Caravan Sonnet: May 2017

5/31/17

From Hope Valley Devotional (Week 16): The Blessing of Name Calling Truth

There are a lot of lovely moments in the 1st episode of Season 2, but one of my all time favorites is when Mayor Ramsey announces the name change from Coal Valley to Hope Valley. The symbolism that comes from a name is powerful isn't it? This profound scene shows us the blessing of name calling truth in a person's life. 

As a former history teacher I was intrigued to learn that often times towns in early America were named for a certain person or a certain set of circumstances that occurred. For example Coal Valley (although fictional for this story line) was similar to many towns in the west that were coal mining towns. But what is also particularly interesting is that over time there are many historical examples of many towns changing their names due to changing circumstances and eventually many original town names were lost or those that remained were seen as obscure or obsolete. 

We also see an even more personal touch of the power of names in history in Native American culture where parents would typically consider many factors when naming their children. In some New England tribes little ones received descriptive names and as they grew into adolescence they would receive new names that would reflect their different experiences. In some cases it wasn't uncommon for people to receive name changes several times over their lifetime. It also was very common for those in Native American tribes to try to strive and grow into new names of courage and honor, recognizing the power and blessing of name calling truth.

There is a beauty in these historical examples of towns changing names and people striving for particular names, isn't there? The power of a name change. The power of what we call another person. The power of picking names that we speak over and call another person has incredible potential to change the course of another human life. 

In our modern world one of the clearest examples of name choosing typically comes when parents are picking names for their children. But as adults, have you ever stopped to consider the possibility that we have the potential and the opportunity to instill the same type of "hope" into another person's life with our names that parents due at birth? I hadn't thought about it a lot until recently, but there is tremendous potential to change a person's life with the words and names that we speak over them and call them. 

In Scripture we constantly see the importance of names and I am amazed at the way that the Lord names us. Here are just a few of the names that the Lord calls us in the Bible...

* I am a child of God (John 1:12)
* I am the apple of God's Eye (Psalm 17)
* I am treasured (Deuteronomy 7:6)
*I am redeemed (Romans 3:24)
* I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
*I am free (Romans 8:2)
*I am accepted (Romans 15:7)
*I have been called a saint (I Corinthians 1:2)
*I am chosen (Ephesians 1:4)
* I have purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
*I am bold (Ephesians 3:12)
* I am confident (Ephesians 3:12)
* I am complete (Colossians 3:3)
*I am loved (I Thessalonians 1:4)

And the list goes on and on and on... 
Today, dear friends, let's live in the beautiful promise that there is a blessing in name calling someone with truth. Let's remind those around us of who they are in Christ. Let's speak life into those who have lost hope. Let's remind them that they are treasured, loved, chosen, and have a unique purpose in this world. Let us speak boldly into the "meanness" and death words that are often given and said to people and let us speak life into each person's "coal valley" name. Today, let us believe and know that there is a beautiful blessing that comes with speaking name calling truth... the blessing of freedom and love... and most of all hope. 

"[You are] God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved.."
-Colossians 3:12-


Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

I receive several emails a week asking where you can watch older episodes of "When Calls the Heart". If you have a Netflix account you can find seasons 1-3 there or you can purchase them on Amazon. You can purchase and watch all of the seasons and episodes by clicking on the links below:
When Calls the Heart, Season 4 (All of the episodes from the Season are now available on Amazon for purchase.)

*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.*

What's Up Wednesday (May 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 has been so fun to connect with so many other ladies who are doing this each month over last year and I am looking forward to connecting more in 2017. Here are all of the "What's up Wednesday" posts from 2017:


And here are all of my "What's up Wednesday" posts from 2016: 


 If you would like to join in and have a blog, just answer the questions above!

What We're Eating this Week... 
Blackberries. And more blackberries. 

I have shared before how I work to get tons of greens into me every single day but I also work to get 4-6 cups of fruit into me every single day. A huge amount of this fruit right now and for the past month has been comprised of blackberries. I seriously can not get enough of them. I eat about 1/2 cup in my morning smoothie each day and then every afternoon I eat about 2 more cups of fresh blackberries. 

Next week I am sharing the incredible health benefits of blackberries and seriously y'all it is amazing. Anyone else love blackberries?

What I'm Reminiscing About... 
 So last week on the blog I shared some of my best and worst travel stories. It was so fun to recap so many different trips over the years! I received a few emails from people asking why I didn't talk more about cruises specifically and I definitely plan to write a post specifically to cruising! 

It is so fun to reminisce about trips of the past while dreaming about future trips that are coming up. In the next 18 months I have so many exciting adventures coming up, including a trip to Prince Edward Island, Alaska, and Europe! I can't wait to share more with y'all! At the moment I am continuing to research like crazy for my upcoming Prince Edward Island trip. If you missed last month's post I am still looking for lots of great recommendations for the upcoming trip to Prince Edward Island (from Boston) and would love to hear of any tips or places to see that y'all would recommend. You can read more about what I am looking for HERE

What I'm Loving... 
My ESV Journaling Bible, the Interleaved Edition. I shared this last month, but I still absolutely LOVE it. For such a long time I have always loved making notes in my Bible and bringing artistry to what I am studying. At the same time though I haven't wanted to cover other scriptures that I may want to really delve more into at a future date. Enter the ESV Journaling Bible, the Interleaved Edition. Every other page is a FULL blank page. It allows for tons of creativity and lots of note writing and I am loving every single moment of using it. It is a bit big and heavy so I still use my smaller Bible (THIS beautiful flower one from the Bloom Collection) for travel, but I can't say enough about the ESV Journaling Bible, the Interleaved Edition for my home Bible Study. If you have any questions I am happy to answer- it is wonderful!

What I've Been Up To...
Last week we moved down to camp from my grandmother's house which is about an hour away. We have been working on cleaning, unpacking, and getting settled in. I have been also working on getting the craft room set up to re-open my Etsy shop which has been closed for this past week! (You can find the shop by clicking HERE!)

What I'm Dreading... 
I can't say anything different than more treatment. But we take one day at a time, sometimes with a lot of tears and other times trying to laugh more than cry and remember the precious promise of Psalm 125:6:

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

What I'm Working on... 
Lots of marketing items, interviews, and things related to the release of the 2nd Edition of Praying through Lyme Disease which releases TOMORROW!! I can't wait for the release tomorrow and pray it will be a huge blessing to each person who reads it. Praying through Lyme Disease (the 2nd edition) will be available where books are sold and on Amazon. 
 I am also working on some final edits for September Caravan that will be released on September 1st! And also... 
When Lyme Invades that will be released November 1st! 

It is a busy writing year and yet, so exciting. I am so grateful for all of the support! I was SO honored to share that When Truth Refreshes has stayed in the top 500 books on Amazon in several categories since its release. I am truly so humbled and honored. You can purchase When Truth Refreshes HERE

What I'm Excited About... 
Lots and lots of things. Do you remember when I shared my word for this year? There are so many ways that I see this coming to fruition. Small, big, and beautiful ways. Even in the midst of pain I see so many lovely things that are happening.

What I'm Watching/Reading... 
I haven't been watching a ton of TV, but I am loving the new season of Amazing Race. Y'all know how much I love the show in general, but I love the twist this season and it reminds me of some of the first seasons of the series which are my favorite. Have y'all seen this season? 

What I'm Listening To... 
I am looking for some new podcasts to listen to. Anyone have some suggestions? 


What I'm Wearing... 
Transitional clothing to Spring. Even though the weather remains cooler, there are signs of Spring and Summer that keep appearing and this week we are supposed to get a few days in the 70s! I love this chambray shirt and black skirt combo with a fun necklace for these transitional weather days! 

You can find the skirt (similar HERE)//Chambray shirt (similar HERE)// Necklace HERE (find similar ones in my Chloe & Isabel Boutique HERE)// Shoes (similar HERE - LOVE these!)

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month... 
Summer Days and Nights. 

Bonus question this month: What is your favorite vacation spot?
I was thinking a LOT about this question and I realized that it is anywhere that I travel to with my tribe of family and friends. Honestly- that makes the ENTIRE vacation. *smiles* 

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

 Happy Wednesday!

5/29/17

Gratitude on Memorial Day

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." 

-Cynthia Ozick-


Several years ago, as I prepared to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday I realized that I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't know the history behind the particular day. So I decided to look it up and learn about it. As many of you know, Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday that is intended to honor the Americans who have protected our country throughout generations. Memorial Day started as a way to remember those who had died in the Civil War. At this time it was called "Decoration Day, and was first strted in Carbondale, Illinois in 1866. Over the decades celebrations spread to different towns and cities across the United States, and eventually in 1971 it became a formal national holiday. 

If you visit a grave site, you may see people placing coins on top of a grave. Each coin symbolizes a different thing. Pennies mean that you stopped by the grave site, dimes symbolize serving with the deceased and quarters mean that you witnessed the deceased death.

Having lived in different parts of the country, it is interesting to me how different areas celebrate this holiday. For example, when I lived in DC there was always a service held at Arlington Cemetery and always different concert options, while in NYC there are parades. Texas, Alabama, and Virginia also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day which honors Confederate soldiers. Different sections of the country offer all different ways to celebrate and last week I shared about different Memorial Day activities offered around the Lake Champlain area. No matter what you do to celebrate on Memorial Day don't forget to stop at 3pm to remember the deceased. Under an act signed by President Clinton in 2000, Americans are supposed to stop and remember the deceased at that time. 

I am so grateful to live in a country that takes time to honor the men and women who have served and our serving our country and their families. To all of our veterans and active military members and their families and loved ones: I am forever grateful for your service and sacrifice today and everyday. May you experience the gratitude our nation feels on this Memorial Day and beyond.

5/28/17

Sunday Scripture Seven (Psalm 126:5)

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To download and use for personal/church use, right click on the image and save to computer and print on thick cardstock or photo paper. Please tag @rebeccaannvandemark (on IG) or @caravansonnet (on pinterest or twitter) when sharing on social media.

Looking for past Sunday Scripture Posts? Click HERE!

5/25/17

26 Ways to Help a Friend with a Chronic Illness

Each week I receive a ton of emails from compassionate and kind people asking how they can be a good friend to someone with a chronic illness. These people are true treasures as they want to practically help a friend who is walking the difficult road of chronic illness. I am definitely 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 have truly touched my heart and my life in my journey with health issues.

1. Listen without judgment
The journey of chronic illness has ins and outs that unless you are living and walking that road is impossible to understand. I once shared about the long and winding road to healing with Lyme disease (HERE) but that post is true for anyone walking through a chronic illness. Your listening ear is the most important gift that you could offer in the journey.


2. Understand that Chronic Illness is a long-term issue. 
Walk in with your eyes wide open.The hardest thing in this journey can be friends who leave so truly understand that it is a long term thing.

3. Listen without offering advice (unless asked). 
When you offer unsolicited advice, it can come across as a lecture- even if that is not your intent. Someone once said: "Assume that we have heard all of the tips on living healthier and leave it at that." I couldn't have said it any better.

4. Offer monetary help if possible
Even with insurance patients with chronic diseases spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to get healthy. Many people with Chronic Illness, like myself, have already gone through all available resources. These types of gifts do not have to be large either. Someone gave me a five dollar gift card to Target that helped purchase necessities. Such a blessing! Truly gift cards are wonderful if that is an option for you to give!

5. Understand that Chronic Illness' are complex.

6. Send an email or a text just to say "hello".
It doesn't have to be long or take a lot of time but sending a quick "thank you" is truly a blessing.

7. Help with housework or yard work
One friend of mine has a friend who comes over weekly to mow her lawn since her husband fell ill. This gift has been a priceless help during an incredibly difficult time. If you don't have the time for housework or yard work consider spending the money on purchasing these services as a gift.

8. Leave a phone message. 
One of my dear friends always leaves her message with adding in precious words of "you don't have to call back...". Such a precious gift filled with understanding.

9. Pick up (and purchase if possible) prescriptions.

10. Pick up children from school or to create a carpool.

11. Offer your gifts that you have
A friend of mine has a friend who is a masseuse and offers a massage free of charge to her friend once a month. Another friend runs a house-cleaning business and offers her services free of charge once a month.

12. Take children to church or other events. 
Many times those with chronic conditions are forced to miss out on everyday and important events. An offer to take their children would give them a piece of mind.

13. Send cards but not "get well" cards.

14. Send care packages.

15. Buy nice pajamas
Those with chronic illnesses spend a lot of time in bed or in the hospital and nice pajamas are always a lovely gift.

16. Magazines are a lovely gift.

17. Be very careful about your timing. 
One day when I ended up in the emergency room and I texted a few friends asking for prayer. One friend responded back asking me if I truly had faith that I would be healed because then I wouldn't need prayer. I am sure it was not meant to be hurtful but the timing could not have been any worse. It came as the nurse attempted her sixth stick for an IV and I couldn't stop throwing up. I expected some encouraging words only to read those words. Timing, as the old adage says truly is everything.

18. Pick up groceries.

19. Come and just sit or watch TV or a movie with your friend.

20. Flowers. 
Is there ever a wrong time for flowers? *smiles*

21. Don't say: "But you don't look sick" or... "But you don't act sick".
One of the most read posts on my blog is my post entitled, "But You Don't Act Sick" (HERE). I am not sure what a sick person is supposed to act or look like but the reality is that there is a reason many illnesses are called "invisible illnesses". 

22. Treat your friend as a whole person. 
The best gifts I am offered are by my closest friends and family who treat me as a whole person. I am more than my illness. I have a lot of other things going on in life and while my illness may be central to a lot of the issues, I still like to talk about normal everyday things.

23. Offer a gift card to buy movies or TV seasons or purchase a Netflix, Pureflix, or Hulu subscription. 
This definitely can help pass the time.

24. Respect the limitations and boundaries of your friend.

25. Food and meals are always appreciated. 
One of the hardest parts of  dealing with a chronic illness is not having the energy to cook. Meals are a gift. One idea is to offer a meal once a month which would be a complete blessing for someone.

26. Before you deliver food check with your friend about allergies (and timing). Lots of people with chronic illnesses have food allergies. Make sure to check with them before you purchase or deliver food.

What are some things that you have done to help a friend with Chronic Illness? If you are the one with Chronic Illness what are things that you have found helpful?

Interested in more suggestions? Lisa Copen, the founder of Rest Ministries, Inc. wrote a book entitled, "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend" which you can find on Amazon HERE

Interested specifically in ways to help a friend walking through Lyme Disease? My new book, "When Lyme Invades: Encouragement and Practical Tips for Loving Your Friend Through Lyme Disease" will be releasing on November 1st! You can read more about the book HERE.

Happy Thursday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day!

5/24/17

From Hope Valley Devotional (Week 15): The Blessing and Hope Found in Acceptance

Amy Carmichael, the famous missionary to India, once famously said; “in acceptance lies peace”. As I watched this heart-breaking scene in the 8th episode in Season 1, I immediately thought of this quote by her. As I watched Laurel say these above words I had tears at the simple trust and faith that Laurel had as she spoke the words of truth to her husband in one of their darkest hours.

When life crashes in around us and the days of darkness seem to have no end, it can become tempting to run and fight the path and the course that has been set out before us. It can be tempting to believe that the winds of change are not bringing any good but only bad. It can feel impossible to believe that there could ever be a blessing and hope found in acceptance. And yet, there is... the blessing and hope is peace. 


The popular rendition of the saying “and if not He is still good” has been a phrase that has been seen countless times across social media accounts and in passing. I recently even saw it on a greeting card. 


This popular phrase is actually a paraphrase from Daniel 3:18. Daniel has just concluded his response to King Nebuchadnezzar who had threatened to throw Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire if they did not follow his commands. Daniel in faith shared that God could rescue and deliver them from this certain fate of death, but even if he did not, they would still refuse to worship the idols that were placed before them. The paraphrase, “and if not He is still good” is a powerful summary showing the faith that these young men had in God. Stating bravely and courageously that no matter the circumstances, God, who is the King of Kings is still God and is still good.

To be honest, I fell in love with the catchy phrase years ago and I used to say this phrase so easily that it practically just rolled off my lips. Did I mean it? Absolutely. But then... the very hard things in life occur and sometimes you are forced to re-evaluate what you used to say so easily. Sometimes you learn the hope beyond the lines that you used to say. Sometimes someone asks you if you still believe everything you used to say despite the circumstances that you now currently find yourself in. 


I received an email from a former student a while back asking if I still believed God is still good (despite my health issues, pain, and heartbreak from these last several years). I wept because I knew the sorrow that was surrounding this question in this individual’s life and I wished that I was well enough to travel to them to say face-to-face what my heart was screaming. Yes, absolutely yes dear one. Oh Yes. He is still good. 

Circumstances, if we let them can be refining windows into our hearts shining a light on what we truly believe. My circumstances in this life doesn’t change His goodness. I can attest in new and marvelous ways than I could ever before of His profound goodness through this trial. His faithfulness astounds me even on the most difficult day. The hard and the messy and the difficult don’t change who He is. 

His goodness rests solely on the truth of who He is and the reality that He has promised to never leave us, never abandon us, and has promised that He will walk with us through the fire. Whether we see it in this lifetime on this earth, or we don’t see the promises fulfilled until Heaven, He has done everything for us. 

These years of difficulty and pain have gently taught me the beautiful blessing and hope found in acceptance. 

You may be struggling in the heart of your own crisis of a dark night right now. You may be broken-hearted and it may seem that your life is in ashes right now. It may seem that life is unbearably cruel and difficult and you wonder how you will ever take the next step in front of you. My heart weeps with you... My heart hurts for the pain that you are struggling with. I have been there. I am there sometimes. And there will be times in life where I again will struggle through to find acceptance. 

Dear friends, let us resolve to go bravely forward and trust in the deep truth that even if nothing in our life looks right, we can still trust the Lord fully and rely on His goodness. Let us, as Laurel says to her husband, accept the hand that He has dealt us, understanding that no matter what, He is still good. 

He has never changed. 
He will never change. 
His goodness rests on His character alone.

Amy Carmichael, the missionary that I mentioned at the beginning of this post spent fifty-three years in India, where she endured numerous trials in her life. During these years she wrote a famous poem entitled, "in acceptance lies peace". Interestingly it is believed that she wrote this poem in the early 1910 era which would put it around the same time period in which When Calls the Heart is set. I wanted to share a few lines from it, because it is so encouraging. 

"In acceptance lieth peace. O my heart be still;
Let thy restless worries cease and accept His will,
Though this test be not thy choice;
It is His- therefore rejoice.

In His plan there cannot be aught to make thee sad;
If this is His choice for thee, take it and be glad.
Make from it some lovely thing
To the glory of thy King. 

Cease from sighs and murmuring. Sing His loving grace.
This thing means thy furthering to a wealthy place.
From thy fears He’ll give release,
In acceptance lieth peace.”

There is a beautiful blessing and hope that is found in acceptance dear friends... peace. For those of you who are struggling deeply today with this "and if not he is still good" refrain I wanted to link two songs that have been incredibly encouraging to me in my daily struggles. I play both daily, often crying and making them my prayers... may you be blessed and comforted and find peace in the hand that the Lord has given. 

It is Well... By Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music

Sovereign Over Us... By Aaron Keyes

"The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses them with peace."
-Psalm 29:11-

*If you are interested in reading the entire account of Daniel and his friends and the miraculous events that God did in their lives, You can read the entire account of Daniel and his friends in the first several chapters from the book of Daniel in the Bible found in the Old Testament.

** If you are interested in reading about Amy Carmichael, her life, and the poem that I quoted you can read her biography by Elisabeth Elliot HERE.

Looking for past From Hope Valley Devotionals? You can click HERE to find a complete listing of all of the devotionals! 

I receive several emails a week asking where you can watch older episodes of "When Calls the Heart". If you have a Netflix account you can find seasons 1-3 there or you can purchase them on Amazon. You can purchase and watch all of the seasons and episodes by clicking on the links below:
When Calls the Heart, Season 4 (All of the episodes from the Season are now available on Amazon for purchase.)

*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.*

5/23/17

My Best and Worst Travel Experiences

Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the best and worst travel experiences I have had! Starting off first with the worst, I honestly don't have any horrible stories. Every trip- even if it has gone in a different way than was planned has ended up teaching me something which in my mind is priceless, but there are a few that I necessarily wouldn't want to repeat. *smiles* 

(1) When I was in high school I went on a couple of mission trips down to Mexico with my church youth group. Each time we took the bus for the near 40 hour trip from Tennessee To Juarez, Mexico. The youth pastor had a real "love" for lots of McDonald's and Burger King and literally stopped to eat every meal of our trips at these two places. Let's just say that with the air conditioning dying and lots of traffic there were lots of us not feeling so great living off of these two fast food places. To this day I literally can't stand either of them.

(2) When I was in high school one of good friends invited me to Hilton Head with her family for a week. The trip down there was eventful as her parents loved to speed (I am talking going over 85 mph around windy roads) and loved Dunkin Donuts. The combination once again was not good for my tender stomach and once again as a result of a trip I grew to loathe a famous fast food indulgence. I literally to this today still hate the smell of donuts. 

hahaha... I am just realizing why I probably over pack healthy snacks on road trips now in my adult life.... hahaha.... 
(3) My third "worst" trip is a bit ironic as it turned out to be the worst for me (physically) but it also held incredibly awesome memories. When I was a cheerleading coach at the school I taught at in DC I took one of the teams to a cheer camp several hours away in PA. We had such a blast at the beginning and the time with the girls really was incredibly priceless. 

Unfortunately, one of the girls ended up getting really sick and about 24 hours later I ended up getting the most sick I had been in my entire life up to that point. I finally ended up in the hospital where I was diagnosed with viral meningitis. It turned out that the college campus that we stayed at had had an outbreak and had not informed all of us that were coming. The picture above is one of the ones from our first few hours on the campus... before the sickness hit. Again, precious times, but looking at the picture still makes me cringe. *hahaha*

As far as a best trip it is honestly hard to pick just one so I am sharing a bit about 9 of my favorites so far. Y'all know that I love to travel and each one trip has been sweetly different and unique with precious memories. Here are just a few of my absolute favorites (#1 and #2 are definitely tied *smiles*): 
I have shared about this entire cruise but it was simply wonderful. I loved every second and we had a blast starting off in Disney world and then heading on to a Disney Cruise. If you haven't been on one I can't recommend it enough- go! You can read about the cruise HERE
This cruise was absolutely wonderful. My parents had never been on a cruise before and when the opportunity came up to go it was a beautiful gift. We had such an incredible time and made so many different memories as we snorkeled in Nassau, relaxed and swam on Coco Cay and just had a great time laughing and being together. It was definitely a trip to remember. You can read more about it HERE.
3. California Trip in April -May 2013
This was the trip that really started my healing journey with Lyme Disease at the beginning. It is incredible to look back and think about all that transpired throughout this time including a diagnosis of Skin cancer, surgery, and the start of a healing protocol that I have no doubt saved my life. I look back at the picture of this woman sitting on a lifeguard station and can't help but smile with gratitude. I arrived in California barely able to eat and walk and arrived back home starting the process of healing. (You can read about all of the posts related to this season with this group of doctors HERE.)
This trip was filled with high anticipation as I flew back across the country (this time to San Francisco) to see a new doctor. By the time I arrived I was incredibly weak and very sick and to be frank... extremely afraid of what was to come. I knew that my body was dying and I had recently been rejected by Cleveland Clinic as a patient as I was told that my case was "to complicated". I arrived, met my doctor, said something brave like, "if you can't help me and I am going to die just let me know now". Now for the record she was number 325 of doctors I had seen about Lyme so I was VERY skeptical going into the appointment and I was trying not to cry as I was afraid to hope that they really could help me. She looked at me, didn't say anything for a few moments, and then said, "We will beat this. Your case is complicated but with hard work you will not die from this. It is going to take a long time and the fight will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but I will help you get your life back." To which I broke down and sobbed as my new kind-hearted doctor handed me a box of tissues. It has been three years and she has never once broken that promise. (You can read more about my first appointment HERE. It is amazing to see how far the Lord has brought me since that time!)
This trip I thought was going to be one of the worst trips... flying across the country to test dose extremely high dose medications and to get a port placed are not the typical "fun trip". But despite this and despite the circumstances of the trip the Lord provided some beautiful opportunities for my mom and I to see incredible beauty as we traveled along Highway 1, saw Muir Woods, and visited Lake Tahoe. As I look back on that trip I have to smile at the symbolism of God bringing beauty despite the darkness.
6. Senior Trip 2009
This senior trip was one of my absolute favorites and such an incredibly special time. While the pranks may have gone a bit wrong with the "London Bombing Night" (hahaha- Kaara, "now that, that is getting annoying... hahahaha) and the chairs that wouldn't stay on the roof that we did some cheerleading moves to get up there, and the schools credit cards not working when we went to purchase food... the laughter, the talks, the evening spent sharing thanks and love for each person in the room remains one of my favorite memories of life let alone a trip. The pictures above capture a few of the moments, but all of them will stay treasured in my heart forever. I love you guys. (PS- This is the class that I dedicated my book, December Caravan to which you can read more about HERE.)
This trip holds such precious memories to me as we had such a beautiful day in the park. I love these ladies and it was a sweet and fun day filled with lots of laughter, lots of fun, and lots of time to create beautiful memories that I will treasure forever. You can read more about this beautiful time HERE.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina holds a very special place in my heart that started with a senior trip in 2008 to this beautiful house (in the middle):
It was such an amazing trip with beautiful memories that when I moved to Georgia and took over the girls Bible class I knew it would be the perfect place to go for a retreat. The trips in 2010 and 2011 hold such precious memories and I look back and smile with gratitude for the beautiful Isle of Palms trips which you can read more about HERE.
9. Senior Trip 2012
This trip holds incredibly precious memories for me... for the trip itself, but also because I knew that life was about to change in huge ways. I had NO idea what these last five years would hold, but I look back on this trip with a smile... I remember on this trip finding the verse from Ezekiel that says, "the Lord is there". I can still remember meditating and thinking through this verse and seeing how the Lord has consistently used this throughout this journey feels like a "full circle moment". The Lord is there... This trip was beautiful and it remains one of my favorites... the people ... it was all just perfect. I love you guys deeply.

Okay, what are some of your best and worst trip stories? I would love to hear!!

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you have a beautiful day!