Caravan Sonnet: December 2017

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:

12/14/17

14 MORE Christmas Present Ideas for Your Friend Dealing with a Chronic Illness

Happy Thursday friends! Today I wanted to share with you 14 more Christmas Present Ideas for your Chronically Ill friend! I am 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. Be creative and trust me your kindness will touch the heart of your ill friend forever.

1. Offer monetary help if possible
(I know, I know... I mention this in every single post related to gift ideas for friends and family but it is because it is so important.) Even with insurance those with Chronic Illness spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying to get healthy every single month. Many people with Chronic Illness have already gone through all available resources. These types of gifts do not have to be large. Truly money and gift cards are wonderful if that is an option for you to give!

2. Purchase Pet Items. 
Does your friend have a pet? Consider purchasing a gift card to their vet, paying for a pet "check up" (or grooming), or giving them a gift basket of necessary food and litter, treats, or toys. 

3. Purchase (or create) holiday cards to send out (and give them a book of stamps). 
Consider blessing your friend in this way. (Concerned that the extra stamps will go to waste? Don't be. Almost all medical bills still have to be sent out the old fashioned way - your friend will use those stamps one way or another!)

4. Help your friend address Christmas Card Envelopes. 

Sometimes the energy to address the cards can be an issue. Offer to address the cards (and mail them!) for your friend!

5. Give the gift of not asking, "have you tried..." at the family/friends get together. 
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. 

6. Give a gift card for "unmentionables". 
If your friend hasn't had the money (or the energy) to buy new clothes in a while consider giving them a gift card to purchase the necessities that they probably need.

7. Support your friends current "money making endeavor"
Those with Chronic Illnesses often have had to leave a job that they loved and have tried to find a way to make money in a new capacity. Support their endeavor. Do they have an Etsy shop? Purchase gifts from that shop and spread the news about their shop via social media. Do they make things and sell them on the side? Help spread the word! 

8. Pay for a Doctors Visit. 

Lots of Chronic Illnesses have specialized doctors and not all are covered by insurance! Consider paying for one of your friends doctors visits. This will be an incredible blessing!

9. Pay for the Co-pays. 
Is your friends doctor covered by insurance? Their co-pays aren't! Most people pay an average of $15-$50 for their co-pays. This might not seem like a big deal unless you regularly see your doctor. Statistically a chronically ill person sees their doctor 15 times a year. That means that they will spend an average of $225- $750 for Co-pays. Consider covering their co-pays for a year. What a blessing that would be!

10. Give a gift card to their "alternative" treatments. 
Most people with Chronic Illness use alternative treatments and these can be an expensive but necessary "addition" to their cost. Consider giving a gift card to their reflexologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor, etc.  (Side note- this is not the time to give them a gift card to some place that you feel they should go - simply a time to come along side of them. (Unfortunately that is a true story...)*smiles*)

11. Give them the gift of becoming an advocate of their disease. 

I suggested a couple of weeks ago to ask your loved one what books that they would recommend on their disease and to read about it. Do this. Become an advocate on what ails them. Isn't it wonderful that there are so many walks and "government supported" funding for certain illnesses? That came about in part because of friends and family rallied to bring awareness. What about your loved ones disease? Do you know how to spell it? Do you know what is happening in Congress or at the state level in regards to it? Become an advocate for your loved one and for the thousands of others that might not have loved ones who care. 

12. Give them the gift of a day at a salon. 

You know how you spend a lot of money on having your hair cut, nails done, etc. for the holiday season? Your loved one who is suffering from illness would love that to but would never dream of spending the money on something like that anymore. If this is something you can give to a friend- it would be an incredibly blessing. 

13. Create a relaxing atmosphere. 
Do you have a loved one coming to visit for the holidays? Consider setting them up somewhere that they can retreat to rest and relax when they are feeling sick. This will give them an incredible blessing amidst the "hustle and bustle".  

14. Remember the caregiver(s). 
I have often said this but me being ill is often harder on my parents then myself. To see people that are constantly hurting and suffering and not be able to do anything about it is excruciating. Reach out to the caregivers and you will touch the heart of the person who is ill too. 

As I have said countless times here on the blog, realize that your friend or family member with a Chronic Illness is the best gift this season. Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate people. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world, decorate your house the best, or have the cutest pinterest worthy decorations. People are what matter friends!

Looking for other posts on how to help friends with an illness during the holiday season?

Check out these other posts:


Happy Thursday friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week!  

12/13/17

Peggy's Cove // Nova Scotia, Canada

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! I shared before about how one of my favorite parts of the trip was the day we spent visiting Nova Scotia. I truly fell in love with this area and had I to plan the trip again I definitely would have spent more time in this area! Despite the little time I was blown away by the beauty as I drove through this province! Today I am so excited to share with you my favorite stop from this drive- Peggy's Cove! For those who may be planning a similar trip I created this map below for a reference guide:
From Halifax (where we visited the Halifax Citadel) to Peggy's Cove, our second stop in Nova Scotia, it took about an hour and the drive was absolutely gorgeous. I definitely recommend the drive alone. We arrived at Peggy's Cove around noon and we were both stunned at the absolute beauty that surrounded us.
When I was originally planning our trip through New EnglandNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, I knew that I wanted to see the famous Peggy's Cove Lighthouse. I will be honest that I wasn't even prepared for the beauty and adorable quaintness of the town before you even spend time at the Lighthouse!
We parked and walked around the town for a little bit and took tons of pictures because you felt like you had stepped out into a storybook. The surroundings, the colors, and the water were just breathtaking.
Peggy's Cove (originally named Eastern Point Harbour or Peggs Harbour in 1766) is one of numerous small fishing communities that are located along the Chebucto Peninsula. I was amazed to learn and discover that Samuel de Champlain (Lake Champlain is named after him and so are other beautiful parts of the North East and Canada) also is credited with naming this area supposedly after his mother, Marguerite. 
The village itself was officially founded in 1811 when six families were granted more than 800 acres by the Province of Nova Scotia. While fishing was the main source of their economy, the settlers also used the surrounding lands to farm. In the early 1900s the village grew to about 300 people and supported a schoolhouse, general store, lobster cannery, and church. Boats of all sizes were protected in the cove and this tradition continues to this day.
I had heard that artists and photographers love to visit Peggy's Cove and it was incredibly easy to see why. As I have said before, the beauty that we were met with was just incredible.
Everywhere you turned there was fantastic colors that as an artist your eye was just drawn to - it was truly incredible! 
It was a brief, but it was wonderful and I would definitely recommend it! Stay tuned because next I am sharing about Peggy's Cove Lighthouse which was also unbelievable! 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:

12/12/17

5 Hours Left of Etsy Shop Sale

Click HERE to go directly to the sale! 

Only a FEW hours left of the sale!

Only a few hours left of the sale in the shop before the shop closes for the holiday season!  All orders will ship in time to arrive by December 20th!! 

Click HERE to place your orders now!

12/10/17

HUGE FLASH SALE AT THE SHOP


HUGE flash sale happening RIGHT now at the shop!! Everything in the shop is 70% off!! No coupon code necessary! Hurry on over because the sale ends soon!! Click HERE to go directly to the shop!

12/9/17

December Caravan Book- 2nd Edition RELEASED TODAY

Back in 2016, when the first edition of December Caravan was released I was truly overwhelmed with the amazing response that it garnered. I was so humbled and honored to have signed my first traditional route publishing company contract and it was overwhelming to look back on these stories and see all that God had done. That first edition will always have a special place in my heart. 

But similar to the stories shared in the first edition this little book has had its own twists and turns as last February I found out that the publishing company was going bankrupt. Over the last 10 months it has been a journey to official separate with the publishing company and transfer the rights to a new publishing company. Today I am SO excited to share that after so much work and prayer the the 2nd edition went public!! 

This 2nd edition has been expanded (adding in several new chapters), revised, and updated and I am so excited to share it with y'all! My hope and prayer is that these collection of short stories will encourage and inspire you to find hope in the ordinary moments of life. 

 You can purchase December Caravan where books are sold or on Amazon (also available in Kindle form) and you can click HERE to purchase it! 

Thank you to each of you that have already purchased it!! If you have a chance will you take a moment and leave a review? Thank you!! 

"The Lord is there..."
-Ezekiel 48:35-

With Love, 

12/7/17

thirty-five christmas present ideas for lyme disease patients

For many people the holiday season can be one that is a painful and difficult time of the year. As I have shared in my book, "When Light Dawns", the holiday season can be particularly difficult for Lyme Disease patients. Physically, emotionally, financially, you name it- it seems like the holidays has the potential to heighten every emotion that comes with fighting this disease. I have received numerous emails asking what appropriate gifts for a Lyme Disease patient would be so today I wanted to share 35 Christmas present ideas for those loved ones in your life that may be fighting Lyme Disease. I hope that this helps you! 

1. Be Present. 
I have said this before, but the best gift that you can give is yourself. Yes, the holiday seasons are busy for you with lots of parties, events, and gatherings but most likely your loved one who is fighting Lyme Disease is not able to attend all or any of these types of events. Many times they feel loneliness more than ever at the holiday season as they spend more time alone during these weeks then others as people are off having lots of fun. The best gift you can give is to schedule in a phone call, stop over for a visit, or skype with your friend during your busy and their lonely holiday season - what a beautiful gift this would be!

2. Offer monetary help if possible

Even with insurance those with Lyme Disease patients spend thousands and thousands of dollars each year trying to get healthy. Many people with Lyme Disease, like myself, have already gone through all available resources. Many families, like mine, with a Lyme Disease patient are not planning on exchanging Christmas gifts. I have been the recipient of monetary help and each time it is a humbling and most needed gift. 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! Gift cards to Target are priceless! This can help purchase medications, groceries, clothes, and the list goes on! Truly gift cards are wonderful if that is an option for you to give!

3. Purchase their favorite bath items. 
Many Lyme Disease patients use special bath products (including shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, perfume, deodorant, etc.) that are free from certain dyes, chemicals, or ingredients. Yes, these items are more expensive but are necessary. What a lovely gift this would be for someone! Don't know what they use? Ask them or a family member!

4. Pay their Cell Phone Bill for a month. 
Most of us with Lyme Disease desperately need our cell phones and that yucky bill each month takes out a huge amount of money. Consider paying their cell phone bill for a month! I have a Lymie friend who shared that a group of her former co-workers went down to her cell phone provider and paid her cell phone bill for the year. What an AMAZING gift! 

5. Purchase a gift certificate to a special salon. 
You know how you spend a lot of money on having your hair cut, nails done, etc. for the holiday season? Your loved one who is suffering from Lyme Disease would love that to but would never dream of spending the money on something like that anymore. I can speak from personal experience that the changes that occur with an illness in regards to personal appearance can be difficult. Different medications can cause weight changes, hair loss, skin break outs, and generally make you feel like you look "awful". I personally would love to have a hair cut, eye brows waxed, nails done, etc. but there is NO money for this type of thing. (To be completely personal I have had my hair cut twice in the last three years.) You get the point friends. If this is something you can give to a friend- it would be an incredibly blessing. 

6. 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 Lyme Disease and leave it at that." I couldn't have said it any better. 

7. Provide a special basket for a "night in". 
Why not gather a few items together to give to those who can't go out? Perhaps a snack, movie, etc. could provide a lovely gift!

8. Soft, Snugly, and Comfy blankets. 

I love feeling comfy- especially on days where the pain is intense and I feel so miserable. I love the gift of soft blankets, comfy sheets, and sweet throws. A couple of years ago I was the recipient of a beautiful prayer quilt. Every time that I look at it and use it I am reminded that there are SO many people praying for me. 

9. Give a coupon book/ card that lists out something that you (and your family) will do once a month, once a week, etc. for a year. 
Need suggestions? Here are just a few things that immediately come to mind:
(a) Help with housework. 
(b) Help with yard work
(c) Drive your friend to a doctors appointment or treatment (and offer to stay with them). I heard of a friend whose best friend drives her to every single doctors appointment in one area of her physical needs. That allows her spouse and other family members to have a "day off" of one doctor. 
(d) Drive their children to school one day a week.
(e) Bring a meal twice a month.
(f) Pick up groceries once a week.
(g) Offer to go to Target, Walmart, etc. once a week or twice a month for them.
I could go on and on but y'all are creative! 

10. Buy nice pajamas
Those with Lyme Disease spend a lot of time in bed, at home, or in the hospital and nice pajamas are always a lovely gift.

11. Magazine subscriptions are a lovely gift! 
Magazines are great because they come in the mail (and we all LOVE getting happy mail) and are light and fun to read! 

12. Purchase a netflix/hulu/pureflix account for a year. 

13. Buy a "prime" membership on amazon. 
You can provide your friend with countless free TV shows, movies, and even books to read! And guess what? If they purchase supplements or products on amazon they will be eligible on FREE 2-day shipping! Someone gave me this gift a couple of years ago and it is truly priceless!

14. Create a relaxing atmosphere. 
Purchase music, i-tunes gift cards, etc. so that your friend can listen to relaxing & encouraging music. (Disclaimer: #12-14 can be very difficult for some Lymies who struggle with sound so be extremely sensitive before purchasing these items!)

15. Gas Gift Cards. 

I can't even begin to express how much money I spend in gas money each week driving to all of my local doctors appointments and this doesn't even begin to account for the ones that are not local. Gas gift cards are a wonderful gift. 

16. Mind the car. 

Along with #15 - a car gets lots of use. Take the car for a "spa day" and get the oil changed, washed, filled up with gas, and tuned up. This would be an AMAZING gift! Better yet, have someone do an entire tune up!

17. Ask them what the best books are on Lyme Disease and then read them. 
Tell them that you have spent the time doing this and believe me this is PRICELESS. You will be able to have an intelligent and compassionate conversation from that moment forward since you will be knowledgeable about their illness, especially from the perspective of the books that they have recommended. (Side Note: Read what they suggest not what wikipedia says...)

18. Introduce a hobby or supplement their existing hobby. 
Does your friend do a hobby that helps them pass the time or that they enjoy? Perhaps your friend has opened an online shop to help cover the cost of treatment? Purchase items that they have been wanting or give them a gift card to their favorite specialty craft store. Do they not have a hobby but have been talking about starting one? Buy the intro book, the intro supplies, and give them the gift of creativity!

19. Give the gift or reading. 
Is there something that your friend loves to read? Buy them the books they have been wanting but can't afford. Does your friend struggle with Neuro Lyme and can't read anymore? Give them books on tape! Don't know what to give them? Purchase a gift card to a bookstore or a kindle gift card. Maybe even purchase a kindle... 

20. Research and Purchase a Gadget that can help them as they fight Lyme Disease. 
You have heard me say this before but money is tight and lots of times gadgets are not purchased that could help make the journey easierDon't know what is needed? Ask them or their family members! 

21.  Pay for an upcoming Doctors Appointment.
One of the things that many people don't understand is that despite having insurance your Lymie friend most likely has to pay for their doctors appointments out of pocket. This means that instead of just having a co-pay your friend is responsible for the entire doctors visit at the time of the appointment. Prices vary but patients can bay anywhere between $375 to $1800 per appointment. Consider paying for a doctors appointment (or partial appointment) by calling the doctors office and seeing how you can put money on their account. Believe me- this would be a priceless gift. 

22. Journals. 
While not everyone is a writer, some of us go through journals yearly monthly weekly. *smiles* OOh... and pretty pens... hahaha that last one is just for me!

23. Purchase supplements, oils, IV treatments, etc. 
Is your friend using alternative supplements? Most people with Lyme Disease use alternative treatments and these can be an expensive but necessary "addition" to their regime. Consider giving a gift card to their reflexologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, chiropractor, etc. These are often expensive and this would be a wonderful gift. (Disclaimer: only purchase what your friend is currently using. This is not the time to give advice on what you believe would be the cure!)

24. Purchase items from their business.
Many Lymies have had to leave the job they love  and have tried to find a way to make money in a new capacity. Support their endeavor. Do they have an etsy shop? Purchase gifts from that shop and spread the news about their shop via social media. Do they make things and sell them on the side? Have they written books? Help spread the word! One friend that I have who has Epilepsy had to quit her job teaching but is the most AMAZING baker and creates gorgeous and delicious pies. Another friend of ours went around to local churches who were holding Thanksgiving dinners this year and set up a business deal for her where the churches purchased the pies and she was able to gain enough income for a couple of months. This was an amazing idea our friend had but my friend with Epilepsy didn't have the energy to even think about it! This was an incredible blessing and guess what? She has "expanded" outside of our city and next year has double the orders from other churches and businesses!! Think outside the box for your friend, support their work - whether it is through purchasing something yourself or just simply spreading the word!

25. Give them the gift of becoming an advocate of their disease. 
I suggested asking your loved one what books that they would recommend to read about Lyme Disease but why not also because an advocate? Isn't it wonderful that there are so many walks and "government supported" funding for certain illnesses? That came about in part because of friends and family rallied to bring awareness. What about Lyme Disease? Do you know how what it really is? (If you don't you can read this post, "What is Lyme Disease" by clicking HERE!) Do you know how it is affecting your friend specifically? Do you know what is happening in Congress or at the state level in regards to it? Become an advocate for your loved one and for the thousands of others that might not have loved ones who care. 

26. Bath Spa- Hot tub
Yes, hot tubs are expensive but Amazon sells the Conair Thermal Bath Spa Mat for a very reasonable price. This would be such a lovely gift! Along with this idea: special heating pads, massage heating pads, etc. 

27. Winter items. 
Do y'all live in an area where winter rears its ugly head? Consider purchasing a can of spray defroster so that they do not have to scrape their car! (And maybe gloves, warm scarves, etc.!)

28. Purchase (or create) holiday cards to send out (and give them a book of stamps). 
I used to love sending Christmas Cards out (and still do) but the reality is that it is very expensive to purchase cards and stamps. The past couple of years I have only sent a few cards out due to the cost. I would have loved to send more and many people with Lyme Disease really want to, but with the cost of shipping it is impossible. Consider blessing your friend in this way. (Concerned that the extra stamps will go to waste? Don't be. Lots of medical bills still have to be sent out the old fashioned way - your friend will use those stamps one way or another!)

29. Help your friend address Christmas Card Envelopes. 
Sometimes the energy to address the cards can be an issue. Offer to address the cards (and mail them!) for your friend! (Does your friend need to send out presents in the mail? Offer to do this for them! Waiting in line at the post office can be physically exhausting!)

30. Write them a Letter. 
The amount of emotions that encompass a day of living with Lyme Disease is absolutely staggering. There are hundreds of different side effects that your Lymie friend is dealing with and the road to healing is not a straight line. Your friend may be happy in the morning and one hour later is in tears because something didn't go right with the insurance company or the pharmacy. A beautiful gift in the middle of all of the chaos is a letter from a friend, cheering them on, expressing support and love and hope. This would be a beautiful gift that your friend would read many times over. Another idea? I was just the recipient of an envelope stuffed with letters from people that I don't know from a dear friends church. These people had spent time praying for me and then all wrote me letters. I have cried over them, re-read them hundreds of times already, and have been reminded that I am not alone. Words are powerful and can be the best gift of all. 

31. Homemade Inspirational Artwork. 

Create artwork that can be displayed- especially for those who are bedridden.  

32. Create a Retreat. 

Do you have a Lymie coming to visit for the holidays? Consider setting them up somewhere that they can retreat to rest and relax when they are feeling sick. A sweet friend of mine shared a precious story from a Christmas a couple of years ago. She was dreading a trip to her sister and brother-in-laws home simply because she knew that there would be 30 (!!) people that would all be staying in the home and it would offer little quiet time which she desperately needed at that stage of her treatment. She was very concerned about this and was considering not going on the trip when a beautiful present arrived in the mail. Her sister and brother-in-law had reserved a room at an exclusive retreat center in the same town. This allowed her the freedom to be apart of the holidays but also the necessary space to retreat and rest. As she says "it was the best Christmas present ever"! What a beautiful gift. Maybe you can't afford to do that but why not set up a special room in your home for your loved one where they can retreat as needed? This will give them an incredible blessing amidst the "hustle and bustle".  

33. Give a gift card for "unmentionables". 

If your friend hasn't had the money (or the energy) to buy new clothes in a while consider giving them a gift card to purchase the necessities that they probably need.

34. Purchase Pet Items. 

Does your friend have a pet? Consider purchasing a gift card to their vet, paying for a pet "check up" (or grooming), or giving them a gift basket of necessary food and litter, treats, or toys. 

35. Remember the caregiver(s). 

I have often said this but me being ill is often harder on my family then myself. To see people that are constantly hurting and suffering and not be able to do anything about it is excruciating. Reach out to the caregivers and you will touch the heart of the person who is ill too. 

As I have said countless times here on the blog, realize that your friend or family member with Lyme Disease is the best gift this season. Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate people. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world, decorate your house the best, or have the cutest pinterest worthy decorations. People are what matter friends and Lyme Disease may be the best gift in helping us all remember that this holiday season!

Looking for other posts on how to help friends with an illness during the holiday season?

Check out these other posts: