10/24/14

a tough but necessary decision

I am learning a life decision again this week... the reality that we only have so many hours in each day to accomplish the things that the Lord puts before us. And I am learning that business and having a lot of things to do is not always the healthiest decision... not just when you are seriously ill like I am, but for everyday... in each of our lives. At some point we have to acknowledge the actual amount of hours we have in each day and make tough decisions on what we are going to spend our energy (or in my case very limited energy on). And this week I had to make several difficult decisions on where my time was going to be spent. 
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a day in my life currently, doesn't leave much time for me to accomplish all of the things that I want to do. There is a lot of time that is being spent on treatment, rest, and all of the necessary components to fight these diseases. This takes an incredibly amount of energy and discipline every single day. I might not "feel" like doing a detox bath twice a day or taking all of the necessary medications (and dealing with their side effects) or even taking my naps but if I want to get better all of these things are necessary components to meet the end goal. 

Part of that is hard to recognize... I like many others who are sick want to live a relatively "normal" life but as I sat in one of my ten doctors appointments for this week alone on Monday I had to acknowledge that what I want and what the reality is are two completely different things. The truth is hard and difficult... but the truth is also freeing. 
With that realization and the acknowledgement that this treatment plan is "kicking my butt" (as we say here in the south) I had to start thinking about the priorities that I have in my life and what they are in a more "fine toothed way".  In addition to meeting my requirements for treatment I must have time to spend with Jesus (which is a non-negotiable for me), have time for quality prayer, I want to have the energy to be able to carry conversations with my family, have the energy to chat and write letters with my close friends, have the energy to give several quality hours to SEEN Gathering each week, complete my work for CRATE 526 and Adopt-a-Platoon, work on my writing (for my upcoming books and for this blog) and work on continuing to develop my shop
And the rest of the things that I am doing will have to go. 

*smiles* I think a lot of times people think that people who are seriously ill sit around watching a lot of TV and "get to take naps" and it is like a season "off of life". This may be true for some people, but honestly in my journey, I have yet to meet someone who likes either of those things. TV gets really old (even if you are not like me and liked TV before you got sick) and naps... well let me tell you they are not all that they are cracked up to be. 

Most people who are sick are living life the best that they can and like everyone else must take time to evaluate what is going to "make the cut" of where we will spend energy. 
So while there are a hundred little things that I closed the door on this week one of the big ones is the end of the Parcel Post Tribe. I shared with the Parcel Post Tribe Members this week that this has been a decision that has actually been a long time coming but I was hoping it would "make the cut". But honestly there are several different reasons that this is the best decision right now. One of course is my health and another was the cost of making the cards and the cost of shipping. Unlike some other monthly card services, the Parcel Post Tribe was a monthly card service with ALL handmade cards (every single part) which took a ton of time and also made the cost of shipping more expensive. 

I tried in the last couple of months to "simplify" my cards so that the shipping would be lower but in doing so I feel like a "piece of December Caravan" is being lost. So the end of the Parcel Post Tribe (at least for now) has come. I do apologize to some of you that had written me emails in the last several weeks about becoming a member and I didn't respond until this week explaining my decision. I appreciate your compassionate and understanding heart about this. 
As we head into this weekend I am so thankful for the Lord's love and leading in all areas of our lives, especially in regards to things that are best for us. I pray that as I have found you will find peace to make the tough decisions and let certain things go so that you can be abundantly free to chase after the dreams and spend time with the people you love the most. 

10/23/14

12 Things to Pray for the Spouse of Someone with a Chronic Health Condition

{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 ten part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to "What to Pray for Someone who is  Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition or who loves Someone struggling with a Chronic Health Condition" (including those with chronic pain)!! In this series (when dealing with the word chronic) I am addressing anyone who has had an illness or pain for more than six months that has affected their life. This is a series that I have been praying about and asking the Lord to give great wisdom as I hope it will be helpful for someone! I am often told by very dear and well-meaning people, "I am praying for you" but am also told "I don't really know how to pray for you" or am asked just as often "How can I really pray for you?". While this series won't address every idea of what to pray and is not a "formula" I do hope and pray that it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying for those that you love who struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones. 

Here is the list of the topics for the series:
August 28th-12 Things to Pray for Someone Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition
September 4th- 12 things to Pray for Yourself as you Struggle with a Chronic Health Condition
September 18th- 12 things to Pray for the Parents of a young child with a Chronic Health Condition
October 2nd- 12 things to Pray for the Parents of an adult child with a Chronic Health Condition
October 16th- 12 things to Pray for Caretakers of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
October 23rd- 12 things to Pray for the Spouse of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
October 30th- 12 things to Pray for the Children of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
November 6th- 12 things to Pray for the Siblings of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
November 13th- 12 things to Pray for the Friends of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
November 20th- 12 Things to pray for Someone with a Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition during the Holidays

** Thank you to  several married couples who are in this situation and who graciously shared their hearts, hurts, hopes, fears, and joys about this subject with me.**
1. Pray for their marriages.  Did you know that having a spouse who is chronically ill increases the divorce statistics by 80%?!?? These odds are scary but completely understandable as the stress, frustration, fear, anger, and all of the other emotions are usually taken out on each other because you can not "get mad at a disease". Pray for the strengthening of these relationships, the protection against the temptation to cheat, and that the Lord would bind these two people together despite the difficult circumstances that they face.

"Therefore what God has joined together let no one separate."
-Mark 10:nine-

2. Pray for compassionate and "steady" people to join them on this journey.  These couples (and these spouses who have someone who is struggling with a chronic health condition) need compassionate and "steady" people to join them on this journey that they are on. By "steady" I mean friends who will not get caught up in the emotions of the moments or the difficulties but will support these spouses and these couples as a WHOLE reminding them of the love that they have for each other, the courage that they have to face these difficult circumstances, and the hope that someday (even though it might seem far away) things can get better. These spouses need friends who will lovingly not let them wallow in self-pity but will encourage them to be courageous.  Pray for friends who will also help take the burdens off of these spouses by volunteering to "give them a break" to get out of the house while they sit with the person who is sick or support them in other ways. Pray for friends who will stick closer than anyone could imagine.

"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
-Proverbs 18: twenty-four-

3. Pray for the right words to say.  Spouses often take on the role of caretakers (and the role of interim nurse and doctor) as patients look to them for answers. While down deep patients know that their spouse (unless they have a medical degree) most likely does not know the answer, they still ask questions. This is incredibly exhausting. Most of these times the questions hold incredible weight for the spouse as they must navigate the tricky waters of determining if the spouse needs to just "talk things through", go see the doctor, or if the situation is an emergency. All of this is incredibly taxing on the spouse. Most of the times this is also highly emotional as the patients are looking for words of encouragement and hope. Pray that these spouses will have the right words to say to meet each unique situation.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say." 
-2 Thessalonians 2:sixteen & seventeen-


4. Pray for EXTREME patience.  As mentioned in number three, spouses are often asked the same questions again and again and again and again. It can be scary and difficult to understand as a patient what exactly is going on in your body and also scary to know what the future will hold. These fears and questions are often asked repeatedly- even daily and hourly- and after a while this can drain even the best spouse. In addition to this spouses can be (understandably) frustrated as their lives are often dictated by how their spouse is feeling. This is incredibly confusing as with a lot of Chronic Illnesses (and even chronic pain) symptoms can flare or subside with little to no warning. For example a couple might be planning for a night out of the house and about two hours before  (or even minutes before) the sick spouse can be all of a sudden bedridden. To navigate this situation and a thousand others that can happen everyday these spouses need lots of patience (seriously they are heroes!) so pray for their patience. 

"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."
-Ephesians 4:two-


5. Pray for their resilience.  Webster's Dictionary defines resilience as: "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens... the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc." Spouses need prayers for resilience EVERY SINGLE DAY. These spouses are watching the people they love most on earth struggle with something that they can not control or stop (no matter how much they wish that they could). These spouses have to watch the people that they love the most deal with incredible pain and sickness every single day. Many times spouses have had to give up their own dreams and plans due to these chronic health conditions. These dreams and plans could mean giving up the dream of a certain job (because they can't work the hours required), the dream for kids (as some chronic health conditions make this difficult- even for fostering and adopting in some states and countries), the dream for a certain lifestyle, the dream of travel, the dream of a more "easy life", and the list goes on and on and on and on. These spouses pour their hearts and souls into their loved ones and there is no "leaving" at the end of the day. Its exhausting and tiring and requires resilience so pray for this daily.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
- John 16: thirty-three-

6. Pray for their Loneliness. There is a loneliness so deep that it cuts to the soul for those that are the spouse of someone with a chronic health condition. I think that this article said it best: 
For three years, Mr. Paradise's life had centered on his wife and her illness. He visited her every day during her numerous hospital stays, gave her body rubs, helped her take her medications and comforted her. At home he did the laundry, housecleaning, shopping and cooking. And that day at the hospital, while a nurse comforted him, Mr. Paradise said he felt overwhelmed. "She used to do everything," he said. "I'm a confused person. I'm going several different ways at the same time." Mr. Paradise, who has no children, also talked about some of his relatives who no longer keep in touch with him. "People should get closer," he said. And as he reminisced about the reunions the family used to have, he broke down and wept. Alone and devastated by his wife's illness, Mr. Paradise is one of nearly a dozen husbands and wives interviewed who share a common experience in caring for an ill spouse. They agreed that theirs was an experience few people who have not been in their shoes could appreciate. "The forgotten group," "the silent army" and "the hidden role" are terms they use to describe themselves. The spouses said that even close friends and family did not know what it was like to live in an endless round of medical tests, hospital visits and round-the-clock care; to be married and at the same time feel the loss of a companion and lover, and to feel ignored as family members, friends and medical professionals focus their attention on the sick partner. " (You can read the rest of the article HERE if you are interested.)
Pray for these spouses and the loneliness that they face.
"...behold I am with you ALWAYS..." 
- Matthew 28:twenty-

7. Pray for the times when they want to say "ENOUGH is enough".  We are all human and the reality is that there are sometimes where these spouses want to say, "enough". These spouses carry an incredible amount of responsibility, emotional baggage and financial fears and sometimes want to say, "enough". In our day and age it is common to hear of people walking out of marriages for less things than these circumstances and it takes a courage and a warrior's heart to say that "my enough" is found in nothing or no one but Christ. Sadly often times well-meaning friends, family members, or co-workers encourage this behavior by not just sympathizing with the well spouse but encouraging the well spouse to find their complete unhappiness with life in this situation. Often times this leads to resentment of the sick spouse (unintentionally or intentionally), a decimation of character of the sick spouse, a question of motives and actions regarding the sick spouse (some examples are: "well they felt good enough to go to _______, surely they could have cooked a healthy dinner for you" or "she never wants to make love to her husband but she seems friendly enough with other men" or "I thought I saw your spouse out earlier today at the grocery store (or the shopping mall) why couldn't they come to the work party tonight... are you sure that they are really sick"  or "you are such a nice person and always doing so much for others it seems like your spouse would be more happy with all that you do" and the list goes on and on and on and on.) These comments and others do NOT help the marriage and these well-meaning people are doing a huge disservice to this couple. Instead these spouses need a "safe place" to vent and people that will encourage them to continuing living with honor and courage and NOT to get wallowed in self-pity. These people need friends who understand that while they might not understand the actions or the motives of the sick spouse they can lovingly support these people who are hurting and struggling with their words and their actions by supporting the marriage.

"... Be Strong and Courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it... ALL of it... "
-I Chronicles 28: twenty-

8. Pray for their Strength to meet Each Day. Pray for their strength to meet each new challenge and each day.


"O Lord, my might, and my strength, and my refuge in the day of tribulation..."
-Jeremiah 16:nineteen-


9. Pray for their tenderness and compassion.  The role of a spouse who is a caregiver is one of hourly tenderness and compassion. Pray that they will have the strength to meet these needs each day.


"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
-Colossians 3:twelve-


10 Pray for the return of their joy. Illness can steal so many different things from people including joy. While a well spouses' role is difficult, lonely, and sometimes very depressing, there are many couples who can and do thrive in this situation. Pray that this well spouse will see the incredible opportunity before them of not only what they feel has been lost or stolen from them but the opportunities in front of them. Pray for their joy!

"They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
-Isaiah 35:ten-


11.  Pray for their Hope. This role may appear hopeless but our God is a God of hope - even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. Pray that they will not lose hope for their spouses, themselves, or the situation. 

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
-Psalm 27:thirteen-

12. Pray for peace. Many times these families are in the state of "chaos" where everyone involved is just trying to do the best that they can. This can create a host of tension, awkwardness, and also unrest. Pray for the peace of their household and for peace to reign in every area of their lives. 

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times
and in every way."

-2 Thessalonians 3:sixteen-
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Extra Resources:
On such a sensitive and needed topic I would be remiss if I did not offer some resources that might be helpful to those who are in this situation or to the loved ones of those in this situation:

Organization:
The Well Spouse Organization

Book:
God On Mute by: Pete Greig

And these books came, while I have not personally read them, came from highly respected sources and might provide some encouragement and help for these extremely difficult circumstances:

In Sickness as In Health by: Barbara Kivowitz

Mainstay: for the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill by: Maggie Strong
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hope these ideas have been helpful y'all! If you would like a copy of these twelve things to print out please email me and I will send you a word document! Sometimes when you are praying for someone with a chronic health condition you may feel that you are not "seeing" any results or doing anything, but the truth is you are!! God promises that He hears our prayers and He does hear yours! 
Keep praying for your friends and loved ones!! You are a blessing!!

10/22/14

Become a Better Blogger

It is hard to believe that I am coming up on almost two years of blogging! This "bloggy world" is an amazing place and I have learned so much from the early days of my first posts. I haven't done a "bloggy world thoughts" in a while, but I still look back with fondness on my early posts at what I learned at three months, six months, nine months, and one year! I look forward to sharing with y'all things that I have learned in the last year also in post next week! 

BUT as I look back at those posts I wish that I had some "better resources" to help me in those early days and even now going forward! And that is why I am so excited to participate in this giveaway y'all! If you are a blogger and looking for some resources for the present and the future then today’s your lucky day! These lovely ladies and I have teamed up to offer you a chance to win two of the best blogging resources out there! Joy Cho’s Blog, Inc book is incredible, and the Blog Life E-course from the ladies at A Beautiful Mess is beyond amazing. You can enter the giveaway below. Giveaway ends on October 30 at midnight. All entries will be verified. Good luck!!
Blogger Giveaway www.alexamariezurcher.com
Giveaway brought to you by:
He & I | Deidre Emme | Caravan Sonnet | Coco Bands | A Mommy App

Custom Christmas Card Orders

I am so excited to continue sharing items that are being listed in the shop! Yesterday I listed the option to purchase Custom Christmas Card Orders. (If you are interested in purchasing Christmas card sets that are already made some of these have been added to the shop (for example HERE) and more will be added in the weeks to come!
Custom Christmas Card orders come with the option for me to create a unique and one of a kind design that you are looking for!
Custom Christmas Card orders come with sweet embellishments, unique details, and are all completely handmade! These one of a kind treasures will be loved by all of your recipients!
If you are looking to purchase a Custom Christmas Card order you have two different options. You can purchase the Custom Christmas Card Order without Postage (click HERE) or you can purchase the Custom Christmas Card Order With Postage (click HERE). The latter option will include the correct amount of postage for each card as sometimes handmade cards can cost a little bit more with their postage! This allows you the freedom to fill out your cards and send with ease! 
I am only taking a select number of Custom Christmas Card orders this year so if you are interested order soon! Thank you again so much for your support of my little shop! Be sure to check out all of the new additions (including some non-"Christmasy" items) that are being added daily! You can head on over to the shop right now by clicking HERE

Happy Wednesday friends!

10/20/14

Christmas Mini-Album: Merry and Bright

As I mentioned last week I am starting to list Christmas items in the shop! And I am really excited to share with you this addition to my Etsy Shop! This is probably one of my favorite mini-albums that I have ever made! (Along with the "Homegrown Christmas Mini Album" from last week! *smiles*)
This is a sweet and unique mini scrapbook (size is approximately 7x4) with journal tags and embellishments that provides a lovely gift for Christmas or simply a stress free way for you to remember the joy of this holiday season. Each album contains 30 pages so that you can easily document each day of December!
 Albums come embellished with ribbon, twine, tabs, pretty scrapbook paper, glitter and cuteness that you will quickly fall in love with. Simply insert your pictures and write your precious memories to remember the wonder and precious memories of the season for you to enjoy for years to come. I love the colors and the "feel" of this classic Christmas Album!
This could be an excellent and stress free way for you to document and remember the joy of the holiday season or to give as a gift for Christmas! (AND the more albums you purchase the more savings you receive!) 
Stay tuned in the next few weeks as I continue to daily stock more Christmas items and more items in general in the shop! In the mean time click HERE to go directly to the shop to place your order! *smiles*

Happy Monday friends!

The Big Book of Savings

Sponsored by Ryan's, HomeTown Buffet, & Old Country Buffet

Hosted by Deals of Sweetness & Co-Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

The Big Book of Savings Giveaway
The popular buffet restaurants Ryan’s, HomeTown Buffet, and Old Country Buffet are introducing limited-edition copies of The Big Book of Savings that are filled with more than $75 in discounts. The coupon books are available for purchase for $10 at any of the 324 family restaurants and is available for just $5 for senior guests (age 60 and above). Each coupon booklet features 25 coupons. Offers include discounts on breakfast, lunch and dinner, and feature BOGOs, “Two Can Dine” offers, specially discounted meal pricing, and more. Coupons may be redeemed at any of the restaurants and are valid through November 26, 2014. *Offers may not be combined, but guests may purchase an unlimited number of books while supplies last.
Emilee from Deals of Sweetness shares her experience at their local Ryan's Buffet. See what her family and she thought in her Ryan's Buffet Review!
Are you ready to enter? 4 winners will each receive The Big Book of Savings! This giveaway begins on 10/19 and ends on 10/31 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Winner will be notified via email (consider adding dealsofsweetness@gmail.com to your "Safe List" as winning email notification will be sent from this email.) and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee at Deals of Sweetness received complimentary product(s) or service(s) to facilitate her honest review. I received no compensation for this post. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.     

10/19/14

What to Expect when you are Expecting Book Giveaway

Hosted by ~ All About Parents
What to Expect When You're Expecting is a perennial New York Times bestseller and one of USA Today's 25 most influential books of the past 25 years. It's read by more than 90% of pregnant women who read a pregnancy book—the most iconic, must-have book for parents-to-be, with over 14.5 million copies in print.

 The Fourth Edition, a new book for a new generation of expectant moms—featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It's filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what's new in pregnancy, but what's relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There's more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food–dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what's hot and what's not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.

 Overflowing with tips, helpful hints, and humor (a pregnant woman's best friend), this new edition is more accessible and easier to use than ever before. It's everything parents-to-be have come to expect from What to Expect...only better.

This giveaway will run from 10/18 ~ 11/1 at 5:00am one lucky winner will win their very own copy of the book. Get as many entries as possible and have fun! Thanks for participating and good luck!
Disclosure: Deb from All About Parents is sponsoring this giveaway. The prize is coming directly from her and in no way is this giveaway associated with the book publishers, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media website. If you have any questions about this giveaway please fell free to contact Deb at any time. Thanks for participating, have fun and good luck!