Caravan Sonnet: March 2016

3/30/16

What's Up Wednesday (March 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... 
My beautiful sister's quick visit earlier this month! So much happened since the day that we escaped to the cabin in the woods that I am blessed remembering the joy of that time! 

What I'm Loving... 
Facetime!! I shared yesterday on my facebook page that this is truly a beautiful invention. I know, I know. Some of you are shaking your heads at why it took so long to discover this but it is truly wonderful! Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch up with this beautiful lady and it was such a beautiful encouragement to my heart!

What I've Been Up To...
If you follow me on instagram than you know that this past month has been a whirlwind in so many different ways. I continue to ask for prayer for all of the things that I mentioned in my last "Notes from the Porch" personal health update. Thank you so so so much!

What I'm Dreading... 
Let's be honest... getting a port. I would welcome any encouragement that anyone has heard or experienced? Thanks friends! 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... 
As I shared on Monday, I am so honored and humbled to be apart of the International Wholistic Missions Conference in May this year! You can read more about this by clicking HERE! I also can't wait to share some exciting new projects that I have been working on with y'all in the upcoming days and weeks ahead!

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
I have an entire post coming out this week about this book, but as I shared on instagram, this book, "And it was Beautiful" is absolutely wonderful. Words fail me at the impact it has had on my life. It is absolutely amazing. 

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... 
This scarf from ASOS is amazing. Y'all know my love of scarves and this one for this chilly winter in the north has been something I wear pretty much wear every.single.day. It is amazingly soft and warm, I love the pop of red color, is great to dress up or dress down and is a great transition piece for the winter to spring months! 

What I'm looking Forward to Next Month... 
Seeing how the Lord has answered the prayer request that I mentioned HERE! It is so exciting to place our unknown future days in the hands of the One who guides and lovingly leads us.

My Best Spring Cleaning Tip...
I actually just saw this on a friends facebook page and LOVED it. Basically for the year of 2016 she has committed to giving away, selling, or donating 2016 items from her home. I saw this and immediately was like "DONE"! Y'all know how much I love being organized and yet still can't believe all of the things that I have. I am jumping on this tip! Can't wait to share with y'all the progress in the upcoming months! 

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

3/29/16

What to Do In Australia

picture found HERE
Australia is a huge country with a variety of different landmarks and numerous places to see. It has to offer so much you certainly have to visit it one day! Don't worry about money – with Discountrue coupons you will be able to get amazing discounts on the flights and lodging thanks to Hotels.com offers, as well as shop for all the equipment or clothing you need to purchase  on a budget at Kohl's. 

The thing you should actually be thinking about is which of the many exciting activities  you should take part in first! Read on to learn more about some of the best destinations Down Under:
Picture found HERE
1. The Great Barrier Reef 
Located off the Queensland coast, The Great Barrier Reef is a must see for any Australian tourist. The reef is a visual feast and one of Mother Nature's most wondrous creations. All you need in order to enjoy the dazzling array of caverns, channels, lagoons, coral cays and islands is a mask, a snorkel and your lungs. The aforementioned areas are filled with an astonishing variety of colorful marine life and the only problem you'll have is finally pulling yourself away from it all! 
picture found HERE
2. Bondi 
Widely known as the most famous beach in all of Australia, this is where tourists and Sydney residents alike head to when they are ready to shed their clothes and their inhibitions. If you'd like to catch a glimpse of the local workout groups, be sure to head to Bondi's beachfront cafes for breakfast and stick around afterward for a quality swimming session or a surfing lesson, for those who feel so inclined.
Picture found HERE
3. Great Ocean Road
Travelers who are in search of Australia's most beautiful natural wonders would do well to head to Great Ocean Road, an astonishing 150 mile stretch of road that is certainly not for the faint of heart. This is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, because it has to be seen to be believed. This road takes visitors along the continent's hemline and while it can be frightening to some, it is also incredibly beautiful and highly recommended.
picture found HERE
4. Sydney Harbour Bridge 
This bridge offers visitors a chance to enjoy a panoramic view of the harbour by taking a BridgeClimb all the way to the top. Once the climb has been completed, tourists can partake in a 360 degree view of one of the world's most beautiful bodies of water. Truly adventurous types are able to strap on a harness, communication gear and a bridgesuit, which allows them to ascend the arch of the bridge and catch a glimpse of the city from 440 feet above sea level.
picture found HERE
5. Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk 
A top notch option for those who wish to learn more about the nation's indigenous cultures, the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk is operated by Australia's Aborigine community and offers visitors a new perspective on the local rain forests. The Kuku Yalanji people rely on this area for spiritual sustenance, as well as food and medicine, making for a profound experience!

Have you been to Australia? What is your favorite spot to visit? P.S. Are you looking to take a trip to Australia (or another country)? Check out my shop for Altered Country Travel Journals that are a perfect take along for your next adventure!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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. 

3/28/16

Speaking Event - International Wholistic Missions Conference

I am so humbled and excited to share that I will be apart of the IWMC (International Wholistic Missions Conference) in Phoenix in May! 

The IWMC's vision is to be "whole in Jesus" and "encourage others to be whole in Jesus" also. As y'all know a HUGE passion of mine is encouraging others to love the whole person and so I am so excited to be apart of this event!

I will be presenting in two different workshops- one under the "wholistic healthcare" track and the second under the "engaging youth" track. In my workshop under the wholistic healthcare track I will be discussing and presenting on caring for those with Lyme Disease and also looking at how the church at large can minister to those with a chronic or long-term illness. In my workshop under "engaging youth" I will be sharing on one of my deepest passions- engaging the hearts of high school women.  

I am truly so honored to be apart of this conference and humbled to have the opportunity to speak on topics that are close to my heart! Will you please join me in praying as I continue to prepare for these workshops that the Lord would give me the exact right words to say? Thank you so much!! 

Do any of you live in Phoenix ? Are any of you attending the conference? I hope to see some of you there! (You can find out more about the conference or how to register on their website or by clicking HERE!) 

3/26/16

Happy Easter!

Dearest Friends, as we celebrate this precious weekend of remembering Christ's extravagant work on the cross to save us, may you be blessed with the knowledge that Christ is risen, draw comfort in the truth that our sufferings are temporary, and rejoice in the miraculous hope of our risen Lord!

3/25/16

Summer Memory Album (May Arts Ribbon and Graphic 45 Paper)

Happy Friday y'all! I hope that you are having a wonderful day! 
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 Graphic 45 Paper!
 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 are showcasing our creations with both the May Arts Ribbon and the Graphic 45 items that we received. 
We received items from the Graphic 45 company and from the "children's hour" line. 
One of the things that I loved that we received was the cardboard easel that you could use to set up your project like a flip calendar.
Let's be real. I am dreaming of summer constantly (especially with the snow that we are still receiving) so I immediately knew that I wanted to create a summer memories calendar.
I loved the colors and the "vintage feel" of the paper that I felt coincided so well with the ribbon from May Arts.
 I love 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 combination and the final product has me dreaming of summer even more!
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!
Happy Friday y'all! 
Blessings, 

3/24/16

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is this precious and amazing woman's birthday!! I honestly and truly thank the Lord for her countless times throughout EVERY SINGLE DAY. She is my best friend and the woman who inspires me to love the Lord more deeply, trust Him with my deepest desires and longings, to keep fighting, and most of all to find the joy in each day. She is a defender of truth and a humble servant serving her family every day. She prays daily not only for me but for my future hubby and kiddos. She has wiped thousands of tears gently and lovingly off of my face and knows and treasures my heart. She rejoices in my accomplishments and has walked head on into my suffering with an open and willing heart, sacrificing so much of herself. Thank you Lord so much for this amazing woman, this lovely and dear friend, and the privilege to call her my mom!

Happy Birthday Mommy!!

3/23/16

Climbing another Mountain

Last January I shared a health update that I entitled, "Climbing My Mountain Step by Step". In this post I shared that while I was growing up my parents consistently played christian music including Psalty, Colby, and GT and the Halo Express. Each of these records and tapes (yes, I lived in the "olden age" *smiles*) were filled with scriptural messages and truth and even had scripture put to song. To this day, I can still remember almost every song on each record/tape and one specific song from a Psalty tape. (It was the one where they went camping.. I believe "Psalty 5" *smiles*) This tape had a song entitled, "climbing my mountain". The lyrics, although they are almost 30 years old still speak to my little heart:

"When something seems to hard to handle,too big to conquer, too far away to touch, when all your dreams begin to shatter, and deep inside you you're hurting, oh, so much, That's when it's time to say....

(Chorus) I'm climbing my mountain step by step, I'm climbing my mountain day by day, I'm climbing my mountain all the way, I'm climbing my mountain, I'm gonna make it. One step at a time, One step at a time, One step at a time with Jesus by my side, One step at a time, One step at a time, I'm climbing my mountain one step at a time. 

Even though you might grow weary Don't be discouraged, in your weakness God is strong, Remember this, He'll never leave you, He won't forsake you, He's your strength and He's your song So sing and start to say... "

And just like I shared last January, I have been having this song run through my mind so often over the course of the last couple of weeks. I know that so many of you have been patiently waiting to hear updates (thank you so much for all of your loving text messages, cards, presents, etc. these past few weeks!) and I appreciate more than you can know your sweet understanding as I am learning to climb this new mountain step by step. 
Two weeks ago I started a new round of IV meds that was to be added to my protocol. This specific IV med was to last six weeks and was to help specifically address an issue that had been found in some recent testing. It had been a long fight to get the med (and so many of you were graciously praying about this issue) so I was very grateful to start it. At the same time I had been sufficiently warned that there are many unpleasant and difficult side effects (which there was) and I was so grateful for your prayers. 

Three days later I started to notice that "Nic the PICC" was acting a little "strange". My amazing medical team had discussed fully with me all of the things to be careful and watch for in regards to having a PICC line, so after following their instructions we made the decision to go to the ER on Sunday morning as my symptoms were increasing and I had a feeling that something was "off". 
When we arrived at the ER I was immediately taken back and saw a wonderful doctor who examined "Nic the PICC" before quickly getting me back for an ultrasound. Within several hours the decision was made that "Nic the PICC" would have to be removed due to a large blood clot that had formed. The size of the blood clot and the location of the blood clot warranted the removal, but I do admit that I was overwhelmed and cried. After "Nic the PICC" was removed I still had tears. Honestly, the whole thing was overwhelming as I knew that more than this removal, I was looking at a whole new treatment plan that most likely involved a port (something that I had been prayerfully hoping to avoid).
In the midst of all of this uncertainty and trauma, I had such peace though as I knew that so many people's daily prayers for this journey were once again answered. The ER doctors commented several times that they were amazed that "Nic the PICC" had no infection, that the blood clot was so large but that it hadn't moved or traveled (which could have been extremely serious), and one even commented, "well something is looking out for you" and listened as I had the humble privilege of sharing the gospel with him. I am amazed and humbled at the prayers of so many that are covering me in this journey, lifting me up to the Lord and are reaching so many people. You are truly a blessing.
We returned home late on Sunday evening and the beautiful view and rainbow ono the way home gently reminded me that Yahweh charts our course and will lovingly and tenderly carry us throughout our days.

On Monday we headed back to the hospital for my follow up appointment with the hematology department. I have to say that the whole department is wonderful. I walked in on Monday afternoon feeling so overwhelmed, so tired, and so apprehensive and the Lord definitely used this appointment in so many ways. I was given gentle and thorough instructions that included several new medications (including some shots). The cost of these medications is tremendously expensive so we are praying for the Lord to provide each thing that I need in the days and months ahead.

On Wednesday, I asked for prayer for the appointment with my main medical team doctor (in California). Thank you so very much to all of y'all who were praying for this appointment. As I shared on social media, I so appreciate all of your words, so many kind texts, and all of the prayers that were guiding this appointment. I also appreciate your kind understanding as I digested the information that was given and the next steps that I am looking at for treatment. 
I have shared a quote that I came across this summer many times. It has truly pierced my heart with its truth, vulnerability, and its grace. It said: 

"Interestingly enough, the most asked question in the whole Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) is "How Long, O Lord, How Long?" And the most repeated command from God is, "Do not fear" or "Do not be afraid". The people of God consistently cry out for relief, and the God of love bids us to trust Him."

How absolutely true. As I find myself consistently crying out with, "How Long, O Lord, How Long", God in His grace and mercy doesn't provide that exact answer, but instead lovingly bids me to trust Him. Wednesday's phone appointment was another moment of learning this difficult but important lesson. In many ways I am not sure why talking to my doctor on Wednesday was such a difficult experience. To be truthful, going into the conversation I pretty much knew what was coming and yet, there was a part of me that hoped for the news to be completely different. 

Before the conversation one of my closest friends asked me, "Is there a specific outcome or course of treatment that you are hoping will be the next step?" And I just broke down crying. I knew that for my particular case that the best course of treatment would be to go for the Port and continue IV therapy at a consistent and daily rate, but in a thousand different ways I am ready for this part of my story to be done.

The truth is that nothing in the appointment that I was told is a surprise. The topic of IV therapy and the possibility of a port had been introduced almost 2 years ago when I first started with this medical team, but as those of you know who have been around here for a while know it took almost a year to get my body stable enough to move forward at all. Then began the slow and arduous task of introducing antibiotics and then heading into the summer regime of treatment of a mix of IM shots and IV therapy till now which has been several protocols but mainly using IV therapies. One slow step at a time. 

And this is the next step. It's my next step... a step that will bring me closer to healing and closer to the end of this incredibly tough journey, but I would be lying if I would say that it is an easy step. Anyone who has had a port placed after issues with a PICC line knows that it comes with risks, and is obviously being placed for serious reasons and that IV treatment is not a picnic. Hearing the details left us all feeling quiet and sad, with a few tears. 

Practically at this point I will need to wait until the blood thinners due their work and the clot goes down to a safe size in order to have this done. So we are looking at the end of May/sometime in June having the Port placed. As the weeks ahead progress I will keep you updated. The reality is that at this moment this is a "watch and see" process, which as y'all know is not my favorite thing. *smiles*

I have also been placed on a couple of oral antibiotics for the Lyme to keep my body moving forward in tiny pieces and will continue to do IV alternative therapy weekly until the port is placed.

And so, as the song so adequately states that I shared at the beginning of this post, that is exactly what I am doing. I am climbing my mountain step by step, day by day. People have asked if I have seen improvements with "Nic the PICC" and my resounding answer is "YES". It is absolutely amazing to think of where I was two years ago starting with my amazing medical team in March, barely able to eat any foods, in incredible amounts of pain, often using a wheelchair, my digestive system a complete mess, in and out of the hospital with anaphyalatic reactions once or twice a week to a year ago when my body was slowly starting the long journey of healing to where it is now. The sacrifices that so many people have made to let us live here this year and to receive the treatment I have been have truly set the course for true and full healing. To be honest that was part of the emotional response of loosing "Nic the PICC". I felt that all of the gains have been interrupted. 
But as always on this journey things have shifted and the God of love was not surprised by this interuption or change of plans. As my doctor said so eloquently, "we let go of what we can't control and we do the best with what we can". For this planner addict these are difficult words to hear but at the same time they bring a freedom and with them a truth from scripture about "not worrying about tomorrow". 

As I mentioned I have been put back on a couple of the oral antibiotics and to be honest... its been... difficult already and we are only a few days in. We are praying that after the first couple of weeks I will be able to do a little bit better, but would covet prayer. My digestive system is still very fragile so we are praying that I can tolerate this course of action with no serious side effects.

Some additional prayer requests that I have that I would covet prayers for are:

(1) That I would remain stable in this period of time. There has been SO many changes in the last 10 days that my system is reacting severely to and I am having extreme difficulty with many symptoms including dizziness/vertigo and shortness of breath/heart-racing. Everyone is convinced (myself included) that this is just a reaction to all of the changes that have happened with my body, but we covet prayers that these symptoms settle down. 

(2) I also covet prayers for my heart emotionally. I don't mean to be cryptic, but I would covet prayers as I had to make a wise yet painful decision in ending a friendship that had become very toxic and manipulative over the course of the last several months and was starting to affect my health. Y'all know that I love people and love my friends deeply so this was a wise decision yet it has also truly grieved me. I look forward to Heaven where everything is perfect and there is no pain in this way. (P.S. - the Pastor that I listen to weekly had a wonderful wonderful wonderful three week sermon on friendships that couldn't have been more of a "God-timing" and so challenging and wonderful. If you are looking for a wonderful pastor to listen to who will challenge and encourage your walk with the Lord I can't recommend Jason Tippetts enough. You can find Westside's church sermons HERE.)

(3) Finally... finances have been stretched to the limit these past 10 days as we have navigated these new waters and also are waiting to receive the hospital bills that are coming from the past two weeks. In addition to these things the medications that I need to be on (with insurance) are extremely expensive (thousands each month) and we are already planning and looking ahead for the upcoming trip to California to have the port placed. I would covet prayers for additional financial resources to come in the next few weeks as this is a very tight financial time. Some of you continue to ask how you can give- I am so humbly grateful- and the easiest way is to simply donate to the "Go Fund me Page" which is located below or on the left side of the blog.
 
As I think back to the song that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I feel a mixture of emotions. Sometimes it seems like I am talking about someone else's life as I talk about "plans and drugs and medications" but I know that the Lord is leading me and guiding me one step at a time as we climb this new mountain. Sometimes it is hard not to think or worry or be concerned about the future or have questions or have a wide range of emotions BUT we only have today.  So step by step and day by day I continue to climb my mountain friends. 

Thank you so much for all of your prayers for this continued journey and for your sweet support. Your love, prayers, and support has made all of the difference in this journey. 

With Love, 

3/15/16

Wednesday Giveaway!

Happy Wednesday, friends! I've got a special treat for you on the blog today: I've gotten together with 7 other bloggers to give you the opportunity to win a lovely bundle of prizes! We're giving away a Caribou Coffee "Adventure" mug, a beautiful altered journal (of the winner's choosing) from the December Caravan Etsy shop, and a lovely English Teas & Cakes cookbook! IMG_0275 These prizes are the perfect stepping stone from cozier winter months into the refreshing spring season! It's always fun to throw a tea party or try out a new dessert recipe - AND, you can never go wrong with another beautiful mug. :) And a December Caravan journal is the perfect product to jumpstart your journaling as we transition into spring! d8f6e027-ec11-4d48-ba67-8eeee4debadb efa449b1-8573-4a2d-a790-6ed5a30c8f75 This giveaway is simple to enter and the prizes are oh-so-fun - good luck!! You can enter below. In the meantime, stop by these lovely ladies' blogs and say hi! March '16 Group Giveaway Image
Hannah from Just Bee // Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet (+ December Caravan on Etsy) // Nelle from simply love Olya from The Siberian American // Crystal from Dreams, etc. // Justine from Charm City Ciemny's Kendra from Open Spaces // Christie from Sparkles of Sunshine // Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

3/12/16

London 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 journal that I created for the shop a couple of weeks ago! This London Altered City Journal was a delight to create!
When I first saw this London guide book I immediately fell in love with the colors on the front of the book.
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
If y'all have been around this blog for any amount of time than y'all know that I have a love affair with all things England and London.
Working on this altered city journal allowed me to walk back in time and focus on some precious memories of living there briefly.
Altered City Journals are so much fun to make! If you are interested in this specific 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!