Caravan Sonnet: March 2017


a prayer for surgery

As surgery approaches tomorrow, I am finding such comfort in the midst of the anxiety, unknown, and fear in this verse from Isaiah 35:4. I know that I am not the only one who is approaching unknowns, surgeries, scary diagnosis', and a whole host of other things in this week ahead. I wanted to share with y'all my prayer for surgery tomorrow... I hope it will be an encouragement to those of you walking a similar path... 

"God, my God, you know my fearful and terrified heart and state. I am gripped by anxiety over the surgery I have to undergo. I m very much frightened of the entire procedure and the outcome of what I will awake to hear. Lord, your word says that you will strengthen me on my bed of illness and you will sustain me on my sickbed. Yes Lord! I trust your word and turn to you for help. Human wisdom and skill are nothing before you. So please fill the doctors who attend to me with your divine wisdom Lord so that they can perform this surgery in a perfect manner. Take all of those who assist them and everyone associated with the surgery in your hands and keep them as your instruments in bringing healing to me. The prayer of my heart and so many others has been for healing and while this news and possible new scary diagnosis has caught us up short and rocked our worlds, YOU Lord are not surprised by anything. Nothing is of a surprise to you. Use this Lord to bring about healing. Use this Lord for your glory even though right now things seem dark and scary. May this situation reflect your love and goodness and showcase your love and power. Shine your light into the darkness Lord. I cling to your promises that you are always with me, wherever I go! You are already there Lord. As I am wheeled into the room, feeling alone and scared- your presence will be there to meet and to guide. You never forget the cry of the humble and needy. Lord, hold my hand tightly and grant me your peace as I move forward so that I can undergo this surgery courageously. I know you will do all of this because you are the one who perfects everything for my life. I totally and completely rest on you and thank you for always being with me and carrying me and rescuing me Lord. You are the God of miracles and we are trusting you for big miracles today."

Thank you for all of your continued prayers for surgery tomorrow. I will be checking in at the hospital around 10:30am and surgery is scheduled for noon. Thank you again dear friends for your love, prayers, and support. 


the week ahead...

These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with a whole list of items to complete, doctors appointments to check off (it can be a bit complicated to have surgery when you have a host of different doctors on your medical team but everyone has been amazing), pre-op appointments, items to get in order, and the list continues. Thankfully all of the items have been checked off and after today all of the "necessary components" should be in order.

Our goal has been to have everything ready so that I can fully enjoy my birthday and we can have a wonderful weekend. I am choosing to live fully in each of these moments despite the unknowns that face us on Monday. 

In many ways I think being sick is harder on your loved ones than it ever is on yourself. I admire these people that I love so much ... who keep on loving unconditionally... even when it hurts them, they love without abandon, continuously modeling Christ's love and I am in awe.

I (and my precious family) are so incredibly grateful for your kind words, your financial support (thank you so much to everyone who has given for this surgery and some that have mentioned that they will be giving HERE!), and most of all your prayers for this week ahead. I will try to update my Instagram page as I can so please feel free to follow along by clicking HERE

As I prepare for the upcoming week, I am considering the beautiful hope, peace, and courage in Isaiah 33:6:

 "He will be the sure foundation for your times..." 

Truly no matter what shifts and changes and no matter what we face ...our God is our stability...our sure foundation that we can set our eyes and hearts upon... today and in all our future days.


From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week 7): The Blessing of Letting go of What is Not Important

Several weeks ago, I was sitting at the hospital waiting for a routine procedure when two of my favorite nurses came in talking and looking at a phone. These two women started sharing with me that they were very upset because a mutual friend that they had known for years had been yelling at them over something extremely mundane. Their conversation drew my attention as I had just re-watched episode 7 from season 1 and I couldn’t stop thinking about Jack’s comment about life being to short to hold onto petty things and grievances. 

These two nurses whom I have come to know shared with me that they had apologized several times and wanted and longed to move forward because they had learned so clearly through their jobs that life is too short to hold on to all of this “stuff”. My mind immediately returned to Episode 7 from season 1 and I shared this quote from Jack. They immediately said that they couldn’t have agreed more. Life is so precious and truly there is no time to hold on to the things that are not important.

The truth though is that I believe “petty grievances” have the potential to create an opportunity for grace or an opportunity to for a once respected relationship to be destroyed. Often times petty grievances come from mis-communication or a perceived rejection from one person to another. Sometimes the rejection seems intentional and is not and sometimes it is an intentional rejection. Either way this fractures a relationship and causes pain to both parties.

Like many other women I am sure that I could write a lot on this tender subject. We all have had to deal with rejection in one way or another and sometimes this rejection really cuts to the core of who were are. Sometimes a recent, fragile, emotional, or disappointing circumstance can heighten things. Sometimes we can feel like an outsider or left out and this allows for things that might start off small to grow and turn into much larger things.

One of the things that I think is vitally important for us to do is to take these feelings back to the Lord and remember that while we may feel rejected by others the Lord will never reject us. One of my favorite verses on this topic is from Psalm 94:14: 

“For the Lord will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance.” 

 Hold onto this sweet and beautiful truth that the Lord will never reject or forsake you. We have a beautiful Savior who can empathize and sympathize with us because He has experienced everything we have. He understands our weaknesses and will never reject us. What a beautiful comfort there is in knowing that He understands our feelings. When we know this beautiful truth we can let go of the things that really don't matter at the end of the day.

In addition to this every time that I have felt misunderstood or rejected I meditate on Isaiah 49:16 which states: 

“You have engraved me on the palms of your hands”

This beautiful truth that the Lord would engrave my name on the palm of His hands brings such hope that the Lord will never forsake or reject me. When I understand this I can live fully in God’s grace and offer grace to others, understanding that we are all just trying to do our best. Living in grace and the knowledge that the Lord will never reject me gives me strength to let go of the “petty things” and move forward understanding what is most important in life. 

Today dear friends, let us live in this beautiful truth. Let us live in the truth that our lives have the power to redeem and change a situation. Let us let go of the petty things that we see on social media or that occur at work or within our homes. Let us remember the power of encouragement to change lives. Let us let go of our desire and our need to always "be right" and focus on what is most important... spreading love and grace. 

An extra note too... when we do this- when we live fully in freedom of grace and of letting go of the small things... we inevitably are blessed by a community that is created based on grace. A community that surrounds and offers grace instead of nitpicking or harsh words. A community that realizes the importance of love over the need to be right. That is a beautiful gift and result of living fully in the knowledge that God will never reject us and offering grace.

"God will never walk away from His people, never desert his precious people."
-Psalm 94:14, the message-

Thank you so much for reading each Wednesday these little devotional pieces that have been inspired by When Calls the Heart. I have been so grateful for your encouragement in this endeavor. These devotional pieces will be away for the next two weeks as I have surgery next Monday, the 20th, and will return on Wednesday, April 5th. I would covet prayer for this surgery and am grateful for your support. Thank you again for all of your sweet support and love! I look forward to re-connecting in a couple of weeks!
Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*


36 Birthday Moments of Gratitude

Friday is my birthday and I am excited! I truly believe that there are good things in store for this coming year and that healing and many answers to prayers are on their way! I am excited to see what the Lord has planned for this coming year!

I have shared in the past that while I know some people reflect on the past year during New Years I have always looked back on my "new years" in two different ways: (1) at the start of a new school year and (2) on my birthday. 

As I approach my 37th birthday on Friday, I look back on thirty-six with so much thankfulness and gratitude from the past year. While I could list hundreds of blessings from this past year I wanted to share thirty-six moments of extreme gratitude that stand out to my heart from this past year (in no particular order).

one: the amazing generosity and kindness of so many people that have walked this journey with me and continue to stand by my side. Truly I am incredibly blessed. 

two: being protected from the blood clot that was unexpectedly found a few days before my birthday and the miraculous removal of the clot

four: visiting the Mother Cabrini Shrine and discovering more about this beautiful woman who said, "I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him."

five: Learning the beautiful truth of celebrating ordinary accomplishments

six: The joy of celebrating old-fashioned Sundays
seven: these two beautiful people that sacrifice every single day in so many hundreds of not only help me get better but for the ability to bring joy and laughter to each difficult day. 

eight: Seeing the Lord answer some intensely private prayer requests 

ten: for precious friends who have walked this long journey with me and continue to pour out their love each and every day... sharing continuous grace upon grace onto my life
eleven: Path of Hope Book Release in April! 

twelve: the beauty that comes with forgiveness and making peace with the fact that while some friendships change, shift, and end there are the friendships that grow so deep that you could never have imagined life without them.

thirteen: learning in new ways that the Lord meets us in faraway places

fourteen: a successful port placement of #courtneytheportney 

seventeen: remembering so many precious memories the day before December Caravan was released
eighteen: seeing Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe

twenty-four: writing on this little space for FOUR years (!!) It has been so lovely to connect with so many people, develop deep and lasting friendships, and to grow in this community

twenty-five: a grandmother who prays and prays and prays... and prays... and prays.... 

twenty-seven: spending a day at Disney with Emily
twenty-eight: the entire Disney Dream Cruise ... absolutely AMAZING (and visiting Castaway Cay and our exciting port adventure at Atlantis

thirty: the opportunity to speak on writing and marketing for Indie Author Day and speaking in Phoenix, Arizona on Lyme Disease

thirty-two: learning personally the truth of the Lord giving strength for each day...for every battle... and for this fight for my health.

thirty-four: having so many new adventures

thirty-six: learning that the Lord has a plan beyond my own little imagination.

2016 alone brought so many different, unique, and precious memories that I shared about HERE which I am also so incredibly grateful for! 

Thank you so much to all of you who have made this past year such a blessing! I am so thankful for each of you in my life! Thank you again!


10 MORE Things to Pray for Yourself as a (Future) Wife

Picture found on Internet, Words Added by Caravan Sonnet
I have mentioned many times here on the blog that I pray for my future husband on a regular basis. I try to spend time each day praying for him, knowing that when I am married to him that I will want to make prayer a regular part of my life with my husband and for my husband. One of the things that I get asked repeatedly is what exactly I pray for my future husband so I have shared in the past a post on 10 Things to Pray for Your (Future) Husband which can be found HERE. I also have shared 10 More Things to Pray for Your Future Husband which can be found HERE and 10 Things I Pray for Myself as a (Future) Wife which can be found HERE

Today I wanted to share 10 more things that you can pray for yourself as a (future) wife. If you are married I highly encourage you to pray for your husband and if you are single or engaged, I encourage you to start praying for your future husband starting now!

(One) I pray that I would have a hunger for God's word, a passion to know Christ above anything and anyone else.

(Two) I pray that I would have big and daring dreams to change the world for Christ. I pray that I will not be content to just accept the world the way that it is, but have a passion for a calling that is uniquely mine that I can join together with my future husband in. 

(Three) I pray that I would dream big dreams and attempt big things for God, but also have the unique understanding on how to love the people that are placed in front of me. That I would have a genuine understanding of Mother Theresa saying, "Want to change the world? Go home and love your family"

(Four) I pray that I would be filled with joy. I pray that I would know the love of Christ so intimately and that I  would be filled with strength and dignity so that I can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25) because my ultimate source of peace is found solely in God.

(Five) I pray that I would be delivered from any trials that I am currently going through. I pray that the Lord would write a redemptive story out of any circumstance that I am going through.

(Six) I pray that I would have great discernment that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. I pray that I would consult God before anything and anyone else and pray for wisdom for each and every decision that I am facing whether it be small or big. 

(Seven) I pray that even now the Lord is developing me to be an excellent mother to our future children. I pray that I would have a heart for raising up men and women who love the Lord more than anything else, that I would develop patience and laughter, and that I would have a heart for the orphan.

(Eight) I pray that I would be protected... protected physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

(Nine) I pray that even now the Lord would be preparing my heart for him alone. That our hearts would be joined together by God, the tapestry for this being woven right now as we pray and wait for each other. 

(TenI pray that I would be a woman of prayer. I pray that this will be a hallmark and benchmark of my life, understanding the importance and necessity of prayer.

Are there any specific prayers that you pray for your future spouse? I would love to hear what things you pray for!

(PS- If you are looking for encouragement in the single season of life you can find all of the posts that I have written on the topic of singleness HERE or find my book, Prayers for the Single Journey where books are sold or on Amazon by clicking HERE!)


35% off Sale in the Shop THIS weekend ONLY

I am having a HUGE sale at the shop! Starting today through Sunday everything is 35% off!! Simply use the coupon code MARCHSALE to receive your discount when you checkout!

Due to my upcoming surgery I have had to make the difficult decision that my shop will be temporarily closing on Wednesday, March 15th and won't re-open until April 1st. This has been a hard and difficult decision as I so enjoy creating but is also a necessary one at this point with this unforeseen situation. SO this weekend is your chance to shop and receive a discount!

ALL proceeds from this sale will be going to benefit my upcoming medical expenses for surgery.

So head on over and check it out! You can click HERE to easily go to the shop! 
Thank you again for all of your support of my shop! 
I hope that you are having a wonderful start to your weekend!
Again, please use the coupon code: MARCHSALE to receive 35% off your entire purchase. Thank you so much for your support of my shop this year! What a joy and blessing y'all have been!

Happy Friday sweet friends! I hope that you have a WONDERFUL weekend!

A Few of My Favorite Things from the City Chic Sale

The last couple of weeks I have been sharing about some of my favorite things in my Friday Fashion posts and today I am so excited to share about a few of my favorite pieces from the City Chic Sale

Last year, when we visited Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe I shared about one of my favorite City Chic pieces (this beautiful red and black dress). To be honest I came across City Chic more by "accident" when I first purchased a piece of theirs that I found at a thrift store. Feeling unbeautiful and struggling with the changes that my body had made due to my fight with Lyme Disease and certain meds that I am on that are necessary for my health, I was delighted to find a dress that made me look and feel "girly" again. After this I continued to search for more pieces from this company at thrift stores and continue to watch the sales/clearance section from City Chic a couple of times a month.

I was just on their website a couple of days ago and here are a couple of my favorite things from the sale:
I love this dress from the sale and the boho kind of feel that it gives. I also love that it would be perfect for the spring and summer! 

This lace dress is adorable and I love the back of it too! 

When I saw this dress I did a double take because it reminds me of something that Target just released for their Spring collection. I love the boho summer feel of this dress! 

This dress is one of my favorites from the sale pieces for only $40. I love the way that this could be worn throughout the Spring and Summer as a cute day dress or paired with some fun jewelry for a night out. 
These adorable shorts are so cute and perfect for summertime for the beach or for a casual day. They are currently on sale for $15! 

So there are five of my favorite things from the City Chic Sale! What about y'all? Any favorite pieces from the sale that you would recommend? ALSO if it is your first time shopping at City Chic use the coupon 25OFF1ST to receive an ADDITIONAL 25% off of your entire purchase, INCLUDING the sale purchases AND free shipping!! Hurry! These pieces go quickly and you don't want to miss out! 

Happy Friday y'all!! 


5 Reasons Every Blogger should Use PicMonkey

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win
1. The Cost
Compared to other photo editing bundles and prices, PicMonkey is by far the most affordable option that I have found to edit photos, add watermarks to my photos, and to create Pinterest size able images. The basic plan which allows you to have access to some of the core editing tools, basic touch up features, basic effects, and basic overlays, fonts, and textures is FREE. This is a great option for newbie bloggers and those who are on a tight budget.

But, if you want access to the advanced touch up tools, advanced and primo effects, overlays and fonts, top-shelf templates, custom effects, the option to edit after saving your work and no ads than the price will absolutely stun you as it is only $3.99 a month if you sign up for the annual plan and $7.99 if you pay month to month. This is amazing and for those, like myself, who are watching every penny it is extremely affordable to be able to have this at my fingertips at such a great price. Want to sign up right now? Click HERE.

2. The Easy Ability to Create a Watermark for Your Photos
With all of the ways that photos are "stolen" and copied now-a-days it is important to have a watermark on your photos. PicMonkey makes it easy to create this watermark! If you are looking for an easy tutorial on how to create a PicMonkey watermark for your photos I found THIS post from Pinterest to be really helpful in explaining things step-by-step!

3. Easy to Create Printables
For bloggers that are interested in offering free printables to their community, PicMonkey makes it easy and simple to create these. If you are interested in an easy tutorial on how to create free printables in PicMonkey I found THIS post one Pinterest to be really helpful!

4. The Easy and Affordable Ability to Edit Images
As bloggers we spend so much time taking and editing photos and as much as I want to be able to purchase an expensive editing software, I just can't afford that right now. I have loved that PicMonkey gives the opportunity to affordably edit images so that pictures look professional on the blog.

5. Easy to Create Pinterest Images
One of the highest ways to drive traffic to your blog is through Pinterest and creating images that are "pin-worthy" to stand out among all of the hundreds of thousands of pins that are pinned throughout the day is incredibly important. PicMonkey gives you the ability to create Pinterest images and also Pinterest board covers easily and without breaking your budget.

What about y'all? Do you use PicMonkey? If you want to sign up to try it out for a week free you can click HERE


From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week 6): The Hope Beyond the Lines

Whenever I consider this precious scene that took place between Jolene Miller and Elizabeth in episode 8 of season 1, I always marvel at the wisdom of young Jolene to so adequately express what so many of us think and deal with in hard seasons of life. Like Jolene we can know the lines of scripture or what is the right thing to say but it can be hard to believe the words that we so often repeat when we look around at the difficult circumstances of life that we face.

This past week I have been reading scripture about how God works in the dark. As my life has taken a completely different course than I could ever have imagined I often grapple with the question, “How does God work?” Throughout the last several years in a variety of different ways in many different situations- from my bed, from a hospital floor, from a hotel window, from an airplane window overlooking giant soft clouds, and most recently from looking out over the wide expanse of the moon on the lake at a precious place I fondly call “camp”.

For a while in this journey I struggled through the season as Jolene talks about. Knowing the lines and the words but struggling to believe them as I lay bedridden in pain unable to walk and move.  In many ways this young girl eloquently expressed in words that I had been trying to formulate in that dark season. Maybe I was afraid to say them out loud or maybe if I am honest I was afraid to admit them to myself.

Years ago I struggled with a different diagnosis but unlike this journey, I received the diagnosis was told by many doctors that there was no hope, had a miraculous surgery and within a year I was back to my “real life”. I think I thought that this journey would be the same. But things never happen the same way twice and this journey unlike others is not finished. The story that I long to be living isn’t the one that the God who loves me the most is writing.

Instead, this journey is in the middle. This story doesn’t have an end right now that is appears all happy. This story is messy and painful. This journey has been long and has cost me (and those who love most) a lot. On certain days it is easy to sit and wonder as Jolene said, if I believe the lines anymore.

It is tempting in life to focus on the bad instead of the good. It is tempting to focus on the difficult things that are so numerous that if I let them they would be the sole focus of life. If I let them they would wrap around my soul like a dark moonless night and harden it.

And on days like Monday where things have not gone according to plan, where a potentially new and scary diagnosis waits in the wings, where another surgery is needed, when it was necessary to put some stricter boundary lines in place due to my health, when a new doctor didn’t understand my condition, when friends haven’t been as supportive as I would hope, when tears wouldn't stop falling, and when I had a difficult reaction to a new prescription – it is days like that that I remember this scene between Jolene and Elizabeth and understand how easy it is to live with the questions instead of the truth. Where it can seem to wallow in all of the dark and all of the things that can make our lives seem like night without the glittering stars. Where... a young girl has the courage to express the words and search for the truth through the grief.

But the truth is that is where hope lies. When the lines seem like just lines and yet we continue to say them, continue to preach them, continue to believe them and live them. Because it is in the night, in the messy and dark and scary places that hope lives.

There is a verse in Exodus that states; “The Lord caused the sea to go back… all that night”. I love this verse. I love how it shares and focuses that God is at work in the dark. When all seems lost and you cannot see because of the darkness, God is still at work. God will continue to work “ all that night” until light comes so do not fret about the darkness. And in the dark we gently learn once again that the lines are not just lines, but the breath and hope to our weary souls. 

"The Lord caused the sea to go back...all that night."
-Exodus 14:21-
Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*