Caravan Sonnet: November 2016

11/29/16

Majesty of the Seas Ship Review

Today I am so excited to share my Majesty of the Seas ship review! This short cruise was so much fun and it was so much fun to be back aboard the ship that I cruised on the first time back in 2014! 
Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas was built in France in 1992 and her "godmother" is Queen Sonja of Norway. Royal Caribbean had talked about retiring the Majesty of the Seas but instead decided to refurbish the ship as it provides so many special moments to so many people each week.
Majesty of the Seas is currently operating on a 7-day cycle out of Port Canaveral each week. Starting in May 2016 (after the Majesty of the Seas moved from Miami to Port Canaveral)  the ship sails on a four night cruise (stopping in Nassau and Coco Cay with one day at sea) for the first part of the week (Monday through Friday) and then offers a shorter three-night cruise that stops in Nassau and Coco Cay.
We were on the shorter cruise- the three night cruise and left on Friday, November 18th and returned in the early morning of Monday, November 21st. It was the perfect amount of time for a short and quick cruise and was definitely relaxing and rejuvenating. It was also very fun for my parents to experience their first cruise and they loved it!
 
Majesty of the Seas has 12 decks and a variety of things to enjoy and during your cruise. There are poolside movie screens, a renovated spa with an extensive treatment menu, a state of the art fitness center, several swimming pools, a family friendly new aqua park, teen-only hangout areas, and lots of family-friendly activities. 
Majesty of the Seas also offers several different dining options (those that are included in your cost of your cruise and those that you can pay an additional fee for) and action and adventure for all ages. Between a rock-climbing wall, basketball court, and jogging track you can stay active and have lots of fun on your cruise!
The ship itself was incredibly easy to navigate which is a wonderful thing about Majesty of the Seas. Unfortunately on some cruise ships it can take a bit to orient yourself (especially if on some floors you can't walk the entire length due to a variety of different reasons) but Majesty of the Seas makes it easy to find your way around. And if you are on a short cruise this is a gift because you don't want to spend your time trying to figure out where to go. 
When I first went cruising in 2014 I knew absolutely nothing about cruising or how anything worked. Everything was such a new learning experience and it was so much fun. I still treasure that trip to this day and all of the precious memories from it.
To have the opportunity to be back was such a gift and such a beautiful time! 
Have you sailed on the Majesty of the Seas before or another Royal Caribbean ship? What was your favorite thing? Please let me know if you have any questions! I am happy to answer them!

11/28/16

Winter Toolkit

I have received information and materials from Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WinOverWinter #CollectiveBias
The holidays are quickly upon us and as hard as it seems to believe we will turn the pages on the month of December in just a few short days. Where has the time gone? Is it just me or does time seem to be flying this year?? 
And while the holidays and winter season bring a lot of fun times to gather with those we love the most, it can also be a prime season for many seasonal illnesses, aches, and pains. Often times visiting family and loved ones becomes difficult with pain due to pushing ourselves a bit more and using muscles that we are not used to using in decorating or fun holiday activities that we have planned. Each day is a treasure to be valued and experienced and holds so much activity and fun!
During this season I have found it helpful to create a winter toolkit that helps me through the holidays and well into the winter season. My main "ingredient" into the toolkit is MOTRIN® IB. I have shared before how I use this product and for me it is definitely the way that I keep the aches and pains of this season away so that I can thoroughly enjoy this time with my loved ones. 

Do y'all have a winter toolkit? For me I include in my toolkit simple and easy things that are also cozy. I include my favorite cozy socks, soft tissues for the cold season, my heating pad, tea bags to brew, some of my favorite girly movies, a couple of favorite books, essential oils, and of course as I just mentioned MOTRIN® IB.
One of the things that I love during this extremely busy season is that MOTRIN® IB is easy to find and purchase at Target Stores. While I am there doing additional Christmas shopping I can easily go and find MOTRIN® IB in the pharmacy section or at Target online.
The other day while I was doing some Christmas shopping I walked over to the Target pharmacy section and easily located the MOTRIN® IB in the aisle. It was near the front of the aisle, so it was easy to locate. If you are looking to create your own winter toolkit using MOTRIN® IB this is where you would find it!
In this particular Target the MOTRIN® IB was located on the bottom shelf. Obviously I am not the only one who uses this as there was just a few boxes left! 
For those of you who may be looking for help with aches and pains at nighttime, MOTRIN® PM might be something that you would want to add to your own winter toolkit. 
MOTRIN® PM is easily located a little bit further down the aisle from MOTRIN® IB and still very easy to find on the shelf. If you are a parent who is looking to create a winter toolkit you may want to consider purchasing one of the Children’s MOTRIN®. 
To locate this in the Target it was simply on the other side of the aisle from the other two Motrin products I mentioned above!

Don't have time to run to Target during this busy season? Why not purchase the above Motrin products on line? You can find all of the ones that I mentioned that are available from Target by clicking HERE
What about y'all? Do you use MOTRIN® IB? How have you found it helpful during the holiday and winter seasons?

I hope that this has been helpful and encouraging in how to not only survive this busy and active holiday season but also to thrive during it. As we quickly approach December I hope that each of you has a wonderful holiday season- treasuring each and every day!

11/27/16

a new season and stage in the Lyme journey

Dear friends and loved ones, I so appreciate y'alls patience and kindness as I have been busy these last several weeks experiencing an exciting season of adventure. It has been a whirl-wind and I have so appreciated your prayers, your love, and your support during this special time. 

I know that so many of you have been asking for an update beyond my IG pictures and are curious to know how my health has been really holding up. I do not take it lightly that there are so many of you that have prayed numerous prayers, spend 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 very long journey. I appreciate more than words can express your kind patience as I have been balancing treatment and a bit of "real life" for the first time in four years. Thank you for your gracious love in this journey.

In saying all of that I wanted to take a few minutes to give an update on how things have been and what the next 11 days will look like. I have received numerous emails and facebook messages congratulating me on the fact that I am now healed from Lyme because I am looking "so good". First, thank you. That is so incredibly sweet of each of you and your love for me and your hope for my complete healing is a blessing. Unfortunately though at this particular point, healing has not completed happened. Yet. The last couple of weeks have provided several interesting adventures, travel, and writing assignments (including travel to the sweet south after being in the north, seeing dear friends, my sisters wedding, and a writing free-lance job on a cruise) and has given me the opportunity to have a bit of a short break from intensive IV treatment each and everyday. Unfortunately it has also taken me away from my supplemental treatments (including acupuncture, reflexology, IV nutritional therapies, nurses and doctors who are familiar with Lyme, etc.) and my body is very much looking forward to returning to each of these therapies and support system. 

In addition to this I have also added in several new supplements and upped other ones, started two new oral medications, and worked on some other antibiotics as well in addition to working on some intensive detox protocols. I still am taking my 225 pills a day, still getting stuck (albeit a bit less), and still doing everything else I mentioned HERE. As all Lymies well know, there is never a break from treatment or trying to beat this disease during the fight. On the flip side, I have always taken the opportunities that are presented to live life fully as much as possible. It is a constant balancing act, a learning process, and I know from the outside it can be confusing to see a "healthy looking person"  that is still very sick and be curious about what is going on. 

I also know, as I explained in a post last year, that y'all understand this balance and my thoughts about answering the "but you don't act sick statements". I have received criticism on both sides of the fence recently- those who are other chronically ill/seriously ill patients who feel that showing more of the beauty and joy robs the story of what being sick looks like, and those who are healthy wondering why I still talk about being sick if I am able to go do the things I have been doing recently. 

I really don't have a perfect answer for either side. I just know that I am trying my best to heal, to take one day at a time, and to live life fully as I can even in this stage of life. This almost weird - "pre-healed" stage. A stage that has given me improvement where I don't have to spend every day- all day in bed, but I still sleep for 12 hours at night and about 6 hours during the day. A stage that has allowed me to laugh more than cry due to the pain being a bit better. A stage that has provided me the opportunity to connect deeper with friends, be out in public a bit more, and to enjoy and participate in some real life activities. (Most exciting thing a couple of weeks ago? Going to the grocery store for the first time in about 3 years. It was a bit overwhelming and yet wonderful.) The opportunity to drive again. The opportunity to spend time with dear friends. The opportunity to dream. The opportunity to live a bit more. 

But it is also still a stage of knowing that I am still very sick. So behind the scenes, with my most trusted circle and tribe they see me getting up to take vitamins, meds, etc. and eat briefly and do detox baths before going back to sleep again. It is seeing me be able to enjoy several things but be completely exhausted and heading to bed at 5 or 6pm. It is them seeing me laugh and enjoy parts of the cruise in between my 7 hour naps that were spent inside the cabin in a darkened room due to migraines. It is them receiving text messages of "please pray" for pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sickness, etc. at all hours of the night still. 

And most of all... it is the love of so many of you offering grace and cheering me on in this new stage of this journey. I am not healed yet, I am doing so much better, and healing everyday, and yet I am still in the fight. Slowly and surely God is healing and each and everyday I am so incredibly grateful. 

SO today there continues to be the mixture of hard and good that I have talked so much about. Tears and rejoicing for the pain and for the progress. Struggling with issues and what is coming up and yet trusting that grace that has met me each step of the way so far will once again meet me in the days ahead as the God of love bids me to trust Him in new ways. 

We are currently in the packing again stage these days. We are ending this brief season of adventure that I have loved, treasured, and laughed and cried through. It has been incredibly difficult in many ways and wonderfully refreshing in others. This Thursday my mom and I fly out for one last bit of adventure for a couple of days to a beautiful gift and present (that I can't wait to share more about) and then we will fly on the 5th to my main medical doctors office where I will spend a few days with them doing a variety of things. We will return to the north on the 8th and I will officially start treatment round #4 that had to be delayed earlier this fall on December 12th. It will be intense and difficult and yet, part of me is dreading it and part of me is ready to fight more deeply... and most of all no matter my feelings... it is the next step. 

I so appreciate your continued prayers for each step that is coming up and I also appreciate your continued prayers for all of the financial means to come in for this trip for my doctors appointment. Each step of this journey is always so faithfully provided for and we are confident that this appointment will be provided for again, but I would covet your prayers for this area. A HUGE thank you to dear Esther and Doug for your beautiful contribution a little bit ago that will help to pay for the doctors appointment!

A Few Specific Prayer Requests:

1. Lodging in California for Doctors Appointment
Please join us in praying for specific lodging issues to be worked out and finances for this portion of the trip with a specific hotel. Due to my environmental allergies we can only stay in specific places and we covet your prayers for this portion of the trip specifically.

2. For Wisdom at my Doctors Appointment
We are in desperate need of some wisdom for a couple of specific areas of my health and we would love prayers that this appointment would be filled with wisdom on the best next steps for these areas. Thank you!

3. For Finances to be provided
As mentioned above we are praying that all of the finances would be provided that we need for this trip. Thank you so much for joining us in prayer. 

4. For health and safety as we travel
We so appreciate your prayers as we travel and for my health during this time!

5. For My Upcoming Book Release, "When Truth Refreshes"
This book was one of my most personal and difficult books to write and it releases on December 27th. Would you please pray for this book and those who will read it? You can find out more about it HERE.

6. For Relief of Some Difficult Symptoms
For the past several weeks I have been experiencing some incredibly difficult and scary symptoms and I would covet your prayers that those would be removed. Thank you!

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 especially in this new stage and season. Each of you are a blessing!

With Love, 

11/23/16

15 Ways to Help a Friend with a Chronic Illness During Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving Eve friends! 

Three years ago, I wrote a post that has remained one of my most popular posts which discussed 26 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness. It was widely appreciated by those who have a chronic illness and those who love someone with a chronic illness.  As time went on I started to receive some emails asking if there were any specific thoughts or ideas on how to reach out to someone with a chronic illness during the holiday season. (Y'all are AWESOME. Seriously. I love emails like this- they are such an encouragement to my little heart!) So I wrote a post entitled, 17 ways to help a friend with Chronic Illness during the Holidays.  (There is also a 30 Christmas Present Idea list for a friend with Chronic Illness that can be found HERE if you are interested and a 35 Christmas Present Ideas for Lyme Patients post that can be found HERE!) Last year I shared 15 ways to help a friend with a chronic illness during the thanksgiving season and today I wanted to re-share this again!

I hope that this list helps! I am not an expert at all, but the things that I have listed below are things that friends have mentioned to me that have been wonderful or I have personally experienced that has truly touched my heart and my life during this holiday season. So (in no specific order) here are 15 ideas to help a loved one with a chronic illness during the Thanksgiving holiday!

1.Pray for your friend. 
The holidays can be stressful for people and this is especially true of those with chronic illnesses.

2. When hosting a dinner party (or a get together) take the time to share with your Chronically Ill friend ahead of time the ingredients of all of your dishes. 
This will save your friend any awkwardness of having to ask questions in front of the other guests and feel like a burden at the party. 

3. When hosting a party- offer some foods that your friend (who is on a special diet) can eat. 
Don't make this a big deal but try to incorporate snacks (or leftovers) that you know your friend can eat.

4. Be sensitive. 
Understand that money is tight and that the holidays are incredibly stressful for your friend. Hosting a thanksgiving get together (even if it is "their year") can be extremely taxing on those suffering with chronic illness. I know I was told by one friend, "if it was just us, we would be eating eggs and toast because money is so tight but instead we have been missing treatments, not buying supplements, etc. for a couple of months just to save up to feed the family because it is our responsibility this year". Yikes! Unfortunately this is the case all too often. Be incredibly sensitive to the time, energy, and money that may be spent and try and help out with any (or all!) of these things! 

5. Remember your neighbors! 
Helping those who are less fortunate, serving at the homeless shelter, etc. are all wonderful ideas BUT have you ever thought about serving those who are even closer to you? Your chronically ill friend is in serious need. Consider serving those closest to you this year!

6. Offer to go grocery shopping (and pay for the groceries) for your friend. 
This was such a great idea! Shopping is absolutely exhausting for a chronically ill person, but during the holidays it can be truly detrimental. Not only are their long lines and tons of people but often times there is more of a chance of someone picking up germs due to these large crowds.  You most likely are already going to the store- why not ask your friend what you can pick up for them? Another idea? Why not get double of everything you are getting and then drop it off at their house (with the receipt). They will keep what they can use and exchange anything that can't be used. Such a simple but helpful thing for those who are ill!

7. Be Patient. 
Things may look different with your friend and family members who are seriously ill but remember that they are still the same person. Be patient with the changes.

8. Laugh often with your friend or family member. 

Maybe offer to bring over a comedy to watch together, send a funny card in the mail, or just leave a message that could bring a smile to their face!

9. Don't make it about you. 

Yes, the holiday season is about giving but be respectful of your friends wishes and desires. Maybe they really don't want you to come over at midnight to celebrate Thanksgiving Eve (or Thanksgiving Eve Eve...Yes, Hahaha that is a true story! *smiles*)

10. Consider starting new holiday traditions. 
Yes, you have stuffed yourselves with Turkey and always played flag football for the whole afternoon finishing the day off with a movie marathon and then starting your all day Christmas shopping at midnight on Black Friday and that has been wonderful for years (or decades or generations) BUT... just typing that list is exhausting let alone being able to do 1/2 of those things for a chronically ill person. Why not start new holiday traditions while keeping the old ones? BE Creative. BE open. Your love and compassion will be the best holiday gift you could give someone. 

11. Take up a secret holiday collection and give it to your friend before Christmas. 

Why not surprise your friend with an early Christmas present and give it to them at Thanksgiving. Believe me... they are not going to be spending it on themselves unless it is for treatment but even then they probably will use it to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones. 

12. Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season. 

Holidays are about PEOPLE. NOT a tradition or a "pinterest worthy" house... but people. Spend the energy and love on the people who are hurting. 

13. Be Thoughtful. 

This is how I describe things to those who don't know me sometimes. "Remember how poorly you felt when you had the flu last year? Remember the headache and the backache you had last week? Remember when you had mono as a college student? Put all of them together and times it by ten and you have close to what I am feeling all of the time. Now if you felt that way... what would you like to do for the holidays?" Be thoughtful - put yourself in the others persons shoes. 

14. Be Compassionate. 

Does your friend have more pain or fatigue later in the evening? Consider hosting a brunch instead of a dinner! (Or vice versa!)

15. Realize that your friend or family member with chronic illness is the best gift this season. 
Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate PEOPLE. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world. 

11/22/16

gratitude

We made it home safely late last night from the Caribbean and continue to talk about the amazing gift of time the days were. It was truly a lovely cruise with a whole lot of laughter and joy and lots of time spent on our balcony taking in the gorgeous views. 

I hope that y'all have a wonderful Tuesday as you prepare for Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends! Sending lots of love and gratitude for this beautiful community that has truly touched my life, encouraged me, and loved me so well. I truly am so grateful for each of you!

11/17/16

Leaving for the Caribbean

I can't believe it... TODAY I leave on a beautiful weekend adventure with my parents for a weekend in the Caribbean sailing on Royal Caribbean! Similar to my adventure in September with my sister, this beautiful adventure came about as there was an amazing opportunity to write about a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Caribbean. After lots of prayer, talking with my medical team in depth, and marveling at the timing, I watched as once again there were beautiful gifts from God alone as I moved forward with this opportunity. 

I will be away from the blog for the next several days, but will be updating my instagram community while I am gone and can't wait to connect with y'all more over there! You can following along by clicking HERE!

Thank you so much for keeping me in prayer for my health as I am feeling pretty tired from all of the fun activities lately, for this adventure, for safety in traveling, and for this amazing experience. I am so grateful for all of your sweet support and love!

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

11/15/16

10 Things to Do Before You Leave on Your Caribbean Cruise

Back in July I shared that I have the exciting opportunity to write about a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas! I am so excited and this time I am taking my parents with me! Neither of them have been cruising before and so it is going to be so exciting and fun to share this experience with them! Our cruise is this weekend and we are busily running around, finishing last minute errands, and packing up for our trip!

This past summer I shared the top 13 must pack items for a Caribbean Cruise and we are definitely consulting that as we pack for this trip! Today I wanted to share 10 things to do before you leave on your Caribbean Cruise that I hope y'all will find helpful! (If you want to follow along on the adventure I will be updating my Instagram feed regularly and would love to connect more with y'all over there!)
1. Make a List, Check it Twice
I know that not everyone is a "list-maker" like I am (color-coded and everything for y'all that know me well! *smiles*) but lists for a Caribbean cruise are extremely helpful. If you are like me and over-the-moon excited for your trip, it can be easy to forget something important so I definitely recommend making a list and then checking it several times. Also- consider making a second list of items that you can't pack until the morning that you leave.

2. Pack Medicines, Over-The-Counter Meds, Vitamins, Supplements, Etc.
I shared this last year in my post, 10 Tips for Cruising With a Chronic Illness, but make sure that you pick up any medicines and over-the-counter meds you need a few days before your trip. If you are living with a serious or chronic illness this can take a lot of time to plan and prepare your medications and supplements. Honestly, it can take a bit of maneuvering (and even a lot of patience) to make sure that you have all of our meds before a trip. As much as it is possible try to let your doctors know in advance you will be going on a cruise and that you will need meds (and extra meds depending on your situation) for the duration of your cruise. I have said this before, but I can't encourage you enough to try to work on this as much of you can ahead of time as some medications can only be purchased with insurance at certain intervals so you will want to work this out with your doctor and insurance company. Also, check with the cruise line as many cruise lines require that your medications are in the original containers not just in random pill containers. If you want to read more about this or tips with cruising with an illness you can check out my post HERE.

3. Purchase Any Specific Caribbean Cruise Items You Need In Advance
Definitely make sure that you have clothes, shoes, and specific items that you need for the Caribbean purchased a couple of weeks before the cruise. Depending on the time of year that you are traveling and where you live, you will also want to make sure that you have plenty of "summer weather" items including suntan lotion, water shoes, sandals, etc. Looking for a list of "must pack items" for your Caribbean Cruise? Check out my post "13 Must Pack Items for Your Caribbean Cruise" HERE.

Also, don't forget to purchase an underwater camera that you can use for any water activities. After the disappointment of the disposable underwater cameras we purchased for the last cruise not working properly, I purchased one for this trip specifically and am excited to see how it works and will definitely let y'all know! 
4. Call Your Bank/Credit Card Companies to let them Know You are Traveling
Make sure to call your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you will be traveling out of the country to the Caribbean. Some people think that because it is just the Caribbean that you don't need to do this but it is definitely so much easier to make a phone call from home than to figure out when you are out at sea why your card was blocked during your cruise! 

5. Print off and Make Copies of All Your Documents and Passports
Make sure that you have paper copies of all of your documents and even a copy of your passport for your Caribbean Cruise. While I love the ease and convenience of having everything on my phone, I also understand it is wise to have a "hard copy" of everything that I need, including a copy of my passport in case something gets lost. 

6. Give an Emergency Contact All of Your Information
Make sure to let someone know the important information of the dates you are traveling, your flight numbers, hotel names, contact information, and the ship and room number that you will have. This is important in case anyone needs to get a hold of you while you are traveling or if you have an emergency on board. Just a heads up also that most cruise lines require an emergency contact to be listed on their forms. 

7. Arrange to Have Your Mail Held or A Neighbor to Pick it Up
Depending on how long your cruise is you will want to make sure that you have your mail held at the post office or that you make arrangements to have your neighbor pick it up. Just a heads up: stopping and holding mail at the post office can take a few days to "kick in" so you will want to give yourself at least 7 days to do this!

8. Organize Your Wallet
Take a few minutes to re-organize your wallet for your trip and remove anything that you won't need including department store cards, gas credit cards, etc. Put all of these together in an envelope and keep them in a safe and secure place for you to have once you return from your cruise. 

9. Deal with Your Phone 
You will want to make sure you understand the fees and roaming charges on your phone with your provider before you get on the ship. If you are wanting to use your phone, instagram, facebook, etc. while you are in the Caribbean you will want to make sure to call your cell service provider and ask for a package for the countries that you are visiting. You will pay a ton less and be thankful when you get home. 

10. 10 More Things to Do the Day Before You Leave/the Day You Leave
(1) Take Pets to be Boarded
(2) Water house plants
(3) Mail Last-Minute Bills
(4) Clean Out Refrigerator
(5) Set timers for any lights for your Home
(6) Adjust the thermostat in Your Home
(7) Turn off water in your Home if there is a Danger of Frozen Pipes while you are Gone
(8) Double Check the Locks in Your Home
(9) Double Check to Make Sure you Have all Important Documents, Including Passport
(10) Fill out Luggage Tags and attach according to the cruise specification
Most of all- get ready to have a blast!! I have been on two cruises to the Caribbean now and I can't wait for this cruise with my parents! I know that it is going to be extremely relaxing, restful, and rejuvenating. I can't wait to share with y'all! 

What are your last minute things to do before a cruise to the Caribbean? I would love to hear your tips and add them to this list!

11/12/16

Amazing Women of Faith: Mallory From Still Waters Blog

I am so excited to have a dear friend and hero of mine back sharing again on the blog today her heart and her words of encouragement and truth! If you missed Mallory's beautiful guest post in October you can find it HERE! It is hard to put into adequate words the impact that Mallory has had on my life and in my journey with Lyme Disease. I am so excited to have her sharing her heart today!! If you feel discouraged or want to quit and give up this post is for you. Happy Saturday friends, may you be encouraged by the truth of Mallory's words.
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I want to break free from the chains of this body. 

From the chains of illness and suffering and constant pain. 

From the chains of extreme limitations and surgeries and hospitalization and doctors and medicines and missing out on life by factors out of my own control. 

I want to break free from the circumstances that are hard, that I hate, that make me cry and feel desperate and hopeless.

I want to break free from all the reasons I wish these situations weren't reality...at least not for me. 

No matter what I do or don't do, no matter how obedient and diligent I am to my needs - I often feel like I'm going to explode. Everyday I tell myself that I won't give into this pain; I'm not going to feel it. Yet consistently I am proven wrong. I feel a sensation begging me to literally crawl out of my own skin. Confused over when to push, when to step back, when to share my concerns with others and when to leave them between God and myself. I feel trapped inside myself. And there's no way out. No where to run, no where to hide, no way to check out. The only option is to face the demons and DEAL.
Friends, if you're at a breaking point, ready to give up, in desperate need of a bright spot in your life...these words are for you. 

Whatever your circumstances may be, whether you are having to endure the unimaginable physically/emotionally/mentally, or you are watching a precious loved one walk through the fire... 

DO NOT GIVE UP. 

I repeat... DO NOT GIVE UP.
Do not give up the fight. 
Do not quit. 
Do not stop trying just because the fight is hard. 
Do not silence yourself when others try to quiet you. 
Do not stop pushing when your heart, body & soul urge you to act in a way that doesn't make sense to anyone else. 

Do not feel embarrassed by your pain. 
Do not stop your tears from falling or your emotions from expressing. 
Do not make excuses for the pain or try to justify the things that are out of your control. 
Do not be afraid to FEEL. 
Do not be afraid to TALK. 
Do not be afraid to be SILENT. 
Do not hesitate to simply be STILL. 

Do not worry when you come to a crossroads. 
Do not get anxious when the rain continues to fall. 
Do not lose your peace in the unknown. 
Do not give up your patience when things are moving slower than imagined.

Do not forget about hope and joy. 
Do not lose sight of the joy that lies ahead through eternal life with our Savior. 
Do not believe lies from the enemy that God has forgotten you, does not love you, cannot forgive you, or that He does not hear you. 
You are SO loved.

Do not hesitate to cry, shout, whisper, or groan to the Lord. He can handle everything you are feeling.
Do not refuse His embrace.
Do not turn down His free grace.
Do not rely on your own strength.

Fight your very hardest & TRUST His strength to take care of the rest.
You have to fight...for your own life or someone else's. 
You must be your own advocate whether that's to a doctor, a parent, a spouse, or a friend. Listen to your heart, body, mind, soul and trust the intuition that God has gifted you. That intuition comes from the Holy Spirit who does not lead us astray. 
God gives what is good. 

Even when our human eyes see a curse, He is working hard to turn it into a blessing. If only we would be patient and trust in His ways, letting go of the need to understand & analyze. 
His ways are higher than our own. We were not created to have all the answers...why else would we need our loving Savior? 

I get weak. I get discouraged. I get depressed. I get hopeless. I get frustrated. I get upset. 
For I'm merely human. But because of the joy of the Lord I find strength. I find encouragement. I find joy. I find peace. I find contentment for every inch of my soul. 

For He is the Great I Am. 

Today, I encourage and plead all of you to not give up. Keep on, keepin on. I know it's hard. I know at times life feels completely out of control, unbearable, impossible, like a living Hell. I know there is pain, suffering, great sadness all around. I'm there with you in the valley. And so is HE.  

I also know there is indescribable JOY to be found in each day, and glorious beauty waiting to appear in all the ugly. There is blinding light that WILL outshine even the darkest night, and the glory of the Lord shall prevail in all situations. 

If you're ready to quit, don't. Even when you want to break free, take comfort in His promises, trusting that the Lord is working out a glorious unfolding beyond your wildest dreams.

You can do it, I believe in you. 
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huge thank you to Mallory for sharing her heart and her life and her encouragement to all of us. You are such a treasure Mallory! If you want to connect more with Mallory you can find her blog HERE and her Instagram page HERE.