Caravan Sonnet: October 2013


Vintage Inspired Christmas Tags

I am so excited to share with y'all the Vintage Christmas Tags that I have been working on creating for December Caravan the last several weeks! Each tag has sweet decorations that will just touch your heart. These little tags are the perfect embellishment to gifts, holiday bags, holiday decorating, or just simply to mark a page in your favorite holiday book. Each set of 10 holds a variety of cards that will help you celebrate the joy of the season! 
*these tags were created when the shop was shortly named "the paper sonnet" but are still apart of the December Caravan Etsy Shop*


supporting our soldiers (two)

As many of you know one of the passions that I have is supporting our military and their families. I am so incredibly thankful for each and everyone of our servicemen & women who are protecting our freedoms, ensuring our country is secure, and who sacrifice so much for the sake of others. I shared in a post last winter that during my first graduate program I had the amazing opportunity to live in a "military town". I had always had a high respect for the military and the way that our service men and women serve our country, but after living in a military town my respect grew in leaps and bounds. I had the opportunity to meet, work with, teach kids of, and life life with military families. It was such an honor and I was incredibly inspired by each person who I met who sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country. I wanted to find a small way to tangibly thank those who were serving and I was introduced (through a former student) to the organization Adopt a Platoon . While I have volunteered with other organizations over the years I have been so honored to be apart of Adopt a Platoon for over nine years. I am in my 9th year of being apart of Adopt-a-Platoon and have had the privilege and honor to support over 29 soldiers through the pen pal adoption program. What an HONOR! If you are looking for a way to support our service men and women then I highly recommend looking up Adopt-A-Platoon. There are opportunities for everyone that require a variety of different time commitments. Just click HERE to see the website if you are interested in supporting AAP!

Last time I shared with y'all about this I was putting together a birthday box for my soldier at the time. My previous soldier thankfully completed that mission and so I have been assigned to another soldier. I can't tell you what a delight it is when the soldiers that you are supporting are in contact during their employment. It is not a requirement, or an expectation with AAP that you will hear from your soldier at any point and so I am always so honored by the ones that take time out of their incredibly difficult and demanding schedules to drop a note, an email, etc. My last few soldiers have done this and it has blown me away. One of my current soldiers is honestly amazing.  As I said above, I am so honored to know that we have such men & women in our military who are sacrificing so much!

A couple of weeks ago I thought it would be fun to put together a "football box" for my soldier and their friends. Many of the soldier miss Saturday/Sunday football times and so I hoped that this would bring a little bit of cheer to them! 

I gathered a couple of football movies, candy, and football themed items to add to the box. I also made one of the cupcake garlands so that they could "decorate" a little to bring a more "homey" feel to the day. 

I found some of the cutest decorating supplies, including the cupcake wrappers from Michael's! I used some white elastic cord from my grandmothers sewing box to string the cupcake wrappers together.
It was small, but there is not a lot of room on bases (or in the box!) so this is the perfect size! 

I enclosed a small note with the box that I hope will bring a smile.
Here is what the box looked like before I closed it up with the note inside!
After I closed the box up I used the remaining cupcake wrappers to decorate the outside of the box. Hopefully this brought some joy and happiness to our soldiers! Thank you to each of you (and your families) for the incredible sacrifice that you make for us everyday!


Bloggy World Thoughts: from the nine month newbie

Today I wanted to share some more tips and thoughts that I have learned in "bloggy world". It is hard to believe that this week hit the nine month mark of writing on this blog! While time sometimes seems to move slow, I at other times, like when I read that I have been blogging for nine months, feel like time is flying! 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 have and 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 bloggy world such a wonderful experience in my life! Three months ago I shared some thoughts as a "six month newbie"  and six months ago I shared tips as the "three month newbie". Today I wanted to share some thoughts as the "nine month newbie". Here are my thoughts (in no particular order):
1. Make sure that your email is highly visible on your blog.

2.  Really be careful about the comments you leave on a post. It is probably not the best idea to ask for a "follow back" on a very serious and personal post. In general it is best to leave your blog's URL instead of asking for a "follow back".

3. While I don't care about numbers, it is generally not good blogger etiquette to ask a blogger (who is much larger than you) to swap ads with you & then to ask them for a bigger swap size because you feel that the swap size is to small. 

4. Be a classy blogger. It is truly not classy to share email disagreements, twitter arguments, etc. that you have with other bloggers. Do you really want to go back six, nine, or twelve months from now and re-read that post and remember all of that drama? I would hope the answer would be "no"!

5. One of the the best articles I read about different things to do for your blog was this article HERE! While I haven't done alot of those tips, if you are looking to really help your blog grow it is a GREAT article to check out!

6. If you haven't already been pinning your posts/pictures/ect. to pinterest start now. Pinterest is a wonderful way to generate more traffic to your blog. I don't have time to pin things everyday so I spend time once a week going through the previous weeks posts and pinning things to pinterest. It is definitely worth the time investment. {Also, to be a good bloggy friend pin other peoples posts!}

7. Guest posting is a great way to get your blog out there, but don't say "yes" to every opportunity. I unfortunately learned this the hard way a couple of months ago: I was asked by a blogger to write a guest post on her blog and she gave no direction on what she wanted or was looking for. I sent her a topic and shared that it was a topic that I had written about previously on blog, she said it looked wonderful, and then I carefully crafted the post for her blog. To be honest I was very taken back when she wrote me a very long email filled with tips and things that she thought I needed to know to (as she put it) "improve my writing". She also went through and offered "grammar" corrections (as she called them). In addition to this she also informed me in a round about way that no one would want to read this post because of my poor writing. Honestly, I wasn't offended (be a writer for any period of time and you have your fair share of rejection letters *smiles*) but what did surprise me was that the post happened to be one of my highest read and highest commented on posts of all time. (Yes, I also admit that it surprised me that she took the time (without me asking her to) to critique that much of my writing. *smiles*) In addition to this a couple of different versions of the post have been printed in online magazines. I say all of that to say that I did what I should have done at the beginning: I went and read through several months of posts of her blog, did some digging, looked at the bloggers following and spent another day reading through her posts, and realized that I should have politely said "no" from the beginning. It wasn't because she had a smaller following than me (which she significantly did), I should have said "no" because as I read through a few posts I realized that our blog tones were incredibly different. I truly like to have a conversation and create a rich & vibrant community with Caravan Sonnet. I have made wonderful friends. I love the way that the conversation ebbs and flows in and out of the blog. And while I like to share things that I hope are helpful, I don't ever like to preach at my readers. I realized (with some gratefulness) that this girl turning me down was actually the best for me. And I learned an important lesson along the way. Don't say "yes" to every guest blogging opportunity. Do your homework and really research to see if you are a good fit. 

8. Back up your blog**. it's actually a good idea to do it every once in a while. And, yes, when you lose something like that people do tend to go in to panic mode! As long as you have a backup somewhere you should have a good restore point.

To back up the design: Template > Backup/Restore > Download Full Template
To back up your content (posts & comments): Settings > Other > Export Blog > Download Blog
**this tip was given to me by a dear friend! Thank you Carrie from: Carrie Loves Design**

9. While it is not required or seen as taboo if you don't do this, it is still polite to "follow" certain people on social media sites if you are sponsoring them, interact frequently with them on a particular social media site, or if you have requested that they follow you. (yes, the last one is a true story. *smiles*)

10. Want to make a button for your blog WITH a grab code? Click HERE for the best and easiest tutorial. 

11. The blogging community is WONDERFUL! There have been so many people who have been so supportive of me quietly behind the scenes. Y'all are have been such a blessing!

12. Take time to really develop relationships. I am so blessed by the women that I have met and who have been so incredibly supportive during some very difficult months. 

13. Make sure that the links on your blog work! *smiles* I just discovered some issues with mine yesterday and will have to fix those!

14. Don't think that you can make a difference in bloggy world? Think again. Words can't express how much it meant to me to have Caroline from In Due Time run Rebecca's Run for me. And the countless people who stepped up to participate in "8 Hours on the 8th" and who have donated money to my "Go Fund Me" page. While these things may seem little- they have changed my life!

15. Along with #11 & #14 comes a story that truly touched my heart and changed my life in bloggy world. Last March as my health continued to deteriorate I was still participating in many online blogging communities and mail swaps. One swap I had participated in for several months and signed up for April's swap. Unfortunately shortly after I signed up (and the day after the names were exchanged) I made the decision to go out to the Whitaker Wellness Institute for treatment. Due to this I knew that I needed to focus solely on my health and emailed the organizer of the swap (and my partners) and explained the situation. To be frank the organizer of this particular swap had been very open about her struggle with one of the diseases that I have and I had emailed her just a few days prior to this asking her a couple of questions about the disease which she had politely answered. I had no reason to think that I would receive anything but support from her in this time of crisis that I was having. I apologized for any extra work this would cause her and said that I appreciated her understanding. Unfortunately, instead of being empathetic or compassionate at all her email to me was very short, unkind, and implied that I was being irresponsible in the situation. I also received "instructions" on what I should do and she never once offered any kindness to me. I honestly was shocked and hurt as this was a blogger who I had been getting to know for months. I couldn't believe that someone who claimed to have struggled with the disease that was literally killing me could be so callous. (I do want it to be stated that my partners were amazing and wrote me the sweetest emails and even sent packages to me in California!)  I share all of that to say that in August when I signed up for a nail polish swap with the sweet Mrs AOK and was paired with the lovely Ophelia I was brokenhearted to have to send my package late due to an unexpected hospital visit. I also, to be frank was a little hesitant about the response that I would receive after what had happened in April. BUT Guess what? These ladies were amazing. SERIOUSLY I received the sweetest support, twitter love, and amazing grace in the knowledge that there are more important things in life than swaps. People are more important. And honestly, that is what truly was the biggest lesson in bloggy world in all my months of blogging. Just like in real life people will be unkind and caught up more in getting things accomplished, their own life, and getting things done but there are others who are going to touch and change your lives with their kindness just like those ladies did to me. Look for those type of people in bloggy world because honestly friends those are the ones that are making HUGE differences - not just in bloggy world but in their real lives. 
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 a year at that point! WOW! Can't wait to celebrate this little blogs 1 year birthday at that point with y'all! What are your tips for us newbies in bloggy world? We would love to hear! 


Notes from the Porch {nine}: Eight Year Anniversary!

As I write these words I am laying in bed and marveling at the beauty of today, the bright blue sky, and the gorgeous fall breeze that is gently wafting through my open window. And i am also in quiet awe at ALL that the Lord has done AND the beautiful reminder that today brings that the Lord is our Healer. 

The Healer.

For those of you who have read my story of my battle with Endometriosis eight years ago then you know that today is a very precious day. Today marks EIGHT years of being Endo free. 

Eight years. 

Years that no one believed would be even possible. Years that I was told (before surgery)to give up and believe the worst about. Years that I was told (at the time) that I should "accept" that God would not heal and that I would be left with crippling pain. Pain that did not allow me to have a "normal" life in any sense of the word at 25 years old. 

And here on the other side... at eight years I look back with humble tears at all that the Lord has done. Years that the Lord has beautifully redeemed and that have held such joyful moments, beautiful unconditional love of family and dear friends, and the beautiful reminder that the Lord is the GREAT healer. 

As I remember with joy what the Lord did on this day eight years ago, I rest in the beautiful knowledge that the Lord is the Great Healer not only for Endo but for Lymes & Cancer. What a beautiful gift the Lord has given me in having experienced one healing already. This journey, unlike Endo, has proven to be much longer than the previous health journey. Sometimes I cry out to the Lord in the middle of the night "when Lord will healing come??". 

But He is never late. 

Today reminds me on this long journey that the Lord is constantly at work no matter how long we have cried out to Him for answers. The Lord has brought to mind this beautiful  passage of Hope to me this week and I pray that it will encourage you to keep holding on to His cloak each minute, each hour, of everyday. 

As I move forward with the humble gratitude and thankfulness of what God did eight years ago, I look forward with anticipation to see how He will heal and work this time. I rejoice in what He has already done and peacefully rest in His absolute goodness. I look forward to rejoicing in the future and rest in the knowledge that His healing will not be overdue by a SINGLE day. 

Dear friends as you rest in Him and are waiting and crying out to the Lord for different things in your lives: physical healing, spiritual renewal, a marriage to be restored, the baby that you have longed for, the spouse that you are longing for, whatever it is... know that the Lord is working. He is working slowly, steadily, and SURELY to bring His perfect will to fruition in your life. 

DO NOT DESPAIR sweet friend. He is coming. And He WILL answer. And His timing will not be overdue by a single day!

Happy 8 year Anniversary!


Notes from the Porch {Eight}: Rebecca's Run

It's almost impossible to write about Rebecca's Run without getting emotionally choked up. The outpouring of love from my sister who thought of the idea, to bloggers who are dear friends like Caroline from In Due Time that ran the race too, to random strangers writing me emails of encouragement, and countless people donating money truly touched my heart and encouraged me deeply. Often times the journey of a serious illness is fraught with loneliness and there are times where I experience this, but Rebecca's Run was a screaming reminder that the Lord has placed amazing people in my life. 

Originally the plan was for Emily to run her 1/2 marathon in Fort Jackson, Alabama but the Monday before we were supposed to leave for the marathon I became seriously ill. Several days (and several IV's later) it was determined that I had contracted a serious infection. Thankfully my little body responded very quickly to antibiotics and IV's but my doctors determined that it was not wise for me to travel to Alabama so Emily decided that she would run right here in our hometown. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and I believe the pictures speak volumes themselves so I will let you enjoy them. THANK YOU so much to ALL of you that continue to walk this long long journey with me and my precious family. Thank you so much to Emily who selflessly ran this long distance in support of me and thank you to all of you who are such a lovely example of God's unconditional and unchanging love. 

Honestly in these next few pictures I am not sure what I am so enthralled with! Hahaha!
This next picture just makes me laugh! 
She was ready to go and she was feeling the music! 
And she's off!
We drove to each two-mile interval mark. While we waited for Emily my mom demonstrated the "correct way of running"! Hahaha!
Waiting for Emily! She was so fast we would get our chairs set up and she would be there! 
She is almost finished! Here she comes at Mile 11!
Two more miles to go!
Coming towards the finish line!
Absolutely Amazing!
She did it! Crossing the finish line!
13.1 Miles!
I love you Hoopster!! Thank you for hosting Rebecca's Run!