Caravan Sonnet: April 2013


Shutterfly Plate {Review}

I was extremely honored to be contacted by the Social Media Coordinator from Shutterfly a couple of weeks ago. She originally asked me to review a product that I didn't feel would be a good fit for my blog (only because I don't have an I-phone) but I told her that I was interested in working with Shutterfly if there were other opportunities. She sweetly messaged me back and spoke to me about choosing a different option. I was very interested in creating a cute plate for my mom for mother's day and was thrilled to be able to have that option.

If y'all aren't familiar with Shutterfly and all of the products that they have to offer you should go and check out their website! I was incredibly impressed with the ease of using the website and the numerous options that you have to create a unique and beautiful gift for your loved ones. If you are looking for a beautiful gift for your mom for mother's day I would definitely suggest their cute plates! (You can see the one that I created for my mom below!)

One thing that I was most happy about was that the plate arrived looking EXACTLY as I ordered it. I did have a concern that it wouldn't look like the website picture, ya know? I was so happy to see that this was not the case. The other thing that is a great thing is that the plates are reasonably priced and arrived safely and securely wrapped in a box. I was so honored to have the opportunity to create this plate.

Thank you again to Shutterfly for this wonderful opportunity!

Gallery of Five 10x10 Plate
Send custom cards from Shutterfly for St. Patrick's Day.
View the entire collection of cards.

Never Again. What You Do Matters. ~ the 20th anniversary

For survivors, veterans, and numerous history teachers across the United States yesterday marked an incredibly day as the United States Holocaust Museum (located in Washington DC) celebrated its 20th anniversary of its opening. The title of this post: "Never Again. What You Do Matters" was the theme of this amazing anniversary. It is hard to explain the impact that this museum has had on so many people, myself included. I have been impacted as a teacher who had the opportunity to take students to the museum, as a student when I took a class there (and briefly considered applying for a fellowship), and finally as an individual who has been impacted by the numerous stories of those who were heroes in a time of such horror.

The United States Holocaust Museum provides an opportunity for those who have never been to a concentration camp (and for those of us that have been) to remember anew the faces of those that were lost and to pledge once more: "never again". Ten years ago on the 10th anniversary, the museum provided the opportunity for more than 7,000 survivors and their families to gather together. In this year as we celebrate the triumph of the human spirit I am once again moved by such heroism in the face of tragedy and for the courage of all of those who live during this time period.

For those that are interested in reading (or watching) some amazing stories that embrace the theme of the United States Holocaust Museum's 20th anniversary I have listed eight that have been incredibly inspirational to me:
** these books and movies deal with extremely difficult content that might not be suitable for all age groups**

* The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (movie) (Irena Sendler's story is amazing if you are not familiar with it)
* Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport(book)and there is a movie too which I have not seen
* Escape from Sobibor - this film was made in the late 80s and yet the story is remarkable and is well worth watching
* Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (book)
* Your Life is Worth Mine(book)
* The Nazi Officer's Wife (movie) - I have not watched the movie but I have read the book
* From Dust and Ashes: A Story of Liberation (book)
* Night Song: A Story of Sacrifice (book)
As we consider the victims, the heroes, and their families on this 20th anniversary I am once again thankful to live in a country where I am free. I remember this with gratitude and am humbly challenged to truly pray for the leaders of our country and for those around the world where human rights atrocities still exist and where holocausts still occur. Let us live with the motto: Never Again. What You Do Matters.


Heroes of the Faith: Darlene Diebler Rose

Today I am excited to share with y'all a book that has truly touched and changed my life. I was recently asked the question: "What was the last book you read that really caused you to grow in your Faith?" I love reading and so I am so excited to discover new books to add to my library or to find ones that I haven't read in a while to read again through this link up!
The book that I just re-read was called: "Evidence Not Seen" by Darlene Rose. This book tells the story of Darlene who was a young newlywed at the beginning of World War II and her experience as a missionary in the jungles of New Guinea and then her four years in a Japanese prison camp. The title of this book is perfect because she truly is honest in her experience of the way that the Lord often appeared silent but His hand was continuously orchestrating protection over her each and every day.  
The book is almost simple in its writing and ironically (no pun intended) I often felt that I was sitting across from this woman in a coffee shop listening to her story. The book might have that simple feel but it has a richness and a depth that is almost hard to match today despite reading lots and lots of biographies.
There are so many nuggets of truth and encouragement that I have walked away from after reading this book and I have made it a tradition to read this book once a year in the Spring or Summer. Each time I do I am struck again by this woman's faith in God despite her horrific circumstances.
One of my favorite quotes of hers is near the beginning of the book and she states: "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 until itself, but is expendable for God; and of a vision that is never dimmed." WOW. This truly humbled and encouraged me.
At the beginning of the war (far before any of the circumstances occurred in her life that are discussed in the book) Darlene felt that the Lord had given her the verse of Deuteronomy 33:12 which states: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover (overshadow) him all the day long and he shall dwell between His shoulders”. This verse has particular become near and dear to my heart as I find myself in various unexpected journeys, specifically this past year. I could probably talk about this book for paragraphs and paragraphs but suffice it to say that this is definitely a book I recommend!
I would love to know~ what books to you recommend that are wonderful to read to help me grow in my faith?

North East Bloggers Network Photography Challenge

I am excited to be apart of the North East Bloggers Network Photography Challenge today! Y'all know that I love photography and am excited to share my photo today for this challenge! The theme for this month was "family". I loved this picture of my dad and I from Spring Break taken at the New York Marshland by Lake Champlain. The lake in the background and the variant colors of blue in the sky, mountains, and the lake are just gorgeous. I am so thankful for my dad who came out with me for the first couple of days of treatment here in California. This picture is a beautiful reminder to me of one of the best blessings in my life ~ my daddy.


Notes from the Porch: the beginning of California two

Thank you so much for walking this unexpected journey with me in California. I am truly overwhelmed with your support. Thank you so much to all of you that were praying for my first doctors appointment on Friday at the Whitaker Wellness Institute. It was a day truly pregnant with lots of emotion and I could feel your prayers for peace and for wisdom in this appointment. {A special thank you again for all of the text messages, phone calls, emails, and facebook messages... thank you!! Several of you have asked for my California address here. Please feel free to email me and I will send it to you. Thank you!!} I had a wonderful appointment with my doctor and she had lots of great thoughts and ideas. I do admit to being a little overwhelmed by the ton of information that we talked about but I really liked my doctor which as many of you that struggle with health issues understand is a very important thing! *smiles*
{Sorry in advance for all of the phone pictures! I haven't had a chance to take "real" camera pictures!}

As I mentioned, I had tons of emotions as I got ready for my appointment.

I arrived at my appointment and was greeted by a bright and cheery waiting room.
My doctor (Dr. W), as I mentioned above, was wonderful. We talked for over an hour and she asked very insightful questions that other doctors had never asked. In addition to treating the Lymes she has ordered some additional tests that will clarify if there is something else that is additionally going on in addition to the Lymes (and M.E./CFS). I appreciate this because Lymes is nicknamed "the great mimicker" and there are some tests that she is ordering that have not been previously ordered.

I started these tests this weekend and on Monday morning at 9am will have additional blood. {Since my iron levels are so dangerously low they will monitor this carefully and I appreciate prayers in advance for me not to pass out!} I then will start my first round of alternative treatments right after that. The doctor has ordered an intense round of alternative treatments for the first week and then we will evaluate at the end of the week how the next two weeks look. {I will definitely be staying for three weeks here in California.} I will focus this week on Vitamin C IV's and the hyberbaric oxygen chamber as my main treatments. {There are other alternative options but due to financial reasons these are going to be my main alternative options.} I start a new general medication to start treating the infections in my body on Tuesday evening (so as not to affect the tests results) which she has seen good results with. In addition to the prayer requests that I mentioned above I do ask for prayer as my body is so fragile and I react very easily to everything and these treatments can be difficult so I thank you!

Friday's doctors appointment was overwhelming and intense and I am so thankful that my dad has been able to be here for a couple of days to help me get settled. On Friday we grabbed food at Whole Foods and then I was asleep by 6pm California time!

Yesterday we had a relaxing lunch at Whole Foods where we were able to eat outside because of the beautiful California weather.
Later on in the afternoon we went down to the hotel pool and I took a very long and relaxing nap! I think that this is going to be a place where I spend a lot of time in these next few weeks. *smiles*
I appreciate all of your continued prayers as I embark on this journey. Thank you so much for walking this journey with me!

I know that so many of us are going through difficult times these days. Hold on to hope. I wanted to share something that I read this morning in my devotions that truly encouraged my heart and I thought might be an encouragement to those of you that I know are going through very difficult times:

"Shining is always costly. We are apt to feel that we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong, and able for active duty, and when the heart and hands are full of kindly service. We we are called aside and can only suffer; we we are sick; when we are consumed with pain; when all of our activities have been dropped, we feel that we are no longer of use, that we are not doing anything. But if we are patient and submissive, it is almost certain that we are a greater blessing to the world in our time of suffering and pain than we were in the days when we thought we were doing the most of our work. We are burning now, and shining because we are burning. [Never forget] The glory of tomorrow is rooted in the drudgery of today." ~Streams in the Desert~


Bloggy World Thoughts: from the three month newbie

Today I wanted to share some tips and thoughts that I have learned in "bloggy world". It is hard to believe that last Sunday I hit the three month mark of writing on this blog! It is also amazing to me that I have received some emails and facebook messages asking me for tips on blogging. I am truly humbled. Despite the fact that I had planned and thought through the idea of Caravan Sonnet and where I would like it to go I still had so much to learn. I am still A.M.A.Z.E.D. that y'all read my little corner of the internet world! Thank you! Also, thank you so much to all of you lovely ladies who have made this blogging experience such a wonderful experience in my life! So here are my thoughts (in no particular order):
1. Do not be a "do not reply blogger". If you don't know how to fix this then read Kristine's post on how to change it!  There are some amazing people that comment on my blog but then they are a no-reply blogger and I truthfully do not have time to find a way to reply back to them. It is such an easy thing to fix so read Kristine's post if you are not sure how to change it!

2. One thing that I was surprised to learn was about the "link in text" change option. Basically you can post a link and click on "change" and change the wording of the link to any words you want it to be.

3. Don't hesitate to ask questions. There are so many lovely people that are willing to help you. 

4. I have met some of the nicest and sweetest gals in bloggy world. If you would like to know some of my other favorite blogs you can read about them here!

5. I am seriously inspired by all of the amazing writers. I encourage you to take time each week to read people's blogs and be inspired.

6. Spellcheck. Spellcheck. Spellcheck.

7. Thank your readers (I don't do this enough). I am incredibly humbled by those of you that stick around and read and leave such sweet comments on my posts. I am honored.

8. Blog design is important. Make sure that your blog reflects who you are.

9. If HTML and blog design doesn't interest you then invest in a blog designer. I couldn't afford the amount of money that was needed for the blog design I originally was considering. I spent over 40 hours over a couple of weeks investigating all of my different options. I was thrilled to discover on Etsy several options and fell in love with Carrie Loves Design and her Etsy options. And for those of you who are like me that don't want to install a design she will even install it for you for no additional charge. (UPDATE: as of August 2014 my design is created by THIS Girl Design! The link can be found at the bottom of my site!)

10. Leave comments that you would want to read. I so enjoy the interactions and comments that my readers give to me that are heartfelt. I try to leave a thoughtful comment on every post that I read and I love how that gives me the opportunity to connect with other bloggers.

11. Reply back to comments on your blog. I will admit that when my blog was smaller it was a lot easier to quickly reply back to comments. I have learned to set aside time and try to thoughtfully respond back as soon as possible to each comment on my blog. If you want to create a community I would highly recommend replying to comments!

12. Get rid of the the requirement to prove that you are not a robot.

13. Blogging for the numbers is not what blogging is about. Blog for the community. I love the relationships that I have made in bloggy world... while I am amazed and honored by the numbers it is the relationships that really matter.

14. Blogging takes a ton of time and lots of hard work to make those relationships and to develop your blog to be the way that you want it to be. I spend hours and hours on each post writing, re-writing, and re-writing it to truly reflect me and my heart. I have definitely learned in the last few months the hard work that is required for bloggy world. Truthfully though- it is SO much fun to me. I definitely only recommend blogging if you love it!

15. Post at least 3 times a week if you are trying to build up your blog and your audience. Think about coming up with a schedule for your blog that works for you. I personally have all of my blog writing schedule laid out for me in my planner that I use. You can find the planner that I use HERE or read all about the different items I purchased for the planner on the RESOURCE page which you can find HERE.  

16. The reality is that bloggy world is just like real life. There are some drama queens in bloggy world but just like in real life you can pick your friends. Choose the joy. Choose the MANY wonderful ladies that are in bloggy world and ignore the stuff that really isn't that important in life.

17. On that same note: I am SHOCKED at what I have read some people writing about other bloggers. Do they really want to go back and read that in the future? Again, my simple advice is to avoid the drama and choose the good. Life is way to short for all of that kind of silly stuff.

18. Lots and lots of bloggers say this but keep a small notebook with you to write down ideas of future blog posts. This can help you on those days where you are having writers block!

19. If you only reply to comments through your blog your reader/commenter might not receive your comment. This was such a shock for me to learn after I had been blogging for several weeks! I was sure that I was creating the sweetest community by replying to each comment on my blog. The problem was that unless those commenter's came back to check their post area they never saw my reply. I still reply to some comments on my blog posts but in general if you are looking to create a community and deeper relationships you need to reply by email.

20. Join different groups that are areas that interest you just like you do in "real life".

21. Love what you do! I love writing and connecting with others so bloggy world is a joy!
I can't wait to share more tips and thoughts from bloggy world  in another three months! It is hard to believe that I will have been blogging for six months! WOW. What are your tips for us newbies in bloggy world? We would love to hear!


Notes from the Porch: the beginning of California

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, financial gifts, love, cards, text messages, and phone calls as I headed out to California yesterday! I was extremely nervous about flying and just all of the unknowns that this trip encompasses. I have hope that this process can work here but at the same time because I have been sick for such a long time I do admit that I am anxious. If I am brutally honest ... there are days where I am not even sure I remember what feeling "normal or healthy" feels like anymore. I have my first doctors appointment which will last approximately 3 to 4 hours today (at 1pm California time which is 4pm EST). I soo appreciate the messages that I received yesterday. They TRULY are so precious to me on this journey.

Yesterday, in each step of the way, I saw once again the Lord's mercy in this journey. First, as most of you are aware the Lord provided a miracle for my dad to come and spend the first couple of days with me here. I was SO thankful- and yesterday in the airport - it was such a blessing as he handled all of the luggage (which I couldn't carry) and helped me get acquainted with Newport Beach. [I won't have a car here because of the cost but there are different ways that I am able to get to my appointments and to the grocery store- mainly through a hotel shuttle.]

Second, we left Tennessee in beautiful weather which originally the weather forecast had predicted rain and storms. {All of these pictures are from my phone- sorry for any blurriness!}

Third, I was reminded of the verse "the clouds are the dust of His feet" as we flew. What a beautiful view for seven hours yesterday!

Fourth, despite missing our original connection we were able to get seats on a flight only a couple of hours later. The other wonderful thing with this was that my dad was still able to get us in the exit row (which is really important for this 6foot 3 gal)!

Fifth, as we landed in California we have met some of the nicest and loveliest people. One man that helped me with my bags in the hotel mentioned that they constantly see miracles occur here at the clinic and reminded me that faith as small as a mustard seed moves mountains. What a precious reminder!

Sixth, I had asked for prayers of peace-specifically as I am so used to relying on my parents for so much help each day and the Lord has truly flooded me with peace. Yesterday as I sat quietly in my hotel room watching the sunset (I will post more pictures soon!) I was blessed with a wonderful time of prayer with my precious Savior. Thank you so much for your prayers for peace.

Seventh, my view and my hotel room are simply wonderful. THANK YOU again to each of you that financially provided to provide this opportunity for me.

Y'all are such a blessing on this journey.

P.S.- Eighth- they have finally located my lost suitcase!YEA!


Notes from the Porch: a huge thank you

I want to say a huge and humbled thank you to all that have donated such an amazing amount of money. My heart is TRULY overwhelmed by the amazing support that I have received. Thank you so much for your generosity and your kindness during this very difficult time. In a week that has been overcome with tragedy in our world I am amazed once again by the kindness of friends, family, and strangers. Thank you so much for all of your support: financially, physically, and emotionally. Thank you. These two words do not convey the depth of my gratitude. May you be blessed by the Lord for your kindness.


my amazing tribe

Recently I have fallen in love with the word tribe. Tribe is defined as: "A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties..."

Yesterday I talked about the the importance of boundaries in relationships and I mentioned how amazing my tribe is.  In the midst of so much tragedy that has struck our world this week and in the weeks and months before I am reminded of how blessed that I am. I want to grab each of them a little tighter and tell them how much I love them. I want to hold time still. Today I wanted to introduce just a couple of them. These are the people that have stood by me my entire life not just recently and I am so thankful for them. *smiles*

My mom has always been my best friend. She is my biggest cheerleader, constant encourager, and the woman who I want to be. She is amazing.
My dad is amazing. He will do anything and everything to do anything for his family. I love him so much.
I love how my family has so much fun together. We can be silly with each other and laugh together.
My sister is the best. I am so thankful for her and for our friendship. Everyone should have a sisterhood.
My grandmother is the most lovely lady. She is the greatest prayer warrior and is one of my best friends. 
This is my tribe and I love them SOOO much!
Who are the people that are in your tribe? Today, I urge you to take a moment to grab them a little tighter and tell them how much you love them.


The Paper Sonnet

I am so very excited to announce to y'all the new name of my creative arts company. This truly has been an endeavor that has been in the process for several months. Some of you might remember December Caravan and the choice behind that name. To be honest I still love the name December Caravan but it didn't fit me or my creations. I was so excited when the name "the paper sonnet" was brought to mind because I feel that it truly is what I and my little business are all about: creating beautiful sonnets (or creations) with paper to truly instill hope and joy in your everyday life. Thank you so much for walking this journey with me and embarking on this new adventure with me! *smiles* I appreciate all of the love and support and am looking forward to this new season! 

You can also find "the paper sonnet" at the following places! Please stop by and say "hi":

p.s. thank you so much to Carrie for my AMAZING blog design and for your patience with my thousands of questions! I highly recommend her as she is WONDERFUL!


the april fifteen

I have loved reading posts by other bloggers that share random personal things about them. To me the ones that have done this make their blogs that much more friendly. I was inspired so in February I started to share fifteen random facts about me and life on the fifteenth of every month. For May fifteenth I am happy to answer questions if there is anything that you would like to know! Just feel free to email me!

1. The thing that I was most excited about in regards to my blog this past month was my change in my design! I really need to do an entire post about this but thank you soo much Carrie Loves Design for my BEAUTIFUL new blog design!I LOVE IT!!If you are looking for a WONDERFUL person to work with check out her website and etsy shop!! Thank you again Carrie!!!! :)

2. One of the questions that I was emailed was asking me how tall I was. I am 6 ft. 3inches. No, I didn't play basketball... well I did if you count thirty minutes on a high school team before the coach told me that I was too sweet to play on his team.

3. This past month I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and the kindness of friends and strangers alike. I am simply overwhelmed. Thank you does not seem like enough for all of the support to help me this month!

4. I LOVE England. So imagine my smile to finally learn why their police force is called "bobbies". Thank you graduate school classes. hahaha

5. My sister and I have been watching tons of past season episodes of the Amazing Race recently. As we watch we seriously talk like we are going to be on it. hahaha I truly think that it is a good healing method for me. *smiles*

6. I am so excited about some changes to my creative company December Caravan!! I can't wait to be share them in the next few weeks!

7. Scamper makes me laugh everyday with his antics. He truly inspired the post about the benefits of owning a pet.

8. Do you remember my friend "M"? What a dear dear friend. The minute that she heard that I was going to California for treatment alone she bought a ticket to come and stay with me for a few days. Talk about a treasured friend! WOW!
9. One thing that I have learned anew this month is to bless people with kindness and mercy because so many people are struggling. I know that I have been so blessed with a kind word, a card, donation of ad space, text message, phone call, or even flowers. Little and big acts of love go a long long way.

10. It took four years but I wrote the post that was incredibly close to my heart when I shared about the power of "I'm Sorry".

Some of you have asked what my daily blog reads are. There are tons. I mean there are soo many talented people in bloggy world. I do have to say though that the blogs that I keep going back to again and again are because of the respect that I have for the bloggers themselves. Here are just a few that I would highly recommend:

11. Bridget's blog is simply wonderful if you have not discovered it. Simply wonderful.

12. Amanda's blog if you want to see BEAUTIFUL photography and wonderful recipes.

13.  Wissman Family's blog if you want to simply be blessed by lovely simplicity.

14. Kristine's blog if you want to be challenged with lovely fitness tips and be inspired by her humble courage in her role as an army wife. 

15. Emily's blog is wonderful because of her. It has a wonderful depth to it and I love her advice that ranges from personal to bloggy world.

Days Like These (Book Review)

A couple of months ago I found out about a website called Booksneeze which I was so excited to discover! This website offers the opportunity to receive free books in exchange for honest reviews. I was excited to find this site because as y'all know I do love reading and what a great opportunity! *smiles*

I requested for my first book: "Days Like These: Even in the Darkest Moments, Light Can Shine Through" by Kristian & Rachel Anderson. The book is written by Kristian Anderson (and is mostly based on his blog posts) during his fight with cancer. The book is written from his first hand account and includes numerous posts from beginning to his final post shortly before he died. The book (as the back cover states) is a book filled of inspiring posts that are filled with hope and courage to hold onto hope even in the darkest moments.

There are several reasons that I think that this book is worth reading:

First, those that are also desiring to be inspired and amazed by the depth of faith that Kristian had despite his struggles will also enjoy this book.

Second, those that are looking to understand or know the thought process of someone struggling through cancer will learn alot from this book. 

Third, as a person struggling with a health diagnosis I was inspired by Kristian's faith despite his health circumstances. Throughout each post he weaves his reality with the truth and hope of the love of God. One quote from his final blog post that truly inspired me was: "There is a crack in everything . That's how the light gets in... The truth is, we're all broken, we're all cracked, and what so many people see as a fault or a malfunction really is something to be considered useful."

Fourth, one thing that really inspired me and stuck out to me was a comment that he made in regards to boundaries with those that said hurtful things throughout his illness. This really stood out to me because on this weeks Thursday Health Thoughts I plan to discuss the importance of boundaries in relationships while you are ill (or just in general in life)! One quote that Kristian wrote that I loved was: "When you come to see me or my family, there is now a dress code in effect. Come to us wearing Faith & Hope, and you will be warmly welcomed. Come to us wearing Fear and Doubt, and you will be politely asked to leave. This dress code will be strictly enforced. NO exceptions." (page 46) Another one that he wrote: "I'm weeding out the voices, no matter how well intentioned, that would bring harm, and allowing only those that bring hope and peace."(page 132) I would keep writing more but you will have to wait for Thursday!

I will be honest that I did enjoy parts of the book, but the book also has its difficult moments for several reasons. Kristian's posts are filled with such raw honesty that it was difficult to read as you knew that he was going to lose his fight with cancer and leave his young wife and children behind. Another thing that was difficult was that some of the posts seem a little scattered to follow and that can make it confusing. Part of the reason for this is because while there are some parts of the book that have dates (and posts refer to dates) other parts are not dated and makes it hard to piece together a correct time frame. Finally, I would have liked to have seen more of Rachel's input at parts instead of the sporadic posts that she did. To be frank, her posts were also sometimes confusing because she would put her thoughts in at the end of a chapter and you would have to go back to re-read some of the chapter to fully understand her perspective. I am not sure, but part of the reason for the "disjointed" feeling might have been the lack of time since Kristian's death and being "so close" to the material.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Benefits of Dry Brushing

I first heard of "dry brushing" when I read Kris Carr's book, Crazy Sexy Cancer when I was in my early 20s. I was intrigued and did it for a little bit. Unfortunately, I admit that as time went on I wasn't sure I felt any benefits so I let this important health ritual slip and in the last couple of years I have not done any dry brushing. 

With my increased health issues in the last several years I had been reading more and more about ways that I can try and help my body and dry brushing kept coming up. So I decided that I would look into it at a deeper level and I was shocked to discover ALL of the health benefits. {Yes, I am a "dry brushing believer" now! *smiles*}

So what are these benefits?

1.  First, dry brushing stimulates the circulation & lymphatic systems within our body's. 

2. Bloated? Some sources state that dry brushing will help decrease bloating because you are massaging the body and this helps it to release excess water and toxins.

3. Dry brushing helps the body eliminate toxins.

4. Cellulite? Dry brushing helps create smoother skin and can reduce cellulite.

5. Dry brushing can help aid with digestive issues.

6. Dry brushing can help increase your blood flow.

7. Dry brushing can help promote cell renewal.

8. Dry brushing can help unclog pores.

9. Sit at a computer screen for most of the day? One article stated that by using dry brushing techniques you can release tension in your neck and shoulders that is common in jobs that require sitting for most of the day.

10. Dry brushing can help with stimulating the nervous system.

11. Are you detoxing? Many sources state that you should add dry brushing to your detox routine to make it more beneficial.

Do you dry brush? Are there benefits that you have experienced from dry brushing? Wanting to know how to correctly dry brush? Check out my post on the step-by-step guide to dry brushing by clicking HERE.

{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.}


the power of "I'm sorry"

The last student walked out of my room and left the classroom empty of people and noise. Both things that had become balms to my hurting heart. Noise not ice cream had become the thing that I had tried to "fill up" my life with since the unexpected and devastating break up with my fiance. Noise and my desire for companionship drove me to play countless episodes of "Alias" and "24" until I fell asleep at night. Music and morning talk shows were what I blasted from the first moment of rising each morning keeping me "company" in the early hours of my day and taught me more pop culture than I had ever known in my life.

The need for noise and community drove me to throw myself into my teaching career as never before. I arrived at the school at 6 am most morning and left approximately 13 to 18 hours later. So far, outside of my family and best friends, no one seemed to notice or care. I was avoided adults who weren't close friends - as if I was going to "pass on" the "break up with your fiance" card to someone else. Most of the adults that I worked with seemed unsure of what to say. In that came lots of stilted conversations and lots of awkward silence (well along with the delightful suggestions of trying e-harmony where I was told that "there boys are ready to commit".  What I wanted and what my heart desperately needed was for someone to care enough to say they were sorry. I longed for someone to see beyond the broken shell of a person and to simply care. At the time I don't think that most of my co-workers (outside of dear, dear co-workers friends - thank you Kaara & Paul *smiles*) could or were able to give what I needed ~ which was to see love acted out in human form.

This unspoken prayer request was about to come in the most unsuspecting answer: through my students.

Needing contact with someone I wandered down the hallway and greeted students who (unlike the adults) did not avoid me but stepped toward me and met my pain to embrace me to give me thousands of hugs. As the bell rang and the halls emptied I made my way down to the 3rd floor student (senior) lounge which had these big windows that overlooked the soccer field. As I settled into a chair I surveyed the still winter outside and ironically thought about how similar this was to my life. As I sat pondering life I didn't hear "P", one of my senior students come in and settle in beside me on a chair. As it dawned on me that he was there I felt the teacher side of me kick in and looked for something "brilliant" to say. Except nothing came out. I was dimly aware that the holidays must have been just as difficult for "P" as they were for me due to some family situations but could think of nothing to say.

"This view is amazing. I never get tired of it." I heard P say. I replied something of an agreement and then sighed. "How was your holiday, Ms. V"? He asked.

"Short." I replied- my voice laced with frustration and sadness. I had only been back in Maryland for three days and it had seemed like years.

"Ms. V -" I turned to look at him as I realized he was hesitating. "Ms. V" - he said again... "I am so sorry. " As I glanced away and then back at the young man sitting beside me I realized that my cheeks were wet with silent tears.
"Thank you." I whispered. For the first time someone outside my family and best friends had acknowledged the pain I was going through. Not in a way of making it better but with four simple words that acknowledged the deep hurt I was feeling and gave me room to grieve. Four words that were uttered from someone who had done nothing to cause the pain but instead choose to get involved in my pain. I whispered a quiet thank you again and "P" stayed quiet. I am not sure how long we sat there that day before the bell rang but I do remember the feeling of God's presence filling that room because a senior decided to look outside of themselves and reach out to their teacher whose life had been seemingly shattered. Its ironic because in many ways nothing changed that day but in other ways everything changed. The need for noise to numb the pain was gone and within it was replaced a desire for God's voice to fill those crevices.

We as Christians can do a horrible job of helping someone through grief and pain. We have a million solutions for that person, a hundred Bible verses that we can offer and usually some great "sayings" that are all of little help in the moment.

It has been four years and those students are about to become college graduates and will change (and have already started to change) their worlds. It has been four years, and yet I am reminded of that year often with humble gratitude. Often times all we need is someone to come along side us and sit with us and simply say "I am so sorry". It might seem like it is not enough but trust me - it can change everything.

The minute you choose to extend grace and kindness to another hurting human being God can do miraculous things. As time went on there were countless ways that love was physically expressed by this senior class. At a time that could have been one of the most (understandably) selfish times in their lives these seniors adopted me and truly poured love into my life. There were hundreds of letters of encouragement, students who convinced me to take up running after school even though I called them "Stalin" (sorry sunshine!),notes left on my desk, notes left in books, notes left on my car, CD's made that were filled with uplifting music, DVD's given, a lovely lady that called be "beautiful" when I looked anything but that, food brought into school, invitations to eat lunch with them so that I never ate alone, many jokes and practical pranks played that brought laughter, Starbucks gift cards, money towards a new car when my car died and broke down, invitations to weekend outings (including Valentine's Day) and hundreds and hundreds of Dutch Blitz card games simply because I expressed how muck I liked it. Whether it was a conspiracy or a simple plan to care these simple yet precious acts of love brought sunshine and healing to my broken heart.

In what could have been the worst year of my life I truly only remember with a fond and humbled smile. The thing that brought me so much pain was the backdrop for a beautiful time of my life. And it all started with the simple and yet powerful words of "I'm sorry".

The New York Marshland & Valcour Island, Lake Champlain

Over spring break I fell in love with an area of land that in all of my years of living in upstate New York had not known about until now. The beauty of this land struck me and I fell in love with Lake Champlain all over again.