Ever since I was a young girl I have loved to create things. I have always enjoyed using the things that others might not find as "pretty" or see as a "mistake" to create something new and beautiful. As time continued, as a high school teacher and a college professor both told me that I couldn't make it as an artist, as life got busier and busier with teaching responsibilities, and I half attempted to sell my creations on Etsy I started to believe that maybe those professors were correct.
And then my health started to completely decline. At thirty-three I ended up leaving the career I loved, lost my independence as I had to move back into my parents house, saw my dreams of further education wan, had to use a wheelchair to walk, couldn't get out of bed without help or do the most ordinary things without lots of assistance from my parents, spent almost every waking hour in extreme pain, and traveled across the country (literally) to find answers.
I was diagnosed with numerous conditions and still continued to deteriorate. Life looked incredibly dark with absolutely no joy or color.
I saw over 273 specialists and doctors (many who told me it was "all in my head" or that I was "exaggerating my symptoms to gain attention") and was finally correctly diagnosed in March 2013 (on my birthday) with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease.
Six weeks later I was diagnosed with Cancer along with the Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease.
I was heartbroken that it taken so long to find a correct diagnosis, that my concerns over a mole had been ignored (despite being seen at some of the best hospitals in the United States), and found myself walking a long dark hallway with little light and little joy.
Lyme Disease was a maze of confusion and everything I read told me that I was just beginning a journey that would last a long time.
In the fourteen months since these diagnosis' I have traveled the roller coaster of emotions of moving a couple of steps forward only to take a few giant leaps backwards. I have learned through prayer and my love for the Lord how to answer the question of who I am outside of a job or profession. I have learned that I am stronger then I ever though I was and that with the Lord I can truly face any battle. I have faced the hurt of friends abandoning me in this journey and the extreme loneliness that comes with any disease. I have experienced the joy that comes with learning that there are a precious few that will walk with you not only through the good times but the incredible dark valleys. These people show the light of Christ in the most unthinkable and unimaginable bad days that come with illness. And beyond personally, this has affected my artwork in numerous ways. I am reminded through these people that the smallest gift can be the greatest and so I treasure using tons of small details in my pieces. I have also learned the valuable lesson of delighting in the beauty of ordinary.
I have learned that there truly is light in the dark and that the Lord's light shines despite incredibly difficult circumstances and loss.
And I have learned that despite incredibly painful days there is always joy and color if we look for it- whether that is from a bed (where I spend most of my time right now) or from a corner office doing a job that you love.
And that is the mission and motto of my Etsy shop, December Caravan.
December Caravan creates unique & beautiful scrapbooks, cards, artwork, memory pieces, and family treasures out of everyday materials to inspire joy and hope in every part of your life through handmade creations.
For a tiny bit of time I was convinced to change my shop name (that I chose in the beginning) from December Caravan to The Paper Sonnet. I followed this advice for a little bit of time and while I loved it I realized that I didn't like "limiting" my creations to just "paper" but love using a variety of different unique items to create. I spoke with Etsy and after explaining how I picked the name "December Caravan" they graciously allowed me to change back. I haven't looked back since.
The name fits my journey of creating- walking through the "cold month" of December and creating beauty on our "caravan" or "journey" artistically and also was picked because it uses all of the letters of my first and last name (minus the "k") which I also love. The symbolism in the name of seeing joy and something unique beyond first impressions is perfect.
But the name, December Caravan, and the journey of owning my Etsy Shop is not just one for right now. I see the way that the Lord has beautifully scripted this life lesson amidst pain and confusion- of finding joy and contentment no matter the circumstances. And I see a deeper lesson that I think all artists learn in their artistic journey. It is about falling your calling and your God given dreams and abilities. As I pray and marvel at the incredible talent that I see in other shops, on other blogs, and on pinterest I find joy not competition. My high school art teacher and college professor were wrong. NOT because I think that I am better than everything that I see (OH MY WORD so many people are SO talented!!) but because anyone can be an artist- it is simply an expression of who you are. My encouragement to you if you have been told that you can't do something artistically is to pray alot and step forward where the Lord leads. I see that so many people are inspired by others artwork and so am I! This artistic community is so supportive! My best advice is to not compare yourself or listen to what others say- just follow the Lord
As I continue to heal I don't know what lies ahead or what the future holds.
BUT I do know that no matter what the future holds I will always create and remember to inspire joy and hope through art. I have learned that God can encourage the most wounded heart through art. Due to this I give a portion of all of my proceeds to charity and will continue to do so for as long as I create. AND I am so excited to share a new project in the next few weeks that will be starting! Stay tuned y'all! It is exciting to see what God has been doing!!
Thanks so much for reading the story and the journey behind December Caravan! I hope that y'all have a wonderful weekend!!
Want to check out the shop? Click HERE!