The Start of Something New...

"The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." 

-2 Timothy 4:17-

Very early this morning I started a new month of very intense treatment that will involve "all day IV treatments" as there are several different meds and nutritional IV'S I will receive throughout the day (averaging about 9-10 hours a day). This intense plan will be difficult on my fragile system but we are also looking forward to the steps forward we will be making in this fight for my health! 

Thank you so much for all of your prayers!


Storybook Mini-Album: Christmas Carols (VINTAGE)

Happy Saturday friends!

I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend! Today I wanted to share with y'all about an adorable new storybook mini-album that has been added to the shop. With the re-opening of the shop last week, I have been having a delightful time making new items, fulfilling orders, and having the opportunity to create again (even if it is done from my bed at this point in time!!).
A recent addition to the shop has been this adorable Christmas Carols storybook mini-album. This album is lovely vintage treasure for your entire family to enjoy! A sweet and unique mini scrapbook (size is a Goldenbook size which is approximately 7 1/2 x 6) with lovely journal tags, unique embellishments, and 24 special and unique acid free pages that coordinate with the Christmas Carols book cover and provide a lovely opportunity to remember and easily document special moments throughout this holiday season.
Each of the Storybook Mini-Albums in my shop use vintage and non vintage book covers that bring a "childlike" feel in remembering favorite stories and discovering new ones! This VINTAGE "Christmas Carols" is a precious Goldenbook cover that reminds its readers of the holiday season and Christmas songs from decades past. 
This album comes embellished with sweet and vintage ribbon, pretty scrapbook paper, washi tape 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.
This could be an excellent way to document your child's Christmas (for you to keep or to give to them when they are older), special moments of the holiday season, family get-together's, a baby's first Christmas, or simply a lovely addition to your vintage and shabby chic Christmas decor. 
If you are interested in this specific storybook mini-album you can find it by clicking HERE or check out the shop in its entirety by clicking HERE!

Happy Saturday y'all!!


When Light Dawns... One More Week Until the Book Release!

I literally have tears as I write this post. I am overwhelmed with the way that the Lord leads, guides, and provides us each and every day. As I think about the release of this book in ONE week I am overwhelmed by the grace of the Lord in giving me strength for this project. Truly, where the Lord guides, He provides everything we need.

It has been a ton of hard work and thousands of hours and it has been the Lord's grace and goodness each step of the way to see this project coming to fruition. I have to admit that this topic is so near and dear to my heart that while I have been writing this book for years, I never thought I would actually have it published. The topics in here are all things that I have prayed through, cried through, and continue to experience in this journey with Lyme Disease. The topics are things that resonate deeply in the hearts of those fighting Lyme Disease day in and day out. 

This book, "When Light Dawns" has been something I have been working on for the last couple of years throughout various times in this journey. This book is truly a vulnerable opening of my heart about living with Lyme Disease, specifically during the holiday season. My prayer is that it would be used by the Lord to encourage the hearts of those fighting this disease(no matter the age that they are!). I love (and have started to pray) what my former pastor says about book writing:

“I have a handful of prayers that I pray all the time... One is that God will put my books into the right hands at the right times. I've prayed this prayer thousands of times, and God has answered it in dramatic fashion countless times. The right book in the right hands at the right time can save a marriage, avert a mistake, demand a decision, plant a seed, conceive a dream, solve a problem, and prompt a prayer. That is why I write. And that's why, for me, a book sold is not a book sold; a book sold is a prayer answered. I don't know the name and situation of every reader, but God does, and that's all that matters.” 
-Mark Batterson-

That is exactly my prayer... that God will put my books into the right hands at the right time for someone who is hurting, struggling, or needing encouragement in this area and that they would draw closer to the heart of God. Would you join me in praying this? Thank you so much sweet friends! I hope that you have a wonderful Friday!!


Veterans Day 2015

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." 

-Cynthia Ozick-

To all of our veterans and active military members and their families and loved ones: I am forever grateful for your service and sacrifice today and everyday. May you experience the gratitude our nation feels on this Veterans Day and beyond.


St. John, New Brunswick, Canada

On our 5th full day of cruising we landed in St. John, New Brunswick early in the morning. Due to extreme weather we had not been able to land in Halifax the day before so we were able to land in St. John a couple of hours earlier than had been originally planned. I was so sad to not be able to spend some time in Halifax, but after a couple of rough weather days at sea I was extremely excited to be able to get off of the ship and explore St. John. Michelle and I had booked an excursion for later in the afternoon to St. Martins & the Bay of Fundy and were delighted to now have time to explore St. John's at leisure in the morning. With no specific plans we were some of the first to venture off the cruise ship and walk throughout the quaint city of St. John. 
I knew practically nothing about St. John before booking the cruise, except that like my favorite place in the world (Lake Champlain), the French cartographer, Samuel de Champlain had also explored this area. I was so excited to learn more about this quaint city that had so much English influence. St. John is the largest city within the New Brunswick province and is the only city on the Bay of Fundy. 
St. John was discovered by the Europeans in the very early 1600s and the strategic location of the St. John River and the Bay of Fundy made this a very popular location for settlement. Due to this, St. John became a place of fighting and and sieges during the early years of its existence and throughout the 1600s. Eventually after the Naval Battle of St. John (between the French and English), England gained control of St. John.

In 1777, American forces gained brief control of St. John. Due to this a British major who was famous in the American Revolution (John Small) personally led soldiers in driving out the Americans. St. John remained a loyalist dominated city and eventually in 1785 was declared under royal charter to become the City of St. John. St. John is known as the first incorporated city in British North America (present-day Canada).
Historically, many of the people who fled to St. John during the American Revolution were Loyalist and were so strict with their beliefs that they would not let anyone who was not a Loyalist or a descendant of Loyalists practice any type of trade, sell goods, vote, or even fish in the harbor. This remained in effect until 1870. What is particularly fascinating is that St. John became known as the "Loyalist City" and that historical influence remained in St. John even to this day as the streets, many buildings, many restaurants, and many historical sites play homage to the monarchy and to the British crown through their names. 
The Loyalist House (seen in the picture above) is one of the oldest residential houses in the city and was a survivor of the Great Fire years ago. This house remained in the same family until the 1950s. The house is now is a museum that you can tour. (You can see the names on the street signs as I mentioned above in regards to their nod to the English crown!)
I have to say that St. John was absolutely charming. It was a joy to visit and I would love to go back on a future trip. I loved the historical English influence that is still seen today. I truly felt that I stepped into a quaint European city across the pond.
After walking through the streets of St. John, Michelle and I ate breakfast at Cora's Breakfast and Lunch (Uptown) right across from the St. John City Market. It was a sweet breakfast and allowed us to eat quickly so we could continue exploring St. John with the limited time that we had. (As a side note Cora's offers several gluten free options and vegetarian options for those, like myself, who need this!)
Michelle and I had been told about the unique St. John City Market by our friends Esther and Doug and that had been our original destination, but as we were walking to there we kept seeing beautiful old historic churches scattered throughout the city. 
As we stopped to marvel at the beautiful architecture we asked a nice man to take our picture. As he did he told us about one of the oldest churches in the city (that we could walk to) in St. John which we could see down the street.
Y'all know how much I love history and particularly old European churches so I was so excited to go see this! Michelle was kind enough to detour from our original plans and indulge my request to go spend a few minutes at St. Johns Anglican Church (also known as the "stone church"). 
This beautiful church was constructed in 1824 and was completed in 1826. 

For those who are interested in architecture this Anglican church is one of the earliest examples of the Gothic Revival style in Canada which is known as the Romantic Gothic Revival style.
After visiting this church Michelle and I wandered back to the St. John City Market where we wandered through and did some shopping. 
The St. John City Market is a wonderful tourist place to see and visit. There are lots of different shops throughout the market that offer food, gift items, artwork, and many other treats and delights.
Michelle, who had been looking for an art print to remember our cruise found the most adorable hand drawn and hand painted print. I had been looking to purchase some small gifts for some friends on the cruise and was able to find some sweet Canadian treats in this market.
There are so many different markets and stalls within the St.John city market that it makes a fabulous place for shopping and visiting if you are in the area. If you are coming from a cruise ship like we are it is a simple walk (albeit up a big hill!) that you can easily walk to. (As a side note if you are a photographer many of the "inside" stalls in the St. John City Market will not let you photograph their work unless you receive prior permission. The outside stall pics as you see above, that contain mostly food vendors, are happy to have you take pictures!) 
After exploring the St. John City Market Michelle and I headed down to be closer to our cruise ship as we only had a short amount of time before we had to meet our cruise excursion group. We ended up heading down to the Market Square. The Market Square is an eclectic mix of a museum, library, shopping, sitting area, and dining places. Michelle and I spent a few moments just sitting around, people watching, and admiring the quaint library. Michelle and I looked at several different places to eat before we choose Ryan Duffy's which I definitely recommend. The food was delicious and the price was one of the cheaper restaurants in this area. The view was wonderful as we could see our ship, the harbor, and lots of St. John from our table. One of the things that resonated with me about St. John was how friendly everyone was that we encountered. Whether we were asking a question to someone on the street, or for directions, or even our waitress who was a saint in going above and beyond by helping Michelle exchange some money.

The visit to St. John was wonderful and the little time we spent in it was a treasure. Have y'all visited St. John's before? If not, I definitely recommend adding it to your list of "must see" travel places! You won't regret it!


finding thanksgiving and gratitude in the hard seasons of life

"The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" 
-Henry Ward Beecher-

Tis the season to be thankful isn't it? The time of year where our social media sites are flooded with people listing out things that they are thankful for, where friends share their gratitude and where the world seems intent on expressing all of the blessings that they experience everyday. I get it... I honestly do. I think I used to chime in and express all of these things myself... but lately in this hard season of life I have been struggling to find the things that I am thankful for. 
A couple of years ago I came across a verse in the book of Psalms that has humbled and encouraged me on this journey. It was from the 26th chapter, verse 3: "For I always have been mindful of your unfailing love § have lived in reliance on your faithfulness." I have read this verse once a month for the past two years and yet this year it hit me differently then it even did last year when I wrote a post about "finding gratitude".
Life is hard. These past eight years have been filled with difficult circumstance after difficult circumstance in my life. Somethings I have shared - like a fiance' who walked out months before our wedding to fighting a couple of diseases (Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer) to shattered dreams to loss and to sickness and pain so great there are days that I have wondered if I will be able to take another breath. And there have been other things in these last 8 years... but many of them are to personal to share on this site. 

Just when I feel like I have "caught my breath" and say to myself, "okay, that was the worst it will get" something else seems to happen. This fall has brought its own challenges and heartaches. Life does. Things happen that seem so insurmountable that we think we will never recover or heal and it often seems like there is tragedy at every corner and heartbreak instead of laughter at what our future holds.
As I lay here I am forced to consider again Psalm 26:3. Am I really always mindful of God's unfailing love? And it hits me like a bucket of cold water... if I was... wouldn't I be going beyond viewing some things in my life that I am going through in a different way (like I talked about last year) to actually finding thanksgiving and gratitude in the hard seasons of life?

Yes, I would.
 As I tearfully consider all of this I am forced to not only confront the questions in this waiting time with courage and to use time in this hard season well, but I also find thanksgiving and gratitude showing up in new ways than I could ever have imagined. 

I am challenged deep in my soul to go beyond writing lists on social media to writing lists etched deep in my heart of the Lord's goodness and mercy to me each and every day. Psalm 26:3 has shouted deep to my heart about being always mindful of God's love- not just for a season but for each and every day. 

And in God I am finding gratitude. Not for a thing, item, or person. But for Him.
I am realizing anew that no matter what else is happening circumstantially in our lives at the end of the day saying "it is well with my soul" is the deepest gratitude we can express, not because of what we experience now but realizing that our thanksgiving and gratitude goes beyond what we see right now to the hope of what is to come:

"On that day it will be said, 'Look, this is our God; we have waiting fr Him, and He has saved us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."
-Isaiah 25:9-
I am learning that gratitude accepts from God the present and looks towards the future with hope because we are always mindful of His love. Perhaps that is why the woman described in Proverbs 31 could "laugh at the days to come". Her strength (and her dignity) were found in the One who has given us life. What deeper gratitude could there be then to show ultimate trust by laughing at the days to come?

There may not be anything that you can think of to thank Him for or to find good right now in your brokenness and in this hard season that you are experiencing and that is okay friends. BUT I promise as you keep yourself "always mindful" of His love He will show Himself to you more and more. Rest in Him. 
As I live mindful of God's unfailing love I am overwhelmed each day by the blessings that the Lord has surrounded me with. My eyes go off of my circumstances and onto His love. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the joy that is found by being mindful of God's love and find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the hundreds of blessings He gives me each day. 

Hold on to His unfailing love and I promise that you will find slowly and surely not only find thanksgiving and gratitude but our merciful God who is tenderly walking with you during this hard season of life. 

"Let us acknowledge the Lord, let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains..."
- Hosea 6:3-


a shop update

It has been a while since I have done an update for my shop, December Caravan on here. For so many months I had to take a break due to beginning a new treatment, my extreme exhaustion and fatigue, some traveling, and then getting settled into a new routine for this fall. 
While I did complete some special orders on the side it has been a strange feeling to not be creating all the time and yet for a season it was necessary.
I so appreciate your patience, kindness, and understanding as I took time away to solely focus on my health. 
Yesterday, I reopened the shop and I am excited to say that it will be open through December 15th and then reopen in January after the holidays. 
Due to my health and the rigorous treatment that I am undertaking I have "slimmed" down the shop to include the Altered Travel Journals (1,000 Places to See Altered Journals, Country Altered Journals, State Altered Journals, and City Altered Journals), Altered Journals, Scripture Buntings, and Storybook Buntings.
At this time I am only taking a few custom orders so if you are interested in custom orders please place those ASAP.
For this year I have made the decision that I will not be producing any "holiday items" except for a few custom orders for Christmas and Holiday cards due to my health and instead will focus on the gift giving side of the shop!
I so appreciate your support and your sweet encouragement in this journey. All of the proceeds from the shop go to help pay for my treatment and I appreciate your sweet support in this way!
Head on over to the shop by clicking HERE and take a peek and while you are there please use this coupon code (caravansonnetfriends) for 15% off your purchase (of $5.00 or more)! This coupon is good through Monday!
Happy Happy Saturday sweet friends!