Caravan Sonnet: January 2016


Branson Altered City Journal

Happy Saturday sweet friends! I hope that you are having a lovely weekend! 
I am so excited to share with y'all today a custom gift from a couple of weeks ago! This Branson Altered City Journal was a delight to create!
As I have mentioned before here on the blog, some of my favorite items to create in the shop are the "altered travel journals". There are different options available including, the altered city travel journal, the altered state travel journal,the  altered country travel journal, and the  altered 1,000 Places to See Before you Die Altered travel journal
A couple of months ago I wanted to send a gift to my dear friends, the Wissmann Family as they were spending several weeks performing their Christmas show in Branson. (This is a yearly thing that they do and I highly encourage y'all to attend if you live nearby or can travel to Branson! You can keep up to date on their schedule by clicking HERE!)
I loved the opportunity to weave in the altered city journal with the Christmas theme which is something different then I had done before! 
It was a delight to create an altered city journal for my dear friends and to pray for them as I spent time adding embellishments and praying that the Lord would bless their ministry.
Altered City Journals are so much fun to make! If you are interested in a altered journal or a custom order feel free to check out my shop or email me for details! 
Happy Saturday friends! I hope you have a wonderful day and weekend!


Birthday Sign (May Arts Ribbon and Stampendous Blog Hop)

Happy Thursday y'all! I hope that you are having a wonderful week! 
Today I am so excited to share with y'all this blog hop that is going on! Y'all know how much I love May Arts because it is talked about so much here on the blog and all of the time on my instagram! Well today I am so excited to be apart of this blog hop that showcases both May Arts and Stampendous!
 I honestly love all of the ribbon from May Arts (and the amazing Ribbon Resource store)! There are so many different textures, styles, colors, and products that you will quickly fall in love with! 
For today's blog hop we showcasing our creations with both the May Arts Ribbon and the Stampendous stamps that we received. I wanted to create a birthday sign for my precious grandmother (whom I call "Ba" as a nickname) as her birthday is next month! 
I love the colors, the sayings of the stamps (and the lovely and elegant lady stamp with the suit!) and the way that the ribbon brings everything together! I love all of the different ribbon that May Arts has to offer there is truly a wide range of availability and all different options. 
The following is a list of the ribbon that I chose (and the approximate amount of each):

Interested in buying some of these ribbons that I have mentioned? S0me of them are on sale right now so stop on by to check that out by going to the Ribbon Resource online shop and if you would like to see all of the blogs involved in the hop today here is a complete list:

Rebecca VanDeMark  <--- you are here

Happy Thursday y'all! 


What's Up Wednesday (January 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!

What We're Eating this Week... 
After so many years of having stomach issues due to Lyme Disease I am so excited to be eating a more "well-rounded" diet, specifically in regards to raw vegetables. I shared on instagram over a year ago that there was a point in this journey that I had a GI specialist share that "there was nothing more that he could do, I would never get healthy or be able to eat raw food again and that I should accept my lot". For days, weeks, and years I stared out my bedroom window wondering if his words were true and yet begging the Lord for healing. And slowly SLOWLY SLOWLY I started to heal and am still slowly healing but am now able to eat raw foods, including my 6 cups of greens (literally) that I eat everyday to help my body full heal. Healing takes place one day at a time in the small and big steps and every time I look at raw food I remember how far the Lord has brought me.

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
In the midst of this snowy winter we are experiencing in the south I am remembering with fondness the cruise to the Caribbean a couple of years ago, especially the day at Coco Cay!

What I'm Loving... 
Having enough energy to be creating for my shop again! I love being creative so this has been an incredible blessing to have the energy to be "back at it"! I am also a little in love with all of the different Valentine's Day Buntings that are now in the shop! (You can find my shop HERE!)

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this month "Nic the PICC"  had his "3 month birthday" and we are rejoicing in his health. Days are filled with treatments, IV's, (yes, lots of sickness) but we are pressing forward #onedayatatime. I continue to appreciate all of your prayers! 

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 paying LOTS each 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... 
Lots and lots of new items for the shop and 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... 
Some exciting new projects that I can't wait to share with y'all in the upcoming days and weeks ahead!

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
A couple of months 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 loved and just re-read her latest book "One More Wish" this past week week. 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 several months 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... 
These red boots from Joules (that were a gift!) I wear pretty much They are amazingly comfortable, I love the pop of red color, are great with skinny jeans, and are great for the winter weather! 

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
We will be one month done with my new treatment meds (PRAISE THE LORD!!) and one month closer to healing!! 

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


Blogging Advice: Three Years Later...

Happy Monday friends! It is hard to believe that Thursday marked THREE years of writing in this little space on the internet! What a blessing each of you have been as you have walked this part of my journey with me! In many ways (as I have expressed in many posts) this little space has been a blessing as I have learned so much about myself, life, and God as I have written here. Thank you so much for your sweet support through the difficult days and your love and excitement through the milestones and joys of this journey. 

Over the last several months I have received many emails asking me for "blogging advice". I am so humbled and honored and while I don't feel that I am an expert at all I thought I would take the time on this "three year anniversary" to share some thoughts and tips. I hope that it helps! Thank you again to all of my readers for taking the time to read this little space on the internet! I pray that you leave here encouraged to grow in your relationship with the Lord, that you are inspired to live life fully and beautifully, and that you leave here inspired to take the time to delight in the beauty of ordinary days. 

(P.S. If you are looking for past "blogging advice" I have written the following posts about the subject this past year: Six Tips to Help Your Blog Make and Impact and a Difference in this World,  Six Ways to Stop the Comparison Game and Love Your Blog, and the 12 Unwritten and Important Etiquette Rules of Blogging. There are also former posts that I wrote over the years on blogging advice that might be of help if you are interested: Tips from the three month newbiethe six month newbie, the nine month newbie, blogging 1 year later and blogging advice: two years later.)

Thank you again y'all for reading this little space! I love connecting with y'all! 
 You are wonderful!
1. Write for you
I have shared this so many times, but it truly the simplest yet most profound pieces of wisdom that I can offer any blogger. Write about what you are passionate about, what you are processing, what you are struggling with, what makes you cry and laugh, and share your heart with the world. So MANY bloggers that I knew at the beginning of this journey that were writing and now don't told me that they simply got burned out because they tried to fit into a "mold" to get a following. Write for you and I promise that while you may hit "writers block" or feel like you have nothing to say, you will not feel burned out and you will not feel that you have to compare your blog to someone else's. 

Listen... as a writer and an artist I can tell you that there is always going to be someone that can write better, take better photos, is funnier, smarter, etc, etc, etc. If you spend all of your energy on comparing yourself to someone else instead of sharing your story and your blog we as your readers will miss out on an incredible opportunity. Your story matters. Your blog matters. Write for you. 

2. Define Your Goals & Develop and Re-evaluate Your Mission Statement
So often I hear bloggers say, "I want my blog to have an impact" or "I want my blog to make a difference" but we don't define and really narrow down what our goals are with our blogs. What are your goals? In what arena do you want your blog to make a difference? Do you want to be known as "the best" in your niche? Do you want to make an impact for a charity that you are passionate about? Do you want to become an author? Do you want to use your blog as a stepping stone for a shop or business? Do you want to become a full time blogger? What are your goals? Defining your goals will help you see and plan how you want your blog to make a difference and an impact in the world.
I have shared this a couple of times over this past year, but I can't recommend enough having a "mission statement" for your blog if you want to develop your blog and make an impact. The mission statement to me is almost a part "b" to defining your goals. First you have the goals and then you need the mission statement. Your mission statement may change and morph as the years go on and your blog develops more and more. Take the time to let your mission statement grow and morph with you as a person and this will flow over into the course of your blog. 

 For me, Caravan Sonnet, only posts blog posts that "strive to encourage people to grow in their relationship with the Lord, inspire people to live life fully and beautifully, and posts that would encourage others to take the time to delight in the beauty of ordinary days". Under this I have decided that the topics that I post about will be about health, scripture, travel photography, my writing, and my shop. This mission statement has helped me make the decision of what I will and won't do in bloggy world. Its made it incredibly easy to turn down certain offers and collaborations and opened the doors to lasting friendships and a blog that I know I would want to read forty years down the road. 

3.Write. Write. Write. Write some more
One of the biggest pieces of blogging is to recognize a key component: writing. Let's be honest: maintaining a blog is a lot of work. You need to be thinking about the daily component of responsibilities, plus your weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. But everything comes down to writing and sharing your heart. Writing and crafting your words takes time- a lot of time and the best way to become a better writer is to keep writing. 

4. Find a Balance...
My fourth biggest advice is to find a balance and a schedule that works for you and is realistic. One of the biggest pitfalls that I see with new bloggers is that they try to have a quality post every single day. While I think in the first few months of blogging that is more of a possibility (since you are newly writing and sharing your ideas for the first time) it is simply not realistic as time goes on. I knew one blogger who was quite "big" in bloggy world when I first started that sometimes posted two or three times a day(!) and yes, sadly, burned out.  Unless your blog is your full time business and full time job it is not possible to hold a schedule like that for the long run. 

Look, I am an author and am currently writing books full-time in addition to life demands and other responsibilities. But realistically as I headed into year two of this blog I knew that I needed to come up with a blog schedule that was practical and worked for the long-term. I have found posting on Monday (typically about relationships and singleness), Tuesday (travel or personal updates), Thursday (health tips), Friday (optional- shop info or personal), and Saturday (shop info) works best for me. This leaves me a couple of days in the week to focus on responding genuinely to blog comments, connecting with other bloggers, and still allows me to fit in the demands of my writing and speaking career plus  my treatment schedule, writing schedule, and shop demands without sacrificing my personal relationships. Find what works for you and find a balance.

5. Build a Genuine Community and don't try to "fit in" Where You Are not Welcome. 
I have received so many emails from bloggers who feel "left out" in blogging world. Honestly for as much as I read about building community in bloggy world, I receive triple the amount of emails from ladies who are hurt because they can't seem to "fit in". Honestly, trying to fit in can sometimes feel like an episode of mean girls. Let's be honest. I have had this happen to me so many times in bloggy world where I have approached some "well known" bloggers (they might not even be "big" but are "well-known" within a certain group) and tried to collaborate with them for certain projects or just to connect on a deeper level. Y'all, I have been told everything in the books: "I would love to, but your not married" or "Your social media following is not big enough" or "You just don't have artistic talent" or "Your blog is too small for my following" or my "favorite one": "Your following is just not big enough to have an impact for Jesus"... and the list goes on and on and on. 

A couple of years ago this saying went around bloggy world and there is a ring of truth to it- hahaha!

Yes, there have been a few tears behind the scenes, but instead of trying to fit in where we are not welcome and compare ourselves to a certain "bloggy standard" (that the rest of the world who is not blogging doesn't understand!) lets focus on our lives, our blogs, our friendships, and our dreams for our websites. Don't take it personally (yes, it hurts) but instead move on and create your own welcoming circle of encouraging each other in this crazy process. 

6. Limit Social Media
I shared this tip this summer and I am giggling as I write this because I received some truly awful "hate emails" from some bloggers that were stunned that I would even suggest to limit social media. But y'all the statistics are staggering and so I want to share this again as one of my tips: In 2014 there was a study released that said that people were spending an average of 21 minutes a day on instagram in addition to the time spent on other social media outlets. (Lets be honest depending on the age range that you fall into it could be more or less.) The study went on to conclude that people were spending an average of 2 to 3 hours on combined social media outlets.
Another study being performed currently shows that in one year researchers are expecting these numbers to triple. Y'all, I am going to suggest that part of the issue with dealing with comparing our lives to others is the amount of precious time we give to social media.

Look, I love social media, especially with fighting for my health right now because it allows me to connect with others outside my home, book speaking engagements, run an etsy shop from my home, promote my books that I have authored, allows me to stay connected with friends and loved ones, and gives me the opportunity to make new friends. I DEFINITELY believe that you can have a healthy balance with using social media. I truly do. I also believe that social media can be a wonderful tool for sharing the gospel and encouraging others. BUT, I am the first one to say that I am very very purposeful with how I spend my time in regards to social media. Because I treat my blog (and its components - which social media is one) as a business, I schedule the amount of time that I am on my social media sites. At first I would time myself with this area to get into a habit and not it is just second nature. I really suggest in my blog tips and advice organizing time each week (not each day) on various social media sites, I also highly recommend limiting the amount of social media sites you are on. 

I received so many hateful and critical emails from bloggers telling me that they "can do it all". That is great. I am truly not being sarcastic, but I just do not see how it is possible to be on a million social media sites all of the time?!? I mean how do you have time for work, for your friendships and relationships in person, and time with the Lord? Instead of spending hours looking at how great someone else's life "supposedly is" build into your own life and blog. (P.S. My dear friend Katie has an amazing post on social media that you should check out HERE!)

7. Don't Worry About Not Having the Financial Resources to Make Your Blog "Successful"
One of the biggest ways that bloggers spend time comparing themselves is in the ability of some bloggers to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a blog. Most of us do not have that kind of money to spend. From instagram loop giveaways to giveaways on blogs to sponsorships to blog classes to photo editing software to website design to blog conferences to you name it the list goes on and on. Recent studies are showing that many bloggers spend upwards of $5 to $20 thousand dollars a year!!

Y'all if you have that kind of money to spend on your blog that is fine, but for most people that is just not a reality. For me it is absolutely not a reality. Honestly there was a giveaway opportunity that I just had an opportunity to be apart of and the buy in was $2 and I had to turn it down as I am fundraising for medical treatment this yearYes, I turned down a $2 buy in, because for me right now that is what I have to do. Maybe you are in a similar situation. You read about all of these things that bloggers are doing and spending money on and you wonder if your blog can ever be important if you don't have the financial resources your blog won't be successful. You spend time researching and comparing all of the amazing opportunities other bloggers have because they appear to have more financial capability. 

Stop Worrying. 

I promise that even without all of the things I listed above people are doing your blog can and will have a influence and be successful. If you feel like you want to utilize finances towards your blog why not create a 12 month or 18 month plan to save to get to the conference you want to or to purchase the photo editing software you want? No matter what friends, your blog can have an impact. Don't compare yourself to what someone else can spend, instead continue to develop your blog at your own pace and at a financial budget for you.

 8. Understand the 12 Unwritten and Important Etiquette Rules of Blogging
I wrote this post several months ago and it is truly applicable for blogging advice! You can find it HERE!

9. Realize when to say "goodbye". 
I shared this in my "two year blogging advice" post and this year I have seen the importance of this in new ways. This was one of the more difficult lessons to learn in bloggy world- realizing when it is time to say "goodbye". I don't mean "goodbye" to blogging (although I do think different seasons and times call for this) but I mean goodbye to connections and collaborations that don't fit with your mission or who you are. Because of my personality and loving people it was a hard lesson for me to learn that sometimes in blogging world people "show their spots" later on. 

Several years ago (a few months after I started blogging) there were a couple of well known bloggers who were Christians that started "bad mouthing" each other on social media. (To this day I still don't know what started everything.) If you were blogging then and involved in the least little bit with social media you probably know what I am talking about. It was ridiculous. Names were called, people chose sides, and honestly the whole thing was so sad. I will never forget though what another blogger (who wasn't a Christian) said to me at the time though. "It usually takes longer, because people hide behind a "pretty blog" but a persons true colors and character will always come out.". This has stuck with me through many months and now years of blogging as I have sadly seen this to be true. 

I have been shocked by bloggers who claim to be Christians and speak of God, Christian values, and loving others and then behind the scenes have sent hurtful emails, written very judgmental comments, and been critical over silly and petty things. I have seen Christians not wanting to help other bloggers because of petty jealous and an the assumption that giving help will diminish their personal "following". The reality is that, just like in real life, blogging is dealing with other people. My greatest advice is to live in forgiveness and realize when it is time to say "goodbye" and move forward following the Lord. 

10. Realize those bloggers who genuinely live out their faith. 
On the complete flip side of #10 has been the absolute blessing of connecting with other ladies who love the Lord passionately not just "on their blog" but behind the scenes. These ladies have consistently been an encouragement to me in their writings and behind the scenes and have selflessly helped me and countless others in bloggy world. Whether it has been an encouraging word or shared tears, or sweet emails and lots of prayers, or simply helping out with answering a thousand bloggy questions these ladies are the "real deal". We are all at different "phases" but their genuine love for the Lord covers all circumstances and has provided beautiful friendships. I truly look up to each and every one of these ladies and respect them. If you are looking for amazing bloggers who live out their faith and practice what they write I can't recommend enough these ladies: Katie from Always, Katie,  Amanda from Marshalls Abroad, and Erin from Its Erin Morris.

My final advice is to enjoy the process and journey of this blogging world. Just as we grow and evolve as humans in our personal lives I have noticed the blog shift and change and morph into more of "me". I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for year four of this little space! Thank you so much for your kindness, encouragement, and love this past year! I look forward to connecting in deeper ways with y'all over this next year! Happy Three year Blogiversary! 

 Thank you again for living life with me this year! 
With lots of love, 


Exciting New Items Available at December Caravan

It has been such an exciting and busy time for me with my little shop!! December Caravan has been seeing such an increase in orders every single day and I am so thankful to each of you who have been supporting my shop with your orders! What a blessing you are!!
I am so excited to share with y'all a few pictures of some of the new scripture bunting that is available in the shop! There are lots of new designs and some are perfect for the Valentine's Day season! This is not a complete listing of items so head on over to the shop to see them all but here are a few of my favorites! 
Ephesians 5:1 Mini Scripture Bunting
I Corinthians 13:4 Mini Scripture Bunting
I Corinthians 16:4 Mini Scripture Bunting
I John 4:19 Mini Scripture Bunting

Proverbs 10:12 Mini Scripture Bunting 
Song of Songs 8:7 Mini Scripture Bunting 
Colossians 3:14 Mini Scripture Bunting
I Corinthians 16:4 Mini Scripture Bunting
There are also new mini scripture buntingsregular sized scripture buntings, and new inspirational buntings that been added to the shop that are not only perfect for Valentine's Day but also throughout the year!

Thank you so much for your continued support of my shop! As a small thank you please use the coupon code "thanks" to receive 10% off your purchase this weekend! Happy Friday friends!


12 Things to Pray for Someone Struggling with a Chronic Health Condition

Hello! Thank you so much for your interest in reading the 12 Things to pray for Someone struggling with a Chronic Health Condition! The 12 Things to Pray EBook is now available on Amazon! You can find it HERE


Valentine's Day Card (May Arts and Cardmaker Magazine Blog Hop)

Happy Saturday y'all! I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend! A very special welcome to all y'all who are hopping on over from Lisa's Blog!

Today I am so excited to share with y'all this blog hop that is going on! Y'all know how much I love May Arts because it is talked about so much here on the blog and all of the time on my instagram! Well today I am so excited to be apart of this blog hop that showcases both May Arts and CardMaker Magazine (one of my absolute favorite magazines!)!!
 I honestly love all of the ribbon from May Arts (and the amazing Ribbon Resource store)! There are so many different textures, styles, colors, and products that you will quickly fall in love with and that is why I am SO thrilled that they are giving away TWO $25 gift card to the Ribbon Resource! (Simply head to May Arts Blog to find out how to enter!!) 
For today's blog hop we showcasing Valentine's Day cards. This card that I made was a delight to create and is truly one of my favorites that I have ever created!
The Valentine's Day themed ribbon and products that May Arts has to offer is spectacular with all different options. 
I wanted to create a card that was elegant, beautiful, and pretty for a loved one and love the final results. I was also looking to create a card that had tones of golds and pinks instead of the typical red. 
The following is a list of the ribbon that I chose (and the approximate amount of each):

Pink Satin Heart Ribbon - (4 hearts)- 2 inches
2.5 Inch Ivory Sheer Frayed Flower Ribbon - 1 flower (I simply cut the flower off of the ribbon to achieve the look in this card)
Interested in buying some of these ribbons that I have mentioned? Many of the are on sale right now so stop on by to check that out by going to the Ribbon Resource online shop! Don't forget to stop by and check out the blog for a chance to enter to win the giftcard and head on over to Tami's blog to continue this hop! If you would like to see all of the blogs involved in the hop here is a complete list:

Happy Tuesday y'all!