Caravan Sonnet

8/24/16

Humble and Grateful

As I went to bed last night I was truly overwhelmed. 


Overwhelmed by the kindness, support, and love of so many people that made yesterday very special. Thank you so much for your support on this book launch day. Thank you for spreading the word about December Caravan. Thank you for all of the love and sweet words about this little book. 


Thank you to my AMAZING parents who have cheered me on in this endeavor, for my sister, for my book launch team that went WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND to help spread the word. Thank you to each of you who texted and called yesterday and to those who sent messages. 


Thank you to my dear friend Katie who woke up at midnight (and stayed up most of the night) to be ready to post the first review! Thank you to my sweet friend Ali, from Be the Light Photography for surprising me with amazing professional photos of December Caravan. Thank you to so many of you for purchasing the book today and for those who wrote reviews. 


Thank you to so many of you that connected me today with people who were interested in bulk sales of December Caravan for Bible Studies, MOPS groups, college Bible studies, etc. 


Thank you to those of you that have inquired about the possibility of me coming to speak at an event. I am truly speechless. 


The list truly goes on and on. I am overwhelmed and so grateful for each of you and all of your prayers for this project. God has been so good. Thank you for praying for today and for this little book for the future. I continue to pray that the Lord will use it to encourage those who are hurting and brokenhearted and those who have lost hope. Thank you again dear friends. 


Thank you so much

Press Release- December Caravan

KNOXVILLE AUTHOR PLANTS HOPE AMID TRIALS WITH RELATIONSHIP, DISEASE IN NEW BOOK


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Author Rebecca VanDeMark announces the nationwide release of her inspiring new memoir, “December Caravan.”
December Caravan” is a collection of personal short stories, encouragement and inspiration on the concept of hope and an ever-present God despite difficult circumstances.
Throughout the book, VanDeMark shares stories from her life, specifically over a five-year period that started in 2008, when her world crumbled after her fiancé walked out on their relationship and their wedding, which was to take place a few months later. Within the next months and years, VanDeMark experienced extremely difficult circumstances of loss, including finding out that her health was deteriorating due to advanced late-stage Lyme disease and cancer.
December Caravan” tells the stories of trials and hope despite many difficult situations. The author shares her foundation of hope for those who are hurting and the beautiful knowledge of learning the Lord’s constant love despite heartbreak and loss. This book will encourage readers to run back to the heart of God and to find hope and joy in his Word.
Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com.
VanDeMark is a writer, speaker and blogger, who loves Jesus, life and the miracle of hope. She is the founder of Grace Engaged, a ministry for High School women and Lyme Caravan Foundation, an organization that provides support for those with Lyme Disease. VanDeMark also owns a handmade company which donates a portion of all its proceeds to charity. VanDeMark holds degrees from Cedarville University and Regent University and a graduate certificate from American University. Before fighting health issues, she worked in Washington, D.C. with two nonprofit organizations and later taught high school history and Bible classes for seven years. VanDeMark loves celebrating the beauty of the ordinary each day as she fights advanced Lyme disease and cancer in addition to other health issues.

8/23/16

December Caravan... the book RELEASE!!

It is HERE!! TODAY December Caravan RELEASED!!!! AHHH!!! 

Today, I rejoice greatly in all that the Lord has done. Truly it is the Lord that has brought this project to this point and this book release. I have been waiting and praying about this day for many years and specifically months now and I am so delighted to share with y'all that December Caravan is officially available where books are sold, including Amazon. 

Thank you for all of your prayers, all of your love, and all of your support of this book. Thank you to my incredible book launch team for ALL of your amazing work in getting this book to this point. You all are incredibly. 

Thank you so much again for your support of this project. I am TRULY blessed by each of you! 

PS. Yesterday, I shared a short video of a few pictures from that beautiful, messy, hard, difficult, fun, wonderful, awful, fantastic, and most precious year that encompasses the first several chapters of the book and was the foundation for the past several years. The year that I grew up a lot. The year that everything changed. The year that extreme grace was shown. The year that I laughed way more than I cried. The year that I fell more in love with the Lord. You can find the video HERE and you can read more on my blog post from yesterday (where the video is also included) by clicking HERE.

One more thing- some of you have so kindly asked how you can help spread the word about the release of December Caravan. Last week I wrote a post entitled 12 Ways to help Your Friend's Book Release which you can find HERE

Thank you again for rejoicing with me in this amazing day! You can purchase December Caravan where books are sold, including Amazon by clicking HERE.

8/22/16

A Look Back Before Tomorrow

Three years ago (almost exactly to the date) I wrote a post sharing the news about a difficult and serious infection that I had developed that landed me in the hospital plus I was finally cleared to share the exciting news that I had signed a book contract with Tate Publishing

I can still remember signing the contract, feeling so sick, and laughing a bit that after so many years of praying for a season of writing ministry to be opened that this was the timing that the Lord had. It seemed (to me) that a different season- one of perfect health - would be much better. But as I have learned again and again on this journey the Lord's plans and ways are different and better than we could ever have imagined.
Eight years ago on this date (it was a Friday) I was finishing up teacher in-service, preparing my room, getting last minute lesson plans finalized, copying syllabi, and finalizing decorating my classroom. (If you are a former student, then the last one is probably making y'all laugh. You know how I loved my room to be decorated. *smiles* And Jen, you are probably giggling remembering that we were also trying to safety proof the room. *smiles*) I remember pausing somewhere in the morning and looking out the huge wall-to-wall picture windows that my school room had and wondering what the year ahead would bring. I had absolutely no idea how my life would be shattered and how I would spend the year not ministering as much as I thought I would but being ministered to and deeply loved by my school community and the graduating class of 2009. While I think of many of my students often and spend time praying for them, these past few weeks, and especially today I have welled up with tears so many times as I realize the story could have been so very different if I hadn't been the recipient of such extreme love by so many people that year. People that consistently and courageously and compassionately shared God's love in a million practical and gracious ways. 

God, in His infinite and amazing kindness continues to weave a story of love around our brokenhearted times. His mercy is never ending and compassion knows no limits. So today I wanted to share a few glimpses of some old pictures ... a look back in pictures from a year that is the foundation of the book... and a time when there might have only been tears was covered with the precious reminder that God was ever-present in the dark.

In looking ahead to the release of December Caravan tomorrow (ahhhh!!) I thought it would be fun to share a short video of a few pictures from that beautiful, messy, hard, difficult, fun, wonderful, awful, fantastic, and most precious year. The year that I grew up a lot. The year that everything changed.  The year that extreme grace was shown. The year that I laughed way more than I cried. The year that I fell more in love with the Lord.

To the WCA class of 2009, thank you. Your love, your encouragement, and your selfless care for me will always be remembered with humility. You brought laughter when there would have been tears and a precious reminder that God was ever-present in the dark

and to the WCA community who showed me what community rooted in God’s love and grace looks like… it was a piece of Heaven I will cherish forever.

While there are so many precious moments that I have no pictures of, and so many amazing people who are not shown in this video, I hope that what you see is the joy of being reminded that there is always hope in the dark night of suffering and pain because of an ever-present God. The video has a song that has extreme sentimental value... just one small gesture of love from students whom I am honored to call friends... looking for music that was not a country break up song for their teacher. Unfortunately I played it a thousand times over they year and they probably never listened to it again. *smiles*

P.S. Some of you have so kindly asked how you can help spread the word about the release of December Caravan. Last week I wrote a post entitled 12 Ways to help Your Friend's Book Release which you can find HERE. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

8/20/16

New Journals in the Shop

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you are having a delightful weekend! It has been such an exciting and busy time for me with my little shop!! The Shop has had an increase in orders and I am so thankful to each of you who have been supporting my shop with your orders! What a blessing you are!!
I am so excited to share with y'all new items that have been added to the shop this past week!  
Y'all know that one of the shop's main staples is the altered journals that the shop offers and I am so excited to share that there have been lots of adorable new journals added to the shop!
These adorable new journals are so fun and are a wonderful gift for yourself or an affordable way to bless a loved ones birthday or to simply send as a little present to someone!
There are different options of different types of journals and many other new items! 
If you are wanting to check out the shop you can click HERE! Thank you so much for your continued support of my shop

Happy Saturday sweet friends!

8/19/16

12 Ways to Support Your Friend's Book Release

With my upcoming book release of December Caravan, I have had a ton of sweet friends ask how they can help support me in this exciting season. I have shared in the past with y'all 10 Ways to Support Your Friends Who have Independently Published Books and today I wanted to share 10 Ways to Support Your Friend's Book Release! I am so appreciative of all of your sweet encouragement and support and I hope this post sparks some great ideas on how to support your friend who has a book coming out!!

1. Pre-Order their Book or Purchase their Book on the Day it Comes Out. 
This might be silly to even suggest but the reality is that many author's closest contacts won't think to purchase the book. This might be because they have heard almost every word and version of the book before it has even gone to print (*smiles*) but the reality is that for whatever reason many close family members and friends won't actually purchase a copy. Take the time to complete this simple step and this will be a huge support to your friend! 

Consider pre-ordering the book or at least mark your calendar to purchase the book the day it comes out. Both of these types of things help to generate traffic to the book and help the ranking of a book which in turn helps generate more traffic. Of course - it NEVER hurts to purchase a book at anytime! *smiles* Want to go an extra mile? Purchase a copy for someone outside your family and send it to them!

2. Reserve a copy at the library.
I learned this tip just a little bit ago but it is a great one! If all copies are reserved from a library before the book is released, the system notes the popularity of the title and marks the book as "order more". 

3. Request the Book in Local Bookstores 
Taking the time to say to a local (or national bookstore branch): "I am looking for __________ and can't find it. Do you have a copy of ______________?" is priceless. If enough people request a title, bookstores note this and there is a good chance they may order a few to have on the shelves! (At home? You can even call your local bookstores to request this and help your friend!)

Is the book already carried by your local bookstore? Still take the time to speak with a bookstore customer service clerk about the book. The hope and goal here is that if several people do this the employee starts to take notice of the title and is more apt to pick it up, read it, recommend it, or even place it creatively in the bookstore. 

4. Think Outside the Box and Share Connections 
Chances are, you know someone who could use the book that your friend has published even if it doesn't directly relate to you. Purchase the book and send your friend a copy! Think outside the box and think of the people in your life that you know that you could connect your author friend or their book with.

5. Write a Review
Just purchasing the book and reading it is a wonderful gift to your friend but what would help them even more is if you would take the time to write a review of the book (Amazon, BN.com, and Goodreads)! Most new authors (even those who are using a traditional publishing house) do not have a huge marketing campaign budget for their books. Due to this they are doing all of the marketing themselves with a little help from their publishing company

Your words and testimony about their book will speak volumes to many people who aren't familiar with your friends' work! One of the largest pieces of help for me in selling my book, "Praying through Lyme Disease" has been the generous and gracious reviews that I have gotten. I have received several emails from people saying that the whole reason they purchased the book was because of the reviews! So take the time to write a review! I can guarantee that your friend has a goal of at least 20 reviews per book so pass the word to your friends and ask them to write reviews for your friend also! It will only take you a few minutes but will be of lasting help to your friend! A review also helps with ranking so write reviews!!

6. Share Their Business Card
Most authors, including myself, have a business card that we hope will help us spread the word about our books. If you don't feel comfortable passing on the book to a variety of places perhaps you would feel comfortable with passing out your friends business card? Contact them and ask them for a bunch of business cards that you can have on hand to help spread the word about their projects! Live in a different city, state, or country then your friend? EVEN BETTER!! You will be helping them with marketing even more!! 

7. Talk About Their Book on Social Media
Share, share, and share some more about your friends projects on various social media forums. It will be such a blessing to them!! Ask your friend if they have a hashtag for their specific books and use that in your social media comments. Volunteer to "social media love" your friends work! They will be so grateful!

Want to go the extra mile? Take a picture with your friends book! People love seeing friends they know with their own copy of the book.

8. Word of Mouth Recommendation and Book Club Recommendation
Talk about your friends book to people you know. Many people purchase books solely based on a friends recommendation and many book clubs decide on books based on what people are talking about. Never doubt the power of your words to help spread the word about a new book. (Using December Caravan in your book club this year? I would be happy to send you some extra goodies for your group. Email me and I will be happy to chat with you in further detail!) 

9. Invite Your Friend To Share About Their Book (or their story)
Work at a school? Maybe the book doesn't fit into the topic that you teach or the school age kiddos but your friend could share about the writing process or about publishing a book or maybe their personal story or a variety of other things. Work at a Christian School? Is your school looking for a chapel speaker? Consider your friend! Work at an office? Maybe your office is looking for a once a month lunch speaker. Suggest your friend! Work at a Church? Invite your friend to your Bible study to have them share their story or to your church for a ladies luncheon. Work at a bookstore? Have them in for a book signing! Stay at home mom who attends a mom meeting? Ask your friend to come in and share about their book. 

Again, the topic might not exactly fit but your friend would love the opportunity to get their name out there and to share a little bit about their book, writing, or their heart.Most authors, including myself, are trying to start a speaking ministry and are trying to book different types of speaking engagements. I know most authors, myself included, would be so grateful for any thoughts or invitations. (And DO NOT let distance deter you. You may be on the other side of the world but I know so many authors, including myself that would love to travel to come and speak. Authors and speakers will travel anywhere to talk.)

10. Share Your Connections for Where They Are Traveling. 
Perhaps your friend is traveling for business, pleasure, or personal reasons. Do you have connections in the area that they are traveling? Share their information and the resources with them! I know that I am always looking to connect with people in upstate NY/Vermont and the south (both places where I spend 1/2 of the year) and in San Francisco (where my medical team is at). This fall I am also traveling to Florida, the Caribbean, and Vancouver. I am always looking for contacts in any of these areas to connect with. Talk with your friends and share your connections. 

11. Host a Book Party. 
Similar to the various parties that exist (i.e. makeup, jewelry, etc.) consider hosting a "book signing party" and have your friend as the key star. This will encourage people to purchase your friends book, interact with them, and get to know more people! (Don't let distance deter you- you can always host a book party online!)

12. Give the Gift of Donating Books to Those Who May Not Have a Chance to Afford it Otherwise. 
Want to bless someone with your friends book who may not ever have another chance to read it? Maybe you could gift a copy of a book to your church library? Maybe you could gift a copy of a book to your doctor's office (if the book relates to medical information like my Lyme books) or to the local hospital library. Purchase an inspirational book for the homeless shelter. Purchase an encouraging book for your domestic violence center. Think outside the box and it will not only benefit your author friend but have ripple effects in your community.

Along with this topic I want to say how grateful I am for y'alls help. I am desperately trying to get the word out, market my books, confirm speaking engagements and make connections. As I am dealing with health issues it is not always the easiest for me to make these connections and I so appreciate any and all help. If you ever want to chat about any of the above things I have mentioned you can check out my personal website for writing and speaking HERE or please feel free to email me

Thank you so much for your help with this journey! I appreciate your help!!

8/18/16

The Benefits of Healing Tears (How Crying Helps our Body)

When my health first started to really deteriorate in the summer of 2012 I found myself putting on a "fighting spirit" each day. I was convinced that (just like I had in the past) I would face this "unknown illness giant" with courage and and beat it just like I had with another illness in the past

In my mind I had already lived through a season of being told before by doctors that "there was no hope" and they had been proved wrong so why wouldn't this time be any different?I decided to push tears aside, buck up and fight with all that was in me.

I had absolutely no idea what the journey ahead would look like. 


Fast forward to 48 months later, over 35,000 miles of travel (to meet with close to 400 doctors and receive a variety of different treatments), countless invasive testing (that were not pleasant), 16 hospital stays, 1012 doctors visits (1014 if you count the ones that are going to happen today and tomorrow), hundreds of IV's, 17 claustrophobic (which I never knew I was) hard covered hyberbaric oxygen treatments, 34 soft-covered hyberbaric oxygen treatments200 detox baths later, venturing into the land of "health fears", receiving several life-altering diagnosis' (including IBD, Sojourn's, Severe Anemia, Advanced Late -Stage Lyme , and finally learning I had Cancer -when I was thousands and thousands of miles away from my family), being told by several major and very well-known hospitals that they "just were not sure what to do with the complexity of my case", becoming bed-ridden and housebound at 33 years old, leaving a job that I loved to pursue a dream (going for additional graduate work) and having both things shattered (and being told by twenty-three different doctors: "we just don't see you ever being well enough to hold a full-time job"), having several friends walk away in the midst of this difficult journey, receiving precious gifts that I could never have afforded, being told on at least six different occasions that "if I just had more faith I would be better", dealing with the emotional aspects of being seriously ill, trying hundreds of different supplements, vitamins, and essential oils, being able to walk again (on my own), being blown away by generosity of friends and strangers in this journey, surviving several severe anaphylactic reactions to different medicines and finally sometimes admitting that the "courage" to continue each day and hour wanes and instead I just take "one minute at a time". 


And in the midst of all that I just listed there have been tears. Lots and lots of tears. And I have learned something very important. There is actually health benefits to healing tears. Crying actually helps your body! There are times when I will let myself cry for a few minutes over bad news or good news. There are times when things are very difficult and I recognize once again the benefit to healing tears. I am not saying to spend each and everyday crying, but spending a few moments releasing tears helps our bodies in unique ways. So what are these benefits? Here are just a few:  


(1) Tears reduce stress hormones.


(2) A biochemist and"tear expert" - Dr. William Frey (who works in Minneapolis at the Ramsey Medical Center) found that: "emotional tears shed hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress". 


(3) Crying stimulates the production of endorphins. 


(4) (this one shocked me!)- Tears actually kill bacteria! I know I couldn't believe it either! I was shocked but I learned that tears contain a fluid called "lysozyme" which helps kill 90 to 95% of all bacteria. In JUST FIVE to TEN minutes!! WOW!


(5) Stephen Sideroff, who is a clinical psychologist at UCLA (and who is also the director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics) says that "crying activates the body in a healthy way".


(6) Crying lowers your manganese levels


(7) Suppressing your tears can actually irritate and contribute to additional health problems that are caused by stress. The Japanese culture believes in this so much that they now have "crying clubs". The premise is that having a time to cry will actually benefit and improve your health. (Considering Japan is known to be one of the "healthiest" countries in the world this is a fascinating concept!)


So today if you need to take a few moments to cry- do so! Help your body in these ways above by releasing some of the pent up tears. Do you think that there is benefit to healing tears? I would love to hear your thoughts! 


Have a wonderful Thursday y'all!

{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.}(Additional Disclaimer: this post is not talking about a person who is struggling with depression. If you are struggling with depression then I would highly encourage you to seek out a health professional.)