Caravan Sonnet: August 2014

8/31/14

December Caravan Sale

If you missed my instagram post, I wanted to remind you that I am having a Labor Day sale at the shop that goes through tomorrow! Just enter in the code: "LABORDAY25" and receive 25% off of EVERYTHING in the shop!!

Also, as I mentioned last week on Tuesday I will be having an "instagram sale" at decembercaravanmarketI know that I keep saying this, but it is so hard to believe that we are about to come to the end of our summertime! 

Even though we still have several weeks left in New York it takes me a long time to pack up (due to my health) and I have been slowly closing up the shop. As I have been doing this I am going through ALL of my supplies and doing some "fall cleaning". SO on September 2nd I am going to be having an "instasale" on December Caravan on Instagram. These items will vary but will include a variety of crafting supplies, vintage material, and an assortment of creative supplies. These items will be extremely cheap and affordable and ALL of the proceeds are going to go towards my medical treatment funds. If you would like to follow and get updates on this sale please click HERE! (Also please spread the word!) Thanks y'all!!

Here is the "shop information"! Thank you again for all of your support!!!

Essex, New York

Back in June (How in the world are we ending the month of August already? How is this the last day of August?! Where has this summer gone?!?!) we made the trip to go to Essex, New York to visit Essex Farms. You may have remembered this instagram photo where I shared that we had made the trip to Essex Farms as we were exploring their organic and natural produce. It was not only a gorgeous day but it was a gorgeous farm to visit. It was a little bit of a trek but my heart leaped when I was invited to drive a tractor and horses to help plow! Seriously ... when I get better! (Yes, I dream of a farm life and living in the country. *smiles*) I can't wait to share some pictures of the farm but I wanted to share a few pictures of Essex, New York first because it is absolutely delightful. 

When I was a kid we would only go to Essex maybe once or twice a summer but it has a special place in my heart and truly is one of my favorite towns in the United States. I honestly would love to live there. The surrounding area is simply gorgeous country and is settled right in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. It has a lovely mixture of historic and new, a lovely art community, and is absolutely adorable. There are adorable eateries, a wonderful inn (that also has a lovely dining experience), and absolutely gorgeous buildings from the late 1700 and 1800's. It is important to note that Essex, New York is definitely an "all around year town" but many of the businesses & shops on main street close down at the end of October. They "re-open" for the first week of December (which I would love to see someday!) and then close again until the beginning of May! If y'all have never visited I completely recommend it! Until then I hope these pictures inspire a future trip!
The churches stone walls are so intricate and absolutely beautiful!
Like I mentioned above, Essex is a wonderful mixture of new and old. There are many antique shops to be found (like the one below - the picture on the left that was written up in Country Magazine) and many old buildings that have been restored and used as historical museums. I must have taken over a hundred pictures just on the gorgeous architecture but don't want to overwhelm y'all in this post! *smiles*
One of my favorite buildings since I was a teenager is the Essex Library (or "The Belden Noble Memorial Library")! The architecture on this ancient building is stunning and is the quintessential "Book Lovers Dream". As you step through the doors you feel like you are stepping back in time and escaping into another world- even before you pick up a book!
And as a teenage girl I would often walk out with a book or two found at the book sale looking up at these beautiful balconies and dreaming of love and a knight on a white horse coming to meet me and bring me flowers. (Can you tell that I am a romantic at heart?!? *smiles*) 
Finally, Essex is often visited as a "stopping point" to go over to Southern Vermont by Ferry. I definitely recommend this (y'all know I love the Lake and Ferries)! Similar to what I mentioned above though you would want to check the ferry schedule as times and dates of usage change throughout the year and seasons.
I hope that this has inspired you to visit this town! It was a joy to visit this year in June! I hope that y'all have a wonderful day!!

8/26/14

New Items Listed at December Caravan!

Happy Tuesday y'all!! 

I wanted to share a few items that I have recently added to the shop this week! I frequently am asked when new items go into the shop. The answer is: every Monday morning! Since December Caravan's mission is to inspire hope & joy in every part of people's lives through handmade creations I figure there is no better time than on Monday mornings! *smiles* Here are a few of the items that I listed yesterday:

I am so excited to add scripture bunting to the shop! I have loved creating storybook bunting (and will continue to do so) but also am so excited to bring Scripture Bunting to the shop!



These and about fifteen other items were added yesterday! If you want to check out the rest of the new items that were added to the shop click HERE

ALSO... It is hard to believe that we are about to come to the end of our summertime! As I begin to pack up my shop room here in New York and prepare to move back down to the sweet south I am going through ALL of my supplies and doing some "fall cleaning". SO on September 2nd I am going to be having an "instasale" on December Caravan on Instagram. These items will vary but will include a variety of crafting supplies, vintage material, and an assortment of creative supplies. These items will be extremely cheap and affordable and ALL of the proceeds are going to go towards my medical treatment funds. If you would like to follow and get updates on this sale please click HERE! (Also please spread the word!) Thanks y'all!!

Thank you again for all of your support!

8/25/14

Early Fall Adirondack Wreath

Can y'all believe that we (in the United States) are fast approaching the end of summer? I honestly can not. And yet the weather here in the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York has already started to "turn" to cooler days and much cooler evenings. There is a certain "feel" that comes with fall and that "feeling" has begun to emerge. On the other hand though some days are so warm that I feel that summer is trying to hold on for "a few more days". I have been seeing the most adorable fall wreathes around Pinterest and I was anxious to start "bringing in fall" while still celebrating these last summer evenings. So to capture this I used some of my favorite products from The Twinery to create an "early fall" Adirondack wreath. 
To create the decorations on the wreath I first gathered several strands of the Copper Shimmer Twine together and wrapped it loosely around the wreath. I love this twine! It is actually my favorite shimmer twine!! What is so wonderful about this twine is that the Copper tones are so rich and really give any project that you use with it an immediate "elegant" look. Even using the twine here, loosely wrapped around this wreath, gives the wreath a completely different look then not having it. 
For the flowers, I wanted to create a "layered" look of "early fall" colors for the wreath decorations. I chose to use several different colors that can be changed out or replaced with other twine products as October comes upon us. I am actually planning on leaving the Copper Shimmer Twine on for each of the upcoming holiday seasons while changing out the flower colors! (Can you tell I love that Copper Shimmer Twine?!? *smiles*) For this time period though I choose to use the beautiful Marigold Twinethe vibrant Mandarin Twinethe sweet Marigold Stripe Twine, and the Maraschino Stripe Twine. I love the final look and hope y'all do too!
I am so blessed to be sharing about this project over on the Twinery's blog- I hope y'all will check it out! I hope that y'all have a wonderful Monday and enjoy these last few days of summer as we transition to fall! 

Blessings y'all, 

8/22/14

Back to School Giveaway!

Happy Friday y'all! I am so excited to team up with these lovely ladies to offer one lucky winner a variety of prizes! There are SOO many amazing prizes in this giveaway!! A visa gift card, a starbucks gift card, advertising, a handmade scarf, and MORE!! 
The wonderful thing about this giveaway is that there is multiple prizes to be won!!! This is the perfect giveaway as we start to transition from Summer to Fall!! Are you looking for a birthday gift? A wedding gift? You could win it here! Looking to try out blog advertising or to do some early Holiday Shopping? These prizes will give you some options! Or win a Starbucks or Visa gift card for you or a friend! All you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter below! 

Good Luck y'all and Happy Friday!!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

8/21/14

The Single Journey: The Hope in Waiting

I hope and pray that is an encouragement to those who are single or just those who have unanswered prayer requests. This topic is on the hope that is found in waiting- specifically the hope of waiting as a single gal. On my blog I have mentioned that I had the privilege of teaching a senior girls Bible class for a couple of years at the Christian school where I used to work. During the week of Valentine's Day I always would spend a couple of days on a subject close to my heart, the subject of relationships. While some subjects were "easier" to teach for me (choosing a college, finances, etc.) this theme cut right to the core of my constant surrendering point to our Lord.

To be frank, I spend countless hours praying for my future husband, but several years ago I felt that I was reminding myself of some of the same points that I was sharing with the girls. The pain of singleness can test the faith of the 18 year old and a 33 year old alike. I want and desire to find someone who loves God more than then they love me. THAT is a man that I can joyfully submit to. I want and desire to NEVER settle for less than God's best for me! Trusting that HE knows better than I do- I can confidently wait with expectation that my Heavenly Father, the one who loves me more than life, has the BEST for me. With this hope I can confidently wait. Wait until God's time. NOT my own. I want and desire to know how to guard my heart but yet lovingly embrace those that God has put in my path to love. I want to guard my heart in a way that only the one that the Lord has for me will know the intimate treasures of my heart, but not guard it in a way that keeps me locked up. I desire to wait... to remain pure... to keep the promises that I made to God and myself when I was 14 years old because scripture does show that obedience does bring blessing.

As twenty years have come and gone since I made those promises to God and myself, I choose to continue to trust Him for His best. I choose to continue to pray daily for my future husband. I choose to continue to fast for him once a week. I choose to continue to write him love letters every week with prayers for him and thoughts for the future. And as I joyfully live each day, I choose to remain confidently hopeful that the Lord's blessings are right around the corner. I choose to trust in the one who loves me more than life.

Through laughter, straight talk, and beautiful words that came from God alone that week of ministry was one of the sweetest ministry weeks of my entire teaching career. The Lord opened up conversations and thought provoking times of prayer and reflection that was obviously all about HIM. Nothing I could have done could have arranged for such a week. The Lord truly blessed and answered prayers beyond my imagination and my faith was once again encouraged to trust in the future that the Lord has in store.

Telling someone to remain hope and wait for God's best at 18 years old is as complicated as telling someone at 34, or any age the same thing. The waiting gets harder the older you are. The temptation to settle gets greater. The temptation to manipulate and orchestrate gets worse. I find that I have to run often back to the Lord and His truth as I beg of the Lord to bring my husband to me. I have learned that waiting is the hardest anguish. Waiting is the difficult anguish of my deepest longing and desire (to be a wife and mom) being unfulfilled and the knowing of the bewilderment of unanswered prayer. In their book, "Captivating", John and Staci Eldridge have a beautiful quote regarding the subject of waiting:

"Living in true beauty can require much waiting , much time, and much tenacity of spirit. We must CONSTANTLY direct our gazes toward the face of God, even in the presence of longing and sorrow. It is in the waiting that our hearts are enlarged. The waiting does not diminish us....God does not always rescue us out of a painful season. He is after something so much more than our happiness. Much more substantive than our health. He is restoring us and growing us in an eternal weight of glory."

In the unanswered prayer days I have also learned that God is in each day. I have found deep peace in showing up in hope each day. I won’t lie to you- it is extremely painful and messy, but take heart sweet friends because God is truly in the waiting (psalm 62:5, 68:19). In the years since I taught I have had to learn a whole new way to surrender to the Lord as I have had to give up my teaching career, moved back in with my parents, and lost the life that I knew due to health issues. My dreams of marriage and being a mom seem even farther away then they did a year ago. But sweet friends, as I surrender my hopes and dreams each day, the Lord grants me the strength and courage to face another day joyfully as I wait. It is in HIS strength and courage that I find it doesn't matter what day {or week} it is or how impossible circumstances look. He knows the desires of my heart and He PROMISES to answer. That is where I rest today and that is enough for today.

I trust that the Lord is still in control and is going to provide beyond my wildest dreams and imaginations. (Romans 15:13) I know and am confident that I will confidently rejoice with scripture that states, “I asked the Lord to give me this boy and He has GRANTED my request!” (I Samuel 1:27) Hold on friend and believe in these verses. If you are struggling with unanswered prayer and deep longings of marriage (or other things) my prayer for you friends is to rest in the tender mercy of the Lord. You are not forgotten sweet friends, the Lord sees you and is close to the brokenhearted.

“May He give you the desire of your heart and make all of your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” (Psalm 20:4-5)

8/20/14

Notes from the Porch (twenty-four): a sudden and drastic treatment plan change

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."
-Isaiah 41:ten-

My dear sweet friends and fellow prayer warriors, I am always so humbled by the continued support, prayer, text messages, letters, packages in the mail, and the ways that you look to uniquely and creatively touch and encourage my little heart. Thank you for walking this long journey with me. I am so incredibly grateful.

Thank you.

Since I texted and contacted many of you on Thursday evening with a simple but anxious, "please pray" and posted on instagram that I had developed a serious infection I have received the most lovely messages of prayers and support. Thank you so much. Since it has been about a month since my last "Notes from the Porch update" some of you have been asking how things have been going and have patiently endured my lack of response. I had started an update several times, alluded to it in a couple of different posts, but mainly had not shared because things were the same as my last update. This all changed rapidly and drastically this past week. As I share these new developments I do so stating that I appreciate your gracious patience and understanding that this is a very difficult and intense time for me (and my family who are lovingly walking this journey with me) physically (and emotionally). In many ways the last six days feel like it has been six months or years and not simply days.  I thank you in advance for your sweet understanding that while I do choose to be open and vulnerable about this journey here on this blog I have chosen not to share every detail. There might be questions that you have about some decisions that for the time being I do not wish to answer for personal reasons. Some things, as I am sure you can imagine, are so incredibly difficult & painful enough to live through once that I have no desire to talk or re-visit it on the blog. Other things are simply medical decisions that have been made that will arise curiosity but at this point I have determined to keep private. Thank you for your sweet understanding and your support. 

Three weeks ago I shared on instagram that I would covet some prayers for a necessary dental procedure that I was going to have done. I was so grateful for all of those prayers that I received. Even though I was hesitant to have the procedure, I knew it was necessary and I expected (knowing my fragile system) that I would have some kind of reaction. After the procedure for the rest of the day I felt extremely ill and was completely wiped out. The next day I continued to feel the same way but felt minor improvement. That afternoon (Thursday afternoon) I found a tick on me that I had my mom remove. We quickly talked about me calling my doctor but decided that there was not a need to do so because I am already being treated for Lyme Disease. (This was obviously a poor decision and I share it only to be of benefit to others who are navigating the difficult and seemingly treacherous waters of Chronic Lyme Disease). Over the next two weeks I continued to struggle to recover from the dental procedure (or so we thought). I remarked several times that I felt that it was a little strange that I was so wiped out and sometimes I felt like I had the flu on top of my "usual symptoms". I started sleeping more and more started to feel worse and worse. On Wednesday (two weeks after my appointment) I started to experience some joint pain in addition to my other symptoms. (This joint pain was new and "worse" then the typical joint pain I already experience on a daily basis.) I was feeling completely wiped out by this point but still assumed that my new tiredness was related to last minute details of announcing SEEN Gathering. Wednesday evening though as I got ready for bed I saw that at the spot that I had removed the tick I had developed a minor red spot. I decided that even though it wasn't the bulls eye rash I was going to call my doctor the following day. On Thursday when I woke up I felt awful (which is saying a lot all things considered). I was delighted to announce SEEN Gathering, but quickly emailed and contacted dear friends explaining that I was seriously ill. (How absolutely fitting to announce a chronic ill ministry on a day that I became seriously ill. *smiles*) I quickly asked for prayers that I would hear from my doctor immediately. Honestly things moved extremely quickly from this point on. 

To be brief I found out that I am not only dealing with chronic Lyme but had contracted a new acute Lyme Disease infection (which we believe that my body had been attempting to fight with all of its resources that it had). After a little bit of a discussion I was immediately put on several high dose antibiotics and different instructions. The last few days have been some of the most difficult, painful, and sick days of my entire life. I have honestly never struggled with a temperature so high, felt so sick, or dealt with so many different issues all at once. Due to this acute infection I was left with little option of what to do as the immediate concern was to fight this infection. In the course of a short 48 hours everything changed including several different medications. These medications have put my body in a fight mode like it has never been stretched to fight before. If you know someone who is seriously ill then you understand that I will just say that it has not been easy at all. 

My doctors number one concern is for my entire GI system (which as y'all know and have spent a ton of time praying for) that it will be able to handle these new drugs without "collapsing". This obviously remains the main concern each day as I continue to rapidly (and necessarily) up the antibiotics to the necessary treatment level. Thankfully we are praising the Lord that my body has started to respond to these antibiotics and we are seeing small improvements each day as I fight this acute infection. I can't begin to express my thanks to my AMAZING medical doctors. Y'all are AMAZING. I thank the Lord for leading me to y'all every single day. *tears*

I would ask for three specific prayer requests: (1) for my entire GI track that it will hold up better than we could even think or imagine and that it would continue to accept these new and necessary antibiotics and (2) for the nausea to go away so that I can easily eat and drink (and rest comfortably) (3) complete healing. 

I know that so many of you probably have questions and are as dumbfounded as I found myself with this new infection. In many ways it seems like this would be "bad luck". I will admit that despite having an intense migraine for the past several days I have found myself a little discouraged and shedding tears. Due to being so sick I haven't left my bed in five days and in these days and hours where struggling to get nutrients in is a complete chore due to intense nausea, there has been lots of of questions... and honestly fear. Y'all know that I like to plan things and this infection has changed the course of how I will proceed in the future. There are a whole lot more questions and unfortunately a whole lot of "time will tell" as the answer. I would love to say that I have confidently met each fear and challenge with grace and faith but to be honest there has been a whole lot of tears and a whole lot of crawling up into Jesus' lap ranting about this latest infection. There has been a whole lot of crying out , "Jesus help" and "Jesus, I'm scared" more than anything else.  

Those of you that know me well know that I love music and that there has been a hymn that has been the song of my heart throughout this journey these many years and especially the past few days. (My poor Bible students even had to suffer through listening to my voice as I taught them this beautiful prayerful hymn when I was teaching!) 
Here are a couple of the verses:

"Pass me not O gentle Savior, hear my humble cry. And while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. Savior, Savior hear my humble cry, and while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. Thou the spring of all my comfort, More than life for me; Whom have on earth beside thee? Whom in heaven but thee? Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry, While on others thou art calling, Do not pass me by."

I first heard this song when I was living and studying in England. The church that I attended while I was there would often sing it as an opening prayer to our service. My pastor there shared that Franny Crosby penned the words after Genesis 18:3 which states, "Do not pass by your servant". What a beautiful prayer and a beautiful HOPE that we have that the Lord never passes us by and is our comfort even in days that are filled with unexpected circumstances and pain. Days of unplanned fears. 

Here's the thing sweet friends, I don't know why this happened, but I do know that we live in a fallen world where sickness does happen. BUT I also know sweet friends that this does not diminish the love of God for me or is a need for concern. I was reminded of this beautifully two days ago when I received a beautiful email from Amanda. As I was crying out to the Lord with all of my fears I felt prompted to check my email. In my inbox was an email full of beautiful truth straight from the Lord:

Just wanted to tell you I'm praying for you and am thinking of you as I read these verses this morning....
"... This is what the Lord says:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine....
You are precious and honored in my sight. I love you.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you."

I hadn't shared with ANYONE my fears and yet there was Amanda's email. I am sharing that to say that the Lord is not passing me by. He is quietly (and now suddenly and drastically) changing the game plan and this journey. At this moment there may be a ton of unanswered questions and difficulties as I remain quite sick fighting this thing but He is with me friends. And THAT is an answer to prayer. 

Sweet friends, if you are struggling I hope you find comfort and strength in the email that Amanda sent me. I pray that the Lord uses it to encourage your hurting heart today. Thank you for all of your continued prayers friends (and patience as I heal and work on returning emails and messages!) 

With love and big hugs,

8/14/14

SEEN Gathering


As I write this I am silently shaking my head at the way that the Lord works in our lives. If you had told me several years ago that this would be the direction that the Lord would lead I would have laughed out loud. Sometimes, I still giggle because in my wildest imagination I could never have imagined sharing about a new ministry that I have just started. But today is the day and in many ways it feels like I have been waiting for August 14th for years instead of months. But I am getting ahead of myself... Let me back up and share a little bit about what has been happening:

In 2009 I started to see my health start to disintegrate without any explanation. As time continued and I started to experience strange and worsening symptoms I was finally forced to make a heart breaking decision to leave the job that I loved (a High School Teacher) and move back home with my parents. At first this was to be a temporary decision but as time continued in the fall of 2012 it became quickly obvious that something was not right. After traveling across the country, becoming unable to walk, and seeing more than 273 doctors I was finally correctly diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in March 2013. Three short months later I was also diagnosed with Cancer. 

Those years were extremely difficult and lonely and as I saw everything around me start to shatter, became isolated due to illness and have fought to regain my health I have connected with thousands of others who are also walking the journey of chronic health problems. Like many of those who struggle with chronic health issues, I had many people in my life "leave" as the journey continued much longer than any of us thought. 

Thankfully I have also had several family members and dear friends who have walked this incredibly long journey with me. While there would be too many to list here on this blog, Jen, has courageously LIVED the life of a woman who loves God despite incredibly difficult health circumstances. Jen, who is the modern day inspiration behind SEEN Gathering, has lived the words "you are not alone" to me and many others with chronic health issues. 

In response to all of these circumstances I started to blog more and more about my health and the struggles that I have been facing through my "Notes on the Porch" updates. Last August I wrote a blog post entitled, "those that the American Church has forgotten" that received acknowledgment, gratitude and criticism from thousands across the United States. 

And it was at this time that the Lord started to give me a dream of encouraging the hearts of those who feel forgotten and "hidden" due to Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain. After a ton of "God-things" occurred the original idea was to launch an annual event & conference for those who are struggling with chronic illness (and their families) to encourage and inspire each attendee to give them a sense of community. But as time continued I had a vision that morphed into SEEN Gathering being a place that provided a retreat & conference (in future years) but first would provide encouragement and hope on a more practical level through the website and various avenues. And so SEEN Gathering has been born. 

To be honest this has been a journey in my heart as much as it has been a practical journey of learning how to create a website, figuring out legal logistics, and dreaming big about how to touch those that are hurting. For so long my dream has been to get well to get "back to real life" and "back in the classroom" and a host of other things. But the Lord has been quietly stirring my heart to follow after Him and into a wild and unknown future that He is writing before me. I argued a lot at first. I said often to those who know me well, "I never want to do anything with sick world" - almost to convince myself that God was wrong in His calling. I kicked and screamed in my heart and heard the Lord softly whispering, "follow me". 

And then I surrendered. 

Some have said this idea is crazy and will never work. But the Lord delights in impossibilities. And some said have been less then encouraging but the Lord has led and with that surrender has come a joyful peace that can't be described. And the Lord's peace and guidance and blessing has been beyond abundant. And for all those that may doubt, there are so many that have come along side me to bring this to fruition. No one involved is looking for anything except ways to serve so many that we know are hurting. To live out scripture in its most practical form that we can to those that we encounter. 

Did you know that the NIH (National Institute of Health) states that 7 out of 10 people struggle with a chronic illness everyday? The CDC states that seventy-five percent of our health dollars go to the treatment of chronic illness. These statistics are staggering and mean that there are a whole lot of people that could use Jesus' love day in and day out. Many of these people are hurt and broken. 

So what is SEEN Gathering you may ask? 

SEEN Gathering is a ministry designed to inspire, encourage, and create community among those with Chronic health problems (specifically those that are "chronicittles" {teenagers through 40s}). Through a variety of avenues (including a blog, articles, a church outreach program, the Crate 526 program, a magazine, a retreat, etc.) SEEN Gathering desires to be a place of rest and inspiration for all who gather. At the heart of everything we celebrate the Hope that we have in Jesus despite chronic illness and pain and encourage each person to live fully where you are. While many chronic illnesses and pains are hidden, you are NOT. You are important. Your are loved by God. You have a unique purpose. You are not forgotten. You are not alone.

You are SEEN. 


SEEN Gathering's name and mission comes from Mark 5: 25-34. This beautiful story in scripture illustrates the love and the compassion that Jesus has for everyone struggling with illness and pain. He does SEE the suffering and is close to comfort us in our pain.


Thank you so much to all that have been walking this journey with me and praying for me. Thank you for your excitement about what the Lord is doing. I am so humbly grateful for the support for this ministry. Want to find out more? Click HERE!

With Lots of Love, 

8/9/14

Happy 45th Wedding Anniversary!



Happy 45th Anniversary mom and dad!! 

I thank the Lord every day that you are my parents. You are a beautiful example of God's faithful and unconditional love to each other and to your children. In addition to that you understand in deep ways that marriage is a lot of work but it is also a joy. Thank you so much for giving such an amazing example of what a marriage rooted in the Lord looks like and the blessings that come from that. I love you so much!

p.s.- Click here to read about their 44th wedding anniversary and their 44 tips to have a happy marriage for 44 years !

8/7/14

Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series-Part Six- Communicating with a Doctor 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 continue this six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. Here is the list of the topics for the series and the coming weeks:

Happy Thursday y'all! Today I wanted to conclude this series on dealing with doctors out of state or country by discussing an important topic: communication. I hope that some of the things that I have learned the last couple of years (sometimes the hard way!) might help someone and also I am excited to hear from y'all who have experience with this! (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but since NONE of them have ever looked like this guy or I think all of the ladies would have no problem with communication! Right? Hahaha! *smiles* This single gal can dream right? *smiles*)

As a little background I have dealt (in deep communication - not talking about hospitals around the country that I have been seen at) with three out of state doctors offices. Two of them have been wonderful but sadly one was a little bit of a nightmare to deal with. Some of these things that I am sharing were a hard lesson to learn and other things are just general tips! I hope that this is of help to any of you who may be traveling out of state or country to see a doctor!

General Thoughts

(one) Understand that your doctor is out of state or country. I know that this sounds silly to state but it a true fact. Having a doctor out of state or country requires the acknowledgement that things are going to operate differently then if they were in your same town. You will need to understand time zone differences, the way to communicate with your doctor if there is a serious or important issue, phone consultations (which may or may not be covered by your insurance), how many times you will need to go back and see this doctor for "in office visits" throughout a calendar year, have patience with communication between in state doctors and your specialist, and a variety of other things that you would never have to think about if they weren't out of state or country. Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming so my encouragement to you is to try to take a deep breath and patiently walk through the maze before you.

(two) The key to success is CLEAR communication (from both parties). I am going to say this numerous times in this post but it is true: I love my current doctors who are out of state. They communicate clearly, are delightful and helpful each time that I interact with them, and are extremely professional. I am honestly so grateful for their compassion and the way that they respect me as a patient and give such clear instructions and help. 

While I have had this happen with two of the doctors offices that I have dealt with out of state, one of the offices that I dealt with was the complete opposite and it was a bit of a nightmare. It was incredibly difficult to get a hold of my doctor (or her nurse), the phone consultations appointments would be scheduled for a certain time and then I wouldn't get a phone call until hours later, often times I had been trying to get a hold of this doctor and since I wouldn't hear a response (for days or weeks) I would follow the course of my GP's thoughts only to receive "a lecture" (unfortunately true), and finally I would just not hear back. One time I waited for over five days for her response on a serious stomach infection I had only to have to wait two more days for the prescription to be filled (and this was only after I finally allowed my father to get involved) and ended up in the hospital because I was so sick. Unfortunately at that point I knew that it was time to part ways. I don't believe this was the way the entire practice was run (and am currently under the care of a different doctor at this practice for something other than Lyme Disease) but it was extremely frustrating, discouraging, and scary. Scary because my health was in such a precarious situation and I couldn't even speak to my doctor get a response and frustrating because we had paid a lot of money to the practice. 

I share that story to say that it is extremely important to have clear communication on your expectations and the doctors commitment and your commitment to working with someone out of state. It will take some navigating but I do promise that it can be done! One of the best ways to accomplish this is to understand the following four things:

Things to Understand
(one) Understand your doctors policies on office visits. Having an out of state/country doctor means that you will be scheduling appointments in advance. Unlike a doctor who is in your hometown you won't just call up and say that you would like to "drop in" for an appointment. Due to this you will need to understand in depth the doctors policies on office visits: (1) How far in advance do you need to schedule them? (2)What is the time frame for a cancellation appointment? (3) Is there a penalty of any kind (financial or other) for missing an appointment? (4) Is it easy to reschedule the appointments if they need to be cancelled? Finding out as much detail as you can will save you both time and frustration. As I mentioned above the key to success is clear communication. Ask as many questions as you need to to understand the policies on office visits. Do not assume that it is the same as your GP (general practitioner) at home. 

(two) Understand your doctors policy on emergency situations before they occur. This one really is critical, especially for those that are seriously ill. In all likelihood you will experience a medical crisis while under the care of your doctor who is out of state/country so understand what the protocol is before the situation occurs. For example, understand if they want you to call after you have called 911 and are on the way to the ER or if they want you to call once you are released from the hospital. Do they want to have the final say over a prescription that might be administered while you are under the care of another doctor or do you need to understand that you will need to be air-lifted to their hospital? All of these things are really important to understand. 

**NOTE: MANY out of state doctors can't (legally) recommend whether or not you should go to the hospital without seeing you in person, so most of the time if you call up and ask - "should I go to the hospital" they are going to recommend that you do so. Don't get frustrated with this, unfortunately it is just the nature of the beast that they can't see you so they want to make sure that you are safe. 

(three) Understand the cost of telephone consultations before your first phone appointment. This was discussed in the post about insurance in this series but make sure that you understand if you will need to pay for your phone appointment (and how much this is per billable minute!) or if they are submitting it to insurance. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my current Lyme Doctors office. They are COMPLETELY up front with every single item, and this is one of them. I know exactly what I am being charged for and how many minutes that I have per phone conversation. Unfortunately I have experienced the opposite and have heard from many others the same thing. My best advice is to have something in writing that shows exactly how much each minute costs for a phone appointment and find out who will be timing the call. One friend shared that she dealt with an office that said that they would "watch" the minutes for her and the next thing she knew she was paying double the amount she should have. Yikes!

(four) Understand your the offices policy on medication refills. Different doctors offices have different policies on medication refills. Some require that you have the pharmacy fax a refill request, some request that you call in and ask, some require that you write or fax an email with your signature, etc. It is really important to understand the refill system before you need your medication. 

My current Lyme Doctor's office (and my hometown GP's office) are AMAZING with medication refill requests. SO much so that I feel that I am completely spoiled. They are prompt with their actions (completing the request within an hour) and are quick to help answer questions and help me in anyway that they can. Unfortunately this was not the case with one doctors office out of state that I dealt with. It was a nightmare. I would call in the refill request and it would take up to two weeks (!!) with no answer, numerous phone calls, emails, and eventually having to involve the patient advocate each time. I NEVER experienced such frustration in my life as I did with that office over medication refills. Compounding the frustration was that certain states (mine is one of them) does not legally allow their pharmacists to call in refill requests (which was this doctors office policy). I had explained that at the time, been assured that things would be fine, and it turned out it was anything but fine. Also, I had to time things "perfectly" because I couldn't request the medications to early or my insurance wouldn't pay for it (because they saw that I had just refilled it!) and I couldn't wait too long because I never knew when I would get a response. It caused a lot of stress and a few tears and eventually became one of the reasons that I left that particular doctor. I share all of that to say that I would encourage you to understand the process as best as you can and be up front about your insurance needs or your states requirements so that there is no confusion. 

I hope that this helps y'all! It's hard to believe that this is the last post in this series! (Where has the summer gone??) I am excited to share though an exciting new project that I have been working on for months and months next Thursday!!! I am so giddy about this!!
 Happy Thursday y'all!!

8/6/14

Custom Storybook Bunting (Pokey Little Puppy)

(Before I share about this custom bunting, I wanted to say "thank you" for all of your prayers for the dental procedure that I had done last week. It went well but has completely knocked my fragile little body down. I ask for continued prayers and I am so grateful for them!! Thank you so much!)
When I shared in May about the Cars & Trucks Storybook Bunting that was available in the shop I was overwhelmed (in a wonderful way!) by the response and have had a delightful time creating some additional storybook buntings (some of which are now in the shop and more that will continue to be available in the shop soon!) and some lovely custom storybook bunting orders! One of those orders I am so excited to share today! When "S" asked me to make a custom storybook bunting order for a baby shower she is hosting for her daughter I was so honored and humbled. I loved this story as a child and loved how it turned out! I hope y'all enjoy these pictures as much I enjoyed creating this! *smiles*
Despite the fact that the book was vintage the colors and pages looked brand new. I love using quality vintage pieces for items in my shop. The colors were so vibrant for each page!
The color, drawings, and detail for each page were so cute and adorable. It was such a delight to work with!
These were a couple of my favorite pages!
For each page I had a delightful time adding gorgeous ribbon, pretty glittering, and lovely vintage lace. I love adding embellishments that highlight these sweet vintage stories.
Thank you so much again "S" for your order and for the opportunity to create such a delightful bunting! 
If you are interested in ordering a custom storybook bunting you can click HERE for a 6 foot garland or HERE for a 12 foot garland. Interested in a different custom order? Email me and lets chat!
Thank you again y'all for all of your support of my shop! Happy Wednesday Y'all!