Caravan Sonnet

12/1/16

Leaving for Canada

I can't believe it... TODAY we leave on a beautiful weekend of adventure visiting one of my favorite TV show sets, meeting the hard-working cast and crew, meeting new friends, and traveling to Canada. This beautiful adventure came about as an extravagant gift and I am still completely overwhelmed at this blessing. We will spend several days in Canada before heading down to California to meet with my main medical team for a couple of days. (You can read more about that HERE.)

I will be away from the blog for the next several days, but will be updating my instagram community while I am gone and can't wait to connect with y'all more over there! You can following along by clicking HERE!

Thank you so much for keeping me in prayer for my health as I am feeling pretty exhausted from these last 6 weeks and struggling, especially with pain, nausea, and extreme vertigo. I also appreciate your prayers for safety as my family travels, for some personal requests, and for clear wisdom as we meet with my main medical team. I am so grateful for all of your sweet support and love!

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! Merry December!

11/29/16

Majesty of the Seas Ship Review

Today I am so excited to share my Majesty of the Seas ship review! This short cruise was so much fun and it was so much fun to be back aboard the ship that I cruised on the first time back in 2014! 
Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas was built in France in 1992 and her "godmother" is Queen Sonja of Norway. Royal Caribbean had talked about retiring the Majesty of the Seas but instead decided to refurbish the ship as it provides so many special moments to so many people each week.
Majesty of the Seas is currently operating on a 7-day cycle out of Port Canaveral each week. Starting in May 2016 (after the Majesty of the Seas moved from Miami to Port Canaveral)  the ship sails on a four night cruise (stopping in Nassau and Coco Cay with one day at sea) for the first part of the week (Monday through Friday) and then offers a shorter three-night cruise that stops in Nassau and Coco Cay.
We were on the shorter cruise- the three night cruise and left on Friday, November 18th and returned in the early morning of Monday, November 21st. It was the perfect amount of time for a short and quick cruise and was definitely relaxing and rejuvenating. It was also very fun for my parents to experience their first cruise and they loved it!
 
Majesty of the Seas has 12 decks and a variety of things to enjoy and during your cruise. There are poolside movie screens, a renovated spa with an extensive treatment menu, a state of the art fitness center, several swimming pools, a family friendly new aqua park, teen-only hangout areas, and lots of family-friendly activities. 
Majesty of the Seas also offers several different dining options (those that are included in your cost of your cruise and those that you can pay an additional fee for) and action and adventure for all ages. Between a rock-climbing wall, basketball court, and jogging track you can stay active and have lots of fun on your cruise!
The ship itself was incredibly easy to navigate which is a wonderful thing about Majesty of the Seas. Unfortunately on some cruise ships it can take a bit to orient yourself (especially if on some floors you can't walk the entire length due to a variety of different reasons) but Majesty of the Seas makes it easy to find your way around. And if you are on a short cruise this is a gift because you don't want to spend your time trying to figure out where to go. 
When I first went cruising in 2014 I knew absolutely nothing about cruising or how anything worked. Everything was such a new learning experience and it was so much fun. I still treasure that trip to this day and all of the precious memories from it.
To have the opportunity to be back was such a gift and such a beautiful time! 
Have you sailed on the Majesty of the Seas before or another Royal Caribbean ship? What was your favorite thing? Please let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to answer them!

11/28/16

Winter Toolkit

I have received information and materials from Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WinOverWinter #CollectiveBias
The holidays are quickly upon us and as hard as it seems to believe we will turn the pages on the month of December in just a few short days. Where has the time gone? Is it just me or does time seem to be flying this year?? 
And while the holidays and winter season bring a lot of fun times to gather with those we love the most, it can also be a prime season for many seasonal illnesses, aches, and pains. Often times visiting family and loved ones becomes difficult with pain due to pushing ourselves a bit more and using muscles that we are not used to using in decorating or fun holiday activities that we have planned. Each day is a treasure to be valued and experienced and holds so much activity and fun!
During this season I have found it helpful to create a winter toolkit that helps me through the holidays and well into the winter season. My main "ingredient" into the toolkit is MOTRIN® IB. I have shared before how I use this product and for me it is definitely the way that I keep the aches and pains of this season away so that I can thoroughly enjoy this time with my loved ones.
One of the things that I love during this extremely busy season is that MOTRIN® IB is easy to find and purchase at Target Stores. While I am there doing additional Christmas shopping I can easily go and find MOTRIN® IB in the pharmacy section or at Target online.
The other day while I was doing some Christmas shopping I walked over to the Target pharmacy section and easily located the MOTRIN® IB in the aisle. It was near the front of the aisle, so it was easy to locate. If you are looking to create your own winter toolkit using MOTRIN® IB this is where you would find it!
In this particular Target the MOTRIN® IB was located on the bottom shelf. Obviously I am not the only one who uses this as there was just a few boxes left! 
For those of you who may be looking for help with aches and pains at nighttime, MOTRIN® PM might be something that you would want to add to your own winter toolkit. 
MOTRIN® PM is easily located a little bit further down the aisle from MOTRIN® IB and still very easy to find on the shelf. If you are a parent who is looking to create a winter toolkit you may want to consider purchasing one of the Children’s MOTRIN®. 
To locate this in the Target it was simply on the other side of the aisle from the other two Motrin products I mentioned above!

Don't have time to run to Target during this busy season? Why not purchase the above Motrin products on line? You can find all of the ones that I mentioned that are available from Target by clicking HERE
What about y'all? Do you use MOTRIN® IB? How have you found it helpful during the holiday and winter seasons?

I hope that this has been helpful and encouraging in how to not only survive this busy and active holiday season but also to thrive during it. As we quickly approach December I hope that each of you has a wonderful holiday season- treasuring each and every day!

11/27/16

a new season and stage in the Lyme journey

Dear friends and loved ones, I so appreciate y'alls patience and kindness as I have been busy these last several weeks experiencing an exciting season of adventure. It has been a whirl-wind and I have so appreciated your prayers, your love, and your support during this special time. 

I know that so many of you have been asking for an update beyond my IG pictures and are curious to know how my health has been really holding up. I do not take it lightly that there are so many of you that have prayed numerous prayers, spend hours upon hours laboring on your knees for me, or that you daily are begging the Lord for complete healing. You are such a blessing in this very long journey. I appreciate more than words can express your kind patience as I have been balancing treatment and a bit of "real life" for the first time in four years. Thank you for your gracious love in this journey.

In saying all of that I wanted to take a few minutes to give an update on how things have been and what the next 11 days will look like. I have received numerous emails and facebook messages congratulating me on the fact that I am now healed from Lyme because I am looking "so good". First, thank you. That is so incredibly sweet of each of you and your love for me and your hope for my complete healing is a blessing. Unfortunately though at this particular point, healing has not completed happened. Yet. The last couple of weeks have provided several interesting adventures, travel, and writing assignments (including travel to the sweet south after being in the north, seeing dear friends, my sisters wedding, and a writing free-lance job on a cruise) and has given me the opportunity to have a bit of a short break from intensive IV treatment each and everyday. Unfortunately it has also taken me away from my supplemental treatments (including acupuncture, reflexology, IV nutritional therapies, nurses and doctors who are familiar with Lyme, etc.) and my body is very much looking forward to returning to each of these therapies and support system. 

In addition to this I have also added in several new supplements and upped other ones, started two new oral medications, and worked on some other antibiotics as well in addition to working on some intensive detox protocols. I still am taking my 225 pills a day, still getting stuck (albeit a bit less), and still doing everything else I mentioned HERE. As all Lymies well know, there is never a break from treatment or trying to beat this disease during the fight. On the flip side, I have always taken the opportunities that are presented to live life fully as much as possible. It is a constant balancing act, a learning process, and I know from the outside it can be confusing to see a "healthy looking person"  that is still very sick and be curious about what is going on. 

I also know, as I explained in a post last year, that y'all understand this balance and my thoughts about answering the "but you don't act sick statements". I have received criticism on both sides of the fence recently- those who are other chronically ill/seriously ill patients who feel that showing more of the beauty and joy robs the story of what being sick looks like, and those who are healthy wondering why I still talk about being sick if I am able to go do the things I have been doing recently. 

I really don't have a perfect answer for either side. I just know that I am trying my best to heal, to take one day at a time, and to live life fully as I can even in this stage of life. This almost weird - "pre-healed" stage. A stage that has given me improvement where I don't have to spend every day- all day in bed, but I still sleep for 12 hours at night and about 6 hours during the day. A stage that has allowed me to laugh more than cry due to the pain being a bit better. A stage that has provided me the opportunity to connect deeper with friends, be out in public a bit more, and to enjoy and participate in some real life activities. (Most exciting thing a couple of weeks ago? Going to the grocery store for the first time in about 3 years. It was a bit overwhelming and yet wonderful.) The opportunity to drive again. The opportunity to spend time with dear friends. The opportunity to dream. The opportunity to live a bit more. 

But it is also still a stage of knowing that I am still very sick. So behind the scenes, with my most trusted circle and tribe they see me getting up to take vitamins, meds, etc. and eat briefly and do detox baths before going back to sleep again. It is seeing me be able to enjoy several things but be completely exhausted and heading to bed at 5 or 6pm. It is them seeing me laugh and enjoy parts of the cruise in between my 7 hour naps that were spent inside the cabin in a darkened room due to migraines. It is them receiving text messages of "please pray" for pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sickness, etc. at all hours of the night still. 

And most of all... it is the love of so many of you offering grace and cheering me on in this new stage of this journey. I am not healed yet, I am doing so much better, and healing everyday, and yet I am still in the fight. Slowly and surely God is healing and each and everyday I am so incredibly grateful. 

SO today there continues to be the mixture of hard and good that I have talked so much about. Tears and rejoicing for the pain and for the progress. Struggling with issues and what is coming up and yet trusting that grace that has met me each step of the way so far will once again meet me in the days ahead as the God of love bids me to trust Him in new ways. 

We are currently in the packing again stage these days. We are ending this brief season of adventure that I have loved, treasured, and laughed and cried through. It has been incredibly difficult in many ways and wonderfully refreshing in others. This Thursday my mom and I fly out for one last bit of adventure for a couple of days to a beautiful gift and present (that I can't wait to share more about) and then we will fly on the 5th to my main medical doctors office where I will spend a few days with them doing a variety of things. We will return to the north on the 8th and I will officially start treatment round #4 that had to be delayed earlier this fall on December 12th. It will be intense and difficult and yet, part of me is dreading it and part of me is ready to fight more deeply... and most of all no matter my feelings... it is the next step. 

I so appreciate your continued prayers for each step that is coming up and I also appreciate your continued prayers for all of the financial means to come in for this trip for my doctors appointment. Each step of this journey is always so faithfully provided for and we are confident that this appointment will be provided for again, but I would covet your prayers for this area. A HUGE thank you to dear Esther and Doug for your beautiful contribution a little bit ago that will help to pay for the doctors appointment!

A Few Specific Prayer Requests:

1. Lodging in California for Doctors Appointment
Please join us in praying for specific lodging issues to be worked out and finances for this portion of the trip with a specific hotel. Due to my environmental allergies we can only stay in specific places and we covet your prayers for this portion of the trip specifically.

2. For Wisdom at my Doctors Appointment
We are in desperate need of some wisdom for a couple of specific areas of my health and we would love prayers that this appointment would be filled with wisdom on the best next steps for these areas. Thank you!

3. For Finances to be provided
As mentioned above we are praying that all of the finances would be provided that we need for this trip. Thank you so much for joining us in prayer. 

4. For health and safety as we travel
We so appreciate your prayers as we travel and for my health during this time!

5. For My Upcoming Book Release, "When Truth Refreshes"
This book was one of my most personal and difficult books to write and it releases on December 27th. Would you please pray for this book and those who will read it? You can find out more about it HERE.

6. For Relief of Some Difficult Symptoms
For the past several weeks I have been experiencing some incredibly difficult and scary symptoms and I would covet your prayers that those would be removed. Thank you!

Words can't express how grateful I am for all of your kind support and love during this time. Thank you again for all of your support, love, and prayers especially in this new stage and season. Each of you are a blessing!

With Love, 

11/23/16

15 Ways to Help a Friend with a Chronic Illness During Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving Eve friends! 

Three years ago, I wrote a post that has remained one of my most popular posts which discussed 26 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness. It was widely appreciated by those who have a chronic illness and those who love someone with a chronic illness.  As time went on I started to receive some emails asking if there were any specific thoughts or ideas on how to reach out to someone with a chronic illness during the holiday season. (Y'all are AWESOME. Seriously. I love emails like this- they are such an encouragement to my little heart!) So I wrote a post entitled, 17 ways to help a friend with Chronic Illness during the Holidays.  (There is also a 30 Christmas Present Idea list for a friend with Chronic Illness that can be found HERE if you are interested and a 35 Christmas Present Ideas for Lyme Patients post that can be found HERE!) Last year I shared 15 ways to help a friend with a chronic illness during the thanksgiving season and today I wanted to re-share this again!

I hope that this list helps! I am not an expert at all, but the things that I have listed below are things that friends have mentioned to me that have been wonderful or I have personally experienced that has truly touched my heart and my life during this holiday season. So (in no specific order) here are 15 ideas to help a loved one with a chronic illness during the Thanksgiving holiday!

1.Pray for your friend. 
The holidays can be stressful for people and this is especially true of those with chronic illnesses.

2. When hosting a dinner party (or a get together) take the time to share with your Chronically Ill friend ahead of time the ingredients of all of your dishes. 
This will save your friend any awkwardness of having to ask questions in front of the other guests and feel like a burden at the party. 

3. When hosting a party- offer some foods that your friend (who is on a special diet) can eat. 
Don't make this a big deal but try to incorporate snacks (or leftovers) that you know your friend can eat.

4. Be sensitive. 
Understand that money is tight and that the holidays are incredibly stressful for your friend. Hosting a thanksgiving get together (even if it is "their year") can be extremely taxing on those suffering with chronic illness. I know I was told by one friend, "if it was just us, we would be eating eggs and toast because money is so tight but instead we have been missing treatments, not buying supplements, etc. for a couple of months just to save up to feed the family because it is our responsibility this year". Yikes! Unfortunately this is the case all too often. Be incredibly sensitive to the time, energy, and money that may be spent and try and help out with any (or all!) of these things! 

5. Remember your neighbors! 
Helping those who are less fortunate, serving at the homeless shelter, etc. are all wonderful ideas BUT have you ever thought about serving those who are even closer to you? Your chronically ill friend is in serious need. Consider serving those closest to you this year!

6. Offer to go grocery shopping (and pay for the groceries) for your friend. 
This was such a great idea! Shopping is absolutely exhausting for a chronically ill person, but during the holidays it can be truly detrimental. Not only are their long lines and tons of people but often times there is more of a chance of someone picking up germs due to these large crowds.  You most likely are already going to the store- why not ask your friend what you can pick up for them? Another idea? Why not get double of everything you are getting and then drop it off at their house (with the receipt). They will keep what they can use and exchange anything that can't be used. Such a simple but helpful thing for those who are ill!

7. Be Patient. 
Things may look different with your friend and family members who are seriously ill but remember that they are still the same person. Be patient with the changes.

8. Laugh often with your friend or family member. 

Maybe offer to bring over a comedy to watch together, send a funny card in the mail, or just leave a message that could bring a smile to their face!

9. Don't make it about you. 

Yes, the holiday season is about giving but be respectful of your friends wishes and desires. Maybe they really don't want you to come over at midnight to celebrate Thanksgiving Eve (or Thanksgiving Eve Eve...Yes, Hahaha that is a true story! *smiles*)

10. Consider starting new holiday traditions. 
Yes, you have stuffed yourselves with Turkey and always played flag football for the whole afternoon finishing the day off with a movie marathon and then starting your all day Christmas shopping at midnight on Black Friday and that has been wonderful for years (or decades or generations) BUT... just typing that list is exhausting let alone being able to do 1/2 of those things for a chronically ill person. Why not start new holiday traditions while keeping the old ones? BE Creative. BE open. Your love and compassion will be the best holiday gift you could give someone. 

11. Take up a secret holiday collection and give it to your friend before Christmas. 

Why not surprise your friend with an early Christmas present and give it to them at Thanksgiving. Believe me... they are not going to be spending it on themselves unless it is for treatment but even then they probably will use it to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones. 

12. Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season. 

Holidays are about PEOPLE. NOT a tradition or a "pinterest worthy" house... but people. Spend the energy and love on the people who are hurting. 

13. Be Thoughtful. 

This is how I describe things to those who don't know me sometimes. "Remember how poorly you felt when you had the flu last year? Remember the headache and the backache you had last week? Remember when you had mono as a college student? Put all of them together and times it by ten and you have close to what I am feeling all of the time. Now if you felt that way... what would you like to do for the holidays?" Be thoughtful - put yourself in the others persons shoes. 

14. Be Compassionate. 

Does your friend have more pain or fatigue later in the evening? Consider hosting a brunch instead of a dinner! (Or vice versa!)

15. Realize that your friend or family member with chronic illness is the best gift this season. 
Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate PEOPLE. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world. 

11/22/16

gratitude

We made it home safely late last night from the Caribbean and continue to talk about the amazing gift of time the days were. It was truly a lovely cruise with a whole lot of laughter and joy and lots of time spent on our balcony taking in the gorgeous views. 

I hope that y'all have a wonderful Tuesday as you prepare for Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends! Sending lots of love and gratitude for this beautiful community that has truly touched my life, encouraged me, and loved me so well. I truly am so grateful for each of you!

11/17/16

Leaving for the Caribbean

I can't believe it... TODAY I leave on a beautiful weekend adventure with my parents for a weekend in the Caribbean sailing on Royal Caribbean! Similar to my adventure in September with my sister, this beautiful adventure came about as there was an amazing opportunity to write about a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Caribbean. After lots of prayer, talking with my medical team in depth, and marveling at the timing, I watched as once again there were beautiful gifts from God alone as I moved forward with this opportunity. 

I will be away from the blog for the next several days, but will be updating my instagram community while I am gone and can't wait to connect with y'all more over there! You can following along by clicking HERE!

Thank you so much for keeping me in prayer for my health as I am feeling pretty tired from all of the fun activities lately, for this adventure, for safety in traveling, and for this amazing experience. I am so grateful for all of your sweet support and love!

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!