Caravan Sonnet: October 2015

10/28/15

What's Up Wednesday (October 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 is so fun to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this each month! I missed last month because of the cruise but am so excited to be back connecting again this month with everyone! 

What We're Eating this Week... 
Well I am just going to be honest here y'all... food is difficult right now, but one thing that I still enjoy is my morning smoothie that is filled with yummy fruit and lots of probiotics. 

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
The cruise that took place almost a month ago! It was such a fun and precious time with friends that it is such a joy to reminisce about!!! I still have so many pictures to share still too! I have shared about our first day (the Port of New York City) and Portland, Maine but I can't wait to share more in the upcoming weeks!

What I'm Loving... 
Becoming a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel. Taking this job has been so incredible as I have been able to connect with so many amazing women, partner with an amazing company, share beautiful and gorgeous jewelry, and help raise awareness and funds for charities and friends who I am passionate about. It is hard to believe that Christmas is only weeks away! If you are interested in purchasing anything from the shop you can click HERE! ALL proceeds are going to help pay for my treatment! (Interested in hosting an online pop up party? Email me: caravansonnet@gmail.com - I would love to work with you!!)

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this month "Nic the PICC" joined my life and I am now embarking on the next serious round of treatment. 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. Unfortunately while we were in California we discovered that Lyme has been attacking another part of my body that has decided to cause some serious issues. I continue to appreciate prayers for this specific issue to be resolved, and for complete healing. 

What I'm Dreading... 
Let's be honest... there was a reason that I didn't become a nurse- the infusions, the care for "Nic the PICC", the IV's ... it is a little overwhelming... and extremely expensive. Even with insurance we are looking at paying approximately $2500 a month for my treatment. It is overwhelming and has caused a ton of tears and stress these past couple of weeks. I appreciate your prayers for all of this!

What I'm Working on... 
A couple of exciting surprises that I will be sharing in the next few weeks! I can't wait to share with y'all!!

What I'm Excited About... 
Final Details for this book which will be released on November 15th!! You can read more about it HERE!!

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
A couple of weeks ago I shared about the top 5 books that have impacted my life the most. In that post I shared about an author, Robin Jones Gunn who has written several series that I have loved and I finally was able to read her latest book "One More Wish" last week while I was in California. I have shared this before but I was 13 years old when I was handed my first of many books I would fall in love with from Robin Jones Gunn and haven't stopped reading them over the last 22 years. I have read, re-read, and re-read a thousand times the adventures of Robin's characters while I have been encouraged in my faith and strengthened and challenged to return to scripture. I welled up with tears many times throughout this book as I was gently and lovingly encouraged to remember that "God's timing is flawless". Absolutely wonderful. 

No matter your age- whether you are 13 years old to your early thirties (and beyond) you will love these books. Throughout the last few years of my health journey I have re-read these series and books thousands (literally!!) of times, have handed out countless copies to people on airplanes, in hospitals, and even once in a grocery store line. The beautiful way that Robin writes mimics the beautiful way that the Lord calls people to Himself- with lots of love, lots of grace, and lots of beauty. 

What I'm Listening to... 
I shared this a couple of weeks ago but if you haven't had the chance to listen to this beautiful song, "Jesus I am resting" yet, take the three minutes and do it right now. I promise you will be incredibly blessed! (Want to find out more about the Wissmann Family and check out more of their music? You can find their website HERE!)

What I'm Wearing... 
This scarf by Jacob's Scarves is pretty much worn every single day. It is incredibly soft, huge so you can wrap yourself into it, and just wonderful. Y'all know how much I love the mission of Jacob's Scarves. You can find their website HERE!

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
We will be one month done with this treatment (PRAISE THE LORD!!) round and one month closer to healing!! ALSO... the holidays are quickly approaching... even though they look different during this time of sickness I am still looking forward to celebrating the true meaning of the holidays!!

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

10/27/15

Top Five Travel Destinations for Healthy Food Lovers

One of the best ways to travel is to literally eat your way around the world. From the spices of Asia to the oil drenched veggies of the Mediterranean, there are so many healthy cuisines out there with so many delicious meals to offer. So if you're feeling a bit peckish and have a case of wanderlust, get yourself booked on a last minute holiday to one of these sumptuous destinations.

Italy

Famous for its pasta, pizza and gelato, Italy is guilty as charged for loading visitors with carbs, creams and cheese. However, it also uses fresh ingredients like seafood and Mediterranean vegetables for those much needed vitamins and good oils. A simple snack of juicy tomatoes and mozzarella is given a boost with fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Grilled calamari is also a favourite, with a light seasoning of olive oil, lemon and parsley, served with grilled veggies like peppers. Hungry for a bolognese? Opt for a spaghetti al pomodoro that only uses fresh tomatoes and herbs in its sauce. 

Barbados
If you needed any more reason to head out to Barbados, the Caribbean diet might just convince you. Make the most of tropical fruit offerings like passionfruit, papaya, fig, mango and melon - they make for the best fruit salad ever. Breadfruit is also used a lot in Barbados and trees can be spotted around the island. Flying fish sandwiches are the nation's signature snack and although they're a little bit naughty (deep fried with salt and pepper) you have to try one. Rice and peas is another traditional dish, giving you a nice blend of carbs and vegetables.

Japan
Images by Paul Miller used under Creative Commons License.
It's all about noodles and rice in Japan but these are usually served with crunchy vegetables, meat or omega-3 rich fish. They also tend to serve small portions, so you're not at risk of overeating! You might even want to swap your meat for a healthier alternative, tofu. Sushi is an obvious choice and so it should be - it comes in all varieties that taste light yet filling. Go for crispy salmon rolls, tuna avocado rolls or vegetarian rolls. More good Japanese food choices include edamame rice, miso soup and green tea ice cream.

Morocco
Moroccan food is full of flavour and you'll find the street food just as impressive as the restaurant dishes. Chickpeas are ubiquitous in Moroccan cooking, used in falafels, humous and mezes - they are also a great source of protein. Dried fruits are also used a lot in both savoury and sweet dishes, full of vitamin A and magnesium.  More ingredients commonly used include digestive aiding ginger, the antioxidant tumeric and iron building cumin. Mixing health foods with such rich flavourings mean that you won't even realise how healthy you're being.

Scandinavia
This lovely part of the world is known for its simple but nutritious and delicious cuisine. They like to use a lot of fish with good oils, rye bread and root vegetables. Try an artichoke and rye salad, elderflower fritters or red herring with oats. More popular choices include mackerel burger with cheese, creamed cod with garlic and Swedish meatballs. The Scandinavian diet is the secret behind why the locals look so good.
Before setting off on your foodie adventure, make sure that you have packed your appetite - you're going to need it. 
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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog and beliefs of my blog. 

10/25/15

the tenth anniversary

If you read my October 25th post from last year or you know me well you know that October 25th is a very special day to me. It holds incredible meaning and significance as ten years ago I had a life-changing surgery that change the course of my life and this was the day that the Lord healed me after doctors told me that there was "nothing" that they could do. (You can read more of my story with my battle with Endometriosis HERE!)

I shared last year the different ways I have celebrated this anniversary over the years. While some of these days and moments have been photographed over the years, many of them have not. The moments that my mind remembers today of precious moments of telling my story to my students over the years as I testified about the Lord's mighty healing power, the laughter between family and friends, the precious phone calls and texts from friends who prayed for the miracle to happen and never stopped believing, my sister calling to celebrate with me, long walks thanking the Lord on year two, and the quiet celebration in my heart every time I see the calendar approaching this special day when doctors said there was "no hope" and yet the Lord spoke differently. 

As I think about year ten today I have so many mixed emotions. Emotions of extreme gratitude and humble thankfulness and tears at the Lord's mighty healing power. I also admit that like last year, I have tearful behind-the-scenes prayers of, "why aren't you healing the same way this time Lord?". It is a question that I think so many people have asked behind the scenes (and some of the brave have cried with me). 

I recently received an email from the same reader that I shared about last year. This reader wanted to know if my response to their question last year would be any different another year later. (You can read the original question and response HERE.)

As I told this reader, it's really not. Instead I am learning in new ways to walk in the trust that "and if not He is still good". I shared this on instagram earlier this summer, but I used to say this phrase so easily that it practically just rolled off my lips. Did I mean it? Absolutely. But then very hard things in life occur and sometimes you are forced to reevaluate what you used to say so easily...and sometimes someone asks you if you still believe despite those circumstances. I weep for this reader because as we have communicated I have learned of the heartbreak situation surrounding these question in this individuals life and I wish I was well enough to travel and say face to face what my heart is screaming. Yes, absolutely yes!! Circumstances, if we let them can be refining windows into our hearts shining a light on what we believe. The "and if not" parts of life...even if I am never healed, never see my dreams come true, or if the secret longings that are deep inside of me never happen ...it is okay. It doesn't change His goodness.

 I promise, readers that despite any circumstances God's goodness is NOT changed. I can attest in new ways and in more marvelous ways then I could years ago. And as I celebrate this 10th anniversary I am brought to my knees by God's goodness. His faithfulness astounds me and His mercies meet each new day. The hard and difficult don't change who He is. I promise...no matter the "and if not"...He is still good...so very good.

Surrendering to God's goodness comes the opportunity to fall more in love with Jesus and who He is and what the Bible states and promises. NOT what I want it to state or promise but what it actually states and promises. And the ten year anniversary is incredibly significant to me.

Did you know that the number ten is very important in the Bible? In the Bible the number 10 is used 242 different times. The word "10th" is used 79 different times. Ten is also viewed as a complete and perfect number. There are major events that deal with the #10 in the Bible including, the 10 Commandments (seen in the book of Exodus), the 10 Elders that were placed at the city gates (seen in the book of Ruth), the phrase "God said" is used 10 times in the book of Genesis, the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed on the 10th day (Exodus 12:3), the day of atonement was on the 10th day, there were 10 generations until Noah (who was saved from the flood) and then Abraham was the 10th generation from Shem, Noah's son, the tithe that the Israelites gave was 10%, Jesus loved using the number 10 in His parables (10 virgins, 10 lepers, 10 talents, etc.), and there are exactly 10 "I Am's" spoken by Jesus in the gospels.

*smiles* Okay, so you might be asking what do those three things have to do with me celebrating my ten year anniversary and why are they significant to me? 

First, scripture has never been shy about speaking about disease OR Jesus' healing diseases. BUT scripture has also showed that sometimes (due to the fact that we live in a fallen and sinful world) disease does exist and healing sometimes happens later than we expect it or in Heaven. (This does not mean that Jesus is not all powerful in fact the exact opposite!)

Second, our all powerful God shows His complete power by being the passover lamb and the day of atonement happened on the 10th day. In this act of unmeasurable love we not only are given the opportunity to accept Jesus as our Lord and be saved but on the cross Jesus conquered EVERYTHING. Including illness. EVERYTHING was conquered on the cross. 

Third, Jesus has stated 10 times very significantly who HE is through His 10 I Am's. Knowing this I have a choice to make... every single day... I can choose to act in faith and trust the Lord completely or I can respond to my circumstances sinfully and grow bitter and angry at the ways of the Lord. 

There is absolutely no question in my mind of my choice. 

Even on the days that I feel discouraged I choose to run to my precious Heavenly Father and lay everything at His feet. And friends, as I spend more time with the Lord and continue to run to Him with all of my questions, fears, disappointments, hurts, and every other emotion He lovingly speaks to my hurting heart. And I am reminded on this tenth anniversary of His incredible grace, His good gifts, His undeserving ways, and the gift of love that He gives. 

And the best gift of all? Is the gift that the 10th hour reminds me that Jesus' fulfilled it ALL on the cross...  all of the questions, fears, and every other emotion by His work on the cross. And in that there is incredible hope. Hope of a future that the Lord has in store... Hope of beautiful healing here on earth or in Heaven... Hope of living joyfully despite difficult circumstances... Hope of a loving God who loves us abundantly... and Hope of celebrating another ten year healing in the future...

healing from Lyme Disease. 

10/24/15

Notes From the Porch (Forty-Three): a humble thank you

"...do 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 this past week! We arrived home yesterday evening and I quickly collapsed ready for sleep after this incredibly difficult and intense week. 


As I look back and reflect on the time in California I am humbly grateful. When I left for California I was extremely nervous and scared and very fearful as the two weeks since returning from the cruise have been the most difficult in the entire journey.  In addition to having to go to the hospital, I spent the entire time 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 this past week as a wonderful blessing in reminding me that God is carrying me throughout this journey. 

I won't lie that there were a ton of moments with tears and frustrations, but the Lord mercifully provided amazing nurses, my wonderful doctor and medical team to walk me through each step of this journey. The week was intensely busy as soon as the PICC line was placed (which we did on our first day in California) as we had a ton of doctors appointments  and 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 one of the IV's or to receive an IV, and 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. 

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 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 fall and early winter 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. A very special thank you to my amazing sister who took a second job to help raise funds for this trip- I am completely speechless at this!

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. I have to say a very special thank you to Jen and Katie who honestly reminded me in tangible ways of the Lord's love not just in this week but the last three weeks. Both of you have encouraged my heart, listened to me cry and wept with me, and lovingly reminded me to hope in the Lord. Thank you friends for understanding how difficult these weeks have been and standing by me in my hour of deep need.

 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.
My doctor was right in so many ways and as I left on Friday 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!

With Love, 

10/17/15

prayers for this week

"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 quickly slip by tomorrows date approach I have to admit that I have become a little anxious.These past couple of weeks have been so incredibly difficult that instead of bravery I have been struggling with some 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 and tomorrow will arrive. These days that call 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 yesterday I had to go to the hospital because I have been unable to keep food and liquids in me. We believe this is simply due to a reaction from the precursor cocktail but these past two weeks (plus the cruise) have completely worn my body out so I am anxious and nervous about our long travel tomorrow to California and for the upcoming days and I would definitely appreciate prayers. I truly have never felt so weak and am so grateful that the Lord is our complete strength. I also am continuing to struggle with intense pain in one area and would appreciate prayers for this also. I ask for prayers for peace, for strength for the days ahead (not just for these antibiotics, but for strength to finish packing 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. On Monday I will have the PICC line inserted (which will be a little complicated due to my difficulty with handling anethesia) and Tuesday will begin the IV treatment after meeting with my medical team. 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 two weeks 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, 

10/14/15

Portland, Maine

On our 2nd full day of cruising we arrived in Portland, Maine. I had done a ton of research before the cruise and my sweet friend Michelle and I decided to choose an excursion to participate in when we docked in Portland. Since we had gone with Carnival Cruises we ended up choosing one of their excursions entitled "Best of Portland and Kennebunkport" which was an approximately five hour excursion. We purchased the excursion ahead of the cruise (which saved us some money) and it cost us $65. Honestly I can't recommend this excursion enough!! Our tour guide was fantastic, the bus was extremely comfortable, and I felt that in addition to seeing a lot of Portland, we also were able to see other beautiful parts of Maine. We spent time at the gorgeous Portland Head Light House (which I will be sharing soon!), saw some different parts of Maine through the travel to Kennebunkport, and spend time in Kennebunkport (which is absolutely adorable!). This excursion definitely made me walk away wanting to spend more time in Maine and visit this sweet area of the country again!

Today I wanted to share with you some pictures of Portland, Maine and some of the lovely parts of this city that we were able to see!

Our tour started at 11:30am and we were incredibly excited to get off the ship to start our tour!
As we drove throughout Portland we actually could see our ship in the distance!
The old ship captain's houses that are in Portland and the surrounding area are so pretty!
Even in the clouds Portland, Maine was gorgeous! It is definitely a place I would love to return to to spend more time!
Have y'all visited Portland before? If not, I definitely recommend adding it to your list of "must see" travel places! You won't regret it!

10/13/15

Cruising 2015: Port of New York City

It's hard to believe that it was just two short weeks ago that this adventure began! There are so many AMAZING details that God did on this trip that I am still processing and will share in the near future but am also anxious to share with y'all lots of pictures from this amazing week, and ways that your faithful prayers were answered. It would be an understatement to say that this week was literally a MIRACLE from the Lord and I am confident that this was simply the answer to hundreds and hundreds of you that have been praying on my behalf! THANK YOU so much for all of your prayers last week and for all of your prayers that you pray every single day for my health. Slowly, Surely, Steadily (Habakkuk 2:3) the Lord is healing each day and this week away was just what the doctor ordered. 

The trip began on an early Saturday morning with my dad driving me to New York City to meet Michelle at the airport. Like I had expressed before the cruise, this trip was truly a LEAP of faith for me as I had not been away from my parents or family (and a medical team I was familiar with) for over a year and a half. The thought of stepping out and leaving them, traveling on a cruise ship, and heading into Canada was very overwhelming for me, especially in light of some difficult days leading up to the trip. I share this only so that you can see through the next several days the countless prayers that were answered throughout this special trip! But as we left early in the morning the Lord blessed me with complete peace and excitement about this trip. 

We arrived in New York City early, experienced no traffic, and I had the sweetest time with my dad for those 5 hours to the City. It was such a blessing! In a quick amount of time we met up with Michelle and the next day we got ready for the cruise!! We were so excited to be heading to the cruise and were asking people to pray specifically that there wouldn't be any issues with boarding with all of my medical shots, medical supplies, etc. 
We arrived for the security check-in, had a porter show up and take all of our luggage, had absolutely NO issues (Praise God!) and because we had been given "priority check in" we were able to by pass all of the lines and were taken to an air-conditioned suite where we were able to wait (sitting down) for our paperwork to be processed. 
We are so excited to get on the boat!
The Priority Check-in was incredibly relaxing and we were able to get on the boat very quickly where we then headed to our room and our luggage showed up within the first 10 minutes! 
We had a few minutes and so we enjoyed hanging out on our balcony, praising God for His mercy in our quick check in and the way that He provided for us in so many ways in the first hour of the cruise! The view from our balcony was lovely and allowed us to see some more of New York City!
As the ship started to leave the Port of New York City we had a wonderful time admiring the city skyline and seeing the Statue of Liberty! What a lovely blessing this first day was!!
Even in the clouds the Statue of Liberty looked beautiful!

10/12/15

Jesus, I am Resting

As most of y'all know, "Jesus, I am Resting" has been one of my favorite hymns for as long as I can remember and especially throughout these past couple of years. This version of it has been a particular blessing and has been played countless times, cried through, and prayed through numerous times each day. This music video is absolutely beautiful - I am sure that y'all will be as blessed as I have been! Thank you so much to the lovely Wissmann Family for this gorgeous rendition of this song that is such a blessing to so many, myself included!

You can find the music video by clicking HERE!

Happy Monday sweet friends! May you be blessed abundantly this week!
With Love,

10/9/15

a quick update


Dear friends, I so appreciate y'alls patience and kindness as I have been taking a couple of weeks away from the blog and am working on getting an update together from the cruise that so many of you were praying for. I do not take it lightly that there are so many of you that have prayed numerous prayers, spent hours upon hours laboring on your knees for me, or that you daily are begging the Lord for complete healing. You are SUCH a blessing in this long journey. I appreciate more than words can express your kind patience as I worked through returning to "real life" after the cruise, the beginning of the "precursor round to treatment #2", a very very difficult reaction with my health from being gone for a week, moving to my grandmothers house, and many other difficulties behind the scenes. Several of you have commented that this has probably been one of the most stressful and difficult weeks of this journey for me and I admit that it has been filled with many tears and pain and so I appreciate your kindness in the midst of this difficult time. Thank you for your gracious love in this journey.

I know specifically so many of you are curious about how my health held out on the cruise. I am so humbled to share that the Lord truly answered all of your prayers as there were no "major" issues. There were some minor ones and my body is exhausted, but it was a beautiful gift to my heart and truly was a time of "refreshing" for my spirit. 

As I returned home to continue this fight I felt encouraged and strengthened to face a set of unknown months. This first week back has been difficult and I am not going to belabor for all of the details but I would specifically ask for prayers against pain and sickness as this week has consisted of this completely which has been difficult and discouraging. 

 I am reminded that we are gently and lovingly carried by the Lord and met with grace for each day (Psalm 68:19). So today there is a mixture of hard and good. Tears and rejoicing. Struggling and trusting. And knowing that my pain and discouragement will be preciously and tenderly met by the God of love that bids me to trust Him in new ways. 

As we continue to finish up this "precursor round" of treatment before heading out to California, our specific prayer request for the beginning of the PICC line treatment is still the same - that I would be able to handle the first round of trial drugs with no severe reaction. We might have to try different meds to figure out which is the best and this for me is of great concern and I appreciate your faithful prayers. I also appreciate your continued prayers for all of the financial means to come in for this trip.

Words can't express how grateful I am for all of your kind support and love during this time. Thank you again for all of your support, love, and prayers. You are a blessing!

With Love,