Caravan Sonnet: September 2014

9/30/14

SEEN Gathering Updates

It is hard to believe that it has been a little over six weeks since SEEN Gathering officially launched! The Lord has been so good during this time and once again I am so humbled at the Lord's blessings each step of the way. I have seen over and over again the truth of the saying, "where God guides, He provides" in so many miraculous circumstances these past couple of years as this was just a dream and a calling and truly have seen the Lord work in so many ways these past six weeks. Today, I wanted to share with y'all some many amazing updates and some ways that you can be involved in this incredible ministry!  
First though I want to take a moment to thank the sweet ladies who have truly come along side this ministry and are sacrificing their time and sharing so much of their hearts with everyone. Thank you so much to Katie (who does an amazing job with our pinterest board) and Alison (who is in charge of our scripture memory section!) for your efforts and help behind the scenes. You have been such a blessing (and incredibly patient)!! Thank you so much to Katie, Grace, and Jade for your willingness to share your hearts with our readers on the SEEN Gathering blog! These first posts have been simply amazing and are encouraging the hearts of so many!! Finally, thank you to each of you ladies for ALL of your prayers for this ministry and the way that you have blessed so many!!
Second, one of the updates that we have made is that while the SEEN Gathering website remains the same (www.seengathering.org), the blog is now located HERE  at www.seengathering.com. Just so y'all are aware- the blog is updated every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday!
Third, as we mentioned on our facebook page, we are so honored to have been nominated for two Wego Health Activist Awards (rookie of the year & best team performance)! Thank you so much to those that have nominated us! If you would like to endorse these nominations or nominate us for something else please click HERE! Thank you again!
Fourth, speaking of our Facebook page (and social media in general) we have loved connecting with so many people through these avenues! Would you spread the word and take the time to connect with us through these different avenues? We appreciate so much your love and support and love being able to update y'all and connect in a more personal way on these sites. You can connect with us through the following ways:
Instagram- Click HERE
Facebook Page- Click HERE
Pinterest- Click HERE
Twitter- Click HERE
Fifth, you might have seen on instagram and facebook that we mentioned that we need y'alls help! We are in the process of compiling a list of questions to send to churches to reach out and connect with them and help them start to think about whether they are a "chronically ill/pain friendly" church. We will also be sending out to them information about the website, our ministry, the upcoming magazine, and the crate 526 program. If there is any thing that you wish that churches would do or provide that would make them more "chronically ill/pain friendly" (or if you feel your church does something well!) we would love your input (suggestions will be kept anonymous)! We have received so many AMAZING ideas already and would welcome more! Leave a comment below or email us at (seengathering@gmail.com)! We are looking forward to connecting with churches in a deeper way about this issue!
Sixth, we are so excited that the SEEN Gathering magazine will launch in early January 2015!! At this point the magazine will be a bi-yearly publication and we are very excited about this! If you are interested in being apart of this exciting project and would like to find out more about submissions please click HERE! The submission deadline is fast approaching so contact us as soon as possible! We would love to hear from you!

Seventh, you might have seen on our website that we will be holding a retreat in the upcoming year! This is a project that we are very excited about and are looking forward to connecting with a small group of y'all! We would covet your prayers as our financial backer for this project has unfortunately gone through a very difficult personal experience and has had to withdraw their financial support for this project. (Our thoughts and prayers are with you dear friend during this difficult time!) We have found a wonderful and perfect setting to host the retreat (right in the middle of the US!) and it is very "chronically ill/pain friendly". At this point we are in need of the deposit which would be $250 and in total we are estimating that we $1500 to keep the price affordable for those who will attend. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can support  or sponsor this particular project of SEEN Gathering please email us at: seengathering@gmail.com and we will send you more information. In the meantime we covet your prayers as we continue to pray about the Lord's provision and direction for this event. 
Finally, we are SO excited that we are less then 7 weeks away from launching our Crate 526 program! If you haven't read about this amazing program you can read more about it HERE! We have been OVERWHELMED by the outpouring of support and desire to be apart of this program since the day the website launched. To be truthful we have hundreds of sign ups and we would love your help! Would you consider being apart of this amazing program? Your donation -$5 and 6 items will change TWO people's lives!! Want to find out more about how you can be apart of this- click HERE! Don't know what to send? That is fine! Fill out the form and someone will get back to you with all of the necessary information! Are you an Etsy shop owner that would like to donate items? We would LOVE to have you! Are you a teacher? EVERY box that we send will contain handwritten notes to the recipients. Would you consider having your class write notes of encouragement? Don't have time to purchase items but would like to help cover the cost of shipping? We would be so grateful! There are so many different ways that you can change the course of someones life through this program. Please pray about how you might do so today!!

Thank you so much friends for all of your support of this ministry. At the end of the day we are so incredibly grateful for your support and love. Thank you for all of your prayers and for truly helping those who are hurting remember that they are SEEN. 

With Love, 

9/29/14

Thank you Sport Seasons!

In this journey of fighting Lyme Disease I am always amazed at the compassionate and kind support from those that choose to "step into" this journey that my family is on. Sometimes this is a close friend or family member but many times these people have no prior relationship with me personally and have chosen to "get involved" in one way or another. This is definitely the case with the company that my sister works for. Last year for Rebecca's Run several of her co-workers and her boss donated financially to the run without ever having met me. This year this company has gone WAY beyond last years amazing support and will be donating the t-shirts and is also taking the time to advertise and support the run. A "thank you" from far away could never begin to express my humble and speechless gratitude for ALL of the people that have been supportive on this journey but please know that every act of kindness- big or small touches me and my hurting family. 

Sport Seasons has written a blog post about the run which you can find HERE

Thank you so much to every person who continues to support me on this journey- your friendships and love are such a blessing! 
Find out more about Rebecca's Run HERE or join the facebook page HERE to keep up to date on all of the details. Want to find out more about 8 hours on the 8th? Click HERE! Want to donate? 50% of ALL of our donations will be given to  Lyme Light Foundation. Donate HERE

Thank you again for everything Sport Seasons!! You have been such a blessing!! 

9/28/14

Welcome Sweet Autumn

Those of you that know me well know that I truly love this time of year. (Yes, I do seem to say that about every season. There is such joy to be found no matter the season! *smiles*) 
 As we welcomed "fall" officially this week I am reminded of all of the amazing things that  autumn brings with it. The changing leaves are always gorgeous (like the picture I showed on instagram- so beautiful!) . The crisp fall air brings thoughts and memories of bonfires and hikes in the woods. The falling leaves bring fond memories of childhood leaf raking "parties" and hours spent happily jumping into the huge piles that were raked up! There is the cutest fashion that is warm and cuffy with lovely sweaters and fantastic scarves. And of course there is thoughts of yummy coffee drinks, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and delicious tea. There are wonderful farmers markets which are so fun to explore and long walks outside admiring the changing colors! Don't you just LOVE all of the colors of God's creations?

While the light fades with the last rays of summer, I look forward to exciting new times the Lord has in store for us during this new season. Even as a kid I have always enjoyed the change of seasons. There is great hope in this beautiful act of God that reminds each of us that no matter what life brings our way God is still in control, always faithful, and ever present. Every year when summer comes to an end we can count on watching leaves that will change into beautiful red, orange, and yellow colors. And we can depend in the same way (well those of y'all that are up north or in the Midwest*smiles*) for the winter snow to come. After the winter (snow) we can count on the beautiful spring flowers. Life is unpredictable -sometimes in glorious ways with long-anticipated dreams coming true and sometimes with harsh winds that we never would have asked for. But isn't that the beautiful promise of fall though? No matter what changes or circumstances come the Lord is at work and is transforming us to be more like Him. Change can bring a deep beauty and unexplainable joy that we would never have experienced. Change can reveal the leaves turning a different color that was hidden all along. Change can reveal the faithfulness of God in ways that we have never seen Him before.

As we watch the colors change and the leaves start to fall off the trees we are reminded of the beautiful promises of God's unchanging love. Hold fast to Him sweet friends and may He bless you abundantly as you reflect on His faithfulness through whatever change you are experiencing. I pray that each of you has a wonderful Autumn!

"Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives AUTUMN...in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest." 

-Jeremiah 5:twenty-four
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** Due to my health that keeps me from going out and this rigiourous treatment plan- the pictures in this post are from a couple of years ago. While I am not able to go out and experience a "typical" Autumn the Lord has blessed me with sweet mercies each day. I remember with thankfulness the old memories and look forward to beating these diseases and hopefully next fall making even more special memories!**

9/24/14

change a child's life (Rebecca's Run & 8 hours on the 8th)

If y'all remember last year my sister started running a 1/2 marathon every six months in my honor that I am sick. (I have tears just even typing that sentence. What a beautiful gift my sister is to me!) In addition to this we launched Rebecca's Run 2013 and 8 hours on the 8th and we are SO excited to announce that it is back BUT in a completely new way! 
This year Rebecca's Run will be held in Nashville (you can find out all of the details HERE on this Facebook Page that was created specifically for this event) on October 26th. This is is a 5k (3.1 miles) run. The cost is $15.00 (you will receive a t-shirt and a bracelet for your participation in the event) and we are giving 50% of the donations with Lyme Light Foundation which provides grants to children (3-25 years old) to help cover their costs of Lyme Disease Treatment. This AMAZING foundation has touched and changed the hearts and lives of so many who are suffering. You can read some of their stories HERE. Simply Amazing aren't they?? Our goal is to raise $300 of which $150 will be donated to Lyme Light Foundation

So how do you sign up for this event? Go to the Go Fund Me page that has been specifically created for this event by clicking HERE. Once you have done that please email Emily at evandemark@sport-seasons.com and let her know so she can put you on the list (don't forget to let me know your T-shirt size)! Emily at that point will keep you updated with all of the information that you need to know! That is it! We hope to see you there! Bring your families (including pets) and free to walk, jog, whatever you would like to do! (At this point in time Emily and my parents will be at the run and I hope that my health will be strong enough for me to come!) Don't live in Nashville and want to do a virtual run? After you donate the $15 please send an email to Emily (evandemark@sport-seasons.com) explaining that you will be doing the virtual run with your address (and t-shirt size) and we will happily send you a t-shirt and a bracelet out to you asap! Finally, if you would like to donate the $15 without running or walking we would still like to send you a t-shirt and bracelet if you would like so please email us if you would like that! 

Can't afford to donate right now? That is OK!!

Would you like to help out by spreading the word for us about this event and Lyme Disease? One of the passions that I have is to spread the word on Lyme Disease and we would love to have you join in on 8 hours on the 8th! We are asking that you change your profile picture to this for EIGHT hours on October 8th:
(Simply right click on the picture and save it) and please put in the "add a description" section the following information:

I love someone fighting Lyme Disease. Find out about Lyme Disease here: http://www.caravansonnet.com/2014/05/what-is-lyme-disease.html and Find out about Rebecca's Run here: https://www.facebook.com/Rebeccasrunforlyme where 50 % of all proceeds will go to Lyme Light Foundation.

9/23/14

Shelburne, Vermont Sunset

These last few days have been an absolute whirlwind of packing, orders, and resting. As I mentioned the other day in my post that I am at my grandmothers house (about an hour away from the cabin) due to the unusually cool weather that we are having in these parts. It is a little bit of a weird "limbo" that I am in as my parents are still working hard to close up the cabin and I am not there but we aren't home in the south yet.I am treasuring these moments with my grandmother before we go away. I have also been editing, editing, editing and re-editing the final edits for one of my books that I have coming out (it is CRAZY to think that is the stage I am at!!) and finishing final rough draft edits on the second book. By the end of the day yesterday my brain was simply "mushy". *smiles* I am so grateful to report that my body is slowly healing from the reaction to the new medicine and I am able to sit up now and also walk very short distances! PRAISE THE LORD!!  Please keep your prayers coming as every day I see the Lord answer them in big and small ways! I am also overwhelmed by the gracious donations that have come in to my Go Fund Me Page. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I am so incredibly humbled.

Today I am excited to share with y'all some pictures from a couple of weeks ago from a beautiful sunset in Shelburne, Vermont. We had to make the trip to Vermont for an appointment and the sunset was so gorgeous as we waited for the ferry to arrive. We were literally in awe. I hope that y'all enjoy these pictures!

the meaning behind the blog title

About a year and a half ago I shared a little bit about the meaning behind the blog title and today I wanted to share again. I have received a few emails asking about the blog title and also a few emails addressing me as "Caravan" (hahaha) so I wanted to share again about the meaning behind the blog title.

To be truthful I have blogged on and off for a number of years on other blogs that I have had but I never truly felt connected to those blogs. A year ago I knew that life was changing in many ways (moving home, the plan to concentrate on graduate school only, taking a year off of teaching) but could never have imagined the radical ways that it was truly to change (not able attend school, not able to work, health declining, becoming bed bound, relationships shifting and changing, a Lyme's diagnosis on top of M.E., and then cancer on top of both of those diseases and then later on other health complications!). As time continued I knew that in addition to working on the book that I am writing I needed a way to process through things that were going on, keep friends & family up to date, and to have a way to "escape" on very difficult health days. A new blog seemed like the perfect fit. I was also looking for ways to improve my writing and to connect with the "outside world". I could never imagined the rich community that I have been privileged to find and to be apart of and the lovely bloggers who I am blessed enough to call friends! What a blessing!

The name "Caravan Sonnet" was truly a reflection of my life and also of what I envisioned for my life. I loved the idea of having a name that could grow and change with the course and ebbing of time. I loved finding bloggers who had been blogging for years not just one year and reading how their lives changed throughout the course of that time. It is like looking into a good book isn't it? *smiles* Because of this I wanted a name that would grow with me and the adventures that were going to be apart of my life and those that I was currently living. Because of this I combined letters of my first and last name to come up with the name "Caravan" ( I have always loved this word and have used it throughout my life instead of the word journey... I think it is the "Brit" in me *smiles). The word "Sonnet" came a little later and it was equally as perfect to me as I am a girly girl at heart who loves creating beautiful word pictures and inspiring others to live a beautiful life. The word "sonnet" to me has always appeared as a pretty word and it spoke of hope and color in difficult times. And so that is how the name Caravan Sonnet came to be. 

I do believe that it has been a perfect fit for me now and love the aspect of growing with the blog throughout many different stages of life. Thank you so much for reading and for following along on this beautiful caravan that I am on! 

I am curious! How did y'all pick your blog name and do you feel that it has fit you well throughout different seasons of your life?

9/22/14

WEGO Health Activist Speakers Bureau


As I mentioned at the beginning of this year, I never started off in this journey to become a health activist. In fact, as private as I am I probably never would have started blogging had I known that shortly after I did I would have been diagnosed with two major diseases in the span of 5 months. BUT here is where the Lord has me and I do hope to use this blog to share about some of the issues (Lyme Disease especially) that I am passionate about in hopes that it will help and encourage others. As the founder of SEEN Gathering my heart is with encouraging the hearts of people who are struggling with chronic illness. Along that note I am honored to have applied for the WEGO Health Activist Speakers Bureau and hope to share my story with others to encourage them. (Thank goodness for internet access for those of us who are struggling to get out of bed on difficult days! *smiles*) I mention this because I know some of you that read this blog are dealing with health issues and might be interested in learning more about it as well – it’s a great way for Health Activists to share our stories, raise awareness and get the word out about the work we’re doing. Your story DOES matter and what you have to say can change the world for someone. Members of the WEGO Health Activist Speakers Bureau receive exclusive invitations to present at conferences, speak to members of the media, and be featured on WEGO Health. Interested in joining the WEGO Health Activist Speakers Bureau? Apply today! It only takes a few minutes and they’ll email you as soon as they have opportunities relevant to you and your interests.

9/21/14

goodbye summer, hello sweet autumn

If we are connected on instagram then you know that I mentioned yesterday that last night was the last night at the cabin for this summer. The weather has been unusually cool this September and for my fragile system it is best that I move up to my grandmothers house for a few days while my parents finish closing up. Leaving camp for me is always difficult. I love this place and this land. Years ago my brother said, "it is written in your soul" and he was exactly right. There is a deep connection to the Lord here and it is a place that I love to be. And to be frank, while this summer has been difficult health wise, being here at camp has given me a break away from some health routine and given me a bit of "freedom". As I return home to the south I know that I am looking at numerous weekly doctors appointments, hundreds of blood sticks, hundreds of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and a whole host of other things all related to sick world. While I have been doing a ton of different things for my health here, the routine here has a been a nice change. Several days ago I came across Daniel 2:21 which states, :"He changes times and seasons...":. This verse has been of particular comfort to me, reminding me that the Lord has a hand in all seasons and each day that is approaching is a gift... just like this summer has been. 

This summer has been filled with precious memories and moments amidst pain and perhaps that is why they were even more special. *smiles* Here are definitely some of my favorite memories of this summer. It is always a beautiful thing to look back and see the Lord's faithfulness in so many different ways!

The summer started with the announcement of my beautiful mother's sacrifice to retire from teaching to help me get well. Throughout this summer and with the intensive new treatment plan before me, we see even more clearly the Lord's compassionate hand and guidance on this decision- even before we knew what was coming. 
Our trip to camp was one filled with a lot of "delays" but the extra hours were filled with editing re-writing the book. *smiles* I was SO excited to turn in the book with all of the edits in early July (and yes, we celebrated!) and to now be working on the FINAL editing phase! WOW!
In early June I announced that I would be doing a series on all things related to doctors out of state and country for the Thursday Health Thoughts. I was so grateful for such a warm response to this series and was even more excited to share with y'all the "what to pray series". I was overwhelmed by the response by so many of you and am so thankful that you found this to be helpful! 
In the middle of June I shared that there was a change to my health plan  and mentioned that the biggest prayer request was that my digestive system would remain stable. What a BEAUTIFUL answer to prayer to look back and see that it has remained stable throughout this summer and even with the addition of drastic changes that had to happen. As I head into my "third fall" we are praising the Lord for this and continuing to ask Him for His blessing in this new season
There were so many exciting things that happened with my shop, December Caravan, this summer! I was thrilled to announce that I had added in Storybook Bunting to the shop and later to announce that I had added in Scripture Bunting. I was thrilled to share that I had stepped out in faith and will be apart of the hopespoken handmade market in March! It was also fun to share pictures from the craft room at the cabin! I was overwhelmed by the love and support for my shop, all of the orders, the custom orders, and the sweet words of encouragement that I have received. It is truly a joy to create handmade items! (p.s.- The shop "reopens" on October 5th and I can not wait to share with you the new goodies, fall buntings, new storybook buntings, and the advent bunting that is coming y'all!! Stay tuned!!)
One of my favorite posts of the summer was sharing with y'all my heart as I have learned to delight in the beauty of the ordinary
While we didn't travel due to my health there were several short trips to places for various reasons. There was a lovely drive through Essex to Essex Farms and there were several trips back and forth to Vermont this summer due to doctors visits and health reasons and the ferry rides were filled with beauty.
There was projects to complete for The Twinery - what a joy it is to be on the design team for them! It is so fun to create and is humbling to be in such a talented and encouraging group of people! Two of my favorite projects to create this summer were the backyard sheet and the teapot mini-album projects!
There was a precious few days with my sister when she came in July! We had such a delightful time and had so many laughs that has filled my heart for the weeks following her visit!
And finally something that was dear to my heart was the announcement of a ministry that has been prayed over, thought through, talked about, cried over, and seen the mighty hand of the Lord's blessing in a million different ways. SEEN Gathering has been such a delight to be apart of and it has touched so many peoples hearts already. It had been in the works for so long behind the scenes that it was exciting and nerve-wracking to share with others but it has been an amazing journey so far!

 It is strange when you start something like this because you step out and you follow the Lord's calling even when somethings don't make sense. One of the ways that I have seen this is in the way of who the Lord has called to be apart of the team. There were some people who had originally expressed interest in SEEN Gathering being a "big" conference but when it changed to a MUCH different (and smaller!) ministry I had several people who had expressed "so much interest" back out. It saddened me to realize (belatedly) that these people liked the idea of "big" and that was the draw to be apart of this. BUT y'all... the LORD is faithful and as we follow HIM He is SO good. I see over and over the Lord's goodness in providing people who are not about any glory or fame but about loving on the people in front of them in extravagant ways with no glory to them. NO ONE involved in SEEN Gathering desire anything but that those who encounter the ministry are encouraged and that they know that they are not forgotten. We want them to know that they are loved by God and have a unique purpose. NONE of us at SEEN Gathering want anything but the Lord to get the glory. And honestly I have been brought to tears at the amount of emails and people we have heard from. SO many people need the Lord's love and sometimes all that means is opening your heart to who is right in front of you friends. It might not "seem" big or flashy but that is okay. If you have something the Lord is calling you to step out and trust Him. Even if it seems small or people leave, follow the Lord! There are NO small offerings to God! YOU are changing your world and the Lord is getting the glory. 
Looking back on all of these things reminds me of the countless ways the Lord is always near. I pray that you see that today sweet friends as we say goodbye to summer and hello to the sweet autumn!

9/19/14

Notes from the Porch (twenty-six): starting the third fall

Time is a very funny thing isn't it? When we are experiencing "good times" in life time seems to "fly" and we can never get enough of it and yet when we encounter hardships we often are surprised at how long something lasts. 
And sometimes... well sometimes life is a mixture of both. 
And for me, that is what starting the third fall feels like. It is the third fall since I have moved home to my parents house suspecting that I was dealing with more than "just" CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia. It is the third fall since my entire digestive system started to crash and I needed IV nutrients. It is the third fall since I gave up my independence, moved back home into my parents home, and then eventually (in the winter) became unable to walk with no explanation. It is the third fall away from the job that I loved (teaching). It is the third fall that I have experienced extreme illness and pain. It is the third fall that I will spend time in a city that I grew up in but don't have close friends in because I am to ill to put effort into relationships. It is the third fall that I am completely reliant on my parents, family, and friends for help in a variety of ways (including financial resources).
It is the third fall that many people would classify as a time that has been horrendous and as one person said to me yesterday, "I bet you will be glad to close the chapter on this season of your life". Hmmm... yes and no. You see... something changed this year. When I wrote that post about delighting in the ordinary in June I meant what I said. There had been a "change in the wind" throughout the Spring in my heart. Instead of saying "I want this to end... (or) I want this time to be over" I found myself begging the Lord for healing and yet asking for continued wisdom -specifcally in how He would use me right now. I was able to come to terms with my wishing for the past and accepting the present and the future. I found the truth of the verse "Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain". I found myself wrestling with the Lord in prayer in new ways- and learning to trust in new ways. I have been so delighted to be apart of encouraging others who are hurting through SEEN Gathering. And I have found that while many people in circumstances like this abandon their faith I have fallen more in love with my Savior each day and am so excited to encourage others to find their hope in Jesus too. 
It is the third fall of spending hundreds of hours with the Lord in prayer in bed because I am to weak to even sit up. It is the third fall of seeing the Lord provide for me daily on this journey - emotionally, physically, spiritually. It is the third fall of seeing who my friends are who are willing walk the dark and difficult roads. It is the third fall of being overwhelmed by the love of my parents, sister, and grandmother in this journey. It is the third fall of learning who I am in Christ in a whole new way. It is the third fall of this fight... a fight that still has a while to go.
Thank you so much for your prayers for wisdom and for the trip out to California. The Lord blessed the trip and so many prayers were answered and I am so incredibly grateful for each and every prayer. There were smooth flights with no issues, kind people who helped me in a variety of different ways, and a wonderful medical team that had a wonderful plan for the next steps in treatment. (As I have mentioned several times here on the blog I have chosen to keep many details private and I appreciate your kind understanding and respect of this.) At this time because my GI system is handling antibiotics we have decided to do a "season" of full-blown antibiotics (continuing with my supplements, herbs, oils, etc. that I already use and adding a few new ones). For a variety of different things I will be slowly adding in six new antibiotics to my treatment plan (which is in addition to the numerous ones that I am already currently on) over the next few weeks. I was nervous when I received this plan as we all know that I have had an extremely difficult time with medications these last few years, but I also know that my medical team knows what they are doing and has the best plan for what is going on.  Remember when I picked the word "valor" for this year? I think the Lord was preparing my heart for this intense fight. *smiles* 

I am not going to lie. The start has been incredibly difficult. If we are connected on instagram then you know that I alluded to the fact that things have been difficult (especially since my acute infection in August) and today shared that I had a severe reaction to one of the medications and have been completely bedridden since last week (not even able to sit up). These days have been painful, long, and quite difficult.  And yet, this is the battle. The battle to get well and to fight to beat these diseases. I well up with tears though at the goodness of the Lord. I have a wonderful doctor and medical team and they are fighting this journey with me. I have amazing parents who lavish love and encouragement on me. I have a beautiful sister who is supportive and encouraging and runs races in my name. I have a lovely grandmother who spends hours upon hours in prayer for me. I have sweet friends who have never walked away and have supported me whole-heartedly in this journey. One day at a time friends (and sometimes one minute at a time) we will take this fight. The Lord is with me. He continues to provide wisdom and direction- even as recently as the end of the last week as bloodwork came in and we learned some new news. Surprising to me but not to the Lord. He is NEVER surprised by any of this. And friends, "There will be a lovely ending to this story of frustration, something worth all it has cost." (Amy Carmichael) 
So I continue on this new treatment plan as I start the third fall. A fall that will be filled with different plans then I originally thought (NO ONE - including my doctors thought I would be able to handle oral antibiotics several months ago! WHAT AN ANSWER TO PRAYER!!) and filled with a battle of a lifetime for me. A fall that will not include a trip out to Whitaker Wellness Institute for oxygen and vitamin c (like I originally planned) because I need to stay closer to my family for help at this point in time. A fall that I have changed the "go fund me page" to reflect my monthly expenses with hyperbaric oxygen (soft covered) and the other costs that we spend each month right now just on my medical treatment. A fall that I know the Lord will provide for me again- in miraculous ways. A fall of trusting the Lord who knows my heart and knows the way I will go. A fall filled with days of falling more in love with my Savior. 

If you read my post on instagram today then you saw that I posted the following verses. And friends, truly they are the perfect verses to memorize here for this third fall: 

"The people who survived the wars have found favor in the desert. The LORD appeared to me in a faraway place and said, “I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness. Once again I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt, my dear people Israel. Once again you will take your tambourines, and you will go dancing with happy people. Once again you will plant..." 
-Jeremiah 31:2-5-

Once again dear friends... once again I am starting the third fall looking to the Lord and His love and knowing that He will have the best in mind. What a good and amazing God He is. 
Thank you so much for all of your continued prayers for me on this journey. Every single day I see the answers to each of them in a thousand different ways. Please keep praying and thank you so much for all of your love and support on this journey. 

With lots of love friends, 

9/18/14

12 Things to Pray for the Parents of a Young Child with a Chronic Health Condition

I am so excited to continue this seven part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to "What to Pray for Someone who is  Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition or who loves someone struggling with a Chronic Health Condition! In this series (when dealing with the word chronic) I am addressing anyone who has had an illness or pain for more than six months that has affected their life. 

This is a series that I have been praying about and asking the Lord to give great wisdom as I hope it will be helpful for someone! I am often told by very dear and well-meaning people, "I am praying for you" but am also told "I don't really know how to pray for you" or am asked just as often "How can I really pray for you?". While this series won't address every idea of what to pray and is not a "formula" I do hope and pray that it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying for those that you love who struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones. 

12 Things to Pray for Someone Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for Yourself as you Struggle with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Parents of a young child with a Chronic Health Condition
12 things to Pray for the Parents of an adult child with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for Caretakers of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Spouse of someone with a Chronic Health Condition
 12 things to Pray for the Children of Parents with a Chronic Health Condition

** I am so grateful for several moms and dads who are in this situation and who graciously shared their hearts, hopes, fears, tears, and love about this subject with me.**

1. Pray for their Courage 
I don’t know anything that takes more courage than fighting a serious illness then being the parents of someone who is seriously ill. It takes a courage under fire that is impossible to explain unless you have walked this difficult road. One person who contributed some of these ideas shared, “I was a soldier in Afghanistan for three tours and led men into battle several times. I received a medal of honor for bravery under fire. Honestly, facing the fact that my baby girl had cystic fibrosis and Leukemia was worse than any battle I encountered in war. This was a different kind of war- a war on the child I loved so much and it was a war that frightened me more than any bullet had before.” - “P” - Pray for their courage and their bravery in this fight. It is a fight like no other.

“Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be discouraged for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”
-Joshua 1:9-
  
2.Pray against Fear 
Is there anything that causes fear more than entrusting your “baby” to a team of medical doctors? I don’t think so. These parents deal with trusting their most precious thing in their lives to the wisdom of others and still fears abound. Fear for the correct treatment plan, fears over food allergies, fears over a million details that could never all be listed. Pray against fear for these parents. Pray that the Lord would take away all of their fears.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
-Psalm 56:3-

3.  Pray for their Hope
Dealing with the grief of a child who is not well is heart-wrenching. Pray that they will not lose hope for themselves, their child, or their situation. 

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
-Psalm 27:13-

4. Pray for them at night 
Nighttime is difficult for anyone going through a struggle as the mind wanders and can be more restless then ever. For parents of young children this is sometimes the only "break" away that they take and many times this is not a break as they watch their children sleep in a hospital room or in their own room. Many times this is when the most tears are shed so their child does not see. Pray for them at night that they would be comforted and the they would be able to rest.

“I am worn out from groaning Lord. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow.” 
-Psalm 6:6-7-
  
5. Pray for their Relationships

Pray for those that are single parents
The heartbreak of having a child who is ill doesn't discriminate over whether a person is single or married and the single parent has double the responsibility. Pray for their strength, their hearts, and their wisdom as they have to be “all”- caregiver, provider, parent, friend, “nurse/doctor” for their child. Pray that they will have help from those that love them and that the Lord would provide in miraculous ways. Pray that they will see the truth that while they may “feel alone” scripture promises that the Lord is a husband to those that love Him.

Pray for those who are married
Did you know that having a child seriously ill increases the divorce statistics by 50%? These odds are staggering but completely understandable as the stress, frustration, anger, and fear are often placed on the spouse instead of the sick child. This can cause friction and tension in even the best of marriages. Pray for this relationship and that they would be strengthened together in the Lord.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
-Ecclesiastes 4:12-

6. Pray that they will know that God has not abandoned them
After watching your child ("baby" as many parents refer to them as) dealing with pain or illness day in and day out it can be difficult to remember that God has not abandoned you. Pray that they will see God's mighty love and power despite their circumstances. 

"For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from them, but has listened to their cry for help."
-Psalm 22:24-

7. Pray for their Strength to meet Each Day
Dealing with a child who is seriously ill each day is beyond exhausting. There are a million details that have to be attended to and emotionally parents have to be “on”. Pray for their strength each day.

"And as your days are, so shall thy strength be."
-Deuteronomy 33:25-

8. Pray for their broken heart
We live in a world that allows us to present that everything is perfect, especially through social media venues which is a way that many people keep in touch. Seeing pictures of healthy children doing “normal” child things (starting school, first haircuts, lavish birthday parties, sleepovers, family trips, sports games, etc.) can be heart-wrenching for parents who are watching their children suffer. Pray for these parents hearts that they will be comforted during these times and that they would sense that the Lord is near.

 "Hear my prayer Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping."
- Psalm 39:12-

9. Pray for them as Parents 
Pray for these parents as parents. Pray that they would have wisdom on how to handle the situations that arise not only in health issues but in molding the character and development of their children as individuals separate from illness. This can be an extremely fine line to balance. As one person who contributed said, “How am I supposed to punish her about disobeying me when she has a chemo treatment the next day and will be extremely sick for the next three weeks?”- “A”  Pray that they will know how to handle these difficult situations with grace and love and have wisdom to navigate these tricky waters. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
-Proverbs 22:6-

10. Pray for them as they deal with other responsibilities
Life revolves around someone who is seriously ill because each day can hold a million different situations that need “immediate” attention. The other reality though is that these parents have lots of other responsibilities on their plates (additional children, work, deadlines, bills, etc.) and life can seem overwhelming. Pray that they will have the strength to deal with each situation and need as it arises and that they will have the focus needed for each situation. Pray for them as they are balancing a hundred different things at once.

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress, May the God of Jacob save you."
-Psalm 20:1-

11. Pray for others to support them and help them for the duration of this battle
These parents that are dealing with a young child with a chronic health condition need people to come along side of them, walk the long road with them, and extravagently love them in the midnight hours. They need people that can support them as parents, but also be looking out for their families and their marriages. This could be friends offering to take siblings of the sick child to the park or to a baseball game to give the parents some much needed rest. This could be people bringing food or coming to help with laundry. This could mean a million different things, but pray that they will have support and people that would walk this road with them. Illness is incredibly lonely but these parents need that support at this critical time.

"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
-Proverbs 18:24-

12. Pray for the return of their joy
Illness can steal so many different things from people including joy. Pray that these parents will find joy in the Lord despite the pain of this time. Pray that they will not be robbed by sorrow only but that the Lord would return their joy and restore the years the locust have stolen.

"I will restore to you the years the locust have stolen..."
-Joel 2:25-

I hope these ideas have been helpful y'all! Sometimes when you are praying for someone with a chronic health condition you may feel that you are not "seeing" any results or doing anything, but the truth is you are!! God promises that He hears our prayers and He does hear yours! Keep praying for your friends and loved ones!! You are a blessing!!