a week now (if you have been seriously ill you completely understand what an accomplishment this is!) am able to walk some small distances (I am up to .25 a day without passing out!! WAHOO!! *smiles*), was able to do my own laundry the other day (yes, there were tears!) and for the past six weeks have been able to feed & water scamper (which my parents or sister have been doing for the past two years. Yes, I felt that I needed to clarify that scamper was being fed and not starving. Somehow looking at this picture I doubt that was anyone's concern. *hahaha*). 
These things have all been MAJOR victories and remind me during difficult days to keep fighting and pressing forward. I am COMPLETELY confident that this is a testament to so many of you that are praying. Please do not stop!! On the flip side I continue to covet prayer as the reality is that almost everyday is extremely difficult with side effects from the medications that are extremely unpleasant, stomach pain and issues, and extreme fatigue. In addition to these continuing prayer requests I do ask that you join with my family in praying for these items also: 

(1) Stomach Medicine Cost: One of the main medications that has helped me "live" (literally) and is helping heal my stomach issues has increased its cost by more than 50%. Unfortunately this particular medicine took off the generic brand several months ago and without warning the pharmaceutical company upped the cost to the dismay of all of us that use this. This particular medication is referred to as "a last resort" typically as it has a unique blend of medications that are very specific and there is nothing comparable on the market. What this means is that instead of the medicine costing $480 (after insurance) for a month it now costs $2700 (after insurance). Yes, unfortunately you have read that correctly. (I might have had a minor breakdown in the pharmacy when I was told.) At this point the doctors and the pharmacists have written the prescription so that we are paying about $330 every 4 to 5 days instead of one lump sum but this medicine is something that I desperately need and is a huge drain on our finances. (Obviously this is just one very small component of my treatment plan so the numbers mentioned are not taking into account my other 7 medications, 80 vitamins & supplements, and other medicinal items that I use!) The pharmaceutical company has a patient "assistance" program and I applied for that several months ago and we are anxiously waiting to hear back the results from this. Would you please pray that we would hear back immediately about this and that the finances would be covered for this need? Thank you so much. Most of all we ask for prayers for healing for my stomach!

(2) San Francisco California Trip: I will be heading back out to San Francisco for my 6 month (in person) appointment with my doctor from Pacific Frontier Medical Group in early September. (As y'all might remember this is part of their requirements that their patients see them every six months.) At this point we are tentatively planning to start antibiotic shots for the Lyme Disease!! The point of the shots is that the antibiotics will bypass the stomach/colon area and not have to be "processed" there which my stomach will not be able to do. In early March (maybe earlier) the plan is to add in the picc line. I have heard that this is not always the most pleasant time (with this specific medication) -and we all know how I react to medications...- so I admit that I am a bit apprehensive about this trip. I trust my doctors out there completely but would appreciate prayers that this will work with no severe reactions, etc. Due to finances I will be going alone out to SF and would also appreciate prayers for peace for this entire time. At this point any money that is raised in my "go fund me page" for the summer is going to help pay for the cost of the stomach medicine and for this trip. I continue to be so humbled by your generous and gracious support.

(3) October Treatment: Along with the trip to San Francisco we have decided that I will be making a necessary trip back to Whitaker Wellness Institute to receive intensive alternative therapies to help my body not only get a much needed "boost" but also to help my body use ALL of the treatments that I am currently doing to work at a much deeper level. Lyme Disease bacteria likes to hide and move and makes it difficult to kill completely. The therapies that I received in 2013 and will receive in October will work along side my treatment plan to help my body fight these three diseases (Lyme, Cancer, and Environmental Illness) to continue to help fully eradicate them. While I am there I will receive Hard Covered Hyperbaric Oxygen & Vitamin C IV therapy. 

Both of these therapies in conjunction with my current treatment plan is necessary and we are definitely stepping out in faith that the Lord will provide all of the needed financial costs. You can see a breakdown of the costs on the new "go fund me page" that I have created specifically for this trip by clicking HERE.  

You can see that on the left side of my blog I have kept both pages as they are used for different financial needs. I shared with a friend recently the following about asking for money and I hope that you will hear my heart in this e-mail: 

"At this point in the journey ... well honestly for the whole journey... I have struggled to ask for additional resources financially. It is hard for me because before I got sick when I was working I was the one that loved to help out and and be the one to help out so this is very humbling and at this point in the journey I feel (to be blunt) very humbled and embarrassed but at the same time there is a deep financial need. We are stepping out in faith because we do believe that the Lord is leading me to go back to Whitaker Wellness Institute not only to get a "necessary boost" but to use the oxygen and vitamin c as intensive therapies along with the antibiotic medication that I am on to help me really have a more intensive fighting capability and really move forward in this fight. We are majorly stepping out in faith because we are not even sure how we are going to meet the needs of this summer let alone to do this trip but everyone (including the doctors) have recommended it. All of that to say I wanted you to know and understand that your offer overwhelmed me and humbled me and it has taken me days to respond simply due to that..."

My sweet friend Caroline is hosting a fundraiser to help cover the costs of treatment. If you would like to know more you can click HERE!

I share that to say that I would ask for prayers above anything else and I am so grateful for ALL of you faithful prayer warriors!! I pray that the Lord continues to bless you as you have abundantly blessed me. Thank you to so many of you that continue to support me and pray for me throughout this journey. You are an incredible blessing. I love y'all!!

Rhyme to Read Giveaway

Rhyme to Read Giveaway 

Sponsored by Rhyme to Read Hosted by Pea of Sweetness Co-Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Rhyme to Read - Reading App Giveaway
Rhyme to Read is a highly effective program for beginning readers. The program emphasizes word families (e.g., cat, rat, sat) which are color-coded to assist children in discriminating the different patterns. The only prerequisites are the recognition of letters and knowledge of consonant letter-sound connections. Rhyme to Read enables children to feel confident as they enter the world of reading. Emilee at Pea of Sweetness uses Rhyme to Read with their three children - their preschooler just recently introduced to reading and their 6 and 8 year old who are both homeschooled in the 2nd grade level except in reading. Both have had struggles with reading due to their special needs and do well with the books in the Rhyme to Read app. See what we thought in our Rhyme to Read reading app review on Pea of Sweetness.
Three winners will receive each receive the full version of Rhyme to Read for iOS (Apple devices). This giveaway begins on 7/15 at and ends on 7/29 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open worldwide ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee from both Pea of Sweetness and Deals of Sweetness received a code for the full version app in exchange for an honest review. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

7/14/14

Operation Smile (& Campus Book Rentals)

Photo Credit: Operation Smile
Are you familiar with Operation Smile?

 Operation Smile "is an international children's medical charity that heals children's smiles, forever changing their lives... [by offering] safe, effective reconstructive surgery and related medical care for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft. One in 10 of those children will die before their first birthday. The children who survive are often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places, they are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a productive life.

Y'all this touches my heart to the core. As someone who is dealing with several severe medical issues I know the importance and the miracle of having someone help you in a medical crisis and this is exactly what Operation Smile does. Through kind donations they are able to save people's lives one child at a time. 

And THAT to me is one of the main reasons that I support Campus Book Rentals
It's hard to believe that we (those of us who are students) are only several weeks away from the start of a new semester! Many days time seems to fly faster than I can keep track of and it is hard to believe that it has been more than a year since I wrote my first review for Campus Book Rentals & Operation Smile. And honestly y'all I am so honored to have the opportunity to talk about them again today.  As I am sure everyone is, students are desperately trying to save money on the costs of books. And guess what? You can save a lot of money this upcoming school year through Campus Book Rentals! I still truly believe that Campus Book Rentals is a perfect way to get the textbooks that you need for classes and not spend the hundreds or even thousands of dollars that sometimes can add up over the semesters.  

AND...

In my first post I shared several reasons that I believe Campus Book Rentals is awesome and I still think every single one of these things is still wonderful!! My favorite though is their "rent back" program which is seriously wonderful! In this program you have the opportunity rent the textbooks that you own to other students like yourself. If you think about it you could potentially earn two to four times the amount you would earn if you just simply sold your books at the end of the semester or simply sold it once via an on-line venue. Research has also shown that Rent Back will provide you with more money than the campus buy back programs that currently exist on most college campuses! This is also a wonderful program for people like myself who are on-line students! 

In addition to this wonderful new program, there is security in the fact that Campus Book Rentals has been around since 2007 so they have years of experience!

AND (here is my favorite part!!!)

 Remember when I shared above about how much I love Operation Smile? Well guess what?!?! Campus Book Rentals donates a portion of the proceeds with each textbook rented to Operation Smile! LOVE this!! 

So when y'all are looking for textbooks this semester don't forget to check out Campus Book Rentals~ not only will you be saving money - you will be helping save a life!!


Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for highlighting this business but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.