Caravan Sonnet: December 2017

12/24/17

Merry Christmas

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair shall not go on forever.”
- Isaiah 9:1-

Warmest Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas and Prayers and Love for a Beautiful New Year! May you be abundantly blessed by His love, joy, comfort, and most of all His peace this season and in the new year to come!

With Lots of Love,

12/21/17

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (the story behind the famous Christmas carol)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

I have shared the story of the beautiful Christmas Carol, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, in my book, When Light Dawns, and today I wanted to share a bit more of it here on the blog. This beautiful Christmas Carol was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863, and came after a series of personal tragedies occurred in his life. 

First, in the early 1860s, an unusual heat wave had struck Massachusetts, which affected Longfellow’s family. This prompted Fanny, his wife, to trim the hair of their 7-year-old daughter to help her feel cooler. Sentimentally, Fanny decided to seal the locks of hair with wax, but tragically, hot wax spilled onto her dress and caught on fire. Henry unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the fire with a blanket, and then tried stopping the fire by throwing himself on his wife, which resulted in his face, arms, and hands being burned. Heart-breakingly, Fanny Longfellow died the following morning from her injuries and was buried 3 days later on their 18th wedding anniversary. Due to his own severe burns, Henry wasn’t able to attend her funeral, but later was recorded as saying a line from his famous hymn, The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.

Shortly after this in 1863, Henry was informed (by letter) that his oldest son joined the Union soldiers during the fight of the American Civil War. In November of 1863, Charles was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church. These two events together, proved to be the foundation for Henry’s famous poem Christmas Bells, which was later put to music and became a famous Christmas carol.

The tragedy that Henry Longfellow endured—and so many others walk through—astounds and humbles me. It is a great reminder that a year can be filled with incredible losses and pain as well as joys and triumphs. Unfortunately, the holiday season takes no exception and can sometimes compound the grief that we have experienced.

Sometimes in the midst of pain, I have questioned what I really have to celebrate. Sometimes the pain can make it difficult to get into the holiday mood. Sometimes real life doesn’t allow us to have a Pinterest-worthy Christmas, yet what I am finding in the cracks and crevices of this Christmas season is that there is simple joy and peace to be found at Christmas.

In focusing on Christ and those whom God has placed in my path to embrace with grace and love, I see the hope of what Christmas is all about. In the midst of the incredible divisions in our country, I bow my head and think, as Henry did back in the Civil War era, that there is no peace on earth; yet the bells that echo throughout this season remind me there is much to rejoice in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

My prayer and dream this Christmas is that I will be preparing my heart as much as my home for this holiday season.

My prayer is that I will take the time to stop and love those who are hurting before me, as much as I take the time to decorate my tree.

My dream is that I will be challenged to give gifts not only to those whom I know well, but also to the hurting person who may need the physical reminder of Christ’s tangible love in more ways that I can imagine.

My hope is that the best gift I can give this year is more of God’s love and more of His grace each and everyday.

My wish is to remind those whom I love that the bells are still ringing with God’s grace and truth. 

I am so thumbled that this post was originally shared over at Mundane Faithfulness  in 2016. You can find the original guest post HERE

12/20/17

CAT Ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Portland, Maine

Happy Wednesday friends! Today I am so excited to continue to share more about my recent trip through New EnglandNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia! It is crazy to me that there are only a few more posts to write in this series. It was truly a fantastic trip and "re-living" it here on the blog has been so much fun! 
As you can see from the map above, after we stopped in Lunenburg we drove down to Yarmouth to spend the night before catching our early ferry ride on Friday, October 6th. Along the way we briefly stopped in Lockeport and Barrington, but to be very open and frank there is not a lot to see or do (it was sometimes hard to find a gas station) along the drive to Lunenburg to Yarmouth. If you are making the same trip you will want to be prepared for this! 

We arrived in Yarmouth starving and tired, but thankful for the amazing day that we had had! We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Yarmouth and the ladies who run the place were so sweet. We were so blessed by their incredible kindness and compassion after a long day of travel. It was very clean and only about 2 miles from the ferry so it worked well for a quick stay if you are looking for a recommendation for a hotel. We ate at Rudders Brew Pub and Seafood Restaurant and it was yummy y'all! I definitely recommend here- especially if you are gluten free as they have a gluten free menu! They are open pretty late - we didn't show up there until about 9:30 and they staff was all extremely sweet.
We took another CAT Ferry (you can read about our CAT Ferry experience from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia HERE) from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, back into the United States and landed in Portland, Maine.
This ferry ride was much longer than the other, with approximately 6 hours of being on the ferry. Similar to our other ferry ride once we parked our car we were not allowed to stay or return to the car for safety reasons. Learning this after the last experience allowed us to prepare a bit better for this ride.
It was an absolutely unbelievable stunning morning as the ferry headed out of Yarmouth. 
Because it was so early in the morning there was breakfast on board that you could purchase, snacks for purchase, coffee, hot chocolate, teas, and a sitting area with tables to eat at. For those with food allergies you will want to bring your own food on board as they do not have allergy friendly options.
Ali grabbed some breakfast and curled up in some comfortable chairs in the front of the boat, while I decided to stretch out in the back and work on my travelers notebook from our trip. Watching the scenery go by was absolutely breathtaking and it was lovely to have time to just sit and relax and regroup, watching the beauty pass by.
Ali soon came and joined me in the back, and along with lots of other passengers we stretched out on the benches and both napped. It was incredibly refreshing, and to be honest helped a bit with the sea sickness that was quite extreme as we crossed the ocean. For those of you who are prone to motion sickness you will definitely want to bring some supplies to help you as the ferry is definitely small and some of those waves were HUGE. 
Ali and I spent the time remaining on the boat enjoying talking and laughing, reading, and exploring the ship. The time passed quickly and all to soon we were back in the United States! It was sad to see our trip quickly coming to an end, but it was a beautiful way to end it at the same time. 
As you drive in you see the Portland Head Lighthouse which was really neat!
As I mentioned in my post about our CAT Ferry ride from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia, I do want to put out a disclaimer here that I believe is important. I will give a quick word of warning though that was a bit disappointing in regards to their customer service (which I have expressed to the company directly). For several months prior to our trip I tried to contact the company to ask several questions and to see if I could work with them in our trips (we were taking two of their ferries). 

I called, left several messages, sent numerous emails, contacted them through different social media venues, etc and received no response. It was a bit disappointing to see how they didn't even respond to general questions in the help of planning this trip or to even be willing to respond back to any of these attempts to better understand their travel system. In fact, the two friends that I met on the Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia ferry trip were surprised to learn that there was a ferry from Yarmouth to Portland, Maine. They said that they had tried for about 5 months to hear back from the company and when they did they asked if there were other ferries and were told there wasn't. I share that to say that if you have any questions and are going to use the ferries I would definitely try to figure out the information online and not expect to receive a response.
Despite this, the ferry ride, is an extremely practical way to make a "loop" back to the US and would definitely recommend it if you are planning a trip like we did. Thank you for continuing to read about our adventures throughout the recent trip through New EnglandNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia! I hope for those of you planning a similar trip all of this information is helpful! If you would like, you can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

12/18/17

Lunenburg // Nova Scotia, Canada

Happy Monday friends! Today I am so excited to continue to share more about my recent trip through New EnglandNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova ScotiaAs I mentioned last week, I was absolutely enchanted by Peggy's Cove and Peggy's Cove Lighthouse! It was just a truly beautiful place and as we pulled away I was sad to leave such a gorgeous part of the world, but excited to see more of Nova Scotia. 
As you can see from the map above, the next place that we drove to was Lunenburg, which is about an hour drive south of Peggy's Cove. 
Lunenburg was established approximately four years after Halifax was established. What is interesting about Lunenburg is that this was one of the first British attempts to settle Protestants in Nova Scotia and was the site of many raids in the first years of its establishment. 



Lunenburg was designated a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site in 1995 which ensures the unique architecture and design of Lunenburg.
Lunenburg is considered to be the best example of planned British colonial settlement in Canada.
Due to the time of day and the amount of driving we still had to do, our visit was very brief. We enjoyed driving through the town, stopping to walk through some stores, and walk the main street and visit some of the historical sites. It was a brief, but it was a wonderful visit and I would definitely recommend it! 

If you are planning a similar trip and would like, you can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

The Single Journey at Christmas

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair shall not go on forever.”
-Isaiah 9:1-

One of the most difficult times in a singles life can come during the holidays. I shared in my post, "10 things to pray for your single friend during the holiday season" that loneliness can feel more acute during this season. Just the other night I texted and shared with a dear friend how much I was struggling during here at Christmas with being single. 

My heart knows that the Christmas season and celebration is about Jesus, but sometimes my head gets wrapped up in all of the “festivities” that I long to experience with someone. My prayer constantly is: "Lord, help me to remember that this holiday season isn’t about a TV movie and a relationship with a guy but about my relationship with you."

 On the other hand, while I struggle in this season, this season of advent is so powerful and hopeful to my life as a single woman. The word “advent” is defined as a “time of expectant waiting and preparation”. It is applicable to my life in so many ways and have shared about its special significance in my book, "When Light Dawns". I often feel that being single in this holiday season is like walking through a dark tunnel and that is why one of my favorite verses is from Isaiah 9: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

A light will dawn and just like this advent season is a expectant waiting and preparation, so is this season as a single lady. "If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently." (Romans 8:24-25) The longer we wait for something, the more joyful our expectancy and confident we can be. Since the fall we have waited and longed for a Redeemer. As I share in my book, "Prayers for the Single Journey" I feel that many times I am wanting to be “saved from singleness” but no man can do that for me. Only Jesus is the Lord and Savior. 

As we wait in this single season let us trust that the Lord has a beautiful outcome, a miraculous story for our romantic lives. And just like those long ago, we will find hope in the truth that, even the dark tunnel we may feel we are in will not last forever. “Nevertheless, That time of darkness and despair shall not go on forever.” (Isaiah 9:1)

12/15/17

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse// Nova Scotia, Canada

Happy Friday friends! Today I am so excited to continue to share more about my recent trip through New EnglandNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia! As I mentioned on Wednesday, I was absolutely enchanted by Peggy's Cove! It was just a truly beautiful place. 
After we walked around Peggy's Cove we drove about a mile to the parking lot area by the lighthouse. The time of year that we went in (October) was absolutely perfect as it was easy to find parking and there were not a ton of people. It was just truly beautiful!
As a little bit of history, the first lighthouse at Peggy's Cove was built in 1868. At the time history records that every evening at sundown the Lighthouse keeper would light a kerosene oil lamp that would create a red beacon light that marked the Eastern Entrance to the bay. 
In 1914 that lighthouse was replaced by the current building which is an octagonal lighthouse. Unlike the wooden house that it replaced, this building was made of reinforced concrete. Although the new lighthouse replaced the one built in 1868 the former structure remained in tact and in use as the Lighthouse keepers dwelling until it was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1954. Due to the extensive damage it was eventually removed.
As a fun fact, the lighthouse used to actually contain a Canadian post office in the lower level that was in full operation in the summer months. It served as the village post office but also allowed visitors to send postcards and letters. On each of the letters and mail a special stamp mark in the shape of the lighthouse was used as the "cancellation" of postage. Unfortunately it was closed in 2009 due to mold growth. 
Like the rich and beautiful history, the natural surroundings and landscape were truly beautiful. 
It was a brief, but it was a wonderful visit and I would definitely recommend it! I would love to go back someday! If you are planning a similar trip and would like, you can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below: