Caravan Sonnet: August 2017


From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week 28): The Legacy of Sacrificial Love

One of the fun aspects of  Season 2 of When Calls the Heart,  was the "advice" that Rosemary imparted to everyone in the town in her comments and in her newspaper column. This particular quote, which came from the 2nd episode of Season 2 made for quite a few giggles I am sure, but as I thought more about the concept of committing and giving our hearts away I was challenged to consider the legacy of sacrificial love. 

Back when I was in college my university would hold an annual "missions week" every spring. All throughout the week we would be introduced to a couple hundred different missionaries who were spending their lives near and far from around the world making a difference in communities. These missionaries and their families consistently gave sacrificially of their time, their money, and most of all their lives. All throughout the week we heard amazing and miraculous stories of "big scale" things that were happening and stories of heroic tales of seeing entire villages come to know Christ. It was inspiring. It was moving. It was incredibly inspirational.

In my fourth year of university, shortly before I was to graduate, the missions week was held again. This year, I and other students, continued to hear about a "special missionary couple" that were coming to speak. I was excited and thrilled as I assumed that like many of the speakers in the past this couple would have an amazing story. As the week approached I continued to hear how the president of my college was so excited as this couple were guest speakers whom he had been asking for years to come.

The week arrived and all throughout the week we heard incredible stories of what was happening around the world, yet we all were curious about this special couple that so many people mentioned. The stories continued and by the time that this man and his wife got up to speak I and so many others had placed them as a "miracle couple" and were convinced that they had most likely seen hundreds of thousands of people committing their lives to God and were incredibly "successful". 

Imagine our shock and silence when we saw the couple who instead of proudly announcing their achievements, couldn't stop shaking out of nervousness. In the first five seconds the man tripped on his way to the podium and the wife accidentally knocked over the water glasses that had been set for them on the podium. 

Our first impressions continued to be skeptical as they began to tell their story, including naming a jungle village that 99% of us in the room had never heard of. And then they shared in the first few minutes that their greatest dream and prayer for their life had come true. After spending nearly their entire lives in that jungle village and more than four decades they had seen one person come to know Christ. 

The building of nearly 5000 people went completely silent. Gone were our visions of grandeur and success. Gone was the idea and concept of what made a life truly worthwhile. Confused and skeptical faces and eyes darted back and forth between our college president, the missionaries that had spoken highly of this couple, and the couple before us on stage. 

But as they continued to speak and share countless stories of circumstances that included flooding, sickness, the loss of a child, and more discouragement than I could ever have imagined in my young life I, along with the rest of the student body felt less confused and more amazed. 

In a day and age where most people would have thrown in the towel or used any number of these circumstances mentioned as justification to abandon their calling, this couple had quietly and sacrificially given their lives for love. Despite the heartache they faced and the discouragement that encouraged them to quit, they pressed on, day after day, imperfectly loving those around them and believing with a kind of childlike stubborn faith that their lives would not be in vain. By the end of their time there was not a dry eye in the auditorium, and even writing this now I have tears running down my cheeks. 

"I realized how little I knew of what makes a true missionary statesman; of a faith that never staggers at the promise of God, no matter how incredible to the natural man its fulfillment seems; of a trust in the Unchanging One, Who keeps the heart at rest and unperturbed in a changing world; of a burning love that counts not life dear until itself, but is expendable for God; and of a vision that is never dimmed."

You see my college president gave us the best gift he could have ever given a group of college students... the beautiful lesson of the legacy of sacrificial love. 

What if at the end of our lives our greatest achievement is having loved one person? What if at the end of our lives our greatest success and dream coming true was seeing one person come to know Christ? Would it be enough for us? Would we see the way that an entire world can be changed by the legacy of sacrificial love? Would we risk everything for committing our hearts to sacrificial love no matter the cost to ourselves?

At the end of their session we gave a standing ovation to this couple and I knew that my life had been changed forever. There is a beauty that can't be described as you witness greatness and courage of sacrificial love. There is a knowing that the sacrifice of loving someone deeply comes at a great cost. A cost to our time, sometimes our financial resources, often times our physical capabilities, and most of all our emotional well. Loving someone day in and day out isn't always pretty and won't bring the fame that the world often tells us is so important. Sometimes loving people does become an amazing powerful display, and yet other times loving someone is done quietly, in the dark, over the course of a lifetime... where there is no standing ovation...and no one to cheer you on. 

It is done in the messy day-to-day lives that we live. It is the young mama changing a countless diaper, practically loving her little one despite the fact that she is incredibly sleep deprived and probably would just like a nice hot bath. It is the father who works tirelessly to lovingly provide for his family, despite the fact that it is at a great cost to himself. It is the teacher who spends her last bit of energy loving the kiddos in the classroom before her, despite the hundreds of complaints that file in about what she is doing wrong. It is the co-worker taking the time to listen to the same story, the same issues, the same problems day after day, knowing that listening is a gift. It is the young and the old sacrificially spending hours upon hours in prayer for another when there seems to be no change. 

It is a single -hearted devotion to understanding that there is a legacy of sacrificial love that is incomparable. 

"...Honestly, this is the first moment in my adult life that I have stood in the spotlight. Truth be told it will probably be the last. Why? Because I am one of those people who works in the dark. I know what you are thinking... In this world of relentless self-promotion, we have all been raised to think that the limelight is the only light worth seeking. That isn't the case, and if I can impart one thing today... a small simple truth to carry with you... it's this... achievement is often anonymous. Some of the greatest things have been done by people you have never heard of. Quietly dedicating their lives to improving your own..."

So today dear friends let us be challenged to live "in the dark", consistently and quietly behind the scenes continuing to love those before us deeply and without reserve. Let us commit our hearts, throw open wide the well of love and invest in another. We may never get to tell our stories before a crowd of 5000 college students who will give us a standing ovation, but we can rest in the knowledge that nothing we do in love is ever wasted... knowing that there is a legacy we are leaving of sacrificial love.

"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-

*The first quote that I referenced is by Darlene Diebler Rose who was a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in World War II. She shared her story in her book, "Evidence Not Seen" which can be found on Amazon HERE

*The second quote is taken from the television show, Madam Secretary, season 2, the final episode. You can find the episode HERE

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.*

A Few More of My Favorite Things from Zulily

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I am so excited to share a bit more about my experiences with shopping and exploring the Zulily website. You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I shared about a few of my favorite items that I found. (You can read more about them HERE!) I am excited to share just a few more of my favorite finds today!
One my favorite items was this adorable maxi skirt. I love that it is flowy and yet the moss color is a perfect transition piece to the fall. You can find it HERE!
Another favorite thing that I found that I loved on the Zulily website was this cute flirty dress gray thermal top . You can find it HERE

  Y'all know how much I love blanket scarves for the fall and winter and this Aggie Gray Blue Monogram Blanket Scarf is a cute twist on a typical scarf. The option to monogram is cute and would be a sweet addition to the fall wardrobe. You can find it HERE
Another favorite thing that I found that I loved on the Zulily website was this oatmeal ruffle tunic. An adorable fashion blogger that I love and follow wore a very similar piece like this and I loved it but it was so expensive. I love that this is so similar and literally a fraction of the price. You can find it HERE

There are so many different items on Zulily that I loved and I created a board with lots of different items and some of my favorites. You can check out my board HERE! Keep checking back as I will continue to update my board with new pieces and items that I find that I love as Zulily is constantly making new items available!

What about y'all? Any favorite items from Zulily that you love?

A huge thank you to Mavenx for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 


A Gorgeous Sunset// Lake Champlain

One evening recently we were sitting outside, basking in the peacefulness that descends over the lake as night comes when one of the most gorgeous sunsets came about.
At first it was faint but the colors kept changing and were absolutely stunning.
As we marveled at the beauty before us and the stunning color depth and change that we saw in a matter of minutes, I was overwhelmed at the sight before us.
It was a precious and gentle reminder that beauty can be found everywhere, every single day. Beauty, truly, surrounds us.
As we approach this week, I hope that your week brings beauty in unexpected places and touches your heart where you need it most. 
Most of all, I hope that you find beauty to inspire you. Happy Tuesday friends! 

Recommendations for Prince Edward Island?

Happy Tuesday y'all! I hope that everyone is having a wonderful start to the week! Today's travel post is a bit different- I am looking for some suggestions and ideas for an upcoming trip to Prince Edward Island that I am taking in the early fall with one of my dearest friends! 

You may remember that I shared back in April that one of my dearest friends and I are taking a trip from Boston to Prince Edward Island (and back) in the fall. We are taking a few days to drive up to Prince Edward Island, where we will be spending a few days before taking a couple of days to travel back. Last week I asked for recommendations and suggestions for Camden, Maine and I am so grateful to each of you that sent me a message sending your suggestions! I can't wait to share with y'all some of the fun things that we are going to be doing there and where we are staying! Thanks so much!

Everyone's ideas have been so helpful that I am wondering if y'all had any recommendations or suggestions of what to do, places to see, or places to eat at on Prince Edward Island? I have some commitments and plans already in place for writing and blogging, but would welcome any tips for places to see, eat (extra points for places that have gluten free menus!), and things to do! We are looking to do all of the fun "Anne" things, but are also open to other things on the island! We also would love to spend time in Charlottetown so suggestions for there are welcome too!

Thanks so much y'all! I can't wait to hear every one's fabulous ideas!

If you are a business that would like to collaborate on this project you can contact me with a proposal by sending an email HERE, or find out more about working with me on a travel collaboration HERE


2nd Annual Party in The Woods

A couple of years ago I mentioned that I thought it would be fun to a have a party in the woods, inviting our friends and family and neighbors for an evening of fun and community. 

We talked about it and logistically tried to plan it and last year we held the first one, celebrating the engagement of my sister Emily and (her now husband), Kenneth. It was a ton of fun and so this year I said that I really wanted to do it again and we decided it would be fun to celebrate my parents 48th wedding anniversary. 
It was honestly a great excuse to have everyone together, and this little heart of mine that loves having people around and deep community, is already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Party in the Woods next year. 
Once again we were blessed with perfect weather which was an absolute gift. Just like last year the weather forecast was for rain and storms and it went right past us. It was such a blessing! 
For the "decorations" (besides my lights in the trees that y'all know I am obsessed with) Ba and I had so much fun picking out some treasured pictures. We strung them up between the trees and there were a few that brought such laughter!
It was a lovely evening with lots of laughter and lots of love and joy. We missed those of you that couldn't make it and we can't wait to see you next year for the 3rd Annual Party in the Woods. It will be exciting to see what we will be celebrating in a year! Thank you to everyone who joined in the fun! I realized in looking at these pictures that I only captured about 1/2 of the people who were here! That is what happens when you are having a ton of fun- you are definitely in the moment, forgetting to take pictures! 
The party in the woods expanded this year and it was so fun to have so many kiddos running around, playing games and having a blast in the woods. 
A huge congratulations again to my cousin Shawna and her fiance' Kevin on their engagement! We were so delighted to celebrate with y'all!
I shared on instagram a quote that I read last year... it said, "The summer night is like a perfection of thought." That was definitely true of this evening. Thank you again for a wonderful evening y'all. It was so incredibly special! 


Sunday Scripture Fifteen (Psalm 20:4)

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!


It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal Now Available in the Etsy Shop

Happy Saturday friends! Today I am so excited to share with you a cute addition to the shop! This adorable It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always had an obsession with journaling and making things that I own pretty. I love to fill my journals and list pads with colorful, unique, whimsical, and pretty ribbons, sweet paraphernalia, and writing that speaks to my heart and that encourages me. 
This It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal is approximately 2 x 3 and comes with approximately 30 lined-pages.
This It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal is an adorable size and so light weight that it would be the perfect list pad to carry in your purse or even fit in your wallet.
 This It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal turned out so sweet y'all and I loved the combination of the purples, ivory tones, and browns. I love the rustic and feminine look look that is timeless.
I have to admit that we are connected on Instagram then you know that I am wanting to grasp onto every single last moment of this summer. This summer has been perfect. Has it been "perfect" in the sense of only happiness and all good times? No. Has there been pain and tears? Yes. Has it been what I envisioned it would be like? Absolutely not. 

But this summer has been rich in stretching me, growing me, and giving me a beautiful gift of life. I will always treasure the lessons that I have learned and this time. 
But that is the beauty of each season isn't it? If we fully embrace it we can find the most beautiful gifts that we may never have imagined otherwise. And today, that is absolutely lovely to realize. 
So bring on the fall and all of it's beauty that it will bring. We will step forward into it knowing that there is more beauty to come. If you are interested in purchasing the It's Fall Y'all Mini Altered Journal you can find it HERE.. If you are interested in looking at other altered journals that are available in the shop (including a light brown version of this journal!!) you can find them in the altered journals section HERE!

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day and weekend with friends!!