Caravan Sonnet: May 2017


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!


10 Tips For Exploring Your Own City

Traveling is a gift. Traveling somewhere new is a beautiful gift that you can give to the soul. Traveling and exploring your own town or city that you live in (or one nearby) is a gift that can change your life. 

If you have been around this blog for a little bit then you know that I love to travel and be adventurous, but I have also learned in new ways to be content in this season where my health doesn't allow me to travel as much as I would like. Honestly, learning the reality of contentment in this season has been a hard but a beautiful lesson and has directly affected my thoughts of living life with adventure and also looking "closer to home" for new things to explore. 

One of the beautiful things about the internet is that you can find so many lovely bloggers who travel to far and wide places. It is SO lovely to explore the world through their eyes, but at the same time I am also very inspired by those bloggers who not only travel but take the time to explore the world that they live in day to day. The bloggers who see all of their lives as a beautiful adventure and not just the times they travel great distances or to a new land. The bloggers who have the unique and wonderful ability to share with us their lives all around them. One of the most beautiful examples of this is Amanda's blog, Marshalls Abroad Amanda has lived around the world and in each place has shared her gorgeous pictures of their adventures to new places but her love for the here and now. It is absolutely inspiring. 

As summer approaches and people start sharing their different summer plans I thought it would be a perfect time to share tips for exploring your own city and finding the joy and adventure that can be found in your own backyard. Maybe you don't have a ton of money to travel to far away places but you can explore the culture that is found in your beautiful area of the world. Maybe your health doesn't allow you to travel as much as you would like, but you can take a short car ride to see the beauty around you. Maybe you can't leave your job to travel far but you can spend a weekend traveling around your town. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to develop your wanderlust, I hope that this post will inspire you to explore right where you are! 

Here are 10 tips for exploring your own city... 
1. Ask your Friends, Co-workers, Neighbors on where to go
Whenever I have moved to a new place I always make it a point to ask people what their favorite thing is to do in the area.  It is always so much fun to hear what people consider the best things to do are and it will give you a list to jump off of as you consider your own adventures. You may have returned to a city that you have lived in before after being away for a while or you may have lived in the same place your whole life. Either way take the time to ask your friends, co-workers, and neighbors for ideas on what to see and do in your own city. You may be surprised with the answers that you discover! 

2. Eat at Someplace New
This suggestion probably seems a little funny at first, but it is so easy to get into a "rut" of eating at the same place week after week or day after day. When we travel we are often forced to try new places and things to eat so why not do this in your own city? Check out your city and see what the local newspaper says is the best "hole in the wall restaurant"? Instead of eating at your favorite restaurant why not try a dinner cruise in your town? Think outside the box and explore your city by trying to eat something new or different just like you would if you had traveled somewhere new. 

One thing that some friends and I did when we lived in DC was to try the "top 25 restaurants" that had been listed in the "Washingtonian". It was so fun to explore these restaurants that we may never have discovered otherwise! Check your local paper for new restaurants, their top picks, and "secret" hole in the wall locations! You may be surprised at what you find! Live in a bigger city and can't afford some of the pricier restaurants? Sign up for restaurant week! 
3. Be a "Tourist" in Your Own Town
A simple way to explore your own city is to pretend to be a tourist in your own town. What are the places and things to do that you recommend to others who visit your town? Think about the unique things that you may do with them and find out more about those places that might offer different or unique opportunities. 

Back in February my family and I drove up to Lake Placid to spend time doing all of the touristy things and it was a blast. I have been to Lake Placid so many different times throughout my life and I love it, but honestly haven't done some of the things that we did. One of the most beautiful things that we did was taking the Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride up Whiteface mountain. It was simply breathtaking. I definitely plan to do this again in different seasons! 

Another example of this is "Jazz on the Green" in DC. When I lived in DC so many of my friends and family who visited wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art. As a lady who loves art, the museum (and its gardens) is wonderful and I definitely recommend it, but the museum (like many museums) offers so much more than simply exploring their collections. One of the great things that the National Gallery of Art hosts is "Jazz on the Green" in the summer months (starting at the end of May). The event is free and hosts a ton of different artists throughout the summer. You can purchase food and drinks there and it makes for an enchanting evening in the summer. 

What does your city offer that might be similar to this? Think like a tourist and check things out a little bit more in depth and you may be surprised at what you discover! One simple way that you can pretend to be a tourist is to purchase a travel guide for your city that you live in (or a city that is closest to you)! When I first moved to Georgia years ago I did this and it was so fun to explore and see the city through different eyes.  
I love Lonely Planet books and right now they have an amazing sale going on their site! Click HERE through April 6th, 2017 to get your discount and start planning your trip now! 

Interested in a travel journal of your city to use as a keepsake? Consider looking through the travel journals that are available for purchase in my Etsy shop

4. Go see a  (different) Sports Event 
Many people have "their teams" that they cheer for and sports teams that they religiously follow. But did you know that there might be a different sport that you may find you like just as much by trying it out? If you love football why not try and see something different in the Winter and Spring months? Be open to trying new things and you may discover a whole new side of your city! 

5. Try Something Different in Your Hometown
Anyone that knows me knows that I loved growing up tubing and skiing on the lake during the summer months. Some people though have heard the humorous story of how wake boarding came to our family. For some reason we never did this growing up and I honestly am not sure why, but several years ago I was out in Washington state visiting a friend and his family took us boating on a nearby river. Their big thing was wakeboarding and were surprised that I had never tried it before. It was so much fun and it has been so fun to watch my sister doing it now also! For some reason though this has added a completely new aspect to the lake for us and I really am convinced that it is because it is something new. So my advice and encouragement is to take the time to try something new in your own city that you may only try if you were traveling somewhere else!

6. Try a Different Form of Transportation
It is so easy to use our cars to drive when you live in the city you are wanting to explore, but why not try exploring your city through a different form of transportation? Just like if you traveled abroad why not try using the metro system, riding bikes, or walking through your city? You may be surprised at what you discover simply from trying a different form of transportation. 

Do you like to Hike or Bike in general? Why not make it a goal to try all of the different hiking or biking trails in your area? Or why not join a club that does the same thing? One of the things that I recommended to do as a summer activity on Lake Champlain if you love hiking is to join the "46ers" club. Who knows what your town or city may have to offer that is similar! You may meet new friends and have a great time exploring something completely new in your city! 

7. Participate in the Local "Customs"
Is your city "known" for something? Many times people who live in a city that is known for something (politics, fashion week, military activities, natural wonders, etc.) don't end up attending these things. Whether it is because we live in that place and "are so used to it" or we just don't think of attending, many times the locals actually miss out on local customs. This is such a simple thing to change- simply investigate what your city is known for (or why people come to visit it!) and check out the things to do! 
8. Stay at a Local Hotel, Inn, or Bed & Breakfast
A great way to explore your city and make you feel that you are on vacation is to stay at a local Hotel, Inn, or Bed & Breakfast. Having the opportunity to "get away" for an evening is something that can make you feel that you truly are on a vacation even if you are in your own city. (Don't have the finances to stay someplace? Some friends of mine had a perfect idea for this: swap houses with some other friends! It gives everyone a chance to go someplace new and feel like you are getting away!) 

9. Walk around Downtown. 
Many cities are giving life to their "downtown" areas with unique shops, local eateries, coffee shops, etc. Why not spend a day walking through the downtown and exploring your city? You may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover and learn!
10. Explore the Natural Resources around your City
I shared a couple of years ago about discovering "the Hurricane Chapter" in the Adirondack Mountains and what a joy it was! It is amazing that despite the fact that I have spent nearly half of my life in this area of the United States that I was not aware of these beautiful mountains. What started out as a simple drive brought such beauty to my world and joy in discovery! That trip has inspired so many other trips around where we live including visiting the Mother Cabrini Shrine and Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid

What land or natural beauty is around your city? Look on a map and see what natural resources surround your area! You may be surprised to discover areas that you have never explored or driven to! (Don't see anything new? Look up national parks, gardens, waterfalls, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. that are around your city! You are guaranteed to find something!!)
What are tips you have for exploring your own city? Never feel that this is second to exploring other areas of the world! Remember sweet friends, your beautiful life is the adventure and no matter how near or far you can physically go, you can make life FULL of adventure and joy right where you are at! Want to find more travel tips and travel experiences here on the blog? Click HERE! Want to read more on my thoughts on being adventurers? Check out this post HERE! Looking for additional tips on exploring your city this summer? Check out this post HERE!

Have a beautiful day fellow travel lovers! 


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.


Sunday Scripture Seven (Psalm 126:5)

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!


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!


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.*