Caravan Sonnet

8/21/17

Monday Inspiration and Encouragement (Volume Eleven)

I shared a couple of months ago that for a while now I have had a dream of sharing some Monday inspiration and encouragement on the blog. Life is hard and I know full well that in the difficult times it can be hard to find inspiration, so a couple of months ago I shared my first post (which you can find HERE and all of the Monday inspiration posts HERE) and I plan to routinely share with y'all different things that I have found to be really inspiring and encouraging from all different genres and hope that it will encourage and inspire you for your week! 

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a month since my last Monday Inspiration and Encouragement Post. This past month has been busy, full, and seems to have flown by. It is a month that I will treasure though as I have learned a ton and grown in so many ways. Here are just a few things that have encouraged and inspired me the last several weeks and I hope that they inspire you and make you smile!
{first} I shared before how I was researching for a project and upcoming trip to Alaska. I was so glad to know that I am not the only one who dreams of going there. If you missed my post, Why You Should Dream About Visiting Alaska, you can find it HERE. I hope to be able to share more posts with y'all in the future from that writing assignment. 

{second} Okay, I have shared this so many times, but it needed to be shared again because I am still loving the sound and music. If you haven't checked out Hope Social Club do so. Absolutely love the sound and music. If y'all haven't heard of them check them out HERE. Go listen and let me know what your favorite song is! 
{third} I shared a couple of months ago that for a special upcoming project (that I can't wait to share more about in the future) that I have been reading a lot of books from World War II and about the holocaust. So much of it is so difficult and yet, I am passionate about keeping this area of history alive so that it never happens again. 

The book above, The Emperor of Lies, has been absolutely horrific and inspiring. The book is research for the project I just referenced and it is rough to read. The book focuses on Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, who was the leader of the Lodz Ghetto. His actions are extremely controversial and frankly are a constant evaluation (in my opinion) of what would you do in the worst case scenario. The book is fantastically researched and written and truly makes you think. You can find it on Amazon HERE.
{fourth} Did y'all see the trailer for season 2 for The Crown? UM. Yea. My little British loving heart is happy. 
{fifth} I have mentioned this book so many times here on the blog, but every summer I re-read Evidence Not Seen. I come away always so inspired and challenged. This year I did so again. My copy is worn with notes in the margins and tear stains at some places I have cried through. "I realized how little I knew of what makes a true missionary statesman; of a faith that never staggers at the promise of God, no matter how incredible to the natural man its fulfillment seems; of a trust in the Unchanging One, who keeps the heart at rest and unperturbed in a changing world; of a burning love that counts not life dear unto itself, but is expendable for God; and a vision that is never dimmed... " Many years ago on the blog I shared more about this book which you can read about HERE or you can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking HERE
{sixth} I shared this in my health update post yesterday but this song from Elevation worship is so beautiful and has been on repeat recently. Have y'all heard it?

I hope that you are inspired and encouraged by these six things on this Monday! What about you? What is inspiring you recently?

8/20/17

Open Up Our Eyes, Surround us with Your Light... Our God is Fighting for Us Always

"The Light Shines in the Darkness..."

Happy Sunday dear friends! I remain so grateful for all of your prayers in this health journey. I do not take it for granted that I know that so many of you are covering me in prayer each and every day. As I go to sleep each night I lay in bed and often have tears of humble gratitude to think of how far the Lord has brought me these last several years, which is truly a testament to all of your prayers. 

This past week I spent some time reading through all of the Notes from the Porch updates. To be honest it took me several hours as I often had to stop and weep at all that the Lord has done. 

It is amazing to think back to August 2013, a short and long four years ago and to see the prayer requests that I was mentioning at that time. At the time they seemed overwhelming, scary, and life felt completely out of control health wise. Things had stabilized a bit with my trip out to California and I was able to walk again, but the road in front of me looked long and scary with no clear direction. A year later, shortly after I began with my new medical team, in August 2014 I needed desperate prayers as I had been re-infected with a tick bite and at the time was so weak that it was truly a dire situation. At the time my weakened digestive track couldn't handle oral meds and we asked for prayers fervently for grace and strength to meet each moment as we didn't know if we were looking at a hospital stay. 

Two years ago, in August 2015 I was celebrating ending month #2 of treatment round #1. That summer was brutal. Each day held numerous shots, therapies, meds, supplements, etc. It was painful. It was rough. I spent more time being sick then I remember doing anything else and to be frank there were countless tears. I look back on the summer of 2015 (from the beginning of May that held me in a herx that kept me in bed with severe vertigo and dizziness for 28 days unable to move) to the end of September and tears still come to my eyes. It was probably the most difficult time in this journey for many reasons. And finally when I think of last year, when treatment round #3 didn't go as planned and an 8-week delay kept us from moving forward as I would have liked, I am humbled. 

As I look back on these last four years so specifically and read through all of the "notes from the porch" updates I am gently humbled and reminded of how far God has brought me. Of all of the healing that has taken place. Of the gentle ways that He has carried me in the dark and painful times and the loving ways He has met me in the hard and frightening corners. 

Just yesterday as I was spending time praying I was gently reminded of the way that the Lord never abandons us. My dear friend and kindred spirit Ali gently reminded me yesterday as I became fearful and worried over a new med I started yesterday and another "impossible" health situation I feel overwhelmed by... "The Lord has not brought you this far to abandon or leave you." I wept as I needed that gentle reminder in the midst of some very difficult and painful weeks. 

I have been thinking a lot about the Israelites and the way that at the end of their wandering in the desert years there were tons of encouraging and important times that they were reminded to remember all that God had done. I admit that I often have read this passage and thought- well of course they are going to remember the Lord, because why wouldn't they - He brought them out of captivity and then out of wandering in the desert for 40 years. Who wouldn't remember that... and yet... admittedly am the one who is so like the Israelites. Instead of quickly running to the Lord and remembering all of the miracles that He has done over my entire life, but especially over these past five years I quickly run to fear and doubt. I lack courage but instead look at things with fear and questioning. And I am stopped short by this and gently reminded that the Lord, the same One who has carried me through all of these painful years before will continue to do so in the future. He is a God who delights in the impossible.

On Tuesday I once again saw this as I shared on Instagram that I had a phone conversation with my main medical team doctor. Each of these conversations are important, but this one held some some specific weight to it as the "start" of treatment round #5 two weeks ago led to some some serious and difficult reactions. As I shared on IG, in "sick world" you learn more than you want to know, including the limits to certain medications that are available for certain issues. I was faced with this situation, a bit unsure and fearful of what the doctors would suggest and yet gently holding on to the truth that the Lord is not bound by medicine limits or delays or reactions that can frustrate or confuse me or bring me to tears. I am so grateful to all of y'all who prayed for this appointment. Truly the Lord promises that if we need wisdom He will give it to us and He did. 

In answer to our prayers my main medical team has come up with a medication substitute for the med that I reacted to that I will start in two weeks. We are beyond grateful for their wisdom and expertise. 
I shared this above picture on IG and shared that this picture holds significant importance to me as several years ago I was to sick to even walk out to this road not far from our camp. Over the last several years of healing I have not only walked out to the road but am consistently walking it and beyond. Y'all know how much I love being out in nature and hiking and to see that slowly becoming a reality is amazing. 

In the midst of dealing with a continued infection and pain this week I have been gently met with such grace and amazing news. We learned on Tuesday during the phone appointment that a MAJOR area that Lyme had affected in my body has healed, and this was news that we were not expecting for at least another year and a half. I also received bloodwork showing that that the environmental illness that I mentioned years ago has completely healed. This news was HUGE as again we didn't expect this to happen for at least a couple of years. Finally, this week received unexpected news at my eye appointment as I learned that the issues that Lyme has caused with my eyes (including a stigmatism, dry eyes, eye floaters, minor double vision, etc.) have all healed. My eye doctor and I both cried. Truly the Lord is healing. 

Thank you dear friends. Thank you for loving me well in this journey, for your messages of love, your financial gifts, your text messages, your phone calls, your support and prayers that have continued to carry me in this journey. How do you say thank you to so many of you who have continuously loved and showed up in the small and the big moments- showing God's love and light in the darkness of this journey. My heart can only beg the Lord to bless you as you have blessed me so abundantly.

As I head back into treatment round #5 with a new plan and new meds I am excited to see how the Lord will meet and what He is going to do. I said yesterday to a dear friend that I can't wait to see what God will do with some "seemingly" impossible prayer requests that I am praying. Things that seem big to me but I know are small in comparison to God. 
In closing I have been so encouraged by this song that my dear friend Jen sent to me this week. It has been pretty much on repeat. I wanted to share it here and pray that it encourages your heart today as it has encouraged me... 

"Greater is the one who's in us, 
Greater is the one who calls our name, 
He will never fail
Stronger is the one who fights for us
He will never fail...
For Your love endures forever...
Open up our eyes, surround us with Your light, 
Your love endures forever...
We are not alone, 
We are not alone, 
Our God is fighting for us always..."

8/19/17

Dog People Rule Altered Journal

Happy Saturday friends! Today I am so excited to share with you a fun and cute addition to the shop!
 This adorable dog people rule altered journal is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always had an obsession with journaling and making things that I own pretty. Each of my personal journals are stuffed with colorful, unique, whimsical, and pretty ribbons, sweet paraphernalia, and writing that speaks to my heart and that encourages me. 
Since I was a young girl I have kept hundreds of journals (no exaggeration!). Each of them is filled with different colors and paraphernalia. It makes me giggle to think back on what I felt was "important" to keep at the time and makes me grateful for a fun way to keep precious memories alive.
As I have worked to expand the items that are available in the shop I have loved finding unique and fun journals to add. 
When I saw this journal I immediately fell in love with the cuteness of it.
So when I saw this journal I knew immediately that I had to create an altered version for the shop. Y'all know how much I love dogs and this journal just brought a smile to my face. This dog people rule altered journal is approximately 5 and 1/2 by 4 and holds 216 lined sheets.  The journal has been altered with colorful and lovely matching embellishments. 
If you are interested in purchasing the dog people rule altered journal  you can find it HERE. If you are interested in looking at other altered journals that are available in the shop you can find them in the altered journals section HERE.
Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day with friends and family!!

8/17/17

15 Amazing Benefits of Ginger

I first heard of ginger from my acupuncturist about a decade ago. I started using ginger (specifically for nausea during times when I would travel) but didn't know all of the amazing health benefits of consuming ginger until I did additional research. Y'all I am so amazed at the health benefits that come with consuming ginger and hope that it will inspire you to add this to your daily life! So what are all of the health benefits that ginger has? Check out these 15 amazing benefits:

1. Ginger contains gingerol which is a powerful substance with medicinal properties. Ginger has been known to not only help aid digestion and reduce nausea but also help fight the flu and common cold (as I mentioned in this post HERE!)

2. Ginger helps prevent motion sickness. As I mentioned above one of the things that I have long used ginger for is to help prevent motion sickness. There was a study done several years ago that showed that ginger was as effective (but without all of the side effects) as Dramamine! [It should be noted that many times it takes a "build up" process with ginger so if you are going to travel I would suggest using ginger for several weeks ahead of time and in addition to the time during your travel.]

3. Ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. There have been many studies that have been done that when ginger is added to an anti nausea regime for chemotherapy that nausea and vomiting was reduced!

4. Ginger helps the body absorb essential nutrients.

5. Severe digestive issues or cramps? Ginger has been known to help digestive issues and cramps! Ginger has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen in help relieve pain from menstrual cramps in women (see #6!). Another benefit to ginger is that it may help prevent stomach ulcers which can be caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

6. Ginger helps reduce pain. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and recent studies show that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that may rival non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In a study done in 2013 on women's athletes it was found that those that took 3 grams of ginger each day had a significant decrease in muscle soreness and muscle cramps. In addition to muscles though ginger has also been found to help with migraine headaches. 

7. Ginger can help reduce nausea from morning sickness. Recent studies have shown that ginger can help reduce pregnancy-related nausea. 

8. Ginger can help Osteoarthritis. 

9. Ginger may help lower blood sugar and improve heart disease risk factors in patients. Although the studies on this are very new (just started in 2015) doctors are now saying that ginger may help diabetes and heart patients. Ginger appears to help with insulin release and insulin action in the body and helps improve lipid metabolism. Another clinical trial done recently shows that those who consumed ginger had a marked difference in many of their levels. It will be exciting to watch in years to come what future studies say about this!

10. Ginger helps improve circulation. 

11. Ginger can help inhibit certain bacteria, including Salmonella. Ginger is a great item to add to your kitchen as it an help prevent sickness due to salmonella!

12. Ginger helps fight Cancer. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties that ginger contains it is beneficial for many chronic illnesses including Cancer. A recent British study shows that Ginger can help in the effective management of certain Cancers, including prostate Cancer. Other studies have shown that it helps promote anti-tumor activity that can help treat even the difficult to treat types of Cancer. In addition to this a study that was performed at the University of Minnesota found that ginger can help slow the growth of colon Cancer cells.

13. Ginger helps reduce vertigo. Studies show that regularly consuming ginger or ginger tea can help reduce vertigo.

14. Ginger helps reduce the chance of a stroke and the damage done due to strokes. Taking ginger may help reduce the effects that a stroke can have on the body.

15. Ginger helps strengthen the immune system. Along with other wonderful foods, ginger can help improve the immune system.

While using fresh ginger is a wonderful idea, ginger can also be used dried, powdered, or even as an oil (or tea). Do you use ginger? In what form have you found it helpful? Have you found any benefits to consuming ginger?

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}

8/16/17

From Hope Valley (Week 26): The Legacy of Love and Suffering

One of the sweet scenes that stood out to me in When Calls the Heart Season 2 was the conversation that took place between the widows lawyer, Samantha, and Abigail. This comment made by Samantha, a single woman to Abigail, who had lost her husband and son in the mining accident reminded me of a timeless truth for all of us to consider... the legacy of love and suffering

This past year as I watched the month of April slowly fade and we approached the month of May I have to admit that I silently groaned as my heart deeply aches. As a lady who has longed to be a mama for years and years I have to grudgingly admit that I view the month of celebrating Mother's Day with heartache. Am I deeply grateful for my precious mama? Absolutely yes. Do I rejoice with my friends who have been blessed with many children? Of course. Do I rejoice with my dear friends who have walked the road of infertility and this year celebrated becoming a mother? Absolutely. But is there a part of me that like many of my hurting friends who long to be a mommy that cries as we approach this date? Yes. Is there a part of me that wonders at how Proverbs 13:22 fits into my life? Yes. 

As I watched this scene between Samantha and Abigail I was touched by the way that the writers of the show tenderly approached this topic. I am not sure if it was purposeful or not, but it appeared to me in this scene that Samantha was thinking and referencing her own sadness in longing to be a wife and a mama. 

A few short days before Mother's Day I started thinking more deeply about the idea of "legacy", specifically the legacy that is formed in love and suffering. A dear former student contacted me the day before Mother's Day and said, "Thank you for your mother's heart that during my time in your classroom showed the joy of Christ, and watching your faith in this trial you are currently walking has shown me the steadfast hope and love only found in Christ. Your mother's heart has created a legacy of faith for me." 

To be frank I broke down and wept. My faith seems so incredibly small in this journey and I had never considered the concept before that one could leave a legacy in suffering. I always equated legacy with children, and there is a legacy that is left there to be sure. But there is also a legacy created in other seasons of life... even in suffering where we can and we will leave some kind of legacy. 

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
- Romans 8:18-


The reality is that when life is destroyed all around you it is hard to trust the truth of Romans 8. When we are faced with the death of a loved one, the unanswered prayers for healing, the loss of a job, infertility, chronic pain, broken relationships, and the loss of dreams it can literally stop us in our tracks. It catches our breathe. In many ways we expect, as I did before Mother's Day this year to silently groan and cry our tears in private till the moment passes. Like me, we want to turn the pages of the calendar days quickly so that we forget the pain. And in the midst of the "helpful and sage" advice that we are given, most of us just want to dull the crushing pain and move on to "better times". Like me wanting to avoid Mother's Day, we want to "avoid" the painful times of suffering.

But what about the legacy that is found in suffering? Are we showing the world how to lovingly and faithfully walk with Jesus during the difficult days here on earth, or are we showing them that we have Jesus only to quickly make it through the painful times? Are we showing the power and miraculous God that we have despite circumstances on earth? Or are we limiting our God as we box Him in to ways that we want Him to work?

I want to suggest that the legacy of love and suffering is a beautiful thing called joy. Joy in the midst of pain. Joy in the midst of heartache. Joy, not smiles that are on our faces, but true joy found deep in the heart of Hope in a God who promises to never leave us. Sweet friends, as we cry out in our pain, let us take the risk to walk the road of suffering joyfully confident in the one who carries us each day. Be brave friends in hope with your suffering. 

Your sufferings may include a myriad of things that you want to share and discuss or they may be private heartaches that you feel that no one notices or understands. Your life and your story is unique and has purpose. Never think that your story does not have unique and noble callings to it even if it doesn't look like the way that you planned for things to look.

To each of the mamas reading this there is nothing (in my opinion) more noble than being a mama and wife, but I also know that even mamas have their own trials and stresses. To those longing to be a wife and mama your story can leave a legacy of nobility too as you wait and hope for that season in life. In each of our lives God creates a beautiful legacy out of suffering that spreads to those around you and offers redemption to the pain that we all experience here on earth. Our everlasting God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow is our everlasting hope, which brings joy. There is purpose in it. There is a legacy that will be formed. Your hope and longings will not be disappointed.

"And hope does not disappoint us..."
-Romans 5:5-

"A good man (or woman) leaves a legacy for his children's children."
-Proverbs 13:22-

Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

I receive several emails a week asking where you can watch older episodes of "When Calls the Heart". If you have a Netflix account you can find seasons 1-3 there or you can purchase them on Amazon. You can purchase and watch all of the seasons and episodes by clicking on the links below:

*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*

8/15/17

Summer Boat Ride// Lake Champlain, Vermont

A couple of weeks ago we were able to take our first summer boat ride of the season. It was later than usual but due to all of the rain and weather we hadn't been able to go before then. The wait was worth every second. It was a beautiful day of taking the boat up into Mallotts Bay and enjoying the views.
This summer has been beautiful in so many deep and meaningful ways.
 
 
This boat ride was absolutely lovely and once again I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds this area that I love so much.
I am enjoying every moment of these last weeks of this precious summer.
Happy Tuesday friends! I hope that you are having a wonderful day!

A Few Of My Favorite Things from Zulily

Happy Tuesday friends! Today I am so excited to share a bit more about my experiences with shopping and exploring the Zulily website. To be honest I had never spent much time on Zulily before. Years ago I ordered one item off the website and then never did return to try shopping again. My experience at the time was good, but for some reason whenever I go to do some online bargain shopping, I never think immediately of Zulily. Honestly, after these last few days of looking around the website that will forever change in the future!

One of the things that surprised me the most as I browsed the Zulily website was all of the different products that were offered from such a wide variety of brands. There were tons of different brands in all of the categories- from fashion brands to house products to crafting supplies. I am confident that if you are searching for some specific things for any area of your life you could easily find what you are looking for on Zulily at a discounted rate. Each day there are thousands of new items added at 6am and this provides a fun (daily) browsing opportunity!
One my favorite items was this adorable navy dress from ModCloth. This dress originally retails for $99.99 but is available on Zulily for $37.99! I love that it is the perfect dress for the rest of the summer and is the perfect transition piece to fall and would even be perfect for some upcoming holiday parties. You can find it HERE!

It has NEVER been a secret on this blog how much I love the company Joules. So imagine my delight and surprise when I found that Zulily carries many different Joules products at a HUGE discounted rate. These rain boots are some of my favorites (remember my red pair that I love?!?)! But there tare tons of other Joules boots and products too that are available for a huge discount. You can find these rain boots HERE.
Another favorite thing that I found that I loved on the Zulily website was this cute flirty dress from ModCloth. It reminds me of the dress that Kate Middleton wore the day after her wedding as she and Prince William were walking around the palace gardens. It is so cute and I love the Indigo color! I plan on ordering this dress and taking it with me for my upcoming trip to Prince Edward Island! You can find it HERE


Two things that I ordered from the website were these scrapbook paper collections. The price was unbelievable and they will be so helpful for orders and items for the shop. You can find the BoBunny Garden Party Collection Pack HERE and the Echo Park Paper Co Fall and Family Scrapbook Paper Pads HERE. If you love scrapbooking or just have a love affair for pretty paper like I do, then Zulily has tons of crafting options to check out!

There are so many different items on Zulily that I loved and I created a board with lots of different items and some of my favorites. You can check out my board HERE! Keep checking back as I will continue to update my board with new pieces and items that I find that I love as Zulily is constantly making new items available!

What about y'all? Any favorite items from Zulily that you love?

A huge thank you to Mavenx for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.