Caravan Sonnet: June 2015


July 4th Quotes (and free printables)

Happy July 1st friends! As a child, my cousin and I looked forward to the 4th as the day of s'mores, fireworks, and sleeping out in the tent. As an adult I am reminded that there is such significance in celebrating our countries profound and unique heritage. As a former History teacher I have always loved the significance of celebrating the 4th of July. Y'all know that I love me some good quotes and the ones listed below are some of my favorite 4th of July quotes! All of the images below are free printables so please take them and use them as you would like as we celebrate our precious Independence Day! (To print simply right click on the image and save them to your computer to print!) These could truly be used for anything!

I came across this quote by JFK when I was teaching AP US History. JFK said this in the early 1960's but is also a powerful reminder of our countries strength in the belief of liberty. 
These following words to the famous song "America" will be sung in many parades across our country this July 4th. What beautiful words of freedom!
I admit that I am a hopeless romantic and so when I discovered the books of the letters between John Adams and his wife Abigail I read every word carefully. The following quote was in one of the letters that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail from Philadelphia in 1776. How proud I am of our country and those who have fought for it and ensured our freedom.  How proud I am of those who have sacrificed so much to prove this statement true. For all of the differences in our country we remain resolute in the knowledge that we are free.
The following quote by Thomas Jefferson is a cry of my heart often when I think of the many many blessings that we have in America versus the horrors and tragedies that are experienced around the world. As a woman I am even more grateful for the freedom and opportunities that I experience. 
And finally a quote that humbles me everyday in the knowledge that there are so many brave men and women who continue to fight to protect our freedoms and those around the world. We honor you and those that have gone before you on this July 4th! 
Do y'all have any favorite 4th of July quotes? 


The Light Shines in the Darkness...

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 
-John 1-

To say that these last few weeks have been filled with lots of emotional turmoil for this nation that I love would be an understatement. Several weeks ago two prisoners escaped from a maximum security prison in our area creating chaos, fear and widespread confusion. Shortly after that the heartbreaking shooting in Charleston occurred and we as a nation mourned how this unspeakable act could happen. Yesterday, SCOTUS made a landmark ruling on the issue of homosexuality. Emotional turmoil in a country gives Christians the unique opportunity to show God's love in trying times to those who often need it most. We have seen the courageous and tireless work of hundreds of law enforcement who aren't giving up searching. We have witnessed heroic loving behavior as families offer forgiveness in the midst of their pain. Today I have seen friends who lovingly address their disagreement over yesterday's decision while embracing loved ones who might lead a different lifestyle. For me ‪#‎lovewins‬ is not about a supreme court decision, but about how we as Christians heroically show Christ's love to those who stand before us. Love that can speak grace to the hurting, offer kindness in the face of tragedy, and compassion in the midst of disagreement is due to one thing- knowing the greatest love, Jesus Christ. His love does win- all of the time. Every single day. Friends, may we run into our hurting and broken world reminding them what love truly is and how it can be found. Let us remember that the light still shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it, no matter the circumstances.

(This post was taken from my instagram account but wanted to share with you my sweet readers and friends. Praying for each of you and for our country.)


Camp Porch Chairs for our 1901 Cabin

Anyone who knows me understands that one of my favorite places for relaxing, hanging out with family and friends, curling up with a good book, and for gazing at the beauty of the lake and the woods happens from our porch at camp. For a number of years the porch was used as a "catchall" for children's toys, swimsuits and towels, and a place where as teenagers we would hang out and chat while playing countless card games. The porch has had many "duties", including being a stage for us to perform childhood plays. My parents were wonderful and allowed the space to be completely lived in as we used chairs that have been passed down from different generations. But unfortunately, while this was quaint it did not provide a very comfortable or relaxing sitting area which was something as we have gotten older my mom and I desperately wanted. We searched and searched but nothing was in our price range and nothing really fit the rustic and open air porch that we have.

Enter in a wonderful find at Goodwill! Don't you just love thrifting? I adore thrifting and finding unique and wonderful pieces at affordable prices! It took some time to wash, clean the chairs, repair rips in the fabric, and get everything set up but after two summers the porch came together like a dream! *smiles*

One of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone new to thrifting is not to be afraid to see the potential in things you find! Often times you can really find a treasure! My mom and I first found the chairs for the porch at a half Price Thanksgiving Sale at Goodwill in 2010. There were four large chairs and three matching footstools. While they were in "struggling" condition we knew with a little lot of love and work we could show the treasure that they were!
My mom stored the chairs in the garage at their house and once the 2011 summer arrived we went to work on the first two chairs that we took to New York. The first thing that we did was take out the original stuffing from the cushions and then work on the sewing projects that we needed to fix from some of the ripped material. Next we washed every cover twice. I had done some research and had learned that it was best to stuff pre-made fabric cushions while the fabric is still damp. This allows the fabric and the stuffing to mold together. [You don't want the fabric to be wet- just damp.] I am not going to lie it took some energy to stuff those cushions!
After we stuffed the cushions we set them in the sun to dry while we went to work on vacuuming the chairs and washing the wood.
After everything was dry we set up the porch with the first two chairs for the 2011 summer. [*happy sigh*]
We loved the two chairs that we had brought and had originally intended to use the other 1/2 of the set at my parents house but everyone loved these chairs to sit on so we quickly decided that we would need to bring up the rest of the set the following summer.
So in the summer of 2012 we repeated the same process of cleaning and stuffing that we had done in 2011 and ended up with our finalized porch chairs. I had also found some additional (small) pillows that matched the chairs (at a Goodwill in another state!). Isn't the final product delightful? We have so enjoyed these chairs! What a fun and wonderful  find at Goodwill!

As the years have passed we have loved these chairs more and more. This old porch that was originally built in 1901 has been refurbished but kept its original charm and these chairs that we found at Goodwill have only added and not taken away from the charm of the porch. As time has passed we have enjoyed so many conversations with friends and family, played numerous board games and card games on these chairs, spent quiet time with the Lord here, and I have worked on school work and numerous blog posts from these chairs. (In fact, the title of my personal health updates, "Notes from the Porch" was inspired by this location!) They have truly been a blessing!
What a blessing this Goodwill find has been!

What's Up Wednesday (June Edition)

Happy Wednesday friends! I am excited to link up with MelShaeffer, and Shay for the "What's Up Wednesday" Link up! I have so enjoyed reading these ladies posts and am excited to join in! It was so fun last month to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this! 

What We're Eating this Week... 
If you saw my instagram post from last night then you know that I am trying to work on getting more green juices into me. Y'all, seriously I struggle with these and even replicating a cute pinterest photo and using cute straws is just not working anymore. Every morning I fight to get one in me and am really wanting to do three a day. Anyone have a yummy green juice that they love and could share the recipe? I am desperate!! *smiles*

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
Days on the lake. Loving that this summer is so gorgeous already and the beauty of being able to be outside. 

What I'm Loving... 

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this month has started an intense summer of fighting for my health in new ways. Starting on June 8th we added in intense antibiotics, shots, new supplements, and new IV's. It's intense and every hour of the day is taken up doing something for my health but I am determined to beat Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease. 

What I'm Dreading... 
Let's be honest here... I hate the morning shots everyday. 

What I'm Working on... 
final edits for my book, December Caravan, and a devotional for Lyme Disease patients. 

What I'm Excited About... 
I realized this past weekend that it is only 14 weeks till the cruise with my best friend! I LOVE how the Lord works out details and had already planned this long before we knew what this summer would bring! It will be a wonderful celebration of finishing this round of treatment!

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
So last month I shared how I am not a TV person, but someone had challenged me to watch NCIS: LA and not love it. As I shared last month I started out incredibly skeptical but started to love the "Densi" relationship. I now totally admit that I am still watching this and making my way through the series and do like the show. I will keep you updated on my love for it but I do admit that I was incredibly happy when they renewed it for a 7th season... hahaha!

What I'm Listening to... 
Honestly, the same songs from the last two months are still on repeat this month. These past few weeks they have grown even more dear to my little heart. I have talked about the one, Isaiah 40, in this post HERE, and love the music by the Wissmann Family, especially this CD HERE, and cry through Aaron Keyes song "Sovereign Over Us" almost every single day. Each one of these is such a blessing!

What I'm Wearing... 
So as I mentioned last month, I LOVE the mission of Jacob's Scarves and their products and the way that they help provide education for children around the world. Jacob's Scarves has beautiful scarves and items but this past month I have been wearing this "Americana" scarf almost everyday. I love that it is so soft and gorgeous! You can find out more about Jacob's Scarves HERE.

What I'm Doing this Weekend... 
I am so excited (and nervous!) to be attending the "Living Well with Lyme Disease" conference at the Omega Institute. I was graciously awarded a scholarship several months ago and am so excited to have time with other "lymies". I think it is going to be incredibly overwhelming and emotional... but I seriously can't wait!

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
My sister comes for a visit next month! 

I would love to know your answers to these questions friends! Share your thoughts below in the comments!! *smiles* Happy Wednesday!


You Probably Don't Know...

Back when I first started blogging a couple of years ago I shared for the first few months random facts about me to help people get to know me. As the years have gone on I stopped doing that and yet have so many new readers and faces around this blog that I loved when I saw a link up with Helene called "you probably don't know...". I feel like this is a wonderful way for those that are new to get to know a little bit more about me and maybe surprise a few of you with things that you didn't know! *smiles*

* I once shared two years ago that every  personal Facebook album title is a phrase from one of my favorite songs, "the water is wide". It may be surprising but this is still true of me. Ever since I joined Instagram I find that I post less and less Facebook pictures. Am I the only one?

* It is strange but true, I am allergic to chicken. 

* I love music. Absolutely adore it.

* I know I shared this before, but I still think that writing out numbers is prettier than just putting the number symbol. 

* I have watched every single season of the Amazing Race and loved the twist of the last season. I mean what could be better than being on the Amazing Race and going on the ultimate first date of a lifetime? Seriously?!? SIGN ME UP. 

* Two years after starting to blog I love it even more than when I first began. 

* I love to dance and can't wait to get back to dancing after I beat Lyme Disease and Cancer. In the meantime there are lots of dance parties that happen in the hallways in the house and in the kitchen.  

* I love cruises. Yes, I have only been on one, but I already know that I love them. *smiles*  I can't wait till the next one in just a few short months! 

* Simple things like hand written letters are a way to my heart. 

* While I love creating lots of items in my shop, December Caravan, my favorite is the 1,000 Places to See Altered Journal

* I am a hopeless romantic. It is a fact. *smiles*

Alright friends, what is something that we don't know about you? Share it in the comments below! *smiles*

Hyatt House: Belmont/Redwood Shores, California

When I first made the decision to switch my medical care to a Lyme Specialist Clinic in March 2014 I knew one of the things that I needed to find was a place to stay when I need to fly out for my required appointments. For the past four times I have stayed out in California I have stayed at a variety of different hotels but when my mom and I needed to stay for an entire week we searched and searched to find a hotel that was within our price range. 

As we continued to research we also were looking and hoping for options that would allow us to have a kitchen so that we could not only save money on food by cooking our meals, but allow us to cook meals that would fit into my strict dietary needs. In addition to this I was hoping for was a way for us to have some sort of suite/2 bedroom option so that I could nap as much as I needed to and my mom wouldn't have to hang outside just to be quiet! *smiles* Unfortunately the price for 2 bedrooms or a suite was just not in our price range without traveling a great distance which due to my health was not an option. After treatment all I wanted to do was come home and sleep (or unfortunately be sick)... not spend two hours in the car each way to my doctors office and after treatment. 

Many sweet people have suggested using Air B&B as they have had great success with this. I love this idea and before my health deteriorated I myself used. And while this suggestion is lovely, as a seriously ill gal it is unfortunately not something that I am currently able to do. There are a LOT of factors and criteria that those who are ill need to have met due to environmental illnesses/sensitivities and at this point certain hotels are the best option. 

As I continued to research we came across the Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores and were delighted with what we found. For a little less money then one room  at other hotels in the area we were able to get a lovely 2 bedroom suite with a full kitchen! 
House at Belmont/Redwood Shores
This hotel, which is located along the Silicon Valley's Northern Perimeter is a wonderful place to say for those who are traveling for business and for personal reasons. It is an excellent option for both parties as there are many corporate offices located near the hotel and for those traveling for personal reasons this hotel is a quite and restful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city. 
Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores
For those who are ill and traveling to the San Francisco area for medical treatment the Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores is a wonderful option. All of the Hyatt House Hotels are smoke free and this particular hotel has wonderful options for suites that will make you feel like you are living in the comfort of your own home. There is free high-speed internet along with a guest laundry facility and there is a complimentary breakfast buffet that offers many wonderful nutritious choices. One unique thing about the Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores is that they also offer a complimentary grocery shopping service which can be a wonderful gift to those who are undergoing treatment and not able to shop for themselves. In addition to all of this my mom and I found the hotel staff to be extremely pleasant and kind and the hotel was very quiet. 
House at Belmont/Redwood Shores
To be fair though and to give a bit of a warning we were disappointed in two aspects of the Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores. First, we were disappointed in the lack of clear communication regarding the lack of accessibility for those who have disability issues. When we made the appointment we were very clear that I was traveling for treatment and that I do have a disability tag and that it is very difficult for me to walk up and down stairs. We were told that the hotel is "very disability friendly and accommodating" and thought nothing more of it. When we arrived exhausted after airplane delays and traveling for 15 hours, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that we were on the 2nd floor and that there was no elevator access to our room. At 3 o'clock in the morning this literally brought both my precious mama and me to tears. When we went back to the front desk to inquire about this we were told that there was no elevators on the property to reach the 2nd and third floors and that there were no handicap rooms available. As we explained our situation (there was no way that I could climb up with luggage to the 2nd floor and that we had been assured that the hotel was "very disability friendly and accommodating") the staff member at the front desk was kind enough to come over herself to help us carry all of our luggage to our suite. It was very kind of her, but it was extremely disappointing that this occurred. I honestly don't know what would have happened if one of us was in a wheelchair and unable to walk up stairs. To me this was a definitely a disappointment after being told that the hotel was "very disability friendly and accommodating". 

A second thing that was disappointing was that when we were making our reservations I asked if the hotel gave any discount for those traveling for medical reasons/treatment. Many hotels do this in the area due to the large amount of hospitals and doctors offices that exist in this part of California. After explaining that I was traveling for treatment for Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease I was informed, "umm... that is not that serious and no". This was extremely frustrating as one of the leading Lyme Doctors is located in that area. In addition to this the fact that Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores does not recognize this as a "serious disease" was  unprofessional. Hopefully in the future Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores will reconsider this stance as many people travel from all over the world to this area for treatment for Lyme Disease and this is a very serious disease.
I hope that y'all have found this review of the Hyatt House at Belmont/Redwood Shores helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions regarding this hotel! I would be happy to answer them! 


Notes from the Porch (Thirty-Six): a huge and humble "thank you"

" not be afraid... for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 
-Joshua 1:9-

It is impossible to express how thankful that I am to be home again and for all that God did last week! I arrived home late Friday evening/ early Saturday morning and am slowly getting adjusted to this new intense schedule. 
heading into the office the 1st day
 As I look back and reflect on the time in California I am truly amazed. When I left for California I was so nervous and scared and very fearful as May had been so incredibly difficult with the herx that I experienced. I spent the entire month pretty much flat on my back unable to walk or even sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. The thought of traveling across the country and then starting an intensive round of treatment was the farthest thing on my mind that I wanted to do ... and yet... in the quiet, in the fear, and in the busy the Lord met each moment with such grace and mercy that I look back on last week as truly a healing week in so many different ways. 
The week was intensely busy as we would arrive early at the office and either I would proceed with a doctors appointment, appointment with one of the nurses to learn how to give myself shots (and my amazing mama learned how to give me one of the shots that I will need) or to receive an IV, I was continuously amazed by the peace that encompassed each day. As the day progressed we would head back to the hotel where I would sleep, take more medications, try to eat, and sleep some more. 
the view from our hotel was gorgeous
As I arrived in California I had many moments where I saw in so many ways that the Lord's hand was completely over this trip. From angels that helped us with bags (and suitcases when ours broke) to my amazing medical team, to no severe reaction to any of the new treatment plans, I look back on last week as a miracle. Truly... "wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And HOPE. And LIGHT. And... even beauty." (Joni Erickson Tada)
Some of you have asked what is next. This summer will be extremely intense as we go all out in fighting Lyme from a variety of different angles. As I start this new part of the journey at home I can not begin to express my gratitude to so many of you that have been so incredibly kind in this journey, especially to so many of you who gave financially to make this trip possible. Words can't begin to express my gratitude of your kindness, your generosity, and your blessing in helping to make this trip possible as I would not have been able to go had it not been so.  To my sweet and dear friends who have been lovingly texting me and praying at all hours of the night for so long, especially this last week, thank you thank you thank you. To the sweet blogging world that has touched my heart I am so grateful for you. To so many people that I have not named you are such a blessing.
the 3rd day ... the most difficult one
My doctor was right in so many ways and as I left on Friday and her words resonate with me. This journey is far from over... and I am so grateful for all of you.  As I continue on this journey my heart is full with the humble knowledge that the Lord has shown Himself in so many ways... specifically through your love. Thank you so much. Truly thank you.


Notes From the Porch (thirty-five): prayers for the upcoming weeks

"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-

As I watched the calendar days slowly slip by and May fade into June I have to admit that I became a little apprehensive. May was so incredibly difficult with the herx/crash that instead of the bravery I was feeling six weeks ago with this new plan, I had instead emerged from May and approached June with a cautious fear. The verses above from Jeremiah 31:2-5 have brought great comfort to my heart. Truly the Lord appears to us in "faraway places" and in the desert times. And yet, I admit that I feel that my typical brave spirit was wounded. 

And yet today is upon us. Today that calls us to trust the Lord in new ways, to ask for mercy and grace, to once again pray through scripture for healing, and trust this day, like every other to the one who holds our future. 

As I mentioned on instagram earlier this morning, today I begin some new antibiotic drug treatment as part of a "precursor cocktail" for my upcoming treatment that will start in California next week. After this past month being so incredibly difficult (and still struggling from symptoms of nausea/dizziness/vertigo) I am anxious and nervous and I would definitely appreciate prayers. I ask for prayers for peace, for strength for the days ahead (not just for these antibiotics, but for strength to finish packing and for travel on Sunday out to California), and grace to meet the unknown that lies ahead. I appreciate your prayers for all of this. 

As I mentioned in my last Notes from the Porch update, these next weeks will be very intense. Our specific prayer request for the beginning of the shot treatment is still the same - that I would be able to handle the first round dose of shots with no severe reaction. This shot would allow me to only have one shot once a week for 10 weeks. But if this doesn't work and I have a severe reaction then I will be heading back in for a different shot on Tuesday which is "less strong" and would require me to have shots four times a week for six months. If that doesn't work I will continue each day to see if another type of shot will work but it would be a much longer time frame. Yikes! From all of my research and my understanding, the first option is a better choice for many different ways, and so that is what we are asking specific prayers for.

Words can't express how grateful I am for all of your kind support and love during this time. I am not sure how often I will be able to update on the blog in the next week and a half but will be updating on instagram if you would like to follow along there. Thank you again for all of your support, love, and prayers. You are a blessing!

With Love, 


10 Things to Pray for Your (future) Husband

Picture found here, altered by Caravan Sonnet
A couple of years ago I mentioned that I pray for my future husband on a regular basis. I try to set aside specific times each day to pray for him. I started this practice years and years ago because even though I don't know who my future husband is or when we will marry I do know that when I am married I will want prayer to be a regular part of my life with my husband and for my husband so I have tried to begin the habit now and get into the practice. 

One of the things things I get asked most often from those who are single is what exactly what I pray for my future husband so I wanted to re-share today one of my most read blog posts of just a few of the things that I pray for him (in no particular order). If you are married I highly encourage you to pray for your husband and if you are single or engaged, I encourage you to start praying for your future husband starting now! (And if you are single and looking for what to pray for yourself during this season of life, my book, "Prayers for the Single Journey" was released in February! You can read about the contents of the book HERE! I hope that you will find it encouraging! You can find it where books are sold and on Amazon, HERE!) 

(One) I pray that if he does not know the Lord that he would surrender his life to the Lord and if he does know the Lord as his personal savior that he would grow in his relationship with the Lord daily.(John 3:16)

(Two) I pray that I would begin to even now prepare to be a good wife for my husband and would treat him with loving actions- in my words and deeds, and that I would give him the respect, love, and graciousness that is due to him everyday.(Proverbs 31:10-31)

(Three) I pray that his self-image and identity would be found in Christ alone and I also pray for my the work that he does. {This may seem strange to tie these two together but I have know so many men that struggle with making work their identity.}

(Four) I pray that he would remain pure and would be free from any past decisions. (Isaiah 43:18-19) I also pray that he would be  free from temptation (current and in the future). (Romans 12:9)

(FiveI pray that he would be obedient to the ways of the Lord and that he would follow the Lord in all of his ways. (Psalm 25:4,5)

(Six) I pray that he would be set free from fears that he may have: of his career, future, present, past, etc. I pray that he would find deliverance from his fears in the Lord's love. (I John 4:18)

(Seven) I pray that his heart would be sensitive to the things of the Lord and that his talk would reflect his heart. (Proverbs 4:23 and Psalms 34:12-13)I pray that he would know his purpose clearly and where the Lord is calling him. (Psalm 20:4) 

(Eight) I pray that he would have good health. 

(Nine) I pray that the Lord would comfort him and sustain him during any trials that he is dealing with currently. (Psalm 46:1)

(TenI pray that the Lord would bless him with amazing godly friends. I pray that he will also have good relationships with everyone that is in his life. 

Are there any specific prayers that you pray for your future spouse about? I would love to hear what things you pray for! Please share with us in the comments!