Caravan Sonnet

1/18/17

Update on "From Hope Valley" Devotional

Hi y'all! I want to first say "thank you" for your incredible kindness and excitement of the book, "From Hope Valley" that was set to release next month. Each of your kind words, messages, and love about this project has been something that I truly treasure. Y'all are always so incredibly kind to this beginning author. At this point I have decided not to publish the devotional. I wish that I could share in detail the reasons behind the change, but I trust that you know that this decision was not made lightly or without much thought, prayers, and tears. As I take time to recover from the disappointment and loss of this project, I appreciate your support and as always your prayers.

"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; If your kicked in the gut, He'll help you catch your breath."
-Psalm 34:18(The Message)-

1/17/17

5 Must Pack Items for a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas

Disney cruises are hands-down absolutely amazing. Last September I had the incredible opportunity to go on a Disney Cruise with my sister and it was absolutely one of my favorite cruises. 
This was my third cruise, but my first time sailing with Disney and every aspect from the ship to our amazing stateroom to the exceptional dining to the fabulous shows were fantastic. I have fallen in love with cruising and am so confident that my sister is going to love it to. It was so fun to get to experience a Disney Cruise together and we can not wait to go on another one in the future!
Every cruise line is unique and Disney was no exception! When it came to packing for the Disney cruise I referred to my own blog post that I had written on the top 13 must pack items for a Caribbean cruise and also to the one that I wrote last year entitled 16 unexpected items to bring on every cruise
After reading these I  still searching for some Disney specific cruise packing information. So I today I wanted to share my top 5 must pack items that I found helpful after taking a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas:
(1) Size Specific Carry On Luggage
Unlike some of the other cruise lines, Disney Cruise Line has a size specific carry-on luggage requirement. Disney requires that each carry-on luggage can be no larger than 22 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 9 inches deep. If you plan to bring a carry-on bag with you after you have checked your luggage than I recommend making sure your carry-on meets this specific size requirement.  (A quick side note: The Embarkation process for a Disney Cruise was one of the best and easiest I have ever experienced. It was absolutely phenomenal and you can read more about it HERE. If you are looking for some extra tips for the embarkation day you can find 7 tips for a perfect Disney Dream Cruise Embarkation Experience HERE!)

(2)A Travel Mug 
I mentioned bringing a coffee mug with you on a cruise in my 16 unexpected items to bring on every cruise post, but for Disney think one step above this. On each of the Disney Cruise Line ships there are 24 hour water, coffee/tea, and soft-drink stations available on the pool decks but the cups that are provided are extremely small. Bringing a travel mug with you allows you to fill up and get back to enjoying the ship without having to make numerous trips to refill your small cup. And if you are traveling with small kiddos bringing your own cup with allow you to choose a specific one that your kiddos are used to (including ones that have tops)!
(3) A Keepsake for the Characters to Sign
One of the great things about a Disney Cruise is all of the opportunities to live in a magical world for a few days and one of the ways that Disney incorporates this is with character signing. When you get on board stop by guest services and drop it off early on your cruise. When you do so it will be returned to you "magically" before you get off! The sky is the limit on what you can have signed but a fun idea would be a picture mat that the characters could sign that you could use to frame a picture from the cruise. (If you want to ensure that you have the "color scheme" that you want used make sure to include your own markers with the item that you are dropping off to get signed!) You can drop off a maximum of two items for each stateroom so choose wisely and leave your item early on in your cruise!

(4) A Pirate Costume for Pirate Night
Every Disney Cruise Line ship has at least one pirate themed dinner evening and from everyone that I have talked with people really get into this which is so fun! I was told by everyone that all of the cast and crew also dress in pirate-themed uniforms and to top off the evening there are tons of special shows, lights and fireworks. (Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line to have its own firework display which is really neat!) And guess what? Every member of your group will receive a bandanna for Pirate night that will be waiting for you in your stateroom when you get on board! I will be honest I am still trying to figure out an outfit for this night and will take any tips or suggestions!
(5) A Watch
I was surprised to hear this from several different people that have traveled with Disney but it was so incredibly helpful to wear a watch! One of the best parts of a cruise is having the chance to take a break from the "real world" and simply enjoy the moment without looking at our phones. But if you are like me I often use my phone to let me know what time of the day it is and not using my phone ... well I will need to know what time it is. One unique thing about Disney Cruise Line is that they have less clocks on board than any other cruise ship line. This is wonderful as it lets you fully live in the moment but you don't want to miss any exciting adventure on the ship either! So make sure to throw in a watch and set it to the ship time to keep up with all of your fun activities!

What about y'all? Any must pack items that you recommend for a Disney Cruise?

1/16/17

The 6 Types of Friends Every Christian Single Girl Needs

Every woman needs friends and community. We all need and long for a special tribe, and as a single woman this need is extremely important. Specifically as single women there are 6 types of friends that we need to journey with us through the difficult and joyful days, the highs and lows, and the hopes and tears of waiting for God's timing. So what are the types of friends that we single girls need? 

The Praying Friend
This is the friend who prayers BIG prayers, dreams big dreams, and believes in the impossible no matter the situation. She is the one who believes that God can and will do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)

The Loving Truth Teller Friend
This is the friend that will call you out lovingly when you are tempted to have a pity party, will speak truth into your heart when you are tempted to settle, and will lovingly remind you of the greatest truth- God's truth when you are tempted to feel less than who you are in God's image because you are single. This friend is a beautiful gift in this journey- reminding you of truth and understanding the power of life-giving and redeeming words

The Brave One Friend
This is the beautiful friend that will remind you that life is an adventure and to never settle in this season but to live fully for the Lord in this season. This friend encourages you to ask questions and yet have courage in this season of waiting, beautifully encouraging you to step out and follow the Lord's plans for your life. This is the friend that will also encourage you to use this season of waiting for the Lord's glory. 

The Married Friend
It can be tempting to think that a married friend won't understand this single season of life, but the opposite is true. A Godly woman will be able to share with you and help you mature in areas that can prepare you for marriage in the future. I have learned so much from each of my married friends who have been willing to openly love on me in this season about what true love, sacrifice, and commitment in marriage looks like. Don't be worried about the different seasons- true Godly women understand that we are all always waiting on the Lord for something and will lovingly welcome you into their lives.

The Example Friend
When I was in college I was blessed to work part-time in the Christian Ministry department at my university. I basically just answered phones and answered students questions, but I look back at my time there with such great affection and wonder. There was a woman, Cheryl who had been working as an administrative assistant for a long-time at the University and was one of the sweetest women I have ever known. She treated everyone with Christ's love and I learned so much from her example. My first year of working there I learned that Cheryl was single and I was baffled why. She truly was an amazing woman. As time went on I learned part of her truly heart-breaking story and she became my hero as I watched her live a grace-filled life that was completely joyful. In my second year she entered into a relationship with a wonderful Christian man whom she later married. Cheryl was quite a bit older than me and as a young woman I remember secretly hoping that I wouldn't have to wait so long to be married. But one day Cheryl said something to me that I have never forgotten. She said, "Rebecca, God's timing is absolutely perfect, for it is in God's timing that I have become the woman He is calling me to be. I trust that His timing is better than I could ever have imagined." I remember going home to my apartment and crying out to the Lord to have her faith for God's timing in this very important area of my life. Years later after my ex-fiance' walked out on our relationship shortly before our wedding Cheryl sent me a beautiful letter filled with wisdom and encouragement that I have kept to this day. Cheryl's beautiful example (and many others since then) have tenderly touched my heart, encouraged me, and reminded me that God's timing is flawless. 

The Listener Friend
There are times where as single girls we just need to weep at this difficult season of life. In these moments we need the friend who will listen and cry with us. The listener has the gift of truly listening to our hearts and encouraging us in the difficult moments of life.

What kind of friends do you think every Christian single girls needs? What kind of friend category do you think that you are?

1/14/17

New Scripture Buntings in the Etsy Shop

Two years ago in November one of my favorite additions to the shop was to announce that I was offering scripture bunting and then I later added in mini-scripture buntings. This had been a dream of mine for quite a while and I am so excited to offer it! 
One of the reasons that I started offering this in my shop was I wanted a practical way to offer the opportunity to live out Deuteronomy 11:20 which states, "Write them (scripture) on the door frames of your houses and on your gates..". (As a side note Deuteronomy 6:9 also has similar wording and Deuteronomy 6 goes into more detail of writing scripture on our hearts and in our homes.) 
In my life I have made it a point to display scripture all around me - including in my home, my bedroom and bathroom, in my car, and when I was teaching I had scripture up around the room.  I continue this now (even though I live at home with my parents) and mediate on scripture everyday. This is truly a simple way to "write scripture on our hearts". 
These verses are never "dry" but always speak to my heart and offer hope or answers to issues that I am struggling with or where I find rest and encouragement in. My hope in the scripture bunting comes from these scriptures and the way that I have seen the Lord transform my life again and again with scripture. 

Over the last several years these items have been some of the most popular in the shop and this year one of my goals is to offer hundreds more of different kinds and styles this year. I have been working on memorizing new scripture for this year and am sharing lots of my favorite verses on these new buntings. I love these items and love that they can be a beautiful encouragement to each of you who purchase one.
This morning several new mini-scripture buntings went into the shop including this adorable one from Psalm 13:6:
Anyone who knows me knows that I love singing and this verse consistently reminds me of the beautiful truth of singing because the Lord is so good to me. This scripture bunting can be found HERE.
Psalm 145:20 has become an increasingly dear scripture verse to me over the last several months. This precious promise that the Lord watches over us has brought me great comfort and is a verse this past week with all of my scary health issues that I repeated hundreds of times, singing to myself as I was in an array of tests. This scripture bunting can be found HERE.
There are lots of other new buntings and options that you can find in the shop HERE! Dear friends, lets write scripture on our hearts and deep in our souls so that we can know the truth of God's word deeply and unequivocally. Truly He is good!

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

1/12/17

From Hope Valley New Release Date- February 10th


"From Hope Valley" devotional will now be released on February 10th! I can't wait to share more updates with y'all and also exciting news about the book in the coming weeks! If you would like more updates please come over and say hello at "From Hope Valley" IG feed! You can find it HERE! I would love to connect with you there!

1/10/17

Amazon Audible



Today I am so excited to share with y'all a special promotion that is ending soon through Amazon that those of you who are booklovers like myself will want to try! Audible is a publisher and distributor of the world's largest selection of audiobooks and spoken word content. If you are an audible customer than you can listen anytime and anywhere to these professionally-narrated audiobooks. There are tons of genres (including best sellers, new releases, sci fi, classics, romances, and more) that are available!

Right now - for a limited time- there is the opportunity for a free 30-day trial with audible. In the 30-day free trial you will receive:

 *TWO free audiobooks
*30% off the price of additional audiobook purchases 
*Cancel anytime and keep the books! 

If you decide that you love this program (which I am sure you will!) then you can sign up for the gold membership ($14.95/each month) which entitles you to the benefits of:

*One audiobook per month
*30% off the price of additional audiobook purchases
*Cancel Anytime- and still keep the books even if you cancel!

So don't hesitate- try this amazing program for FREE today and receive TWO audiobooks! You can sign up by clicking HERE!

Hearties Family Reunion

Several weeks ago, at the beginning of December my mom and I had the amazing opportunity to be apart of the Hearties Family Reunion (a fan event for the TV show When Calls the Heart) in Vancouver, BC. It was a brilliant and wonderful weekend and as I shared on instagram, I marveled at the beauty and the creativity of all of those involved in the show and left inspired in many was that are hard to put into words. The entire weekend was absolutely delightful in meeting so many lovely people, including the cast of When Calls the Hart (#WCTH), producers of the show, Brian Bird, Janette Oke, and so many other sweet #hearties. The trip impacted, inspired, and changed me... in gentle and beautiful ways.
On Friday evening (December 2nd) we gathered for the welcome party. I said this to several people but I truly wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't sure if we were all going to stand around and chat or what the process would be but I was so impressed with the way that the organizers had set up the time. It was truly wonderful.
After registering and receiving some awesome swag bags and goodies we all met in the large conference room where we proceeded to have a wonderful evening.
We heard more details about how the weekend would look, heard precious testimonies of how the show had impacted people personally, and even got to have a sneak peek of the Christmas episode movie. 
One of the most fun parts of the reunion was connecting with new friends from around the world! I loved meeting these precious new friends (including some whom I have connected with in the Facebook group) and was delighted to connect with others who had a love for life. We had a blast hanging out and sitting with each other throughout the conference and enjoyed getting to know these ladies more at dinner one of the evenings. 
Another special part of the weekend was having the opportunity to meet and talk with Brian Bird, one of the executive producers of the show.
I have long admired his work and his efforts to bring family-friendly plots and story lines to television and it was an honor to chat with him and get to know him a little bit throughout the weekend. He was incredibly gracious and truly spent an unbelievable amount of time with all of the attendees to the weekend. I was blown away by his compassion, his work ethic, and his ability to make each attendee feel so special. He is truly changing the course of television. He has had a profound impact on my life and it was such an incredible honor to meet him.
Another person that it was an incredible honor to meet was author Janette Oke. 
As a beginning author and a woman who wants to encourage others through her writing it was such an incredible honor to have the opportunity to chat with Janette. She was so incredibly gracious and had words of encouragement for me as a writer which I truly have treasured. On a very personal note it was also incredibly amazing to meet Janette as my new book that releases in February (From Hope Valley) was inspired by the TV Show When Calls the Heart which in turn was inspired by Janette Oke's books!
I have always found Janette's books to provide a sweet and yet profound message of truth in them and to meet her was such an amazing thing that I will definitely treasure forever. As an author you always have your favorite authors that you admire and look up to and Janette Oke is definitely one of those for me!
And of course for me the most special part of the entire experience was sharing it with my mom. We had such an amazing time with memories that will last for a life-time. It was such a wonderful opportunity and a dream come true. 

A huge thank you to everyone that made this trip possible and to everyone who was apart of this! I can't wait to share with y'all in the next couple of weeks more of the Hearties Family Reunion (#HFR2) including the opportunity to meet the cast and crew and the visit to Hope Valley (the set of When Calls the Heart)! 

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week!