Caravan Sonnet


Disney Dream Cruise Ship Food and Dining Review

Along with all of the amazing other things (from the boarding and embarkation experienceour gorgeous stateroom, the spectacular shows, the port excursions, and the beautiful ship itself!) the food on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship was simply wonderful, especially if you have food allergies like myself. 
 From the moment that we arrived on board we were immediately impressed with the quality of food, the taste, and the attention to detail that Disney gave.
As a bit of an explanation for those who haven't sailed on the Disney Dream before seating is a bit different than on other cruise ships. While you keep the same table number (and your table comrades and your same waiters) you actually move between three different restaurants (Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, and Animator's Palate) for each night of a 3 night cruise. When I first heard about this I was curious at how this would work since I didn't have experience with anything but being in one restaurant at the same table each night on a cruise. Honestly, I absolutely loved it. It was fun to rotate between the three restaurants and feel like you were going out to eat in a different setting each night. The decor in each of the restaurants is different with unique twists and it made the whole cruising experience even more unique.
The first night of our cruise we ate at the Enchanted Garden which was absolutely adorable. As we were sitting there we kept trying to figure out which Disney story the Enchanted Garden was from. We had all sorts of guesses and it turned out that it is inspired by Versailles. Honestly the moment that our head waiter shared this I immediately could see it. It was gorgeous and you did feel like you were in an enchanted garden.  If you are interested in seeing the Enchanted Garden menu you can click HERE.
Disney Cruise Line
 As it was the first night and our waiters and managers were getting to know each of us I ended up choosing something pretty basic off the menu that could be tailored to fit my allergies. The food was very nice, but it was the following meals (as a person with food allergies) that were absolutely amazing. From the next morning on I was able to look at menus ahead of time and the chefs would work to tailor each meal into a custom meal so that I could enjoy almost anything on the menu. (As a bit of background I had called ahead to discuss my allergies, was able to talk with a Disney Cruise chef, and never had one worry about food. Not having this concern truly made the difference on this ship. I was so impressed with the way that Disney handled everything throughout our cruise.)

For the record Disney Cruise Lines offer gluten free, vegetarian, no sugar added, dairy-free, and lighter note offerings on all of the table-service restaurant menus. Disney Cruise Line will also work to accommodate kosher meals, lifestyle/cultural meal options at no additional charge if you call ahead to speak with someone. You can find out more about who to contact (especially if you have a life-threatening food allergy) and other questions about how Disney is allergen friendly by reading HERE
The next morning (and each of our mornings on board the ship) my sister and I chose to eat at the Royal Palace. During the morning and afternoon hours, the Royal Palace offers table-service dining if you choose to skip the buffets. My sister and I chose to do this on the recommendation of the Disney Dream staff and it was absolutely an amazing way to start the day. I definitely recommend it. 

And y'all... even though I eat a low-carb diet I had to try to the famous Gluten Free Mickey Waffles. They were delicious! 
Disney Cruise Line
Our second night of the cruise we ate in the Royal Palace Restaurant. For every little girl and wanna-be princess the Royal Palace is an absolute dream. 
You feel like you have definitely entered into a classic Disney fairytale as the restaurant is modeled after the classic Disney films including, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 
The circular room decor (a special nod to Cinderella) includes ornate marble floors, hand-painted portraits of Disney princesses on the walls, and even a royal entry that includes a pumpkin coach, glass slipper, and tiara. In addition each of the chairs are extremely comfortable as they are plush lavish chairs and once again shows the incredible detail that Disney puts into everything. If you are interested in seeing the Royal Palace menu you can click HERE.
As an added touch in each of the dining rooms the silverware, plates, and even the bread baskets are uniquely themed to each restaurant! 
On our second day of the cruise (when we had our Aquaventure Port Excursion) a meal was included as part of that experience. If you are interested in reading more about this experience you can click HERE
On our third day of the cruise we were in Castaway Cay (absolutely break-taking and amazing and I can't wait to share about that with y'all tomorrow!) and while you could eat on board the ship, they also provided a buffet on the island. I have to share a bit about this experience as I was completely impressed with how Disney handled this. The night before the head waiter came and asked me what I would like for the following day and said that they would have it ready for me at one of the buffet cabanas. When I arrived the next day my sister went through the buffet line while I went to pick up my pre-ordered meal. Y'all seriously. This is amazing. As a person with so many different allergies and who doesn't like to be the center of attention, Disney has kindly and graciously though through so many details. (Even including a salad and a safe dressing for me which was not on the menu because I eat a very specific low-carb vegan diet.)
As I was waiting I spoke with a mom of a young boy who has severe allergies and a teen girl who was waiting to pick up their special food. Both had the same reactions that I did. The way that Disney goes above and beyond is absolutely spectacular. If you have allergies and are wanting to go cruising go with Disney because it is amazing. 
Disney Cruise Line
Our third and final night of the cruise we ate in Animator's Palate which is a fun and uniquely themed restaurant. The decor is absolutely amazing with unique architectural design, and the scenes and sketches on the walls around you change. It was so cool. 
There is also a talking Finding Nemo/Finding Dory show that was pretty impressive. (If you are on a longer cruise than 3-nights there is an additional show that takes place. You can read more about it HERE. Again, every detail of the Disney Dream is down to perfection. 
As far as food choices, I have to say that this restaurant was one of my sister's and my favorite meals. I am looking at that vegan black bean burger meal and wanting it right now! *smiles* Every restaurant was amazing, but the food in this restaurant was supreme. If you are interested in seeing the Animator's Palate menu you can click HERE.
Every night our table enjoyed different deserts. According to my sister and my table mates the deserts are absolutely amazing. To be honest, I can't really comment on them as I don't eat sugar due to my journey with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease, but they looked incredible and beautiful!  
The Disney Dream also offers two additional restaurant options- the Palo Restaurant and the Remy Restaurant. Both of these restaurants do cost extra but come with different perks and benefits. We didn't chose to do this on this cruise but heard from others that both restaurants are absolutely delicious. 
Disney Cruise Line

The Palo restaurant is an italian-inspired restaurant that offers spectacular views of the ocean as you eat and has live music. This restaurant is offered also on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder and is very upscale and romantic making it an excellent choice and option for couples to try. If you want to read more about the Palo Restaurant you can click HERE or if you would like to see the menu you can click HERE
Disney Cruise Line
The Remy Restaurant is an adult-only restaurant that serves the finest French fare for dinner. When you step into this restaurant you feel like you have been transported to Paris as the art deco and ambiance gives a complete French feel. For the perfect mixture of Disney magic the character from the hit Disney film Ratatouille appears in creative touches throughout the design. Oh, and don't forget to check out the creative ways to dine in this restaurant- including the opportunity to dine in the wine room! If you want to read more about the Remy Restaurant you can click HERE or if you would like to see the menu you can click HERE
Disney Cruise Line
Finally, the Disney Dream offers a couple of buffet options and room service which had a delicious menu with lots of different options. You can read more about the room service option HERE!
And a quick note about Vanellope's. My sister loved this place. Like seriously loved. Hahaha! I am giggling remembering all of the trips that we took to this spot on the ship! It is only offered on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship and y'all it is seriously amazing. It even offeres some sorbet for those of us that can't eat other treats! (A quick note- you do have to pay extra for the food in here so you might want to stay away or save up for this sweet treat!) 
Finally, I just have to add that our entire wait staff (and all of the waiters we came in contact with) were absolutely amazing. They seriously went above and beyond in so many ways to help accommodate my food allergies and were just amazing people to talk with and get to know. Each one was incredible patient, helpful, and fun. I was so impressed with each staff member!
I hope that this review of the Disney Dream Cruise Ship Food and Dining has been helpful! Have you been aboard a Disney cruise ship? What was your favorite place to eat? Please let me know if y'all have any questions! 


What's Up Wednesday (October Edition)

Happy Wednesday friends! I am excited to link up with MelShaeffer, and Shay for the "What's Up Wednesday" Link up! I have so enjoyed reading these ladies posts and am excited to join in! It is so fun to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this each month! If you would like to join in and have a blog, just answer the questions above!

What We're Eating this Week... 
So back in June I shared a post entitled "17 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar" and then honestly hardly used ACV at all this summer. I think after using it in detox baths (twice a day) and drinking up to 1 cup of it everyday for almost two years my body was done. With fall in full swing and the holiday season approaching, I have started to add this back in. There are so many important benefits of ACV (you can read 15 benefits of it HERE) and I want to add this back into my daily routine. 
And if you are considering eating tons of pumpkins this holiday season you may be as shocked as I was to learn how many health benefits that there are in pumpkins (and their seeds!) You can read my post about 9 benefits of eating pumpkins by clicking HERE about just a few of the amazing benefits from this food!

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
All things Disney Cruise related. I only have a couple of posts left to share from this amazing experience and in many ways I am delaying because it was such an incredible experience that I want to linger over all of the precious memories for as long as I can! If you want to read more about the experience you can find the following posts:

 And guess what? Disney Cruise Line just announced their 2018 cruise iteniers! They look amazing! You can check out more about Disney Cruise by clicking HERE

What I'm Loving... 
Fall in upstate New York. It has been absolutely breathtaking this year (as evidenced by the tons of pictures that I have posted on my instagram feed *smiles*). Starting the fifth fall of this long journey has gently taught me so many different things, mostly about God and His love and knowing that He will have the best in mind. What a good and amazing God He is.

What I've Been Up To...
The last 14 days have literally been an extreme whirlwind of activity. Two weeks ago we attempted to finish packing up our cabin in the woods and moved an hour north to settle in with my grandmother for winter and spring so that I can continue to get treatments like we did last year. Two days later we traveled south for me to speak about marketing and promotion for Indie Authors. Two days after that on Monday, the 17th I was re-accessed as my medical team and I made the decision that I was going to try a 10 day trial run of intensive IV meds to see if my body could handle this treatment plan after the difficult last couple of months that I have had pain wise. At the same time last week I struggled with intense pain for a variety of reasons we started this 10 day trial run and continued to unpack for my grandmothers house as we also re-pack for our upcoming travel down to the south and out west for about 7 weeks. It has been an absolute whirlwind and unfortunately as of yesterday it looks like we are going to have to adjust the 10 day trial run. So I will have a few days off (hopefully no more than this) and then will restart a different trial run. As I say all of the time in this journey, it is literally #onedayatatime. 

What I'm Dreading... 
So let us be real. The trip home to the south... 20 hours in the car... yea... I am dreading it. I love road trips but 20 hours in the car is not something that I am looking forward to. Last year I wrote a travel post entitled 10 Tips and Tricks for Long Road Trips and I am going to try to practice some of those ideas! *hahaha*

What I'm Working on... 
As I shared last month, August was such a whirlwind of activity with the December Caravan Book ReleaseI have truly been so overwhelmed and blown away by the incredibly kind support and words about this book. Thank you again so much for all of your love about that project! (If you are interested in purchasing December Caravan you can find it where books are sold and on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. If you are interested in bulk/group discount orders you can find out more information HERE.) 

But as quickly as August and early September came and went I went right into finishing up final edits and things for my upcoming book release When Truth Refreshes. I share at the beginning of this month that I  started writing this specific book in December 2013 so the timing of the release date brings a smile to my face. At the time I was deeply struggling with loneliness and grief, fear, frustration, anger, hopefulness and hopelessness in addition to a myriad of other emotions when a stack of beautiful letters arrived at my front door from some former students. These letters (which I have carried with me in a special notebook and are tattered right now) spoke beautiful truth of God's love, His power to do the impossible, and His never ending mercies for each morning. This book is one of my most personal Lyme devotionals yet... walking through the vast array of emotions that can be experienced in the Lyme Disease Journey. You can read more about the story behind this book HEREWhen Truth Refreshes will be released on December 27th- right in time for the new year! 

What I'm Excited About... 
The next two months are going to be a flurry of activities including my sisters wedding, an opportunity to write about a cruise that I am going on with my parents, the release of When Truth Refreshes, and visiting the set of my favorite TV show! AND... so very excited to share that I also will get to see and hang out with one of my best friends, Katie from Always, Katie. I CAN NOT WAIT. All of the fun and adventures (and continued treatment - not so fun!) will kick off this Saturday as we travel home to the south. I definitely covet prayers as there is so much going on and we appreciate prayers for safety and my health. 

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
Robin Jones Gunn Pic
So y'all know that I love the author Robin Jones Gunn and all of her different series. Some of my favorites of hers are The Christy Miller Series, The Sierra Jensen Series, The Katie Weldon Series, Christy & Todd the Married Years, and the Glenbrook Series (Okay, lets be honest ALL of Robin Jones Gunn books *smiles*) I shared in my post the 5 books that have impacted my life the most how when I was 13 years old I was handed my first of many books I would fall in love with from Robin Jones Gunn and haven't stopped reading them over the last 23 years. I have read, re-read, and re-read a thousand times the adventures of Robin's characters while I have been encouraged in my faith and strengthened and challenged to return to scripture. Robin takes what some might call ordinary characters and weaves a beautiful story line that challenges me to fall more in love with Jesus, to spend more time in scripture, and to love those that the Lord has placed in my life in big ways with lots of grace. Her characters are so memorable that you feel that you are reading about friends, but beyond her talent for writing is a woman who obviously loves the Lord and has changed countless lives, including mine. 

No matter your age- whether you are 13 years old to your early thirties (and beyond) you will love these books. Throughout the last few years of my health journey I have re-read these series and books thousands (literally!!) of times, have handed out countless copies to people on airplanes, in hospitals, and even once in a grocery store line. The beautiful way that Robin writes mimics the beautiful way that the Lord calls people to Himself- with lots of love, lots of grace, and lots of beauty. 

AND I am seriously so excited because Robin is about to release a new book in the Christy and Todd series and also has had one of her books made into a Hallmark Movie that premiers on November 13th! SO excited to watch that!! You can read more about her story of having her book made into a movie HERE

What I'm Listening to... 
I shared this last month, but it is still the same. A couple of years ago this song was on repeat every morning and I have had it back listening to it again almost every morning and evening. I definitely have used this as the prayer of my heart these past few weeks and this summer and plan to as we enter this fall. If you are tired and weary or feel like you have been forgotten by the Lord this song is for you. 

What I'm Wearing... 
Lots and lots of blanket scarves. I love scarves and the changing temperature gives me an extra excuse to use them! *smiles*

I would love to know your answers to these questions friends! Share your thoughts below in the comments!! *smiles* Happy Wednesday!


the 11th anniversary

If you read my October 25th post from last year or the year before or you know me well you know that October 25th is a very special day to me. It holds incredible meaning and significance as 11 years ago I had a life-changing surgery that changed the course of my life and this was the day that the Lord healed me after doctors told me that there was "nothing" that they could do. (You can read more of my story with my battle with Endometriosis HERE!)

I shared two years ago the different ways I have celebrated this anniversary over the years. While some of these days and moments have been photographed over the years, many of them have not. The precious memories that my mind remembers today are of sacred moments of telling my story to my students over the years as I testified about the Lord's mighty healing power, the laughter between family and friends, the precious phone calls and texts from friends who prayed for the miracle to happen and never stopped believing, my sister calling to celebrate with me, long walks thanking the Lord on year two, and the quiet celebration in my heart every time I see the calendar approaching this special day when doctors said there was "no hope" and yet the Lord spoke differently. 
As I think about year eleven today I have been met with a mixture of emotions. Extreme gratitude and thankfulness and tears at the Lord's mighty healing power and yet I do admit that like the last several years I have had some tearful behind-the-scenes prayers of, "why aren't you healing the same way this time in this Lyme Journey yet Lord?". It is a question that I think so many people have asked behind the scenes (and some of the brave have cried with me). 
I recently received an email from the same reader that I shared about two years ago. This reader wanted to know if my response to their question from two years ago would be any different as I am turning another year on the calendar date. (You can read the original question and response HERE and last years thoughts HERE.)

As I told this reader, it's really not. I don't know why healing hasn't come in such a "mighty and easy way" this time and why it is a long and slow healing process. I really don't. What I do know though is that I have a choice every single day on whether or not to trust the Lord and walk in this trust over my feelings or spend precious energy questioning things. I choose to trust. I choose to trust the difficult and unknown path before me is the path that the Lord has me on. Where I might think I am better used or life would be better is not where the Lord has me. I humbly trust that "and if not He is still good" to all of my questions, all of my deepest hearts longing... and that is enough for today. Circumstances, if we let them can be refining windows into our hearts shining a light on what we believe. The "and if not" parts of life...even if I am never healed, never see my dreams come true, or if the secret longings that are deep inside of me never happen is okay. It doesn't change who God is or His goodness.
 I promise, readers that despite any circumstances God's goodness is NOT changed. I can attest in new ways and in more marvelous ways then I could years ago. And as I celebrate this 11th anniversary I am brought to my knees by God's goodness. His faithfulness astounds me and His mercies meet each new day. 

Surrendering to God's goodness comes the opportunity to fall more in love with Jesus and who He is and what the Bible states and promises. NOT what I want it to state or promise but what it actually states and promises. And this 11 year anniversary is incredibly significant to me - especially as this Lyme journey continues on. 
Did you know that the number 11 in the Bible often represents chaos and disorder in the Old Testament, Jesus in gave us eleven specific and special promises in the book of John? These promises are:

(1) A person can receive everlasting life by believing in the Son of God (John 3:16)
(2) A person can have eternal life (John 6:54)
(3) By following Jesus you will walk in light, not darkness (John 8:12)
(4) Jesus' word sets us free (John 8:31-32)
(5) Jesus brings freedom (John 8:36)
(6) God the Father will honor those who serve Christ (John 12:26)
(7) We can do great things (John 14:12)
(8) We will receive the Holy Spirit when we obey Christ's commands (John 14:15-16)
(9) We are loved by God (John 14:21)
(10) Those who abide in Jesus will be fruitful (John 15:5)
(11) We can be friends with Jesus (John 15:14)

*smiles* Okay, so you might be asking what does this have to do with me celebrating my 11 year anniversary and why are they significant to me? 

First, scripture has never been shy about speaking about chaos and disorder which seems extremely prevalent in our world today. BUT scripture has also showed that there are mighty promises of truth for us to hold on to... even when it seems like everything is in chaos. These beautiful promises remind me of God's ultimate power here on earth and also as we contemplate eternity.

Second, our all powerful God shows His complete power by offering eternal life through Jesus and His death on the cross. In this act of unmeasurable love we not only are given the opportunity to accept Jesus as our Lord and be saved but on the cross Jesus conquered EVERYTHING. Including illness. EVERYTHING was conquered on the cross. 

Third, Jesus has given these 11 promises that are so specific and significant especially as I remember this beautiful anniversary of His healing and also for my current journey with Lyme Disease. These 11 promises speak truth into the deepest parts of who we are. Knowing this I have a choice to make... every single day... I can choose to act in faith and trust the Lord completely or I can respond to my circumstances sinfully and grow bitter and angry at the ways of the Lord. 

There is absolutely no question in my mind of my choice. 
Even on the days that I feel discouraged I choose to run to my precious Heavenly Father and lay everything at His feet. The reality is that this anniversary shouts to me in the dark and reminds me of God's ultimate power and who He is. And friends, as I spend more time with the Lord and continue to run to Him with all of my questions, fears, disappointments, hurts, and every other emotion He lovingly speaks to my hurting heart. And I am reminded on this 11th anniversary of His incredible grace, His good gifts, His undeserving ways, and the gift of love that He gives. 

And the best gift of all? Is the gift that the this 11th anniversary serves as a beautiful reminder that the Lord offers not only beauty, but incredible hope. Hope of a future that the Lord has in store... Hope of beautiful healing here on earth or in Heaven... Hope of living joyfully despite difficult circumstances... Hope of a loving God who loves us abundantly... and Hope of celebrating another 11 year healing in the future...

healing from Lyme Disease. 


Hope for the Future in the Single Journey

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the earlier years.”
-Job 42:12-

One of the real aspects of singleness is the heartbreaking reality of seeing days pass without our dreams fulfilled in this journey. It can be tempting to doubt God and His promises as each day passes without seeing our deepest longings fulfilled. It can be hard to hold on to hope for the future and easy to allow despair to settle into the crevices of the deepest part of our souls. 

In my experience it seems like these seasons of deeper longing strike at different times. For some people it is the holiday season that is harder while for others it can be the lonely weekend days. Like many women who are single, I long to share my life with someone. I long to "live life together" and serve God with someone in our everyday lives. I long to share the celebrations and holidays with someone but even more so I long to share everyday life with someone. I long to be a mama ... I long to serve the Lord as a married woman. All of these things are natural and important, and because these longing and ache is so deep, there are times where it seems like on this journey that I just can not stop the tears from falling and I weep and I struggle to hold on to hope for the future that things could be different. 

But as the days and weeks and months pass and another holiday season is soon approaching I choose to put aside my feelings and believe in the Lord. I pray that my my fears, my hopes, and my longings for the future be solely found in Him. 

“But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.” 
-Psalm 71:14-

Whatever the future holds- whether it brings marriage or continued singleness I know that He will be with us each and every day friends and will not abandon us. We are not alone. 

Let us pray for the wisdom that we need for each moment in the future that it comes from Him alone. “Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:14)

Our faith for our future hope rests solely on the Lord and not on a circumstance changing. He will lead us each step of the way- through this journey – and beyond it. Let us remain confident that the Lord has a plan, a plan “for welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11) and that friend, is what we can rest in today. 

Let us rest in the arms of the one who loves us more than life. Let us wait solely on Him to direct each of my steps in this area of our lives. 

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” 
-Psalm 130:5-

Let us hold fast to the hope, that like Job, He will bless each step in the future, even more than our early years as the scripture above states. And let us hold fast to the Lord, no matter what the circumstances look like right now. 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” 
-Hebrews 11:1-

Dear hurting and brokenhearted single friends, hold onto the hope and truth that the Lord is near for today and holds our beautiful future in His hands. God is always with us friends... may His tender mercy comfort you in this difficult season of longing and give you strength and dignity as you laugh without fear of the future. 

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and I can laugh without fear of the future.” 

-Proverbs 31:25-


50% Sale in the Etsy Shop this Weekend

I am having a HUGE spring sale at the shop! Starting today through Sunday everything is 50% off!! Simply use the coupon code FALLJOY to receive your purchase. 

Due to my upcoming treatment and travel schedule I have had to make the difficult decision that my shop will be closing on Friday, October 28th and won't re-open until after the holiday season on January 2nd. This has been a hard and difficult decision as I so enjoy making different holiday orders but is also a necessary one at this point in my treatment schedule. SO this weekend is your chance to shop early for Christmas presents! 

ALL proceeds from this sale will be going to benefit my upcoming trip to California for my doctors appointment in December.

So head on over and check it out! You can click HERE to easily go to the shop! 
Thank you again for all of your support of my shop! 
I hope that you are having a wonderful start to your weekend!
Again, please use the coupon code: FALLJOY to receive 50% off your entire purchase. Thank you so much for your support of my shop this year! What a joy and blessing y'all have been!

Happy Saturday sweet friends!