Caravan Sonnet: April 2015

4/29/15

What's Up Wednesday

Happy Wednesday friends! I am excited to link up with Mel, Shaeffer, and Shay for the "What's Up Wednesday" Link up! I have so enjoyed reading these ladies posts and am excited to join in!

What We're Eating this Week... 
I totally admit that I am eating a ton of greens right now. I seriously think that I could eat them all day long if my body would handle it. After having so much issues while I fight Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease, I am so incredibly thankful to be able to have expanded my diet to include fresh greens again. Spinach, Dandelion greens, Chard, Kale, Basil, etc... yummy!

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
Finding out I had Cancer two years ago. What started out with the belief that I was simply dealing with Basal Cell quickly changed and I am grateful every single day to be Cancer free still! Praise the Lord!

What I'm Loving... 

What We've Been Up To...
The last few weeks have been... difficult. The medicines that I was on have created tons of issues and side effects so as of Sunday I was taken off of five of my new meds. I am currently "recovering" from this and honestly it has been incredibly difficult physically and emotionally. I will definitely be updating soon, but in the meantime I am grateful for your prayers.

What I'm Dreaming... 
of is a cure for Lyme Disease. May is Lyme Disease awareness month. I am praying for new research, new cures, and new understanding about what this disease is and how it can be cured. (Curious about What Lyme Disease is? You can read a post I read last year by clicking HERE!)

What I'm Working on... 
Orders for the shop and a new devotional that I am writing and can't wait to share more about in the coming weeks!

What I'm Excited About... 
That I am healthier than a year ago.

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
I admit it. I am not a TV person, but someone recently challenged me to watch NCIS: LA and not love it. I started out incredibly skeptical but I have to say that I might be loving the "Densi" relationship. Am I the only one?!?

What I'm Listening to... 
There are several songs that are on repeat all of the time throughout the day. 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... 
Sweet friends sent me this dress from one of my favorite shops a couple of weeks ago. There is no way with the financial resources that I have all going to my medical bills and my upcoming treatment trip that I could ever have purchased something like this. (Let's be honest I haven't bought new clothes in years.) So imagine my grateful and tearful gratitude when this beautiful dress arrived on my doorstep. *tears* What a blessing! I might just be wearing this around the house each day. *smiles*

What I'm Doing this Weekend... 
Starting to pack for moving up to NY for the summer! 

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
I am looking forward to the opportunity to spread more awareness about Lyme Disease!

What Else is New... 
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am so humbly grateful for the kind donations and support for my coming medical trip to California. I am so blown away by everyone's kindness during this very difficult time!

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

4/28/15

a huge and humble "thank you"

Even as I type this I am incredibly speechless. On Sunday I shared that we had made it to 44% of our goal for this upcoming trip to help cover the costs. I was honestly blown away by so many people's generosity, many of whom I have never met!! Less then 24 hours later we were at 100% of our goal and now almost 48 hours later those donations are still coming in. 

I want to say a huge and humbled thank you to all that have donated such an amazing amount of money. Some of you know how very difficult of a financial time these past months have been and how overwhelming this trip seemed. My heart is truly overwhelmed by the amazing support that I have received. I have cried, my family has cried, and we have prayed the Lord's biggest blessings on you and your generosity. Thank you so much for your generosity and your kindness during this very difficult time. In a week that has been overcome with tragedy in our world (from Nepal to Baltimore) I am amazed once again by the kindness of friends, family, and strangers. Thank you so much for all of your support: financially, physically, and emotionally. Thank you. These two words do not convey the depth of my gratitude. May you be blessed by the Lord for your kindness.

P.S.- My family and I have received several emails, phone calls, and text messages asking if you can still contribute to the "go fund me" page even though the goal has been met. Our humble answer is "yes". The total cost of the trip and treatment is approximately $4050 (you can see the breakdown HERE) and the "go fund me" page was set at $1000 to help cover those costs. Any additional donation is humbly and gratefully welcomed and accepted. Again, words can not express how much your kindness and compassion means at such a difficult time. If you are interested in finding out more or would like to donate you can click HERE

4/24/15

Etsy Shop Tips: Opening an Etsy Shop (what you REALLY need to know)


Before I opened my first Etsy shop, December Caravan, in 2013 I read every single book and website article I could get my hands on to help make my store, an "Etsy success". The reading helped a ton, but I have also been learning a lot of things along the way! In this last year alone I have changed a lot of things with my shop and have continued to learn and grow as an Etsy shop owner and have learned a lot more as I just opened my second Etsy shop last week (September Caravan). 

I receive a lot of emails asking me for some Etsy advice in general. I am NOT an expert but I hope this series "Etsy shop Tips" will help other creatives who desire to run an Etsy shop! So today I wanted to share some tips on opening an Etsy shop and what you REALLY need to know! Here are some thoughts (in no particular order):

(1) Take Time to Decide Your Shop Name. There are a LOT of different theories about how to choose a shop name but at the end of the day this is your shop. It is going to be with you for a while (hopefully!) and you will want it to be something that you can "grow" with. While Etsy does allow you to appeal to change your shop name at a later date you will have to let people know about this change and potentially need to change your social media handles if you have matched them to your shop, not to mention any business cards or marketing that you have done elsewhere. Take your time to choose your name! Some people think that you need to have a name that "fits" your products, while others believe that is not necessary. My best advice is to do what feels right for you. (You can read the story behind the name for my shop, December Caravan HERE!)

(2) Do your Research Ahead of Time. Whether you are interested in starting to create an item to sell or you have been selling to friends and family for a long time and now want to take the "plunge" into opening a shop, take time to do research. The fortunate thing is that it is very easy to open a shop on Etsy and list things. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn't mean it will sell. Take time to do research so that you will be successful. Think through whether or not there is a demand for your product, whether or not you will be introducing something "new" to the world, etc. If you aren't sure about some of these things, take time to develop your business strategy. 

(3) Study the "Quick Start Essential List". Etsy how has a "quick start essential list" that they didn't have when I first started my Etsy shop. This can be a wonderful and helpful tool at the beginning of your journey! (You can find it by clicking HERE!)

(4) Take Quality Pictures that Represent Your Products.  Taking quality photos that represent your handmade products takes a LOT of time! As a photographer, this is a wonderful part of the handmade process for me, but for some creatives this can be frustrating and annoying. You must convey in your pictures (which is going to be the thing that "draws" people in) how wonderful your handmade item is. You have to convey the "feel" of it, the details, the "tone", etc. You are competing with brick and mortar stores where people can touch and look through the things they are interested in. You want your photography to represent your items well. Listen, it is better to have 5 items for sale with excellent photography than 100 items with poor photography. (Side note: Make sure that your pictures represent your products. When I first started on Etsy I thought that I should do all of my products with a "white light background". I did this at first and the realized that my shop is for those who love and live with their handmade items. I started taking pictures outside, in different areas, etc. This has worked SO well for me. Find what works for you and own it!)

(5) Brand your shop. Take the time to figure out branding for your shop. Honestly I went through three different business cards before my current branding which I love. Take the time to really develop your look and style so that you have a cohesive brand. 

(6) If you want to be successful, understand that running an Etsy shop is hard work. When I first opened my shop I thought that it would be easier than it is. Honestly, it has been one of the hardest business ventures that I have ever done. I love my job though and at this stage and season in my life, this allows me to work from home while I am fighting for my health. BUT that doesn't mean that it isn't an incredible amount of hard work! EVERY single day (even if it is just from my bed on rough treatment days) I work at least 6 hours on orders, on new products, on marketing, on instagram sales, etc. It takes a TON of work but I absolutely love it. Understand that it takes a TON of work if you are wanting to be successful in this venue. 

(7) Set specific goals. When I first started my shop I didn't do this as well as I needed to. I was so excited to have opened my shop that I just spent time creating and posting and trying to market. I have now learned how important it is to set goals for your shop. Take the time to set yearly goals, quarterly goals, and monthly goals. BELIEVE me you will be so thankful that you did!

(8) Take time to list and describe your products well.  It can be exciting to open a shop and just want to "dive" on in. Take the time (just like with the photography) to write out interesting, captivating, and detailed descriptions of your product! This will definitely help you as you continue!

I hope these tips are helpful! Have you started an Etsy shop? I would love to connect with you! Leave a link to your shop in the comment section so that we can connect! 

Happy Friday friends!

4/22/15

sponsor a mile (from Emily, Rebecca's sister)

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I am honored to share a few words from my sister about a run that she is doing for me in order to help raise funds for my upcoming medical trip out to California! Without delay here is what my sister has shared:

(from Emily, Rebecca's sister):

"As many of you know my sister is going back out to CA in June, and this time my mom is traveling with her due to the intensity of the treatment. As a way of helping ease some of the financial burdern I am running a 10k on May 2nd here in Nashville. I would be honored if anyone would join with me and sponser a mile. It is a little over 6 miles, and any donation would be a blessing! Rebecca's go fund me page and the breakdown of costs are in the link above. Thank you again for all your support! "

If you are interested in giving a donation you can simply click HERE to go to my "go fund me" page. As my sister has shared any donation would be a blessing! Thank you so much for all of your support sweet friends!

Blessings, 


4/21/15

The Power of "Life-Affirming" and "Redeeming" Words

As I shared last week in my post, "Notes from the Porch: Wasted Time", these past couple of weeks have been some of the most difficult in my health journey emotionally. I shared several things and reasons why this has been the case but in addition to everything I shared there are some private, behind the scenes and personal things that have been going on. I have found myself having tears throughout the day on more than one occasion because I have just felt so discouraged. I have often just felt like shutting everything out and curling up with a soft blanket and crying my eyes out. 
Ian Maclaren who was a Scottish author and minister is widely believed to have said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." This quote has come to my mind in a thousand different situations that I have been encountering and I have noticed with startling accuracy the impact of this quote. Words have incredible power - to either destroy or to give life. This past week after I announced that I would be starting a "go fund me page" for my upcoming medical treatment to California I received many emails from people who were incredibly critical and harsh. In addition to this I have had to deal with criticism and skepticism as I have been going through my necessary doctors appointments here in the south, where Lyme Disease is not believed to be a real thing. Third, this season of the fight for my health is extremely intense and difficult and finally, as I mentioned there have been some behind the scenes, difficult personal battles that I have been dealing with. But it really doesn't matter what is all going on, because as Ian Maclaren said, everyone is fighting a hard battle.
In the midst of all of this I received an unexpected gift and surprise from a sweet lady who I have interacted with only a handful of times. Betsy, from "Heavens to Betsy" blew me away not as much with her generosity financially during this difficult time, but her kindness through her words. She spoke God's precious love and hope to my little heart through her words.  And Betsy's actions and words have gotten me thinking about my own words and the impact that my words have. 

Betsy's email was full of love and kindness and her words were "life-affirming" and had "redeeming" qualities. She spoke of hope and physically lived it out with her words. It was amazing how much of an impact her words have had and how many times I have re-read them in the last several days. Without knowing anything that was going on (except for my last post) she stepped into my brokenness and with her words she changed things around. 
Y'all the power of "life-affirming" and "redeeming" words has the opportunity to shift an entire situation and an entire life. We may not know or understand the depth to which someone is dealing with a situation and we may never know all of the story behind something that someone is going through, but we have the power to change the story with our words.

There are so many people in my life who live this well and I want to model their examples. Last week when I was speaking with Carina her sweet words and her love were so encouraging. The time that she took to pray for me over the phone was a gift that had me in tears. My beautiful friend Jen is always quick to be sending love and kindness through their words and text messages. Katie's love and words of encouragement are such a gift and Kaara's beautiful encouragement through her cards always seem to come "at just the right time".  Caroline always leaves the sweetest encouraging comments on posts that brings a smile to my face and Zoey's messages are a beautiful gift from the Lord. And where to begin with Katharine's beautiful understanding about not being able to attend her wedding is beyond me. 
I have been so challenged in this to examine my own words every time I speak recently. I have realized that a lot of the times I am not even realizing when my words could be potentially hurtful. Maybe instead of rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing I am more quick to be like, "that is so nice" instead of truly rejoicing with them. Sometimes I have found myself being unintentional critical without really meaning to be. I have been thinking through things that I say in greater degrees and trying to examine each thing I say and write to make sure that they are redeeming words that I am living. And I have realized that my own potential to speak life-affirming and redeeming words is something that I want to do. Every single day. 
I choose to believe that there are people out there that are just trying their best. That each person is genuinely just trying to be the best that they can and we have the opportunity to speak words of life to them. I choose to believe that each of us can change things with our words and that with our positive words we can truly make a difference. When we see with love we see the heart. We can see that people are human with flaws and brokenness but we can still see in love that people are trying their best. In that, we can rest in the positive and understand the impact that we can have on others. People all around us are broken and hurting and need the love of Christ spoken through our words. Let us spread the power of life-affirming and redeeming words today friends!

4/16/15

Rebecca's Medical Trip 2015

Since being diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in March 2013 followed by a Cancer diagnosis in May 2013 I have steadily been fighting for my health through a variety of resources. In March 2014 I was blessed to finally find appropriate and wonderful medical care and have started to see my body respond to aggressive integrative treatment. Through the use of strong antibiotics, alternative medicine, and a variety of treatments I have started to reclaim (slowly) step by step my health. Due to the strength of oral antibiotics being too strong for my digestive system at this stage I will begin a course of IM shots out in California during the second week of June. Due to the serious nature of this treatment my mom and I will be flying out and staying a week so that I can be properly watched under medical care to ensure that I do not develop any anaphylactic reactions or serious complications. The cost of this trip is quite expensive and we are praying that all of the funds that are needed will be provided for. We have started this specific "go fund me" page to prayerfully and hopefully offset some of the funds that are needed for this trip and for the cost of the shots. Thank you so much for all of your love and support throughout this entire journey. 

Breakdown Cost of California Trip
Doctors Appointment- $500
Cost of Shots for Entire Course (10 shots)- $800
2 Round Trip Airline Tickets- (approximately) $1500
Hotel Stay (5 nights)- (approximately) - $700
Rental Car- $250
Food- (approximately)- $300

Total Cost- $4050


4/14/15

Notes from the Porch (thirty-three): wasted time

*There are so many of you that have sent me beautiful text messages, lovely emails and facebook messages, left compassionate voicemail messages, and have sent the sweetest cards in the last couple of weeks. I appreciate your patient understanding as I work through answering each of them. They are so precious to my little heart that I didn't want to just give a quick reply and I appreciate your kindness in my delay to respond as quickly as I would like. I also appreciate your patience and understanding as I had to contact several people and talk with them about my new plan before announcing it "publicly" as it affects them. As you read below I am sure you will understand."

** While I have chosen to be very open about this health journey through Lyme and Cancer this post is going to be a little more ambiguous in the details. I appreciate your sensitivity and compassion to this and the choice that I (and my family) has made at this time.**
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"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer worm, my great army which I sent among you."
-Joel 2:twenty-five-

Around this same time last year, I wrote a Notes from the Porch update (#18) that I have read back through several times over the last couple of weeks. It is strange at how similar these past few weeks have been to that same time last year. In addition, the same verse (I Kings 19:12), has brought as much comfort today as it did a year ago and honestly maybe even more so. Joni Eareckson Tada once said, “God is never closer than when your heart is aching.”  How absolutely true this is.

These past two years of dealing with the diagnosis' of Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease and Cancer plus other diseases have been filled with incredible ups and downs. Sometimes it seems like days are flying by and other times it feels like I live an entire year within the course of a day. 

The physical difficulties, pain, and extreme sickness has dominated many days and nights and as I recently said to someone, "I honestly do not remember what it is like to feel well anymore." To be frank, this is nothing unusual or special for anyone fighting a serious illness. It comes with the territory and yet as time has continued there is a different type of pain that has often affected this journey more than the physical- the emotional speed bumps that occur has been harder to deal with. 

In many ways these past few weeks have made me examine my heart and where I truly find joy. When I went out to California the original thought was that I would be looking at a PICC line or a Port for the upcoming weeks/months of treatment. Due to a variety of reasons (many that are good) this is not the best time for my body to do this. Because of this I have decided to move forward with IM shots to give my stomach and digestive system a break. I have not shared on here that this area has once again been causing me lots of issues. The hope was that by taking 5 weeks off of several of strong medications my intestines would have a break. They have, but it is not long enough and my body still needs the antibiotics to fight this disease and its co-infections. So we move forward with confidence. For the next (approximately) eight weeks I have started a new course of antibiotics. Despite the fact that one of these is a baby dosing of antibiotics I am already feeling the side effects and have been herxing like crazy and feeling pretty awful. I will be continuing this (as I mentioned) for eight weeks and then my mom and I will be flying back out to California at the second week of June so that I can start the phase of IM shots. We will be out there for approximately a week and I will try these shots in the office so that if there is any immediate/severe reaction I will be able to receive immediate medical care. I will try our first shot option on Monday and if (hopefully and prayerfully) there is no severe reaction then I will stick with this drug. This drug is the strongest of the three that I will try BUT the shots would only be 1-2 a week and last for 10 weeks for the course of this. If I do have a reaction then Tuesday I would try shot #2 and stick with this one (if there is no reaction). This drug is still good but not as strong and because of that I would have to have the shot 4 times a week for six months! If I have a reaction to this then shot #3 will be tried on Wednesday and so on and so forth. 

OBVIOUSLY our prayers are with option #1 to be the solution and I would covet your prayers that this would be the option that would work well for my body.

But the difficult part of this plan is not so much the physical side effects that I am dealing with (and there are PLENTY of them) as much as the emotional side effects of this decision. As my doctor and I spent hours discussing all of the different pros and cons of this decision and the timing I knew that it would affect several important events that I had been looking forward to for almost a year. With this plan my immune system will not be strong enough to be "out in public" as much as I was hoping and have been desperately trying to work towards for the last couple of months. One major and important event that I have been looking forward to and that has been brightly and happily written on my calendar is Katherine and Gary's wedding. Even as I write this I have tears. To miss out on daily events and long to live a normal life is a daily grief that I struggle with but to miss out on important and once in a life time events truly has caused so much grief. I have cried so many tears these past couple of weeks. I love Katherine and Gary so much that this has truly been one of the most difficult parts of this journey. In so many ways it reminds me of other heart-aches and other things that I have had to miss out on over the past couple of years due to my health. And in many ways thinking of all of these things makes the years seem long. And the journey before me seem even longer. 

Each night as I have gone to sleep and laid in my bed I have sobbed and wept as I cry out to the Lord. In addition to the wedding there have also been a couple of speaking engagements that I have had to cancel and this has been frustrating due to the fact that I felt that this would help me in the "professional" side of my life. There have also been several business things for my shop that I have now had to cancel and that I was hoping would help bring in more help financially in the long run. Another trip to see my best friend had to be canceled a couple of weeks ago and all of these things together has been heart-wrenching. 

I had someone ask me why I would be so upset because this is good news to not have to do a PICC line or a Port right now and to be able to continue to move forward. They went on to say that they thought that I would be rejoicing that since a year ago I am doing so much better in many ways. I am sure that they meant well but honestly my heart was not there. And in many ways it is still not. It is very easy to say (from outside the situation) that this might be "good news" and that this will "help me get better". BUT at the same time you are talking to someone who has been fighting and struggling to get well (even before we knew I had Lyme) for the last eight years (since I contracted Lyme). And the last two years have totally shattered my life - with having to move home to my parents, quit my job, give up ballroom dancing, give up a lot of independence, take a break off from school, lose opportunities to live "real life", not be able to see my friends or family as much as I would like, not live a normal life at all, etc. SO dealing with this new set of things that I have had to say "no" to... well honestly friends it has just broken my heart. 

This has just compounded a lot of feelings recently that I have been dealing with of that this is "wasted time". I said to some of my closest friends recently, "I am tired of this journey and honestly I am feeling that this is just such wasted time. How can being sick be a better part of God's plan when I feel that I am not able to "do" anything for Him better than me being healthy and able to be out in the world." I will be honest friends that I think that this is one of the lowest emotionally that I have felt in this entire journey. God is so loving to have placed such encouraging people in my life as these friends have spoken words of encouragement, blessings, and truth while crying with me.

God shouts to us in our pain... He whispers love and encouragement to the brokenhearted...

I love how the Lord has been gently whispering to my broken little heart. The Lord has been bringing Joel 2:25 to my mind over and over again in the last couple of weeks. ""And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." This verse is such a perfect verse and one that has been shouting to my little heart. The Lord promises to RESTORE to us the YEARS that the locust has stolen... So many of you friends have been struggling with things like I have for years and the Lord is promising to restore those to us. He doesn't talk about restoring minutes or days but YEARS. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and I am just clinging to Him... minute by minute... day by day...

As I move forward here in the next couple of months I am clinging to this little verse that holds so much promise. I know so many of you are praying and I would covet your prayers for these specific things:

(1) Emotionally- for the things that I have described above. 
(2) Physically- for my body to be able to handle the intensity of these upcoming months (and for strength for the side effects that I am currently experiencing!)
(3) Physically- for severe back pain- I am struggling with this again.
(4) Financially- These shots are not cheap and are not covered by insurance. Prayers for this and for donations to my "Go Fund Me Page" for our upcoming trip out to California which will be expensive are appreciated!! We are not sure where are all of the funds are going to come from but are trusting the Lord for His provision. 

Thank you so much for your understanding hearts, your countless prayers that have been prayed on my behalf, and for continuing to lift me up to God and for walking with me through this journey. For reasons that are unfathomable to me it looks like this journey is going to continue much much much longer than I ever believed it would. And while I don't have any answers I am placing my broken little heart in His hands. For He continues to whisper His love and hope of no wasted time and restoring the years... 

Each and every day. 

4/13/15

the Lyme Diaries: "Foodie" Tips (Energy & Financial Savings Ideas)

Happy Monday friends! Today I am excited to share with y'all some "foodie" tips that I hope with help those of you struggling with Lyme Disease (or maybe any illness) in regards to some energy and financial savings ideas. (If you are looking for financial tips for your health journey, I wrote an entire post on Financial Resources and Tips HERE!) Today though I wanted to share some helpful ideas that might save you some energy and time in dealing with all things food related!

Energy Saving Tips
(1) Shop at Specific Times. For different people this might mean different things, but shop at times that are good for your energy. There is nothing worse than having to tackle the grocery store after treatment on a busy holiday weekend. Shop at times that are good for you and where you won't face a lot of crowds. 

(2) Accept Help. If friends or family members have offered to help you in grocery shopping for you - take them up on their offer. (Also accept help from those in the grocery store who offer to help you carry out items to your car!!) 

(3) Order online and pick up at the store. MANY grocery stores now offer the option of placing your order online and then coming to pick it up after someone else has done the shopping for you. Some stores don't even charge a fee for doing this! This is SUCH a huge help for those of us with limited energy!! 

(4) Stick to a list. Before you go grocery shopping make a list of the items that you need and write them out in order of the way that you will shop in the store. This will save you a ton of energy and time from continuously going back and forth across the store for "one more item" that you forgot.

(5) Do the Best you Can. It is true that to save money you should buy "in season" and not purchase the cut up fruit/veggies. BUT it is also true that you may not have the energy to spend to cut up those fruits and veggies. If you truly don't have the energy to cut up a ton of things (I get it I really do!!) then spend the extra money to purchase the items that are already pre-cut. In the end your body is worth it as you choose really good items that are helping you get better!

(6) Remember that the Correct Foods Help you Fight your illness. When you are fighting an illness you often are worn down by the treatment and the endless list of things that you have to do each day. Remember that grocery shopping is an important part of your journey. I always like to remember that each food item that I am picking up is helping me fight my illness. Choose wisely and try and treasure this time as one important piece in your fight towards health!


Financial Saving Tips
(1) Use Coupons.  One easy resource for saving money is using coupons. Don't get a Sunday paper? Ask friends and family members for the coupons out of theirs. This is a simple way that they can help you and they will be happy to be able to "do something" in your journey! (Don't forget to look up online coupons also and Target's Cartwheel App!)

(2) Shop on Discount Days.  Many grocery stores offer different types of discount days. Some offer double coupon days, student discount days, or other types of discount days. Try and shop on these days to help earn extra savings!

(3) Buy only what you are going to Use. SO many people buy grocery items that they find on sale for very cheap or purchase items that they "hope/plan" to use but never really do. Be realistic with yourself and only purchase what you truly are going to use. In the long run this will save you a ton of money as you will not be throwing out items you didn't end up using before they went "bad".

(4) Contact Companies Directly for Coupons. Going along with #1, contact companies directly for additional coupons. Many people with illnesses (like myself) are on an incredibly strict diet and aren't able to freely pick and choose from a variety of options or brands. Take the time to contact the company directly for coupons- you may be delightfully surprised by what you are given!!

(5) Do the best that you can. There are times where I just can't afford to get "fresh" veggies that I would love to. Choose the next best option that you can afford. (Also understand which vegetables & fruit that you should eat organically and which ones you can choose to eat non-organically. This can also save you some money!)

(6) Purchase the "cheapest" items & treat yourself once a month to other things. In the last year my body has been healing and allowing me to eat a more healthy variety diet. I am so incredibly thankful! BUT as my body as been healing I am starting to crave certain fruits and veggies that are not always the cheapest. For example, I love wild blueberries but they are expensive. I seriously think that I could eat quarts and quarts of them everyday! BUT like I said, they are EXPENSIVE and I just can't afford to do that. So I choose other fruits that are cheaper that are in season and treat myself to a quart of wild blueberries once a month. This allows me to still enjoy what I love but not blow my entire food budget on that one item!

(7) Stock up on Foods that are on sale and you can freeze. Stock up on the items that are on sale that you could freeze or can for the future! This will definitely save you money in the long run!

(8) Get to know your Grocery Store employees. Many grocery stores start discounting items at a certain day of the week because new food trucks will be arriving the next day. Get to know the employees of the grocery store and find out the inside secrets! The employees at several of the grocery stores in my area have been so incredibly kind and helpful in this journey!

What about y'all? What are some energy and financial saving tips that you use? I would love to know!! 

4/7/15

10 Awesome Things - April Edition


Happy Tuesday Friends! Today I am excited to link up with one of my blogger friends, Anne from Love the Here Now to share 10 awesome things about April. I love this opportunity to stop and focus on the positive and good despite difficult circumstances. I am truly overwhelmed by all of the blessings that the Lord has put in my life!! So here are 10 awesome things about April!!

(1) Springtime has truly come to the South. I shared last week about the beautiful Hope that is found in Springtime
(2) I am humbled and honored that my book "Praying through Lyme Disease" has been translated into Polish! I am praying that this will be an encouragement to those who struggle with Lyme Disease in that area of the world!

(3) On that note of #2 I am excited to share later this month about a special project that I am working on for those struggling with Lyme Disease! I can't wait to share with y'all shortly!!

(4) I know so many people have been praying and wondering about my trip out to California. It has been such a blessing to be surrounded with prayer. I promise and update is coming soon!
(5) Finances are very tight and as I look to expand my treatment (and will need to take another trip out to California in the next couple of months for a longer period of time) I am so thankful for money that has been coming in through the sale of my books, my shop, my go fund me page, and my (new) weekly Instagram Sales (you can find them HERE!!) Truly each purchase is a blessing during this time!

(6) I was overwhelmed by the response to sharing about my craft room a couple of weeks ago! I am still working on returning emails!! I love how craft spaces can encourage the creativity in each of us!!
(7) I don't think that I could say it often enough. I am so thankful for my amazing parents who love me unconditionally and are walking this very long journey with me. 

(8) I have been spending more and more time in scripture recently and I have been overwhelmed by the way that the Lord has been encouraging my little heart. Truly His love endures forever (Psalm 136)!! In addition to this I am so excited to share next week a new adventure that the Lord has opened up!!

(9) This is probably going to sound so silly (especially coming from a gal who doesn't like TV!) but I am excited that the series "When Calls the Heart" comes back this month! If you haven't watched it and you love a sweet story on TV I can't recommend it enough. It is just sweet (and totally family friendly for my mama friends!).

(10) I love that each month I am seeing small steps towards healing. And speaking of steps it is exciting to share that it has taken me a long time but I am up to walking a 1/4 of a mile each day. This is a HUGE accomplishment and answer to prayer!! 
Thank you so much friends for all of your love, prayer, and support! I am truly blessed by you!! We would love to have you link up with us and share 10 Awesome things about April with us! I can't wait to read them!

4/3/15

The Hope of Springtime

These past two weeks have brought beautiful springtime weather and the reminder that Spring is truly here and winter has left us. Flowers and trees are showing buds and beginning signs of gorgeous views ahead. Many flowers and bushes are already blooming. Truly Spring reminds us of the truth that it always arrives no matter how long or dark the winter.
One of my favorite passages of scripture in this health journey comes from Song of Solomon 2:11-12: "For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come."
The beautiful knowledge and truth that Spring is an example of God bringing "new life" to all situations comforts and encourages my heart each and everyday. 
This has brought such comfort to my little heart as it has been a difficult couple of weeks. The hope and truth of these verses has encouraged this little heart of mine greatly.
I pray that as we enter into this Easter weekend that you feel the comfort and grace of our Lord meet you for each and every challenge you may be facing. May you be strengthened by the truth of Song of Solomon 2:11-12. Spring will come friends- in all areas of our lives. 

With Love,