Caravan Sonnet: November 2013

11/21/13

30 Christmas Present Ideas for a Chronically Ill friend

Last week's Thursday Health Thoughts post was about 17 ways you can help a chronically ill friend with chronic illness during the holidays. As I mentioned last week I want to share 30 Christmas Present ideas for a chronically ill friend. Some of these ideas you may have seen before in the 26 ways to help a Chronically Ill friend. Again, I am not an expert at all, but the things that I have listed below are things that friends have mentioned to me that have been wonderful or I have personally experienced that have truly touched my heart and my life. Be creative and trust me your kindness will touch the heart of your ill friend forever.

1. Offer monetary help if possible
Even with insurance those with Chronic Illness spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to get healthy. Many people with Chronic Illness, like myself, have already gone through all available resources. I have been the recipient of monetary help and this week was offered a plane ticket to see a dear friends wedding. Without this type of help I could never have gone to the wedding or have received treatment in California. These types of gifts do not have to be large either. Someone gave me a five dollar gift card to Target that helped purchase necessities. Such a blessing! Gift cards to Target are priceless! This can help purchase medications, groceries, clothes, and the list goes on! Truly gift cards are wonderful if that is an option for you to give!

2. Purchase their favorite bath items. 
Many of us with Chronic illness use special bath products (including shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, perfume, deodorant, etc.) that are free from certain dyes, chemicals, or ingredients. Yes, these items are more expensive but are necessary. What a lovely gift this would be for someone! Don't know what they use? Ask them or a family member!

3. Pay their Cell Phone Bill for a month.
Most of us with chronic illness desperately need our cell phones and that yucky bill each month takes out a huge amount of money. 

4. Purchase a gift certificate to a special salon. 
As a lady who loved getting her nails done each month, having regular hair appointments, etc. this has been a HUGE change while I am ill. These were the first things to go so that items needed for treatment and paying medical bills, etc. comes first. But honestly (I will say it for your friends who don't feel like they can!) I am still a gal who loves being a lady and I miss "feeling" like that all the time and I have heard countless others say the same thing. 

5. Listen without offering advice (unless asked). 
When you offer unsolicited advice, it can come across as a lecture- even if that is not your intent. Someone once said: "Assume that we have heard all of the tips on living healthier and leave it at that." I couldn't have said it any better. 

6. Provide a special basket for a "night in". 
Why not gather a few items together to give to those who can't go out? Perhaps a snack, movie, etc. could provide a lovely gift!

7. Give a coupon book/ card that lists out something that you (and your family) will do once a month, once a week, etc. for a year. 
Need suggestions? Here are just a few things that immediately come to mind:
(a) Help with housework. 
(b) Help with yard work
(c) Drive your friend to a doctors appointment or treatment (and offer to stay with them). I heard of a friend whose best friend drives her to every single doctors appointment in one area of her physical needs. That allows her spouse and other family members to have a "day off" of one doctor. 
(d) Drive their children to school one day a week.
(e) Bring a meal twice a month.
(f) Pick up groceries once a week.
(g) Offer to go to Target, Walmart, etc. once a week or twice a month for them.
I could go on and on but y'all are creative! 

8. Buy nice pajamas
Those with Chronic Illness spend a lot of time in bed or in the hospital and nice pajamas are always a lovely gift.

9. Magazine subscriptions are a lovely gift! 
This again is a thing that gets cut when money is tight and is a lovely gift for a year!

10. Purchase a netflix or hulu account for a year for your friend. 

11. Buy a "prime" membership on amazon. 
For $99 you can provide your friend with countless free TV shows, movies, and even books to read! And guess what? If they purchase supplements or products on amazon they will be eligible on FREE 2-day shipping! Someone gave me this gift in July and it is truly priceless!

12. Create a relaxing atmosphere. 
Purchase music, i-tunes gift cards, etc. so that your friend can listen to relaxing & encouraging music. 

13. Ask them what the best books are on their illness and then read them. 
Tell them that you have spent the time doing this and believe me this is PRICELESS. You will be able to have an intelligent and compassionate conversation from that moment forward since you will be knowledgeable about their illness. (Side Note: Read what they suggest not what wikipedia says...)

14. Introduce a hobby or supplement their existing hobby. 
Does your friend do a hobby that helps them pass the time or that they enjoy? Purchase items that they have been wanting or give them a gift card to their favorite specialty craft store. Do they not have a hobby but have been talking about starting one? Buy the intro book, the intro supplies, and give them the gift of creativity! Or try sudoko, word searches, etc!

15. Give the gift or reading. 
Is there something that your friend loves to read? Buy them the books. Does your friend have an illness that makes reading hard? Give them books on tape! Don't know what to give them? Purchase a gift card to a bookstore or a kindle gift card. Maybe even purchase a kindle... 

16. Soft, Snugly, and Comfy blankets. 
I love feeling comfy- especially on days where the pain is intense and I feel so miserable. I love the gift of soft blankets, comfy sheets, and sweet throws. Most recently I was the recipient of a beautiful prayer quilt. Every time that I look at it and use it I am reminded that there are SO many people praying for me. 

17. Research and Purchase a Gadget that can help them with a disability. 
You have heard me say this before but money is tight and lots of times gadgets are not purchased. Don't know what is needed? Ask them or their family members! 

18.  Gift Baskets. 
This article: 10 top gift basket ideas for those suffering with Chronic Illness has wonderful ideas. Don't know what to get? Consider purchasing a Well Basket.

19. Journals. 
While not everyone is a writer, some of us go through journals yearly monthly weekly. *smiles* OOh... and pretty pens... hahaha that last one is just for me!

20. Gas Gift Cards. 
I can't even begin to express how much money I spend in gas money each week driving to all of my local doctors appointments and this doesn't even begin to account for the ones that are not local. Gas gift cards are a wonderful gift. 

21. Purchase supplements, oils, etc. 
Is your friend using alternative supplements? These are often expensive and this would be a wonderful gift. Disclaimer: only purchase what your friend is currently using. This is not the time to give advice on what you believe would be the cure!

22. Donate to an organization that supports research for their disease. 

23. Mind the car. 
Along with #20 - a car gets lots of use. Take the car for a "spa day" and get the oil changed, washed, filled up with gas, and tuned up. This would be an AMAZING gift! Better yet, have someone do an entire tune up!

24. Hold a benefit concert, run, walk, etc. for them. 

25. Bath Spa- Hot tub
Yes, hot tubs are expensive but Amazon sells the Conair Thermal Bath Spa Mat for a very reasonable price. This would be such a lovely gift! Along with this idea: special heating pads, massage heating pads, etc. 

26. Winter items. 
Do y'all live in an area where winter rears its ugly head? Consider purchasing a can of spray defroster so that they do not have to scrape their car! (And maybe gloves, warm scarves, etc.!)

27. Tickets to live performances for a year. 
Does your friend love musicals or comedies or acting?Consider purchasing four or five tickets for them and a friend/spouse to go to these events every couple of months. 

28. Homemade Inspirational Artwork. 
Create artwork that can be displayed- especially for those who are bedridden. 

29. Be Present. 
I have said this before, but the best gift that you can give is yourself.

30. Remember the caregiver(s). 
I have often said this but me being ill is often harder on my family then myself. To see people that are constantly hurting and suffering and not be able to do anything about it is excruciating. Reach out to the caregivers and you will touch the heart of the person who is ill too. 

As I said last week, realize that your friend or family member with chronic illness is the best gift this season. Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate PEOPLE. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world. 

What are some of your Christmas gift ideas for those in your life who are ill? Please share with us in the comments below!

11/19/13

Merry & Bright Classic Christmas Album

I am really excited to share with you a new addition to my Etsy Shop
This is a sweet and unique mini scrapbook (size is approximately 7x4) with journal tags and embellishments that provides a lovely gift for Christmas or simply a stress free way for you to remember the joy of this holiday season. 
 Albums come embellished with ribbon, twine, tabs, pretty scrapbook paper, glitter and cuteness that you will quickly fall in love with. Simply insert your pictures and write your precious memories to remember the wonder and precious memories of the season for you to enjoy for years to come.
Click HERE to go directly to the shop to place your order! *smiles*

11/14/13

17 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness During the Holidays

Several months ago I wrote a Thursday Health Thought that has remained one of my highest read posts and most commented on posts. The post discussed 26 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness and was widely appreciated by those who have a chronic illness and those who know someone with a chronic illness. A couple of weeks ago I started to receive some emails referencing that post and asking if there were any specific thoughts or ideas on how to reach out to someone with a chronic illness during the holidays. {Seriously?? Y'all are awesome!!}So today I wanted to share  17 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness During the Holidays and next week will share Christmas Present Ideas for a Friend with Chronic Illness!

I am not an expert at all, but the things that I have listed below are things that friends have mentioned to me that have been wonderful or I have personally experienced that have truly touched my heart and my life as a person who is seriously ill during the Holiday Season!

1. When hosting a party- offer some foods that your friend (who is on a special diet) can eat. 
Don't make this a big deal but try to incorporate snacks that you know your friend can eat.

2. When hosting a dinner party take the time to share with your Chronically Ill friend ahead of time the ingredients of all of your dishes. 

This will save your friend any awkwardness of having to ask questions in front of the other guests and like a burden at the party. 

3.Pray for your friend. 

The holidays can be stressful for people and this is especially true of those with chronic illnesses.

4. Offer to pick up presents for your friend.

These could be presents for their family and friends when you are going Christmas Shopping for your own family and friends. 

5. Help them decorate their house (or outside of their house). 

This offer can be truly priceless as decorating takes lots of energy. Maybe your family can make a Saturday of offering this to several families that you know. What a blessing this would be! (Also consider blessing families who can't afford a Christmas tree this year due to health costs with a tree!)

6. Help them take decorations down after the holidays! 

Just like #5 maybe this could be a Saturday project for your family or a group of friends! (And don't forget about disposing of the Christmas Tree!)

7. Be sensitive. 

Understand that money is tight and that the holidays are incredibly stressful for your friend. A gift exchange is fun, but for those with a chronic illness money can be overwhelming. Think of creative ways to host gift exchanges that don't cost much money.

8. Remember your neighbors! 

Helping those who are less fortunate, serving at the homeless shelter, etc. are all wonderful ideas BUT have you ever thought about serving those who are even closer to you? Your chronically ill friend is in serious need. Consider serving those closest to you this year!

9. Be Patient. 

Things may look different with your friend and family members who are seriously ill but remember that they are still the same person. Be patient with the changes.

10. Laugh often with your friend or family member. 

Maybe offer to bring over a comedy to watch together, send a funny card in the mail, or just leave a message that could bring a smile to their face!

11. Don't make it about you. 

Yes, the holiday season is about giving but be respectful of your friends wishes and desires. Maybe they really don't want you to come over at midnight to celebrate December 19th. (Yes, Hahaha that is a true story! *smiles*)

12. Consider starting new holiday traditions.


13. Take up a secret holiday collection and give it to your friend. 


14. Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season. 


15. Be Thoughtful. 

Spread out the holiday activities to help your family member be able to join in on many things. (Instead of doing EVERY thing in one day maybe go caroling one night, Christmas shopping another day, etc.)

16. Be Compassionate. 

Does your friend have more pain or fatigue later in the evening? Consider hosting a brunch instead of a dinner! (Or vice versa!)

17. Realize that your friend or family member with chronic illness is the best gift this season. 

Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate PEOPLE. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world. 

What are some ways that you help a friend with a chronic illness during the holidays? 

11/13/13

It's Christmas Time at The Paper Sonnet {two}

Yesterday I shared with y'all that I am so honored to be apart of the Handmade Holiday Gift Guide ! Today I am so excited to share with y'all some new additions that I have added to The Paper Sonnet! In the coming days and weeks the shop will feature new creations that you can use as lovely handmade gifts or simply for yourself! Growing The Paper Sonnet into a larger business is something that has been a dream of mine and I am SO delighted to share with y'all this journey! 

Listed below are a few pictures from the new Christmas Card additions to the shop! Items are selling quickly so don't delay on your orders! Go check out the other items! And don't forget I also do custom orders! Click HERE to go to the The Paper Sonnet shop!** 


Sweet Christmas Ball Collage Collection




**ALL proceeds from The Paper Sonnet go to help cover my medical expenses and to charity!**

11/11/13

Thank You to ALL of our Veterans!


A BIG, humble, and grateful thank you to all of our veterans and their families! Thank you for ensuring freedom for our country and for consistently sacrificing so much for us!

Happy Veterans Day!

11/5/13

Notes from the Porch {ten}: Have you not known? Have you not heard?

These past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of health issues and difficulties and to be frank some deep emotional hurt (which I think comes with the territory for anyone who is going through a serious illness) that the Lord is beautifully healing. I hope that you will bear with me through this little post and simply hear my heart. I am so grateful for each of you that are walking alongside this journey with me. 

I can't express enough my thanks to all of you who participated in a myriad of different ways to Rebecca's Run and who have given financially and sacrificially in spiritual and emotional support. Your love and support truly have been SUCH a gift to me. Some of you have been giving for years in different ways and your unconditional love and support has been such a blessing to me and my life. Thank you! 

Unfortunately, two weeks ago it became obvious that financially there was not a way for me to return to California for treatment. This was a decision that was a difficult one to make and one that my parents and I (along with good friends) tried in every conceivable way to make possible. Unfortunately though the funds that we personally had set aside to use in addition to the money that we were raising (about $3,000) had to be used for a variety of different hospital bills, doctors visits, medication, doctors appointments, alternative health care treatments, etc. these past few months and with this plus the still needed funds there is simply not the money to go back out to California(due to this also if you see the Go Fund Me page money needed has increased.). To be frank I cried about this for a while (as did my parents) as I know that I need the treatments. I am so thankful that the Lord is never surprised or concerned about these things. To me this is very scary, but our precious Lord has me right in the palm of HIS hands and I am at peace with the ways of the Lord. 

Right now the plan is to continue to save every dollar that we can, do a variety of different fundraising things (Caravan Sonnet ClosetThe Paper SonnetGo Fund Me Page) and prayerfully continue to ask the Lord to bring in each penny that is needed. While to me this money that is needed seems insurmountable I know that the Lord owns every cent in the world and He will provide at the exact right timing. 

At the same time I would also covet prayers specifically for my little body which (and I don't talk about details alot on this blog) is extremely ill. Some recent tests have shown that my stomach and colon are not only severely inflamed but they have decided to not work properly again (I already had an official diagnosis of gastroparesis). After treatment last May my stomach was doing so much better and I was able to eat a healthy range of foods. Unfortunately ever since the infection in August my stomach and colon have decided to start shutting down again. What this means is lots and lots of hours of intense pain(that medicine is not helping) and my diet being extremely limited and in the last few days more and more liquid items and very soft and easily digestible foods. Prayerfully I will be able to go out to the Whitaker Wellness Institute soon and that will help these symptoms!

If you follow me on instagram then you know that I had a check up and blood work done last week. I am so grateful for all of your prayers. Unfortunately (despite having to be stuck 6 times) it appears that the blood work was not run properly and that mine was switched with someone elses. What this means is that I will have to have the blood work redrawn this week and have a meeting with my hematologist about this situation on Friday afternoon. As you can imagine, this is definitely the last thing that a person who is seriously ill wants to deal with. I would definitely covet prayers for us getting to the true blood work results as my iron levels (and hemoglobin levels) are in a dangerous level & this needs to be dealt with asap!
At the urging of several doctors I am now the owner of this bracelet that arrived this week. To be honest I was kind of avoiding getting this but it became obvious after a couple of hospital and doctors visits that if I didn't have this on and something serious occurred there might not be the knowledge of what antibiotics and medicines that I can take and the ones that could severely affect my body. At least it is silver! *smiles*

I am so thankful for all of your prayers for me physically. To be honest I would also covet prayers for me emotionally as well. To be frank I know that I don't speak of this often on here, but this has been definitely one of the most difficult times of my life and this battle has lasted long before I even went public with it. It's hard to express how much that can affect one's spirit. I truly long to live what I would consider a "normal" life and had hoped that I would be much farther along in the journey of getting better than I am! Instead we are looking at a much longer recovery rate and this is extremely discouraging. To be very open and honest ever since my infection in August I have truly been struggling against discouragement. There are several reasons for this: my symptoms worsening, coming to terms that there is not the money for treatment, the lost of some friends who I counted as dear friends who have truly just "disappeared", the longing to be married... to be a mom... and to be healthy, and the longing to live a "normal" life has caught up with me. 

I think sometimes the reality is a little different then I say on here: I live at home with my parents and sis(who are AMAZING) but I only leave the house for very limited occasions due to my weakened immune system. No job. No social life. No night outs. No "off time" from Lymes and Cancer. For a gal who LOVED her job as a high school teacher, who was very involved at the school she taught at, who was active with friends and family, and who loved ballroom dancing... this is VERY different. And we are in the middle of year 2 and looking at at least another year of this. 

I will be honest: it is painful and lonely. 

And its truly been something behind the scenes that has been one of the most painful parts of this journey. I have been crying out to the Lord at night and in the day in almost a ranting way. Almost yelling at Him saying asking Him if He has forgotten me. Don't misunderstand me: I know that the Lord is close and near to the brokenhearted. I experience that every.single.day. But as my little world has shattered farther than I ever thought possible there has been an increase in cries out to the Lord with no words, but simply with tears. 

And He continues to beautifully answer. 

Through HIS word that is living & active. 

And through sweet friends who have unconditionally walked this road with me and have chosen to get and stay involved in my life - where there is absolutely no benefit to them. They are simply loving the Lord and live life with no desire for any credit of what they are doing. It is beautiful and I am so humbled. Monica sent me the most beautiful song and it was EXACTLY my hearts cry and I have sobbed listening to this song as it is truly the Lord's response to my daily cries. If you are crying out for answers and feeling discouraged I can't recommend this song enough. It is scripture simply put to song. Click HERE to listen!

As I close out this post I want to express my deepest and gentlest encouragement for all of you that are going through a lonely and discouraging part of your caravan on this earth. The truth of scripture has not diminished in our circumstances. If anything it is an opportunity to experience scripture in a way that we may never have before. An opportunity to know and NOT just feel that the Lord's promises of Never leaving or forsaking us are true.  Loneliness is but one tool that our Father, who knows best, can use in our lives. Hold on dear friend to Him. Rest in Him. He loves you and He gives power to the weak. I do understand the temptation to compare our present circumstances to those of the past. Believe me it is a temptation that I fight every.single.day. But dear friends, we either trust that the Lord appoints our minutes or days or we don't. He is sovereign. Don't waste the energy to debate that. Instead, rest in truth. I want to leave you with a quote by Elisabeth Elliot that has encouraged me throughout many of these long days:

"We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy. But we may be missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be at this moment and not in another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him- here where it seems He is not at work, where His will seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place." - Elisabeth Elliot

Have you not known? Have you not heard?