Caravan Sonnet: May 2014


Notes from the Porch (twenty): through the roof

I think that I say this every time that I have a "Notes from the Porch" update, but while the days can seem long sometimes (due to pain) in this journey the weeks seem to fly by. How in the world has it been two weeks since my last update? *smiles*

I want to thank each of you again for all of your continued prayers in this long journey. A verse that has become such a "mantra" for me these past couple of months (and especially the last couple of weeks) has been from psalm 126:5.
I wanted to take a few moments today to just give a few updates and continue to ask for some specific prayers. 

(one) My "gut" continues to be the source of incredible pain and discomfort due to the Lyme Disease, environmental illness, leaky gut, and inflammation after so many years and issues. EVERYTHING seems to "aggravate" it and these past two weeks have been incredibly painful (more similar to last year). As I continue to follow a very strict regime of supplements, medications, essential oils, detox baths, herbs, etc. I would covet your prayers that this pain would cease. It is extremely exhausting, is the source of countless tears, and in addition is very preventative in moving forward as quickly as we would like. PLEASE join us in praying for relief. Thank you!

(two) I continue to ask for prayer for finances that I am still needing for the summer costs. I am so appreciative of the donations that have come in these past two weeks and can't begin to express my thanks. I am so humbled as I know that many of you have given again, again, and again in so many different ways. Thank you so much and thank you for your kindness in this journey. If you would like to donate you can click here:

(three) If we are connected on instagram then you know that this is the week of transition for me. This week has been spent with finalized doctors appointments, packing, finishing Etsy orders, last minute bloodwork, more doctors appointments, and finishing the last oxygen treatments. It has also been a time of saying goodbye and thanking those that have been such an incredible help throughout the last eight months. I wanted to do something "tangible" for several people and went about making a thank you gifts for some and purchasing several succulents (and covering them with wonderful twine!). (I was so grateful for a sweet friend who sent me a gift card to Krogers when she heard what I wanted to do so that I could purchase the succulents! Thank you so much "K"!!) I loved working on "sprucing" them up with twine!

(four) My family and I will leave for upstate New York on Sunday and we would covet prayers for safety as we travel and for health for my fragile body. The two-day (twenty some hour) car trip can be especially difficult on me and with the stomach pain that I have been having I am a little apprehensive about the trip. As I shared my mom is retiring to help me and so we will be in upstate New York for approximately four months and this will allow me to receive a variety of different treatments. 

(five) I am starting (again for a second try) the environmental illness medicine that the doctor has me on today. As always, we covet prayer for this to work and for me to have no serious side affects.

Thank you so much for ALL of your prayers, support, and love during this journey. I was re-reading recently two stories from scripture of people who were ill coming to Jesus. In one, it was a woman who had bled for many years and scripture says that she spent all of her money getting well and no one could help her. In the other it was a man who was seriously ill and his friends lowered him through the roof to Jesus. For a long time in this journey I have felt that I could relate to the woman more than the man. The desperate cries for help, the tears that I have cried alone begging the Lord for healing and a reduction of pain, and the feeling and knowledge that I only need one little touch by the greatest Healer to get well are all emotions that I imagine the woman in the Bible felt as she desperately pushed through the crowds. But over the last year and months, weeks and days I have been struck by another beautiful picture. While physically I am not being lowered through the roof, I am constantly being brought to Jesus by your prayers and love. I can't tell you how many times I text so many of you asking for immediate prayer and you always graciously and lovingly respond. I can't tell you how many times I have opened up my email, my facebook messages, listened to my voice mails, opened mail, etc. to find beautiful words filled with love and prayers reminding me that so many people are constantly bringing me before Jesus. Thank you so much dear friends. This journey has been WAY longer than I ever would have imagined or desired and your love in "lowering" me through the roof to Jesus is the greatest blessing. 

Thank you!


Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series- Part One:Making the Decision to go out of state/country

{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.}

Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to kick off this new six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. In the following weeks I will be talking about this subject (and sharing some of my own experiences) and am excited to have several guest bloggers who have chosen this option for various reasons and are going to share their experiences too! Here is the list of the topics for the coming weeks:

So lets get started! Today I want to talk about making the decision to go out of state or country to see a doctor. (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but NONE of them have ever looked like Dr. Avery from Grey's Anatomy!*smiles*But this single gal can dream right? Either way I hope it brings a smile to your face! *smiles*)

So what are the reasons for making the decision to go out of state or country for your illness? Here are just a few:

(one) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where you realize that due to where you live you might not have the best option for a doctor for your particular disease or illness. I think that to a lot of people who are usually healthy this never even crosses their radar. Honestly, it would never have crossed mine if I hadn't been sick. Many people (including myself) have done research and have found that there local GP's (general practitioner's), hospitals, surgeon's, etc. are very qualified and competent people. And they typically are. But the reality is that for many people, including myself, staying local to get well was not an option. 

When I was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease  I researched thoroughly (and visited) the local hospitals, doctors, specialists (in infectious disease), etc. Unfortunately I kept hearing the same thing: "Lyme Disease doesn't exist in the south". (I should state that my local paper just this week stated that ticks have now traveled south this year. Do NOT even get me started on this.) So in my case I wasn't just fighting a disease alone I was fighting the culture's general thought that while we live near the Smokey Mountains and while ticks can destroy a person's life, they are also smart enough to not cross state borders, be attached to travelers who have hiked the Appalachian trail, been attached to animals that have traveled south, etc. (Yes, I am being completely sarcastic.) But just like my battle with endometriosis I had a choice. I could use my limited energy on being angry and irritated or I could put that little energy into finding a doctor to help me get well. I chose the later and I would recommend anyone to do so also.

As I searched for a doctor I did try to remain "somewhat local". I tried to make an appointment at hospitals in my "area" (within 250 miles) and even called around to different doctors within my state but hours away. I finally expanded my search to include all of the states around me (which included Duke Hospital). While I had been initially seen at Duke, my diagnosis came from a different practitioner and I had to make a new patient appointment. Guess what? I still have that appointment at Duke... for 2015!!! After THIRTY-THREE (yes, you read that correctly) doctors in my city told me that they couldn't help me, the news that I would have to wait two more years for an appointment at Duke, and major hospitals in my surrounding area telling me they had no answers I expanded my search across the United States. 

Some people called it desperate. Others thought I was insane. Others told me that I didn't have enough "faith" that God could heal me where I was at. And there were tons of other comments. But as I researched and called 78 doctors who were treating Lyme across the United States I became even more sure that this was the right decision. As a believer I was praying for wisdom and I do believe that going out to California last year for treatment saved my life. The reality was that the doctors in my local area were just not equipped to deal with the disease that I am fighting. 

(two) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where need to find a specialist. While you may have the options and opportunities to find a specialist in your area, you may decide that you need to find a specialist. The reality is that "specialists" just don't exist in every single town or state (or even in the country!). Due to this you might, after researching decide that you need to add a specialist into the equation - whether that is a long-term solution for the foreseeable future (as mine is) or just to see a couple of times in your health journey. Don't be afraid to "think outside of the box". (I have permission to share the following story.) I had a friend who was desperately trying to find answers to her infertility issues. After traveling to several different states across America and finding no help she was at a complete loss of what to do. "Randomly" she came across a book in a used book store while she was on vacation written by a doctor who runs a health and fertility clinic in England. After reading the book, doing a ton of different research, having several skype conversations with the doctor, and talking to former patients she and her husband went over to England. Two trips and seven years later she and her husband are now the proud parents of four kiddos. As she has often said to me, "I saw tons of specialists in my city, state, and country. But the key was in England where a lady understood my specific history and also had training that was done in a university outside of the USA. She had been taught a completely different approach then what my specialists here in America were saying. If I had never taken the risk and flown to England I would never have realized that there is a whole big world out there with tons of different thoughts and ideas."

(three) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where need to find someone who has had unique training. Similar to what my friend shared above, you sometimes need to find someone who hasn't been trained at the University of __________ for their undergrad and medical school. Does this make them less qualified? ABSOLUTELY not. Does this mean that they are not someone I would go to? ABSOLUTELY not. But sometimes you need to know more than just your particular state or countries knowledge. Several years ago when I was diagnosed with CFS & Fibromyalgia I went to one of the leading health centers on Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia for treatment. (I was blessed to have one of the six centers in the US in my particular city at the time.) I definitely am grateful for everything that happened there and in many ways the $7,000 that I ended up paying was worth every penny. BUT as I moved home last year and sought additional answers as my health continued to fail I needed help beyond what I was receiving. I read more and more books on CFS and Fibromyalgia and it wasn't until I came across a book last year from a doctor in Canada written in 2010 that I learned some new things that had never been told to me before! This doctor (and some of her staff) have traveled WORLD WIDE to conferences, doctors clinics, wellness institutes, etc. and have discovered some incredible ideas. I called them up, had an appointment with one of the clinics (over the phone) and honestly saw several of my CFS/Fibro symptoms disappearing over the course of a few short weeks. These same symptoms hadn't disappeared in my entire treatment over 9 months at the clinic. And get this? The one thing that helped the most was a tip that the doctor had learned at a conference in Jordan, from a "tribal doctor" from Africa! WOW! This unique training has helped me IMMEASURABLY even as I fight my other illnesses. 

(four)Sometimes in your health journey you need to have an opinion of someone "out of the picture". Over the years I have had numerous friends travel to a "major" hospital (and I myself have done so too) such as Mayo, MD Anderson, Mass General, John Hopkins, etc. The truth is that some of these research hospitals have equipment or tests or the latest research that might help your situation. You definitely deserve a second (or third or 50th!) opinion and don't be afraid to choose someone completely out of the picture.

(five) Sometimes in your health journey you need to have surgery. I have had several surgeries and two of them have been local to where I live and two were out of state. If you read my endometriosis story then you know my experience with that was absolutely wonderful. I have traveled to a doctor out of state for surgery and have had several friends who have done so. NONE of us regrets it. Sometimes this is an excellent option so don't be afraid to think "big spectrum" on this. 

Thanks so much for reading y'all! I hope that this series will be a help to you or a friend! Next Thursday I will be talking about "how to go about finding a doctor out of state or country"! Happy Thursday y'all! 


Sympathy Card

One of my favorite verses from the psalms states: "God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:three) This psalm has been so incredibly special to me throughout the years and especially through some extremely difficult days and nights. 

Last month a friend of my sisters lost his father and my sister asked me to make a sympathy card. I wanted something that would be simple yet comforting and something that would bring a touch of hope to this most difficult situation. 
I wrote out the words "with sympathy" in black pen but did not make them "pretty" looking as I don't think that grief is ever pretty. Its completely messy and in the midst of that I love that the Lord heals our pain.
This verse talks about "binding up" the wounds of those who are brokenhearted. I love this truth and took twine to wrap around the card to illustrate it.
The card was for a guy so I didn't want it to be girly in the least but still wanted to add some stitching. Using vintage white thread I roughly hand- stitched the two patterns together. 
Praying the truth of these words would comfort all who are brokenhearted. Gentle hugs friends!


Storybook Bunting- Cars & Trucks

Y'all, I have fallen in love with this storybook bunting that I am sharing today. It has some of my favorite qualities: vintage books, children's books, adorable embellishments, lovely twine, and pretty scrapbook paper. *happy sigh*
This beautiful storybook bunting measures approximately 6 feet long and is hand strung together with dark red twine
This sweet bunting features the vintage goldenbook (from the 1950s) "Cars & Trucks" matted on acid free double-sided scrapbook paper. 
(the back of the bunting)
This gorgeous bunting is a rare treasure as it can be used to decorate for a baby shower, used as decor in a child's bedroom, or used as a book to read to a child (or ALL three!). Each page from the vintage goldenbook has been carefully preserved and the colors are vivid. 
In addition to the wonderful color the writing is very clear so that the pages can be easily read. 
Each page has unique detail and embellishments (including clear glitter, bright blue&white straws, ribbon, hand-stitched aspects, and twine). 
This beautiful garland is a perfect addition for a baby room, party, or any event that you are hosting for a child. Looking for a lovely gift to give someone or to give to a youngster for their birthday? This would be perfect!
If you are interested in purchasing this simply click HERE!

**Do you like this idea but not the colors, length, design, or book? I am happy to work with you to create your perfect look! If you are interested in a custom or bulk order please contact me! I would be happy to work with you!**


Memorial Day Twine Flag

**I first shared this on the Twinery's blog last week!**

In honor of Memorial Day today I wanted to share it with y'all on here! I hope y'all enjoy and have a wonderful day today!
It is no secret that I love the products from The Twinery and I love finding ways to thank the servicemen and women who are serving America around the world. I often use twine to add a little bit of “happy color” to the packages that I send abroad and love to take time to honor those who have worked so hard to defend our country. As we approach Memorial Day and July 4th (later on this summer) I was looking for a way to combine these loves. This project was delightful to make as an adult to use to display patriotic sentiments but easy enough for children to make as a sweet summer crafting project. 

First I gathered my supplies- Mixed Media (acid free) cardstock, craft tape, and the twine that I was going to use, and an old atlas book with vintage maps inside.
Second, I gathered all of the colored twine that I needed for the project. I specifically ended up using Solid Midnight BlueNatural, and Maraschino for this project!
Third, I attached the vintage map to the mixed media cardstock to give it a firm background and allowed the finished product to be displayed in a variety of different places without needing to be framed. 
Fourth, I  used the Solid Midnight Blue twine to complete the solid section first before starting the stripes.
Fifth, after completing the Solid Midnight Blue section I started to work on the Natural, and Maraschino stripes sections. To be honest I started off with sketching out the lines and gave up after two! (hahaha) I ended up liking the “free hand/rough” better than it looking perfect. Honestly y’all this project took some time but was easy enough for young children to do. I cut strips of the crafting tape and then added the Natural and Maraschino twine to create the finalized look.
Finally, I attached the ends under the map and then attached it to mixed media cardstock to give it a finished look. I loved the final product and think y’all would really have fun trying it too!
I have loved the twine from the The Twinery for quite a while and hope that you will continue to come back to see all of the fabulous ways that you can use twine in your everyday life!
Happy Memorial Day y'all!!


a mommy's sacrifice- a gift of love

On this weekend that we remember so many who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, it seems fitting to honor them by recognizing and honoring those in our daily lives who constantly sacrifice for us.
As a former history teacher I fell in love with the true story of Irena Sendler, a young woman who ultimately ended up saving 2500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto (and from the death camp Treblinka) during World War II. She is a hero of mine as her story is one of courage, sacrifice, wisdom, and nobility.(If you don't know her story you can click HERE to read it!) During the course of teaching I used to show the Hallmark version of her story entitled, "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler". At the end of the movie one of the youngest children that she saved (a baby in a toolbox drilled with holes smuggled out of the ghetto) told her that she was a hero to not only her but to the other thousands of children that she saved. Despite spending over eight months being brutally beaten, almost killed, losing friends & family, and eventually (rescued from death and then separated from her mom who was dying) spending years in hiding until the war was over, Irena gently disagreed and shared how the heroes of the story were the mothers. The mothers who gave up their children, even though their own death seemed imminent. The mothers who never were reunited with their children (due to death or inability to be reconnected).The mothers who trusted a stranger to smuggle their children out of ghetto and to be given to other strangers. The mothers who knew that they would never see their children again. The mothers who recognized that instead of their love it would be anothers who would guide their children. And then it was the other mothers who not only took incredible risk to themselves and their own biological children in taking in a Jewish child. The other mothers who sacrificed rations of food, clothing, basic needs and necessities for a child that they didn't know. It was the other mothers who cared for, held, fed, wiped the tears of, rocked to sleep, fell in love with, and fully adopted each child that they were given. And it was the other mothers who then understood the gift of sacrificial love of the biological mothers for at the end of the war (almost 4-6 years later) the other mothers  had to give up these children they loved as their own to any remaining and surviving biological family members.
A mothers sacrifice is always a gift of love. 
Whether it is a sacrifice that involves giving the gift of life through birth or giving up the child that you bore to be raised by another couple through adoption. Sacrifice that says I will give up my own dreams and plans of career to stay at home to make this person my dreams and plans. Or the sacrifice of a sweet mama who works to give her child the best at the cost of herself. Or the sacrifice of a mom loving extravagantly each and everyday to infants and toddlers when no one is watching. Maybe it is the sacrifice that gives a persons "best years" to sitting behind a wheel driving a child to each appointment and school function or just "another" birthday party. Or sacrifice of "being uncool" as a mom who holds steadfast in discipline because she knows that being "cool" for the moment might allow her to lose the opportunity to give sound instruction for the future. Or maybe it is a sacrifice to lose a little extra sleep to give a listening ear, to mend a shirt, or to just take the time to wipe tears or give a comforting hug. 
For as long as I can remember my mom has always lived a sacrificial life for her children. I saw it every single day as I grew up and as an adult child moving back into my parents house I continue to see it. It was there in the countless prayers and long talks throughout my most formative years and it continues in the everyday moments now. It is never easy to have a sick child and then to compound having an adult sick child comes with a whole unique set of "rules". It involves navigating deep water and giving opinions and mothering and yet leaving the final decision up to someone else. It means fighting for your child's health and yet recognizing that they are not a child but an adult. It means recognizing that the dreams and plans that you had for your child are radically different then the reality. It means giving a hug when the tears flow not from a scraped knee but from a broken heart. It means recognizing that the gift of a mothers love and sacrifice goes beyond age, beyond a season, and lives forever in ways that one could never imagine.
My mom has shown this time and time again. Throughout all of my life I can clearly point to her life reflecting the Lord's gracious and tender mercies. Throughout the last two years of living at home I can only say that time with my sweet mom has only grown more precious and I have been the humble recipient of sacrificial love.
It has become obvious that in this healing journey I was going to need some additional assistance. My precious dad (who has been unbelievably amazing!) is absolutely wonderful but at this time I really do need some more full time care. And behind the scenes (not telling anyone) I started to pray that my mom might be able to retire. I felt completely selfish in doing so (as I knew that she was working to help pay for a ton of my health care costs) but recognized that as I move forward with my treatment I am going to need more help. So when my parents announced (unexpectedly to me) that my mom would be retiring at the end of this school year there were a lot of tears on my part... gratefulness, humility, and most of all the recognition of a mommy's sacrifice. 
My mom is an incredibly gifted teacher and has taught for numerous years and impacted hundreds of students. For the past three years she has been working in a specialized elementary program to help children learn to read. Her heart for children has extended time and time again beyond our family to each child that has walked through her classroom. She has poured love on countless students who do not have a good home life and has given of her self time and time again. I have absolutely no idea how my mom has handled the pressures of a full time position (that was financially needed) so well while also caring for me so perfectly. I am simply amazed at her reliance on the Lord for her daily strength. And for her faith to step out and trust the Lord in this new season.
 This sacrifice has shown me anew the meaning of laying down one's life for another. There is nothing "glamorous" about helping out someone behind the scenes who is ill. (Those of you who are caretakers know exactly what I mean!) It is hard, extremely difficult, and filled with lots of incredibly heart-breaking moments. There is no one that is going to give my mom an award or recognize her. But just like every other mom who is working so hard behind the scenes her sacrifice and love is a key to my life. 
It seems fitting on this Memorial Day weekend to share this news and to thank my mom publicly for the millions of ways that she has shown God's love throughout my entire life. Memorial Day has always been a time to remember those who have sacrificed for our country and I can't think of a better way to honor those who have fallen than to take a few moments this weekend than to thank those who sacrifice for us daily. 
Maybe you want to take a few extra moments to thank our servicemen and women or to thank the military families who have lost someone. Maybe thank someone special in your life for their sacrificial love. Or maybe like me you want to thank a "hidden" hero who continues to sacrifice year after year like my mommy.
I love you mom... thank you so much sacrificing for me and for everything!