11/23/14

Notes from the Porch (Twenty-Eight): a November update

It seems impossible that it has only been about five weeks since my last "Notes from the Porch" update! I think because it has been some of the more difficult months in this journey time seems to be passing incredibly slowly. So many of you have emailed, texted, called, etc. and wondered how things are going and I do apologize for the lack of response. It has honestly just been very difficult and a lot of time spent in bed due to pain and illness. 

I was so thankful that I was able to go THIRTEEN weeks on intense medication (which I started in August). It was a blessing as I am doing an integrative route and this was one of the first times in this journey that my body was able to handle such intensive treatment (on the antibiotic side). It was a daily, hourly, minutely prayer request that the medicine would not cause huge issues in my digestive system and thankfully I was able to go THIRTEEN weeks for the first round! PRAISE THE LORD!! (I also want to share another HUGE PRAISE!! Since starting at my new doctors office in March this is the first time in YEARS that I have gone more than 6 months without traveling to the ER/Hospital once a week (or sometimes twice a week!!)!! I am going on ten months y'all without seeing the ER/Hospitals for emergency situations!! PRAISE GOD!!!! I am so thankful for my medical team!!)

Unfortunately, around week ten of the antibiotic routine I started to experience difficulty with the medications I was taking. I tried as hard as possible to keep pushing through but at thirteen weeks and 1 day I was unable to keep any water or food in me (as I mentioned here on instagram) so my medical team made the decision to stop all of my oral antibiotics for several days. During that time I doubled my already extremely high dosage of probiotics and the hope was that by the end of the week I would be able to resume antibiotics but unfortunately a week and a half later and I am still not able to. Would you please pray that my body adjusts and that I am able to heal quickly from either (a) my body deciding that it has had enough antibiotics for now (which would mean we might be looking at non-oral options including a PICC line/port, etc.) or (b) some infection that I might have. Thank you!! 

During this time I am still following my daily schedule (which you can read about HERE) but instead of all of the medications I am taking extra supplements, oils, and some other things. 

Another prayer request is for my upcoming doctor's appointment (on December 1st) where I will be finding out some of the next steps that I will be taking. For anyone who is seriously ill you understand that these appointments are always filled with anticipation and some anxiousness as you wait to find out what your life will look like for the upcoming weeks and months. I am so incredibly thankful for a kind and compassionate team of doctors and a wonderful medical office and I know without a doubt that the Lord led me to them in this journey. Although it seems slow, I know that I am slowly healing and am resting in the Lord for these next steps and plans. 

As I mentioned in my last notes from the porch update, I had some tests done to due concern over my thyroid function. At this point I would just ask for continued prayers as we are looking into some different things. As I mentioned last time, this is not a complete shock to us but they have found some things and we are praying that there is no additional issues that would complicate my treatment. 

I continue to ask for healing on my back. It seems to be slowly healing but I would definitely ask for continued prayer for the relief of pain from that area! 

I am so excited to share (in case you missed it) that my first book, "Praying through Lyme Disease" was published last week! My prayer is that it will be an encouragement to those fighting this disease and for their loved ones on the journey as well. It is the first book of its kind on prayer and Lyme Disease and I am praying that it will bless everyone who picks it up! (You can read the PRESS RELEASE about it HERE if you are interested!) We are working hard to get the word out about the book and I am in the process of setting up different author appearances and signings for this. If you know anyone  you think might be interested in hearing a little bit about my story, the power of prayer, and Lyme Disease I would be honored to talk with you about setting up something to speak to a group/Bible Study/Support Group about these topics! I prayerfully consider each request and only take a limited number of appearances due to my health so I would love to talk with you if this is something you are interested in! (You can shoot me an email here)!

Thank you so much friends for ALL of your prayers on my behalf. There are so many different moments throughout the day where I can see the Lord answering in a thousand different ways the different prayers that are given. I appreciate you and all of the time that you have brought me before the Lord. Your prayers are DEFINITELY NOT in vain!

I will conclude with a final prayer request that is most urgent and that is for financial provision. In September I was given a very generous donation (from St. Nicolas Anglican Mission) and an unexpected series of anonymous donations  (I still don't know who these were from but THANK YOU!!) throughout the month of October. These were SUCH a blessing and every penny has been carefully guarded and spent. In addition I have had an increase and several orders from my shop which has been such a blessing. Each penny has been used for everything related to my health. Unfortunately though this past week (after treatments, medical bills, medical appointments, medication costs, supplement costs, etc.) I have depleted those funds and am now at the end of my financial resources. At this point I am not able to continue with certain treatments or purchase certain supplements without the provision of additional resources and obviously this is of extreme concern (especially without being able to take oral antibiotics).  (Just to give a "rough estimate" it costs about $5000 for me each month (including what insurance covers) to meet each of the medical needs that I have. You can read more of the "breakdown" here.) And with the savings that I had almost completed depleted this is one of the more precarious financial times in this journey. I am so grateful for each of you that have supported me throughout the years and for each of you that continue to do so. You have been used by the Lord and I could never repay your kindness. The Lord has NEVER failed at providing every single thing I have needed for this journey and I appreciate your prayers for provision once again. ANY donations can be done through the "Go Fund Me Page" that is set up for my treatment which is found HERE:



As I have spent alot of time in bed resting and healing I have spent more and more time in different passages of scripture and each one has touched my heart in different ways. I shared on instagram about the way the Lord comforted me through birds that visit outside my window the other day and yesterday as I felt a little stronger to ride in the car to the grocery store I thought about all of the Lord's blessings. I have also thought though the last couple of weeks about all of y'all who spend time praying for me. Words can't express how blessed I am by your love, support, and all of your prayers. I think often of the sick man that was lowered through the roof to Jesus because he was to sick to get through the crowds. The love and support of his friends put him right at the feet of Jesus and that is EXACTLY what each of you do with your prayers. Thank you so much for taking me to the feet of Jesus and for taking all of my concerns before Him. What a mighty God we serve and one that never fails us in our times of distress and trouble. 

Thank you dear friends. With lots of love, 

Petit Collage Book Review

With everything going on recently it has taken me a tad bit longer to write the review for the book, "Petit Collage" than I had anticipated! BUT I am so excited to share with y'all my thoughts on it today!

Petite Collage's descirption overview reads as follows: "From the beloved design brand for nurseries, playrooms, and every space in between, Petit Collage shows you how to make 25 of their bestselling paper and wooden accessories for your home. Customize toy chests, create cheerful name plaques, build bunny clocks, and more, with artist and owner Lorena Siminovich. Breaking down each project with simple, illustrated step-by-step instructions, Siminovich presents easy tips on how to personalize the Petit Collage signature style with your child’s favorite colors and patterns. All you need are rubber stamps, paper, scissors, and the provided project templates to create a contemporary space filled with bright and distinctive d├ęcor. Whether you’re looking for unique paper toys or vibrant namesake prints, Petit Collage’s whimsical craft projects will inspire your children to put their little touch and big imagination into your family home. " (description found here)

I would definitely say that the description is exactly what is described. The crafts that are shown throughout the book are easy and simple to follow and the tips that are presented help the reader have the opportunity to personalize the craft for themselves. I would highly recommend this book and believe that it will be a delightful craft book that you would definitely enjoy!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

11/22/14

Christmas Cards

The rest of the "premade Christmas Cards" went into the shop this morning. Here are a few snippets of a few of the cards! Don't forget that you can purchase a custom Christmas card order with or without postage!





These and more cards can be found at the shop by clicking HERE!

NOAH picture book giveaway

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

NOAH Wordless picture book
A hundred years before the Great Flood, a man named Noah came home talking crazy. God wanted him to build the biggest ship the world had ever seen. The future of humanity depended on it. How would his wife respond? What would the neighbors think? Was it even feasible?

This lavish reimagining of one of the greatest stories of all time will fascinate children and adults alike. Nuanced and playful, yet meticulous in following the biblical narrative, Mark Ludy’s world-class art digs deeper than the Sunday-school tale of cuddly animals, exploring noah’s relationship with his family, the natural world, God - and a formidable engineering challenge.

Immerse yourself in this stunning wordless epic. Whatever your age, you’ll never read this story in the same way again. See what Emilee at Pea of Sweetness and her family thought of this beautifully illustrated wordless picture book.
Would you like to win the NOAH picture book? This giveaway begins on 11/21 and ends on 12/3 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US and Canada ages 18+. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from Propeller Consulting, LLC in the past 90 days on any blog, you are ineligible to win again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions/concerns please email emilee.roberts@peaofsweetness.com (consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as winning email notification will be sent from this email.) Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Pea of Sweetness received complimentary product(s) or service(s) in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.   

11/21/14

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

Last year, I wrote a post that has remained very popular 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- 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!) 

With Thanksgiving approaching I wanted to create a helpful list for Thanksgiving. 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 the 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. Believe me... they are not going to be spending it on themselves ... 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. 

11/20/14

PRESS RELEASE - PRAYING THROUGH LYME DISEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: November 20, 2014
Contact: Rebecca VanDeMark
                rebeccavandemark@gmail.com



First book on Prayer and Lyme Disease released

Praying Through Lyme Disease, by: Rebecca VanDeMark, MPA

At a recent Lyme Disease conference it was stated that “Lyme Disease is the growing epidemic and health crisis of the 21st century”. While not well known and maybe not well handled there are hundreds of thousands of Lyme Warriors that struggle each day just to live. Many of them cannot get out of bed due to extreme and debilitating fatigue and pain. Many are lying in hospital beds with doctors who don’t know what to do. Many others are struggling emotionally under the weight of loss. Many others feel completely isolated and forsaken. In the midst of all of this there is a voice and a helper that calls through the dark night and says that He will never abandon or forsaken us. But in the midst of sickness and pain it is hard to sometimes know how to pray through the scriptures of the Bible. 

“Praying Through Lyme Disease”, written by Rebecca VanDeMark, is a thirty-one topic prayer devotional for those fighting Lyme Disease and their loved ones. Spoken from a heart of compassion and understanding, Rebecca understands the Lyme Disease journey well as she saw over 273 medical practitioners before being correctly diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease.

Rebecca states in her introduction, “The book that you hold in your hand has been written from my heart. I found out I had Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease the day after my 33rd birthday. For the previous six years prior to that day I had experienced a myriad of intricate and confusing health symptoms that never made sense to any doctor. I had spent hundreds of hours traveling across the United States talking and consulting with some of the best in the country. No answers came and I was eventually told that either (a) this was “in my head”, (b) I had a very “complex case” of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (for which I had been diagnosed for) or (c) “stress was contributing to these issues”. Finally, after seeing 273 doctors in one year, seven years of searching, hundreds of invasive and painful tests, and thousands of prayers, I was correctly and accurately diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease. While my family and I rejoiced that there was finally an answer, I also experienced a range of emotions as I was furious with the medical community and overwhelmed with where to go from that point on.”

“Praying Through Lyme Disease” can be purchased where books are sold, including Amazon. "Praying through Lyme Disease" (ISBN: 978-0692299340) is an 82 page prayer devotional. Rebecca VanDeMark can be found at her website: www.rebeccavandemark.com, her blog: www.caravansonnet.com, and on social media. Rebecca is also the founder of SEEN Gathering, a chronic illness ministry, which can be found at: www.seengathering.org.

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Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD Giveaway

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

Why Do We Call it Christmas?
Cutting down trees? Hanging stockings? Santa Claus? What do any of these have to do with Jesus' birthday? More than you'd think! 
Join VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer along with intrepid newsman Buck Denver and all his friends on an amazing journey into the world's most popular holiday! Sure, you know the Christmas story. But do you know the story of Christmas? Don't miss the whimsical, educational, Christmical party to end all Christmas parties as Buck Denver Asks … Why Do We Call It Christmas? See what Emilee at Pea of Sweetness thought about this great Christmas DVD.
Would you like to win the Why Do We Call it Christmas DVD? This giveaway begins on 11/20 and ends on 12/2 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US and Canada ages 18+. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions/concerns please email emilee.roberts@peaofsweetness.com (consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as winning email notification will be sent from this email.) Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Pea of Sweetness received complimentary product(s) or service(s) in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.