Caravan Sonnet: July 2017


From Hope Valley Devotional (Week 22): The Power of Sacrificial Love

Irena Sendler, the woman famous for saving 2500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto (and from the death camp Treblinka), once said: "I remember what [my] father used to say... you see a man drowning? You jump in and try to save him even if you can not swim." As I listened to Abigail's words in this scene in the 4th episode of Season 2, I immediately thought of this quote by Irena Sendler. When you love someone all you do want is the best for them and their happiness. It doesn't matter the cost to you as your priority becomes an all encompassing focus to serve and love the person that you care for. In this type of sacrificial love (which is so rarely seen today) there is the beautiful power of true love that can change our world. 

Sacrificial Love is the most powerful type of true love that exists. This is a love that comes without strings... without expectations... and without any thought to the cost that come to ourselves. 

Perhaps for a young mama this means that she has sacrificed her own dreams and plans to put her child in the front. Perhaps this means sacrificing our energy or time to take our lunch hour to listen once again to a co-worker's story. Perhaps this means coming along side an elderly neighbor to help them with mowing their lawn or grocery shopping. Perhaps this is encouraging a friend through a hand written note. 

Whatever sacrificial love looks like in our lives, it is giving extravagantly each and everyday when no one is watching. It is the little things that we do that have power to change our world through sacrificial love. 

It is the words of hope spoken to those going through a dark season in life. It is the countless prayers, believing that there is still hope to be found. It is the concept of living beyond what comes easy to ourselves and sacrificing so that someone else can be loved extravagantly and unconditionally. 

Irena Sendler, the woman that I mentioned at the beginning jumped in to give sacrificial love to thousands of people in their most crisis moments. But despite being a hero to thousands of people (including myself) Irena continued to say until her death that despite the thousands that she saved, the way that she lost family and friends, and the cost to herself as she was tortured... she wasn't the hero. 

She went on to say that it was the mothers who had given up in sacrificial love the thing that they loved most... their children. It was the mothers who never saw their children again (due to death in a concentration camp). It was the mothers who sacrificed to trust a stranger to smuggle their children out of the ghetto to be hid with other strangers for the remainder of the war. It was the mothers who sacrificed, realizing that instead of their love, it would be another's who would guide their children. 

And then it was these adoptive/foster mamas who sacrificed their own rations of food, clothing, basic needs, and necessities for a child that they didn't know. It was these mamas who cared for, held, fed, wiped the tears of, rocked to sleep, fell in love with, and fully adopted these precious ones that they were given at great risk to their own families. And then almost 4-6 years later, after the war had ended, it was these foster mamas who sacrificially gave up these children that they had come to love so that they could return to their extended family members. As Irena Sendler said... it was sacrificial love that changed the course of history for everyone involved. 

Dear friends, let us resolve to go bravely forward and walk boldly living out sacrificial love. Let us rest on who God is and His character to give us the strength and let us jump into the deep end of true sacrificial love. Our attempts to love people in this way may not be rewarded that we can see right here on this earth, but one thing is for sure... sacrificial love is never a waste. Love never dies. Love has the power to change anything. Don't stop. Keep going. Keep loving the people around you no matter the response and know that the sacrificial love you invest (even if you don't know what you are doing or feel like you don't know how to start at the beginning) will have the power to change the world. 

"Love never gives up. 
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always 'me first'...
It takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, 
Trusts God always, 
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies."
-I Corinthians 13, The Message-

If you are interested in learning more about Irena Sendler you can watch the Hallmark Movie, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, you can find purchase it on Amazon 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:

*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.*


Meeting Katie in Santa Cruz, California

A couple of weeks ago, after my doctors appointment out in California, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a delightful few hours with Katie, the author and blogger of Hope Engaged, her lovely husband and some extended family members, and meet and quickly fall in love with her precious little one, Avonlea. (Which by the way, if you haven't already seen her post about Avonlea's nursery tour you need to go see it now... it is adorable. You can see it HERE.)

This trip out to my doctors office was a bit different in several ways and for several reasons. First, I was traveling alone (something I hadn't been able to do in years); second, we were not test dosing any medications or getting a PICC line or getting a port put in (Thank the Lord!!) so the trip was a quick trip, and most importantly; third, as I continue to heal I find that I have more and more energy and strength to do the things that my heart longs to do- like spending time to visit with good friends.

So when I reached out to Katie a couple of months ago to see if it would be possible to meet up, I was so humbled when she said yes, and then invited me to come down for the afternoon to Santa Cruz where her family was having their annual beach vacation. Honestly, the couple of hours that I got to spend with Katie were such a blessing to my heart and soul.
I connected with Katie years ago through blogging and her posts, her emails, and her sweet prayers and encouragement have been such a blessing to my life. Meeting her felt like I was meeting a long-lost friend and it was such an incredible time of chatting and talking. I don't know if this is possible, because I adore her blog and her writing (please write a book *smiles*), but if it is, Katie is even more authentic and delightful in person. She has the gift of making you feel at ease, welcome, and loved within the first seconds of meeting her and when you spend time with her your heart just knows it is loved. Katie and her family, welcomed me with love and hugs physically, but if possible even more so at the heart level.

I know to those who are not bloggers, the whole "blogging  thing" and "blogging community" can be a bit of a weird and strange world. I had an interview yesterday about blogging and I was trying to explain how for some it is a hobby, but for others it is a full time job and career and at the end of the day you meet these amazing and fantastic people that become dear and life-long friends that you may never have had the chance to meet otherwise. At the heart of everything you read and get a small window into a person's life and words are incredibly powerful in showing you a person's true self. The ties that bind can go beyond blogging and I have been so blessed to call Katie a friend.
Thank you so much Katie for a delightful couple of hours that blessed my little heart. I am honored to call you friend. You are an incredible blessings and I hope that the Lord allows our paths to cross again soon!!  


Praying through Lyme Disease Update and Help

Happy Monday friends! I hope that y'all had a wonderful weekend! Like most summer weekends this one seemed to go by so quickly as I caught up with good friends and family members, chatted with friends living far away, worked on orders for the shop and also added new pieces to the shop (including an adorable pineapple planner!) and yesterday we tried to cram as much summer as we possibly could into one day as we enjoyed a break from the rain and being on the lake (and enjoying our first boat ride of the season!). What about you? What did you do this weekend?
Another thing that I worked on this weekend was packaging up some special orders of Praying through Lyme Disease that came through my personal website. Typically orders through my personal website are bulk orders or are orders to different countries for those who are unable to purchase Praying through Lyme Disease off of Amazon. I shared on Instagram several days ago that the two books above went off to Morocco and Japan, two countries that I had not previously had any of my books go to. It is always humbling when this happens. Any order of any of my books is humbling and I am so grateful for your continued support of my writing.  

I have been truly overwhelmed by the response since the 2nd edition of Praying through Lyme Disease released last month. I have no words, just extreme gratitude. 

I do have three favors that I am hoping y'all could help me with: 

(1) I am working to get this edition of Praying through Lyme Disease into libraries across the country (and around the world too) so as many people can have access to it without having to pay for it. Do you know a local library or have a connection to a local or church library that may be interested in me donating a copy of Praying through Lyme Disease to them? Would you please send me an email or leave a comment? I would love to connect with you and them!

(2) I would love to donate a copy of my book to any doctors office (Lyme or not) that may be interested in a copy. If you have any leads for this would you please let me know?

(3) Finally- if you have read Praying through Lyme Disease- would you consider leaving a review for others to know more about this book? It doesn't have to be long, but any reviews that help potential future readers learn more about this book would be such a blessing! Thank you! (You can leave a review HERE!)

If you are looking to purchase Praying through Lyme Disease you can buy it where books are sold and find it on Amazon HERE. And don't forget you can find the Large Print Version HERE!

Thank you again friends! I hope that you have a lovely Monday!


Sunday Scripture Twelve (Luke 1:37)

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!


NEW Altered Journals Available in the Shop!

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you are having a delightful weekend! Thank you so much for all of your sweet messages, emails, and notes as these past couple of weeks were filled with lots of travel: first out to my medical team in California (where we received AMAZING news!) and then last week to Florida for a work assignment and to spend time with dear friends!! 
It has been a whirlwind and I have missed connecting with y'all on this little space as I have spent this past week recovering from these trips and catching up with family and friends! 
In the midst of this it has also been such an exciting and busy time for me with my little shop!! The Shop has had an increase in orders and I am so thankful to each of you who have been supporting my shop with your orders! What a blessing you are!!
I am so excited to share with y'all just a few pictures of some new items that have been added to the shop this past week! Over the next several weeks there will be TONS of new items added so keep checking back and I will continue to share here also!
Y'all know that one of the shop's main staples is the altered journals that my shop offers and I am so excited to share that there have been lots of sweet new journals added to my shop!
These adorable new journals are so fun and are a wonderful gift for yourself or an affordable way to bless a loved ones birthday or to simply send as a present to someone!
There are different options of different types of journals and many other new items heading into the shop this weekend! 
If you are wanting to check out the shop you can click HERE! Thank you so much for your continued support of my shop
Happy Saturday sweet friends I hope that you have a wonderful weekend with friends and loved ones!


From Hope Valley Devotional (Week 21): The Power of Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Abigail has been one of the most central characters on When Calls the Heart for the last four seasons and we as viewers have been blessed by lots of different (and wonderful) advice that she has given. From the very first episode of the show Abigail has not only inspired the fictional town people of Hope Valley, but also the #heartie community at large with her gentle encouragement and rich wisdom. In this episode and conversation we are once again challenged to consider the beautiful truth that Abigail puts before us- the power of getting to the heart of the matter and going what is below the surface in conversations and arguments. 

This past week I have been thinking a lot about this statement that Abigail said to Elizabeth in the  seventh episode of Season 2. A friend was asking me about the secret to a long friendship that I have had with another individual. She had seen us interact and asked, "what is the secret that has made this relationship work?". I thought a lot about it and shared that there is a deep respect for each other, but more than that... even in the most difficult times and conversations, this friend has encouraged and gently challenged us to dig to the heart of the matter that is really below the surface.

 Sometimes this has made for some uncomfortable situations. Sometimes this has made for some very awkward conversations. Sometimes this has had us in laughter and sometimes through the hard and dark nights of my illness and crisis situations that are particular to my friends journey this has had us in tears. In each situation I have been met with kindness and compassion and most of all I have experienced the blessing and the power that comes with getting to the heart of the matter. 

I know that there were a lot of #hearties that would say that season 2 was one of their least favorite seasons. The first time I watched it I agreed. I didn't like the angst that happened between Jack and Elizabeth. I missed more of the town life that had been seen in Season 1 and I missed some additional aspects. But as I was writing these chapters... I realized that while Season 1 met me with great sweetness and inspiration, Season 2 challenges me. Season 2 holds lots of these rich and depth-filled conversations that really apply to our world today, especially this conversation. 

How easy it is for the world to walk away when things get rough in a friendship or in a relationship. How easy it is to "move on", "unfriend", or "unfollow" just because we don't want to take the time to get to the heart of the matter. 

Getting to the heart of the matter in each of our relationships is messy. It's difficult. It's complicated and to love each other profoundly and with a big and unconditional love it is hard. We have to take the time to really consider the person before us and what they are saying and also the reasons behind what they are saying. We have to take the chance to risk our own hearts and vulnerabilities, resting in the knowledge that there is a blessing and power that comes to getting to the heart of the matter in our conversations. 

Today, dear friends, let us have courage to dig deeper, to risk the vulnerability that comes with getting to the heart of the matter, and let's live courageously knowing that there is a power that comes from this... the blessing of deep relationships that can change the world. 

"So let's agree to use all of our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words... "
-Romans 14:19, The Message-

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.*


Leaving for Florida

I can't believe it... TODAY I leave on a beautiful adventure and an amazing long weekend with friends to Florida and Disney! I am so grateful to the friends who have made this possible and to Disney for their extreme kindness with an exciting blogging project that I  can't wait to share more with y'all in the next couple of weeks!

I will be away from the blog the rest of this week, but will be updating my instagram page while I am gone and can't wait to connect with y'all more over there! You can following along by clicking HERE

I hope y'all had a wonderful 4th of July and have a wonderful rest of the week! 

From Hope Valley Devotional (Week 20): The Hope of Seeing People with Grace-Filled Eyes

Since I first watched the seventh episode of Season 2 of When Calls the Heart, I have been extremely challenged by these words of truth by Pastor Frank. As we ponder these profound words I am challenged to consider a deeper truth that Pastor Frank has introduced us to- the hope of seeing people with grace-filled eyes. 

I am sure, like myself, that we have all experienced the change in how we can view someone based on a set of circumstances or a specific circumstance. Several years ago (shortly before this episode aired) I was the recipient of being some hurtful and untrue gossip. To be frank it happened with a former co-worker that I had considered to be a good friend. At the time it was incredibly hurtful and I admit that I struggled to not feel bitter about what had taken place. In a matter of moments I was tempted to erase all of the good that I knew and had experienced with this woman due to one circumstance. In a matter of minutes I realized that her careless words made me think only about the bad things of her. Like a powerpoint list it would have been easy to start thinking of only bad things. I stopped short, realizing that I was painting this woman, who I had considered a good friend, in only a bad light. 

I had completely lost sight of the hope of seeing her with grace-filled eyes. 

When I saw this scene with Pastor Frank talking with Abigail shortly after her encounter with the women gossiping about her, I immediately thought of my own life and this situation. The truth is that I really was also forced to examine the times in my own life where I may have said something flippantly or been a part of gossip and where I most likely caused some deep wounds in others lives. In each of these situations I was shown lots of grace and I learned that living in the hope of seeing people with grace-filled eyes changes not only ourselves, but others.

See, when I live like this- when I live with hope that there is not only the bad or the good in a person then I actually extend a grace to them that allows our relationship to thrive. If I only think the good about someone then eventually that person will fall from the pedestal that I have put them on. But if I see them with grace-filled eyes than I can admire them, see the good, and know that they are trying their best, and that no one is perfect, just like I am not. If I only see the bad with someone than eventually I don't even extend the hope that there is good. But if I see them with grace-filled eyes than I can pray for them, accept them for where they are at, and know that they are trying their best, again just like I am.  

Today, dear friends, let us have courage to live in the hope that comes from seeing people with grace-filled eyes. The hope that realizes that when we see people with grace we extend a blessing to our entire community that reaches beyond what we could ever imagine. We can believe the best, forgive with freedom, and live in grace.  Today. let's live bravely and courageously, knowing that grace brings a blessing beyond anything we could think or imagine... a grace to know that we are trying our best and the hope that comes when we see people with grace-filled eyes.

"Love each other as I have loved you."
-John 15:12-

Thank you for your patience as last week I did not have a "From Hope Valley Devotional" as I was traveling across the country to meet with my main medical team. I received so many lovely messages from this community and prayers and I am so grateful to share an exciting update which you can read about HERE. Thank you again for your love and kindness! 

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

And guess what? Tickets for the next Hearties Family Reunion go on sale on Saturday! If you are already not a member of the When Calls the Heart Facebook group you can join HERE and find out more information. Or if you would like to see the most up-to-date information about the reunion you can do so on the website HERE. If you would like to read about my experience last year you can do so by clicking on one of the links below:

Please let me know if you have any questions about the reunion! 

*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.*


Monday Inspiration and Encouragement (Volume Nine)

I shared a couple of months ago that for a while now I have had a dream of sharing some Monday inspiration and encouragement on the blog. Life is hard and I know full well that in the difficult times it can be hard to find inspiration, so a couple of months ago I shared my first post (which you can find HERE and all of the Monday inspiration posts HERE) and I plan to routinely share with y'all different things that I have found to be really inspiring and encouraging from all different genres and hope that it will encourage and inspire you for your week! 

To be honest I have come to look forward to these posts the so much throughout the week. I have realized that it makes me look and find more inspiration than could ever be shared in one post in all different areas! It is so much fun! I hope that these things continue to inspire you!
{first} It would be impossible to not share my gratitude for all of the love and encouragement that I received on my updated Notes from the Porch post update on social media and on the blog (you can read it HERE). Thank you so much for all of your love, your emails, your continued prayers, your support, and rejoicing with me in this news. While I still have a road in front of me, I rejoice greatly in where the Lord has brought me. 

{second} Okay, I shared this last week, but it needed to be shared again because I am still loving the sound and music. If you haven't checked out Hope Social Club do so. Absolutely love the sound and music. If y'all haven't heard of them check them out HERE. Go listen and let me know what your favorite song is! 

{third} So last week I asked if anyone had read "The Zookeeper's Wife" or watched the movie and then on the flight out to California I had the chance to read the book. Y'all I cried in some parts. I honestly had never considered all of the different parts of some of the Nazi invasion (including the idea of taking over the land and the animals in Lebenstraum) which this book explores. I also was amazed at the courage that this couple had to help save so many people. It is absolutely inspiring (extremely difficult to read in some parts) and worth your time. You can purchase the book on Amazon HERE. I definitely plan to watch the movie in the next few months (you can also watch the movie on Amazon HERE). I am excited to know y'alls thoughts! 
{fourth} I am so excited to have an incredible opportunity to head back to Florida and Disney this week. There is something so magical about Disney and is such an inspiration. I can't wait to go- and am excited to spend time with dear friends. Okay- here is a question for y'all- what are y'alls favorite restaurants (in and out of the parks)? I would love some suggestions!

{fifth} Have y'all heard of WOW air? I really don't know anything about them but just heard of them- anyone have any experience or thoughts on them?

I hope that you are inspired and encouraged by these four things on this Monday! What about you? What is inspiring you recently?

The Single Journey: When Everyone You Know is Getting Engaged

"Rejoice with those who rejoice..."
-Romans 12:15-

There seems to be certain seasons where social media is flooded with news that people are getting engaged. It happens throughout the year of course, but it seems like there are certain times and seasons where there is an overwhelming flood of beautiful pictures of a guy down on one knee asking his beloved to spend the rest of their lives with him. It can seem like everyone that we know from co-workers, family members, friends, roommates, to the woman at the post office sharing her good news with strangers all have an exciting engagement story to share. 

It is wonderful. I rejoice in all that the Lord is doing and how He is carefully scripting a new season and story for each person... and yet... it can be overwhelming and heart-wrenching to hear "one more engagement story". 

I often feel a deep kinship with Hannah (from the book of I Samuel) as it seems that everyone I know is getting what I so deeply long for. I come to the Lord often behind closed doors in "deep anguish, weeping bitterly" (I Samuel 1:10). "I am a woman deeply troubled... and I am pouring out my soul to the Lord." (I Samuel 1:15) As engagement news continues to pour fourth let us continue to go to the Lord in our anguish and grief. Our anguish of longing (not jealousy, but longing for the Lord to give us our hearts desire) and surrender our grief to Him. I know that I have been told before not to weep over singleness, but I do. I weep deeply, grieve the losses, and the trust God as I embrace this beautiful life that He has given me.

One of my favorite quotes by John Piper sums this up perfectly:

"Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have."

So let us weep and grieve and then embrace the beautiful lives that the Lord has given us and what He has given us right now. Let us trust and ask the Lord for courage to know that His timing is flawless and that He is directing our steps and each detail of our lives. We may long to be engaged and have a relationship right now, but for today, He has given us this gift of being single. Let us embrace it fully, not wasting it longing or wishing for a different season. For today we are given this gift. Tomorrow it may change. But we only have this day in front of us.

Living in the full trust of the Lord allows us to fully rejoice with those who are rejoicing (Romans 12:15). Not out of duty or drudgery, but out of love and trust, knowing that the Lord is guiding and directing each of our paths. For as we rejoice sweet friends, we are mostly rejoicing in the Lord. We rejoice in the way that we see the Lord at work and that gives us hope which in turn gives us joy. "The Hope of the righteous is joy" (Proverbs 10:28) and that is where we will find our joy completely. In the Lord, rejoicing in the timing and the stories that He writes each and every day.


Sunday Scripture Eleven (Isaiah 35:1)

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!


An Exciting Update

I am so grateful for all of your prayers these last few days as I traveled to CA. Weeks ago I had testing done to see where things are at with my health. I wept as I heard the news that I am officially healing. 

The healing that so many of you have been praying for for almost 1/2 a decade is truly happening. 

I still have some intense treatment ahead of me but to be at this point in the journey, feeling better than I have felt in years& actually seeing that complete healing is coming& possible is completely overwhelming& humbling. 

The picture on the left was snapped years ago, before I started with my current medical team. I was coming from being told by three major& well known medical facilities that there was "no hope" for my case. I had also been told that I should be prepared to die in the next months & was unable to eat. I walked in & in my first conversation with my kind doctor was to tell her that if she couldn't offer me hope just to tell me. I tried to sound brave but was shaking. She looked at me& firmly said, "You won't die. We will fight to not only save your life, but get it back." I immediately broke down in sobs. She went on to tell me that it would be the hardest fight of my life that I ever had... and it has been. 

It's been three years of intense treatment, hundreds of oral meds, hundreds of shots (both antibiotics & homeopathic) months of IV antibiotics, hundreds of nutritional IVs, thousands upon thousands of vitamins, oils, & supplements, one PICC line, one Port, countless doctors appointments, excercise therapy, thousands of alternative treatments (including HBOT, acupuncture, reflexology, detox, etc), detox regimes, hundreds of smoothies & cups of greens, lots of tears...lots of laughter in pain...emotions & discouragement beyond words (which I talk about in my book, When Truth Refreshes), thousands upon thousands of hours of prayer. These years have been hard...but have held so much grace.

Thank you for your prayers which has gotten me to the picture on the right (taken 3 days ago)...A girl who is still in treatment but truly healing & has seen the goodness of the Lord. I weep as I know what it is to be cared for tenderly by God. 

"The Lord has done great things."